in memoriam

Cheers to the Class of 1952!

My father loved some Darden High School and Darden High School Alumni Association and kept a stack of these in his trunk for whomever he encountered that might have wanted one. It’s a list of every known graduate of Darden from 1924 until it closed its doors as a high school in 1970. 

I didn’t attend Darden, but I grew up in the glow of its glory. Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with Darden Alumni Reunion. My father was a founder and an early president of the Association, and his class celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Jean Wynn Jones lovingly spoke on their behalf at his funeral, and several of his classmates helped carry flowers from the church.  

 As I continue to celebrate and honor my father’s legacy, I raise a toast to the Class of 1952! 

Class of 1952 Darden High School

Rest in peace, Rederick C. Henderson.

I know East Wilson because my father knew East Wilson. He was born in a house on Elba Street, was raised on Queen and Reid Streets, and was educated at Samuel H. Vick Elementary and Charles H. Darden High School. He played basketball at the Community Center, spent whole Saturdays watching movies at the Ritz Theatre, and knocked on the back door of Hines Barbershop to get spending money from his father. Long before Black Wide-Awake, my father introduced me to so many of the people and places that have made their way into this blog’s 4000 posts. Even as his final illness progressed, he loved to ride through the streets of East Wilson, pointing and narrating, peeling back layers of time to expose the pentimenti of our shared birthplace.

My father transitioned Friday night, surrounded by the four women who loved him most — his wife of 61 years, his two daughters, and his granddaughter. We are heartbroken, but blessed that we could comfort and care for him as he has done for us always. I honor his life and legacy here. Rest in power, Daddy.

Remembering Virginia Celia Robinson Cox, centenarian (or nonagenarian).

Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 2022.


In the 1910 census of Mars Hill township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farmer  Dock Robinson, 40; wife Mary, 30; and children Joseph, 10, Eva, 8, Clyde, 7, Celia, 6, David, 4, Eliza, 3, and Leana, 17 months.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Doc Robinson, 55; wife Maggie, 53; children Mary, 18, James C., 19, Virginia, 17, David, 14, Elijah, 12, and Jessie B., 3; Vangie, 32, Geneva, 17, and Addie McDoogle, 15; and Moses Robinson, 8, and lodgers Jack, 103, and Annie Armstrong, 101.

On 25 January 1922, Herman Cox, 23, of Wilson County, son of David and Florence Cox, married Virginia Robinson, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of Dock and Mary Robinson, at Dock Robinson’s residence in Taylors township. A.M.E. Zion minister J.B. Sutton performed the ceremony in the presence of Dan Blue, W.J. Armstrong, and E.L. Sutton.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Herman Cox, 40; wife Gennie, 35; and children Herman Jr., 17, Ida Odser, 16, Comillus, 14, Raymond, 10, Willie Gray, 8, Rosevelt, 6, Douglas, 4, Joe Lewis, 3, and Henry Lee, 9 months.

Herman Cox died 4 October 1966 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 December 1899 in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Dave Cox; worked as a farmer; and was married to Virginia Cox. Roosvelt Cox was informant.

Smithfield Herald, 8 July 2003.

William Pharaoh Powell’s family remembers.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 2022.


In the 1900 census of Jackson township, Nash County, N.C.: Ichabod Powell, 50, farmer; wife Mary A., 50; children Mary A., 20, Martha, 18, Joseph, 16, Margarett, 14, Geneva, 12, Billie P., 11, Dempsey H., 9, and Paul J., 6; and nephew Henry Lassiter, 28.

In the 1910 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Mary Ann Powell, 59, widow, and her children William, 20, Dempsey, 17, Paul, 14, and Margaret, 22. 

On 17 September 1914, William Powell, 23, of Nash County, married Eliza Lucas, 21, of Nash County, in Wilson County. Willie Eatmon applied for the license. 

In 1917, William Powell applied for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born February 1892 in Nash County; was a farmer; had a wife and child; and lived at Route 2, Elm City. 

On 9 February 1924, William Powell, 33, of Nash County, son of Ichabod and Mary Ann Powell, married Margarette Hagans, 22, of Wilson County, daughter of Julius Hagans, in Wilson County. James Powell applied for the license. 

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer William Powell, 30, and Margaret, 28. 

John Powell died 31 July 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 September 1913 in Wilson County to William Powell and Eliza Lucas and worked in farming.

Willie B. Powell died 2 March 1938 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 September 1937 in Wilson to William Powell and Margret Hagans and lived at 701 West Hines Street, Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 609 Hines Street, W.P.A. laborer William Powell, 48; wife Margaret, 38; and children Odell, 8, Willie Mae, 6, Joe Louis, 3, and William T., 8 months.

William “Bill” Pharaoh Powell died 23 July 1963 at his home at 404 North Reid Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 February 1891 in Wilson County to Echabud Powell and Mary Ann Lassiter; was married to Margaret H[agans] Powell; and worked as a laborer.

In memoriam: Dora Ellis Dawson.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 May 1992.


In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Jonah Ellis, 42; wife Precilla, 38; and children Mattie, 11, Benjamin, 9, Dora, 8, Jonah Jr., 6, James, 5, and Caroline, 3.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Jonnie Ellis, 56, farmer; wife Prisilla, 46; and children Mattie, 21, Benjamin, 20, Jannie Jr., 17, Dora, 18, James, 14, Coralin, 13, and Mary, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Jonnie Ellis, age unknown, farmer; wife Pricilla, 56; daughter Mary, 17; daughter Dora Williamson, 28; grandchildren Fannie, 8, and Oscar, 7; and boarder Marion Edward, 28.

On 2 October 1933, Tom Dawson, 39, of Black Creek, son of James Dawson and Chanie Brooks, married Dora Ellis, 32, of Cross Roads, daughter of Jonie and Priscilla Ellis, in Wilson County.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Dawson, 46; wife Dora, 47; children Annie, 4, Dora Lee, 3, Thomas Jr., 1; mother Chanie B., 73, widow; lodger Willie Melton, 30; and stepdaughter Fannie B. Williams, 17, and her child Annie D., 5 months.

Thomas Dawson Sr. died 4 October 1967 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 March 1896 in Wilson County to Pat Faison and Chanie Dawson; was married to Dora Dawson; and was a farm laborer.

In sad and loving memory of William Dixon, “daddy dear.”

Wilson Daily Times, 23 April 1946.


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 East Hines, owned and valued at $1200, William Dixon, 60, fireman “N&S R.R.”; wife Rachael, 62; and son Astor, 17.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 East Hines, owned and valued at $500, William Dixon, 72; wife Rachael, 62; and grandson Richard, 6. Also, at 918 Washington, Alonzo Foster, 37, and roomers Astor Dixon, 26, theatre doorman, and wife Minnie, 24, cook.

William Dixon died 21 April 1945 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 December 1880 in Dalton, Georgia, to Lyon Dixon and Bura Pender; was married to Rachel Dixon; lived at 406 East Hines; and was a retired railroad Norfolk & Southern fireman.

Lane Street Project: my Rountree.

I wrote here about my recent discovery of my great-grandmother’s headstone in Odd Fellows cemetery. She is not alone. Like everyone with deep roots in Black Wilson, I have many relatives buried in the three Lane Street Project graveyards. Mine include: 

Henry M. Barnes (1911-1912), my cousin

Ned R. Barnes (1869-1912), my great-great-uncle

Henrietta G. Taylor (1893-1916), my great-aunt

Jesse Barnes (1867-1916), my great-great-uncle

William Barnes (1879-1917), my great-great-uncle

Hennie L. Taylor (1916-1917), my cousin

Wesley Barnes (1865-1919), my great-great-uncle

Mary Barnes Jones (1876-1919), my great-great-aunt

Charles Barnes (1896-1919), my cousin

Mattie Barnes Hines (1895-1922), my cousin

Ethel G. Barnes (1915-1923), my cousin

Rachel Barnes Taylor (1863-1925), my great-grandmother

Warland Barnes (1907-1926), my cousin 

H. Michael Taylor (1861-1927), my great-grandfather

Infant Henderson (1928-1928), my uncle

Jesse Henderson Jr. (1928-1929), my cousin

Jerrell R. Barnes (1909-1929), my cousin

Archie Henderson (1926-1930), my cousin

Ned J. Barnes (1899-1931), my cousin

Thomas Perry (1909-1932), my cousin


At noon on February 20, during our next clean-up, Lane Street Project will conduct a candle lighting ceremony to recognize and give thanks to the ancestors — both remembered and forgotten — buried in Rountree, Odd Fellows, and Vick. Please join us.

In memory of Troy Lee Chatman.

Wilson Times, 19 January 2021.

We first met Troy Lee Chatman here, as a member of the Darden High School football team. He passed away in January 2020, and today would have been his 99th birthday.

His obituary:

Mr. Troy Lee Chatman, 98, of 5002 Rainwater Road, Lucama, NC, passed away on January 25, 2020 at his home.

The funeral service is scheduled for Thursday, January 30, 2020 at 12:00 noon at Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC. Pastor Rondric Coppedge will deliver the eulogy. Burial will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery, Lane Street Ext., Wilson, NC.

A public visitation will be held on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm also at Stevens Funeral Home.

Mr. Chatman was preceded in death by his children, Geraldine Whitley and Inez Chatman; his parents, George Chatman and Daisy Pender Chatman; two sisters, Carrie Chatman and Fannie Best; and one brother, Leroy Dew.

He leaves cherished memories to: four sons, Roma Chatman, Gary Chatman, Troy “TL” Chatman and David Whitley all of Wilson, NC; five daughters, Delores Chatman and Barbara Singletary both of Lucama, NC, Cynthia Daughtridge (Ricky), Bernice Simmons and Abigail Kelly (Edward) all of Wilson, NC; twenty-three grandchildren; fifty-three great grandchildren; several great great grandchildren; god daughter, Ernestine Kinney; two nieces, three nephews, several cousins; other family and friends.

Arrangements are by Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC.


In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Chatman, 35; wife Mary Ellen Chatman, 25; boarder Sue Pender, 28, cook; and son Troy Lee Chatman, 7.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer George Chapman, 29, widower; son Troy Lee, 10; mother-in-law Sudie Pender, 35; and nephew Leroy, 5, and niece Carrie Jew [Dew], 3. [The ages of George and Troy Lee Chatman, and probably Sudie Pender, are wildly off.]

In 1942, Troy Lee Chapman registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 20 January 1922 in Wayne County, N.C.; lived in Black Creek; his contact was Luther Bardin, Black Creek; and he worked for his father George Chapman, Black Creek. He was five feet, five inches tall; weighed 140 pounds; and had a scar on both sides of his forehead.

On 24 December 1943, Troy Chatman, 21, of Black Creek township, son of George and Daisy Chatman, married Gladys Whitley, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Monroe and Lena Whitley, in Wilson.

On 24 January 1953, Troy Lee Chatman, 31, of Lucama, married Louise Best, 27, of Black Creek, in Wilson.

In memory of William L. Hill.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 May 1987.


In the 1920 census of Township #9, Craven County, N.C.: on Central Highway between Jaspar and Benscoton Creek, Hugh L. Hill, 34; wife Malissie, 32; and children Mamie, 8, Katie, 6, Evolena, 4, and William, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 132 Manchester Street, sawmill laborer Henry L. Hill, 44, widower, and children Mamie E., 18, Everlyne, 15, Katie B., 17, William, 12, Jessie M., 9, Emaniel, 7, Benjman, 5, and Myrtina, 3.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Henry Hill, 54, tobacco factory laborer; wife Rosa, 32, tobacco factory laborer; daughter Mamie Autry, 28, widow, tobacco factory laborer; children William Hill, 22, oil mill hand, Jessie, 19, tobacco factory laborer, Emanuel, 17, Benjamin, 14, and Mertina, 12; and grandchildren Deloris, 6, Dorthy, 4, and Timothy Autry, 2. 

In 1940, William Lovett Hill registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 15 October 1917 in New Bern, N.C.; lived at 1013 East Atlantic Street, Wilson; his contact was father Henry Lovett Hill; and he worked for Southern Oil Company.