Sharp

The death of George Sharp.

George Sharp, a 17 year-old boy with intellectual disabilities, died after being struck by train in Wilson in June 1913. I have not been able to discover more about the incident.

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In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Daniel Sharp, 58; wife Lucindy, 25; and sons Joseph L., 6, George W., 4, and James H., 2.

Reunions.

A quick chart I drew up.

Among the most rewarding aspects of researching for Black Wide-Awake are discovering, uncovering, and recovering lost family connections, both my own and others’. I was particularly excited to piece together the Taylor family puzzle, which linked three of my childhood friends. Wilson County is small enough that it’s not surprising that many of us share distant common ancestry, but just who those long-lost cousins are can be surprising indeed.

State vs. Daniel Sharp Jr.

In August 1911, a justice of the peace charged Daniel Sharp Jr. with assault with a deadly weapon for an alleged attack upon Louis Hagans. The charge was based on eyewitness testimony by Rufus Edmundson and Charlie Dawes. Per Edmundson, Sharp shot a pistol at Hagans at New Hope Church. (This, presumably, was New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, located then as now on N.C. Highway 58 just north of Wilson.)

  • Daniel Sharp Jr.
  • Louis Hagans — there were several Louis (or Lewis) Hagans in Wilson County around this time, and it’s not clear which this was.
  • Rufus Edmundson
  • Charlie Dawes

Criminal Action Papers, 1911, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

State vs. Daniel Sharp.

To stave off responsibility for caring for poor women and their children, unwed mothers were regularly brought before justices of the peace to answer sharp questions about their circumstances. 

On 29 March 1866, Nancy Williford admitted to Wilson County justice of the peace William D. Farmer that she was a single woman, that she was pregnant, and that Daniel Sharp was the child’s father. Farmer ordered that Sharp be arrested and taken to a justice to answer Williford’s charge.

Two years later, Williford, who was white, and Sharp, who was Black, were charged with adultery and fornication. By then they had had two children together, John B. Williford, born about 1866, and Mary E. Williford, born about 1867.

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In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Williford, 46; [second] wife Nancy, 26; and children Mary A., 18, John T., 16, Nancy T., 14, Caroline, 11, Arabella, 5, Elijah A., 4, and James C., 1. 

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 34, and children John B., 3, and Mary E., 2. All were described as white. [I initially assumed that this Nancy was James G. Williford’s daughter. However, her age as listed in the 1870 and 1880 censuses is more consistent with that of Williford’s wife Nancy Mears Williford. Williford died in 1861. His and Nancy’s son Elijah Elbert is listed in the 1870 census as Bertie Williford, 14 year-old apprentice to Hickman Barnes, and daughter “Arvilla” is listed in the household of her half-brother William Williford. Did Nancy lose custody of her children as a result of her relationship with Daniel Sharp?]

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benjamin Tillery, 27; wife Cherry; and daughter Jane, 3; Lucy Taylor, 23, and son Columbus, 8 months; and Daniel Sharp, 26, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 42, and children John, 13, farm laborer, and Mary E., 12. Here, Nancy’s children were described as mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 40, farmer.

Mary Williford, 18, daughter of Nancy Williford, and Lorenzo Barnes, 22, son of William and Sarah Barnes, obtained (but did not return) a marriage license in Wilson County on 15 April 1891.

On 20 February 1895, John Williford, 28, married Mary Ella Barnes, 21, in Toisnot township. G.A. Gaston, J.C. Ellis and Buck Dew witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: widower John Williford, 34, farmer; daughter Mary B., 4; and boarder Sammie Barnes. 19.

On 29 October 1893, Daniel Sharp, 52, of Toisnot, married Cynda Parker, 19, of Toisnot, in the presence of John Williford, Mose Parker and Jason Barnes.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 58, farmer; wife Lucinda, 25; and children Joseph, 6, George W., 4, and James H., 2.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Renza Barnes, 26; wife Mary, 32; daughters Nanny, 11, and Minnie, 8; and niece Bertha Williford, 4.

On 19 December 1900, John Williford, 34, son of Dan Sharp, married Lena Locust, 19, daughter of Elbert and Rose Locust, in Elm City in the presence of J.C. Ellis, Lucian Norfleet, Willie Locus, and George Braswell.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: John Williford, 43; wife Lena, 28; and children Bertha, 14, Beatrice, 7, John L., 6, Edward, 4, Arnold, 2, and Odell, 2 months.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: well digger John Williford, 53; wife Lena, 38; and children John, 15, Edwin, 13, Arnel, 12, Frank, 8, and Inez, 17 months.

In the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township: John Gaston, 48, brickmason; wife Nannie, 41; daughters Pricilla, 21, and Minnie, 18; plus mother-in-law Mary Barnes, 62.

Mary [Williford] Barnes died 6 April 1949 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 May 1868 in Wilson County to unknown parents and was a widow. Nannie Gaston was informant.

Bastardy Bonds, 1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Lord, I am saved.

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Monroe (La.) News Star, 27 September 1930.

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Statesville Record & Landmark, 29 September 1930.

Randall and Bynum were granted last-minute reprieves after Sharp and Richardson asserted that the men had not been involved in the death of Williford.

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  • Aaron Sharp — in the 1910 census of Wilbanks, Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Daniel Sharp, 46; wife Hattie, 38; and sons Daniel, 19, Edmond, 14, Ben, 12, Henry, 5, and Aaron, 2.  In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Daniel Sharp, 54; sons Daniel, 28, Henry, 6, and Aaron, 12; daughter-in-law Lizzie, 23; and mother Harriet, 80. Aaron Sharp died 26 September 1930 in State Prison, Raleigh, as a result of “legal electrocution.” Per his death certificate he was 22 years old; was born in Wilson County to Daniel and Hattie Sharp; was single and had worked as a farmer. His remains were removed to Duke University [presumably, for use in the newly opened Duke University School of Medicine.]
  • Berry Richardson — Berry Richardson died 26 September 1930 in State Prison, Raleigh, as a result of “legal electrocution.” Per his death certificate he was 20 years old; was born in Robeson County to Emma Hamilton; was single and had worked as a farmer. His remains were removed to Fairmont, North Carolina.
  • William Randall — possibly, in the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Charlie Randall, 48; wife Mary, 42; and children Minnie, 21, Blossie, 20, Elijah, 19, William, 18, Nathan, 16, Mary, 15, Joseph, 14, Katie, 13, Sam, 12, Charlie, 10, John, 9, and Cora, 8.
  • Wright Bynum

State v. Daniel Sharp and Nancy Williford.

At April Term 1868 of Wilson County’s Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a grand jury charged Daniel Sharp and Nancy Williford, both of Wilson County, “being lewd and vicious persons not united together in the bonds of marriage” before and after 1 April 1868 “unlawfully lewdly and lasciviously associate bed and cohabit together … to the evil example of all others.”  Willie G. Dixon, Patience Barnes, Abel Taylor, Henry Taylor, Drew Barnes, John B. Batts and Henry Dixon were subpoenaed as witnesses, and the jury foreman returned a true bill to the clerk of court.

Daniel Sharp was African American; Nancy Williford, white. The charge against them was fornication and adultery. As best I can determine, of the six witnesses called to testify before the grand jury, Abel Taylor, Patience Barnes, and, probably, Drew Barnes were black. No records of their testimony are included in the file in which the document above was found. Records show that Sharp and Williford had at least two children together, John B., born in 1867, and Mary E., born in 1868.

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In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer James G. Williford, 46; [second] wife Nancy, 26; and children Mary A., 18, John T., 16, Nancy T., 14, Caroline, 11, Arabella, 5, Elijah A., 4, and James C., 1. [James Williford’s step-mother was Elizabeth Taylor Sharpe Williford. Did Elizabeth bring Daniel into the Williford household?]

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 34, and children John B., 3, and Mary E., 2. All were described as white. [I initially assumed that this Nancy was James G. Williford’s daughter. However, her age as listed in the 1870 and 1880 censuses is more consistent with that of Williford’s wife Nancy Mears Williford. Williford died in 1861. His and Nancy’s son Elijah Elbert is listed in the 1870 census as Bertie Williford, 14 year-old apprentice to Hickman Barnes, and daughter “Arvilla” is listed in the household of her half-brother William Williford. Did Nancy lose custody of her children as a result of her relationship with Daniel Sharp?]

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benjamin Tillery, 27; wife Cherry; and daughter Jane, 3; Lucy Taylor, 23, and son Columbus, 8 months; and Daniel Sharp, 26, farm laborer.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jason Barnes, 26; wife Patience Barnes, 24; Lucy Barnes, 20, farm laborer; Exie Barnes, 1 month; and William Battle, 20, farm laborer.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Virginia-born farm laborer Abel Farmer, 57; wife Viney, 45, farm laborer; and children William, 9, Elvey, 5, David, 7, and Georgiana, 17, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Nancy Williford, 42, and children John, 13, farm laborer, and Mary E., 12. Here, Nancy’s children were described as mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 40, farmer.

Mary Williford, 18, daughter of Nancy Williford, and Lorenzo Barnes, 22, son of William and Sarah Barnes, obtained (but did not return) a marriage license in Wilson County on 15 April 1891.

On 20 February 1895, John Williford, 28, married Mary Ella Barnes, 21, in Toisnot township. G.A. Gaston, J.C. Ellis and Buck Dew witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: widower John Williford, 34, farmer; daughter Mary B., 4; and boarder Sammie Barnes. 19.

On 29 October 1893, Daniel Sharp, 52, of Toisnot, married Cynda Parker, 19, of Toisnot, in the presence of John Williford, Mose Parker and Jason Barnes.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Daniel Sharp, 58, farmer; wife Lucinda, 25; and children Joseph, 6, George W., 4, and James H., 2.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Renza Barnes, 26; wife Mary, 32; and Nanny, 11, and Minnie, 8; and niece Bertha Williford, 4.

On 19 December 1900, John Williford, 34, son of Dan Sharp, married Lena Locust, 19, daughter of Elbert and Rose Locust, in Elm City in the presence of J.C. Ellis, Lucian Norfleet, Willie Locus, and George Braswell.

On 22 January 1908, John Gaston, 25, son of George and P[riscilla]. Gaston, married Nannie Barnes, 19, daughter of Rezo and Mary Barnes, at First Presbyterian Church in Elm City. Rev. C.E. Tucker performed the ceremony in the presence of James G. Mitchell, G.C. Cowell, and Oliver N. Freeman.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: John Williford, 43; wife Lena, 28; and children Bertha, 14, Beatrice, 7, John L., 6, Edward, 4, Arnold, 2, and Odell, 2 months.

James Hardy Williford died 11 November 1914 in Toisnot township. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 October 1914 to John Williford and Lena Lucas.

Willis Albert Williford died 1 November 1915 in Elm City. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 September 1915 in Elm City to John Williford and Lena Lucas.

On 17 June 1917, Bertha Williford, 22, of Toisnot, daughter of John and Lena Williford, married Paul Kelly, 21, of Toisnot, son of John and Charlotte Kelly. Missionary Baptist minister E.S. Lucas performed the ceremony at his home.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: well digger John Williford, 53; wife Lena, 38; and children John, 15, Edwin, 13, Arnel, 12, Frank, 8, and Inez, 17 months.

Mary Williford died 30 June 1920 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 March 1920 in Elm City to John Williford and Lena Lucas.

In the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township: John Gaston, 48, brickmason; wife Nannie, 41; daughters Pricilla, 21, and Minnie, 18; plus mother-in-law Mary Barnes, 62.

Mary [Williford] Barnes died 6 April 1949 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 May 1868 in Wilson County to unknown parents and was a widow. Nannie Gaston was informant.

Adultery Records-1868, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The estate of Wilson Sharpe.

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Wilson Sharpe died without a will in late 1900, and the Court appointed Samuel H. Vick and Braswell R. Winstead to assist as commissioners in the handling of his estate.

Sharpe’s sole heir was his widow Cherry Sharpe, who was entitled to an immediate portion of his assets for her support. There was not much; she received an old buggy and harness, an old gun, some cart wheels, and pile of old tools. This being insufficient, on 15 January 1901 the commissioners reclaimed property that T.R. Lamm had taken, presumably to settle a debt — a forty-dollar mule, eight hogs, and $25 worth of corn and fodder.

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In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farm laborer Wilson Sharp,42, and wife Cherry, 27.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Wilson Sharp, 52; wife Cherry, 45; nephew Jerry Bynum, 6; and James Mitchel, 47, with wife Rosa, 33, and son James G., 11.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Wilson Sharp, 65; wife Cherry, 40; and children Willie, 16, Eva, 9, and Besse, 2 months. [These were likely foster children.]

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tilman’s Road, widowed farm laborer Cherry Sharp, 65, living alone.

Images of estate documents available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Snaps, no. 46: James Sharpe.

James Sharpe (1872-1961).

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Oren Sharp, 26; wife Debby, 25; and children Lary J., 2, Thomas, 4 months, and James, 8. [The order of listing of the children suggests that James was Debby’s son and Orren’s stepson.]

On 18 May 1892, James Sharp, 19, married Annie Gear, 15, both of Gardners township, in Gardners township.

On 24 November 1897, Jim Sharp, 24, son of Bill Thomas and Deby Sharp, married Bettie Bullock, 21, daughter of Josh Batts and Harriett Bullock (resident of Arkansas), both of Gardners, at the house of Lottie Bullock, Gardners township.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer James Sharpe, 28; wife Bettie, 25; and children Sarah, 7, Minnie, 4, Sonnie, 2, and Yetta, 7 months.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on the Plank Road, farmer Jim Sharp, 38; wife Bettie, 35; and children Sarah, 15, Sunny, 13, Etta, 12, Mary, 10, Mahala, 9, Jimmie, 7, Della, 5, Bettie, 3, and Annie, 2.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on the Tarboro Road, farmer James Sharp, 47; wife Bettie, 40; and children Sonnie, 21, Effie, 18, Mahaly, 17, Jimmie, 15, Dolena, 14, Annie, 13, Bettie, 12, and Willie, 7.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jim Sharp, 57; wife Bettie, 52; children Sunny, 30; Bettie M., 18, and Willie, 15.

Darlena Hillard died 9 June 1934 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 27 years old; was married; and was born in Wilson County to Jim Sharp and Bettie Bullock.

Bettie Sharpe died 17 July 1935 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 60 years old; married to James Sharpe; and was born in Edgecombe County to Joshua Batts of Wilson and Tillie Faison of Faison, N.C.

Sunny Sharp died 31 October 1937 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, married to Lizzie Sharpe; was 40 years old; was a farmer; was born in Wilson County to Jim Sharpe and Bettie Bullock. Informant was Effie Ruffin of Wilson.

Etta Braswell died 26 March 1939 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was about 40 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jim Sharp and Bettie Batts; was married to Frank Braswell; and was engaged in farming.

Annie Lee Batts died 5 November 1961 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 June 1921 [sic] in Wilson County to James Sharpe and Bettie E. Batts and was married to Josh Batts.

James Sharpe died 20 October 1970 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 February 1906 to James Sharpe Sr. and Betty Elizabeth Bullock; was married to Ruth Tilman; resided in Elm City; and was a farmer.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user GeraldNelson31. Per his family tree, James Sharpe died in 1961. I have not found a death certificate.

Studio shots, no. 72: Virginia Sharp Pendergrass.

Virginia Sharp Pendergrass (1915-1948).

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 417 Railroad Street, widowed tobacco factory worker Mary Watson, 36, and children Willie, 12, Virginia, 6, Charlie, 4, and Martha, 16.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1113 Woodard Street, tobacco factory stemmer Mary Watson 34, divorced; with children Willie, 18, tobacco factory laborer, Virginia, 17, Charlie, 14, and granddaughter Dorothy, 22 months.

On 17 February 1934, Virginia Watson, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Herbert Watson and Mary Pool, married Leland Pendergrass, 24, of Lake City, South Carolina, son of Rodis Pendergrass and Ella Fulton, in Greensville County, Virginia.

In the 1940 census of Sharpsburg, Rocky Mount township, Nash County: on ACL railroad, Leland Pendergrass, 24, section laborer for railroad company; wife Virginia, 27, hand stemmer at tobacco factory; and children Dorothy, 11, and Robert, 2.

In 1940, Leland Pendergrass registered for the World War II draft in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 127 March 1905 in Kingstree, South Carolina; was married to Virginia Pendergrass; lived in Sharpsburg; and worked at the Atlantic Coastline Shops, Sharpsburg.

Virginia Sharp Pendergrass died 5 November 1948 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 June 1915 in Wilson to Walter Sharp and Mary Poole of Wilson County; was married to Leland Pendergrass; and was buried in Rountree cemetery, Wilson.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user scottywms60.