grave marker

Lane Street Project: Season 3, January 28.

I live far from Wilson, and my schedule does not align with LSP workdays as often as I would like. I am grateful to be able to rely on the eyes, hands, and hearts of so many to make each day a success. Wilson native Jane Cooke Hawthorne, who first came out to work at Odd Fellows in Season 1, beautifully described her experience yesterday:
“Do you love a daffodil like I do? Spring’s first flowers often push through before the last frosts, their brilliant yellow trumpets announcing that a new season is on its way! They are a symbol of re-birth and resurrection — a sight for weary, winter jaded eyes. Daffodils were often planted in cemeteries and are sometimes called the ‘Cemetery Ladies’ — a nod towards their faithful and upright appearance among the headstones.
“Today I had the honor and privilege of working at the beautiful Odd Fellows Cemetery in my hometown of Wilson, and I was hoping that the daffodils would be blooming. Odd Fellows is an African-American Cemetery in East Wilson that is being resurrected by faithful people under the umbrella of the Lane Street Project. Mostly through volunteer work over the last two years, the project has reclaimed gravestones and other markers hidden by debris, vines and overgrowth, in some places as deep as two feet, after years of neglect. Our instructions were to be mindful of and to not disturb the daffodils that grow in the underbrush. Especially in African-American cemeteries, we were told, daffodils and other shrubs such as palmetto were used to mark the grave instead of a headstone when the family could not afford such a luxury. I wasn’t sure there’d be any daffodils, but when I found them blooming today, my heart was full.
“Here were the daffodils springing forth to say, ‘Here I am, friend! Here I am, family! Here I am!! I lived and worked and played and loved and welcomed each spring in Wilson! And I am so glad that you have found me! I am not forgotten! I am loved and remembered and cherished!’ My clippers moved quickly to free the vines around those daffodils, and my heart filled even more.
“Taking a break, I spoke in the most honest way, as only one can, with Castonoble Hooks, Lane Street Project’s cheerleader, poet laureate, and head of the project’s Senior Force. (I’m now a card-carrying member). I asked him, ‘Who owns this place after the efforts of the Senior Force, after the hard and dedicated work of Lisa, after the hard work of all the folks who have put in an hour or two or sixty? Who will own this place?’ ‘All of us,’ he said.
“All. Of Us.
“I think the daffodils are having their say. Come and help the Lane Street Project and let your heart be filled like mine was today.”
Thanks so much, Jane, for all you do to support Lane Street Project in word and deed!

Lane Street Project: an unexpected gift.

Last year, when someone accidentally toppled Henry Tart‘s magnificent obelisk, I despaired that resetting it would cost more than Lane Street Project’s meager coffers could ever disburse.

Today, then, when I read Billy Foster’s PM, I could hardly believe my eyes.

Here’s what Tart’s gray and white marble grave marker looked like yesterday.

And here it is after Foster Stone & Cemetery Care put it to rights.

Here’s the military marker for the grave of Corporal Willie Gay, the only known African-American Spanish-American war veteran buried in Wilson.

And here, released from a foot of soil:

I am deeply grateful to Billy Foster and Foster Stone & Cemetery Care for this generous gift to Odd Fellows Cemetery and Lane Street Project. We are working with him to identify our most pressing needs for repair and restoration and will raise funds to pay for his expert service.

Photos courtesy of Billy Foster.


We have seen here that Wilson’s Hannibal Lodge #1552 was not the only Odd Fellows lodge in Wilson County.

The three links engraved on the headstones of Gray Williams and Henderson Parker in William Chapel cemetery suggest an Odd Fellows lodge in Taylor township in far northwest Wilson County.

On 27 February 1900, the trustees of the Colored Odd Fellows paid Caswell F. and Eliza J. Finch $12.50 for a one-acre lot in Taylors township on the east side of the Wilson and Nash Road adjacent to the colored school lot. The deed was recorded on 10 March 1900 in Wilson County Register of Deeds in Deed Book 54, page 314. The Wilson and Nash Road was today’s N.C. Highway 58, and “the colored school lot” is probably a reference to Farmers Colored School, which was located just north of modern-day Silver Lake.

Gray Williams Oct 3 1882 Jul 12 1925 Lula Williams Born 1878 Jan 21 1923 Gone But Not Forgotten

Henderson Parker July 5, 1878 Sept 6, 1919

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022. 

Another grave marker artist, this one anonymous.

I have repeatedly gushed my admiration for the artistry of gravestone cutter Clarence B. Best. In William Chapel church cemetery, I noticed two headstones bearing the distinctive work of another artist, this one unknown. He worked in concrete, incising narrow, upright letters with oversized serifs into the face of each marker. These markers, created during the decade after World War II, also feature highly stylized floral designs.

William Wells July 30_1886 Oct. 25_1946 Gone But Not Forgotten

Walter Farr April 2_1888 Aug. 13_1955

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

The final resting place of the Brodie family.

Originally from Franklin County, North Carolina, the Brodies spent time in Nash County before settling in Taylor township, Wilson County, in the first decade of the 20th century. Several members of the family are buried in the cemetery of William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, a few miles west of Elm City.

Julia Brodie Oct. 17, 1867 Apr. 10, 1928. Peyton Brodie Mar. 1, 1862 July 19, 1930. Asleep in Jesus, blessed sleep.

Prosper Brodie Apr. 17, 1897 Oct. 1, 1918


In the 1870 census of Cypress Creek township, Franklin County, N.C.: farmer Sam Brodie, 50; wife Mariah, 30; and children Sam, 18, Berry, 16, Joice, 15, Theney, 13, Phil, 12, Peyton, 7, Susan, 5, Wash, 4, and Andrew, 7 months.

In the 1880 census of Harris township, Franklin County: farmer Samuel Brodie, 53; wife Maria, 39; children Peyton, 16, Susan, 14, James W., 13, Andrew, 11, Polus, 8, Emmer N., 6, Urnon T., 2, Robt. K.S., 1; and brother-in-law Mu N. Harris, 50. 

On 14 July 1888, Payton Brodie, 24, married Julia Perry, 22, in Castalia, Nash County. 

In the 1900 census of Castalia township, Nash County, N.C.: Paten Broddie, 36; wife Julia, 34; and children Thomas, 15; Chessin, 10; Annie B., 7, Sam, 6, Prosper, 4, and Delia, 2.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Farmers Mill Road or Nashville Road, farmer Payton Broadie, 47; wife Julia, 44; and children Thomas, 25, Samuel, 16, Prosper, 14, Adelia, 12, Odel, 10, William A., 5, and Annie M., 2.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Paton Brodie, 56; wife Julia, 53; and children Sammie, 24, Delia, 20, Odell, 17, William, 15, Annie, 12, and Naimie, 8.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Payton Browdy, 65; son William, 25; wife Maylinda, 20; daughters Pearlie, 22, and Maomie, 18; and granddaughter Dortha L., 1.

Prosper Brodie registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 17 April 1897 in Nash County; resided at Route 2, Elm City; his father was born in Franklin County; he was employed by Walter Bridger, Elm City; and his nearest relative was father Peyton Brodie, Elm City. 

Payton Brodie died 17 July 1930 in Taylors township. Per his death certificate, he was 58 years old; was born in Franklin County to Sam Brodie and Maria Brodie; was the widower of Julia Brodie; and had been engaged in farming. William Brodie was informant. 

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

Lane Street Project: an anonymous grave.

I have only seen two of these small metal temporary markers in Odd Fellows Cemetery. In both, the paper insert that identified the decedent had long disintegrated. I assume these burials were among the last in the cemetery and date to the 1950s or early 1960s.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2020.

Lane Street Project: Daniel and Fannie Blount Vick.

The double headstone of Samuel H. Vick‘s parents Daniel and Fannie Blount Vick marks two of the oldest graves in Odd Fellows Cemetery.

The headstone was cast in what I call the Concrete Stipple style. Disturbingly, it was used as target practice at some point, and bullets took a chunk out of its top left corner and left a pockmark that obliterates Fannie Vick’s death date. (That date appears to start with “18,” but she was alive at the time the 1900 census was taken.)


Daniel Vick and Fannie Blount registered their six-year cohabitation in Wilson County on August 31, 1866. [Blount, for certain, and most likely Vick, arrived in Wilson from neighboring Nash County shortly after the Civil War.]

In 1867, Fannie Blount Vick’s mother, Violet Blount, filed letters with the Goldsboro Field Office of the Freedmen’s Bureau opposing the apprenticeship of her grandsons Marcus and Oscar to Benjamin H. Blount, their former owner. She named Daniel Vick as a suitable “master” for the boys, who were the sons of his wife Fannie’s deceased sister Margaret.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: baker Samuel Williams, 30, carpenter Daniel Vick, 25, wife Fannie, 24, children Samuel, 8, Earnest, 3, and Nettie M., 5, plus Violet Drake, 52.

In 1877, Vick purchased one acre of land just east of Wilson town limits, his first recorded real estate acquisition. He went on to purchase additional land along what is now Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: grist mill worker Daniel Vick, 38, wife Fannie, 35, children Samuel, 16, Nettie, 14, Earnest Linwood, 12, Henry, 10, and James O.F. Vick, 8, plus Frank O., 20, and Marcus W. Blount, 26.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter Daniel Vick, 52; wife Fannie, 52; and granddaughters Annie, 8, and Nettie B. Vick, 6, and Mamie Parker, 20, laundress. Vick reported that both his parents were born in Virginia.

Lane Street Project: Season 2, number 2.

The original bulbs of these daffodils were planted in Odd Fellows Cemetery 70-125 years ago.

My visits to Wilson have not generally aligned well with LSP clean-ups, but this one did, and I was elated to join the last Black History Month effort at Odd Fellows. I am grateful to everyone who came out, including the cadre of Wilson Police Department officers that showed up early and stayed late to fell dead pines in the woods and clear winter’s dead weeds from the front; the pastors and members of Saint Timothy’s and Saint Mark’s Episcopal Churches; Our Wilson Mentoring; the Wilson Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (as always!); Wilson Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority; Total Impact Church (who brought barbecue lunches!); WhirliDogs; Seeds of Hope; and — surprise! — a group of students from East Carolina University’s Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, who came to Wilson to work at Seeds of Hope’s community garden and were steered over to Odd Fellows to learn a little Wilson history and help us out! 

A cautionary word, though. Safety first. Please, PLEASE don’t lean on monuments. After 100+ years, many are unstable. Henry Tart‘s obelisk, the largest in Odd Fellows, was accidentally toppled Saturday. Fortunately, no one was standing behind it when it fell, as they would have been seriously injured. The obelisk was not damaged, but will have to remain where it is until we can secure professional help to stabilize the base and reset the shaft and pyramidion.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2022.

Lane Street Project: an unknown burial.

Volunteers uncovered this concrete headstone and vault cover in Odd Fellows Cemetery during the season’s first clean-up. They lie about ten feet from Lula Dew Wootens grave. The vault cover is unmarked, but the marker bears a very faint inscription that I set forth below as best I can decipher it. The use of a vault cover dates the burial very late in Odd Fellows’ period of activity, i.e. the 1950s or very early 1960’s, which the inscription seems to bear out. 


JULY 16 18 

2 1960

Photo re Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2022.

The resting place of Joseph Batts.

Joseph Batts‘ grave marker is unique in Rest Haven Cemetery. A small metal plaque etched with his name in Gothic script is affixed to a slab of concrete and flanked by his hand-engraved initials. Beneath, a worn inscription notes his birth and death dates, but they are illegible. Without this information, I am unable to identify him specifically.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2021.