Rountree cemetery

Lane Street on a breezy winter morning.

Two minutes, 49 seconds, of Lane Street on a breezy winter morning.

Sandy Creek spilling from the culvert under Lane Street.

The road, walking southwest.

The high bank of Rountree cemetery with its crown of honeysuckle and privet and catbrier and blackberry bramble.

Across the road, the low bank marking the cemetery’s western half. Note the daffodils. Sandy Creek flows just behind the trees; the houses crouch in its flood plain.

Just past the ditch marking its boundary, the gravestones of Odd Fellows Cemetery hove into view.

Between the Dawson and Tate family plots, Irma Vick‘s leaning concrete marker is visible at the edge of the woods. Hers is the outlier of the Vick family plot, which is otherwise overgrown.

A remnant of the cemetery’s wall; I enter the old gateway.

The cemetery looks empty. It is not.

The two tall marble markers are Dave and Della Hines Barnes, from the back. Presumably, other members of the Barnes and Hines family lie in their marked plot, but no stones are visible.

The city erected the two pillars at the entrance to the parking lot. They are, inaccurately, engraved “Rountree/Vick.” The parking lot bears the scorch marks of a torched vehicle. It is rarely visited by anyone with good intention.

Vick cemetery as playground.

The monument and its towering shrubs.

Video shot by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2020.

Another deed for Rountree cemetery.

I published here the deed for the purchase in 1906 of one acre of the land that now comprises the abandoned Rountree cemetery. I speculated that the remaining acre was purchased later. However, it appears that, in fact, Rountree Missionary Baptist Church trustees bought the first acre of the burial ground — the section west of Lane Street — almost ten years earlier, in 1897.

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North Carolina, Wilson County  }

This Deed, made this 2nd day of August, A.D., 1897, by F.W. Barnes and wife, Mattie B. Barnes, Parties of the first part, to George Harris, Charles Bullock and Arch Harris, Trustees, of the Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, Parties of the Second Part, all of County and State aforesaid, witnesseth:

That the Said Parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of Twenty Five Dollars, to them in hand paid, (the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged), have bargained and sold, and do by these presents convey unto the Said Parties of the Second part, and their successors in office, that certain lot of land, lying and being situate in Wilson Township, county and state aforesaid, adjoining the lands of F.W. Barnes and Martin V. Barnes, and more particularly described as follows: Beginning at a stake on the path leading from the Plank road to the Stantonsburg road where a small branch crosses said path, thence westerly with said path, a fence row, 270 feet to a stake cornering thence northerly 250 feet to a stake in Said branch, thence down said branch or ditch to the beginning containing one acre, more or less. It is understood and agreed that the path above referred to Shall at no time be closed up and that the public shall have the enjoyment thereof without the interference or interruption from the said parties of the first part.

To have and to hold said real estate unto the said parties of the Second part and their successors in office in fee simple. And the said F.W. Barnes, for himself, his heirs, executors and administrators, doth covenant to and with the said parties of the Second part, and their successors in office, that he will forever warrant and defend the title to the Said land against the lawful claim or claims of all other persons whomsoever. In Testimony whereof the Said parties of the first part have hereunto  set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written.  /s/ F.W. Barnes, Mattie B. Barnes

——

Note this description: “beginning at a stake on the path leading from the Plank road to the Stantonsburg road where a small branch crosses said path.” The “small branch” is Sandy Creek. The plank road is now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, the continuation of East Nash Street beyond U.S. Highway 301. Stantonsburg road is still Stantonsburg Road. The path? That’s modern-day Lane Street, which no longer spans the entire stretch between MLK and Stantonsburg. Instead, just beyond Vick cemetery it makes an abrupt westward turn toward 301.

Here’s detail from the United States Geological Survey’s 1904 topographic map of North Carolina’s Wilson Quadrangle:

The rough area of the cemeteries is encircled. Lane Street clearly continued down to Stantonsburg Road at the time.

  • George Harris
  • Charles Bullock — Bullock was also one of the trustees who purchased the second parcel.
  • Arch Harris — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Arch Harris, 53; wife Rosa, 45; and children James, 22, Arch, 20, Mary Jane, 18, Nancy, 16, Lucy, 12, Minnie, 11, Maggie, 8, Jessie, 6, and Annie, 3.
  • Rountree Missionary Baptist Church

Deed book 45, page 153, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Cemeteries in the flood plain.

From the website of the Wilson County GIS/Mapping Office, a map showing the flood plain of Sandy Creek. As is obvious from the drifts of trash littering the low-lying rear of Rountree cemetery, much of this graveyard is regularly underwater. The same holds for the southeast quadrant of Odd Fellows cemetery and nearly all of the section of Rountree across Lane Street.

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Another search for gravestones in Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

First: my request for the Vick cemetery survey and documentation re the decision to destroy its headstones? As yet unfilled, though the city attorney assures me it’s coming soon.

With boots and gloves and a hand pruner, I returned to Rountree/Odd Fellows/Vick cemeteries on a frosty Saturday morning to see what else there is to see.  Walking through the clear strip of Odd Fellows, I noticed immediately that someone had neatened up the stones that are usually lying higgledy-piggledy on the ground. Here, Clarence L. Carter and his daughter Omega Carter Spicer.

Picking my way toward the back edge of the cleared section, it dawned on me that this was once the main entrance to Odd Fellows. The hinges on the post to the right were the give-away. And the traces of asphalt driveway.

Standing near Irma Vick‘s headstone and looking in, I spotted this, plain as day. It’s hard to imagine how I missed it in December.

It’s the double headstone of Daniel and Fannie Blount Vick, Samuel H. Vick‘s father and mother. Daniel Vick died in 1908 (112 years to the day before my “discovery” of his grave) and Fannie Vick sometime in the late 1800s. (Is that a bullet pockmark?)

A few feet away, the headstone of Viola Leroy Vick, daughter of Samuel and Annie Washington Vick. She died as a toddler in 1897, and East Wilson’s Viola Street was named in her honor.

And then, perhaps 25 feet away, cocooned in honeysuckle and evil smilax, this monument loomed. Was it Sam Vick’s?

To my astonishment — no. The honeysuckle pulled off like a cape (after I wasted time hacking at the briars on the other side) to reveal that this remarkable marble headstone, which tops six feet, marks the grave of Wiley Oates. (More about him later.) Samuel and Annie Vick’s gravestones remain elusive.

I’d bought the cheapest hand pruners I could find, and they performed cheaply, but I got through to this gravestone and its companion, which appear to lie across the property line in Rountree cemetery.

The gravestone for Amos Batts’ wife, Jennie Batts, who died in 1945. Behind it in the left corner of the frame you can see the base of a pine whose diameter is at least two feet, which gives a measure of how long this cemetery has been neglected.

Here is the “canal” described in the Rountree cemetery deed. It’s a channeled section of Sandy Creek, and I imagine Rountree Missionary Baptist Church once performed baptisms here. I spent idyllic childhood afternoons exploring along the banks of this waterway perhaps a quarter-mile downstream. Sandy Creek is a tributary of Hominy Swamp, which flows into Contentnea Creek, which empties into the Neuse River at Grifton, North Carolina.

Here, I’m standing on the south bank of Sandy Creek looking down into the bowl that was once Rountree cemetery. I have not found any markers in this low-lying section, though there appear to be collapsed graves. Repeated flooding was one of the factors that led to the abandonment of cemetery. The undergrowth is starting to green up and, as the weather warms, soon these graveyards will be nearly impenetrable without sharper, heavier tools.

Daffodils are not native to eastern North Carolina and would not ordinarily be found blooming in the middle of the woods. This thick drift has naturalized from bulbs perhaps more than one hundred years old. Daffodils were commonly planted in cemeteries to symbolize the death of youth or mortality.

My exit strategy failed at the edge of barricade of wild blackberry twenty-five feet deep between me and Lane Street. I had to scramble back through the woods to gain egress at the ditch dividing Rountree from Odd Fellows. All this battling ate up my time, and I wasn’t able to explore the far end of Odd Fellows, next to Vick. Peering through the fence, though, I did see this marker for Lizzie May Barnes, daughter of H. and L. Barnes, who died in 1919.

——

  • Amos Batts died 24 March 1937 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 61 years old; was born in Wilson County to Thomas and Mariah Batts; was married to Jennie Batts; worked as a common laborer; and lived at 1202 East Nash Street. Informant was Jennie Batts.
  • Jennie Batts died 25 December 1945 at her home at 1202 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Amos Batts; was 58 years old; was born in Wilson County to unknown parents; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Eddie Batts was informant.
  • Lizzie Barnes died 3 April 1919 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 August 1918 in Wilson County to Henry Barnes and Lena Woodard.

A list of likely burials in Rountree, Vick, or Odd Fellows cemeteries.

This is a running annotated list of people who are believed, on the basis of family information, death certificates, obituaries or other sources, including my strong hunch, to be buried in Rountree, Vick or Odd Fellows cemeteries.

These contiguous cemeteries were known commonly and collectively as “Rountree cemetery” making it difficult to determine the exact location of each burial.  Though county residents were more likely to be buried in church or family cemeteries, nearly every African-American city resident who died between about 1910 and 1940 was buried in Rountree, Vick or Odd Fellows. (Those who weren’t were laid to rest in the “old” Colored Cemetery, also known as Oaklawn or Oakdale, or the Masonic cemetery, around the bend of Lane Street.) C.H. Darden & Sons (CHD) conducted most of the burials in these cemeteries and, until the 1940s, often referred to their location on death certificates only as “Wilson, N.C.” (Thankfully, the various undertaking businesses run by Columbus E. Artis specified Rountree cemetery (even if Vick or Odd Fellows was the actual burial ground.)

This list does not include burials listed in Joan Howell’s cemetery book or individuals for whom gravestones are intact. All death certificates noted were issued in Wilson County unless otherwise noted.

  • Artis, Fabie — Died 1930. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertaker C.E. Artis.
  • Barnes, Infant — Stillborn 1925 to Lewis Barnes and Annie Taylor, a “5th month fetus.” Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Battle, Paul — Died 1927. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Batts, John — Died 1927, age 60. Death certificate: Rountree’s cemetery, undertaker Artis & Freeman.
  • Boykin, Nancy Staton — Died 1946, age 88. Death certificate: Roundtree cemetery, undertaker C.H. Darden & Sons.
  • Bridgers, Infant Child — Died 1940, age 1 day. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, C.E. Artis.
  • Brooks, Unnamed — Stillborn 1927 to Setha Brooks and Frodia Williams. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Clark, Sarah Hill — Died 1927, age 64. Death certificate: Rountree’s cemetery, undertaker Artis & Freeman.
  • Coley, Infant — Stillborn 1927 to John Coley and Rosetta Harriss. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Dale, Joe — Died 1925, age 62. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Daniel, Boisie — Died 1927, age 1. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Davis, Infant — Stillborn 1927 to John Davis and Lula Jernigan. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Davis, Laura — Died 1925. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Dew, Alfred — Died 1925. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Edmundson, Infant — Died 1927. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, buried by family.
  • Edwards, Charlie — Died 1940. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertaker I.W. Lee, Fremont, N.C.
  • Edwards, Isiah — Died 1927, infant. Death certificate: Rountree’s cemetery, undertaker Artis & Freeman.
  • Ethridge, Wiley — Died 1932, born in 1876. Death certificate: Roundtree, Darden.
  • Foster, William Calvin — Died 1929, age 1. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, C.E. Artis.
  • Gay, Albert S., Sr. — Died 1932. Probably Rountree (family info). Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD.
  • Gill, Daniel — Died 1918, age 100. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD.
  • Guest, Infant — Died 1918. Death certificate: Rountrees Church.
  • Haggans, George — Died 1918. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, CHD.
  • Hawkins, Dorothy Lee — Died 1927, age 6. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Henderson, Archie — Died 1930, age 4. Death certificate: Wilson Co., N.C., C.E. Artis. Family info.
  • Henderson, Jesse Jr. — Died 1929, age 5 months. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Wilson, N.C., C.E. Artis.
  • Hines, Perry — Died 1927, age 25. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Hinnant, Hercules H. — Died 1934, age 23. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD. Per his obituary, buried in Rountree cemetery.
  • Hobbs, George — Died 1927, age 59. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Howell, William J. — Died 1939, age 67. Death certificate: Roundtree Cemetery, Hamilton Funeral Home. Per his obituary, buried in Rountree cemetery. (Howell was a member of Red Hot Hose Company, and may actually have been buried in Odd Fellows with Benjamin Mincey and other firemen.)
  • Jackson, Florence — Died 1925, age 7 months. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Jacobs, Infant — Stillborn 1928 to Roderick Taylor and Hattie Mae Jacobs. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Wilson, N.C., C.E. Artis.
  • Jones, Edward — Died 1940. Death certificate: Rountree, CHD.
  • Jones, Infant — Stillborn 1927 to Samuel Jones and Everline Harrell. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Lassiter, Dempsey — Died 1946. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD.
  • Lassiter, Doris — Died 1943, age 5 months. Death certificate: Rountree’s, Hamilton Funeral Home.
  • Lucas, Infant. — Died 25 January 1940, premature. Death certificate: Rountrees, undertaker: family.
  • McCall, Willie Mae — Died 1927, age 11 months. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • McEachin, Margarette — Died 1927, age 6 months. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • McNeill, Susie — Died 1927, age 28. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Melvin, John — Died 1939. Buried in Rountree cemetery, per obituary.
  • Moore, Ellias — Died 1918, age 40. Death certificate: Roundtree cemetery.
  • Moore, James Henry — Died 1927, age 32. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Morgan, Sarah — Died 1927, age 16. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Murray, Emma — Died 1927, age 41. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Perry, Lena — Died 1927, age 44. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Pitt, John Henry — Died 1927, age 3 months. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Plummer, William Henry — Died 1925, age 70. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Pope, Mary Ella — Died 1932, age 24 days. Death certificate: “Roundtree (Wilson),” Amerson-Boswell Company.
  • Rountree, Jack — Likely, Odd Fellows. Daughter Delzela Rountree is buried in Odd Fellows.
  • Rountree, Lucile — Died 1930. Likely, Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD. Daughter Delzela is buried in Odd Fellows.
  • Simmons, Robert James — Died 1927. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Simms, Silva — Died 1927. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Smith, Baby. Died 1940, aged 1 month. Death certificate: Rountrees, C.E. Artis.
  • Tate, Noah J. — Died 1926. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Taylor, Eliza — Died 1934, age 47. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., C.E. Artis. Probably Rountree or Vick, family info.
  • Taylor, Greeman — Died 1922, age 23. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD. Probably Rountree or Vick, family info.
  • Taylor, Hennie L. — Aged 1917, age 1. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., undertaker A.D. McGowan. Probably Rountree or Vick, family info.
  • Taylor, Henrietta G. — Died 1916, age 19. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., A.D. McGowan, undertaker. Probably Rountree or Vick, family info.
  • Taylor, Mike — Died 1927, age 68. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD. Probably Rountree or Vick, family info.
  • Taylor, Rachel — Died 1925, age 54. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD. Probably Rountree or Vick, family info.
  • Vick, Annie M. Washington — Died 1952, age 81. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, Edwards Funeral Home. However, the Vick family plot was in Odd Fellows cemetery.
  • Vick, Samuel H. — Died 1946. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, Edwards Funeral Home. However, the Vick family plot was in Odd Fellows cemetery.
  • Vick, Viola — The Vick family plot was in Odd Fellows cemetery.
  • Weathers, Cleola — Died 1927, age 22. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • White, Clara — Died 1927, age 25. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • White, Cora L. — Died 1927, age 1. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.
  • Williams, Edgar — Died 1949, age 54. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, C.E. Artis.
  • Wilson, Fred — Died 1927, age 21. Death certificate: Rountree’s cemetery, undertaker Artis & Freeman.
  • Woodard, Lucy Simms — Died 1929, age about 48. Death certificate: Rountree Church Cemetery; Black Creek Undertaking Company. [Thank you, John Stembridge.]
  • Woods, Minnie A. — Died 1927. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, undertakers Artis & Flanagan.

The deed for Rountree cemetery.

In early 1906, Rountree Missionary Baptist Church purchased part of the land that comprises part of Rountree cemetery. The deed is found in deed book 76, page 97, and is transcribed below. The deed describes a parcel only half the size of the current boundaries of Rountree’s lot. Was a later purchase consolidated?

——

North Carolina, Wilson County  }

This Deed, made this 24th day of February, A.D. 1906, by F.W. Barnes and wife Hattie B. Barnes, parties of the first part, to Charles Bullock, Jesse Barnes and William Crudup, Trustees of the Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, parties of the second part, WITNESSETH:

That the said parties of the first part for and in consideration of the sum of One Hundred Dollars to them in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledge, have bargained and sold, and do by these presents convey unto the said parties of the second part, that certain lot of land lying and being situate in Wilson township, county and state aforesaid, adjoining the lands of J.C. Farrior, F.W. Barnes and the present church lot, above mentioned, and more particularly described as follows: Beginning in the middle of the canal [Sandy Creek], the present church lot corner, thence south 72 ½ west 270 feet to a stake, cornering, thence south 24 west 565 feet to the canal, cornering, thence up said canal to the beginning, containing one acre, more or less.

TO HAVE AND TO HOLD said real estate with the privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging unto to the said parties of the second part and their successors in office in fee simple.

And the said F.W. Barnes for himself, his heirs and personal representatives do covenant to and with the said parties of the second part, their heirs, successors assigns: That he will forswear warrant and defend the title to said real estate against the lawful claim or claims of all other persons whomsoever.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, the said parties of the first part have hereunto set their hands and seals, the day and year first above written.   /s/ F.W. Barnes, M.B. Barnes

Witness: W.E. Warren

A list of surviving headstones in Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

This is a running annotated list of people whose headstones still stand in Rountree and Odd Fellows cemeteries.

  • Barnes, Dave — Died 1935, age 52. Odd Fellows. Death certificate lists burial site as Wilson, N.C. (Undertakers C.H. Darden and Sons handled most of the Odd Fellows burials on this list, and their practice was to refer to the cemetery by this broad location name. Darden and Sons’ burials are marked CHD below.)
  • Barnes, Della — Born 1858, died 1935. Odd Fellows. Death certificate lists burial site as Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Barnes, Lizzie May — Born 1918, died 1919. Daughter of H[enry]. and L[ena]. Barnes. Death certificate: Wilson County, CHD.
  • Barnes, Nunnie — Born 1885, died 1921. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson County; CHD.
  • Barnes, Rosa (wife of Matthew Barnes) — Odd Fellows. Broken stone.
  • Batts, Amos — Died 1937. Rountree. Husband of Jennie Batts.
  • Batts, Jennie — Died 1945. Rountree. Wife of Amos Batts. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery; C.E. Artis.
  • Best family — Odd Fellows. Large flat family marker.
  • Carter, C.L.Clarence L. Carter. Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple link and Masonic square and compass. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Dawson family — Odd Fellows. Large upright family marker.
  • Dawson, L. — Lucy Hill Dawson. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Dawson, Virginia S. — Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Ellis, Buster — Born 1914, died 1924. Rountree. Located in a cluster of broken stones, including grandmother Clarkie Ellis. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Ellis, Clarkie — Born 1853; died illegible. Rountree. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Farrior, Henry W., Rev. — Born 1859; died 1937. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Hilliard, Gus — Odd Fellows.
  • Hines, Walter S. — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Holloway, Louis — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple links.
  • Jackson, J.S. — Joseph S. Jackson. Born 1870, died 1942. Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple links. Death certificate: Rountree cemetery, CHD.
  • Marlow, Daniel — Born 1870, died 1918. Rountree.
  • McCullins, Fannie (wife of Andrew McCullins) — Odd Fellows. Broken stone.
  • Mincy, Oscar — Odd Fellows.
  • Mincy, Prince — Died 1902, age 61. Odd Fellows.
  • Oates, Ella (dau. of Charles Oates) — Born 1896, died 1913. Odd Fellows. Broken stone. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C., CHD.
  • Oates, Wiley — Born 1877, died 1913. Odd Fellows.
  • Oats, Charles — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only. Death certificate: Roundtree cemetery; CHD.
  • Oats, Emma — Died 1908, age 40. Odd Fellows.
  • Pitt, Washington — Died 1917, age 38. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Roberson, William — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple links.
  • Robins, Daisy — Died 1914, age 38. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Rountree, Delzela (dau. of Jack and Lucile Rountree)– Born 1897, died 1914. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • Spicer, Omega C. — Died 1945. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; Hamilton Funeral Home. [Listed in Howell volume.]
  • Tart, Henry — Born 1886, died 1919. Odd Fellows.
  • Tate family — Odd Fellows. Large upright family marker.
  • Tate, Daisy (dau. of Hardy Tate) — Born 1914, died 1936. Odd Fellows.
  • Tate, Hardy — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with Odd Fellows triple links.
  • Tate, John P. — Born 1905, died 1907. Odd Fellows.
  • Tate, Noah J. — Born 1875, died 1926. Odd Fellows. Foot marker only. Death certificate: Rountrees cemetery, Artis & Flanagan.
  • Taylor, H.B. — Odd Fellows. Foot marker only, engraved with triple links and square and compass.
  • Thomas, Charles S. — Died 1937. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • Thomas, Sarah (wife of Charlie Thomas) — Odd Fellows.
  • Unknown — Died 1921, age 51. Odd Fellows.
  • Uzzell, Millie — Born 1872, died 1928. Rountree. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.; CHD.
  • Vick, Daniel — Died 1908. Odd Fellows.
  • Vick, Fannie Blount — Odd Fellows cemetery.
  • Vick, Irma (dau. of S.H. and A.M. Vick) — Born 1905, died 1921. Odd Fellows. Death certificate: Wilson, N.C.
  • Vick, Viola Leroy — Born 1894, died 1897. Daughter of S.H. and Annie Vick. Odd Fellows.
  • White, Lucinda (wife of Geo. W. White) — Odd Fellows.
  • Williams, Louis — Odd Fellows.

A compilation of burials in Rountree and Vick (and Rest Haven) cemeteries.

In 2015, culminating a years-long project headed by Joan L. Howell, the Wilson County Genealogical Society published Wilson County Cemeteries, Vol. V: The Two City-Owned African-American Cemeteries, containing alphabetical listings of 11,472 burials in Rest Haven cemetery and 650 burials in Rountree-Vick cemetery.

Howell’s book is an invaluable resource for Wilson County researchers and — as far as we know — the sole list of burials in Rountree-Vick. Nonetheless, it’s worthwhile to assess this compilation in the light of recent discoveries concerning these cemeteries.

Confronted with the empty expanse of the Rountree-Vick memorial ground, Howell undertook an exhaustive search of death certificates filed in the Wilson County registrar’s office, abstracting all that gave “Rountree cemetery,” “Vick cemetery,” or “paupers cemetery” as the place of burial. An examination of the resulting list makes clear that these burials were in Rountree, Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries, which are contiguous, but separately owned, graveyards. And the list is incomplete.

Vick and Odd Fellows cemeteries were in use by the late 1800s, and Rountree by 1900. However, the overwhelming majority of burials listed in this volume date from the 1940s. (Rest Haven was the city’s primary black cemetery thereafter.) There are a smattering of burials from the late 1930s, the 1950s and even the 1960s. Because North Carolina did not require death certificates until 1914, and death certificates did not list burial locations with specificity until around World War II, the first forty or so years of burials in these cemeteries are difficult to chronicle.

So, how many people are buried in Vick, Rountree and Odd Fellows? A 1995 Wilson Daily Times article estimated 1300.  However, as at least 600 were laid to rest here in the 1940s alone, this is surely a vast understatement. We may never arrive at a definitive number, but we can augment Howell’s list. I will start with a list of people whose burial in Rountree, Vick or Odd Fellows is memorialized by an existing headstone and continue with a list of people whose burial place is noted in a published obituary. Do you know of a family member buried in one these cemeteries? If so, please let me know. If I find that they are not listed in Howell’s book, they will be added to a third list. Thanks for your help.

Interested in purchasing a copy of Howell’s volume?  You can order one at http://www.wcgs.org.

Cemetery records request update, no. 4: ownership of the cemeteries.

You just have to know where to look.

After I figured out some basic navigation tricks, Wilson County’s fine GIS maps yielded quick answers to the questions of ownership of Vick, Odd Fellows and Rountree cemeteries. (One would think this information would be readily available to the city employees and officials from whom I requested it, but let’s keep moving forward.)

Here is the 7.84 acre Vick cemetery, deeded by Samuel H. Vick to the City of Wilson in 1913. (The deed is recorded at Deed Book 96, page 85, which is not available via the Register of Deeds’ website. I’ll get a copy when I next go home.) It is classified, appropriately, as a cemetery.

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Adjacent to the northeast is a 2.16 acre parcel owned by Odd Fellows Society since 1900. (There is no deed book reference listed.) It is classified — inappropriately, in my view — as a vacant lot belonging to a club or lodge.

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And here, sandwiched between the Odd Fellows Cemetery and Sandy Creek, is a two-acre parcel owned by Rountree Missionary Baptist Church since 1906. (Rountree’s deed is in Deed Book 76, page 97. The present-day church is the irregularly shaped building on the large lot at the northen corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway and Lane Street.) This, too, incredibly, is described as a vacant lot belonging to a church.

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And to my shock, there’s also this. The rhombus across Lane Street, shown below, is part of the Rountree cemetery’s acreage. It is not my imagination that I saw graves on this side of the road when exploring as a child.

Here’s an aerial view, also from Wilson County GIS/Mapping Office. The big empty square is Vick cemetery (known popularly, and confusingly, as Rountree cemetery), which contains the remains of thousands of African Americans who died between the late 1800s and about 1965. I have no idea how many people are buried in the Odd Fellows cemetery next door, which was the burial ground of choice for much of Wilson’s black elite in the early 1900s. The city maintains the strip of this cemetery that fronts Lane Street. You can’t see it here, but a deep ditch marks the boundary between Odd Fellows and Rountree cemeteries. The eastern border of Rountree is Sandy Creek, a small, sluggish tributary of Hominy Swamp.

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Next step: contact Rountree Missionary Baptist Church (which will be a straightforward endeavor) and the Odd Fellows Society (which will not.) And remind the city that I’m still waiting for a response to my public records request.

Remembering the dead.

My plans are still forming, but one thing I can do right now is call the names of the men and women whose headstones I found Christmas Eve morning.

  • Prince Mincey (ca. 1841-1902)

Prince Mincy Died Sept 14 1902 Aged 61 Years

Prince Mincey was the grandfather of MadisonBen” Mincey, whose efforts to clear Odd Fellows cemetery brought the plight of Rountree-Vick cemetery to the city’s attention in the late 1980s. His father, Benjamin Mincey, was an early leader of Wilson’s black fire company, the Red Hot Hose Company.

In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farmer Prince Minshew, 52; wife Susan, 35; and children Frank, 12, Henry, 11, and John, 3.

In the 1900 census of Wilson town, Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Prince Mensey, 60; wife Susan, 52; children Ben, 19, Emma, 19, and Oscar, 12; and niece Rosetta Mensey, 7.

  • Oscar Mincey

Oscar Mincy 

Oscar Mincey, son of Prince and Susan Suggs Mincey, was born about 1887. His small stone is a few feet from his father. It’s almost completely sunken, and his death date is unreadable. I have not found a death certificate for him, which suggests he died before the state required them in 1914.  Oscar’s brother Benjamin, the fireman, is presumably buried nearby, but there is no trace of his headstone.

  • Daniel Marlow (1870-1918)

Daniel Marlow Born Mar 1, 1870 Died July 5, 1918

In the 1910 census of town of Spring Hope, Mannings township, Nash County: Daniel Marlow, 42, brickmason, was one of five boarders living in the household of Anna Coppedge, 36, widower, laundress.

Also in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Dan G. Marlow, 40; wife Lottie, 35; and Hattie May, 6.

This tangle of vines will completely obscure this monument when it leafs out in spring.

  • Henry Tart

Henry Tart Born Apr. 11, 1886 Died May 13, 1919

Henry Tart‘s magnificent obelisk is the largest gravestone I found. Tart was the well-known proprietor of a transfer company. Read more about him here and here and here. Resting against the base of Tart’s monument was this broken marker:

Died Nov. 2, 1921, Age 51 Yrs., Gone to a brighter home, Where grief can not come.

  • Millie Uzzell

Come Ye Blessed Millie Uzzell Born 1872 Died Nov 26 1929 She is gone but not forgotten At rest

Molley Uzzell died 26 October 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was about 55 years old; was born in Lenoir County to Bob May and Molley May; lived at 709 Goldsboro Street, Wilson; and was married to Green Uzzell.

  • Best

This marker suggests the burial of several members of the Best family, but no individual gravestones are visible.

  • Washington Pitt

Washington Pitt Died May 11, 1917 Age 38 Years

Washington Pitt, 21, and Cometa Hill, 18, son of Solomon Hill, were married 26 December 1904 at Solomon Hill’s. Hilliard Ellis applied for the license, and Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony.

In the 1908 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Washington horseshoer h Lee cor Deans

On 29 June 1910, Washington Pitt, 27, married Lula Best, 20, in Wilson. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Ora Bunch, Walter A. Maynor and Morris Ellis.

In the 1912 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitts Washington blacksmith h Vance nr Reid

In the 1916 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Washington blacksmith h 805 E Vance

Washington Pitts died 11 May 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 March 1886 in South Carolina to Wright Pitts and Amanda Wyatt; was a widower; was a horse shoer; and was buried in “Wilson.” Informant was Lucinda Pitts.

  • Louis Williams

Probably, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fred Owens, 32, and wife Lula, 29, and boarder Lewis Williams, 52, widower, a house carpenter.

  • Buster Ellis

Buster Ellir Was Born June 17, 1914 Died July 17, 1924

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on New Stantonsburg Road, farmer Reuben Simms, 21; grandmother Clarkie Ellis, 65, widower; aunts Cherry, 24, Jemima, 25, and Henrietta Ellis, 30; nieces Lucy, 12, and Mamie, 10; and nephew Buster, 7.

Buster Ellis died 17 July 1924 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 12 years old; was born in Wilson County to Lofton Harriss and Cherry Ellis; was a schoolboy; and died of “tuberculosis of hip; dislocation of hip caused by fall from bicycle.” Ruben Simms was informant.

  • Clarky Ellis

Clarky Ellies was born 1853 Died July [illegible]

Clarkie Atkinson Ellis was born enslaved.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Reuben Ellis, 34, farm laborer; wife Clarkey, 22; and daughter Jane Grant, 1.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Rubin Ellis, 54; wife Clarky, 36; and children Jane, 10, Jonah, 8, Sherard, 7, William, 6, Rubin, 5, George, 4, and Cansy, 4 months.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Riubin Farmer, 70; wife Clarky U., 57; children Kansas, 22, Allen, 16, Henrietta, 15, Gemima, 13, Cherry, 12, Hardy, 10, and Benjamin N., 9; and grandchildren Plumer, 16, and Henrietta, 5 months; and Jane Bynum, 66, widow.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Rheubin Ellis, 76; wife Clarkie Ellis, 72; daughters Henrietta, 23, Joemima, 22, and Cherrie Ellis, 19; and grandchildren Annie, 14, Ashley, 12, Rheubin, 11, and Lucy, 11 months. [Ashley and Reuben’s surname was Simms.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on New Stantonsburg Road, farmer Reuben Simms, 21; grandmother Clarkie Ellis, 65, widower; aunts Cherry, 24, Jemima, 25, and Henrietta Ellis, 30; nieces Lucy, 12, and Mamie, 10; and nephew Buster, 7.

Clarky Ellis died 9 July 1923 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 75 years old; was the widow of Rubin Ellis; had been a farmer; and had been born in Johnston County to Lewis Adkinson and Rosa Adkinson. Rubin Ellis [Jr.] was informant.

The broken pile of Ellis family headstones:

  • H.B. Taylor

This is not the grave of Rev. Halley B. Taylor. Beyond that, I cannot identify it.

  • Daisy Robins

Daisy Robins Died May 17, 1914 Age 38 Years

Daisy Robins died 17 May 1914 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was married; was born in Newberry, South Carolina, to Morton Pitt and Harrett Jones; and was buried in “Wilson.” Washington Pitt was informant.

The vine stretching across the base of this stone is slowly toppling it backwards.

  • Collapsed graves

They are difficult to see in photographs, but these woods are pitted with depressions made by collapsed graves, like these:

  • Broken stones

Broken headstones and foot markers, like this one near the fence bordering the cleared field, litter the forest floor.

All photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019.