centenarian

The obituary of Channie Hunter Bynum, 102.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 July 1992.

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In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 54; [second] wife Lula, 33; and children Chanie, 18, Sam, 16, Emma, 15, Robert, 11, Annie, 6, and Clyde, 2.

On 21 April 1915, Louis Braswell, 20, of Wilson, son of Arthur and Olive Braswell, married Chanie Hunter, 20, of Black Creek, daughter of Anderson Hunter, at Anderson Hunter’s in Black Creek. Luther Braswell applied for the license, and Sam Hunter, Ennis Sauls and Aget Dew witnessed.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on the Wilson-Rocky Mount Road, Lewis Braswell, 24; wife Chany, 28; and children James, 2, and Carry, 8 months.

Lewis Braswell died 21 December 1921 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 29 years old; was born in Wilson County to Luther Braswell and Oliva Bynum; was married to Chainey Braswell; and worked as a tenant farmer to Mrs. M.A. Bryant. Informant was Frank Braswell.

Addie Pearl Braswell died 22 December 1924 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 2 years old and was born in Wilson County to Lewis Braswell and Chanie Hunter. Frank Hunter was informant.

On 23 December 1925, Chanie Braswell, 32, of Toisnot, married George Bynum, 53, of Black Creek, in Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Route 2, Wilson, of Highway 301, day laborer Geo. Bynum, 66; wife Chanie, 49; Carrie, 20, Estella, and Junnies Braswell, 16 (described as in-laws, but actually Bynum’s stepchildren]; and Dazell, 12, and Ruth Bynum, 10.

In 1940, Roscoe Boot Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 30 September 1917 in Wilson County; lived at 607 Spring Street, Wilson; his contact was mother Chaney Bynum, Route 2, Wilson; and he worked for the Country Club, Goldsboro Highway, Wilson.

In 1940, Louis Junior Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 9 May 1921 in Edgecombe County; lived at 816 South Manchester Street, Wilson; his contact was mother Chenie Bynum, 816 South Manchester; and he worked at Cherry Point.

The obituary of Lena Mitchell Kent, 104.

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Lena Mitchell Kent, 104, of Wilson, died Tuesday, July 30, 2019. Funeral will be 1 p.m. Friday at Mount Zion Progressive Primitive Baptist Church. Burial will follow in Hamilton Burial Gardens. Visitation will be 7 p.m. Thursday at Carrons Funeral Home. Arrangements are by Carrons Funeral Home.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 July 2019.

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On 15 December 1888, Laurence Mitchel, 21, of Cross Roads township, son of Primus Mitchel, married Ester Darden, 18, of Cross Roads township, daughter of Martin and Jane Darden, at Primus Mitchel’s in Cross Roads.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Laurence Michel, 29; wife Easter, 24; and children Alonza, 8, Nettie, 6, Eddie, 4, and Babe, 1.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Lawrence Mitchell, 40; wife Easter, 36; and children Alonzo, 19, Nellie, 17, Eddie, 13, Jesse, 11, Bettie, 7, Coy S., 5, Mattie, 3, and an infant, 11 months.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Lawrence Mitchell, 30; wife Louisa, 30; and children Altie, 29, Bettie, 17, Colasta, 14, Mattie, 12, Wiley, 9, Cleveland, 6, and Lena, 4.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Lawrence Mitchel, 57; wife Louisa, 45; and children Cleveland, 17, Lena, 15, and Easter, 16.

On 9 October 1937, in Smithfield, Johnston County, Joseph Kent, 25, of Lucama, son of Joseph Kent and Minnie Kent, married Lena Mitchell, 22, of Lucama, daughter of Lawrence Mitchell and Easter Mitchell.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Joe Kent, 27, and wife Lena, 24.

In 1940, Joe Kent Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 8 October 1912 in Wilson; lived at R.F.D. #1, Lucama; was married to Lena Kent, wife; and worked for T.R. Smith, Lucama.

Vanilla Beane celebrates 100!

Jeni Hansen has graciously allowed me to share plans for the observation of the 100th birthday of her grandmother, celebrated milliner Vanilla Powell Beane, who was born in Wilson County on 13 September 1919.

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Find more on Vanilla Beane here:

  • Articles

The Washington Post, Celebrating 3 sisters’ lives and longevity, Avis Thomas-Lester, 5 November  2011

The Washington Post, C​elebrated D.C. Milliner Marks 90th Birthday With Friends, Hats, Hamil R. Harris, 20 September 2009

Afro-American Newspapers, ​D.C. Woman Celebrates 100th Birthday with Sisters, 97, and 93, Avis Thomas-Lester and Teria Rogers, 14 November 2012

Associated Press,​Dr. Height’s Hat Immortalized in Metal, Sarah Karush and Teneille Gibson, 15 June 2010

  • Videos

Hat Academy: “​Bene Millinery​
Museum of Fine Arts: ​Dorothy Height’s Hats 360

Press contact:

Jeni Hansen
jeni@jenihansen.com​

Tobe Bellamy, centenarian.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 August 1986.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer Henry Bellamy, 30; wife Emma, 28; and children Arthur [Tobe], 11, Joseph, 7, Roscoe, 6, and Harry, 4.

In 1930, Tobe Bellamy led the Elk Club’s efforts to find families to receive gifts of food and candy during the Christmas season.

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Wilson Daily Times, 26 December 1930.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: fertilizer plant laborer Tobe Bellamy, 51; wife Mary, 41; adopted son Jessie, 7; and mother Emma, 75.

Emmaline Bellamy died 22 September 1947 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 January 1874 in Wilson County to Archie Amie and Sylvia Taylor, both of Wilson County and lived at 718 Stantonsburg Street. Tobie Bellamy was informant.

On 24 December 1954, Jesse Bellamy, 25, of Wilson, son of Tobe Bellamy and Mary Barnes, and Queen Esther Thomas, 25, of Rocky Mount, daughter of Ben Thomas and Etta Hilton. Holiness minister W.H. Holiday performed the ceremony in the presence of Allen Barnes, Walter Whitted and Mary Bellamy.

Mary Bellamy died 19 April 1967 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 September 1903 in Wilson County to Allen Barnes and Caroline Woodard; was a retired laborer at Watson Tobacco; was married to Tobie Bellamy; and lived at 718 South Pender Street.

Jesse Bellamy died 19 December 1972 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 October 1932 to Tobie Bellamy and Mary Barnes; was married to Zelma Bellamy; worked as a laborer for Export Tobacco Company; and lived at 907 Phillips Street.

In the summer of 1980, Tobe Bellamy shared his thoughts on a heatwave then baking Wilson:

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 August 1980.

Tobe Bellamy died 5 August 1988 in Wilson, aged 104.

Josephine Artis Sherrod turns 100.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 May 1987.

Josephine Artis Sherrod, a sister of Cain Artis, William M. Artis, Walter S. Artis, Alberta Artis Cooper, Columbus E. Artis and June S. Artis, was matriarch of a tight-knit family centered on two blocks of Viola Street described within the family as Sherrod Village.

Dorothy H. Ellis celebrates her 100th birthday.

From the 7 July 2019 edition of Wilson Times:

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Dorothy Hammond Ellis of Wilson was honored at her 100th birthday July 3 in the fellowship hall of Calvary Presbyterian Church by her daughter, Cynthia Ellis, goddaughters and church family.

“Dorothy H. Ellis is a beloved retired schoolteacher who taught eighth grade at Darden High School starting in 1942. She and her husband, Coach [James C.] “Shank” Ellis went on to teach at Coon Junior High School until they retired early in 1979. While teaching at Darden, she was asked to use her basketball skills to coach the boys basketball team while the men went off to fight in World War II.

“Dorothy Ellis was born July 3, 1919 in Cheraw, South Carolina.”

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Dorothy H. Ellis and James C. Ellis in the 1949 edition of the Trojan, the yearbook of C.H. Darden High School.

Nestus Freeman … of Ohio?

Eighty years ago today, a newspaper in a small central-Ohio town published a tribute to one of its citizens on the occasion of his 100th birthday. “Nestus Freeman, colored citizen of this city — ” Nestus Freeman? “Mr. Freeman was born in Wilson, North Carolina, on March 16, 1839.” Born in Wilson? Who was this Nestus Freeman?

The article mentions that Freeman ran away from slavery as a child (or, had never been a slave); began barbering at age 7; fought for the Union under an assumed name during the Civil War; worked on a riverboat between Pittsburgh and New Orleans; lived in Urbana and Richwood, Ohio, before settling in Marysville in 1880; had lost his wife in 1909 due to a house fire; and had at least two children, son Shirley Freeman of Marysville and daughter Gertrude Putnam of Cleveland.

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Marysville Journal-Tribune, 17 March 1939.

What information can be gleaned from readily available records?

On 13 March 1873 Nestus L. Freemond married Amanda E. Diltz in Champaign County, Ohio. A tiny notation in the corner of their license identifies them as members of Champaign’s tiny African-American community.

The young family relocated to a larger town in an adjoining county. In the 1880 census of Marysville, Union County, Ohio: barber Enfield Freeman, 30; wife Amanda, 26; and daughter Lydia, 5. [Later documents show Nestus’ middle initial as E. Was this for “Enfield”?]

In the 1900 census of Marysville, Union County, Ohio: Nathan [sic] Freemond, 51, barber, born Pennsylvania; wife Amanda A., 45, hairdresser; and children Lydia, 22, hairdresser, Shirley, 19, barber, Elsia, 16, and  Gertrude, 10.

Amanda Diltz Freeman died 1909 as a result of burns suffered in a catastrophic house fire. A local newspaper printed a sympathetic account of her last days:

Marysville Journal-Tribune, 20 May 1909.

In the 1910 census of Marysville, Union County, Ohio: at 301 North Maple, N. Freeman, 70, barber, born in Ohio, and children Lydia, 32, Shirley, 29, barber, and Elsa, 25, barber.

In the 1930 census of Marysville, Union County, Ohio: at 307 North Maple, owned and valued at $3000, widowed barber Nestus Freeman, 86, born in Pennsylvania; daughter Lydia M., 54; and son Shirley, 49, barber.

As Nestus Freeman entered his upper 90s, newspapers delighted in reporting on his picturesque life.

Marysville Journal-Tribune, 14 July 1937.

Saint Cloud (Saint Cloud, Minn.), 

A photograph!

Marysville Tribune, 31 March 1938.

Pittsburgh Courier, 25 March 1939.

In the 1940 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: at 10103 Yale Avenue, John Putnam, 63, shade cutter at department store; wife Gertrude F., 42; father James A. Putnam, 84; and father-in-law Nestus Freeman, 96, born in North Carolina.

At last, days before his 102nd birthday, Nestus Freeman passed away at his daughter’s home in Cleveland.

Union County Journal (Marysville, Oh.), 3 March 1941.

Here’s another death notice:

Marion (Oh.) Star, 5 March 1941.

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Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, Marysville, Ohio, circa 1900. Nestus and Amanda Freeman’s funerals were held here, and they may well be pictured. Photo courtesy of Allen Chapel’s Facebook page.

Charles [Shirley] Freeman died 7 October 1948 in Orwell, Ashtabula County, Ohio. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 June 1886 in Marysville, Ohio, to Nestus Freeman of Wilson, N.C., and Amanda Diltz; was married; and had worked as a barber.

Gertrude Putnam died 5 February 1953 at Perry township, Stark County, Ohio. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 March 1885 in Marysville to Nestus Freeman and Amanda Diltz; resided in Orwell, Ashtabula County; and was married. She was buried in Oaklawn cemetery, Marysville.

So, was there a connection between Nestus Freeman of Ohio and Oliver Nestus Freeman of Wilson?

  • There is the obvious hint in their names. Was O.N. named after an uncle who left North Carolina long before he was born?
  • Though Nestus reported his birthplace as Pennsylvania to Union County census takers, it was recorded as North Carolina by a Cuyahoga County enumerator; as Wilson and Wilton, North Carolina, by two reporters; and as Wilson on a son’s death certificate.
  • Another hint lies in children’s names.

The graves of the Freeman family are marked by a single large red granite headstone in Marysville’s Oaklawn cemetery. Nestus and Amanda’s dates should read 1839-1941 and 1854-1909.

The back of the stone lists the Freeman children (except Gertrude in Cleveland.) Notably, two of Nestus’ children, Lydia and Daniel, shared names with two of O.N. Freeman’s siblings, Lydia Ann Freeman Norwood Ricks and Daniel Edward Freeman. And — surprise! — there’s a brother of Nestus, also named Daniel. Photos courtesy of Findagrave.com.

The dates given for Daniel Freeman’s lifespan seem unlikely. A 1792 birth year would have made him almost 50 years older than his brother Nestus. I did some searching for Daniel and — voilà!

Marysville Journal-Tribune, 15 October 1926.

Daniel Freeman, too, had held the title of Marysville’s oldest citizen! Daniel, age 102, died at the home of his brother “Nathaniel Freeman, the colored barber” in 1926. Daniel had only recently come to Marysville after working as a blacksmith in Cleveland for forty years. Per the article, Daniel was born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in October 1924 to Mr. and Mrs. Lovett Freeman. In this telling, it was Lovett (not Nestus) who worked for years on a steamboat running from Pittsburgh to New Orleans. (Again, the names — O.N. Freeman had a brother Lovett Freeman, the oldest of Julius and Eliza Daniel Freeman‘s children.) And then the clincher — “He is survived by two brothers, Julius, a carpenter of Wilson, North Carolina, and Nathaniel [sic] of this city …”

Death certificate of Daniel Freeman, which lists his parents as Lovette Freeman and Lottie, maiden name was unknown.

Julius Franklin Freeman was born about 1844 in Johnston County, North Carolina. He appears in the 1870 census of Wilson as an adult, already working as a carpenter. Neither his marriage licenses nor his death certificate list his parents. Based on the above, however, it seems clear that Julius’ father was named Lovett Freeman and that he had at least two brothers, Daniel and Nestus.

The 1840 census of Johnston County lists a Lovet Freeman. The census taker apparently forgot to mark the columns beside his name to designate the age and color of members of Lovet’s household, but he was most likely a free person of color.  If this were Daniel and Nestus and Julius’ father, when did he and his family leave North Carolina? Did they first migrate to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania? Did Julius remain behind, or did he return, perhaps after the Civil War? Were there other children? The 1860 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, shows North Carolina-born blacksmith Mathew Freeman, 45; wife Fairly, 30; and children Daniel, 14, Henry B., 10, Lovet B., 9, Liza A., 7, Joseph G., 3, Hanna B., 3, and Bob, 5 months. Again, the names Daniel and Lovett. In addition, Julius had sons Henry and Joseph as well. Was Mathew Freeman perhaps a brother of Lovett Freeman?

Wilson has lost an icon.

This morning’s announcement from Wilson’s Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education:

Our beloved, Sallie Baldwin Townsend Howard, passed away at 2:50am this morning, September 25, 2018. She was 102 years old and wanted everyone to know that “she was ready”. We miss her already but her life and her legacy remains with us, enshrined in the work we do for children for generations to come. Concerning her passing from this earth, this is what she had to say…

“When I lay me down to die
Have bade farewell this beauteous world
Of valleys green and oceans swirl
Of fragrant blossoms and birds that sing
Of happy voices with childlike ring
Of ecstasy from lovers kiss
Though evermore I’m done with this
And my journey through eternity
To the dawn of nothing be…
I shall begin it cheerfully
If little children let shed a tear
To express the love they bear
And weep my passing from this earth
Because til death, yea from birth
For truth and goodness I have striven
Because of kindness I have given
If they should weep to have me stay
Because I’ve lighted up their way
Then happy upon my couch I’ll lie
When I lay me down to die.”

Sallie B. Howard, 1948

The obituary of Mary Mercer Williams Bullock, 104.

Mrs. Mary M. Mercer Bullock, 104, of 1712 Westwood Avenue, Wilson, NC, passed away on January 4, 2017 at Wilson Medical Center.

The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday, January, 11, 2017 at 12:00 noon at Contending For The Faith Church Ministries, 1006 Academy Street, Wilson, NC.  Elder Johnny Stevenson will deliver the message and burial will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery, Lane Street Ext., Wilson, NC.

A public viewing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10, 2017 from 2:00 pm until 7:00 pm at Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC with the family present for an inspirational wake service from 6:00 pm until 7::00 pm.

Mrs. Bullock was preceded in death by her first husband and the father of her children, Samuel Williams.  Later, after Mr. Williams passed, she married Gurney Bullock who also passed prior to her death.  In addition, she was preceded in death by her parents, Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight Mercer; two sons, Samuel Williams, Jr. and Charlie Williams; one daughter, Elnora W. Williams Green; five brothers, Robert Mercer, Charles Mercer, Will Mercer, James Mercer and Walter Lee Mercer; and one sister, Cornelia Barnes.

She leaves cherished memories to: four daughters, Daisy Credle (Hubert) of Bayboro, NC, Cleo Applewhite (June) of Wilson, NC, Lugene Williams of the home and Mattie King of New York, NY; 22 grandchildren; 55 great grandchildren; 43 great great grandchildren;  and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

Arrangements are Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC.

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In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Dempsy Mercer, 40, widower, and children Charley, 17, William, 15, Robert, 10, Walter, 9, and Maggie, 8; and sister-in-law Maggie Hines, 26, and her children Lula, 8, Silvy, 7, and James, 4.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 527 Lodge Street, Louise B. Johnson, 34; Samuel Williams, 34; wife Mary, 28; and children Samuel Jr., 11, Daisey Lee, 6, Cleo, 5, Charlie Lee, 2, and Eugenia, 9 months. Johnson and Samuel and Mary Samuel Williams worked in a tobacco redrying factory.

Samuel Williams died 5 June 1949 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 December 1904 in Wilson County to Bill Williams and Rachel Andrews; was a farmer; resided at Route 3, Elm City; and was buried in Rountree Cemetery. Mary Williams was informant.

Gurney Bullock, 48, son of Ed and Lula Thomas Bullock, married Mary Mercer Williams, 38, daughter of Demp and Mattie Knight Mercer, on 30 December 1950 in Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user credler2.