In November 1912, clerk of court Thomas A. Hinnant recorded evidence in State vs. Nep Lee, a case alleging receiving and concealing stolen goods.
Jim Pearce was on trial for stealing a watch. Neptune Lee, his accomplice, attended his trial as “an interested spectator — or apparently so.” Seemingly to Lee’s surprise, the prosecutor called him to the stand to ask if he had seen Pearce with the watch. Lee said he had not, but had bought a watch the day before from a man he did not know. Prosecutor Dickinson asked Lee to show the watch and, incredibly, he did. Mary Henderson and others quickly identified the watch as her stolen property. What happened next is not clear. Was Lee convicted and sentenced to 13 months on the county roads on the spot?
- Nep Lee
In the 1880 census of Woodville township, Bertie County, N.C.: Bob Lee, 62; wife Betsy, 38; and children David, 18, Winnie, 14, John H., 13, Harrisson, 8; Neptun, 6; and Annie, 4.
On 16 December 1900, Nep Lee, 21, of Wilson, son of Robert and Bettie Lee, married Laurena Williams, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Susan Gray, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Crocket Best performed the ceremony.
In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lee Neptune plstr h 411 s Spring
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: painter Marion Watson, 51; wife Annie, 33, laundress; and brickmason Neptune Lee, 36, lodger.
On 21 June 1911, Nep Lee, 30, married Lizzie Myers, 21, at the home of Mary Myers in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony.
Neptune Lee died 24 January 1949 at the County Home, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 June 1881 in Bertie County, N.C., to Robert Lee of Florida and Mary E. Thompson of Bertie County; was the widower of Lizzie Lee; worked as a brick layer; lived at 506 East Walnut Street; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Annie Watson was informant.
[Note, a different Nep Lee died 18 October 1953 in Wilson at the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 November 1876; was married to Bertha Lee; was a farmer; and lived near Robersonville, Martin County, N.C.]
- Jim Pearce
Criminal Action Papers, 1912, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.