gravestone

The Harts’ resting place.

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A photograph does not do justice to these unique matching headstones in Rest Haven cemetery. The inset is etched black glass. Tempie Ann Hart‘s shows a regularity that suggests it was machine-made. Ben Hart‘s, however, with its pointed-tail 9’s and serifed 7’s, bears the unmistakable imprint of craftsman Clarence B. Best. Though the insets have cracked, their lettering still darkly gleams in sunlight.

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In the 1870 census of Walnut Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Wiley Hart, 47; wife Chaney, 33; and children Susan, 13, James, 12, Lucius, 11 (described as “idiotic”), Wiley, 5, and Benjamin, 3.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Willie Hart, 57; wife Chaney, 43; children Susan, 24, James, 23, Willie, 15, Ben, 13, Epsy, 8, and Tildy, 6; and nephew Willie Killebrew, 15. Willie and Chaney reported suffering from dysentery.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Stephen T. Jones, 25; wife Fortune, 22; and daughters Susan, 4, and Tempy A., 2.

Ben Hart, 31, son of Wiley Hart and Chaney Hart, married Tempy Joyner, 20, daughter of Forten Joyner, on 6 June 1900 in Toisnot township, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Benjamin Hart, 32; wife Tempy, 25; children Hattie, 5, and Grover, 2; grandchildren [niece and nephews] Edwin, 17, George, 12, and Chaney, 11; and grandmother [mother] Chaney Hart, 65.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wells Daws Avenue, Benjamin Heart, 43; wife Tempy, 33; children John L., 8, Willie B., 6, Dicy A., 5, Mattie, 3, and George, 1; wife’s children Hattie, 13, and Grover Johnson, 10; nephew Dallis Locus, 11; and mother Chanie Heart, 73.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson-Tarboro Road, farmer Ben Hardt, 50; wife Tempy, 45; children John L., 18, Willie, 16, Dicie, 14, Mattie, 12, George, 10, Mary, 8, and Effie, 4. Next door, Grover Hart, 21, wife Mammie, 21, and son William, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Ben Hart, 63; wife Tempie, 51; and children George, 21, Effie, 15, and [grandson] Ben Jr., 7.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ben Hart, 70; wife Tempie, 62; nephew Aaron Hinnant, 18; son-in-law Ernest Parker, 23; daughter Effie, 24; and granddaughter Elouise, 6.

Tempie A. Hart died 9 July 1940 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; was born in Wilson County to Steve Jones and Forneighny Jones; and was married to Ben Hart.

Ben Hart died 7 November 1951 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 March 1881 in Edgecombe County to Wiley Hart; was a widower; resided at 1200 Washington Street, Wilson. Informant was Rev. J.L. Hart, 1200 Washington Street.

Willie Brown Hart died 2 April 1956 in Portsmouth, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 January 1906 in North Carolina to Ben Hart and Tempie Ann Jones; was married; and worked as a janitor at City Treading Plant. Informant was George Hart, 104 North Reid Street.

Grover Lee Hart died 1 November 1958 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 August 1898 in Wilson County to Ben Hart Sr. and Tempie Ann Jones; was engaged in farming; lived in Elm City; and was married to Mamie Hart.

Hattie Pitt died 12 June 1962 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 January 1897 in Wilson County to Ben Hart and Tempie A. Jones; she was a widow; and she resided at 1306 Washington Street. Mrs. Festee Cotton, 1306 Washington, was informant.

John L. Hart died 6 February 1963 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 28 January 1901 in Wilson County to Benjamin Hart and Temie Ann Jones; was a minister; lived at 1200 Washington Street; and was married to Elouise Hart.

George Hart died 30 September 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1911 to Ben Hart and Tempie Jones; worked as a cabdriver; resided at 104 North Reid, Wilson; and was married to Lutoria Hinnant Hart.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.

Wilsons of Wilson.

Though there is only one individual headstone, this family plot in Rest Haven cemetery likely holds the remains of several members of the John Adam Wilson and Mollie Newsome Wilson family.

On 13 July 1893, Adam Wilson, 26, married Mollie Newsome, 19, in Wayne County.

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Adam Wilson, 34; wife Mollie, 27; and children Leonard, 5, Nina, 4, Adam, 2, and Zilphia, 1 month; and John Locus, 20, boarder. [Locus was the son of Adam Wilson’s sister Louisa Wilson Locus.]

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Adam Wilson, 44; wife Mollie, 36; and children Lenna, 15, Nina, 14, Adam J., 12, Zilpha A., 10, Sarah P., 8, Bunna, 6, Hurman, 4, William H., 2, and James J., 8 months.

Adam Wilson has two death certificates — (1) Adam Wilson died 30 October 1916 at the State Hospital in Fork township, Wayne County; he was 51; his regular residence was in Wilson County; and he was a carpenter, and (2) Adam Wilson did 31 October 1916 in Wilson; he was about 51; he was born in Wayne County to John Wilson and Zilfie Artis; he was a carpenter; and informant was Mollie Wilson of Wilson. [J. Adam Wilson was the brother of Elizabeth Wilson Reid.]

Fredrick Odel Wilson died 19 May 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 December 1916 in Wilson County to Adam Wilson and Mollie Newsome, both born in Wayne County. He died of ileocolitis, and Mollie Wilson was informant.

John Adam Wilson registered for the World War II draft in Newport News, Virginia, in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 25 February 1899; resided at 2131-22nd Street, Newport News; worked as a carpenter for Boyle-Robertson Construction Company; and his nearest Relative was Mollie Wilson of Wilson, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, Mollie Wilson, 46; son Lennie, 25, house carpenter; daughter-in-law Georgia, 23; grandson Lennie Jr., 2; and children John A., 22, house carpenter; Annie D., 19, Sarah, 17, Bunyon, 16, Hirmon, 14, William H., 12, James J., 10, and Ire, 7.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, owned and valued at $2000, widow Nolly Wilson, 54, laundress; son John B., 20, theatre janitor; daughter Irene, 17; and lodgers Mollie Zackery, 30, nurse; Blonnie Zackery, 22, cook; and Earl Zackery, 44 barber. [This entry is riddled with errors. Nolly Wilson was in fact Mollie Wilson, and Mollie Zackery (who was male, not female) was Nolly Zachary, who was a barber, not a nurse. Earl Zachary, son of Nolly and Blonnie Barnes Zachary’s son, and was 4 years old in 1930. Also, it is not clear who “John B. Wilson” is, unless this is a misnomer for son James J. Wilson.]

In the 1930 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: at 10 Burnett Street, apartment janitor Leonard Wilson, 34; wife Georgia, 33; brother Herman, 21, lather; and children Leonard Jr., 11, Elma, 10, Ernest, 8, and Toney Lee, 6. All were born in North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Viola Street, owned and valued at $1800, widow Mollie Wilson, 66; fish market owner Dorphus Williams, 61, roomer; and father James Newsome, 86.

Mollie Wilson died 30 January 1952 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 September 1875 in Wayne County to James Newsome and Penina Artis; was the widow of John A. Wilson; and resided at 301 North Vick. Informant was Irene Sherrod, 302 North Vick.

The graveyard artistry of Clarence Best, pt. 3.

I’ve written here of Clarence B. Best, the marble cutter whose custom gravestones can be found in cemeteries across Wilson County and beyond. Here’s more, all in Rest Haven cemetery.

  • Joseph Earl Mercer, died 1969. Apparently, a young man who loved cars.
  • Clifton L. Howard, died 1969. Best made gravestones affordable by offering customers damaged or repurposed markers such as this one, which appears to be the top portion of a larger piece.
  • Ruby M. Ellis Opie, died 1965, and Charles E. Ellis, died 1964. THEY WAS AN AFFECTIONATE SON & DAUGHTER.
  • Charlie H. Thomas, 1965. Modeled after the white marble markers provided by the military to veterans.
  • Johnnie G. Baker, died 1962. GOD LOVES LITTLE CHILDREN.
  • Rev. Nebraska H. Dickerson, died 1969. To his oft-used dogwood and cross motifs, Best added an open book.
  • Dora M. Hoskins, died 1963. Past Matron, Order of Eastern Star. DIEING IS BUT GOING HOME.
  • William Earl Artis, died 1961. Inclusion of his mother Cora Dawes’ name is unusual as is the near-italicization of the date lines.
  • James Powell, died 1939. DEAR FATHER. GOD FINGER TOUCHED HIM AND HE SLEPT.

Applications for military headstones, no. 2.

  • Admire Zimmerman

In the 1900 census of Philadelphia, Darlington County, South Carolina: farmer Ceasar Zimmerman, 28; wife Irene, 23; and children Leila, 7, Admire, 3, Lillie A., 1, and George, 2 months.

In the 1910 census of Lamar, Darlington County, South Carolina: farmer Cesare Zimmerman, 38; wife Rena, 33; and children Leila, 17, Admire, 12, Lily, 11, Shepherd, 9, Eulis, 7, Charlie, 6, Caesar, 4, Grant, 2, and N. Efether, 11 months.

On 1 July 1920, Sheppard Zimmerman, 22, of Wilson, son of Caesar and Irene Zimmerman, married Florence Howard, 18, of Taylor township, daughter of Deal and Nancy Howard. Admire Zimmerman applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony at Wilson County Court House in the presence of David Woodard, B.E. Howard and Admire Zimmerman.

On 10 July 1920, Admire Zimmerman, 23, of Elm City, son of Caesar and Irene Zimmerman, married Viola Wilson [Williams], 24, of Wilson, daughter of Richard and Martha Jane Williams, in Elm City. Witnesses were David Woodard, J.A. Anderson, and Sid Laws.

On 28 July 1927, Admire Zimmerman, 27, married Alma Dock, 18, in Wilson. Jim Dock, Lillie Dock and G.W. Kinlaw witnessed.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: pubic service laborer Admire Zimmerman, 47; wife Kattie, 37; and children Junior, 14, Mary, 12, and Shirley, 3. The family had lived in Richmond, Virginia, in 1935. Next door: Baptist preacher Ceasar Zimmerman, 68, and wife Irene, 65.

On 5 April 1956, Admire Zimmerman, 63, son of Cecil and Irene Zimmerman, married Ava Gardner, 66, daughter of Stephen and Hattie Roberson Owens, in Wilson.

Admire Zimmerman died 23 February 1962 at 616 Manchester Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 May 1896 in Darlington, S.C., to Ceasar Zimmerman and Irene Jarrell; was a widower; and was a laborer. Informant was Caesar Zimmerman, 900 Woodard Avenue, Washington, D.C.

  • Jack Washington

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Jack Washington died 23 November 1962 at his 1109 Woodard Street Extension residence. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 August 1884 in Tampa, Florida, to George Washington and Cecil (last name unknown); was married to Daisy Washington; and was a laborer.

Cutt Davis died 9 August 1952 in Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born 28 September 1888 in South Carolina to Berry Davis; worked as a shoemaker; resided at 803 East Nash Street; and was buried at Rest Haven. Informant was Thomas F. Davis of Washington, D.C.

  • Ned Barnes

Ned Barnes died 14 November 1960 at 1608 Washington Street Extension, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 February 1896 in Wilson County to Jessie R. and Sary Barnes; resided at Route 4, Wilson; was a plasterer; and was a widower. Frank Barnes, 308 Ward Boulevard, was informant.

  • John T. Barnes

“I have respect for my father and mother.”

What is now called Rountree Cemetery first caught wider Wilson’s attention in February 1989 when the Daily Times printed a full-page feature. I’ve abstracted the piece, with some commentary, below:

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1989. (Please click image to enlarge.)

“Vick Cemetery is just one of several Lane Street cemeteries being used as trash dumps, but a small group of people want to change all that.”

Ben Mincey Jr., [who is in his 70s and] whose father is buried in the old Odd Fellows Cemetery directly north of and adjacent to Vick cemetery, is trying to get help for both cemeteries.

Councilman A.P. Coleman discussed the cemeteries with City Manager Cyrus Brooks and suggested Mincey seek grants from historic societies or other groups. Brooks said he was aware of the situation at the Vick Cemetery but “had no solutions and had directed inquiries to the [Cemetery] Commission,” over which the city has no control.

Mincey thinks the city or commission should help clean both cemeteries and notes that Vick deeded the property to the city in 1913. With volunteers and hired help, Mincey has cut down and burned off much of overgrowth in Odd Fellows and is trying to remove the accumulated trash, which includes appliances, bed frames, rotting clothing, dead animals wrapped in plastic bags, tires, and bottles.

Mincey says both cemeteries were well cared for when the “older people whose families were buried there” were still living, and he was trying to clean up because “I have respect for my father and mother.” An unnamed cemetery official said he had no idea why relatives had let the old cemeteries deteriorate or why nothing was said until recently.

Both cemeteries are over 100 years old, and neither has been used in more than 30 years. There are no known records on who or how many people are buried in Vick cemetery (or presumably, Odd Fellows.)

“Mincey said many prominent blacks from Wilson’s past are buried in these two cemeteries and the Rountree Cemetery, also on Lane Street, located where Rountree Baptist Church used to sit.” They include Ben Mincey Sr., who helped start the East Wilson Volunteer Fire Department and worked for the city’s Utilities Department; Nettie Foster, a well known teacher; Walter Hines, a downtown barber; and S.H. Vick, the cemetery’s namesake, a former postmaster.”

“Trees not hide all but one grave, which sits by the roadside at the old Rountree Cemetery. The commission was not even aware of the Rountree Cemetery’s existence” and did not know Vick Cemetery existed “until about four years ago” when Mincey brought it to their attention. At that time, they determined that Mincey Sr. was buried in the Odd Fellows, not Vick, cemetery.

Pursuant to a 1923 state statute, the Cemetery Commission was given title to all city property used for cemetery purposes, including Vick Cemetery. Currently, only Rest Haven and Maplewood are active cemeteries. The commission does not receive city funding, but is audited by the city.

Cemetery Commission chairman Earl Bradbury says of Vick Cemetery, “Burial patterns are any which way. Nobody has any records of who was buried there. It just sat there and so nobody had any interest in it and it just grew up.” After its “discovery,” the commission authorized $8000 for cleanup by hand “because heavy machinery would cause the graves to collapse.”  (As wooden caskets decay, the ground above them subsides, creating sunken graves.) “Because of this, no local firms will help with the cleanup.” Heavy rains prevented the completion of the cleanup, and the area still needs to be burned off and treated with weed killer. Bradbury agrees that the Vick property should be cleaned and cared for, but says the commission did not have the funds to do so. “He said he hoped to pack the collapsed graves with silt dredged from Toisnot Lake, but that silt is just sitting on unused Maplewood Cemetery property. Also, Bradbury thinks people with relatives in the Vick cemetery should show some interest in having the cemetery renovated, and he said it would be nice if the city could help with possibly a one-time grant.” As for Odd Fellows, it is the responsibility of the fraternal organization or relatives of the deceased to clear that cemetery.

Councilman Coleman notes that the city might have a “moral obligation” to find a solution, notuing that “the Lane Street area was included in the 1972 annexation of east Wilson, wich was an area that had been neglected for many years.”

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  • Odd Fellows cemetery? This is the first I’ve heard of it. The obelisk now marking the remaining stones says “Rountree-Vick.” If Odd Fellows was north, and “north” means northeast toward Martin Luther King Parkway/U.S. 264, is it now completely wooded? As this cemetery was not city property, was it just left to revert to nature? In the mid-1970s, headstones were visible among the trees and underbrush in this area. Though we called it Rountree, was this actually Odd Fellows? (For more about Hannibal Lodge No. 1552, International Order of Odd Fellows, see here.)
  • If so, where was Rountree cemetery? The article seems to imply that it was not immediately adjacent to Vick and Odd Fellows. The east parking lot of the “new” Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, built in the late 1970s, was laid over the site of the clapboard predecessor. There is no apparent graveyard immediately adjacent to the church now, and it’s not clear where a location closer than the known cemetery could have been.
  • It’s heartbreaking that Ben Mincey Sr.’s headstone is not one of those that survives.
  • Silt from Toisnot Lake? Did this ever happen? Is this really a sanctioned method of handling sunken graves? Several of the remaining graves have collapsed, and at least one has been breached to the point that a dark vacuum is visible below ground.

Cemeteries, no. 21: Rountree.

Though commonly known as Rountree cemetery, this abandoned graveyard originally comprised two burial grounds. One, whose founding date is unknown, was associated with nearby Rountree Missionary Baptist Church. The other was established on land deeded to the city in 1913 by Samuel H. Vick. Into the 1950s, black Wilson’s leading lights and their families were buried here, along with hundreds, if not thousands, of lesser known residents. A half-century after the cemetery closed, only a handful of grave markers remain on a slight rise cleared along the southern ditch bank.

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They include:

  • Della and Dave Barnes

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Della Hines Wife of Dave Barnes 1858-1935 She is not dead but sleeping.

Dave Barnes died Jan. 23, 1913 Age 52 years Death was the gate through which to life he passed.

The most prominent of the remaining headstones are those of Della Mercer Hines Barnes and, at left above, her husband Dave Barnes, mother and father/step-father of three of early East Wilson’s most successful sons, William Hines, Walter Hines and Boisey O. Barnes.

  • Delzela Rountree

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Delzela Dau of Jack & Lucile Rountree Born Aug 5, 1897 Died Mar. 8, 1914. An angel visited the green earth and took the flower away.

In the 1900 census of Falkland township, Pitt County: farmer Jack Rountree, 49; wife Lucy, 27; and children Julius, 5, Daisy E., 2, and Cora, 2 months; sisters Marcela, 23, Cora, 24, and Ella Bargeron, 26; and boarder Jacob Worthan, 18.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jack Rountree, 53; wife Lucy, 35; and children Junius, 15, Delzel, 12, Cora Lee, 10, John H., 7, James, 6, Mable, 4, and Gollie May, 1.

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Charles S. Thomas departed this life Sept. 5, 1937 From all life’s labors he rests on high.

  • Sarah Best Thomas

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Sarah wife of Charlie Thomas Born 1868 Aug 18 1916 Gone But Not Forgotten.

Sarah Thomas was not married to barber/insurance agent Charles S. Thomas above. Rather she was married to printing office employee Charles Thomas.

On 25 January 1888, Charles Thomas, 23, son of Sarah Thomas, married Sarah Best, 21, daughter of Lewis and Harriet Best. Missionary Baptist minister J.T. Clark performed the ceremony at Lewis Best’s in the presence of Charles Barbry, Wyatt Studaway and Charles Williamson.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, pressman for printing office; wife Sarah, 33; and children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

  • Nunnie Barnes

Nunnie Barnes Born June 8 1885 Died Aug 25 1921

  • Lucinda White

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Lucinda Wife of Geo. W. White Oct 15 1880 Nov 30 1915 Age 35 

  • Tate family

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Noah J. Tate (1876-1926) may be among the family members buried here.

  • Hardy Tate

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Hardy Tate‘s foot marker lies at some distance from the Tate family plot, but he seems likely that he is buried there.

  • Emma Oates and Rev. Henry W. Farrior

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Emma wife of Charlie Oates Died Sept 3 1908 Age 40 years

Rev Henry W Farrior Aug 12 1859 May 6 1937

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Charles Oates, 34; wife Emma, 30; and children Willie, 11, Fannie, 9, Annie, 8, Effie, 5, and Queen E., 4.

In the 1900 census of Lisbon township, Sampson County, North Carolina: Virginia-born preacher Henry Farrior, 39, wife Izzy, 37, children Lillie, 17, Dallas, 15, and Diane, 5, and divorced brother-in-law Richard Robinson, 50. Dallas and Richard worked as farm laborers. [Henry W. Farrior was an A.M.E. Zion minister.]

Henry W. Farrior appeared in Wilson city directories as early as 1916 and throughout the 1920s. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Christian Church minister Henry W. Farrior, 60, and wife Aria, 60, with boarders tobacco factory stemmer Earnest Bulluck, 35, his wife Lena, 30, and children Earnest Jr., 12, Paul T., 8, and Lee, 7.

Henry William Farrior died 6 March 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born 12 August 1859 in Powhatan, Virginia, to Henry and Sylvia Farrior; resided at 203 Pender Street, Wilson; was married Isiebell Farrior; and was a preacher. Dalley Farrior was informant.

  • Charles Oates

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Charles Oates

  • Irma Vick

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Irma day of S.H. and A.M. Vick Gone but not forgotten

Irma Vick was a daughter of Samuel H. and Annie M. Washington Vick. She died while a student in Asheville, North Carolina. (It is likely that Irma’s parents and grandparents, and perhaps other siblings, was buried in this cemetery, but none of their headstones remain.)

  • Clarence Lenwood Carter

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C.L. Carter

Clarence Lenwood Carter registered for the World War I draft in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 29 October 1882; resided at 423 Green Street; worked as a merchant for G.S. Walston, 507 East Nash; and his nearest relative was Mena Carter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 423 Green Street, barber Clarence Carter, 36; wife Meena, 25; and children Omega, 9, Clarence H., 7, and Mina G., 3.

Clarence L. Carter died 13 February 1925 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was married to Mina Carter; lived at 418 East Green; was born 29 October 1877 in Bertie County to George Carter and Annie Outlaw; and worked as a day laborer.

  • Dawson family

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Virginia S. Dawson and her mother L. [Lucy Annie Hill] Dawson are among those buried here.

  • Edith Omega Carter Spicer

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Omega C. Spicer Dec. 7, 1910 Apr. 27, 1945

On 7 October 1933, Elverde Taylor, 23, son of Jim and Matilda Taylor, married Omega Carter, 22, daughter of Clarence and Mina Carter. C.A. Artis applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony in the presence of L.M. Mercer of Elm City and L.F. Winborn and W.W. Clark of Wilson.

Edith Omega Spicer died 27 April 1945 at the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 December 1910 in Wilson County to Clarence Carter of Bertie County and Mena Rountree of Wilson County; worked as a waitress; resided at 538 East Nash Street; and was separated.

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Walter Hines’s headstone has disappeared.

The area outlined in red below, south of Lane Street, is the approximate area of Rountree cemetery. Its 7.45 acres also extends west the edge of the image. After a stab at clean-up in the early 1980s, the City of Wilson determined that restoring the cemetery would be too costly. In 1995, after some public input, the City elected to clear and grade much of the site and erect a stone marble memorializing Rountree’s dead. Some cracked markers are visible inside the tree line near the cleared area. Otherwise, no trace of the locations of graves remains. Broken stones were to be catalogued and stored, but recent queries into their location have been fruitless.

Photographs of Rountree cemetery taken by Lisa Y. Henderson in 2016.

Cemeteries, no. 16: Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church.

Mary Grove church‘s cemetery lies behind the sanctuary on Wiggins Mill Road near Lucama. Among its earliest marked graves are those of members born in the 1870s, ’80s and ’90s.

  • Renda Green

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer James Green, 47; wife Lurenda, 33; daughter Rhoda, 13; and stepchildren Cornelia, 10, Larry, 9, Eddie, 4, William, 3, and Addie Dew, 1.

  • Lawyer Whitley

  • Charlie Cannady

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: South Carolina-born farmer Charlie Cannady, 60; wife Mary, 50; daughter Marie Braswell, 23; son-in-law Kennel Braswell, 24; and their children Minnie M., 2, and Charlie T., 1. Mary and Marie were also born in South Carolina.

Charlie Canaday died 21 February 1946 in Cross Roads township. Per her death certificate, he was born 29 February 1894 in South Carolina to Honor Canaday; was married to Mary Canaday; and worked as a farmer. Informant was Kennon Braswell.

  • Rev. Willie Barnes

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Photographs taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2017.

 

Applications for military headstones, no. 1.

  • John Melton

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In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Melton, 42, wife Lucy, 45, sons John, 16, and Samuel A., 13.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Melton, 51, wife Lucy, 55, son Johnnie Jr., 24, boarder James Dudley, 20, and grandson Sam Melton, 12.

On 29 October 1917, John Melton, 26, of Wilson, married Cora Barnes, 25, of Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Linnie Wilson, M.H. Wilson, and Lorena E. Gregg.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter John Melton, 28, wife Cora, 26, with son Robert O., 1, and cousin Della Griswill, 24.

  • Albert Battle

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On 28 December 1917, Albert Battle, 31, of Wayne County, son of Albert and Annie Battle, married Hannah Pate, 30, of Stantonsburg, daughter of John and Vinie Pate, in Wilson County. Rev. S.J. Brown, a Freewill Baptist minister, at P.P. Barnes’ house in Stantonsburg in the presence of Smithie Barnes, P.P. Barnes, and Rosa Battle.

In the 1920 census of Great Swamp, Wayne County: Albert Battle, 33, wife Hannah, 31, and daughter Linday, 12, on Pikeville and Fremont Road.

In the 1930 census of Great Swamp, Wayne County: Albert Battle, 43, wife Hannah, 39, sister-in-law Smythia, 45, nieces and nephews Odie, 18, Flossie M., 17, Hettie B., 10, Beatrice, 7, Viola, 6, and James O. Battle, 3.

Albert Battle died 19 March 1936 in Fremont, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 March 1886 in Edgecombe County to Albert Battle and Dossie Ann Drake; worked as a laborer; was married; and was buried in Wilson. Hannah Battle of Fremont was informant.

  • Larry Hooks

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In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Larry Hooks, 20, listed a prisoner in the county stockade on Wiggins Mill Road.

Lary Hooks, 27, registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 May 1890 in Fremont, North Carolina, and worked as a “convict on road” in the Nashville road district. He was married and described as medium height and stout with brown eyes and black hair.

Larry Hooks died 3 August 1936 in Wilson’s Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was married to Sarah Hooks; was born about 1890 in Wayne County to Charlie Hooks and Melvina Reid of Wayne County; and worked as a common laborer. Charlie Hooks of Elm City, North Carolina, was informant.

  • Willie Gay

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

On 8 January 1894, Willie Gay, 18, son of Charles and Emma Gay, married Mary Bunn, 21, daughter of Dick and Mary Bunn, at Willie Gay’s house in Wilson. Presbyterian minister L.J. Melton performed the ceremony in the presence of W.M. Phillips, L.A. Moore, and C.C. Williams.

Probably, in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer William Gay, 26, a widower, living alone.

On 29 October 1902, Willie Gay, 27, married Mary Johnson, 22, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Cain Artis, Chas. S. Thomas, and Robt. 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 of Fayetteville, North Carolina, at William Gay’s house in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performs the ceremony in the presence of J.E. Fanner, Robert Stricklin, and Charlie Fain.

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

N.B.: Gay, who served 1898-99, was a veteran of the Spanish American War.

  • Robert Crocker Harris

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In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1018 Wainwright Street, farmer Moses Dupree, 50; wife Henrietta, 48, nurse for private family; grandson Robert Harris, 8; and roomer Virginia Humphreys, 54, cosmetics peddler.

In 1942, Robert Crocker Harris registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. His draft card reports that he was born 6 June 1922 in Wilson County; resided at 1018 Wainwright Street; listed Henriette Dupree of that address as his contact person; and worked as a tobacco farm aide.

Robert Croker Harris died 21 June 1952 in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 June 1922 in Wilson County to Willie Harris and Smithie Dupree; was married; worked as an orderly at Duke Hospital; and resided at 613 Fayetteville Street. Detective W.H. Upchurch was informant. Cause of death: “Abdominal hemorrhage; two pistol shot wounds of back; shot while being arrested for disorderly conduct & resisting arrest — officer exonerated by grand jury.”

The graveyard artistry of Clarence Best, pt. 2.

I’ve written here of Clarence B. Best, the marble cutter whose custom gravestones can be found in cemeteries across Wilson County and beyond. Here’s more.

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  • Sylvia Boykin, died 1939. Rocky Branch United Church of Christ, near Kenly, Wilson County. SLEEP IN PEACE. Unusual dark pink granite marker.
  • Mrs. Polly B. Deans, died 1962. Rocky Branch United Church of Christ. Best’s basic rectangular layout, though addition of husband Ernest Deans‘ name is unusual.
  • Henrietta Stevens, died 1959.  Rocky Branch United Church of Christ. SHE WAS THE SUNSHINE OF OUR HOME. Heart shape executed in concrete.
  • Willie Coleman, died 1964. Or 1967. Jones Hill Baptist Church cemetery, near Sims, Wilson County. I have not been able to find a death certificate to settle the question of his death date. [Based on the number accepted and installed, I assume Best deeply discounted the stones upon which he made indelible engraving errors.]
  • Henry Winstead II, died 1966. William Chapel Baptist Church cemetery, near Elm City, Wilson County. Rough-cut marker with “II” squeezed in as an afterthought.
  • Roscoe and Mary J. Ford, died 1965 and 1954. William Chapel. Best apparently obtained much of his stone from reject piles, probably belonging to larger outfits like Wilson Marble & Mantel. This marker is clearly a single headstone split into his and hers. It is also a repurposed stone. As shown in the detail below, the lower two-thirds of the faces of the markers were ground clean. The ends of the machine-cut lines were erased, and scratches left by the abrasive can be seen below the letters.
  • Theodore R. Lenzy, died 1969. William Chapel. Seldom seen format highlighting the decedent’s surname.
  • Cleo and Thomas Davis, died 1974 and 1986. Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson. Their marriage date is a nice touch. Thomas’ info added by machine.
  • Viola S. McCray, died 2007. Rest Haven. This is mystifying. Best carved McCray’s name and birthdate when he carved those of her husband on the other half of this marker. McCray died more than 40 years after Best stopped carving (and 30 years after his death.) Who, then hand-engraved her death date in Best’s style?

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All photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2016.