will

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 Csrlotta 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.

004778533_00399

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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.

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  • 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.

The last will and testament of Emma Tarboro.

On 5 March 1902, Isaac Tarboro, 22, married Emma Lewis, 19, both of Wilson, in Wilson township. Willie Bynum, Elizabeth Freeman and J.D. Stallings witnessed the ceremony.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, cigarette factory laborer Isic Tarbor, 28; wife Emma, 27; and children Thomas, 4, and Emmalue, 2.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, ice plant laborer Issac Tarboro, 39; wife Emma, 38; and children Thomas, 14, Emma Lou, 12, Issac Jr., 8, John, 5, Virginia, 3, and Richard, 8 months.

On 21 November 1936, Virginia Tarboro, 20, of Wilson County, daughter of Isaac and Emma Tarboro, married James Rich, 33, of Wilson County, son of Jim and Mary Rich, in Nashville, North Carolina. Witnesses were Emma Tarboro, Fred Williams and Leavain Ham, all of Wilson.

Emma Lewis Tarboro applied for a Social Security number in April 1937. Per her application, she was born 7 February 1881 in Edgecombe County to Frank Lewis and Clarsey Joyner.

On 19 December 1938, Richard Tarboro, 21, of Wilson County, son of Isaac Tarboro and Emma Taylor, married Docia Mae Cotten, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of Lumas and Annie Cotten, in Nashville, North Carolina. Witnesses were James Joyner, Mamie S. Taylor and Velma McCormick, all of Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 814 Manchester Street, Isaac Tarboro, 49; wife Emma, 49; daughter Virginia Rick, 23; and grandsons Junious Rountree, 12, and Freddrick Dew, 6. Isaac and Junious worked as laborers in a tobacco factory.

Isaac Tarboro died 27 June 1945 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 May 1881 in Greene County to John Tarboro; resided at 814 Manchester Street;  worked as a laborer; was married to Emma Tarboro; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. Richard Tarboro, 203 Manchester, was informant.

On 12 December 1945 in Norfolk, Virginia, John Edward Tarboro, 31, of Norfolk, born Wilson, N.C., son of Isaac Tarboro and Emma Louis, married Annie May Hatcher, 27, of Patrick County, Virginia.

Emma Tarboro died 10 June 1950 in Wilson County.

Per her will, Emma Tarboro devised her house and property at 814 Manchester Street to her daughters Emma Lou Rountree and Virginia Peak; her adjoining vacant lot to sons Thomas, John Edward, Isaac and Richard; and all personal property to her daughters, who were to serve as executors. Talmon Hunter and Sallie F. McKetheon witnessed.

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

The house that Jack built.

STANTONSBURG — The house that Jack Sherrod built is a hidden history.

Built as a wood structure in 1886, the entire building has been encapsulated into brick and has had multiple additions over the years, but Leonard Paul Sherrod Jr., great-grandson of the builder, knows what’s underneath.

Sherrod and other family members are preparing for a grand reunion on Sept. 1-3 to be held at the Sherrod homestead.

“We are refurnishing, repairing, remodeling when necessary and getting it ready to be used as a venue for the upcoming September reunion,” said Sherrod, who was born in Wilson in 1933 and graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in 1952

A picnic and a banquet are planned at the event, which Sherrod has titled “Exploring Our Family History.”

“There is so much history,” Sherrod said. “Not only is it family history, it is African-American history, and in some small portion, American history.”

That history begins with Jack Sherrod and his wife, Cassie. Both had been slaves, yet 20 years afterward had managed to build a home on what is now Watery Branch Church Road south of Stantonsburg near the confluence of Wilson, Greene and Wayne counties.

“He had been a slave until the end of the war,” Sherrod said. “As a freed man, he acquired this land and built a home on it. He could not read, nor write, but he could build things. He had this God-given talent for building things. It is not written, but certainly said, that he built a lot of structures in this area. He was a builder. It took him two years to build this house.”

Last week, Sherrod stood in the graveyard behind Watery Branch Free Will Baptist Church. The graves of Jack and Cassie Sherrod are right there, with those of other deceased family members, about 200 yards away from and within sight of the homestead.

“To be able to stand there in your yard and see where your great-grandparents are buried, that raises a lot of emotions within me,” Sherrod said. The house that he built and I can see his grave from the front yard.”

Restoring the homestead is a passion for Sherrod.

“I think the Lord put this in my spirit to be a part of preserving this property because it has been in the family for so long and it is such a rich history that I could not stand by and let it go,” he said.

From “Hidden History: Family Celebrates Home of Patriarch, a Former Slave,” by Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Times, 16 July 2017.

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Jack Sherard, son of Denis Barnes and Tempy Davis, and Cassy Exum received a marriage license in Wayne County in 1868.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jack Sherard, 26, wife Cassey, 25, and daughter Fanny, 4.

In the 1880 census of Nahunta, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherod, 37; wife Cassey, 28; and children Fanny, 12, William, 9, Ida, 7, Marcy, 2, John, 5, and Benny, 11 months.

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 56; wife Cassy; and children Ida, 27, Benjamin, 25, Dalas, 20, Exum, 16, Arthur, 15, and Cora, 11.

Ida Sherrod, 32, and Alonzo Wilson, 35, received a marriage license in Wayne County on 18 April 1906.

On 17 April 1907, Cora Sherrod, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Jack Sherrod, married Columbus Ward, 26, of Greene County, son of Pearson and Cherry Ward. Oscar Hagans applied for the license, and Methodist minister Robert E. Hunt performed the ceremony in Stantonsburg, Wilson County, in the presence of Mrs. R.E. Hunt, B.J. Thompson, and Mrs. B.J. Thompson.

On 13 January 1909, Arthur D. Sherard, 22, son of Jack and Cassie Sherard, married Effie Diggs, 18, daughter of Margaret Diggs at Frances Diggs‘ house in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Jack Sherard applied for the license, and witnesses to the ceremony were W.M. Artis, Henry Pender and Richard Artis, all of Eureka, Nahunta township.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 66; wife Kassey, 55; and grandchildren Thomas, 8, and Zelma Sherard, 5.

Dallas Alonzo Sherrod, 28, son of Jack and Carrie Sherrod, married Mary Ann Taylor, 20, daughter of Nelson and Delia Taylor, on 21 December 1911 in Petersburg, Virginia.

Dallas A. Sherrod

Dallas A. Sherrod.

Jack Sherrod scrawled an X at the bottom of his last will and testament on 30 June 1914. By its terms, his wife Cassie was to receive a life estate in all his property and, after her death, daughters Cora Ward and Fannie Powell (wife of George Powell) would receive dollars each, with the remainder of his property equally divided among his children John Sherard, Exum Sherard, Willie Sherard, Ben Sherard, Arthur Sherard, Ida Wilson and Dallas Sherard.

Jack Sherrod died 18 May 1915 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 August 1842 to Dennis Barnes and Tempie Barnes; was married; and worked as a farmer. Arthur Sherrod was informant.

Ida B. Wilson died 21 October 1918 in Nahunta, Wayne County, of influenza. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Alonza Wilson; was born about 1873 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Cassie Exum. Informant was Ben Sherrod of Fremont, North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, Cassey Sherard, 69; and grandchildren Zelma, 15, Joseph, 12, and Ralph L., 12.

On 30 November 1926, Cora Sherrod, 35, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod, married Robert C. Powell, 58, of Stantonsburg, son of Lawson and Lanie Powell, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion minister E.D. Lewis performed the ceremony in the presence of Albert A. Cooke of Raleigh, North Carolina, and Mattie Winstead of Stantonsburg.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Delaware Line (on street), Cassie Sherrod, 75, widow; granddaughters Zelma, 25, Doris, 7, and Jeraldine, 6; and daughter Cora Powell, 30, teacher. Sherrod owned the house, valued at $600.

Dallas Sherrod died 26 December 1934 in Petersburg, Dinwiddie County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was 50 years old; was born in Stantonsburg, North Carolina, to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; was married to Mary Sherrod; and resided at 1111 Stainback Street. He was buried in East View cemetery.

Cassie Sherrod died 26 June 1940 at 624 East Green Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Jack Sherrod; was born in Wayne County to Lewis Hall and Cassie Kelley. Informant was Cora S. Powell, 612 East Green.

Cassie Sherod’s will entered probate on 1 July 1940. Dated 25 November 1932(?), per its terms sons Exum, Arthur, Dallas and Ben Sherod were to receive $1 each; wearing clothes to daughter Fannie Sherod Powell; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Bee and Joe; $1 each to John Sherod’s children Velma and Tom; and a house and lot in Stantonsburg, a piano and all other personal property to Raphael Ward.

Arthur Sherrod died 28 March 1955 in Nahunta township, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 March 1886 in Wayne County to Jack Sherrod and Catherine Exum and was married to Effie Sherrod.

Cora Sherrod Barnes died 12 June 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 December 1888 to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; resided at 500 East Green Street; was a retired teacher. Informant was Ralph Sherrod, 327 West 30th Street, New York City.

Photograph of D. Sherrod courtesy of Ancestry user garey45sos1.

The last will and testament of Henry Jones, alias Barnes.

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In May 1903, Samuel H. Vick swore in Superior Court that he had witnessed Henry Jones, alias Barnes, make his mark on will. Because Walter Hulin was deceased, his widow Hattie Hulin swore to the validity of his signature on the document.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Barnes, 35, and wife Milah, 30.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Henry Barnes, 52; wife Mila, 40; son Amanuel Robins, 22; and boarder John Hardy, 20.

On 2 August 1899, Walter B. Hulin, 21, married Hattie Artis, 18, at the Artis home in Wilson. Rev. W.B. Perry, Episcopal, performed the ceremony in the presence of James Artis, Irine Winstead and Mrs. Barnes.

Mily Barnes died intestate in the late summer of 1909. Dr. F.S. Hargrave applied for letters of administration for her estate, estimated at $100 value.

 

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

Milly Jones’ probate.

Milly Jones, widow of Henry Jones, passed away 21 November 1877 in Wilson.

She had executed a detailed will in August 1877, directing, among other things, that:

  • her son A.W. Jones receive “the shop lot” on Nash Street located beside her residence and measuring twelve by twenty feet;
  • the remainder of her land to be sold “to some member of the family” and the proceeds divided equally among her children;
  • enough of her personal property be sold to pay off her debts and funeral and the remainder divided among her children by two neutral people;
  • and son Kernel M. Jones act as executor.

Kernel [Colonel?] Morris Jones, with his youngest brother’s help, had some immediate tasks to address:

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  • four dollars paid by son A. Wilson Jones to casketmaker Charles H. Darden for a coffin:

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  • one dollar and thirty-two cents to Anthony Nadal for handles and other hardware for the coffin:

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Having carried out his mother’s wishes, in February 1878, K.M. Jones filed with the court an account of the distribution of her estate. After debts, including those above, were paid out of the three hundred dollars secured from the sale of her lot, each child — K. Maurice Jones, Mac Jones; Sarah Best, wife of Noah Best; Harry Martin Jones; and A.W. Jones — received just over $42.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: shoemaker Henry Jones, 55; wife Milly, 50; and sons Morris, 19, a bakery worker, and Wilson, 11. [A. Wilson Jones later married — and murdered — Samuel Vick’s sister Nettie Vick.] Daughter Sarah Jones, 15, was listed as a domestic servant in the household of grocer John A. Crofton.

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

 

 

The last will and testament of Luther Locus.

Luther Locus left gifts of $50 to Saint John A.M.E.Z. Church, his aunt Gertrude Horton and  sister Frances Faison; $25 to aunt Mary Mitchell; a piano and a ’36 Buick to sister Lessie Knight; property to wife Eula Locus; and $1000 to son Robert Locus. Rev. J.A. Everette, Ethel Everette and D.C. Yancey witnessed the execution of the document.

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Perhaps, in the 1900 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John W. Locus, 27, wife Liddie, 26, and children Stillie, 9, Luther, 7, and Rolley, 8 months, and sister Lula, 17.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn and Kenly Road, farmer John A. Pearce, 41; wife Frances, 37; and children Thomas E., 19, Madie, 17, Lenore, 14, Geneva, 12, John H., 9, Odester, 1, and James, 5 months; boarder Luther Locus, 17; and hired hand Rucian Joyner, 30.

On 15 April 1916, Luther Locus was a witness to the marriage of Lonnie Staton, 22, and Lessie Locus, 20, at 514 East Green Street, Wilson. Church of God minister Joseph Lancaster performed the ceremony in the presence of Lessie’s brother Luther, L.A. Moore and Joseph Johnson.

On 5 June 1917, Luther Locus registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1892 in Kenly, N.C.; resided on Wainwright Avenue, Wilson; worked as a chauffeur and mechanic for T.W. Tilghman in Wilson; and was married with a child. He signed his name ‘Luther Locust’ in a clear hand.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wainwright, butler Luther Locus, 27, wife Eula, 23, and son Robert, 6.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1108 Wainwright, cook Luther Locus, 37, wife Eula, 37, also a cook, and son Robert, 16.

Luther Locus died 17 September 1944 at his home at 1108 Wainwright Avenue (owned and valued at $1500.) Per his death certificate, he was born 6 November 1892 in Wilson County to Elie Locus and Mary Pierce, both of Wilson County; worked as an auto mechanic at a filling station. Eula Locus was informant.

On 22 January 1949, Lessie Locus, 45, married Jessie B. Knight, 45, in Wilson. Thomas J. Moore and R.R. Batts witnessed.

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

The last will and testament of Bettie Battle Taylor Hall.

On 10 July 1917, Judge H. Hall, 30, of Wilson, son of Edwin and Avie Ann Hall, married Bettie B. Taylor, 34, of Wilson, daughter of Henry and Mary Battle of Nash County, in Wilson. A.L.E. Weeks, a Missionary Baptist minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of C.L. Darden, W.H. Burton, and Lee A. Moore.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Atlantic Street, house carpenter Judge Hall, 34, wife Bettie, 37, and roomer Lossie Hooks, 22.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 Atlantic Street, carpenter Judge Hall, 42; wife Bettie, 42; son John W., 4; and a lodging family, cook Ellen Battle, 35, and Margrette, 15, Etta, 12, Minnie, 7, Julious, 10, and Norma Battle, 3.

Bettie Hall died 15 September 1939 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was married to Judge Hall; resided at 901 Atlantic Street; worked as a tobacco factory worker; and was born about 1889 in Wilson County to Henry Battle of Nash County and Margarett Lucas of Wilson County. Informant was Ellen Battle.

S123_1202-0358

Two months before she died, Bettie Hall made out a will. Interestingly, she left nothing to her husband Judge, instead designating as her sole heirs her daughters Ellen Battle and Margaret (no last name listed.)

bettie hall

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

The estate of Ann Williamson.

Documents in the 1822 estate files of Ann Williamson of Nash (now Wilson) County include several references to the sale or “hier” of enslaved people. Williamson was the widow of Joseph Williamson, and Bartley Deans was her executor.

Williamson had executed a will in 1807, fifteen years before her death. She listed three enslaved people — women named Pat and Rachel and a boy named Arch.

aw

A partial inventory in Williamson’s estate records also lists Arch, Rachel and Pat. Rachel and Pat are listed together at one place in documents and may have been mother and daughter. (Note that, as she was only ten years old in 1822, the Pat in in Williamson’s estate could not have been the Pat in her will.)

ann-w-12-1821-inventory

Here, record of the sale of “Negro gal Pat” to Eatman Flowers for $353.88; the hire of Arch, first to Jesse Sillivant, then to Thomas Williamson; and the hire of Rachel to Ford Taylor. These three were hired out repeatedly.

ann-w

A receipt for partial proceeds from the sale of Jack to John Watson, executor of Luke Collins:

ann-w-2

Estate of Ann Williamson (1822), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

 

Noah Lynch, Civil War veteran.

In the 1850 census of the north side of the Neuse district, Wayne County, North Carolina: C.M. Richardson, 32, brickmason; wife Sarah, 24; and their children Jacob, 7, Joseph and Benjamin, 3, and Cisara, 1; plus, Julia Walton, 21, apprentices Green Bryant, 20, and Noah Linch, 20, and brickmason Thomas Piloot, 23.

Noah Lynch married Piety Rose on 2 March 1853 in Edgecombe County.

In the 1860 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: plasterer Noah Lynch, 30; wife Piety, 33, washerwoman; domestic Julia Higgins, 20; John James, 10; and Martha Taylor, 7; all mulatto. Noah reported owning $700 in real property.

Noah and Piety Lynch apparently divorced or otherwise separated in the early 1860s.

Noah Lynch, 34, colored, waiter, married, born in North Carolina, appears in a consolidated list of men who registered for the Union draft in June 1863 in New York City. Also in the list, Shered Lynch, 32, seaman, married, born in North Carolina. (Sherod Lynch married Harriet Moore at Gatlin Lynch’s in Wayne County on 12 July 1855.) Both resided on East Houston Street.

On 4 May 1868, Noah Lynch, 29, black, son of Lary Lynch and Nancy Wilkins, married Mary Sweeny, 25, white, daughter of Patrick Sweeny and Bridget Bilon, in Manhattan.

In the 1870 census of New York, New York County, New York: mason Noah Lynch, 40, and wife Mary, 30. Noah was a native of North Carolina; Mary, of Ireland. Both were described as white. In a duplicate entry in the 1870 census of New York City: on Houston Street, Noah Lynch, 42, machinist, born in North Carolina; wife Mary, 25, born in Ireland; and John Lynch, 30, waiter, also born in Ireland. All were described as white.

On 8 January 1875, Noah Lynch, 40, son of Larry Lynch and Nancy Wilkins, married Anne Carey, 30, daughter of Luke Carey and Catharine Sweeney, in Manhattan.

In the 1880 census of New York, New York County, New York: plasterer Noah Lynch, 50, and wife Annie, 34, both described as white.

In the New York, New York, city directory of 1883: Noah Lynch, mason, 153 Second.

In the 1905 New York state census: at 153-2nd Street, Noah Linch, 75, painter, white.

In the 1910 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York; at 14 Avenue A, widower Noah W. Lynch, 80, and adopted daughter Matilda M. Roth, 37, a stage actress. Noah was described as white and born in North Carolina to German parents. Matilda was born in New York to German parents.

Noah W. Lynch died 23 November 1913 in Manhattan. Per his death certificate, he was 84 years old; born in North Carolina to Larry and Nancy Lynch; was a pensioned mason; and was olive brown (colored). He was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

On 1 December 1913, Matilda Roth of 14 Avenue A testified in Surrogates’ Court to prove Noah Lynch’s will. She averred that she had known Lynch about 33 years, that she had witnessed him sign his will on 23 November 1913 [the day he died] at his residence at 14 Avenue A and that Johanna Kuhnel and Valentine A. Schulz were also present. Johanna Kuhnel testified similarly, noting that she had known Lynch for about 25 years.

Noah Lynch achieved a significant degree of prosperity in the Lower East Side, though he never bought a house or apartment or spent much on material possessions, as his will reveals:

I, Noah Lynch of the City, County and State of New York, being of sound and disposing mind and memory, and considering the uncertainty of this life, do make, publish and declare this to be my last Will and Testament as follows, hereby revoking all other and former Wills by me at any time made.

1st First, after my lawful debts are paid, I give to my beloved half-sister, Mary Tillman (widow) residing at Bergen Street near 3rd Avenue in the Borough of Brooklyn, New York City the sum of Eight Hundred Dollars, the same to be held in trust in the name of my executor, and the same to be deposited in the Bank, during her life. I direct my Executor to pay her from time to time the amount necessary to defray the expenses for her maintenance, that he may see fit after her death, my executor shall see that she has a proper burial and whatever moneys he may have on hand or the balance of the above named sum shall be used in erecting a monument or Tombstone, over her last resting place.

2nd. I give to Mary Sands of 2472 Marion Avenue, Borough of Bronx, New York City, the sums of Five Hundred Dollars, that is to say if there is so much on hand to pay her the same, if there is not so much on hand, she shall receive Two Hundred Dollars.

3rd. I give my (gold watch) to my friend John Sands of 2472 Marion Avenue, Borough of the Bronx, New York City.

4th. I give to Ellen Dwyer, for her good services rendered in my sickness and my last moments and for her kindness, the sum of Five hundred Dollars, that is to say if there is so much on hand to pay her the same, if there is not so much on hand, she shall receive Two Hundred Dollars.

5th. I give to my Executor Val. A. Schulz of 214 East 4th Street New York City, for the faithfull performance of his duty or extra compensation for the amount of Labor he will have in attending to matters of my estate he is to have Two hundred and Fifty Dollars, besides his legal allowance.

6th. I hereby direct my executor to give me a decent funeral and a Requiem High Mass at the Church of the Nativity, 2nd Avenue, bet 2nd and 3rd street, New York City.

7th. I hereby direct my executor to pay one hundred dollars to the Most Reverend Father Reilly, the Rector of the Church of the Nativity, at 2nd Avenue bet 2nd-3rd Street New York City, the same is to be used for reading Masses after my death.

I hereby direct my Executor to use the balance of my estate if there be any balance to erect a suitable Monument over my last Resting place.

8th. I hereby direct that my Executor Valentine A. Schulz of 214 East 4th Street, shall serve as my Executor without filing any bonds as I have confidence in his honesty, faithful performance of his duty and I am sure he will carry out my last wishes.

9th. My entire estate consists of 1 Bank account on Bank Book number 658,003 on the Bowery Savings Bank, and another Bank book number 1,015 832 on the 4th Ave Bank at 200 4th Avenue, New York City, and other small articles of no value.

10th. I give to Matilda Roth of 14 Ave A, New York City, who I have raised and who has done so much for me, and for services rendered to me during my lifetime and during my sickness, I hereby give her eight hundred Dollars and I direct my Executor to pay her the same as soon as the law permits. I also give her a ring of plain type.

11th. I hereby direct my executor to pay any attention to those claiming relationship. I have no relatives living accepting my half sister Mary Tillman of Brooklyn, New York City.

12th. And I further direct my Executor not to pay any one who will cause him any trouble, that is to say of those named in this my last will and testament, by trouble I mean any one contesting this my last will and Testament.

I hereby appoint Valentine A. Schulz, 214 East 4th Street, New York City, to be Executor of this my last Will and Testament.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my name, and affixed my seal, the 23rd day of November in the year one thousand nine hundred and thirteen.    Noah (X) Lynch

Witnesses: Matilda Roth, Valentine A. Schulz, Johanna Kuhnel

I have no record of Mary Tillman in North Carolina. However, in the 1894 Brooklyn, New York, city directory: Tillman, Mary, wid. Thos., h 263 Bergen. In the 1900 census of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: at 263 Bergen, widowed North Carolina-born laundress Marie Tillman, 74, with boarder Alexander Moore, 27, and his wife Julia, 26, and three other families. In the 1910 census of Brooklyn: at 263 Bergen, Virginia-born Susan Brown, 34, laundress, and her Florida-born boarder Joseph Robertson, 28, a hotel waiter, and North Carolina-born Mary Tillman, 87, and her lodger Benjamin Simmons, 70, a carpenter.

Executor Schulz quickly advanced Mary Tillman money to purchase a burial plot and grave marker, but she complained to the court that she needed $40/month for support. She averred that Schulz had agreed to pay that sum, but had not remitted any money to date. It is not at all clear why this minor demand warranted the attention of two New York City newspapers, but:

sun 3 10 14

The Sun, 10 March 1914.

nyt 3 10 1914

New York Times, 10 March 1914.

The Hawleys, the Roses and the color line.

The families of William and Nancy Rose Hawley illustrate the fluidity of identity along the color line and the complexity of Southern race relations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their families lived among a cluster of families in the Lucama area — Hawleys, Roses, Ayerses and Taylors — whose members’ racial classifications shifted back and forth over time. Both William and Nancy were regarded as mixed-race for much of their lives, but died white.

In the 1850 census of District 9, Johnston County: John Sillivant, 53, farmer; Sally Hawley, 60; and Martha Hawley, 35, and her children Nancy, 12, William, 9, Mary, and Elizabeth, 3. All were described as white.

Also in the 1850 census of District 9, Johnston County: Sarah Rose, 44, and children Piety, 22, William 11, Nancy, 3, and James, 0. All were described as white.

Piety Rose married Noah Lynch on 2 March 1853 in Edgecombe County. [Lynch was probably a brother of Wyatt Lynch.]

In the 1860 census of Kirbys district, Wilson County: Sallie Hawley, 75; daughter Patsey [nickname for Martha], 35; and grandchildren William, 17, Mary, 14, Cerenia, 10, Willey, 4, Saffira, 4, and John D., 1. Patsey, Cerenia and John were described as mulatto; the others, white. [Kirby’s district had been the north-most part of Johnston County before Wilson County was created in 1855.]

Also in the 1860 census of Kirbys district, Wilson County: Sarah Rose, 50; Richard Odom, 21, cooper; Willis Taylor, 45, turpentine worker; Nancy Rose, 11, and Alice Rose, 7. Taylor and the Rose girls were described as mulatto. Sarah reported owning $500 real estate and $300 personal.

In the 1860 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: plasterer Noah Lynch, 30; wife Piety, 33, washerwoman; domestic Julia Higgins, 20; John James, 10; and Martha Taylor, 7; all mulatto. Noah reported owning $700 in real property.

On 26 June 1867, William Hawley, son of Joseph Hair and Patsey Hawley, married Nancy Rose, daughter of Sarah Rose, at Sarah Rose’s house in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 28, wife Nancy, 20, son Joseph, 1, and Aquilla Hawley, 17. William, Joseph and Aquilla were classified as mulatto; Nancy, as white.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Patsey Hawley, 40; and children Betsey, 18, Rena, 17, Willie, 16, Quilly, 16, and John D., 10; all white. Next door: Sarah Rose, 59, and daughter Alice, 15, both described as white. Next door to them: Willis Taylor, 51, farm laborer, white.

On 26 February 1874, Piety Lynch, 40, and Raiford Edwards, 52, both colored, both of Smithfield, were married in Johnston County. The ceremony was performed at J.B. Alford’s in the presence of Daniel Alford, Bettie Alford, and Daniel Freeman.

In the 1880 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer William Hawley, 39, wife Nancy, 32, and children Joseph, 10, Sally An, 7, and John, 3; all described as mulatto.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Patsey Hawley, 60, and grandson Charles Anderson Hawley, 11, both mulatto. Willis Taylor, 70, farmer, mulatto — who had lived with the Roses in 1860 — lived next door. Next door to him: farmer Leonidas Adams, 38, his wife Alice, 25, and children Willis, 8, Junius, 7, Mary Ann, 5, and John, 2; plus Piety Lynch, 54, and John E. Denson, 30, a fruit tree seller. All were mulatto except Denson, who was white. (Alice Adams and Piety Lynch were Nancy Rose Hawley’s sisters.) Also in Cross Roads, widow Sarah Rose, 72, living alone, described as white.

[Also in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, this cluster of families: #162. Sylvia Hawley, 22, with children Paul, 3, and Minnie, 2; #163. Martha Ann Hawley, 25, with children Chalmus, 5, and Maud, 2 months; #164. Quillie Hawley, 25, with children William, 5, and Victoria, 2; #165. Patrick Hawley, 35, wife Polly, 29, and children Mary Jane, 9, and Penelope, 5; and #166. John Dancy Adams, 54, Martha Ann Hawley, 45, Pharo Rowe, 30, and Dudley Hawley, 22. All were classified mulatto except John D. Adams and Pharo Rowe. Quillie appears to be Patsey Hawley’s daughter Aquilla. Dudley was Patsey’s son John Dudley Hawley. John D. Adams was the father of Alice Rose Adams’ husband Oleander Adams. In the 1860 census of Kirby’s, Patrick Hawley and the elder Martha Ann Hawley were listed as Patrick and Martha Taylor in John D. Adams’ household, and Sylvia Hawley and the younger Martha Ann Hawley were Taylors in the household of William Taylor, 22, and Sallie Taylor, 30 (who were probably siblings.) All were mulatto in this census, but race-fluid as demonstrated in other records. Who were these people? Were they related to Sally and Patsey Hawley? To the Roses? To Willis Taylor?]

Sarah Rose executed her will in early 1888:

I Sarah Rose of the County of Wilson and state of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory, but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, do make and declare this my last Will and Testament in manner and form following that is to say: —

First – That my executor (hereinafter named) shall provide for my body a decent burial, suitable to the wishes of my relations and friend, and pay all funeral expenses together with my just debts howsoever and to whomsoever owing out of the moneys that may first come in to his hands as a part or parcel of my estate.

Second I want my land sold to the highest bidder for cash and pay the same to my last will & testament here after mentioned. Also my personal property All that may be found at my death sold as above written and apply the same to all my heirs.

3rd I give to my son John Rose twenty dollars to be paied to him and his personal representative for ever. 4th I give to my Daughter Pity Linch five dollars to be paied to her. My daughter Allice Adams I want to give her twenty five dollars to be paied to her or her personal representative.

After those above mention received what I have given them my will is to equally divide the balance among William Rose, Mary Alford, and Nancy Holley.

And lastly, I do hereby constitute and appoint my trusty son in law William Holley my lawful executor to all intents and purposes, to execute this my last Will and Testament according to the true intent and meaning of the same and every part and clause thereof hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all others wills and testaments by me heretofore made in witness whereof I the said Sarah Rose do hereunto set my hand and seal. This the 14th day of March A.D. 1888  Sarah (X) Rose

Signed sealed published and declared by the saied Sarah Rose to be her last Will and Testament in the presence of us who at her request and in her presence do subscribe our names as witness thereunto  /s/ J.T Renfrow, A.G. Price

In the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: William R. Hawley Sr., 60, wife Nancy, 52, and children Willie, 15, and Patience, 13. All were described as black.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Leander Adams, 46, and wife Alice, 46, both black.

In the 1900 census of Smithfield, Johnston County: widow Piety Lynch, 72, black, living alone.

In the 1910 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: on Lucama Branch Road, William M. Hawley, 69, wife Nancy, 62, and daughter Patience, 22; all described as mulatto.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: railroad laborer Arnold Adams, 67, wife Alice, 57, and widower son John, 35, a brickyard laborer; all mulatto.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Ainley Adams, 711, and wife Alice R. Adams, both white.

William Hawley executed his will in 1913:

In the name of God, Amen, I, William Hawley of the county of Wilson and state of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory do hereby make, publish and declare this my last will and testament hereby revoking all former Wills by me at any time heretofore made, and as to my worldly estate and all the property real or personal which I may die seized and possessed I devise, bequeath and dispose thereof in the following manner, that is to say –

First – My will is that all of my just debts and funeral expenses shall be paid out of my estate by my executor hereinafter named as soon after my decease as by him shall be found convenient.

Item 1st. I give devise and bequeath to my beloved wife Nancy Hawley all of my real estate for and during her lifetime or widowhood, the said lands being situated in the county and state aforesaid in two tracts – the first tract being the land whereon I now low bounded on the west by the lands of Luke Tedder, on the north by Arch Atkinson and M.B. Hinnant, on the east by the lands of B.A. Scott and on the south by Jethro Moore containing Eighty Eight acres more or less, also one other tract of land adjoining the lands of J.T. Rentfrow, Seth W. Scott, B.A. Scott and others containing Seventy five acres more of less and known as the Sarah Rose tract – all of which I hereby give to my said wife Nancy Hawley for and during her lifetime or widowhood as aforesaid. I also give devise and bequeath to her all of my person al property not otherwise herein disposed of to-wit – all of my household and kitchen furniture, all of my live stock and all farming tools and all other personal property except such personal property as I may herein dispose of otherwise. 

Item 2. I give, devise, and bequeath to my beloved daughter Sallie Tedder all of the following land by and after the decease of my said wife Nancy Hawley, bounded as follows: Beginning at a stake at the crook of the ditch in Bull Pond Branch and runs north to a corner to be made in Arch Atkinson’s line, thence southwesterly with Atkinson’s line to Luke Tedder and Jethro Moore’s corner, thence easterly with Jethro Moore’s line to the head of the ditch in Bull Pond branch thence north with the ditch about 100 yeards to the beginning, containing thirty acres more or less, to her the said Sallie Tedder and her heirs by and after the decease of the said Nancy Hawley as aforesaid, provided however that one eight of an acre of this land be reserved to my family as a Graveyard for myself and family.

Item 3rd. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son J.G. Hawley one hundred and fifty Dollars in money to be paid to him by my executor hereinafter named out of my estate. I also give to him the said J.G. Hawley one feather bed, bedstead and furniture.

Item 4th. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son John Hawley One Hundred and fifty Dollars in money to be paid to him by my executor hereinafter named out of my estate. I also give to him one feather bed, bedstead and furniture.

Item 5th. I give, devise, and bequeath unto my son Willie Hawley the following described tract of land by and after the decease of his mother the said Nancy Hawley, bounded on the West by the lands of Benajah Scott, and on the north by Isaac W. Lamm and on the East by the lands of Haywood Lamm and on the south by J.T. Rentfrow containing Seventy five acres more or less, the same being known as the Sarah Rose place, to him the said Willie Hawley and his heirs in fee simple forever. I also give to him the said Willie Hawley one feather bed, Bedstead and furniture.

Item 6. I lend to my daughter Patience Taylor for and during her lifetime only the following described tract of land. Beginning at a stake in the Bull Pond Branch in Joseph Tedder and Adolph Taylor’s line and runs thence westerly to Sallie Tedder’s corner, thence northerly with her line to Arch Atkinson line thence a northeasterly course with Atkinson’s line to Mary Ann Hinnant’s deed line thence with said Hinnant’s line easterly to the Road thence south with the Road to creak below the Tobacco Barn thence a south line to the beginning containing twenty-five acres more or less to her the said Patience Taylor for and during her lifetime only and after her decease I hereby give  the same to such children as she may have born of her body if any living and if no children living then to her Brothers and sisters then living. I also give to her the said Patience Taylor, one feather Bed, Bedstead and furniture.

Item 7. All of the property which I may die seized and possessed not herein disposed of or any personal property herein bequeathed to my wife Nancy Hawley, and not disposed of by her during her lifetime, I desire the same to be sold by my executor hereinafter named, and after my said sons J.G. Hawley and John Hawley receive the sums of one hundred and fifty Dollars each as herein provided in the third and fourth Items of this my last will, I desire that the remainder of the proceeds of said sale be equally divided between my daughter Sallie Tedder and my daughter Patience Hawley and my son Willie Hawley share and share alike, and lastly I do hereby nominate and appoint my friend John T. Revell to be sole executor to this my last will and testament to all intents and purposes thereof. In testimony whereof I the said William Hawley have hereunto set my hand and seal this 13th day of January 1913.  /s/ Wm. Hawley.

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said William Hawley to be his last will and testament in the presence of us as witnesses hereto.  /s/  John T. Revell, Sarah Revell

In the 1920 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: on Aycocks Crossing Road, William M. Hawley, 77, and wife Nancy, 73, both mulatto.

William Hawley died 22 March 1920 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in Wilson County to unnamed parents; was married to Nancy Hawley; was a farmer; was buried at the home place; and was declared white. J.S. Tedder was informant. [Per Findagrave.com, he was buried in the J.D. Hawley cemetery near Rock Ridge, North Carolina. Others buried there are Nancy Rose Hawley, William A. Hawley, Sarah Rose and Sally Hawley Tedder.]

Alice Adams died 1 June 1927 in Cross Roads township. Per her death certificate, she was about 70 years old; was born in Wilson County to Sarah Rose and Willis Taylor; was married to Onley Adams; and worked for Ambrose Loucas. She was colored. Informant was John Adams, Lucama. [Alice Adams’ death record reveals the relationship between Sarah Rose and her close neighbor, Willis Taylor, who presumably was also the father of Rose’s other mixed-race children.]

Nancy Hawley died 14 February 1935 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of the late W.M. Hawley, was born 8 December 1837 in Wilson County to an unknown father and Sarah Rose, and was white. J.S. Tedder was informant.

John Dudley Hawley [brother of William Hawley] died 27 September 1948 at his home at 407 Factory Street in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was born in Wilson County to unnamed parents; and was white. Informant was Miss Maggie Hawley.

In death, William and Nancy Rose Hawley’s children, like their parents, achieved the permanent crossing of the color line that had eluded them in life:

Sally Ann Hawley Tedder died 11 June 1945 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 November 1872 in Wilson County to William Hawley and Nancy Rose and was a resident of Lucama. Informant Mrs. Berry Lewis certified that Sally Ann was white.

William A. Hawley died 14 March 1948 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was a 64 year-old barber; resided in Lucama; was born in Wilson County to William Hawley and Nancy Rose; and was white. J.S. Tedder was informant, and William was buried in Hawley cemetery.

Pattie Hawley Taylor died 14 May 1972 in Monroe, Union County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old, white, widowed, and the daughter of William Wilson Hawley and Nancy Rose. Informant was Grace Sasser, Monroe.

On the other hand, Alice Rose Adams’ children died classified as “colored,” like their mother:

Junious Adams died 25 September 1926 in Wilson township, Wilson County. His address was a rural route near Lucama. Per his death certificate, he was born about 1871 in Wilson County to Leander Adams and Alice Rose; worked as a tenant farmer for Josiah Hinnant; was married to Susan Adams; and was colored. Informant was Willis Adams, Black Creek.

Willis D. Adams died 4 July 1942 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 68 years old; was born in Wilson County to Leander Adams and Alice Rose; was a farmer; was married to Eva Adams; and was colored. Informant was Eva Adams.

John Q. Adams died 23 September 1964 at Dew’s Rest Home in Wilson. Per his death certificate, his regular residence was Lucama; he was born 20 May 1879 in Wilson County to Onley Adams and Alice Rose; had worked as a farmer; was a widower; and was Negro. Informant was Ollie Adams Sr., Norfolk, Virginia.