Joyners Depot

There was about 1200 colored people.

The Freedmen’s Bureau also lent aid to impoverished white people. M.A. Gay’s letter to Major Compton began with a breezy description of the African-American Fourth of July celebration in Joyners Depot [Elm City] and ended in a plea for food assistance.

Joyners Depot Wilson Co NC

Mag Comton  Kinde Sir

I again seat my self to drop you a few lines which I hope will soon reach your hand. we had a nice time on the fourth I note there was a bout 12 hundred Col people assembled at this place and formed a prosession and marched up and down the streets with music in front they had a butifull dinner. I was much pleased with what you sent to me. I again am oblige to beg you I am nearly out of meat but I have some corn I have been sick nearly all the time and have not been able to help my self to any thing you will pleas send it to Mr Joseph Conte as before I would be glad if you could arrang it so as to send me my rashons every month Mr Conte will make it all right how and his wife are particular friends of mine yours with respets, you will pleas write to me     M.A. Gay


  • M.A. Gay — probably, in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Mary Gay, 34, seamstress, and son Edwin, 3.
  • Joseph Conte — in the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Joseph Conte, 52, “g & gd march retl” [grocery and dry goods merchant retail]; wife Mary, 28; and Joseph Totten, 29, clerk in store. The Contes were born in Italy; Totten, in Maine.

North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Goldsboro (assistant subassistant commissioner) > Roll 17, Letters Received, Jul-Sep 1867, 

He owes my mother $700.

Joyners Depot Wilson County N.C.

April 8th 1867

Gen Daniel E. Sickles


I appeal to you for advice. Please give me the desired advice and tell me what course to pursue and ever believe me to be your obt svnt.

Last year my mother rented a farm of B.D. Rice Esqr in Nash County. He (Rice) was to find the team, and Mother the hands and board for them. All went on smoth during the year until the crop was made and housed. When that was done Esqr Rice then refused to settle with her (Mother) fairly and squarely, according to the contract.

The business has been placed in my hands to settle and I have tried all ways to settle with him honorably and I can not have it settle neither by law nor a compromise. He (Rice) is now due Mother not far from seven hundred dollars. Please advise me what course to pursue by so doing you would confer on me an everlasting favor never to be forgotten so long as any thing Earthly remains. In housing the crop he would not let her have her part.

I am Sir with great Respect, Your obt Srvt

Jerry Pridgen, Freedman

Address me [at] Joyners Depot


Joyners Depot is now known as Elm City. Neither Rice nor Pridgen appears in the 1870 federal census of Wilson or Nash County NC. However, 32 year-old Bryant D. Rice is listed in the 1860 census of Winsteads township, Nash County NC.

Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database on-line],