cemetery

Rountree cemetery, revisited.

We visited the remains of Rountree cemetery here and here. In the photo below, the arrow indicates the grove that surrounds the memorial plinth and obelisk erected by the city in 1995. The grassy area? THE CEMETERY. Denuded of forty years of overgrowth and seventy years of grave markers, filled, leveled and sown. There were no disinterments or removals. The graves are still there (and probably in the woods beyond, too).

In 1989-90, Wilson City Council wrestled with the question of its responsibility to Rountree after discovering that the city owned the property. In a 10 January 1990 Daily Times article, “Cemetery income down, costs up,” Cemetery Commission Chairman Earl Bradbury “described the small 100-foot by 140-foot cemetery as a jungle.” Jungle it may have been, but it was a lot bigger than the quarter-acre he imagined.

Lane Street was a dirt road well into the 1970s. When I was a child, we sometimes rode our bikes over to peer into the woods at Rountree’s gravestones, tilting and toppled in the leaf litters. I distinctly remember the long edge of a vault cover exposed in the weeds at the edge of the road, near the Y below. Right now, at X, a few markers remain visible inside the tree line.

The last burials at Rountree took place in the early 1960s. By 1967, there was a problem. With abundant heat and humidity, an abandoned Southern landscape is fecund ground, and “growing like a weed” is not a simile. Kudzu had not yet arrived in eastern North Carolina, but catbrier and poison ivy and broomsedge, followed quickly by sumacs, sweetgums and pines, make quick work of an untended lot. Worse, there was unchecked dumping.

 Wilson Daily Times, 10 June 1967.

The following spring, just as the weeds were flexing to spring to new heights, this appeal to the public appeared in the Times. “Come on out and do your part,” it implored. (“Persons interested”? There was probably not a black person in Wilson at the time, me included, that didn’t have someone buried at Rountree.)

Wilson Daily Times, 3 March 1968.

Less than ten years later, my friends and I were telling ghost stories as we cycled past woods dotted with lichen-flecked headstones. A dozen or so years after that, the Daily Times‘ 18 February 1989 article about Ben Mincey Jr.‘s efforts to honor his parents’ graves kickstarted the city’s reckoning with the travesty of Rountree. These photographs accompanied the piece.

So, having cleared the cemetery and raised a memorial, where are the headstones the city removed?

Top photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019; aerial photo courtesy of Google Map.

Colored persons buried in the Thomas graveyard.

Some Black Families of Wilson County, North Carolina, a compilation of The Hugh B. Johnston Working Papers published in 1997 by Wilson County Genealogical Society, contains a list of “Colored Persons Buried in the Old Thomas Graveyard on the Drake Thomas Farm.” The Old Thomas Graveyard, located just east of Wilson off N.C. Highway 42, is also known as the Toisnot Baptist Church cemetery. Per a marker in the cemetery: “Thomas Graveyard. Many early members of Toisnot Baptist Church lie near in unmarked graves. The Thomases continued to bury here for a century after the church was moved in 1803. …”

Here annotated, the list includes:

  • Charles Bynum, born 1825, and Caroline Bynum, born 1826 — they were former slaves of Colonel Robert Bynum and were both reputed locally as “conjure doctors”

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Charles Bynum, 45, farmer; wife Caroline, 34; and sons Richard, 3, and Isaac, 17. (In a duplicate entry in the same township: Charles Bynum, 38; wife Caroline, 39; and sons Isaac, 16, and Rich’d, 3.)

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Charles Bynum, 49, farmer; wife Caroline, 48; and son Richard, 14.

  • Isaac Bynum, son of Charles, was born in 1853 and died February 13, 1915.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Isac Bynum, 27, farm laborer.

On 3 September 1882, in Gardners township, Isaac Bynum, 28, of Wilson, son of Chls. Bynum and Cynthy Thorn, married Laura Bynum, 31, of Wilson, daughter of Tart Bynum and Rhody Bynum.

Isaac Bynum died 13 February 1915 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1848 in Wilson County to Chas. Bynum and Caroline Thorne and was a widower. J.B. Farmer was informant.

  • William “Will” Weaver, Sr., born 1854, died September 2, 1930.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tarboro Road, farm laborer William Weaver, 56; wife Celia, 48; and sons Charlie, 16, and Iversen, 11.

William Weaver died 2 September 1930 in Coopers township, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to William Weaver and Fannie Weaver; and was married to Sealy Weaver. Informant was Frank Weaver, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

  • George Weaver, son of William Weaver, born 1875

George Weaver died 27 January 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 March 1887 in Edgecombe County to Bill Weaver and Annie Williams; was a farmer; and was the widower of Mary L. Weaver. Contrary to Johnston’s assertion, George Weaver was buried in “Bynum cemetery,” Wilson County. James Weaver, 301 Finch Street, was informant.

  • Johnnie Weaver, son of William Weaver
  • Louis Williams, a native of Pitt County

In the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County, North Carolina: Louis Williams, 25; wife Delphia, 20; and children Emily, 6, Willis, 4, and Ben, 2.

In the 1880 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: Lewis Williams, 32; wife Delphia, 35; and children Jenny, 15, Willie, 12, Ernold, 10, Lewis, 7, Mariah, 5, Jerry, 3, and Pattie, 1.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Williams, 62; wife Delphia, 64; and children Lewis, 23, Pattie, 20, Jerry, 19, Lena, 17, Isaac, 15, Eddie, 13, Emmie, 11, and Odie G., 9.

  • Delphia Williams, wife of Louis and daughter of Jerry Smith and wife Annie Smith of Pitt County
  • Jerry Williams, son of Louis Williams

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Wilson Road, farmer Jerry Williams, 40; wife Mary, 28; and children Edward, 10, Martha, 8, Maggie, 5, and Jerry, 1.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jerry Williams, 48; [second] wife Martha, 38; and children Eddie, 18, Martha, 14, Maggie, 11, Jerry Jr., 7, Lucille, 5, and Nestus, 1.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Jerry Williams, 60; wife Martha, 50; and children Eddie, 30, Jerry, 21, Lucille, 17, Ivy, 15, Nestus, 11, and Wade, 4.

Jerry Williams died 1 December 1946 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 January 1882 in Wilson County to Louis Williams of Edgecombe County and Delphia Williams; was married to Martha Williams; and, contrary to Hugh Johnston, was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. Jerry Williams was informant.

  • Mary, wife of young Jerry Williams, was born in 1894 and died on March 5, 1920.

Mary Williams died 5 March 1920 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 28 years old; married to Jerry Williams; was born in Edgecombe County to Tony Sharp and Sarah Wasten.

  • Alex Ray, son of George and Hannah Ray, was born in 1851 on the ancestral plantation of Captain Culbreth in Cumberland County and died on the George W. Thomas farm on January 15, 1941.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Alex Ray, 62, widower, farmer.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Alex Ray, 75, widower, farmer.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Alex Ray, 90, widower, farmer.

Alex Ray died 15 January 1941 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in Cumberland County, North Carolina, to George Ray and Hannah Ray; was 89 years old; and was a farmer and a widower. Informant was Lizzie Williams. He was buried in Thomas cemetery.

  • Jenny Williams Thomas, wife of Jordan Thomas and daughter of Louis and Delphia Williams, was born in 1867 in Pitt County, and died on the T. Drake Thomas farm on February 9, 1925.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 53; wife Jennie, 50; nephews Jerry Williams, 13, and Nathan Williams, 7; and uncle Arner Williams, 80.

Gennie Thomas died 9 February 1925 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; was married to Jordan Thomas; was born in Pitt County, North Carolina, to Lewis Williams and Delphia Williams, both of Edgecombe County; and farmed for Mrs. W.L. Banks. Jordan Thomas was informant.

——-

 

Cemeteries, no. 26: the Alex and Gracy Williamson cemetery.

The Alex and Gracy Williamson cemetery lies adjacent to the Hardy H. Williamson cemetery off N.C. Highway 42 in Spring Hill township. Hardy Williamson (1807-1858) was a white farmer who owned property in parts of Johnston and Nash County that became Wilson County after 1855.

A view of the Alex Williamson cemetery from the western edge of the Hardy Williamson cemetery.

  • Alex Williamson

Alex Williamson died May 6, 1921 age 84

On 9 September 1869, Alex Williamson, son of Samuel Bass and Silvy Williams, married Grace Shaw, daughter of Thomas Narron and Katty Williamson, at Thomas Shaw‘s in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Ellic Williamson, 33; wife Gracy, 24; and children Ellic, 4, and Eugenia, 1.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Elic Williamson, 44; wife Gracy, 29; and children John, 14, Lugen, 11, Joseph, 9, Jennie, 7, Mary, 6, Clem, 4, Sarah J., 2, and Pall, 1.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Williamson, 63; wife Gracy, 50; children Genny Whitley, 26, and Sarah, 22, Paul, 21, Daniel, 19, Henietta, 15, Edna, 15, and Katie Williamson, 12; and grandchildren Nancy, 8, Della, 5, and Pearle Whitley, 4.

On 23 November 1904, Paul Williamson, 25, son of Alex and Grace Williamson of Springhill township, married Mary Hinnant, 23, daughter of Joe and Rhoda Hinnant of Spring Hill township. W.H. Horton of the Christian denomination performed the ceremony at Thom Hinnant‘s house in the presence of  J.T. Hinnant, L.H. Horton and W.H. Shaw.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Smithfield Branch Road, farmer Alexander Williamson, 72; wife Gracy, 62; widowed daughter Jennie Williamson, 38; daughters Sarah, 20, and Henrietta, 26; and grandchildren Nancy, 18, Della, 17, Hattie, 15, and Pearle Whitley, 14.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Old Clayton and Wilson Road, farmer Alexandria Williamson, 83; divorced daughter Janie W. Williamson, 37; granddaughter Dezell Bailey, 4; and stepson [son-in-law?] McKinley Bailey, 28, house carpenter.

Alexander Williamson died 6 April 1921 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1837 in Wilson County; was the widower of Gracy Williamson; was a farmer; and was buried in the Williamson graveyard.

  • Gracy Shaw Williamson

Gracy wife of Alex Williamson born  Jan 19, 1850 died June 28, 1912.

  • Mary Williamson

Mary Williamson Feb 21 1874 Sept 2 1899 Resting till the resurrection morn.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Elic Williamson, 44; wife Gracy, 29; and children John, 14, Lugen, 11, Joseph, 9, Jennie, 7, Mary, 6, Clem, 4, Sarah J., 2, and Pall, 1.

  • Henrietta Williamson Kent

Henrietta Kent wife George S. Kent Born Sep. 4 1883 Died Sep. 14 1912 She fought the good fight she kept the faith and is safe in the arms of Jesus.

The Masonic emblem suggests that this stone was originally intended for a male decedent.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Williamson, 63; wife Gracy, 50; children Genny Whitley, 26, and Sarah, 22, Paul, 21, Daniel, 19, Henietta, 15, Edna, 15, and Katie Williamson, 12; and grandchildren Nancy, 8, Della, 5, and Pearle Whitley, 4.

On 6 April 1911, George Kent, 28, of Nash County, married Henrietta Williamson, 27, of Spring Hill township. Missionary Baptist William H. Mitchiner performed the ceremony at the bride’s father’s house in the presence of J.T. Hinnant of Spring Hill, Paul Williamson of Lucama and Sallie M. Barbour of Wilson. (George Samuel Kent was a son of Ned and Lydia Barnes Kent.)

  • Bettie Boykin

Bettie dau. of J.R. & Mary Boykin Born Oct 5, 1876 Died Apr 25, 1913 Weep not, she is not dead but sleeping.

In the 1880 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer John Boykin, 42; wife Mary, 29; and children Dock, 19, DIck, 15, Turner, 7, Troy, 5, Betty, 3, and John, 1.

  • Edna Williamson Barnes

Edna wife of J. H. Barnes born Jan. 19, 1885 died June 13, 1914.

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Williamson, 63; wife Gracy, 50; children Genny Whitley, 26, and Sarah, 22, Paul, 21, Daniel, 19, Henietta, 15, Edna, 15, and Katie Williamson, 12; and grandchildren Nancy, 8, Della, 5, and Pearle Whitley, 4.

On 18 November 1906, James H. Barnes, 25, of Spring Hill township, son of Joe and Chaney Barnes, married Edna Williamson, 22, of Spring Hill, daughter of Alex and Grace Williamson.

In the 1910 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Smithfield Branch Road, James H. Barnes, 28, and wife Edna, 25.

Edna Barnes died 10 June 1914 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 32 March 1884 to Elex Williamson and Gracie Bailey in Wilson County and was married. James Barnes of Lucama was informant.

  • Katie Williamson

Katie Williamson Aug 10 1887 Just when we began to love her God called her back

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Williamson, 63; wife Gracy, 50; children Genny Whitley, 26, and Sarah, 22, Paul, 21, Daniel, 19, Henietta, 15, Edna, 15, and Katie Williamson, 12; and grandchildren Nancy, 8, Della, 5, and Pearle Whitley, 4.

  • Annie Williamson

Annie Williamson Aug. 8, 1886 Oct. __, 1886 Our loved one is gone to be an angel

  • Mary Kent Renfrow

Mary Wife of I. Renfrow Born June 30, 1868 Died Sept. 30, 1914

In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farm laborer Elbert Kent, 25, wife Rebecca, 23; and daughter Mary, 1.

In the 1880 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: Elbert Kent, 36, farmer; wife Rebeca, 29; and children Mary, 10, Rufus, 9, Saraha, 7, Flournes J., 6, Martha M., 4, and Pharrow, 1.

On 8 August 1886, Isaac Renfrow, 25, married Mary Kent, 20, at Buck Horn, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Rentfrow, 38; wife Mary E., 29; and children John M., 11, Hettie B., 9, and Qweenie V., 2.

In the 1910 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Rentfrow, 48; wife Mary, 40; and children Victoria, 12, and Isaac, 9, plus Rebecca, 14, Joseph, 12, Lutory, 6, and Joseph Barnes, 2.

Mary Renfrow died 30 August 1914 in Spring Hill township. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 June 1868 to Elbert Kent and Mary Barnes and was a farmer’s wife. Isaac Renfrow was informant.

Detail of the exquisite three-dimensional carving on Mary Renfrow’s headstone. The hand pointed upward symbolized the hope of Heaven. The veined stone is unusual in Wilson County markers.

  • Isaac Renfrow

Isaac Renfrow Born July 5, 1862 Died Mar. 5, 1915

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Penelope Renfrow, 29, and sons Jacob, 16, Esaw, 13, and Isaac, 10.

On 8 August 1886, Isaac Renfrow, 25, married Mary Kent, 20, at Buck Horn, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Rentfrow, 38; wife Mary E., 29; and children John M., 11, Hettie B., 9, and Qweenie V., 2.

In the 1910 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Rentfrow, 48; wife Mary, 40; and children Victoria, 12, and Isaac, 9, plus Rebecca, 14, Joseph, 12, Lutory, 6, and Joseph Barnes, 2.

Isaac Renfrow died 6 March 1915 in Spring Hill township. [Six months after his wife’s death.] Per his death certificate, he was born 1861 to Harry and Pennie Renfrow of Wilson County; was married; and was a farmer. Johnnie Renfrow was informant.

  • Abbie and Lidia Barnes

Abbie dau of J & C Barnes 1886 1909 At rest

Lidia dau of J & C Barnes 1880 1910 At rest

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph Barnes, 48; wife Chana, 44; and children Lydia, 20, James H., 18, Edgar F., 16, Abbey A., 14, Minnie, 12, Lula, 9, Eliza, 6, Joseph, 2, and Sarah, 2 months.

On 29 October 1905, Lydia Barnes, 26, of Spring Hill, daughter of Joe and Chanie Barnes, married Thomas Hinnant, 26, of Spring Hill, son of Tom and Martha Hinnant, in Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Hinnant, 32; wife Liddie, 37; and children Claude, 9, Alonzo, 7, Viola, 4, and Chana, 2; plus sister Louzetta Hinnant, 39.

  • Sallie Powell

Sallie Powell Dau of K Freeman Age 22 At rest

  • Lorenzo Freeman

Husband Loranzie Freeman 1849-1895 At rest

On 25 September 1885, Lourenza Freeman, 28, married Katey Deans, 26, at Meeksville, Wilson County.

  • Anonymous grave

Hand-hewn natural rock markers were placed at the head and foot of this grave.

  • Williamson grave

This small, badly weathered stone was also hand-cut. The name Williamson is barely visible among the hand-cut letters on its face.

  • Rachell Roberson

Mother Rachall Roberson 1837-1925 At rest

In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Guilford Robinson, 35; wife Rachel, 34; and children Katy, 15, Henry, 14, and Lucy, 12.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Gilford Robinson, 53; wife Rachal, 36; and children William, 9, and Sally, 8.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Guilford Roberson, 69, and wife Rachel, 57.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Raleigh Road, farmer Rachael Robertson, 71, widow, and daughter Katie Freeman, 52.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Old Raleigh Road, farmer Rachael Robertson, 80, widow, and daughter Katie Freeman, 61, widow.

Rachal Robinson died 19 July 1925 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 98 years old; was a widow; worked on a farm; was born in Wilson County to Mary Dawson and an unknown father. W.R. Robinson of Simms was informant.

  • Phillip Allen

Phillip Allen North Carolina Pvt Co D 333 Svc Bn OMC World War I April 11 1894 October 20 1962

On 14 March 1920, Phillip Allen, 26, of Spring Hill, married Daisy Creech, 22, of Spring Hill, in Old Fields township.

Phillip Allen died 20 October 1962 in Lucama, Spring Hill township. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 October 1894 in Wilson County to William Allen and Charlotte (last name not given); was married; and was a laborer. Daisy Allen was informant.

  • Martha Field Creech

Mother Martha F. Creech June 15 1879 Sept 10 1961

Martha Field Creech died 10 September 1961 in Lucama, Crossroads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 February 1888 in Wilson County to Wash Field and an unknown mother and was widowed. Daisy Allen was informant.

Remnants of fencepost and wire fence around the cemetery.

I’ve driven up and down Highway 42 a half-dozen times looking for this cemetery. Many thanks to Brian Grawburg for the tip that lead me straight there.

Cemeteries, no. 25: the Dew family cemetery.

The well-maintained Dew cemetery lies behind Repha Church of God on Weaver Road east of the city of Wilson.

The stones mark the graves of Raiford and Jency Short Dew, both born into slavery, and their descendants.

  • Raiford Dew

Raiford Dew Feb 18, 1838 Apr. 12, 1907

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Haywood [Raiford] Due, 35; wife Quincy [Jency], 34; and children Dennis, 14, Joseph, 12, Benj’n, 10, Caroline, 8, Jeffry, 7, Bush, 5, and Mary, 1.

In the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County: Raford Dew, 45, farmer; wife Ginsey, 45; and children Caroline, 20, Bashrod, 14, Mary, 11, Martha, 9, Sallie, 7, W.H., 5, and Moses, 4.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Rayford Dew, age unknown; wife Jensy, age unknown; son Moses, 23; daughter-in-law Eliza, 40; and grandsons Jonie, 1, and Willie, 11.

  • Jency Short Dew

Jency Dew Nov, 5, 1838 June 19, 1922 Wife of Raiford Dew

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Moses Dew, 45; wife Eliza, 49; children Jonie, 19, Dora, 17, Mary, 15, Naomi, 14, David, 13, Pearl, 12, Lucy, 10, Rosetta, 9, and Moses, 3; grandson Johnnie Barnes, 5; and widow Jensy Dew, 83.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road via Town Creek, farmer Moses Dew, 45; wife Eliza, 49; children Jonie, 19, Dora, 17, Mary, 15, Naomi, 14, David, 13, Pearl, 12, Lucy, 10, Rosetta, 9, and Moses, 3; grandson Johnnie Barnes, 5; and widow Jensy Dew, 83.

Jency Dew died 5 June 1922 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 November 1838 in Wilson County to Reddick Short and Easter Dew; was the widow of Raford Dew; and had worked in farming. Moses Dew was informant.

  • Jefferson Dew

Jefferson Dew

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Haywood [Raiford] Due, 35; wife Quincy [Jency], 34; and children Dennis, 14, Joseph, 12, Benj’n, 10, Caroline, 8, Jeffry, 7, Bush, 5, and Mary, 1.

In the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County: Raford Dew, 45, farmer; wife Ginsey, 45; and children Caroline, 20, Bashrod, 14, Mary, 11, Martha, 9, Sallie, 7, W.H., 5, and Moses, 4.

On 25 January 1883, Jeffrey Dew, 21, married Jane Harvey, 17, at Toisnot.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Jeff Dew, 38; wife Jane, 32, farm laborer; children Bessie, 12, Lesse, 9, Lula, 8, Nettie, 6, James E., 3, Lizzie, 2, and Jesse, i month,

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, Jeff Dew, 46, farmer; wife Jane, 43, farm laborer; children Bessie, 21, Lessie, 19, Lula, 17, Nettie, 16, Eddie, 13, Lizzie, 12, Jessie, 9, Joseph, 8, Margaret, 6, and Jonah, 3. Jane and all but the youngest two children worked as farm laborers.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road via Town Creek, Jefferson Dew, 57, farmer; wife Jane, 55; children Lula, 26, Nettie, 24, Eddie, 22, Jesse, 20, Joe, 17, Margaret, 16, and Jonie, 14.

Jefferson Dew died 1 May 1926 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was 63 years old; was born in Wilson County to Rayford Dew and Jensy Dew; was married to Jane Dew; and worked as a farmer.

  • Mary Dew Armstrong Boyette

Mary Boyette Jan. 6, 1869 Jan. 9, 1960

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Haywood [Raiford] Due, 35; wife Quincy [Jency], 34; and children Dennis, 14, Joseph, 12, Benj’n, 10, Caroline, 8, Jeffry, 7, Bush, 5, and Mary, 1.

In the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County: Raford Dew, 45, farmer; wife Ginsey, 45; and children Caroline, 20, Bashrod, 14, Mary, 11, Martha, 9, Sallie, 7, W.H., 5, and Moses, 4.

On 18 Novcember 1897, Alfred Boyette, 55, of Wilson, son of Hardy Hinnant, married Mrs. Mary Armstrong, 37, daughter of Raford Dew. Missionary Baptist minister M. Strickland performed the ceremony at Raford Dew’s house in the presence of Bush Dew, Moses Dew and Henry Melton.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: “geneator” [janitor] Alfred Boyette, 59; wife Mary, 32; and children Alfred, 1, Etna, 9, and Willie, 13.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 570 Kenan Street, Alfred Boyette, 75, laborer for town; wife Mary, 40; and children Million, 21, and Willie, 18, farm laborers, Edna, 11, and Gency, 9.

Jincy McBride died 3 November 1925 In Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 September 1091 in Wilson to Alford Boyett and Mary Dew; was married to Harrison McBride; and worked as a tobacco factory day laborer. Informant was Mary Dew, 304 Walnut Street.

Mary Magdeline Dew Boyette died 9 January 1960 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 January 1879 in Wilson County to Raeford Dew and Jessie Dew; was widowed; and resided at 504 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson. James Boyette was informant.

  • Wiley Rountree Sr.

Wiley Rountree Sr. Oct. 5,1871 Jan. 1, 1939 He was faithful to every duty

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Andrew Rountree, 50; wife Nellie, 36; and children Elvy, 5, Rehna, 3, and Willie, 8 months; plus Mariah Farmer, 14.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Andrew Rountree, 60; wife Nelly, 48; children Elva, 15, Marina, 12, Willie, 10, Syviann, 7, Vaul, 2, and America, 3 months; plus grandson Auston, 3.

On 5 December 1889, Willey Rountree, 20, of Toisnot, son of Andrew and Nelly Rountree, married Martha Dew, 19, of Toisnot, daughter of Raford and Jenny Dew. Free Will Baptist minister Crocket Best performed the ceremony at “the residence of the bride’s father in Toisnot Township, W.C.” in the presence of Alex Williams, Hardy Ellis and A.J. Farmer.

[Death certificates and other records of some of Wiley and Martha Dew Rountree’s oldest children suggest that the couple left Wilson shortly after their marriage and moved throughout the Southeast United States before returning to Wilson County about 1895. For example, Freeman Rountree was born in 1890 in South Carolina or Georgia; Wiley Rountree Jr. was born in Georgia in 1892; and Raiford Rountree was born in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1894.]

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Willie Rowntree, 29; wife Martha, 27; and children Freeman, 9, Willie, 8, Rapherd, 6, Captan, 3, Dasie, 2, and Andrew, 1.

On 29 August 1906, Wiley Rountree, 36, of Wilson, son of Andrew Rountree and Nellie Rountree, married Matilda Locust, 31, of Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister Jonah WiIliams performed the ceremony “at Rev Steel’s house” in Wilson in the presence of Moses Dew, F.S. Steele and Jessie Whitehead.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tarboro Road, Wiley Rountree, 42; wife Matilda, 34; daughter Matha, 20, and her son Roscoe, 2; children Freeman, 19, Wiley Jr., 18, Raford, 16, Captain, 14, Daisey, 13, Andrew, 10, Husband, 9, Nellie, 8, and Frank, 6; and grandson Bosy, 3 months.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Wiley Rountree, 53; wife Matilda, 44; children Raiford, 25, Andrew, 20, Herbert, 17, Nellie, 16, Frank, 14, and Roscoe, 12; and grandsons Henry C., 6, and Eula, 4.

On 29 December 1929, Wiley Rountree, 60, of Wilson County, married Louvenia Cotton, 45, of Toisnot township. Presbyterian minister C.H. Hagans performed the ceremony in the presence of James H. Armstrong, John H. Armstrong, and Junius Best.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Wiley Roundtree, 63; wife Louvinia, 47; and children Tennie L., 16, Carrie, 14, Henry C., 17, Paul A., 8, and Frank, 25.

Wiley Rountree died 1 January 1939 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 68 years old; was married to Louvenia Rountree; was a farmer; and was born in Wilson County to Andrew Rountree and Nellie Barnes. Informant was Wiley Rountree Jr.

  • Martha Dew Rountree

Martha Rountree Born Nov. 3, 1870 Died Nov. 4. 1905

In the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County: Raford Dew, 45, farmer; wife Ginsey, 45; and children Caroline, 20, Bashrod, 14, Mary, 11, Martha, 9, Sallie, 7, W.H., 5, and Moses, 4.

On 5 December 1889, Willey Rountree, 20, of Toisnot, son of Andrew and Nelly Rountree, married Martha Dew, 19, of Toisnot, daughter of Raford and Jenny Dew. Free Will Baptist minister Crocket Best performed the ceremony at “the residence of the bride’s father in Toisnot Township, W.C.” in the presence of Alex Williams, Hardy Ellis and A.J. Farmer.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Willie Rowntree, 29; wife Martha, 27; and children Freeman, 9, Willie, 8, Rapherd, 6, Captan, 3, Dasie, 2, and Andrew, 1.

  • William Henry Dew

Wm. Henry Dew May 1874 Jan. 19, 1936 Gone but not forgotten.

In the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County: Raford Dew, 45, farmer; wife Ginsey, 45; and children Caroline, 20, Bashrod, 14, Mary, 11, Martha, 9, Sallie, 7, W.H., 5, and Moses, 4.

William Dew, 32, of Wilson, son of Raford and Jensie Dew, married Susana Savage, 17, of Wilson, daughter of Amy Savage, on 10 October 1906 at Susana Savage’s residence. Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Moses Dew, John Crisp and Leavi Arrington.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County — on New Stantonsburg Road, William Dew, 45; wife Susanna, 29; children Pearlie, 12, James W., 10, Lester, 9, Mary, 7, Levi, 5, Mamie, 4, Elnora, 2, and Ernest, 3 months; and mother-in-law Emmie Savage, 55.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County — William Dew, 55; wife Susanna, 40; children Pearlie, 22, James W., 20, Lester, 18, Mary L., 17, Levy, 15, Mamie, 13, Elnora, 11, and Earnest, 9, Gladys, 7, Alice, 5, and Orlanda, 4.

William Dew died 17 January 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in May 1874 in Wilson County to Raford Dew and Jensie Dew; was married to Susana Dew; and was a farmer.

  • Nettie Dew Viverette

Jesus Saves Nettie D. Vivret Born March __ 1895 Died June 16 _____

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Jeff Dew, 38; wife Jane, 32, farm laborer; children Bessie, 12, Lesse, 9, Lula, 8, Nettie, 6, James E., 3, Lizzie, 2, and Jesse, i month,

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, Jeff Dew, 46, farmer; wife Jane, 43, farm laborer; children Bessie, 21, Lessie, 19, Lula, 17, Nettie, 16, Eddie, 13, Lizzie, 12, Jessie, 9, Joseph, 8, Margaret, 6, and Jonah, 3. Jane and all but the youngest two children worked as farm laborers.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road via Town Creek, Jefferson Dew, 57, farmer; wife Jane, 55; children Lula, 26, Nettie, 24, Eddie, 22, Jesse, 20, Joe, 17, Margaret, 16, and Jonie, 14.

Willie Viverett, 30, of Wilson County, son of Ephriam Joyner and Clara Viverett, married Nettie Dew, 26, of Wilson County, daughter of Jefferson Dew and Mary J. Dew, on 30 March 1921. Baptist minister Elias Lucas performed the ceremony at Mary J. Dew’s residence in Wilson in the presence of Andrew Rountree, Moses Dew and Raiford Rountree.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Willie Viverett, 39; wife Nettie, 35; sister Margaret Sauler, 26; and widowed mother Jane Dew, 65.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson township: at 914 Carolina Street, Willie Viverette, 50, state laborer; wife Nettie, 47, laborer; daughter Frances, 4; and roomer Nancy Barnes, 24, cook.

Nettie Vivrett died 16 June 1955 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 March 1895 in Wilson, N.C., to Jefferson Dew and Jane Harvey; was married to Willie Vivrett; and resided at 4208 Bowdens Ferry Road.

  • Bushrod Dew

Bush Dew Born Oct 27 [broken] April 1920

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Haywood [Raiford] Due, 35; wife Quincy [Jency], 34; and children Dennis, 14, Joseph, 12, Benj’n, 10, Caroline, 8, Jeffry, 7, Bush, 5, and Mary, 1.

In the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County: Raford Dew, 45, farmer; wife Ginsey, 45; and children Caroline, 20, Bashrod, 14, Mary, 11, Martha, 9, Sallie, 7, W.H., 5, and Moses, 4.

On 19 January 1892, Bush Dew, 26, married Susan Melton, 23, at M.C. Melton’s.

In the 1900 census, Bush Dew, 35; wife Susan, 32; and children Effa, 7, Etta, 6, and Losse, 4.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Bush Dew, 45; wife Susan, 42; and children Effie, 15, Edward, 14, Dossie, 13, Nannie, 8, and Van, 8.

Bush Dew died 3 April 1920 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 5[illegible] years old; was married to Susan Dew; was born in Wilson County to R.F. Dew and Jennie Dew.

  • Freeman Rountree

Freman Rountree Oct. 5, 1890 Apr. 10, 1963. Gone but not forgotten.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Willie Rowntree, 29; wife Martha, 27; and children Freeman, 9, Willie, 8, Rapherd, 6, Captan, 3, Dasie, 2, and Andrew, 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tarboro Road, Wiley Rountree, 42; wife Matilda, 34; daughter Matha, 20, and her son Roscoe, 2; children Freeman, 19, Wiley Jr., 18, Raford, 16, Captain, 14, Daisey, 13, Andrew, 10, Husband, 9, Nellie, 8, and Frank, 6; and grandson Bosy, 3 months.

On 31 August 1916, Freeman Rountree, 25, of Wilson, son of Wiley Rountree and Martha (last name not listed, married Vinie Wilson, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Tom Wilson and Anna Wilson. Rev. John A. Barnes, A.M.E.Z. minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Jesse C. Lassiter, William Knight and Johnnie A. Barnes Jr.

In 1917, Freeman Rountree registered for the World War I draft. Per his card, he was born 5 October 1890; was born in South Carolina; was a self-employed farmer; and lived in Black Creek township. He was literate.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Rountree, 29, and wife Viana, 20.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Rountree, 37; wife Vinie, 30; and adopted son Eddie Bynum, 14.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Roundtree, 49, born in Florida; wife Viney, 38; and cousin Paul, 18, farm helper.

In 1940, Eddie Rountree registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 28 January 1916 in Beaufort County, N.C.; lived on Route 3, Wilson; worked on J.C. Speight’s farm, Route 2, Elm City; and his contact was father Freeman Rountree.

Freeman Rountree died 10 April 1963 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 October 1891 in Georgia to Wiley Rountree and Martha Dew; was married to Vinie W. Rountree; and was a farmer.

  • James Edward Dew

James E., son of Jefferson & Jane Dew

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Jeff Dew, 38; wife Jane, 32, farm laborer; children Bessie, 12, Lesse, 9, Lula, 8, Nettie, 6, James E., 3, Lizzie, 2, and Jesse, i month,

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, Jeff Dew, 46, farmer; wife Jane, 43, farm laborer; children Bessie, 21, Lessie, 19, Lula, 17, Nettie, 16, Eddie, 13, Lizzie, 12, Jessie, 9, Joseph, 8, Margaret, 6, and Jonah, 3. Jane and all but the youngest two children worked as farm laborers.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road via Town Creek, Jefferson Dew, 57, farmer; wife Jane, 55; children Lula, 26, Nettie, 24, Eddie, 22, Jesse, 20, Joe, 17, Margaret, 16, and Jonie, 14.

Eddie Dew died 7 February 1924 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 June 1896 in WIlson County to Jefferson Dew and Mary Jane Harvey; was single; and was a farmer for Jefferson Dew.

  • William Dew

William Dew Died Oct. 14, 1941 Age 52 Yrs.

  • Calvin Rountree Sr., alias Captain Rountree

Calvin Rountree Sr US Army World War I 1895 1984

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Willie Rowntree, 29; wife Martha, 27; and children Freeman, 9, Willie, 8, Rapherd, 6, Captan, 3, Dasie, 2, and Andrew, 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tarboro Road, Wiley Rountree, 42; wife Matilda, 34; daughter Matha, 20, and her son Roscoe, 2; children Freeman, 19, Wiley Jr., 18, Raford, 16, Captain, 14, Daisey, 13, Andrew, 10, Husband, 9, Nellie, 8, and Frank, 6; and grandson Bosy, 3 months.

Captain Rountree registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1895 in Wilson County; lived on R.F.D. 5, Wilson; and farmed for his father. He signed his card with an X.

On 24 May 1918, Captain Rountree, 22, of Wilson, son of Wiley Rountree and Sarah Rountree, married Lizzie Horne, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Simon Horne and Nancy Horne at Simon Horne’s.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tarboro Road, farm laborer Cavender Rountree, 25; wife Lizzie, 21; and son Jimmie D., 1.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Captain Rountree, 35, farm laborer; wife Lizzie, 28; children Jimmie D., 13, Viola, 10, Lossie, 9, Martha, 5, Surisa, 3, Will Jr., 2, and Annie M., 10 months.

In the 1940 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer Calvin Roundtree, 40; wife Lizzie, 40; Viola, 19, Mathie, 15, Swaneebell, 13, Willie Jr., 12, Annie Mae, 9, Rosa Lee, 7, Calvin Jr., 6, Mavis, 4, and Doris, 1.

In 1940, Willie Junius Rountree registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 10 September 1928 in Wilson County; worked on the John Watson farm; and his contact was Calvin Rountree.

  • Lizzie Rountree

Lizzie Wife of Calvin Roundtree 1900 1974

Lizzie H. Rountree died 4 September 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 June 1906 to Simon Horne and Nancy Horne; was married to Calvin Rountree; and resided at 904 East Vance Street, Wilson.

  • Rev. Willie Darden

Rev. Willie Darden Son of Windsor and Mattie Born Jan. 24, 1895 Died June 13, 1941

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Winston Darden, 37; wife Mattie, 29; children George, 11, Jesse, 8, Willie, 5, William, 3, and Mattie, 1; and mother Mary Darden, 55.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Finch Mill Road, Winsor Darden, 42; wife Mattie, 35; and children George, 22, Jesse, 16, Willie, 14, Winsor, 12, Charlie, 10, Olivia, 7, Annie M., 6, Leroy, 3, and Mattie, 8 months.

Willie Darden registered for the World War I draft in 1917. Per his draft registration card, he was born 23 January 1895 om Wilson County; lived at Route 2, Wilson; was single; and worked as a farm laborer for Frank Langley. He signed his name in full.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Willie Darden, 25; wife Victoria, 19; and son Junius, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Willie Darden, 45; wife Victoria, 41; children Willie Jr., 22, Ettie May, 18, Gladys, 16, Dorthy, 14, James Arthur, 12, John, 11, R.T., 10, Remather, 8, Minnie, 6, Carolyne, 4, Percey, 1, and Mattie, 1; and lodger Willie Miller, 24.

  • Vinnie Wilson Rountree

Vinnie Wilson Roundtree March 8, 1900 July 4, 1972

On 31 August 1916, Freeman Rountree, 25, of Wilson, son of Wiley Rountree and Martha (last name not listed, married Vinie Wilson, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Tom Wilson and Anna Wilson. Rev. John A. Barnes, A.M.E.Z. minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Jesse C. Lassiter, William Knight and Johnnie A. Barnes Jr.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Rountree, 29, and wife Viana, 20.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Rountree, 37; wife Vinie, 30; and adopted son Eddie Bynum, 14.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Freeman Roundtree, 49, born in Florida; wife Viney, 38; and cousin Paul, 18, farm helper.

Vinnie Wilson Roundtree died 4 July 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in 8 March 1898 to Tom Wilson and Anna Briggs; was a retired farmer; was widowed; and resided at 920 Poplar Street. Georgia Wilson, 706 Stantonsburg Street, was informant.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, May 2019.

Cemeteries, no. 24: the Mercer cemetery.

Armed with a 1937 Leica IIIa 35mm camera, Brian Grawburg has begun a project to document “lost” Wilson County graveyards. Using early 20th topographical maps, WPA cemetery surveys, Google Maps, and tips from the public, Grawburg has battled heat, humidity and nearly impenetrable thickets to create and preserve a record of these forgotten spaces.

This is the first in a series of posts exploring African-American cemeteries that Grawburg has rediscovered.

This cemetery, off Carter Road in Gardners township in eastern Wilson County, contains six marked graves:

  • Willie Reid, 23 September 1920-23 September 1920
  • Sula Reid, 23 September 1920-23 September 1920
  • Jack L. Barnes, 1921-1946
  • Robert Mercer, 1908-1930
  • Charlie Mercer, 1902-1936
  • Gilmore McKoy, 29 August 1873-18 October 1939

Robert and Charlie Mercer were sons of Dempsey and Mattie Knight Mercer. Gilmore McKoy was Mattie Knight Mercer’s second husband. I have not been able to identify the Reids or Jack Barnes.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Dempsy Mercer, 27; wife Mattie, 20; children Charles, 7, William, 6, Robert, 3, and Walter, 2 months; nieces Lula, 2, and Gertrude Hines, 1 month; and sister Margarett Hines, 19.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Dempsy Mercer, 40, widower; children Charley, 17, William, 15, Robert, 10, Walter, 9, and Maggie, 8; sister-in-law Maggie Hines, 24, and her children Lula, 8, Silvey, 7, and James, 4. [Dempsey Mercer was separated/divorced rather than widowed.]

On 15 August 1929 in Wilson, Robert Mercer, 22, of Gardners, son of Dempsey Mercer and Fannie [last name no given], married Retha Barnes, 14, of Gardners, daughter of Blannie and Dora Barnes.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Dempsey Mercer, 50; [second] wife Fannie, 40; children Charlie, 27, Lee, 19, Jonah, 16, Jamar, 13, and C[illegible], 10; and lodger Rachel Melton, 30.

Robert Mercer died 9 December 1930 in Gardners township. Per his death certificate, he was 23; single; was a farmer; was born in Wilson County to Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight; and was buried in Wilson County. Informant was Dempsey Mercer.

Charlie Mercer died 9 December 1936 in Gardners township. Per his death certificate, he was born in January 1902 in Edgecombe County to Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight; was single; worked as a farmer. Mattie McCoy was informant.

Gilbert McKoy died 18 October 1939 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 29 August 1883 in Whiteville, N.C., to Waddie McKoy and Annie Richardson; worked in a China American tobacco factory; was married to Mattie McCoy; and was buried in Wilson County.

For more information about this cemetery, please contact Brian Grawburg at archive@myglnc.com.

Notice of intention to disinter.

On sequential weeks in April and May 2006, the Wilson Daily Times ran this Notice of Intention to Disinter, Remove and Reinter Graves.

——

Notice is hereby given to the known and unknown relatives of those persons buried in The Wilder Family Cemetery located in Springhill Township, Wilson County North Carolina and being described as follows: BEING all Tract No. 1 containing 130.94 (C/L of Creek & Branches); Tract No. 2 containing 24.84 acres (C/L/ of Road & Branch); Tract No. 3 containing 11.17 acres (to C/L of Road); and Tract No. 4 containing 4.20 acres (to C/L of Road), as shown on a map entitled “Survey for Kemit David Brame, Jr., Property of Charles B. Brame, Jr., et al,” which map is recorded in Plat Book 27, page 204, Wilson County Registry; for reference see Deeds recorded in Book 125, page 583, Book 249, page 313, Book 249, page 322, Book 290, page 306, Book 381, page 37, and Book 419, page 218, Wilson County Registry. Being better described as approximately 500′ northwest of the intersection of NC#42 Highway and Neal Road (SR #1198).

KNOWNS

There are 2 marked graves said cemetery, Josiah Wilder DOB – April 5, 1866, DOD – April 22, 1919; Elizabeth Wilder Barnes, DOB October 5 1898, DOD – July 23, 1928.

UNKNOWNS

There are approximately 8-10 unknown (unmarked) graves in said cemetery; that all of the graves will be relocated and reentered in the Rocky Creek United Church of Christ Cemetery, located on NC #581 Highway, Kenly, North Carolina. Also the grave of Chestiney Earp Wilder, DOB – July 11, 1869, DOD – January 10 1957 will be relocated from the southeast corner of the cemetery to the northwest corner of the cemetery. Then a complete record of where these deceased person will be reentered will be on file with the Wilson County Registry of Deeds, Wilson, North Carolina. You are further notified that the graves are being moved under the provisions of North Carolina General Statute #65-13, and that the removals will not begin until this notice has been published four (4) successive times in The Wilson Daily Times, Wilson, North Carolina and until approval to do so has been given by the Wilson City Council, Wilson, North Carolina. This the 3rd day of April, 2006.    R. Ward Sutton [address omitted] ***

——

Here is the rough map of the site attached to the Removal of Graves Certificate and filed with the Wilson County Registry of Deeds: 

The Certificate gives two reasons as “basis for removal” — (1) to give perpetual care, (2) subdivision development. This Google Maps aerial view of the former Josiah Wilder property clearly shows the subdivision that now covers the former site of his family’s cemetery:

As shown in this photograph posted to Findagrave.com, the Wilder family’s new plot at Rocky Branch cemetery is marked with an explanatory headstone:

Capture

Access to the Elm City cemetery.

Cemetery Access Prompts Concern: Meant to deter vandals, chained road may discourage descendants

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 15 August 2018.

ELM CITY — When Marie Knight brought her daughter to see her great-grandmother’s grave, she was disappointed to find a heavy chain across the access road leading to the cemetery.

Knight, a native of Elm City, had driven from Cary on Monday to meet her mother, Shelly Robinson, to visit the African-American cemetery where their relatives are buried.

The access road, located along the south side of the former Nexans wire and cable plant on Elm City Road across from the Family Dollar, has been open and unimpeded as long as either Knight or Robinson can remember.

Nexans was sold in September 2017 and become Elm City Warehouse LLC. The new owner, Charles Gardner, put up the chain at the entranceway.

Gardner said he wants to keep people from throwing trash, vandalizing and desecrating graves and using the spot as a lovers’ lane. He posted a sign with a telephone number to call for those seeking graveyard access.

“I have a caretaker who will go and unlock it for anybody that wants to go back there,” Gardner said. “I’m not denying anybody access. All I am doing is trying to keep people that don’t need to be back there drinking and throwing cans out.”

Knight called the number Monday and the caretaker responded in a short amount of time to unlock the chain.

“You basically have to get permission to come out here and visit your loved ones,” Knight said. “I guess when you set up a cemetery, you never set it up thinking that you are going to be barred from entering. That’s never a question that enters into your mind. It’s supposed to be open with free access. I feel that it needs to be remedied quickly and I am just appalled that someone would want to do it.”

The cemetery is located on 5.46 acres of land purchased in 1900 by the Elm City Colored Cemetery Commission, which is no longer active.

According to Knight, the property was acquired by a group of Elm City residents concerned that the resting places of many of the community’s black residents could be lost unless they staked claim to the property.

Indeed, there are graves that go back to the 1840s if not earlier at the site. There are also many graves of World War I, World War II and Korean War veterans there. The latest burial appears to have been in 2014.

Knight was so disappointed with the high grass, fallen branches and general disrepair that she decided to organize a cleanup day scheduled for 9 a.m. to noon on Sept. 1.

Knight said Elm City residents need to band together to take care of their ancestors’ resting places.

“My loved ones are out here and the people that I know,” Robinson said.

Elm City names like Gaston, Spivey, Williams, Brewer, Atkinson, Barnes and Harris are throughout the graveyard.

“The graves are still here but the headstones are broken off of a lot of them,” Robinson said. “They are laying in the dirt and I don’t like it. Some of them are covered up in weeds. When you come out here to see your loved one, you don’t want to see broken stones, trees all on top of them covering them up.”

Jonathan Russell, Elm City town manager, said the cemetery is outside the town limits but within its extraterritorial jurisdiction.

“It’s something that we have assisted with cleanup of debris and mowing just to kind of maintain it as a courtesy historically for a number of years,” Russell said. “We haven’t had any issues with any vandalism or any thefts that was reported while Nexans was in operation and we are aware that the new owner has engaged the town in regard to a couple of questions regarding the property. We advised him at that time that we did not want to restrict any access to the graveyard. We had some discussions regarding the graveyard that was back there and that there were citizens within the region that visited relatives there. Our stance on that since he has purchased the property (has been) to keep it open. It hasn’t been a major concern as far as vandalism taking place back in there.”

Russell said the town has previously assisted with the removal of fallen limbs, mowing the grass, removing some debris from time to time and cleaning up.

Knight said there could be a couple hundred graves at the site.

“I would encourage if there are any relatives or distant relatives that could reestablish the commission, that would be beneficial,” Russell said. “I think that would be helpful if they could possibly come to some type of an agreement with the current owner to provide easier access to it. I think that would probably be the best solution. The town is sympathetic with the citizens and family members who want to visit. If there is anything we can do to assist to facilitate anything between potential commission members and the owner, we will be glad to help.”

Knight said she has spoken to attorneys about how the commission might be reestablished.

Brian Grawburg, who has been surveying and photographing lost and hidden cemeteries in Wilson County, said Gardner’s chain on the access road is not illegal.

“The statute does specify that they have to provide access, but they are the ones to determine what the access is,” Grawburg said.

Grawburg said that while it may be an inconvenience to call for access, people need to understand that it may not be a bad thing to keep vandals and litterers out.

There is evidence that some gravestones have been knocked over and broken.

Grawburg has seen some old cemeteries that were heavily littered with debris.

“I have seen what can happen when it is accessible and nobody is looking after it,” Grawburg said. “If there is a driveway that they can go to, they will go up there. People will dump trash back there.”

Grawburg visited the cemetery Wednesday to document it.

“It’s historic,” Grawburg said. “We don’t want to lose historic things.”

Grawburg said Knight’s desire to organize a cleanup is a good idea.

“If they don’t get it done, it’s going to get to the point that it can’t get done because it’s so overgrown,” Grawburg said.

To reach Knight concerning details of the cemetery cleanup day, call 801-390-8017. To reach the caretaker for entry to the graveyard access road, call 252-289-5085.

Finding the Newsomes’ resting place.

Searching for Wilson County’s Lost Cemeteries: Project pinpoints gravesites before nature reclaims them.

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 29 June 2018.

Brian Grawburg stops his pickup truck at the end of a farm path between an old hedgerow and a field off Radford Road.

“There it is,” Grawburg says, pointing to the underbrush where two flat marble headstones have come into view.

The 72-year-old retiree is on a search for hidden and overgrown cemeteries in Wilson County.

Grawburg erects a ladder in the bed of his truck, climbs up and points his camera at the graves. He makes a couple of pictures with a 1937 Leica rangefinder and climbs down to note the cemetery’s location with a modern GPS tracker.

These are the gravestones of Amos and Martha Newsome, husband and wife, who called Wilson County home in the late 1800s. A neighbor across the road had told Grawburg about the graveyard’s existence, and this was his second visit to the spot. Upon closer inspection, Grawburg notes the presence of another grave a few feet deeper into the woods.

Hidden behind a shield of Virginia creeper, smilax and scuppernong grape vines is a marble obelisk not quite waist-high. The face of the monument is clean and the inscription is clear.

Edna Newsom, 1846 to 1913, Kind angels watch her sleeping dust.”

“It’s a very nice stone,” Grawburg comments. “That one we’re going to have to carefully look at.”

Despite the difference in the last name spelling, Grawburg wonders if Edna might be Amos’ mother, but he’s not sure.

“Martha died in 1902, and he’s 1919,” Grawburg said. “That is certainly where we will have to get more information.”

Grawburg says he can’t wait to tell Joan Howell that he has found another headstone.

MAKING A LIST

Joan Howell has compiled four books on Wilson County cemeteries. The first one was completed in 1993, and she is currently working on her fifth. All were projects supported by the Wilson County Genealogical Society with information supplied by the group’s members.

It is Howell’s work and old Work Progress Administration surveys from the 1930s that offer hints as to where Grawburg may find the forgotten cemeteries.

The Wilson resident will sometimes wear boots to protect his shins from snakes and ticks and take along clippers to cut back “vines from hell” as he calls them.

Grawburg is building a photographic record of deceased Wilson County residents.

He’s not interested in the cemeteries that are neatly kept. Those are the ones that are already well-known.

Grawburg is interested in finding the ones that have been overgrown and rest in little patches of woods in farm fields, at the edges of subdivisions, anywhere that Mother Nature has waged a battle to reclaim the plots.

“It doesn’t take long,” Grawburg said.

A cemetery can go from being well-maintained to overgrown in a matter of a few years.

“This is top priority because they are becoming nonexistent,” Howell said.

An example is the B. Ellis cemetery in a small plot hidden by trees and overgrowth that is unseen by passing traffic off Forest Hills Road in Wilson.

“There are 35 people in there, and you don’t know there is a single one in there,” Grawburg said. “That cemetery is right there.”

Grawburg said with 16 cemeteries Howell recently found and added to the list, there are about 260 known cemeteries in Wilson County.

There are estimates that there could be another couple of hundred cemeteries that are not documented in the county.

‘IT’S EXCITING’

At age 85 and after two hip replacements, Howell still puts on her “snake boots” and heads into the woods to search.

“It’s exciting,” Howell said. “I feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. Some people don’t know where their grandmothers and their grandfathers are. I just love doing this. I lament the fact that I am not as able as I once was.”

Grawburg and Howell will often meet in the genealogical room of the Wilson County Public Library to share notes. On Thursday, Howell spread out a United States Geological Survey topographical map with handwritten notations marking cemeteries that had been located.

“I don’t put anything on the map until I find the cemetery, and then I give it a name,” Howell said.

Howell said locating gravestones is vital to filling in Wilson County’s history.

“Death certificates didn’t begin to be recorded until 1913, and then they were spotty. So this is a means of recording people who might not have been noted elsewhere,” Howell said. “It is a way of preserving history and family information.”

Grawburg and Howell said there have been rare instances where farmers have driven implements over cemeteries, knocking over gravestones, and have even taken them away from the actual graves.

“That is distressing to me,” Grawburg said.

It is also a violation of state law, he added.

When Grawburg finds a grave, he wonders who the person was, how he ended up there and what he died from, particularly the children who are interred.

“Did they have scarlet fever? Did they have measles? I think about that,” Grawburg said. “Why did they die? Why so young?”

Grawburg traveled to upstate New York to locate his own relatives.

“I think about my reaction when I found my great-great-great-great-grandfather and you say, ‘Geez, I’m standing on the grave where we’re related.’ There is just something cool about that,” Grawburg said. “Not everybody sees that, but it is kind of neat to say that there’s a connection.”

Grawburg hopes that living Wilson County residents might have the same experience after their ancestors’ graves have been located.

He said there is the joy of saving somebody’s heritage regardless of the fact that he is not a relative.

“I don’t know Amos Newsome,” Grawburg said. “I don’t know anything about him. I don’t know any of his family. I have no connection to him whatsoever. None. Well, somebody does.”

Both Grawburg and Howell said tips from the public about the locations of lost cemeteries are valuable in the search.

“If they would show me where the cemeteries are, that would be helpful,” Howell said. “This is such a large project and I don’t know when we will ever get through with it.”

People interested in the project may contact Grawburg by email at archive@myglnc.com.

——

Benjamin Newsome and Edna Newsome registered their 16-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Newsom, 50; wife Edna, 31; and children Amos, 10, Gray, 18, Pennina, 16, Mary, 13, Louisa, 9, Larry, 7, and Joseph, 5.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Newsome, 53; wife Edna, 40; and children Oliver, 21, Amos, 19, Gray, 18, Penelope, 6, and Mary, 2.

On 23 December 1883, Amos Newsom, 23, married Martha Ann Barnes, 22, in Wilson County.

After Benjamin Newsome’s death in 1893, Edna Newsome applied for letters of administration for his estate. A Report of Commissioners valued his personal estate (excluding land) at $400. At his death, he had owned a safe; a bureau and its contents; four beds, [bed]steads and contents; another bed and bedstead; two trunks; a sewing machine; a table; a clock; eight chairs; a stove and contents; two more tables and contents; a lard stand; another safe and contents; a saw; three trays; two jugs; a jar; two pots; a tub; two buckets; one lot of corn (about 15 barrels); two stacks of fodder; two mules; one wagon and gear; one cart; farm tools; a barrel of syrup; two wheels; a loom; four bushels of pears; two bushels of wheat; nine hogs; 150 bushels of potatoes; 150 bushels of cotton seed; seven geese; 25 chickens; 500 pounds of tobacco; and 1200 pounds of seed cotton.

On 31 January 1900, Edna Newsome, 55, of Cross Roads, married Ishmael Wilder, 60, of Springhill township, at Newsome’s residence. W.H. Horton, “minister of the Christian denom.,” performed the ceremony in the presence of Grant Farmer, W.T. Barnes, and L.H. Newsome.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Ishmael Wilder, 63; wife Edney, 55; and daughter Clara, 26.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph L. Newsom, 34; wife Virginia L., 34; mother Edna, 65; and sister Mary E., 42.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Amos Newsom, 55; [second] wife Frances, 30; and children Lena, 21, Mamie, 17, Mattie, 14, Linettie, 5, Clevland, 2, Willie, 20, and Albert, 18.

Amos Newsom died 8 June 1919 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1859 in Wilson County to Benjamin and Edna Newsom of Wilson County; was married to Francis Newsom; owned his farm; and was buried in the “country.” Informant was Larry Newsome.

Image of estate document available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Teens clear the Ellis cemetery.

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On 25 November 2018, the Wilson Times published an article about a group of teenagers working to clean and restore an African-American cemetery as a service project with the Wilson County Genealogical Society. The teens, members of a mentoring group called Gentleman’s Agreement, were curious about history of the graveyard, which was believed unidentified. I immediately recognized it as the Littleton and Judie Barnes Ellis cemetery and reached out to reporter Olivia Neeley to provide links to my September 2017 post about the overgrown burial site. I’m overjoyed to learn that it is receiving much-needed attention and look forward to Neeley’s follow-up on the project. Kudos to the young men of Gentleman’s Agreement!

The Harts’ resting place.

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A photograph does not do justice to these unique matching headstones in Rest Haven cemetery. The inset is etched black glass. Tempie Ann Hart‘s shows a regularity that suggests it was machine-made. Ben Hart‘s, however, with its pointed-tail 9’s and serifed 7’s, bears the unmistakable imprint of craftsman Clarence B. Best. Though the insets have cracked, their lettering still darkly gleams in sunlight.

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In the 1870 census of Walnut Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Wiley Hart, 47; wife Chaney, 33; and children Susan, 13, James, 12, Lucius, 11 (described as “idiotic”), Wiley, 5, and Benjamin, 3.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Willie Hart, 57; wife Chaney, 43; children Susan, 24, James, 23, Willie, 15, Ben, 13, Epsy, 8, and Tildy, 6; and nephew Willie Killebrew, 15. Willie and Chaney reported suffering from dysentery.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Stephen T. Jones, 25; wife Fortune, 22; and daughters Susan, 4, and Tempy A., 2.

Ben Hart, 31, son of Wiley Hart and Chaney Hart, married Tempy Joyner, 20, daughter of Forten Joyner, on 6 June 1900 in Toisnot township, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Benjamin Hart, 32; wife Tempy, 25; children Hattie, 5, and Grover, 2; grandchildren [niece and nephews] Edwin, 17, George, 12, and Chaney, 11; and grandmother [mother] Chaney Hart, 65.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wells Daws Avenue, Benjamin Heart, 43; wife Tempy, 33; children John L., 8, Willie B., 6, Dicy A., 5, Mattie, 3, and George, 1; wife’s children Hattie, 13, and Grover Johnson, 10; nephew Dallis Locus, 11; and mother Chanie Heart, 73.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson-Tarboro Road, farmer Ben Hardt, 50; wife Tempy, 45; children John L., 18, Willie, 16, Dicie, 14, Mattie, 12, George, 10, Mary, 8, and Effie, 4. Next door, Grover Hart, 21, wife Mammie, 21, and son William, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Ben Hart, 63; wife Tempie, 51; and children George, 21, Effie, 15, and [grandson] Ben Jr., 7.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ben Hart, 70; wife Tempie, 62; nephew Aaron Hinnant, 18; son-in-law Ernest Parker, 23; daughter Effie, 24; and granddaughter Elouise, 6.

Tempie A. Hart died 9 July 1940 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; was born in Wilson County to Steve Jones and Forneighny Jones; and was married to Ben Hart.

Ben Hart died 7 November 1951 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 March 1881 in Edgecombe County to Wiley Hart; was a widower; resided at 1200 Washington Street, Wilson. Informant was Rev. J.L. Hart, 1200 Washington Street.

Willie Brown Hart died 2 April 1956 in Portsmouth, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 January 1906 in North Carolina to Ben Hart and Tempie Ann Jones; was married; and worked as a janitor at City Treading Plant. Informant was George Hart, 104 North Reid Street.

Grover Lee Hart died 1 November 1958 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 August 1898 in Wilson County to Ben Hart Sr. and Tempie Ann Jones; was engaged in farming; lived in Elm City; and was married to Mamie Hart.

Hattie Pitt died 12 June 1962 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 January 1897 in Wilson County to Ben Hart and Tempie A. Jones; she was a widow; and she resided at 1306 Washington Street. Mrs. Festee Cotton, 1306 Washington, was informant.

John L. Hart died 6 February 1963 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 28 January 1901 in Wilson County to Benjamin Hart and Temie Ann Jones; was a minister; lived at 1200 Washington Street; and was married to Elouise Hart.

George Hart died 30 September 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1911 to Ben Hart and Tempie Jones; worked as a cabdriver; resided at 104 North Reid, Wilson; and was married to Lutoria Hinnant Hart.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.