In the 1930 census of Bull Head township, Greene County: Ernest Artis, 50; wife Saddie, 37; and children Robert, 18, Lawyer, 17, Spencer, 15, Ernest, 9, William, 8, Metta, 19, and Sudie, 6.
In the 1940 census of Bull Head township, Greene County: widow Sadie Artis, 45, and children or grandchildren Robert, 25, Lawyer, 24, Spence, 23, Earnest, 19, and William, 1.
Ernest Artis died 21 November 1950 at the Veterans Administration hospital in Kecoughtan, Virginia; lived at 700 Vance Street, Wilson; was born 20 October 1920 in Wilson to Ernest Artis and Sadie Thompson; was single; and worked as a laborer.
On 4 December 1950, Sadie Artis, 700 East Vance Street, applied for a military grave marker for her son Earnest Artis. Per the application, Artis was born 20 October 1920 in Greene County; was inducted on 28 October 1942 and discharged honorably on 26 October 1943; ranked private; and served in Company B, 134th Engineer Training Battalion, Corps of Engineers. He was buried in Artis cemetery near Stantonsburg, and the marker was to be shipped to the Wilson freight station from Proctor, Vermont.
For more about Greene County’s Artis Town, see here. (The sign has been replaced, by the way.) For more about the Artis Town cemetery, where Ernest Artis was buried, see here.
In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Amos Batts, 29; wife Elizabeth, 29; and children Arlettie, 10, James, 8, Roosevelt, 7, and Amos Lee, 5.
In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: widowed farmer Elizabeth Batts, 43; and children James H., 19, Roosevelt, 16, and Leander, 12.
In 1944, Amos Leander Batts registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 May 1926 in Black Creek, N.C.; lived at 1207 Queen Street; his contact was mother Elizabeth B. Batts, 1207 Queen Street; he was a student at Darden High School; and he worked after school for Paul Bissette, Bissette’s Drug Store.
Corporal Batts’ body was eventually recovered and returned to Wilson for burial in Rest Haven Cemetery. On 19 February 1951, his mother applied for a military headstone for his grave.
The reverse of the application card reveals interesting details of Corporal Batts’ military service:
“Prior service: induction and active duty date 6 September 1944 honorably discharged 30January 1946. Re-enlisted 31 January 1946 active duty same date honorably discharged 2 December 1946. Enlisted Reserve Corps from 3 December 1946 to 19 December 1946; re-enlisted on 20 December 1946 discharged under honorable conditions 11 February 1949.”
Presumably, this was service in the U.S. Army. At the time of his death, Batts was enlisted in the U.S. Navy and working aboard USNS Gen. W.F. Hase, a Military Sealift Command vessel.
In the 1930 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, North Carolina: Arthur Braswell, 38; wife Julia, 31; and children John, 10, Mary J., 11, and Charles L., 7.
In 1940, John Junior Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wayne County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1917 in Wayne County; lived in Fremont, N.C.; his contact was father Arthur Braswell; and he worked for his father.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George Farmer, 60, teamster; wife Bettie, 62, laundress; and children George N., 21, teamster, Miner, 19, Aulander, 18, drayman, Willie, 17, farm laborer, Johney, 15, farm laborer, and daughter Emma, 12.
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Finchs Mills Road, George Farmer, 78, livery stable laborer; wife Bettie, 62, laundress; son John, 18, butler; and daughter Emma, 16, nurse.
In 1917, Johnie Farmer registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 February 1895 in Wilson; lived on Finch Mill Road; worked as a butler for Mrs. F.S. Davis, Wilson; and was unmarried.
On 25 July 1919, Johnnie Farmer sailed with Company C, 348th Service Battalion, from Brest, France, to the Port of New York abroad the U.S.S. Finland.
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Bynum Street, Bettie Farmer, 56, widow, and children Emma, 23, cook, and Johnnie, 25, butler.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 714 Stronach Avenue, paying $10/month in rent, cook Johnny Farmer, 50, and his mother Betty, 85, widow.
Johnie Farmer died 30 March 1944 after 912 days at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1893 in Wilson, N.C., to George Farmer and Betsey Crowell [Crumell]; was single; was a cook; was a World War I veteran; and ordinarily lived at 714 Stronach Alley, Wilson. His body was returned to Wilson for burial.
Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III; Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists 1910-1939, http://www.ancestry.com.
In August 1920, James Dempsey Bullock penned a letter to the newspaper urging the city to establish burial plots for World War I soldiers who had died at war in France and whose remains were just then being repatriated. “… [S]ome one should see to it that a beautiful plat in Maplewood cemetery should be set aside for the interment of those whose parents wish them buried there and one in Oakwood for the colored.”
Oakwood, also known as Oakdale and Oaklawn, was Wilson’s first (or maybe second) public cemetery for African-Americans. If the city established a plat for returning soldiers, it is lost. Oakwood had already fallen out of favor as a burial ground by 1920, as families opted for private cemeteries like Rountree, Odd Fellows, or Masonic, or for the city’s newer public cemetery, now known as Vick. Oakwood was essentially abandoned just a few years later, though the city did not move its graves until 1941.
Six African-American Wilson County men — Henry T. Ellis, Benjamin Horne, Luther Harris, Pharaoh Coleman, Frank Barnes, and Vert Vick — were recorded as having died or been killed in service during World War I. It is not clear to which soldier’s body Bullock was referring as expected to arrive in New York.
On 3 June 1919, the Daily Times published a list of Wilson County soldiers who died during World War I. The list is segregated. First in the Colored List is Henry Ellis, who was killed 6 October 1918 and in whose honor Wilson County’s African-American post of the American Legion was named.
Wilson Daily Times, 3 June 1919.
The Daily Times had commemorated Ellis’ death when it received word in December 1918:
“Private Henry Ellis Son of Mrs. Mary J. Howard, Route 1, Wilson, N.C. Died of wounds received in action while fighting for his country and oppressed humanity.” Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1918.
In the 1870 census of Chesterfield township, Nash County, N.C.: farmer Martin Lucus, 52; wife Eliza, 42; and children Irvin, 19, Neverson, 16, Sidney, 13, Eliza, 7, Westray, 6, Anne, 4, and Mary, 2.
In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Eatmon, 66, wife Eliza Eatmon, 50, daughters AmandaLocus, 18, and Mary J. Locus, 14, “son-in-law” Asa Locus, 10, and “daughter-in-law” Lougene Locus, 4, Margaret Howard, 21, and Harriet Howard, 2. [Nelson Eatmon married Eliza Locust on 28 January 1880 in Wilson County. The Locuses’ relationship designations are obviously erroneous; they were Nelson Eatmon’s stepchildren.]
On 6 February 1887, Warren Ellis, 19, of Wilson County, married Mary Jane Locust, 19, of Wilson County, in Wilson County. Phillis Ellis was one of the witnesses.
In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Mary J. Ellis, 34, widow, and children Willis, 12, Walter, 9, William, 8, Henry, 5, and Lou, 4.
In the 1910 census of Jackson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Mary Jane Ellis, 44, and children Henry, 16, Louise, 13, and Charles, 6; and brother Neverson Lucas, 56.
Henry Ellis registered for the World War I draft in Nash County, N.C, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 November 1895 in Wilson County; lived at Route 2, Bailey; was a tenant farmer for Elijah Griffin; and was single. He signed his card in a neat, well-practiced hand: “Henry T. Ellis.”
In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Mary Howard, 52, widow; son Charlie Ellis, 17; and sister Luginer Colman, 45, widow.
Mary J. Howard died 20 June 1936 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Manuel Howard; was 65 years old; and was born in Wilson County to Martin Locus and Louisa Brantley. Gray Ellis was informant.
Henry T. Ellis, then, was the son of Warren Ellis and Mary Jane Locus Ellis and stepson of Manuel Howard. He was descended (or connected) on his mother’s side from several free families of color with deep roots in the area of western Wilson County — Locuses, Brantleys, Eatmons, Howards — and on his father’s from Hilliard and Faribee Ellis, a formerly enslaved couple who established a prosperous farm in the New Hope area shortly after the Civil War.
I have seen no evidence that Ellis’ body was returned to Wilson County for burial. His parents, grandparents, and siblings are buried in Hilliard Ellis cemetery, but there is no marked grave for him there.
James Edward Barnes (1926-1955), in his World War II uniform.
In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Frank Barnes, 22, farm laborer; wife Iantha, 17; and children James E., 4, and Oza, 1.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 311 New Bern Street, owned and valued at $700, John Scott, 82; wife Sarah, 42, cook; son-in-law Fate Daill, 38, tobacco factory laborer; Fate’s wife Iantha, 32, tobacco factory laborer; their children Ollie, 15, and Clyde, 10; and grandchildren James, 14, Inza, 13, and Atha Barnes, 12.
James Edward Barnes registered for the World War II draft in 1944. Per his registration card, he was born 26 February 1926 in Wilson County; lived at 410 Lane Street; his mailing address was 1018 1/2 Wainwright Avenue; was unemployed; and his contact was Iantha Dale.
On 26 May 1947, James Edward Barnes, 21, of Wilson, son of Frank Barnes and Iantha Scott Barnes, married Dorothy Lee Watson, 18, daughter of John McNeal and Virginia Pendergrass, at Watson’s grandmother’s house in Toisnot township. Elder William Mercer performed the ceremony in the presence of Joseph Knight, Leland Pendergrass, and Jannie Barron.
James Edward Barnes died 5 December 1955 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 29 February 1926 in Wilson County to Frank Barnes and Iantha Scott; was married; was a World War II veteran; worked as a candy cook for Acme Candy Company; and lived at 307 Lane Street, Wilson. Informant was Dorothy Lee Barnes.
Dorothy Watson Barnes applied for a military headstone for James Edward Barnes on 6 December 1955 via Talmon Hunter of Hunter’s Funeral Home. The application indicated that he served in the U.S. Navy as a Steward’s Mate 2nd Class between June and November 1944
Poppy Day — per the American Legion’s website, “On September 27, 1920, the poppy became the official flower of The American Legion family to memorialize the soldiers who fought and died during the war. In 1924, the distribution of poppies became a national program of The American Legion.”