Freeman

206 South Powell Street.

This house lies a block beyond the border of the East Wilson Historic District on a lot carved from land once owned by Oliver and Willie Mae Hendley Freeman.

The legal description of this lot is: “Beginning at a stake at Daniels corner running along Daniels line 140 feet to a stake westerly; cornering, thence southerly 50 feet to a stake; cornering, thence easterly 140 feet along Freeman line to a stake on Powell Street; cornering, northerly on Powell Street to the beginning 50 feet. It being the identical property conveyed to Preston Ward and wife, Edna Ward by deed of O.N. Freeman and wife, Willie Mae Freeman dated November 22, 1924 and recorded in Book 153, Page 470, Wilson County Registry.”

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In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Preston (c) plstr Powell nr Finch

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Preston (c; Edna) plstr h206 Powell

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Powell Street, owned and valued at $1200, Preston Ward, 27, public building plasterer; wife Edna, 26; and children Preston, 10, Elonzy, 8, Johnie, 6, Janie, 5, Virginia, 3, and Sylvester, 8 months.

Edna Ward died 2 January 1939 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 35 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jesse Taylor and Martha Ellis; and lived on Powell Street, Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Powell Street, widower Preston Ward, 38, building plasterer; sister Annie, 26; and children James P., 20, building plasterer, Alonza, 18, Johnny Lee, 17, Rosa, 14, Virginia, 12, Sylvester, 10, Ruby, 8, Doris, 6, and Golden, 2.

In the 1940s, the address of this house seems to have vacillated between 206 and 224 Powell.

In the 1941 and 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward J Preston (c; Pauline) plstr h206 Powell; Ward J Preston jr plstr h206 Powell

In 1941, James Preston Ward Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 1 January 1920 in Wilson County; lived at 305(?) Powell Street, Wilson; his contact was James P. Ward Sr., 305 Powell Street; and he worked for Jones Bros. & Co., Wilson.

In 1942, James Preston Ward registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 15 August 1903 in Wilson County; lived at Route 4, Box 24, Wilson; his contact was C.L. Darden, 108 Pender Street; and he self-employed as a plasterer.

In 1942, Alonzo Ward registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 20 August 1921 in Wilson County; lived at 224 Powell Street, Wilson; his contact was Preston Ward, 224 Power Street; and he worked for Preston Ward [sic], Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C. The card is marked “deceased.”

In 1942, Johnnie Lee Ward registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 15 April 1923 in Wilson County; lived at 224 Power Street, Wilson; his contact was Preston Ward, 224 Power Street; and he worked for T.A. Loving & Co., Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.

Alonzo Ward died 21 July 1944 at N.C. Sanatorium, Quewhiffle, Hoe County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 August 1921 in Wilson to Preston Ward and Edna Taylor; was single; was a student; and lived at 224 Powell Street, Wilson.

On 10 September 1965, the Daily Times reported that James P. Ward had been granted a license for an addition to his house:

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022.

State vs. Albert Freeman.

To stave off responsibility for caring for poor women and their children, unwed mothers were regularly brought before justices of the peace to answer sharp questions about their circumstances.

On 1 October 1866, Martha Cooper admitted to Wilson County justice of the peace William G. Jordan that she had fourteen month-old and two month-old children whose father was Albert Freeman. Jordan ordered that Freeman be arrested and taken to a justice to answer Cooper’s charge.

I have not been able to identify either Cooper or Freeman.

Bastardy Bonds, 1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

In honor of soldiers, sailors, marines and nurses.

O. Nestus Freeman built the massive stone base of this World War I memorial.

It stands at the entrance to the Wilson County Fairgrounds (and, formerly, stockcar race track) on 301 South. A June 27 Daily Times article announcing the Fourth of July 1935 unveiling of the monument describes the base as: “a shaft or pyramid of stone 20 by twelve feet, sixteen feet high, containing 86 tons of Wilson county granite surmounted by thirty-four foot flag staff ….” No mention of Freeman.

I don’t know stone masonry technique, but this knife-edge crease, rendered in igneous rock, is pretty amazing. 

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2021. 

The park should be named in his honor.

In 1980, the Mary McLeod Bethune Women’s Civic Club petitioned Wilson Parks and Recreation Director Burt Gillette to name a new city park for Oliver Nestus Freeman. Their letter contains interesting details of Freeman’s life, including more about his amusement park and the focus of his real estate development.

The petition was successful.

Mrs. Freeman’s photo album.

DigitalNC’s Images of North Carolina collection contains four early 20th century photograph albums attributed to the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum. The albums’ creator(s) is unidentified, and most the photos pasted within are unlabeled, but it seems pretty clear that they are the handiwork of Willie Hendley Freeman, O.N. Freeman’s wife. Many of the photos depict Hendley family members in Nashville or people and scenes associated with Tuskegee Institute, where the Freemans met.

Below, the cover of one of the albums and its first page. Freeman’s Texaco filling station is depicted at top center.

And this photo of a group of women taken by a Nashville photographer almost certainly depicts O.N. Freeman’s mother, Eliza Daniels Freeman, seated at middle. Willie Hendley Freeman appears to be the woman in the black dress with her hands resting on her mother-in-law’s chair.

 

View all four albums here.

O.N. Freeman plat map.

 

This 1928 plat map of property belonging to Oliver N. Freeman is readily recognizable in the present-day landscape, though it does not appear the land was subdivided as shown. (The area was described as “near” Wilson as it was outside city limits at the time.)

Plat Book 3, Page 39, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial view, Google Maps.