Saratoga township

A pistol duel.

Kinston Daily Free Press, 27 December 1918.

Sherman Bridgers, 21, married Susan Moore, 19, on 25 March 1903 in Saratoga township, Wilson County.

Jesse Price, 23, of Stantonsburg, son of William and Susan Price of Nash County, married Hattie Barnes, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Nelson and Ellen Barnes, on 26 December 1906. Nathan, Sidney and Mittie Locust were witnesses to the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: odd jobs ditcher Sherman Bridgers, 28; wife Susan, 26; and children Rosa L., 6, Willie, 4, Georgiana, 2, and Nathan, 2 months.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: odd jobs farm laborer Jesse Price, 24, and wife Hattie, 23, and lodger John Floyd, 34, a widower and farm laborer.

On 12 September 1918, Gen. Sherman Bridgers registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 19 March 1882; lived on route 4, Wilson; farmed for I.M. Washington;  and his nearest relative was Willie Bridgers.

The James and Addie Barnes Artis family.

These photographs of James and Addie Barnes Artis and several of their children are drawn from a family history booklet, Our Heritage 1812-1996: Edwards, Evans, Woodard, published in 1996.

James A. Artis (1876-??), in the one-armed wicker chair at Picture-taking Barnes’ studio in Wilson.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Artis, 44; wife Jane, 42; and children Polian, 14, Mary J., 13, Dora, 12, Walter, 9, Joseph, 7, Corinna, 6, James, 4, and Charles, 6 months.

In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Artis, 65; wife Jane, 60; and children Dora, 31, Walter, 28, Joe, 26, Jimmie, 21, Charley, 20, Effie, 18, Fred, 15, and Jim, 15.

On 21 November 1900, James Artis, 22, son of Ned and Jane Artis, married Addie Barnes, 20, daughter of Isaac and Bettie Barnes, at the home of Parish Bynum in Saratoga. Walter Artis applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister E.P. Pearsall performed the ceremony in the presence of Dempsey Bullock, Andrew Sauls, and G.H. Moore.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer James Artis, 30; wife Addie, 28; and children Isaac, 9, Archie, 7, Thelonia, 5, Dorothy, 4, Gladys, 2, and an unnamed newborn daughter.

[Ned Artis died 21 November 1917 in Falkland township, Pitt County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born about 1838 to Arch and Rosa Artis in Wilson and was buried in Wilson County. Informant was Joe Artis, Falkland.]

In the 1920 census of Fountain township, Pitt County: farmer James Artis, 40, widower, and children Isah, 18, Archie, 16, Thelonia, 15, Dortha, 13, Virginia, 9, Saparrisa, 8, and Bettie Lee, 5.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Jim Artis, 52; wife Silva, 49; and children Dorthy, 19, Virgina, 18, Bettie L, 15, and Seph P., 17.


Addie Barnes Artis (1879-1917)

Isaac Barnes, 22, married Bettie Ellis, 21, on 11 January 1877 at Levi Valentine’s in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: laborer Isac Barnes, 26; wife Elizebeth, 24; and children Parish, 5, James, 2, and Addie, 8 months.

Addie Artis died 30 June 1917 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 June 1879 in Wilson County to Isaac Barnes and Bettie Ellis; was a tenant farmer; and was married. Informant was James A. Artis.


Isaac Amos Artis Sr. (1902-1973)

Isaac A. Artis, 32, of Pitt County, married Lillian Lee Daniels, 30, of Pitt County, on 1 April 1937 in Williamston, Martin County, North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Greenville, Pitt County: on Third Street, teachers I.A. Artis, 38, and wife Lillian L., 35; their daughter A.L., 2; and his sister Dorthy, 32.

In 1942, Isaac Amos Artis registered for the World War II draft in Greenville, Pitt County. Per his registration card, he was born 13 December 1902 in Wilson County; resided at 106 Tyson Street, Greenville; his contact was wife Lillian Lee Artis; and he was employed by Pitt County Board of Education.

Isaac A. Artis died 28 November 1973 in Greenville, Pitt County. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 September 1903 to James Artis and Addie (last name unknown); resided in Greenville; was married to Lillian Daniels; and was buried in Brownhill cemetery, Greenville.


Archie Charles Artis (circa 1904-1958)

In the 1930 census of Durham, Durham County, North Carolina: barber Archie Artis, 24, was listed as a boarder in the household of dentist Edward P. Norris.

In the 1940 census of Durham, Durham County, North Carolina: barber Archie C. Artis, 33, was listed as a lodger in the household of dentist Edward P. Norris.

In 1940, Archie Charles Artis registered for the World War II draft in Durham. Per his registration card, he was born 24 August 1906 in Fountain, North Carolina; resided at 607 Thomas Street, Durham; his contact was father James Artis, East Nash Street, Wilson; and he was self-employed at 711 Fayetteville Street, Durham.

On 19 December 1940, Archie Charles Artis, 34, of Durham County, married Evelyn Elma Bryant, 25, of Chatham County, in Oakland township, Chatham County, North Carolina.

Archie Charles Artis died 23 December 1959 in Durham. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 August 1906 in Wilson County to James Artis and Addie Bynum; was married to Evelyn Artis; taught at a barber college; was buried in Beechwood cemetery, Durham. Brother S.P. Artis was informant.


Thelonia “Theodore” Artis (ca 1907-??)



Dorothy Artis Hines (circa 1907-??)



Virginia B. Artis Jones (circa 1910-1959)

Virginia B. Artis Jones died 18 April 1959 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 August 1911 in Pitt County to James Artis and Addie Barnes; was married to Lee Jones; and worked as a beautician. She was buried at Rest Haven cemetery.


Separise “S.P.” Artis (1912-1998)

Grace Whitehead, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Henry and Victoria Whitehead, married Separise Artis, 25, of Wilson, son of James and Attie Artis, in Nashville, North Carolina, on 1 August 1938.

In 1940, Separise Artis registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 12 December 1912 in Wilson County; resided at 303 North Vick Street; his contact was wife Grace Emery Artis; and he was a self-employed barber.

Separise P. Artis died 13 December 1998 in Rocky Mount, Nash County.


Bettie Lee Artis (1913-1999)

Bettie Lee Artis died 16 February 1999 in Greenville, North Carolina.

Many thanks to B.J. Woodard for sharing this invaluable volume.

Studio shots, no. 12: John and Florence Miller Bynum family.


James, John Edward, Florence Roberta, and Johnny L. Bynum, circa 1924.

On 15 November 1914, John Bynum, 27, of Saratoga married Florence Miller, 19, of Saratoga in Stantonsburg township. Witnesses were Ora L. Barnes, Bert B. Person, and Anna S. Whitley, all of Stantonsburg township.

On 5 June 1917, John Bynum registered for the World War I draft at Saratoga precinct, Wilson County. Per his registration card: he was born 17 June 1888; worked as a farmer for L.P. Woodard; and had a wife and child. He was tall and of medium build, with dark brown eyes and black hair.

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Bynum, 30, wife Florance, 21, sons James, 3, and John, 7 months, and brother Walter Bynum, 24.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer John Bynum, 42, wife Florance, 32, and sons James, 13, Jonnie, 10, and Hollie, 5.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer John Bynum, 52, wife Florence, 45, and children James, 23, Johnie L., 20, Harley, 15, and Marguerite, 5, daughter-in-law Gladys, 22, and grandchildren James Jr., 2, and Geraldine, 10 months.

John Bynum died 23 June 1949 at his home at 1004 Robertson Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born 17 June 1887 in Wilson County to Abaraham Bynum and Jane Atkinson. Florence Bynum was informant.

Photograph courtesy of user copl01.

Free people of color, 1860: Saratoga district.

Free people of color enumerated in Wilson County’s first federal census, taken in 1860.

Saratoga district

#805. Jane Artis, 14, black, in the household of 28 year-old white farmer J.J. Lane.

#817. Henry Mitchell, 24, black, carpenter; Martha Mitchell, 18, mulatto; Olive Mitchell, 25, black; Mary Mitchell, 1, black; and Jesse Mitchell, 60, black, farm laborer. Henry owned $200 real property and $30 personal property.

#851. Eliza Sampson, 30, mulatto, cook, living with two white men, Streeter Dilda, 25, and Benj’n Baker, 20, both grog shop workers. Eliza reported $100 real property and $34 personal property.

#919. William, 15, Patrick, 14, Margaret, 13, Lou, 12, Balum, 11, and Eliza Hall, 45, all mulatto, in the household of James B. Peacock, 25.

#921. Samuel Hall, 13, mulatto, in the household of white farm laborer Noah Walker.

#940. Wyatt Lynch, 38, plasterer and brickmason, with wife Caroline, 23, and daughter Frances, 3. Wyatt reported owning $50 in personal property.

#942. Brickmason Etheldred Caraway, 29, black, with wife Susan, 25, and children Bunyan, 5, and Joseph, 3, all black. [This family’s last name actually was Carroll.] Etheldred reported $30 personal estate.

#954. James Jones, 51, day laborer, in the household of white merchant John Williamson, 41.

#959. Teamster Richard Simpson, 27, mulatto; wife Mariah, 19, mulatto, cook; and son John, 1 month, mulatto.

James Scarborough house.


The Major James Scarborough House is a historic plantation house located near Saratoga, Wilson [formerly Edgecombe] County, North Carolina. It was built about 1821 and is a two-story, five bay, Federal style frame dwelling with a rear shed addition and exterior end chimneys. It has a one-story rear kitchen wing connected by a breezeway. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The nomination form for the house notes that it is “probably the best preserved example of early nineteenth century architecture in Wilson County” and is “one of the most outstanding Federal houses extant” in the county.

As usual with Wilson County, the nomination form for the Scarborough house, though describing its builder as a “leading planter,” makes no mention of the men and women whose work sustained the place and produced its wealth.

Scarborough was born about 1748 in Southampton County, Virginia. His family migrated into the southern tip of Edgecombe by the late 1750s, and by 1778 Scarborough had secured the 365-acre parcel upon which he sited his home more than 30 years later. On 12 May 1835, James Scarborough, “being in a Low State of helth but in reasonable Since,” penned a will in which he left to wife Martha and daughter Zilly Scarborough, along with his home and other property, “A Parcel of Negros that is to say Name Aggy Simon Silvey Lemon Washington Sumter and Young Aggy and Haywood these Eight negros with the in Creas I lend them Jointly to Geather to my wife & daughter Zilly but by no means to be Hired out but to Remane on the Plantation to labour for them during their natural lifes after there deaths I give the afore said negros by name and their in Creas to my grandaughters & grandsons named Millicent Eason Elizabeth Eason Martha Eason and James S. Eason daughters & son of Joshua B. Eason to be Equelly divided between the above named grandchildren….” To his son John Scarborough: “I also gave him three Likely negros when he went a way and now I give him four more after my death there names is as follows Luke Gilford Orange and Willis the above negros is not to be carryed away without a Lawful authority or Either by himself or his Heirs or Executors….” (Scarborough seems to have taken pains to insure that his “negros” remained together on his land.) Another son, Isaac Scarborough, inherited the Scarborough house after his unmarried sister Zilly’s death, but he died before occupying it. As of the date of the Historic Register, an unbroken line of James Scarborough’s descendants had inhabited the house.

North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line],


The heritage of Theodore and Edith Barnes Ellis.

Benjamin Barnes was born about 1819, probably in southern Edgecombe County or northern Wayne County, areas that later became Wilson County. Circumstantial evidence, largely in the form of naming patterns and proximity, suggests that Benjamin had at least two brothers, Andrew Barnes, born perhaps 1815, and Redmond Barnes, born about 1823. On 21 April 1866, Benjamin Barnes and Violet Barnes, born about 1817, registered their cohabitation at the Wilson County Courthouse. Their registration did not list the length of their marriage during slavery. Ben and Violet’s only certain child was Calvin Barnes, born about 1836, though they probably had several more.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga, Wilson County, Violet is described as a midwife, and three young girls, Elvy (1859), Ailcy (1862) and Spicy (1863), live with her and Benjamin. Given Violet’s age, it seems likely that these are granddaughters. Violet Barnes died sometime before 13 November 1879, when Benjamin married Mary Bynum in Wilson County. [N.B.: The Benjamin Barnes, son of Isaac and Judia Bynum, who married Lucy Barnes in 1872 in Wilson County is a different man.] Benjamin and Mary’s appearance in the 1880 census of Saratoga is their first and last. Benjamin listed his father’s birthplace as Virginia, but provided no additional information. He died before 1900.

Benjamin and Violet’s son Calvin Barnes and Sealie [Celia] Barnes registered their five-year cohabitation in Wilson County on 17 July 1866. Celia’s parents are unknown. In the 1870 census of Saratoga, Wilson County, Calvin and family were living next door to his parents Benjamin and Violet. Calvin and Celia’s children were Benjamin (1864), Spicy (1865), Jesse (1866), and Peter (1869). Also in the household were 20 year-old Dora Ebon (Calvin or Celia’s sister?) and her likely children Louisa (1866) and Mary E. (1869).

In 1880, in Saratoga, Wilson County: Calvin headed a household that included wife Celie and children Peter, Drue, Redman, Lizzie B., and William. In 1900, the family was listed in Stantonsburg township. Calvin was farming, and Celie reported 10 of 13 children living. Only four — William, Mary S., Laura and Celie Barnes, plus Mary’s daughter Dora Barnes — were at home. Son Peter was nearby with his wife Jane and children John R., General, Annie and Sallie, as was son Redmond with wife Genett [Jennette] and their first child Dora. Celia died prior to 1909, when Calvin married Cherry Brown Tart. The marriage was her third, and the 1910 census found them living in the town of Wilson on Stantonsburg Street. Ten years later, they are living at 610 Stantonsburg Street and both employed were in a private home. Calvin Barnes died 21 February 1923 in Wilson.

Calvin and Celia’s son Redmond Barnes was born 3 May 1873 near Saratoga or Stantonsburg. In 1898, Redmond married Jennette Best on W.H. Applewhite’s farm, where the Barneses were either sharecroppers or tenant farmers. (Applewhite’s grandson, James, is a celebrated poet whose writing often draws on the world of his childhood in Wilson County.) Their children included Dora Barnes Weaver Ward (1899-1994), Fred Barnes (1901-1968), Mary Estelle Barnes (1903-1989), Minnie B. Barnes Barnes (1905-1985), Edith Bell Barnes Ellis (1907-1984), Betty Lee Barnes Bullock (1909-1992), Nora Lee Barnes (1911-2001), Alice Jennette Barnes Smith (1914-2011), Lula Mae Barnes Speight (1916-1996), Redmond Barnes Jr. (1918-1989), John Harvey Barnes (1920-1994), and Jennette Barnes, who died in infancy.


Rest Haven cemetery, 2014.

Jennette Best was born about 1880 near Stantonsburg. Her marriage licenses lists her parents as Sam Best and Edy Strickland. However, in the 1870 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County, “Edy Strickland” appears as Edith Winstead, age 10, in the household of Isaac Winstead, 52, and wife Jane, 35, whose other children were Robert, 7, Amanda, 3, and Aneliza, 1. The 1880 census of Stantonsburg, shows “Ada Best” in a household with her stepfather Isaac Winstead, mother Jane, half-siblings Manda, Ann, Charlie, Major, Lucy and Levi, brother Rob Farmer, and likely children Sam, 3, and Mary Best, 1. Sam Best is not listed in the county and may have died or have deserted his family just before Jenette was born. I have not found him in any census or vital record. Nor have I found any other mention of Edith Best or Strickland.

Redmond Barnes’ brother Peter Barnes (1869-?) married Jane Ruffin in 1891 in Wilson County. Their children included John Redmond (1892-1970), General (1895), Annie (1897), Sallie (1899), and Albert (1900-1924).

Redmond’s brother Andrew “Drew” Barnes (1871-1945) married Estella “Stella” Williams in 1892 in Wilson County. [Not to be confused with Andrew Barnes, son of Andrew and Amy Williford Barnes — possibly Calvin Barnes’ first cousin — who married Stella Battle in 1870.] Their children included John (1890), Wade (1894), Frank (1895), James (1897), Lula (1898), and Andrew Jr. (1900).

Redmond’s sister Elizabeth “Lizzie” or “Betty” Barnes (1873-?) married W.T. Sherrod Ellis, son of Reuben and Clarky Ellis. Their children: Willie (1892), Robert (1895), Mary E. (1896), Maggie D. (1899), Sallie (1900), Joseph (1904) and Mamie Ellis (1906).

Redmond’s sister Mollie Barnes married Floyd Ellis. Their children included Floyd Theodore (1907-1981), Columbus (1909), John Adam (1916-1965), Mary Rebeckah (1919) and Leathie Charlotte (1922).


Isom (or Isham) Ellis was born about 1807 in southern Edgecombe County. The will of William Ellis Sr., proved in Edgecombe in 1813, declared in part, “I leave unto my said wife Unity Ellis, the following negroes, To wit, Arthur, Jonas, Isom, Belford, Lisle, Pat, Mimah, Treasy & Hester.” It seems probable that this listing is a reference to Isom Ellis.

Unity Ellis died in 1817, before her husband’s estate settled. “Pursuant to the annexed order to us directed we the commis’rs met on the 19th March at the late dwelling house of William Ellis, dec’d, and thought proper to divide the negroes between the heirs instead of selling them, after [illegible]ing the negroes belonging to the Estate of said dec’d [Unity Ellis] a draw was made as followeth:

Screen Shot 2015-12-19 at 3.19.04 PM

Isom/Isham thus passed to Willie Ellis’ ownership in 1818, when he was about 11 years old. He appears to have remained with Willie until Emancipation.

On 24 July 1866, Isom Bynum and Patience Bynum registered their 40-year cohabitation in Wilson County. Several other men — Guilford, Robert, Jackson and Lewis — also registered as Bynums, but are listed with the surname Ellis in the 1870 census. For this and other reasons, including proximity and naming patterns, I believe these men were all sons, or close relatives, of Isom Ellis.

Lewis Ellis, born circa 1834, first married Dossie Best, by whom he had one son, John Ellis (1853). He then married Millie Thompson (1832-?), who gave birth to Daniel (1860-1938), Mary (1863), Adeline “Addie” (1865), Martha (1868), Cora (1870) and James Ellis (1874). Neither Lewis nor Millie appears in the 1900 census.

Lewis and Milly’s son Daniel Ellis first married Rosa Barnes, by whom he had a daughter, Lena (1890-1928). He then married Celia Lewis (1872-1912), daughter of Furney and Eliza Lewis on 29 August 1893 in Wilson County. Their children were William (1894), Maeliza (1897), Samson (1898-1918), Harry (1900-1988), Jackson (1901-1918), Robert (1904-1968), Louetta (1906), Orran (1910-1918) and Theodore Roosevelt Ellis (1912-1979). After Celia’s death in or just after childbirth, Daniel married Maggie Woodard in 1914. Their children were Mack (1916), John Henry (1919-1963), Mattie (1922) and Jem (1925). Daniel Ellis died 10 October 1938.


Top, Fannie Hardy Ward, Theodore R. Ellis and Edith Barnes Ellis. Bottom, Eloise Ward and T. Roosevelt Ellis Jr., probably near Stantonsburg, Wilson County, circa 1939.

Photo courtesy of Monica E. Barnes.

Report on Schools in Wilson County, North Carolina 1925-26.

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State assistant agent for Negro schools William F. Credle prepared this 1926 report on Wilson County’s Rosenwald schools. Yelverton School was in far eastern Wilson County, just northeast of Saratoga in the protruding corner formed by the boundaries with Edgecombe and Greene Counties. Evansdale, presumably, was in Evansdale community, a few miles northeast of Black Creek and north-northwest of Stantonsburg. New Vester, presumably, was at or near New Vester Missionary Baptist Church, northwest of Rock Ridge in the western part of the county. Saratoga and Stantonsburg Schools were located in their eponymous towns.

For a history of the establishment of Wilson County’s 14 Rosenwald schools and a comprehensive assessment of the two remaining, Sims and Yelverton, see this report.

Department of Public Instruction, Division of Negro Education, Correspondence of the Superintendent, Rosenwald Fund, State Archives of North Carolina [available at]

Five daughters, four days.

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Rocky Mount Herald, 1 March 1935.


In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Frank Speight, 50, wife Jeanetta, 30, children Freman, 17, Kenny, 16, Bessie, 14, Polena, 8, Curly, 9, Jennie, 5, and Rozetta, 2, plus nieces Hannah, 5, Ada, 2, and Sadie, 3 months.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga, township, Wilson County: Frank Speight, 58, wife Virginia, 45, and children (grandchildren? nieces/nephews?) Fremond, 25, Cullin, 19, Kennie, 23, Bessie, 22, Paulina, 18, Margerie, 14, Rosa, 12, Sadie, 10, Raymond, 5, Mamie, 5, Flora, 7, May B., 2, Maggie, 21, Hannah, 12, Fannie, 13, Jesse, 18, Adel, 7, and Elizabeth, 6, plus boarder Walter Bymon [Bynum], 45.

John Barnes, Garveyite.

JBarnesJOhn Barnes

The passport application of John Barnes of New York, New York, born in Wilson, North Carolina, seeking to travel with his wife Martha to travel to Liberia on the Black Star Line.

Here’s John in the 1900 census of Saratoga, Wilson County, with Allen and Calliann Barnes, and younger siblings Mary L., Dilla, Corinna, Willie and Bennie Barnes.

1900 John Barnes

“Calliann” may have been his stepmother, as Wilson County marriage records show that Allen Barnes, 22, married Caroline Best, 20, on 19 March 1885, when John was a little more than a year old.

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Martha Barnes was the daughter of Dan and Lishy Ann Bynum, as shown in her and John’s Wilson County marriage license:


The handwritten notes affixed to the center and top of the right-hand page of John’s application read: (1) This man intends to travel on a boat owned by Garvey. Probably is a member of Garvey U.N.I.A. He is a laborer and wishes to go to a country where there are 2 million natives with nothing to do. This Division hopes psp’t will be refused. J.W. (2) I should be glad to refuse this man a passport but I do not see how we can do it. WRC[illegible] (3) I concur with above. Nothing tanglible against him. P. Adams 7-14-21 (4) Mrs B[illegible] Please issue. We have nothing personally against this man. He is a laborer and probably too ignorant to cause any trouble. P. Adams, 7-14-21.

Passport Applications, January 2, 1906 – March 31, 1925, Roll # 1690, Volume # Roll 1690 – Certificates: 65250-65625, 14 Jul 1921-15 Jul 1921, National Archives and Records Administration.