will

The last will and testament of George A. Barnes.

George A. Barnes dictated his will on 24 August 1907.

He had detailed wishes: (1) all his crops to his wife; (2) a life estate in all his land to his wife, Annie Barnes; (3) subject to the life estate, his house and four acres on Hominy Swamp to son George and daughter Minnie, with certain stipulations re its disposal;

(4) subject to the life estate, two acres to daughter Edmonia Farmer; (5) subject to the life estate, two acres to son Joshua Barnes; (6) subject to the life estate, two acres to son Billy Barnes; (7) subject to the life estate, an 18-acre tract to son General Barnes (minus Joshua’s two acres), which is “perfectly fair” because General furnished one hundred dollars for his father to purchase the land and because General cared for George and Annie in their old age.

George A. Barnes died in the spring of 1910, and son George Washington Barnes applied for probate of the will on 11 May 1910. As his widow Annie Barnes held a life estate in all his real property, his estate required minimal handling. However, Annie Barnes died the day after Christmas 1917, and less than a month later their children (and spouses) sold all but two of George A.’s 28 acres for $3000 to A.F. Williams, a white physician (who had treated their mother in her final illness.) The remaining two acres belonged to son Joshua Barnes, who, astonishingly, died exactly one week later of tuberculosis.

Deed Book __, Page 6-7, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson. 

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George Barnes married Anaca Mercer on 31 October 1866 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George Barnes, 30; wife Annie, 24; and children Hardy, 8, Rena, 7, Edna, 1, and Jesse, 3.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: south of the Plank Road, farmer George Farmer, 41; wife Anna, 34; and children Hardy, 19, Reny, 17, Jessee, 12, Edmonia, 11, George, 9, Minnie Adeline, 6, Joshua and General, 3, and William, 1 month.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George A. Barnes, 60, farmer; wife Annie, 53; children George, 23, teacher, Joshaway, 22, farmer, and Jenerl, 22, teacher; grandson Paul, 11; son Harda, 32, and daughter-in-law Nancy, 30.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on County Line Road, farmer George Barnes, 71; wife Annie, 66; son Joshua, 34; and grandchildren Charlie, 8 , and Hattie Palm, 5.

Annie Barnes died 26 December 1917 in Wilson township. Per her death certificate, she was 72 years old; was born in Wilson County to George Battle; and was a widow. George Barnes was informant.

Joshua Barnes died 29 January 1918 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was about 40 years old; was born in Wilson County to George A. Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Battle of Edgecombe County; and died of consumption. George W. Barnes was informant.

George Washington Barnes died 13 April 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was born in Wilson County to George A. Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Battle of Edgecombe County; was married to Mary Barnes; and worked as a photographer.

General Barnes died 7 January 1938 at his home at 518 North 58th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was 62 years old; was married; was born in North Carolina to George Barnes and Annie Battle; and worked as a clerk/postal employee. Mary Barnes was informant.

Edmonia Farmer died 18 January 1947 at her home at 706 East Green Street. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was born in Wilson County to George Barnes and Annie Parker; and was married to John Wash Farmer. Informant was George W. Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street.

Minnie Baines died 5 December 1963 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born November 1877 in Wilson County to George Barnes and Annie (last name unknown); was a widow; and resided at 309 North Reid Street. Informant was Hattie Evans, 309 North Reid.

Studio shots, no. 94: Haywood and Mollie Vines Baker.

HWB & MB

Haywood W. Baker and Mollie Vines Baker, perhaps taken near Stantonsburg in the 1910s.

Though this is not, strictly speaking, a studio portrait, the formal posing and prop seating of this image strongly suggest that a professional photographer was behind the camera.

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On 5 November 1898, Haywood Baker, 20, son of Richard and Almira Baker, married Ora Harper, 19, daughter of Thomas and Leah Harper, in Greene County.

In the 1900 census of Carrs township, Greene County: farmer Haywood Baker, 22; wife Orra, 20; daughter Lula, 6 months; and widowed mother-in-law Laurer Harper, 54.

In the 1910 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: self-employed barber Haywood W. Baker, 30; wife Ora, 29; daughter Lular, 10; and adopted son Stiner, 9.

On 13 November 1912, Haywood Baker, 33, of Nash County, married Mollie Vines, 26, of Nash County, in Nash County.

In 1918, Haywood William Baker registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he resided in Stantonsburg; was 24 February 1870; worked as a barber; and his nearest relative was Mollie Baker.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, Haden [Haywood] W. Baker, 40, barber; wife Mollie, 33; and children Hilda R., 6, Jasper, 4, Harold, 2, Mary C., 2 months; and Haywood, 12; plus Exum Joyner, 25, barber, and wife Bertha, 24.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Haywood W. Baker, 52; wife Mollie, 43; and children Charles, 17, Hildarene, 16, Jasper, 14, Harold, 13, Mary P., 11, Richard T., 7, and Carlton Baker, 5.

In the 1940 census of Farmville township, Pitt County: farmer Haywood W. Baker, 62, and children Jasper, 22, Tensley James, 26, Richard Thomas, 16, and Carlton Baker, 14, and Mary Joyner, 20. All reported living in Greene County in 1935 except Tensley, who had lived in Goldsboro, Wayne County.

In 1942, Richard Thomas Baker registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 24 August 1923 in Stantonsburg; resided at 719 East Green Street, Wilson; his contact was Haywood Baker of the same address; and he worked at G.H.T.M. in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Haywood Baker died 17 August 1946 at Duke Hospital in Durham. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 February 1883 in Greene County; was married to Blanch Baker; resided at 719 East Green Street, Wilson; was a barber; and was buried in Marlboro cemetery, Farmville, Pitt County.

On 18 September 1946, the Wilson Daily Times ran the first of a series of executor’s notices posted by John H. Baker, 524 East Nash Street, concerning the estate of Haywood William Baker.

Last will and testament of Haywood W. Baker.

The item Baker specially bequeathed his son John is now a prized collector’s item. The Illinois Watch Company manufactured Santa Fe Special pocket watches from 1913 to 1935.

Photo of Baker courtesy of Ancestry.com user cbaker2928; North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Larry Dew.

On 31 October 1861 (the same day as his brother David Dew), Larry Dew of Wilson County penned a will whose provisions disposed of these 46 enslaved men, women and children:

  • to son John Dew as trustee for daughter Harriet Barbee, wife of Joseph Barbee (and to her outright after Joseph’s death), Milly, Sam and Cherry
  • to son John Dew, Laney and her children Juan, Minerva and Della, valued at $700
  • to son Arthur B. Dew, “boy Raiford,” valued at $600
  • to daughter Pennina Dew, wife of William Hooks, Milbry, Louisa, Jacob, and Venus and her children Letha, Jack and Amos
  • to son Jonathan T. Dew, Caroline, valued at $750
  • to son David Dew, Everitt, valued at $600; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to granddaughter Sally Harriet Hocutt, Henry, now with Daniel Hocutt in South Carolina
  • to daughter Mary Ann Peel, wife of Stephen J. Peel, Charlotte, Newry and Reuben
  • to son William L. Dew, “boy Woodard,” valued at $600; one gray horse Charley; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son Moses Dew, Arch, valued at $1000; a sorrel horse Selim; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son Willie Dew, Silvira, valued at $900; one mule Jack; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to son George W. Dew, Julia, valued at $900; a mule Gin; a cow and calf; a sow and pigs; a feather bed and furniture
  • to daughter Nancy Dew, Eveline, valued at $900; a feather bed and furniture; and $100
  • “the remainder of my negroes, to wit: Litha, Phereby, Amos, Stephen, Toby, Mourning, Isaac, Sylvester, Lucy, Gilbert, Aaron, Linnet, Gray, little Raiford, Winney, Pearcy, Van Buren, little Everitt, Virgil, and Eliza” to be divided equally among his sons and his daughter Nancy

Dew’s estate entered probate in Wilson County in April 1862. These documents from his estate file, submitted to the court in November 1862, chronicle the calculations behind distribution of his human property. Two and a half years later, the work of Dew’s executor was undone by freedom.

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Estate of Larry Dew (1862), Wilson County, North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Isaac Rich.

In the Name of God, Amen. I, Isaac Rich, of Lucama, Wilson County, State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory do this 22nd day of March, A.D. 1911, make and publish my last and testament in manner following, that is to say: At my death I wish to be decently buried and according to the wishes of my friends.

ITEM. I give to my beloved wife, Jack Ann Rich, during her life time or widowhood, the home place where on I now live containing thirty (30) acres, more or less, which is separated and marked by a line from the railroad bridge to the old line the corner, and after her death I give my granddaughter Viola Dawson the said home place during her life time

ITEM. I give my daughter, Martha Ann, wife of James Pearce, one tract of land separated from the home place by a line from the railroad bridge above mentioned, to the old line including the church lot adjoining Mr. Jesse Lucas line and also three and one fourth acres across the railroad, all together containing thirty (30) acres, more or less, to her and her heirs forever.

ITEM. I give and bequeath to my beloved daughter, Marilda Forsythe, one tract of land called the grave yard tract, adjoining Jesse Lucas’s line at spring branch, a corner, thence to the railroad corner above, to include two acres across the rail road, the whole together containing twenty one (21) acres, more or less, to have and to hold to her the said Marilda Forsythe, during her life and after her death I bequeath the aforesaid land to Martha Ann Pearce, her heirs and assigns.

ITEM. I give and bequeath to my grand daughter, Viola Dawson, after the death of my wife, the home place mentioned in my will, to her and her heirs.

ITEM. I give and bequeath unto my beloved wife one horse and buggy her choice at my death. Also her share according to law of the cattle and other stock, and also her share of all other perishable property at my death and the sale of my property.

ITEM. At my death I give to Roman Oneal, my foster son, who has been faithful to me, a horse worth not more than twenty dollars and one Bible to cost one dollar

And if any money remain after the settlement of my estate, I bequeath the same to my children and their decendants

In testimony whereof, I hereunto set my hand an seal the day and date above mentioned in the presence of T.C. Davis and F.S. Davis the subscribing witnesses to this my will.                 /s/ Isaac (X) Rich

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On 30 April 1872, Isaac Rich, son of Branch O’Neal and Rachel Peacock, married Elizar Darden, daughter of Lizzie Darden, at George Thompson’s in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Rich, 30; wife Eliza, 30; children Martha Ann, 9, Marilda, 7, Zachariah, 5, and Elafare, 2; mother Mary Howell, 65; and George Washington Bass, 15, farm worker.

On 13 September 1899, Marilda Rich, 23, daughter of Isaac and Eliza Rich, married Mack Forsythe, 28, son of Alex and Nancy Forsythe, in Cross Roads township. William Forsythe applied for the license.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: widower Isaac Rich, 50, farmer; daughters Martha A., 28, and Wibby, 16; niece Lettie Langston, 8, and nephew Rommie Oneil, 8.

On 12 December 1900, Isaac Rich, 50, of Wilson County, married Jack Ann Ricks, 35, of Wilson County. Methodist minister G.A. Wood performed the ceremony at the bride’s residence in Wilson in the presence of Moses Depree and Mingo Hines.

Willie Dawson, 23, of Black Creek township, son of Benjamin and Caroline Dawson, married Susie Ann Richs, 22, of Cross Roads, daughter of Isaac and Eliza Richs, on 12 January 1905. Free Will Baptist minister W.H. Frost performed the ceremony at W.M. Forsythe’s in the presence of Forsythe, William Daniels and Aaron Barnes, all of Lucama.

James Pierce, 28, of Cross Roads, married Martha Rich, 24, of Cross Roads, daughter of Isaac and Eliza Rich, on 18 January 1906 at Martha’s residence. Free Will Baptist minister J.M. Richardson performed the ceremony in the presence of Thomas Ayers, William Forsythe and J.T. Horton, all of Lucama.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Isaac Rich, 60, farmer; wife Jacan, 45; nephews Roman Oneil, 18, and Robert Creech, 18; and laborer Bruce Depree, 18.

Isaac Rich died in the summer of 1913. James H. Newsome applied for letters of administration for his estate, naming widow Jack Ann Rich and Martha Ann Pearce, Marilda Forsyth, Viola Dawson (minor) and Roman O’Neal as heirs. Rich’s estate was estimated at $5600, including land.

Martha A. Pierce died 23 February 1918 in Cross Roads township. Per her death certificate, she was 42 years old; the daughter of Isaac Rich and Eliza Hayes; was married; and was buried in the Ricks graveyard. William Forsythe was informant, and Mack Forsythe, the undertaker.

Image of original will and administration letters available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

 

The last will and testament of James H. Holden.

State of North Carolina, County of Wilson.

I, James H. Holden, of the City of Wilson and State of North Carolina, do make my last will and testament as follows:

First – I give and bequeath unto my wife Isabella Holden, my home house and lot on Bank Street where I live and which was paid for me and her.

Second – I give and bequeath unto my wife Isabella Holden all monies coming to my estate from lodges to which I belong and all insurance companies in which I am insured to be used at her own discretion after she has given me such a burial as maybe satisfaction to her.

Third – I give and bequeath to my wife Isabella Holden my share of the lot in Smithfield which was left to me and my two brothers Jesse Holden and Edward Holden. This lot was owned by my father and left to the three of us. My part will be one third interest and the amount of $20 which I have paid for taxes over and above my part of the taxes on the lot since my father’s death. The taxes should have been paid by all three of us and if this had been done my part would have been one third of the taxes, but this was not done and I have paid out for taxes on the lot $20 paid over to my wife Isabella Holden and after she is paid the amount and when the time comes to divide the property I want my one third interest paid over to my wife.

In Witness Whereof, I, James H. Holden, have to this my last will and testament hereto set my hand and seal, this the sixteenth day of May, A.D. one thousand nine Hundred and eighteen.   /s/ James H. Holden

Signed, sealed published and declared by the said James H. Holden as and for his last will and testament, in the presence of us, who, in his presence and at his request, and in the presence of each other, I have hereto set our hands as witnesses, the day and year last above written. /s/ A.L.E. Weeks, Annie E. Weeks

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In the 1880 census of Smithfield, Johnston County, North Carolina: laborer Anderson Holden, 27; wife Rachel, 22; daughter Ether, 6, and Sarah, 3.

James H. Holden, 35, of Wilson, son of Rachel Holden, married Isabell Deans, 25, on 25 January 1900 in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of J.T. Deans, Cora Beckwith and Goodsey Holden.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: brick mason James Holden, 24; wife Isabelle, 35; and children Ether, 1; and brother Jesse, 7.

Ed Holden, 27, married Gussie McClammie, 20, on 10 December 1903 in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of M.C. Bynum, Eliza Mayo and J.H. Palmer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 391 Jones Street, Ed Holden, 30, brickmason; wife Gussy, 26; and children Carrie L., 6, and Andrew J., 12.

James Holden died 8 August 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 July 1874 in Johnston County to Anderson Holden and Rachel Whitfield, both from Wake County; resided at 428 Bank Street, Wilson; and was married. Belle Holden was informant.

Isabella Holden quickly remarried. On 17 June 1919, she wed Zeke Artis, 35, in a ceremony performed by Baptist minister Spurgeon Davis in Wilson. F.S. Hargrave, A.V. Bowser, and Mrs. M.A. Spell witnessed.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 703 Lodge Street, bricklayer Edd Holden, 36; wife Gussie, 30; and children Carrie, 15, Anderson, 11, David, 8, Roy Lee, 6, Russell, 3, and Thermon, 1.

Jesse Holden, 33, married Beatrice Gay, 32, on 14 February 1925 in Wilson. Eddie Holden applied for the license, and A.M.E.Z. minister J.E. Kennedy performed the ceremony in the presence of A.L. Winstead, Will Farmer(?) and Clarence Mc[illegible].

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 East Green, bricklayer Jessie Holden, 35; wife Beatrice, 38; and stepdaughter Jeroline Wood, 20.

Jesse Holden died 26 February 1965 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born July 1893 in Johnston County to Anderson Holden and Rachel Whitfield; resided at 623 East Green; was a retired brickmason; and was a World War I veteran. Beatrice Gay Holden was informant.

Image of original will available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last wills and testaments of Joel Newsom Sr. and Jr.

In the name of God amen I Joel Newsom Senr of the State of No. Carolina & County of Wayne being in a low State of Health but of Perfect mind & memory do make & ordain this my last will & Testament in manner & form as follow towit —

Item — I lend unto my wif Pennellopy Newsom one half my plantation whereon I now live with half the west room of my Dwelling house & Kitchin — also one feather berd & furniture half dozin siting chears two Puter dishes two Basons haf Dozen Plates the Iron ware that belongs to the Ketchen a sufficent quantity of Corn & fodder as will serve her & her family one year & a sufficient quantity of Provision as will last her & family the same term & two Cows & Calves two Sows & Pigs also the sum of fifty dollars to purches her a Horse — also Two negroes (to wit) Tom & Nel — also as much cotton flax & wool as Shall be sufficient to serve her & family for one year also four Ews also two Plow hoes two weading hoes one ax & one grubbing hoe — the above named Property I lend unto my wife during her natural life or widowhood & after her death or widow hood it it my will & desire that the whole be Sold & be disposed of as I Shall hereafter direct

Item I give & bequeath unto my son Joel Newsom all the tract of Land on the south Side of the March Branch & negro Sam to him & his heirs for ever

… I have hereunto set my hand & seal this 26th Sept 1818 attest — Joel X Newsom     Benjn. Simms, Stephen Woodard

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In the name of God, Amen, I Joel Newsom of the county of wayne and State of No Carolina being in a low state of health, but in sound mind and memory, do make and ordain this to be my last will and Testament, as follows – (viz)

Item, 1st, I Give and bequeath unto my son Larry Newsom, all my lands lying on the south side of black Creek (i.e.) the lands whereon I formaly, the lands whereon Sally Daniel now lives, and also the lands I purchased of Willis Garner and also a tract of piney land adjoining the tract I bought of Willis Garner, I also give and bequeath unto my Son Larry Newsom, four negroes (viz) Harry, Allen, Ben, and Tom, to him and his heirs forever ….

Item 2nd I lend unto my daughter, Zilpha Daniel and my son in law Jap. Daniel, my lands I bought of Elisha Daniel, lying between black Creek and Cotentna creek, with the exception of the fruit that may grow in the orchard on said lands, untill my Grand son Larry Daniel, son of Jas. & Zilpha Dan’l arrives to the age of twenty one years, I also lend unto my daughter Zilpha Daniel one negro girl named Hanner during her lifetime ….

Item 3rd I Give and bequeath unto my son James Newsom my tract of land whereon I now live lying on the north side of black creek also three negroe boys (viz) Tony, Will and Sam ….

Item 5th I give and bequeath unto my sister Patience Pearce a negro Girl by the name of Dill, to her and her heirs forever

Signed Sealed and acknowledged in the presence of us – John Rowe, Burket Barnes       Joel Newsom Augt. 14th 1837

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The Newsoms lived in the Black Creek area of Wayne County, which became part of the new Wilson County in 1855.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, North Carolina, Ben Newsome headed a household that included wife Edna, 31, and children Amos, 10, Gray, 7, Penelope, 6, and Mary, 2. It is likely that Newsome was the Ben referred to Joel Newsom Jr.’s will 33 years earlier. (Note that one of his daughters shared a first name with Joel Newsom Jr.’s mother Penelope.) As required by law, Benjamin Newsome and Edna Newsome registered their 16-year cohabitation in Wilson County in 1866. (Edna was likely considerably older than 31 in 1870.) Harry Newsom, who may have been the Harry listed in Newsome Jr.’s will, registered his ten-year cohabitation with Rachel Woodard in 1866.

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Image of original will available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Williamson v. Williamson, 57 N.C. 272 (1858).

This case was filed in Wilson County Court of Equity by Garry Williamson and Jesse Fulgham, executors of the will of Thomas Williamson, concerning the distribution of certain enslaved people for whom Williamson claimed ownership. The principle question posed to the North Carolina Supreme Court was whether enslaved children, born before Williamson died, passed with their mothers to the designated legatees. “The general rule is clearly settled that the bequest simply of a female slave and her increase passes the mother only, and not the increase which she may have had before the will was executed, or between that time and the death of the testator.” An exception would be where the testator’s intent to include the children can be inferred from a reference to the enslaved woman having previously been in the possession of the legatee. Otherwise, the children become part of the “residue,” i.e. property to be liquidated and the proceeds equally divided among legatees.

The chart below summarizes the fates of 26 of the enslaved people — all women and children — that Thomas Williamson owned. It is a stark encapsulation of the devastating impact of slavery on African-American families. And where were their men? An examination of Williamson’s will, drafted in August 1852, reveals further separation. Thomas Williamson had separately bequeathed Turner, Patrick and Dennis to his wife Keziah Williamson, and Jack to son Garry Williamson.

 

The last will and testament of Lucy Woodard.

Lucy Woodard drafted her will in 1921, but lived another 13 years. By its terms, she left:

  • her house and lot on East Street, all household and kitchen furnishings, and all residual property to Cornelia Coleman, Charlie White and Annie Howard [Howell]
  • her piano to Annie Howell’s daughter Ethel Gray Howell

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In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Ruffin Woodard, 50 farmer; wife Lucy, 38; and children Zilpha, 19, John, 13, Polly, 12, Sallie, 2, Oscar, 1; and servant Willie Barnes, 12.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed day laborer/tobacco stemmer Lucinda Woodard, 52; children Sallie, 23, Viola, 17, Minnie, 13, and Winnie, 11; and grandchildren Cornelia, 4, Anderson, and Ruffin O. White, 10 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Lucy Woodard, 62; daughters Minnie, 23, cook, and Louvenia Woodard, 20, cook; daughter Mollie Thomas, 38, cook, and her daughter Mary, 17; and boarders widow Margret Jones, 28, cook, and her daughter Marthy, 4.

Lucy Woodard died 29 June 1934 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 94 years old; was the widow of Rufin Woodard; and was born in Wilson County to Harry and Hanah Simms of Wilson County. Informant was Annie Howell.

[Ethel Gray Howell (not Howard) was the daughter of Harry and Annie Thompson Howell. Her and her mother’s relationship to Lucinda Simms Woodard is not clear.]

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The last will and testament of Zebulon M. Johnson.

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On 19 November 1905, Zebulon Johnson, 33, son of Jere and Minnie Johnson, all of Northampton County, married Armittie Powell, 25, daughter of Isaac and Georgia Powell, at Jerusalem Church, Rich Square township, Northampton County, North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Rich Square, Northampton County: Armittie Johnson, 28, and her children Elvalene, 3, and Allene, 1 1/2, are listed in the household of her mother Georgianna Powell, 61. Armittie is described as married, but her husband Zebulon is not found.

In 1918, Zebulon Myer Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Nash County. Per his heart registration card, he resided at R.F.D. 3, Rocky Mount; was born 17 September 1872; was employed as a chiropodist and farmer; and his nearest relative was wife Mittie Johnson. [Where did Johnson receive his medical training? Was he actually a physician?]

On 1 December 1926, Zebulon Johnson, 48, of Wilson, married Roberta Battle, 38, of Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Mamie Lucas, Ella Allen and Henry Lucas.

In 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 East Nash Street, chiropodist Zebulon M. Johnson, 56, and wife Roberta, 37.

On 13 July 1934, Zebulon Myer Johnson died in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 61 years old; born in Bertie County to Jerry and Winnie Johnson; was married to Robetta Johnson; and worked as a chiropodist. He was buried in Rich Square, North Carolina.

As noted in the document above, Johnson’s will entered probate ten days after his death. As required, for several months, his executrix ran an ad in the local newspaper, notifying claimants and debtors of their obligations.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 August 1934.

There was a response — likely, unexpected. Armittie Powell Johnson, who lived in Rocky Mount, stepped forward to file a claim. By the brief notation handwritten in the will book, above, it appears that she asserted that she, and not Roberta, was Zebulon Johnson’s legal widow. I have no further information on the outcome of this challenge, but it is clear that Roberta Johnson remained in the house she had been bequeathed in the will.

Roberta Battle Johnson died 28 July 1958 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 October 1889 in Wilson to Parker Battle and Ella (last name unknown); was widowed; resided at 1108 East Nash; and worked as business manager for Mercy. Informant was Grace Battle Black, 1108 East Nash Street.

[Sidenote: Zebulon Myer Johnson was the grandfather of noted Nash County educator and activist Kanawha Zebulon “K.Z.” Chavis (1930-1986), whose mother was Arlin Johnson Chavis.]

The last will and testament of Carter W. Foster.

Carter Washington Foster died 17 February 1955, deeply in debt.

Foster had been Wilson County’s Negro agricultural extension agent. To open his estate, his widow Estelle Duncan Foster testified that she had found his will among papers in a locked box at the National Bank of Wilson. Sadie H. Collins, Helen W. Branford and John M. Miller Jr. examined the paper and positively identified as the document they had witnessed Foster sign just a month before.

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On 24 February 1955, Wilson County Superior Court opened the estate. Foster’s will was straightforward — he left all property left after his debts were settled to his wife and named her his executrix. The attachment to the will is more perplexing.

First, “I suggest that the $5000 Metropolitan Policy payable to my wife be loaned to the Company and payable to Carlotta and Barbara shall need same for schooling.” (What company? Was this suggestion lawful? Barbara Jean, born 1942, and Carlotta Estelle, born 1951, were the couple’s daughters.)

Second, Foster named three people who owed him a total of $30 — Isham Bryant, Leona Hines, and Maggie Bryant.

Third, he named eleven people that he owed a whopping $3007.5 (roughly $27,000 in 2017 dollars) — M.R. Zachary ($320), Mrs. Branford ($375), Percy Williams ($100), Mark Sharp ($825), Joe Hester ($650), Frank Murphy ($350), W.R. Barnes ($105), Cora S. Wilson ($75), Isiah Whitehead ($100), M.G. Garris ($25), and Martha Mitchell ($82.50). [As newspaper notices gave witness, attempts to pay them all back would require the sale at auction of Foster’s personal belongings, such as a 1951 Plymouth, and the house on Vance Street that he and his sister had inherited from their mother.]

Fourth, he designated seven people as trustworthy advisors to his wife — Bing Miller, Charles James, Rev. Farmer, Rev. Watkins, M.R. Zachary and Thomas J. Moore.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Vance Street, Walter Foster, 46, fireman at wagon company; wife Rosa, 34; children Heneretta, 18, Carl [sic, Carter], 6, and Naomi, 4; and sister-in-law Etta Parker, 32, a school teacher.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 808 East Vance Street, teacher Rosa Foster, 42; children Carter, 16, Daily Times newsboy, and Naomi, 14; and two roomers Alice Jones, 36, and Mamie Key, 20, both teachers.

The 1939 Ayantee, yearbook of North Carolina A&T State University.

On 29 December 1939, Carter Washington Foster, 26, of Wilson, and Estelle Duncan, 25, of Maysville, North Carolina, were married in Danville, Virginia. Foster, son of Walter Foster and Rosa Parker, worked as an agriculture teacher at Chatham County Training School and lived in Siler City, and Duncan, daughter of Samuel Duncan and Annie Hicks, lived in Clinton, North Carolina.

In 1940, Carter Washington Foster registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 15 January 1914 in Wilson; resided at 808 East Vance; worked as county farm agent at 559 1/2 East Nash Street; and was married to Estelle Duncan Foster.

This newspaper article about county officials reveals that Foster was paid less than half of his white counterpart’s salary:

Wilson Daily Times, 1 December 1941.

His work, alongside black home demonstration agent Jane Boyd, was recognized, however:

“Wilsonia” column, John G. Thomas, Wilson Daily Times, 24 January 1945.

Carter Washington Foster died 17 February 1955 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 January 1914 in Wilson to Walter Foster and Rosa Parker; was married; resided at 801 East Green; and worked as a county agricultural agent.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1955.

——

  • Sadie Collins — Wilson cafe operator Sadie Collins.
  • Helen W. Branford — per the 1953 Raleigh city directory, Helen Wade Branford (1913-1994) was a agricultural extension agent living in Wilson.
  • J.M. Miller Jr. — Wilson elementary school principal John Maxwell Miller Jr. 
  • Isham Bryant — Sampson County native Isham Bryant (1891-1961) was a machinist in Wilson.
  • Leona Hines — Leona T. Hines (1901-1988) of Wilson County and later Lenoir County.
  • Maggie Bryant — Wilson teacher Maggie Walker Bryant (1910-1958).
  • M.R. Zachary — Hertford County native Molton R. Zachary was a classmate of Foster at A&T and was a county farm agent.
  • Mrs. Branford — probably Helen W. Branford above.
  • Percy Williams
  • Mark Sharp — Wilson County farmer Mark B. Sharpe.
  • Joe Hester — Granville County native Joe Hester (1900-1984) was a Wilson County farmer.
  • Frank Murphy
  • W.R. Barnes
  • Cora S. Wilson
  • Isiah Whitehead — Isaiah Whitehead Jr. (1894-1969) was a farmer near Tarboro, Edgecombe County.
  • M.G. Garris
  • Martha Mitchell — probably, Martha Taylor Mitchell (1895-1976) of Wilson.
  • Bing Miller
  • Charles James — undertaker Charles D. James.
  • Rev. Farmer
  • Rev. Watkins — Baptist minister Talmadge Adam Watkins (1915-2002)
  • Thomas J. Moore
  • Jane Boyd — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1111 Washington Street, Walter Thorpe, 63; wife Rebecca, 46; and roomer Jane Boyd, 37, Virginia-born county home demonstration agent.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.