He was a “good, useful and noble old colored Lamb of God.”
Per Some Black Families of Wilson County, North Carolina, a compilation of The Hugh B. Johnston Working Papers published in 1997 by Wilson County Genealogical Society, in notes on the family of Benjamin and Feriby Woodard Artis:
“5. Julia Ann ‘Juda’ Artis was born on April 25, 1865, and died on April 28, 1960. She first married Columbus ‘Lum’ Thompson and lived near Lucama. [Their children were twins Mary Jane and Martha J. Thompson, born 26 April 1886. Martha married Joe Barnes, son of Wilson ‘Wilse’ Barnes, and their son Frank Barnes was born 29 January, 1909. Martha died 15 April 1909.]
“Jude Artis married secondly Wade Barnes, son of Silas Barnes and wife Rosetta Farmer. He was born August 1, 1845, and died on March 2, 1934. (He had first married Adeline Bynum, by whom he had (1) Rev. John Albert Barnes (Methodist, died July 20, 1944) who married Sarah Staton, (2) Willie Barnes never married, and (3) Betsy Barnes married Ned Holland of Delaware.) The Wilson Daily Times of March 24, 1934, carried a “Memorial to Wade Barnes” written by John Julius Thorne. … Frank Barnes was born on December 4, 1888. Ned Barnes was born on March 15, 1890. On December 12, 1917, he married Sally Simms, daughter of Ben Rawls and Mary Knight Bullock. She was born on April 1, 1900, and was reared by Jim and Hattie Simms. In the 1970 they lived at the corner of Pender and Dixon Street in Elm City. During World War I he served with the 344th Labor Battalion in the European Theatre.”
In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Silas Barnes, 49; wife Rosa, 45; and children Feribee, 20, and Wade, 23.
In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Wade Barnes, 33; wife Adline, 25; and children John, 6, Willis, 3, and Varina, 1; plus grandmother Dury Simms, 60.
On 20 August 1892, Wade Barnes, 45, of Gardners, son of Silas and Rose Barnes, married Juda Thompson, 26, of Gardners, daughter of Ben and Feribe Artis. Missionary Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodward performed the ceremony in Wilson in the presence of [illegible] Townsend, Kate Perry and Louisa Williams.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Wade Barnes, 53; wife Julia Ann, 36; and children Betsy, 16, Martha, 15, and Ned, 9.
In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Farmers Mill Pond Road, Wade Barnes, 69; wife Julie Ann, 47; children Ned, 19, and Betsy, 23, and grandson Frank, 1.
In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Nashville Road, Waid Barnes, 75, and wife Julia, 56.
In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: in a home owned and valued at $3000. farm laborer Wade Barnes, 83; wife Juliann, 65; Frank, 21; lodger Alevia Batts, 39, widowed servant; and sister-in-law Mary Westray, 50, divorced.
Lois Artis Daniels generously shared several photographs of Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church, a congregation active for about 100 years near the town of Saratoga. Her great-great-grandmother Eva Ellis Edmundson Barnes was the first of many family members who belonged to Corner Line, and was married to its long-time pastor, Reverend Wiley Barnes. Daniels’ great-grandmother Ella Jane Edmundson Smith was also a member, as were her daughters Geneva Smith Anderson (Daniels’ grandmother) and Bessie Smith Barnes.
Corner-Line Primitive Baptist Church sign, 1989.
Exterior of Corner-Line Primitive Baptist Church, 2003.
Interior of Corner-Line Primitive Baptist, 1989.
This photo and write-up of Corner Line appear in Robert C. Bainbridge and Kate Ohno’s Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Inventory (1980).
“The parent institution of Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church was Bartee Church in Stantonsburg Township. In the early twentieth century Bartee Church was abandoned and Thomas and Victoria Felton gave the land and lumber for the construction of the church. The name of the church was inspired by its location at the junction of three separately owned parcels of land. The first pastor was Elder Sam Brystern [Buston], who served the church until his death in 1930. Wiley Barnes was the church’s second pastor, and his son, Tom Barnes, took charge of the church in 1964 and is the present pastor. The Barnes family has historically been active in church affairs and Ellen, grandmother of the present paster, was one of the first black members of the White Oak Primitive Baptist Church. The church building, like many other Wilson County country churches, is a one-room rectangular building with a gable roof. The gable end entrance consists of double five-panel doors and the six-over-six windows in the side and rear elevations are protected by board and batten shutters.”
On 20 December 1899, Rufus Edmundson, 24, son of Green Edmundson and Rancy Edmundson, married Eva Ellis, 25, daughter of Laura Hudson, at “Few In Number Church” in Township #8. [Township 8? Were they married in Edgecombe County? The license was issued in Wilson County.] Primitive Baptist minister N.T. Johnson performed the ceremony; Louis Hagins applied for the license.
In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Rufus Edmundson, 28; wife Eva, 26; and children Robert, 2, and Alfred, 2 months.
In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Ellis Road, farmer Rufus Edmonson, 33; wife Eva, 33; and children Ella J., 7, Hada, 6, Sadie, 4, and “son-in-law” [stepson] Robert, 13.
On 2 January 1918, Crum Smith, 19, of Saratoga, son of Ed and Annie Smith, married Ella Edmundson, 18, daughter of Rufus and Eva Edmundson, on J.B. Eason’s farm in Saratoga. Rufus Edmundson applied for the license, and Sam Bynum, Isaa Bynum and James Bynum witnessed.
In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Rufus Edmonson, 45; wife Eva, 46; and children Robert, 20, Haden, 17, and Sadie, 15.
In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Crum Smith, 21, wife Ella, 19, and daughter Eva, 1.
In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Rufus Edmundson, 50, and wife Eva, 32.
In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, farmer Crumble Smith, 31; wife Ella, 30; and children Jeneva, 11, Tommy, 10, Minnie, 7, Mary, 5, Bessie, 4, Moses, 2, and Hattie, 1.
Rufus S. Edmundson died 13 May 1934 in Saratoga township. Per his death certificate, he was born in Greene County, North Carolina, to Green Edmundson; was married to Eva Edmundson; and was a farmer. Wiley Barnes was informant.
Ella Jane Smith died 23 December 1977 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 August 1903 in Wilson County to Rufus Edmundson and Eva Rice; resided in Stantonsburg; and her informant was Geneva S. Anderson, 1630 Freeman Street Extension, Wilson.
Mid-century obituaries for two of Corner Line’s members:
Wilson Daily Times, 1 February 1947.
Wilson Daily Times, 24 December 1952.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 April 1993.
Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church is now abandoned, but still stands on Speight School Road near its termination at Highway 264 Alternate. This Google Maps image dates to 2012.
On 25 January 1933, Curley Bynum, 22, son of Cooper and Wen Ann Bynum, married Pearl Emanuel, 20, daughter of M.P. and Pattie Emanuel, in Wilson.
Pearl Bynum died 21 November 1949 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 May 1910 in South Carolina to Pertis and Pattie Emanuel; was married; lived at 102 North Pender; and worked as a domestic and clerk. Informant was Curly Bynum.
On 3 December 1907, Mack Melton, 55, of Gardners township, son of Lenzy and Eliza Melton, married Sarah Wootten, 40, of Greene County, in Wilson County. Moses Dew applied for the marriage license, and he, Carrie Melton and Marry Thomas witnessed.
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Mack Melton, 60, wife Sarah, 45, and children Lafyette, 14, Lillie, 12, Gilber, 10, and Warren Melton, 8. Both Mack and Sarah reported that this was a second marriage for each. Sarah reported that seven of her nine children were living.
Fate Milton registered for the World War I draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he resided in Wilson County, was born in Pitt County on 21 December 1895, and worked a farmer.
On 29 December 1921, Fate Melton, 26, of Wilson County, son of Mack and Sarah Melton, married Annie Brooks, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Grant and Sallie Brooks. Primitive Baptist minister Thomas Bunch officiated at the ceremony, and David Bynum, Leander Harriss and Leander Sauls were witnesses.
Fate Melton was appointed as an elder in the Union Primitive Baptist Association as a young man and served as pastor of at least four Wilson County churches, Oaky Grove, Friendship, Union Grove and Jerusalem Grove. He led Jerusalem Grove from 1924 until his death in 1961; the church is now helmed by a grandson.
Fate Melton died 4 September 1961 at a Veterans Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was a farmer and Primitive Baptist minister; was born 21 December 1896 in Wilson County to Tony Sharp Melton and Sarah Ellis; and was a World War I veteran. Annie Brooks Melton was informant.
Proceedings of the 58th Annual Session of the Union Primitive Baptist Association found at www.archive.org; military headstone application found at U.S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
Many thanks to Anthony J. Edwards for permission to feature this photograph.
Ranger Cobb, enslaved by Stephen Cobb, was excommunicated 24 February 1821 for having “two wives.”
Dinah Cornish, enslaved by William Cornish, was a member before 1820.
Allen Daniel, enslaved by Lemuel Daniel, was a member before 1820.
Harriet Daniel was received 17 August 1870.
Ollif Daniel was baptized 27 June 1858.
Tabby Daniel (Josiah Daniel’s) was baptized 14 August 1828.
Agib Dew (Larry Dew’s) was baptized 23 February 1835 and died 2 December 1837.
Amos Dew was baptized 24 February 1872 and excluded from fellowship 2 June 1872 “for Drunkness fiting and Lying.”
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Amos Due, 39; wife Louisa, 35; and children Isaac, 9, Morning, 1, and Ella, 5. (Next door: Everett Due, 32, wife Jane, 24, and son Edward, 8 months.) Or possibly: in the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Amos Dew, 41, wife Ruth, 30, and children Sarah, 9, Willie, 7, Hester, 6, Anderson, 4, George, 2, and Zebalon, 4 months.
Everett Dew was a member by 1870.
See above. Or, in the 1870 census of Wilson township: farm laborer Everett Due, 58, wife Sarah, 59, and Joseph, 23, and Rachel Due, 18.
Fortin Dew was received 23 April 1870.
Gilbert Dew (Larry Dew’s) was baptized 23 February 1835 and subsequently dismissed by letter.
Gilbert Dew was a member by 1870.
Loueser Dew was received 22 August 1867.
Milbrey “Millie” Dew was baptized in 1859.
Rose Dew was received on 23 October 1869.
Lewcy Ellis (Elisha Ellis Sr.’s) was baptized 23 October 1825.
Mary Ethridge was received on 26 May 1866.
Milley Ethridge (Nathan Ethridge’s) was baptized 25 July 1824 and expelled 22 February 1828 “for having a Bastard.”
Wilie Ethridge was restored to membership 23 August 1863.
From Minutes of the 58th Annual Session of the Union Primitive Baptist Association (1931).
Union Primitive Baptist Association, founded in the early 1870s, is comprised primarily of churches in Pitt and Wilson Counties. In addition to those highlighted above, Wilson County congregations affiliated with the association include Jones Hill Primitive Baptist, located west of the city of Wilson. Most, including Friendship (Lucama), Union Grove (Wilson), Jerusalem Grove (Wilson), and Oaky Grove (east of Wilson), remain active churches today. William Chapel, just outside Elm City, is also a living church, but is now affiliated with the Missionary Baptist denomination. Today’s Healthy Plains Primitive Baptist Church, near Sims in western Wilson County, is a white congregation. I am not sure of its relationship, if any, to the church listed above.
Original print of minutes held at University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Elder Jonah Williams (1841-1915) was involved in the establishment of nearly every church in the Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association, including Turner Swamp (1897), Barnes (1898), Little Union (1899), and Rocky Mount (1908). Turner Swamp still meets at or near its original location just north of Eureka in Wayne County. Barnes Chapel was close to Stantonsburg, in southwest Wilson County. Little Union Primitive Baptist Church, which is under reconstruction, was in the Town Creek area east of Elm City. I have not been able to find current references to Rocky Mount Primitive Baptist Church. London’s Church, now inside city limits, was then just north of the town of Wilson. The church is closely associated withLondon Woodard, an enslaved man who was purchased by his free-born wife, Penny Lassiter. Just after the Civil War, London, who had been a staunch member of Toisnot Primitive Baptist Church, founded an African-American congregation, which reorganized as an independent Primitive Baptist congregation in 1897.
Barnes Church, near Stantonsburg.
Elder Williams participated in five Association annual sessions before his death, and the minutes of two survive, including the 1914 session excerpted below.