Farmers Cotton Oil Company had been in operation only six years when an artist sketched it for the border of T.M. Fowler’s 1908 bird’s-eye map of Wilson. At the time, the tobacco town was also one of the larger cotton markets in eastern North Carolina, and Farmers not only ginned cotton and pressed cotton seed oil, it manufactured fertilizer.
It was also a dangerous place to work. In November 1922, doctors amputated Will Scott’s left hand after it was mangled in machinery at the mill.
Wilson Daily Times, 16 November 1922.
Seven years later, Wade Vick was whirled to death after being caught in a revolving wheel at the compound.
As shown in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map, Farmers Cotton Oil Company filled almost the whole block bounded by East Barnes, Grace, Stemmery, and South Railroad Streets. The church at lower right was Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist.
John D. Bailey, 24, of Oldfields township, married Genevia Jones, 18, of Oldfields township, on 20 December 1893 at Richard Jones‘ in Oldfields township.
In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer John D. Bailey, 31; wife Jeneva, 23; daughters Rhoda, 4, Pearl, 1, and Mary L., 1 month; and servant Lillie Bagley, 35.
In the 1910 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John D. Bailey, 42; wife Jeneva, 33; and children Rhoda, 13, Pearlie, 12, Mary L., 9, Lonnie, 8, Ora, 6, John T., 5, William H., 4, Melton P., 2, and Richard E., 1.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 516 Church Street, owned and valued at $2000, oil mill laborer John Bailey, 60; wife Jeneva, 52; children Johnny, 16, James, 14, Perry, 21, railroad laborer, and Jerry, 24, railroad laborer; and lodgers Mack Miller, 35, divorced, born in S.C., auto garage mechanic, and Mary P. Williams, 74, widow, private family nurse.
John Bailey died 24 June 1932 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1876 in Nash County to Hill Bailey and Mary Bailey of Nash County, N.C.; was married Geneva Bailey; lived at 516 Church Street, Wilson; and worked as a day laborer for Southern Oil Mill. His cause of death: “hemorrhage of brain at base & of spinal cord” as a result of “scaffold fell on which he was working.”
Dock Royall was a member of the Red Hots, an all-Black volunteer fire company. A World War I veteran, he worked as a mechanic for Hackney Body Company and died after being severely burned while trying to prime a truck motor.
On August 10, 1928, Dockery Royall, 28, of Wilson, married Ossie Mae Jenkins, 25, of Wilson in Wilson. Baptist minister B.F. Jordan performed the ceremony in the presence of Lossie Jenkins, Flonnie Farmer, and Maggie Jordan. Walter M. Foster applied for the license.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 321 Hackney Street, rented at $12/month, Doc Royall, 34, body plant laborer, and wife Ossie May, 26, cook.
The body of Ed Howell, who stoked the firebox and tended the boiler on an Atlantic Coast Line passenger train, was not recovered until eleven days after he fell into Contentnea Creek south of Wilson. The strap of his overalls snagged on a tree limb or root, holding him under several feet of water. The coroner noted that the eighty-five dollars Howell had on his person was missing, but opined that it might have fallen from his pocket as he fell. (Or was he robbed and murdered?)
Wilson Daily Times, 6 February 1935.
Per his death certificate, Howell died 25 January 1935. He was a native of Pitt County, but a resident of Rocky Mount, N.C., 18 miles north of Wilson. Cause of death was described as: “accidental drowning stepping off cab steps while train on tressel over Contentna Creek near Wilson NC Train #83.”
In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Wade Vick, 15, boarder, in the household of white farmer James M. Morgan.
Wade Vick, 20, of Wilson township, son of Payton Vick and Ellen Vick, married William Ann “Willie” Plummer, 19, of Wilson township, daughter of William Plummer and Etta Plummer, on 8 January 1903 in Black Creek. Smith Mercer applied for the license.
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Wade Vick, 28; wife William Ann, 25, farm laborer; and widowed mother Martha, 60, farm laborer.
In 1918, Wade Vick registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 April 1881; lived at 819 Robeson Street, Wilson; was a laborer for Farmers Cotton Oil Company; and his nearest relative was wife Willie Vick.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 818 Robeson, Austin Branch, 59, oil mill laborer, and wife Cindy, 48, tobacco factory worker, and Wade Vick, 35, oil mill laborer, and wife Anne, 32, tobacco factory worker.
Wade Vick died 12 October 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 46 years old; was married to Willie Vick; lived at 1018 Robeson Street; was a day laborer at Farmers Cotton Oil Mill; and was born in Wilson County to Patten Vick. He died of a “fractured scull, sudden; caught in belt at cotton oil mill — killed instantly.”
In the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Peyton Vick, 29; wife Ellen, 21; children Henry, 11, Riley, 9, Roxana, 3, and Isadora, 2; and Zady Mercer, 58.
In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Peyton Vick, 24; wife Ellen, 24; and children Rily, 18, Roxie, 13, Isadora, 12, Lou C., 10, Defada, 8, Sablaska, 6, Investa, 4, and Invoida, 1.
On 27 October 1887, Jerry Parker, 21, of Wilson County, married Roxey Vick, 22, of Wilson County, at Paton Vick’s in Toisnot township.
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Roxy Parker, 24, and children Joseph, 14, Minnie, 13, Elenn, 12, Armena, 11, Mathew, 10, and Defatie, 2.
On 19 April 1903, Charlie Hines, 40, of Wilson township, son of Wesley and Ollie Hines, married Rox Anna Parker, 40, of Wilson township, daughter of Payton and Ellen Vick. Elder B.W. Tippett, a Free Will Baptist minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Stephen Strickland, Wm. H. Tippett, and H.F. Boswell, all of Elm City.
In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Parker Roxie A (c) h Harper’s la nr Herring av
Seab Parker registered for the World War I draft in 1918 in Nash County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born in March 1884; lived on Route 2, Elm City; farmed for J.W. Wells; and his nearest relative was Clora Parker.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lipscomb Road, widow Roxie Parker, 50, cook, and daughter Ellen, 21, farm laborer. Next door: William H. Knight, 22; wife Minnie, 24; brothers-in-law Cephus, 29, Menus, 22, and Mathew, 18; and lodgers Mary Saunders, 25, and her children Lebis, 10, and Lovie, 8.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Parker Roxie A (c) laundress h 731 Harper
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Parker Roxie A (c) laundress h 802 Viola
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 811 Viola, laundress Ellen Gay, 36; mother Roxanna Parker, 67; and nephew Matthew, 16.
In the 1940 census of Stoney Creek township, Nash County: in a prison camp, Sebe Parker, 65, residence Wilson County.
Charlie Seab Parker died 7 February 1944 in Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 52 years old; was born in Wilson to Jerry Parker and Roxie Vick; worked as laborer for Evans Bros. Sawmill; and lived in Rocky Mount, Nash County.
News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 19 April 1944.
Roxie Parker died 8 August 1949 at her home at 616 Viola Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 April 1847 [likely, 20 years] in Edgecombe County to Hayden Vick and Ellen Jones and was a widow. Informant was Minus Parker.
“No Dr. Instantly killed and body badly mutilated, caused by explosion of boiler at pumping station.”
A fireman tends the fire for running of boilers, heating buildings, or powering steam engines. The job involves hard physical labor, including shoveling coal or wood into a boiler’s firebox, and is inherently dangerous.
I have been unable to locate additional information about Walter Brailey‘s life or death.