Wayne County NC

Family ties, no. 1: a shoebox full of food.

Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of African-American migrants in the decades after the 1890s. Many left family behind in their home counties, perhaps never to be seen again. Others maintained ties the best way they could.

Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. left Dudley, in southern Wayne County, North Carolina, around 1905. They came to Wilson presumably for better opportunities off the farm. Each remained firmly linked, however, to parents and children and siblings back in Wayne County as well as in the Great Migration north. This post is the first in a series of excerpts from interviews with Hattie Henderson Ricks, their adoptive daughter (and Sarah’s great-niece), revealing the ways her Wilson family stayed connected to their far-flung kin. (Or didn’t.)

Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, born in 1872, was the eighth of nine children. By time she moved to Wilson, only her brothers James Lucian Henderson, born 1859, and Caswell C. Henderson, born 1865, were living. (Hattie was her sister Loudie Henderson’s grandchild.) Caswell had migrated to New York City by about 1890, but Lucian remained in Dudley to farm. He and his wife, Susan McCollum Henderson, had only one child, who died in early adulthood without a spouse or children.

Susie Henderson had long been sickly and, by the late 1920s, Lucian Henderson’s health had begun to fail. Jesse Jacobs’ nephew, John Wesley Carter, lived nearby. He had developed a close relation with the Hendersons, but could not be expected to assume complete responsibility for their care.

The family turned to the Atlantic Coast Line Rail Road for a solution:

“Mama Sarah [would] fix dinner and send it down to Dudley on the train. The man that run the whatchacallit — engine?  Up there, where stokes the fire or whatever is on the train. He would take it.  But she would tell what day she was gon send it. And so somebody’d be up there to the train station to get it.  And the train, ‘cause a lot of time the train didn’t stop in Dudley. But anyway, the man, the conductor, he would pull the thing, whatever, for the train to stop long enough for him to drop off this package.  … Somebody she’d have be out there when the train come through, and then the porter on the train — Mama knew him —  and so then Johnnie and them or somebody be out there to take the package. It’d be a shoebox full of food, already cooked and ready to eat. So that’s the way they helped Uncle Lucian and A’nt Susie, like that. Until they died, and so that was the end of trying to feed them and take care of them.”

Look closely at this snippet of a 1936 map of the Atlantic Coast Line’s routes. Wilson is just above the center point. Lucian and Susie Henderson’s care packages traveled south through Goldsboro to the whistle stop at Dudley’s platform, nine miles below and just above Mount Olive.

Adapted from interviews of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, 1996 and 1998. All rights reserved. 

Lots in Dudley.

My grandmother, Hattie Henderson Ricks, inherited two lots in the southern Wayne County town of Dudley from Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, her great-aunt and foster mother. [Because she had been informally adopted by Sarah and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., my grandmother used the surname Jacobs until adulthood, when she reverted to Henderson.]

Sarah Jacobs, who moved to Wilson about 1905, supported her parents  in their final years, sending them food via train and building a small house in Dudley proper closer to neighbors and family. My grandfather recalled:

Mama had the lot where the house was, where Grandma Mag [Margaret Balkcum Henderson (1836-1915)] lived. Had that house built for her. The house they was staying in was up by the railroad, was just about to fall down. Somewhere down up there by where the Congregational Church is. And she built that house down there next to Babe Winn. I don’t think it was but one room. The porch, one room, and a little shed kitchen, a little, small, like a closet almost, and had the stove in it. Then had a stove in the room where she was, one of them round-bellied stoves where you take the top off and put wood in it. I remember that.

Just recently, we discovered documents related to the purchase of these lots. They were in this envelope from the Wayne County Register of Deeds, postmarked 11 August 1941 and addressed to my grandmother at 1109 Queen Street in Wilson. (She penciled in updated addresses as she moved in the 1940s and ’50s.) Sarah Jacobs Silver died in 1938, and I imagine my grandmother received this letter pursuant to the settlement of her estate.

There was this promissory note for the purchase for $20 of lots 15 and 16 of block number 2. It is signed “Sary Jackobs” by someone other than Sarah Jacobs.

And then another, dated 16 October 1911 at Dudley, that she did sign. (Her address was given as 106 Elba Street, Wilson, which was an early designation for 303 Elba.) A notation scribbled in pencil across it confirms that she timely paid off the purchase price.

Exum dies after being struck with brick.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 July 1934.

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In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County, N.C.: farmer Jesse Artis, 37; widowed mother Loucinda, 67; sister Ada, 35; brother Claud, 30; and nephew Leslie Exum, 13.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Exum Leslie (c) r 310 N Reid

On 11 December 1929, Leslie Exum, 23, of Wilson, son of Will and Ada Exum, married Beulah Artis, 20, of Nahunta township, daughter of W.M. and Etta Artis, in Nahunta township, Wayne County, N.C. A.M.E. Zion minister J.E. Kennedy performed the ceremony in the presence of C.E. Artis of Wilson, V.E. Manly of Mount Olive, and E.G. Boney of Mount Olive. [Leslie Exum and Beulah Artis were cousins. His maternal grandfather Jesse Artis was the brother of her father William M. Artis, making them first cousins once removed. Columbus E. Artis, their great-uncle and uncle, respectively, was a witness to the ceremony.]

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 North Reid, hospital orderly Henry A. Best, 38; wife Anney C., 40, laundress; children Thelma, 13, Dubsette, 8, and Reatha, 6; and lodgers Leslie, 23, taxi driver, and Bertha Exam, 20.

Leslie Exum died 4 July 1934 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 27 years old; was born in Wayne County to Willie Exum and Ada Artis; lived at 304 North Reid Street; was married to Beulah Exum; and worked as a taxi driver.

 

Studio shots, no. 173: Paul Applewhite.

Paul Applewhite (1878-1955).

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In the 1880 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Luke Applewhite, 67; wife Sara, [age illegible; and sons Henry, 11, and Paul, 2.

In the 1900 census of Fremont township, Wayne County: Luke Applewhite, 64, “renter” [i.e. tenant farmer]; wife Sarah, 70, “washing & orning”; daughter Lizzie, 25, “feale work,” and Caro., 8, “laborr,”and sons Paul, 22, “farmer haird,” Noah, 20, day laborer Davie, 16, Peter, 13, and Moses, 10, farm laborers. 

Paul Applewhite, 25, of Wayne County, son of Luke and Sarah Applewhite, married Mary Eliza Thompson, 21, of Wayne County, daughter of Penny Thompson, on 10 January 1905 near Fremont, Nahunta township, Wayne County. A.L. Rountree was a witness.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Paul Applewhite, 32; wife Mary Eliza, 23; and children Penny, 5, and Sarah, 1.

In 1918, Paul Applewhite registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born January 1878; lived at Route 3, Lucama, Wilson County; farmed for W.H. Tomlinson, Lucama; and his nearest relative was Mary Eliza Applewhite.

Pennie Applewhite died 29 June 1918 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 28 July 1905 in Wilson to Paul Applewhite and Mary Eliza Thompson; and was buried in the John Moore grave yard.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Paul Applewhite, 43; wife Mary, 28; and children Sarah, 10, John, 9, May, 7, Walter, 5, Pauline, 4, and Herman, 2.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Paul Applewhite, 56; wife Mary L., 42; and children Sarah, 2, John, 20, Mabel, 18, Walter, 16, Pauline, 15, and Herman, 10.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 306 Walnut Street, Paul Applewhite, 66; wife Mary Eliza, 48, cook; children Sarah, 31, laundress; Mary Belle, 27, farm laborer; Walter, 25, gasoline filling station attendant; Pauline, 24, cook and nurse; and Herman, 20, gas station attendant; and grandson William, 8.

In 1940, Walter Applewhite registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his draft registration, he was born 28 July 1915 in Fremont, N.C.; lived at 306 East Walnut Street, Wilson; his contact was father Paul Applewhite; and he worked for Lester Watson, “cor. Barnes & Lloyd Wilson.”

Herman Applewhite died 3 February 1946 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 November 1919 in Wilson County to Paul Applewhite and Mary Thompson; worked as a laborer; lived at 306 East Walnut; was married to Delories Applewhite; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Pauline Applewhite, 523 South Lodge Street, was informant.

Paul Applewhite died 6 May 1955 at his home at 306 East Walnut Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 January 1881 in Wayne County, N.C., to Luke Applewhite and Sarah Greene; was a laborer; and was married. Mary Applewhite was informant.

John Ive Applewhite died 25 June 1967 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 28 April 1910 in Wayne County to Paul Applewhite and Mary Liza Thompson; lived at 306 East Walnut; was married; and worked as a laborer.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user sheppard4.

Studio shots, no. 167: Council T. Reid.

Council T. Reid (1897-1951).

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In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County, N.C.: farmer William Reid, 48; wife Bettie, 45; Pinkney, 18; Hattie, 14; Maggie, 11; Milton, 9, Iantha, 7, Council, 5, William S., 3, and Louisa, 3 months.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer William Reid, 59; wife Bettie, 54; and children Hattie, 23, Milton, 19, Iantha, 16, Council, 15, Vestus, 13, Loumisa, 11, Ghorom, 8, and Madie, 5.

In 1917, Council Troy Reid registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 12 July 1895 near Eureka, N.C.; lived in Stantonsburg; and worked as a farmer near Eureka.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer William Reid, 63; wife Bettie, 52; and children Iantha M., 25, Council, 23, Vester, 21, and his wife Hattie, 19, Gorum, 17, Mater, 14, [granddaughter?] Marain, 7, and [grandson?] Melab, 15 months.

Council Reed, 28, of Stantonsburg, son of Wm. and Bettie Edwards [sic], married Mary Edwards, 21, of Stantonsburg, daughter of John and Nealie Edwards, on 26 December 1923 in Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion A.J. Rhodes performed the ceremony in the presence of Patrick Exum, Ghorum Reid, and Robert Gay.

In the 1930 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farm laborer Council Reid, 35; wife Mary, 27; and children Nolia, 4, and Lee, 1.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Old Wilson Road, farm laborer Council Reid, 42; wife Mary, 37; and children Knowles, 13, Ulyses, 11, Sedrice, 5, Sadie M., 3, and Wm. Henry, 1.

In 1946, Ulyses Sam Reid registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 23 August 1928 in Wilson County; lived on Route 4, Wilson; his contact was father Council Reid; and he worked for Council Reid.

Council Troy Reid died 29 August 1951 in Walstonburg, Green County. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 July 1895 in Wayne County to William Reid and Betty Wilson; was a widower; was a farmer; was a World War I veteran; and was buried in Bethel Cemetery, Stantonsburg. Knowless Reid Dupree was informant.

On 10 June 1954, H.M. Fitts applied for a military headstone for Council T. Reid. The application noted that Reid had enlisted on 18 July 1918, had served in 860 Co. Trans. Corps, and had been discharged 5 August 1919. [Per the fascinating blog Black Soldiers Mattered, “[t]he Transportation Corps were stevedore companies responsible for loading and unloading the vast war materials that arrived at the ports of Brest, St. Nazaire, Bordeaux, Havre, and Marseilles[, France]. Each company had 250 African American soldiers and three white officers.”

The obituary of John R. Reid, house carpenter.

John R. Reid was a descendant of Rhoda Reid, a free woman of color, and her enslaved husband David Reid, who lived in Nahunta township, Wayne County, north of present-day Eureka. As described here, many of the Reids migrated into Wilson around the turn of the twentieth century. Though veterinarian Elijah L. Reid and school principal and banker J.D. Reid were most prominent, the Wilson branch of Reids included several notable carpenters. John Right Reid, born in 1887 to Isaiah and Edith Evans Reid, was one.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 December 1960.

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In the 1900 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County: farmer Isiah Reed, 47; wife Eidie, 34; and children John W[right]., 17, Ida L., 15, Oscar, 8, Bessie J., 5, Waid J., 4, and Parthenie, 2. 

Johnie Reid married Laura Anderson on 17 December 1906 in Wayne County, N.C.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, wagon shop laborer Johnie Reid, 25; wife Laura, 21; and children Louisa, 3, Odell, 2, and George W., 2 months.

In 1918, John Right Read registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 October 1884; lived at 105 4th Street, Wilson; worked as a carpenter for Emmett L. Winn, Pine Street, Wilson; and his nearest relative was Laura Reid. He signed his name “John Rite Reid.”

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in Fourth Street, house carpenter John Reid, 34; wife Laura, 31; and children Odell, 11, John Jr., 8, Augustus, 7, Elton, 6, Eula, 4, Alfonso, 2, and Sammie, 9 months.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 109 Fourth Street, owned and valued at $750, house carpenter John R. Reid, 44; wife Laura, 41; and children Oden, 20, bookstore delivery boy; Johnnie, 19, ready-to-wear delivery boy, Augusta, 17, Elton, 15, Mary, 14, Alfonza, 12, Sam, 11, Christine, 8, Margaret, 5, and William, 3.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 109 Fourth Street, carpenter John R. Reid, 55; wife Laura, 42; and children Gus, 25, tobacco factory laborer, Alfonza, 19, grocery store delivery boy, Christine, 17, Sam, 17, Fobbs’ Grocery delivery boy, Margret, 13, William, 11, and Edgar, 9. 

In 1940, Addison Odel Reid registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 3 October 1910 in Wayne County; lived at 1104 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was father John R. Reid, 109 4th Street; and he worked for Bissette’s Drug Store. He signed his name “Adderson Odel Reid.”

Odell Reid died 1 April 1944 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 35 years old; lived at 205 South Reid Street; was a widower; was born in Wayne County to John R. Reid of Wayne County and Laura Anderson of Wilson County; and worked as a defense laborer. John R. Reid was informant.

Snaps, no. 77: James W. Cooper.

Curating Black Wide-Awake brings innumerable rewards, among them making surprise connections between people I’ve known all my life and people who pop up in records. Even better, sometimes those connections hit home.

I made a startling discovery a couple of weeks ago when I was updating my family tree with information I found in cousin Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook. The material included several funeral programs, including one for Alberta Artis Cooper. This wasn’t new to me; I featured it here. But, looking for obituaries for Alberta Cooper’s children, I found that of her son, John Hardy Cooper. I studied the names of his children … Frances Cooper BynumChristine Cooper Barnes … Wait — what?

I’ve been friends with the children of these sisters since middle school — and we’re cousins!

… but not in the way I first thought.

Though she reared him as her own, John H. Cooper was actually Alberta Artis Cooper’s step-son, the son of James W. Cooper and his first wife, Susannah (or Susie Anna). But Susannah Cooper was also an Artis — the daughter of Richard Artis and Susannah Yelverton Artis. Richard Artis (1849-1923) was the youngest brother of Adam T. Artis, who was Alberta Artis Cooper’s father (and my great-great-great-grandfather.) Thus, James W. Cooper’s wives were first cousins, a not-uncommon phenomenon in small communities in that time.

So, having already featured Alberta Artis Cooper, here is James William Cooper:

James W. Cooper (1886-1967), who, as president of Tobacco Workers Union Local 270, worked to improve working conditions for leaf house workers.

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In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer George Cooper, 46; wife Stellar, 40; and children Arrettor, 22, George B., 16, Juley, 14, James, 12, Mary, 10, Maggie, 7, Bessie, 4, and Royal, 3 months.

James Cooper, 21, of Wayne County, son of George and Stella Cooper, married Susie A. Artis, 19, of Wayne County, daughter of Richard and Susanna Artis, on 6 December 1905 at Richard Artis’ residence in Nahunta township, Wayne County.

James Cooper married Alberta Artis on 18 July 1918 in Kings County, New York.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Brick House and Moore School Road, James Cooper, 33, farmer; wife Alberta, 20; and son Albert Horton, 1.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James Cooper, 39, farmer; wife Alberta, 26; and children Elija, 21, Albert, 10, Mollie A., 8, Willard M., 5, Lauzin, 3, Annie M., 7 months; sister Oretter Bailey, 45; and niece Irene Artis, 18.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Cooper, 54, farmer; wife Alberta, 40; and children Marilyn, 18, Willard, 15, Laurzene, 13, Annie, 11, George, 9, Alberta, 5, Chester, 3, and Lillie, 1.

James William Cooper died 12 February 1967 at his home at 110 Fourth Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 July 1887 in Wayne County to George Cooper and Estelle Smith; worked as a foreman for Jas.I. Miller Co.; and was a World War I veteran. Wife Alberta A. Cooper was informant.

Photo courtesy of George Cooper and Frances C. Bynum, via Vernette B. Roberson. Thank you!

John H. Skinner, pastor, educator and journalist.

SKINNER, JOHN HENRY — Clergyman — b. Sept. 13, 1867, Wilson, N.C.; s. A. and Mary (Barnes) Skinner; educ St. Augustine Normal Sch., Raleigh, N.C.; A.B. State Normal Sch., Fayetteville, N.C., 1881; A.B. Tuskegee Institute, Ala., 1922; D.D. Baptist Coll., 1922; A.M. Am. Correspondence Coll., South Daniel, N.Y., 1896; m. J.H. Lane, Dec. 30, 1895 (deceased 1902); four children, Lena, b. Nov. 11, 1896; Lillie May, b. Oct. 5, 1897; Claude, b. Sept. 10, 1898; Flossie Pearl, b. Nov. 11, 1899; second marriage, Nelissa Peterson (deceased); one child, Mary V., b. 1910; third marriage, Mrs. Florence Dew; taught, Pub. Sch. Wilson County, for four years; established The Fremont Enterprise; taught in Wayne County, N.C., for fourteen years; taught in Green[e] County, N.C., for eighteen years; founded the Baptist College, Kenly, N.C., 1920; President of same, 1920-present; Associate Editor, City Paper, Kenly, N.C., 1926-present; Principal, Graded Schools, Kenly, N.C., 1926-present; General Moderator of two conferences for the sixth term, mem A.F. & A.M. Knights of Pythias; Pol. Republican; Relig. F.W. Baptist; Address, Kenly, N.C.

He began teaching when fourteen years of age and has been a teacher since 1881. He managed a newspaper in Freemont, N.C., for two years, teaching at the same time in Wayne County, holding then a First Grade Certificate. Was Dean of teachers in Greene County for ten years, resigning to found the Baptist College, of which he has been President since 1920.

The Baptist College began its work in 1909 in Fremont, N.C., and later was moved to Kenly, N.C. It held two months’ sessions each summer until 1920 when under the supervision of Rev. Skinner it began its eight months’ sessions.

The purpose of the school is to train young men and women in the elements of an English education, to prepare them for teaching and provide a Theological course. There are a number of buildings and a dormitory for boys and girls.

Joseph J. Boris, ed., Who’s Who in Colored America, vol. 1 (1927).

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Teachers and students of the Original Free Will Baptist School, also known as Skinner’s College, circa 1923. John H. Skinner is at far right. Skinner was also principal of Kenly Colored Graded School, a Rosenwald school. Photo courtesy of Johnston County Heritage Center.

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Aaron Skinner, 37, carpenter; wife Mary, 25; and son John, 9; domestic servant Esther Barnes, 21; and Willie Battle, 2.

J.H. Skinner, 24, of Wayne County, son of Aaron and Mary Skinner of Virginia, married J.A. Lane, 23, of Wayne County, daughter of Amos and Penny Lane, on 30 December 1885 in Nahunta township, Wayne County.

In the 1900 census of Fremont, Wayne County, N.C.: school teacher John H. Skinner, 37; wife Jackan, 36; and children Adie L., 12, Lillie M., 10, Claud, 8, and Clasie, 4.

On Christmas Day 1904, J.H. Skinner, 41, married Ida Artice, 25, in Greene County, N.C.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County, N.C.: public school teacher John H. Skinner, 49; wife Ida, 38; and children Lillie, 20, Claudie, 17, and Flosey, 14.

On 7 September 1913, J.H. Skinner, 45, of Johnston County, married Melisa Peterson, 20, of Johnston County, in Beulah township, Johnston County.

On 17 May 1919, Richard Swinson applied for a marriage license in Greene County for J.H. Skinner, 51, of Greene County, and Rosa L. Ellison, 27, of Greene County, daughter of Harvey and Laura Ellison. The license was not returned.

In the 1930 census of Beulah township Johnston County, N.C.: on Matthew Donal Street, widower John H. Skinner, 60, teacher at Brower(?) School.

On 10 May 1930, J.H. Skinner, 60, of Kenly, son of Adam and Mary Skinner, married Elizabeth Williams, 45, of Kenly, daughter of Dock and Mary Parker, in Kenly, Johnston County, N.C.

J.H. Skinner died 16 November 1937 in Kenly, Beulah township, Johnston County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1851 in Wilson to Aaron Skinner and Mary Barnes; was married to Elizabeth Williams Skinner; and worked as a teacher and minister.

I have not been able to find more about Skinner’s Fremont Enterprise or City Paper. Excerpts from columns Skinner contributed to the Kenly Observer in 1926 are quoted in Research Report: Tools for Assessing the Significance and Integrity of North Carolina’s Rosenwald Schools and Comprehensive Investigation of Rosenwald Schools In Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Wayne and Wilson Counties (2007) and will be examined in detail in another post, as will a former student’s memories of the school published in the Kenly News in 1985.

T. Johnson and D. Barbour, Images of America: Johnston County (1997); hat tip to J. Robert Boykin III for the lead.

 

The Carters came to Wilson.

Jesse A. Jacobs and his second wife, Sarah Henderson Jacobs, arrived in Wilson from Dudley, in southern Wayne County, circa 1905. Several members of my extended family, including my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (whom they adopted), arrived in their wake.

I have written of Jesse Jacobs’ nephew, Milford E. Carter Sr., son of Marshall and Frances Jacobs Carter, who settled his family briefly in Wilson. My grandmother recollected that several of Milford Carter’s brothers regularly visited Wilson, and at least one, Harold V. Carter (1902-1969), remained long enough to work in town:

“The Carters looked ‘bout like white folks. I didn’t really know ‘em. I think it was nine of them boys.  The three I knew was Milford and Johnnie and Harold, I think.  They used to come to Wilson, but –the older one didn’t come up.  But Milford, Harold ….  the two youngest ones come over and stayed with Annie Bell. Johnnie –  and Freddie, too.  When I’d go to Uncle Lucian’s, they lived not too far from there. But I never went to their house. I think Harold was the youngest one.  ‘Cause that’s the one came to Wilson, and Albert, Annie Bell’s husband, got him a job down to the station driving a cab. And he got his own car, and he was down there for a long time. Harold. He’s the youngest one. Carter. All of them was great big.”

Five of the nine Carter brothers — John, Ammie, Wesley (a cousin), Richard, Granger, Richard Jr. (a nephew), and Harold Carter, 1950s.

“The Carter boys was always nice. They come up here, come to stay with Annie Bell, Papa’s youngest daughter. They wasn’t here at the same time. They was driving cabs. So they used to come over all the time. I went with Harold down to Dudley once ‘cause he was going and coming back that same day. See, Uncle Lucian was sick, so I went down with him and come back.”

A few notes on this recollection:

  • Harold Carter was the second youngest of nine Carter brothers (and one sister.)
  • Annie Bell Jacobs Gay was Jesse A. Jacobs’ daughter. Her husband Albert S. Gay, a porter at the Hotel Cherry, died in 1932. Their son, Albert S. Gay Jr., co-founded a taxi service, Veterans Cab Company, shortly after World War II, and I briefly wondered if Harold Carter drove for his cousin’s company. However, given the reference to Harold Carter driving my grandmother from Wilson to Dudley to visit her great-uncle, J. Lucian Henderson, who died in 1934, it is clear that it was in fact Albert Sr. who referred Harold for a job driving taxis. “The station” was probably the Atlantic Coast Line passenger rail station located across the street from the Cherry Hotel.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, copyright 1994. All rights reserved. Copy of original photo of the Carters in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Cemeteries, no. 29: Polly Watson cemetery.

This poorly maintained cemetery is just outside Wilson County in Wayne County, but many of the dozens buried here were Wilson County residents.

This photo taken in December 2019 depicts a recent rough cut, with sedge broom mowed to the ground and weedy trees chopped and stacked in brush piles. The marked graves include those below.

Polly Watson cemetery under a low winter sun.

  • Calvin Sutton

Father Calvin Sutton Born 1858 May 2 1922 Gone But Not Forgotten

On 23 December 1875, Calvin Sutton, 21, married Sylvania Simmons, 22, in Wayne County.

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Calvin Sutton, 25; wife Silvania, 26; children Hattie, 3, and twins Joel B. and Josephin, 1; mother Dolly, 55; brothers Dallow, 18, and Henry, 16; and sister Mary, 12.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Calvin Sutton, 45; wife Silvania, 49; and children George, 18, Walter, 16, Mary, 13, and Roscoe, 10.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Upper Black Creek Road, farmer Calvin Sutton, 54; wife Sylvania, 58; daughter Hattie Taylor, 33; and grandchildren Olivia, 9, Viola, 7, Lillie M., 5, Georgiana, 4, and Mittie, 2; plus adopted grandson Frank McNeal, 16.

Calvin Sutton died 3 May 1922 in Great Swamp township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was 68 years old; was born in Wayne County to Doll Sutton and T. Dollie Ward; and was born in Polly Watson cemetery. George Sutton was informant.

  • Sylvania Sutton

Mother Sylvania Sutton Dec 5 1851 Died 1916 Gone But Not Forgotten

In the 1860 census of Indian Springs district, Wayne County: cooper George Simmons, 40; wife Axey J., 38; and children Riley B., 19, Simon, 15, Susan A., 17, Zach, 10, Silvania, 9, Bryant, 7, H.B., 5, and Gen. Washington, 2.

In the 1870 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: farmer Geo. Simmons, 52; wife Annie, 47; and children George, 24, shoemaking shoes, Zachariah, 22, Silavant, 20, Bryant C., 18, Hillary B., 16, and Washington, 12.

Sylvania Sutton died 4 August 1916 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was about 65 years old; was married; her father was George Simmons; and she was buried in Watson graveyard.

  • George Washington Sutton and Mary Artis Sutton

On 17 October 1900, George Sutton, 20, of Springhill township, married Mary Jane Artis, 19, of Wayne County, in Springhill township, Wilson County. L.H. Horton, Walter Sutton, and Mary Sutton were witnesses.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Upper Black Creek Road, farmer George W. Sutton, 29; wife Mary J., 26; and children Walter C., 8, Mamie M., 6; William Mc., 4; and Anderson M., 1.

In the 1920 census of Great Swamp township, Wayne County: farmer George Sutton, 39; wife Mary J., 36; and children Walter, 18, Mamie, 16, McKinley, 14, Anderson, 10, Richard, 6, and Jarvis, 3.

In the 1930 census of Great Swamp township, Wayne County: farmer George Sutton, 49; wife Mary J., 46; and children Mamie, 26, McKenly, 24, Anderson, 21, Richard, 16, Jarvis, 14, Bessie, 8, Chester, 4, and Georgia L., 1.

Mary Jane Sutton died 11 January 1936 in Lucama, Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1884 in Wayne County to Bennie and Doomie Artis; was married to George Sutton; and was buried in Polly Watson cemetery.

On 28 November 1936, George Sutton, 55, of Wilson County, son of Calvin and Sylvania Sutton, married Fannie Morgan, 49, of Great Swamp township, Wayne County, daughter of John and Jane Roundtree, in Wayne County.

In the 1940 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer George Sutton, 58; wife Fannie, 52; children Mamie, 36, Richard, 27, Jarvis, 23, Bessie, 18, Chester, 14, and Georgia, 10; plus father-in-law John Roundtree, 83.

George Washington Sutton died 8 February 1968 in Fremont, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 October 1881; lived on Ward Street, Fremont; was a widower; and was born to Calvin Sutton and Sylvania Simmons. Informant was Mamie Lee Sutton. He was buried in Polly Watson cemetery.

  • James Revell

James Revell Born June 1, 1867 Died July 31 1926

James Revell, 22, of Springhill township, son of Sanders and Hannah Revell, married Clarkie Hinnant, 21, of Springhill township, daughter of Em. Boyette and Hannah Hinnant, on 9 May 1890. London Revell applied for the license, and Free Will Baptist minister Nash Hortonperformed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James C. Revell, 30; wife Clarky, 28; and children Nancy, 9, James T., 7, Robert, 5,  and Violia, 2.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James Revel, 40; wife Clorca, 39; and children Nancy, 18, James T., 16, Viola, 11, Lunn, 9, and Jefferson J., 7, and cousin Lessie Barnes, 12.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on a branch off the Fremont and Kenly Road, farmer James Revell, 52; wife Clarkie, 50; and children Viola, 20, London, 18, Jefferson, 16, and Manley, 5.

In the 1930 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: farmer James T. Revell, 37; mother Clarkey, 61; sisters Nancy, 39, and Viola, 32; brother Manley, 18; and nephews James L., 5, and William F. Sheard, 1.

James Revell died 16 August 1948 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 30 September 1909 in Johnston County to James Revell and Clarkie Hinniant; was married to Annie D. Revell; was a truck driver; and was buried in Polly Watson cemetery.

  • Dudley E. Smith

Dudley E. Smith Oct. 16 1855 Oct. 15 1947

Douglas Smith married Mittie Speight on 5 February 1885 in Wayne County, North Carolina.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: day laborer Dudley Smith, 53; wife Mittie, 32; and children Polly, 13, Moses, 6, and Herbert, 4.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: on Main Street, brickyard laborer Dudley Smith, 54; wife Mittie, 33; and children London, 12, David, 7, and Minnie, 4.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Dudley Smith, 63; wife Mittie, 48; and children Minnie, 14, and Hastie, 7.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Mittie Smith, 51; son Thomas, 19; and father Dudley, 70. [Dudley Smith was Thomas Smith’s father, but Mittie Smith’s husband.]

In the 1940 census of Buck Swamp township, Wayne County: on Pikeville-Nahunta Road, Dudley Edward Smith, 85; wife Mittie, 65; and son Jack, 27; son-in-law Booker T. Sherard, 35, and daughter Minnie, 34; granddaughters Virginia, 15, and Viola Edward, 14; and grandson James Richard Edward, 12.

Dudley Smith died 3 September 1947 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 100 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to unknown parents; was married to Mittie Smith, age 73; was a farmer; and was buried in Polly Watson cemetery. Joe Wells was informant.

  • Joseph F. and Pollie S. Wells

Father Mother Wells Joseph F. Sept. 21, 1883 Pollie S. Aug. 6, 1886 June 14, 1964 Thy Will Be Done Oh Heavenly Father

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: day laborer Jason Wells, 51; wife Arrena, 30; and sons Joseph E., 16, Johnie H., 17, Shelly, 2, and Carlton, 9 months.

Joseph E. Wells, 21, of Cross Roads township, son of Jason Wells, married Polly Smith, 18, of Cross Roads, daughter of Dudley and Mittie Smith, on 31 October 1904 in Lucama. Isaac Rich applied for the license.

In the 1910 census of Lucama, Cross Roads township, Wilson County: on Main Street, Joseph Wells, 25; wife Polly, 20; children Joseph O., 6, and Clyde L., 3; and cousins Lissie, 18, and William A. Deans, 1.

In 1918, Joseph Elijah Wells registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 21 September 1883; lived in Lucama; farmed for W.H. Tomlinson; and his contact was Pollie Wells.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Joe Wells, 32; wife Pollie, 28; and Joe Jr., 7, Willie, 5, and Roy, 2.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph E. Wells, 47; wife Polly, 41; and son Mack, 20.

In the 1940 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Joe E. Wells, 56; wife Polly, 52; Lessie Best, 28; and farmhand James A. Kent, 10.

Joseph Elijah Wells died 12 October 1866 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 September 1896 in Wilson County to Jason and Lena Wells; was a widower; worked as a farm laborer; lived at 105 South Reid Street, Wilson; and was buried in Polly Watson cemetery. Joseph O. Wells Jr., Buffalo, New York, was informant.

  • Cherry Speight

Cherry Speight Born Oct. 24, 1845 Died Nov. 1, 1921 Rest with God

In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina: Cherry Speight, 34, and children Manda, 15, Dempsy, 13, Annaky, 10, Nathan, 7, Francis, 5, and Louder, 1.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Speight, 55; wife Cherry, 40; and children Sallie, 14, Charity, 13, and Dread, 6.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Speight, 65; wife Cherry, 63; and children Cherry D., 19, Dred, 17, and Mamy, 3.

Cherry Speight died 1 November 1921 in Cross Roads township, Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 75 years old; married to Nathan Speight; was born in Greene County to unknown parents; and informant was Frank Hall.

  • Junius Banks

Junius Banks July 31, 1884 Jan 24, 1933 I have not forgotten you.

All photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019.