Tom Johnson is gunned down.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 December 1942.

We read about some of Tom Johnson‘s earlier troubles here. On Christmas Day, as Johnson walked down Pender Street, he encountered Milton Lucas, whom he had allegedly shot days before near First Baptist Church. Lucas shot Johnson, then turned himself in at police headquarters, but a court soon released him, finding “no probable cause.”

The family would not take him; Darden sold the body to Wake Forest.

Caught rifling through a money drawer, James Hinton lost a shoot-out with a storeowner northwest of Wilson. Though his family gave information for his death certificate, they refused to arrange with Darden Funeral Home for his burial. Following their suggestion, Darden sold the man’s body to the medical school at Wake Forest College.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 23 September 1933.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 September 1933.


James Hinton [not John or Hinnant] died 21 September 1933 at Moore-Herring Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 45 years old; was born in Wendell, North Carolina; worked as a laborer; and lived at the Biltmore Hotel. Cause of death: “was dead from bullet wound when I saw him shot thru abdomen.” Allie P. Hinton, Wendell, was informant. Written in the margin: “was shot robbing a store.”

The obituary of Willie Knight.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 August 1941.

Brothers Avan and Calvin Melvin were arrested and charged with the murder of Willie Knight. Avan Melvin claimed he struck Knight because Knight was cutting Calvin Melvin.  Calvin Melvin claimed innocence. I have not been able to determine the outcome of the trial, which was held the month after the incident.


In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Colonel Knight, 24; wife Flora, 20; and son Willie, 1.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Colonel Knight, 34; wife Flora, 28; and children Willie, 11, Nella, 8, George, 7, Colonel Jr., 4, and Percy, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 717 Vance Street, rented at $16/month, Cullan Knight, 44, farmer; wife Flora, 37; and children Willie, 21, odd jobs laborer, George, 16, baker, Cullon Jr., bakery delivery boy, Percy, 13, and Gladys, 9.

In 1940, Willie Knight registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 June 1908 in Wilson County; lived at 646 Wiggins Street; was married to Thelma Newman Knight; and worked for R.P. Watson Tobacco Company. The card is marked “Deceased.”

Willie Knight died 2 August 1941 on Banks Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in June 1909 in Wilson County to Colonel Knight and Flora Thomas; was married to Thelma Knight; lived at 127 Narrowly Street; and worked as a laborer. Cause of death: “hit on head with brick fracturing skull killing almost instantly.”

The murder of Mordecai Hagans.

We first met Mordecai Hagans, born a free man of color, here, as an employee of Wilson’s Confederate hospital.

Fifteen or so years later, Hagans was murdered.

Wilson Advance, 16 July 1880.

(Josephus Daniels was editor of the Advance at the time, so it’s no surprise he thought it paramount to note that Hagans faithfully voted the white supremacist Democratic ticket. He tells us nothing of Hagans’ family, his occupation, his history — but we know this.)

Wilson Advance, 30 July 1880.

The Advance‘s follow-up was devoted almost exclusively  to the exculpation of J. Frank Eatmon, primarily via inferences from the testimony of Hagans’ “old, half-idiotic” unnamed wife, who had been severely beaten the night her husband was killed.


In the 1860 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Mordecai Hagans, 23, farm laborer, living alone.

In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Mordecai Hagans, 37, and wife Cherry, 45.

In the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: laborer Mordicia Hagins, about 50, and wife Cherry, about 45. [They are listed immediately after the households of J. Frank Eatmon and Pearson Eatmon’s mother Aquilla Eatmon and likely lived on the property of one or the other.]

Boone escapes to Wilson.

Newbern Daily Progress, 24 September 1859.

I have not found him in records, but Joseph Boone was likely a member of the small extended Boone family of free people of color who migrated into Nash County from adjoining counties to the north. After allegedly killing Uriah Ricks, he fled to Wilson, where he hopped a train south, most likely on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. Note Boone’s description — “about one-fourth free negro, but generally passes for white.” Race was more fluid in nineteenth-century North Carolina than we credit.

Milton Simms fatally struck by brick.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 August 1933.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 August 1933.

Milton Simms and Willie Jones bumped into one another on an East Wilson sidewalk near Tom Johnson‘s filling station. A petty argument broke out, and Jones hurled a brick at Simms. Struck in his midsection, Simms died within minutes, and Jones fled the scene.

Jones was captured a day later, charged with manslaughter, convicted, and sent to Wilson County’s state highway prison camp. He escaped in July 1934, but was tracked down by bloodhounds within hours.


In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, Frances Simms, 39, and children Milton, 22, Eddie, 18, Raymond, 10, Maggie, 8, Ava, 5, Richard, 2, and Ray, 3 months.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C.: Simms Milton (c) brklayer h 106 Manchester

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 106 Manchester, laundress Frances Simms, 37, widow, with Milton, 20, Eva, 7, and Neva Simms, 5. [Frances and Milton’s ages were considerably off in this census.]

Milton Simms died 29 August 1933 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 32 years old; was born in Wilson County t0 Ed Mitchell of Wayne County, N.C., and Frances Sims of Wilson County; worked as a common laborer for Imperial Tobacco Company; and died of being “hit in the stomach with brick by Willie Jones Died instantly Homicide.” Raymond Sims was informant, and he was buried in Wilson. [He was almost certainly buried in Vick Cemetery.]

Chester Parker gets 30 years for murder of wife.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 May 1944.

Chester Parker‘s first murder victim was Ed Howard.


  • Chester Parker

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

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Floyd Ellis, 38; mother Cora Ellis, 60, widow; and boarder Chester Parker, 22; all farm laborers.

On 30 September 1937, Chester Parker, 28, of Taylor township, son of David and Liner Parker of Georgia, married Polly Barnes, 19, of Toisnot township, daughter of John and Pennie Barnes, in Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Chester Parker, 32, and wife Pollie, 21, cook.

In 1940, Chester Parker registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. per his registration card, he was born 22 October 1905 in Wilson County; lived at Route 2, Box 225, Elm City, Wilson County; his contact was wife Polly Barnes Parker; and he worked for Raleigh Granite Company, Bailey, Nash County, N.C.

In October 1941, Parker, already on bond on a charge of assault with a deadly weapon for stabbing his wife, was arrested again after threatening to kill her and then himself.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 October 1941.

Chester Parker died 9 July 1966 in Zebulon, Wake County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 January 1908 in Wilson County to David Parker and Elizabeth [maiden name unknown]; worked as a saw mill fireman; and was married to Odell Parker.

  • Pauline Parker

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Penny Edwards, 46, widow, and children Jesse J., 20, Sarah, 16, Mary, 14, Pollyanna, 11, and Arron, 9.

Polly Ann Parker died 24 April 1944 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 October 1918 in Wilson County to John and Pennie Barnes; was married; lived at 608 East Vance Street; and worked as a domestic. Cause of death: “gun shot wound of stomach; due to homicide.”