Poisoned liquor.

The end of Prohibition in December 1933 did nothing to stem the flow of bootleg liquor in Wilson (or anywhere else). Home brew could be dangerous though, and, in the new year, Charley Singletary and John Hagans died in back-to-back months from poisoned alcohol.


“Found dead in Bed supposed to have drank poison liquor No Sign foul play.”


“Supposed from drinking poison whiskey”


  • Charley Singletary

Charlie Singletary registered for the World War I draft in Florence County, South Carolina, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1896 in Olanta, South Carolina; lived in Lake City, South Carolina; was a farm laborer; and was married with a child.

In the 1920 census of Lake township, Florence County, South Carolina: Charlie Singletary, 22; wife Josephine, 20; and son Wallace, 3.

Charlie Singletary, 23, son of Simp and Mollie Singletary, married Elizabeth Singletary, 19, daughter of Sam and Mary Singletary, on 17 March 1925 in Wilson.

In the 1930 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Charley Singletary, 33; wife Lizabeth, 23; and children Fred, 4, J.B., 2, Gilbert, 1, and Evon, 2 months. Charley and Lizabeth were born in South Carolina.

  • John Hagans

John Hagans registered for the World War I draft in Oldfields township, Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1889 in Rock Hill, South Carolina; lived in Rock Hill; worked as a stone quarry laborer for Harris G. Co., Neverson, Wilson County; and was married.

In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: on Neverson Stone Quarry Road, stone quarry laborer John Hogan, 31, and wife Mattie, 23.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, widow Mittie Lucas, 40, laundress; her sons Otis, 19, and Maryland, 14; and roomers John Hagan, 38; Carder, 19, and Mandy Walker, 17, all of South Carolina.

The estate of William L. Farmer.

William L. Farmer’s hefty estate file contains multiple references to both enslaved people and free people of color.

From an inventory of assets, a list of enslaved people hired out in 1857 and 1858 — Samson, Blunt, Joshua, Jane and Clarkey.

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A 25 November 1856 inventory of the debts owed to William L. Farmer highlights the web of financial relationships that characterized the largely bankless antebellum South. For many, after land and slaves, their greatest assets consisted of I.O.U.’s.

Green Lassiter (and his sister Rachel Lassiter?) seems to have been one of the largest debtors.

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Terrell Parker‘s $11.32 debt to Farmer was declared “bad,” i.e. uncollectible.

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As were those of many others, including Gray Boseman …

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… another of Green Lassiter’s …

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… the $1.25 Silas Lassiter owed …

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… the $7.50 John R. Locus owed …

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…  the $3.25 Warren Artis owed …

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… debts by Timothy Howard, Lawrence Hagans, Zealous Howard, and James Howard …

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… and another $5.57 owed by Warren Artis.

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Benjamin Thorn hired out Joshua for a year. Jane went to Archibald Roes, and Sampson to Henry Armstrong. The estate paid Evins Baker five dollars to care for Clarky.

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“They are to have 3 soots of Cloths & three pair of shoes one of woolen one hat & one Blanket” Henry Crumpley hired out Daniel for the year, and W.G. Sharp hired Ben. Though both were described as “boys,” their hire prices suggest they were young men in their prime.

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On 6 April 1860, “negro Ben” required a visit to Dr. James G. Armstrong.

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This remarkable document, the only one of its kind I’ve seen, is a receipt for the late fall purchase of goods for Farmer’s slaves — seven blankets, seven pairs of shoes, five wool hats, 18 and-a-half yards of osnaburg, five yards of linsey, one pair of coarse boots, and 29 years of kersey. Osnaburg was a coarse, stiff fabric woven from flax or jute and commonly used to make garments for enslaved people. Linsey (or linsey-woolsey) was another coarse cotton and wool fabric. Kersey was a dense woolen fabric.

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In 27 August 1856, shortly before he died, Farmer gave Rachel Lassiter a note for $15.59, which could have represented money borrowed or more likely services rendered or goods sold.

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On 14 July 1857, Farmer’s administrator, Augustin Farmer, paid Green Lassiter $16.42 to settle a debt.

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William L. Farmer Estate File (1856), Wilson County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

Studio shots, no. 148: Cleora H.H. Barnes.

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Cleora Hodge Hagans Barnes (1922-1999).


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 Mercer Street, Alphonso Hodge, 26, cook at Taylor cafe; wife Lula, 24; and daughter Cleora, 7.

Charles Hagans, 21, son of Isaac and Essie May Hagans, and Cleora Hodge, 18 [actually, she was 14], daughter of Alphonso and Lula Hodge, married 24 October 1936 in Nashville, Nash County. Witnesses were Wilfred McCray and Lula Hodge.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1002 Mercer Street, drugstore delivery boy Charles Hagans, 21; wife Cleora, 19; and daughters Therrol, 3, and Lula Mae, 7 months.

In 1940, Charles Hagans registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 August 1919 in Wilson; his contact was wife Cleo Hagans; he lived at 1002 Mercer Street; and he worked for Herring Drug Store, 211 East Nash Street.

Raymond Barnes, born 10 May 1923 in Wilson County to George Barnes and Pattie Williams, married Cleora Hodge Hagans, born 12 July 1922 in Wilson County to Alphonso Hodge and Lula Hunt, both residents of Wilson County, married 30 October 1964 in Nashville, Nash County.

Alfonza Hodge died 11 March 1965 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, Hodge was born 25 December 1902 in Wilson County to Lenwood Hodge and Nannie E. Young; was a widower; lived at 1009 Railroad Street, Wilson; worked as a cook at Star Cafe. Informant was Cleora Barnes, 206 North East Street, Wilson.

Cleora Barnes died 19 April 1999.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user PHILLYEVANS44.

The negro refused, and hell broke loose.

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Wilson News, 6 April 1899.

  • Kainit — a trade name for a kainite, a potassium salt used in the manufacture of fertilizer.
  • Isaac Hagan

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Haggans, 39; wife Charity, 39; and children Martha, 18, Louis, 16, Joney, 14, Isaac, 13, Lou R., 10, and Charles, 1.

On 27 November 1907, Isaac Hagans, 21, of Toisnot, son of Charles and Charity Hagans, married Ezzie M. Farmer, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Jeff Farmer and Blanch Farmer. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Jeff Farmer’s in the presence of Chas. S. Thomas and others.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Viola Street, Bryant Mill laborer Isic Haggins, 23; wife Essie May 19; and son Alton, 1.

Alton Hagans died 8 September 1921 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 June 1908 in Wilson to Isaac Hagans and Ezziemay Farmer; was a grocery delivery boy; and lived on Hines Street.

Essie May Hagans died 27 December 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was married to Isaac Hagans; resided at 708 East Green Street; and was born in Wilson County to Jeff Farmer and Blanch Gay.

Gonnell Wallice Hagans died 10 November 1930 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 October 1928 in Wilson to Isaac Hagans and Essie Mae Farmer. Blanch Farmer was informant.

Turner Gray Hagans died 26 April 1945 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 March 1916 in Wilson to Isaac Hagans and Ezzie Mae Farmer; was single; lived at 807 East Viola Street; worked as a cook; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Edward Hagans died 20 July 1948 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 April 1913 to Isaac Hagans and Essie Mae Farmer; was married to Daisy Hagans; and lived at 555 East Nash.

Isaac Hagans, 57, son of Charles and Charity Thomas Hagans, married Mary Barnes, 55, on 28 April 1947 in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Ophilia Adams, Grace B. Black and Beatrice Holden.

Isaac Hagans died 13 September 1948 at his home at 313 Hackney Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 July 1891 in Nash County to Charles Hagans and an unknown mother; was married to Mary Hagans; was a shoestore laborer; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Charles Preston Hagans died 12 October 1971 at the VA Hospital in Durham, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 August 1919 to Isaac Hagans and Essie Farmer; was divorced; lived at 310 North Ward Boulevard; and did yard work.

A lot in Rest Haven.

Ed and Daisy Hagans purchased a plot at Rest Haven cemetery for twenty-five dollars on 26 July 1948. Such a sale constitutes a real estate transaction, and the Haganses’ transaction was recorded in Deed Book 357, page 413, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

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This is somewhat confusing, as Edward Hagans died 20 July 1948. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 April 1913 in Wilson County to Isaac Hagans and Essie Mae Farmer; was married to Daisy Hagans; lived at 555 East Nash Street; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Rest Haven on 22 July 1948.

Edward and Daisy Hagans’ daughter Gloria Devetta Hagans died at home on 28 July 1948 of pulmonary tuberculosis (as had her father.) Per her death certificate, she was born 25 November 1934 in Wilson to Edward Hagans and Daisy Melton; was a student; lived at 536 East Nash; and was buried at Rest Haven.

Per Joan Howell’s Cemetery, Volume 5, Edward, Daisy and Gloria Hagans, plus Albert Hagans, are buried in Section 3 between rows L and M.

Remembering Mrs. Johnson, honoring Mrs. Richie.

Pioneering mathematician Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson passed away today at the age of 101. Mrs. Johnson’s calculations of orbital mechanics were vital to the success of the United States’ first manned space flights.

Wilson County’s own Christine Barnes Richie also worked as a “human computer” for NASA’s predecessor in the 1950s. In 2019, Mrs. Richie was selected as one of two inaugural recipients of the Salem College Trailblazer Award. Her taped acceptance speech was aired at Salem College’s 2019 commencement ceremony.

Many thanks to Patricia Freeman for sharing.

The estate of Moses Hagans.

Moses Hagans died early in the spring of 1873. His wife Theresa Lassiter Hagans, unlettered and unfamiliar with the workings of probate, signed over her rights to administer her late husband’s estate to Larry D. Farmer, a public administrator.


Farmer filed in Probate Court for letters of administration, estimating the value of Hagans’ estate at $200 and naming his heirs as widow Theresa Hagans and Lucinda Hagans Brantley, who was Hagans’ daughter.


On 12 April 1873, Farmer filed an inventory of Hagans’ personal estate, which consisted of meat and lard; household kitchen furniture; “old plunder in & around the houses”; a small amount of lint cotton; corn and peas; a cart and a crosscut saw; fodder; poultry and dogs; a horse and farming implements; sows and pigs; and a garden of greens. All of it was allotted to “Trecy” Hagans for her support while the estate was in probate.


It was a meager showing, insufficient to meet the $300 minimum required for a year’s support.



In the 1830 census of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Moses Hagans was head of a household of four free people of color.

In the 1840 census of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, Moses Hagans was head of a household of nine free people of color.

On 10 February 1846, Moses Hagans, “now of Edgecombe,” paid Thomas Hadly of Wayne County $328.50 for 164 1/4 acres on Little Swamp in Nash County. The transaction is recorded in Deed Book 18, page 331. (A mortgage for the purchase is recorded at book 18, page 325.) Little Swamp is now in Wilson County. It rises near Old Raleigh Road; flows south between Radio Tower and Flowers Roads; crosses under Interstate 95 near its junction with N.C. Highway 42; then flows east to join Contentnea Creek.

In the 1850 census of Nash County, North Carolina: Moses Hagans, 48, farmer; wife Pitty, 38; and son Gray B., 19, farmer. Also: Thomas Brantley, 28, turpentine worker, and wife Lucinda, 23.

On 25 October 1857, Moses Hagans applied for a license to marry Trecy Laciter in Wilson County.

In the 1860 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Moses Heggins, 60, farmer, and wife Theresa, 48. Moses claimed $125 in real property and $115 in personal property. [Hagans’ estate records do not mention real property.] Also, Thomas Brantley, 52, farmer; wife Lucinda, 35; and children William, 9, and James W., 6. Thomas claimed $800 in real property, $200 in personal property.

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Moses Hegans, 70; wife Trecy, 50; and James R. Locust, 12, farm laborer. Also: farm laborer Thomas Brantly, 57; wife Lucinda, 39; and son Willie, 15, farm laborer.

Estate Records of Moses Hagans, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Hagans did not have a license to carry a pistol.

At October term of the Wilson County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a grand jury indicted free man of color David Hagans for carrying a pistol without a license. Stephen Powell was among the witnesses called to testify.


  • David Hagans — in the 1850 census of North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County: Eli Hagins, 47, day laborer, and sons Sherrard, 13, David, 11, Mary, 9, and Ezekiel, 5, all described as mulatto.
  • Stephen Powell — in the 1850 census of Nash County: 47 year-old turpentine laborer Stephen Powell; wife Synthia, 36; and children Gray, 9, Queen Anne, 8, Dolly, 7, Crockett, 3, and Moab, 1. In the 1860 census of Winsteads township, Nash County: 50 year-old Stephen Powell; wife Cyntha, 45; and children Gray, 21, Dollerson, 17, Queenanah, 13, Crocket, 12, Matchum, 10, and Frances, 8. In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: 60 year-old farmer Stephen Powell; wife Cinthia, 53; and children Dolison, 27, and Washington, 20; plus Julia Amerson, 15; Mary Taylor, 21; Louisa Powell, 5; and Charles Powell, 1. In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Stephen Powell, 80; wife Cynthia, 60; sons Dollison, 37, Washington, 26, and [grandson?] Charles T., 10,; plus boarder Wilson Hagans, 65.

Carrying Gun 1856, Criminal Action Papers, Records of Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.

Bunyan Barnes’ apprentices.

Under laws authorizing the involuntary apprenticeship of poor orphans and the children of unmarried parents, county courts in antebellum North Carolina removed thousands of children from the homes to be bound to serve their neighbors. Hundreds of indentures dot the pages of Wayne County court minute books, and free children of color were disproportionately pulled into the system. Apprenticeship created an inexpensive, long-term and tractable labor supply for white yeoman farmers, many of whom could not (or could not yet) afford to purchase enslaved people.

Wayne County lost its northern tip to the newly created Wilson County in 1855. By pinpointing the locations of the farms of the men (and rare women) to whom they were indentured, we are able to identify the following free children of color as residents of the area that would become Wilson County’s Black Creek township and parts of Crossroads township.


Bunyan Barnes was born about 1809 and died before 1870. Per Wilson County Founding Families, S. Powell and H. Powell, editors, Barnes was the first postmaster of Bardin’s Depot (now Black Creek) and owned property along the Wilson and Goldsboro Road (now Frank Price Church Road) between Canal Branch and Dickerson Mill Branch in Black Creek township.

  • Stephen Mitchell, 8, and Warren Mitchell, 7, were bound to Bunyon Barnes in 1833.
  • John Hagans, 15, was bound to Bunyan Barnes in 1844.

Apprentice Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; federal censuses.

The obituary of Charles W. Hagans.

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Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer, 12 November 1943.