Farmer

The obituary of Charles W. Farmer, church janitor.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 October 1938.

World War I veteran Charles W. Farmer worked as a butler prior to becoming the janitor at First United Methodist Church, a white church at Green and Tarboro Streets.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: drayman Jefferson Farmer, 40; wife Blanch,  28; and children May, 12, Turner, 11, Jesse, 8, Charley, 4, and Gola, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 Hines Street, Jeff Farmer, 50; wife Blanch, 37; and children Turner, 20, Jessie, 16, Charlie, 13, Goler, 10, Jeff Jr., 7, Henry, 3, Allice, 2, and Gola, 1.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Charles W (c) porter The Wilson Drug Co h W Jones nr Daniel

In 1917, Charlie Will Farmer registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 12 September 1895 in Wilson; lived on Pine Street; worked as a butler for F.L. Carr, Wilson; and was single.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Charles W (c) butler 202 W Gold

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 Hines Street, Jeff Farmer, 57; wife Blanche, 47; and children Charlie, 24, Jeff, 18, Henry, 14, Alice, 12, Sam, 8, and Blanche, 5.

On 4 February 1920, Charlie W. Farmer, 23, of Wilson, son of Jeff and Blanch Farmer, married Maggie Williams, 19, of Wilson, in Wilson. Andrew Pierce applied for the license, and Free Will Baptist minister J.E. Brown performed the ceremony in the presence of George McCoy, Millie Farmer and Joanna Hursey.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Charles W (c) butler h 611 Spruce

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Chas W (c; Magnolia) janitor h 1203 Atlantic

Charlie W. Farmer died 10 October 1938 at Oteen Veterans Administration hospital in Asheville, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 September 1897 in Wilson to Jeff Farmer and Blanch Gay; was married to Maggie Farmer; and worked as a janitor.

On 1 November 1938, Maggie Farmer applied for a military headstone for her husband’s grave in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Nelson Farmer killed in auto accident in Virginia.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 April 1933.

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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 [Nelson], 6; and William, 4.

On 10 January 1924, Nelson Farmer, 21, of Wilson, of John W. and Edmonia Farmer, married Nancy Williams, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Dorsey and Ida Williams. Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of John Brooks, Samuel Bridges, and Gladys O’Kelly.

Nelson Farmer died 16 April 1935 in Petersburg, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in October 1904 in Wilson to John W. Farmer and Edmonia Barnes; was married to Nancy Farmer; lived at 706 East Green Street; and worked as a laborer. George Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street, was informant.

D.S. Farmer’s estate notice.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 1928.

 

When Doctor S. Farmer died without a will in 1928, the administrator of his estate published notices in the local paper seeking any persons with claims.

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On 16 March 1880, D.S. Farmer, 22, married Elizabeth Locust, 22, in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Doctor S. Farmer, 22, and wife Elizabeth, 20.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doctor S. Farmer, 45; wife Elizabeth, 43; children Lowla, 16, William L., 13, Ella E., 12, Emma L., 9, Walter W., 5, and Geneva A., 2; and boarder Sarah Parker, 24.

On 13 May 1906, D.S. Farmer, 50, of Taylors township, son of Delphia Farmer, married Susie Johnson, 40, of Wilson, daughter of Nash Johnson [sic; Horton], in Taylors township, Wilson County.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 410 N Pine

On 23 July 1908, William L. Farmer, 21, of Wilson, son of D.S. and Elizabeth Farmer, married Pocahuntas Henry, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Mack and Ellen Henry, at Mack Henry’s in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Glace Battle, Corneva Griffin and Ella Battle.

On 7 October 1908, D.S. Farmer, 46, of Wilson, applied for a license to marry Janie Lewis, 35, of Wilson.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Dock S. Farmer, 52; wife Janie, 26; children Ella, 20, Emma, 18, Walter, 14, and Geneva, 12; and hired woman Sarah Wells, 32.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Doc Farmer, 68; wife Janie, 30; son Walter, 25; and laborer Sarah Parker, 46.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Dock S (c) farmer h 1109 E Nash

Doctor Sims Farmer died 20 February 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 April 1857 in Wilson County to Hillard Farmer and Adelphia Farmer; was married to Channie Farmer; and was a self-employed barber.

Susan Horton died 18 January 1945 in Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1866 in Wake County to Nash Horton; was the widow of Dock Farmer; and lived at 417 South Goldsboro Street. She was buried in Boyett [Saint Delight Missionary Baptist Church] cemetery.

Killed as she crossed the street.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 May 1928.

Mattie Farmer was knocked down and killed as she crossed from one side of the 500 block of Nash Street, where she lived, to the other. 

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Mattie Farmer died 23 May 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 28  years old; was married Eli Farmer; lived at 522 East Nash Street; worked as a common laborer; and was born in Laurinburg, N.C., to Henry and Hattie McLaurin. She was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Military funeral for Cpl. Lonnie E. Farmer.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 April 1949.

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In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Josh Farmer, 42; wife Mattie, 36; and children William A., 12, Luther, 9, Joshia W., 6, Warneda, 4, Lonnie D., 2, and Baby, 6 months.

In the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Josh Farmer, 51; wife Mattie, 46; and children William A., 21, Josh W., 17, Waneta, 14, Lonnie D., 12, Robert, 10, Albert H., 6, and J.C., 3.

In the 1940 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Jack Farmer, 57; wife Mattie, 55; and children Authur, 28, Jack Jr., 23, Robert, 20, Harry, 16, and J.C., 13; daughter Juanita Barnes, 22, and her children Mattie Lee, 3, and Marjorie, 1.

Lonnie Edward Farmer registered for the World War iI draft in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 26 August 1919 in Wilson; his contact was his mother Mattie Farmer; and he worked for J.T. Dew, Wilson.

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Just three years before Cpl. Farmer’s death in the Phillipines, the Farmer family’s youngest son, J.C., also a World War II veteran, was murdered by law enforcement officers near Sims.

Confession.

In February 1938, glorified gossip columnist John G. Thomas penned a column about the guilt-soaked confession of William Mercer, who had killed Wade Farmer in the summer of 1921, then fled the state. Mercer had joined a church in his adopted home of Coatesville, Pennsylvania, and his conscience preyed on him as he stood in the choir stand.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 February 1938.

The details are difficult to pin down. When the Daily Times article broke the story of William Mercer, alias Green, on 21 February 1938, it quoted B.E. Howard, the sheriff at the time of the murder, who admitted he could barely recall the details of the incident — had the victim had been shot or stabbed? — though he thought it occurred after a “negro dance or frolic.” On the other hand, the 27 February Raleigh News and Observer reported that an argument had broken out at a church gathering, and Farmer “got in the road” of a bullet fired from Mercer’s gun.

Wade Farmer’s death certificate does not shed much light:

Per the document, Wade Farmer of Macclesfield died in Gardners township near Wilbanks in May 1922.  He was 22 years old, married to Minnie Farmer, and farmed for Essex Webb, who could provide no information about his parents. The medical certification section is so faded as to be almost unreadable, except for “198,” which was the code for “homicide by cutting or piercing instrument.” The place and date of burial and undertaker fields are similarly washed out, and the registrar did not sign it until 3 January 1923.

On 5 March 1938, the Daily Times reported that Mercer had pled guilty to Farmer’s murder, and a judge had sentenced the 42 year-old to one and-a-half to three years, saying he had been merciful because Mercer had given himself up voluntarily.

But had he really?

Wilson Times, 7 September 1934.

Just four years before Mercer’s “confession,” around the time he claimed he had gotten religion, the Times reported that he had been indicted for Wade Farmer’s May 1922 murder and was to be extradited from New Jersey. Mercer had been arrested in Bridgeton, New Jersey, forty miles south of Philadelphia.

Why, then, the framing of Mercer’s come-to-Jesus moment as the astonishing re-appearance after 17 years of a man who’d gone underground for a crime barely remembered? 

Well, in part, because the man arrested in New Jersey in 1934 and hauled back to Wilson was not William Mercer. Rather, he was Ben Faison, originally of Faison, North Carolina. Though an informant positively identified the man as Mercer, several others who “looked him over” said he was not. On 21 September, the Daily Times informed its readers that Wilson police nonetheless would hold Faison until they were satisfied of his identity. 

So, while law enforcement had never forgotten Farmer’s murder, Mercer’s apprehension was entirely the result of his own doing. He had made an apparently upstanding life for himself in Pennsylvania and had completely cut ties with Wilson in order to do so. When his mother Fannie Mercer visited him at the Wilson County jail, it was the first time she had seen her son in 17 years.

News and Observer, 27 February 1938.

Emma Jane Farmer fatally injured.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 December 1928.

The Daily Times misnamed the victim of this terrible accident. Emma Jane Barnes Farmer was killed near Holden’s Crossroads while standing behind her father John Barnes‘ automobile holding a lantern. Reddin Walston, a white teenager, was arrested and charged with her death, but freed after a grand jury refused to indict him. He was rearrested in January 1928 after a judge received additional evidence in the case. I have not been able to determine whether Walston was convicted. However, nine years later, Walston’s uncle shot and killed him in a dispute over liquor.

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Tom Farmer, 43, of Wilson township, married Emma Barnes, 25, of Gardners township, on 24 October 1927. Primitive Baptist minister John R. Barnes performed the ceremony in Gardners township in the presence of Charlie Davis, Florence Battle, and Elijah Barnes

Emma Jane Farmer died 11 December 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 26 years old; was born in Wilson County to John Barnes and Bettie Parker; was married to Thomas Farmer; and was a tenant farmer on Sallie Gray’s farm. Her cause of death was “concussion of brain” six hours after an auto accident.