Lassiter

In memory of my husband.

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Wilson Daily Times, 22 July 1960.

For at least 15 years, Mary Jane Bynum Lassiter placed an annual ad in the Daily Times to commemorate her husband Dempsey Lassiter‘s life.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: lumber sawyer Charley Bynum, 41; wife Julia Ann, 43; and children Calvin, 21, Mary Jane, 18, Ameta, 16, Annie, 13, John C., 9, and Abraham, 1.

Dempsy Lester, 38, of Wilson, son of Green and Mary Lester, and Mary Jane Bynum, 28, of Wilson, daughter of Charlie and Julie Bynum. Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony on 2 October 1912 at the bride’s residence. Witnesses were A.R. Phillips, Roscoe Barnes, and C.L. Coppedge.

Rufus Lassiter died 10 October 1914 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 11 July 1913 in Wilson to Dempsey Lassiter and Mary J. Bynum.

In 1918, Dempsey Lassiter registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he lived at 103 East Street; was born 28 October 1874; was a blacksmith for Hackney Wagon Company; and his nearest relative was Mary Jane Lassiter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on East Street, wagon factory laborer Dempsey Lassiter, 35, and wife Mary, 25.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lassiter Dempsey (c: Mary J) farmer h 106 S East

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 106 East Street, owned and valued at $1250, Dempsey Lassiter, 55, wife Mary J., 44; nephew Charles Bynum, 16; and nieces Katie Powell, 10, and Willie M. Leonard, 6.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Dempsey Lassiter, 65; county school teacher Mary, 55; and widowed sister-in-law Carrie Bynum, 30, a housekeeper.

Dempsey Lassiter died 16 July 1946 at his home at 106 South East Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he he was married; was 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Green Lassiter and Mary Powell; was a farmer; and his informant was Mary J. Lassiter. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Mary Jane Lassiter died 21 August 1966 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was born in Wilson County to Charles Bynum and Julia Ann Davis; was a school teacher; and was a widow. James Bynum was informant.

Another history of London Woodard and his church.

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Rocky Mount Telegram, 29 January 1960.

The take-away:

  • London’s Primitive Baptist is possibly the oldest African-American church in Wilson County.
  • London Woodard was born in 1808. In 1827, James Bullock Woodard purchased him for $500 from the estate of Julan Woodard.
  • In 1828, London Woodard was baptized at Toisnot Primitive Baptist.
  • In 1866, he sought permission to preach among his people.
  • In 1870, he was “dismissed” from Toisnot so that he could pastor the church he founded. He died lass than a month later.
  • London Church appears to have become disorganized after Woodard’s death, but in 1895, Toisnot P.B. dismissed several “colored brethren and sisters” who wanted to reestablish worship at London’s. The same year Union (now Upper Town Creek) P.B. released Haywood Pender, George Braswell, Dublin Barnes, and couple Charles and Rebeckah Barnes for the same purpose.
  • London Woodard married Pennie Lassiter, born free about 1810 and possessed of considerable property, including 29 acres purchased from James B. Woodard in 1859. [Penelope Lassiter was his second wife. His first, Venus, was enslaved.]
  • London and Pennie Woodard’s children were Priscilla (1846), Theresa (1848), Hardy (1850), Haywood (1852), William (1854), and Penina (1858). “Another child was probably named Elba, born in 1844; she was working for the John Batts family in 1860.” [London and Venus Woodard had nine children; Elba was not among either set.]
  • Many “old-time colored Christians” remained members of the churches they attended during slavery. Their children and grandchildren, however, gradually formed separate congregations.

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  • Haywood Pender — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Haywood Pender, 50, farmer; wife Feraby, 45; children Mollie, 39, and Ann, 8; and grandchildren Gold, 5, Nancy, 3, and Willie, 16. Haywood Pender died 15 July 1942 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 October 1852 in Wilson County to Abram Sharp and Sookie Pender; was a farmer; was a widower; and was buried in Piney Grove cemetery, Elm City.
  • Dublin Barnes — in the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Doublin Barnes, 25; wife Eliza, 21; daughter Sattena, 2; and Jane Thomas, 12, farmhand.
  • Charles and Rebecca Barnes — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmhand Charley Barnes, 50; wife Rebecca, 57; and children John, 26, William, 23, Annie, 17, Tom, 18, and Corah, 12.
  • George Braswell

Received of Penny Lassiter.

James B. Woodard registered the receipt he issued to free woman of color Penny Lassiter for the $150 she paid to purchase her husband London Woodard in 1855. Though not legally manumitted, London lived essentially as a free man for the next ten years until Emancipation.

Deed book 1, page 155, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Studio shots, no. 78: Peninah Lassiter Woodard.

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Penninah Lassiter Woodard Barnes (1858-1919) was the youngest child of London and Penelope Lassiter Woodard.

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Penny Lassiter, 50, and children Priscilla, 14, Theresa, 12, Hardy, 10, Haywood, 8, William, 6, and Penina, 2. Penny claimed $600 in real estate and $300 in personal property.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer London Woodard, 79; wife Penelope, 59; and children Trecy, 20, Hardy, 19, Haywood, 18, William, 15, and Peninah, 12.

On 1 January 1877, Simon Barnes, 38, married Pennina Woodard, 17, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Simon Barnes, 30; wife Penniney, 21; and children Rosetta, 2, and James, 11 months.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Barnes, 51; wife Penina, 40; and children Rosetta, 22, James W., 20, Hardy, 18, Charly, 16, Penny, 14, London, 12, Silas, 11, Prisa, 8, Simon, 5, and Marylisa, 2.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Barnes, 65; wife Pennie, 55; and children Pennie S., 22, Sillas, 17, Mary L., 12, Lucie, 8, Ama, 6, and Simon, 14.

Penina Barnes died 24 February 1919 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 January 1859 to London Woodard and Pennie Lassiter; was married to Simon Barnes; and was a farmer. Informant was Hardy Barnes.

Pricilla Hardy died 24 October 1919 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 28 years old; born in Wilson County to Simon Barnes and Penninah Woodard; was a tenant farmer; and was married. James Walter Barnes was informant.

Leonard Barnes died 19 November 1952 at his home at 1312 Carolina Street. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 June 1888 in Wilson to Simon Barnes and Pennina Woodard; and was a World War I veteran. Informant was Pennie Barnes.

Treasy Barnes Atkinson died 23 December 1964 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 June 1900 to Simon Barnes and Pennia Woodard and was widowed. Informant was Mrs. Inez Lucas, Wilson.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user rogerbarron52.

London Woodard, Penny Lassiter Woodard and the London Church.

On 14 February 1970, the Wilson Daily Times published a full-page article detailing the life of London Woodard, founder of London’s Primitive Baptist Church.

London Woodard was born enslaved in 1792. He was recorded in the estates of Asa Woodard in 1816 and Julan Woodard in 1826 (in which he was recognized as a distiller of fine fruit brandies.) In 1827, James B. Woodard bought London at auction for $500. The same year, London married Venus, a woman enslaved by Woodard. In 1828, London was baptized and appears as a member in the minutes of Tosneot Baptist Church. Venus was baptized in 1838 and died in 1845.

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Transfer of title to “a negroe man by the name of Lonon” from Nathan Woodard to James B. Woodard, 1928.

J.B. Woodard’s second wife in 1837, and he hired Penelope Lassiter, a free woman of color, as a housekeeper and surrogate mother to his children. Lassiter, born 1814, was the daughter of Hardy Lassiter, who owned a small farm south of Wilson. She met London, who was working as overseer, at Woodard’s. In 1852, Penny Lassiter bought 106 acres for $242 about five miles east of Wilson on the Tarboro Road.

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In 1854, Penny Lassiter purchased her husband London, then about 62 or 63, from J.B. Woodard for $150. In 1858 Lassiter bought another 53 acres near her first tract and purchased 21 acres in 1859. The same year, she sold a small parcel to Jordan Thomas, a free man of color [who was married to her step-daughter Rose Woodard.] In 1866, the years after he was emancipated, London Woodard bought, subject to mortgage, a 200-acre parcel.

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In 1866, London Woodard was granted authority to preach “only among his acquaintances,” i.e. African-Americans. A member of Tosneot Baptist donated an acre of land to build a black church, regarded as the first in Wilson County. London Woodard was licensed to preach in 1870.

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London Woodard preached his last sermon on 13 November 1870. The next day, he suffered a stroke and fell into an open fireplace. Despite severe burns, he was able to dictate a will before his death.

The history of London Church for the 25 years after Woodard’s death is murky. In 1895, white churches Tosneot and Upper Town Creek dismissed several African-American members in order that they might establish an independent congregation at London’s. [London Church reorganized under the umbrella of the Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association in 1897.]

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By the terms of his will, London Woodard provided for his wife Penelope; sons William, Hardy, Haywood, Howell, Elvin, Amos and London; and daughters Treasy, Rose, Pharibee, Sarah, Harriet and Penninah. (Deceased son John’s daughter was apparently inadvertently omitted.)  “A few facts” about Woodard’s children follows.

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Receipts for payments for taxes and accounts for Penny Lassiter and London Woodard.

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This building was moved around the corner to London Church Road. It has long been abandoned and collapsed in 2017 after suffering serious storm damage the year before.

Studio shots, no. 64: Mildred Pearl Lassiter Sherrod.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 709 Lipscomb, truck gardener Jesse C. Lassiter, 41, a widower; and children Jesse C. Jr., 15, James D., 13, Ernest D., 12, Annie B., 10, Mildred P., 8, Ruby J., 7, Lesie D., 6, Harvey G., 5, and Wade, 2.

Solomon Sherrod Jr., 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Solomon and Josephine Sherrod, married Mildred Lassiter, 18, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Jesse and Lessie Lassiter, on 18 February 1939 in Tarboro. Witnesses included Solomon’s brother Leonard Sherrod.

In 1942, Solomon Shearard Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 3 June 1918 in Fremont, N.C.; resided at 802 East Viola, Wilson; his contact person was Mrs. Mildred Pearl Shearard; and worked for Export Tobacco Company, Mercer Street, Wilson.

Mildred Shearard died 3 February 1943 at North Carolina Sanatorium, Quewhiffle, Hoke County. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 April 1922 in Wilson County to Jessie Lassiter and Lessie Dew; was married to Solmon Shearard; resided at 802 East Viola, Wilson; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Photograph courtesy of A. Sherrod.

The funeral of Odd Fellow Lassiter.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 July 1946.

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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.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Liza Dawson, 40, and boarder Dempsey Lassiter, 26, sawmill engineer.

In the 1908 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lassiter Dempsey lab h 623 e Vance

In 1918, Dempsey Lassiter registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he lived at 103 East Street; was born 28 October 1874; was a blacksmith for Hackney Wagon Company; and his nearest relative was Mary Jane Lassiter.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on East Street, wagon factory laborer Dempsey Lassiter, 35, and wife Mary, 25.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 106 East Street, owned and valued at $1250, Demsey Lassiter, 55, wife Mary J., 44; nephew Charles Bynum, 16; and nieces Katie Powell, 10, and Willie M. Leonard, 6.

In 1940, Charles Lee Powell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he resided at 114 South East Street; was born 10 June 1918 in Nash County, North Carolina; his contact was his uncle, Dempsey Lassiter, 110 South East Street;  and he worked for G.S. Tucker & Company, South Goldsboro Street.

Isaac T. Lassiter was born in 1940 to Dempsey Lassiter and Mary Jane Bynum.

Dempsey Lassiter died 16 July 1946 at his home at 106 South East Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he he was married; was 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Green Lassiter and Mary Powell; was a farmer; and his informant was Mary J. Lassiter. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.

  • Walter Hardy — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: W.P.A. laborer Walter Hardy, 55; wife Mary, 48, tobacco factory stemmer; and children William, 26, tobacco factory floor hand, Robert, 19, Mary Elizabeth, 17, and Roy, 14.
  • S.C. Sherrod — Solomon Conton Sherrod was a native of Wayne County. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 802 Viola Street, Solomon Shearard, 60; wife Josephine, 52; and children Flora, 15, Beulah, 13, Elmer, 11, and Solomon, 21; plus “son’s wife” Mildred, 18, and grandson Ernest E., 8 months.
  • Ben Mincey, Sr.
  • Fred M. Davis
  • Charlie Jones — In the 1940 census of Wilson, WIlson County: at 412 Viola, owned and valued at $2000; Charles Jones, 61, janitor at Vick School; wife Gertrude, 59, a tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ruth Plater, 35, divorced, teacher; grandsons Torrey S., 12, and Charles S. Plater, 11; son-in-law Ruel Bullock, 35; daughter Louise, 30; grandsons Jacobia, 7, Robert, 6, Harold, 4, and Rudolph, 7 months; and granddaughter Barbara Jones, 6.
  • Hannibal Lodge No. 1552, Grand United Odd Fellows

Vanilla Beane, milliner extraordinaire.

Posted today on the Facebook page of the National Museum of African American History and Culture:

“Vanilla Beane, is a milliner, or hatmaker, known for her custom-made pieces adorned by civil rights activist Dorothy Height.

“Born Vanilla Powell in Wilson, N.C. in 1910, as the youngest of seven. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1942 where she met her husband, Willie Beane. Working in the downtown Washington Millinery Supply and as a seamstress in the 50s, she sharpened her craft. After leaving the company, Beane continued to passionately make hats while working as a mail clerk for the General Services Administration. In 1979, she opened Bene Millinery & Bridal Supplies on Third Street in Northwest Washington to serve the African American community that kept the tradition of ornate hats alive, especially in the church. The 106 year-old milliner paid a visit to the museum on Grand Opening day. You can see an example of a millinery shop in our Power of Place exhibition on the fourth floor.”

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According to birth records, Vanilla Powell was born in 1919 in Wilson County to James and Martha Hagans Powell. Her father, born about 1876, was the son of Ichabod and Mary Ann Lassiter Powell. (Mary Ann’s parents were Silas and Orpha Simpson Lassiter.) Her mother Martha was the daughter of Charles and Charity Thomas Hagans.

For more on Mrs. Beane, see here and here.