marriage license

Barnes marriages and deaths.

In August 1866, Willis Barnes and Cherry Battle registered their six-year marriage with a Wilson County justice of the peace. Willis likely had been enslaved by Joshua Barnes of Wilson County. Cherry had been enslaved by Alexander Eatmon of Nash County, then sold in 1860 to Margaret H. Battle of Wilson County.

The couple had at least nine children, most of whom lived to adulthood. An examination of the children’s marriage license applications and birth certificates reveals the varied and sometimes conflicting ways personal information, especially names, were recorded in official records.

  • Rachel Barnes Taylor

On 21 Sep 1882, H.G. Whitehead applied for a marriage license for Mike Taylor of Wilson, aged 20, colored, son of John Taylor and unknown mother, both living, and Rachel Barnes of Wilson, age 19, colored, parents unknown, father dead, mother’s status not given. Whitehead was a wealthy white farmer for whom Taylor likely worked, and his utter lack of familiarity with the couple’s families (and disinterest in correcting the lack) is reflected in the bad information he provided. Mike Taylor’s father’s name was Green Taylor, not John, and his mother was Phereby Taylor. (It makes no sense Mike’s mother was described as living, but unknown.) Whitehead knew nothing at all about Rachel’s parents and described her “unknown” father as dead (Willis Barnes lived until 1914), and her mother as a complete cipher, though Cherry Barnes was alive into the 1890s.

On the same day, Louis Croom, Baptist minister, married Taylor and Barnes in Wilson in the presence of W.T. Battle and Edman Pool. [Was W.T. Battle related to Rachel?  Was he the W. Turner Battle who married Louvina Knight in Wilson on 24 May 1875? A man named Turner was among the enslaved people Margaret H. Battle received from her father Weeks Parker’s estate. Edmund Pool, of course, was the legendary founder of the Red Hot Hose & Reel Company.]

Rachel Barnes Taylor died 2 October 1925 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, her parents were Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes.

  • Wesley Barnes

Wesley Barnes, called “Sylvester” Barnes on his marriage application, married Ella Mercer on 4 June 1885 in Wilson County. His parents’ names are not listed.

Wesley Barnes died 20 January 1919 in Wilson township. His death certificate lists his parents as Willis Barnes and Cherry Eatmon.

  • Jesse Barnes

Jesse Barnes, 21, son of Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes, married Mary Mag Mercer on 3 April 1889 in Wilson. Mercer was the sister of Jesse’s brother Wesley’s wife Ella Mercer Barnes. The official witnesses to the marriage were Jesse’s brothers Wesley and Ned Barnes.

Jesse Barnes died 25 January 1916 in Wilson. His death certificate lists his parents as Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes.

  • Ned Barnes

Ned Barnes appeared in the 1880 census and on his marriage license as “Edward,” but by 1900 he is invariably referred to as “Ned,” the name he passed on to his son. On 29 October 1891, he and Louisa Gay were married in Wilson. Their marriage record does not list their parents’ names.

Ned Barnes died 1 December 1912 in Raleigh, Wake County, N.C. His death certificate lists his father as Willis Barnes and his mother as unknown. His wife Louisa surely knew her mother-in-law’s name, but their daughter Mattie Barnes was informant, and she apparently did not.

  • Mary Barnes Barnes Jones

Mary Barnes, 18, daughter of Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes, married Pearce Barnes, 26, son of Robert and Hannah Barnes, on 14 September 1893 at “Gen. [Joshua] Barnes Plantation” in Wilson County.

Mary Barnes and Henry Jones, both 41, were married in Wilson on 24 December 1917. Almost exactly two years later, Mary Jones was dead. Her death certificate lists her parents as Willis Barnes and Cherry Battle. Her sister Rachel Taylor was informant.

  • William “Willie” Barnes

Willie Barnes married Hattie Best on 31 December 1902 at Hattie’s father Orren Best’s house in Grabneck, Wilson. Per their marriage license, Willie Barnes was the son of Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes; his brother Jesse Barnes applied for the license.

Witness Charles B. Gay was the brother-in-law of Willie’s brother Ned Barnes.

  • Lucinda “Cintha” Barnes Perry

Sentha Barnes married Henry S. Perry on 14 September 1899 in Wilson. Their marriage license lists her father, Willis Barnes, but applicant F.A. Fenderson described her mother as unknown. This marriage was reported in the Wilson Daily Times.

Cintha Perry died about 1909.

  • Edgar Barnes

Edgar Barnes, 21, of Wilson, son of Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes, married Mary Hill, 19, daughter of Joe Hill and Anna Hill, at Saint John A.M.E. Zion in Wilson on 4 October 1909.

On 24 September 1921, Edgar Barnes, 27, of Greenville, son of Willis Barnes and Cherry Barnes, married Delia Hawkins, 22, daughter of Will Hawkins and Ella Hawkins, in Greenville, Pitt County.

Edgar Barnes died 6 April 1940 at the Veterans Hospital in Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City County, Virginia. His death certificate lists his parents as Willis Barnes and Cherry Eatman, both of Wilson County.

Love in the time of white supremacy.

Mr. W.G. Britt, Goldsboro, N.C.

Dear Sir:-

Please send license by return mail for the marriage of Mingo Ward colored age 25 years son of Lam Ward living, Mother dead to Lizzie Smith Age 21 years daughter of Wright Smith Mother dead. All of Wayne County. These are n*ggers and are all right.

Enclose you will please find County order for $3.00 if any more due let me know.

Very truly yours, B.F. Aycock


I can only guess at the backstory, but my guess is not wild, and the thing practically speaks for itself. The young people wanted to get married; they had no way to get to Goldsboro and probably no time to go; they certainly had no money to pay for the license. Benjamin F. Aycock extended them credit or maybe even vouchsafed the three dollars; he put in a good word with the Register of Deeds; he slurred these young lovers; he felt himself generous.

To love oneself and to find love in such a world as this? Revolutionary.

Happy Valentine’s Day.


In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina: Lem Ward, 40; wife Mariah, 35; and children Kater, 14, and twins Sarah and Sophia, 12, Susan, 8, Lam, 9, Lawrence, 5, Mingo, 3, and Junius, 2.

The marriage license issued in response to Aycock’s letter.

On 14 March 1907, Mingo Ward, 25, of Wayne County, son of Lam Ward, married Lizzie Smith, 21, of Wayne County, daughter of Wright Smith, in Great Swamp township, Wayne County, North Carolina. Free Will Baptist minister G.W. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Mingle Ward, 28; wife Lizzie, 24; and son Junious, 7 months.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Meng[illegible] Ward, 42; wife Lizzie, 37; and daughters Bettie E., 9, and Gladies, 7.

In the 1930 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 46; wife Lizzie, 44; and children Bettie, 18, Gladys, 12, Christine, 8, and Sarah, 6.

In the 1940 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 60; wife Lizzie, 56; daughters Christine, 18, and Sarah, 16; daughter Gladys Thompson, 20, and son-in-law Edward Thompson, 21.

Mingo Ward died 27 January 1941. I have not found his death certificate, but he is buried in Daniel Quarters Cemetery, near Fremont, Wayne County.

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1317 Washington Street, Lizzie Ward, 65, “picking cotton”; daughter Sarah, 26, housecleaning; and grandchildren James Edward Thomas, 9, and Jean Elizabeth Thomas, 8.

Lizzie Ward died 30 October 1965 at her home at 1321 Atlantic Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 March 1885 in Wayne County to Wright and Lizzie Smith; was a widower; and was born in Daniel Quarters cemetery, Wayne County. Bettye Ingram, Washington, D.C., was informant.

Massachusetts marriages.

Around the turn of the 19th century, at least five Wilsonians said their vows in Boston, Massachusetts:

  • John A. McLeod and Abbie G. Holloway

On 12 February 1892, John A. McLeod, 24, of Boston, waiter, born in Fayetteville, N.C., to John and Ruth McLeod, and Abbie G. Holloway, 21, resident of New York, N.Y., domestic, born in Wilson, N.C., to James and Amanda Holloway, were married in Boston.

In the 1900 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 15 Village, porter John McLeod, 33, and wife Abbie, 28, and 13 lodgers (all but one, a New Jersey man, were migrants from the South.)

In the business section of the 1911 Boston, Massachusetts, city directory, under “Laundries”: McLeod Abbie, 10 Clarendon.

In the 1920 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 72 Yarmouth Street, John A. McLeod, 50, laundry business, and wife Abagail, 46, laundry business, with eight lodgers.

  • William Henry Harris and Henrietta Murphy Allen  

On 29 November 1899, Wm. Henry Harris, 30, of 183 Elm Street, barber, born in Wilson, N.C., to James H. and Nancy Hill, and Henrietta (Murphy) Allen, 40, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, born in Baltimore, Md., to Benjamin and Caroline Murphy, were married in Cambridge.

  • Charlie Hinton and Lottie Green 

On 6 March 1905, Charlie Hinton, 24, resident of 393 Northampton Street, laborer, born in Wilson, N.C., to Calvin Hinton and Maggie Thomas, and Lottie Green, 24, same residence, domestic, born in Savannah, Ga., to John Green and Mary Field, were married in Boston.

  • Walter S. Hines and Sara E. Dortsch

On 6 September 1907, Walter S. Hines, 27, of Wilson, N.C., barber, son of Walter S. Hines [sic] and Della Barnes, and Sara E. Dortsch, 24, of Goldsboro, N.C., school teacher, daughter of Whitmore Dortsch and Mary Burnett, were married in Boston.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 30; wife Sarah, 29; children Elizabeth, 2, and Walter D., 8 months; and boarder Inez Moore, 31, a school teacher.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 40, wife Sara, 37, Elizabeth, 11, Walter Jr., 10, and Carl, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 50, wife Sarah, 48, and children Elizabeth, 21, Walter, 20, Carl W., 16, and Clifton R., 7.

  • Charles Dashun and Carrie Pitts 

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer William Pitts, 34; wife Violet, 25; and children Ailsey, 10, Martha, 5, Hattie, 3; and Laura, 10 months.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Violet Pit, 50, washing, and children Martha, 24, washing, Hattie, 22, cooking, Lula, 21, cooking, Ben, 19, tobacco stemmer, Carry, 12, cooking, Rosa, 16, nurse, Meaner, 11, Jenney, 5, and Edward, 2.

In the 1905 state census of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: Carrie Pitts, 19, servant, in the household of William Fletcher, 752 Ocean Avenue.

On 10 October 1911, Charles Dashun, 26, resident of New York, N.Y., bartender, born in Danish West Indies to John Dashun and Rosalind Steven, and Carrie Pitts, 26, resident of New York, N.Y., domestic, born in Wilson, N.C., to William Pitts and Violet Woodard, were married in Boston.

In 1918, Charles Dasher registered for the World War I draft in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Per his registration card, he was born 20 April 1884; lived at 2403 East 39th Street, Cleveland; and his wife was Carrie Dasher.

In the 1920 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: Harvey C. Dasher, 36, Pullman porter, New York; wife Carrie, 34, North Carolina; son Harvey Jr., 17, North Carolina; and widow Hattie Johnson, 42, department store elevator operator, North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of New York, New York County, New York: on West 121st Street, Carrie Dasher, 58, widow, maid, North Carolina, with six lodgers.

Marriage licenses.

Wilson Advance, 20 June 1889.

Notice the superfluous racist commentary typical in Josephus DanielsAdvance: “the darkies took the lead.”

  • Joseph Baines and Mary Eliza Taylor

Joseph Baines, 24, of Toisnot township, son of Tyrell and Penny Baines, married Mary Eliza Taylor, 18, of Toisnot township, daughter of Stephen and Rachel Taylor, on 2 May 1889. A.M.E. Zion minister James M. Copeland performed the ceremony in the presence of J.C. Ellis, Doublin Barnes and Oscar Banes.

  • Alsey Locus and Laura Adams

Alsey Locus, 21, of Wilson, married Laura Adams, 22, of Nash County, on 12 May 1889 in Taylors township. David Locus, Jesse Barnes and George Barnes witnessed.

  • Ed. Blackwell and Cherry Farmer

Ed. Blackwell, 27, of Wilson township, son of Axum Blackwell and Delpha Locus, married Cherry Farmer, 24, of Gardners township, daughter of Rhoda Bynum, on 12 May 1889 in Gardners township. Auntney [Anthony] Vick applied for the license.

  • Isaih Dew and Deurinda Warmack

Isaiah Dew, 30, of Cross Roads township, son of Simon and Tilitha Dew, married Durinda Wammock, 25, of Cross Roads township, daughter of Washington and Julia Fields, on 23 May 1889, in Cross Roads township. “J.T. Aycock, a Catholick” performed the ceremony.