Town of Sharpsburg

The resting place of Hattie Maryland Wright.

Hattie Maryland Wright‘s headstone gleaming in a patch of sunlight in Sharpsburg Cemetery. Though tilted, it is nearly as pristine as it was when it placed and was so lovely I wanted it to have its own post.

She is not dead but sleeping. We trust our loss will be her gain.

Hattie Maryland Wright (1872-1930).


In the 1880 census of Rocky Mount township, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farmer John Maryland, 58; wife Melvel, 40; and children Haywood, 17, Schofield, 16 (who was deaf), Walter, 10, Mary, 9, John, 7, Hattie, 6, Primus, 4, and Jonas, 2.

On 11 September 1895, Turner Ward, 21, of Nash County, son of Mack and Rhoda Ward, married Hattie Maryland, 19, of Nash County, daughter of John and Penelope Maryland, at John Maryland in Coopers township, Nash County.

In the 1900 census of Rocky Mounty, Edgecombe County: day laborer Turner Ward, 25; wife Hattie, 25; children James H., 3, Minnie P., 2, and Ernest, 6 months; and niece Emma Maryland, 7.

On 4 September 1908, George Wright, 35, of Nash County, married Hattie Ward, 40, of Nash County, in Rocky Mount township, Nash County.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township: on Elm City and Tarbor0 Road, farmer George Wright, 35; wife Hattie, 35; daughter Delia, 2; wife’s children Jessie, 18, James, 12, and El Gray, 6; and boarder Mamie Brant, 30.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson Rocky Mount Road, farmer George Wright, 45; wife Hattie, 45; and children Elvira, 17, Estella, 11, Georgeanna, 9, and Samuel, 6. Next door: James Wright, 22, and wife Maggie, 18; Jordan Armstrong, 24, farmer, and Cella, 23; and boarder Charley Ford, 22, farmer.

Photo courtesy of user marj11249.

Sharpsburg Cemetery?

Does anyone know where Sharpsburg’s historic African-American cemetery is?

UPDATE, same day: Found!!


In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Jordan Cooper, 55, farmer; wife Judy, 35; and children Daisey, 21, Thomas, 16, Thadeous, 11, Willie, 9, Golden, 7, Mary, 6, Elizabeth, 3, and Stella, 1.

On 4 January 1906, Albert Farmer, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Orrin and Malvina Farmer, married Daisey Cooper, 24, of Edgecombe County, daughter of  Jordan and julia Cooper, at Fenner Gay’s in Edgecombe County.

In the 1910 census of Township #14, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farmer Albert Farmer, 24; wife Daisie, 28; daughters Luler and Lillie, 3, and Adlona, 9 months; and brother-in-law Willie Cooper, 15.

Daisy Farmer died 22 October 1918 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 37 years old; was married; worked at “house duties”; was born in Edgecombe County to Jordan Cooper and Julie Barefoot; and was buried in Sharpsburg Cemetery. Albert Farmer was informant.

Sharpsburg police chief killed in racist political quarrel.

Sharpsburg is not just a Nash County town. Parts of the town lie in Edgecombe and Wilson Counties, with its historical African-American community in the latter. Though the violence here did not directly involve Black people, I post it for its insight into prejudice so deeply ingrained that the mere image of a “negro office holder … dictating to a white stenographer” could provoke a former mayor to shoot down the police chief (who was also his brother-in-law).

Wilson Daily Times, 2 November 1928.

Bellamy Chapel Primitive Baptist Church.

I wrote here of my discovery of Sharpsburg’s traditional African-American section, which lies mostly in Wilson County. Below, a better photo of old Bellamy Chapel Primitive Baptist Church (first known as Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist Church).

The church’s trustees purchased the property in 1915. The church building was already on the lot and, unusually, the deed contained a stipulation that the property would always be used for “church purposes.” If not, it would revert to J.H. Bellamy (whom I have not been able to identify.) At deed book 102, page 578, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office:

North Carolina, Wilson County } THIS DEED, made this September 24th, 1915, by and between M.V. Barnhill, Trustee, party of the first part, and Henry Reid, Robert Lewis and George Drake, as Trustees of the Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist Church, parties of the second part; WITNESSETH

THAT for and in consideration of the sum of Ten Dollars ($10.00) to him in hand paid, the receipt whereof expressly acknowledged, the said party of the first part, has bargained, sold, aliened and conveyed, and by these presents does bargain, sell and convey unto them, the said Henry Reid, Robert Lewis and George Drake, as Trustees as aforesaid, their successors in office and assigns, all that certain lot or parcel of land lying and being situate in Toisnot Township, Wilson County, North Carolina, being the unnumbered lot as is shown by plat of the Bellamy property, recorded in Book 78, page 170, Wilson County registry, to which plat and survey reference is hereby made for a more specific description of said lot; it being the lands upon which the Church aforesaid is now situate, said lot fronting thirty (30) feet on the East side of Railroad Street and running back seventy-five (75) feet. 

TO HAVE AND HOLD the aforesaid land and premises, together with all and singular, the rights, easements and appurtenances thereunto in any wise belonging unto them, the said parties of the second part, as Trustees as aforesaid, their successors in office and assigns so long as said premises may be used for church purposes, and no longer. Should the said premises cease to be used for church purposes, then and in that event said land shall revert to and become the property of J.H. Bellamy, and this Deed shall be held and deemed to be null and void.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, the said party of the first part has hereunto set his hand and seal, this the day and year first above written.  M.V. Barnhill, Trustee

Deed book 78, page 170, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

[Update, 4/26/2021 — As reader DC pointed out, I actually do know who J.H. Bellamy was. I needed merely to search my own blog. From C.L. Spellman‘s treatise on Elm City’s Black community: “J.H. Bellamy and his wife Cherry were among the first Negroes to move into the Sharpsburg vicinity. Bellamy was a preacher and a teacher. He did some good work in the general section in both these capacities. Together these two acquired a small tract of farm land. This was held up in his preaching and teaching as an example of what Negroes generally should do in order to succeed in life.”]

An introduction to Sharpsburg.

Per county GIS mapping data, there are two property owners remaining in Wilson County whose named include the word “Colored.” The first I know well — Elm City Colored Cemetery Commission. The second pulled me up short — Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist Church.

Though I have driven through it on U.S. Highway 301 hundreds of times, I know little about Sharpsburg, other than that its town limits straddle three counties — Wilson, Nash and Edgecombe. Because I’m not familiar with the locations of these boundaries, I have not looked closely at Sharpsburg as a source of material for Black Wide-Awake.

I pulled up the GIS map for Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist and was immediately struck by two things.

One, the Wilson County sector of Sharpsburg is cleanly bounded by SE Railroad Street on the west and Main Street on the north. Two, this is the historically Black section of town — the church is there, it is “across the tracks,” and its street names include Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there’s this grainy Google Maps image of the church itself:

Per county tax records, trustees bought the lot at the corner of Railroad and Lincoln Streets in 1915 and built Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist Church in 1920. Another grainy photograph linked to the tax record and date-stamped 2016 shows a large sign mounted on the church tower that reads “Bellamy Chapel P.B. Church.” Bellamy Chapel appears to be defunct as well. 

I’ve added Sharpsburg Colored Primitive Baptist Church to my follow-up list. Stay tuned.