In his 1909 will, Calvin Blount left to his “sons Wright Blount and Tillman Blount, whom I have not heard from in many years” a one-acre lot “on the edge of the Town of Wilson, State and County aforesaid, adjoining the lands of G.W. Sugg, Cater Sugg, and the Colored Cemetery….”
Blount had purchased that small lot in January 1867, less than a year after he was emancipated. He paid Richard Hines Blount, who was likely his former owner and a blood relative, $50 for the parcel, which was located just south and west of present-day Hines and Pender Streets.
Deed book 2, page 182, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.
On 17 September 1873, Jordan Sauls married Serena Fort in Wayne County.
In the 1880 census of Saulston township, Wayne County: farmer Jordan Sauls, 27; wife Serena, 33; and children Elizabeth, 13, Ichabod, 10, and James Fort, 7; Emma, 6, Dortch, 5, and Isabel, 9 months; and Loumiser Sauls, 21, and [her?] children Oda, 5, and Anna, 1.
In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jordan Sauls, 50, widower.
On 25 December 1906, Jordan Sauls, 52, of Wayne County, son of Charles and Smithy Sauls, marred Mary Davis, 39, of Wayne County, daughter of Ellis and Hester Fort, at Mary Davis’ in Nahunta, Wayne County.
In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Jorden Sauls, 53; wife Mary, 45; children Hester, 19, Betsey, 17, Thomas, 15, George, 10, Eliza, 8, Pearly, 6, Ben, 4, Blossey, 9 months, and Ellis, 21; and grandchildren Emma, 4, and Rena Davis, 2.
In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Black Creek and Stantonsburg Road, farmer Jordan Sauls, 74; wife Mary, 47; and children Lina, 18, Ben, 15, Blossie, 19, and George, 5.
On 10 January 1925, John Tyson, 23, son of Red and Alberta Tyson, married Lizzie Sauls, 20, daughter of Jordan and Mary Sauls, in Wilson County.
On 21 September 1925, Herbert Tyson, 23, son of Ed and Mell T. Tyson, married Blossie Sauls, 16, daughter of Jordan and Mary Sauls, in Wilson County.
In January 1926, Benjamin Sauls, 20, son of Jordan and Mary Sauls, married Janetta Sutton, 18, daughter of John and Penna Sutton, in Wilson County.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jerdan Sauls, 82; wife Mae, 65, farm laborer; daughter Lossie Tyson, 22, cook; and grandchildren Jerdan Jr., 3, and Zebedee Tyson, 1.
In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: John Tyson, 35, farm laborer; wife Lizzie, 38; father-in-law Jordan Sauls, 99; mother-in-law Mary Sauls, 78; and Frank Strickling, 9, “adopted.”
Lizzie Tyson died 19 July 1943 in Bullhead township, Greene County. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 May 1903 in Wayne County to Jurdan Sauls and Mary Davis and was married to John Tyson.
Blossie S. Powell died 2 June 1979 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 August 1909 in Wayne County to Jordan Sauls and Mary Fort; was a widow; and lived at 1200 East Nash Street.
In the late 1930s, Blount Baker sat for an interview with a W.P.A. worker in which he spoke of his life in slavery. Baker was one of the last people in Wilson County who had been enslaved.
In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Lee Woodard, 31; wife Mamie, 32; children Ella M., 10, David L., 7, James T., 5, Doris, 3, and Robert N., 1 month; mother Ella, 68, widow; Ester Barnes, 40, widow; uncle Blunt Baker, 109, widower; and nephew James R. Farmer, 21.
Blunt Baker died 3 March 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 107 years old; was born in Wilson County to Anyka Baker; was a widower; was a retired farmer; resided near Lucama; and was buried in Eatmon cemetery, Wilson County. Informant was Dock Eatmon, Sims.
On 24 March 1866, two white men appeared before justice of the peace A.G. Brooks to swear that Asa Exum had stolen a coat, a pair of pants, and a pistol from them.
As his surname suggests, Asa Exum apparently lived in neighboring Wayne County, North Carolina, but was familiar across southeastern Wilson County. Dr. L.A. Stith lived in Wilson, and Seth Hawkins Tyson near Stantonsburg. Someone investigated the charges and scrawled a brief note under the first entry: “Says he bought it from [illegible] or Guest.”
This event didn’t happen in Wilson County, but it has everything to do with the mission of Black Wide-Awake, and I want to share it.
The freshly unveiled marker.
“First, I’d like to recognize my family, Joseph R. Holmes’ family, here today — including three of his brother Jasper’s great-granddaughters. Some here may remember their uncle, Dr. J. Maxwell Allen, who practiced dentistry in Charlotte Court House. His sister, my great-aunt Julia, first told me of Joseph Holmes when I was an inquisitive teenager digging for my roots. She did not know the details — only that her grandfather’s brother Joseph, born enslaved, had been killed because of his political activity. That was enough, though, to set this journey in motion.
“On behalf of the Holmes-Allen family, I extend thanks to all who made this day possible. So many in Charlotte County gave in so many ways — time, money, influence, prayer (look at God!) — and we are profoundly grateful for your embrace and support of this project.
“We are also grateful to Kathy Liston. When I reached out to Kathy nearly ten years ago, seeking help to find the truth of Joseph Holmes’ life, I did not even dream of this day. I first visited Charlotte Court House in 2012 at Kathy’s invitation. She took me to Joseph Holmes’ homestead; to Roxabel, the plantation on which he may have been enslaved; to the school at Keysville whose establishment he championed; and finally to this courthouse, to the very steps on which he bled and died. The historical marker we reveal today stands as a testament to Kathy’s persistence and insistence, her values and vision, her energy and expertise, and we cannot thank her enough.
“The beautiful story of Joseph R. Holmes’ life, and the terrible story of his death, were all but forgotten in Charlotte County — suppressed by some, repressed by others. This is an all too common phenomenon of American history. Though Africans arrived in this very state in 1619, the contributions of African Americans to the building of this country — both literally and metaphorically — are seldom recalled, much less memorialized. Black communities dealt with their trauma by hiding it away, refusing to speak of their loss and pain. It is never too late, however, to reclaim our heroes.
“For hundreds of years, the Akan people of Ghana have used symbols, called adinkra, as visual representations of concepts and proverbs. The word Sankofa, often depicted as a bird looking toward its tail, means ‘go back and get it.’ The broader concept of Sankofa urges us to know our pasts as we move forward.
Today, we have gone back for Joseph R. Holmes. In the shadow of Confederate monuments, we shine a light on his works; we affirm his life; we reclaim his legacy. As long as we speak his name, he lives forever. Will you say it with me?
“Joseph R. Holmes. Joseph R. Holmes. Joseph R. Holmes.
“Your family remembers. Your community remembers. We honor your life and sacrifice.
Seated, William “Bill” Woodard and Zilphia May Adams Woodard. Standing, Eva Woodard, Wesley Woodard, Elvin Woodard and Lena Woodard, who were among their children.
William Woodard was the grandson of London Woodard, the famous preacher and founder of London’s Primitive Baptist Church, and his first wife, Venus.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Elvin Woodard, 47; wife Deber, 48; and children William, 21, Sylvia, 18, and Amanda, 16.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer William Woodard, 35; wife Zilpha, 27; and children Elvin, 8, James, 5, and Minnie, 2.
In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer William Woodard, 52; wife Zelpha, 44; children James, 22, sawmill laborer, Minnia, 20, Wesley, 17, Eaver, 14, Lenar, 11; and boarders Irvin Eatman, 18, and Art Edwards, 20.
In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer William Woodard, 64; wife Zilfa, 60; children Eva, 23, and Lena, 20; and grandchildren Bettie Williams, 6, and Arthur Woodard, 3 months. Next door: Westley Woodard, 27; wife Easter, 30; stepson Richard Poole, 10; mother-in-law Gracie Poole, 40; and sister-in-law Minnie Poole, 11.
In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: William Woodard, 70; wife Zilfie, 75; and daughter Lena Barnes, 27.
James Woodard died 1 May 1927 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 51 years old; was born in Wilson County to William Woodard and Zilphia Moye; was married to Mary Woodard; and was a tenant farmer for Bunyan Boyette
Zilphia Woodard died 22 April 1934 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old; worked in farming until two days before her death; was born in Wilson County to David Moye and Harriett Daniel; and was a widow. Minnie Williams was informant.
Elvin Woodard died 30 March 1941 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 February 1879 in Wilson County to William Woodard and Zilphia Moore; was a laborer; was the widower of Frances Woodard; and was buried in Ellis cemetery. Westley Woodard was informant.
Minnie Williams died 21 May 1941 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in Wilson County in 1887 to William Woodard and Zelphia Adams; was a widow; and had been engaged in farming. Mamie Melton was informant.
Eva Thorne died 7 May 1948 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 October 1894 in Wilson County to William Woodard and Zilpha Adams; was a farmer; and was married to Bill Thorne. Informant was Gladys Hoskins.
Thanks to LeRoy Barnes for sharing this family photo.
An anonymous writer submitted this tribute to Henrietta Hill for publication in the 27 April 1928 Wilson Daily Times. It contains a rare detail of Hill’s early life — that she “escaped” to Wilson with her unnamed owners during the Civil War when the Union army captured Washington, N.C. The daughter mentioned was Cecilia Hill Norwood, and the A.C.L. railroad station was the precursor to the 1924 Flemish-style building that stands today.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Henry Hill, 35, blacksmith; wife Henrietta, 29; and children Celicia [Cecilia], 9, Robert, 4, and James H., 1.
On 28 February 1895, Celia A. Hill, 22, daughter of H. and H. Hill, married Richard Norwood, 21, son of B. Norwood of Chatham County, in Wilson. Episcopal minister J.W. Perry performed the ceremony at Saint Marks in the presence of John H. Clark, B.R. Winstead and S.A. Smith.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer Richard Norward, 36; wife Celia, 34, public school teacher; Robert T., 14, Richard V., 15, Christine, 11, and Henry E., 8; mother Henry E. [Henrietta] Hill, 65, depot janitoress; Mack Peacock, 17, doctor’s office servant; and Joe Burnett, 17, hotel servant.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 134 Pender Street, Heneretta Hill, 70, A.C.L. railroad matron; Celia W. Hill, 40, teacher; Cora A. Hill, 27, teacher; Hazell Hill, 16; Christina Hill, 19; Barlee Hill, 22, laborer; Rosa Hicks, 22; and Archer Martin, 14.
On 19 July 1922, Hill drafted a will in which she passed all her property to her daughter Ceciia Norwood after payment of debts for “drugs and medical attention” and other expenses.
Henrietta Hill died 21 April 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 78 years old; was a widow; lived at 205 Pender; was a retired maid for A.C.L. station; and was born in Washington, N.C., to Robert Cherry and Martha Goodyear of Washington, N.C. Cecilia Norwood was informant.
Thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for sharing the clipping.
In the 1870 census of Eagle Mills township, Iredell County: in the household of S. Blackburn, 62, white, cook Fannie Blackburn, 47, and her children (and possibly grandchild) Andy, 26, Armsted, 20, Tempy, 20, Wiley, 14, Alfred, 10, and John, 1.
On 6 October 1880, Alfred Blackburn married Lucy Blackburn in Iredell County. T.A. Nicholson performed the ceremony. In the 1900 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County, N.C.: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 40; wife Lucy, 40; and children Rubin, 18, Mary K., 17, Obie A., 15, mail carrier, Amand B., 13, Henry H., 12, Magie I., 8, and Walter R., 6.
This 1898 document, signed on its reverse by A. Blackburn, was recently offered for sale at auction. The pre-printed form from the U.S. Post Office Department is notification of a failure to complete a route. On the back, Blackburn’s handwritten note to his brother Wiley Blackburn about a deduction to Wiley’s salary related to the shortened route. worthpoint.com.
In the 1910 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 52; wife Lucy A., 54; and children Reuben C., 28, Mary, 26, Oby, 24, Amanda, 22, Majie, 18, Walter ,16, and Hugh, 9.
On 19 January 1919, Oby Alexander Blackburn died in Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 July 1884 in Hamptonville to Alfred Blackburn and Lucy Carson, both of Iredell County; was single; was farming for himself; and was buried in Carson Town.
In the 1920 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Teen Blackburn, 63; wife Lucy, 62; and children Mary, 34, Maggie, 28, and Henry, 17.
On 1 August 1926, Hugh C. Blackburn died in Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 March 1901 in Hamptonville to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was single; was a farmer; and was buried in Pleasant Hill cemetery.
Lucy Ann Blackburn died 10 August 1929 in Deep Creek, Yadkin County. Per her death certificate, she was 74 years old; was married to Alfred Blackburn; was born in Iredell County to Milton Blackburn and Edie Carson; and was buried in Pleasant Hill cemetery. H.H. Blackburn was informant.
In the 1930 census of Hamptonville, Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 84; daughters Mary, 45, and Madgie, 35; and boarder Luther Revals, 18.
In the 1940 census of Deep Creek township, Yadkin County: farmer Alfred Blackburn, 90, widower; daughters Mary, 48, and Madge, 42; and granddaughter Anne Love, 16.
Madge Blackburn died 11 August 1969 in Mocksville, Davie County, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1898 to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was never married [in fact, she married John Lindsay in Yadkin County on 14 January 1922]; and lived in Hamptonville, Yadkin County.
Henry Harold Blackburn died 3 March 1970 in Statesville, Iredell County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 May 1888 to Alfred “Teen” Blackburn and Lucy Blackburn; was married to Daisy Carson; lived in Hamptonville, Iredell County; and was a school teacher.
Reuben Cowles Blackburn Sr. died 9 November 1970 in North Wilkesboro, Wilkes County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 September 1881 to Alfred and Lucy Blackburn; was a widower; and was a retired rural mail carrier.
Mary Candis Blackburn died 10 August 1984 in Mocksville, Davie County. Per her death certificate, she was born 28 February 1883 to Alfred Blackburn and Lucy Carson; lived in Hamptonville, Yadkin County; was never married; and had been a school teacher.
Amanda Bell Carson died 4 May 1985 in Yadkinville, Yadkin County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 July 1886 to Alfred and Lucy Carson Blackburn and was a widow.
In March 1866, the North Carolina General Assembly passed an act establishing a means for formerly enslaved people to ratify their marriages. Such persons were to appear before justices of the peace, who would collect certain details of their cohabitation during slavery and record them in the County Clerk’s office. Freedmen faced misdemeanor charges if they failed to record their marriage by September, 1866, a deadline later extended to January 1, 1868.
Wilson County’s original cohabitation register is said to be held in the Register of Deeds office, but I have not found it there. Brooke Bissette, Director of Exhibits at Wilson’s Imagination Station, recently found that East Carolina University’s Joyner Library has a copy of the cohabitation register on microfilm and is creating a print volume to be shelved in the Local History and Genealogy Room at Wilson County Public Library’s main branch.
I present the register in series, with transcription:
Bureau R F & A Lands, Office Asst Sub Asst Comr, Goldsboro N.C. July 15th 1867
Barnes William Esq., near Blk Creek NC
it is reported at the Head Quarters that you have in your possession three Colored Children named Blaney Barnes, Leonard Barnes and Perry Barnes: which you claim to have apprenticed to you. It is farther represented that these children if apprenticed at all were bound in violation of existing Laws.
In view of these facts you are hereby directed to Report in writing to these Hd. Quarters of your earliest convenience the Authority by which you hold these children in your possession. If they are apprenticed to you please state by what Authority, and if the consent of Parents or next nearest of kin was obtained previous to such Apprenticeship.
Yours Respectfully, J.F. Allison [illegible]
In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Blaney Barnes, 20, farm laborer.
Blany Barnes married Rachel Cooper on 10 August 1873 at J. Barden’s in Wilson County.
In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Blany Barnes, 27; wife Rachel, 25; and children Larry, 6, Mary An, 4, and William Anderson, 2.
In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: railroad laborer Blaney Barnes, 47; wife Rachel, 44; and children Anderson W., 22, Lanettie, 16, and Charlie, 11; plus boarder Dorch Wade, 25.
On 22 September 1903, Blaney Barnes, 50, married Diana Ricks, 45, in Spring Hill township.
In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Blaney Barnes, 55, log hauler for saw mill; wife Dianna, 44, farm laborer; daughters-in-law Louvenia Furgerson, 21, and Jane Barnes, 19; grandsons Hiliard, 7, and Joseph N. Barnes, 5, and Willie Furgerson, 4; granddaughter Martha G. Barnes, 12; and boarder Troy Barnes, 23.
Blaney Barnes died 26 April 1915 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1844 in Wilson County to Sip Barnes of Wayne County and an unknown mother; was married; and was buried in Barnes graveyard. Informant was Wiley H. Johnson of Lucama.
Roll 17, Letters sent, July-Sep 1867, Goldsboro Assistant Subassistant Commissioner’s Records, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, National Archives and Records Administration images, www.familysearch.org.