Though I disavow the false narrative that has been passed down to us about the first Thanksgiving, I embrace the setting aside of a day to give thanks. In these times more than ever, I’m grateful for the overwhelming bounty of my life. In all my years, I have never wanted for family, health, shelter, or wealth, and I understand the privilege that bestows upon me. Black Wide-Awake and Lane Street Project are ways I honor the people and place that nourished and encouraged and shaped me.
Lane Street Project’s public work kicked into gear in December 2020 with the discovery of Samuel H. Vick‘s long-lost grave marker. We carefully unearthed and cleaned it, and several volunteers have worked extra-diligently to uproot the layers of wisteria runners that encase it. However, wisteria fights hard, and this is what it looked like this morning.
Charles Eric Jones‘ care, storage, and transport of Lane Street Project’s tool collection has been critical to the success of Season One. So, too, his commitment to show up early and stay late for every workday. His words today:
“Good afternoon from the Lane Street Project. This is the last joint clean-up before the summer. I have truly enjoyed working out here giving back to the ancestors,
who were the builders of East Wilson and who my elementary school was named after. I could not leave without freeing [Sam Vick’s] headstone and cutting the grass to help it look better. Thanks to all the good people I have met during this project, and I look forward to doing more. I pray that the Creator continues to Bless you and your family. Yours in Peace. CJ”
I owe everything to women and men like Charles Jones, without whom these cemetery clean-ups would have remained fervent, but unrealized, dreams. Lane Street Project is too big for one person, or a dozen, or even a hundred. We need you — your time, your energy, your ideas, your support. See you for Season Two, rested and ready to reclaim this sacred space!
Heartfelt thanks to the faithful and upright Portia Newman; Brittany Daniel; Joyah Bulluck; LaMonique Hamilton; Castonoble Hooks; Raven Farmer; Craig Barnes Jr.; Charles Jones; Dr. Judy Rashid; Rev. Kim Reives; Mayor Carlton Stevens; Briggs Sherwood; Julia Newton; Mike Witting and Alliance Forestry, Inc.; Drew Wilson; Will Corbett; Greg Boseman; the Wilson Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Barbara Hansen; Councilman Derrick Creech; Joseph Story; Tyrone Speight; Laurie McBriarty-Sisk; Brandon and Kayla Nelson; Vicki Cowan; Brian and Erin Hollaway Palmer and Melissa Pocock of Friends of East End; Adam Rosenblatt of Friends of Geer Cemetery; Perry Morrison; Charlie Farris; and each and every LSP volunteer, donor, and supporter this Season One.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Preston Barnes, 27; wife Rosetta, 20; and children Samson, 5, Aulander, 3, and Sallie, 5 months.
Samptson Barnes died 3 August 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 22 years old; was born in Wilson County to Preston Barnes and Rosetta Williams; and was engaged in farming. Drew Barnes was informant.
Firm racial identification was paramount during Jim Crow, and Southern newspaper often carried notices clarifying that status or making it plain even in contexts in which it would not seem to be important. Did John L. Moore submit his acknowledgment to the Times with “(Colored)” already included? Or did staff insert it to make clear that this John Moore was not one of the white John Moores?
Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1927.
On 30 May 1895, John Moore, 22, of Black Creek township, son of L. and Vinney Moore, married Mattie Simms, 18, of Black Creek township, daughter of Jno. Lassiter and Rachel Simms. L.A. Moore applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony at Larnce Moore’s residence in Black Creek in the presence of C.F. Darden, M. Roundtree, and David Moore.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer John Moore, 28; wife Mattie, 23; and sons Arthur, 4, and John H., 1.
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Moore, 36; wife Mattie, 36, dressmaker; and sons Arthur, 14, William B., 7, Zack, 6, and James, 5.
Mattie Moore died 7 November 1927 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 24 December 1877 in Wilson County to John Lassiter and Rachel Sims; was married to Johnie Moore; and lived at 910 Washington Street. She was buried in Wilson [likely in Vick or Rountree cemeteries.]
My aunt married into a big family, and my parents, sister, and I were often absorbed into the Barneses’ big holiday gatherings. Especially Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why I remember this one exactly, but I was about 9 or 10, I think, and Aunt Pet was hostess. At the time she was living in this house at 1112 Carolina Street, down the street from our old house. Coats heaped on a bed, folding tables pressed end to end from one room into the next, pots steaming, plates groaning.
2020 has been terrible in so many ways, but though there will be no big family gathering, I am mindful of the grace extended to me even in this year. I am thankful for my life and all in it, and grateful to the ancestors who guide my steps.
Lizzie Battle — Lizzie Battle died 14 April 1942 at 709 East Green Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 September 1913 in Wayne County,N.C., to unknown parents; was married to Willie Battle; resided at 908 East Nash; and was buried in Greenleaf cemetery, Wayne County.
In the 1910 census of New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina: at 176 George Street, pastor Alfred L. Weeks, 34; wife Annie, 34, a teacher; daughter Marie E., 4; and sister Bessie, 20.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: Alfred Weeks, 44, a minister; wife Annie, 44; daughter Marie, 14, and sister Bessie, 26.
In the 1940 census of Salisbury, Rowan County, N.C., public school teacher Marie Weeks, 34, is listed as a lodger in the household of Isaac and Hattie A. Miller at 1008 West Monroe Street.
Annie Elizabeth Marie Weeks died 3 March 1962 in Salisbury, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1905 in New Bern, N.C., to A.L.E. Weeks and Annie E. Cook; was never married; and worked as a teacher.
Annie E. Cook Weeks, Alfred L.E. Weeks, and A.E. Marie Weeks. A.B. Caldwell, ed., History of the American Negro and His Institutions, North Carolina Edition (1921).
Heartfelt thanks to all who supported Black Wide-Awake in 2018 through likes, comments, shares, tips and leads, and other feedback. This blog is my gift to my hometown, but the love and knowledge I’ve gained in return is immeasurable. I’m deeply grateful.