Edwards

The Oliver Marable case.

I happened upon this Notice signed by Columbus E. Artis, one of the principals of the undertaking firm Artis, Flanagan & Batts, in the Wilson Daily Times. Who was Oliver Marable? What was his “case”? What were the “false reports being circulated”?

Wilson Daily Times, 14 December 1925.

Here is Marable’s death certificate:

Filled out largely in C.E. Artis’ bold, readily recognizable hand, it states that Marable died 4 December 1925 in Spring Hill township; was about 55 years old; was married to Bettie Marable; resided at 717 Manchester Street; was born in Henderson, N.C., to Grand and Cornelia Marable. In a different script, Marable’s cause of death: “fracture of base of skull accidentally incurred in a cave-in of earth.” 

Or was it accidental at all?

An inquest held into Marable’s death revealed a bizarre set of facts. On a Friday evening, Marable, who lived on Roberson Street in East Wilson, was miles away in Springhill township digging with a dozen other men for “buried treasure.” Later that night, Marable’s battered body was taken to C.E. Artis and his business partner Walter E. Flanagan, who were preparing to bury him when the police intervened. 

When Artis and Flanagan could not produce a death certificate, the police halted the funeral and contacted the coroner, who went with several county officials to the dig site. Dissatisfied with the accounts of witnesses as to what had happened to Marable, the coroner ordered an inquest. A jury traveled out to Tobe Hinnant‘s farm in Old Fields [Springhill?] township, where they found a “huge hole” in a field near a creek bank. 

The witnesses, who had been digging the hole with Marable, testified that he had been killed when the hole’s sidewalls caved in, but the jury found foul play involved. 

The physician who conducted a post mortem of Marable’s body concluded he likely met his death from a skull fracture, but had also suffered a broken arm, collar bone, and femur and contusions of the back, neck and face.

The police arrested seven people in connection with Marable’s death. Tom Boykin, conjure doctor Richard Pitts and Amos Batts [who was both Marable’s brother-in-law and the third business partner of C.E. Artis] were held without bond; William Edwards, McKinley Edwards, Tobe Hinnant, and John Hinnant bonded out. The story these witnesses told: conjure man Pitts showed up in Hinnant’s neighborhood, claiming that there was buried treasure nearby. Hinnant said he had often dreamed of such a thing, and Pitts said he could locate it. Hinnant pointed out the X in his dreams, and Pitts performed a divination with mineral oil. Though it is not clear how the rest of the treasure hunters were assembled, digging commenced. When the tip of a seven-foot augur embedded itself in a wooden object, the treasure was found. Marable died during the attempt to dig it out. The jury viewed the stuck augur, several shovels, and some sounding rods, as well as a length of white cord festooned about the perimeter to keep out the “haints” lingering in a nearby cemetery in use during slavery. (The jury concluded the augur was more likely stuck in a coffin lid than a treasure chest.) On a side note, investigators also found a large hole, filled in, in Marable’s back yard on Roberson Street, evidence of an earlier search.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 December 1925.

The next day, Raleigh’s News and Observer reported that the jury had adjourned without a verdict, but with a recommendation that Pitts be held pending investigation by a lunacy commission. (Per the Times the same day, Pitts “in his many trips and ‘treasure hunts’ in and around Wilson county had poisoned the minds of many of the negro inhabitants in regards to buried treasure and hidden pots of gold. In many cases sections of the county Pitts has ‘engineered’ treasure hunts, receiving pay for his ‘knowledge’ while honest negroes work in good faith at the task of uncovering the treasure which is never found.”) Everyone else was released. The jury had gone back to the site to find that it had been tampered with. The augur and divining rods were gone, and someone had thrown four feet of dirt into the hole. Several convicts were put to work to shovel out the dirt, but Marable’s pick could not be found. Amos Batts had testified that he did not know about the digging until Marable had died, but when told that Marable had his hand on the money when the pit collapsed, joined the enterprise. (Presumably by agreeing to bury Marable reporting the death or issuing a death certificate.) Someone named Lee Pearce testified, but no details as to what.

Five days later, the matter was dropped. Most of the 20 witnesses had testified to hearsay, Tobe Hinnant’s six-year-old swore he had never accused his father of killing Marable, and county officials gave ambiguous testimony about whether they had seen blood in the pit. The jury was hopelessly confused. Hinnant was freed, leaving only Pitts in jail, presumably for his chicanery.

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  • Oliver Marable

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Marable Oliver (c) lab 501 Lucas al

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Marable Oliver (c) lab Robinson nr Stantonsburg rd

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Marable Oliver (c) lab 501 Robinson

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 501 Robinson Street, Oliver Marable, 56, oil mill laborer; wife Betie, 48; and daughter Hattie, 7; plus brother-in-law John Batts, 52, oil mill laborer.

  • Tobe Hinnant  
  • Amos Batts
  • Richard Pitts
  • Tom Boykin 
  • William Edwards and McKinley Edwards — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 609 South Railroad Street, rented for $16/month, farm laborer William Edwards, 52; wife Lillie, 49; son McKinly, 28, worker at Hackney Body Company; McKinley’s wife Maggie, 25, farmworkers; and his son Bernard, 6.
  • John Hinnant

Lona Edwards Alston Dunston, centenarian.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 2001.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 November 2002.

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In the 1910 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farm laborer Stephen Edwards, 31; wife Charity, 29; and children Lonnie, 9, John H., 7, Charity, 4, William, 2, and Mary, 7 months.

On 14 January 1917, Thomas Alston, 22, of Greene County, son of Thomas and Peggy Alston, married Lonie Edwards, 18, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Steve and Charity Edwards, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Rev. W.J. Fox of “A.M.E. Zion connection,” performed the ceremony.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: widow Lonie Alston, 40, farmer, and children Napoleon, 23, Willie Marie, 20, Thomas Lee, 17, J.C., 15, Stephen, 12, Jesse, 9, Mattie, 7, Lonnie, 5, and Lillian, 3.

In 1940, Napoleon Alston registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 August 1918 in Greene County; he lived in Stantonsburg; his contact was his mother Lonie Alston; and he was self-employed.

In 1944, J.C. Alston registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 October 1926 in Wilson County; his contact was his mother Lonie Alston; and he worked for John Lane, Stantonsburg, as a farmer.

Lona Edwards Alston Dunston died 1 October 2003, just weeks before her 103rd birthday.

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

A Winstead gathering.

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Lisa R. W. Sloan kindly shared this amazing photograph taken in Wilson County around the turn of the 20th century. Her great-great-grandfather Edward “Ned” Winstead is standing in the top row, third from right, with a book tucked under his arm. Her great-great-grandmother Annie Edwards Winstead is believed to be in the photo as well, but has not been identified. Nor have the others depicted, who may members of the extended Winstead family, who lived in the Elm City area. If you recognize anyone here, please let us know.

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In the 1870 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Anna Oats, 28, domestic servant; Milly, 16, domestic servant, Ned, 13, farm laborer, and Clara, 12, domestic servant; and John Batts, 22, retail liquor dealer.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Fannie Parker, 51; daughter Martha, 28; grandsons Julius S., 10, and Joseph W., 4; nephew Ned Winstead, 22.

On 29 December 1886, Ned Winstead, 28, son of George Hodge, married Annie Edwards, 23, daughter of Orren and Sarah Edwards, at James Chisel’s house in Toisnot township.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Winstead, 42, wife Annie, 38, and children Hubbard, 12, James H., 10, Maggie, 8, Lizzie V., 4, William N.D., 2.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on State Highway, farmer Ned Winstead, 52, wife Annie, 47, and children Maggie, 18, Lizzie, 14, Daniel, 12, John, 9, Lee, 6, and Bryant, 4.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on State Highway, farmer Ned Winstead, 58, wife Annie, 50, and children Maggie, 23, John, 18, and Bryant, 13, plus granddaughter Annie Bell, 9.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Winstead, 60, widower; son-in-law Tom Wilcher, 48; daughter Maggie, 37; Carl Farmer, 23, son-in-law; daughter Lizzie, 33; and granddaughter Annie B., 19.

On 7 November 1931, in Smithfield, North Carolina, Bryant Winstead, 26, son of Ned and Annie Winstead, resident of Elm City, married Eva Green, 24, daughter of Neverson and Isabella Green, resident of Wilson.

Ned Winstead died 24 May 1934 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was born 14 February 1858 in Nash County to George Hardy and Iseley Winstead; was a farmer; and was buried in Elm City. Maggie Wilcher was informant.

Were they illegally bound?

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Bureau R.F.&A.L. Goldsboro May 18 /67

Edwards Marcellus J., Wilson N.C.

Sir

Complaint has been made at this office that the boy Freeman and the girls Amanda & Bethany now living with you were illegally bound to you You will please forward a statement of the case to this office on or before the 23rd inst and show cause if any exist why the indentures should not be cancelled.

I am Very Respectfully, Your Obedient Servt

A. Compton, Major 40th U.S.I., Sub Asst Com

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Marcellus Edwards, 42; his children Emma, 16, Sallie, 14, Mary, 13, William, 10, Julia, 9, Marcellus, 6, Joseph, 2, and James, 1; Virginia Edwards, 25; plus Freeman, 18, Amand, 16, and Bethena Edwards, 12, all farmer’s apprentices.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (subassistant commissioner), Roll 15, Letters sent, vols. 1-2, February 1867-February 1868, http://www.familysearch.org.

The Edwards family reunion.

On the Fourth of July 1954, the Edwards family — 200 strong — held its 20th annual reunion in Nashville, Nash County, North Carolina. Rev. Buck H. Edwards of Wilson County, the oldest living family member, gave the invocation prior to a dinner of barbecue, fried chicken and slaw.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 July 1954. 

The tradition continues! On 4 July 2019, Edwards family members gathered in Wilson to celebrate their 85th annual reunion.

Special thanks to Carla Edwards Williams, granddaughter of B.H. Edwards, for the photo!

Snaps, no. 47: Lillie Edwards Spells Pender.

Lillie Edwards Pender.png

Lillie Edwards Spells Pender (1894-1991).

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Edwards, 53; wife Martha, 45; and children Charley, 17, Leandis, 16, Bunk, 13, Callie, 12, Jacob, 10, Lula [Lillie], 8, Learer, 7, Mingo, 5, Emma, 3, Clara, 2, and Vandore, 1.

On 15 November 1916, Irvin Spell, 21, son of Hurl and Patsy Spell, married Lillie Edwards, 20, daughter of Mingo and Martha Edwards, in Wilson. Free Will Baptist minister J.E. Brown performed the ceremony in the presence of Whit Lewis, Charlie Newkirk and Carrie Parker.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Irving Spell, 23, farm laborer, and wife Lilly Spell, 22.

On 16 June 1928, James Pender, 37, married Lillie Edwards, 28, in Wilson. Disciple minister W.W. Webb performed the ceremony in the presence of Bessie Harris, Ella Adams and Victoria Webb.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 Lincoln Street, fertilizer plant laborer James Pender, 45; wife Lillie, 29; and children Artesia, 12, Mosses, 10, Ometa, 8, Farro M., 4, and Isaac, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 Lincoln Street, tobacco factory laborer James Pender, 55; wife Lillie, 39; tobacco factory laborer; children Isaac, 12, James, 9, Lillie M., 7; stepchildren Omeda, 18, and Vara Spells, 14; and nephews Albert, 10, and James McCoy, 15.

Lillie Edwards Pender died 7 September 1991 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 October 1894 and was a widow.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user kmiles65.

Studio shots, no. 95: Rosa Lee Ross.

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Rosa Lee Edwards McNeil Ross (1913-1989).

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 225 Stantonsburg Street, Billy Edwards, 35, lumber company laborer; wife Clara, 29, tobacco factory worker; and children Rosalie, 7, Booker T., 4, and Shelley, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 804 Lincoln, owned and valued at $1700, fertilizer plant laborer Bill Edwards, 35; wife Clara, 31; and children Rosa L., 14, Booker T., 12, and Shelley G., 9. (Clara reported that she was born in Indiana to North Carolina-born parents.)

On 6 December 1931, Curtis McNeil, 21, of Wilson, son of Hector and Carrie McNeil, married Rosa Lee Edwards, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Billie and Clara Edwards. Methodist minister R.J. Young performed the ceremony in the presence of Nellie H. Carr, Emma King and Lawrence J. Baylor.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco factory laborer William Edwards, 52; wife Clara, 48, laundress; daughter Rose McNeal, 26, divorced, tobacco factory laborer; nieces Ester, 19, laundress, and Rachel Cromartie, 13; and mother-in-law Della Cromartie, 84.

John Henry Ross died 28 April 1973 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 August 1907 to Will Ross and Ida Barnes; resided at 904 Lincoln Street, Wilson; was married to Rosa Lee Edwards; and had worked as a mechanic for Paul Berry Chevrolet. Rosa Lee Ross was informant.

Rosa Lee Ross died 20 November 1989 in Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user kmiles65.