tenant farmer

We had farm labor as a natural resource back then.

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.

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  • 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.

I have not found record of Ruthie Hunter.

A tobacco thief is caught.

201809081734568793.jpg

Wilson Daily Times, 21 August 1933.

  • 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.
  • Walter Leach

Richard C. Artis and father Robert E. Artis, circa 1950s. Photo courtesy of Melissa Mack.

The wind was terrific.

Screen Shot 2018-07-14 at 8.30.58 PM.png

Wilson Times, 14 July 1911.

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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.

John Artis’ crop lien.

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.

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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.

They intended to kill him if powder would burn.

Loney Brooks sworn says:

The frolick was at Mr Aycocks place Saturday night I think Xmas week I saw Carroll Harriss in the House & there was a brick thrown in the house. I ran outside & saw Carroll Harriss running & shooting in the direction of some one that fell & I heard Carroll Harriss & John Whitaker say it was Tobe Brooks & they intended to kill him if powder would burn.  Loney (X) Brooks

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Fredrick Woodard sworn says: [blank]

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Albert Woodard sworn says:

I was at the dance at Mr Aycocks on Saturday night before Christmas I think. I saw Addie Ford in the house as I walked from the fire place to the door Carroll Harriss stepped out of the door & as he stepped out of the door inside Charles Brooks & Tobe Brooks was near the door inside Charles started as if going out & I caught him by the arm & pulled him back and asked him what was the matter. He did not speak at first & I asked him again & he said that fellow cussed Buddie for a son of a bitch. I told Charles not to go out of the door if he did that fellow might shoot you for I saw the pistol in his hand (Carroll Harris hand). After that there was no more trouble for a while. After that some one hit Carroll Harriss with a brick while he was standing in the house. Carroll ran out of the house at the back door as if running at some one & shot off his pistol twice. I & others followed him & found Harris sitting down on the path with his hat off on the ground & the pistol on it. Some one asked him what was the matter & he replied that he was bleeding. Then I turned back & went to the house & left him & others there.   Albert (X) Woodard

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Grant Brooks sworn says:

I was at the party at Aycock, on a Saturday night before Christmas & heard Carroll Harriss call Tobe Brooks a Damned son of a bitch & Jumped out of the door & I saw him draw his pistol. I heard nothing more. Am no relation.  Grant (X) Brooks

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Izerick Brooks sworn says:

I was at the dance at Aycocks saw Carroll Harriss draw his pistol on Tobe Brooks & cussed him, dared him out of [illegible] doors, pretty soon after some one hit Carroll Harriss with a brick while he was in the house, then Carroll Harris ran out of the back door & shot at some one running & soon came back to the house & said to me that he was going to get Tobe Brooks for hitting him after that all was quiet.  /s/ Izeriah Brooks

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Jack Woodard sworn says:

I was over there at Mr Aycocks last Wednesday a week ago the 23rd Dec 96 & the question arose among us concerning the trouble at the dance where Carroll Harriss was hit with a brick. I asked Carroll Harriss is he was hurt & he said he was, bad. I told him to go home & if he knew who it was hit him to indict him & let the law take its course & he said no I am going to get him. That is all I know about the trouble.   Jack (X) Woodard

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Dora Woodard sworn says:

I was at Jack Woodards house (I live there with my father) I was sitting on the foot of the bed & Tobe Brooks was sitting on the other side by me & these men Carroll Harriss & John Whitaker came into the house & John Whitaker took a seat at the corner of the fire place & Carroll Harriss stood with his back to the fire. There was a [illegible] talking to this girl Tobe Brooks saw Harriss’s pistol in his hand & asked him what did he mean to do. I then jumped up started to the door in the meantime Harriss shot Tobe & by the time I got to the door he shot again. I called to Charly, Tobes brother & told him to come, that they were killing his brother then his brother ran in by me & I got out by the side of the door, looked back & saw Whitaker & Harriss have Tobe down on the the bed, heard one shot after I got out. I saw Charly run out of the house & Whitaker pursuing him with a pistol in his hand. I remarked to Whitaker if he was not ashamed to kill a man in a mans house & he replied that he was not that he had saved the Damned son of a bitch then I went back in the house & saw Tobe bleeding from a wound in the head & mouth. Both of Harriss & Whitaker had pistols one each in the house.    /s/ Dora Woodard

Dora & Julia Woodard are one and the same person

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Maggie Brooks sworn says:

I was in Jack Woodards house when the shooting took place I was sitting on a chair by Tobe. He was sitting on the bed. Carroll Harriss was standing by the fire place with pistol in hand, pointed at Tobe Brooks. Tobe said Mr what do you mean? Harriss said nothing & then Tobe called his brother. Harriss shot or Whitaker I do not know which, Whitaker was sitting in corner of fire place. As soon as the shot was fired I ran under the bed betwixt Tobe’s legs. I then crawled out from under the bed & saw out of the doors & saw Harriss & Whitaker leave.  /s/ Maggie Brooks

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George Bell sworn says:

On the evening of the 24th of Dec 96 I was in the Bar room of Luther Barnes at Black Creek & John Whitaker came to the door & called me out & asked me if I could tell him where Tobe Brooks lived. I said yes he lived on Frank Barnes’s place & he said for me to tell him that he was going to kill him a damned son of a bitch & turns to Harriss & ask (who came up about that time) when should they go. Harriss replied he did not care. Whitaker then said we will not go to night but will on Sunday. John Whitaker turned off & said that he would see me again but he did not.     /s/ Geo. C. Bell

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Charles Brooks sworn says:

I was at the house of Jack Woodard the evening of the shooting of Tobe Brooks my brother. I was standing in the yard when I heard one or two shots. Dora Woodard called me & said: Come in they are killing your brother hearing also my brother Tobe calling me I ran in house, saw they have him down on the bed & shooting him. I jerked Harriss off & shot him & then I ran & some one shot me as U was running leaving the place going home.   Charles (X) Brooks

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Leslie Brooks sworn says:

I was in Jack Woodards yard on the evening of the shooting of Tobe Brooks. I heard a pistol shot & ran in the house saw Carroll Harriss grab Tobe Brooks in the collar & slam him on the bed Whitaker holding Tobe by the shoulder at the same time, saw Harriss shoot Tobe in the face Whitaker firing also at that time Charles Brooks ran in grabbed Harriss off & shot him in the back of the neck. I then ran out doors, saw Charles running & Whitaker after him shooting him. Hearing John Whitaker saying I will kill the next son of a bitch leaving at the same time.   Leslie (X) Brooks

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Jonas Woodard sworn says:

I was at my brother in laws John Woodard near the shooting Heard the shooting & saw them a crowd run out of Jack Woodards house & soon after Harriss & Whitaker came along. I asked John Whitaker if he had gone up there & killed Tobe & his reply was: We have killed the son of a bitch. I asked who did it & Whitakers reply was: Carroll Harriss. Jonas (X) Woodard

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Augustus Woodard sworn says:

I was with some other boys out in the yard, saw Harriss & Whitaker come out of the house. Leslie Brooks was one of the boys with us, says Maggie Skinner(?) is talking, then Harris & Whitaker turns & goes back in the house & in about five minutes I heard a pistol shot & I ran to the door to see what was the matter. When I got there, saw Harriss & Whitaker standing over Tobe who was lying on the bed, hearing another shots & seeing pistols in the hands of both Harris & Whitaker. Then Charles Brooks ran in & shot Harriss & then ran out, then I ran to the kitchen, then John Whitaker followed Charles & shot him turning to join the house saying I will kill the other son of a bitch goes in gets his hat & leaves.  /s/ Augustus Woodard

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Sarah [Susan written above] Woodard sworn says:

I live at Jethro Aycock’s place Carroll Harriss came to my house to have his wound washed. Pretty soon afterwards John Whitaker came said to Harriss make haste & lets go down to Jack Woodard & as soon as he had his head washed left with Whitaker in the direction of Jack Woodard’s returned that day Whitaker saying we have saved the son of a bitch.  Sarah (X) Woodard

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Levinia Artis sworn says:

I went over to John Whitakers house on Sunday morning the day the shooting occurred. Whitaker was sitting in the corner of fire place thinking saying God damn it I believe I will get Harriss & go down there & kill him. Soon after Carroll Harriss came in & Whitaker said Harriss lets go down & get that damned son of a bitch & kill him. Harriss made no reply. They went off together  came back in the evening & John Whitaker said to me we have killed the son of a bitch & Carroll Harriss remarked they have shot me too.   Luvinia (X) Artis

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Dr. H.R. Hoover —

I was called in to see Tobe Brooks on Dec 27th 1896 He was at Jack Woodards it was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon. I found him lying on the bed & there was a bullet wound on the left side of his forehead. There was blood & brain matter oosing from that wound. The face around the wound was backbend & burned from powder as I thought. I examined the wound as completely as possible & found that it was a fracture of the skull. I find that there was a bullet wound as I thought in the jaw but was not able to trace it. In regard to the wound in the skull I found the tissues very badly swollen. I washed the wound thoroughly & put cloth over it & called again Monday the 28th 96. His condition was unchanged so far as I could see. Called again 29th inst. with Dr. R.A. Smith who I called in for consultation. After finding the tissues had gone down we decided to cut in & see if we could not find the bullet. We made the incision & found the bullet had penetrated the skull & a portion of it we found just inside of the skull pressing on the brain & the other fragment lying in the brain. We removed the fragments we found washed the wound & dressed it.   /s/ H.R Hoover

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Dr. R.A. Smith —

I saw Tobe Brooks with Dr. Hoover Tuesday Dec 29th 1896. I found him suffering with a gun shot wound he was suffering with gun shot wound in the forehead on the left side. The blood & brain were oosing from the wound. Dr. Hoover and I concluded to cut down on this wound & see if we could not find the bullet.I found a fragment of the bullet had passed through the skull & partly imbedded in the brain.Here the piece was shown. Found another piece shown imbedded in the fractured bone. Sewed the wound up & dressed it. The fracture in the skull was about three quarters of an inch.   /s/ R.A. Smith

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Post Mortem Report

On January 4th 1897 We were requested by the Jury of inquest over the body of Tobe Brooks to make a Post Mortem examination. On opening the skull we found that a wound had been made by a bullet about 32 caliber about one inch above the left eye brow and a little over one inch to the left of the median line of the brain. The ball penetrated the brain backwards and downwards till it reached about the middle of the brain where it was found resting on the floor of the cranium. We believe that the wound produced by the bullet found in the brain was sufficient to cause the death of the deceased.  /s/ W.S. Anderson, H.R. Hoover

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  • Loney Brooks
  • Carroll Harris — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cook Rhoda Harriss, 35, and sons Benjamin, 10, Edward, 7, and Carroll, 5, living in the household of white farmer Willie [Wiley] Daniel, 60. [Carroll’s nephew Benjamin Harris is featured here.]
  • John Whitaker
  • Tobe Brooks — in the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Brooks, 37, wife Lina, 35, and children Lewis, 17, Rachel, 15, Priscilla, 14, Samuel, 12, Abram, 9, Charles, 7, Lee, 5, and Toby, 3.
  • Albert Woodard — perhaps, in the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Redick Woodard, 54, wife Agnes, 40, and children Izaih, 20, Harriet, 20, Shade, 13, Parker, 9, Ludwell, 5, and Albert, 1. Or, more likely, in the 1880 census of Black Creek township: Jack Woodard, 35, wife Cynthia, 32, and children John, 12, Julia, 7, Cynthia, 6, Albert, 5, and Aaron, 2.
  • Grant Brooks — in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Grant Brooks, 31, wife Sallie, 24, and children Calvin, 5, Beater, 4, Harry, 2, and Annie, 1. (They are listed next-door to the household of Maggie Brooks, below.)
  • Izerick Brooks — see Albert Woodard, above.
  • John “Jack” Woodard — in the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Woodard, 35, wife Cynthia, 32, and children John, 12, Julia, 7, Cynthia, 6, Albert, 5, and Aaron, 2. In the 1900 census of Black Creek township: farmer Jackson Woodard, 56, wife Fannie, 53, children Daisy, 30, Aaron, 18, Harry, 19, Augustus, 17, Steven, 16, Mary, 11, and Harriet, 8, and grandchildren Eddie, 5, Bessie, 3, and Frank, 6 months.
  • Julia Dora Woodard — see above.
  • Maggie Brooks — in the 1900 census of Black Creek, Wilson County: farmer David Brooks, 45, wife Henrietta, 38, and children Maggie, 18, Minnie, 16, Alice, 13, Lizzie, 11, Bettie, 9, Tommie, 8, and Samuel, 2.
  • George Bell
  • Luther Barnes — in the 1900 census of Town of Black Creek, Black Creek township, Wilson County, Luther A. Barnes, 27, white, is listed as a saloon keeper.
  • Charles Brooks — on 9 January 1901, Charles Brooks, 26, son of Louis and Eveline Brooks, married Maggie Brooks, 19, daughter of Dave and Henrietta Brooks at Dave Brooks’ in Black Creek township. Witnesses were P.R. Brooks, Fred Woodard and C.F. Darden, all of Black Creek.
  • Leslie Brooks — Leslie Brooks died 12 October 1918 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1881 in Wilson County to Dave Brooks and Henrietta Peacock [see Maggie Brooks, above]; worked as a shoemaker; was single; and was buried in Brooks cemetery. Jno. Williams was informant.
  • Jonas Woodard — in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jonas Woodard, 33, wife Edney, 30, and children Anna, 14, Grant, 11, Pauline, 5, Forest, 2, and Victoria, 1.
  • Augustus Woodard — see Jack Woodard, above.
  • Sarah Woodard
  • Levinia Artis
  • H.R. Hoover — the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County lists Henry R. Hoover, 36, physician.
  • R.A. Smith
  • W.S. Anderson — Dr. William S. Anderson

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Applewhite’s tenant houses.

Old Applewhite Farm Division

In 1918, the Atlantic Coast Realty Company commissioned this map of the “old Applewhite Farm” near Stantonsburg. Contentnea Creek runs along the western edge of much of the parcel, and a public road cuts across one end, creating a little pocket of land sandwiched between John Yelverton and Dr. S.H. Crocker’s holdings. The main dwelling faced the road near a ditch at a corner of the property. Across the way, encircled above, were the houses of Applewhite’s tenants, who were mostly (if not solely) African-American. Another cluster of tenant houses appears beyond a row of outbuildings on a farm road running parallel to the creek.

I have not been able to determine which Applewhite owned the property being subdivided, but based on a history of the property, it does not appear to have been William H. Applewhite.

Plat Book 1, page 72, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

He owes my mother $700.

Joyners Depot Wilson County N.C.

April 8th 1867

Gen Daniel E. Sickles

Sir

I appeal to you for advice. Please give me the desired advice and tell me what course to pursue and ever believe me to be your obt svnt.

Last year my mother rented a farm of B.D. Rice Esqr in Nash County. He (Rice) was to find the team, and Mother the hands and board for them. All went on smoth during the year until the crop was made and housed. When that was done Esqr Rice then refused to settle with her (Mother) fairly and squarely, according to the contract.

The business has been placed in my hands to settle and I have tried all ways to settle with him honorably and I can not have it settle neither by law nor a compromise. He (Rice) is now due Mother not far from seven hundred dollars. Please advise me what course to pursue by so doing you would confer on me an everlasting favor never to be forgotten so long as any thing Earthly remains. In housing the crop he would not let her have her part.

I am Sir with great Respect, Your obt Srvt

Jerry Pridgen, Freedman

Address me [at] Joyners Depot

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Joyners Depot is now known as Elm City. Neither Rice nor Pridgen appears in the 1870 federal census of Wilson or Nash County NC. However, 32 year-old Bryant D. Rice is listed in the 1860 census of Winsteads township, Nash County NC.

Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.