State vs. Nep Lee.

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.

Dr. Basye’s bequest.

Three days after the Wilson Daily Times announced the death of Dr. Arthur A. Basye while visiting Richmond, Virginia, the newspaper published the contents of his will. Basye, an Illinois native, practiced medicine in Wilson for about ten years before his death. Among his bequests, Basye left African-American barber Andrew Pearce [Pierce] five hundred dollars. The will does not explain Pierce’s relationship to Basye or the impetus for this gift. 

Wilson Daily Times, 21 September 1926.


In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel servant Andrew Pierce, 23; wife Allice, 20; daughter Nellie, 1; Harrit Knight, 36; and Victoria Knight, 17.

On 2 February 1904, Andrew Pearce, 22, son of Andrew and Alice Pearce, married Lossie Hasket [Haskins], 21, daughter of Damp and Estelle Hasket, in Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister J.F. Farmer performed the ceremony in the presence of Thomas Barnes, Abbie Foster, and Mrs. J.F. Farmer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 614 Hines Street, barber Andrew Pearce, 26; wife Lossy, 26; and children Allice, 5, and Bossy, 6 months.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pierce Andrew (c) barber h Hines hr Daniel

In 1918, Andrew Pierce registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 4 July 1886; worked as a barber for William Hines, 119 South Tarboro; lived at 515 Warren; and his nearest relative was wife Lossie Pierce.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 515 Warren, barber Andrew Pierce, 35; wife Loss, 35; and children Alice, 15, Mayzie [Boisy], 11, Hellen, 7, Benford, 5, and Ruby, 3.

On 11 April 1930, Ray M. Pierce, 4, of 1212 East Nash Street, Wilson, son of Andrew Pierce and Lessie Haskins, died of acute myocarditis.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Vance, Andrew Pierce, 55, nurse at home (usually barber); wife Lossie, 55, in hospital; daughters Alice, 35, and Hester, 27; sons Boise, 29, cafe [cook?], and Binford, 14; daughter Ruby, 19, “cook school;” and grandchildren Randolph, 9, and Montheal Foster, 7, and Mickey Pierce, 1.

Andrew Pierce died 12 December 1948 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 June 1889 in Wilson to Andrew Pierce and Alice Knight; was the widower of Lossie Pierce; worked as a barber; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Hattie Tate, 307 Pender, was informant.

Clipping courtesy of J.Robert Boykin III.

The last will and testament of Luther Locus.

Luther Locus left gifts of $50 to Saint John A.M.E.Z. Church, his aunt Gertrude Horton and  sister Frances Faison; $25 to aunt Mary Mitchell; a piano and a ’36 Buick to sister Lessie Knight; property to wife Eula Locus; and $1000 to son Robert Locus. Rev. J.A. Everette, Ethel Everette and D.C. Yancey witnessed the execution of the document.

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Perhaps, in the 1900 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John W. Locus, 27, wife Liddie, 26, and children Stillie, 9, Luther, 7, and Rolley, 8 months, and sister Lula, 17.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn and Kenly Road, farmer John A. Pearce, 41; wife Frances, 37; and children Thomas E., 19, Madie, 17, Lenore, 14, Geneva, 12, John H., 9, Odester, 1, and James, 5 months; boarder Luther Locus, 17; and hired hand Rucian Joyner, 30.

On 15 April 1916, Luther Locus was a witness to the marriage of Lonnie Staton, 22, and Lessie Locus, 20, at 514 East Green Street, Wilson. Church of God minister Joseph Lancaster performed the ceremony in the presence of Lessie’s brother Luther, L.A. Moore and Joseph Johnson.

On 5 June 1917, Luther Locus registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1892 in Kenly, N.C.; resided on Wainwright Avenue, Wilson; worked as a chauffeur and mechanic for T.W. Tilghman in Wilson; and was married with a child. He signed his name ‘Luther Locust’ in a clear hand.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wainwright, butler Luther Locus, 27, wife Eula, 23, and son Robert, 6.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1108 Wainwright, cook Luther Locus, 37, wife Eula, 37, also a cook, and son Robert, 16.

Luther Locus died 17 September 1944 at his home at 1108 Wainwright Avenue (owned and valued at $1500.) Per his death certificate, he was born 6 November 1892 in Wilson County to Elie Locus and Mary Pierce, both of Wilson County; worked as an auto mechanic at a filling station. Eula Locus was informant.

On 22 January 1949, Lessie Locus, 45, married Jessie B. Knight, 45, in Wilson. Thomas J. Moore and R.R. Batts witnessed.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line],

307 North Pender Street.

The ninth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.


As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “#307. Ca. 1908; 2 [stories]; Noah Tate house; Queen Anne house with hip-roofed central block and hip-roofed front wing; porch, which extends across front facade, remodeled bungalow type posts; Tate was a barber working with Walter Tate [sic; Hines].”

This house is one of East Wilson’s gems.

Between the dates of the 1920 census of Wilson, in which Tate and his family are listed at 208 North Pender, and the 1922 city directory, the house number changed 307 North Pender.

On 24 November 1904, Noah J. Tate, 28, of Wilson, son of Hardy and Mary Tate, married Hattie B. Pearce, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Andrew and Alice Pearce. Walter S. Hines applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at the residence of Ritchard Renfrow in the presence of S.H. Vick, W.H. Simms and J.D. Reid.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Noah Tate, 28, wife Hattie, 25, and children John P., 3, and Helen, 2.

The 1913 Sanborn insurance map shows the dwelling in its original one-story form, as indicated by the 1 inked into the bottom right corner:


1913 Sanborn insurance map.

Noah John Tate registered for the World War I draft in Wilson on 12 September 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1876; resided at 208 North Pender, Wilson; and was a self-employed barber working at 213 East Nash Street. His nearest relative was wife Hattie Tate.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, barber Noah Tate, 42, wife Hattie, 34, boarder Mary Jennings, 28, and children Helen, 16, Mary Jane, 8, Andrew, 11, and Noah Jr., 3.

Noah J. Tate died 3 January 1926 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 307 Pender Street; was married to Hattie Tate; was born about 1875 in Grimesland, North Carolina, to Hardy Tate of Wayne County and Mary Jane Dawson of Pitt County. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 North Pender, widowed seamstress Hattie Tate, 44; daughter Hellen, 23, insurance agent; son Andrew, 21, hotel bellboy; and lodger Lucy Davis, 50, a school teacher. The house was owned and valued at $8000.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.