cemetery

“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, which disbanded in the 1920s, 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 dealing with sunken graves. Several of the remaining graves are sunken, 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

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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.

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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)

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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

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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:

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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.]

Cemeteries, no. 16: Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

Mary Grove church‘s cemetery lies behind the sanctuary on Wiggins Mill Road near Lucama. Among its earliest marked graves are those of members born in the 1870s, ’80s and ’90s.

  • Renda Green

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer James Green, 47; wife Lurenda, 33; daughter Rhoda, 13; and stepchildren Cornelia, 10, Larry, 9, Eddie, 4, William, 3, and Addie Dew, 1.

  • Lawyer Whitley

  • Charlie Cannady

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: South Carolina-born farmer Charlie Cannady, 60; wife Mary, 50; daughter Marie Braswell, 23; son-in-law Kennel Braswell, 24; and their children Minnie M., 2, and Charlie T., 1. Mary and Marie were also born in South Carolina.

Charlie Canaday died 21 February 1946 in Cross Roads township. Per her death certificate, he was born 29 February 1894 in South Carolina to Honor Canaday; was married to Mary Canaday; and worked as a farmer. Informant was Kennon Braswell.

  • Rev. Willie Barnes

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Photographs taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2017.

 

Cemeteries, no. 15: Living Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

This small cemetery, outside Lucama on Artis Road next to Living Hope Missionary Baptist Church, contains only eight marked graves.

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The earliest burial seems to be that of Rev. Clemon J. Phillips, one of the church’s pastors.

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Clement Phillips, 20, of Gardners township, son of Walter Phillips and Lizzie P. Edwards, married Estelle Farmer, 17, of Gardners, daughter of Jim Farmer and Mary F. Horne, on 4 December 1929 in Gardners. Elder Robert Edwards, a Primitive Baptist minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Oscar Braswell, Jessie D. Pender and Elanzer Pender.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Macclesfield Road, farm laborer Clement Phillips, 28; wife Estelle, 27; and children Lula, 8, Mary L., 6, and Clement Jr., 5; plus uncle Ernest Blunt, 40.

In 1940, Clemant Phillips registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 February 1912 in Norfolk, Virginia; was married to Estelle Phillips, Route 3, Stantonsburg; and worked for Lonnie C. Worrell, Route 3, Stantonsburg.

Clemon Phillips died 8 October 1973 in a car accident near Lucama, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 February 1912 to Walter Phillips and Lizzie Blount; was married to Estelle Minerva Farmer; and was a Protestant clergyman. He was buried at Living Hope Church cemetery.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2016.

Cemeteries, no. 14: the Valentine Farmer cemetery.

This small cemetery lies on the the south side of a deep curve of Lake Wilson Road on land that once belonged to Valentine Farmer. Farmer was born enslaved about 1828, and his daughter Martha Farmer Ruffin‘s W.P.A. interview — a so-called “slave narrative” — provides rich details of the family’s early history.

Valentine Farmer’s grave:

That of his second wife, Mary Eliza Ruffin Farmer:

Olivia Rena Woodard, wife of Kenney Woodard:

Mattie Farmer Statton, Valentine and Quinnie Harrison Farmer’s daughter:

and Walaenetess Reel:

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In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Vance [Valentine] Farmer, 40, wife Quinnie, 30, and children Clara, 13, Patsey [Martha], 11, Isaac, 10, Nancy, 8, Leah, 6, and Mattie, 2. Also, in Wilson township: Reuben Farmer, 68, wife Nancy, 71, and Luke Farmer, 11.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Bullie [Vallie] Farmer, 50, wife Qunnia, 46, and children Patsie, 21, Isaac, 20, Nannie, 18, Lera, 16, Mattie, 10, Caroline, 8, Bettie, 6, Mary J., 4, Charles, 3, and Sarah E., 2, plus Nancy Farmer, 90.

On 5 February 1882, Vaul Farmer, 52, married Mary E. Ruffin, 43, in Wilson County. On 19 March 1882, in the town of Stantonsburg, Robert Farmer, 19, married Marinda Bynum, 18. I have not found Martha Farmer Ruffin’s marriage record.

On 11 January 1889, Kenny Woodard, 24, of Toisnot township, son of Howell Woodard and Rhoda Farmer, married Leah Farmer, 24, of Gardners township, son of Vaul Farmer. London Woodard applied for the license, and they were married by a Justice of the Peace in the presence of Dublin Barnes, Frank Barnes and Peter Thomas.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Valintine Farmer, 70, wife Mary, 58, children Mattie, 30, Elizabeth, 26, Mary J., 24, and Elizar, 22, son-in-law Charly Freeman and daughter Carolina. All did farm work except Elizabeth, who was a cook, and Elizar, who was a schoolteacher. Meanwhile, in Brodie, Pulaski County, Arkansas: North Carolina-born Thomas Ruffin, 48, his North Carolina-born wife Patsie, 42, and children Wiley, 14, Marina, 12, James, 10, Mammie, 8, and Lucy, 4. The last two children were born in Arkansas.

Valentine Farmer made out his will the following spring, and his estate went into probate in 1906:

North Carolina, Wilson County  }  I, Valentine Farmer, of the aforesaid County and State, being of sound mind, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, do make and declare this my last will and testament.

First: My executor hereinafter named, shall give my body a decent burial, and pay all funeral expenses, together with all my Just debts out of the first money which may come into her hands belonging to my estate.

Second: I give to my daughter Clary Batts, the wife of Amos Batts, and Patsy Ruffin, the wife of Thomas Ruffin, the sum of one dollar each.

Third: I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Mary Eliza Farmer, during her lifetime or widowhood, my entire estate, both real and personal.

Fourth: At the death or marriage of my wife, I give and bequeath to my four daughters, hereinafter named — Mattie Farmer, Elizabeth Farmer, Mary Jane Farmer and Sarah Eliza Farmer, all of my personal property of whatsoever kind.

Fifth: At the death or marriage of my wife, I give and bequeath to my children hereinafter named, viz: Nannie Farmer, Louvenia Farmer, Elizabeth Farmer, Mary Jane Farmer, Charlie Farmer and Sarah Eliza Farmer all of my real estate.

Sixth: I hereby constitute and appoint my wife Mary Eliza Farmer my lawful executor to all intents and purposes to execute this my last will and testament, according to the true intent and meaning thereof; hereby revoking and declaring void all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made.

In witness whereof, I, the said Valentine Farmer, do hereunto set my hand and seal this 9th day of April, 1901.   Valentine (X) Farmer

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said Valentine Farmer to be his last will and testament in the presence of us, who at his request and in his presence do subscribe our names as witnesses thereto   /s/ E.O. McGowan, W.H. Dixon

Valentine Farmer cemetery, July 2017.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2017.

Cemeteries, no. 13: the Sharpe cemetery.

At the Wilson-Edgecombe line, the blacktop rounds a curve and changes abruptly from Wilson County Road to Shallingtons Mill Road. Atop the bank, just inside Wilson County, is a narrow cemetery wedged between a soybean field and the road. This is the burial ground of the Allen Sharpe family on, presumably, land that once belonged to Sharpes.

  • Allen and Mary A. Sharpe

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Mary J. Forbes, 54, and children Meddis(?), 33, Homer, 31, Vernie B., 14, Ida M., 13, and Mary L., 3; plus farm laborer/servant Allen Sharpe, 21.

On 10 October 1900, Allen Sharpe, 24, son of Abram and Carolin Sharp, married Mary A. Barron, 17, daughter of Mark and Mason Barron, in Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road, Allen Sharpe, 31; wife Mary, 26; and children Cora, 9, Carrie, 8, John, 5, Nettie, 3, Martha, 2, and Peter, 3 months; plus, John Smith, 25.

In the 1920 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: on the public road from Tarboro to Stantonsburg, farm laborer Allen Sharpe, 43; wife Mary A., 38; children Carrie, 17, John, 14, Nettie, 12, Beatrice, 10, Peter, 9, Mark, 8, Bertha, 5, Ethel Branch, 3, and niece Dora, 19,

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Allen Sharpe, 56; wife Mary A., 47; children Carrie, 25, Nettie, 22, Peter, 19, Mark, 17, Bertha, 15, Blanche, 13,  Senie, 11, and Odell Sharp, 8; plus grandchildren Roosivilt, 7, and Minnie Howard, 4.

Allen Sharpe died 24 January 1946 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 April 1888 [actually, probably 1878] in Edgecombe County to Abram and Mary Sharpe and resided near Macclesfield, Wilson County. [Note that Macclesfield itself is in Edgecombe County.]

  • Mark B. and Clara Farmer Sharpe

Mark B. Sharpe, here.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Cromwell Farmer, 57; wife Mary Jane, 48; and children James, 22, Ida, 20, Cromwell, 19, Ella, 17, Maggie, 16, Clara, 14, Floyd, 12, Viola and Liola, 9, Esther, 8, Lee A., 7, and George, 6.

On 15 March 1937, Mark Sharpe, 25, of Wilson, son of Adam [sic] and Mary A. Sharpe, married Clara Farmer, 20, of Wilson County, son of Cromwill and Mary Jane Farmer.

Clara Sharpe died 20 February 1951 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 November 1917 to Crummes Farmer and Mary Jane Battle and was married. Mark Sharpe was informant.

  • Martha Mitchell Farmer

Per her death certificate, Martha Mitchel Farmer died 19 October 1964 in Wilson township. She was born 4 July 1881 to Willie Mitchel and Laura Barren and was married to Willie Farmer. She was buried in Pinetops cemetery, Pinetops, North Carolina. [Was her grave later moved?]  Informant was Lloyd Farmer.

  • Kelly Johnson Sr.

On 1 October 1910, Kelly Johnson, 21, married Bloomer Moore, 19, in Edgecombe County.

On 5 June 1917, Kellie Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 March 1888 in Edgecombe County; resided near Fountain [which is in Pitt County]; was a farmer; and supported a wife and five children.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Kellie Johnson, 32; wife Bloomer, 26; and children Arthur, 10, Elizabeth, 8, L. Rosa, 6, Kellie, 5, Willie, 3, and Bloomer, 2.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Tarboro Road, farmer Kelly Johnson, 40; wife Bloomer, 36; Elizabeth, 16, Rosa L., 15, Kelly, 14, Willie, 13, Bloomer, 12, Maggie, 9, Ethlen, 8, Allen, 5, and Martha, 1.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm operator Kelly Johnson, 52; wife Blumer, 48; and children Maggie, 19, Boy, 13, Martha, 10, and William Henry, 9; stepdaughter Mildred, 8; and  granddaughter Alma Jean, 5 months.

Kelly Johnson died 8 April 1963 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, he was born 9 March 1889 to David Johnson and Alice (last name unknown); was retired; was married to Blummer Moore Johnson; and was buried in Northeastern cemetery, Rocky Mount [??].

Allen Sharpe cemetery.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2017.