802 Viola Street.

The one hundred twenty-eighth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1908; 1 story; L-plan cottage with turned-post porch and brackets.”

Jesse Ward registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1918. Per the registration card, he was born 15 June 1881; lived at 703 Viola Street; worked as a carpenter for Boyle-Roberson Construction, Newport News, Virginia; and his contact was Mary E. Ward

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 703 Viola Street [Wilson city house numbering was changed about 1921], house carpenter Jessie Ward, 36; wife Mary, 34; and children Mabel, 17, Gertrude, 12, Kerfus, 7, Malachi, 5, Dempsey, 3, Virginia, 2, and Sara, 1 month. 

Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1922.

Jessie Ward died 13 June 1923 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 38 years old; married to Mary Etta Ward; lived at 802 Viola Street; worked as a janitor and carpenter at graded school; and was born in Wilson County to Jessie Ward and Classy Burney.

Virginia Dare Ward died 15 June 1923 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 14 February 1919 in Wilson to Jessie Ward and Mary Sherrod and lived at 802 Viola. Like her father, she died of arsenic poisoning. 

Mary Etta Ward died 12 June 1925 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 41 years old; was the widow of Jessie Ward; lived at 802 Viola; was born in Wayne County to Dempsey Shearard and Harriet Hill; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Solomon Shearard. 

Wilson Daily Times, 4 August 1925.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hodges James (c; Gertrude) driver h 802 Viola; Hodges Joseph (c; Pearl) lab h 802 Viola

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 802 Viola, rents at $16/month, laundress Anna R. Parker, 65, widow; grandchildren Gurtrude, 7, Emma M., 5, Matthews, 4, and Dorthy, 2; and daughters Ellen Gay, 27, laundress, and Minnie Knight, 29.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Parker Minnie (c) lndrs h 802 Viola; Parker Roxie A (c) lndrs h 802 Viola

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 802 Viola Street, Solomon Shearard, 60; wife Josephine, 52; and children Flora, 15, Beulah, 13, Elmer, 11, and Solomon, 21; plus “son’s wife” Mildred, 18, and grandson Ernest E., 8 months. [Solomon Sherrod (also known as Shearard) was the brother of Mary Shearard Ward, above.]

In 1947, Elmer Lee Sherrod registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 30 March 1929 in Wilson County; lived at 802 East Viola; worked for BPOE Elks Home, East Nash Street, Wilson; and his contact was Solomon Sherrod, 802 East Viola.

Solomon Shearard died 6 February 1948 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 October 1878 in Wayne County, N.C., to Dempsey Shearard and Harriett Hill; was married to Josephine Shearard; lived at 802 East Viola Street; worked as a common laborer; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2020.

Scrapbook chronicles: the return.

I knew we were related somehow to the Sherrods, but I was in college before I figured out how. Of course, I then wanted to visit Josephine Artis Sherrod, who, it turned out, was both my great-great-grandmother’s half-sister and my great-great-grandfather’s niece. (Yes, it was complicated.) My father took me by the house on Viola Street one evening when I was home over the Christmas holidays. We knocked, the door opened, and I stared into baby-blue eyes set in a caramel-brown face. This was Solomon C. Sherrod Jr., who, though just a few years younger than my grandmother, was my great-grandfather’s first cousin. He ushered us into the front room, and I spent a delightful hour or so with Aunt Josephine.

I was in Wilson this past week. Before I left, I knocked on another door on Viola Street. Cousin Solomon’s youngest son answered, and I placed in his hands the scrapbook Rita Elsner found on a Maryland street three weeks ago. As promised, the Sherrod family’s legacy has returned home.

Here are more gems from Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook. If you can help me identify the men and women depicted, I’d be grateful.

Alliner and Henry Randall, probably not long after their marriage in 1946. They made their home in Durham, N.C.

Elmer Lee Sherrod (1929-2002), Josephine and Solomon Sherrod’s youngest son. On the reverse: “To Mr. & Mrs. Randall with Love, Elmer Sherrod, 1401 N. 18th St., Phila 21, Pa.”

Minnie Sherrod Parker (1916-1996). [Thank you, Barbara Williams Lewis!]

Studio portrait of unidentified young woman.

Alliner Randall (1908-1992) and dog.

Unidentified snapshot of older man and young girl. Is this Solomon Sherrod Sr. (ca.1880-1948)?

Betty Cooper Sherrod, who married Solomon Sherrod’s eldest son Earnest E. Sherrod. [Thank you, Bonita Sherrod!]

Scene at a graveside funeral service, possibly in the 1950s.

Solomon Sherrod Sr., probably 1940s. [Thank you, Bonita Sherrod!]

Scrapbook chronicles: the matriarch Josephine A. Sherrod.

Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook contained two photos of her mother, Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988). Though not taken on the same day, they were clearly taken within a short span of time and in the same place. They appear to date from the 1950s. (Was the occasion Mother’s Day? Her birthday? Both were in May.) I have not yet identified the two-story house in the background.

Handwritten in pencil on the back of this image: “To my baby, Love Mother.”

The suitcase held one photo album.

It was the afternoon on Sunday before I noticed the shared post in a Wayne County, North Carolina, Facebook group:

By then, there were thousands of comments and further shares to genealogy groups — did anyone know this family? could anyone help? The finder had attached several photos from the scrapbook, and I gasped. “Josephine” was Josephine Artis Sherrod, who was both my grandmother’s great-aunt and cousin, and who presided until nearly her 101st birthday over a block of Viola Street called Sherrod Village. “Allister” was Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall, her eldest daughter.

The next few hours were an anxious scramble to contact the finder. Finally, we connected through intermediaries and, long story short, Cousin Alliner’s scrapbook has begun its journey home. I plan to scan all its photos and documents, upload them to cloud storage so they’re available to all family members, and return the original items to one of Aunt Josephine Sherrod’s direct descendants in Wilson. (And, of course, share the highlights with you!)

Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988), probably 1950s.

My deep gratitude goes to Rita Elsner, who followed her gut to save these priceless documents and then to track down someone connected to them and preserve them from further damage by drying them carefully and placing them in archival sleeves. Her stewardship is exemplary.

She look at a hog.

My mother’s first job after she married and moved to Wilson was as a teacher at North Greene Elementary, a small segregated school fifteen miles southeast in tiny Walstonburg. She carpooled to and from Wilson with several other teachers who worked in Greene County, and in the spring of 1964 was pregnant with me, her firstborn. My mother generally rode in the backseat and, on this particular day, Dora Dickerson was back there with her. As they passed a farm, my mother, a city girl, exclaimed, “Ohhh! Look over there at those pigs!” Ms. Dickerson slapped her hand across my mother’s eyes. “Girl! Don’t look at that! You can’t look at pigs when you’re expecting!”

I have been hearing this story since I was a little girl, and my mother and I never fail to get a good laugh from it. The danger she faced, however, was real to many, as shown on this 1921 death certificate. Though baby John Moore was stillborn in Nahunta township, Wayne County, his parents James and Mamie Moore were from neighboring Wilson County. Midwife Cassie Exum Sherrod, who spent her life in Wayne and Wilson Counties in the Watery Branch area, attended the delivery. Though not a doctor, Sherrod completed the newborn’s Medical Certificate of Death. In her opinion, Mamie Moore’s own carelessness had caused her baby’s death: “She look at a hog an had not of look at him he might of been living to day.”

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“She look at a hog an had not of look at him he might of been living to day.”

Hat tip to Suzannah McCuen.

Josephine Artis Sherrod turns 100.


Wilson Daily Times, 18 May 1987.

Josephine Artis Sherrod, a sister of Cain Artis, William M. Artis, Walter S. Artis, Alberta Artis Cooper, Columbus E. Artis and June S. Artis, was matriarch of a tight-knit family centered on two blocks of Viola Street described within the family as Sherrod Village.

507 Church Street.

This heavily modified shotgun house on Church Street is not located in the East Wilson Historic District. Nor was its single block included in the Wilson Central Business-Tobacco Warehouse District, though it lies just behind East Nash and Pettigrew Streets. Once densely packed with working-class housing, Church Street is now empty. Only three houses stand on the block, none occupied, and 507 is the last house remaining on the north side of the street.

The 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories list Lucy Sherrod at 507 Church. Also in 1930: Hall Lonnie (c; Mamie L) laborer 507 Church

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Church, renting for $16/month, Lonnie Hall, 34, odd jobs laborer, wife Mamie, 34, hotel maid, and daughter Elsie, 2; nieces and nephews Estha, 16, Christine, 13, and lodgers Lucile Sherif [sic], 30, widow, hotel maid, Lucile Sherif, 14, and Jack Sherif, 17, odd jobs laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Church, renting for $12/month, laborer Will Rogers, 28, and wife Sally, 30, odd jobs. Both seemed to be Arkansas natives — he, from Pine Bluff, and she, from Fayetteville.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Rogers William (c; Sallie) yd mn 507 Church

As the Central Business Historic District survey map shows, as recently as 1984, Church Street was filled with houses. 507 is encircled.

Google Maps shot this image of 507 Church in 2012. It appears that, at that time, the house was occupied.

Snaps, no. 35: Staton and Doretta Sherrod Davis.

Doretta and Staton Davis in front of their Bruton Street home in Daniel Hill, mid-1950s.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Westley Davis, 38; wife Mag, 38; children  Horris, 16, Lillie, 13, Oliv, 10, Clinton, 8, Staton, 7, Emma, 4, Learry, 2, and Eva, 1; and nephew June Coley, 25.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Black Creek Road, West Davis, 50; wife Margaret, 50; children Horice, 23, Clinton, 17, Staton, 16, Emma, 15, Lerie, 13, Eva, 12, and Pelie, 9; and granddaughter Beulah O., 2.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Elm City Road, farmer Solomon Sherrod, 41; wife Josephine, 32; and children Alena, 11, Jarvis, 10, Doretta, 8, Dock, 6, B. Minnie, 4, and Solomon, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Harpers Road, farmer Soloman Sheard, 50; wife Josephine, 42; and children Javis, 20, Doretta, 18, Linton O., 16, Minnie B., 13, Solomon, 11, Flora, 3, Bulah, 3, and Elmore, 1.

On 20 April 1930, Staton Davis, 25, son of Wesley and Maggie Davis, married Doretta Sherrod, 18, daughter of Solomon and Josephine Sherrod, at Wade [illegible]’s farm in Wilson township. Primitive Baptist minister Isaac Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Leonard Shearard, Lonnie Hoskins and Jarvis Shearard.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 Bruton Street, rented for $9/month, Station Davis, 36, plumbing company pipe fitter; wife Doretta, 28; and children Lorena, 9, Richard, 8, Suti Mae, 6, Station, 4, Leonard, 2, and David, 5 months.

In 1940, Statin Davis registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 12 October 1904 in Wyan [Wayne] County; resided at 408 Brouton Street, Wilson; his contact was Maggie Davis, Route 1, Fremont; and he worked for the W.P.A. at Charles L. Coon High School.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Davis Staton (c; Doretta; 6) h 406 S Bruton St

Staten Davis died 12 September 1952 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 October 1904 in Wayne County to Wes Davis and an unknown mother; resided at 408 Bruton Street, Wilson; was married to Doreatha Davis; and had worked as a laborer.

Doretta Elizabeth Sherrod Davis died 6 May 1997 in Wilson. Born 14 September 1911, she was 85 years old.

The first seven of the twelve Davis children: (top) Richard; (middle) Staton Jr., David, and Lorena holding Jo Ann; (bottom) Sudie Mae and Leonard, circa 1942.

Many thanks to William Ashley Davis for sharing these family photos.

“Wide A-wa-ake Lo-ove!” — the Wilson County roots of Tupac Shakur.

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Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-1996).

Via his maternal grandfather, Tupac Amaru Shakur had roots in Wilson County. He and his mother, Afeni Shakur, were descendants of Jack and Cassey Exum Sherrod, whose homestead was profiled here. Jack and Cassey Sherrod’s daughter Fannie married George Washington Powell, a native of northern Nash County. The couple and their children were tenant farmers or sharecroppers and moved often among the counties surrounding Wilson. Fannie and George Powell’s daughter Lena B. Powell married a Greene County native, Walter L. Williams, and this family also appear to have been sharecroppers in Wilson and bordering counties. Walter L. Williams Jr. married Rossie Bell McLellan of Robeson County, North Carolina, in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1944. The couple returned to North Carolina, where the future Afeni Shakur was born Alice Faye Williams in 1947.


In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Sherard, 26, wife Cassey, 25, and daughter Fanny, 4.

In the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherod, 37; wife Cassey, 28; and children Fanny, 12, William, 9, Ida, 7, Marcy, 2, John, 5, and Benny, 11 months.

On 18 October 1893, George Powell, 24, of Town of Wilson, son of Lawson and Lany Powell of Nash County, married Fannie Sherrod, 23, of Town of Wilson, daughter of Jack and Cassa Sherrod of Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion minister L.B. Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Rev. L.J. Melton, Rev. Fred M. Davis, and S.A. Smith.

In the 1900 census of North Whitakers township, Nash County: farmer George Powell, 33; wife Fannie, 20; and sons Earnest, 4, Sylvester, 3, and James C., 1.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer George W. Powell, 42; wife Fannie, 40; and children Earnest, 14, Sylvester, 12, Carter, 9, Lena, 8, Burser, 5, Ida, 3, and Bruss M., 2.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer George Powell, 51; wife Fannie, 51; and children Silvester, 22, Cartis, 20, Lena, 18, Bertha, 16, Ida, 14, and Fannie, 12.

On 31 March 1920, Carter Powell, 21, of Green County, son of George and Fannie Powell, married Anna Barnes, 18, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Harry and Rena Barnes, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. George Powell witnessed the ceremony.

On 12 June 1921, Lena B. Powell, 21, of Saratoga, daughter of G.W. and Fannie Powell, married Walter Williams, 28, of Greene County, son of Henry and Sarah Williams, in Saratoga. Rev. E.H. Cox of U.A.F.W. church presided, and John Williams of Saratoga, H.T. Dillard of Wilson, and Mable Speight of Saratoga witnessed.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer George Powell, 60; wife Fannie, 60, washer woman; and children Bruce, 21, and Fannie, 16.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn Road, farmer Walter L. Williams, 37; wife Lena B., 29; and children Walter Jr., 8, Ernest H., 6, Lafaett, 3, Hattie M., 1, Ada G., 1, and sister-in-law Fannie I. Powell, 16.

George Powell died 18 August 1930 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1869 in Nash County to Lawson Powell and Lannie Taylor; was a farmer; was married to Fannie Powell. Informant was Robert Powell, Stantonsburg.

In the 1940 census of Great Swamp township, Wayne County: farmer Walter Williams, 48; wife Lena, 39; and children Walter Jr., 18, Ernest Hubert, 16, Lafayette, 14, Hettie May, 12, Ada Gold, 10, Juanita, 8, Sharon, 6, and Charles Ray, 9 months.

In 1942, Walter Williams Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 April 1922 in Walstonburg, North Carolina; resided at 505 East Chapel Street, Goldsboro; his contact was mother Lena B. Williams, Route 1, Fremont, North Carolina; and his employer was Ossie Wiggs, Route 1, Goldsboro.

On 26 July 1944, Walter Williams Jr., 23, of Walstonburg, North Carolina, son of Walter Williams Sr. and Lena B. Powell, resident of Norfolk, married Rosabella McLellan, 26, of Rowland, North Carolina, daughter of Kenny McLellan and Rosa Lee Powell, resident of Portsmouth, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Alice Faye Williams [later, Afeni Shakur] was born 10 January 1947 in Robeson County, North Carolina, to Rossie Bell McLelland and Walter Williams Jr.

Joseph Sylvester Powell died 13 July 1958 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1896 in Wayne County  to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; was unemployed; was married to Minnie Powell; lived at 108 Powell Street. Informant was Bertha Reid, Wilson.

Bertha Powell Reid died 6 June 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 January 1904 to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; and resided at 118 Irma Street. Mrs. Fannie Burgess, 404 East Banks Street, Wilson, was informant.

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born 16 June 1971 in New York City. [His birth name was Lesane Crooks.]

Bruce Powell died 5 October 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 December 1906 to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; was a farmer; was married to Blonnie Sauls; and resided at 108 Powell Street.

Rev. Walter Larry Williams died 6 November 1973 in Kenly, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 March 1893 to Henry and Sarah Williams. Informant was Mrs. Ada Jones, Kenly.

James Carter Powell died 13 October 1980 in Wilson Per his death certificate, he was born 4 January 1900 in Nash County to G.W. Powell and Fannie Sherrod; worked as a butler; and was a widower.

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Afeni Shakur (1947-2016).

Many thanks to Edith Lee Harris for bringing this connection to my attention.

Image of Tupac Shakur courtesy, copyright holder unknown; image of Afeni Shakur (c) Associated Press, 2016.



Buried in a white cemetery.

Tracing Their Wilson Roots: Towering Tree Marks African-American Couple’s Grave in White Cemetery

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 2017.

Paul Sherrod and his nephew spent a day last month cleaning brush off their ancestors’ graves.

“Every time I come here to Wilson I come here to visit this cemetery because it is so special to me,” Sherrod said as he walked up to the resting place for his grandparents, Joseph Tobe Smith, 1871-1956, and Martha Elizabeth Wheeler Smith, 1875-1932.

A massive pine tree stands over the top of the gravesite, which is in the Winstead family cemetery, also referred to as the Parkwood Cemetery, surrounded by the parking lot of the now-closed Wilson Mall.

“I remember as a kid this being farmland,” Sherrod said. “My grandfather was a sharecropper on land owned by the Winstead family. My grandfather was allowed to plant this tallest tree here, we believe, sometime between 1918 and 1922, and he was promised that he could be buried there right along with my grandmother. So proud of this, to know that my grandfather planted that tree.”

Sherrod is not sure who it was in the Winstead family who offered and then kept that promise, but he suspects it might have been Charles Winstead Sr.

“They owned land from here all the way down to Raleigh Road. I had two uncles who sharecropped almost all the way down to the parkway,” Sherrod said.

It is remarkable to Sherrod that early in the 20th century, a black couple would be permitted to have a final resting place in a white cemetery.

“That is really truly amazing because here we are in 1929, in the middle of the Depression and some oppression, you have this act of compassion and courage from this Winstead family to allow this to happen,” Sherrod said. “Looking back on it, I think they must have had, what you call it now, some flack about that, but they were courageous enough to see it through because they made a promise to my grandfather and they held to their promise. And moving forward to the mall being here, as the developers were putting it together, I understand that the Winstead family made a stipulation when they sold them the land that the graves and the bodies will not be exhumed, so here they are. I don’t know which family members it was, but they, again, had the same courage as their forefathers. So that’s remarkable, in 1929, having an African-American buried in a white cemetery.”

Sherrod never knew his grandmother, as she died before Sherrod was born.

“I only know about my grandfather,” Sherrod said. “I remember so much about him because he was actually both a father and a grandfather to me because my father died when I was quite young. He died in 1945. Right after that I started to live with my grandfather, and he mentored me in so, so many ways. He would take me with him as he would take his wagon and his mule and cultivate gardens. He was a farmer, but he was not farming anymore, so he was cultivating people’s gardens, and I learned so much from him about agriculture, how to grow things. I had my own garden. He would help me take care of the tomatoes and the okra. He was a wonderful person.”

They lived together from about 1944 to 1950 when Sherrod was 13 to 18 years old.

“It was a pleasure living with him because I learned so much,” Sherrod said. “He was so patient with me. I understand now, that he could see that I was different. I loved the books, and he wanted to give me the opportunity to do my homework, so he had to always make sure there was enough kerosene in the lamp. A little step up from Lincoln and the candle, but a similar situation.”

Sherrod laughed.

“The house was about a mile and half from here, east of here in New Grab Neck,” Sherrod said. “Later it was called Jefferson Street, and now it’s called Forest Hills. They have changed the name a couple of times.”

Sherrod, who is now 84, said growing up in Wilson in the 1940s wasn’t as bad as it might have seemed that it could have been.

“Our neighborhood was partially integrated. About a quarter of a mile up the street from where we lived, there was a white family. As a matter of fact, my grandfather had lived in that very house back in the early ’40s,” Sherrod said. “The only real signs of segregation were more the public places. We had a colored and white drinking fountain in front of the courthouse. Now it is a memorial to veterans, I believe. You could not sit in a restaurant. You had to go back to the back to get your food handed out the back door to you. And when buses came along, we had to ride in the back of the bus. So those were outward signs of the segregation, but there was never really any brutality. You weren’t afraid to walk around. You knew your place. You understood that. It wasn’t really as bad as it could have been because I have heard some real horror stories from other cities around the country later on. Not then. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been.”

The pine tree that Joseph Smith planted is at least 4 feet thick and the most prominent tree in the graveyard. There is a crack up its middle, perhaps made by a lightning strike many years ago.

When his grandfather died in 1956, Sherrod was overseas serving in the Air Force and could not attend the funeral.

“Before, they just had a simple marker,” Sherrod said.

Family members placed a granite marker at the site several years ago, and Sherrod recently purchased an additional stone marker to note the couple’s birth and death dates.

When Sherrod and his nephew, Bradley Sherrod of Wilson, spent the day clearing the brush around the gravesite, they left one little sapling.

“We toyed with the idea of taking it out, but my nephew and I decided no. Let that grow and see what happens. It’s obviously from the seed of this tree, so we left that one alone, that little baby pine, and over the years I’ll see what happens,” Sherrod said. “I hope the Lord allows me to be on this Earth long enough to see it be a pretty big tree. It’s growing nicely.”

Sherrod, who now resides in California, recently held a large family reunion on the site of the Sherrod family homeplace near Stantonsburg. He had spent the whole summer preparing for the event.

That is from his father’s side of the family. The Smiths are from his mother’s side of the family in Wilson.

“I firmly believe that if more people explored the roots from which they came, there would probably be a better world,” Sherrod said. “There is so much rich history on all sides on all ethnic groups, and if we had that history, we would have an opportunity to have a better understanding. It would be wonderful if people would do that on a large scale.”


In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer James Smith, 34, born in Virginia; wife Adline, 30; and children John, 14, Joseph, 9, Windsor, 12, Kate, 6, Allace, 5, and Julious, 2.

On 19 October 1892, Joe Smith, 21, of Wilson, son of Jim and Adeline Smith, married Martha Wheeler, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Amy Wheeler, at Amy Wheeler’s home. Free Will Baptist minister Crockett Bess performed the ceremony in the presence of Noah Wood, John Wheeler and Jno. Artis.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 29, farmer; wife Martha, 25; and children Addie, 5, Fenner, 4, and Mark, 2, and widowed mother Amma, 55.

In the 1910 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 39; wife Martha, 36; and children Addie, 15, Fenner, 13, Mark, 11, James, 9, Lillie, 7, Mary F., 5, and Martha, 15 months.

In the 1920 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Joseph Smith, 49; wife Martha, 41; and children Mark, 21, Lillie, 19, Mary Ford, 13, Martha, 10, Margaret Earls, 4 months, and Josie Brow, newborn.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Tobe Smith, 59, farmer; wife Martha, 54; and children Frenner, 35, farm laborer, Mark G., 32, farm laborer, James, 30, schoolhouse janitor, Josephine, 14, and Beulah, 11.

Martha Smith died 21 March 1932 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born born in Nash County to Dick Wheeler and Amy Rice; was married to Tobe Smith; and worked as a tenant farmer.

Joseph Tobe Smith died 20 January 1956 at his home at 315 Jefferson Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 August 1884 in Wilson County to James Smith and Adline Darden; was a retired farmer; resided at 315 Jefferson Street; and was buried in Winstead cemetery. Mrs. Martha Sherrod, 315 Jefferson, was informant.

Aerial view of Winstead cemetery behind Wilson (former Parkwood) Mall, Wilson. Courtesy Google Maps.