Farmer

A producer of fine quality tobacco.

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Wilson Daily Times, 9 August 1946.

Floyd W. Farmer was not only a prosperous farmer, he was a force in the effort to get Wilson County to build rural high schools for African-Americans in the late 1940s.

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In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Cromwell Farmer, 57; wife Mary Jane, 48; and children James, 20, Ida, 20, Cromwell, 19, Ella, 17, Maggie, 16, Clara, 14, Floyd, 12, Viola, 9, Liola, 9, Esther, 8, Lee A., 7, and George, 6.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Mary Jane Farmer, 65, and children Floyd W., 21, Leola, 19, Viola, 19, Queen Esther, 17, and George, 15.

In 1940, Floyd Willie Farmer applied for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born in April 1919 in Wilson; lived on Route 1, Elm City; his contact was mother Mary Jane Farmer; and he worked as a tenant farmer for Mrs. M.A. Bryant.

On 14 November 1942, Floyd Farmer, 24, of Elm City, son of Crumel and Mary J. Farmer, married Odell Sharp, 20, of WIlson, daughter of Alvin and Carrie Sharp, in Wilson. C.E. Artis applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony in the presence of J.H. Forbes, J.E. Miles and B.E. Howard.

Floyd W. Farmer died 16 April 2014.

Valentine Farmer buys four acres.

This indenture made the 4th day of September in the year of our lord eighteen hundred & seventy three between Warren Woodard & Jerusha Woodard wife of Warren Woodard of the County of Wilson & State of North Carolina of the first part & Volentine Farmer of the County of Wilson & State of North Carolina of the second part Witnesseth that the said party of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of one dollar the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged has given bargained sold & granted & conveyed and does hereby give grant bargain sell & convey to the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns all that tract or parcel of land lying in the County of Wilson State of North Carolina bounded as follows Beginning at at a lightwood stake in S.B. Farmers line thence N 85 East by chaines & thirty two & 1/2 links to a lightwood stake thence N 1 East Six chaines and thirty two and 1/2 links to a stake thence S 5 E six chaines and thirty two and 1/2 links to a stake in line thence S 1 west by chaines & thirty two & 1/2 link to the first station containing four acres to have & to hold the same with the appurtenances thereunto belonging Volentine Farmer the said party of the second part his heirs and assigns forever And the said party of the first part for the consideration aforesaid does hereby covenant and agree to warrant and defend the persons(?) aforesaid to the said party of the second part his Executors Administrators and assigns against the claims & entry of all persons whatsoever And said Warren Woodard and Jerusha Woodard does further Covenant that the said Volentine Farmer is seized of the premises in fee simple and has power to make and convey such an estate by this Indenture and has  done the same by these

In witness whereof the said party of the first part has hereunto [set] their hand & seals on the day & year above written    /s/ Warren Woodard, Jerusha Woodard

Witness M.D. (X) Franklin

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Valentine Farmer paid Warren and Jerusha Woodard the nominal sum of one dollar for four acres, his first land purchase. Jerusha Farmer Woodard was the daughter of Moses Farmer Sr., Valentine Farmer’s former owner, which may shed light on the basis of the favorable transaction.

Deed book 8, page 194, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

The last will and testament of Moses Farmer Sr.

Moses Farmer Sr. of Edgecombe County [near Toisnot Swamp, later Wilson County] made out his will in 1844. Among its very specific provisions were these:

  • Other then a few items mentioned, all his perishable estate was to be sold “except my negroes,” and the tract of land on which his brother Samuel Farmer lived was to be sold privately if it would bring $250. Otherwise it was to be sold at auction.

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  • If the sale of the perishables and the Samuel Farmer tract did not raise enough cash to settle Moses Farmer’s debts, Farmer directed his executor to sell “enough of my negroes either at public or private sale to the best advantage such as he thinks most suitable”

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  • Farmer’s wife or eldest son Larry D. Farmer were to hire”Negro woman called big Chainny” from the estate “as long as she is hired out at a reasonable price for each year.”

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  • As Samuel Farmer was “verry much indebted” to Moses Farmer, and possibly unable to pay his debts, Moses let his executor decide whether to sell Samuel’s “negroes at private sale if they can agree on the price if not to have them sold at public sale.” Either way, the executor was to buy Samuel’s “negro woman Mariny” for Moses’ estate and hire her out to Samuel for $10 per year as long as he remained in-state. At Samuel’s death, Mariny was “to be disposed of as” Moses’ property. If Samuel tried to move Mariny out of state, however, she was to be sold. [Who was Mariny to Samuel? Why did not Moses take some measures to keep her with Samuel even as he gave permission for the people enslaved with her to be sold off?]

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Moses Farmer Sr. died in 1848. His estate file does not appear to contain an inventory of his enslaved people. However, it does contain the petition filed by Farmer’s heirs at the November 1848 session of court seeking to sell “a certain slave named Rina or Marina” in order to divide her value among them. The petition was granted. On 1 January 1949, Joshua Barnes purchased Marina for $325.

Will of Moses Farmer (1844), North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Moses Farmer (1844), Edgecombe County, North Carolina Estate Files 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

 

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.

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.