Lane Street Project: Willie Gay’s headstone found in Odd Fellows cemetery.

Jeff Barefoot had read my blog and was passing through Wilson. Curious about Rountree, Odd Fellows and Vick cemeteries, he stopped by, poked around in the woods a bit, and hit the jackpot — the headstone of Willie Gay! Not only had I missed Gay’s marker on my forays into Odd Fellows, his is the only one I’ve seen for a Spanish-American War veteran in these cemeteries.

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In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Emma Gay, 35; children Charlie, 15, a steam-mill worker, Mary, 11, Etheldred, 8, and Willie, 6; plus a boarder Fannie Thompson, 19, cook.

On 8 January 1894, Willie Gay, 18, and Mary Bunn, 21, were married at the groom’s house in Wilson. Presbyterian minister L.J. Melton performed the ceremony in the presence of W.T. Phillips, L.A. Moore, and C.C. Williams.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer William Gay, 26, widower, living alone.

On 29 October 1902, Willie Gay, 27, son of Charles Gay and Emma Rountree, married Mary Johnson, 22, daughter of Edmund Johnson and Bertha Johnson, at Henry Johnson‘s. H.S. Phillips applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Cain Artis, Charles S. Thomas, and Robert E. Artis.

On 23 March 1906, William Gay, 33, son of Charles and Emma Gay, married Augustus McNeil, 30, daughter of Peter and Emily Patterson, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of J.E. Farmer, Robert Strickland, and Charlie Farmer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: railroad laborer Will Gay, 34; wife Susia, 34, cook; children Paul, 17, railroad laborer, Charlie, 10, Emma, 4, and Georgia, 2; brother-in-law Peter Johnson, 20, hotel waiter; nephew Jessie Lewis, 22, boarding house proprietor; and lodger Nathan Jenkins, 30, oil mill laborer.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 717 Stantonsburg Street, railroad brakeman William Gay, 48; wife Gertrude, 43; and roomer Oscar Magotte, 26.

In the 1920 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Gay William grocer 717 Stantonsburg Rd

On 27 December 1922, William Gay, 52, son of Charlie and Emma Gay, married Gertrude Magette, 45, daughter of Jerry and Lucy Magette, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minster A.L.E. Weeks performed the ceremony in the presence of J.A. Parker, 211 East Spruce Street; Mary L. Moore, 314 South Stantonsburg Street; and Annie E. Weeks, 500 Hadley Street.

In the 1940 census of Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City County, Virginia: at the Veterans Administration facility, Willie Gay, 66, born in North Carolina.

Willie Gay died 25 May 1940 at the Veterans Administration hospital in Kecoughtan, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1874 in Wilson, N.C., to Charles Gay and Emma Byrum, both of Greene County, N.C.; was divorced; was a veteran of the Spanish American War; was a railroad worker; and lived at 526 Smith Street, Wilson.

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On 13 June 1940, Howard M. Fitts applied for a military headstone for Willie Gay. The application for an upright marker noted that Gay had served from 23 June 1898 to 8 February 1899 in Company I, 3rd N.C. Infantry; and achieved the rank of corporal. Gay was to be buried in Rountree (actually, Odd Fellows) Cemetery in Wilson.

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Photo of Gay’s marker courtesy of Jeff Barefoot and published at Thank you!

Emma Gay’s lands.

In 1918, John Griffin subdivided and sold a large parcel that had formerly belonged to Emma Gay. Griffin contemplated twenty lots with connecting rear alleys. This corner is easily recognized as the eastern gateway to Wilson’s black business block. Subsequent development, all commercial, suggests that most the lots were sold in multiples and consolidated.

The approximate location of Emma Gay’s lands.

Plat Book 1, Page 56, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

Willis Bryant of Indianapolis, Indiana.

Willis Bryant was among the scores of African Americans who left Wilson County for Indianapolis, Indiana, in the last quarter of the 19th century.

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Indianapolis Star, 20 March 1915.


Probably, in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Louiza Bryant, 30; Cornelius Harriss, 23;  Catherine Harriss, 20; Cornelius Harriss, 1; Ann Bryant, 9; Willie Bryant, 8; and Alice Ellis, 15.

Bryant probably attended the Wilson Academy. Like Samuel H. Vick ’84 and Braswell R. Winstead ’85, he received a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

Catalogue of Lincoln University, Chester County, Pennsylvania, for the Academical Year 1886-87 (1887).

On 4 May 1890, Willis Bryant, 26, son of Wiley Bryant and Louisa Branch, married Ida M. Webb, 22, in Marion County, Indiana.

As were many Lincoln alumni, Bryant was very active in the Presbyterian church and helped found Senate Avenue Presbyterian Church.

Indianapolis News, 20 June 1892.

In the 1900 census of Center township, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 808 Wyoming Street, coal dealer Willis Bryant, 36; wife Ida, 32; and children Ralph, 6, and Edna May, 1.

In September 1900, Wilson native Daniel C. Suggs, then teaching at Georgia State College, visited the Bryants in Indianapolis. Suggs was also a Lincoln graduate.

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Indianapolis News, 7 September 1900.

Fifteen years after he graduated, Bryant and his wife returned to Pennsylvania to attend a Lincoln graduation, then made a round of East Coast cities.

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Indianapolis News, 25 May 1901.

In 1901, Lucy Gay visited her uncle Willis Bryant in Indianapolis. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Sam Gay, 54; wife Alice, 50; and children Charlie C., 23, Edgar B., 25, Lucy, 17, Samuel, 14, Albert and Beatrice, 10, and Lily, 4. [Alice Gay was the 15 year-old Alice Ellis listed in the 1870 census above. When she married Samuel Gay, she gave her maiden name as Bryant.]

Indianapolis News, 28 December 1901.

In October 1904, the Indiana Recorder reprinted “His Trip West,” an article by Harry S. Cummings originally posted in the Afro-American Ledger. In the chronicle of his tour of Indiana cities, Cummings mentioned Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward and Willis Bryant and his father-in-law Charles A. Webb’s transportation and hauling businesses.

Indianapolis News, 22 October 1904.

In 1907, Willis Bryant and other black businessmen formed a committee to assist the city’s Juvenile Court with finding employment for “delinquent colored boys and girls.”

Indianapolis Star, 24 April 1907.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: at 808 Wyoming Street, Willis Bryant, 44; wife Ida M., 42; and children Ottis R., 16, Edna, 11, and Hulda M., 3.

Indianapolis Recorder, 13 March 1915.

Willis Bryant died 19 March 1915, barely a week after celebrating his 25th wedding anniversary.

Indianapolis Recorder, 18 March 1916.

His widow, Ida Webb Bryant, outlived him by decades, and was featured in this 1963 Indianapolis Recorder piece.

Indianapolis Recorder, 22 June 1963.

A pardon.

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Wilson Advance, 5 May 1882.

  • Simon Dildy
  • Charles Gay — in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Gay, 35, wife Emma, 25, children Charles, 5, and Mary, 1, and two farm laborers Rich’d Harper, 20, and Haywood Watson, 17. Though the article above states that Gay was murdered in 1875, Emma Gay was appointed administratrix of his estate in early 1874. Gay had been a shopkeeper, and his wife took over his “old stand.” On 12 March 1874, the Goldsboro Messenger  reported his murder thus:

Charged with stealing cotton.

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Wilson Advance, 19 January 1888.


  • Jordan Taylor — possibly, the Jordan Taylor Sr. here or father of J.G. Taylor here or here.
  • Henry Williams — possibly, in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Henry Williams, 28; wife Alis, 28; and children Edwin, 8, and Mattie, 6.
  • Charlie Gay — perhaps, in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Emma Gay, 35; children Charlie, 15, a steam-mill worker, Mary, 11, Etheldred, 8, and Willie, 6; plus a boarder Fannie Thompson, 19, cook.
  • Daniel Barron

“Is Mama dead? Let me know at once.”

In this interview, Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001) spoke of how she received news of the sudden death of her great-aunt, who was also her adoptive mother:

“Mama didn’t know she had a bad heart until two weeks before she died.  She was always sick, sick all the time.  She’d go to the doctor, and the doctor would tell her it was indigestion and for her not to eat no pork and different things she couldn’t eat.  ‘Cause Mama was fat.  She weighed 200.  She wasn’t too short.  She was just broad.  Well, she was five-feet-four, I think.  Something like that.


Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, circa 1931.

“And so, but she loved pork, and she’d try to eat some anyhow ‘cause we always had a hog, growing up.  All the time.  So after they said she couldn’t, she tried not to eat no pork, much.  Fish and chicken, we eat it all the time.  But she was so tired of chicken until she didn’t know what to do.  And I was, too. But Papa loved all pork, so he’d always get a whole half a shoulder or a ham or something and cook it, and she’d eat some.  But when she went to the doctor, and her pressure was up so high, and he told her, ‘By all means, don’t you eat no pork.  It’s dangerous to eat pork when your pressure is too high.’ And then that’s when she stopped eating pork.

“Well, it didn’t help none, I don’t reckon. She had that little bag.  A little basket.  A little, old basket ‘bout that tall with a handle on it.  She had all kinds of medicine in there to take. She was going up to Mamie’s, and Mr. Silver told her, said, ‘Well, you just take your medicine bag.’  She’d been married to him a good while.  He said, ‘Well, you shouldn’t go up there by yourself. Since I’m down here—’  See, she’d go up and stay with him a little while, and then he’d come back to Wilson and stay a while.  So he said, ‘You just take your little basket there with your medicine in it.’  So, he said, ‘Well, I’ll go with you up there and then I’ll come back on to Enfield.’  So he went with her down there to the station.  He was picking up the bags to go up there, told her to walk on up to the station and wait for the train.  And he got a cab — C.E. Artis. Not C.E. Artis, not undertaker Artis but a Artis that drove a cab. This was another set of Artises.

“So, she went up there to the station in Wilson and got on the train. And she’d done told me to send her insurance and everything to Greensboro, ‘cause she won’t never coming back to Wilson no more.  Because she’d done seen, the Lord showed her if she stayed in Wilson, she wouldn’t live.  If she went ‘way from there, she could get well.  So she was going to Mamie’s.  And when she got off at Selma to change trains –- she’d just got to the station door.  And she collapsed right there.  And by happen they had a wheelchair, a luggage thing or something.  The guy out there, he got to her, and he called the coroner or somebody, but he was some time getting there.  But anyway, they picked her up and sat her in the wheelchair.  They didn’t want her to be out ‘cause everybody was out looking and carrying on, so they just pushed her ‘round there to the baggage room.

“And so when the coroner got there, he said, ‘This woman’s dead.’  So they called Albert Gay, and he was working for Artis then.  Undertaker Artis.  And Jimbo Barnes.  And called them and told them that she was dead.  So, Mr. Silver couldn’t even tell them who to notify.  He had Mamie living in Thelma, North Carolina, on McCullough Street, but didn’t know what the number of the house was. He was so upset.  So they had to call the police for the police to go find Mamie Holt.  On McCullough Street.  And her mother, they said, her mother died.  Well, she did die.  But they said it was, I think, Thelma.  Not Selma, but Thelma.  ‘Well, where is Thelma?  It can’t be my mother. ‘Cause my mother don’t live in no Thelma.  I never heard of that place.  She live in Wilson.’  But, see, it was Selma.  They got it wrong.

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Selma Union Depot today, Selma, North Carolina

“So then Mamie went down to Smitty’s house and had Miss Smitty send a telegram to me.  On the phone.  Charge it to her bill, and she’d pay her: ‘IS MAMA DEAD LET ME KNOW AT ONCE’  She asked me if Mama was dead.  And when I got that telegram, Annie Miriam and all them, a bunch of kids was out there on the porch, and so at that time, Jimbo or one of ‘em come up.  And when I saw them, I knowed something.  I had just got the telegram.  Hadn’t even really got time to read it. And he said, ‘Well, you done got the news.’  And I said, ‘The news?  Well, I got a old, crazy telegram here from my sister, asking me is Mama dead, let her know at once.’  He said, ‘Yeah, we just, we brought her back from Selma.’  I said, ‘What in the – ‘  Well, I went to crying.  And Albert Gay or some of the children was ‘round there, and they was running. Everybody in the whole street almost was out in the yard – the children got the news and gone!  That Mama had dropped dead in Selma.  So I said, well, by getting that telegram, I said, that’s what threw me, honey.  I wasn’t ready for that. I’d been saying I reckon Mamie’ll think Mama was a ghost when she come walking in there tonight. Not knowing she was dead right at the same time.”


  • Mamie — Mamie Henderson Holt, sister of Hattie Henderson Ricks.
  • Mr. Silver — Rev. Joseph Silver Sr. helped establish the Holiness denomination in eastern North Carolina, founding Plumbline United Holy Church in Halifax County in 1893. Rev. Silver married Sarah Henderson Jacobs, herself an evangelist, in Wilson on 31 August 1933. The couple alternated between his home in Enfield and hers in Wilson.

  • C.E. Artis — Columbus E. Artis.
  • Jimbo Barnes — probably James “Jimbo” Watson Jr., whose 30 November 1974 obituary in the Wilson Daily Times noted that he was a former Artis Funeral Home employee.
  • Albert Gay — Albert S. Gay Jr., son of Albert and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay and grandson of Sarah Silver’s first husband Jesse A. Jacobs.
  • Annie Miriam — Annie Marian Gay, daughter of Albert and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved; photo of Sarah H.J. Silver in personal collection of Lisa Y. Henderson; photo of Rev. Silver courtesy of user lexxee52.

Blanch Gay Farmer and daughter Goldie.

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Blanch Emma Gay Farmer in the backyard of her home at 807 Viola Street.

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Goldie Farmer McCoy Ricks and an unknown man in the one-armed chair.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm worker Samuel Gay, 27, wife Allice, 25, and children Blanch, 8, Louizah, 7, Edgar, 4, Charlie, 3, and Mamie, 1 month.

On 6 November 1886, Jeff Farmer, 23, married Blanch Gay, 16, at Sam Gay’s house in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister J.N. Rasberry performed the service in the presence of Sam Gay, Dallas Taylor and George Farmer,

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.

On 19 March 1918, Goldie Farmer, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Jesse and Blanch Farmer, married George McCoy in Richmond, Virginia.

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 25 November 1925, Herbert Ricks, 22, of Nash County married Goldie Farmer, 28, of Wilson in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister J.E. Kennedy performed the ceremony in the presence of Mance Gaston, Mrs. J.C Venters, and Mrs. Beatrice Holden.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1007 Carolina Street, rented at $13/month, cafe proprietor Herbert Ricks, 27; wife Goldie, 30, private cook; and daughter Gloria H., 4.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 807 Viola Street, widowed laundress Blanche Farmer, 67; sons Henry, 34, truck driver for wholesale grocery company, and Samuel, 25, janitor for retail department store; and grandchildren Windsor, 24, tobacco factory laborer, Turner G., 19, cafe cook, and Gloria Hagans, 13, and James H. Farmer, 6.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson City Directory: Farmer Blanche (c) h 807 Viola.

Blanch Farmer died 27 March 1959 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 July 1889 in Wilson County to Samuel Gay and Alice Bryant; resided at 807 East Viola Street; and was a widow. Goldie Ricks was informant.

Jeff David Farmer died 12 June 1961 at his home at 807 East Viola Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 October 1903 in Wilson County to Jeff David Farmer Sr. and Blanch Ella Gay; was widowed; and was a World War II veteran. Goldie Ricks of 1413 East Nash Street was informant.

Goldie Farmer Ricks died 8 September 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 January 1897 to Jefferson Farmer and Blanch Gay; resided at 108 Ashe Street, Wilson; and was a widow. Informant was Johnnie Lee Ward of Columbia, Maryland.

Many thanks for sharing these photos to Allen Moye, great-grandson of Blanch Gay Farmer.

“What in the hell you doing hauling my woman around?”

State v. Thomas Coleman, Emma Coleman   }

Tom Wilson – Testified that on one occasion last year he was passing the house of the female def’t Emma Coleman and saw the two defendants lying on the floor on a quilt. One of them Emma jumped up. He did not see what they were doing. Did not see anyone else about the house at that time. Tom is a married man and had been for a number of years. Emma has been married but is a widow. They are not married to each other. That he had frequently seen Tom at Emmas house – in day time – at night and coming away from there in the early mornings – about day brake. He could not say that he saw Tom go there any night and come away the next morning. He had not seen that but there one night and coming away another morning.

Louis Strickland – Said that there was a party on old Xmas 1912 night. A number of negroes there including both defts. That they sat by the fire place and Tom felt Emma’s breasts. That he had heard Tom say that Emma was his woman; that he looked out for her and provided for her and that he did not want her wasting his time with any other man.

M.H. Lamm – Testified to the dealings in the store. About Tom paying for provisions for Emma and bills charged to Emma amounting to 3.00 or 4.00.

J.P. Vick – Testified to seeing Tom coming out of Emmas house in early morning on several occasions. That was during the tobacco curing & also tobacco selling season. That Tom told hom Emma was his woman & that he looked out for her &c.

Sim Batchelor – Testified that one day last year the female def’t asked to ride with him to town on some business and he took her to Wilson & took her home again. That soon after that the male deft asked him what in the h___ he was doing hauling his woman around.

For Def.

Mr. Edwards – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. [general character] good.

Mr. Briggs – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. good.

Thos. Coleman – Emma’s money bought the provisions. She did not understand making change. The path from my house runs right by Emma’s house which I would use in going to the tobacco pack-house. X’d [cross-examined]. The money which paid her bills at the store her own money. I never beat Emma in my life about anything. Emma bought the “Estime” herself & wore it.

For Def.

Mr. Edwards – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. [general character] good.

Mr. Briggs – Def. Coleman’s gen. ch. good.

Thos. Coleman – Emma’s money bought the provisions. She did not understand making change. The path from my house runs right by Emma’s house which I would use in going to the tobacco pack-house. X’d [cross-examined]. The money which paid her bills at the store her own money. I never beat Emma in my life about anything. Emma bought the “Estime” herself & wore it.

Emma Coleman – Been the mother of 5 children. 3 living now. My husband was their father. Have never ridden with Mr. Sim Batchelor in my life. Have bought meat & bread from Mr. Lamm’s store. My money paid for it.

Lou Gay — Mother of Emma Coleman. Ed, her husband, died 3 miles from where Thos. Coleman lived. Afterwards I lived with her. We lived in the house that got burned. 2 rooms in house we lived in last year; only one bed room. Never saw Tom put his hands on Emma.

Mollie Coleman — Wife of male deft. Been married 22 years. Have 8 children. Louis Strickland came to my house in Feb, said do you know what they ketched all those peoples up & carried them off. He said it was about Tom [keeping?] Emma. My husband did not go away from home at night except in tobacco curing time and then not all of any one night.

Fannie Coleman — I was at that dance at old Xmas. Am 21 yrs. old. Not married. Have 2 children. Staid 5 weeks last year with my grandmother Wootten.

Alice Coleman — Daughter of male def. Remember that old Xmas night.

Alphonso Coleman — Present at old Xmas night party. Am Bro of the male def.

Justus Coleman — Def. is my uncle. Present old Xmas night.

Def’t Rests

For State

Lena Williams — Daughter of Dallas Williams.

Mr. Manner Lamm.

Mr. Vick — Recalled. Did Mollie Coleman make any statement to you as to the number of nights her husband had spent away from home during 1912? Def’s obj. over’d. Defts. except. (This evidence offered & allowed only against the male deft.) Mollie about Xmas was talking to me. Said Tom had been at home about 2 nights in the last month.  X’s. Ques. Who told you that Tom Coleman said your wife had been selling liquor? State obj. Sust’d. Def. except.Ques. Did not Tom Wilson a state’s witness give you that informantion? State obj. Sust’d. Defts. excepts. Same question as to Carley Holeman, M.H. Lamm, Louis Strickland, Sim Batchellor.

R.H. Braswell — Known Tom Coleman 18 years. Gen Char. Bad.

Walter Braswell — Same as above.


On 24 September 1890, Thomas Coleman, 21, of Oldfields, son of Squire Coleman and Nancy Farmer, married Mollie Woodard, 17, of Taylors, daughter of Ben and Clara Woodard, in Wilson township. Witnesses were J.W. Farmer, John Barnes and Annie Peacock.

Edwin Coleman, 20, son of Gray and Harriet Coleman, married Emma Gay, 19, daughter of Henry and Louisa Gay, on 11 October 1899 in Wilson township.

In the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Eddie Coleman, 24, and wife Emma, 22.

In the 1900 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Coleman, 34; wife Mollie, 24; and children Fannie, 10, Delany, 5, Allis, 4, and Nancy, 1 month.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Toad Town Path, widow Louisa Gay, 51, farm laborer; son Henry, 25, farm laborer; daughter Emma Coleman, 21, also a widow; and grandchildren Rosa, 7, Bertha, 5, and Frances Coleman, 4, and Lenord Williams, 10.

in the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on the Mill Path, farmer Thomas Coleman, 39; wife Mollie, 34; and children Fannie, 19, Lonnie, 14, Alace, 12, Nancy, 9, Johnnie, 8, Esquire, 5, Connie, 2, Neva and Eva, 1. Next door, Dallas Williams, 69; wife Sarah, 61; and children Minnie, 18, Lena, 16, and Henry, 24. [Also nearby, Ed Coleman’s parents and several other Coleman families. Though the file does not mention it, Thomas Coleman was, in fact, Edwin Coleman’s paternal uncle.]

Thomas Coleman died 1 December 1933 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born December 1862 in Wilson County to Squire J. and Nancy Roundtree Coleman; was married to Mollie Coleman; and worked as a farmer. Fannie Coleman of 115 West Walnut Street, Wilson, was informant.

Adultery Records, Miscellaneous Records, Records of Wilson County, North Carolina State Archives.

The obituary of Alice Bryant Gay.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 October 1938.

Sam Gay, son of Amos Thigpen and Harriet Gay, married Alice Bryant, daughter of Louisa Bryant, on 10 February 1870 in Wilson. P.E. Hines performed the ceremony.

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Samuel Gay, 24, wife Alice, 20, and brother Albert, 21.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm worker Samuel Gay, 27, wife Allice, 25, and children Blanch, 8, Louizah, 7, Edgar, 4, Charlie, 3, and Mamie, 1 month.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Sam Gay, 54; wife Alice, 50; and children Charlie C., 23, Edgar B., 25, Lucy, 17, Samuel, 14, Albert and Beatrice, 10, and Lily, 4.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Samuel Gay, 65, wife Alice, 55, and children Albert, 20, and Lilly, 15.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Alice Gay, 45; daughter Beatrice, 26; grandson Jerome Wood, 11; granddaughter Gereddine, 10; son Albert, 30; daughter-in-law Anabell, 24; grandsons Albert Jr., 4, and Jesse, 2; son-in-law Fredrick Bolling, 35; daughter Lillie, 23; and grandchildren Delma, 4, and Fredrick, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 623 Green, widow Annie B. Gay, 30, a laundress; husband Albert, 40, a bellboy; mother-in-law Alic, 73; and children Albert Jr., 14, Jessie, 11, Hal, 8, Samual, 6, Mirrian, 4, and Ralph, 2.

Alice Bryant Gay died 24 October 1938 in Wilson. Per her death certificate: she was born 1 January 1854 in Wilson County to Lousie Bryant of Goldsboro, North Carolina; was a widow; and resided at 402 North Reid Street, Wilson. Lucy Lewis of Newark, New Jersey, was informant.


Studio shots, no. 28: Ned and Louisa Gay Barnes family.

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Ned and Louisa Gay Barnes and their daughters Mattie Radcliffe Barnes Hines (1895-1922) and Alice Ida Barnes Bryant (1897-1969).

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Willis Barnes, 30; wife Cherry, 25; and children Rachael, 7, West, 5, Jesse, 2, and Ned, 5 months.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Willis Barnes, 42; wife Cherey, 20; stepdaughter Rachel Battle, 17; children Wesley, 15, Jesse, 13, Ned, 11, Eddie, 7, Mary Barnes, niece Ellen Battle, 2; and son Willey Barnes, 1.

On 1 April 1889, Jesse Barnes, 21, and Mary Mag Mercer, 19, were issued a marriage license in Wilson County. Harney Chatman, Baptist minister, performed the ceremony on 3 April 1889 in Wilson Town. Witnesses were Westley Barnes and Ned Barnes, Jesse’s brothers.

On 27 October 1891, J.T. Dean applied for a marriage license for Edward [Ned] Barnes, 22, of Wilson, son of Willis and Cherry Barnes, and Louisa Gay, daughter of Samuel and Alice Gay. A.M.E. Zion minister J.W. Levy officiated over the ceremony, which took place 29 October 1891 at Samuel Gay’s. Witnesses were S.H. Vick, Spencer Barnes, and Thomas Davis.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Ned Barnes, 30; wife Loisa, 27; and children Mattie R., 5, Alice I., 3, and Ned, 0. Ned was employed as a coachman for white manufacturer Roscoe Briggs, and the family lived on premises.

In 1903, Ned Barnes was a crucial eyewitness to a sensational murder involving prominent white Raleigh citizens.

In the 1910 census of Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina: at 707 West Street, Ned Bonds Sr., 37; wife Louise, 36; and children Mattie, 15, Ida, 12, Ned Jr., 9, Howard, 7, and Blonnie L., 2. Ned worked as “horseler” at an animal hospital. Louise reported 5 of 6 children living.

Ned Barnes died 1 December 1912, aged about 42, of acute uremia, at 707 South Saunders, Raleigh, Wake County. Per his death certificate, he was born in Wilson County to Willis Barnes and an unknown mother; was married; and worked as a porter in a club. Informant was Mattie Barnes. Ned was buried 2 December in Wilson.

Ned Barnes Jr. (1899-1931). Ned married Lelia Newton, daughter of Thomas and Carrie Newton, on 14 July 1920 in Wilson.

Benson N. Barnes (1921-2004), son of Ned Jr. and Lelia Newton Barnes. (Alice Barnes Bryant was his father’s sister.)

Ned Radcliff Barnes (1924-2002), son of Ned Jr. and Lelia Newton Barnes. (Louisa Barnes was, in fact, his grandmother.)

Photographs courtesy of Katie Chestnut Barnes (many thanks!); newspaper clippings from Wilson Daily Times.