land purchase

George and Ella Green and the development of East Green Street, pt. 1.

By the late 1800s, the area of present-day Green Street east of the railroad tracks — largely farmland — was held by a handful of large landowners, notably George D. and Ella M. Green and Frank I. and Annie Finch. We’ve seen here how the Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick sold parcels in the 600 block to their friends and family to solidify a middle-class residential district for African-Americans. The Vicks themselves bought fifteen acres from the Greens, which they later divided into the lots they sold to others.

These transactions disclose more early settlers on East Green:

  • On 20 July 1887, for $250, George D. and Ella M. Green, as trustees for F.I. and Annie Finch, sold Leah Battle a one-third acre lot at Green and Pender Streets near Mrs. Procise. The deed was registered 3 January 1889 in Deed Book 27, page 85.
  • On 31 December 1890, for $150, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Short Barnes a one-fourth acre lot on “the  extension of Green Street near the corporate limits of Wilson” adjoining George Green and J.M.F. Bridgers. The deed was registered 1 January 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 150. [Barnes’ house was at 616 East Green.]
  • On 24 February 1891, for $300, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Samuel H. Vick “a lot on the extension of Green Street near the corporate line of Wilson” next to a lot now occupied by Alex Barnes. The lot was irregularly shaped and measured about one and one-half acres. The deed was registered 23 February 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 396.
  • On 24 October 1890, for $150, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Lewis Battle and his wife Jemima a one and one-quarter acre lot fronting on Green Street and adjacent to J.W.F. Bridgers, Samuel H. Vick, and G.D. Green. The deed was registered 21 March 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 488.
  • On 11 December 1891, for $1300.75, George D. and Emma M. Green sold Samuel H. Vick a parcel containing 13 and three-quarter acres adjacent to Sallie Lipscombe’s property, Vance Street, F.I. Finch, G.D. Green, and Samuel H. Vick. The deed was registered 28 December 1891 in Deed Book 30, page 454.

Detail of T.M. Fowler’s 1908 bird’s eye map of Wilson. Green Street slices diagonally across the frame. Samuel H. and Annie Vick’s new multi-gabled mansion is at (1). The church he helped establish, Calvary Presbyterian, is at the corner of Green and Pender at (2). At (3), Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church, which bought its lot from the Vicks. At (4), the original location of Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church. 

Green Lassiter buys land in 1855.

Green Lassiter, a free man of color, bought just over fifty acres from William L. Farmer in December 1855 and registered the deed for his purchase about six weeks later. Wilson County formed in 1855, and this is the first registered purchase of real property by a free person of color in the county. (The land Lassiter bought just north of the town of Wilson had been in Edgecombe County before Wilson County was established, and certainly free people of color had owned land — though they did not often register their deeds — in the parts of Edgecombe, Nash, Wayne, and Johnston Counties that later formed Wilson County.)

Lassiter had a close business relationship with William L. Farmer (who had been the administrator of Green’s father Hardy Lassiter‘s estate), and Farmer’s 1856 estate records show that he had extended Lassiter a number of small loans. 

Deed book 1, page 123, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

This Indenture made the 22nd day of December A.D. 1855 between Wm. L. Farmer of the first part & Green Lassiter of the second part all the county of Wilson State of North Carolina witnesseth that for and in consideration of the sum of Four Hundred Dollars the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged that said Wm. L. Farmer has given granted bargained sold & conveyed & by these presents does give grant bargain sell & convey unto the said Green Lassiter his heirs & assigns a certain tract or parcel of land lying in the County of Wilson adjoining the lands of Watson Rountree Washington Ruffin & others containing fifty & a half acres more or less to have & to hold the said Land with the said Green Lassiter his heirs & assigns and the said Wm. L. Farmer does hereby covenant & agree to for himself & his heirs executors & administrators to forever covenant & defend the title hereby conveyed to the said Green Lassiter his heirs & assigns forever In testimony whereof we hereunto set our hands & seals this the day & date above written       W.L. Farmer {seal}

Witness  Isaiah Farmer

Wilson County Feb 5th 1856 The Execution of the foregoing Deed is duly proven by the oat of Isaiah Farmer before me W. Barnes Clerk let it be Registered   W. Barnes Clerk

Received for registration this foregoing Deed the 6th day of Feb 1856  L.T. Sauls Registrar

——

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Hardy Laster, 73, wife Beady, 54, and children Mathew, 26, Silas, 26, Green, 25, Hardy, 21, and Rachel, 20; all described as mulatto. Hardy reported owning $650 of real property.

In the 1860 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Green Lassiter, 36, farmer, and his siblings Mary Lassiter, 24, Matthew Lassiter, 37, and Rachel Lassiter, 30, farm laborers. Green reported $750 in real estate.

Green Lassiter married Mary Ann Powell on 19 January 1860 in Wilson County at Dempsey Powell‘s residence. 

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Green Lassiter, 46; wife Mary, 31; and children Henry, 10, Sallie, 8, Hardy, 6, and John G., 1 month. Lassiter reported owning $500 in real property and $125 in personal property.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Green Lassiter, 55; wife Mary Ann, 42; and children Henry, 19, Sally Ann, 17, Hardy, 15, John Green, 10, Dempsey S., 5, and Mary C., 2.

Mary Mercer died 27 February 1912 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 31 years old; was born in Wilson County to Green Lester and Mary Powell; was married; and engaged in domestic work. Beadie Blackwell was informant.

Hardy Lassiter died 24 June 1928 in Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Green Lassiter; lived at 1601 Texas, Pine Bluff; was a laborer at a heading factory; and was married. Julius Lassiter was informant.

Dempsey Lassiter died 17 July 1946 at his home at 106 South East Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Green Lassiter and Mary Ann Powell; was engaged in farming; was married to Mary J. Lassiter; and was buried in Rountree [actually Odd Fellows] Cemetery.

To have and hold the said land, no. 4.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-American churches and lodges in Wilson County:

  • On 16 November 1916, J.L. Yelverton and Mary B. Yelverton sold J.H. Winston, Nathan Locus, and Peter Barnes, trustees of Travelers Rest Church of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association, for $50, a lot in Stantonsburg bordering the Yelvertons, the colored school, and B.M. Whitley. The purchase was recorded 6 October 1917 in Deed Book 111, page 347, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.
  • On 18 October 1917, Ace Lucas and wife Anne Lucas sold L. Blackwell, Wesley Strickland, Herbert Taylor, and Ace Lucas, trustees of Sandy Fork Missionary Baptist Church, a 90′ by 90′ lot in Taylors township adjacent to the lands of U.H. Cozart and Ace Lucas. The lot was to be used for Missionary Baptist church building and would revert to the Lucases otherwise. The purchase was recorded 17 November 1917 in Deed Book 111, page 423, Register of Deeds office, Wilson. [Sandy Fork’s current church is just across the county line in Nash County.]
  • On 24 February 1919, Jesse R. Barnes and wife Sarah L. Barnes, having borrowed $300 from George W. Harris, W.M. Pearce, and E.H. Haskins, trustees of the Christian Aid Society of Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, signed over to the Society 3.44 acres on “Colored Masonic Cemetery Road” [Lane Street] adjacent to the lands of Dollison Powell, Margaret Artis, Raleigh Real Estate and Trust Company and S.H. Vick. The Barneses had purchased this property from S.H. and Annie Vick on 26 April 1913, per Deed Book 91, page 580, and the $300 went to pay them off. The loan to the Society was due 24 February 1920. If the Barneses were to default, the Society’s trustees were to sell the land at auction, recoup the debt, and pay any remainder to the Barneses. On the other hand, if the note were satisfied, the deed was void. The deed, filed at Deed Book 117, page 285, was marked paid on 8 February 1923. [This parcel was much smaller than the Barnes land that ultimately became Rest Haven cemetery.]
  • On 9 March 1926, Glenn S. McBrayer and wife Lillian L. McBrayer sold W.H. Brown, W.H. Kittrell, A.C. Winstead, Jno. A. Parker, and Jesse Holden, trustees of Marshall Lodge No. 297, Approved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, a lot at the corner of Vick and Nash Streets, being part of Lot No. 1 of Block B of the Rountree property recorded in Deed Book 78, pages 62-63, Register of Deeds office, Wilson. The purchase was recorded 29 May 1926 in Deed Book 161, page 608, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.

Deed Book 161, page 608.

To have and to hold the said land, no. 3.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • Hilliard Ellis paid R.J. Taylor and wife Gallie Taylor $500 for 92 acres. The purchase was recorded 11 March 1872 in Deed Book 6, page 24, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 21 October 1873, William Airs [Ayers] paid Simon Newsom and Oliver and Penina Farrell $525  for 150 acres. The purchase was recorded 26 October 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 402, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 29 December 1874, Emily Gay paid Frank W. Barnes and wife Mattie B. Barnes $750 for a lot of land containing about one and a half acres on the east side of Wilson near the corporate limits and adjoining R.J. Taylor, Samuel Williams and others for “the sum of her natural life remainder to Charles Gay Mary Gay Ethelders Gay and William F. Gay children of said Emily Gay.”  The purchase was recorded 31 December 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 522, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Gay lost a half-acre of this property in 1885.]
  • Jesse Aires [Ayers] paid Martha Hawley $106 for 16 acres known as “Bits Aires Place” adjoining the lands Hawley and Ayers. The purchase was recorded 13 November 1879 in Deed Book 15, page 489, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Hilliard Ellis paid Alpheus Branch and wife Nannie Branch and A.J. Hines and wife Eliza A. Hines $300 for a 50-acre parcel adjoining Ellis’ own land. The purchase was recorded 22 December 1879 in Deed Book 16, page 71, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 10 December 1879, Garry Armstrong paid C.S. Braswell and wife Martha A. Braswell $125 for 15 acres. The purchase was recorded on 6 March 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 353, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Benjamin Hardy paid Thomas Woodard and wife Elmina Woodard $500 for a 29 1/2 acres on the New Road from Barefoots Mills in Cross Roads township. The purchase was recorded 16 December 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 628, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 9 November 1892, Penelope Tynes paid Mahala Artis of Buncombe County, North Carolina, $250 for a 81′ by 143′ lot “in the northern angle of Green and [blank] Streets” adjoining Thomas Knight and Penelope Tynes Proctor. The purchase was recorded 18 November 1892 in Deed Book 31, page 351, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Mahala Artis moved to Asheville, North Carolina, circa 1890.]
  • Hilliard Ellis Jr., Master Workman; Austin Williams, Treasurer; Charles Williams, Financial Secretary; and Milly Ellis, Recording Secretary of Local Association of the Knights of Labor No. 734 paid Hilliard Ellis Sr. one dollar for a one-acre parcel on the west side of the Wilson and Nashville Road in Taylor township. “The condition of this deed is such that whereas the parties of the first part are justly indebted to Hilliard Ellis in the sum of Eighty dollars (money borrowed to erect a building upon the above described land) due and payable Jan’y 1, 1892 with 8 % interest.” If the Lodge defaulted, Ellis Sr. was authorized to sell the parcel on the courthouse steps. This purchase was recorded 10 March 1893 in Deed Book 33, page 246, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

To have and to hold the said land, no. 2.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • On 25 February 1878, A.W. Jones paid K.M. Jones, executor of the estate of Milly Jones, $300 for a half-acre parcel in the town of Wilson on Nash Street east of the railroad adjoining the lots of William Smith and Garry Edmundson. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 14, page 174, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Milly Jones was the mother of A. Wilson Jones and Kernel Morris Jones.

On 26 September 1872, Morris Jones married Amanda Gillespie in Wilson.  In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: baker Morris Jones, 25; wife Amanda, 25; son Franklin, 6; and boarder Rosa Galespie, 16, a washwoman. In the 1905 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: Morris Jones, 40, laborer, and wife Amanda, 42. In the 1910 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: Morris Jones, 60, garden laborer; wife Amanda, 57; and son Frank, 38, concrete company driver.

In the 1880 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Wilson Jones, 22, shoemaker.

  • On 1 February 1880, Jordan Taylor paid John T. and Elizabeth Barnes $115 for a quarter-acre lot in Wilson township near the town of Wilson adjoining Peggy Farmer, John T. Barnes and others. The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 467, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

There were at least two adult African American men named Jordan Taylor in Wilson in this period.

  • On 28 December 1881, Walter Kersey paid C.C. and Sallie Peacock $40 for a 100′ by 135′ lot on Stantonsburg Road near the town of Wilson adjoining John A. Clark and “Henry Ward (col).” The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 65, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Walter Kersey later migrated to Indiana.

  • On 27 January 1882, Noel Jones paid J.F. Eatman $228 for 45 acres in Old Fields township on the canal in “the Mill Stone Swamp.” The purchase was recorded in Deed Book 18, page 258, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: laborer Noel Jones, 34; wife Sarah, 32; and children Josiah, 13, Charity, 12, Edith J., 10, Noel J., 6, and Asberry, 6.

Per William Powell and Michael Hill’s North Carolina Gazetteer, 2nd ed., “Millstone Creek rises in nw Wilson County and flows e approx. 5 mi. to join Juniper Creek in forming Bloomery Swamp. Named prior to 1783 for the fact that millstones were made from a type of stone found there.”

 

Julius Freeman buys land.

On 21 March 1898, Louisa M. Daniel sold Julius F. Freeman a 125-acre tract called the Arky Gardner land in Gardners township. Freeman paid her $500.

Freeman married Eliza Daniel (or Daniels), daughter of Amos and Olive Daniel, in 1873. Was Louisa her kin?

Deed book 46, pages 421-422, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.