At the entrance to my parents’ neighborhoods, signs for these candidates — George K. Butterfield for United States Congress, Milton F. “Toby” Fitch Jr. for North Carolina Senate, Jean Farmer Butterfield for North Carolina House of Representatives, and Calvin L. Woodard for Sheriff. I was struck by the deep roots that all have in Wilson County.
Toby Fitch’s maternal Dunstan ancestors were free people of color in antebellum Wilson County and his Whitteds and Beckwiths arrived before the turn of the 20th century.
“Farmer” is a classic Wilson name, and Jean Farmer Butterfield’s father Floyd Willie Farmer was a force in the effort to get Wilson County to build rural high schools for African-Americans in the 1940s.
Calvin L. Woodard is descended on his mother’s side from Benjamin and Violet Barnes, were well into middle age and newly freed from slavery when they registered their long marriage in Wilson County in 1866.