Primitive Baptist churches organized themselves in associations, and African-American congregations in Wilson County were members of several, including Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association and Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association.
In November 1918, the Eighth Annual Session of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association met at Stony Creek Church in Nash County. On the first day, the delegates voted to hold the next year’s session at Corner Line Church in Wilson County. The published minutes noted that Bethlehem P.B.A.’s member churches had been members of Radicue P.B.A. until 1910, when “trouble arose” between an Elder A. Wooten and Elder N. Johnson of Few-In-Number Church in Edgecombe County. The men could not (or would not) agree to resolve the matter via ordinary channels, “[t]herefore, we the church at Few-In-Number, would not give up for our member to be tried in such an disorderly way. This is why they call us in disorder. We hope the Lord will show our brethren their wrong. This done by order of the church, assisted by five other churches joining us.” In other words, six churches broke with Radicue to form their own Association.
The minutes’ Table of Statistics reveals three Wilson County churches in the Association: Conner [Corner] Line, New Hope, and Traveler’s Rest. Elder S. Buston [Samuel Burston] of Sharpsburg helmed Corner Line, and Wiley Barnes and Peter Barnes were delegates to the Session from that church. The church reported having baptized no new members the previous year, but receiving one by profession of faith for a total membership of 16. New Hope had no sitting elder, but was represented by A. Horne and Kelley Johnson. The church had received one new member by profession, another by letter (from his or her home church), and had 14 total members. Traveler’s Rest was led by Elder J.H. Winston of Pinetops (in Edgecombe County) and was represented by B.F. Davis and Nathan Lucas. Though the church had only six members, it had baptized one the previous year and received two by profession. It had also dismissed two members.
From Minutes of the Eighth Annual Session of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association Held With the Stony Creek Church, Nash County, N.C. (1918).
Edgecombe County’s Living Hope church hotel the 11th annual session in 1921. Elder Burston was moderator, and Brother Wiley Barnes was one of two men chosen “to stand to preach for the people.” That evening, Brother Barnes sang the hymn on page 490 (of an unnamed hymnal)* and preached from Acts 9:2 — “And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”
In October 1923, Bethlehem P.B.A. convened at Wilson County’s little Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church.
Cover,Minutes of the Eighth Annual Session of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association Held With the Traveller’s Rest Church, Wilson County, N.C. (1923).
Elder Burston was again appointed moderator, and Brother Wiley Barnes was one of two men chosen to preach. On Saturday morning, Brother Barnes sang the hymn on page 530 and preached from Ezekiel 36:3 — “Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people.”
As always, the Association closed its Session with its touching “Circular Letter”:
In 1925, Bethlehem P.B.A. held its annual meeting at Bethlehem Church in Edgecombe County. The Association favorably received a request from Diggs Chapel (in northeast Wayne County, just over the Wilson county line) to join the Association. Wiley Barnes of nearby Stantonsburg had been elevated to Elder and led this congregation.
The Association returned to Corner Line in October 1927. Elder Burston preached the introductory sermon from I Corinthians 1:1. Elder Barnes lined a hymn and preached from Exodus 3:7-8 — “7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” In 1927, Corner Line had 18 members; New Hope, 17; and Traveler’s Rest, 15. The delegates chose New Hope, “nine miles from Elm City and ten miles from Wilson,” for the next meeting.
Elder Burston died in 1930. Elder Wiley Barnes took over leadership of Corner Line and New Hope, in addition to Diggs Chapel. J.H. Winstead of Tarboro headed Traveler’s Rest.
Sam Buston — Samuel Burston died 29 April 1930 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 50 years old; was married to Lucy Burston; was a preacher; and was born in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Henry Burston and Rachel Taylor. Lucy Burston, Sharpsburg, was informant.
Kelley Johnson — in the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Kellie Johnson, 32; wife Bloomer, 26; and children Arthur, 10, Elizabeth, 8, L. Rosa, 6, Kelly Jr., 5, Willie, 3, and Bloomer, 2.
Nathan Lucas — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on the south side of Stantonsburg Road, tenant farmer Nathan Lucas, 49; wife Dilsey, 35; children James, 19, Dora, 17, Odell, 11, and Peter M., 4; sister Susan Lucas, 46; and grandson Lacey J. Edwards, 1 month. Nathan Lucus died 30 September 1921 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate he was 52 years old; was married; worked as a farmer for H.E. Thompson; and was born in Johnston County to Amos Lucus. James Lucus, Stantonsburg, was informant.
I have not identified the locations of Traveler’s Rest and New Hope Primitive Baptist Churches.
*[Update: The hymnal may have been Hymn and Tune Book for Use in the Old School or Primitive Baptist Churches, compiled by Silas H. Durand and P.G. Lester and first published in 1886. The scores of the hymns include both shape-note and conventional notation.]
Minutes digitized at Divinity Archive, a project of Duke University Divinity School Library and partner institutions.
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Raleigh Road, farmer Simon Horne, 53; wife Nancy, 43; children Louisa, 22, Matha, 18, Benjamin, 17, Minnie, 14, Annie B., 12, Darling, 10, Thomas, 8, William, 6, and Tobe, 4; grandson Freeman, 4 months; and mother-in-law Bunny Barnes, 78, widow.
Front of Benjamin Horne’s draft registration card.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Park Avenue, gardener Abram Horne, 40; wife Ella, 33; and children Abram Jr., 16, David, 7, and Dazella, 4 months.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: David Horne, 29, living alone, fertilizer plant laborer.
David Horne died 20 September 1980 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 29 February 1912 in Wilson County to Abram Horne and Ella Mae Barnes; resided at 300 North Reid Street, Wilson; was married to Beatrice Batts Horne; and worked as a laborer.
Pompey Horne and family did not stay long in Wilson. By the 1900 census, they had returned to Rocky Mount, Nash County: on West Railroad Street, wheelwright Pompy Horne, 55; wife Harrett, 47; and children Mattie, 18, Joel, 14, Cornelious, 14, Westry, 12, and Wooddie, 7.
Less than a decade after gaining freedom, Elijah Cox passed away in southern Wilson County. He had assembled a small farm in Cross Roads township, but it would not pass intact to the next generation.
Receipt for reimbursement to Ben Cox, alias Horne, for clothing purchased “for burying father.”
Dr. R.E. Cox filed a claim against the estate for medical care provided in Elijah Cox’s final illness.
In 1874, Patience Cox applied for letters of administration in Wilson County Superior Court for her husband’s estate. His heirs were named as Haywood Sauls and wife Fannie; Sherrod Cox and wife Diana; Simon Dew and wife Telitha; Jerry Everett and wife Jane; Ben Barnes and wife Hester; Ben Cox; William Horne; and Warren Barnes. His estate file reveals that Cox owned about 56 acres at his death and that his debts were estimated at $175. For her support, Patience Cox was allotted barrels of corn, shucks, fodder, cotton seed, cattle, hogs, peas, potatoes, garden tools, plows, and household and kitchen furniture, which essentially wiped out Elijah’s personal property. As a result the court ordered Cox’s land sold to create assets to pay off his debts.
Inventory of Elijah Cox’s estate.
In a final accounting after the sale, heirs received payments of about $16 in February 1876.
Request from Cox’ daughter Fannie Sauls of Fremont, Wayne County, to have her share delivered via her husband Haywood Sauls.
In 1866, these formerly enslaved couples registered their cohabitations in Wayne County (Haywood Sauls and Fannie Newsome, 4 years) and Wilson County (Simon Dew and Litha King, 18 years, and Benjamin Barnes and Hester Barnes, 20 years.) I have not found cohabitation records for Elijah and Patience or their other children. (Sidenote: the multiple surnames used by Elijah’s children — Cox, Horne, Barnes, King, Newsome — suggests that they had different mothers or were held in slavery by several different owners.)
In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: shoemaker Elijah Cox, 66; wife Patience, 65; and children (or grandchildren) Jerry, 11, Clara, 5, and Patience Cox, 3. Cox claimed $150 real estate.
In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Ben Jamin Horne, 33; wife Mandy, 26; and children William Henderson, 14, Alvester, 10, Hilliard, 8, Amos, 6, and Louetta Cox, 3; and mother Patience Cox, 70.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: wagon driver Haywood Sauls, 46, and wife Fannie, 56.
In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Dew, 55; wife Lithy, 48; children Lany, 27, Peter, 25, Lucy, 23, Diannah, 21, Isaih, 20, Hilliard, 18, Hester, 16, Aarch, 14, Liscy, 12, Patience, 10, Sarah, 8, and Simon, 6; and grandchildren Zilpha, 13, Roxie A., 2, and William, 1.
In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Benjaim Barnes, 52; wife Hester, 52; and children Ervin, 17, Rebecca, 16, Bettie, 13, Larry, 10, Thomas, 8, and Benjaim, 6.
The examination of the following witnesses, taken before the undersigned Coroner of said County, this 6th of July 1903 at the house of Turner Walston upon the body of the infant of Ollie Horne then and near there lying dead, to wit:
Delpha Bynum, being duly sworn, says:
I never saw anything but the after birth and I examined it. My question to her was where is the young one and Caline Barnes said there they are and I said Come & see what I am talking about, and I said to Ollie nobody knows but you where that baby is and then Caline Gracy Abram and Mollie Barnes commenced to hunt for it.
Mollie Barnes being duly sworn says:
I says, Ollie tell me where the baby is. She says Aint Duck I don’t know where it is. I haven’t seen anything but that in the night glass. She then told her sister Gracey to go & get her snuff box and then she would tell her where the child was and then I saw her when she pulled it out from under pillow and then I said to her, you laid on this baby and she said no I didn’t Aint Duck. The body looked like it was sort of mashed one side. I saw little blood running out of its nostrils. Mollie (X) Barnes
Addie Artis being duly sworn says:
I was the first one got there and I went into the room where she was and she was down on the floor and asked her what was the matter with her and she told me she did not know and I said Ollie yes you do know what is the matter with you and I went into the other room and she told me to bring her some water to wash her hands and I went to get the water and there was some sitting on floor in a bucket and I carried her that and she told me to bring her some sweet soap and I asked her where it was and she told me it was over mantle piece & I carried it to her and by that time sister Caline Barnes come and I asked her what must we do and she said lets send after her sister Gracy and we sent after her and when she come we sent after Aunt Delpha Bynum. I was out doors when they found the baby. She pulled the baby out from under the pillow. I saw the baby and it looked like it was mashed. There was some blood rushing out of its nose. /s/ Addie Arirs
Jim T. Burress being duly sworn says:
I saw the child. She was looking towards it, I asked her if that was her child & she told me yes. I asked her where she gave birth to it & she said there where she was. I asked her if it was dead when it was born & she said it was and I asked her if she tried to conceal it & she said she didn’t. She said she put it over her, behind her, in the bed. /s/ Jno. T. Burress
Solomon Horn being duly sworn says:
I heard the child cry twice. I was sitting on door steps on outside. I heard one of the children cry twice. Don’t know which one. Solomon (X) Horn
Gracy Pender being duly sworn says:
I was not there when the child was born. I saw the child when she pulled it out from under the pillow. I saw a little blood running out from its nose. Gracy (X) Pender
Abram Pender being duly sworn says:
Solomon told you that when he come to the house he took a seat on door steps or bench one on side of house and heard something in there crying like a little baby. He did not tell me about another baby. Abram (X) Pender
Caline Barnes being duly sworn says:
I went into the house and asked sister Addie what was the matter and she told me she did not know, but go into room & she – Ollie – was sitting there and everything all round her was terribly fixed. I says what is the matter with you and she says what did I reckon made all that cold blood come from her and I say Ollie you ought to know I don’t know whether it lived or not. Caline (X) Barnes
Be it remembered that on this the 6th day of July 1903 I Albert Anderson, Coroner, of the County of Wilson attended by a Jury of good and lawful men: Chas. Walston, Frank Walston, Ben Walston, Turner Walston, Jos. Bynum (col) and Gaston Eason, by me summoned for that purpose, according to law, and after being by me duly sworn and empaneled at Turner Walston in the Co aforesaid, did hold an inquest over the dead body of the infant of Ollie Horn and after examination into the facts and circumstances of the deceased, from a view of the corps, and all the testimony to be procured the said Jury find as follows, that is to say that the children was born dead. /s/ Gaston Eason, B.T. Walston, Chas. Walston, Frank (X) Walston, W.T. (X) Walston, Jos. (X) Bynum
Inquest had and signed and sealed in the presence of Albert Anderson, Coroner of Wilson Co.
Ollie Horne — in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Luke Horn, 56, wife Mary, 23, and children Ollie, 23, Fannie, 17, Marcellus, 8, and William, 13.
Delphia Bynum Applewhite Bynum — on 23 October 1873, Warren Applewhite, 21, married Delsy Bynum, 20, at justice of the peace Elbert Felton’s in Saratoga township. In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Warren Applewhite, 23, wife Delpha, 22, children Lillie, 3, and Marcellus, 2, and Sallie Ruffin, 6. On 1 May 1890, Delphia Applewhite, 35, daughter of Edna Best, married Henry Bynum, 45, son of Robert and Mary Bynum at Blount Knight’s. In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: widow Delpy Bynum, 50, and children M., 21, Matthew, 18, Bessie, 16, and Aaron Applewhite, 14.
Mollie Barnes — in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jarmes Barnes, 44, wife Mollie, 41, and children Lilly, 11, Lula, 10, Aaron, 8, Arrena, 6, Calvin, 4, Harry, 3, and Geneva, 2.
Addie Barnes Artis — Addie Barnes, 20, married James Artis, 22, on 12 November 1900 at “parents’ house” in Saratoga township. Missionary Baptist minister E.P. Pearsall performed the ceremony in the presence of Dempsey Bullock, Andrew Sauls and J.H. Moore. Addie Artis died 30 June 1917 in Saratoga township. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 June 1879 in Wilson County to Isaac Barnes and Bettie Ellis. James A. Artis was informant.
Solomon Horne — in the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Solomon Horn 23, is listed as a hired man in the household of white farmer Joe J. Mattox. On 18 December 1913, Solomon Horn, 28, and Jane Eason, 32, both of Saratoga, were married at Jane Eason’s residence by Primitive Baptist minister B.J. Best. On 1 June 1919, Solomon Horn, 34, married Pearl Ward, 18, at J.B. Eason’s farm.
Grace Horne Pender — in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Abraham Pender, 28, wife Gracey, 20, and newborn son Charley. In the 1910 census of Saratoga township: Abram Pender, 42, wife Grace, 30, and children Charlie, 10, Albert, 8, Floyd and Louis, 6, Willie, 4, Dallas J., 1, and Mary, 2 months.
Abram Pender — see Grace H. Pender, above.
Caroline Best Barnes — on 19 March 1885, Allen Barnes 22, married Caroline Best, 20, in Wilson. M.E. minister W.J. Gay performed the ceremony in the presence of Leamon Taborn, George Marshall and Alfred Robinson. In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Allen Barnes, 37, wife Calliann, 34, and children John, 15, Mary L., 12, Della, 7, Corinna, 5, Willie, 3, and Bennie, 1, plus friend Fannie Mathe, 26.
Joseph Bynum — possibly, in the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Joe Bynum, 35, and wife Mary L., 35.
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.