Under laws authorizing the involuntary apprenticeship of poor orphans and the children of unmarried parents, county courts in antebellum North Carolina removed thousands of children from the homes to be bound to serve their neighbors. Hundreds of indentures dot the pages of Wayne County court minute books, and free children of color were disproportionately pulled into the system. Apprenticeship created an inexpensive, long-term and tractable labor supply for white yeoman farmers, many of whom could not (or could not yet) afford to purchase enslaved people.
Wayne County lost its northern tip to the newly created Wilson County in 1855. By pinpointing the locations of the farms of the men (and rare women) to whom they were indentured, we are able to identify the following free children of color as residents of the area that would become Wilson County’s Black Creek township and parts of Crossroads township.
Bunyan Barnes was born about 1809 and died before 1870. Per Wilson County Founding Families, S. Powell and H. Powell, editors, Barnes was the first postmaster of Bardin’s Depot (now Black Creek) and owned property along the Wilson and Goldsboro Road (now Frank Price Church Road) between Canal Branch and Dickerson Mill Branch in Black Creek township.
Stephen Mitchell, 8, and Warren Mitchell, 7, were bound to Bunyon Barnes in 1833.
John Hagans, 15, was bound to Bunyan Barnes in 1844.
Apprentice Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; federal censuses.
Nicey Caroline Hall married Wyatt Lynch in Wilson in 1860 and seems to have spent the remainder of her life in Wilson County. However, she spent her childhood across the county line in northeast Wayne County.
In the 1850 census of the North Side of the Neuse, Wayne County: Lucy Hall, 45, with her children Sarah, 16, George, 15, Nathan, 13, Nicy, 10, Samuel, 3, and Esther, 6; plus Alford, 15, John, 14, Rhoda, 13, Julia, 12, and Rheuben Artis, 10; and Rufus Lane, 22. Next door: William Exum, a 25 year-old white farmer. The same year, per Wayne County apprentice bonds, Exum indentured the five Artis children to serve him as involuntary apprentices. (Lane had just aged out of his indenture too Exum.)
Under the laws governing the involuntary apprenticeship of free children of color, a mother could state her preference for the man to be named master of her bound children. When called to the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in 1851, Lucy Hall informed the judge that she wanted her children to be bound to James Yelverton (probably Sr.) Instead, the court awarded the indentures of George, Nathan, Nicy C., Esther and Sam Hall to their neighbor, William J. Exum, on whose land they likely lived. However, the clerk neglected to record the indentures in the court minutes, and Yelverton took advantage of the oversight to have the children bound to him instead. Exum sued Yelverton, claimed that he obtained the indentures contrary to the rules of court, and the judge rescinded Yelverton’s indentures. The court then re-bound the Halls to Exum, who thereby consolidated his control over the labor of the free children of color living on his property.
The Yelvertons and Halls’ lives remained intertwined, despite the best efforts of William J. Exum. In the 1860 census of Davis district, Wayne County, James Yelverton (Jr.), 40, shared a household with Easter [Easther] Hall, 20, and her likely children Fanny, 7, and Puss, 5. Moreover, per family lore recently backed up by DNA testing, James Yelverton Jr. was the father of Nicey Caroline Hall’s first child, Susianna Frances Hall, alias Yelverton, born about 1857.
On 5 June 1860, Wyatt Lynch married Nicey Hall in Wilson County.
In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: plasterer and brickmason Wyatt Lynch, 30, wife Caroline, 23, and daughter Frances, 3.
As revealed in this letter, while he was away at war, Captain Ruffin Barnes arranged with Wyatt Lynch for his wife to live with Barnes’ wife and perform household chores. Nicey Caroline Lynch butted heads with Barnes’ wife, however, and Barnes advised that she be sent back home.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: brick maker Wyatt Lynch, 48, wife Nicey, 35, and children Harriet, 4, and John, 1.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on the south side of the Plank Road, widow Nicy Lynch, 40, children Harriot, 13, John, 11, Noah, 9, Sammy, 7, and Mary Wyatt, 3, with mother-in-law Nancy Lynch, 98.
On 24 January 1899, Hattie Lynch, 33, of Wilson County, daughter of Wyatt and Nicy Lynch, married William Young, 46, of Wilson County, son of Manuel and Caroline Young of Mississippi. Primitive Baptist minister J.S. Woodard performed the ceremony.
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, widowed farmer Nicey Lynch, 60, daughters Harriet Young, 35, and Mary Rhodes, 23, and grandson John Rhodes, 2.
On 7 May 1905, Hattie Lynch, 39, daughter of John and Nicy Lynch, married Robert Dixon, 33, son of William and Charlotte Dixon, in Wilson County. Witnesses were D.F. Scott, Mary Rhoads, and Charley Edward.
On 3 December 1907, Eddie Bullock, 27, of Wilson, son of Preacher Chanson and Andy Bullock, married Mary Rhodes, 27, of Wilson, daughter of [name not given] Linch and Nicie Lynch.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Robert Dickson, 37, wife Hattie, 46, mother-in-law Nicie Lynch, and nephew Johnnie Rhodes, 12.
Susiannah Artis died 11 September 1931 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per her death certificate, she was 74 years old; was born in Wilson County to Nicy Linch of Wilson County; worked in farming; and was married to Richard Artis.
Mary Wyatt Ellis died 10 October 1943 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 May 1876 in Wilson County to Wyatt Linch and Nicie [last name unknown]; was married to Ruben Ellis; was a farmer; and was buried on the Lynch farm.
Harriet Hattie Dixon died 16 January 1958 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 July 1865 in Wilson County to Wyatt Linch and Nicie [last name unknown]; was widowed; was a retired farmer; and was buried in a family cemetery. Hattie Anderson was informant.
Susanna Frances Yelverton Artis, daughter of Nicey C. Hall Lynch.
Documents detailing the proceedings in Exum v. Yelverton are found in Box 6, Apprentice Bonds and Records, Wayne County Records, North Carolina State Archives; photo of Susannah Artis courtesy of Teresa Artis.
Lemon Ruffin executed his will shortly before leaving for war as a Confederate soldier. He did not return. He died as a prisoner of war in Illinois in 1864, age 32. (His brothers Etheldred, George W. and Thomas Ruffin also died in the war.) As set forth in more detail below, Ruffin received the bulk of his enslaved property as an inheritance from his exceedingly wealthy father Henry J.G. Ruffin, who died in 1854. An inventory of the elder Ruffin’s estate listed 138 enslaved people held on plantations in Franklin, Greene, Wayne and Edgecombe Counties.
I Lemon Ruffin of the county of Wilson, State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainly of my existence, do make and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following, that is to say:
First: That my executors shall pay my debts out of the money that may first come into their hands on part or parcel of my estate.
Item: I give and bequeath to my sister S.B. Ruffin my tract of land situated in Wilson Co NC adjoining the lands of Warner Woodard & others on Tosnot — to have and to hold to her and her heirs in fee simple forever.
Item: I give and bequeath to my sister M.H. Fugitt the proceeds of the sale of the Negro slaves Amos, Sallie and Henderson. Amos to be sold in Alabama. My will and desire is that Sallie and Henderson be brought to N.C. and sold in Wilson County.
Item: I give and bequeath to my sister, Nina W. Ruffin, the Negro slaves Crockett and Harriet to her and her personal representatives forever.
Item: I give and bequeath to my brother, Dr. W. Haywood Ruffin of Misourah the Negro Slaves Isse(?) the first and her three children and grandchildren, viz; Eliza, Esther, Elizabeth and Haywood.
Item: I give and bequeath to my brother, Thomas Ruffin, the Negro slaves Patience and her children named Isaac, Lettuce & Jerre and the youngest child to him and his personal representative forever.
Item: I give and bequeath to my brother, Etheldred Ruffin, Beck and all her children named Ned, Elving(?), Arabella and Thom to him and his personal representatives forever.
Item: I give and bequeath to my nephew, Samuel Ruffin, Jr. of Mississippi, the Negro slaves Isse(?) the 2nd commonly called Son[illegible] to him and his personal representative forever.
Item: I give and bequeath to my niece Mary L. Ruffin the negro slave Creasy to her and her personal representative forever.
I do whereof I the said Lemon Ruffin do hereunto set my hand and seal this 24th day of June 1862.
In the 1860 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Lemon Ruffin is listed as a 28 year-old farmer living alone, with $5000 in real property and $21,600 in personal property.
These are the relatives listed in his will:
sister S.B. Ruffin — Sarah Blount Ruffin.
sister M.H. Fugitt — Mary Haywood Ruffin Williams Fugett.
sister Nina W. Ruffin — Penina Watson Ruffin Ruffin of Franklin County.
brother Dr. W. Haywood Ruffin — William Haywood Ruffin, who migrated to Lexington, Missouri (and later Choctaw County, Alabama.)
brother Etheldred Ruffin — Etheldred F. Ruffin, Greene County.
nephew Samuel Ruffin Jr. — son of W. Haywood Ruffin, but migrated to Pushmataha, Choctaw County, Alabama, to join his uncle Samuel R. Ruffin. Samuel R. Ruffin was the largest slaveholder in that county at Emancipation, and a list of his slaves reveals a number of first names common among Henry’s slaves. See below.
niece Mary L. Ruffin
Henry John Gray Ruffin, father of the above and husband of Mary Tartt Ruffin, died in 1854 in Franklin County, North Carolina. He had accumulated immense wealth and prudently executed a precise will, which entered probate in Franklin County. Among the provisions to son Lemon Ruffin were one-half interest in a plantation on Toisnot Swamp in Edgecombe [now Wilson] County (son George W. Ruffin received the other half) and “twenty negro slaves of average value.” (In addition, Mary Tartt Ruffin was to receive “my old negro man servant Bryant now living at my Tossnot plantation.”) The inventory of Ruffin’s property listed 51 people enslaved on his Franklin County plantation, 50 enslaved on a plantation in Greene and Wayne Counties, and 37 in Edgecombe. (Other enslaved people were distributed among his children prior to his death.)
When distribution was made in September 1854, Lemon Ruffin received Beck, age 23, and her children Wyatt, 3, and Ned, 1; Patience, 32, and her children Isaac, 5, Lettuce, 3, and Jerry, 1; Maria, 45, and her children Eliza, 7, Hester, 5, and Elizabeth, 1; Isaac, 44; Reuben, 43; Crockett, 21; Isaac, 9; Arthur, 9; Sally, 19; Charlotte, 50; Harriet, 12; and Henry, 13. Per the inventories of Ruffin’s plantations, most had been enslaved on the Greene/Wayne County farm previously.
In the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson township, Wilson County, Lemon Taylor is listed with 21 slaves living in three dwellings. He enslaved eight males aged 6, 11, 15, 20, 25, 25, 51 and 52, and 13 females aged 1, 5, 7, 7, 9, 9, 11, 18, 18, 20, 25, 40 and 50. (Above him on the list was his brother G.W. Ruffin and his 22 slaves, aged 3 to 43.)
Two years later, Lemon Ruffin’s will showed that he retained ownership of 14 of the 20 enslaved people he had inherited from his father. Beck’s son Wyatt was likely dead, but she had had three more children, Elvin, Arabella and Tom, in the interim. Maria was dead or sold away; her children Eliza, Hester/Esther and Elizabeth were listed with their grandmother Isse (who seems to have been the “old” Isaac of the inventory, though Isaac is generally a masculine name). Reuben, Charlotte, Arthur and Henry do not appear in Lemon Ruffin’s will, but Crockett, young Isaac, Sallie and Harriet do. Lemon had also purchased or otherwise come into possession of Amos, Henderson and Creasy. (There are an Amos and Creasy listed in the “residue” of Henry Ruffin’s slaves after distribution. Perhaps Lemon had purchased them from the estate.) Per Lemon Ruffin’s will, Amos, Henderson and Sallie were in Alabama (on lease? on loan?) Sallie and Henderson were to be brought back to Wilson for sale, but Amos was to be put on the block In Alabama. None of it came to pass, as Ruffin’s estate did not enter probate until 1866, when his formerly enslaved property was beyond reach.
A North Carolina-born Amos Ruffin, age 35, appears in the 1870 census of Township 13, Choctaw County, Alabama, with his wife and children. Was this the Amos who was targeted for sale in Lemon Ruffin’s will?
In 1866, Patience Ruffin and Michel Ward appeared before a Wilson County justice of the peace to register their 16-year cohabitation. In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmworker Patience Ward, 50, and daughter Lettuce, 20, with Mitchell Ward listed next door.
None of other men, women and children Lemon Ruffin possessed at his death are clearly identifiable in post-Emancipation records.
Children up to about age 7 were usually grouped with their mothers for purposes of sale or distribution. It is almost certain that the children listed with Patience and Maria in Henry Ruffin’s distribution were merely their youngest and that their older children were separated from them.
Though enslaved people sometimes married men or women with whom they shared an owner, more often they married outside the farm or plantation on which they lived. Patience Ruffin and Mitchell Ward are an example.
Wealthy planters often owned multiple plantations and moved enslaved people among them at will. Henry Ruffin divided his Edgecombe (Wilson) County plantation into halves. However, the people who had lived on that plantation during his lifetime did not necessarily remain in place after his death. In fact, it appears that the 20 people with whom Lemon Ruffin stocked his half of Toisnot plantation came primarily from his father’s Greene/Wayne plantation. The former Toisnot slaves were shifted to plantations elsewhere. This kind of movement resulted in the further splintering of families as parents owned by neighboring enslavers were left behind.
White eastern North Carolina slaveowners were among the earliest settlers of Alabama in the early 1800s, taking North Carolina-born enslaved people with them. Slaveowners who did not leave North Carolina often sold their “excess” enslaved property to meet the ravenous labor needs of Alabama’s booming cotton economy.
Herbert G. Gutman argued in his exhaustively researched The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom 1750-1825 that enslaved African-Americans strove to maintain and transmit ties of kinship by repeating first names among generations of a family. Though we do not know the relationships among all the Ruffin slaves, this pattern can be observed among them. More on this later.
Images of estate documents available atNorth Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
Rosa Hussey — Rosa Hussey died 13 June 1947 at her home at 707 East Nash Street. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 July 1904 in Wilson to Willie Hussey and Florence Hooks, both of Mount Olive, North Carolina; she was single; and she worked as a tobacco factory laborer. Informant was Francis Wynn Lane of Mount Olive. She was buried at Rountree cemetery.
Mary Francis Lane
Thad Dennis Lane
Images of estate documents available atNorth Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
On 27 November 1895, Jesse Jacobs married Sarah Henderson in Wayne County, North Carolina. [The photo probably commemorated their wedding.]
In the 1900 census of Dudley, Brogden township, Wayne County: farmer Jessey Jacobs, 42; wife Sarah D., 28; and children Aner S., 17, Redis J., 15, Carie, 13, Docter, 8, Hatie, 6, and Anie B., 3.
In the 1908 and 1912 Wilson city directories, Jesse Jacobs is listed as a laborer living at 106 Elba Street.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jesse Jacob, 53, deliveryman for stable; wife Sarah, 35; daughter Annie Belle, 15; and boarders Jesse Henderson, 17, Herbert Jones, 23, both stable laborers, and Nina Fasin, 32, a housemaid.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 606 Elmo [Elba] Street: school janitor Jessie Jacobs, 60, wife Sara, 52, and daughters [great-nieces] Mamie, 12, and Hattie May, 10.
Jessie Adam Jacobs died 6 July 1926 at the “colored hospital” in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 December 1862 in Sampson County, North Carolina, to Jesse A. and Abbie Jacobs; was married to Sarah Jacobs; resided at 303 Elba Street; and worked as a janitor in city schools.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Elba, laundress Sarah Jacobs, 49, and daughter [great-niece] Hattie Jacobs, 19, a servant for a private family.
Sarah Henderson Jacobs died 8 January 1938 in Selma, Johnston County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 55 years old, married to Joseph Silver, and was born in Wayne County to Lewis Henderson and Margaret Carter, both of Wayne County. Informant was Hattie Jacobs of 303 Elba Street, Wilson.
Original photograph in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.
Doretta and Staton Davis in front of their Bruton Street home in Daniel Hill, mid-1950s.
In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Westley Davis, 38; wife Mag, 38; children Horris, 16, Lillie, 13, Oliv, 10, Clinton, 8, Staton, 7, Emma, 4, Learry, 2, and Eva, 1; and nephew June Coley, 25.
In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Black Creek Road, West Davis, 50; wife Margaret, 50; children Horice, 23, Clinton, 17, Staton, 16, Emma, 15, Lerie, 13, Eva, 12, and Pelie, 9; and granddaughter Beulah O., 2.
In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Elm City Road, farmer Solomon Sherrod, 41; wife Josephine, 32; and children Alena, 11, Jarvis, 10, Doretta, 8, Dock, 6, B. Minnie, 4, and Solomon, 1.
In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Harpers Road, farmer Soloman Sheard, 50; wife Josephine, 42; and children Javis, 20, Doretta, 18, Linton O., 16, Minnie B., 13, Solomon, 11, Flora, 3, Bulah, 3, and Elmore, 1.
On 20 April 1930, Staton Davis, 25, son of Wesley and Maggie Davis, married Doretta Sherrod, 18, daughter of Solomon and Josephine Sherrod, at Wade [illegible]’s farm in Wilson township. Primitive Baptist minister Isaac Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Leonard Shearard, Lonnie Hoskins and Jarvis Shearard.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 Bruton Street, rented for $9/month, Station Davis, 36, plumbing company pipe fitter; wife Doretta, 28; and children Lorena, 9, Richard, 8, Suti Mae, 6, Station, 4, Leonard, 2, and David, 5 months.
In 1940, Statin Davis registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 12 October 1904 in Wyan [Wayne] County; resided at 408 Brouton Street, Wilson; his contact was Maggie Davis, Route 1, Fremont; and he worked for the W.P.A. at Charles L. Coon High School.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Davis Staton (c; Doretta; 6) h 406 S Bruton St
Staten Davis died 12 September 1952 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 October 1904 in Wayne County to Wes Davis and an unknown mother; resided at 408 Bruton Street, Wilson; was married to Doreatha Davis; and had worked as a laborer.
Doretta Elizabeth Sherrod Davis died 6 May 1997 in Wilson. Born 14 September 1911, she was 85 years old.
The first seven of the twelve Davis children: (top) Richard; (middle) Staton Jr., David, and Lorena holding Jo Ann; (bottom) Sudie Mae and Leonard, circa 1942.
Many thanks to William Ashley Davis for sharing these family photos.
Though there is only one individual headstone, this family plot in Rest Haven cemetery likely holds the remains of several members of the John Adam Wilson and Mollie Newsome Wilson family.
On 13 July 1893, Adam Wilson, 26, married Mollie Newsome, 19, in Wayne County.
In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Adam Wilson, 34; wife Mollie, 27; and children Leonard, 5, Nina, 4, Adam, 2, and Zilphia, 1 month; and John Locus, 20, boarder. [Locus was the son of Adam Wilson’s sister Louisa Wilson Locus.]
In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Adam Wilson, 44; wife Mollie, 36; and children Lenna, 15, Nina, 14, Adam J., 12, Zilpha A., 10, Sarah P., 8, Bunna, 6, Hurman, 4, William H., 2, and James J., 8 months.
Adam Wilson has two death certificates — (1) Adam Wilson died 30 October 1916 at the State Hospital in Fork township, Wayne County; he was 51; his regular residence was in Wilson County; and he was a carpenter, and (2) Adam Wilson did 31 October 1916 in Wilson; he was about 51; he was born in Wayne County to John Wilson and Zilfie Artis; he was a carpenter; and informant was Mollie Wilson of Wilson. [J. Adam Wilson was the brother of Elizabeth Wilson Reid.]
Fredrick Odel Wilson died 19 May 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 December 1916 in Wilson County to Adam Wilson and Mollie Newsome, both born in Wayne County. He died of ileocolitis, and Mollie Wilson was informant.
John Adam Wilson registered for the World War II draft in Newport News, Virginia, in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 25 February 1899; resided at 2131-22nd Street, Newport News; worked as a carpenter for Boyle-Robertson Construction Company; and his nearest Relative was Mollie Wilson of Wilson, North Carolina.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, Mollie Wilson, 46; son Lennie, 25, house carpenter; daughter-in-law Georgia, 23; grandson Lennie Jr., 2; and children John A., 22, house carpenter; Annie D., 19, Sarah, 17, Bunyon, 16, Hirmon, 14, William H., 12, James J., 10, and Ire, 7.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, owned and valued at $2000, widow Nolly Wilson, 54, laundress; son John B., 20, theatre janitor; daughter Irene, 17; and lodgers Mollie Zackery, 30, nurse; Blonnie Zackery, 22, cook; and Earl Zackery, 44 barber. [This entry is riddled with errors. Nolly Wilson was in fact Mollie Wilson, and Mollie Zackery (who was male, not female) was Nolly Zachary, who was a barber, not a nurse. Earl Zachary, son of Nolly and Blonnie Barnes Zachary’s son, and was 4 years old in 1930. Also, it is not clear who “John B. Wilson” is, unless this is a misnomer for son James J. Wilson.]
In the 1930 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: at 10 Burnett Street, apartment janitor Leonard Wilson, 34; wife Georgia, 33; brother Herman, 21, lather; and children Leonard Jr., 11, Elma, 10, Ernest, 8, and Toney Lee, 6. All were born in North Carolina.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Viola Street, owned and valued at $1800, widow Mollie Wilson, 66; fish market owner Dorphus Williams, 61, roomer; and father James Newsome, 86.
Mollie Wilson died 30 January 1952 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 September 1875 in Wayne County to James Newsome and Penina Artis; was the widow of John A. Wilson; and resided at 301 North Vick. Informant was Irene Sherrod, 302 North Vick.
In the 1900 census of Fremont township, Wayne County: day laborer Ed Harries, 27; wife Bettie, 25; and children Benjamin A., 5, Roday, 4, and John H., 5 months.
In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Ed Harriss, 37; wife Bettie, 34; and children Benjamin, 15, Rhoda, 14, Johney, 10, Nannie, 9, Nicie and Vicie, 7, Edgar, 4, and Oscar and Roscar, 1.
Benjamin Amos Harris registered for the World War I draft in Eureka precinct, Wayne County, in 1917.
In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Benjamin Harris, 25, and siblings Rhodie, 22, John, 20, Nanie, 18, Vicie and Nicie, 16, Edgar, 14, Oscar and Rosca, 11, Leland, 9, and Hamilton B., 7.
On 14 March 1922, Benjaman A. Harris, 25, of Nahunta, son of Ed and Bettie Harris, married Pauline Artis, 20, of Nahunta, daughter of Wash [sic; Noah] and Patience Artis, in Eureka, Nahunta township, Wayne County.
In the mid-1920s, Benjamin and Pauline Artis Harris moved ten miles north to Wilson.
In the 1925 Wilson city directory: Harris Benj bricklyr h 407 Viola.
Harris, in partnership with George Best, opened a grocery store near the city limits on East Nash Street. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harris Benj A (c; Pauline) (Harris & Best) r Finch; Harris & Best (c) (B A Harris and Geo Best) gros 1316 E Nash
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harris Benj (c; Pauline) brklyr h 312 Finch
The family was missed in the 1930 and 1940 censuses of Wilson, Wilson County.
In 1940, when Harry Bryant Harris registered for the World War II draft in Wilson, he listed his eldest brother Ben Amos Harris as his contact and employer.
Benjamin Amos Harris died 15 May 1955 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 October 1894 to Edward Harris and Betty Daniel; lived at 312 Finch Street, Wilson; worked as a bricklayer; and was a World War I veteran. Six days later, his widow applied for a military grave marker:
Photo of Benjamin A. Harris Sr. courtesyof Adventures in Faith: The Church at Prayer, Study and Service, a booklet commemorating the 100th anniversary of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Wilson; image of draft card at U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
This Indenture made the twenty ninth day of December in the year one thousand eight hundred & sixty six (1866) between Richard H Blount of the county of Wilson & State of North Carolina of the first part & Jerry Washington of the Town of Goldsboro of the County of Wayne & State of North Carolina of the second part. Witnesseth that the said party of the first part for & in consideration of one hundred dollars $100 lawful money of the United States to himself paid before the delivery hereof, hath bargained, sold & by these presents doth grant & convey to the said party of the second part his heirs & assigns forever all of a certain piece or parcel of land lying & being in the county of Wilson & State of North Carolina which is known & described as follows to Wit beginning at the line of Arthur D Farmer in the County road to Goldsboro near the Town of Wilson & running with the line of said road seventy yards to a corner thence at a right angle from said corner directly back one hundred & forty yards to a corner thence again forming another right angle & running in a straight line with parallel with the aforesaid Goldsboro Road to the aforesaid Arthur D Farmers line Thence with street line back to the beginning forming a parallelogram in figure & containing by estimate ten acres, together with all the appurtenances & all the estate, title & interest of the said party of the first part therein, and the said party of the first part doth hereby covenant & agree with the said party of the second part that at the time of the delivery thereof, the said party the first parties ts the lawful owner of the premises above granted & seized thereof in fee simple absolute & that hw will warrant & defend the above granted premises in the quiet & peaceable possession of the said party of the second part his heirs & assigns forever. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal This 29th day of December one Thousand eight hundred & sixty six R.H. Blount
Signed sealed & delivered in the presence of C. Lee Parker, Henry E. Benton
Newly freed Jerry Washington and Jane Washington registered their four-year cohabitation in Wayne County in 1866. Just before the year ended, Jerry Washington bought ten acres of land just outside Wilson town limits and moved his family 25 miles north.
Six years later, Washington paid $1000 for another ten acres on the south side of town.
Deed book 2, page 238, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.
Wayne County Public Library has posted to YouTube video of my little talk last week in Goldsboro. I spoke specifically about Wayne County’s free people of color, but many of their descendants, such as Elijah Reid, J.D. Reid, C.E. Artis, Willie Wynn, Jonah Williams, Josephine Artis Sherrod and others, migrated into Wilson County by the turn of the twentieth century. Others lived in parts of Wayne County, in the Black Creek area, that became Wilson County in 1855.