Groom killed an hour after marriage.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 November 1948.

In the 1930 census of Tarboro, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farmer Robert Fate, 33, born in South Carolina; wife Mionna, 31, also born in South Carolina; children Alice, 17, Willis H., 17, Persey, 11, Geneva, 7, Robert Jr., 5, and May E., 2; mother-in-law Alice Jurant, 55, and father-in-law Melvin Jurant, 56.

In the 1940 census of Mannings township, Nash County, North Carolina: Robert Fate, 43, farmer on rented farm; wife Miona, 39; and Geneva, 16, Robert Junius, 15, Mary Etta, 12, Curtis Lee, 9, and Eddie Lee, 6.

Miorina Fate died 21 September 1947 in Bailey, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 October 1901 in Florence, South Carolina, to Will Carter and Alice Green and was married to Robert Fate. 

Robert Fate, 55, of Wilson, married Anna Riley, 45, of Sims, on 29 November 1948 in Wilson.

At 5:45 P.M. the same day, Robert Fate was declared dead, struck by a car on U.S. Highway 264 near Sims. 

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Who was the victim?

Pittsburgh Courier, 16 May 1942.

In a nutshell: James Applewhite was arrested and charged with the murder of Willie Fate. A burial society paid an undertaker to conduct Fate’s funeral. After the service, a burial society adjuster thought he saw Willie Fate on his way home. The society contacted the Wilson County draft board for information about Willie — presumably, his whereabouts, if not dead — but got none. Had the adjuster seen Willie’s brother Perry Fate instead? Or was Perry the man dead and buried? Applewhite confessed, but whom did he kill? Perry was nowhere to be found.

Willie H. Fate’s death certificate shows that he was killed on 25 April 1942 on 264 Highway by a pistol shot to the chest. Toney Funeral Home of Spring Hope, Nash County, performed the burial, but there’s no indication of the society that paid for it.

Apparently, the matter was not cleared to the satisfaction of the United States military until 10 August 1942, when Willie Fate’s registration card was cancelled.

Willie H. Fate’s draft registration card.


In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Fate, 33; wife Monna, 31; children Alice, 17, Willie H., 17, Perry, 11, Geneva, 7, Robert Jr., 5, and Mary E., 2; and in-laws Alice Jurant, 55, and Melvin Jurant, 56. All save the youngest three children were born in South Carolina.

In 1940, Willie Henry Fate registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 27 January 1917 in South Carolina; he resided at R.F.D. #4, Wilson; his contact was Lula Fate; and he worked as a laborer for Mark Ellis, R.F.D. #4, Wilson.

In 1940, Perry Fate registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 7 January 1920 in Florence, South Carolina; resided at Route 1, C-10, Elm City; his contact was M.L. Ellis, Route 4; and he worked for James L. Ellis, Route 1, Elm City.