Benjamin J. Stott and Handy Hodge were sharecroppers, or perhaps tenant farmers, on D.J. Scott’s farm in southern Wilson County. As they walked to work on a Saturday morning, Hodge confronted Stott about 25 cents Stott owed Hodge’s son, and Stott shot Hodge through the thigh with a .38.
After Hodge’s wound was treated, he and Stott decided to get in front of the law and hustled to a Wilson justice of the peace with a watered-down version of events. They were given moderate fines and released. However, Crossroads law enforcement got wind of the fracas, arrested Stott, and charged him with shooting Hodge and carrying a concealed weapon. He was “tried” by a justice of the peace (apparently, something akin to a probable cause hearing) and released under a hefty $200 bond to appear in county Superior Court.
B.J. Stott — In the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Stott, 49, and wife Lucinda, 39.
Handy Hodge — in the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: next door to the Stotts, farmer Handy Hodge, 52; wife Roxie, 50; children David, 16, and Handy, 13; and widowed aunt Jennie Newsom, 80.
William L. Farmer’s hefty estate file contains multiple references to both enslaved people and free people of color.
From an inventory of assets, a list of enslaved people hired out in 1857 and 1858 — Samson, Blunt, Joshua, Jane and Clarkey.
A 25 November 1856 inventory of the debts owed to William L. Farmer highlights the web of financial relationships that characterized the largely bankless antebellum South. For many, after land and slaves, their greatest assets consisted of I.O.U.’s.
Green Lassiter (and his sister Rachel Lassiter?) seems to have been one of the largest debtors.
Terrell Parker‘s $11.32 debt to Farmer was declared “bad,” i.e. uncollectible.
As were those of many others, including Gray Boseman …
Benjamin Thorn hired out Joshua for a year. Jane went to Archibald Roes, and Sampson to Henry Armstrong. The estate paid Evins Baker five dollars to care for Clarky.
“They are to have 3 soots of Cloths & three pair of shoes one of woolen one hat & one Blanket” Henry Crumpley hired out Daniel for the year, and W.G. Sharp hired Ben. Though both were described as “boys,” their hire prices suggest they were young men in their prime.
On 6 April 1860, “negro Ben” required a visit to Dr. James G. Armstrong.
This remarkable document, the only one of its kind I’ve seen, is a receipt for the late fall purchase of goods for Farmer’s slaves — seven blankets, seven pairs of shoes, five wool hats, 18 and-a-half yards of osnaburg, five yards of linsey, one pair of coarse boots, and 29 years of kersey. Osnaburg was a coarse, stiff fabric woven from flax or jute and commonly used to make garments for enslaved people. Linsey (or linsey-woolsey) was another coarse cotton and wool fabric. Kersey was a dense woolen fabric.
In 27 August 1856, shortly before he died, Farmer gave Rachel Lassiter a note for $15.59, which could have represented money borrowed or more likely services rendered or goods sold.
On 14 July 1857, Farmer’s administrator, Augustin Farmer, paid Green Lassiter $16.42 to settle a debt.
Bureau of Refugees Freedmen & Abd Lands, Sub Dist Goldsboro May 7/ 1867
Mr. John Perkins, Black Creek NC
Sir, Information has been received at this office that you seized one Bbl [barrel] and one stand of corn valued at $6.67 2/3 the property of Isaac Winsted to liquidate a debt due you from his father. You will please send to this office a written statement of the matter
Very Respectfully &c
O.E. Compton, Major USA Sub Asst Com
Pikeville N.C., June 1st 1867
O.E. Compton, Goldsboro N.C.
Sir, I have only yesterday 31st May received the within from you ishued 7th Inst. in reply I have to say that I rented or leased some land to Riched Winstead the father of Isaac & Prince Winsted. he Richard bout provisions of me in time that he was making the corn and pledged the corn to pay the amount at harves but before he paid me all he turned over or pretendidly give the corn to his Sones, but he had pledged me the corn to pay the amount, so I did not really take any of Isaac’s corn in his possession &c I can prove the above to be true by two witnesses.
Written by R.W. Perkins by request Yours respectfully, John Perkins
John Perkins — Perkins, born in 1844, was a Confederate veteran, having enlisted in Company F, North Carolina 61st Infantry Regiment in 1862.
Isaac Winstead —
In the 1870 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County: Richard Winstead, 80, farm laborer; wife Phillis, 57; and children Frank, 12, Anna, 6, and Isaac, 28.
On 27 April 1873, Isaac Winsted, 30, of Wilson County, married Caroline Batchelor, 30, of Nash County, in Taylors.
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Winstead, 38; wife Caroline, 38; children Lizzie, 12, and Jane, 8; and mother Phillis, 70.
In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, farm laborer Isaac Winstead, 79, and wife Calline, 75.
Isaac Winstead died 7 April 1920 in Taylors township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was married to Caroline Winstead; was 78 years old; his father was Dick Winstead; and he was a tenant farmer for J.S. Thompson. Informant was E.E. Winstead. (A duplicate certificate shows: Isaac Winstead died 7 April 1920 in Taylors township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was married to Caroline Winstead; was about 70 years old; was born in Wilson County; and he was a farmer for J.S. Thompson was informant.)
North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro(subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters Received Jan 1867-Feb 1868;North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 16, Unregistered Letters Received Aug 1865-Feb 1868, http://www.familysearch.org
About 1857, as Benjamin Simpson took stock of his son’s estate, he prepared a list of notes owed to Jesse Simpson. Several free people of color, all neighbors of the Simpsons, are listed among the debtors.
“1 note against Silas Laseter for 7.17 on the mande from intrust from the date given the 1 of Febraury 1855″ — In the 1860 census of Wilson district, Wilson County: farmer Silas Lassiter, 38; wife Orpie, 34; children Sallie, 12, Mary, 11, James, 9, John, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Penina, 4, Hardy, 3, Silas, 1, and George, 2 months; and Delpha Simpson, 14.
“1 acount against Jo Jones for 6.00″ — in the 1860 census of Wilson district, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 40, turpentine; wife Zillah, 34; and children Milly, 17, Jesse, 10, Nathan, 8, and Frances and Lenora, 6.
“1 acount against William Jones for 2.50″ — in the 1860 census of Oldfields district, Wilson County, either: William Jones, 35, making turpentine, and wife Mary, 37, domestic, in the household of farmer Jethro Harrison, 31, or, more likely, William Jones, 20, mulatto, farm laborer; Mahaly Jones, 17, domestic; John Locus, 10; Mary Jones, 35, domestic; John, 10, and Josiah Jones, 6; all mulatto; in the household of farmer Elizabeth Simpson, 30.
The list of “book accounts” included:
Penne Powel — probably Penelope Taborn Powell, the wife of Calvin Powell, see below.
Wilis Jones — in the 1860 census of Oldfields district, Wilson County: Willis Jones, 62, black, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 51, mulatto; and children Henry, 20, Alexander, 17, Noel, 16, Willis, 12, Paton, 10, Burthany, 7, Sarah, 13, and James, 10.
Calvin Powel — In the 1860 census of Black Creek district, Wilson County: Calvin Powell, 35, teamster; wife Penelope, 30; and children Jefferson, 12, Cidney, 10, and Calvin, 6. Next door: Dempsey Powell, 30, turpentine; wife Sallie, 28; and Susan, 9.
Dempsy Powel — see above.
Asbary Blackwell — in the 1860 census of Kirby’s district, Wilson County: Asberry Blackwell, 45, turpentine laborer, wife Nancy, 30, farm laborer, and children Charity, 14, Drucilla, 9, Albert, 7, Appy, 7, Zilpha, 4, Obedience, 3, and Asberry, 2 months.
Alin Powel — in the 1870 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Calvin Powell, 49; William Powell, 4; and Allen Powell, 79, basket maker. [William and Allen Powell were described as white; Calvin, as mulatto.]
Stephen Powel — in the 1860 census of Winsteads township, Nash County: 50 year-old Stephen Powell; wife Cyntha, 45; and children Gray, 21, Dollerson, 17, Queenanah, 13, Crocket, 12, Matchum, 10, and Frances, 8.
Lige Powel Ju. — Elijah Powell Jr. Probably, in the 1860 census of Wilson district, Wilson County: John Valentine, 32, engineer, with Elijah Powell, 23, and Josiah Blackwell, 21, sawmill laborers.
North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], ancestry.com.
A deed of trust is essentially an agreement between a lender and a borrower to give legal title to a property to a neutral third party who will serve as a trustee. The trustee holds the property until the borrower pays off the debt owed to the lender. During the period of repayment, the borrower keeps the actual or equitable title to the property and generally maintains full responsibility for the premises. The trustee, however, holds the legal title to the property and is empowered to sell the property to satisfy the debt if the borrower defaults. (In that event, once the sale is complete, the trustee will distribute the proceeds between the borrower and the lender. The lender gets whatever funds are required to satisfy the debt, and the borrower receives anything in excess of that amount.)
Here are details of several deeds of trust filed in Wilson County:
Levi H. Peacock and his wife Hannah H. Peacock borrowed $65.88 at 6% interest from Kathleen Smith Grady to purchase a 53′ by 210′ lot with buildings on Ash Street adjacent to lots owned by O.L.W. Smith and others. The loan was due 1 January 1929. On 24 September 1928, trustee R.A. Grady filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 302. It carries a stamp noting thet the loan was paid in full and the deed cancelled on the due date.
Laura Reid and her husband H.S. Reid, Minnie Reid Creech and her husband M.C. Creech, Levi J. Reid, Hugh C. Reid, J. Harvey Reid and Walter Reid borrowed $1000 at 6% interest from A.O. Dickens to purchase 46 acres on New Raleigh Road and Contentnea Creek. Laura Reid had purchased the acreage, identified as Lot #5 of the plat at Plat Book 1, Page 24, from F.J. and Mattie Finch. Trustee Bryce Little filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 470. There is no indication that the loan was satisfied.
Plat Book 1, Page 24, “Division of J.D. Farrior Raleigh Road Farm Three Miles West of Wilson, N.C.,” 5 December 1916.
Lot #5 of the above plat.
The location of Laura Wilder Reid’s land today, out N.C. Highway 42 West, just past Forest Hills Road and just before Greenfield School.
W.M. King, J.H Neil and G.J. Branch, the trustees of “Mount Zion Holiness Church (colored)” borrowed $75 at 6% interest from J.T. Dew & Brothers to purchase a lot on the south side of Lodge Street on which a church building stood. The loan was due 14 April 1929. On 14 April 1928, trustee R.A. Grady filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 26. There is no indication that the loan was satisfied.
John Whitehead, Mat Turner and Alonzo Walker, the trustees of “Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church (colored)” borrowed $400 at 6% interest from R.A. Grady. (“Witnesseth: That whereas at a special meeting of the membership of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church (colored) held on the 4th day of January 1929 … it was made to appear that in order to complete the church building now in the course of erection” and to pay the purchase price of the lot, they needed to borrow money. … F.F. Battle, Moderator, Mary Jones, Clerk.) The lot and church building were on Atlantic Street. The loan was due 10 January 1930. On 16 January 1929, trustee R.A. Grady filed a deed of trust that was recorded at Book 181, page 543. There is no indication that the loan was satisfied.
Among the men whose debts to deceased Theophilus Grice were listed in an inventory of his assets were these free men of color — Lewis Artis, Thomas Ayers, Richard Artis and Jacob Artis. (Actually, Thomas Ayers’ ethnicity is ambiguous. He may have been white, but appears to have been closely related to free colored Ayerses in the county.) All likely were close neighbors of Grice in the area around Bloomery Swamp in western Wilson (then Nash) County.
Lewis Artis owed for two loans — $17.00 incurred in 1806, and $13.05 incurred in 1808. Thomas Ayers had owed $29.79 since 1818. Richard Artis owed $15.84 since 1819. Jacob Artis had owed $14.56 since 1810. All the debts were described as “desperate” and were unlikely to be recovered.
Images of estate documents available atNorth Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
To secure debt of $54.55 and an additional loan of $100, Spencer S. Shaw agreed in the event of default to convey to Hawley & Revell an iron gray mule, a Hackney top buggy, five hogs, a one-horse wagon, and several farm tools.
In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Spencer Shaw, 40, wife Tabitha, 41, and children George A., 17, James R., 11, Hattie, 9, Joeseph G., 6, Seth T., 5, and Albert S., 2.
In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Raleigh Branch Road, Spencer Shaw, 51, wife Bitha, 49, and children James R., 21, Joseph T., 16, Seth T.,14, Albert S., 11, Merlin S., 9, Willie H., 7, and Alice M., 5.
In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Shaw Avenue on Springhill Road, farmer Spencer S. Shaw, 60; wife Bitha, 60; and children Albert, 22, Marlie, 19, Willie, 16, and Alice, 14.
Wilson Daily Times, 12 January 1920.
In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn Road, farmer Spencer S. Shaw, 70; wife Bitha J., 70; sons William H., 26, and Seth T., 34; daughter-in-law Georgeanna, 24; and grandchildren Alice M., 4, Seth T. Jr., 2, and Franklin S., 6 months.
Book 72, Page 292, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson.
A deed of trust is essentially an agreement between a lender and a borrower to give legal title to a property to a neutral third party who will serve as a trustee. The trustee holds the property until the borrower pays off the debt owed to the lender. During the period of repayment, the borrower keeps the actual or equitable title to the property and generally maintains full responsibility for the premises. The trustee, however, holds the legal title to the property and is empowered to sell the property to satisfy the debt if the borrower defaults. Once the sale is complete, the trustee will distribute the proceeds between the borrower and the lender. The lender gets whatever funds are required to satisfy the debt, and the borrower receives anything in excess of that amount.
On a single day in April 1935, Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick lost nearly all of their wealth, including their home. The Vicks were heavily in debt and had defaulted on their loans. Trustee Mechanics and Farmers Bank, an offshoot of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (and one of a handful of black North Carolina banks to survive the Great Depression), offered dozens of their properties for sale. On 4 April 1935, as recorded in Deed Book 221, pages 333-341, Home Development Corporation purchased the following tracts — comprising 109 houses and lots, 4 additional vacant lots, and 2 large parcels — for $35,000:
Tract 1 — the house and lot at 310 [North] Pender Street.
Tract 2 — the house and lot at 313 [North] Pender Street.
Tract 2-A — the houses and lots at 401, 403, 407 and 409 Viola Street.
Tract 3 — “off of and south of Plank road [East Nash Street], adjoining the lands of Harry Clark and others.”
Tract 4 — a 19-room house on Vance Street. [This is likely the building that housed the Independent School.]
Tract 5-A — the house and lot at 714 East Viola Street.
Tract 25-B — the house and lot at 526 Smith Street.
Tract 25-C — the house and lot at 522 Smith Street.
Tract 25-D — the house and lot at 516 Smith Street.
Tract 25-E — the houses and lots at 523 and 525 Smith Street.
Tract 25-F — the houses and lots at 517 and 519 Smith Street.
Tract 14 — the house and lot at 518 East Nash Street.
Tract 15 — a 53′ by 153′ lot on Church Alley [now Street].
Tract 17 — the houses and lots at 402 and 404 Vick’s Alley [now Parker Lane].
Tract 18 — the house and lot at 503 South Spring [now Lodge] Street.
Tract 19 — a 7200 square-foot lot adjoining Louis Townsend, near Spring Street [now Lodge].
Tract 20 — the houses and lots at 406 and 408 Vick’s Alley [now Parker Lane].
Tract 21 — the houses and lots at 403, 405, 407 and 409 Vick’s Alley [now Parker Lane].
Tract 23 — the houses and lots at 206 and 208 South Manchester Street.
Tract 26-A — the houses and lots at 810 and 812 Elvie [formerly, Elliott] Street.
Tract 26-B — the house and lot at 1002 Elvie Street.
Tract 26-C — the houses and lots at 801 and 803 Elvie Street.
Tract 26-D — the house and lot at 811 Elvie Street.
Tract 26-E — the house and lot at 908 Elvie Street.
Tract 27 — the house and lot at 607 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
Tract 28 — the house and lot at 600 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
Tract 29 — the houses and lots at 213, 215 and 217 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
Tract 31-A — the houses and lots at 903 and 907 Mercer Street.
Tract 31-B — the house and lot at 915 Mercer Street.
Tract 32 — a lot on Sugg[s] Street.
Tract 33 — the house and lot at 700 Suggs Street.
Tract 34-A — the house and lot at 309 Hackney Street.
Tract 34-B — the houses and lots at 305 and 307 Hackney Street.
Tract 35-A — the house and lot at 617 Darden Alley [Lane].
Tract 35-B — the house and lot at 623 Darden Alley [Lane].
Tract 37 — the houses and lots at 109, 111, 113, 115, 117 and 201 East Street.
Tract 38 — the houses and lots at 108 and 110 Ashe Street.
Tract 39 — the houses and lots at 114, 116 and 118 East Street.
Tract 40 — 40 acres in Wilson township.
Tract 42 — the houses and lots at 400, 402 and 404 Hines Street.
Tract 43 — the houses and lots at 500 and 502 East Vance Street.
Tract 44 — the house and lot at 712 East Vance and the adjoining lot.
Tract 45 — the house and lot at 603 Darden Alley [Lane].
Tract 46 — the house and lot at 504 [North] Vick Street.
Tract 47 — the house and lot at 504 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
Tract 48 — the house and lot at 515 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
Tract 49 — the house and lot at 201 Stantonsburg Street [now Pender Street S.E.]
Tract 16 — the house and lot at 519 Church Street.
Separate deeds filed the same day showed the transfer of (1) a 50-acre subdivided parcel (minus several dozen lots already sold) from trustee E.R. Merrick to Home Development Corporation for $3500 (Deed Book 221, page 332), and (2) 7 lots on Suggs, Vick, Church and Viola Streets from trustee R.L. McDougald to Home Development Corporation for $6000 (Deed Book 221, page 331). Both transactions involved land the Vicks had borrowed against.
Marked with red asterisks, this roughly six-block area shows the locations of 34 properties held in trust by Merchants and Farmers Bank and sold on 4 April 1935. Many were small shotgun houses built for rental to working-class families. Excerpt from page 32 of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C.
Mr A.J. Brown, Dear Sir you will take notice that I have this day Levied a Judgment and Execution against you in favor of B.H. Bardin & J.G. Thomas. Levied upon the following articles, vis: one negro Boy Adam also upon a negro woman named Lucy also upon a lott containing half acre more or less with a dweling House & printing Office ocupyed by E.P. Tuck & other out Houses on said lott, adjoining J.H. Adams & the M.E. church lott & is a corner lott which I shall return to the next term of the county court of pleas and quarter sessions to be held in the Town of Wilson. Served a true copy of the above upon A.J. Brown this Oct 13th day A.D. 1860 F.W. Taylor Constable
In the 1860 census of the Town of Wilson, Wilson County:
A.J. [Arthur J.] Brown, a 21 year-old merchant who claimed $6980 in personal property and reported owning four people — a 26 year-old male, a 21 year-old female, a 15 year-old male, and a 2 year-old female — in the 1860 slave schedule.
B.H. [Benjamin Howell] Bardin, a 34 year-old farmer who claimed $12,800 in real property and $42,500 in personal property, including the 21 slaves he reported in the 1860 slave schedule.
Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.