The deaths of African Americans in early 20th century Wilson generally did not merit mention in the newspaper unless their lives could be framed in terms of their personal service to white people. This obituary could serve as a template in this regard.
It surely was not the Millie Smith Sutton who murdered her brother O.L.W. Smith‘s wife Lucy in 1891. I can find no death certificate for a Millie Sutton in Wilson or surrounding counties in 1936. However, Millie Bryant died 17 October 1936. Per her death certificate, she was 70 years old; was born in Goldsboro, N.C., to unknown parents; lived at 608 East Green Street. Celia A. Norwood, 205 Pender Street, was informant. Was Millie Bryant, in fact, “this good woman”?
Per the 1900 census of Wilson, she was. Millie Bryant is listed as the live-in cook for widower John Selby and family.
From 1900 federal census, Wilson, Wilson County.
Ten weeks before she died, Millie Bryant made out her last will and testament, leaving all her property to her niece Celia Norwood.
In September 1952, L.M. Phelps prepared a survey of the five lots on East Green and Pender Streets owned by the estate of Cecelia Norwood.
Norwood’s two-story wooden house faced East Green Street on a lot that joined two others to ran all the way back to Darden’s Alley (now Darden Lane). Around the corner and across Pender, she owned two lots that adjoined Calvary Presbyterian Church, which then stood right at the corner of Green and Pender.
In 1957, Calvary Presbyterian Church purchased lots 4 and 5 from Cecilia Norwood’s estate. In 1970-71, the church constructed a new sanctuary on the Norwood property.
A Google Maps aerial view shows the former location of Norwood’s house and lots.
On 28 February 1895, Celia A. Hill, 22, daughter of H. and H. Hill, married Richard Norwood, 21, son of B. Norwood of Chatham County, in Wilson. Episcopal minister J.W. Perry performed the ceremony at Saint Marks in the presence of John H. Clark, B.R. Winstead and S.A. Smith.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer Richard Norward, 36; wife Celia, 34, public school teacher; Robert T., 14, Richard V., 15, Christine, 11, and Henry E., 8; mother Henry E. Hill, 65, depot janitoress; Mack Peacock, 17, doctor’s office servant; and Joe Burnett, 17, hotel servant.
In 1918, Richard Norwood registered for the World War I draft in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Per his registration card, he was born 31 March 1897 in Wilson; resided at 134 Pender Street, Wilson (and also 935 Baltic Avenue, Atlantic City; was employed by John Moore, North Carolina and Atlantic Avenues, Atlantic City; and his nearest relative of Cecilia Norwood, 134 Pender Street.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 134 Pender Street, Heneretta Hill, 70, A.C.L. railroad matron; Celia W. Hill, 40, teacher; Cora A. Hill, 27, teacher; Hazell Hill, 16; Christina Hill, 19; Barlee Hill, 22, laborer; Rosa Hicks, 22; and Archer Martin, 14.
In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Norwood Cecelia tchr h 205 Pender
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 205 Pender Street, valued at $5000, widowed teacher Cecelia Norwood, 60; granddaughter Cecelia Norwood, 5; grandson Edgear Norwood, 3; Ruth Cobb, 31, public school teacher; Lucie Richards, 50; and lodgers John, 38, carpenter at body plant, and Elizabeth Douglas, 35.
Cecilia Anna Norwood died 27 June 1944 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 February 1879 in Washington, North Carolina to Edward Hill and Henrietta Cherry; resided at 205 Pender, Wilson; was widowed; and was a teacher. Informant was Hazel Covington of Wilson.
Plat map 5, page 78, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
In 1949, twenty-two years after Julius F. Freeman Sr.‘s death, L.M. Phelps surveyed and platted two parcels of land in East Wilson owned by Freeman’s estate. One, divided into three lots, was at the corner of East Nash and Powell Streets, across and down Nash a couple of hundred feet from Freeman’s son O. Nestus Freeman. The second parcel, divided into two lots, was inside the angled intersection of North East Street and Darden Alley (now Darden Lane.)
Lydia Norwood — Lydia Ann Freeman Norwood Ricks was a daughter of Julius and Eliza Daniels Freeman. Robert Norwood, 24, married Lydia Freeman, 21, at the residence of Julius Freeman at 26 January 1899. Episcopal priest W.B. Perry performed the ceremony in the presence of William Kittrell, William Barnes and John Williams. In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, she is listed as a domestic living at E Nash extd, R.F.D. 4. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1025 Roberson Street, owned and valued at $1000, tobacco factory laborer Egar Ricks, 49; wife Lydia, 62; and daughter Eliza Norwood, 39, tobacco factory laborer, tobacco factory laborer. Renting rooms in the house for $8/month were widow Dora Bynum, 40, tobacco factory laborer; her children Charles, 9, Dorthy, 6, and Joseph Bynum, 2, and Rosa Lee, 15, and James Joyner, 12; and widow Rosetta Farmer, 59. Lydia Ricks died 14 October 1960 at her home at 1025 Roberson Street. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was born in Wilson County to Julius Freeman and Eliza Adams; and was married to Eddie Ricks.