Darden

Cemeteries, no. 17: 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 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. Her 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.]

Voyage to Havana.

On 20 August 1937, Camillus and Norma Duncan Darden boarded the S.S. Cuba at Havana, Cuba, for a one-day return to the United States arriving in Tampa, Florida, on the 21st. The Peninsular & Occidental Steamship Company operated the Cuba.

U.S. Citizen Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Tampa, Florida, digitized at Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

Killed by live wire.

In news of Wilson, the News & Observer reported that undertaker Camillus Darden had traveled to New York to handle the affairs of Daniel Smith, who had been killed in a electrical accident. The Brooklyn Rapid Transit Company operated both passenger and freight services on its rail rapid transit, elevated and subway network in Brooklyn and Queens, New York. Presumably, Smith, like many Southerners in that time, was working temporarily up North.

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 25 October 1919.

In the 1900 census of Lumber Bridge, Robeson County, North Carolina: Eliza Smith, 39, farm laborer; son Ed, 16, sawmill hand; daughters Martha, 7, and Anna, 4; son Daniel, 24, farmer; daughter-in-law Adline, 18; nephew Robert, 17, farmhand; niece Nora, 14; nephews Lennie, 10, and William, 7; boarder Ed McGuire, 33, sawmill laborer.

In the 1908 Wilson city directory: Smith Daniel, driver h 625 E Vance.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Daniel Smith, 33, furniture store drayman; wife Adeline, 29, laundress; sisters Marthy, 16, and Annie, 14, private nurses; and sister-in-law Lou Bryant, 11.

Daniel Smith registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County on 12 September 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 4 July 1877; resided near Wainwright Avenue; worked as laborer for Quinn McGowan; and his nearest relative was Adeline Smith.

 

Camillus L. Darden.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 January 1956.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wheelwright Charles Dardin, 44; wife Dianna, 40, sewing; and children Annie, 21, sewing; Comilous, 15, tobacco stemmer; Arthor, 12; Artelia, 10; Russell, 5; and Walter, 4.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith Charlie Darden, 55; wife Dianah, 48; and children Cermillus, 24, bicycle shop owner; Arthur, 22, teacher; Artelia, 18, teacher; Russel, 16; and Walter, 14.

Camillus Louis Darden registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 June 1884; resided at 110 Pender Street; was a self-employed undertaker at 615 East Nash Street; and his nearest relative was his father Charles H. Darden.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 110 Pender Street, blacksmith Charles H. Darden, 65; wife Mary E., 55; sons C.L., 35, and Artha W., 27, undertakers; and [step-] daughter Mary H., 19, and Cora B., 11.

Camillus Darden married Norma E. Duncan of Montgomery, Alabama.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 108 Pender Street, Calamus L. Darden, and wife Morma, 30. Their home was valued at $10,000.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 108 Pender Street, undertaker C.L. Darden, 45, and wife Norma, 40.

C.L. Darden executed his will on 1955. He devised his business, Darden Memorial Funeral Home, to his wife Norma E. Darden, brother Dr. Walter T. Darden and nephew Charles Darden James in one-half, one-quarter and one-quarter shares respectively. The property on which the funeral home was located, 608 and 610 East Nash Street, as well as an adjacent lot known as the Darden Shop lot, were similarly devised. His wife was to receive his residence at 108 Pender Street, and property at 203 Stantonsburg Street was to be sold and the proceeds divided between his sisters Elizabeth Morgan and Artelia Tennessee; his nieces Artelia Tennessee Bryant, Thelma Byers and Artelia Davis; and a long-time employee Frank Davis (with provisions to guarantee each received at least $1000.) All personal property was devised to wife Norma, and equal shares in all other real property to nieces and nephews Charles Darden James, Randall James, Johnnie K. Reynolds, Artelia Davis, Thelma Byers, Bernard Tennessee, Eugene Tennessee, Artelia Tennessee Bryant, Norma Jean Darden, Carol Darden, and Charles Arthur Darden.

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Camillus L. Darden died 12 January 1956 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he resided at 108 Pender Street; was born 26 June 1884 in Wilson to Charles Henry Darden and Diana Scarborough; was married to Norma Duncan Darden; and worked as a mortician. Charles D. James was informant.

Read more about Camillus Lewis Darden here and here and here and here.

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The Darden house at 108 North Pender Street.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, May 2017; U.S. Citizen Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Tampa, Florida, Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787- 2004, digitized at Florida, Passenger Lists, 1898-1963 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Darden funeral home and bicycle shop.

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Walter T. “Bud” Darden and Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick‘s son, Daniel, also known as Bud, standing in front of Charles H. Darden & Son’s shop. In addition to providing funeral and undertaking services, the Dardens sold bicycles and Victor record players.

Image courtesy of City of Wilson Archives, reprinted in Wilson Daily Times, 15 February 2008.

 

Virginia divorces.

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Annie Barnes, 24, daughter of Charles and Rebecca Barnes, married Moses Gunn, 31, son of Joe and Amanda Gunn, on 22 December 1900 in Wilson. (Annie Barnes Gunn was a sister of John M. Barnes and B. Frank Barnes.)

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Artelia Marian Darden, daughter of Charles and Diana Scarborough Darden, married John Jesse Tennessee in Wilson on 14 November 1914.

 

John M. and Annie D. Barnes.

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John M. and Annie D. Barnes. The building behind them appears to be Mercy Hospital. They lived next door at 500 East Green Street.

John Mack Barnes is one of a handful of African-Americans whose bio briefs were submitted for publication in History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985). “Father John Barnes was a real down to earth person. Never a hint of show off, or put on trying to impress you. Every one that knew him had to respect him.”

Per the article, John Barnes was born 26 December 1870 in Edgecombe County to Charles and Rebecca Barnes. (Benjamin Frank Barnes was one of his brothers.) He married Annie Darden and fathered four children, Leonard Elroy, Artelia, Thelma, and a boy who died early. Annie Darden Barnes taught at the Sallie Barbour School.

Barnes was a master builder, carpenter and brickmason whose finest works included Saint John A.M.E. Zion church and parsonage, Camillus L. Darden‘s stately Colonial Revival home on Pender Street, and the Tudor Revival Darden Funeral Home on Nash. He was devoted to Saint John and served as violin soloist, steward and trustee during his 69 years of membership. In his spare time, he raised Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock chickens at his home at 500 East Green Street.

When Annie Barnes died, Barnes built a brick and cement mausoleum for her remains. John M. Barnes died 27 April 1958 and was buried in an extension of the mausoleum built by his friend George Coppedge.

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Barnes mausoleum in Darden family plot, Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson, February 2017.

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In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charley Barnes, 50, wife Beckey, 36, and children John, 10, Frank, 6, Ann, 4, William C., 3, Thomas, 1, and Corah H., 1 month.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmhand Charley Barnes, 50; wife Rebecca, 57, washing; and children John, 26, drayman, William, 23, drayman, Annie, 17, cooking, Tom, 18, day laborer, and Corrah, 12, nursing.

On 22 December 1903, John M. Barnes, 33, son of Chas. and Rebecca Barnes of Wilson, married Annie Lee Darden, 24, daughter of Chas. and Dianah Darden of Wilson. Samuel H. Vick applied for the license, and Methodist Episcopal minister B.D. McIver performed the service in the presence of C.R. Cannon, Walter Hines, and O.L.W. Smith.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason John M. Barnes, 44, wife Annie L., 32, Leonard E., 5, Lee J. [Leo Artelia], 4, Selma [Thelma] F., 2, and John W., 3 months.

In the 1912 Hill’s city directory, John M. Barnes, bricklayer, is listed at 121 Pender Street (across from Saint John A.M.E. Zion.) In the 1922 and 1930 city directories, he is listed at 500 East Green. His occupation was given as plasterer in 1922.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 500 East Green, bricklayer John M. Barnes, 69, and wife Annie L., 61.

Annie Lee Barnes died 3 May 1943 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 February 1879 in Wilson to Charles Henry Darden of Greene County and Dianna Scarborough of Wilson County; was married to John M. Barnes; and taught at the Sallie Barbour School. John M. Barnes was informant.

John M. Barnes died 27 April 1958 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1870 in Wayne County to Charles and Rebecca Pope Barnes; worked as a brickmason; was married to Cora Sherrod Barnes [daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod]; and was buried at Rest Haven. Thelma B. Byers was informant.

Photo of John and Annie Barnes courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985); cemetery photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

Progressive citizens, pt. 1.

Sometime in 1914, the Wilson Times published a three-page insert highlighting the achievements of the town’s African-American community. “Wilson is fortunate in having a large proportion of sensible negroes,” the writer opined, and counted among the laudable such well-known citizens and institutions as Samuel H. Vick; J.D. Reid; Dr. Frank S. Hargrave; Charles, Camillus and Arthur Darden; Levi Jones; William Hines; Henry Tart; and H.G. Barnes; Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home for Colored People; the Colored Graded School; First Baptist Church; Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers; and Lincoln Benefit Society.

On page one, the main text of digitized version of the insert is difficult to read, but the advertisements and photographs are clear. Surrounding an image of the just-opened Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home are ads placed by Henry Tart, “The Transfer Man”; York Pressing Shop; and C.H. Darden Undertakers. In addition to their funeral business, the Dardens touted their bicycle and firearm dealerships and their status as agents for Victor talking machines and records. The proprietors of the pressing club are listed only as Reed and Whitty. I have not been able to identify Whitty, but Reed seems to have been Lonnie Reid (a cousin of J.D. Reid), who is listed in the 1912 Hill’s city directory of Wilson operating a clothes cleaning shop at 603 East Nash Street. York was short-lived, as in the 1916 directory Reid was in business with Dunn, North Carolina, resident William Bates. Their tailor shop, Bates & Reid, also operated from 603 East Nash.

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Original document in the collection of the Freeman Round House Museum, Wilson, and digitized at www.digitalnc.org.