Rocky Mount NC

African-American scouts attend camp.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 August 1950.

Under the supervision of John E. Dixon and W.E. Jones, 14 boys from Wilson — Eddie Sauls, Herbert Cox, James Richardson, Jimmy L. Barnes, Joseph Speight, James Baines Jr., Rudolph Lane, John McNeil, Leroy Evans, Nesby Hilton, Joseph McNeil, Timothy Autry, Fred Woodard, and James Taylor — attended a Boy Scout camp in Rocky Mount in 1950.


Scouts solve a mystery.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 April 1933.

In this strange story, the family of a missing Rocky Mount man elicited the help of a local Boy Scout troop to find him. Having heard of an unidentified injured man lying in a Wilson hospital, the Lion Patrol, photo in hand, traveled to investigate. Physicians and undertakers (C.H. Darden and Sons, as it were) in Wilson confirmed deceased Junious “June” Mangum’s identity.


Junious Mangum died 15 April 1933 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 40 years old; was born in Rocky Mount, N.C., to William Mangum and Ida Parker; was single; lived at 723 South Main [Rocky Mount?]; was a laborer; and was buried in Wilson. HIs cause and place of death: “compound fracture of skull (parietal and occipital h[illegible]” “A.C.L.R.R. tracks near Elm City.” 

“Uncle Dortch” struck by train.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 June 1928.

In June 1928, a Atlantic Coast Line railroad worker spotted a grievously wounded elderly man lying by the tracks. He flagged a train, and the “injured negro” was taken to the company’s hospital almost twenty miles north in Rocky Mount. He died. Two days later, the Wilson Daily Times reported the death of “Uncle Dortch.”

So did his death certificate. 

Though he lived at the Wilson County Home, also known as “the poorhouse,” no one seemed to know Uncle Dortch’s surname. I regret that I have not been able to restore it to him.

“Fractured Skull (found by side of R.R. track near Wilson)”

A.C.L. Hospital, Rocky Mount, N.C. (1925), East Carolina Digital Collections.

Thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for the clipping.

The obituary of Dr. Rolland T. Winstead.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 5.40.21 AM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 29 May 1934.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: assistant postmaster Braswell Winstead, 39, wife Ada, 25, and children Arnold, 13, George, 12, Rolland, 11, and Christine, 8. [Note: Ada Davis and Braswell Winstead were married in 1899, and the children were his by his first wife.]

On 14 September 1905, Rolland T. Winstead, 26, of Wilson County, son of B.R. and Eliza Winstead, married Julia B. Daves, 25, of Nash County, daughter of Charles Hamlin and Julia A. Daves, in Happy Hill, Rocky Mount, Nash County. Episcopal priest Robert Nathaniel Perry performed the ceremony in the presence of Harvey G. Barnes of Wilson and H.W. Bullock and George W. Daves of Rocky Mount.

Rolland Tyson Winstead registered for the World War I draft in June 1917 in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 16 June 1889 in Wilson; resided at 603 Green Street, Wilson; and worked as a barber for John Bradsher, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

On 28 October 1917, the Greensboro Daily News published the “names of negro officers given commissions in the army after training with seventeenth provisional training regiment at Fort Des Moines, Iowa ….” The list included Rolland T. Winstead, second lieutenant, officers reserve corps, Rocky Mount, N.C.

In the 1920 census of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee: R.T. Winstead, 29, and wife Julia, 28, cook, both natives of North Carolina, were roomers in the household of Robert M. and Kate S. Hall. Two years later, Winstead was still enrolled at Meharry Medical College.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 7.31.57 AM.png

Nashville, Tennessee, city directory (1922).

When he completed his medical studies, the Winsteads returned to Rocky Mount.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 7.29.06 AM.png

Rocky Mount, N.C., city directory (1928).

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 6.50.40 AM.png

Baltimore Afro-American, 28 April 1928.

In March 1933, Rolland T. Winstead executed his last will and testament. He was a relatively young man, but suffering ill health. His friends, physician Leonard P. Armstrong and insurance agent Orin A. Whitted, witnessed.

Screen Shot 2018-11-29 at 7.27.56 AM.png

Rolland Tyson Winstead died 28 May 1934 at Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he had suffered from heart disease for twenty years.

Rocky Mount Herald, 1 June 1934.

Julia Daves Winstead lived another 50 years, passing 20 August 1986 in Rocky Mount.


Their future home.

9 4 1897 ral Gaz.jpg

Raleigh Gazette, 4 September 1897.

Whatever their plans, the Rawlinses did not remain in Wilson long. They do not appear in the 1900 census, but when he registered for the World War II draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, their son Allen Benjamin Rawlins reported that he was born 11 February 1900 in Wilson. By the 1910 census, Benjamin F. and Ella Westray Rawlins had returned to Rocky Mount.

Screen Shot 2017-09-12 at 11.56.14 AM.png

Peter Darden.

In the early pages of cookbook-cum-family memoir Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine, Norma Jean and Carole Darden describe the mystery of their grandfather Charles H. Darden (1854-1931)’s earliest years. As far as anyone knew, at Emancipation he walked on his own from Greene County to Wilson, where he planted his boot and raised himself by its straps.

While I have not discovered Charles Darden’s parents, the article below suggests that he did have family. The Gazette, an African-American newspaper published in Raleigh,  periodically ran society columns covering towns in eastern North Carolina, including Wilson and Rocky Mount. On 28 August 1897, the columnist mentioned in passing that Miss Annie “Dorden” of Wilson was visiting her uncle, Peter Darden. Annie Lee Darden (1879-1943) was the oldest daughter of Charles and Diana Scarborough Darden. (She married John Mack Barnes in Wilson in 1903.) Peter Darden, then, seems to have been Charles Darden’s older brother.


Raleigh Gazette, 28 August 1897.

In the 1870 census of Goldsboro, Wayne County: house carpenter Peter Darden, 27, and Sidney M. Darden, 8. Peter claimed $100 in real property and $100 in personal property.

In the 1880 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: house carpenter Peter Darden, 38, wife Edna, 27, and sons Walter, 10, Johnny, 8, and Wesley, 4.

In the 1900 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: on Frankling Street, carpenter Peter Darden, 55, wife Ednar, 49, and son Westry, 33, a carpenter, plus boarder Mack Maderson, a preacher.

Westry Darden died of tuberculosis on 15 January 1910 in Rocky Mount. His death certificate reports that he was born 17 October 1875 to Peter Darden and Edna Speights, both of Greene County and was married and worked as a carpenter.

In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 230 Franklin Street, house carpenter Peter Darden, 70, wife Edna, 61, widowed daughter-in-law Lula, 22, and grandchildren Westray, 3, Walcott, 1, and Lula, 2 months.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 230 Franklin Street, Peter Darden, 74, and wife Edna, 63.

Edna Darden died 30 March 1931 in Rocky Mount. Her death certificate reports that she had been born 8 May 1856 in Greene County to Redman Speight and Elizabeth Edwards. Peter Darden was informant.

Peter Darden died 9 February 1922 and was buried in Rocky Mount’s Unity Cemetery.


Both Mount Zion First Baptist Church and Saint James Missionary Baptist Church remain active congregations in Rocky Mount. Saint James celebrated its 130th anniversary in June 2015 and is described as the “2nd oldest African American Baptist Church in the Twin Counties area of Eastern North Carolina.”

Photo courtesy of