Studio shots, no. 157: Joseph S. and Lillie Boone Robinson.

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Joseph S. and Lillie Boone Robinson.


In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: blacksmith William Robinson, 29; wife Sissie, 27; and children Loomis, 7, Theodore, 6, Walter, 5, Mary N., George M., 2, and Joseph S., 10 months.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer William R. Robinson, 40; wife Cicero, 36; and children Lunice, 17, Lucian T., 16, Walter L., 15, Naney M., 14, George M., 12, Joe S., 10, Pauline, 8, Levesta, 6, Thelma, 4, Olza B., 3, and Katie S., 1.

On 6 January 1919, J.S. Roberson, 20, married Minnie Finch, 16, in Wilson County.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Joe S. Robinson, 20; wife Minnie, 17; and daughter Jessie M., 8 months.

Minnie Roberson died 10 December 1922 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 July 1901 in Franklin County, N.C., to Noah Finch and Corann Finch of Nash County; and was married to J.S. Roberson.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Robinson Joseph S (c; Australie) h 205 1/2 Stantonsburg

In the 1930 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joe S. Robinson, 30; wife Arcate, 22; and children Retha, 4, and Walter, 3.

In the 1940 census of Middlesex township, Nash County: on North Elm Street, farmer Joe S. Robertson, 41; wife Australia B., 30; and children Jessie M., 20, Retha, 15, Walter, 14, Martha, 10, John, 5, Luther, 4, U. Cal, 1, and Justine, 2 months.

Joe Sidney Robinson registered for the World War II draft in 1941 in Nash County. Per his registration card, he was born 18 July 1900 in Wilson County; lived in Middlesex, Nash County; and worked for J.T. Alford, Middlesex.

Joe Sidney Robinson died 20 August 1961 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 July 1899 in Wilson County to Bill Robinson and Sissie Earp; was married to Lillie M. Robinson; lived in Elm City; worked as a grocer; and was buried in New Vester cemetery.

Photo courtesy of user Neshele Godfrey.

Larceny by negresses?

As usual, the 15 January 1924 Wilson Times mined the police blotter to publish titillating filler stories of alleged criminal activity by African-Americans. Here, two black women were arrested and charged with robbing “a Greek” of seventeen dollars. The women had proclaimed innocence, but a search netted $4.30 “concealed in the hair of Naoma.”

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Just below this clip, in the same column, another article — whose title and subtitle consumed as many column inches as the body of the piece — detailed the heavy penalty Mayor Silas R. Lucas imposed upon Norman Roberson for nearly running over a police officer and then cursing the officer out. And then, bizarrely, a paragraph setting out the follow-up to the charge above: “Mamie Roberson and Naomi Bryant, two negro women, charged with robbing Mike Greek were found not guilty and dismissed.”


Wilson Times, 15 January 1924.

  • Mamie Roberson — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 Smith Street, widow Grace Roberson, 32; her cousin Mamie Roberson, 16; and roomer Annie M. Barnes, 16, tobacco factory laborer; all born in South Carolina.
  • Naomi Bryant
  • Norman Roberson — possibly the Norman Robertson, 24, son of Edward and Cherry Robertson of Suffolk, Virginia, who married Dora Hines, 20, daughter of James and Mary Hines, on 10 August 1914. Free Will Baptist minister Robert Dickins performed the ceremony at a Green Street location in the presence of Dock Barnes, Martin Cofield, and John Williams.

Studio shots, no. 89: the Mobley family.

I posted the obituary of Jane Rountree Mobley here.

Her great-great-granddaughter, Carolyn Maye, has graciously shared these photographs of Jane Mobley’s descendants, many of whom moved into Edgecombe and Pitt Counties in the early years of the 20th century.


Rhoda Mobley Barnes

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm worker John Mobley, 35; wife Jane, 28; and children Rhoda, 9, Henrietta, 6, Jane, 5, Isaac, 4, and John H., 1.

On 13 January 1889, Ben Barnes, 42, of Wilson township, married Rhoda Mobley, 21, of Toisnot township, on F.A. Woodard’s plantation in Wilson township. Primitive Baptist minister Samuel Burston performed the ceremony in the presence of Harry Sharp, Dennis Bynum and Mike Barefoot.

Rhoda Barnes died 1 June 1951 in Macclesfield, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 October 1854 [actually, about 20 years later] in Wilson County to John Mobley and Jane [maiden name unknown]; was a widow; and was buried in Harrell cemetery near Crisp, North Carolina. Mattie Howard was informant.


Benjamin Barnes

Ben Barnes died 19 April 1935 on Amanda Pitts’ farm in Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 December 1835 in Wilson County to Isaac Barnes and Julia [maiden name not given]; was married to Rhoda Barnes; was buried at Harrell cemetery. Informant was Jessie Barnes.

Martha Lee Roberson Maye (1932-2014), daughter of Willie and Annie Barnes Roberson, at age 7 and shortly before her death.

Mattie Barnes Howard (1905-1977), daughter of Rhoda and Ben Barnes.

Studio shots, no. 88: Jack Armstrong, supercentenarian.

Among the dozens of families who migrated up to Wilson County from North Carolina’s southern Sandhills area were those of Dock Roberson and Margaret Armstrong McDougal Blue. After her husband Levi Blue died in Wilson County in 1919, Maggie Blue and Dock Roberson married, and Maggie’s parents John “Jack” and Annie Murphy Armstrong briefly came to live with their blended family in Taylors township. Likely during this time, Jack Armstrong traveled into Wilson to sit for a portrait in Picture-Taking George W. Barnes‘ studio. Jack’s descendants explained that his curled fingers were the result of an injury inflicted during slavery.

John “Jack” Armstrong (ca. 1820-1932), circa 1920.


In the 1870 census of Flea Hill township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farm laborer John Armstrong, 40; wife Anna, 38; and children Dublin, 14, Charles, 9, Penny, 8, Margrett, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Barbry, 4, William, 3, and David, 2; plus Amy Armstrong, 52.

In the 1880 census of Flea Hill township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farmer John Armstrong, 54; wife Annie J., 43; and children Charley, 18, Margret, 16, Barbra A., 12, William J., 10, David, 8, Joe, 6, Daniel R., 4, and Rebecca, 3; plus A. Murphy, 60, mother-in-law.

In the 1900 census of Geddies Gin township, Cumberland County, North Carolina: farm laborer Jack Armstrong, 75; wife Annie, 68; daughter Janie, 15; and grandson George W. Murphy, 12.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Doc Robinson, 55; wife Maggie, 53; children Mary, 18, James C., 19, Virginia, 17, David, 14, Elijah, 12, and Jessie B., 3; Vangie, 32, Geneva, 17, and Addie McDoogle, 15; and Moses Robinson, 8, and lodgers Jack, 103, and Annie Armstrong, 101.

Annie Armstrong died 5 April 1920 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 103 years old; was born in Johnston County to Annie Murphy and an unknown father; worked as a farmer for George Piage; and was married to Jack Armstrong. William Jas. Armstrong was informant.

Maggie Roberson died 5 April 1928 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old; was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, to Jack and Annie Armstrong; was married to George Roberson; and farmed for Will Carr.

Jack Armstrong died 5 January 1932 in Mingo township, Sampson County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 11 February 1815 to John Wood and an unknown mother; was widowed; and was a farmer.

Newspapers across the state reported that Jack Armstrong had been “the oldest North Carolinian” at the time of his death.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 January 1932.

Photo courtesy of F. Cooper Jr., great-great-grandson of Jack Armstrong.