Farmer

Seeking Wilson County’s black farmers.

In the 1870 census of Wilson County, 50 African-American men and women reported owning land. Forty-seven of the 50 reported their occupation as farming. I don’t have the statistics, but I imagine the number of black Wilson County farmers rose into the early 20th century.

Here is an excerpt from the most recent (2017) data from the United States Department of Agriculture’s farm census. (A “farm” is any place from which $1000 or more of agricultural products were produced and sold, or normally would have been produced and sold, during the census year.)  The first three columns — Farms, Black or African American Producers, Land in Farms (Acres) — are grouped under the heading “All Farms with a Black or African American Producer.” The second three columns have the same titles, but are grouped as “All Farms with a Black or African American Principal Producer.”

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I’m not entirely sure of the difference between the two groups, but one number is consistent — as of three years ago, there are only 15 black-owned farms in all of Wilson County.

I’m curious. Do you know any of these 15 farmers? Are any of the 15 working land that has been passed down from generation to generation in their family, perhaps as far back as the 19th century? Please let me know if you know!

Mrs. Lucas returns from Ohio.

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New York Age, 18 December 1913.

Rose Farmer Harris Lucas visited her son Frank Harris in Youngstown, Ohio, late in 1913.

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In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Daniel Farmer, 37; wife Axele, 36; and children Rosa, 14, Cherry, 12, Hardy, 7, and Elbert, 3.

Burton Harriss married Rosa Farmer on 19 March 1874 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Rosa Harris, 24, farm laborer, with children Frank M., 4, and John H., 1.

On 22 September 1891, Elbert Locus, 36, of Toisnot township, son of Richard and Elizabeth Locus, and Rosa Harris, 28, of Nash County, daughter of Daniel and Alice Farmer of Wilson County, obtained a marriage license in Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Elbert Locus, 45; wife Rose, 42; and children Leaner and Lillie, 18, Bettie, 16, Gertie, 15, Jessie, 13, Flora, 7, Bertie, 4, and Floyd, 6 months.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, Elbert Locust, 50; wife Rose, 46; and daughter Berta, 14.

In the 1910 census of Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio: at 407 East Federal Street, North Carolina-born Frank W. Harris, 33, clothing store janitor, is listed as a roomer in the household of Thomas Zehennea, 43, a butcher and native of Turkey.

Frank Wellington Harris registered for the World War I draft in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 23 May 1874; lived at 902 McHenry Street; worked as a laborer for Youngstown Sheet and Tube, and was married to Frances Harris.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Albert Lucius, 61 wife Rosey, 61; and Etta, 16, Emma, 13, Isaac, 12, Ruby, 10, Edward, 10, Martha, 11, and Marrel Lucius, 6.

In the 1920 census of Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio: Frank Harris, 40, born N.C., “confectory” store porter, and wife Frances, 39, born in Pennsylvania.

Elbert Lucas died 24 March 1924 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was born in Wilson County to Richard Lucas and Elizabeth Evans; was married to Rosa Harried; and worked as a tenant farmer for W.E. Barnes. Informant was Will Lucas, Elm City.

Frank Harris died 5 December 1928 in Youngstown, Ohio, at the age of 49. Per his death certificate, he lived at 333 East Rayen Avenue; was married to Frances Harris; was born in 1879 in Elm City, N.C., to Bert Harris and an unknown mother; and worked as a laborer. He was buried in Belmont Avenue cemetery.

Ohio Deaths 1908-1952, digitized at http://www.familysearch.org.

Mother Mary P. Wright.

“Trust in God to meet again.” (A Clarence B. Best production.)

Mary P. Wright‘s family was among hundreds who migrated North from Wilson County in the first half of the 20th century. However, her links to home remained strong enough that her children chose to bury her there, in Rest Haven cemetery.

Wright died 28 October 1962 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 October 1886 (not 22 May 1860 as her headstone states) in North Carolina; was the widow of Emit Wright; and lived at 621 Dudley Street, Philadelphia. Informant was Henretta Farmer, 621 Dudley Street.

On 13 November 1921, Jessie Farmer, 28, married Henrietta Wright, 20, in Wilson.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1112 Carolina Street, rented for $16/month, Jessey Farmer, 34, tobacco factory laborer; wife Henerator, 26, laundress; and children Jessey Jr., 8, Ervin, 4, and Trumiller, 3.

On 30 December 1930, Raleigh Rae Farmer died in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 August 1930 to Jessie Farmer of Wilson, N.C., and Henrietta Wright of Zeblin [Zebulon], N.C. in Wilson. The infant died of bronchitis.

Jesse Farmer Sr. died 26 September 1931 in Asheville, North Carolina, at the Veterans Hospital at Oteen. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 October 1937 in Wilson to Jeff Farmer and Blanche Gay; was married to Henrietta Farmer; his regular residence was in Wilson; and he did factory work.

Though it is not clear when the Wright-Farmer family moved to Philadelphia, the Farmers, at least, were there by 1942, when Jesse Farmer Jr. registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 22 July 1922 in Wilson, North Carolina; his contact was Mrs. Henrietta Farmer, 621 Dudley Street; and he worked for Benjamin Cohen, 1140 North American Street, Philadelphia.

Jesse Farmer Jr., son of Jesse and Henrietta Farmer, married Virginia Atherine Darden, 24, daughter of William Sr. and Florence Darden, on 29 March 1947 at Crucifixion Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.

In the 1950 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, city directory: Farmer Henrietta 621 Dudley HOwrd5-8655.

Wright’s daughter Henretta Farmer died just four years after her mother, on 5 June 1966. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 July 1909 in North Carolina to Emmett Wright and Mary Pullet; was a widow; and lived at 621 Dudley Street. Jesse Farmer was informant.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2019.

A visit to Wilson.

On 3 September 1908, the New York Age’s society page announced that Martha Farmer of Portsmouth, Virginia, was spending the week visiting family and friends in Wilson. Martha was the daughter of Benjamin and Mollie Barnes Farmer, who migrated to Portsmouth about 1893.

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New York Age, 3 September 1908.

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Robert Barnes, son of Tony  Flowers and Hannah Bass, married Harriett Barnesdaughter of Sampson Farmer and Ann Barnes, on 20 July 1867 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County, North Carolina: Robert Barnes, 40; wife Harriet, 30; and children Robt., 12, Nathan, 11, Amos, 7, John, 8, William, 6, Mary, 3, and Alfred, 8 months.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: blacksmith Robert Barnes, 70; wife Harrett, 40; and children Robert, 21, Nathan, 13, Amos, 17, John, 14, William, 12, Mary, 9, Alford, 8, and Lillie, 7.

Benjamin Farmer, 26, of Wilson County, married Mollie Barnes, 18, of Wilson County, daughter of Robert and Harriett Barnes, on 1 February 1888 in Saratoga, Saratoga township. Crummell Bullock applied for the license, and minister Thomas J. Moore performed the ceremony in the presence of D.H. Calhoun and A.J. Tyson.

In the 1910 census of Portsmouth, Virginia: at 308 Chestnut Street, Benjamin Farmer, 44, insurance agent; wife Mollie, 38; and children Martha, 19, Charles, 18, and Lee, 16; plus niece Cora Barnes, 17, and aunt Phebe Pope, 67, widow.

In the 1920 census of Portsmouth, Virginia: at 308 Chestnut Street, Benjamin Farmer, 48, insurance collector; wife Mollie, 49; and daughter Martha, 27, public school teacher; plus aunt-in-law Phoebe Pope, 81, widow.

Phoebie Pope died 22 October 1922 in Portsmouth. Per her death certificate, she was about 88 years old; lived at 308 Chestnut; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Cherry Rodgers; and was “retired many years” from domestic work. J.W. Barnes was informant.

In the 1930 census of Portsmouth, Virginia: at 308 Chestnut Street, owned and valued at $1800, Ben T. Farmer, 56, insurance agent; wife Mollie, 55; and daughter Martha Boyd, 38; plus roomer Peter Solomon, 52, navy yard laborer.

On 16 March 1948, Benjamin Farmer died at his home at 308 Chestnut Street, Portsmouth. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 September 1868 in Wilson County to Joshua and Martha Farmer; had lived in Portsmouth 55 years; was married to Mollie Farmer; and worked in insurance. Martha F. Boyd was informant.

Mollie Farmer died 9 January 1962 in Portsmouth, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was about 92 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Robert Barnes and Harriet (no maiden name); and lived at 436 Chestnut Street. Martha Boyd was informant.

Martha F. Boyd died 8 April 1973 in Portsmouth. Per her death certificate, she was about 82 years old; was born in North Carolina to Benjamin and Mollie Farmer; lived at 436 Chestnut; and was a retired teacher.

School days.

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Inez Dickerson Bell, Pauline Farmer White, James Ellis, Deveria Jackson Turner Wing.

James “Casey” Ellis submitted this 1941 photo of himself and three Darden High School friends to the Wilson Daily Times, which ran it on 1 April 2003. Bell, White, and Turner graduated in the Class of 1944.

 

He has received less care and attention than his years demanded.

In 1877, Abram Farmer petitioned Probate Court to apprentice his grandson to him, charging that the boy was being neglected by his stepfather:

Before H.C. Moss, Judge of Probate for Wilson County

The Petition of Abraham Farmer of Wilson County North Carolina, respectfully shows with your Honor that his grandson, Gray Pender a boy of color, aged about Sixteen years, is an orphan, his father Richmond Pender having died about six years ago, and his mother, Sarah Pender died about two years ago. That the said orphan has been living with this step father, Stephen Battle since the death of his mother, & by him hired out for wages, & has received less care & attention than his tender years demanded &c &c

Your petitioner respectfully makes application before your Honorable Court that the said orphan may be summoned to appear before the [illegible] & show cause why he may not be apprenticed to him or to some other good master who will educate & provide for said orphan as the law directs

Jan’y 22nd 1877     J.S. Woodard Atty for Petitioner

The said orphan is now at the house of your petitioner on the premises of Isaac B. Farmer.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Rich’d Pender, 28, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 25; and sons Gray, 9, and George, 1.

On 7 June 1871, at Anthony Barnes’, Stephen Battle, son of Hundy and Lucinda Battle, married Sarah Pender.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Abram Farmer, 63; wife Rhoda, 45; step-children Charlotte, 16, Kenneth, 15, Fannie, 11, and Martha, 10; and grandchildren Gray Pender, 17, Gray Farmer, 19; and Thad, 13, and John Armstrong, 10.

In the 1910 census to Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Pender, 47; wife Lillie, 35; and Eliza, 18 months, and Aniky, 4 months.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Grey Pender, 58; wife Lily, 44; and children Elijah, 11, Annie, 10, Herman, 8, Rosetta, 9, Furney, 6, Dennis, 4, and Victoria, 2.

Grey Pender died 22 August 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was born in Wilson County to Richmond and Sarah Pender; was married to Lillie Pender; and was a tenant farmer for Mrs. Mattie Williams.

Apprentice Records 1877, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.

 

 

109 and 111 North Vick Street.

The one hundred-tenth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, 109 North Vick Street is “ca. 1922; 1 story; double-pile, hip-roof cottage with wraparound porch; intact classical porch posts; fine local example of late Queen Anne cottage” and 111 North Vick (formerly 109 1/2) is “ca. 1950, 1 story; Vick St. Grocery; concrete-brick corner grocery.”

The 1922 Wilson, N.C., Sanborn fire insurance map shows the house at 109 standing alone. The store was essentially grafted onto the northern edge of the front porch. I have never been inside either building, but I assume there was an interior entrance from the house into the grocery.

Though labeled 213, this is the house now known as 109 North Vick depicted in the 1922 Sanborn map.

In 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Burton Hazel (c) student 109 N Vick and Burton Sadie sch tchr h 109 N Vick

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C.,  city directory: Farmer Wm (c; Eula) bellman Hotel Cherry h 109 N Vick

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson county: Will Farmer, 43, hotel “bell bob”; wife Eula, 40; and daughters Annie D., 19, nurse, and Sadie, 14.

In the 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Moore Linwood (c; Ruth; 4) gro 102 N Vick h 109 d[itt]o. Moore is also listed at this address in the 1947 and 1950 city directories. Neither indicates an adjacent grocery. However, the 1951 directory lists Moore’s Grocery at 109 1/2 North Vick:

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019.

The obituary of Gray Farmer.

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Wilson Mirror, 5 July 1893.

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Probably, in the 1870 census of Wilson , Wilson County: Clay Farmer, 60, Gray W. Farmer, 13, and Jonas Gay, 14. Gray worked in a brickyard.

On 15 March 1876, Gray Farmer, no age listed, married Argent Blount, 20, at Smith Knight‘s in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter Gray Farmer, 27, wife Argent, and children Ellenor, 3, and Charlie Gray, 2.

More re Gray Farmer here and here and here.

Hannah Ellis Artis Farmer and family of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Xenia Daily Gazette, 11 April 1935.

Ardeaner (Mrs. Fred) Rountree Cosby and David, Helen and Charles P. Rountree Jr. were cousins, the children of Joseph and Adeline Artis Rountree and Charles and Alice Thorn Rountree, respectively. Their relationship to Hannah Ellis Artis Farmer is unclear. Were they related via her first husband, John Artis, son of Arch and Rose Farmer Artis? Via Charles and Joseph Rountree’s father (or grandfather) Jesse H. Artis? Was Ardeaner (who shared a first name with Hannah Farmer’s daughter) a double-cousin via her mother Adeline, daughter of Ned Artis? If so, how were Ned, Arch and Jesse H. Artis related?

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In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jackson Ellis, 45; wife Margaret, 36; children Hannah, 17, and Hewel, 11; and Hannah Ellis, 90.

On 29 February 1872, Hannah Ellis, daughter of Jack and Margaret Ellis, married John Artist, son of Arch and Rose Artist, at H. Dew’s.

In the 1894 Polk’s Indianapolis, Indiana, City Directory: Artist Hannah (wid John) h James (B[rightwood]). [Brightwood was a railroad settlement formed in the 1870s and is now a neighborhood in northeast Indianapolis.]

On 23 February 1897, Jason Farmer married Hannah Aretts in Marion County, Indiana.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2313 Oxford, day laborer Jason Farmer, 37; wife Hanna, 46; and step-daughters Maggie, 25, cook, Ardena, 14, and Pennie, 12. All were born in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2325 Oxford, foundry laborer Jason Farmer, 46; wife Hanna, 56; and stepdaughter Penetta Artis, 22, hairdresser.

On 25 May 1918, Pennetta Artis, 29, of Wilson, N.C., daughter of John Artis and Hannah Ellis, married Osber Ballinger in Marion County, Indiana.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 2325 Oxford, auto shop laborer Jason Farmer, 55; wife Hanna, 60; son-in-law Osborne Ballinger, 26, auto shop laborer, born in Kentucky; and daughter Pettie, 32, housekeeper.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: odd jobs laborer Jason C. Farmer, 60, and wife Hanna, 75.

Hannah Farmer died 6 April 1935 in Center township, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 April 1856 in North Carolina to Jack Ellis and Margaret [maiden name unknown]; was married to Jason C. Farmer; lived at 2329 North Oxford; and was buried in Crown Hill cemetery. Maggie Taylor, 441 West 25th, was informant.

Jason Cornelius Farmer applied for a Social Security number in September 1937. Per his application, he was born 6 May 1869 in Wilson, N.C., to Cornelius and Peggy Farmer.

Jason Cornelius Farmer died 12 August 1842 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 May 1853 in Wilson,N.C., in Wilson, N.C., to parents unknown; was a widower; and was a job laborer. Informant was Maggie Taylor.

Ardena A. Hamm died 10 December 1942 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 January 1890 in Wilson, N.C. to John Artis and Hannah Ellis; was married to John H. Hamm; resided at 1038 Roache Street; and worked as a maid. She was buried in Crown Hill cemetery.

Maggie A. Taylor died 30 May 1943 in Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 April 1882 in North Carolina to John Artis and Hannah Ellis; was married to John Taylor; resided at 441 West 25th; and was buried in Crown Hill cemetery.