John H. Skinner, an accommodationist’s accommodationist, wrote this letter to the editor of the Smithfield Herald in 1896. His point is not entirely clear, but his disparagement of African-Americans — in service to race relations — is painfully so.
SKINNER, JOHN HENRY — Clergyman — b. Sept. 13, 1867, Wilson, N.C.; s. A. and Mary (Barnes) Skinner; educ St. Augustine Normal Sch., Raleigh, N.C.; A.B. State Normal Sch., Fayetteville, N.C., 1881; A.B. Tuskegee Institute, Ala., 1922; D.D. Baptist Coll., 1922; A.M. Am. Correspondence Coll., South Daniel, N.Y., 1896; m. J.H. Lane, Dec. 30, 1895 (deceased 1902); four children, Lena, b. Nov. 11, 1896; Lillie May, b. Oct. 5, 1897; Claude, b. Sept. 10, 1898; Flossie Pearl, b. Nov. 11, 1899; second marriage, Nelissa Peterson (deceased); one child, Mary V., b. 1910; third marriage, Mrs. Florence Dew; taught, Pub. Sch. Wilson County, for four years; established The Fremont Enterprise; taught in Wayne County, N.C., for fourteen years; taught in Green[e] County, N.C., for eighteen years; founded the Baptist College, Kenly, N.C., 1920; President of same, 1920-present; Associate Editor, City Paper, Kenly, N.C., 1926-present; Principal, Graded Schools, Kenly, N.C., 1926-present; General Moderator of two conferences for the sixth term, mem A.F. & A.M. Knights of Pythias; Pol. Republican; Relig. F.W. Baptist; Address, Kenly, N.C.
He began teaching when fourteen years of age and has been a teacher since 1881. He managed a newspaper in Freemont, N.C., for two years, teaching at the same time in Wayne County, holding then a First Grade Certificate. Was Dean of teachers in Greene County for ten years, resigning to found the Baptist College, of which he has been President since 1920.
The Baptist College began its work in 1909 in Fremont, N.C., and later was moved to Kenly, N.C. It held two months’ sessions each summer until 1920 when under the supervision of Rev. Skinner it began its eight months’ sessions.
The purpose of the school is to train young men and women in the elements of an English education, to prepare them for teaching and provide a Theological course. There are a number of buildings and a dormitory for boys and girls.
Joseph J. Boris, ed., Who’s Who in Colored America, vol. 1 (1927).
Teachers and students of the Original Free Will Baptist School, also known as Skinner’s College, circa 1923. John H. Skinner is at far right. Skinner was also principal of Kenly Colored Graded School, a Rosenwald school. Photo courtesy of Johnston County Heritage Center.
In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Aaron Skinner, 37, carpenter; wife Mary, 25; and son John, 9; domestic servant Esther Barnes, 21; and Willie Battle, 2.
J.H. Skinner, 24, of Wayne County, son of Aaron and Mary Skinner of Virginia, married J.A. Lane, 23, of Wayne County, daughter of Amos and Penny Lane, on 30 December 1885 in Nahunta township, Wayne County.
In the 1900 census of Fremont, Wayne County, N.C.: school teacher John H. Skinner, 37; wife Jackan, 36; and children Adie L., 12, Lillie M., 10, Claud, 8, and Clasie, 4.
On Christmas Day 1904, J.H. Skinner, 41, married Ida Artice, 25, in Greene County, N.C.
In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County, N.C.: public school teacher John H. Skinner, 49; wife Ida, 38; and children Lillie, 20, Claudie, 17, and Flosey, 14.
On 7 September 1913, J.H. Skinner, 45, of Johnston County, married Melisa Peterson, 20, of Johnston County, in Beulah township, Johnston County.
On 17 May 1919, Richard Swinson applied for a marriage license in Greene County for J.H. Skinner, 51, of Greene County, and Rosa L. Ellison, 27, of Greene County, daughter of Harvey and Laura Ellison. The license was not returned.
In the 1930 census of Beulah township Johnston County, N.C.: on Matthew Donal Street, widower John H. Skinner, 60, teacher at Brower(?) School.
On 10 May 1930, J.H. Skinner, 60, of Kenly, son of Adam and Mary Skinner, married Elizabeth Williams, 45, of Kenly, daughter of Dock and Mary Parker, in Kenly, Johnston County, N.C.
J.H. Skinner died 16 November 1937 in Kenly, Beulah township, Johnston County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1851 in Wilson to Aaron Skinner and Mary Barnes; was married to Elizabeth Williams Skinner; and worked as a teacher and minister.
Immediately after Emancipation, Nash Horton threw himself into political and religious activity. Horton lived in Buckhorn township, Wake County, adjacent to Chatham County, and in 1867 was one of the commissioners of a Fourth of July celebration in the area.
The Daily Standard (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 July 1867.
Three months later, Horton met in Raleigh for the organization of the North Carolina Colored Christian Conference as a representative of Christian Chapel. (Founded in 1866, Greater Christian Chapel Church began as a brush arbor meeting. Per the church’s website, Nash Horton served as its first pastor. Rev. Horton’s first wife Elizabeth Horton is buried in Greater Christian Chapel cemetery near Apex in Buckhorn township, Wake County. Her headstone records her birthdate as 4 March 1829 and her death date as 20 September 1869.)
Weekly Standard (Raleigh, N.C.), 27 October 1867.
In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: Nash Horton, 35; wife Elizabeth, 25; and children James, 14, Allis, 9, Jane, 6, Susan, 4, George, 2, and Matthew, 2 months. [Per her headstone, Elizabeth died in the fall of 1869.]
In the 1880 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County: Nash Horton, 46, minister; wife Hannah, 27; son Gray Horton, 27; stepchildren Martha, 13, Alvis, 8, and William Walker, 5; boarders [who were his children] Jane, 17, and Susan Horton, 15; children Bartley and Matthew, 10, and Leonidas Horton, 8; and nephew Rufus Horton, 6.
Just after 1880, Nash Horton and his children moved to Springhill township, Wilson County. (Several were later active in Saint Delight Original Free Will Baptist Church near Kenly and are buried in its cemetery.)
On 21 May 1882, Joshua Beckwith, 28, of Chatham County, son of Wiley and Lucy Costin, married Susan Horton, 17, of Wilson, daughter of Nash and Elizabeth Horton, at Nash Horton‘s in Springhill township. Witnesses were John T. Hinnant, Nash Horton and Isaac Kirby.
On 28 September 1890, Savanah Scott, 20, daughter of John and Nannie Scott, married Mathew Horton, 21, son of Nash and Betsey Horton, all of Springhill township, Wilson County. Rufus Horton applied for the license, and he, SamuelTaylor and Anderson Horton witnessed.
In the mid-1890s, Nash Horton moved a few miles southwest into Johnston County.
On 5 July 1896, Rufus Horton, 23, of Johnston County, son of Nash and Elizabeth Horton, married Mary J. Davis, 19, of Johnston, daughter of Ollin and Mary F. Davis, in Pine Level, Johnston County. [Rufus, in fact, was a grandson of Nash Horton and was reared by Horton and his wife.]
On 10 December 1896, Nathaniel Horton, 25, son of Nash Horton, married Mila Shepherd, 21, in Clayton, Johnston County.
In the 1900 census of Selma township, Johnston County: Nash Horton, 60, and wife Rosa, 50.
In the 1910 census of Pine Level township, Johnston County: Nash Horton, 75, shoemaker in own shop. He reported that he had been married four times.
It appears that Nash Horton died shortly after 1910. I have not found his death certificate.
Rev. Rufus A. Horton, who founded Mount Zion Original Free Will Baptist Church in Wilson, died of a heart attack in Washington, D.C., on 30 October 1938. [He is not to be confused with Rufus G. Horton, who was born 1867 in Wake County to John and Essie Hackney Horton and died in 1935 in Springhill township, Wilson County.]
Rev. Rufus A. Horton (1873-1938).
Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 31 October 1938.
James H. Horton died 8 May 1943 in Springhill township. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 June 1860 in Wake County to Nash Horton and an unknown mother; was the widower of Lunar Taylor; and was buried in the Free Will Baptist cemetery. Henry Horton was informant.
Susan Horton died 18 January 1945 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1866 in Wake County to Nash Horton and an unnamed mother; resided at 417 South Goldsboro Street, Wilson; was the widow of Dock Farmer; and was buried in Boyett cemetery. Informant was Carrie Boykin, 417 South Goldsboro.
In the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: Helen Hinnant, 17, farm laborer; Clarkey Hinnant, 1, and Benj. Hinnant, 95, farm laborer.
James Revell, 22, of Springhill township, son of Sanders and Hannah Revell, married Clarkie Hinnant, 21, of Springhill township, daughter of Em. Boyette and Hannah Hinnant, on 9 May 1890. London Revell applied for the license, and Free Will Baptist minister Nash Horton performed the ceremony.
In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James C. Revell, 30; wife Clarky, 28; and children Nancy, 9, James T., 7, Robert, 5, and Violia, 2.
In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James Revel, 40; wife Clorca, 39; and children Nancy, 18, James T., 16, Viola, 11, Lunn, 9, and Jefferson J., 7, and cousin Lessie Barnes, 12.
In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on a branch off the Fremont and Kenly Road, farmer James Revell, 52; wife Clarkie, 50; and children Viola, 20, London, 18, Jefferson, 16, and Manley, 5.
In the 1930 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: farmer James T. Revell, 37; mother Clarkey, 61; sisters Nancy, 39, and Viola, 32; brother Manley, 18; and nephews James L., 5, and William F. Sheard, 1.
In 1940, Manley William Revell registered for the World War II draft in Johnston County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 September 1914 in Wilson; lived in Kenly; his contact was mother Clarke Revell of Kenly, N.C.; and he worked for W.P.A.
In 1942, James Jefferson Revell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 30 September 1903 in Wayne County; lived at 506 South Goldsboro Street, Wilson; his contact was Clarkey Revell of Kenly, N.C.; and he worked for Johnson Furniture Company, 120 South Goldsboro Street, Wilson.
In 1946, William Frank Sheard registered for the World War II draft in Johnston County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 22 June 1928 in Johnston County; lived near Kenly, Johnston County; his contact was Clarky Revell of Kenly; and he worked for the Town of Wilson.
James Revell died 16 August 1948 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 September 1909 in Johnston County to James Revell and Clarkie Hinniant; was married to Annie D. Revell; was a truck driver; and was buried in Polly Watson cemetery.
Clarkie Revells died 25 February 1962 in Kenly, Johnston County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 March 1891 to E. Boyette and Hilda Hinton; and was widowed. Viola Revells of Kenly was informant.
Nancy Sheard died 15 December 1965 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born July 1891 in Wilson County to James Revell and Clarkie Hinnant; and was buried in Polly Watson cemetery.
Viola Victoria Revell died 28 October 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 December 1900 to James Revell and Clarkey Hinnant; and was buried in Polly Watson cemetery. Manley Revell was informant.
Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user Tabella Atkinson.
I had the great fortune recently of reuniting — after more than 20 years — with Gregory D. Cosby, who descends from and has extensively researched the Williamson and Shaw families of the Lucama area. Flipping through Cosby’s Eight Generations: The Williamson Family of Lucama, North Carolina, An African-American Legacy (1998) has spurred me to take a closer look at documents related to these families.
There were a number of white Williamson families living in the areas of Wilson County that were once parts of Johnston and Nash Counties in the early 19th century. For now, I am looking at records documenting the enslaved men and women — which included members of Gregory Cosby’s family — of the family of Hardy Williamson (1761-1833), son of Joseph and Ann Williamson. (See here for details of Ann Williamson’s estate.) The children of Hardy Williamson and his wife Sarah (Nichols, or Newsome, researchers disagree) were Martha, Joseph, John, James E., Patience, Stephen, Nancy, Raiford, Elizabeth, Hardy H., Zilpha, and Bethana Williamson.
Hardy Williamson wrote out his will in Johnston County in 1829. The will entered probate in 1833, but I have not found a copy of the estate file.
In the Name of God Amen I Hardy Williamson of the County of Johnston and State of North Carolina being in Pefect mind and memory thanks be given unto God Calling to mind the mortality of my body and Knowing that it is appointed for all men once to Die Do make and ordain this my Last will and Testament that is to say Principally and first of all I give and Recommend my soul unto the Almighty God who gave it and my Body I recommend to the Earth to be Buried in Decent and Christian manner at the Descretion of my Executors and as Touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it has pleased God to bless me in this Life I give Demise and Despose of the same in the manner following that is to say I Lend unto Sarah William[son] my beloved wife all my Land Lying in Johnston County during her natural Life and after her Decease I give and Bequeath all the said Land unto my beloved son Hardy H. Williamson to him and his heirs forever I likewise Lend unto my wife Six Negroes Jane Silvy Sampson trion Aid Daniel During her natural Life after her Decease I give and bequeath Jane and Sampson to my beloved Daughter Martha Peelle to her and her heirs forever Likewise after my wife Decease I give to my beloved son Joseph Williamson trion I Likewise give him one Negro girl by the name of Fonne and all her increase to him and all his heirs forever Likewise after my wife Decease I give and bequeath unto my beloved son Hardy H. Williamson three Negroes viz Silvy aid and Daniel they and there increase to him and his heirs forever I Likewise give and bequeath unto my beloved son Raford Williamson two negros viz Cater and Simon I Likwis give to him one hundread and twenty Acres of Land Lying in Nash County one horse and one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever I Likwis give and bequeath unto my beloved son James Williamson two Negroes Viz Jacob and Nice one horse one feather bed and furniture to him and his heirs forever I Likewise give and bqueath unto my beloved Daughter bethhana Williamson two negro girls Viz mary & Chany Likewise one bed and furniture to her and her heirs forever I have given to my son Stephen williamson the part of my Property alotted for him So I give him Nothing in this will I Likewise have given to my son John Williamson and Patience Watson the Parts of my Property alotted for them so I give them Nothing in their will I likewise give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Nancy Barnes two negroes viz Rhode and Sherod they and there increase to her and her heirs forever I Likewise Give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Elizabeth Whitley two negroes Viz tabitha and Simon to her and her heirs forever I likewise give unto my Beloved Daughter Zilpha Whitley one Negro Girl Named Selah to her and her heirs forever I Likewise give unto my wife Sarah Williamson all the Property belonging to me which is not mentioned in this will to Do as She thinks best for her children I Do Likewise Constitute make and ordain Matthew Peelle and Raford Williamson the Sole Executors of this my Last will and Testament Ratifying and confirming this and no other to be my Last will and Testament in Witness whereof I have hereunto Set my hand this 12th Day of November one thousand Eight hundred and twentynine /s/ Hardy Williamson
Signed sealed and Delivered in Presence of us John Peelle, William Peelle, James Williamson
The enslaved people named in Hardy Williamson’s will, whose lives, if possible, will be explored in detail elsewhere:
Trion — Probably, Trial Williamson.
Daniel — This is possibly Daniel Williamson, but if so, he was a young boy at the time.