veteran

Memorial Day salute in Stantonsburg.

A few weeks ago, I received an email from Jose A. Rivera Jr., a police officer in Stantonsburg. Officer Rivera is a relative newcomer to Wilson County and his patrols led him past a small cemetery on the edge of town. He is a veteran and was particularly interested in the military headstones he found. He also saw a marker for William H. Hall. The cemetery is badly overgrown in areas, and Officer Rivera and his chief of police wished to clean it up and place flags on the graves of these veterans that are laid to rest there.

Officer Rivera came across Black Wide-Awake while searching for more information about the cemetery and learned that it is owned by Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church. My cousins’ family, descended from William Hall, have been members for generations, and I was able to provide him a contact information for a church member.

This morning, Officer Rivera emailed me again: “In observance of Memorial Day, our Police Department placed a flag at each of the military headstones that we found at the Bethel AME Zion Church Cemetery.” And he attached photos. (Where available, I’ve added the applications for these markers.)

  • Pvt. Oscar Isler, World War I

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  • M. Sgt. James B. Newsome, World War II and Korea

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  • Milton Winstead, World War II

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  • Robert Farmer, World War I

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  • Sgt. Booker Tarrant, World War I

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  • Leroy Ellis

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  • PFC James F. Ward, World War II

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  • Pvt. Council T. Reid, World War I

  • SFC Willie L. Speight, World War II

I look forward to seeing the results of Stantonsburg Police Department’s collaboration with Bethel A.M.E. Zion to clear this historic cemetery.

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Officer Rivera pays his respects.

Photos courtesy of Jose A. Rivera Jr.; Headstone Applications for Military Veterans 1925-1963, ancestry.com.

The remains of West Vick, a colored soldier, return.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 1919.

In the 1900 census of Stony Creek township, Nash County: farm laborer John Vick, 45; wife Hanna, 40; and children Tassey, 21, Clara, 19, Johnnie, 17, Berry, 15, Elisha, 13, Joseph, 10, Westray, 9, Paul 3, and Baby, 1.

Wesley Vick, 21, son of John and Hannah Vick, married Sarah Locus, 20, daughter of Jesse and Florida Locus, on 25 May 1912, in Wilson.

Thomas Kerney, old soldier.

Though Thomas Kerney‘s death certificate describes him as an “old solder,” he appears to have been too young to have served during the Civil War. Nor have I found any military record for him. Thomas and Silvey Kerney are not listed in Wilson County census records.

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UPDATE: 20 January 2020. Obviously, I didn’t look hard enough. Thomas Kearney enlisted in the United States Army in 1881 and served nearly till the end of his life.

On 15 August 1881, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 21 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 4 December 1886, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years, 5 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 3 December 1891 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 16 December 1891, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Washington, D.C. Per the enlistment register, he was 31 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had dark brown eyes, black hair and brown complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company I; and was discharged 15 December 1896 in Fort Robinson, Nebraska, as a private.

On 23 December 1896, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Charleston, South Carolina. Per the enlistment register, he was 26 years old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a laborer; had brown eyes, hair and complexion; was 5’5 3/4″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 14 August 1886 in Fort Washakie, Wyoming, as a private.

On 23 December 1899, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Fort Apache, Arizona. Per the enlistment register, he was 39 years, 7 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and black complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry; and was discharged 22 December 1902 in Monterey, California, as a private.

In the 1900 Military and Naval Population Schedule, Philippine Islands, 9th Cavalry: Kearney, Thomas, colored, 39, born in Tarboro, North Carolina.

On 13 January 1903, Thomas Kearney enlisted in San Francisco, California. Per the enlistment register, he was 42 years, 6 months old; was born in Tabor, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and dark complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company C; and was discharged 12 January 1906 in Fort Riley, Kansas, as a private.

On 19 January 1906, Thomas Kearney enlisted in Kansas City, Missouri. Per the enlistment register, he was 45 years, 6 months old; was born in Tarboro, North Carolina; was a soldier; had brown eyes, black hair and complexion; was 5’5 1/2″; enlisted in the 9th Cavalry, Company M; and was discharged 9 January 1908 at Presidio, San Francisco, California, as a private.

U.S. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914, http://www.ancestry.com.

The sixteenth to fall.

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Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1918.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Raleigh Road, farmer Simon Horne, 53; wife Nancy, 43; children Louisa, 22, Matha, 18, Benjamin, 17, Minnie, 14, Annie B., 12, Darling, 10, Thomas, 8, William, 6, and Tobe, 4; grandson Freeman, 4 months; and mother-in-law Bunny Barnes, 78, widow.

Front of Benjamin Horne’s draft registration card.

Army transport passenger list.

U.S. Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939, database on-line, http://www.ancestry.com.

The “colored” who gave all.

The walls of the narrow entryway into the Wilson County Court House are lined with large bronze plaques commemorating the county’s war dead. Look carefully at the World War I and World War II/Korean Conflict plaques. The areas containing veterans’ names are lighter than the surrounding surfaces; the names are picked out in a shinier paint. Why?

The names are embossed on plates secured to the plaques at each corner by small rosettes disguising bolts. These plates are replacements. The originals contained segregated lists. In other words, “colored” men “who gave the last full measure of devotion” were listed separately from their white counterparts.

A 10 April 1976 Wilson Daily Times article about the installation of a Vietnam vets plaque reveals photographs of the original plaques for the earlier wars:

The colored: Henry Ellis, killed 6 October 1918 (Wilson’s African-American post of the American Legion was named for Ellis); Benjamin Horne, died 10 October 1918; Pharaoh Coleman, died 17 October 1918; Luther Harris, died 17 October 1918; Strat Barnes, died 5 December 1918; West Vick, died 11 March 1919; Charles Barnes, died 28 July 1919; and Charles Samuel Clay, died 17 August 1919.

The colored: Levi Adger, Robert E. Ashford, Norman Gilliam, Victor Emanuel Hayes, Less Hinnant, Bobby H. Hyman, James Johnson, Thomas Jones Jr., Claude Kenan Jr., Willie J. Lassiter, Charles Leak, William R. Robinson, Thomas J. Rutland, Herbert L. Simms, Bekay Thompson and Mayo Ward.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, August 2019.

He is a Wilson negro and a bad one at that.

One hundred years ago today:

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The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 March 1919.

  • Kit Shaw
  • Luther Barbour — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 East Nash, John Barber, 27; wife Ethel, 26; mother Sallie, 59, teacher; and brother Luther, 32. Luther is described as single.

Studio shots, no. 97: Albert Howard, soldier.

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Albert Howard (1892-1956).

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Deal Howard, 39; wife Nancy, 39; and children John, 16, Christian, 14, Oscar, 11, Ettie, 10, Albert, 7, Thomas, 5, Alvin, 3, Herman, 1, and Tiner, 0.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Horne’s Road, farmer Zelius Howard Jr., 49; wife Nancy, 49; and children Albert, 17, Thomas, 15, Alvin, 13, Herman, 11, Tina, 9, Florence, 7, and Ella, 5.

In 1917, Albert Howard registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born in 1892 in Wilson; was single; and farmed for himself.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Deal Howard, 58; wife Nancy, 60; and Albert, 28, Herman, 22, Tiner, 19, and Florence, 17.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Albert Howard, 35, farmer; mother Nancy, 75; and James, 11, and Tommie Howard, 9.

Albert Howard died 3 August 1956 in Taylors township. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 February 1890 in Wilson County to Dill Howard and Nancy Black; was married to Ida Howard; was a farm laborer; was a World War I veteran; and was buried in Howard cemetery, Wilson County.

Photograph courtesy of Europe A. Farmer.