The why of Black Wide-Awake, no. 2.

Carolyn Maye, a generous contributor of photographs to Black Wide-Awake, made it to Imagination Station on closing day to see Say Their Names. The exhibit included among its displayed documents a copy of the obituary of her formerly enslaved great-great-grandmother, Jane Rountree Mobley.

She brought with her Skylar, the youngest of Jane Mobley’s great-great-great-great-granddaughters.

Thank you, Carolyn, for affirming the purpose of Black Wide-Awake. Your determination to get to Wilson, despite a pandemic, and to introduce Skylar to Jane Mobley, both humbles and inspires me. She will never believe, as so many of us have, that the lives of her ancestors passed unknown and unknowable.

Lane Street Project: Delzela Rountree.

Delzela Dau of Jack & Lucile Rountree Born Aug. 5, 1897 Died Mar. 8, 1914 An angel visited the green earth and took the flower away.


In the 1900 census of Falkland township, Pitt County: farmer Jack Rountree, 49; wife Lucy, 27; and children Julius, 5, Daisy E., 2, and Cora, 2 months; sisters Marcela, 23, Cora, 24, and Ella Bargeron, 26; and boarder Jacob Worthan, 18.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jack Rountree, 53; wife Lucy, 35; and children Junius, 15, Delzel, 12, Cora Lee, 10, John H., 7, James, 6, Mable, 4, and Gollie May, 1.

Daisy L. [sic] Roundtree died 5 August 1914 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1898to Jack Roundtree and Lucy Body; was single; lived on Stantonsburg Street; and was buried in Wilson. 

Divine healer?

In a nine-day span in 1914, Wilson residents Mary A. Williams and James T. Rountree died while under the care of William F. Edwards, a “divine healer.”

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William F. Edwards was only passing through town and apparently moved on with impunity. Two years later the “Gospel preacher and healer” was in Concord, North Carolina, “still curing the people.”

Concord Daily Tribune, 4 December 1916.

Concord Daily Tribune, 11 December 1916.

Four years after that, “The World’s Wonder Christian Scientist Preacher Healer” was in Elizabeth City, North Carolina, exhorting black and white to come throw their crutches away.

The Independent (Elizabeth City, N.C.), 11 June 1920.

Hat tip to D.P. for locating these articles about Edwards.

The last will and testament of Lewis Rountree.

On 20 September 1849, Lewis Rountree of Edgecombe County penned a will that included these provisions:

  • to wife Elizabeth Rountree, a life interest in “one negro man George and one negro woman by the name of Fanney aged 31 years.” After Elizabeth’s death, their six daughters were to inherit George and  Fanney equally.
  • to Sarah Jordan, wife of Thomas Jordan,”one negro boy by the name of Sam and one negro girl by the name of Phillis
  • to daughters Eliza Daniel, wife of Willie Daniel; Harriet Ellis, wife of I.G. Ellis; Penelope Rountree; Elizabeth Rountree; Treasia Rountree; and Margaret Rountree “the following negroes to wit — Stephen, Braswell, Hillard, Joe, Dave, Warren, Henry, Joiner, Amos, Rafe, Levi, John, Little Gorge, Fed, Gray, Bob, Love, Rebecca, July, Cherry, Milley, Ester, Deborah, Rhoda, Ann and Louisa,” share and share alike.
  • daughters Eliza and Harriet to receive their shares of community property immediately, and the remaining daughters to receive theirs as they reached age 21

After Lewis Rountree’s death, daughters Eliza Daniel and Harriet Ellis (through their husbands) petitioned for the division of their share of their father’s enslaved property. Eliza Daniel received Brass, Amos, Love, George, Rhody and Ann, valued at $2375. Harriet Ellis received Hilliard, Pheriba, Louisa, Adaline, Levi and Julia, valued at $2400.

Hilliard and Pheriba Ellis were a newly married couple at the time of the division. Hilliard Ellis’ brother Warren remained part of the common property and adopted the surname Rountree after emancipation.

Lewis Rountree Will, Edgecombe County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line],


The Benjamin and Tinner Howard Ellis family.

Benjamin Ellis, Mollie Brantley Howard Brown and Tinner Howard Ellis. Mollie Brown’s first husband, Kenyon Howard, son of Deal and Nancy Blackwell Howard, was Tinner Ellis’ uncle.

“As far back as my husband, Benjamin Ellis, and I can trace our family, it leads us to Wilson County. My great-grandfather Nelson Eatman was born issue-free about the year 1800. Fortunately, from that point on there was no slavery on my side of the family. He had a daughter named Roady who married Deal Howard. From that marriage was born a son, also named Deal Howard who married my mother, Nancy Blackwell. My grandmother on my mother’s side was named Nancy Blackwell. During the early part of the 19th century there were still many Indians in and around the eastern North Carolina region. One tribe known as the Cherokees still have a reservation in western North Carolina. It is through that tribe that I trace my mother’s heritage.

“My husband’s grandfather Hillard Ellis was born here in 1825, on the Roundtree Plantation. His mother and father were Africans who had been brought to America and sold in the slave market to the Roundtree family. Hillard Ellis had a brother named Warren Roundtree who took the slave name, and as a result, many Ellis’ and Roundtree’s are related. Hillard Ellis married Fairiby Roundtree who was also a slave on the Roundtree farm. To that union were born fourteen children — one of which was my husband’s father named Hillard who was born in 1865. Around the turn of the century and for many years thereafter he was one of only two blacksmiths in the Town of Wilson. Hillard married Cora Williams. Cora’s parents were Nellie Locust and Austin Williams. Austin was a slave on the McWilliams farm and Nellie was issue-free. My husband’s Uncle Warren’s son, Henry Ellis was the first black in Wilson County killed while serving his country in the first world war. His name is found in the Wilson County courthouse among those honored for serving their country.

“Both my husband and I are from very large families. I had four sisters and nine brothers and my husband had several brothers and one sister. We were raised as children in Wilson County and went to Howard elementary school. My husband also attended “graded” school in Wilson. We were married in 1921 and from our union were born seven children: Raleigh, Ezamae, Emma Lee, Tiner Mae, Mabel, Beulah and Benjamin. We have twenty-one grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. We still maintain the Ellis cemetery on a piece of land formerly owned by Hillard Ellis, Sr. Also the Ellis Chapel Church off Route 58 was named after Hillard Ellis, Sr., who donated the land to the church around the turn of the century.”


  • For more on the Hilliard Ellis family, see here and here.
  • For more on the Nelson Eatmon family, see here.
  • For more on the Zealous “Deal” Howard family, see here.
  • Re the Blackwells:

Asberry Blackwell married Nancy Taylor on 2 October 1845 in Nash County.

In the 1850 census of Nash County: Asberry Blackwell, 25 [listed alone.]

In the 1860 census of Kirby’s district, Wilson County: Asberry Blackwell, 45, turpentine laborer, Nancy, 30, farm laborer, Charity, 14, Drucilla, 9, Albert, 7, Appy, 7, Zilpha, 4, Obedience, 3, and Asberry, 2 months.

On 10 April 1882, Deal Howard, 21, married Nancy Blackwell, 24, in Taylors township, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Deal Howard, 38; wife Nancy, 39; and children John, 16, Christian, 14, Oscar, 11, Ettie, 10, Albert, 7, Thomas, 5, Alvin, 3, Herman, 1, and Tiner, 0.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Horne’s Road, farmer Zelius Howard Jr., 49; wife Nancy, 49; and children Albert, 17, Thomas, 15, Alvin, 13, Herman, 11, Tina, 9, Florence, 7, and Ella, 5.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Deal Howard, 58; wife Nancy, 60; and Albert, 28, Herman, 22, Tiner, 19, and Florence, 17.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Albert Howard, 35, farmer; mother Nancy, 75; and James, 11, and Tommie Howard, 9.

Nancy Howard died 30 June 1931 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 61 years old; was born in Wilson County to Nancy Blackwell and a father unknown to the informant; was married to Deal Howard; lived at Route 2, Wilson; and worked as a laundress. Informant was Thomas Howard, 318 Finch Street, Wilson.

  • Re the Williamses:

Austin Williams, son of Ben and Merica Williams, married Cornelia Taylor, daughter of Isaac Taylor and Lena Locus, on 10 May 1868 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austen Williams, 34, farm laborer; wife Cornelius, 24; and daughter Cora Lee, 1.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Austin Williams, 41, farmer; wife Nobly, 30; and children Cora L., 11, Charley A., 8, Benjamin and Isaac, 4, and Minnie, 8 months.

  • Re Warren Rountree:

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Warren Rountree, 40, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 32; and children Florence, 18, Rhebecca, 17, Mary, 11, Howell, 7, Sallie, 5, Lou, 2, and Warren Jr., 20.

Warren Rountree died in late fall 1871. In November of that year, R.J. Taylor was appointed administrator of his estate.

Text and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Martha Rountree, supercentenarian.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 April 1997.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 2003.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 April 2004.

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 4 February 2005.


Richard Rountree, 25, married Feby Rountree, 20, on 6 February 1878 in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Rountree, 30; wife Feeby, 26; and children Lilly, 5, James, 5 months, and Louezer, 11 (described as stepdaughter).

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Rowntree, 53; wife Feby, 49; and children James, 19, Loula, 11, Richard T., 10, Waren, 7, Ardenia, 5, Martha, 3, and Howard, 1.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: widowed farmer Phebee Rountree, 59, and children Richard, 19, Warren, 17, Ardenia, 15, and Martha, 12.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: widowed farmer Phoebe Rountree, 72, and children Richard, 26, Warren, 24, Ardena, 22, and Martha, 20.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 913 Mercer Street, Ardena Roundtree, 38, “maid of general work”; her sister Martha, 36, “does cleaning”; and son William J., 17, new worker.

In 1940, Rufus W. Wallace registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he lived at Route 4, Wilson, Gardners township, Wilson County; he was born 7 January 1904 in Robeson County, North Carolina; worked for J.W. Corbett; and his contact was Martha Rountree, 913 Mercey Street, Wilson.

In 1942, Richard Roundtree registered for the World War II draft in Baltimore, Maryland. Per his registration card, he was born 18 January 1890 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 906 North Eutaw Street, Baltimore; worked for Dell Roofing Company, 12 Branch Alley, Baltimore; and his contact was sister Martha Roundtree, 1004 Mercer Street, Wilson.

Snaps, no. 54: Alice Thorn Rountree of Xenia, Ohio.

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Alice Thorn Rountree (1862-1943).


In the 1870 census of Gardners township, WIlson County: Preston Thorn, 23; wife Julia, 22; children William, 3, James, 1, and Charity, 5 months; [sister?] Alice, 10; and farm laborer John Bullock, 18.

Charles T. Rountree, 25, married Alice Thorn, 19, on 26 May 1880 at C.T. Rountree’s in Wilson. Rev. F.K. Bird performed the ceremony in the presence of Squire Sharp, Alfred Boyett and Preston Thorn.

In the 1880 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: on Charles Street, Charles Roundtree, 24, hotel cook, and wife Alice, 19.

In the 1900 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 16 Columbus Street, Charles T. Roundtree, 44; wife Alice, 38; and children Mary H., 19, Alice R., 18, Charles T., 16, John W., 15, Maggie H., 13, Benjiman J., 11, James D., 10, David G., 8, Shadrack R., 7, and Edith O., 2.

A hair switch was essentially a clip-in hair extension. Xenia Daily Gazette, 26 August 1904.

Charles and Alice Rountree lost several children in the early years of the 1900s, including daughter Alice R. Rountree. Xenia Evening Gazette, 11 August 1906.

In the 1910 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 325 East Main Street, hardware store driver Charles T. Rountree Sr., 51; wife Alice, 47; and children Charles T., Jr., 26; Ada A., 23; Benjamin, 21; Quint S., 16; Helen L., 9, Paul D., 7, and Ward T., 4. All the children were born in Ohio.

In the 1920 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 14 North Columbus, Charles T. Rountree, 63, laborer; wife Alice, 56; and children Charles T., Jr., 35, department store decorator, William H., 33, David G., 27, Paul D., 16, Ward V., 14, and Helen K., 18.

The “centennial” was the Philadelphia Sesquicentennial International Exposition, a world’s fair. Xenia Evening Gazette, 16 September 1926.

In the 1930 census of Xenia, Greene County, Ohio: at 14 North Columbus, widow Alice Rountree,

Fifty-two years after migrating to Ohio, Alice Thorn Rountree died in 1933. Xenia Evening Gazette, 21 November 1933.