cemetery

Removal of graves from abandoned cemetery.

As noted here and here, I have long been intrigued by the disappearance (in space and memory) of Wilson’s first African-American cemetery, sometimes called Oaklawn or Oaklawn or Oakdale. Yesterday, the mystery was solved.

In the late summer of 1940, the Wilson Daily Times for several weeks ran a “Notice of Removal of Graves from Abandoned Cemetery.”  Town Commissioners had declared Wilson’s “colored cemetery” on Cemetery Street abandoned as there had been no burials there in 16 years. The Commissioners proposed “to remove all graves to the new cemetery for the colored race situate near the Town of Wilson, N.C., and known as Resthaven Cemetery.” Interested persons had 30 days to object.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 September 1940.

Whether or not there were objections, the work of removal commenced. It seems likely, then, that the oldest headstones in Rest Haven (such as those of the Dunstons) mark graves moved from Oaklawn, rather than Rountree cemetery, as I earlier speculated.

[Of course, as I learned back in February, the Cemetery Street cemetery was never entirely forgotten, at least by people who lived in the neighborhood. Harry Harris recently shared the history of the Turkey Bowl, an informal neighborhood football game taking place on holidays. The original game, he said, was played Christmas Day 1958 at the “old Carnival Ground,” then an open field at the corner of Barnes and Stantonsburg (now Pender) Streets. In 1965, the game moved to Stephenson Street, in “the projects,” where it became “part of the fabric of local community culture.” After several years, however, the game was again moved “because the ladies who lived there at that time reminded us that we were playing on sacred ground as the projects were built upon the grounds of the old Black cemetery, hence Cemetery Street.”]

Map courtesy of Bing.com.

 

The graveyard artistry of Clarence Best, pt. 3.

I’ve written here of Clarence B. Best, the marble cutter whose custom gravestones can be found in cemeteries across Wilson County and beyond. Here’s more, all in Rest Haven cemetery.

  • Joseph Earl Mercer, died 1969. Apparently, a young man who loved cars.
  • Clifton L. Howard, died 1969. Best made gravestones affordable by offering customers damaged or repurposed markers such as this one, which appears to be the top portion of a larger piece.
  • Ruby M. Ellis Opie, died 1965, and Charles E. Ellis, died 1964. THEY WAS AN AFFECTIONATE SON & DAUGHTER.
  • Charlie H. Thomas, 1965. Modeled after the white marble markers provided by the military to veterans.
  • Johnnie G. Baker, died 1962. GOD LOVES LITTLE CHILDREN.
  • Rev. Nebraska H. Dickerson, died 1969. To his oft-used dogwood and cross motifs, Best added an open book.
  • Dora M. Hoskins, died 1963. Past Matron, Order of Eastern Star. DIEING IS BUT GOING HOME.
  • William Earl Artis, died 1961. Inclusion of his mother Cora Dawes’ name is unusual as is the near-italicization of the date lines.
  • James Powell, died 1939. DEAR FATHER. GOD FINGER TOUCHED HIM AND HE SLEPT.

Buried in a white cemetery?

A bit of follow-up on the post about Tobe and Martha Smith, described as having been buried in the cemetery of the white Winstead family. The Winstead graveyard stands in the middle of the parking lot behind the defunct Wilson Mall, a tree-shaded green square protected by a chainlink fence. Within that fence is a low, wrought-iron, bow-and-picket fence that surrounds the Farmer and Winstead graves. Outside the wrought-iron fence are the graves of Joseph “Tobe” and Martha Wheeler Smith, as well as that of Jack Boss, whose identity is not at all clear, but may also have been African-American.

So, arguably in the Winstead cemetery, but certainly not of it.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2018.

Buried in a white cemetery.

Tracing Their Wilson Roots: Towering Tree Marks African-American Couple’s Grave in White Cemetery

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 2017.

Paul Sherrod and his nephew spent a day last month cleaning brush off their ancestors’ graves.

“Every time I come here to Wilson I come here to visit this cemetery because it is so special to me,” Sherrod said as he walked up to the resting place for his grandparents, Joseph Tobe Smith, 1871-1956, and Martha Elizabeth Wheeler Smith, 1875-1932.

A massive pine tree stands over the top of the gravesite, which is in the Winstead family cemetery, also referred to as the Parkwood Cemetery, surrounded by the parking lot of the now-closed Wilson Mall.

“I remember as a kid this being farmland,” Sherrod said. “My grandfather was a sharecropper on land owned by the Winstead family. My grandfather was allowed to plant this tallest tree here, we believe, sometime between 1918 and 1922, and he was promised that he could be buried there right along with my grandmother. So proud of this, to know that my grandfather planted that tree.”

Sherrod is not sure who it was in the Winstead family who offered and then kept that promise, but he suspects it might have been Charles Winstead Sr.

“They owned land from here all the way down to Raleigh Road. I had two uncles who sharecropped almost all the way down to the parkway,” Sherrod said.

It is remarkable to Sherrod that early in the 20th century, a black couple would be permitted to have a final resting place in a white cemetery.

“That is really truly amazing because here we are in 1929, in the middle of the Depression and some oppression, you have this act of compassion and courage from this Winstead family to allow this to happen,” Sherrod said. “Looking back on it, I think they must have had, what you call it now, some flack about that, but they were courageous enough to see it through because they made a promise to my grandfather and they held to their promise. And moving forward to the mall being here, as the developers were putting it together, I understand that the Winstead family made a stipulation when they sold them the land that the graves and the bodies will not be exhumed, so here they are. I don’t know which family members it was, but they, again, had the same courage as their forefathers. So that’s remarkable, in 1929, having an African-American buried in a white cemetery.”

Sherrod never knew his grandmother, as she died before Sherrod was born.

“I only know about my grandfather,” Sherrod said. “I remember so much about him because he was actually both a father and a grandfather to me because my father died when I was quite young. He died in 1945. Right after that I started to live with my grandfather, and he mentored me in so, so many ways. He would take me with him as he would take his wagon and his mule and cultivate gardens. He was a farmer, but he was not farming anymore, so he was cultivating people’s gardens, and I learned so much from him about agriculture, how to grow things. I had my own garden. He would help me take care of the tomatoes and the okra. He was a wonderful person.”

They lived together from about 1944 to 1950 when Sherrod was 13 to 18 years old.

“It was a pleasure living with him because I learned so much,” Sherrod said. “He was so patient with me. I understand now, that he could see that I was different. I loved the books, and he wanted to give me the opportunity to do my homework, so he had to always make sure there was enough kerosene in the lamp. A little step up from Lincoln and the candle, but a similar situation.”

Sherrod laughed.

“The house was about a mile and half from here, east of here in New Grab Neck,” Sherrod said. “Later it was called Jefferson Street, and now it’s called Forest Hills. They have changed the name a couple of times.”

Sherrod, who is now 84, said growing up in Wilson in the 1940s wasn’t as bad as it might have seemed that it could have been.

“Our neighborhood was partially integrated. About a quarter of a mile up the street from where we lived, there was a white family. As a matter of fact, my grandfather had lived in that very house back in the early ’40s,” Sherrod said. “The only real signs of segregation were more the public places. We had a colored and white drinking fountain in front of the courthouse. Now it is a memorial to veterans, I believe. You could not sit in a restaurant. You had to go back to the back to get your food handed out the back door to you. And when buses came along, we had to ride in the back of the bus. So those were outward signs of the segregation, but there was never really any brutality. You weren’t afraid to walk around. You knew your place. You understood that. It wasn’t really as bad as it could have been because I have heard some real horror stories from other cities around the country later on. Not then. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”

The pine tree that Joseph Smith planted is at least 4 feet thick and the most prominent tree in the graveyard. There is a crack up its middle, perhaps made by a lightning strike many years ago.

When his grandfather died in 1956, Sherrod was overseas serving in the Air Force and could not attend the funeral.

“Before, they just had a simple marker,” Sherrod said.

Family members placed a granite marker at the site several years ago, and Sherrod recently purchased an additional stone marker to note the couple’s birth and death dates.

When Sherrod and his nephew, Bradley Sherrod of Wilson, spent the day clearing the brush around the gravesite, they left one little sapling.

“We toyed with the idea of taking it out, but my nephew and I decided no. Let that grow and see what happens. It’s obviously from the seed of this tree, so we left that one alone, that little baby pine, and over the years I’ll see what happens,” Sherrod said. “I hope the Lord allows me to be on this Earth long enough to see it be a pretty big tree. It’s growing nicely.”

Sherrod, who now resides in California, recently held a large family reunion on the site of the Sherrod family homeplace near Stantonsburg. He had spent the whole summer preparing for the event.

That is from his father’s side of the family. The Smiths are from his mother’s side of the family in Wilson.

“I firmly believe that if more people explored the roots from which they came, there would probably be a better world,” Sherrod said. “There is so much rich history on all sides on all ethnic groups, and if we had that history, we would have an opportunity to have a better understanding. It would be wonderful if people would do that on a large scale.”

——

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer James Smith, 34, born in Virginia; wife Adline, 30; and children John, 14, Joseph, 9, Windsor, 12, Kate, 6, Allace, 5, and Julious, 2.

On 19 October 1892, Joe Smith, 21, of Wilson, son of Jim and Adeline Smith, married Martha Wheeler, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Amy Wheeler, at Amy Wheeler’s home. Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Bess performed the ceremony in the presence of Noah Wood, John Wheeler and Jno. Artis.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 29, farmer; wife Martha, 25; and children Addie, 5, Fenner, 4, and Mark, 2, and widowed mother Amma, 55.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 39; wife Martha, 36; and children Addie, 15, Fenner, 13, Mark, 11, James, 9, Lillie, 7, Mary F., 5, and Martha, 15 months.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 49; wife Martha, 41; and children Mark, 21, Lillie, 19, Mary Ford, 13, Martha, 10, Margaret Earls, 4 months, and Josie Brow, newborn.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Tobe Smith, 59, farmer; wife Martha, 54; and children Frenner, 35, farm laborer, Mark G., 32, farm laborer, James, 30, schoolhouse janitor, Josephine, 14, and Beulah, 11.

Martha Smith died 21 March 1932 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born born in Nash County to Dick Wheeler and Amy Rice; was married to Tobe Smith; and worked as a tenant farmer.

Joseph Tobe Smith died 20 January 1956 at his home at 315 Jefferson Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 August 1884 in Wilson County to James Smith and Adline Darden; was a retired farmer; resided at 315 Jefferson Street; and was buried in Winstead cemetery. Mrs. Martha Sherrod, 315 Jefferson, was informant.

Aerial view of Winstead cemetery behind Wilson (former Parkwood) Mall, Wilson. Courtesy Google Maps.

“I have respect for my father and mother.”

What is now called Rountree Cemetery first caught wider Wilson’s attention in February 1989 when the Daily Times printed a full-page feature. I’ve abstracted the piece, with some commentary, below:

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1989. (Please click image to enlarge.)

“Vick Cemetery is just one of several Lane Street cemeteries being used as trash dumps, but a small group of people want to change all that.”

Ben Mincey Jr., [who is in his 70s and] whose father is buried in the old Odd Fellows Cemetery directly north of and adjacent to Vick cemetery, is trying to get help for both cemeteries.

Councilman A.P. Coleman discussed the cemeteries with City Manager Cyrus Brooks and suggested Mincey seek grants from historic societies or other groups. Brooks said he was aware of the situation at the Vick Cemetery but “had no solutions and had directed inquiries to the [Cemetery] Commission,” over which the city has no control.

Mincey thinks the city or commission should help clean both cemeteries and notes that Vick deeded the property to the city in 1913. With volunteers and hired help, Mincey has cut down and burned off much of overgrowth in Odd Fellows and is trying to remove the accumulated trash, which includes appliances, bed frames, rotting clothing, dead animals wrapped in plastic bags, tires, and bottles.

Mincey says both cemeteries were well cared for when the “older people whose families were buried there” were still living, and he was trying to clean up because “I have respect for my father and mother.” An unnamed cemetery official said he had no idea why relatives had let the old cemeteries deteriorate or why nothing was said until recently.

Both cemeteries are over 100 years old, and neither has been used in more than 30 years. There are no known records on who or how many people are buried in Vick cemetery (or presumably, Odd Fellows.)

“Mincey said many prominent blacks from Wilson’s past are buried in these two cemeteries and the Rountree Cemetery, also on Lane Street, located where Rountree Baptist Church used to sit.” They include Ben Mincey Sr., who helped start the East Wilson Volunteer Fire Department and worked for the city’s Utilities Department; Nettie Foster, a well known teacher; Walter Hines, a downtown barber; and S.H. Vick, the cemetery’s namesake, a former postmaster.”

“Trees not hide all but one grave, which sits by the roadside at the old Rountree Cemetery. The commission was not even aware of the Rountree Cemetery’s existence” and did not know Vick Cemetery existed “until about four years ago” when Mincey brought it to their attention. At that time, they determined that Mincey Sr. was buried in the Odd Fellows, not Vick, cemetery.

Pursuant to a 1923 state statute, the Cemetery Commission was given title to all city property used for cemetery purposes, including Vick Cemetery. Currently, only Rest Haven and Maplewood are active cemeteries. The commission does not receive city funding, but is audited by the city.

Cemetery Commission chairman Earl Bradbury says of Vick Cemetery, “Burial patterns are any which way. Nobody has any records of who was buried there. It just sat there and so nobody had any interest in it and it just grew up.” After its “discovery,” the commission authorized $8000 for cleanup by hand “because heavy machinery would cause the graves to collapse.”  (As wooden caskets decay, the ground above them subsides, creating sunken graves.) “Because of this, no local firms will help with the cleanup.” Heavy rains prevented the completion of the cleanup, and the area still needs to be burned off and treated with weed killer. Bradbury agrees that the Vick property should be cleaned and cared for, but says the commission did not have the funds to do so. “He said he hoped to pack the collapsed graves with silt dredged from Toisnot Lake, but that silt is just sitting on unused Maplewood Cemetery property. Also, Bradbury thinks people with relatives in the Vick cemetery should show some interest in having the cemetery renovated, and he said it would be nice if the city could help with possibly a one-time grant.” As for Odd Fellows, it is the responsibility of the fraternal organization or relatives of the deceased to clear that cemetery.

Councilman Coleman notes that the city might have a “moral obligation” to find a solution, notuing that “the Lane Street area was included in the 1972 annexation of east Wilson, wich was an area that had been neglected for many years.”

——

  • Odd Fellows cemetery? This is the first I’ve heard of it. The obelisk now marking the remaining stones says “Rountree-Vick.” If Odd Fellows was north, and “north” means northeast toward Martin Luther King Parkway/U.S. 264, is it now completely wooded? As this cemetery was not city property, was it just left to revert to nature? In the mid-1970s, headstones were visible among the trees and underbrush in this area. Though we called it Rountree, was this actually Odd Fellows? (For more about Hannibal Lodge No. 1552, International Order of Odd Fellows, see here.)
  • If so, where was Rountree cemetery? The article seems to imply that it was not immediately adjacent to Vick and Odd Fellows. The east parking lot of the “new” Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, built in the late 1970s, was laid over the site of the clapboard predecessor. There is no apparent graveyard immediately adjacent to the church now, and it’s not clear where a location closer than the known cemetery could have been.
  • It’s heartbreaking that Ben Mincey Sr.’s headstone is not one of those that survives.
  • Silt from Toisnot Lake? Did this ever happen? Is this really a sanctioned method of handling sunken graves? Several of the remaining graves have collapsed, and at least one has been breached to the point that a dark vacuum is visible below ground.

Cemeteries, no. 21: Rountree.

Though commonly known as Rountree cemetery, this abandoned graveyard originally comprised two burial grounds. One, whose founding date is unknown, was associated with nearby Rountree Missionary Baptist Church. The other was established on land deeded to the city in 1913 by Samuel H. Vick. Into the 1950s, black Wilson’s leading lights and their families were buried here, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of lesser known residents. A half-century after the cemetery closed, only a handful of grave markers remain on a slight rise cleared along the southern ditch bank.

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They include:

  • Della and Dave Barnes

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Della Hines Wife of Dave Barnes 1858-1935 She is not dead but sleeping.

Dave Barnes died Jan. 23, 1913 Age 52 years Death was the gate through which to life he passed.

The most prominent of the remaining headstones are those of Della Mercer Hines Barnes and, at left above, her husband Dave Barnes, mother and father/step-father of three of early East Wilson’s most successful sons, William Hines, Walter Hines and Boisey O. Barnes.

  • Delzela Rountree

IMG_9947

Delzela Dau of Jack & Lucile Rountree Born Aug 5, 1897 Died Mar. 8, 1914. An angel visited the green earth and took the flower away.

In the 1900 census of Falkland township, Pitt County: farmer Jack Rountree, 49; wife Lucy, 27; and children Julius, 5, Daisy E., 2, and Cora, 2 months; sisters Marcela, 23, Cora, 24, and Ella Bargeron, 26; and boarder Jacob Worthan, 18.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jack Rountree, 53; wife Lucy, 35; and children Junius, 15, Delzel, 12, Cora Lee, 10, John H., 7, James, 6, Mable, 4, and Gollie May, 1.

IMG_9945

Charles S. Thomas departed this life Sept. 5, 1937 From all life’s labors he rests on high.

  • Sarah Best Thomas

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Sarah wife of Charlie Thomas Born 1868 Aug 18 1916 Gone But Not Forgotten.

Sarah Thomas was not married to barber/insurance agent Charles S. Thomas above. Rather she was married to printing office employee Charles Thomas.

On 25 January 1888, Charles Thomas, 23, son of Sarah Thomas, married Sarah Best, 21, daughter of Lewis and Harriet Best. Missionary Baptist minister J.T. Clark performed the ceremony at Lewis Best’s in the presence of Charles Barbry, Wyatt Studaway and Charles Williamson.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, pressman for printing office; wife Sarah, 33; and children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

  • Nunnie Barnes

Nunnie Barnes Born June 8 1885 Died Aug 25 1921

  • Lucinda White

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Lucinda Wife of Geo. W. White Oct 15 1880 Nov 30 1915 Age 35 

  • Tate family

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Noah J. Tate (1876-1926) may be among the family members buried here.

  • Hardy Tate

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Hardy Tate‘s foot marker lies at some distance from the Tate family plot, but he seems likely that he is buried there.

  • Emma Oates and Rev. Henry W. Farrior

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Emma wife of Charlie Oates Died Sept 3 1908 Age 40 years

Rev Henry W Farrior Aug 12 1859 May 6 1937

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Charles Oates, 34; wife Emma, 30; and children Willie, 11, Fannie, 9, Annie, 8, Effie, 5, and Queen E., 4.

In the 1900 census of Lisbon township, Sampson County, North Carolina: Virginia-born preacher Henry Farrior, 39, wife Izzy, 37, children Lillie, 17, Dallas, 15, and Diane, 5, and divorced brother-in-law Richard Robinson, 50. Dallas and Richard worked as farm laborers. [Henry W. Farrior was an A.M.E. Zion minister.]

Henry W. Farrior appeared in Wilson city directories as early as 1916 and throughout the 1920s. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Christian Church minister Henry W. Farrior, 60, and wife Aria, 60, with boarders tobacco factory stemmer Earnest Bulluck, 35, his wife Lena, 30, and children Earnest Jr., 12, Paul T., 8, and Lee, 7.

Henry William Farrior died 6 March 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born 12 August 1859 in Powhatan, Virginia, to Henry and Sylvia Farrior; resided at 203 Pender Street, Wilson; was married Isiebell Farrior; and was a preacher. Dalley Farrior was informant.

  • Charles Oates

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Charles Oates

  • Irma Vick

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Irma day of S.H. and A.M. Vick Gone but not forgotten

Irma Vick was a daughter of Samuel H. and Annie M. Washington Vick. She died while a student in Asheville, North Carolina. (It is likely that Irma’s parents and grandparents, and perhaps other siblings, was buried in this cemetery, but none of their headstones remain.)

  • Clarence Lenwood Carter

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C.L. Carter

Clarence Lenwood Carter registered for the World War I draft in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 29 October 1882; resided at 423 Green Street; worked as a merchant for G.S. Walston, 507 East Nash; and his nearest relative was Mena Carter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 423 Green Street, barber Clarence Carter, 36; wife Meena, 25; and children Omega, 9, Clarence H., 7, and Mina G., 3.

Clarence L. Carter died 13 February 1925 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was married to Mina Carter; lived at 418 East Green; was born 29 October 1877 in Bertie County to George Carter and Annie Outlaw; and worked as a day laborer.

  • Dawson family

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Virginia S. Dawson and her mother L. [Lucy Annie Hill] Dawson are among those buried here.

  • Edith Omega Carter Spicer

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Omega C. Spicer Dec. 7, 1910 Apr. 27, 1945

On 7 October 1933, Elverde Taylor, 23, son of Jim and Matilda Taylor, married Omega Carter, 22, daughter of Clarence and Mina Carter. C.A. Artis applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony in the presence of L.M. Mercer of Elm City and L.F. Winborn and W.W. Clark of Wilson.

Edith Omega Spicer died 27 April 1945 at the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 December 1910 in Wilson County to Clarence Carter of Bertie County and Mena Rountree of Wilson County; worked as a waitress; resided at 538 East Nash Street; and was separated.

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Walter Hines’s headstone has disappeared.

The area outlined in red below, south of Lane Street, is the approximate area of Rountree cemetery. Its 7.45 acres also extends west the edge of the image. After a stab at clean-up in the early 1980s, the City of Wilson determined that restoring the cemetery would be too costly. In 1995, after some public input, the City elected to clear and grade much of the site and erect a stone marble memorializing Rountree’s dead. Some cracked markers are visible inside the tree line near the cleared area. Otherwise, no trace of the locations of graves remains. Broken stones were to be catalogued and stored, but recent queries into their location have been fruitless.

Photographs of Rountree cemetery taken by Lisa Y. Henderson in 2016.

Cemeteries, no. 20: Saint Delight church.

There is Saint Delight Missionary Baptist Church in Walstonburg, just beyond Saratoga in Greene County. This is not it. This is Saint Delight Original Freewill Baptist Church, and it is just northeast of Kenly, about a mile inside the Wilson County line, at the end of a dirt spur hard by the CSX railroad.

Per its cornerstone, the church was dedicated in 1915 by Rev. G.W. Edwards. If its large cemetery is a measure, Saint Delight was an important center of worship in the area, which has been known as Boyette and Kirby’s Crossing. Given its proximity to the county line, church membership also drew from Johnston County. The Horton family — transplants from Wake County — were important in the church’s early decades, and the numerous graves of that extended family lie closest to the sanctuary.

  • The Pierce children — Roscoe, Maggie, Sara and Toma

The four headstones read: (1) Roscoe son of E & M Pierce May 14 1921 Oct 29 1921 At rest; (2) Maggie dau of E & M Pierce Nov 12 1919 Sep 26 1920 At rest; (3) Sara dau of E & M Pierce Jun 14 1914 Jan 1 1915 At rest; and (4) Toma dau of E & M Pierce Aug 7 1911 Dec 31 1914 At rest. Sara and Toma died too early for certificates to have been issued to record their deaths. However, per his death certificate, Roscoe Pierce died of acute ileocolitis on 26 October 1921 in Springhill township. He was born 14 May 1921 in Wilson County to Ernest Pierce and Maggie Atkinson and was buried at Kirby’s Crossing. Maggie Pierce died of acute ileocolitis 19 September 1920 in Springhill township. She was born 12 December 1919 to Ernest Pierce and Maggie Atkinson and was buried in Boyetts cemetery.

  • Nathan Atkinson

Nathan Atkinson Sept. 1 1847 Nov. 2 1925 Death is eternal life why should we weep.

In the 1870 census of Bentonsville township, Johnston County: Nathan Atkinson, 18, is listed as a farmhand in the household of 47 year-old white farmer Bryant Williams.

On 8 August 1872, Nathan Atkinson, 23, married Frances Shaw, 18, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Atkinson, 28; wife Frances, 25; and children William, 7, Albert, 5, Coraan, 3; and Joseph, 10 months.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Atkinson, 55; wife Frances, 47; and children Mary I., 19, Howard F., 16, Lerogy, 14, Maggie, 12, Spencer, 10, Fannie, 8, and Henrietta, 3; and nephew Joseph S. Atkinson, 3. [Maggie Atkinson Pierce was mother of the Pierce children above.]

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Atkinson, 63; wife Fannie M., 58; and children Spencer R., 18, Fannie F., 16, and Henrietta, 13; and grandson Joseph S. Atkinson, 13.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on avenue off the new section of the Wilson & Kenly Road, widower farmer Nathan Atkinson, 72, son Joe, 25, and daughter Henrietta, 22.

Nathon Atkinson died 2 November 1925 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 77 years old; born in Wilson County to unknown parents; worked as a farmer; and was buried in Boyette cemetery. Tink Pierce was informant.

  • Mathew and Savannah Scott Horton

Savannah Horton Mar 7 1870 Jan 18 1935 Mathew Horton M___ 1870 Jun ___

This concrete headstone is enormous, easily three feet high and four feet across.

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: Nash Horton, 35; wife Elizabeth, 25; and children James, 14, Allis, 9, Jane, 6, Susan, 4, George, 2, and Matthew, 2 months.

On 28 September 1890, Savanah Scott, 20, daughter of John and Nannie Scott, married Mathew Horton, 21, son of Nash and Betsey Horton, all of Springhill. Rufus Horton applied for the license, and he, Samuel Taylor and Anderson Horton witnessed.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Mathew Horton, 32; wife Savannah, 31; and children Roscoe, 7, Sidney D., 4, and James F., 1.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Mathew Horton, 42; wife Savannah, 41; and children Roscoe, 16, Sidney, 13, Freddy, 11, Alice, 9, Allie, 7, and Rhommie, 4.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: M.H. Horton, 51; wife Savannah, 50; and children Alice, 18, Allie, 16, and Romey, 14; plus David Scott, 75, boarder.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Mathew Horton, 60, and wife Savanah, 59.

Mathew Horton died 25 July 1953, age 81.

  • Annie Scott Horton

Annie Scott  1867-1930

Perhaps this is the same Annie E.B. Scott, 20, daughter of John Scott, who married Haywood Horton, 22, son of John and Esser Horton, on 13 February 1887 in Springhill township in the presence of Samuel Taylor, Anderson Horton and Tony Mercer.

Annie Scott died 5 September 1930 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1883 [sic] in Wake County to John and Annie Scott; worked as a laundress; resided at 618 Vance Street, Wilson. Informant was Savannah Horton, Wilson.

  • Susan Horton Beckwith Johnson Farmer

Susie Horton July 14, 1865 Jan. 18, 1945 wife of Richard Johnson mother of Aaron, Carrie, Curtis & Garland

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: Nash Horton, 35; wife Elizabeth, 25; and children James, 14, Allis, 9, Jane, 6, Susan, 4, George, 2, and Matthew, 2 months.

On 21 May 1882, Joshua Beckwith, 28, of Chatham County, son of Wiley and Lucy Costin, married Susan Horton, 17, of Wilson, daughter of Nash and Elizabeth Horton, at Nash Horton‘s in Springhill township. Witnesses were John T. Hinnant, Nash Horton and Isaac Kirby.

On 2 October 1887, Richard Johnson, 22, of Wilson County, married Susan Beckford, 24, of Wilson County, in Springhill township. Witnesses were Anderson Horton, Samuel Taylor and Joel Oneil.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Susan Johnson, 34, widowed washerwoman; and children Ayren, 17, Cary, 12, Curtis, 10, and Garland, 4.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Robert Boykin, 28; wife Carrie, 23; daughters Vernell, 4, Lizzie D., 2, and Queen E., 2 months; and mother-in-law Susan Horton, 44, cook.

Susan Horton died 18 January 1945 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1866 in Wake County to Nash Horton and an unnamed mother; resided at 417 South Goldsboro Street, Wilson; was the widow of Dock Farmer; and was buried in Boyett cemetery. Informant was Carrie Boykin, 417 South Goldsboro.

  • Rev. James Thomas Johnson

Rev. J.T. Johnson son of Susie Horton July 17, 1886 Dec. 18, 1933 A faithful member of the Free Will Baptist Church and a gospel preacher for twenty-two years

James Thomas Johnson died 18 December 1933 in Pine Level, Johnston County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 July 1884 in Chatham County to Josh Beckwith and Susie Horton; was married to Martha Durham Johnson; and worked as a preacher. His wife was informant, and he was buried at Boyettes cemetery.

  • James H. Horton

James H. Horton born Sep 7 1855 died May 8 1943 Gone but not forgotten

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: Nash Horton, 35; wife Elizabeth, 25; and children James, 14, Allis, 9, Jane, 6, Susan, 4, George, 2, and Matthew, 2 months.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James Horton, 45; wife Lona, 29; and children Louisa M., 7, James L., 6, Henry A., 2, and Roberta, 2 months.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James H. Horton, 55; wife Lunar, 38; and children James T., 16, Henry A., 12, Roberta, 9, Lizzie, 6, Cora, 4, and John, 1.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Fremont & Kirby’s Crossing branch or avenue, widowed farmer James H. Horton, 64, and children Henry A., 21, Lizzie, 14, Cora, 12, and Johnnie, 10.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: widowed farmer James H. Horton, 73; son-in-law James L. Lewis, 25; and daughter Cora, 23.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Black Creek Church to Kenly Fremount Road, farmer James Lewis, 35; wife Cora, 34; and children Lillie Mae, 11, and Saulie Mae, 6; and father-in-law James Horton, 85.

James H. Horton died 8 May 1943 in Springhill township. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 June 1860 in Wake County to Nash Horton and an unknown mother; was the widower of Lunar Taylor; and was buried in the Free Will Baptist cemetery. Henry Horton was informant.

  • John Horton

John Horton born Sept. 15th 1826 March 29th 1910

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: farm laborer John Horton, 47; wife Espram, 35; and children Milly, 13, Nancy, 11, Anderson, 7, Haywood, 6, Rufus, 3, Mitty, 1, Doctor F., 39, and John W., 7.

In the 1880 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: John Horton, 53; wife Hesper, 45; and children Anderson, 17, Haywood, 15, Rufus, 12, Annie, 9, Spencer, 7, Louis, 3, and Minnie, 1.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: John Horton, 73; wife Esther, 65; and son Louis, 23; hired girl Roselle Peacock, 19; nephews Nathaniel Hopson, 16, and John W. Richardson, 17; and servant George Davis, 18.

  • Louzania Hinnant Barnes

Louzania H. Barnes Aug 14 186_ Mar 23 1953

On 14 March 1893, Dred Barnes, 33, of Black Creek, son of Nelson Barnes, married Luzana Hinnant, 30, of Black Creek, daughter of Hardy Hinnant, in Black Creek. Witnesses were J.B. Bardin, J.H. Mosley, and Ben Simms.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Dred Barnes, 42; wife Lou Z., 37; son Johnnie, 14; and boarder Alex Johnson, 29.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Dred Barnes, 54, and wife Louzanne, 48.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Dread Barnes, 69, and wife Louisa, 47.

In the 1900 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: William O. Barnes, 61; wife Maggie B., 58; children Ruth, 17, and Mildred, 16; lodger Bennie Sheard, 17; and Louzannie Barnes, 77.

  • Mary Ayers

Mary Ayers wife of Council Ayers. Died Dec. 23, 1913.

On 30 April 1866, Council Ayers married Mary Carroll in Johnston County.

In the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: Council Ares, 52, wife Mary, 33, and William Smith, 3.

  • J.A. Kirby

J.A. Kirby born July 16, 1867 died Mch. 2, 1911

On 11 February 1900, James Kirby, 31, married Kizzy Bagley, 26, in Fork township, Wayne County.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James A. Kirby, 40; wife Kizzie E., 37; and son Rodgers Kirby, 22.

  • Lucy Cofield

Lucy Cofield, wife of Offin Cofield. Died Oct. 15. 1914, age 98 yrs. Honored beloved and wept, here mother lies.

Lucy Coffield died 13 September 1914 in Kenly, Johnston County. Per her death certificate, she was 90 years old, was born in Bertie County to unknown parents and was buried at Boyett’s Crossing. Simon Coffield was informant.

  • Manda Perry

Manda Perry July 7, 1865 Feb. 19 1950

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 107 North East Street, laundresses Halla Harris, 74, and Mandy Perry, 62, both widowed; and roomer Westley Hines, 25, a body plant laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Mahaily Harris, 75; her widowed sister Manda Perry, 73; and Manda’s grandson Fred Perry, 22, a tobacco factory laborer.

1902 topographical map of Kenly quadrant.

circa 1975 topographical map of Kenly East quadrant.

Cemeteries, no. 19: the Nelson Armstrong family.

This cemetery — way down an unpaved track and surrounded on three sides by soybeans — is back in the cut, as they say, but lovingly maintained. Nelson Armstrong and his brother Gary were prosperous farmers who owned large farms northeast of Elm City near the Edgecombe County line.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Abraham Armstrong, 52, wife Cherry, 32, and children Nancy, 16, Haywood, 14, Nelson, 12, Joshua, 11, and Burlee, 7.

On 10 January 1884, Nelson Armstrong married Mary Ann Bulluck in Edgecombe County.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot, Wilson County, on Wells Daws Avenue, Nelson Armstrong, 58, Mary, 45, daughter Hattie Armstrong, 22, son Henry Armstrong, 20, son-in-law Thomas Hilliard, 25, daughter Mamie, 24, and their children Carnelia, 3, and Magnora Hilliard, 2.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: Nelson Armstrong, 60, wife Mary, 50, and boarder Grover Barnes, 19.

Nelson Armstrong was an initial investor in Commercial Bank of Wilson.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot, Wilson County: Henry Armstrong, 42, wife Mimia, 33, and children Mary, 11, Fred, 8, Rosa, 6, Clarence, 4, and Nathan, 1, plus widower father Nelson, 75.

Nelson Armstrong died 8 December 1934 in Toisnot township. Per his death certificate: he was 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Abraham and Cherry Armstrong; was a farmer; and was a widower.

  • Mary Ann Armstrong

Mary Armstrong died 25 September 1924. Per her death certificate, she was 58 years old; married to Nelson Armstrong; and born in Edgecombe to Crumel and Rena Bulluck.

  • Hattie Armstrong Lucas

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot, Wilson County, on Wells Daws Avenue, Nelson Armstrong, 58, Mary, 45, daughter Hattie Armstrong, 22, son Henry Armstrong, 20, son-in-law Thomas Hilliard, 25, daughter Mamie, 24, and their children Carnelia, 3, and Magnora Hilliard, 2.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Elias Lucas, 44; wife Hattie, 40; and children Ada, 16, Turner, 14, Eva, 13, Marie, 6, and Nathaniel, 5.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Elias Lucas, 54; wife Hattie, 52; and children Marie, 16, and Nathanel, 15.

Hattie Lucas died 17 November 1943. Per her death certificate, she was 56 years old; born in Wilson County to Nelson Armstrong of Wilson County and Hattie Armstrong of Edgecombe County; was married to Elias Lucas; and was buried in the Armstrong cemetery.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2017.

Cemeteries, no. 18: Cherry Chapel.

Cherry Chapel Baptist Church today is located just outside Elm City. Historically, however, the church’s home was several miles east on East Langley Road, just inside the Edgecombe County line. The small edifice is now occupied by Pleasant Hill Church of God, but Cherry Chapel’s cemetery remains. Well-maintained except along the edges where the woods encroach, most of its graves date from the mid-twentieth century and include:

  • Joseph Virgil (1909-1945)

Joseph Virgil died 16 January 1945 near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 June 1910 in Florence, South Carolina, to Ed Virgil and Candis Scott; was a farmer; and was married to Fannie D. Virgil, who was informant.

  • Anner B. Knight (1901-1961)

Annie Knight died 17 January 1961 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 April 1902 in Norfolk, Virginia, to Wiley Batts and Lucy Bullock; was widowed; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. [Is this a recording mistake? Was she disinterred and moved?] Informant was Mary Lancaster of Wilson County.

  • Blanche B. Barnes (1906-1959)

img_1701

Blanche Barnes died 26 September 1959 in Toisnot township. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 June 1906 in Wilson County to Charlie Batts and Lizzie Joyner; was a farmer and housewife; and was married to Wiley Barnes.

  • Clara Dawes (1884-1953)

Clara Dawes died 23 July 1953 in Elm City, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 September 1883 in Wilson County to Handy Lawrence and Georgeanna Bullock and was widowed. Lonnie Weaver, Elm City, was informant.

  • Sarah Satterwhite

img_1695

Sarah Satterwhite died 7 January 1945 at the Wilson “county TB sanatorium.” Per her death certificate, she was born 18 December 1900 in Nash County to Robert Arrington and Caroline Bryant; was married to Eddie Satterwhite; lived near Elm City; and was buried at Cherry’s Chapel.

 

Cemeteries, no. 17: the Littleton and Judie Ellis family.

This small family cemetery is completely hidden in a copse of trees just outside the gates of Wiggins Mill Water Treatment Plant on Forest Hills Road in Wilson. Until relatively recently, this area — nearly four miles south of downtown — was outside city limits. Few gravestones are visible in the tangle of catbrier, pines and oak saplings, but several oblong indentations — some feet deep — mark burial sites just as clearly. This cemetery holds the remains of several generations of the family of Littleton and Judy Barnes Ellis, a couple born in slavery. The couple and at least four of their children — Bryant, Lucy, Maggie, Lizzie Sarah — are buried here on land that once belonged to Littleton Ellis.

The view from the edge of the woods:

img_1708

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The dark patches at right are a series of sunken graves:

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  • Maggie Ellis Darden (1886-1969). Gone to take her rest. We loved her but God loved her best. The family.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Littleton Ellis, 30, wife Judah, 21, and children Bryant, 4, and Martha, 3.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 45; wife Judah, 30; and children Bryant, 14, Martha, 12, Patsey, 10, Mary, 8, Bud, 6, Thomas, 4, Rose, 2, and James, 1.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Littleton Ellis, 73; wife Judy, 55; and children Lucy, 21, Littleton, 18, Sarah, 16, Maggie, 14, Nettie, 12, and Minnie, 10.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Wiggins Mill Road, farmer Littleton Ellis, 27; his mother Judie, 62; and sisters Lucy, 30, Sarah, 24, Maggie, 23, and Lettie, 21.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Judie Ellis, 80, widow; children Lucy, 32, Litt, 30, and Maggie, 25; and granddaughter Manerva Barnes, 22.

On 18 March 1923, George Darden, 35, married Maggie Ellis, 25, in Wilson County. Free Will Baptist minister Tom Thomas performed the ceremony in the presence of Willie Darden, Jonathan Ford, and W.H. Cotton.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Darden, 42; wife Maggie, 35, and daughter Artelia, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1021 South Mercer Street, laundress Maggie Darden, 46, and daughter Artelia, 11.

Maggie Ellis Darden died 22 September 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 March 1886 in Arkansas to Littleton Ellis and Julia Barnes [were the Ellises returned Exodusters?] Informant was Artelia Neal.

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A vault cover hidden under pine needles and creeping foliage:

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  • Rev. Jesse Herring (1890-1956). Gone but not forgotten.

In the 1900 census of Indian Springs township, Wayne County, and the 1910 census of Brogden township, Wayne County, Jessie Herring is listed in the household of his parents Amos and Lucy Herring.

In 1917, Jesse Herring registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he lived at 618 Lodge Street, Wilson; was born 23 September 1892 in Mount Olive, North Carolina; worked as a carpenter for George Whitley in Wilson County; and had a dependent wife and two children.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 413 Lodge Street, carpenter Jessie Herring, 27; wife Sarah, 33; and children Daisy, 5, Minnie, 4, and Mary, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Jessie Herring, 34; wife Sarah, 36; and children Daniel, 13, Minnie, 12, Mary E., 11, Amos, 9, Maggie, 7, James L., 3, and Mary E., 1 month. Herring paid $3/month in rent. [Next door, the household of Sarah’s brother Bryant Ellis.]

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 301, farmer Jessie Herring, 53; wife Sarah, ; and children Dazel, 25, Amos, 20, James L., 14, Mary Elizabeth, 9, George R., 7, and Ruby Lee, 6. Herring owned his house.

Jessie Herring died 5 June 1956 in Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 September 1889 in Wayne County to Amos Herring and Lucy Whitfield; was a farmer; was married to Sarah Herring; and was buried in Ellis cemetery. Sarah Herring was informant.

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  • Lizzie Sarah Ellis Herring (1884-1964). We loved you. She was the sunshine of our home.

Sarah Ellis Herring died 9 July 1964 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 May 1891 in Wilson County to Littleton Ellis and Judy [last name unknown]; was widow of Jessie Herring; and was buried in the family cemetery. Informant was Amos Herring. [This is a fine example of a Clarence Best gravestone and features many of his signature motifs.]