Mark Sharpe, “one of the county’s most industrious Negro farmers,” with some of his young hogs. Sharp bought his 53-acre farm near Wilbanks through a Farm Security Administration program. Wilson Daily Times, 20 August 1943.
Monroe (La.) News Star, 27 September 1930.
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.
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like thousands of North Carolinians, Harry and Pet Sharp left Wilson County for better opportunities. However, unlike most African-American migrants, they headed south. A clue to their unusual movement is found in the 1900 census of Tatnall County, in which Harry’s occupation was listed as woods rider. A woods rider was a foreman on horseback who oversaw the rough labors of the turpentine workers moving on foot through brutally hot, rattlesnake-infested forests, “dipping” pine gum. With eastern North Carolina’s longleaf pines bled to ruin, its large and lucrative naval stores industry shifted southward to Georgia and Florida, with displaced workers in its wake. The Sharps were among them.
This Sharp family portrait was probably taken about 1900 in Georgia.
In the 1870 census of Otter Creek, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: Gustin Sharp, 51, wife Bithy, 54, and children Lisha, 16, Harry 12, and Amanda, 10.
In the 1880 census of Auters Creek, Edgecombe County: Gustin Sharp, 63, wife Bythy, 65, and children or grandchildren Sarah, 18, Harry, 23, and Green, 15.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Nelson Farmer, 30, wife Rose, 45, children Pett, 10, and Luke, 6, nieces Jimmie Ann, 14, and Lou, 10, and Rose’s children Daniel, 21, Lear, 18, and Jef, 16.
On 30 January 1889, H.H. Sharp, 31, of Wilson, married Pett Farmer, 19, of Wilson, at G.S Sharp’s in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister J.T.Clark performed the ceremony before B.R. Winstead, William Connor and John Hardy.
In the 1900 census of Lyons, Tattnall County, Georgia: woods rider Harry Sharpe, 38, wife Pet, 30, and children Rena, 10, Lela, 8, Jessie, 5, Menar, 5, Cora, 2, and Mittie, 5 months. Rena was born in North Carolina; the remaining children in Georgia.
In the 1910 census of Toombs County, Georgia: farmer Harry H. Sharpe, 53, wife Pet, 40, and children Rena, 21, Jessie, 17, Mena, 13, Cora, 12, James, 9, David, 8, Harry, 6, Green, 4, and Caesar, 2 months.
Harry Sharp died in 1917, and Pet Farmer Sharp died in 1945, both in Toombs County, Georgia.
Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user lavoniarcarter.