On 15 October 1853, Penny Lassiter paid Hilliard Thomas $242 for 106 acres of land on “the Tarboro road,” i.e. today’s N.C. Highway 42. To date, this is the earliest found purchase of land by an African-American woman in what is now Wilson County.
Deed book 26, page 258, Edgecombe County Register of Deeds Office, Tarboro, N.C.
Silas Parker died without a will in 1914, and two years later his 51-acre tract went up for sale at public auction to pay his debts. His widow Mahalia Parker, who served as administratrix of his estate and filed the petition to sell, was high bidder at $500. The couple’s children were Maggie V. Parker, Mary B. Parker, John W. Parker, Mack McKinley Parker, Este Parker, Jerry D. Parker, Bertha Parker, Anna Parker, Sarah J. Parker and Adeline P. Parker.
Via Dickensian proceedings, Silas Parker had inherited most of this tract of land from his uncle, Jerry Dunn.
In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Toney Parker, 41; wife Julia, 34; and children Harry, 10, Silas, 10, Bray, 8, William, 5, Mary, 3, and George, 3 months.
Also, in the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Jerry Dunn, 48; wife Sarah, 40; and Silas Parker, 8. (Next door: Zania Hill, 43, and daughter Della, 17.)
In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Jere Dunn, 60; wife Sarah, 55; and nephew Silas Parker, 21, laborer.
In early 1881, Jerry Dunn drafted his last will and testament:
State of North Carolina Edgecomb County I Jary Dunn thankin God that I am in Good Bodily helth and sound mind do acknowlege this my last Will and testemaning that I do give unto Silas Parker after the deth of my self and my beloved Wife sara Dunn a serten tract of land containing forty one acres known as the Boiten Wilaford tract Joanding the lands of Boston Armstrong and others to him the said Silas Parker to have and In Joy forever as he may ce cause I Jarey Dunn in Presans of God and Witnss have hear to set my hand and seal the 9 day of Januarey AD 1881 Jarey X Dunn Witness Jesse W. Williams Richard X Wilkins
On 20 December 1888, Silas Parker, 27, of Nash County, son of Toney Parker of Wilson County and Julia Parker, married Mahala Parker, 20, of Nash County, daughter of Ruffin Parker and Morning Parker, at Ruffin Parker’s in Nash County.
On 31 December 1888, Jerry Dunn, 65, of Toisnot township, son of Harry and Rachel Dunn, married Sarah Wilkins, 58, of Toisnot township, daughter of Daniel Pitt and Piney Wilkins, in Wilson township. Methodist minister J.H. Mattocks performed the ceremony, and Silas Parker and C.H. Darden witnessed. [Was this a second wife, also named Sarah?]
Jerry Dunn died in 1889, and the strangeness started. In August, attorneys Bunn & Battle filed this petition in Wilson County Superior Court on behalf of administrator D.L. Lancaster. The petitioner claimed that (1) Jerry Dunn was $800 in debt to Silas Parker; (2) the value of Dunn’s personal estate was only $50; (3) Dunn owned a 41-acre tract in Wilson County worth $300; (4) this land descended to Dunn’s children [sic] Ben Pitt, age 73 or 74, of Edgecombe County, Mariah Taylor, age 44 of Wilson County, Harry Atkinson, age 50, of Wilson County, Blount Atkinson, age 55, of Edgecombe County, Harriet Webb, wife of Eli, age 40, of Wilson County, Mills Atkinson, 64, of Edgecombe County; Dunn died intestate without wife or children; and Pitt, Taylor and Harry Atkinson conveyed their interest in Dunn’s estate to Silas Parker.
Eli and Harriett Webb filed an answer to the petition in October 1889. The opening paragraph was true, they acknowledged, but as to paragraph 1, Jerry Dunn was not carrying $800 in debt and owed nothing to Parker. Dunn had settled with Parker, paying him “every cent” he owed him and not incurred any new debt to Parker in the last three years. As to paragraphs 2 and 3, Dunn’s personal estate ought to be worth at least $250 and his land worth $450. As to paragraph 4, these were Dunn’s siblings, not his children, and none had signed over their interest to Parker. There was no need to sell Dunn’s land to pay his debts, which amounted to no more than $50, as his personal assets should cover them. Further, Mills Atkinson was a “lunatic” without a guardian.
At that point, it seems, Jerry Dunn’s will suddenly turned up. He was not intestate, after all. The will was entered into probate on 6 January 1890 in Wilson County Superior Court, and the whole game changed. The court dismissed the petition to sell land and began to transfer Dunn’s wealth to his sole heir under his will, Silas Parker. Parker was the sole buyer at the sale of Dunn’s personal property in December 1891, scooping up farm animals, some equipment and a bed. He also, of course, received Dunn’s 41 acres.
In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Parker, 38; wife Mahala, 31; and children Maggie, 9, Mary B., 7, John W.L., 5, McKilley, 3, and Estie, 1.
In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wells Daws Avenue, farmer and teacher Silas Parker, 49; wife Mahalley, 41; and children Maggie, 19, May B., 17, John, 15, Mack M., 13, General Este, 11, Jerry B., 18, Bertha, 6, Anna, 4, Sarah, 2, and Addie P., 3 months.
Administrator’s bond for estate of Silas Parker, 21 February 1914.
On 13 December 1915, Mahala Parker filed the petition to sell land for assets, asserting that Silas Parker had died with about $1000 in outstanding debt; that all of his personal estate had been allotted to her as widow’s support; that she had paid down $600 of her husband’s debt; that at his death Silas Parker owned a 51-acre parcel in Toisnot township and a 3/4 acre parcel near Nashville, Nash County; that she and Silas’ children lived on the “old Silas Parker home place” and that two of the children were adults and the rest minors; and that sale of the land was necessary.
Undated notice from estate file of Silas Parker, probably published in the Wilson Daily Times.
On 6 January 1916, William Battle, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Jackson and Hannah Battle, married Bell Parker, 20, of Toisnot township, daughter of Silas and Mahalia Parker. Minister of the Gospel Samuel Burston performed the ceremony at Mahala Parker’s in Toisnot in the presence of Sidney Cotton, George Armstrong and Kinley Battle.
On 4 September 1918, John W. Parker, 24, son of Silas and Mahalia Parker, married Indiana Terry, 22, daughter of Henderson and Mary Terry, in Toisnot township.
Mahala Parker died 13 October 1921 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Silas Parker; was about 51 years old; and was born in Nash County to Ruffin Parker and Mourning Joyner. Informant was Mack Parker, Elm City.
On 22 November 1935, Estee Parker, 30, son of Silas and Mahala Parker, married Irene Davis, daughter of Ellis and Bessie Davis, in Greenville County, Virginia.
On 17 June 1936, David King, 21, of Wilson, son of Peter King and Freay (last name unknown), married Adlena Parker, 23, of Wilson, daughter of Silas Parker and Mahala Parker. Missionary Baptist minister Charles T. Jones performed the ceremony at James Alston‘s on Green Street in Wilson in the presence of Mag Parker, James Alston and Mary Whitely.
Jerry Parker died 5 July 1938 on the Parker farm, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1902 in Wilson County to Silas Parker of Wilson County and Mahala Parker of Nash County; was a farmer; and was buried in Parker cemetery. John Parker, Elm City, was informant.
Maggie McGeachy died 13 November 1953 in Sharpsburg, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 21 April 1883 in Wilson County to Silas Parker and Mahalia Parker; was married to Willie McGeachy; and was buried in the Parker cemetery, Wilson County.
Mack McKinnley Parker died 20 May 1968 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 May 1899 to Silis Parker and Mahalia Parker; was a farmer; and was married to Minnie Parker. He was buried in the Parker cemetery in Wilson County.
Mary Bell Battle died 4 August 1971 in Hampton, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was the widow of William Battle; and was the daughter of Galas Parker and Mahalia (last name unknown). Informant was Willie Lee Battle, Rocky Mount, N.C.
John Parker died 22 January 1975 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 November 1892 to Silas Parker; was married to India Parker; and was retired. Walter Parker of Rocky Mount was informant.
Estate records of Jerry Dunn (1889 and 1890) and Silas Parker (1914), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
This Deed made this the 8th day of October, 1900 by Cain Artis and wife Margaret Artis, the parties of the first part to Austin J. Lindsey, Worshipful Master, Lee A. Moore, Senior Warden and John Barnes, Junior Warden, acting officers of Mount Hebron Lodge No. 42 F & A Mason and their successors in office, the parties of the second part, all of said parties being of the aforesaid County and State.
Witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of One Hundred Dollars in hand paid by the said trustees, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have bargained, sold and conveyed and do by these presents bargain, sell and convey unto the said trustees and their successors in office, that certain to or parcel of land lying and being situate in Wilson Township, County and State aforesaid, the same being near the Colored Graded School building and adjoining the lands of Charley Battle, Cain Artis, and Daniel Vick and described as follows:
Beginning at a pine stump on road (commonly called path) in Charley Battle’s corner, thence with his line N. 87. 35 E 264 feet to a stake, thence S. 36. 15 E. with Cain Artiss line 172 1/2 feet to a stake, thence S. 53. 45 W. 230 feet with Cain Artis line to a stake on the road or path thence along said path N. 36. 15 W 308 feet to the first station, containing 57,900 square feet.
To Have and to hold the aforesaid lot of land to them the said trustees and their successors in office in fee simple forever. And the said parties of the first part covenant to and with the said parties of the second part and their successors in office that they will warrant and defend the title to the said land against the lawful claim or claims of any and all persons whatsoever.
In Witness whereof the said Cain Artis and wife Margaret Artis have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year above written. Cain (X) Artis, Margaret (X) Artis J.D. Borden cofc [clerk of court]
On 14 December 1876, Cain Artice, 23, of Wayne County, married Ann Thompson, 24, of Wilson in Wilson County. T. Felton, Jno. Newsome and Louisa Thompson were witnesses.
In the 1880 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Cain Artis, 25; wife Annie, 25; and children Ivey C., 2, and Appie, 1.
On 11 November 1888, Cain Artis, 35, of Wayne County, son of Adam Artis and Winny Artis, married Margaret Barnes, 38, of Wilson, daughter of Sherard Edmundson, at Margaret Barnes’ house in Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister P.D. Gold performed the service in the presence of H.C. Phillips, Henrietta Clarke and Mary J. Davis. Charles Battle applied for the license.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Margaret Artis, 50; daughters Appie, 21, and Mary F., 20; and boarder William Watson, 22. Margaret was described as married; Cain is not found in the 1900 census. Appie was his daughter, and Margaret’s step-daughter.
In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Artis Cain (Oates & A) h E Nash extd bey limits. Also: Oates & Artis (Wiley Oates – Cain Artis) grocers 601 E Nash.
Appie Artis died 28 May 1916 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born August 1879 in Wayne County to Cain Artis and Annie Thompson of Wayne County; was single; worked as a laborer; and died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Cain Artis, Wilson, was informant.
Cain Artis died 23 March 1917 in Wilson township, also of pulmonary tuberculosis. Per his death certificate, he was born March 1851 in Wayne County to Adam T. Artis and Winnie Coley; was married; and was a farmer. W.M. Coley of Wilson was informant.
Margaret Artis’ will entered probate in January 1919. Though the document is dated 1909, this seems to be an error, and it appears actually to have been executed days before she died in 1919. Her sole heir is her daughter Sarah Barnes Barnes. She makes no mention of husband Cain Artis, and the 44 acres she bequeathed seems to have been property that she had jointly owned or inherited from him.
Deed book 55, page 434, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.
This Indenture made the 28th day of January 1868 between Thomas Lamm administrator of Martin R Thorn deceased of the County of Wilson State of North Carolina of the first part & Patrick Williamson of the county & State aforesaid of the second part, Whereas at the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions held for the County of Wilson on the fourth Monday in October 1867 it was ordered by the said court in a said cause then pending in said court wherein Thomas Lamm administrators petitions that the land mentioned in the petition in this case be sold on a credit of six months &c and Thomas Lamm in pursuance of said order did on the 22nd day of October 1867 sell at public auction the tract of land hereinafter described having first been given lawful notice of the time & place of sale by advertisements at which sale the land was struck off to Patrick Williamson for the sum of one hundred & sixty three dollars that being the high bid for the same & whereas said party of second part having complied with the terms of said sale & whereas the said Williamson hath fully paid off said purchase money together with all Lawful Interest, Now Therefore the Indenture witnesses that the said Thomas Lamb administrator had granted bargained sold & conveyed to the said party of the second part his heirs & assigns The tract of land in the county of Wilson known as the Martin R. Thomas tract adjoining the lands Wilie Lamm Ransom Thorn et al containing ninety four acres more or less to have & to hold the same to him & his heirs forever Thomas X Lamm
The Execution of the foregoing deed was duly acknowledged before me by Thomas Lamm the subscriber this 29th day of Dec 1868 Let the same be registered. A Barnes Probate Judge
Deed book 2, page 568, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson, Wilson County.
STANTONSBURG — The house that Jack Sherrod built is a hidden history.
Built as a wood structure in 1886, the entire building has been encapsulated into brick and has had multiple additions over the years, but Leonard Paul Sherrod Jr., great-grandson of the builder, knows what’s underneath.
Sherrod and other family members are preparing for a grand reunion on Sept. 1-3 to be held at the Sherrod homestead.
“We are refurnishing, repairing, remodeling when necessary and getting it ready to be used as a venue for the upcoming September reunion,” said Sherrod, who was born in Wilson in 1933 and graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in 1952.
A picnic and a banquet are planned at the event, which Sherrod has titled “Exploring Our Family History.”
“There is so much history,” Sherrod said. “Not only is it family history, it is African-American history, and in some small portion, American history.”
That history begins with Jack Sherrod and his wife, Cassie. Both had been slaves, yet 20 years afterward had managed to build a home on what is now Watery Branch Church Road south of Stantonsburg near the confluence of Wilson, Greene and Wayne counties.
“He had been a slave until the end of the war,” Sherrod said. “As a freed man, he acquired this land and built a home on it. He could not read, nor write, but he could build things. He had this God-given talent for building things. It is not written, but certainly said, that he built a lot of structures in this area. He was a builder. It took him two years to build this house.”
Last week, Sherrod stood in the graveyard behind Watery Branch Free Will Baptist Church. The graves of Jack and Cassie Sherrod are right there, with those of other deceased family members, about 200 yards away from and within sight of the homestead.
“To be able to stand there in your yard and see where your great-grandparents are buried, that raises a lot of emotions within me,” Sherrod said. The house that he built and I can see his grave from the front yard.”
Restoring the homestead is a passion for Sherrod.
“I think the Lord put this in my spirit to be a part of preserving this property because it has been in the family for so long and it is such a rich history that I could not stand by and let it go,” he said.
From “Hidden History: Family Celebrates Home of Patriarch, a Former Slave,” by Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 16 July 2017.
Jack Sherard, son of Denis Barnes and Tempy Davis, and Cassy Exum received a marriage license in Wayne County in 1868.
In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Sherard, 26, wife Cassey, 25, and daughter Fanny, 4.
In the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherod, 37; wife Cassey, 28; and children Fanny, 12, William, 9, Ida, 7, Marcy, 2, John, 5, and Benny, 11 months.
In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 56; wife Cassy; and children Ida, 27, Benjamin, 25, Dalas, 20, Exum, 16, Arthur, 15, and Cora, 11.
Ida Sherrod, 32, and Alonzo Wilson, 35, received a marriage license in Wayne County on 18 April 1906.
On 17 April 1907, Cora Sherrod, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Jack Sherrod, married Columbus Ward, 26, of Greene County, son of Pearson and Cherry Ward. Oscar Hagans applied for the license, and Methodist minister Robert E. Hunt performed the ceremony in Stantonsburg, Wilson County, in the presence of Mrs. R.E. Hunt, B.J. Thompson, and Mrs. B.J. Thompson.
On 13 January 1909, Arthur D. Sherard, 22, son of Jack and Cassie Sherard, married Effie Diggs, 18, daughter of Margaret Diggs at Frances Diggs‘ house in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Jack Sherard applied for the license, and witnesses to the ceremony were W.M. Artis, Henry Pender and Richard Artis, all of Eureka, Nahunta township.
In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 66; wife Kassey, 55; and grandchildren Thomas, 8, and Zelma Sherard, 5.
Dallas Alonzo Sherrod, 28, son of Jack and Carrie Sherrod, married Mary Ann Taylor, 20, daughter of Nelson and Delia Taylor, on 21 December 1911 in Petersburg, Virginia.
Dallas A. Sherrod.
Jack Sherrod scrawled an X at the bottom of his last will and testament on 30 June 1914. By its terms, his wife Cassie was to receive a life estate in all his property and, after her death, daughters Cora Ward and Fannie Powell (wife of George Powell) would receive dollars each, with the remainder of his property equally divided among his children John Sherard, Exum Sherard, Willie Sherard, Ben Sherard, Arthur Sherard, Ida Wilson and Dallas Sherard.
Jack Sherrod died 18 May 1915 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 August 1842 to Dennis Barnes and Tempie Barnes; was married; and worked as a farmer. Arthur Sherrod was informant.
Ida B. Wilson died 21 October 1918 in Nahunta, Wayne County, of influenza. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Alonza Wilson; was born about 1873 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Cassie Exum. Informant was Ben Sherrod of Fremont, North Carolina.
In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, Cassey Sherard, 69; and grandchildren Zelma, 15, Joseph, 12, and Ralph L., 12.
On 30 November 1926, Cora Sherrod, 35, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod, married Robert C. Powell, 58, of Stantonsburg, son of Lawson and Lanie Powell, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion minister E.D. Lewis performed the ceremony in the presence of Albert A. Cooke of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Mattie Winstead of Stantonsburg.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Delaware Line (on street), Cassie Sherrod, 75, widow; granddaughters Zelma, 25, Doris, 7, and Jeraldine, 6; and daughter Cora Powell, 30, teacher. Sherrod owned the house, valued at $600.
Dallas Sherrod died 26 December 1934 in Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was born in Stantonsburg, North Carolina, to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; was married to Mary Sherrod; and resided at 1111 Stainback Street. He was buried in East View cemetery.
Cassie Sherrod died 26 June 1940 at 624 East Green Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Jack Sherrod; was born in Wayne County to Lewis Hall and Cassie Kelley. Informant was Cora S. Powell, 612 East Green.
Cassie Sherod’s will entered probate on 1 July 1940. Dated 25 November 1932(?), per its terms sons Exum, Arthur, Dallas and Ben Sherod were to receive $1 each; wearing clothes to daughter Fannie Sherod Powell; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Bee and Joe; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Velma and Tom; and a house and lot in Stantonsburg, a piano and all other personal property to Raphael Ward.
Arthur Sherrod died 28 March 1955 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 March 1886 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Catherine Exum and was married to Effie Sherrod.
Cora Sherrod Barnes died 12 June 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 December 1888 to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; resided at 500 East Green Street; was a retired teacher. Informant was Ralph Sherrod, 327 West 30th Street, New York City.
Photograph of D. Sherrod courtesy of Ancestry user garey45sos1.
For at least five years, and presumably more, Tilghman McGowan was the jailer at Wilson’s town hoosegaw. He is known primarily from unflattering mentions in the newspaper.
Here, he is deservedly chastised for beating a small African-American boy:
Wilson Mirror, 20 August 1887.
Here, he is mocked for allowing an inmate to escape at dinner time:
Wilson Mirror, 13 September 1887.
And here, he and his unnamed wife receive a treacly double obituary:
Wilson Mirror, 17 February 1892.
McGowan’s hut may have been lowly, but he seems to have owned it, and in late 1894, a half-acre lot he’d owned just across from Maplewood cemetery was sold at auction. (I have not found evidence of any probate records for McGowan, so do not know whether the sale was occasioned by an estate settlement.)
Wilson Mirror, 19 December 1894.
In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Setta Whitfield, 37, domestic servant; Gross Conner, 18, a white news dealer; Tillman McGown, 35, farm laborer, wife Charity, 36, and children Amy, 17, Lucinda, 15, Aaron, 20, Ira, 5, Delia A., 7, Nathan, 3, and Courtney, 1.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Tilman McGown, 43, wife Charity, 49, and children Delia A., 18, Ira R., 15, and Nathan, 13.
This Indenture made and entered into this the 28th day of Sept., A.D. 1877 between R.J. Taylor and wife Sallie A. Taylor of the first part and Daniel Vick of the second part all of the County of Wilson & State of North Carolina Witnesseth, that for & in consideration of the sum of four hundred dollars the receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, hath bargained, Sold & by these presents the party of the first part does give grant bargain sell and deliver to the party of the second part his heirs & assigns a certain piece of land near the Town of Wilson and the Barefoot road beginning on said road at Spencer Gays corner then with said road to the Peter Taylor lot owned by G.W. Blount Est. Say 328 feet then with said Blount Lot to the old Edwin Barnes line then South with said Edwin Barnes line to Ester McGown line say 248 feet then with Ester McGown & Spencer Gay lines to the beginning containing one acre more or less To have and to hold to the party of the Second part his heirs and assigns forever.
And the party of the first for themselves their heirs & assigned warrant and defend the title to above lot forever Given under our hands and seals the the … /s/ R.J. Taylor, S.A. Taylor
This deed is Daniel Vick’s first recorded purchase of property.
The 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, shows several of the families named above in close proximity “south of the plank road,” which is above called the Barefoot road and is now Nash Street. It’s hard to say precisely where Daniel Vick’s property was, but it safe to bet that it was just east of modern Manchester Street, an area then well outside of city limits.
Spencer Gay, son of Anthony and Catherine Gay, married Adeline Barnes, daughter of Baalam and Jinny Barnes, on 9 August 1868 in Wilson County. Spencer is listed in the 1880 mortality schedule for Wilson, Wilson County, having died of consumption that February. He was a brick yard laborer.
Peter Taylor and family are listed next door to Washington Suggs in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County. Peter seems to have died before the 1900 census was taken, but his wife Clarissa lived well into the next century. Clarissy Taylor of 522 Church Street, Wilson, died 16 September 1922. Her death certificate reports that she was 85 years old, that she had been born in Wilson County, and that her father had been Dempsey Cotton. Mark Cotton was informant.
Deed Book 22, page 439, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson, North Carolina.
Though he never lived in Wilson as an adult, Daniel C. Suggs maintained significant real estate interests there for decades. In the early 1920s, Atlantic Coast Realty handled the division and sale of a chunk of Suggs’ land a mile or so south of Nash Street, east Wilson’s black business block. (This property had originally belonged to his father, Washington Suggs.)
Wilson Daily Times, 27 January 1922.
In 1920 and 1923, Suggs filed four plats for various (and overlapping) subdivisions of the southern most section of his acreage. The land was located down Stantonsburg Road (now Pender) just across from the Colored Graded School. The lots marked off were narrow (25 to 27 feet wide) and deep, and many of the houses eventually built there were shotguns, known locally as endway houses.
The plat below, dated 26 May 1920, and filed in Book 1, page 194, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds office, shows a section of New Street and an unnamed street (now Elvie) capped to the west by Railroad Street. Land owned by S.W. Smith lies to the north, and another Suggs-owned parcel to the east.
Plat Book 1, page 194.
This Bing.com map shows the area today. The lot lines drawn by Atlantic Coast Realty did not hold. Blount Street eliminated the 105′ deep lots extending back from New Street and its unnamed parallel (now Elvie Street), and lot widths along all streets (especially Railroad) are wider than the 25′ proposed.
The second plat is dated a day later and essentially a continuation to the east of the plat above. What is labeled Stantonsburg Road is now Pender Street. It’s not clear when the name “Elvie” was inked in for “School” Street. However, in the early 1950s, Wilson built an elementary school for African-Americans in the area shown in the northern half of the plat. (It was called Elvie Street School.) If ever there were one, there is now no perpendicular street mid-block, and Suggs Street runs several blocks north. (Lincoln Avenue, by the way, is now a Street, instead.)
Plat Book 1, page 195.
On 13 January 1923, Atlantic Coast Realty commissioned a broader and more detailed survey. Though on this plat New Street that fades to nothing, today it is the street below that survives only in truncated form. (And it is not called Hines, but Blount, apparently after the adjacent landowner. Daniel Blount, 80, a carpenter, is listed in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, with wife Susan, 45, Susana, 16, Josephine and Joseph, 14, Mary, 12, and George, 3.) The colored cemetery had been abandoned even at that time, and no trace of it now remains. As noted above, Suggs Street now runs north of and perpendicular to the street labeled here. Elvie Street is mislabeled “Elmer.” The area then occupied by the Contentnea Guano Company in the space between the neighborhood and the railroad is now home, via mergers and acquisitions, to Crop Production Services.
Plat book 1, page ___.
The plat below, dated 1923, and drafted for Lawrence Realty Company, depicts territory east of Stantonsburg Road/Pender Street.
After her husband Gray Farmer’s death in July 1893, Argent Farmer went to court to get what she felt was hers. She filed suit against Daniel Vick, asserting that he had claimed title to a parcel land that had rightfully belonged to Gray and from which she was entitled to dower.
Vick’s lawyer promptly responded, asserting, among other things, that:
Gray Farmer had indeed owned property as tenants in common with Charles Battle, Washington Sugg, William McGowan, and Wilson Barnes, but not at the time of his death.
That land, in fact, was east of the railroad, two acres on the northeast side of the alley running from Pettigrew to Pender Streets. (See the 1893 Sanborn map section below. The alley, marked “lane,” is now Church Street.)
On 13 February 1886, Gray and Argent Farmer conveyed all their title and interest to the property to J.T. McGraw.
On 7 May 1890, J.T. McGraw conveyed his interest to Charles Battle.
Pursuant to a judgement in a suit against Battle, Suggs and McGowan, the property was sold at public auction on 7 November 1892. Daniel Vick purchased it.
Wilson Advance, 13 October 1892.
Farmer gave up on her claim, and the Clerk of Superior Court entered a nonsuit.
Gray Farmer — Possibly, in the 1870 census of Wilson , Wilson County: Clay Farmer, 60, Gray W. Farmer, 13, and Jonas Gay, 14. Young Gray worked in a brickyard. On 15 March 1876, Gray Farmer, no age listed, married Argent Blount, 20, at Smith Knight‘s in Wilson. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter Gray Farmer, 27, wife Argent, and children Ellenor, 3, and Charlie Gray, 2.
William McGowan — William McGowan appears with five siblings in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County, in the household of their mother, Anna McGowan, 35, washerwoman. Widower William McCowan, 86, died 1 September 1940 in Wilson of myocarditis. He resided at 513 Church Street, in the middle of block he and his partners had lost to sheriff’s sale 60 years earlier.