The cause of death on John Henry Evans‘ death certificate is fairly laconic: “brain injury due to auto accident.”
Newspaper accounts detail a more complicated story. About eight o’clock on the evening of April 11, Evans and J.D. O’Neal, on whose land he lived, were driving wagons to fertilizer to O’Neal’s farm near Lamm’s School [today, near the intersection of Interstate 95 and U.S. 264.] The men stopped on the shoulder of the road to talk to O’Neal’s brother. Both wagons were lit with lanterns. Erwin Stewart of Durham smashed into other wagons in a Graham truck and flipped over in a ditch. According to witnesses, Stewart’s truck had only one headlight working and had drifted partly on the shoulder of the road. The wagons were demolished, one mule was badly injured, and John Henry Evans was first thought dead. He was rushed to the “colored hospital.” As his death certificate notes, Evans lingered for five days before succumbing to injuries to his head.
Wilson Daily Times, 12 April 1929.
For all the carelessness hinted at in the initial report, a month later, Stewart was acquitted of a manslaughter charge in Evans’ death.
Wiley Williams‘ wife Carrie died of post-influenza pneumonia when the flu pandemic swept through Wilson County in late 1918. Perhaps overwhelmed by grief, Williams took his own life seven months later. Nicodemus Patterson, from whom Williams had rented farmland, stepped in to arrange the sale of Williams’ belongings for the benefit of his three teenaged children.
On 8 March 1899, Wiley Williams, 21, of Wilson County, son of Harriett Williams, married Carrie Sessoms, 22, of Wilson County, daughter of Claude Sessoms, in Gardners township, Wilson County.
In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Wiley Williams, 30; wife Carrie, 40; and children Arthur, 10, Ivor M., 7, and Lizzie, 4.
Wiley Williams registered for the World War I draft in 1918. Per his draft registration card, he was born 28 October 1878; lived at R.F.D. 4, Elm City; was a tenant farmer for Nick Patterson; and his nearest relative was wife Carrie Williams. He signed his name with an X.
Carrie Williams died 3 November 1918 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her birth certificate, she was about 47 years old; was born to Claude and Betsy Sessoms; was married to Wiley Williams and was a farm laborer for N.D. Patterson. G.W. Williams was informant.
Wiley Williams died 11 June 1919 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 41 years old; was a widower; was born in Wilson County to Duck Barnes and Harritt Williams; and was a tenant farmer. G.W. Williams was informant.
On 16 June 1919, N.D. Patterson filed for letters of administration in Wiley Williams’ estate, identifying his heirs as Arthur V., Lizzie, and Ivah Williams, all minors, and valuing his estate at about $500.
Arthur Williams died 28 January 1928 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 February 1900 in North Carolina to Wylie Williams and Carrie Session; was married to Della Williams; and worked as a laborer. Daughter Clementine Wormsley was informant.
Reubin Ellis — probably, in the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Rheubin Ellis, 76; wife Clarkie Ellis, 72; daughters Henrietta, 23, Joemima, 22, and Cherrie Ellis, 19; and grandchildren Annie, 14, Ashley, 12, Rheubin, 11, and Lucy, 11 months. [Actually, grandchildren Ashley and Reuben’s surname was Simms.]
The collection in Wilson County Public Library’s Local History Room includes the transcript of a 1986 interview with Clifton Tomlinson, a farmer who had grown up in the Black Creek-Lucama area.
These pages include recollections of the some of the African-Americans who had been his family’s tenants and neighbors.
Sidney and Milbry Ramseur
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Sidney Johnson [sic], 56, and wife Millie, __, both laborers working out.
In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Black Creek and Lucama Road, farmer Sidney R. Ramseur, 69, and wife Milly, 60.
In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Sidney Ramsoo, 73, and wife Millie, 70.
Sidney Ramseur died 30 October 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 90 years old; was born in Wilson County; lived on Viola Street; and was the widower of Milbry Ramseur. Informant was J. Clifton Tomlinson, Black Creek.
John and Robert Clay
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John Clay, 45; wife Elizabeth, 46; and children Maggie, 21, Charlie, 20, Joseph, 17, Pearle, 15, Levi, 13, Johnnie, 10, Esrayson, 8, Bettie, 7, and Earl, 2; plus nephew Sam, 15, and widowed mother Mariah, 84.
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Clay, 24; wife Mary, 23; son James, 7 months; and sister-in-law Hattie Artis, 12.
In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John H. Clay, 54, wife Elizabeth, 54, and children Lary, 24, Bettie, 16, and Early, 12; next door, farmer Robert Clay, 33, wife Mary, 32, and children James, 10, Ollie, 6, and Lottie, 3; and next door to them Joseph Clay, 28, wife Essa, 22, and children Ethel, 2, and Joseph, 9 months.
John Edward Artis
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Wilson Road, John Ed Artis, 31, tenant farmer; wife Maggie, 32; and children Jessie, 9, Rosa, 7, Henry, 5, Claud, 2, Lyra, 2, and Ella, 6 months.
In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: John E. Artis, 41, farmer, widower, and children Jesse, 19, Rosa, 18, Henry, 15, Claud, 13, Larry, 12, Mary, 10, Eddie, 8, Mamie, 6, Carry L., 4, and Maggie, 2.
Ruthie and Anderson Hunter
Anderson Hunter, 45, of Toisnot township, applied for a license to marry Lula Farmer, 23, of Toisnot township, on 7 May 1901.
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 50; wife Lula, 33; and children Chanie, 18, Sam, 16, Emma, 15, Robert, 11, Annie, 6, and Clyde, 2.
In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 62; wife Lula, 39; and children Emma, 25, Robert, 21, Annie, 15, Clyde, 11, and Hazel, 4.
In the 1930 census of Town of Sharpsburg, Edgecombe County: cotton and tobacco farmer Anderson Hunter, 71; wife Lula, 47; and children Clyde, 22, Hazel, 14, and James C., 9.
Robert Artis — in the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Artis, 46; wife Malindy, 31; children Adam, 17, James, 28, Edgar L., 13, Luciea, 13, Christirene, 12, Georgia, 10, and Noah, 9; step-sons Hesicar, 8, and Eugenia, 6; children Lizzie, 4, Richard, 2, and Minnie B., 9 months; and mother-in-law Henrietta [Artis?], age illegible.
Richard C. Artis and father Robert E. Artis, circa 1950s. Photo courtesy of Melissa Mack.
Perhaps, in the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Rheubin Ellis Jr., 34, wife Annie, 33, and children Ida, 13, and Albert, 12. Or, next door, Rheubin Ellis, 76; wife Clarkie, 72; daughters Henretta, 23, Joemima, 22, and Cherrie, 19; and grandchildren Amie, 14, Ashley, 12, Rheubin, 11, and Lucy, 11 months.
On 2 February 1907, A.P. Branch agreed to advance John Artis, colored, forty to fifty dollars in supplies “to enable me to make a crop” on the land on which he lived in Black Creek township rented from and owned by Nathan Bass. Artis agreed to raise twelve acres in cotton, nine acre in corn and four acres in tobacco and gave Branch a lien on his crop as well as a seven year-old black mare mule named Rody, a buggy and harness, an iron axle cart, and all his farming implements.
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John Artis; wife Lucy, 40; children Nora, 10, John E., 15, Eliza, 13, Katie, 11, and Robert, 7; and nephew Luther, 23.
Deed book 72, page 191, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.