Rountree

Snaps, no. 6: Nurse Cora Farmer.

Cora Farmer at Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium, circa 1950.

“Me and Cora Farmer worked over at the Sanatorium together. She was the cause of me going over there to get the job. ‘Cause I was living there on Queen Street right from her house, and I seen her going over there with that white dress on all the time. So she seemed to be very friendly, and her daughter, and her husband. And their boys. And so I went over there.” — Hattie Henderson Ricks

——

Cora Lee Rountree Farmer (1900-1990) was the daughter of Jack and Lucille Bergeron Rountree.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm Jack Roundtree, 53; wife Lucy, 35; and children Junius, 15, Delzel, 12, Cora Lee, 10, John H., 7, Jessie, 6, Mable, 4, and Gallie May, 1.

On 24 December 1917, Paul Farmer, 29, of Wilson, son of Jno. Wash Farmer and Edmonia Farmer, married Cora Rountree, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Jack and Lucile Rountree. G.W. Barnes applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion paster B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of Annie Jackson, G.W. Barnes and Jack Rountree.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Old Stantonsburg Road, farmer Jack Rountree, 57; wife Lucile, 47; son Julius, 24, daughter-in-law Lida, 23, sons John Henry, 17, and Jesse, 16, daughters Mabel, 14, and Ola May, 10, and married daughter Cora Farmer, 19. [Her husband Paul was working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.]

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1201 Queen Street, fertilizer plant laborer Paul Farmer, 44; wife Cora, 30; and children Pauline, 4, Fredrick, 2, and John W., 1, and lodger Nancy Wilson, 17.

Cora Rountree Farmer died 4 February 1990 in Wilson.

Interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved; photo from personal collection of Hattie H. Ricks, now in possession of Lisa Y. Henderson.

The last will and testament of Clarence McCullers.

In late summer of 1945, lying abed at Duke Hospital, Clarence McCullers grew concerned enough about his prognosis that he wrote out a brief will. With his wife and son both dead, he left all his property to his sisters Bert Atkinson and Lucy Darden and appointed John Mack Barnes his administrator. His witnesses were Rev. W.A. Hilliard and Edwin Dortch Fisher.

c McCullers will

In the 1900 census of Selma township, Wilson County: Jerry McCullers, 50; wife Lucinda, 50; and children Lucy, 24, Ma[illegible], 17, Cha[illegible], 15, Clarence, 15, Laura, 14, and Budina, 7; plus roomers Calvin, 24, and Stanchy Richardson, 22.

On 31 October 1905, Clarence McCullers, 21, son of Jerry McCullers, married Bessie Simms, 19, daughter of Lee and Mary Simms, at the bride’s residence in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of Mary J. Pender, Rosa Rountree, Boston Griffin and Will Bullock.

On 5 June 1917, Clarence McCullers registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 15 August 1888 in Johnston County, North Carolina; resided at 425 Nash Street; and worked as a butler for D.S. Boykin.

On 30 March 1918, Clarence McCullers, 30, and Rosa Rountree, 28, were married by A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward in the presence of Walter Faulkland and Georgia C. Aiken.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 Washington Street, Clarence McCullers, 42, hardware store laborer; wife Rosa E., 37, who did washing; and son Willie E., 17.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 Washington Street, Clarence McCullers, 45, born Johnston County, light plant employee; wife Rosa, 43, born Wilson County, a laundress; and roomer Ethel Alexander, 28, born Scotland Neck, North Carolina, a teacher at Darden High.

Rosa E. McCullers died 18 January 1944 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she resided at 1008 Washington Street; was 50 years old; was born in Wilson to John Hardy and Lucinda Rountree; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Clarence McCullers was informant.

——

  • W.A. Hilliard — William Alexander Hillard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 14 September 1904 in Greenville, Texas; resided at 119 Pender Street, Wilson; had a permanent address and contact in Kansas City, Missouri; and was an A.M.E. Zion minister.
  • Edwin Dortch Fisher — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Connecticut-born Edwin D. Fisher, 46, was a roomer in the household of Letitia Lovett at 301 Viola Street. His occupation was listed as “World War veteran.” (They wed a year letter. Fisher was the son of Edwin W. Fisher.)

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Where did they go?: Pennsylvania death certificates, no. 4.

The fourth in a series — Pennsylvania death certificates for Wilson County natives:

  • Albert Lee Hagans

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On 20 January 1915, Lee Hagans, 21, son of Briscoe and Vesta Hagans, and Maggie Croom, 20, daughter of John and Phyllis Croom, in Wilson township. Witnesses were Willie Hunt, Moses Dew and William Pitt. As late as 1940, the family remained in North Carolina. In the 1940 census of Great Swamp township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lee Albert Hagans, 46, wife Maggie, 41, and children Richard, 20, Jesse James, 19, Addie May, 16, Gladys M., 14, Mildren C., 12, and Biscoe, 9.

  • Mary Godfrey Brothers

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  • Carrie Rountree Highsmith

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  • Magnolia Boykin Henry

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  • Annie Ferguson

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The mystery of Astor B. Bowser.

Astor Burt Bowser, born 1896, was one of three sons of Burt L. and Sarah Rountree Bowser. He appears with his parents (and grandparents) in the 1900 and 1910 censuses of Wilson, but in 1916 is listed at 17 Mott Street in the city directory of White Plains, New York. When he registered for World War I draft in September 1918, however, he was in Wilson, working in his father Burt’s cafe.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, the Bowser family’s surname was erroneously recorded as “Brown.”

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Occupations of the household’s inhabitants were recorded in the right-most columns. Astor’s? Doctor/dentist.

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Dentist? When and where did Astor Bowser attend dental school?

Astor married Deloris Harvey of Alamance County on 17 August 1921 in Wilson. Throughout the 1920s, he appears to have continued to move between Wilson and greater New York City.  In the 1922 and 1925 city directories of Wilson, he is listed as an insurance agent residing at 520 East Nash. However, in the 1924 White Plains city directory: Astor B Bowser, clerk, at 17 Mott. And in the 1925 New York state census of White Plains, Westchester County: bank messenger Astor Bowser, 28, wife Deloris, 24, daughter Sarah, 2, and Lettia Bowser, 49, a widow. In the 1926 and 1928 city directories of White Plains, Astor is listed as a porter living at 7 Mott Street. But Astor B. Bowser Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, in May 1928.

In the 1930 census, Astor B. Bowser, 32, Delores, 29, and their children, Astor B., Jr., 1, and Sarah, 6, are listed in Chicago, Illinois, at 4905 Vincennes, where they were lodgers. Astor worked as an artist in his own studio and Deloris as a saleslady in a millinery.

In 1942, Astor registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 29 September 1896 in Wilson, North Carolina; resided at 4905 Vincennes, Chicago; was married to Delores Bowser; and worked for the Fannie May Candy Company.

Astor died in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 1981.

Was Astor really then a dentist?

A brief entry in an industry journal may clear up the matter:

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The Dental Cosmos: a Monthly Record of Dental Science, Edward C. Kirk, ed. (1917).

In fact, it was Astor’s elder brother Russell L. Bowser who attended dental school, graduating from Howard in June 1917. The same month, he registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card: Russell Linwood Bowser was born 5 March 1891 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 416 Oakdale Place, Washington, D.C.; was single; worked as a dental surgeon in Washington; was tall, medium build, with brown eyes and black hair; and had “defective eyesight and a weak heart.”

In the 1920 census of Chicago, Illinois: North Carolina-born Dr. Linwood Bowser, 28, dentist, was a lodger on Evans Avenue.

In 1942, Russell Linwood Bowser registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card: he was born 5 March 1891 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 5634 South Parkway, Chicago (telephone number Went 2910); listed as a close contact Mr. A.B. Bowser, 4905 Vincennes Avenue, Chicago; and worked in the Central Investigating Unit, Federal Security Agency, Public Health Service, 54 West Hubbard Street, Chicago.

Per the Cook County, Illinois, Death Index, Russell L. Bowser died 2 December 1951.

Establishing a graded school.

From “The Graded School Bill: An Act to Establish a Graded School in Wilson township, Wilson County,” as published in the Wilson Advance. The North Carolina legislature ratified the bill on 27 February 1883.

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Wilson Advance, 23 March 1883.

  • E.C. Simms. Edward Cicero Simms was a teacher. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher Edward C. Simms, 23, wife Nicy, 26, and son Edward, 7 months. By 1891, the Simms family had moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where Edward is listed in the city directory. By 1897, Edward was an ordained A.M.E. Zion minister, as shown in this 9 May 1897 edition of the Norfolk Virginian:

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  • G.A. Farmer. Probably, Gray Farmer, a carpenter and constable.
  • Peter Rountree was a shoemaker.
  • Charles Battle was a blacksmith.
  • Jerry Washington. Jeremiah Washington was a blacksmith. His daughter Annie Maria married Samuel H. Vick.
  • C.M. Jones
  • Daniel Vick, carpenter, farmer and politician, was the father of Samuel H. Vick.
  • Samuel Williams was a baker, then grocer. In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: baker Samuel Williams, 30, with carpenter Daniel Vick, 25, wife Fanny, 24, and children Samuel, 8, Earnest, 3, Netta M., 5, and Violet Drake, 52. On 24 September 1870, Samuel Williams, parents unknown, married Ann Scarbro, daughter of Jack and Zaly Adams, in Wilson. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Samuel Williams, 38, wife Ann, 47, and daughter Anna, 9. In the 1900 census, grocer Samuel Williams, 58, with lodgers William Jackson, 36, and William Allen, 25, both tobacco graders.
  • C.H. Darden. Charles H. Darden was a blacksmith and, later, undertaker. In 1938, Wilson’s high school for African-American children would be named for Darden.

Visitations, no. 1.

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New York Age, 30 April 1914.

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New York Age, 1 October 1927.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 6 January 1934.

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New York Age, 5 September 1936.

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New York Age, 31 August 1946.

  • W.H. Lytle and Weslow Lytle
  • Mabel E. Roundtree — In the 1920 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: on Old Stantonsburg Road, farmer Jack Rountree, 57, wife Lucile, 47, and children Julius, 24, Julius’ wife Leda, 23, John Henry, 17, Jessie, 16, Mabel, 14, and Ola May Rountree, 10, and Cora Farmer, 19.

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New York Age, 12 July 1919.

  • Mrs. Levy Arrington — In the 1930 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Reid Street, carpenter Levi Arrington, 38, wife Rosa, 40, daughter Zelma, 16, and lodger Nelly Sharp, 20, a cook. Rosa Arrington died 11 June 1964 in Wilson. Her death certificate reports that she was born in Nash County on 2 May 1887 to Amie Salvage.
  • Gilda A. Whitley
  • Emma Williams
  • Mrs. Georgianna Artis — Nathan Artis married George Anna Fort on 8 January 1929 in Wayne County. In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: laborer Nathan Artis, 39, wife Georgiana, 37, and children Bertha Lee, 17, Virginia, 14, and Minnie Louise, 7. Georgianna O. Artis died 14 October 1949 in Stantonsburg. Her death certificate reports that she was born 16 June 1903 in Wayne County to James Ford [Forte] and Mary Coley.

Wilson news.

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New York Age, 9 September 1922.

  • Mrs. Jasper Coley —  Laura (or Laurena) V. Coley, daughter of Isaac and Penny Coley, married Jasper Allison Coley on 6 June 1912 in Wayne County. A native of Pikeville, Wayne County, like her husband, Laura died 12 May 1923. She was a teacher. Jasper Coley was the son of Phillip R. and Annie Exum Coley. He is listed in Wilson city directories in the early 1920s as a carpenter, a plasterer and a bricklayer, and lived at 401 North Vick Street.
  • Mrs. William Hines — Ethel Cornwell Hines (1894-1983) was a South Carolina native.
  • Roberta Battle, Glace Battle, Georgia Burks and Henrietta Colvert
  • Mrs. B.P. Coward — Sarah Adelaide Brown Coward (1867-1946) was the wife of A.M.E. Zion minister Bryant Pugh Coward.
  • Mrs. Stattie Cannon — In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charles Cannon, 35, barber in a “white shop”; wife Statie, 34; and children Charles, 11, Ruth, 9, and Statie Benton, 13. In the 1922 Wilson city directory, Stattie Cannon is listed as a dressmaker and Charles Cannon as a carpenter; both resided at 724 East Green Street. In the 1940 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: Charles Cannon, 44, mother Stattie Cannon, 65, brother-in-law Fred Langford, 29, and sister Ruth Langford, 33. All were born in North Carolina and described as “white.”
  • A.N. Darden — Arthur N. Darden (1889-1948) was a son of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden and worked in his father’s undertaking business.
  • John Clark
  • Mrs. C.L. Darden — Norma Duncan Darden (1895-1987), a native of Montgomery, Alabama, was married to Arthur Darden’s brother, Camillus L. Darden.
  • Rev. A.H. George
  • Mrs. S.L. Bowser — Burt Bowser, born in Halifax County, married Sarah Rountree, daughter of Peter and Lucinda Rountree, on 4 December 1888 in Wilson. Reddin S. Wilkins, A.J. Lindsay and James W. Parrington were witnesses to the ceremony. In the 1900 census, Burt L. Bowser is described as a bar tender and in 1910 as the conductor of a pool room. Sarah is described as a dressmaker. Burt Landers Bowser died in 1920; Sarah Bowser, in 1935.
  • John Spells — In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pender Street, carpenter John E. Spell, 50, wife Martha A., 39, and son John E., Jr., 16. (John’s death certificate lists his middle name as Stephen.) Martha A. Spell, a native of Guilford County, died in Wilson in 1966.
  • Wesley Rogers — Per the city directory, in 1922, John Wesley Rogers lived at 548 East Nash Street and worked as a porter at Oettinger’s department store. His wife,  a native of Johnston County, was Mary Elizabeth Thomas Rogers (1878-1950). Rogers was born in Durham County in 1870 and died in Wilson in 1951.
  • Deby Harper — Deborah Harper Swindell () was the daughter of Argent Harper. She was briefly married to Louis Swindell.
  • Dr. DuBissette
  • Dr. and Mrs. J.B. Darden — Pharmacist James Benjamin Darden was a brother of Arthur and Camillus Darden. After a brief partnership with his brother John W. Darden, a doctor in Opelika, Alabama, he settled in Petersburg, Virginia.
  • Mrs. A.B. Bowser — Astor Burt Bowser, born 1896, was a son of Burt L. and Sarah L. Bowser, above. He married Deloris Harvey of Alamance County on 17 August 1921 in Wilson. Rev. B.P. Coward officiated. In the 1930 census, the couple and their children, Astor B., Jr., and Sarah, are listed in Chicago, Illinois. Astor worked as an artist in his own studio and Deloris as a saleslady in a millinery. Astor died in Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 1981.

On Christmas mornin’ we serenaded de master’s family.

HENRY ROUNTREE

Henry Rountree, 103 years old, of near Newsom’s Store in Wilson County.

“I wus borned an’ bred in Wilson County on de plantation of Mr. Dock Rountree. I wus named fer his oldest son, young Marse Henry. My mammy, Adell, my pappy, Shark, an’ my ten brothers an’ sisters lived dar, an’ aldo’ we works middlin’ hard we has de grandes’ times ever.

“We has two er three corn shuckings ever’ fall, we has wood splittin’ days an’ invite de neighbors in de winter time. De wimmen has quiltin’s an’ dat night we has a dance. In de col’ winter time when we’d have hog killin’s we’d invite de neighbors case dar wus a hundret er two hogs ter kill ‘fore we quit. Yes, mam, dem wus de days when folkses, white an’ black, worked tergether.

“Dar wus Candy pullin’s when we makes de ‘lasses an’ at Christmas time an’ on New Year’s Eve we has a all night dance. On Christmas mornin’ we serenaded de marster’s family an’ dey gived us fruits, candy an’ clothes.

“My marster had game cocks what he put up to fight an’ dey wus valuable. When I wus a little feller he had one rooster that ‘ud whup me ever’ time I got close ter him, he’d whup young Marse Henry too, so both of us hated him.

“One day we set down wid bruised backs ter decide how ter git rid of dat ole rooster, not thinkin’ ‘bout how much he cost. We made our plans, an’ atter gittin’ a stick apiece ready we starts drappin’ a line of corn to de ole well out in de barnyard. De pesky varmint follers de corn an’ when he gits on de brink of de well we lets him have it wid de sticks an’ pretty shortly he am drownded. Marse ain’t never knowed it nother.

“De missus had a ole parrot what had once ‘longed ter her brother who wus a sea captain. Dat wus de cussingest thing I ever seed an’ he’d Cuss ever’body an’ ever’thing. One day two neighborhood men wus passing when dey heard somebody ‘holler “Wait a minute.” Then dey turns ‘roun’ de ole parrot sez, “Go on now, I jist wanted ter see how you looks, Great God what ugly men!” ‘An’ de ole thing laughs fit ter bust.

“Dat ole parrot got de slaves in a heap of trouble so de day when de hawk caught him we was tickled pink. The hawk sailed off wid de parrot screamin’ over an’ over, “Pore polly’s ridin’. We laughed too quick case de hawk am skeerd an’ turns de ole fool parrot loose.”

“De war comes on an’ as de niggers l’arns dat dey am free dar am much shoutin’ an rejoicin’ on other plantations, but dar ain’t nothin’ but sorrow on ours, case de marster sez dat he always give us ever’thing dat we needs ter make us happy but he be drat iffen he is gwine ter give us money ter flingaway. So we all has ter go.

“Ole marster doan live long atter de war am over, but till de day dat he wus buried we all done anything he ax us.

“I has done mostly farm work all of my life, an’ work aroun’ de house. Fer years an’ years I lives on a part of Marse’s land an’ atter dat I lives here I ain’t got no kick comin’ ’bout nothin’ ‘cept dat I wants my ole age pension, I does, an’ I’d like to say too, Miss, dat de niggers ‘ud be better off in slavery. I ain’t seed no happy niggers since dem fool Yankees come along.

— From Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States From Interviews with Former Slaves, Works Progress Administration (1941).

 

 

The poor house.

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In 1880, seven of the 22 paupers living in Wilson County’s poorhouse were African-American — Cary Williams, 65; Sampson Odam (“sore leg”), 89; David Rountree, 75; Mary Applewhite, 50; Mourning Privett, 52; Sallie Selby, 54; and Doublin Short, 75. Rountree appears in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, as a 67 year-old farm laborer living alone. The others’ whereabouts in 1870 are unclear.