Gardners township

Cemeteries, no. 23: the Taylor-Barnes cemetery.

Deborah Webb sent the tip a month ago — there was an abandoned graveyard off Webb Lake Road that contained the remains of an unknown African-American family. After my library talk Tuesday, I got some additional directions, and yesterday morning I set out it find it.

L. and T. Speight gave permission for me to park in their driveway and pointed out the copse out back. Standing in the middle of a turned-under corn field, such a stand of woods is a tell-tale sign of a cemetery.

It was a fight getting in. The smilax is ferocious. Breaking through though, I could see unmarked, subsided graves across the forest floor.

I saw no headstones, and only two graves bore small metal funeral home markers, meant to be temporary. The paper inserts identifying the dead were long gone.

Toward the back, there was a single vault. Its concrete and brick cover had collapsed at one end, exposing the interior. I did not disturb it to search for a name. Mr. Speight told me that the graveyard had been there when his grandfather bought the farm in 1938, that the last burial had been more than 30 years ago, and that he thought the family was named Barnes.

Wilson County Genealogical Society has published several volumes of transcribed cemetery records. I didn’t have access to my copies, so I consulted Joan Howell, the tireless spirit behind the project. She called me back this morning with an ID. This is the Aaron Barnes cemetery, first surveyed in 1991. It was overgrow even then, with only the vault and two metal markers visible among the 33 identifiable burial sites. Two graves bore names — Aaron Barnes (1888-1951) and Pattie J. Taylor, who died 3 January 1953 at age 16.

Here is Aaron Barnes’ death certificate:

Aaron Barnes had been a World War veteran, and his widow Martha Barnes applied for a military headstone for his grave:

Theirs was a late marriage. Aaron Barnes, 50, of Gardners township, son of Jarman and Mollie Barnes, married Martha Lancaster, 38, of Gardners, daughter of John D. and Susan Lancaster, on 3 November 1938 in Wilson.

Though the cemetery is called Taylor’s on Aaron Barnes’ records, and presumably most of the burials were of members of that family, I have not found information about young Pattie J. Taylor. However, Lillie Taylor died 17 January 1941 in Gardners township and, per her death certificate, she was born 6 January 1882; was married to James Taylor; was born in Wilson County to Jarman and Mollie Barnes; and was buried in Taylors cemetery near Elm City. Also, Lillie and James H. Taylor’s male infant was stillborn on 24 December 1917 in Gardners township and was buried at “Taylors place.”

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2019. Many thanks to Deborah Webb, L. and T. Speight, and Joan Howell.

Cemeteries, no. 13: the Sharpe cemetery.

At the Wilson-Edgecombe line, the blacktop rounds a curve and changes abruptly from Wilson County Road to Shallingtons Mill Road. Atop the bank, just inside Wilson County, is a narrow cemetery wedged between a soybean field and the road. This is the burial ground of the Allen Sharpe family on, presumably, land that once belonged to Sharpes.

  • Allen and Mary A. Sharpe

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Mary J. Forbes, 54, and children Meddis(?), 33, Homer, 31, Vernie B., 14, Ida M., 13, and Mary L., 3; plus farm laborer/servant Allen Sharpe, 21.

On 10 October 1900, Allen Sharpe, 24, son of Abram and Carolin Sharp, married Mary A. Barron, 17, daughter of Mark and Mason Barron, in Wilson County.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road, Allen Sharpe, 31; wife Mary, 26; and children Cora, 9, Carrie, 8, John, 5, Nettie, 3, Martha, 2, and Peter, 3 months; plus, John Smith, 25.

In the 1920 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: on the public road from Tarboro to Stantonsburg, farm laborer Allen Sharpe, 43; wife Mary A., 38; children Carrie, 17, John, 14, Nettie, 12, Beatrice, 10, Peter, 9, Mark, 8, Bertha, 5, Ethel Branch, 3, and niece Dora, 19,

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Allen Sharpe, 56; wife Mary A., 47; children Carrie, 25, Nettie, 22, Peter, 19, Mark, 17, Bertha, 15, Blanche, 13,  Senie, 11, and Odell Sharp, 8; plus grandchildren Roosivilt, 7, and Minnie Howard, 4.

Allen Sharpe died 24 January 1946 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 April 1888 [actually, probably 1878] in Edgecombe County to Abram and Mary Sharpe and resided near Macclesfield, Wilson County. [Note that Macclesfield itself is in Edgecombe County.]

  • Mark B. and Clara Farmer Sharpe

Mark B. Sharpe, here.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Cromwell Farmer, 57; wife Mary Jane, 48; and children James, 22, Ida, 20, Cromwell, 19, Ella, 17, Maggie, 16, Clara, 14, Floyd, 12, Viola and Liola, 9, Esther, 8, Lee A., 7, and George, 6.

On 15 March 1937, Mark Sharpe, 25, of Wilson, son of Adam [sic] and Mary A. Sharpe, married Clara Farmer, 20, of Wilson County, son of Cromwill and Mary Jane Farmer.

Clara Sharpe died 20 February 1951 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 November 1917 to Crummes Farmer and Mary Jane Battle and was married. Mark Sharpe was informant.

  • Martha Mitchell Farmer

Per her death certificate, Martha Mitchel Farmer died 19 October 1964 in Wilson township. She was born 4 July 1881 to Willie Mitchel and Laura Barren and was married to Willie Farmer. She was buried in Pinetops cemetery, Pinetops, North Carolina. [Was her grave later moved?]  Informant was Lloyd Farmer.

  • Kelly Johnson Sr.

On 1 October 1910, Kelly Johnson, 21, married Bloomer Moore, 19, in Edgecombe County.

On 5 June 1917, Kellie Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 March 1888 in Edgecombe County; resided near Fountain [which is in Pitt County]; was a farmer; and supported a wife and five children.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Kellie Johnson, 32; wife Bloomer, 26; and children Arthur, 10, Elizabeth, 8, L. Rosa, 6, Kellie, 5, Willie, 3, and Bloomer, 2.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Tarboro Road, farmer Kelly Johnson, 40; wife Bloomer, 36; Elizabeth, 16, Rosa L., 15, Kelly, 14, Willie, 13, Bloomer, 12, Maggie, 9, Ethlen, 8, Allen, 5, and Martha, 1.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm operator Kelly Johnson, 52; wife Blumer, 48; and children Maggie, 19, Boy, 13, Martha, 10, and William Henry, 9; stepdaughter Mildred, 8; and  granddaughter Alma Jean, 5 months.

Kelly Johnson died 8 April 1963 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, he was born 9 March 1889 to David Johnson and Alice (last name unknown); was retired; was married to Blummer Moore Johnson; and was buried in Northeastern cemetery, Rocky Mount [??].

Allen Sharpe cemetery.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2017.

The Woodard plantations.

Woodard Family Rural Historic District is a national historic district located near Wilson, Wilson County, North Carolina. It encompasses 29 contributing buildings in a rural area near Wilson. The district developed between 1830 and 1911 and includes notable examples of Colonial Revival and Greek Revival style architecture. Notable buildings include the William Woodard House, built circa 1832; the Woodard House, build circa 1855; William Woodard Jr. House, built circa 1850; and Elder William Woodard Sr. House, built later. The district was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Per the Nomination Form, the historic district consists of a cluster of farmhouses and outbuildings built on land acquired by William Woodard in the 1820s and ’30s. The 550-acre district in eastern Wilson County is located in the fork of Toisnot Swamp and White Oak Swamp. Most of the land is cleared for agriculture, but there is a large timbered section near Buck Branch. The main houses of the district are located along modern Alternate Highway 264, which largely follows the route of the antebellum Wilson to Greenville Plank Road. “Associated with the agricultural prosperity in the eastern part of present Wilson County during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Woodard Family Rural Historic District is indicative of the character and diversity of rural life in the area.”

This rural life, of course, was supported by many dozens of enslaved people and, later, tenant farmers. In 1852, after William Woodard was declared dead years after disappearing during a trip to Texas, his estate went into probate, and his assets were distributed to his heirs. Fifty-five men, women and children, valued at more $19,000, were divided thus:

005241706_00184

Their names: Mintas, Siller, Ginny, Rose, Easther, Thain, Dark, Pleasant, Morris, Blont, Ben, Arch, Alford, Tom, Peg, Rody, Silvier, Charlot, Liberty, George, Jonathan, Jim, Rachel, Nancy, Ned, Elizur, Sarah, Cherry, Amy, Harry, Gray, John, Jess, Piety, Edy, Mandy, Little Rose, Mal, Lewis, Lizzy, Sal, Little Mintas, Mariah, Hiliard, Beck, Phereby, Little Ned, Simon, London, Amos, Harrit, Richard, Dennis, Randol, and Venice.

These 55 people did not represent the total of the Woodard family’s human capital however. William’s widow Elizabeth Woodard, for example, had reported 67 slaves in the 1850 federal slave schedule. Her sons William Jr., Warren, James S., and Calvin reported 21, 21, 14 and 18, respectively, in the 1860 slave schedule.

screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-3-07-35-pm

The heart of the Woodard Family Rural Historic District today.

Estate Record of William Woodard, North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Woodard family portrait.

This remarkable photograph depicts the family of Charles and Winnie Woodard Bynum of Gardners township, Wilson County.

winnie-woodard-bynum

In the 1880 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Wesley Bynum, 24, wife Sophy, 24, and children Polly, 14, Lonie, 12, Charlie, 9, Bunny, 7, Jack, 5, and Arch, 3.

In the 1880 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Hilliard Woodard, 30, wife Rosetta, 25, and children Winnie, 9, Aaron, 8, Mary E., 6, Cora, 3, and James, 1, and John Taylor, 15, a servant.

On Christmas Eve 1890, Charles Bynum, 20, married Winnie Woodard, 20, in Wilson County at the residence of J.S. Woodard, Primitive Baptist minister. Witnesses were J.P. Uzzell, J.S. Woodard Jr. and Mollie Woodard.

In the 1900 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Charlie Bynum, 28, wife Winnie, 28, and children Mollie, 7, Amey, 6, Mattie, 5, Sophia, 2, and Rose, 11 months.

In the 1910 census of Gardners, Wilson County: farmer Charles Bynum, 38, wife Winnie, 38, and children Mollie, 16, Mattie, 14, Sophia, 12, Rose, 10, Winnie, 8, Lula, 6, Prissy, 4, Ferdie, 3, and Robert S., 1.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Charlie Bynum, 48; wife Winnie, 48; children Mattie Ruffin, 22, Winnie, 14, Lula, 16, Percy, 13, Ferdie, 12, Robert, 10, and Essie Bynum, 5; grandchildren W. Berley, 3, and Paul Ruffin, 1; sister-in-law Rebecca Capers, 24; and niece Sallie Oats, 20.

On 13 October 1921, Charlie Bynum died in Rocky Mount, Nash County. His death certificates remarks that he was born 12 July 1871 in Wilson County to West Bynum and Sophia Dunn. He was buried  in Wilson County.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Roman Sharp, 34, wife Mattie, 34, and children Willie, 13, Paul, 12, Bramon, 6, Roman Jr., 5, and May C., 2, plus mother-in-law Winnie Bynum, 64, and sister-in-law Essie Bynum, 16.

Winnie Woodard Bynum died 26 August 1943.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com member Speedoo251.

Nineteen and a half acres.

Know all men by these presents that we Thomas Stancil and Elizabeth Stancil of the said Thomas Stancil of Wilson County and State of North Carolina in consideration of the sum of one hundred and seven dollars to us paid by Benjamin Artis & Farby Artis of the County of Wilson & State of North Carolina the receipt whereof we do hereby acknowledged do hereby give grant bargain sell and convey unto the said Benjamine & Farby Artis their heirs and assigns forever a certain piece or parcel of land situated in the County and State aforesaid adjoining the lands of Gordin Thomas Penny Woodard and others and begins at a stake in Penny Woodard line and Runs S 48 W 108 po[les] with said Woodards line to a stake thence S  25 3/4 E 60 po[les] along the path to the beginning containing nineteen and a half acres More or less to have and to hold the same & the said Benjamine & Farbey Artis their heirs and assigns to them and to [illegible] and behoof forever and we the said Thomas Stancil & wife Elizabeth Stancil for our selves our heirs Executors and administrators shall warrant and defend the same to the said Benjamine & Farby Artis their heirs and assigns forever against the lawful claimes and [illegible] of all persons we hereunto signs our names and fix our seals this May the 12 day AD 1872.

Witness B.F. Briggs        /s/ Thomas Stancil, Elizabeth Stancil

——

In 1997, the Wilson County Genealogical Society published Some Black Families of Wilson County, North Carolina as part of its series, The Hugh B. Johnston Jr. Working Papers. Benjamin and Phariba Artis’ family were among those about whom Johnston left detailed notes based both on records and family and local lore.

Here are Johnston’s notes, with my comments in brackets:

The Old Picture of Benjamin and Phariba Artis

This picture, taken at Wilson about 1895, portrays two former slaves who became highly respected citizens of Gardner’s township in Wilson County. I borrowed the picture from my cousin Robert Edwin Stott of Wilson County. [Unfortunately, no copy of the photo is included.] Benjamin “Ben” Artis (1824-October 2, 1905) was a native of Greene County, it is said. About 1849 he married Phariba Woodard, daughter of London and Venus Woodard who were slaves of James Bullock Woodard. After “freedom” the Rev. London Woodard became the founder and first pastor of London’s Primitive Baptist Church which still exists on the eastern outskirts of Wilson. The two Artises were longtime members of the Oaken Grove Primitive Baptist Church. Ben’s parents were probably Solomon Williams and Vicey Artis. [No, they were not his parents. This appears to be a conjecture based on information I provided Johnston in 1988 about my ancestor, Adam T. Artis, who was in fact Solomon and Vicey’s son. As there is no evidence of Benjamin Artis’ freedom prior to 1866, I believe that he was born to an enslaved mother and a free father from whom he took his surname.]

“Aunt” Phariba was a “granny woman” or midwife and was greatly beloved by both whites and blacks. She was born in 1828 and died on September 30, 1905. She and her husband were buried in the London Woodard graveyard on land that was purchased before the Civil War by a free woman of color [Penny Lassiter] who became the second wife of the Rev. London Woodard.

“Aunt Phariba” assisted not only the colored families in the neighborhood but also a number of the best white families in Gardner’s township. Her services were frequently required in nursing, and she was in much demand where there was a need of domestic help of superior quality. She lived a long and useful life and died much lamented by her numerous family and friends.

PLEASE SEE UPDATE HERE.

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In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benj’n Artis, 46, farm laborer; wife Phebee, 42; and children and grandchildren Mary, 2, Julia, 6, Sarah, 17, Debby, 18, and Benjamin, 20. Benjamin reported owning $100 in real estate and $125 in personal property.

On February 1870, Benja Artis, son of Benj. Artis and Ferebee Artis, married Ferebee Barnes, daughter of Silas and Rosa Barnes, at Silas Barnes’. [Yes, Ben and Fereby Artis’ son Benjamin Jr. married a woman named Fereby.]

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benn Artis Sr., 54; wife Pheraba, 45; daughters Judia, 18, and Mary, 14; and grandson John, 11. Next door: Benn Artis, Jr., 31, Pheraba, 30, and Harett, 1.

 

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benjamin Artis, 76, wife Faber, 74, and grandson Wylie, 10. Fereby reported that only five of her 15 children were living.

The neighbors referred to in the deed were Jordan Thomas and Fereby’s step-mother Penny Lassiter Woodard.

Deed Book 6, page 255, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson, North Carolina.

 

Joseph J. Pender plantation.

Joseph John Pender House is a historic plantation home located near Wilson, Wilson County. The house consists of an original, two-story, three-bay, Federal frame section, built about 1840, and a one-story frame kitchen/dining room ell. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Though the Nomination Form describes Pender as a “large landowner and successful planter,” it makes no mention of his status as a slaveowner. Census records, however, tell the story. The 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County lists J.J. Pender with 15 slaves (12 male and 3 female), ranging in age from one month to 60 years. By time the Wilson County enumerator arrived in 1860, he had increased his holdings by two-thirds to 25 — 15 men and ten women ranging in age from six months to 75 years and sheltered in four cabins.

Slave schedules do not list the names of enslaved people, but one of the 25 may have been Carolina Pender, born circa 1853. She appears as a widow in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County, with several children, including Thad (1884) and Cadmus Pender (1885). These children were apparently named for Thaddeus W. Pender (1838-1892) and Cadmus C. Pender (1841-1862), Joseph J. Pender’s oldest children.

JJP house

Joseph J. Pender house, circa 1986. Image from National Register of Historic Places — Nomination Form, above.

Eleven acres to my daughters.

North Carolina, Wilson County   }

In the name of God, Amen.

I, Jordan Thomas, of the State and County aforesaid, do make this my last will and testament. I give and bequeath unto my beloved daughters, Harty Thomas and Henretta Thomas the land which I now live the same being situate in Gardner’s Township, Wilson County, adjoining the lands of Benj. Finch, Benj. Artis, & T.W. Barnes, containing about eleven acres to them their natural lives and at their death to my grandchildren – Jordan ThomasAlford Thomas and Charity Hagans, in fee simple.

In testimony whereof witness my hand and seal this 5th day of July 1899.  Jordan X Thomas

Signed in the presence of Geo. W. Thomas, W.A. Gill

Will Book 3, Page 433, Office of Clerk of Superior Court, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson.

——

In the 1860 census of Gardners, Wilson County: Jordon Thomas, 50, turpentine; daughters Henrietta, 21, Eliza, 20, and Harly, 18; and grandson John Thomas, 1.

Victims of a slick game.

WDT_3_10_1922_Batts__amp__Artis_scammed

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.

One of the Batts brothers was Amos Batts, who appears in the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, as the 48 year-old owner of an undertaking shop. Columbus “C.E.” Artis is not listed in that census, but he is the Artis above and operated a funeral business on East Nash Street until the 1950s.