Wilson Times, 1 May 1896.
John Atkins, 25, of Toisnot township, son of Cary and Ann Atkins, married Zetter Parker, 24, also of Toisnot, daughter of Dick and Lottie Parker, on 20 April 1896 in Toisnot township.
Per Kate Ohno, Wilson County’s Architectural Heritage (1981):
“Captain William James Armstrong, the original owner of this house, was born in 1810, and was the son of Gray Armstrong. Armstrong was appointed constable of Edgecombe County in 1828, and by 1834 he had punched a mercantile business near Upper Town Creek Church. Armstrong’s military rank was acquired through his service in the Edgecombe County militia. He was prominent in both the religious and political activities if Edgecombe County, serving as justice of the peace as early as 1845 and as clerk of the Falls of the Tar Primitive Baptist Church (in Rocky Mount) between 1854 and 1856. Armstrong married Elizabeth Braswell in 1832 and after her death he was married to Catherine Williams. By the time of his death in 1856 Armstrong was the principal in a mercantile firm, consisting of Willie Gray Barnes and Baker B. Armstrong, which operated a store at Joyner’s Depot. … The house probably dates circa 1830, about the time of Armstrongs first marriage and consists of a one-story Greek Revival cottage with a hipped roof and two interior chimneys. The board-and-batten siding, possibly dating from the mid-nineteenth century is an unusual survival in Wilson County. Although the fenestration and floor plan have been altered and one chimney removed, the original trabeated door remains intact, as do some of the mantels. The carport was added by the present owner. A charming early twentieth-century latticed well house is located to the east of the house.”
For more on the more than two dozen men and women William J. Armstrong enslaved, see here.
In 1917, Atlantic Coast Realty prepared a plat map subdividing the James W. Hayes Farm near Elm City into ten parcels. The farm’s location is readily identifiable as the tip of the triangle formed by present-day East Langley and Haynes Roads. At the tip of the tip, this notation: “Church 1/2 A, Excepted.”
The original Little Union Primitive Baptist Church!
Plat book 1, page 40, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial view courtesy of Google Maps.
In 1914, Atlantic Coast Realty prepared a plat map showing the subdivision of Martin Applewhite’s Toisnot township farm into five parcels. The map shows the buildings on the property, in a “large house,” barns, and various dwellings, including two “Negro cabins.”
Plat book 1, page 18, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. (Sidenote: some of these hand-drawn plat maps really are things of beauty.)
Silas Parker died without a will in 1914, and two years later his 51-acre tract went up for sale at public auction to pay his debts. His widow Mahalia Parker, who served as administratrix of his estate and filed the petition to sell, was high bidder at $500. The couple’s children were Maggie V. Parker, Mary B. Parker, John W. Parker, Mack McKinley Parker, Este Parker, Jerry D. Parker, Bertha Parker, Anna Parker, Sarah J. Parker and Adeline P. Parker.
Via Dickensian proceedings, Silas Parker had inherited most of this tract of land from his uncle, Jerry Dunn.
In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Toney Parker, 41; wife Julia, 34; and children Harry, 10, Silas, 10, Bray, 8, William, 5, Mary, 3, and George, 3 months.
Also, in the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Jerry Dunn, 48; wife Sarah, 40; and Silas Parker, 8. (Next door: Zania Hill, 43, and daughter Della, 17.)
In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Jere Dunn, 60; wife Sarah, 55; and nephew Silas Parker, 21, laborer.
In early 1881, Jerry Dunn drafted his last will and testament:
State of North Carolina Edgecomb County I Jary Dunn thankin God that I am in Good Bodily helth and sound mind do acknowlege this my last Will and testemaning that I do give unto Silas Parker after the deth of my self and my beloved Wife sara Dunn a serten tract of land containing forty one acres known as the Boiten Wilaford tract Joanding the lands of Boston Armstrong and others to him the said Silas Parker to have and In Joy forever as he may ce cause I Jarey Dunn in Presans of God and Witnss have hear to set my hand and seal the 9 day of Januarey AD 1881 Jarey X Dunn Witness Jesse W. Williams Richard X Wilkins
On 20 December 1888, Silas Parker, 27, of Nash County, son of Toney Parker of Wilson County and Julia Parker, married Mahala Parker, 20, of Nash County, daughter of Ruffin Parker and Morning Parker, at Ruffin Parker’s in Nash County.
On 31 December 1888, Jerry Dunn, 65, of Toisnot township, son of Harry and Rachel Dunn, married Sarah Wilkins, 58, of Toisnot township, daughter of Daniel Pitt and Piney Wilkins, in Wilson township. Methodist minister J.H. Mattocks performed the ceremony, and Silas Parker and C.H. Darden witnessed. [Was this a second wife, also named Sarah?]
Jerry Dunn died in 1889, and the strangeness started. In August, attorneys Bunn & Battle filed this petition in Wilson County Superior Court on behalf of administrator D.L. Lancaster. The petitioner claimed that (1) Jerry Dunn was $800 in debt to Silas Parker; (2) the value of Dunn’s personal estate was only $50; (3) Dunn owned a 41-acre tract in Wilson County worth $300; (4) this land descended to Dunn’s children [sic] Ben Pitt, age 73 or 74, of Edgecombe County, Mariah Taylor, age 44 of Wilson County, Harry Atkinson, age 50, of Wilson County, Blount Atkinson, age 55, of Edgecombe County, Harriet Webb, wife of Eli, age 40, of Wilson County, Mills Atkinson, 64, of Edgecombe County; Dunn died intestate without wife or children; and Pitt, Taylor and Harry Atkinson conveyed their interest in Dunn’s estate to Silas Parker.
Eli and Harriett Webb filed an answer to the petition in October 1889. The opening paragraph was true, they acknowledged, but as to paragraph 1, Jerry Dunn was not carrying $800 in debt and owed nothing to Parker. Dunn had settled with Parker, paying him “every cent” he owed him and not incurred any new debt to Parker in the last three years. As to paragraphs 2 and 3, Dunn’s personal estate ought to be worth at least $250 and his land worth $450. As to paragraph 4, these were Dunn’s siblings, not his children, and none had signed over their interest to Parker. There was no need to sell Dunn’s land to pay his debts, which amounted to no more than $50, as his personal assets should cover them. Further, Mills Atkinson was a “lunatic” without a guardian.
At that point, it seems, Jerry Dunn’s will suddenly turned up. He was not intestate, after all. The will was entered into probate on 6 January 1890 in Wilson County Superior Court, and the whole game changed. The court dismissed the petition to sell land and began to transfer Dunn’s wealth to his sole heir under his will, Silas Parker. Parker was the sole buyer at the sale of Dunn’s personal property in December 1891, scooping up farm animals, some equipment and a bed. He also, of course, received Dunn’s 41 acres.
In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Parker, 38; wife Mahala, 31; and children Maggie, 9, Mary B., 7, John W.L., 5, McKilley, 3, and Estie, 1.
In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wells Daws Avenue, farmer and teacher Silas Parker, 49; wife Mahalley, 41; and children Maggie, 19, May B., 17, John, 15, Mack M., 13, General Este, 11, Jerry B., 18, Bertha, 6, Anna, 4, Sarah, 2, and Addie P., 3 months.
Administrator’s bond for estate of Silas Parker, 21 February 1914.
On 13 December 1915, Mahala Parker filed the petition to sell land for assets, asserting that Silas Parker had died with about $1000 in outstanding debt; that all of his personal estate had been allotted to her as widow’s support; that she had paid down $600 of her husband’s debt; that at his death Silas Parker owned a 51-acre parcel in Toisnot township and a 3/4 acre parcel near Nashville, Nash County; that she and Silas’ children lived on the “old Silas Parker home place” and that two of the children were adults and the rest minors; and that sale of the land was necessary.
Undated notice from estate file of Silas Parker, probably published in the Wilson Daily Times.
On 6 January 1916, William Battle, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Jackson and Hannah Battle, married Bell Parker, 20, of Toisnot township, daughter of Silas and Mahalia Parker. Minister of the Gospel Samuel Burston performed the ceremony at Mahala Parker’s in Toisnot in the presence of Sidney Cotton, George Armstrong and Kinley Battle.
On 4 September 1918, John W. Parker, 24, son of Silas and Mahalia Parker, married Indiana Terry, 22, daughter of Henderson and Mary Terry, in Toisnot township.
Mahala Parker died 13 October 1921 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Silas Parker; was about 51 years old; and was born in Nash County to Ruffin Parker and Mourning Joyner. Informant was Mack Parker, Elm City.
On 22 November 1935, Estee Parker, 30, son of Silas and Mahala Parker, married Irene Davis, daughter of Ellis and Bessie Davis, in Greenville County, Virginia.
On 17 June 1936, David King, 21, of Wilson, son of Peter King and Freay (last name unknown), married Adlena Parker, 23, of Wilson, daughter of Silas Parker and Mahala Parker. Missionary Baptist minister Charles T. Jones performed the ceremony at James Alston‘s on Green Street in Wilson in the presence of Mag Parker, James Alston and Mary Whitely.
Jerry Parker died 5 July 1938 on the Parker farm, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1902 in Wilson County to Silas Parker of Wilson County and Mahala Parker of Nash County; was a farmer; and was buried in Parker cemetery. John Parker, Elm City, was informant.
Maggie McGeachy died 13 November 1953 in Sharpsburg, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 21 April 1883 in Wilson County to Silas Parker and Mahalia Parker; was married to Willie McGeachy; and was buried in the Parker cemetery, Wilson County.
Mack McKinnley Parker died 20 May 1968 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 May 1899 to Silis Parker and Mahalia Parker; was a farmer; and was married to Minnie Parker. He was buried in the Parker cemetery in Wilson County.
Mary Bell Battle died 4 August 1971 in Hampton, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was the widow of William Battle; and was the daughter of Galas Parker and Mahalia (last name unknown). Informant was Willie Lee Battle, Rocky Mount, N.C.
John Parker died 22 January 1975 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 November 1892 to Silas Parker; was married to India Parker; and was retired. Walter Parker of Rocky Mount was informant.
Estate records of Jerry Dunn (1889 and 1890) and Silas Parker (1914), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
In the winter of 1902, doctors in Wilson County commenced a vaccination campaign to counter the spread of smallpox across North Carolina. Physicians in the county were paid ten cents per resident inoculated and sent in lists of patients to justify their fees. Dr. Edwin G. Moore practiced in Elm City and surrounds. On 3 February 1902, the County paid him $52.70 for fees and expenses related to 164 vaccinations (including ten pounds of sulphur used to treat three houses.)
The following list of African-American patients is abstracted from the roll Dr. Moore submitted to the County:
Sidney Harriss, 8 January 1902, age 18
Clarence Drake, 8 January 1902, age 14
Fred Gaston, “, age 12
Ivy Barnes, “, age 15
Nellie Ellis, “, age 17
Blanche Barnes, “, age 12
Haywood Ellis, “, age 13
Martha Ellis, 9 January 1902, age 20
Haywood Ellis, “, age 10
Lily Hall, “, age 18
Cora Gaston, “, age 16
Violet Bullock, “, age 16
Lena Armstrong, “, age 18
Wm. Armstrong, “, age 7
Ricks Whitaker, “, age 14
Ben Whitehead, 10 January 1902, age 19
Jennie Bunn, “, age 16
Ivrah Farmer, “, age 23
Almeta Williams, “, age 14
Mag Bullock, “, age 12
Elmer Gaston, 11 January 1902, age 9
Alma Gaston, “, age 7
Tom Coggins, “, age 16
Mag Armstrong, “, age 14
Etta Kelly, “, age 14
Pearly Mitchell, “, age 11
Viola Kelly, “, age 8
Flossie Gaston, “, age 7
Ada Gaston, “, age 15
Georgia Gaston, “, age 17
Serena Hunter, “, age 12
Julius Mitchell, 13 January 1902, age 10
Nina Gaston, “, age 13
Walter Locus, “, age 11
James Rosser, “, age 9
Maggie Ricks, “, age 16
Mancy Gaston, “, 9
Gus Gaston, “, 7
Malvina Johnson, 14 January 1902, age 16
Arie Williams, “, age 15
Catherine Hall, “, age 6
Anna Belle Hall, 15 January 1902, age 12
Minerva Anderson, 16 January 1902, age 15
James Anderson, “, age 9
Jno. Red Barnes, “, age 18
Redmond Barnes, “, age 66
Kinny Ellis, ” , age 17
Will Barnes, 17 January 1902, age 26
Scilla Parker, “, age 40
Nathan Williams, 18 January 1902, age 60
Alice Williams, “, age 40
Emma Williams, “, age 14
Melvina Whitehead, “, age 42
Wily Bynum, “, age 38
John Ellis Sr., “, age 46
Ed Barnes, “, age 27
Caroline Reid, 20 January 1902, age 21
Farro Sanders, 21 January 1902, age 13
George Sanders, “, age 13
Wily Barnes, 30 January 1902, age 30
Jno. Ellis Jr., “, age 19
Nan Williams, “, age 13
Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on the Elm City and Wilson Road, farmer Junius Rosser, 59, wife Lizzie, 46, children Daniel, 14, Annie, 12, Bennie, 10, and Lizzie, 8, and boarder Mary Howard, 19, a teacher.
On 8 March 1923, Dewey Gaston, 23, son of George and Priscilla Gaston, all of Wilson County, married Mary B. Howard, 24, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Mary E. Darden. Dewey’s brother Mancie Gaston applied for the license, and Rev. R.E. Sentelle performed the ceremony in Edgecombe County in the presence of Mancie Gaston and Fannie F. Ricks of Elm City.
In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: barber Dewey Gaston, 30, wife Mary, 20 [sic], and children Doris L., 5, and Victor H., 3.
In the 1940 census of the Town of Elm City, Wilson County: on Dixon Street, barber Dewey Gaston, 40, wife Mary, 38, a teacher, and children Dorris, 15, and Victor H., 13.
Dewey Milton Gaston died 14 February 1946 in Elm City. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 November 1899 in Elm City to George Gaston and Priscilla (no maiden name listed); worked as a self-employed barber; was married to Mary Gaston; and was buried in Elm City cemetery. Mary Gaston was informant.
On 21 January 1951, Mary B. Gaston, 47, of Elm City, daughter of Victor and Mamie Howard, married Hector H. McPhail, 48, of Wilson, son of R.J. and Laura Waddell McPhail. A.M.E. Zion minister Allen J. Kirk performed the ceremony in Elm City. Mrs. C.L. Darden, Dr. J.B. Rosemond, and Mrs. Grace Artis were witnesses.
Mary Howard Gaston McPhail died 7 July 1985 in Wilson.
Photograph courtesy of Maria Rosemond Logan — many thanks.
Lula B. Moody, The Morning Call (Allentown, Pennsylvania), 3 July 2000.
Lula B. Moody, 81, of 131 S. 6th St., Allentown, died Saturday, July 1, in her home. She was the wife of Edward Moody. Born in Wilson, N.C., she was a daughter of the late William and Ora (Wells) Grantham. She was a member of Union Baptist Church, Allentown. She was a member of the Negro Cultural Center, Allentown, and was formerly a Cub Scout Den mother for Pack 98, Allentown. Survivors: Husband; sons, Albert Johnson of Philadelphia, Edward Jr. of Bradford, McKean County, William H. of York, York County; daughters, Orabell, wife of Sandy Owens, Millicent Turner, and Shirley, all of Allentown, Addie Elure of Columbia, S.C., Gladys, wife of Daniel Parsons, with whom she resided; 26 grandchildren, 25 great-grandchildren and six great-great-grandchildren.
On 4 February 1905, William Grantham, 25, of Toisnot township, son of William and J. Grantham of Wayne County, married Ola Wells, 22, of Toisnot township, daughter of Creecie Wells, in Toisnot township.
Tarboro Southerner, 21 January 1876.
William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church is one of three extant 19th-century churches in the Elm City area, and the only one with a cemetery. The church is about three miles northwest of Elm City on William Chapel Church Road, which runs just inside and roughly parallel to the Wilson-Nash County line. The cemetery lies a few hundred feet west of the church, across from Silver Lake Cotton Gin.
Among the oldest graves at William Chapel are those of:
Aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps; cemetery photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2016.