Farmer

706 East Green Street.

The nineteenth 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.

706 e green

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1913; 1 story; extensively remodeled two-room house with stuccoed facade and added wings.” Because of its extensive remodeling, the house was considered “non-contributing” to the historic character of the district.

The photograph below accompanies a fine article published in the January 2011 volume of North Carolina Historical Review, Richard L. Mattson’s “The Cultural Landscape of a Southern Black Community: East Wilson, North Carolina, 1890-1930.” The image dates from about 1910, and 706 East Green — though now heavily modified — is easily recognized in the twin gables fronting the house. The family depicted is that of John W. and Edmonia Barnes Farmer, whose grandson James E. Farmer provided the photograph.

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Washington Farmer, 43; wife Wady, 44; and children Edith, 14; Fordin, 13; Gimsey, 11; John W., 8; Nancy, 6; and Orgius, 6; and Nelson Farmer, 21.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Barnes, 30; wife Anner, 24; and children Hardy, 8, Rena, 7, Edna, 1, and Jesse, 3.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Washington Farmer, 52; wife Waity, age about 50; and children Edieth, 25; Gincy, 21; John W., 18; Nancy, 16, Ojus, 13; Mariah, 2; and Margaret, 2.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George Barnes, 41; wife Anna, 34; and children Hardy, 19; Reny, 17 (“toothache”); Jessee, 12; Edmonia, 11; George, 9; Minnie Adeline, 6; twins Joshua and General, 3; and William, 1 month.

On 25 December 1884, John W. Farmer, 22, married Edmonia Barnes, 18, at George Barnes’. G.T. Williamson and B.B. Barnett were witnesses.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wagon driver John W. Farmer, 37; wife Edmonia, 33; and children George, 13, Paul, 12, Annie, 9, Mary, 7, and Fannie, 5.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: express wagon driver John Farmer, 48; wife Edmonia, 41, a laundress; and children George, 23, factory laborer; Paul, 19, hotel servant; Annie, 18; Mary, 16; Fannie, 14; Arthur, 8; Melton, 6; and William, 4.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 East Green, plasterer John A. Farmer, 60; wife Nona, 61; sons James E., 17, and Woodie, 22, barber; and daughter-in-law Savana, 22, lodge bookkeeper.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: washer Edmonia Farmer, 71; husband John, 73; son James E., 27, a plasterer; daughter-in-law Doretha, 27, a beauty operator; and their son James E., 6; and grandchildren Marvin, 10, and Vera Farmer, 14.

Edmonia Farmer died 18 January 1947 at home. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old, married to John Wash Farmer, and born in Wilson County to George Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Parker of Edgecombe County. George W. Farmer was informant, and Dr. William Hines certified the death.

John Wash Farmer died 20 January 1947 at home. Per his death certificate, he was 79 years old; was born in Wilson County to Wash Farmer of Wilson County and an unknown mother; and worked as an expressman. The informant was George W. Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street, Wilson.

Cora Miller Washington Artis and family.

The time, did I tell you about that time me and Cora Miller got drunk off tobacco? We were under the buggy shelter chewing it — Papa’s tobacco. We got drunk, we got sick. Mama said we were sick, but we were drunk from that stuff. She thought we had been eating sour apples.  — Hattie Henderson Ricks

cora-mw

Cora Miller Washington Artis, circa 1930s.

On 15 August 1901, George Henry Washington, 38, of Wilson, son of Jerry and Jane Washington, married Cora Miller, 25, of Wilson , daughter of Cynthia Miller, at the bride’s residence on Green Street. A.M.E. Zion minister C.L. Alexander performed the service in the presence of Sallie M. Barbour and Alice F. Moore. [George Washington was the sister of Samuel H. Vick‘s wife, Annie Washington Vick.]

Per a delayed birth certificate filed in Wilson County, Irene Washington was born in 1903 to George Henry Washington and Cora Miller.

Per a delayed birth certificate filed in Wilson County, Janie Louise Washington was born in 1906 to G.H. Washington and Cora Miller.

Per a delayed birth certificate filed in Wilson County, Cora M[iller]. Washington was born in 1909 to George Henry Washington and Cora Miller.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed cook Lou Miller; her daughter Cora Washington, 34, a widowed school teacher; her grandchildren Irene, 7, James, 4, and Cora Washington 1; and two boarders, Mary Hadley, 20, cook, and Mary Pender, 60, widowed servant. [“Lou” apparently is the Cynthia Miller named on Cora Washington’s marriage license. Also, Cora’s second child was in fact a girl named Janie, not a boy James. Though no street is identified on the enumeration sheet, it is clear from the names of the Miller-Washingtons’ neighbors that they lived on or just off East Green Street.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 630 Elmo [Elba] Street, teacher Cora Washington, 39; daughters Irene, 16, Janie, 13, and Cora, 10; mother Lou Miller, 70; and boarders Isic Hicks, 28, carpenter, Manuel Wooten, 22, hotel laborer, Dalis Cutter, 20, barbershop laborer, and Eliza Henderson, 42, teacher.

In the 1925 Wilson city directory, Cora, Irene and Janie Washington are listed at 701 East Green, and their occupations are given as student, teacher and cook. That year, Janie gave birth to a son, James Robert Farmer (later known as Washington). [Per a United States Social Security Applications and Claims Index, James Robert, who died 23 November 2002, listed his parents as Roger Washington and Janie Farmer on his Social Security application.]

On 28 June 1926, Irene Washington, 21, daughter of George Washington and Cora Washington Farmer, married Macon Lucas, 23, son of Sammie and Mary L. Lucas, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister H.W. Farrior performed the ceremony at the homes of John Hines Hinton in the presence of Hinton, Elizabeth Hinnant and Janie Washington.

In the 1928 Wilson city directory, Cora and Janie Washington are listed at 701 East Green, and their occupations are given as teacher and elevator operator at Efirds department store.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 701 East Green Street, George Farmer, 55, porter for A.C.L.R.R.; wife Cora, 51, school teacher; daughters Lena, 20, teacher, and Janie L., 23, department store elevator girl; stepdaughter Cora M. Washington, 21 (marked as “absent”); mother-in-law Lou Miller, 75; and boarders Mildred Norfleet, 23, courthouse elevator girl; and Amos Moor, 35, hotel porter. [Janie, in fact, was Cora’s daughter and George’s step-daughter. Five year-old James Robert was not listed in the household.]

jrf-invitation-front

An invitation to James Robert Farmer’s 8th birthday party in 1933.

jrf-invitation-back

The invitation was addressed to brothers Lucian and Jesse Henderson, who lived at 303 Elba Street.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 701 East Green Street, public school teacher Cora M. Washington, 30, and nephew James R. Washington, 15.

jr-farmer

James Robert Farmer, alias James Robert Washington.

The day after his 18th birthday, James Robert Washington registered for the World War II draft. His registration card reports that he resided at 701 East Green; was born 3 January 1925 in Wilson; was going to school; and his aunt Cora Washington was his closest relative.

janie-farmer

Janie Washington alias Farmer.

In February 1959, Hattie Henderson Ricks, formerly of Wilson, received this letter from her childhood friend Cora Miller Washington Artis. Artis was then living in Kinston, North Carolina, and teaching at the State Training School for Negro Girls, a “reformatory” for African-American girls in the juvenile justice system.

lhenders-20175131045111_page_1

lhenders-20175131045111_page_2

cw-artis-envelope

  • Jesse A. Jacobs, Jr. and Sarah Henderson Jacobs, “Papa” and “Mama” — adoptive parents (and great-uncle and great-aunt) of Hattie Henderson Ricks; resided at 303 Elba Street, around the corner from 701 East Green.
  • Julia Harrell — Julia Burnette Harrell died 30 January 1959. Per her death certificate, she was born 28 January 1894 in Florence, South Carolina, to Dozier W. Davis and Jeanette Edwards; was widowed; worked as a teacher for Wilson City School System; and resided at 1116 East Nash Street. Louise C. Sherrod, same address, was the informant.
  • Blanche Gay Farmer — daughter of Samuel and Ella Tate Gay, grew up at 623 East Green Street, a half-block west of Cora’s family home. She died 27 March 1959.
  • “Callie” —
  • Beatrice Gay Holden, “Bea” — daughter of Samuel and Ella Tate Gay, resided at 623 East Green Street.
  • Lula Sutton Hayes
  • “James” — presumably, Cora Washington Artis’ husband.
  • “Pet” Reid
  • Beatrice Odessa Reid, “Odessa” — daughter of Elijah and Ietta R.M. Reid.

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-7-35-44-pm

1922 Sanborn insurance map, Wilson.

U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, database on-line, http://www.ancestry.com; photographs and ephemera in the possession of Lisa Y. Henderson; interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Natural causes.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County }

Be it remembered that on the 28th day of July 1871 I H.W. Peele Coroner of Said County attended by a Jury of good and lawful Men (viz ) W.D. Whitehead, W.J. Harris, L.D. Tomlinson, R.S. Barnes, Wm. M. Gay, A.J. Brown, S.P. Clark, B.B. Roads, I.B. Farmer, E.S. Walton, B.S. Ward, A. Bynum col’d, by me Summoned for that purpose according to Law, after being by me duly Sworn and empanelled at the house of Bally Farmer in the County aforesaid did hold an inquest over the dead body of Ruben Farmer col. and after inquiring into the facts and circumstances of the death of the deaceased from a view of the corpse and all the testimony to be procured, the Jury find as follows, that is to Say, That the sd. Ruben Farmer came to his death from natural causes unknown to the Jury. Given under our hands and seals day and date above written /s/ L.D. Tomlinson, B.B. (X) Rhodes, B.S. Ward, Isaac B. Farmer, R.S. Barnes, Allen (X) Bynum, E.S. Walton, A.J. Brown, W.D. Whitehead, S.P. Clark, W.M. Gay, W.J. Harris.

——

  • Ruben Farmer — in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Reuben Farmer, 68, wife Nancy, 71, and probable grandson Luke, 11.
  • Allen Bynum — on 25 August 1866, Allen Bynum and Gatsey Bynum registered their 16-year cohabitation in Wilson County. In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Allen Bynum, 30, wife Gatsey, 45, and children Adeline, 18, Ann, 16, Lucy, 12, Ethelbert, 15, Ranson, 7, and Harbert, 2.

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

You is a S of B; or, He asked for his hat.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   }

Be it remembered, that on this the 8 day of May 1904, I Dr E.T. Dickinson Coroner of the County of Wilson attended by a Jury of six good and lawful men viz Geo Amerson L.E. Moore J.S. Walston W.E. Millinder P.P. Williams & J.D. Barnes, by me summoned for that purpose according to law, after being duly sworn and impaneled by me at W.W. Graves place in Wilson County did hold an inquest over the dead body of Fate Thomas and after examination into the facts and circumstances of the death of the deceased from the view of the corpse and all the testimony to be procured the said jury finds the following that is to say,

That Fate Thomas came to his death from a blow delivered with an ax in the hands of Bud or Jim Simms and that Bill Simms to be held as accessory to the crime.   J.D. Barnes, J.S. (X) Walston, Geo. (X) Amerson, P.P. (X) Williams, L.E. Moore, W.E. Millinder

Inquest had, and signed and sealed in the presents of E.T. Dickinson, Acting Coroner of Wilson Co.

John Barnes being duly sworn says:

Bud Simms brought Geo Farmer out of the house and Fate Thomas got mad and cussed Bud Simms and Bill cussed Fate and Fate told Bill not to cuss him any moore and Bill cussed Fate again and then Fate hit Bill and Bud Simms hit Fate with something don’t know what it was but think it was a stick and when Bud hit Fate he knocked him down. I think he lived about ½ hours he asked for his hat.  John (X) Barnes

George Farmer being duly sworn says:

I don’t know what it was first started about I heard Bill Simms call Fate Thomas a S of B and Fate said not call me another S of B and Bill said you is a S of B and then Fate hit him with his fist and then there was a general fight and Bud Simms walked up and hit Fate with some thing don’t know where it was an ax or stick but the lick knocked him down.  Geo. (X) Farmer

Dave Ruffin being duly sworn says

All I know about it I heard Fate tell Bill Simms not to call him a nother S of B and Bill said you are a S of B and Fate hit Bill Simms with his fist and then there was a general fight and Bud Simms steps up and hit Fate Thomas with the ax twice I think he hit him the first time in the shoulder and the last time on the back of the head.  Dave (X) Ruffin

Tom Farmer being duly sworn says:

Heard Bill Simms call Fate Thomas a S of B and Fate told him not to call him a S of B any moore and he called him one again and they went to fighting then Bud Simms came up and struck Fate Thomas twice with the ax and the second lick he knocked him down. The last lick he hit him on the head. Don’t know where he hit him first but think it was on his sholder.  Tom (X) Farmer

——

I cannot positively identify Jim “Bud” Simms, Bill Simms, John Barnes, George Farmer, Dave Ruffin or Tom Farmer.

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The old reliable barber.

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-11-01-59-pm

Wilson Blade, 20 November 1897.

Only one issue of the Wilson Blade, a short-lived African-American newspaper, is known to exist.

——

In the 1900 census of the Town of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer James Farmer, 22, and his siblings Rosa, 17, Freeda, 10, Robert, 7, Richard, 5, Mark, 2, and Erickers, 7 months, plus boarder Tobias Farmer, 47, a barber.

In the 1908 city directory, Tobias Farmer is listed as a barber living at 203 Manchester Street.

In the 1912 city directory, Tobias Farmer is listed as a barber working for Austin Neal and residing at 121 Ashe Street.

Tobias Farmer died in Wilson on 17 May 1914. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 January 1854 in North Carolina to Elija Farmer and Rosa Barnes; was a widower; and worked as a barber. Rosa Crank was informant.

s123_37-1295

Establishing a graded school.

From “The Graded School Bill: An Act to Establish a Graded School in Wilson township, Wilson County,” as published in the Wilson Advance. The North Carolina legislature ratified the bill on 27 February 1883.

screen-shot-2016-10-29-at-5-05-31-pm

Wilson Advance, 23 March 1883.

  • E.C. Simms. Edward Cicero Simms was a teacher. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher Edward C. Simms, 23, wife Nicy, 26, and son Edward, 7 months. By 1891, the Simms family had moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where Edward is listed in the city directory. By 1897, Edward was an ordained A.M.E. Zion minister, as shown in this 9 May 1897 edition of the Norfolk Virginian:

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-9-45-19-pm

  • G.A. Farmer. Probably, Gray Farmer, a carpenter and constable.
  • Peter Rountree was a shoemaker.
  • Charles Battle was a blacksmith.
  • Jerry Washington. Jeremiah Washington was a blacksmith. His daughter Annie Maria married Samuel H. Vick.
  • C.M. Jones
  • Daniel Vick, carpenter, farmer and politician, was the father of Samuel H. Vick.
  • Samuel Williams was a baker, then grocer. In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: baker Samuel Williams, 30, with carpenter Daniel Vick, 25, wife Fanny, 24, and children Samuel, 8, Earnest, 3, Netta M., 5, and Violet Drake, 52. On 24 September 1870, Samuel Williams, parents unknown, married Ann Scarbro, daughter of Jack and Zaly Adams, in Wilson. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Samuel Williams, 38, wife Ann, 47, and daughter Anna, 9. In the 1900 census, grocer Samuel Williams, 58, with lodgers William Jackson, 36, and William Allen, 25, both tobacco graders.
  • C.H. Darden. Charles H. Darden was a blacksmith and, later, undertaker. In 1938, Wilson’s high school for African-American children would be named for Darden.

Harry and Pet Sharp family portrait.

Like thousands of North Carolinians, Harry and Pet Sharp left Wilson County for better opportunities. However, unlike most African-American migrants, they headed south. A clue to their unusual movement is found in the 1900 census of Tatnall County, in which Harry’s occupation was listed as woods rider. A woods rider was a foreman on horseback who oversaw the rough labors of the turpentine workers moving on foot through brutally hot, rattlesnake-infested forests, “dipping” pine gum. With eastern North Carolina’s longleaf pines bled to ruin, its large and lucrative naval stores industry shifted southward to Georgia and Florida, with displaced workers in its wake. The Sharps were among them.

This Sharp family portrait was probably taken about 1900 in Georgia.

harry-pet-sharp-per-lavoniarcarter

——

In the 1870 census of Otter Creek, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: Gustin Sharp, 51, wife Bithy, 54, and children Lisha, 16, Harry 12, and Amanda, 10.

In the 1880 census of Auters Creek, Edgecombe County: Gustin Sharp, 63, wife Bythy, 65, and children or grandchildren Sarah, 18, Harry, 23, and Green, 15.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Nelson Farmer, 30, wife Rose, 45, children Pett, 10, and Luke, 6, nieces Jimmie Ann, 14, and Lou, 10, and Rose’s children Daniel, 21, Lear, 18, and Jef, 16.

On 30 January 1889, H.H. Sharp, 31, of Wilson, married Pett Farmer, 19, of Wilson, at G.S Sharp’s in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister J.T.Clark performed the ceremony before B.R. Winstead, William Connor and John Hardy.

In the 1900 census of Lyons, Tattnall County, Georgia: woods rider Harry Sharpe, 38, wife Pet, 30, and children Rena, 10, Lela, 8, Jessie, 5, Menar, 5, Cora, 2, and Mittie, 5 months. Rena was born in North Carolina; the remaining children in Georgia.

In the 1910 census of Toombs County, Georgia: farmer Harry H. Sharpe, 53, wife Pet, 40, and children Rena, 21, Jessie, 17, Mena, 13, Cora, 12, James, 9, David, 8, Harry, 6, Green, 4, and Caesar, 2 months.

Harry Sharp died in 1917, and Pet Farmer Sharp died in 1945, both in Toombs County, Georgia.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user lavoniarcarter.

Howard Farmer had a voting record.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-9-34-17-pm

County Man, 96, Has 74-Year Voting Record

By Claude Starling

For some voters the task of remembering the last time they cast a ballot is a formidable one, for others the memory of that first ballot often escapes them.

But Howard Farmer remembers the last ballot he case. He also knows the first ballot he ever cast, and he remembers a whole lot of those in between.

Farmer’s last ballot was cast June 4 in the Wilson County Democratic Party’s runoff primary to nominate a sheriff’s candidate.

And his first ballot?

Well, Howard Farmer voted Republican that first time — casting a ballot for then incumbent President William McKinley in the election of 1906.

McKinley and his running mate, Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt, outpolled free silver Democrat William Jennings Bryan and his running mate, Adlai Stevenson (grandfather of a a more famous son of a more recent era), for the presidency and vice presidency that year.

For most of us the names McKinley, Roosevelt, Bryan and Stevenson, are little more than names out of history books. But for Howard Farmer they were real. Howard Farmer was 22 years old when he cast that first ballot 74 years ago.

Th election was something of a milestone for him — a black man, son of slave parents, voting in a Southern state, casting a ballot for the first time in his life.

It was almost his last election. Various statutes enacted in following years prevented many Negroes from again going to the polls. It was a long wait — 14 years until he again voted, this time in a local election.

Voting became a habit with Howard Farmer and he claims he hasn’t missed an election since, especially not a presidential election. It;s a record few voters can match

Today, Howard Farmer is a retired tobacco farmer and landowner who lives in his own home on his own farm in Taylors township at Rt. 2, Elm City.

He is married to a second wife and what time isn’t spent in gardening and around the house is spent religiously — he has been a preacher since 1920 and only last week was asked to preach in area church services.

He was born Feb. 2, 1878 in Wilson County, a son of Alford Farmer, who derived his name from the Wiley Farmer plantation on which he was born a slave. His mother was a slave on another nearby plantation near the intersection of N.C. Highways 97 and 58, said Farmer.

To the best of his knowledge he was one of five sons and three daughters — he is unsure about aunts and uncles due to fact that slave families were sometimes broken up by their owners.

Farmer spoke little of his early years, but he did explain the loss of his left eye at age 15 in an incident involving a white landowner’s son.

According to Farmer, he was visiting on a neighboring farmer’s land and the man asked him to help in the harvesting. When he refused, the man, angered by such a refusal, struck him across the side of the head with a weeding hoe, destroying his left eye.

Later the man was convicted by a local jury for assault and ordered to pay Farmer $50 and costs of court — an action Farmer said was “unheard of” in those times: a white man being order to pay for injuries done a black man.

Even though the offender is “long once dead,” said Farmer, no malice was held. To Farmer, the incident is simply an occurrence out of his past.

Howard Farmer was probably more fortunate than most young Negroes around the turn of the century. He received an education — through high school — at what was then Farmer’s School (named for Wiley Farmer.)

In 1900, he was living in Nash County sand voted that first time at Joyner’s Crossroads in that county. “Most all of us (Negroes) were voting Republican at that time, ” he remembers.

In 1903 he married his first wife Sarah at a location near what is today the Rocky Mount Wilson Airport. They built a frame house on the Walter Pridgen farm near Elm City and Farmer, in addition to working on the Pridgen farm, worked in a nearby saw mill

He remembers putting $100 in an Elm City bank in 1906 and leaving it on deposit until 1913 when he and his wife purchased a lot and built a house on Pine and Beal streets in Rocky Mount. But only a year later, he rented a farm from an area man named Offie Parker. Three years later, he rented a second farm. Later Farmer and three of his brothers-in-law purchased the two farms.

Farmer said he paid $9,000 for the 56-acre tract he purchased. He later bought another 140-acre tract but that has since been sold. A few acres of the original 56-acre tract have been sold off for building lots, but Farmer still holds title to more than 40 acres of the land he first bought more than 50 years ago.

In 1920 Farmer became a preacher — he said he was converted in 1909 — in the Missionary Baptist denomination. From 1931-33 he pastored a Lucama area church, which had called him. He got 35 cents each Sunday for his expenses and the final year the congregation raised $16 for him, he noted.

In 1922, Farmer’s only son Quentin, was born. He was educated in county elementary school and graduated from Wilson’s Darden High School — the only black high school in the area at that time. Quentin now resides in San Francisco, Calif.

Howard Farmer has a grandson, James, serving in the U.S. Army in Germany, and one great-grandson, James Anthony Farmer, who, with his grandfather, visited Howard Farmer a week ago.

Howard Farmer hides his years well. The events he has witnessed, the men he has met, seem like turning back the pages of history.

Farmer returned to the ballot box in 1914 and remembers voting for local candidates: county commissioners. The exact years faded in his memory, but the first local candidate he can remember casting a ballot for was John Thompson, a Wilson County commissioner. Howard Farmer claims he hasn’t missed an election since and has been a registered Democrat in Wilson County since 1914, casting his ballots in Taylors township.

The first automobile he remembers is a 1913 Model T Ford; he remembers Booker T. Washington; and more recently he remembers — but not too fondly — his first airplane ride: he was 95 and flew a 727 “Whisperjet” to California and a 747 “Jumbo” jet on the return trip; he knew Martin Luther King and went to New York once to meet him.

“Everything is better now,” said the 96-year-old Farmer when asked to compare life as he he has known it to the life now possible, and cited “better opportunities” for black man and women.

But, in an afterthought, he added “Maybe not necessarily what it ought to be but it is better.” Religiously speaking, he said “We’ve got to live right; it doesn’t matter what church you join; if you don’t live right, hell is our own.”

Farmer’s health remains robust. His son took him to a doctor recently and was advised to let his father “do whatever he wants to do; whatever makes him happy.”

There will be no surprise if Howard Farmer continues to do a little gardening, to do some guest preaching, and, in November, to see him visit the polls in Taylors Township — it’s what he’s been doing for most of his 96 years anyway.

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-12-54-08-pm

— Wilson Daily Times, 6 July 1974.

——

On 18 September 1868, Alfred Farmer, son of Charles and Sarah Matthews, married Precilla Strickland, daughter of Carey Williams and Rhody Taylor, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Alfred Farmer, 38, wife Priscilla, 34, and children Henry, 11, Charley, 9, Pharo, 5, and Howard, 1.

In the 1900 census of Rocky Mount township, Nash County: widowed farmer Zanie Winstead, 56, her children Josha, 20, Sarah E., 19, and Emma, 15, and grandson Clarance, 2, plus boarder Howard Farmer, 22, a farm laborer.

On 10 February 1903, Pharaoh Farmer applied in Nash County for a marriage license for Howard Farmer, 25, son of Alfred and Priscila Farmer, of Wilson County, and Sarah Eliz. Winstead, 25, daughter of Reddick and Zanie Winstead, of Nash County. The marriage took place the next day at the home of Sarah’s mother in Rocky Mount township, Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Howard Farmer, 31, and wife Sarah, 31.

On 12 September 1918, Howard Farmer of RFD 4, Elm City, registered for the World War I draft at the Wilson County draft board. His registration card reports that he was born 2 February 1878, that he worked as a farmer for Offie Parker, and that his nearest relative was Sara Lisa Farmer. He signed his card with an X.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Howard Farmer, 42, and wife Sarah, 42.

In the 1930 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Howard Farmer, 52, wife Sarah, 51, and son Quinton, 7.

In the 1940 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Howard Farmer, 61, wife Sarah, 61, and son Quenten, 17.

Howard Farmer died 1 October 1980 in Wilson, North Carolina.

Samuel Farmer Sr.’s negroes.

In the name of God Amen, I Samuel Farmer of the County of Edgecomb & State of North Carolina, being low and weak in body, but of perfect sound mind and disposing memory, do make and ordain this to be my last Will and Testament in manner and form following —

First of all I give and recommend my soul into the Hands of Almighty God who gave it, hoping to receive the same again at the great day of resurrection, and my body I recommend to the earth to be buried in a decent Christian burial at the discretion of my Executor, and as touching such worldly estate wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life, I give and dispose of the same in the following manner to witt.

Item. I Give and bequeath unto my son Samuel one negroe boy named John, and four Hundred dollars to him and his Heirs forever

Item. I Give and bequeath unto my daughter Rhoda Sharp one negroe girl named Chany to her and her Heirs forever

Item. I Give and bequeath unto my son Moses one negroe girl named Nan to him and him Heirs forever. Also I give him one tract of land on the Miry Swamp, known by the name of the Parish place to him and his heirs forever

Item. I Give and bequeath unto my Daughter Anna Sharp one negroe girl named Elva to her and her Heirs forever

Item. I Give and bequeath unto my son Isaac one negroe boy named Brittain to her and her Heirs forever. Also I give him the land and plantation whereon I now live after his Mothers Death

Item.I lend to my beloved wife Jerusa, during her natural life, the Land and plantation whereon I now live, also all my negroes not heretofore bequeathed.

Item. The rest of my property I leave to be divided between my wife and all my children after my paying all my Just debts and the negroes lent to my wife I leave to be equally divided between all my children after her death

I do hereby nominate and appoint my sons Samuel and Moses Executors to this my last will and testament, ratifying this and no other to be my Last Will and Testament; in Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 21st day of March 1814.   /s/ Samuel Farmer

Signed sealed and acknowledged in the presence of J. Farmer, Isaac Farmer

——

Samuel Farmer’s home plantation was on Hominy Swamp in what is now Wilson County. (In fact, the waterway runs through the city from northwest to southwest.) His will entered probate in August Term 1817 of Edgecombe County’s probate court.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.