death certificate

The death certificate of Henry Moses.

Henry Moses had two death certificates, each of which offers unique information.

The basics: Henry Moses died 15 December 1913 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

  • Certificate #1. This document is most complete. Moses lived on Youngs [Alley or Avenue]; was born 27 May 1878 in Franklin County, North Carolina; was married; could read and write; and operated both a restaurant and a pressing club. Undertaker A.D. McGowan buried him in Wilson.

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  • Certificate #2 is a copy of the first, but on a slightly different form. The person who filled it out misread the signature of the registrar, L.A. Hinnant, and wrote it “Hinerant.” He or she (most likely he) also misread the first name of the informant, who was Henry Moses’ father Caesar Moses. This document dispensed with Moses’ occupation, but added two detailsto his cause of death: (1) it was a homicide and (2) “gambling” was the contributory cause.

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On 22 November 1905, Henry Moses, 27, of Wilson, son of Caesar Moses, married Sandora Dancey, 25. Rev. P.H. Howell, a Christ Disciple minister, performed the ceremony at Henry Moses’ home in the presence of W.M. Mayo, L. Studeway and Frank Sims.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco factory laborer Henry Moses, 31; wife Dora, 31; and daughter Luevenia Dancy, 16, servant.

Also in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on TIllmans Road, house carpenter Caesar S. Moses, 56; wife Alice, 53; and children Oliver, 22, and Walter, 13.

Caesar Moses died 19 January 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was 63 years old; worked as a carpenter; and his father was named Crofford Stone. Oliva Moses was informant.

[Note: the 1900 census of Jeffreys township, Florence County, South Carolina, lists a Henry Moses in the household of his father Caesar Moses. As uncommon as the names are, this is a coincidence. This Henry Moses died of typhoid fever in 1917 in Florence County.]

The death certificate of the infant son of Geo. Ferguson.

North Carolina did not mandate death certificates statewide until 1914, but some towns and cities implemented the requirement earlier.

Wilson’s first death certificates date from late 1909. As the record below shows, in the early days there was sometimes confusion about who was to fill in what blanks. It appears here that the family took a shot at writing in personal information about the decedent, a duty that should have fallen to the undertaker. The result, however, is a fascinating collection of details that would otherwise have gone unrecorded.

The basic facts: George and Bettie Ferguson‘s infant son was still born (or died the day after he was born). The family lived at 505 Spring Street, Wilson.

The facts as entered:

  • The baby’s name — was it Stephen?
  • His sex? “Nov. 24” — apparently his birthdate, though this date should match his death date, which was recorded by Dr. W.A. Mitchner.
  • His color? “Color.”
  • His age? “No” years, which was true, as the boy was stillborn.
  • Father’s birthplace? “22 bone 1887 Nov 7.” This was George Ferguson’s age and birthdate.
  • Mother’s birthplace? “Mother bone 1888 August 10.”
  • Occupation? “Stem tobacco.” This, of course, was the occupation of one or both of the baby’s parents.
  • Informant? Charles Darden, though Darden did not serve as undertaker. Quinn-McGowan Firniture Company did.

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George Ferguson, 20, son of Sam and Mary Ferguson, married Bettie Barnes, 18, daughter of Aaron and Margaret Barnes, in Wilson on 12 July 1909. W.H. Neal of Saint James Holy Church performed the ceremony in the presence of J.A. McKnight, Annie Pitt and Edmonia Perrington.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: George Ferguson, 21, factory worker, and wife Bettie, 18.

Bettie Ferguson died 24 July 1918 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 August 1890 in Wilson to Aaron Barnes and Margarett Blount; was married to George Ferguson; lived at 117 Wiggins; and worked as a stemmer at “Emperial Tobacco Co.” She was buried in Wilson by C.H. Darden & Sons.

George Barnes Ferguson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 8 October 1914 in Wilson County; lived at 1120 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was wife Wilhelmina Ferguson; and he worked for R.B. Carroll Grocery.

Georgia L. Barnes died 3 June 1945 in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1913 in Wilson to George Furgerson of Edgecombe County and Betty Barnes of Wilson County and was married.

Which colored cemetery?

Green Mercer died 17 January 1910 at the Wilson County Home, which housed indigent people. Mercer, who was married and whose regular address was on Church Street, had been in “general bad health” for several months. Though just 69, he was described as a “very old negro” for whom no family information was available. Undertaker John W. Quinn buried Mercer in the “Wilson N.C. Colored Cemetery.”

But which colored cemetery?

By 1910, there were four in Wilson — Odd Fellows, Rountree, Masonic and the “old” cemetery, sometimes called Oaklawn or Oakdale, which was established after Emancipation near Cemetery Street south of downtown. The Odd Fellows and Masonic cemeteries seem to have been restricted to burials of lodge members and their families, and Rountree was probably intended originally for Rountree Missionary Baptist church members. (The land now known as Vick cemetery was still an undeveloped tract owned by Samuel H. Vick in 1910.)

It’s likely that Green Mercer, and other African-Americans with no ties to a masonic order or Rountree who died in Wilson up to the early 1920s, were buried in the “old” cemetery. In 1940, the city moved — or said it moved — graves from this cemetery to the newly opened Rest Haven cemetery.

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On 24 August 1866, Green Mercer obtained a license to marry Margarett Wilkins in Edgecombe County.

In the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Green Mercer, 27; wife Margaret, 27; children Fanny, 3, Major Totten, 1, and Frederick Cotton, 54, Randal Parker, and Louisa Ruffin, 21.

In the 1880 census of Cocoa township, Edgecombe County: farmer Green Mercer, 42; wife Margarett, 37; and children Reden, 15, Fannie, 14, Tatin, 11, William, 8, and Joseph, 3.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County, Green Mercer, 50, widower, is listed as a servant in the household of Arthur Farmer, 73.

“Don’t know who she belonged too.”

Julia Washington of Wiggins Street, Wilson, died of gastritis on 29 June 1913.  Her son Aaron Washington provided the information used to complete her death certificate. At 62, Julia had been born about 1851. Aaron knew Julia’s father was Sam Barnes and her mother was named Patience. However, he did not know Patience’s maiden name because he did not “know who she belonged too.”

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Thomas Kerney, old soldier.

Though Thomas Kerney‘s death certificate describes him as an “old solder,” he appears to have been too young to have served during the Civil War. Nor have I found any military record for him. Thomas and Silvey Kerney are not listed in Wilson County census records.

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UPDATE: 20 January 2020. Obviously, I didn’t look hard enough. Thomas Kearney enlisted in the United States Army in 1881 and served nearly till the end of his life.

On 15 August 1881, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 21 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 4 December 1886, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years, 5 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 3 December 1891 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 16 December 1891, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 31 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had dark brown eyes, black hair and brown complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 15 December 1896 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 23 December 1896, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 23 December 1899, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Fort Apache, Arizona. Per the enlistment register, he was 39 years, 7 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and black complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry; and was discharged 22 December 1902 in Monterey, California, as a private.

In the 1900 Military and Naval Population Schedule, Philippine Islands, 9th Cavalry: Kearney, Thomas, colored, 39, born in Tarboro, North Carolina.

On 13 January 1903, Thomas Kearney enlisted in San Francisco, California. Per the enlistment register, he was 42 years, 6 months old; was born in Tabor, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and dark complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company C; and was discharged 12 January 1906 in Fort Riley, Kansas, as a private.

On 19 January 1906, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Kansas City, Missouri. Per the enlistment register, he was 45 years, 6 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 9 January 1908 at Presidio, San Francisco, California, as a private.

U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, http://www.ancestry.com.

Suffer the little children: death by accident.

Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, and violence bore them away with stunning regularity. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children.

Few Wilson County children who died in that era were buried in marked graves. In town, original burials were in Oaklawn or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, and headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time. By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died in the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.

  • On 13 January 1914, Prince Albert Barnes, 14, of Wilson, son of Arren and Margaret Barnes, died of a “blow upon head & fracture of the skull, accidental.” He worked as a laborer.
  • On 2 February 1915, Herman Carroll, 6, son of A.J. and Marchaline Pierce Carroll, died when a falling tree fractured his skull “from ear to ear.”
  • On 10 March 1915, John Hines, 8, of Toisnot township, son of John Hines, was killed by a runaway mule. His feet were caught in the stirrups, and he was dragged head down for half a mile. He was buried in Elm City Colored Cemetery.
  • On 22 April 1917, Lonnie Hilliard, 3, died after his ankle was fractured in an automobile accident.
  • On 2 May 1918, Elma Taylor, 5, of Taylors township, daughter of Alice Taylor and Haywood Johnson, fell in a well and drowned. Her family buried her.
  • On 9 August 1921, Fredie Williams, 15, of Wilson township, son of Richard and Mary Williams, drowned. He was buried in “Barnes grave yd.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 12 August 1921.

  • On 24 October 1921, Robert Speight, 17, in Wilson township, son of James Adkinson and Mamie Hill, was “killed at sawmill by some sort of machinery striking him on the head accidentally.”
  • On 6 March 1922, Novella McClain, 8, of Wilson, daughter of Charley and Mary Ella McClain, died from a blow to the head, over her right eye, by an automobile.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.

  • On 11 December 1923, Lily Mae Reid Jones, 17, of Wilson, was “accidentally killed by train.” She was a factory laborer and a widow.
  • On 23 December 1923, Rosa Lee Jones, 5, of Saratoga township, daughter of Garfield and Bessie Parker Jones, died after she was “accidentally run over by car automobile.”
  • On 15 May 1925, Massey L. Murchinson, 10, of Elm City, son of A.A. and Annie Townsend Murchinson, drowned by accident.
  • On 6 April 1926, Eddie B. Bass, 5, of Wilson township, son of James and Geneva Clifton Bass, was “accidentally killed while playing in a tree [fell] and broke his neck; instant death.”

Suffer the little children: death by violence.

Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, and violence bore them away with stunning regularity. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children.

Few Wilson County children who died in that era were buried in marked graves. In town, original burials were in Oaklawn or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, and headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time. By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died in the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.

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Though it appears that there was relatively little intentional homicide, death by gunshot was a dispiritingly common occurrence:

  • On 16 March 1910, Mary Lillie Loyd, 10, of Wilson, daughter of Bettie Loyd, died “from gunshot wound, accidentally fired.”
  • On 23 October 1911, Ida L. Speights, 7, of Wilson, daughter of J.C and Rebecca Robinson Speight, died of a “gun shot accidentally by Fred Davis carelessly handling gun among children.” (In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, Jake Speights, 45, laborer; wife Rebecca, 30; and children Eva, 14, Lennie, 12, Joseph, 10, Ida, 5, Bessie, 3, and Addie, 1.)

Wilson Daily Times, 27 October 1911.

  • On 28 January 1913, Floyd Anderson, 6, of Toisnot township, son of Charlie Anderson, “was accidentally shot by his brother a boy 8 years old.” (In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Township #12, Edgecombe County: Charlie Anderson, 24, and wife Viola, 20, both farm laborers, and sons Thomas, 4, and Floyd, 3.)
  • On 24 March 1914, James Scott Johnson, 8, of Elm City, son of James and Lola Batten [Battle] Johnson, died of an “accidental gunshot wound, self-inflicted.” (In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: James Johnson, 35, drayman for wholesale grocery; wife Lola, 34, washerwoman; and children Laurenzell, 6, and James S., 4.)
  • On 5 July 1914, Clinton Sylvester Ayers, 6, of Wilson, son of William and Zilfie Dew Ayers, died of a “gunshot wound, accidental.” A second death certificate, for Sylvester Ayers, 6, of Spring Hill, gives the cause of death as “gunshot wound in knee, death from shock after operation, accident.” (In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Red Hill Road, William T. Ayres, 54; wife Zilphia, 45; and children David J., 15, Lillie, 11, Albert, 9, Walter, 7, Solomon, 4, and Clinton S., 1.)
  • On 2 January 1917, Minnie Barnhill, 11, of Wilson, daughter of Marcellus and Mary Barnhill, died from a “rifle bullet through brain by another person, accidental.”
  • On 31 January 1917, Eugenia Abram, 11, of Toisnot township, daughter of Tom and Sallie Bunn Abram, died from a “hemorrhage from gun shot wound (accidental).” (In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Tom Abram, 25, sawmill laborer; wife Sallie, 22; and daughters Genie, 4, Mary, 2, and Savannah, 1.)
  • On 18 November 1918, Simon Moore, 13, of Saratoga township, son of Marcellus and Lissie Rountree Moore, was “accidentally killed by gunshot wound.” (In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: Marcelas Moore, 26; wife Lissie, 24; and sons Simon, 4, and Henry, 2.)
  • On 22 July 1919, Lewis Henry Williams, 15, of Toisnot township, son of Czaar and Annie Williams, died of “accidental gun shot in abdomen.”
  • On 24 March 1920, Mary Brown, 16, of Wilson, daughter of Willie and Mary Brown, died of a “stab wound above left nipple, homicide.”
  • On 20 May 1920, David Jackson Moore, 4, of Wilson, son of Andrew Moore and Minnie Mercer Moore, died of “gunshot of head, accident.”
  • On 8 July 1921, Ira Owens, 16, of Wilson, son of Mack and Mary Gardens Owens, died as a result of “punishment received while at work on county road.” [In other words, Owens was beaten or otherwise abused to death while serving on a road crew, a sentence imposed by a county court.]

Cemeteries, no. 21: Rountree.

Though commonly known as Rountree cemetery, this abandoned graveyard originally comprised three burial grounds. One, whose founding date is unknown, was associated with nearby Rountree Missionary Baptist Church. Another belonged to the Odd Fellows fraternal organization, and the last was established on land deeded to the city of Wilson in 1913 by Samuel H. Vick. Into the 1960s, black Wilson’s leading lights and their families were buried in these cemeteries, along with thousands of lesser known residents. A half-century later, 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 it 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 dau 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, Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries. 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 Vick cemetery, which it acknowledged owning, 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 obelisk 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-Vick [update: actually, Odd Fellows] cemetery taken by Lisa Y. Henderson in 2016. Aerial image courtesy of Google Maps.

Where did they go?: Pennsylvania death certificates, no. 6.

The sixth in a series — Pennsylvania death certificates for Wilson County natives:

  •  Clarence Bullock

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Georgia-born day laborer Will Bullock, 29; wife Martha, 27; and son Clarence W., 2, and Walter N., 8 months; half-siblings Alice, 12, and Mack Scott, 10; and boarder Will Bullock, 29.

  • Pearl E. Lindsey Carr

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed schoolteacher Ida Lindsay, 30, and children Pearl, 8, Clara, 6, and Joseph, 4.

  • Mary Reid Chambliss

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  • George Clarke

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  • Edgar Edwards

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