gun violence

They believed they were merely playing.

On 27 March 1932, Chester Parker shot to death his sister Sarah’s husband, Ed Howard.

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Wilson Daily Times, 28 March 1932. 

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Raleigh Road, David Parker, 39; wife Elizabeth, 38; and children William E., 15, Richard, 13, Anna, 12, Sarah, 10, Sylvania, 9, Millie K., 7, Mary L., 5, Chester, 3, and John F., 7 months.

Eddie Howard, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Tim and Mary Howard, married Sarah Parker, 20, of Gardners township, on 4 February 1920 at Joe Pender‘s house in Gardners township. Primitive Baptist elder Ruffin Hymon performed the ceremony in the presence of Crumel Farmer, John Barnes and another.

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“Murdered by Chester Parker shot through chest with revolver”

 

 

 

 

Mishaps and mayhem, no. 1.

Causes of death (or, just as often, manners of death) listed on death certificates in the early twentieth century could be surprisingly detailed or confoundedly vague. Then, as now, most people died of disease, but fatal injuries — accidental and intentional — were distressingly common, as seen below.

  • Atkinson, Lafayett. Died 19 March 1933, Spring Hill township, Wilson County; was married to Etta Atkinson; was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to Handy Atkinson and Susan Barnes; and worked as a farmer. “Stabbed in heart — murdered with knife”

  • Atkinson, Stephen Clyde. Died 9 January 1923, Spring Hill township, Wilson County; single; born 26 March 1899 to S.T. Atkinson and Zillie Barnes; worked as a farmer; buried in Boyetts cemetery. “Embolism (cardiac) — Homicide — Gunshot wound thigh.”

  • Exum, Leslie. Died 4 July 1934, Wilson; married to Beulah Exum; resided at 304 North Reid; age 27 years, 9 months; taxi driver; born in Wayne County to Willie Exum and Ada Artis; informant, Beulah Exum. “Homicide — Hit over stomach with Brick.”

  • Fields, Peter. Died 5 May 1923, Cross Roads township, Wilson County; single; about 33 years old; worked as a tenant farmer for W.J. Scott; born Wilson County to Daniel Hodge and Chritchania Allen; buried in Lamm Cemetery. “Murdered by Walter Bethea. Death was instantly.”

  • Gaston, Fred. Died 17 November 1916, Wilson township, Wilson County; single; 27 years old; farm hand; born in Elm City to William Gaston of Virginia and Marriah Battle of North Carolina; informant, Elmer Gaston. “Injury of the brain, Homicidal — Blow with flue in head.”

  • Hawkins, Ernest. Died 7 March 1923, Toisnot township, Wilson County; married to Sulester Batts; about 20 years old; worked as a tenant farmer for H.C. Crumpler; born in Nash County to Lola Maryland. “Shot by County Sherrif Stilling whiskey.”

  • Hinnant, Cleophus. Died 8 December 1923, Cross Roads township, Wilson County; married Gessie Hinnant; born 24 March 1902 in Wilson County to Josiah Hinnant and Victoria Wilder; buried in Hinnant graveyard. “Was murdered. Shot to death by a man named Turner Williamson.”

  • Johnson, Herbert. Died 20 July 1923, Wilson township, Wilson County; married to Winnie Johnson; age 40; farmer for Petway & Anderson; born in Duplin County to Joseph Johnson and Rania Pearson; buried in Colman cemetery, Wilson. “No Doctor. Shot Gun. Cornes Inquest. Kill by gun shot. — Homicide.”

  • Perkins, Columbus. Died 2 January 1918, Saratoga township, Wilson County; was married; was 35 to 40 years old; and was a farmer/laborer. “Shot through head by unknown party or parties — Dr. S.H. Crocker held the inquest Stantonsburg — Shot to death by Walter Hopkins.”

  • Taylor, George. Died 4 May 1918, Wilson, Wilson County; married to Maggie Taylor; aged about 44; carpenter; born Wilson County to Jordan Taylor and Winnie [last name unknown]; buried in Wilson cemetery. “Shot by Police & killed while under arrest.”

The death certificate of Henry Moses.

Henry Moses had two death certificates, each of which offers unique information.

The basics: Henry Moses died 15 December 1913 of a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

  • Certificate #1. This document is most complete. Moses lived on Youngs [Alley or Avenue]; was born 27 May 1878 in Franklin County, North Carolina; was married; could read and write; and operated both a restaurant and a pressing club. Undertaker A.D. McGowan buried him in Wilson.

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  • Certificate #2 is a copy of the first, but on a slightly different form. The person who filled it out misread the signature of the registrar, L.A. Hinnant, and wrote it “Hinerant.” He or she (most likely he) also misread the first name of the informant, who was Henry Moses’ father Caesar Moses. This document dispensed with Moses’ occupation, but added two detailsto his cause of death: (1) it was a homicide and (2) “gambling” was the contributory cause.

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On 22 November 1905, Henry Moses, 27, of Wilson, son of Caesar Moses, married Sandora Dancey, 25. Rev. P.H. Howell, a Christ Disciple minister, performed the ceremony at Henry Moses’ home in the presence of W.M. Mayo, L. Studeway and Frank Sims.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco factory laborer Henry Moses, 31; wife Dora, 31; and daughter Luevenia Dancy, 16, servant.

Also in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on TIllmans Road, house carpenter Caesar S. Moses, 56; wife Alice, 53; and children Oliver, 22, and Walter, 13.

Caesar Moses died 19 January 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was 63 years old; worked as a carpenter; and his father was named Crofford Stone. Oliva Moses was informant.

[Note: the 1900 census of Jeffreys township, Florence County, South Carolina, lists a Henry Moses in the household of his father Caesar Moses. As uncommon as the names are, this is a coincidence. This Henry Moses died of typhoid fever in 1917 in Florence County.]

The murder of Cleophus Hinnant.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 22 December 1923.

Though the Courier reported Cleophus Hinnant’s death (and, apparently, his name) as a mystery, his death certificate was clear about what happened. Hinnant “was murdered. Shot to death by a man named Turner Williamson.”

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Turner Williamson was Cleophus Hinnant’s former father-in-law, father of his deceased first wife. I have not been able to discover more about this tragedy.

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In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Josiah Hinnant, 47, farmer; wife Mary L., 38; and son Cleophus, 17.

On 11 November 1920, Cleophus Hinnant, 18, of Cross Roads, son of Josiah and Victoria Hinnant, married Montie Williamson, 19, of Cross Roads, daughter of Turner and Margaret Williamson, at Turner Williamson’s. Baptist minister Emerson Hooker performed the ceremony in the presence of Abram Deans, Henry Bynum and David Bynum, all of Lucama.

Montia Hinnant died 27 November 1921 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 19 years old; was married to Cleother Hinnant; was born in Wilson County to Turner Williamson and Margarette Barnes; and was a tenant farmer for Josiah Hinnant. Josiah Hinnant was informant.

On 2 January 1923, Cleophus Hinnant and Gessie Bunch received a marriage license.

Josiah Hinnant filed for letters of administration for his son on 4 January 19. His application listed the value of Cleophus Hinnant’s estate as about $500, and his heirs as Gessie Hinnant and an unborn child.

Smith keeps a “contract.”

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Pittsburgh Courier, 13 December 1941.

  • Mable Smith
  • John Dallas McGirt — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Archie McGirt, 52, fertilizer plant laborer; wife Pearl, 47, tobacco factory laborer; son John, 23, fertilizer plant laborer; daughter Lillian Simms, 21, tobacco factory laborer; son Belton [McGirt], 19, delivery boy for grocery store; [grandson] Walter, 5; and son-in-law Allen Simms, 25, cement finisher for contractor. John Dallas McGirt registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 May 1916 in Maxton, N.C.; lived at 1013 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson; his contacts as father Archie McGirt, same address; and he worked for Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, Wilson. McGirt died 7 March 1972.
  • Ada Barnes

Williams admits a shooting.

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Statesville Record & Landmark, 16 November 1949.

Here is Delbert Williams‘ death certificate. It reports that he was born 12 May 1912 in Dillon, South Carolina, to Hat Williams and Katie Singletary, was married; lived (and died) on Dew Street; worked as a laborer; and died of a gunshot blast to the neck.

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Sent to the roads.

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Wilson Times, 17 November 1911.

In this follow-up to “Teck got shot,” we get a close look at the way justice was administered (and reported upon) in 1911.

First, the Times flatly pronounced Herbert “Goldie” Horton guilty of shooting Ed Walker. The trial, however, had been on the charge of carrying a concealed weapon. The “trial for shooting … Walker will be deferred until Ed. recovers or dies.” On the basis of testimony from Jake Tucker, Annie Lewis and Elijah Saunders — testimony that sounds much more relevant to the shooting than mere concealed carry — Wilson’s mayor convicted Horton and sentenced him to four months on a road gang.

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  • Herbert Horton
  • Edward Walker
  • Jake Tucker — Jacob Tucker was also a key witness in the inquest into the homicide of James A. Hunt and the robbery of Neverson Green‘s grocery.
  • Annie Lewis — perhaps, in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 555 Spruce Street, Ed Lewis, 49, odd jobs laborer; wife Nancy, 37, private family cook; sister Sue, 19, factory laborer; and daughter Annie, 16, private family cook.
  • Elijah Saunders

Teck got shot.

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 November 1911.


The “red light district.” Goldie shot Teck at the entry to Vick’s Alley, marked with an X. Sanborn fire insurance map, 1908.

  • Ed Walker, known as “Texas” or “Teck”
  • Herbert Horton, known as “Goldie”
  • Dr. Mitchner — William A. Mitchner.
  • Mandy Bishop — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Spring Street, factory laborer Manda Bishop, 33; daughter Mary B., 16; and lodgers William Lucas, 49, and Eliza Walker, 21.
  • Eli Saunders

Shooting scrape.

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Wilson Advance, 12 March 1896.

  • James Artist — perhaps, in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason James B. Artis, 26; wife Cornelia, 31; and son Solomon, 7 months; plus brother-in-law Charlie B. Fort, 12.
  • West Barnes — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Willis Barnes, 30; wife Cherry, 25; and children Rachael, 7, West, 5, Jesse, 2, and Ned, 5 months. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Willis Barnes, 42; wife Cherey, 20; stepdaughter Rachel Battle, 17; children Wesley, 15, Jesse, 13, Ned, 11, Eddie, 7, Mary Barnes, niece Ellen Battle, 2; and son Willey Barnes, 1. On 4 June 1885, Sylvester [sic] Barnes, 21, married Ellar Mercer, 22, at Dempsey Mercer’s in Wilson County. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: teamster Wesley Barnes, 32; wife Ella, 35; and children Joseph, 14, Lucy, 11, Sylvester, 7, Viola, 5, and Charley, 3. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: West Barnes, 44; wife Ella, 47; and children Sylvester, 17, Viola, 15, and Charlie, 13. Wesley Barnes died 20 January 1919 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 54 years old; was born in Wilson County to Willis Barnes and Cherry Eatmon; was married to Ellar Barnes; and worked as a drayman for Tominson & Company.

Escaped through the cemetery.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 July 1910.

  • Henry Hagan

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Smith Street, Katie Williams, 46, widowed boarding house cook, and boarder Henry Hagan, 54, widower, oil mill laborer. In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hagan Henry, lab h 404 Spring St alley. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 616 Suggs Street, rented for $12/month, Henry Hagan, 75, sanitary department laborer, and wife Sarah, 55. Henry Haggan who died 21 October 1931 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was born in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Napoleon Haggan and an unknown mother; worked as a common laborer; and lived at 611 Suggs. Mary Gatling of Newport News, Virginia, was informant.