I live in my head. So I’ve been carrying the seeds of Black Wide-Awake and Lane Street Project a very long time, but only recently stretched out my hands to sow them.
The harvest has been immense.
Among the bounty — Castonoble Hooks, who has championed my work since Dr. Joseph H. Ward. He has become both my student and teacher, and I am immensely grateful for his wisdom, friendship, and support.
On July 28 at 7:00 PM, Mr. Hooks will deliver a lecture on Wilson’s early civil rights history at Our Wilson, 501 Nash Street E. Our Wilson, led by Donta Chestnut, is a non-profit organization focused on providing mentoring and educational resources to young people and families. Fittingly located in the heart of Wilson’s historic Black business district, Our Wilson works to inspire youth across the city’s spectrum with stories of Wilson natives who have accomplished their dreams. In the spirit of sankofa, Mr. Hooks will provide much-needed, always relevant context for the community’s modern success stories. Please support this event if you’re able.
Be it remembered that on the 20th day of June 1878 I, H.W. Peel one of the Coroners of said County, attended by a Jury of good and lawful men, viz S.M. Warren, Ruffin Lamm, J.H. Worrell, J.T. High, J.M. White, L.T. Raper, Frank Farmer, E. Holoway, G.W. Barefoot, Aaron Skinner, Henry Wiggins & Robt. Strickland by me summoned for that purpose according to law after being by me duly sworn and Empannelled at J. Barefoot Mill Pond in the County aforesaid did hold an inquest over the dead body of William Barnett, col and after inquiring into the facts & circumstances of the death of the deceased from a view of the corpse and all the testimony to be procured the Jury find as follows that is to say that the deceased came to his death by accidental drowning. /s/ Frank (X) Farmer, S.M. Warren Foreman, E. (X) Holoway, Ruffin (X) Lamm, G.W. Barefoot, J.H. Worrell, Aaron (X) Skinner, J.T. High, Henry (X) Wiggins, G.M. White, Robt. (X) Strickland, L.T. Raper
State of North Carolina, Wilson County }
Be it remembered that on the 20th day of June 1878 I, H.W. Peel one of the Coroners of said County, attended by a Jury of good and lawful men, viz S.M. Warren, Ruffin Lamm, J.H. Worrell, J.T. High, J.M. White, L.T. Raper, Frank Farmer, E. Holoway, G.W. Barefoot, Aaron Skinner, Henry Wiggins & Robt. Strickland by me summoned for that purpose according to law after being by me duly sworn and Empannelled at J. Barefoots Mill Pond in the County aforesaid did hold an inquest over the dead body of Thos Hooks, cold & his son Al. Hooks and after inquiring into the facts & circumstances of the death of the deceased from a view of the corpse and all the testimony to be procured the Jury find as follows that is to say that the deceased came to there death by accidental drowning. /s/ Frank (X) Farmer, S.M. Warren Foreman, E. (X) Holoway, Ruffin (X) Lamm, G.W. Barefoot, J.H. Worrell, Aaron (X) Skinner, J.T. High, Henry (X) Wiggins, G.M. White, Robt. (X) Strickland, L.T. Raper
William Barnett — in the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, Virginia-born farm laborer William Barnett, 21, and wife Rosa, 30.
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
Applications for military headstones reveal that these men were buried in one of the three cemeteries known collectively as “Rountree.” Of the veterans below, only Willie Gay’s grave marker has been found.
In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Melton, 42, wife Lucy, 45, sons John, 16, and Samuel A., 13.
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Melton, 51, wife Lucy, 55, son Johnnie Jr., 24, boarder James Dudley, 20, and grandson Sam Melton, 12.
On 29 October 1917, John Melton, 26, of Wilson, married Cora Barnes, 25, of Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Linnie Wilson, M.H. Wilson, and Lorena E. Gregg.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter John Melton, 28, wife Cora, 26, with son Robert O., 1, and cousin Della Griswill, 24.
On 28 December 1917, Albert Battle, 31, of Wayne County, son of Albert and Annie Battle, married Hannah Pate, 30, of Stantonsburg, daughter of John and Vinie Pate, in Wilson County. Rev. S.J. Brown, a Freewill Baptist minister, at P.P. Barnes’ house in Stantonsburg in the presence of Smithie Barnes, P.P. Barnes, and Rosa Battle.
In the 1920 census of Great Swamp, Wayne County: Albert Battle, 33, wife Hannah, 31, and daughter Linday, 12, on Pikeville and Fremont Road.
In the 1930 census of Great Swamp, Wayne County: Albert Battle, 43, wife Hannah, 39, sister-in-law Smythia, 45, nieces and nephews Odie, 18, Flossie M., 17, Hettie B., 10, Beatrice, 7, Viola, 6, and James O. Battle, 3.
Albert Battle died 19 March 1936 in Fremont, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 March 1886 in Edgecombe County to Albert Battle and Dossie Ann Drake; worked as a laborer; was married; and was buried in Wilson. Hannah Battle of Fremont was informant.
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Larry Hooks, 20, listed a prisoner in the county stockade on Wiggins Mill Road.
Lary Hooks, 27, registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 May 1890 in Fremont, North Carolina, and worked as a “convict on road” in the Nashville road district. He was married and described as medium height and stout with brown eyes and black hair.
Larry Hooks died 3 August 1936 in Wilson’s Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was married to Sarah Hooks; was born about 1890 in Wayne County to Charlie Hooks and Melvina Reid of Wayne County; and worked as a common laborer. Charlie Hooks of Elm City, North Carolina, was informant.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Emma Gay, 35, and children Charlie, 15, steam mill worker, Mary, 11, Etheldred, 8, and Willie, 6, plus boarder Fannie Thompson, 19, cook.
On 8 January 1894, Willie Gay, 18, son of Charles and Emma Gay, married Mary Bunn, 21, daughter of Dick and Mary Bunn, at Willie Gay’s house in Wilson. Presbyterian minister L.J. Melton performed the ceremony in the presence of W.M. Phillips, L.A. Moore, and C.C. Williams.
Probably, in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer William Gay, 26, a widower, living alone.
On 29 October 1902, Willie Gay, 27, married Mary Johnson, 22, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist ministerFred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Cain Artis, Chas. S. Thomas, and Robt. E. Artis.
On 23 March 1906, William Gay, 33, son of Charles and Emma Gay, married Augustus McNeil, 30, daughter of Peter and Emily Patterson of Fayetteville, North Carolina, at William Gay’s house in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performs the ceremony in the presence of J.E. Fanner, Robert Stricklin, and Charlie Fain.
Possibly, in the 1940 census of Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City County, Virginia: Willie Gay, 66, born in North Carolina, patient at Veterans Administration facility.
N.B.: Gay, who served 1898-99, was a veteran of the Spanish American War.
Robert Crocker Harris
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1018 Wainwright Street, farmer Moses Dupree, 50; wife Henrietta, 48, nurse for private family; grandson Robert Harris, 8; and roomer Virginia Humphreys, 54, cosmetics peddler.
In 1942, Robert Crocker Harris registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. His draft card reports that he was born 6 June 1922 in Wilson County; resided at 1018 Wainwright Street; listed Henriette Dupree of that address as his contact person; and worked as a tobacco farm aide.
Robert Croker Harris died 21 June 1952 in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 June 1922 in Wilson County to Willie Harris and Smithie Dupree; was married; worked as an orderly at Duke Hospital; and resided at 613 Fayetteville Street. Detective W.H. Upchurch was informant. Cause of death: “Abdominal hemorrhage; two pistol shot wounds of back; shot while being arrested for disorderly conduct & resisting arrest — officer exonerated by grand jury.”