Snaps, no. 59: unidentified group.

The photograph is found in the O.N. Freeman Family Collection, and a copy is displayed in the Round House and Museum. It is clearly taken outside a school building, or perhaps a church, but is otherwise anonymous. (If it’s a school, it may be Wilbanks School, to which the Freemans commuted to teach first grade. The school, which was located in the Bridgersville community in eastern Wilson County, was not a Rosenwald facility.)

Snaps, no. 58: Artelia Spells Buchanan.

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Artelia Spells Buchanan, at left.


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 Lincoln Street, fertilizer plant laborer James Pender, 45; wife Lillie, 29; and children Artesia, 12, Mosses, 10, Ometa, 8, Farro M., 4, and Isaac, 1.

On 11 August 1937, Artelia Spell, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of Ervin and Lillie Spell, married James Buchanan, 22, of Wilson County, son of James Luther and Annie Lee Buchanan, in Nash County. George Vick applied for the license.

In 1940, James Hardy Buchanan registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his draft card, he was born 25 September 1915 in Rennent, North Carolina; his contact was Mrs. Artelia Buchanan; he resided at 1002 Wainwright Avenue, Wilson; and he worked for R.E, Quinn & Co., Goldsboro Street, Wilson.

Photo courtesy of user kmiles65.


Snaps, no. 56: John Parks.

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John Parks (1889-1958), in 1955.


Clyde Parks died 1 August 1916. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 March 1915 in Wilson County to John Parks and Emma Barbour.

In 1917, John Parks registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 15 September 1890 in Wilson; lived at 613 Walnut Street; and worked as a laborer for R.P. Watson.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Walnut Street, John Parks, 28, tobacco factory worker; wife Emeline, 26; children Beatrice, 7, John Jr., 6, Ida, 3, and Mark, 1.

Chas. Aster Parks died 23 January 1921 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 February 1920 in Wilson to John Parks and Emeline Babbitt and lived at 405 Walnut.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Mercer, owned, John Parks, 59; wife Emeline H., 32; and children Beatrice, 17, John H., 16, Ida D., 13, Helen G., 7, Douglas R., 5, and Mark A., 11.

Emmaline Parks died 5 March 1938 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in August 1898 in Clayton, North Carolina, to Mark Bobbitt and Dora Arrey [Avery]; worked as a laborer; and was married. John Parks was informant.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Walnut, redrying tobacco factory laborer John Parks, 49, widower; and children Beatrice, 27, John Henry, 26, redrying tobacco factory laborer, Ida Doretha, 22, Mark Alexander, 21, odd jobs laborer, Helen Gray, 17, and Douglas Wright, 15; and Fred jr., 9, Vivian Lavonne, 8, and George Randolph Woods, 4.

Mark Alexander Parks registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 30 May 1918 in Wilson; resided at 405 East Walnut; his contact was father John Parks; and he worked for Southern Tobacco Company, South Tarboro Street.

On 4 November 1943, John Parks, 53, son of Ben and Ida Parks, married Maggie Rogers, 43, daughter of Philip and Martha Williams, in Wilson. Baptist minister Charles T. Jones performed the service at 412 North Vick Street in the presence of Charlie Pender, Beatrice Pender and Ruth J. Brown.

John Parks drafted his last will and testament on 11 January 1952. In it, he left all his personal property to be shared evenly among his children John H. Parks, Mark A. Parks, Douglas W. Parks, Beatrice P. Parks, Ida P. Hinnant, and Helen Fleming Parks and his real property to be shared equally by his children subject to use by his wife until she died or remarried.

Johnnie Parks died 12 January 1958 at his home at 405 East Walnut Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 September 1889 in Wilson County to Ben Parks and Ida Davis; was married to Maggie Parks; and worked as a laborer for R.P. Watson Tobacco Company.

John Henry Parks died 23 February 1963 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 November 1913 in Wilson to Johnnie Parks and Maggie [unknown]; and lived at 507 North Carroll Street. Informant was Margaret Parks.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry user Barbette46.


Tonight I’m getting my whole entire life watching Family Pictures USA, which explores North Carolina stories in Episode 1. (Shout out to Jaki Shelton Green, fellow Taller Portobelo ’06 alum!) Many of my favorite posts in Black Wide Awake feature snapshots and studio portraits of African-American men and women in or of Wilson, and I so often wish I knew more about their lives than the bare bones of census records and vital statistics. Family Pictures USA, airing on PBS, amplifies this impulse in ways that made me laugh and caught in my throat.

“Family Pictures USA is a documentary-style magazine show, filmed before a live studio audience, that journeys through a rapidly changing landscape where the foundations of a familiar and idealized “AMERICA” are being transformed. As ordinary Americans begin to discover their hidden family histories, stashed in boxes in dusty attics or on old floppy disks and new smartphones, they will unpack more than artifacts and ephemera. They will re-meet their relatives and old friends —fascinating characters, brought back to life by images and stories —giving them a new home in our collective consciousness, and introducing us to a more nuanced and diverse story of our common history, shared present and evolving future. Family Pictures USA will mine this rich treasure trove of personal narratives to reveal roots, connections, and provocative parallels that will surprise us and illuminate the path toward a new America for a 21st Century.

“Like StoryCorps, Family Pictures USA guides participants through a personal narrative in a short interaction with a host/producer, but using photographs and images as the primary medium of the story. Like Antiques Roadshow, Family Pictures USA travels to different locations within a given community, town or region and the surprise is in uncovering little known and unusual personal stories and connecting them to a larger narrative that better contextualizes a particular locale. The value revealed is in how these images inform our larger understanding of the culture, beyond mere family memoir.

“Each episode [of FamilyPictures USA] will illuminate connections among and between individual family narratives to create an inclusive new Digital American Family Album, exposing threads of history that enrich and enlarge our understanding of our nation and its diverse people and expanding our ideas of who we are as a people. It continues the work of the series’ award-winning Executive Producer, Thomas Allen Harris, to bridge inter-generational and cross-cultural differences and bring communities closer together by transforming strangers into family.”

Tune in!

Snaps, no. 51: Sidney Locus.

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In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Johnnie Lucus, 43; wife Delpha, 51; children Kinion, 26, Nannie, 24, Edwin, 15, Sidney, 12, and Susan, 9; and grandsons Bunion, 5, and Martin L., 3.

On 20 January 1909, Sidney Lucas, 21, of Taylors, son of John and Delphia Lucas, married Mamie Rountree, 17, of Taylors, daughter of Alex and Watie Rountree, at Emma Rountree’s in Taylors. Missionary Baptist minister William Rodgers performed the ceremony in the presence of James Ross, Pollie Howard, and Emma Lucas.

In the 1910 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Sidney Locus, 22; wife Mammie, 42; and son Lafayette, 7 months.

Sidney Locus registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 30 September 1887 in Wilson; was a farmer; and had a wife and dependent children.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Sid Lucus, 52; wife Mamie, 42; and children Fate, 21, John, 18, Eva, 18, Ivey, 14, Guy, 10, Sidney, 8, Marth, 7, and Martha Ann,  0.

In the 1940 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Sidney Locus, 52; wife Mammie, 42; and children Fredy, 25, Sidney Jr., 19, Mary, 17, Martha Ann, 15, Mamie, 12, Maggieleen, 10, and Sussie Gray, 4.

Photo courtesy of user samjoyatk.

Snaps, nos. 41: J. Frank and Annie Bell Green Barnes.

Among the pictures found in Emma Barnes Taylor‘s discarded photo album were these depicting her parents, Annie Bell Green Barnes and James Frank Barnes, possibly standing beside their home at 106 South Carroll Street in Wilson.


In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer George Barnes, 29; wife Silvester A., 24; and children John E., 5, Jacob H., 4, and James F., 1.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter Neverson Green, 45; wife Isabeler, 35; and children Mary J., 18, Annie B., 15, Oscar, 13, Ada, 11, Ora, 9, Rose L., 6, William O., 5, Lula B., 2, and Besse, 3 months; plus boarder Willie Alley, 21, farm laborer.

On 27 April 1904, Frank Barnes, 25, son of George and Sylvester Ann Barnes, married Anna Green, 20, daughter of Nelson Green, in Wilson. Fred M. Davis, Missionary Baptist minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Peter Bynum, Boston Griffin and Dorsey Powell.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, store deliveryman Frank Barnes, 26; wife Annie, 26; and sons Charlie, 5, and Frank, 3.

In 1918, James F. Barnes registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 12 January 1878; resided at 106 Fifth [later renamed Carroll] Street; was a laborer for Barnes Harrell Grocery Co., 112 Goldsboro Street; and his nearest relative was Annie B. Barnes.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 106 Carroll, owned and valued at $800, wholesale grocery supply clerk Frank Barnes, 50; wife Annie, 44; children Frank Jr., 22, a pool room janitor, Etta M., 11, James H., 6, and Jeraline, 4; son-in-law Jack Artist, 21, odd jobs laborer, and daughter Mildred, 17, tobacco factory hander.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 June 1930.

Like many in the early days of the Depression, the Barneses faced foreclosure in 1930. It appears that they lost the house, but continued to live in it as renters as reported in the 1940 census.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 106 South Carroll Street, rented at $20/month, Annie Barnes, 57; husband Frank Barnes, 62, wholesale grocery shipping clerk; children Frank Jr., 33, Hotel Cherry attendant; Etta, 21; James, 16; and Geraldine, 15; James Artis, 29, laborer, wife Mildred, 29, tobacco factory hanger, and their son Charlie, 10;  and lodgers Lara Jones, 22, housekeeper, and Lula Green, 42.

James Frank Barnes died 9 October 1951 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 January 1878 in Wilson County to George Barnes and Sylvester (last name unknown); lived at 106 South Carroll; and was a laborer. Annie B. Barnes was informant.

Annie Bell Barnes died 31 January 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 March 1880 in Virginia to Nelson Green and Isabella Thorp; was a widow; and resided at 1702 Queen Street. Informant was son James Herman Green.