The last will and testament of James Artis.

James Artis‘ February 1930 will was devoted primarily to paying his debts to those who cared for or helped him during his final illness.

He directed that Dr. Matthew S. Gilliam be paid from insurance proceeds for “rendering me medical service, furnishing me medicine, paying my room rent, boarding me and furnishing me what ever I need as long as I live.”

Artis then directed that Julia Johnson‘s bill for “cooking, washing and looking after me” be paid, but only after his burial expenses were paid and lawyer Glenn S. McBrayer was paid $50 for handling his affairs.

If there was any money left, he directed that his unnamed daughter receive two dollars, and anything after that was to go to his unnamed wife.


In the 1870 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: Louisa Artis, 21; husband James, 25, works on street; and children Adeline, 5, and James, 1 month.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: James Artice, 39, laborer; wife Louzah, 26; and children Adeline, 13, James, 10, Isadora, 8, Effie, 2, and Minnie, 1.

On 10 October 1902, James Artis, 29, of Wilson County, son of James and Louisa Artis, married Armelia Speight, 30, of Wilson County, daughter of Rufus Speight and Tempsy Speight [she, alive and living in Peterburg, Virginia]. Richard Renfrow applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister F.M. Davis performed the ceremony at Jane Branch’s residence in Wilson in the presence of C.R. Cannon, H.S. Phillips, and Jane Branch.

Blount Artis died 24 April 1916 in Boon Hill township, Johnston County. Per his death certificate, he was about 16 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jim Artis and Amelia Artis; was single; and worked as a clerk in a drugstore. Charles Gay was informant.

Amelia Artis appears in the 1912, 1916, 1928, and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory. James Artis is listed in none. Amelia Artis worked variously as a laundress, cook, factory hand, and domestic, and lived at 121 Ash Street, 512 South Street, 117 North East Street, and 810 East Nash Street. [The couple seems to have separated early in the marriage, though they reunited long enough to appear in the same household in 1920.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 121 Ash Street, barber Jim Ardis, 30; wife Amelia, 28; and daughter Amelia, 14. [Jim and Amelia’s ages are off by twenty years.]

James Artis died 5 March 1930 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was born in Wilson to James Artis of Wilson County and Louise Faison of Duplin County, N.C; was married to Amelia Artis; and lived at 210 Manchester. He was buried in Rountree [Odd Fellows] cemetery. Amelia Artis, 112 East Street, was informant.

Amelia Speight Artis’ broken grave marker in Odd Fellows Cemetery.

I found the headstones of Amelia Artis, Blount Artis (also known as Rufus Artis), and Amelia’s mother Tempsy Speight in a pile with two dozen other headstones in Odd Fellows cemetery. The locations of their graves are unknown. I have not found a marker for James Artis, though he is surely buried there.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2022.

Near murder.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 February 1917.

  • Clarence Carter — possibly, but not likely, Clarence L. Carter.
  • George Shaw — George Shaw registered for the World War I draft in 1917 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 June 1889 in Johnston County, N.C.; lived on Viola Street, Wilson; had a wife and child; and his occupation was “loafering & sick.” He had “1 bad eye — blind in it.”
  • Dr. Gilliam — Matthew S. Gilliam.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

805 East Nash Street

The eleventh in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.


As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1922; 1 [sic, 2]; Dr. Matthew Gilliam house; one of the district’s fine Colonial Revival houses, including typical cubic form, hip roof, and simple detail; distinguished by wraparound porch wit classical columns; Gilliam was a physician and owned rental property on Nash and Ashe Streets.”

Dr. Gilliam died of knife wounds sustained when he confronted one of his tenants. 805 East Nash Street has long been occupied by Edwards Funeral Home, which added a wing on the east side of the house.

In observance of Veterans Day.


Wilson Daily Times, 21 March 1911.

On 12 June 1866, Richard Pate married Rebecca Daniel in Wayne County.

In the 1870 census of Goldsboro township, Wayne County: farm laborer Richard Pate, 37, wife Becky, 32, and daughter Polly, 12. [Next door was a household headed by white farmer Brtant Pate, 48, and nearby were other white Pates. Perhaps Richard’s former owner was one.]

In the 1880 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: Richard Pate, 36, wife Rebecca, 36, and daughter(?) Trecinda, 3.

In the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Pate, 59, and wife Rebecca, 57.

In the 1910 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Pate, 74, wife Rebecca, 72, and grandchildren Louis Daniel, 30, Roscoe Barnes, 12, and Leanne Barnes, 10.

Richard Pate died 21 March 1915 in Crossroads township. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1855, worked as a farmer, and was buried in the Pete Daniels graveyard. William H. Pate was informant.



Wilson Daily Times, 14 March 1919.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: printing office laborer Charlie Thomas, 49, wife Sarah, 44, and children Elton, 20, hack driver, Lizzie, 18, carpenter (?), Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 18 months. Elton Thomas died 15 December 1970 in Goldsboro, aged 79.

Dave Barnes was the son of Dave and Della Hines Barnes. He died 12 May 1966 at the Veterans Hospital in Durham, North Carolina.

John Parker Battle was the son of Parker and Ella Burston Battle. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: foundry laborer Parker Battle, 54, wife Ella, and children Roberta, 24, a teacher, Grace, 22, a factory laborer, and John, 19.

Charlie Austin was, in fact, Charles Alston. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer James H. Alston, 29, wife Martha, 28, and children Eula Lee, 6, and Charley, 4. Charles S. Alston eventually migrated to Newark, New Jersey, where he was living when he registered for the draft of World War II.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Richard Parker, 73, wife Lottie, 71, daughter Elizabeth, 27, son David, 28, and grandchildren Moses, 10, and William Henry, 8.


World War I draft registration card of Moses Parker.



News & Observer (Raleigh), 2 August 1919.

Charles Barnes was the son of Wesley and Ella Mercer Barnes. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on the N.&S. Railroad, drayman West Barnes, 22, wife Ella, 47, laundress, and children Sylvester, 17, drayman, Viola, 15, cook, and Charlie, 13, laborer at wholesale store, plus son-in-law James Watson, 23, drayman, wife Lucy, 22, cook, and children West, 4, and Lucy, 3 months. Charlie Barnes died of tuberculosis at an Army hospital in Asheville.



New York Age, 8 August 1942.

Matthew Stanley Gilliam Jr. was the son of Dr. Matthew and Annie Davis Gilliam.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: filling station attendant Herman Gilliam, 20; his widowed mother Annie, 48, a cook in a private home; and brothers Charles, 28, a waiter at Cherry Hotel, Stanley, 26, a teacher, and George, 22, a janitor at Carolina Theatre.


World War II draft registration card of Matthew S. Gilliam.

M.S. Gilliam died of a heart attack at a Veterans Administration hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, on 7 March 1978. He was 64 years old.

U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line],; U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 [database on-line],

A quarrel over house rent.

San Antonio Register 8 5 1932 MS Gilliam cut by Hargrave

San Antonio Register, 5 August 1932.


Pittsburgh Courier, 6 August 1932.

Sometime between 1910, when he and Annie Gilliam appear in the census of Plymouth, Washington County, and 1912, Dr. Matthew Stanley Gilliam moved his family and practice to Wilson. The city directory that year lists Dr. Gilliam’s address (probably that of his office) at 532 East Nash Street. Later directories place his office at 516 East Nash and his home at 805 East Nash Street (now occupied by Edwards Funeral Home). The inventory list accompanying the Nomination Form for designation for East Wilson as a National Historic District notes that Gilliam owned rental property in the 1300 block of East Nash and on Ashe Street. Presumably, it was in one of these houses that Gilliam had his fatal encounter with Andrew Hargrave.


Interestingly, Gilliam’s death certificate lists his “incised wound of chest” only as a contributory cause of death, with chronic nephritis (kidney disease) as primary, though his death was also described as a homicide resulting from an attack that took place on his own property.