migration to Virginia

Fake news (and other stories.)

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Wilson Advance, 14 October 1887.

Wilson Advance, 8 July 1897.

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On 21 November 1895, Richard Renfrow, 35, son of Julia Gay, married Victoria Knight, 28, daughter of Harriet Knight. Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodward performed the service, and Levi Jones, H.T. Ransom and Maggie Ransom witnessed.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Richard Renfrow, 38; wife Victora, 35; her widowed mother Harriet Knight, 61; and Harriet’s grandchildren Hattie, 16, Andrew, 17, barber, and Alis, 12.

In the 1901 Hill’s Directory of Norfolk, Portsmouth and Berkley, Virginia: Renfrow Richard barber 311 Queen.

In the 1908 Hill’s Directory of Wilson, N.C.: Renfrow Richard barber 544 E Nash.

In the 1914 Hill’s Directory of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia: Renfrow Richard barber 417 E Bute.

On 26 December 1916, Richard Renfrow, 50, married Matilda Taylor, 50, in Wilson. Hood Phillips applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister A.L.E. Weeks performed the ceremony in the presence of Boston Griffin, J.E. Farmer and Henry Lucas.

Matilda Renfrow died 2 June 1918 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was about 50 years old; was married; and worked as a cook. Informant was Richard Renfrow, 900 Queen Street, Norfolk.

In the 1923 Hill’s Directory of Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia: Renfrow Richard barber 628 E Charlotte.

 

Cornelia Hagans Cone.

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Cornelia Hagans Cone (1888-1955), daughter  of Lawrence and Mary Etta Pender Hagans.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Larnce Haggan, 49, wife Etha, 44, and children Joe, 21, Augustus, 19, Oscar, 18, Charlie, 16, Annie, 13, Connie, 10, Lena, 8, Mollie, 7, William L., 4, Minnie, 3, and Pattie, 1, and Lawrence’s widowed mother Alice Hagans, 70.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: on Finches Mill Road, farmer Jimerson C. Cone, 23, and wife Cornelia, 22.

Jimerson Cone registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 June 1886 in Nash County, North Carolina; resided in Wilson, N.C.; and was a self-employed farmer with a dependent wife and children.

In the 1920 census of Matoaca township, Chesterfield County, Virginia: farmer Jamison Cone, 34; wife Cornelia, 33; and children Sarah L., 12, Willie, 10, Randolph, 8, Jimmie L., 6, Mabel, 4, Elba S., 2, and Herman J., 2.

In the 1930 census of Matoaca township, Chesterfield County: on Reeder Branch Road, tobacco farmer Jimerson C. Cone, 43; wife Cornelia, 42; and children Willie, 20, Randolph, 18, Jimmie L. 17, Mabel, 15, Elba I., 13, Jessie H., 11, Charles W., 7, Dorothy M., 5, and Mary H., 11 months.

In the 1940 census of Matoaca township, Chesterfield County: farmer Jemmerson Cone, 53; wife Cornelia, 52; and children Mable, 24, Charlie, 17, Dorothy M., 14, and Hazel M., 11.

In 1942, Jimerson Cone registered r the World War II draft in Chesterfield County. Per his registration card, he resided “off Hickory Road – near Rudy’s store” in Chesterfield County; his mailing address was Route 1, Ettrick; he was born 9 June 1886 in Wilson, N.C.; he was a self-employed farmer; and his contact person was wife Cornelia Cone.

Cornelia Cone died 18 July 1955 in Petersburg, Chesterfield County, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born 8 July 1888 in Wilson, North Carolina, to Lawrence Hagans and Mary (maiden name unknown). She was buried in a family plot in Chesterfield County. Informant was her husband, Jimerson Cone.

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Cornelia and Jimerson Cone.

Progress Index (Petersburg, Virginia), 19 July 1955.

Photographs courtesy of Ancestry.com user TeiaHarper1.

Virginia divorces.

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Annie Barnes, 24, daughter of Charles and Rebecca Barnes, married Moses Gunn, 31, son of Joe and Amanda Gunn, on 22 December 1900 in Wilson. (Annie Barnes Gunn was a sister of John M. Barnes and B. Frank Barnes.)

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Artelia Marian Darden, daughter of Charles and Diana Scarborough Darden, married John Jesse Tennessee in Wilson on 14 November 1914.

 

Studio shots, no. 1: Mildred Louise Obery.

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Written across the back of this photo: “Mildred Obery, 1114 Queen Street, Wilson.”

This studio photograph depicting Mildred Louise Obery likely dates from the early 1940s. Her father and stepmother, Alex and Annie Obery are listed at 1111 Queen Street in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, but their children are not listed in the household.

By 1945, Mildred Obery was living in Newport News, Virginia, where she married her neighbor Clarence Smith on or about 30 March. [Mildred’s parents are listed as Marion and Sallie Hueller Obery. However, her delayed birth certificate, filed in Wilson, lists them as Alex Obery and Maggie Evans. The 1925 Wilson city directory shows Alex and Maggie Obey (an alternate spelling of the name that reflects its pronunciation) living at 110 North East Street. He worked as a painter and she as a laundress.]

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Photograph given by Mildred L. Obery to Hattie Henderson Ricks, now in possession of Lisa Y. Henderson.

167 pictures.

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Beautiful. Last fall, in her quest to learn more about the owners of an abandoned photo album, New York Times reporter Annie Correal stumbled across Black Wide-Awake and contacted me to get a feel for early 20th century Wilson. I am delighted to have played a small role in bringing this story to light.

Here’s a passage:

Etta Mae Barnes was born on July 28, 1918, in Wilson, N.C., which once called itself the world’s greatest bright-leaf tobacco market. When Ms. Taylor was young, it was a boomtown. Thousands of African-American families had migrated to Wilson from the countryside to pick tobacco on farms and hang it in big warehouses downtown.

“The first pages in the album seemed to be of Wilson; several photos had stamps from photographers’ studios there. There were portraits of women in flouncy dresses, babies, a boy with a dog, a group in straw hats in a field.

“In two portraits placed side by side, a middle-aged couple posed by a flowering bush, in front of a clapboard house. I wondered if they were Etta Mae’s parents.

“Etta Mae’s mother, Anna Bell Green Barnes, was born in Virginia and worked as a hanger at a tobacco company, the documents revealed. Her father, James Frank Barnes, was a grocery store clerk. His family went back generations in Wilson County.

“Etta Mae was one of six. When she was still a child, her oldest brother, Charles, boarded the train that passed through Wilson and became part of what we now call the Great Migration, the exodus of millions of black Southerners from the Jim Crow South. Judging from the album, many of Etta Mae’s relatives had gone north; I could tell them apart from their country kin by their suits and furs.”

 

Under Rev. Henry, Little Zion grew.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Mack Henry, 51, wife Elen S., 38, and children James T., 14, Pochahuntus, 12, Emma G., 9, George B., 7, and Pattie L., 2. All were born in Virginia except Pattie, who was born in North Carolina. Mack, Ellen and James worked as tobacco graders.

In the 1910 census of Clayton, Johnston County, North Carolina: Mack Henry, 55, tobacco grader; wife Ellen, 45, cook; daughters Pocahontas Farmer, 23, and Emma Hinton, 20, washwomen; daughter Pattie L. Henry, 14; son William T. Henry, 10; daughter Jessie Maie Henry, 5; and granddaughters Elizabeth Farmer, 1, and an unnamed Hinton girl, 1 month.

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From Greater Little Zion Baptist Church History. Greater Little Zion is in Fairfax, Virginia, in an area of the city once called Burke.