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.
On 3 June 1919, the Daily Times published a list of Wilson County soldiers who died during World War I. The list is segregated. First in the Colored List is Henry Ellis, who was killed 6 October 1918 and in whose honor Wilson County’s African-American post of the American Legion was named.
Wilson Daily Times, 3 June 1919.
The Daily Times had commemorated Ellis’ death when it received word in December 1918:
“Private Henry Ellis Son of Mrs. Mary J. Howard, Route 1, Wilson, N.C. Died of wounds received in action while fighting for his country and oppressed humanity.” Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1918.
In the 1870 census of Chesterfield township, Nash County, N.C.: farmer Martin Lucus, 52; wife Eliza, 42; and children Irvin, 19, Neverson, 16, Sidney, 13, Eliza, 7, Westray, 6, Anne, 4, and Mary, 2.
In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Eatmon, 66, wife Eliza Eatmon, 50, daughters AmandaLocus, 18, and Mary J. Locus, 14, “son-in-law” Asa Locus, 10, and “daughter-in-law” Lougene Locus, 4, Margaret Howard, 21, and Harriet Howard, 2. [Nelson Eatmon married Eliza Locust on 28 January 1880 in Wilson County. The Locuses’ relationship designations are obviously erroneous; they were Nelson Eatmon’s stepchildren.]
On 6 February 1887, Warren Ellis, 19, of Wilson County, married Mary Jane Locust, 19, of Wilson County, in Wilson County. Phillis Ellis was one of the witnesses.
In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Mary J. Ellis, 34, widow, and children Willis, 12, Walter, 9, William, 8, Henry, 5, and Lou, 4.
In the 1910 census of Jackson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Mary Jane Ellis, 44, and children Henry, 16, Louise, 13, and Charles, 6; and brother Neverson Lucas, 56.
Henry Ellis registered for the World War I draft in Nash County, N.C, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 November 1895 in Wilson County; lived at Route 2, Bailey; was a tenant farmer for Elijah Griffin; and was single. He signed his card in a neat, well-practiced hand: “Henry T. Ellis.”
In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Mary Howard, 52, widow; son Charlie Ellis, 17; and sister Luginer Colman, 45, widow.
Mary J. Howard died 20 June 1936 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Manuel Howard; was 65 years old; and was born in Wilson County to Martin Locus and Louisa Brantley. Gray Ellis was informant.
Henry T. Ellis, then, was the son of Warren Ellis and Mary Jane Locus Ellis and stepson of Manuel Howard. He was descended (or connected) on his mother’s side from several free families of color with deep roots in the area of western Wilson County — Locuses, Brantleys, Eatmons, Howards — and on his father’s from Hilliard and Faribee Ellis, a formerly enslaved couple who established a prosperous farm in the New Hope area shortly after the Civil War.
I have seen no evidence that Ellis’ body was returned to Wilson County for burial. His parents, grandparents, and siblings are buried in Hilliard Ellis cemetery, but there is no marked grave for him there.
Benjamin Ellis, Mollie Brantley Howard Brown and Tinner Howard Ellis. Mollie Brown’s first husband, Kenyon Howard, son of Deal and Nancy Blackwell Howard, was Tinner Ellis’ uncle.
“As far back as my husband, Benjamin Ellis, and I can trace our family, it leads us to Wilson County. My great-grandfather Nelson Eatman was born issue-free about the year 1800. Fortunately, from that point on there was no slavery on my side of the family. He had a daughter named Roady who married Deal Howard. From that marriage was born a son, also named Deal Howard who married my mother, Nancy Blackwell. My grandmother on my mother’s side was named Nancy Blackwell. During the early part of the 19th century there were still many Indians in and around the eastern North Carolina region. One tribe known as the Cherokees still have a reservation in western North Carolina. It is through that tribe that I trace my mother’s heritage.
“My husband’s grandfather Hillard Ellis was born here in 1825, on the Roundtree Plantation. His mother and father were Africans who had been brought to America and sold in the slave market to the Roundtree family. Hillard Ellis had a brother named Warren Roundtree who took the slave name, and as a result, many Ellis’ and Roundtree’s are related. Hillard Ellis married Fairiby Roundtree who was also a slave on the Roundtree farm. To that union were born fourteen children — one of which was my husband’s father named Hillard who was born in 1865. Around the turn of the century and for many years thereafter he was one of only two blacksmiths in the Town of Wilson. Hillard married Cora Williams. Cora’s parents were Nellie Locust and Austin Williams. Austin was a slave on the McWilliams farm and Nellie was issue-free. My husband’s Uncle Warren’s son, Henry Ellis was the first black in Wilson County killed while serving his country in the first world war. His name is found in the Wilson County courthouse among those honored for serving their country.
“Both my husband and I are from very large families. I had four sisters and nine brothers and my husband had several brothers and one sister. We were raised as children in Wilson County and went to Howard elementary school. My husband also attended “graded” school in Wilson. We were married in 1921 and from our union were born seven children: Raleigh,Ezamae, Emma Lee, Tiner Mae, Mabel, Beulah and Benjamin. We have twenty-one grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We still maintain the Ellis cemetery on a piece of land formerly owned by Hillard Ellis, Sr. Also the Ellis Chapel Church off Route 58 was named after Hillard Ellis, Sr., who donated the land to the church around the turn of the century.”
For more on the Hilliard Ellis family, see here and here.
For more on the Zealous “Deal” Howard family, see here.
Re the Blackwells:
Asberry Blackwell married Nancy Taylor on 2 October 1845 in Nash County.
In the 1850 census of Nash County: Asberry Blackwell, 25 [listed alone.]
In the 1860 census of Kirby’s district, Wilson County: Asberry Blackwell, 45, turpentine laborer, Nancy, 30, farm laborer, Charity, 14, Drucilla, 9, Albert, 7, Appy, 7, Zilpha, 4, Obedience, 3, and Asberry, 2 months.
On 10 April 1882, Deal Howard, 21, married Nancy Blackwell, 24, in Taylors township, Wilson County.
In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Deal Howard, 38; wife Nancy, 39; and children John, 16, Christian, 14, Oscar, 11, Ettie, 10, Albert, 7, Thomas, 5, Alvin, 3, Herman, 1, and Tiner, 0.
In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Horne’s Road, farmer Zelius Howard Jr., 49; wife Nancy, 49; and children Albert, 17, Thomas, 15, Alvin, 13, Herman, 11, Tina, 9, Florence, 7, and Ella, 5.
In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Deal Howard, 58; wife Nancy, 60; and Albert, 28, Herman, 22, Tiner, 19, and Florence, 17.
In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Albert Howard, 35, farmer; mother Nancy, 75; and James, 11, and Tommie Howard, 9.
Nancy Howard died 30 June 1931 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 61 years old; was born in Wilson County to Nancy Blackwell and a father unknown to the informant; was married to Deal Howard; lived at Route 2, Wilson; and worked as a laundress. Informant was Thomas Howard, 318 Finch Street, Wilson.
Re the Williamses:
Austin Williams, son of Ben and Merica Williams, married Cornelia Taylor, daughter of Isaac Taylor and Lena Locus, on 10 May 1868 in Wilson County.
In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austen Williams, 34, farm laborer; wife Cornelius, 24; and daughter Cora Lee, 1.
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austin Williams, 41, farmer; wife Nobly, 30; and children Cora L., 11, Charley A., 8, Benjamin and Isaac, 4, and Minnie, 8 months.
Re Warren Rountree:
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Warren Rountree, 40, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 32; and children Florence, 18, Rhebecca, 17, Mary, 11, Howell, 7, Sallie, 5, Lou, 2, and Warren Jr., 20.
Warren Rountree died in late fall 1871. In November of that year, R.J. Taylor was appointed administrator of his estate.
Text and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).
When I was in Wilson this past weekend, I had the great good fortune to spend a couple of hours with Lewis and Tinia Howard Neal at Mr. Neal’s remarkable Garage Museum in Daniel Hill. The museum is, literally, packed to the rafters with photographs, news clippings, vintage tools and farm implements, political paraphernalia, and other items Mr. Neal has collected, curated and neatly labeled. His focus is local history and culture, with a strong emphasis on artifacts relevant to Wilson’s African American community.
[Obviously, in this way, Mr. Neal is a kindred spirit, but it turns out that I also share ancestry with both him and Mrs. Neal. I haven’t figured out my DNA connection to him, but Mrs. Neal is a direct descendant of Nelson and Marinda Locust Eatmon (via their daughter Rhoda Eatmon, who married Zealous “Deal” Howard), and I am descended from Nelson Eatmon’s kinsman Toney Eatmon.]
Mr. Neal opens the doors of his museum as a community meeting space and welcomes visitors. Please call for an appointment.
At October Term 1855 of Wilson County’s Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a grand jury charged Reddick Joyner and Wilmoth Eatman “being lewd and vicious persons, and not united together in Marriage” who did “adulterously bed and cohabit together … and commit fornication and adultery …” contrary to law. However, after a hearing, the foreman returned the presentiment to the clerk of court as “not a true bill.” As a result, charges would have been dropped against both.
Per Eatmon’s descendants, the father of her first three children, William Joseph, Robert, Margaret was Alexander Watson Wells, a white man who died in 1862 of wounds suffered as a Confederate soldier. The father of her youngest two, Kinion and Annie, was Hackney High. The father of two others, Crawford and Missouri, is unknown.
Adultery Records – 1855, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
Is it not clear whether Toney Eatmon ever lived in Wilson County, but his two known children did. The record is scarce, but:
In the 1850 census of Nash County, North Carolina, Tony Eatmon, 55, farmer, in the household of white farmer Theophilus Eatmon, 70. Tony was described as mulatto, and the belief that he was Theophilus Eatmon’s son is supported by DNA matching.
On 4 February 1868, Jack Williamson, son of Toney Eatmon and Hester Williamson, married Ann Boykin, daughter of John Harper and Alder Reid, at Jack Williamson’s in Wilson. [Per census records, Jack Williamson was born about 1835.]
Willis Barnes died 15 September 1914 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 73 years old; married; a farmer; and born in Nash County to Toney Eatmon and Annie Eatmon. Jesse Barnes was informant.
In short: Toney Eatmon was born free about 1795 (or perhaps a few years later), most likely in southeastern Nash County to Theophilus Eatmon and an unknown free woman of color. DNA testing suggests strongly that he was closely related to Nelson Eatmon, another free man of color. Whether he married is unknown, but he fathered at least two sons, Jack Williamson, born about 1835 to Hester Williamson, an enslaved woman, and Willis Barnes, born about 1841, to Annie Eatmon (or, perhaps, Barnes), an enslaved woman. Williamson and Barnes lived their adult lives in Wilson County. Toney Eatmon likely died between 1850 and 1860.
In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Reuben Eatman, 34; wife Elizer, 35; and children Jinne, 16, Elizabeth, 13, Grill S., 12, Siddie A., 10, Henry G., 8, Casanda, 6, Dock, 5, and Ada, 3.
In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Reuben Eatman, 45; wife Eliza, 45; and children Henry, 17, Casandra, 15, Dockery, 13, and Ida, 11.
On 5 July 1914, Dock Eatmon, 19, of Nash County, son of Reuben and Eliza Eatmon, married Mettia Belle Smith, 20, of Nash County, daughter of Tom and Alsie Smith, in Old Fields township, Wilson County.
In 1918, Dock Eatman registered for the World War I draft in Farrells township, Nash County. Per his registration card, he was 21 years old; was born in January 1896 in Wilson, North Carolina; was a farmer; and supported a wife and child.
In the 1920 census of Farrells township, Nash County, North Carolina: farmer Dock Eatmon, 24; wife Mattie, 26; and children Ruthy, 3, and William R., 1 month.
In the 1930 census of Newport News, Warwick County, Virginia: at 715-22nd Street, rented at $12/month, shipyard laborer Dock Eatmon, 35; wife Nettie, 37; and children Lillian, 8, Reuben, 6, and Lindsey, 5.
In the 1940 census of Newport News, Warwick County, Virginia: Doc Eatman, 47, laborer at N.N.S.D.Co.; wife Mattie, 47; and children Lillian, 18, Ruben, 15, and Lincie, 12.
In 1942, Doc Eatmon registered for the World War II draft in Newport News, Virginia. Per his registration card, he was born 7 June 1893 in Wilson County; lived at 4213 Roanoke Avenue, Newport News; his contact was W.C. Smith; and he worked at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company.
Dock Eatmon died 17 November 1952 in Warwick County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1895 in Nash County, North Carolina, to Reuben and Liza Eatmon; resided at 4310 Roanoke Avenue, Newport News, Virginia; was separated; worked as a gardening laborer; and was buried in Pleasant Shade cemetery, Newport News. Informant was Mattie Eatmon.
Photographs courtesy of Ancestry.com user faithbridges19.
I, ASA LOCUS, of Wilson County, North Carolina, DO MAKE, DECLARE and PUBLISH this to be my last WILL and TESTAMENT, hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made:
(1) FROM the first monies coming into her hands MY EXECUTRIX hereinafter named shall be all debts owing by me at the time of my death, including burial expenses and the costs of an appropriate grave stone.
(2) AFTER the payment of all my debts aforesaid, I GIVE and BEQUEATH unto my daughter, EVA HESTER the sum of Twenty Five dollars ($25.00) and to my daughter, ADA HESTER the sum of Twenty Five dollars ($25.00).
(3) AFTER the payment of all of the items set forth in Paragraph One and Paragraph Two hereof, I GIVE , DEVISE and BEQUEATH unto my beloved wife ANNIE LOCUS, all of my property, both real and personal, tangible and intangible, of every kind and description and wheresoever situate, to have and to hold unto my said wife ANNIE LOCUS for and DURING THE TERM OF HER LIFE, provided, however, my said wife ANNIE LOCUS shall have full power and authority to dispose of any of the PERSONAL PROPERTY bequeathed to her FOR LIFE but she have no power to dispose of any of said real estate.
(4) UPON the death of my beloved wife, ANNIE LOCUS, I GIVE and DEVISE unto my two sons, JOHN LOCUS and PAR LOCUS, share and share alike, all of my real estate of any and every kind and description and wheresoever situate heretofore devised to my beloved wife, ANNIE LOCUS for the term of her life to have and to hold unto my said sons, JOHN LOCUS and PAR LOCUS for and during the term of their lives only, and at the death of each my said sons, JOHN LOCUS and PAR LOCUS his share in said real estate shall vest in his children in FEE SIMPLE, provided, however, if either of said sons shall die without children, or issue of children, then his share shall vest in the other of said sons, subject to the same limitations hereby imposed.
(5) I HEREBY constitute and appoint my beloved wife, ANNIE LOCUS as the EXECUTIRIX of this will and she shall be required to execute on bond.
IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I, ASA LOCUS, Testator, as aforesaid have hereunto signed my name and affixed my seal this the 6th day of May, 1939. Asa (X) Locus
Witness K.J. Herring
Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the said Asa Locus, Testator, as and for his last will and testament in the presence of us, who at his request, and in his presence, and in the presence of others have signed our names as attesting witnesses. K.J. Herring, David W. Isear
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Nelson Eatmon, 66; wife Eliza, 50; [Eliza’s children] Amanda, 18, Mary J., 14, Asa, 10, and Lougene Locus, 4; and Margaret Howard, 21, and Harriet Howard, 2.
Also, in the 1880 census of Fishing Creek, Warren County, North Carolina: Levi Richardson, 25, wife Temy, 16, and cousin Acy Locus, 10.
On 17 June 1895, in Brinkleyville, Halifax County, Asa Locus, 23, of Halifax County, married Annie Eaton [sic], 18, of Halifax County.
In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Asa Locus, 27, wife Anna, 22, and children Larry, 5, Johney, 4, and Kniver, 1.
In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, farmer Acy Locust, 40, wife Annie, 33, and children Larry, 15, John, 13, Eva, 11, James, 8, Ada, 6, and Paul, 3, and mother-in-law Wilmur Eatman, 68.
In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Asa Locus, 49, wife Annie, 40, daughter Ada, 14, and son Paul, 12.
In the 1930 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Ace Locus, 60, wife Annie, 50, and granddaughter Teanestus Locus, 10.
In the 1940 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Ace Locus, 72, and wife Annie, 68.
Asa Lucus died 14 July 1955 at Park View Hospital in Rocky Mount, Nash Carolina. His residence was Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born October 1860 in Wilson County to Martin Lucus and Liza Brantley. He was buried in a family cemetery in Wilson County.
Asa Locus (circa 1870-1955)
Photograph courtesy of Europe A. Farmer. North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
By virtue of a decree of the Superior Court of Wilson county, rendered January 5th, 1882, I will sell at the Court House door in Wilson Monday the 6th day of February 1882, the lands whereof Nelson Eatman died seized, consisting of three tracts adjoining the lands of M.M. Mathews, Deal Howard, William Taylor and others, containing three hundred acres more or less. Terms: one thousand dollars cash, balance on credit of eight months. Title reserved till payment of all the purchase money. F.A. WOODARD, Adm.
Wilson Advance, 3 February 1882.
Nelson Eatmon married Marinda Locust on 29 January 1835 in Nash County.
In the 1850 census of Nash County: farmer Nelson Eatmon, 34, wife Rinda, 33, Rhoda, 14, Wilmot, 12, Priscy, 10, Ginny, 8, Smithy, 6, and Alford, 4.
In the 1860 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Eatmon, 50, wife Morinda, 45, and children Elizabeth, 20, Ginsey, 18, Smithy, 17, Alfred, 14, Nelson, 5, Emily, 7, and Jarman, 2.
In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Eatmon, 53; wife Marinda, 51; daughter Wilmouth, 31, and her children William, 13, Robert, 11, Margaret, 10, Crawford, 4, and Missouri, 7 months; children Grimsey, 25, Alfred, 23, Emily, 15, Nelson, 13, and Jarman Eatmon, 11.
Nelson Eatmon married Barbray Farmer on 9 September 1871 in Wilson County
On 28 January 1880, Eatmon married Eliza Locust. In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Eatmon, 66, wife Eliza Eliza, 50, [step?]daughter AmandaLocus, 18, and Mary J. Locus, 14, “son-in-law” Asa Locus, 10, and “daughter-in-law” Lougene Locus, 4, Margaret Howard, 21, and Harriet Howard, 2. [The latter Locuses’ relationship designations are obviously erroneous.]
Zelous Howard married Rhoda H. Eatmon on 31 July 1853 in Nash County. [Zealous’ nickname was “Deal.” He was freeborn, but I have not located him in the 1850 or 1860 censuses.] Rhoda was the oldest daughter of Nelson and Marinda Locus Eatmon.]
In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Delus Howard, 35, wife Rodah, 33, and children Mary, 16, Ira, 13, George, 11, Delus, 8, Gibbs, 6, Jesse, 3, and Doctor, 1.
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, close by Nelson Eatmon: farmer Zealous Howard, 50, wife Roda, 48, and children Zealous Jr., 19, James G., 16, Jesse, 15, Allison, 8, Kenan, 6, Anna, 4, and Doctor F., 11.
In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Zealous Howard, 69, wife Roda, 64, daughter Anna, 24, and two bound boys Lonza, 15, and Jack Howard, 5.
In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Zelius Howard, 80, widower, living alone on Howard’s Path, along which several of his extended family lived.