Odd Fellows

Cemetery update, no. 2: ownership.

You just have to know where to look.

After I figured out some basic navigation tricks, Wilson County’s fine GIS maps yielded quick answers to the questions of ownership of Vick, Odd Fellows and Rountree cemeteries. (One would think this information would be readily available to the city employees and officials from whom I requested it, but let’s keep moving forward.)

Here is the 7.84 acre Vick cemetery, deeded by Samuel H. Vick to the City of Wilson in 1913. (The deed is recorded at Deed Book 96, page 85, which is not available via the Register of Deeds’ website. I’ll get a copy when I next go home.) It is classified, appropriately, as a cemetery.

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Adjacent to the northeast is a 2.16 acre parcel owned by Odd Fellows Society since 1900. (There is no deed book reference listed.) It is classified — inappropriately, in my view — as a vacant lot belonging to a club or lodge.

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And here, sandwiched between the Odd Fellows Cemetery and Sandy Creek, is a two-acre parcel owned by Rountree Missionary Baptist Church since 1906. (Rountree’s deed is in Deed Book 76, page 97. The present-day church is the irregularly shaped building on the large lot at the northen corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Lane Street.) This, too, incredibly, is described as a vacant lot belonging to a church.

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And to my shock, there’s also this. The rhombus across Lane Street, shown below, is part of the Rountree cemetery’s acreage. It is not my imagination that I saw graves on this side of the road when exploring as a child.

Here’s an aerial view, also from Wilson County GIS/Mapping Office. The big empty square is Vick cemetery (known popularly, and confusingly, as Rountree cemetery), which contains the remains of thousands of African Americans who died between the late 1800s and about 1965. I have no idea how many people are buried in the Odd Fellows cemetery next door, which was the burial ground of choice for much of Wilson’s black elite in the early 1900s. The city maintains the strip of this cemetery that fronts Lane Street. You can’t see it here, but a deep ditch marks the boundary between Odd Fellows and Rountree cemeteries. The eastern border of Rountree is Sandy Creek, a small, sluggish tributary of Hominy Swamp.

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Next step: contact Rountree Missionary Baptist Church (which will be a straightforward endeavor) and the Odd Fellows Society (which will not.) And remind the city that I’m still waiting for a response to my public records request.

Towe buys a house and lot for $900.

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North Carolina, Wilson County  }

This Deed made this the 30th day of March 1898 by Silas Lucas and wife, Charity Lucas, parties of the first part and G.H. Towe party of the Second part, all of the State and County aforesaid, Witnesseth:- That for and in consideration of the Sum of Nine Hundred Dollars in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, the Said parties of the first part have bargained and Sold and do by this deed bargain, Sell and convey unto the Said party of the Second part, his heirs and assigns, the following described land: One lot or parcel of land lying and being Situate in the town of Wilson, State and County aforesaid on Nash Street on the South Side of the Colored Odd Fellows Lodge, beginning at the corner of Said Odd Fellows lot, thence about eighty feet Eastward to Charles Dardin‘s line, thence South with Said Dardin’s line about Eighty feet to a light wood Stake, thence west parallel with the first named line to Nash Street, thence with Nash Street to the beginning, being part of the lot purchased by the said Silas Lucas from A.D. Farmer and also being the lot on which the Said G.H. Towe now resides To Have and To Hold To Him the Said G.H. Towe, his heirs and assigns, forever. And the Said Lucas does for himself, his heirs, administrators and executors, covenants and agrees to and with the Said Towe that he will forever warrant and defend the title to the above described real estate against the lawful Claims of all persons whatsoever.

In Testimony whereof the Said parties of the first part have hereunto Set their hands and Seals the day and year first above written.    /s/ Silas Lucas, Charity Lucas

——

A year after he bought this property, Granville H. Towe‘s lot on Nash Street was listed on a delinquent property tax list.

Deed book 46, page 455, Register of Deeds, Wilson County Court House.

Samuel H. Vick.

Educator, politician, businessman, real estate developer, church leader — Samuel H. Vick was the most accomplished resident of East Wilson in his lifetime. (And many years after.)

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A.B. Caldwell, ed., History of the American Negro and His Institutions, North Carolina Edition (1921).