gun violence

The murder of Mary Huggins.

On 22 October 1933, the Daily Times reported the murder of Mary Bethea, who had been found shot to death in a ditch on Suggs Street.

In fact, the victim’s name was Mary Huggins. Per her death certificate, she lived on Gay Street; was married; was 29 years old; and was born in Wilson County to Arch Bynum and Pennie Barnes. Annie James, 619 Suggs Street, was informant. Her listed cause of death went so far as to name a suspect: “Murdered. Shot to death. Supposed by James McPhail.”

On 22 December 1934, the Daily Times reported that James McNeil, not McPhail, had convicted of manslaughter in Huggins’ death and sentenced to ten years in state prison.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

His daddy told him: “Take up something and take half his head off.”

Wilson Daily Times, 21 June 1948.

  • Willie Greenfield — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 319 North Hackney Street, Rufus Green [sic], 28, shoe repairer; wife Reva, 26; and children Willie Lee, 6, Ruby L., 5, Evelyn, 4, Charlotte, 3, and Bobby J., 1. [By 1950, the Greenfield family had migrated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks, who migrated to Philadelphia later in the 1950s, spoke of Rufus Greenfield, mentioning that he was originally from Wayne County, North Carolina, and was blind by time she arrived in the city.]

Senior Willie L. Greenfield, Flame and Steel, the Dobbins-Randolph Vocational-Technical High School yearbook, 1952. [Greenfield would have been in my father Rederick C. Henderson’s class at Darden High School.]

  • Albert Parker — quite possibly, my cousin Albert Thomas Parker Jr. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 800 Gay Street, oil mill laborer Thomas Parker, 25; wife Minnie, 23; and children Spencer, 5, Louise, 4, and Albert, 1.

The obituary of Robert Inman.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 May 1947.


In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Lem Inman, 36; wife Edna, 25; and children Robert, 9, Pearle, 7, Jessie, 4, Lillie, 2, and Edna, 2 months.

In 1941, Robert Inman registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 25 August 1911; lived at 400 Viola Street; his contact was mother Edna Inman, Elm City; and he was unemployed.

Robert Inman died 24 May 1947 in Vanceboro, Craven County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 August 1919 in Lumberton, N.C. to Lem Inman and Edna McNeil; was married to Arnetta Inman; worked as a farmer; and was buried in Wilson. Cause of death: “shotgun wound on abdomen region of the navel.” The coroner added:  “at home 12 gauge shotgun #8 shell in the belly.”

Boy accidentally shot by sister.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1943.


On 27 February 1929, Rufus Wallace, 23, of Taylors township, son of C. and Lillie Wallace, married Dorethea Etheridge, 15, daughter of Wiley and Lula Etheridge, in Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Sterlings township, Roberson County: Rufus Wallace, 36; wife Dorothea, 29; children Wade, 10, Eileen, 8, Lula Mae, 6, Rufus Jr., 5, and Jimmie Carl, 3; and brother-in-law Wiley Etheridge, 19.

In 1942, Rufus W. Wallace registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 7 January 1904 in Robeson County, N.C.; lived on Route 4, Wilson, Gardners township; his contact was Martha Rountree, 913 Mercey [Mercer] Street, Wilson; and he worked for J.C. Corbett, Route 4, Wilson.

“Gun shot wound of head. Shot by sister accidental.”

In the 1950 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: well digger Rufus Wallace, 46; wife Doreatha, 39; and children Lula Mae, 16, Jimmy, 13, Freddie, 7, and Bobby, 4.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

He made fight for the chief.

We read here several accounts of the fatal shooting of Phillip Worth by Wilson police chief Wiggs in April 1916. Below, the newspaper report of the coroner’s inquest into the matter.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 April 1916.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Craps game ends in deadly shooting.

In early March 1924, Tom Hagin allegedly shot Otto King to death over a cheating allegation during a game of craps. The Daily Times could not help but engage in casual racism in reporting the tragedy, referring to the dice game as “African golf.”

Wilson Daily Times, 4 March 1924.


In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Shandy King, 51; wife Nancy, 49; and children Jack, 21, Marcellus, 19, Shandey, 16, Mahala, 14, Columbus, 12, Otto, 7, and Harriett, 6. 

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jim Bass, 19, and lodgers James Allen, 21, and Otto King, 19, all farm laborers.

In 1918, Otto King registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 March 1891 in Wilson; lived at Route 4, Wilson; worked in farming for Charley Walston; and was single.

Otto King’s World War I service record.

On 11 January 1919, Otto King, 26, of Saratoga township, son of Shandy King, and Roberta Taylor, 16, of Gardners township, daughter of Moses Fent and Rena Taylor, were married in Saratoga township, Wilson County.

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Plank Road Highway, farmer Otto King, 28, and wife Roberta, 17. 

“Shot through neck & lungs Homicide”

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Annie May Barnes pleads guilty to manslaughter.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 February 1924.

  • Annie May Barnes
  • Will Daniels
  • Young’s Line 
  • Mary Blue
  • Claude Sessoms — Claud Sessoms died 28 February 1931 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 86 years old; was born in Nash County, N.C., to Jim Sessoms and Chaney Sessoms; was married to Elizabeth Sessoms; lived near Elm City; and worked in farming. 



Near murder.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 February 1917.

  • Clarence Carter — possibly, but not likely, Clarence L. Carter.
  • George Shaw — George Shaw registered for the World War I draft in 1917 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 June 1889 in Johnston County, N.C.; lived on Viola Street, Wilson; had a wife and child; and his occupation was “loafering & sick.” He had “1 bad eye — blind in it.”
  • Dr. Gilliam — Matthew S. Gilliam.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.