drowning

John Powell drowns.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1932.

Per this brief article, 17 year-old John Powell was an orphan when he drowned in the Tar River. Oddly, though, Powell’s Wilson County death certificate lists his place of death as the City of Wilson — through which the Tar River does not flow — and his father William Powell of Wilson County as informant. (John Powell’s mother, Eliza Locus Powell, was in fact dead — of what was believed to be tuberculosis in 1918.)

“Drowned while in the act of swimming in Tar River accident”

  • Oscar Eatmon — on 16 December 1928, Oscar Eatmon, 28, of Wilson, married Rosa Lee Taylor, 26, of Wilson, in Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The death by drowning of Leander Sauls.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 March 1922.

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Lee Ander Sauls registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 11 [illegible] 1899; lived at Route 3, Stantonsburg; was a farm laborer for Claude Foster; his contact was Ivery Artis, Fremont, Wayne County; and he had lost one eye. He signed his card “Leander Sauls.”

On 19 July 1919, Lee Sauls, 21, of Stantonsburg, married Bessie Barnes, 20, of Stantonsburg, in Wilson County.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Lee A. Sauls, 21; wife Bessie, 20; children Mary F., 14 months, and John L., 1 month; and mother-in-law Ceilie Barnes, 61, widow.

Leander Sauls died 26 February 1922 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 23 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ivey Artis and Emia Sauls; was married; and farmed for W.A. Batts. Eddie Sauls was informant.

Drowned while swimming in backwaters.

An article about severe flooding on the Roanoke River mentioned the drowning death of 13 year-old Willie Forsythe in Wilson County’s Black Creek.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 August 1940.

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In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: William Forsythe, 60; wife Marilda, 55; granddaughter Nancy Forsythe, 13; and grandson William Oliver, 2 months.

Willie Forsythe died 18 August 1940 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 13 years old; was born in Wilson County (or perhaps Brooklyn, N.Y.) to James Oliver of Brooklyn and Viola Forsythe of Wilson County; and was buried in a family cemetery. Informant was William Forsythe. 

“Accidental drowning — while swimming in Black Creek”

A rowboat capsized, drowning two.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 May 1928.

  • Tom Wilson

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Finch Mill Road, farmer Thomas W. Wilson, 42; wife Anna, 33; and children Winnie, 12, Vina, 10, Corina, 8, Hester, 6, Thomas, 4, and Georgianna, 2.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Tom Wilson, 56; wife Leanna, 40; and children Sarah, 17, Ester, 15, Thomas, 14, Georgia, 11, Nancy, 9, Gola, 7, and Margie, 3; and sister Nance, 16.

Thomas Wilson Jr. died 20 May 1928 in Wilson township, Wilson County, “drowned, boat capsized.” Per his death certificate, he was 22 years old; single; a farmer; born in Wilson County to Thomas Wilson Sr. of Caswell County and Leanna Briggs of Pearson [Person] County; and buried in Rountree cemetery.

  • Babe Tyson

Leanda Tyson died 20 May 1928 in Wilson township, Wilson County, “drowned, boat capsized.” Per his death certificate, he was 18 years old; single; a farmer; born in Wayne County to Walter Tyson and Olive Parker; and buried in Rountree cemetery. Walter Tyson, Elm City, was informant.

  • Jarvis Lofton

Eddie Jarvis Lofton registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 1 May 1911 in Wayne County, N.C.; lived at 816 Mercer Street; his contact was mother Tynce Lofton, 902 West Broad Street; and he worked for Loftin Cafe, Tarboro Street, Wilson.

Thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for sharing this clipping.

Found in Contentnea Creek.

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Wilson Daily Times, 27 April 1938.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Ellis, 48, day laborer; wife Marry, 50, washing; and children Antney, 21, and Alex, 18, draymen, James, 16, Marry, 14, and Delphia, 8.

James Ellis, 45, daughter of John and Mary Ellis, married Viola Keath, 35, daughter of James and Edmonia Perrington, on 6 January 1934 in Wilson.

James Ellis died 16 April 1938. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 March 1884 in Wilson to John Ellis and Mary Daniel; lived at 621 Suggs; was married to Viola Ellis; and worked as a laborer. His cause of death: “suicide by drowning in creek/body found 4-26-38.”

Three drown; three thousand attend funeral.

The day after graduation, Darden High School’s Class of 1942 road-tripped south to Kinston for a picnic at a lake. The day ended in tragedy when three young men drowned trying to save the life of a classmate.

Wilson Daily Times, 4 June 1942.

The Daily Times estimated that three thousand mourners jammed the “Wilson Community Center” [Reid Street Community Center] for joint services for Harvey Ford, Raymond Edwards, and Russell Clay

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 June 1942.

  • Harvey Ford — Per his death certificate, Harvey Gray Ford died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 January 1921 in Wilson, N.C., to Curtis Ford of Dillon, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Mamie Ford, 910 East Green Street, was informant.
  • Raymond Edwards — Per his death certificate, Raymond Edwards died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 15 November 1924 in Wilson, N.C., to McKenly Edwards of Greene County and Maggie Thomas of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Maggie Edwards, 609 South Railroad Street, was informant.
  • Russell Clay — Per his death certificate, Russell Clay died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 April 1921 in Jarrett, Virginia, to Larry Clay of Wilson, and Hattie Grice of Wilson; was a student; and was single. He was buried in Newsome cemetery near Lucama. Hattie Clay, 902 Viola Street, was informant.
  • Parthenia Robinson — Anne Parthenia Robinson. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Vick Street, barber Golden Robinson, 30; wife Bertie, 23; and children Parthenia, 5, Gold M., 3, and Glean, 1.
  • E.M. Barnes — Edward M. Barnes was principal of C.H. Darden High School.
  • Rev. F.M. Davis — Fred M. Davis was pastor of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Rev. A.D. Dunstan
  • Charles D. James
  • Eunice Cooke — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hadley Street, railroad mail clerk Jerry L. Cook, 43; wife Clara, 39, teacher; children Henderson, 20, Edwin D., 18, Clara G., 14, Georgia E., 12, Annie, 8, Jerry L., 6, and Eunice D., 4; sister Georgia E. Wyche, 48, teacher; and nieces Kathaline Wyche, 7, and Reba Whittington, 19.
  • James Mincey — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: fertilizer plant laborer James Mincey, 39; wife Lucinda, 35; grandfather William Ran, 87, widower; and James Mincey Jr., 15.
  • Eleanor Reid — Eleanor P. Reid was principal of Sallie Barbour Elementary School.
  • Annie Cooke
  • M.D. Williams — Malcolm D. Williams was principal of Samuel Vick Elementary School.
  • Rev. W.A. Hillard — in 1942, William Alexander Hilliard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 14 September 1904 in Greenville, Texas; was a minister in the A.M.E. Zion Church serving in Wilson; resided at 119 Pender Street; and his contact was Mrs. Veta Watson, 2449 Woodland Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Quincey Ford — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 409 Carroll Street, carpenter Curtis Ford, 52; sons Quincey, 20, and Harvey G., 19, tobacco factory laborers; wife Mayme, 48, teacher; son-in-law Liston Sellers, 22, tobacco factory laborer; daughter Leah, 22, and granddaughter Yvette, 2.
  • Leah Ford — Leah Ford Sellers‘ daughter Yevette Sellers died just three and a half years after her uncle Harvey.
  • Kennie and Maggie Edwards — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 609 South Railroad Street, William Edwards, 52, farm laborer; wife Lillie, 49; son McKinley, 28, wife Maggie, 25; and son Ramond, 6.
  • Hattie Clay — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 902 Viola, hospital cook Hattie Clay, 42, widow, and children Russell, 19, Buelah M., 15, and Arthur, 7; plus mother Mary Grice, 76, widow.
  • Beulah Clay
  • Arthur Clay

Freeman’s Pond.

Among the many ventures to which Oliver Nestus Freeman turned his hand was the establishment of a recreation area for African-Americans. The exact location of the park is surprisingly hazy, given that it contained a pond large enough to swim and boat in. This article about the 1933 drowning of Lawrence Haskins is the only written reference to Freeman’s Pond that I’ve found. The “fair grounds,” which had hosted horse racing, bicycle racing and baseball since the late 1800s, was beyond city limits in a wooded area just beyond present-day Dick’s Hot Dog Stand and Wells Elementary School.

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Wilson Daily Times, 29 July 1933.

This photo of Connie Freeman and friends in small rowboats on Freeman’s Pond is reproduced at the Freeman Round House and Museum.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Warren Street, Robert Haskins, 37, bottling company laborer; wife Gertrude, 28; and children Mandy, 14, Elizabeth, 12, Estelle, 10, Robert, 7, Lossie, 5, Lawrence, 4, and Thomas, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: insurance agent Robert Haskins, 44; wife Gertrude, 39; and children Mandy, 22, Elizabeth, 20, Estell, 18, Robert, 17, Lossie, 14, Larence, 12, and Tommie, 11.

Laurence Edward Haskins died 29 June 1933 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 September 1917 in Wilson to Robert Haskins and Gertrude Farmer; he was a school boy; and he lived at 1300 Atlantic Street. Cause of death was “accidental drowning while in [sic] bathing in Contentnea Creek.” [This does not comport with the conjectured location for Freeman’s Pond above.]