Town of Stantonsburg

Mother Rosa Edwards Yelverton of Saint Luke F.W.B. Church.

Rosa Edwards Yelverton (1890-1992).


In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: widow Annie Edwards, 69; daughter Rosa, 49, cook; son Josh, 35, lumber laborer; and daughter Hildrene, 14.

In 1950 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Josh Edwards, 43, hauls logs; sister Rosa, 57; and nephew Hubert, 7.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 July 1992.

Photo courtesy of Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church, Stantonsburg. Thank you!

Mother Emma F. Winstead of Saint Luke F.W.B. Church.

Emma Ford Winstead (1891-1950).


On 21 July 1917, Emma Ford, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Smith and Mary Ford, married Walter Winstead, 20, of Stantonsburg, son of James and Eliza Winstead, in Wilson.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm tenant Walter Winstead, 23; wife Emma, 24; and daughter Anlizer, 2.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Walter Winstead, 39; wife Emma, 30, washwoman; and children Anna Liza, 12, Nancy B., 10, Clara, 8. Walter L., 6, Milton, 5, Clarence, 3, and Willie, 1.

In 1942, Walter Lee Winstead registered for the World War II in Wilson County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 12 October 1924 in Wilson County, N.C.; lived in Stantonsburg; his contact was his mother Emma Winstead; he worked “helping father on farm,” and had a scar on his right cheek.

In the 1950 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Walter Winstead, 45; wife Emma, 50; and children Nancy, 28, Walter, 23, Clarence, 20, Willie, 19, Lois, 18, Jessie, 10, and William, 6.

Photo courtesy of Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church, Stantonsburg. Thank you!

The Peacock house.

An unidentified African-American woman stands with three white adults while holding a white child. Behind them, the house built in Stantonsburg about 1860 by James B. Peacock and later owned by Jonathan Applewhite, John L. Yelverton, and Yelverton’s descendants. The photo is undated, but was taken before 1914, when an enormous portico was added to the front of the house.

Though this photo was taken well after slavery, enslaved people lived and worked in this house. Peacock reported four enslaved people in the 1860 federal slave schedule — an 18 year-old woman and three girls aged 10, 3, and 1. His mother, Sarah Peacock, who lived with him, reported another eight enslaved people — men and boys aged 60, 52, 23, 4, and 2, and women and girls aged 50, 19, and one month. Per the population schedule, the Peacock household also included free people of color, Eliza Hall, 45, and her children William, 15, Patrick, 14, Margaret, 13, Lou, 12, and Balum, 11, whose father was James B. Woodard. 

Photo courtesy of Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981).

County schools, no. 19.2: Stantonsburg School.

This “Stantonsburg Negro School History,” found in Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981), offers a detailed account of Stantonsburg Colored School‘s early history. 


“The first reference to schooling for the Negro children in Stantonsburg Township is found in the County School Board Minutes of September 1887. ‘The colored children living on lands of William Applewhite, William Barnes, Uriah Amerson, W.J. Batts, Edwin Barnes and Frank Barnes be assigned to District Number 29.’ The location of this school is unknown at this time.

“Books and charts used by both the Negro and White schools in 1893 were published by the American Book Company.

“Very little is known about the early Negro school except there was a school for colored children in Stantonsburg prior to 1913 proven by the fact that the county Board of Education appointed H.E. Thompson, J.C. Stanton and C.L. Coon, a committee in the latter year with power to act relative to moving the colored school.

“In December of 1916, the county Board of Education voted to appropriate $75.00 to remodel the colored school. It was located just outside the city limits on Highway #58, approximately one-fourth mile from the corner of Highway #58 and Saratoga Road, on the Johnnie Page corn mill site; now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Holton.

“On March 3, 1919, the county School Board ‘agreed to sell to the colored Masonic Lodge of Stantonsburg the colored school house of that district for $900.00, provided that the colored people of said district raise $600.00 with which to erect a new colored school building.’ The county agreed to appropriate $250.00 for the new building. At the November 3rd meeting, the chairman and secretary were instructed to ‘make a deed for the Stantonsburg Colored School House and lot upon the payment of purchase money by Lodges of Masons and Knights of Gideon.’

“When the county board convened for the December 1st meeting, it was reported that the colored school house had burned since the last meeting and the following agreement was made:

“1. The Masonic and Gideon Lodges, colored of Stantonsburg, having paid $500.00 on the purchase of the colored school house it is ordered that $300.00 of the amount be returned to the two lodges.

“2. It was agreed that the county board will deed one-quarter acre of the colored school lot to these lodges for a site for a lodge building free of cost.

“After the fire in 1919, school was held in the St. Luke Free Will Baptist Church for the years 1920-1923.

“Land for the new school was acquired from R.M. Whitley. The building was completed in 1924 and is located on Macon Avenue. School was held in the four classrooms, wood framed building until it was closed down in 1951-52 and sold to Elijah Wood. The school was heated by wood and coal heaters.

“In 1951-52, the pupils were transferred to Speight’s School located between Stantonsburg and Saratoga, North Carolina.

“Very little is known about the very early teachers, except in 1916-17 we know that there were two teachers. Other records have been lost or misplaced.

“The following list of teachers and principals was found at the Wilson County Board of Education in Wilson. The earliest known teachers were: W.S. Ward, 1892-1896, District Number 29; E.L. Reide, 1894-1896; E.L. Reide and Clarissa Williams, 1898, District Number 10. [A list of teachers and principals from 1920s through 1952 follows; it will be the subject of another post.]”


A few observations:

  • The boundaries of earliest rural school districts for African-American children were contiguous with large farms on which large numbers of Black families lived and worked as tenant farmers or farm laborers. This begs the question of where children who did not live on such farms went to school.
  • “Saratoga Road” is now NC Highway 222. I am unable to further pinpoint the location of this school from the info provided. (Does anyone recognize these landmarks: Johnnie Page’s corn mill or the Holton home?)
  • The paragraph about the land purchases involving the Masonic lodge and Knights of Gideon clarifies information set forth in a Rosenwald School report concerning Barnes School, which was located a few miles northwest of Stantonsburg, a bit north of present-day Speight Middle School. I have made notations on the post regarding that school.
  • Does anyone recall the name or location of the Prince Hall lodge in Stantonsburg?
  • The site most closely associated with this school was the Macon Street location purchased in 1924. 
  • I have not identified W.S. Ward, but E.L. Reide was Elijah L. Reid, the Wayne County-born veterinarian who practiced (and apparently taught) in Stantonsburg before relocating to Wilson. Clarissa Williams was also a Wayne County native and moved to Wilson to teach and, eventually, become principal of the Colored Graded School.

Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church.

I was peering at the cornerstone of Stantonsburg’s 105 year-old Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church when a small pickup truck pulled up behind me. Mother Annie Dupree stepped out and asked me to identify myself. After I established my bona fides — we are not related, but share kin — I was invited into the sanctuary and given both a tour and a history of the church. Before I left an hour later, I’d purchased a commemorative brick — HONORING HISTORY/ LISA Y HENDERSON/ BLACK WIDE AWAKE — and gotten permission to take pictures of pictures of a half-dozen early church leaders and write about them here. Stay tuned.


Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church.

Rev. Hubert Tyson shared here his vivid memories of attending services at Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church in Stantonsburg. Travelers Rest was site of Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association’s 1923 annual session.

This undated photograph of the church appears in Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981).

Alec Donald found dead beside railroad.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 October 1923.


In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lawson Donald, 23; wife Mariah, 20; and Ellic, 6, Rufus, 1, and Hamilton Donald, 12.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lawson Donnell, 39; wife Maria, 35; and children Alex, 16, Rufus, 11, Sallie, 8, Moses, 6, Lawson Jr., 2, Eunice, 4, and Ann, 1.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Alexander Donald, 37; aunt Lizzie Williams, 67, washerwoman; and niece Elizabeth B. Williams, 12, nurse girl.

On 22 January 1902, Alex Donald, 39, of Stantonsburg, son of Lawson and Moriah Donald, married Adline Barnes, 26, daughter of Lewis and Allie Barnes, in Stantonsburg.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, which he owned, Alex Donald, 58, farm [croper?], and wife Adline, 44.

On 29 February 1920, Willie Donald, 31, of Stantonsburg, son of Alex Donald and Mandy Donald, married Pearl Melton, 28, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Ella Donald, at a church in Wilson. Free Will Baptist minister J.E. Brown performed the ceremony in the presence of E.S. Hargrove, C.C. Worthington, and E.H. Cox.

On 7 November 1920, Albert Thompson, 21, of Stantonsburg, son of Alex Donald and Frances T. Artis, married Ida Whitley, 17, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Council and Ida Whitley, at Council Whitley’s in Stantonsburg. Elder Isaac Barfield performed the ceremony.

Alex Donald died 14 October 1923 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1854 in Wilson County to Lawson Donald; was married to Adline Donald; worked as a day laborer; and was buried in Bethel Cemetery. Cause of death: “Killed by train.”

Per probate records, on 27 November 1923, A.P. Moore applied for letters of administration for Donald’s estate, estimating its value at $400 and his heirs as wife Adline Donald and one brother.

Adline Donald died 1 January 1931 at a state hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

In 1945, fourteen years after Adline’s death, Alex Donald’s heirs filed a petition to divide what remained of his estate. Though his children seem not to have survived, several of his siblings — far more than the one brother — laid claim to “certain real estate located in the Town of Stantonsburg … known as the Alex Donald lots.” Lawson Donald Jr. and wife Fannie Speight Donald were living in Johnston County, N.C. Rufus Donald had migrated to Baltimore, Maryland, at least 40 years earlier. I have not been able to locate Moses Donald.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 March 1945.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

County schools, no. 19: Stantonsburg School.

The nineteenth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Stantonsburg School

Stantonsburg School is listed in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.” 

In 1926, state assistant agent for Negro schools William F. Credle prepared a report on Wilson County’s Rosenwald schools. It included this notation: “Stantonsburg: This is a three-teacher building building similar to the Saratoga [school] building. However, the building and grounds were in better condition. As in the other schools the chimneys should be provided with terra cotta thimbles and the equipment should be reconditioned and more seats should be provided. This building is provided with a stage which should be removed as it takes up a large part of classroom space in one of the classrooms and its location makes it necessary for the seats to face in the wrong direction. If a stage is permitted in any small building, it should be a removable affair to be used only for public exercises and at commencement time. The sanitary privies at this school were provided with pits and were in very good condition. There is evidence that the teachers at this school took a pride in their work and in the buildings.”

Location:  A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Stantonsburg School on present-day N.C. Highway 58, just northeast of Stantonsburg. It appears that it is placed outside its actual location because the map is rather cluttered in the town proper. Stantonsburg Colored School stood on North Whitley Street, on the far east side of Stantonsburg.

The former site of Stantonsburg School in the block bounded by North Whitley Street and West Macon Avenue, Stantonsburg.

Per sale advertised for several weeks in the Wilson Daily Times in the fall of 1951: “STANTONSBURG COLORED SCHOOL in Stantonsburg Township, containing 2 acres more or less, and more particularly described as follows: BEGINNING on Whitley Street at a stake, thence South 62 [degrees] West 280 feet to a stake, thence North 28 [degrees] West 295 feet to a ditch, thence with the center of the ditch North 55 [degrees] 29′ East 281.7 feet to a stake, thence South 28 [degrees] East 327 feet to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a judgment recorded in Book 146, at page 343, in the office of the Register of Deeds of Wilson County.”

Known faculty: principal Arnold G. Walker.

Stantonsburg School as seen in a 1940 aerial photograph.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

Like jumping on a holy trampoline.

A number of readers commented on my recent post about Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association, particularly sharing memories of Rev. Wiley Barnes and Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church, one of three Wilson County churches in the association. Rev. Hubert Tyson identified the location of another, Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church, which stood next door to Saint Luke Freewill Baptist Church at the eastern end of Church Street in Stantonsburg.

Rev. Tyson’s grandmother Lillie Thompson Fox Bass was a devoted Primitive Baptist and, even after migrating to Delaware, returned to Stantonsburg every year to attend the annual Association gathering. Says Rev. Tyson, who accompanied her visits to Travelers Rest and Corner Line:

“Ma Lillie was faithful. I always went inside with her. Boy, did I have questions. At first I thought they were singing in a diverse dialect, so she gave one of her old hymn books so that I could sing along. At least five preachers preached each service. No piano, but they didn’t need it. Their tribal rhythm was in the house. Everyone drank out of the same water dipper. Everyone hugged as well as kissed in the mouth (while they still had snuff in their mouth.) While singing, they partnered off with in-sync hand-shaking to the rhythm, rocking the weak shacking of the floor’s foundation. It was similar to jumping on a holy trampoline. I enjoyed taking her there.”


On 26 January 1919, Walter Fox, 21, of Greene County, son of Henry and Hattie Fox, married Lillie Thompson, 18, of Greene County, daughter of Will and Kitsey Thompson, in Lindell township, Greene County.

In the 1920 census of Bull Head township, Greene County, N.C.: Walter Fox, 22,  wife Lillie, 20, and Mabell, 3 months.

In the 1930 census of Eureka township, Wayne County, N.C.: Walter Fox, 35; wife Lillie, 34; and children Rosa M., 11, Walter L., 9, Willie, 7, Jessie L., 5, Minnie, 2, and Walter Jr., 6 months.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Main Street, widow Lillie Fox, 40, domestic, and children Rosa Lee, 20, cook, Walter Henry, 18, Willie, 17, Minnie, 15, domestic, Jesse Lee, 13, and Alexander, 9; plus lodger Willie Bynum, 16.

Lillie Thompson Fox Bass died 25 June 1988 in Lincoln, Delaware.

Thank you, Rev. Hubert Tyson, for sharing these memories!