Rest Haven cemetery

Removal of graves from abandoned cemetery.

As noted here and here, I have long been intrigued by the disappearance (in space and memory) of Wilson’s first African-American cemetery, sometimes called Oaklawn or Oakland or Oakdale. Yesterday, the mystery was solved.

In the late summer of 1940, the Wilson Daily Times for several weeks ran a “Notice of Removal of Graves from Abandoned Cemetery.”  Town Commissioners had declared Wilson’s “colored cemetery” on Cemetery Street abandoned as there had been no burials there in 16 years. The Commissioners proposed “to remove all graves to the new cemetery for the colored race situate near the Town of Wilson, N.C., and known as Resthaven Cemetery.” Interested persons had 30 days to object.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 September 1940.

Whether or not there were objections, the work of removal commenced. It seems likely, then, that the oldest headstones in Rest Haven (such as those of the Dunstons) mark graves moved from Oaklawn, rather than Rountree cemetery, as I earlier speculated.

[Of course, as I learned back in February, the Cemetery Street cemetery was never entirely forgotten, at least by people who lived in the neighborhood. Harry Harris recently shared the history of the Turkey Bowl, an informal neighborhood football game taking place on holidays. The original game, he said, was played Christmas Day 1958 at the “old Carnival Ground,” then an open field at the corner of Barnes and Stantonsburg (now Pender) Streets. In 1965, the game moved to Stephenson Street, in “the projects,” where it became “part of the fabric of local community culture.” After several years, however, the game was again moved “because the ladies who lived there at that time reminded us that we were playing on sacred ground as the projects were built upon the grounds of the old Black cemetery, hence Cemetery Street.”]

Map courtesy of Bing.com.

 

Wilsons of Wilson.

Though there is only one individual headstone, this family plot in Rest Haven cemetery likely holds the remains of several members of the John Adam Wilson and Mollie Newsome Wilson family.

On 13 July 1893, Adam Wilson, 26, married Mollie Newsome, 19, in Wayne County.

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Adam Wilson, 34; wife Mollie, 27; and children Leonard, 5, Nina, 4, Adam, 2, and Zilphia, 1 month; and John Locus, 20, boarder. [Locus was the son of Adam Wilson’s sister Louisa Wilson Locus.]

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Adam Wilson, 44; wife Mollie, 36; and children Lenna, 15, Nina, 14, Adam J., 12, Zilpha A., 10, Sarah P., 8, Bunna, 6, Hurman, 4, William H., 2, and James J., 8 months.

Adam Wilson has two death certificates — (1) Adam Wilson died 30 October 1916 at the State Hospital in Fork township, Wayne County; he was 51; his regular residence was in Wilson County; and he was a carpenter, and (2) Adam Wilson did 31 October 1916 in Wilson; he was about 51; he was born in Wayne County to John Wilson and Zilfie Artis; he was a carpenter; and informant was Mollie Wilson of Wilson. [J. Adam Wilson was the brother of Elizabeth Wilson Reid.]

Fredrick Odel Wilson died 19 May 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 December 1916 in Wilson County to Adam Wilson and Mollie Newsome, both born in Wayne County. He died of ileocolitis, and Mollie Wilson was informant.

John Adam Wilson registered for the World War II draft in Newport News, Virginia, in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 25 February 1899; resided at 2131-22nd Street, Newport News; worked as a carpenter for Boyle-Robertson Construction Company; and his nearest Relative was Mollie Wilson of Wilson, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, Mollie Wilson, 46; son Lennie, 25, house carpenter; daughter-in-law Georgia, 23; grandson Lennie Jr., 2; and children John A., 22, house carpenter; Annie D., 19, Sarah, 17, Bunyon, 16, Hirmon, 14, William H., 12, James J., 10, and Ire, 7.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, owned and valued at $2000, widow Nolly Wilson, 54, laundress; son John B., 20, theatre janitor; daughter Irene, 17; and lodgers Mollie Zackery, 30, nurse; Blonnie Zackery, 22, cook; and Earl Zackery, 44 barber. [This entry is riddled with errors. Nolly Wilson was in fact Mollie Wilson, and Mollie Zackery (who was male, not female) was Nolly Zachary, who was a barber, not a nurse. Earl Zachary, son of Nolly and Blonnie Barnes Zachary’s son, and was 4 years old in 1930. Also, it is not clear who “John B. Wilson” is, unless this is a misnomer for son James J. Wilson.]

In the 1930 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: at 10 Burnett Street, apartment janitor Leonard Wilson, 34; wife Georgia, 33; brother Herman, 21, lather; and children Leonard Jr., 11, Elma, 10, Ernest, 8, and Toney Lee, 6. All were born in North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Viola Street, owned and valued at $1800, widow Mollie Wilson, 66; fish market owner Dorphus Williams, 61, roomer; and father James Newsome, 86.

Mollie Wilson died 30 January 1952 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 September 1875 in Wayne County to James Newsome and Penina Artis; was the widow of John A. Wilson; and resided at 301 North Vick. Informant was Irene Sherrod, 302 North Vick.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2018.

Cemeteries, no. 10: Rest Haven cemetery.

City-owned and -maintained and now open to all, Rest Haven has been the primary cemetery for African-Americans in Wilson County since the 1940s.

  • Dallas Williams

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On 24 June 1867, Dallis Williams, son of Jacob Flowers and Lewis Barnes [sic; clearly an error], married Sarah Dew, daughter of Lewis Barnes and Jenny Dew, at Peter Dew’s in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Dallas Williams, 40, wife Sarah, 27, and children Mary E., 3, and Essex, 5 months.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Dallas Williams, 40; wife Sarah, 35; and children Mary E., 13, Jonney, 7, Hewel, 6, Peter, 3, and Eliza J., 1.

On 6 June 1889, John Brown, 19, of Wilson township, son of Krewble and Ellen Brown, married Mary Ella Williams, 22, of Taylors township, daughter of Dallis and Sarah Williams. Missionary Baptist minister Crockett Best performed the ceremony in the presence of Annie Bess, John Bess, and S.W. Mitchell.

On 17 December 1899, Peter Williams, 23, son of Dallas and Sarah Williams, married Minnie Woodard, 20, daughter of Bill and Zilpha Woodard, in Taylors township. General Barnes applied for the license on their behalf.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Dallas Williams, 59; wife Sarah, 54; and children George, 19, Ginnie, 17, Henry, 13, Sara, 12, Minnie, 10, and Lenea, 6.

On 8 February 1903, Huley Williams, 27, of Wilson, son of Dallas and Sarah Williams, married Ada Dew, 20, in Wilson township.

On 11 April 1903, Mary Ella Brown, 23, of Nash County, daughter of Dallas Williams, married Clayton Jones, 25, of Nash County, in Taylors township.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Dallas Williams, 69; wife Sara, 61; and children Minnie, 18, Lena, 16, and Henry, 24.

Dallas Williams died 26 June 1920 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1834 to Jake Flowers and Easter Thompson and worked as a farmer; Peter Williams was informant. Cause of death? “Valvular heart disease bronchitis chronic 86 yrs old & worn out.”

On 18 July 1930, Henry Williams, 40, son of Dallas and Sarah Williams, married Bertha Neal, 19, son of Rufus and Hattie Neal. L.V. Kennedy, an A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony.

  • Blount Knight

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In the 1880 census of Walnut Creek, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Martha Knight, 47, and children Ellen, 22, Blunt, 18, George, 16, Moses, 14, and Haywood, 10, plus granddaughters Emma, 3, and Delia Harrison, 4.

On 30 July 1908, Blount Knight, 50, son of Isaac and Martha Knight, of Gardners township, married Mary Ellis, 39, daughter of Frank and Sara Edmundson, of Gardners, in Saratoga township.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: ditcher Blount Knight, 52; wife Mary, 41; children Minnie, 19, Jimmie, 13, Mollie, 10, and Louisa, 6; son-in-law Willie Anderson, 30, daughter Martha, 22, and grandchildren Robert, 2, and “no name” Anderson, 0, and Jennie Knight, 1.

In the 1916 Wilson city directory: Knight Blount, laborer, Harper’s Ln near Herring Av

In the 1920 Wilson city directory: Knight Blount, farmer, 1 Carolina

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Carolina Street (suburbs Wilson), farmer Blount Knight, 59, wife Mary, 42, and daughters Mary 17, and Louisa, 15, with James Blount, 38, and wife Lulu, 19.

On 4 October 1921, Louisa Knight, 17, daughter of Blount Knight and Jennie Knight, married Gilbert Melton, 25, son of Mark and Sarah Melton, in Wilson County.

  • Maggie Towe

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Maggie Towe, wife of Granville H. Towe, died 15 April 1899. Her youngest child is buried next to her under a stone marked “Maggie L.B. Towe Daughter of G.H. & Maggie I. Towe December 27 1898 July 24 1899.” Maggie and child appear in the records of undertakers Wootten & Stevens, and it is likely that they were originally buried at Oaklawn cemetery.

On 29 November 1899, G.H. Towe, 48, of Wilson, son of Thos. J. and Sarah L. Towe, married Rosa Wallace, 38, daughter of Jacob and Eliza Zimmerman, at “Mr. Peter Rountree‘s House” in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of S.A. Smith, C.L. Darden and S.D. Bowen.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: schoolteacher Granville Tower, 40, wife Rosa, 40, and children Ophelia, 21, Addie, 18, Stella, 15, Ambrose, 14, Granville, 12, Powhatan, 9, Marry, 7, and Sinclair, 7.

On 2 October 1900, Charlie Alston, 21, of Wilson County, son of Alfred and Cora Alston of Louisburg, North Carolina, married Addie E. Towe, 19, of Wilson, daughter of G.H. and Maggie Towe, in Wilson at G.H. Towe’s. Rev. R.S. Rives performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Moore, Mark Cotton and G.H. Towe.

On 29 May 1901, Henry Saunders, 27, of Wilson, son of Lovett and Charity Saunders, married Ophelia Towe, 24, of Wilson, daughter of G.H. Towe of Norfolk, Virginia. Jeff Farmer applied for the license on the couple’s behalf, and A.M.E. Zion minister C.L. Alexander performed the ceremony at M.H. Cotton’s house in the presence of Lee Simms, Mary Simms, and Bessie Sanders.

Ethel Barnes died 19 July 1931 at her residence at 530 Stemmery Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1888 in Portsmouth, Virginia, to Granville Towe of Hampton, Virginia, and Margaret Corprew of Deepcreek, Virginia; was married to George Barnes; and worked as a day laborer for a tobacco manufacturing company. Ambrose Towe, 112 Vick Street, Wilson, was informant.

Powhatan Towe died 19 June 1942 at Good Shepherd Hospital in New Bern, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 September 1889 in Portsmouth, Virginia, to Granville and Maggie Towe; resided in James City, North Carolina; worked as a truck driver; and was married to Anner Towe.

Ambrose M. Towe died 7 July 1945 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born November 1891 in Portsmouth, Virginia, to Granville H. Towe and Maggie [maiden name unknown]; was married to Effie Towe; and worked as a laborer for Export Tobacco Company.

Estella Rush Joyner died 7 October 1951 in Farmville, Pitt County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 19 December 1885 in Wilson to Granville Towe and Maggie [maiden name unknown] and was divorced.

  • Matilda Roberts

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In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Virginia-born farm laborer Jacob Roberts, 35; wife Matilda, 25; and children Willie, 8, Rebecca, 5, Lettis, 3, and Isam, 11 months.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born carpenter Jake Roberts, 54; wife Matilda, 44, washing; and children Rebecca, 23, cooking, Lettie, 21, cooking, Luginia, 18, cooking, Mattie, 16, nurse, Westly, 14, tobacco stemmer, Marrie, 13, Eddie, 8, Laura, 5, and Addie, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed laundress Matildy Roberts, 45, and children Mattie, 23, Lara, 15, and Addie, 11, plus nephews William, 12, and Thomas Hilliard, 7.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 703 Vance Street, widow Matilda Roberts, 54; son-in-law John Bullard, 24, a truck driver, daughter Laura, 24, a dressmaker, grandsons John, 4, and Albert, 3; and adopted son Thomas Hilliard, 17.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 802 East Vance Street, widow Mitilda Roberts, 73, with Oscar Powell, 31, and wife Annie, 27.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 802 East Vance Street, widow Matilda Roberts, 82, son William, 67, a building carpenter, and son-in-law Prince W. Ward, 75. William reported that he had lived in Deland, Florida, in 1935.

Matilda Roberts died 25 September 1944 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 February 1864 in Edgecombe County to William Hilliard and Dorcas Mann; resided at 1209 East Nash; and was the widow of Jacob Roberts.  was informant.

  • Della Crumedy

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On 15 September 1912, Wm. Edwards, 24, of Wilson, married Clara E. Crumedy, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Delia Crumedy, at the bride’s mother’s house. A.N. Neal applied for the license on the couple’s behalf, and Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Howard Powell, James Williams and Lear Arrington.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Stantonsburg Street, widow Della Crumedy, 69; widowed laundress Haric Barnes, 45; and Della’s granddaughter Esther M. Crumedy, 9. Della owned the house, which was valued at $600.

Della Crumedy died 25 May 1941 at her home at 804 Lincoln Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Calvin Crumedy; and was born 16 November 1865 in Greene County to Ester Fields. Clara Edwards was informant.

Edward Crumedy died 4 August 1947 in Lucama, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 January 1892 in Greene County, North Carolina, to Calvin and Della Crumed; was a farmer; and was married to Lizzie Crumedy. Calvin Crumedy was informant.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.