grave marker


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.

The Jacksons’ resting place.

The Clarence Best-carved double headstone of Benjamin and Annie F. Jackson stands over their graves in Rest Haven Cemetery.


In the 1900 census of New Bern, Craven County, N.C.: baker Edward Jackson, 58; wife Sophia, 46; sons Benjamin, 10, and George, 7; and nephew Hallie Taylor, 20.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wagon driver John W. Farmer, 37; wife Edmonia, 33; and children George, 13, Paul, 12, Annie, 9, Mary, 7, and Fannie, 5.

In the 1910 census of New Bern, Craven County, N.C.: baker Edward Jackson, 56; wife Sophia, 54; and children Ida J., 37, seamstress — dressmaking; Benjamin, 21, butcher at meat market; George, 19, delivery boy for retail dry goods store; and Garfield, 22.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: express wagon driver John Farmer, 48; wife Edmonia, 41, a laundress; and children George, 23, factory laborer; Paul, 19, hotel servant; Annie, 18; Mary, 16; Fannie, 14; Arthur, 8; Melton, 6; and William, 4.

On 21 August 1917, Ben H. Jackson, 28, of Wilson, son of Ed and Sophia Jackson of New Bern, married Annie Lee Farmer, 26, of Wilson, daughter of John Wash and Edmonia Farmer, at the residence of the bride’s father. Walter Maynor applied for the license, and Presbyterian minister H.B. Taylor performed the ceremony in the presence of Emily M. Daniels, Cornelia E. Maynor, and S.B. Thomas. [Note that the officiant, Halley B. Taylor, was Benjamin Jackson’s first cousin and had lived with the Jackson family in New Bern at the time of the 1900 census.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Vick Street, barber Ben Jackson, 30, and wife Annie, 28.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jackson Benjamin H barber W M Hines h 721 e Green

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jackson Benj H (c) barber h 721 e Green

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jackson Annie (c) cook h 721 e Green

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jackson Benj H (c; Annie) barber Wm Hines h 1212 Washington

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1212 Washington Street, owned and valued at $1500, barber Benjiman Jackson, 39; wife Annie, 38; and daughter Devaria, 4.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1212 Washington Street, paying $10/month in rent, Robert Shaw, 30, presser at Moore’s Cleaners; wife Bertha, 25; and roomer Ben Jackson, 50, barber. [What happened here? Where was Annie Jackson? If Ben Jackson was a roomer, who actually owned the house at 1212? I suspect this is an enumerator error.]

Benjamin Harrison Jackson died 24 October 1951 in Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 November 1890 in New Bern, N.C., to Edward Jackson and Sophie [maiden name unknown]; lived at 1212 E. Washington Street; and worked as a barber.

Annie Farmer Jackson died 8 February 1983 in New York.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2021.

The mystery of Julia Boyette Bailey’s grave.

Julia wife of Moses Bailey Born July 25, 1832 Died May 23, 1869 A tender mother and faithful friend

Brian Grawburg shared this astonishing photograph recently — the headstone of Julia Bailey, who was born enslaved in 1832 and died in 1869, just four years after the Civil War ended. Her grave marker, beautifully and professionally engraved, may mark the earliest African-American burial I have seen in Wilson County, and its discovery was serendipitous. While kayaking on Buckhorn Reservoir, Al Letchworth spotted a broken headstone in the water. Getting out to explore further, he found Julia Bailey’s marker. Letchworth mentioned his discovery to his friend Guy Pittman, who knew of Grawburg’s project documenting obscure and forgotten Wilson County cemeteries. Julia Bailey was almost certainly buried in a family cemetery, and it seems tragically likely that at least part of that cemetery was lost in 1974, when Contentnea Creek was dammed to create the reservoir, or in 1999, when a new dam was constructed downstream.

What do we know about Julia Bailey and her family?

A 1921 Wilson Daily Times piece about the death of her son Nathan Boyette offers another fortuitous glimpse of her life:

Nathan Boyette “was born on September 18th, 1850 and was a slave belonging to Jimmy Boyette living about twelve miles from Wilson in the Old Field Township. At the close of the Civil War Uncle Nathan was a husky boy just fifteen years of age. He had seven brothers and three sisters, one sister being older, Nathan being the next oldest child. His mother was name[d] Julie, and evidently had a very strong character. She could read and write, and she taught Nathan and the other children to read and write. …”

The 1860 slave schedule of Oldfields township, Wilson County, lists James Boyett as the owner of eight enslaved people: a 28 year-old woman, who was likely Julia; six boys aged 19, 12, 9, 7, 4 and 2; and a girl aged 8. The nine year-old boy was probably Nathan. (Or perhaps the 7 year-old, with the 8 year-old girl his older sister.) [Like most people enslaved in small units, Julia’s husband Moses Bailey had a different owner and lived apart from his family.]

On 15 August 1866, Moses Bailey and Julia Boyett registered their 15-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

Per her headstone (which was probably placed long after her death, see Lula Wooten’s similar marker), Julia Bailey died in 1869.

In the 1870 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Moses Baily, 51, and children Allen, 15, John, 13, Patrick, 10, Yamah, 5, and William, 8. [Next door: white farmer Neeham Bailey, 67, and wife Peninah, 38. The 1860 slave schedule lists Needham Bailey with four slaves, but none of an age to be Moses. However, in 1860 Levi Bailey, Needham’s close neighbor, owned a 40 year-old man among his eleven slaves.]

In the 1870 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Alfred Rice, 40; wife Amy, 30; and son Thomas, 13, with Gray Baily, 24, all farm laborers. Next door: Violet Baily, 45, and Isabel Baily, 12. [“Emma” Bailey and Alfred Rice also registered a cohabitation in 1866. Gray Bailey was born to Moses Bailey’s earlier relationship with Isabel Bailey, and it is likely that Amy was his sister. Mary Bailey, daughter of Moses Bailey and Hannah Bailey, who married Hilliard Bailey in 1868, may have been their half-sister.]

On 21 April 1870, John Boykin, son of Rose Boykin, married Dicy Baily, daughter of Moses and Julia Baily, in Wilson County.

On 5 January 1871, Moses Bailly, son of Benja Bryant and Juda Jones, married Isabella Renfrow, daughter of Mingo Hinnant and Patsy Deans, at Moses Bailey’s in Wilson County.

On 24 December 1875, Allen Baily, 20, married Harriet Taylor, 16, in Oldfields township. Minister Elisha Horton [early pastor of Rocky Branch Church of Christ] preformed the ceremony in the presence of H. Powell, R. Jones, and Gray Bailey.

On 5 March 1879, Patrick Baily, 21, married Atsey Sanders, 19, of Nash County, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Moses Bailey, about 60; wife Isabel, about 45; and son William, 15.

Also, in the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Allen Baily, 22; wife Harriett, 21; and children Cora A., 4, Lucy A., 4, and Dortch, 1, sharing a household with Randall Hinnant, 33; wife Angeline, 26; and children J. Thomas, 10, James H., 8, Lilly Ann, 6, Roscoe F., 4, and Hugh N., 7 months.

Also, in the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: laborer Patrick Bailey, 19; wife Atsy, 20; and son Arthur M., 6 months.

Also, in the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John Boykin, 26; wife Dicey, 25; and children Julian, 8, Rear Ann, 7; John C., 5; W. Brogan, 3; and Sallie A., 9 months.

On 23 February 1882, Nathan Boyett, 31, of Wayne County, son of Moses Bayley and Julia Bayley of Wilson County, married Charity Crow, 27, of Wayne County, daughter of Jorden and Jane Crow of Wayne County, in Mount Olive, Brogden township, Wayne County, North Carolina.

Gray Bailey died 7 July 1914 in Oldfields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 March 1845 to Moses Bailey and Vilet Bailey; and was buried at New Vester.

Dicy Boykin died 6 October 1929 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 66 years old; was born in Wilson County to William Bailey and Julia [last name unknown]; was married to John Boykin; and worked as a housewife. Daughter Sudie Woodard, Smithfield, was informant.

Nathan Boyett died 2 June 1937 in Wilson, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 February 1850 in Wilson County to Moses Bailey and Julia Boyett; was married to Emma Boyett; lived at 115 West Walnut Street, Wilson; and worked as a laborer.


While researching the lives of Julia Boyette Bailey, her husband, and children, I came across this Notice of Intention to Disinter, Remove and Reinter Graves published several times in the spring of 1998 by R. Ward Sutton, a Rocky Mount, N.C., funeral director:

Wilson Daily Times, 15 April 1998.

This notice raises more questions than it answers.

What it tells us:

  • the cemetery was located on property then owned by Sudie Bailey Sullivan, who inherited said property from Levi T. Bailey. (Note, per the referenced deed, in 1974 this property was subject to a condemnation action and is shown on the Buckhorn Reservoir Land Acquisition Map filed in Plat Book 13 at pages 73-76);
  • Levi T. Bailey (1873-1931) was the grandson of the Levi Bailey whom I identified above as the likely owner of Moses Bailey;
  • of approximately 18-20 graves in the cemetery, only two were marked — those of Julia Bailey and Andrew W. Tarell;
  • Andrew W. Terrell was a son of Alonzo and Jane Cooke Terrell, who were both born in Wake County, N.C., and settled in what is now the Buckhorn area before 1880;
  • all of the graves in this cemetery were to be removed and reinterred in Bailey Cemetery, Bailey, Nash County, N.C. (about 5 miles north);
  • a record of the reburials was to be filed in the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

What it doesn’t:

  • did this cemetery start as a burial ground for enslaved people that was turned over to the Bailey family as a family cemetery?
  • why was Andrew Terrell buried there in 1905, rather than in New Vester Missionary Baptist Church’s cemetery, where his father Alonzo was buried in 1918 and several other Terrells later? (Though New Vester’s roots date to the slavery era, perhaps it did not establish its cemetery until much later. The earliest markers bear 1911 as a death date.)
  • is Andrew Terrell’s marker the broken stone that first drew Al Letchworth’s attention?
  • digital records for Bailey Cemetery show graves for neither Bailey nor Terrell/Tarell, and why was Bailey cemetery chosen at all (rather than, say, New Vester)? Bailey Cemetery was white-only for nearly all of its existence and is in Nash County.
  • the cemetery is on land condemned in 1974 for the first Buckhorn Dam, and disinterment was necessitated by the expansion of Buckhorn Reservoir in 1999, but if Julia Boyette and Andrew Terrell’s graves were removed, why are their headstones still in the woods?