gun violence

Two balls in the dead man’s forehead.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 September 1921.

On 30 December 1921, the Wilson Daily Times reported the cases the Superior Court recently heard, including:

It was a curious crime. Jack Anna Ricks Rich had inherited a farm from her husband ten years earlier, and as noted above, Charlie Martin was a long-time tenant. In fact, when Martin registered for the World War I draft in 1918, he listed Jack Ann Rich as both his employer and his nearest relative.

Charlie Martin was listed in the 1900 and 1910 censuses of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, as a single farm laborer boarding in the households of white farmers. He seems to have had no close family. When he died at Rich’s hands, a neighbor struggled to provide adequate information about him. Martin’s birthdate was unknown, and his age was “look to be 45 or 50 years.” His parents were unknown, but his birthplace was thought to be Ohio (though census records listed North Carolina.)

“No Doctor Kill By Pistol Shot”

The murder of Willie Black.

When the registrar filed 48 year-old Willie Black‘s death certificate on 6 February 1933, she recorded his cause of death as “gun shot wounds inflicted by parties or party unknown to the Coroner Jurry.”

However, on 27 January 1933, the Wilson Daily Times reported Willie Black’s widow Sarah Black and her “paramour” Robert Collins had confessed to the crime. On 7 February 1933, the paper reported that a grand jury had returned an indictment against Sarah Black for first degree murder in the slaying of her husband. Collins was also charged.

Sarah Black went on trial in May. 

Elijah King testified that he heard two gunshots in the direction of the railroad. He went to the police station, then returned with officers to the Norfolk and Southern railroad, where they found a dead man lying about 150 yards from Rountree Bridge road. [Rountree Bridge road was most likely the continuation beyond city limits of what was then Stantonsburg Street and is now Black Creek Road. Rountree Bridge crossed Contentnea Creek three miles southeast of Wilson.]

Acting Coroner Ashe Hines testified that the body bore two gunshots wounds, one at close range behind the right ear and the other in the back. 

Willie Black’s son, also named Willie Black, testified next. He was Sarah Black’s stepson. His father and stepmother had been married about two years before, and they quarreled frequently. On the night of the murder, Black Jr. saw Sarah talking with a preacher who lived nearby. His father was not at home, and Black Jr. thought he was at work.

Willie Black Jr. got home about 7:30 PM and found a lamp burning in his parents’ bedroom. He went to James Stancil’s store and stayed until about 9:00 PM, then went home and went to bed. Sarah Black came home about 10:00 PM, and ten minutes later the police arrived. Willie Jr. asked, “Where’s Papa?,” and the police took him and his stepmother to view the body where it lay. Sarah Black cried a little. The police questioned them about a single gauge shotgun.

The night before the shooting, Willie and Sarah Black had argued about the pigtails he brought home for dinner. Sarah Black: “I do not like them.” Willie Black: “If you don’t like them, you can thrown them out.” Sarah Black: I don’t even know why I married you. Willie Black Jr. admitted he and his stepmother had argued, too, but denied ever pulling a knife on her or threatening her.

Officer Lloyd Lucas testified that he had questioned Sarah Black, and she told him that she was a burial society meeting and then a prayer meeting during the time WIllie Black was supposed to have been killed. Lucas denied trying to intimidate Sarah Black or “wring a confession out of her,” but allowed he might have said “damn.”

Robert Collins, who was alleged to be Sarah Black’s lover, was charged with the actual killing and was to be tried after Black’s trial.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 May 1933.

Which happened immediately. The next day’s edition announced that Collins turned state’s evidence and testified to this sorry chain of events:

Robert Collins lived in Happy Hill and had known Sarah Black three to four years. About a week before the murder, at Sarah Black’s sister’s house, Sarah had told him she was tired of Willie Black and wanted him out of the way. She would furnish him with Willie Black’s own gun and would pay him with money and clothing. (Williams Lumber employees testified that they saw Sarah come to talk to Collins at work.) On the night of the shooting, Sarah hid Willie’s shotgun in a ditch. She and Collins followed Willie as he walked down the railroad, and Collins shot him in the back. Black kept walking. Sarah Black asked if Collins was going to shoot him again, and Collins said he could not. She then took the gun and shot her husband down. Collins and Sarah Black went to the Black home, then separated. When confronted by the police, Collins confessed and took all the blame for himself.

The jury deliberated about two-and-a-half hours before delivering its decision. Guilty. As to both. Collins was immediately sentenced to 29 years and Sarah Black to the electric chair. 

[But stay tuned.]

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, day laborer Chas. Hines, 38, and wife Isabella, 38; step-daughter Mary Jane Bryant, 18; cook Jane Black, 35, widow, and her children William, 14, Clara, 4, Lucy, 1, plus day laborer Ed Black, 21, all boarders; and day laborer William York, 75, boarder.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wiggins Street, widow Jane Black, 45, house servant, and children Willie, 24, Caria, 14, Lucy, 11, Samuel, 7, and Gertrude, 3. 

In 1918, Will Black registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in February 1883; lived on Goldsboro Street, Wilson; was a laborer for Imperial Tobacco Company; and his contact was wife Matilda Black.

On 27 August 1928, Matilda Black died in Castalia township, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was about 36 years old; married to Will Black; lived in Wilson; was born in Nash County to Richard Taylor and Dianah Hill; and was buried in a family cemetery. Will Black was informant.

Will Black, 40, of Wilson, son of Fred and Jane Black, married Sarah Kittrell, 25, of Wilson, daughter of Ed and Rosa Kittrell, on 11 August 1930 in Wilson. Disciples minister Fred Williams performed the ceremony in Wilson in the presence of Mae H. Young, Jas. H. Knight and Clara Ward.

Boxcar.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 8 June 1913.

Joe Saunders was arrested for shooting Charles Coley at a house at 114 Wiggins Street. Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home (later known as Mercy) did not open until 1914. Other hospitals in town would not admit African-Americans, so Coley was carried to a boxcar to die or recuperate.

 

He was waylaid and shot to death.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 July 1923.

To compound tragedy, the 8 July 1923 homicide of Jim Guess was a family affair. Accused murderer Gray Reid was married to Mary Hagans, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans. (And Gray’s brother Elijah Reid was married to Mary’s sister Ida.) Jim Hagans was Jim Guess’ first cousin; his father Lawrence Hagans was brother to Margaret Hagans Guess.

  • Jim Hagans

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Laurence Hagans, 30, wife Mary, 24, and children James, 6, and Elizabeth, 3.

James Hagans, 20, of Gardners, son of Lawrence and Mary Hagans, married Hannah Bynum, 19, of Gardners, daughter of Joe and Hazel Bynum, on 20 November 1895 at Joe Bynum’s in Stantonsburg in the presence of Alber Bardin, Moses Woodard, and Joe Hagans.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Jim Haggans, 30; wife Hannah, 30; and children Ida, 13, Tom, 12, Mary, 8, James, 6, Alice, 5, Charles, 3, Etta, 2, and twins Jonas and Joe, 3 months.

Elijah Reid, 21, of Gardners township, son of Gray Reid, married Ida Hagans, 18, of Gardners, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans, on 13 January 1915 on the Old Whitehead farm. Witnesses were Robert Hilliard, Lawrence Hagans and J.B. Owens.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: James Hagans, 45; wife Annie, 40; and children James, 17, M. Allice, 13, Etta, 11, Joe and Jonah, 9, Nelia, 7, Haggar, 6, and Lawrence, 4; and cousin Will Coley, 25.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Hagans, 53; wife Nora, 50; sons John, 18, Joe, 18, and Laurence, 16; daughter Etta, 21; grandchildren Elizabeth, 15, Sudie M., 13, Leeoma, 10, David, 5, Bessie M., 3, Lillie M., 1, and Charlie Reid, 4; and daughter Ida Reid, 32.

James Hagans died 27 June 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in Wilson County to Lawrence Hagans and Mary Gray; was married to Nora Hagans; and was a farmer. Oscar Hagans, 1114 Atlantic Street, was informant.

  • Grey Read — Gray Reid.

In the 1900 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Gray Read, 47; wife Lucy, 37; and children Joseph R., 18, Nancy L., 7, Elija, 5, Mart Eva, 4, Jona, 3, and Lucy, 5 months. [Gray Reid Jr. is missing from this household.]

In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: on Tarboro and Wilson Road, Amos Reid, 64; lodger Gray Reid, 57, widower, and his children Gray, 18, Eligh, 15, Margrett, 13, and John, 12.

On 14 February 1915, Gray Reed Jr., 23, of Gardners township, son of Gray Reed and Lucy [last name not given], married Mary Hagans, 18, of Gardners township, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Primitive Baptist minister Ruffin Hyman performed the ceremony at John H. Morgan‘s in the presence of Morgan, Hilliard Reed of Wilson, and John Thomas Reed of Stantonsburg.

In 1917, Gray Reid registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born July 1891 in Edgecombe County; lived in Elm City; worked on the Wilson and Grantham farm near Wilson; had a wife and one child; and had an injured leg.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ruff Reed, 28; wife Mary, 19; and daughters Enice, 3, Hannah, 1, and Runcie, 1 month.

In the 1940 census of Burgaw township, Pender County, North Carolina: at North Carolina State Prison Camp, Gray Reid, 48, inmate #29137, who lived in Macclesfield, Edgecombe County, in 1935. [This was evidently pursuant to crime subsequent to the murder of Jim Guest.]

Gray Reid died 11 March 1950 in Wilson, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 November 1891 in Edgecombe County to Gray Reid and Lucy Joyner; was a widower; and worked as a laborer. Elijah Reid, 300 South Reid Street, Wilson, was informant.

  • Jim Guess

On 23 April 1922, James Guess, 49, of Gardners township, married Allice Davis, 46, of Gardners township, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Ruffin Hyman, Primitive Baptist minister performed the ceremony in the presence of Emma Hyman, George Hagans, and Bennie Guess.

James Guess died 8 July 1923 in Saratoga township, Wilson County, of “Homicide by Gunshot wound. No doctor in attendance. He was waylaid & Shot to death.” Per his death certificate, he was born about 1879 in Edgecombe County to Luke Guess of Edgecombe County and Margarett Hagans of Wilson County; was a farmer for Albert Harrell; and was married. Alice Guess was informant.

“He was waylaid & Shot to death”

Boy murdered by a boy.

Fifteen year-old farmer Earnest McKinley Crudup was shot in the head by another boy in January 1920. I have not been able to discover details of the incident.

S123_106-1794

“Gunshot wound in the head murdered by a boy”

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In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Rufus Crudup, 38, farmer; wife A. Susie, 39; and children Edgar, 19, Cornelia, 16, McKenly, 15, Cleo, 12, Hazel, 10, and Rufus, 1.

Earnest McKinley Crudup is buried in Jones Hill cemetery. (Which is located on the opposite side of the county from his home. What was the connection?)

A pair of homicides.

Twenty-one year-old Charlie Wynn shot and killed twenty year-old Arthur Wiggins on 22 February 1920 and was in turn shot and killed the same day. I have not been able to find more about this double homicide.

S123_106-1265

“Homicide — shot & killed by Charlie Wynne at a dance. No Dr.”

S123_109-0217

“Gun shot wound of the Heart Only saw deceased after death. Homicide.”

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In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: common laborer John Wiggins, 50; wife Mollie, 40; and children Elizabeth, 14, nurse; John, 12, brick yard employee; Arthur, 3; and Clarence, 1.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Willie Winn, 50; wife Jennie, 23; and children Bessie, 18, Cora, 14, Charlie, 11, Annie, 10, John, 9, Ray, 7, Dortch, 4, Pinkie, 1, and Jessie, 17.

Arthur Wiggins registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born in August 1897 in Elm City; lived in Elm City; his father was born in Edgecombe County; and his nearest relative was Mollie Wiggins.

Charley Winn registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born in 14 April 1900; lived in Elm City; worked as a railroad laborer for Norfolk & Southern Rail Road Company; and his nearest relative was father Will Winn.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Wiggins, 55; wife Mollie, 50, cook; and children Elizabeth, 24, cook; Arthur, 13; Clarence, 11; and Annie May, 4.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer William Winn, 59; wife Jennie, 48; and children Charley, 21, John, 19, Dorch, 13, Pink, 10, and Jeneva, 8.

Bold hold-up.

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Wilson Daily Times, 28 May 1921.

Alfred Robinson was a boarder in Samuel H. Vick‘s house at 622 East Green Street. Short Barnes did not live across the street, but three doors down from Vick at 616.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 502 Grace, James Austin, 34, tobacco company laborer; wife   , 28, tobacco factory worker; son James Jr., 3; and roomer George Jenkins, 24, tobacco factory worker.

The full load struck him in the shoulder.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 April 1930.

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In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Casten Barnes, 28; wife Waity, 24; and children Austin, 6, Benjamin, 5, Etheldred, 4, and Aaron, 1.

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Gaston Barnes, 42; wife Waity, 35; and children Benjamin, 16, Aaron, 10, Nellie, 7, Willie, 5, and male infant, 17 days.

Per a delayed birth certificate, William Ichabod Barnes was born in 1884 in Wilson County to Gaston Barnes and Wattie Simms Barnes.

On 30 May 1906, W.I. Barnes, 22, married Madie Taylor, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Mike and Rachel Taylor, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of William Mitchell, Alex H. Walker, Roderick Taylor, and Sarah Ward.

Henry Mike Barnes died 6 February 1912 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 December 1911 in Wilson County to W.I. Barnes and Madie Taylor.

William Ichabod Barnes registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 10 February 1884; lived at 401 Pine Street, Wilson; was a laborer for Export Leaf Tobacco Company; and his nearest relative was wife Maidie Barnes.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 401 Pine Street, tobacco laborer Samuel Ennis, 26, wife Maggie, 29, and children Freeman, 12, and Earl, 2; wagon factory laborer John Smith, 21, boarder ; and cafe owner William I. Barnes, 30, wife Madie, 27, and children Weldon, 12, Dorothy, 11, Rachel, 9, Ethel G., 6, Vera, 2, and Virginia R., 10 months.

Ethel Grey Barnes died 2 July 1923 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was ten years old; was born in Wilson to W.I. Barnes and Madie Taylor; and was a school girl.

Warland Barnes died 4 December 1926 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 19 years old; was married to Blanche Barnes; lived at 309 Pender Street, Wilson; was a common laborer; and was born in Wilson to W. Ichabod Barnes and Madie Taylor. He was buried in Rountrees cemetery, Wilson.

In 1942, William Ichabod Barnes registered for the World War II draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 10 February 1884 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 1216 North Street, Philadelphia; and his contact was Mrs. Robert Stevens, 1000 Fairmount Avenue, Philadelphia.

William Barnes died 16 February 1954 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1884 in North Carolina to William Barnes and Wattie Sims; lived at 1216 North Street, Philadelphia; worked as a laborer; and was separated. T. Dorothy Robinson, 1218 North Street, was informant.

Soldier kills soldier.

In November 1898, the Third North Carolina Infantry moved from Camp Poland near Knoxville, Tennessee, to a winter camp at Fort Haskell, Macon, Georgia. Just days before the regiment paraded in formation before President William McKinley, Private James Ellis shot and killed Private Robert Thomas in a dispute over money. Former tent mates, both men were from Wilson.

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Macon Telegraph, 16 December 1898.

Per subsequent news reports, Ellis was found guilty, dishonorably discharged, and sentenced to imprisonment “for the term of his natural life” at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.