Williams

Burial in “Round Tree.”

Laura Williams Sutton was born in Nash County and died in Farmville, Pitt County, in 1930, but her body was brought to Wilson, where she had lived for decades, for burial in Rountree Cemetery.

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On 21 March 1906, William Sutton, 27, of Wilson, son of Providence and Marguret Sutton, married Laura Williams, 24, of Wilson, at the Graded School. Free Will Baptist minister John Steward performed the ceremony.

William Sutton registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 30 June 1878; lived at 620 Stantonsburg Street; worked as a laborer for Southern Oil Mill; and his nearest relative was wife Laura Sutton.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Robinson [Robeson] Street, oil mill laborer Willie Sutton, 41; wife Laura, 37; and daughter Dora, 2; boarders Fannie Brown, 18, private nurse; Willie Taylor, 19, oil mill laborer; Geneva Jones, 20, cook; and Nelson Thompson, 20, oil mill laborer; and roomer Sadie Hardy, 40, tobacco factory laborer.

Laura Sutton died 23 June 1930 in Farmville, Pitt County. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 December 1888 in Nash County to Jake and Kizzie Williams; was married to Willie Sutton; and was buried in “Round Tree” Cemetery, Wilson.

Schoolhouse “I do.”

Well into the twentieth century, African-American couples married overwhelmingly at an office of a justice of the peace or the home of a relative. However, on 21 March 1906, as carefully noted a Wilson County marriage register, William Sutton and Laura Williams tied the knot at Wilson’s Colored Graded School. Free Will Baptist minister John Steward performed the ceremony, and Charles Best, Charley Dawson, Minnie Sutton, and Henry Garnett.

Wilson’s first African-American policemen.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 July 1950.

In 1950, Wilson hired its first two Black policemen, Rudolph Best and Lee Jackson Williams, to patrol east of the railroad tracks.

  • Lee Jackson “Hank” Williams

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 319 Hackney Street, a duplex rented at $12/month per unit, Frank Harris, 35, lumber mill laborer; wife Mamie, 33; son Frank Jr., 2; and nephew McKinley Barnes, 21, farm laborer, and niece-in-law Hagar, 16; and Sam Williams, 28, barber; wife Emma, 28; children Addie M., 9, James, 7, Billie, 3, and Sam Jr., 1; and roomer Earnest Corbitt, 32, oil mill laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 511 East Green Street, rented for $12/hour, Sam Williams, 42, barber; wife Emma, 38; and children Addie, 19, James, 17, Billie, 13, Samuel Jr., 11, and Dazzarine, 9.

In 1944, Lee Jackson Williams registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 5 May 1926 in Wilson County; lived at 511 East Green Street; his nearest relative was Emma Williams; and he was “unemployed — going to school.”

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 505 East Green, barber Sam Williams, 50; wife Emma, 48; children Addie M., 28, James, 26, and Lee Williams, 23; and daughter Dazzarine Nicholson, 19, cashier, and her daughter Edrina, 1.

On 27 September 1954, Lee Jackson Williams, 28, of Wilson, son of Sam and Emma Crawford Williams, married Margaret Evangeline Speight, 25, of Wilson, daughter of Theodore and Marie Thomas Speight, at 510 East Green Street, Wilson. Presbyterian minister O.J. Hawkins performed the ceremony in the presence of Beatrice Neal, Emma Williams, and Sarah Bryant.

Lee Jackson Williams died 24 October 1997 in Wilson.

  • Rudolph Best

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 East Walnut, ice plant laborer Aaron Best, 31; wife Estell, 31; and children William A., 9, Audry L., 6, Rudolph V., 5, Vera M., 3, and Royce D., 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 Walnut, rented for $12/month, Aaron Best, 39; wife Estelle, 39; and children Rudolph, 14, Royce, 10, Harper and Gerald, 8, Eddie, 7, and Nannie Jean, 5.

In 1943, Rudolph Best registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 September 1925 in Wilson; his contact was Aaron Best; he lived at 1009 East Nash Street, Wilson; and he worked part-time at Briggs Hotel.

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1009 East Nash Street, Isaac Williams, 26, plaster helper; wife Delores D., 25, shaking tobacco at tobacco factory; and Larry L., 1; (upstairs) Rudolph Best, 24, plaster helper, and brothers Audrey L., 27, auto mechanic at repair shop, and Eddie E., 17; and (upstairs) Odessa B. Reid, 39, and mother Ietta R.M. Reid, 81, widow.

On 29 December 1954, Rudolph Best, 29, of Wilson, son of Aaron Best and Estelle Burden Best, married Ophelia Atkinson, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Mark Atkinson and Ada Battle Atkinson in Wilson.

Rudolph Best died 19 August 1974 in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 September 1925 to Aaron Best and Estelle Burton; was married to Ophelia Atkinson; lived at 1009 East Nash Street, Wilson; and had worked as a “policeman (22 years) Wilson Police Dept. Retired.)

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 March 1982.

State vs. Amos Williams.

To stave off responsibility for caring for poor women and their children, unwed mothers were regularly brought before justices of the peace to answer sharp questions about their circumstances.

On 15 September 1866, Lucy Taylor admitted to Wilson County justice of the peace D.W. Barnes that she was pregnant and unmarried, and Amos Williams was her child’s father. Barnes ordered that Williams be arrested and taken to a justice to answer Taylor’s charge.

Amos Williams appeared with J.G. Williams and M.M. Williams to post a bond for his appearance at the next session of court.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Benjamin Tillery, 27; wife Cherry; and daughter Jane, 3; Lucy Taylor, 23, and son Columbus, 8 months; and Daniel Sharp, 26, farm laborer. [Columbus Taylor is not the child that was the subject of the above bastardy action.]

Bastardy Bonds, 1866, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

620 Viola Street.

The one hundred sixty-seventh in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1950; 1 story; two-room, gable-roofed cottage.” This house appears to have replaced an earlier building on the site that dated from the mid-1920s. (The lot was empty at the time of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map.)

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In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Picott Wm (c; Annie) pntr h 620 Viola

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Williams Chas (c; Ellen) lab h 620 Viola

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 620 Viola, rented for $9/month, Charlie Williams, 25, body plant laborer; wife Elandor, 28; and stepson Dav S. Shaw, 12.  

On 17 September 1938, the Wilson Daily Times listed the property among those subject to auction for delinquent taxes. The owners were the heirs of Della Barnes.

In 1940, Lester Dew registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his draft registration card, he was born 7 February 1911 in Wilson County; lived at 620 Viola; his contact was wife Grace Dew; and he worked for Southern Tobacco Company, Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 610 Viola, Lester Dew, 29, tobacco packer, and wife Grace, 26, tobacco hanger.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Dew Lester E (c; Grace) lab h 620 Viola

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, the house was listed as vacant.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

F-L-T.

We have seen here that Wilson’s Hannibal Lodge #1552 was not the only Odd Fellows lodge in Wilson County.

The three links engraved on the headstones of Gray Williams and Henderson Parker in William Chapel cemetery suggest an Odd Fellows lodge in Taylor township in far northwest Wilson County.

On 27 February 1900, the trustees of the Colored Odd Fellows paid Caswell F. and Eliza J. Finch $12.50 for a one-acre lot in Taylors township on the east side of the Wilson and Nash Road adjacent to the colored school lot. The deed was recorded on 10 March 1900 in Wilson County Register of Deeds in Deed Book 54, page 314. The Wilson and Nash Road was today’s N.C. Highway 58, and “the colored school lot” is probably a reference to Farmers Colored School, which was located just north of modern-day Silver Lake.

Gray Williams Oct 3 1882 Jul 12 1925 Lula Williams Born 1878 Jan 21 1923 Gone But Not Forgotten

Henderson Parker July 5, 1878 Sept 6, 1919

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022. 

The obituary of Tom Williams.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 March 1941.

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In the 1910 census of Lake Creek township, Bladen County, North Carolina: Quincy Williams, 29; wife Lulu Jane, 20; and children Thomas G., 3, Annie M., 2, and Rufus A., 8 months.

In the 1920 census of Lake Creek township, Bladen County, North Carolina: John Q. Williams, 38; wife Lula, 32; and children Thomas, 14, Annie M., 12, Rufus A., 10, and Jeremiah, 7; and niece Rossie Johnson, 16.

In 1940, Thomas Gleans Williams registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 12 September 1905 in Ivanhoe, N.C.; his contact was mother Lula Evans Williams, Ivanhoe, Bladen County; and he worked for W.E. Barnes at Cherry Hospital. The card is marked “Cancelled Dead 7-7-41.”

Thomas Williams died 10 March 1941 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 September 1905 in Ivehoe, N.C., to John Williams and Lula Johnson; was single; lived at 415 East Green Street; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Rountree cemetery, Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Where we worked: J.Y. Buchanan, blacksmith.

In 1942, Fletcher Williams registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he worked for “J.Y. Buchanan, Blacksmith Alley, back of Old Quinn Store” in “Alley between Clark Fac. & Old Quinn Furn. Sto.” Two years earlier, Williams had reported to a census taker that he was a blacksmith; he was likely one of the last African-Americans to ply that trade in Wilson.

Virginia native James Younger Buchanan arrived in Wilson circa 1910. He practiced horseshoeing at various stables downtown before establishing his own blacksmithing and horseshoeing business with a sideline in welding and general machine repair. Buchanan died in 1949.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 August 1918.

The encircled building on this detail of the 1922 Wilson, N.C., Sanborn fire insurance map is marked BL. SM. and appears to be the location of J.Y. Buchanan’s shop. Today, it would stand directly behind Casita Brewing Company. “Old Quinn Store,” i.e. R.E. Quinn & Company, was at 231-233 South Goldsboro Street, at top left in this image. “Clark Fac.” was W.T. Clark & Company Tobacco Re-Drying Factory, whose location is now a large municipal parking lot.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 February 1928.

902 Washington Street.

The one hundred-fifty-fifth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Presumably, this house is under renovation. Here, the original cedar shakes in the front gable are visible under an overlay of vinyl siding.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1930; 1 story; bungalow with gable-end form and recessed entry.”

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Murphy Geo (c; Lucinda) lab h 902 Washington

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 902 Washington, rented for $16/month, George Murphey, 34, town laborer; wife Lucile, 33, laundress; and children Willie, 15, and Pearl, 13.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fletcher Williams, 49, blacksmith at J.Y. Buchanan’s; wife Esther, 38, Carolina Laundry worker; and children Armina, 12, Gladys, 19, Virginia, 9, Fletcher Jr., 13, and Charles, 15. All were born in Goldsboro, N.C.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Williams Fletcher (c; Esther; 5) blksmith h 902 Washington

Wilson Daily Times, 16 January 1941.

In 1942, Fletcher Williams registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 24 August 1900 in Goldsboro, N.C.; lived at 902 Washington Street; his contact was sister Minnie Williams, Viola Street near High School; and he worked for “J.Y. Buchanan, Blacksmith Alley, back of Old Quinn Store” in “Alley between Clark Fac. & Old Quinn Furn. Sto.”

In 1942, Fletcher Williams Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1925 in Goldsboro, N.C.; lived at 902 Washington Street; his contact was mother Esther Lee Williams, 902 Washington; and he had “been going to school.”

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Felman Walter C (c; Velma) lab h 902 Washington

Coley v. Artis, pt. 7: A home for his lifetime.

The seventh in a series excerpting testimony from the transcript of the trial in J.F. Coley v. Tom Artis, Wayne County Superior Court, November 1908. The dispute centered on 30 acres of land. Thomas “Tom Pig” Artis began renting the property in 1881 from William J. Exum, a wealthy white farmer. In 1892, Exum’s widow Mary sold the land to Napoleon Hagans. Hagans died in 1896, and the land passed to his sons Henry and William S. Hagans. In 1899, Henry sold his interest to his brother William, who sold the 30 acres in 1908 to J. Frank Coley, a young white farmer. Tom Artis laid claim to the property, arguing that Napoleon Hagans had sold it to him. Coley filed suit and, after hearing the testimony of more than a dozen witnesses, the court decided in his favor. (Paragraph breaks and some punctuation have been inserted for better readability.)

Defendant introduces JESSE ARTIS who being duly sworn, testified:

I had a conversation with Tom Artis and [Napoleon] Hagans about this land. I was working there for Hagans (Plaintiff objects) as carpenter. Tom Artis was working with me. The old man Hagans was talking to Tom about the claim which Mrs. Exum had on his land, and was telling him that he had some money at that time, and was would take it up if he wanted to, and give him a home for his lifetime. He left us, and Tom talked to me. I told him he did not know whether he would have a home all his life or not. I advised Tom to let Hagans take up the papers, and Tom did so. Hagans told me next day that if Tom should pay him 800 lb. of cotton he should stay there his life time. When he paid him his money back, the place was his. I don’t know that Tom and I are any kin. Just by marriage. We are not a member of the same Church.

CROSS EXAMINED.

When I was a carpenter ‘Pole told me all about this on his place. He took me into his confidence. I don’t know whether he told me all. He told me a good deal.

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Jesse Artis was a brother of Adam T. Artis, Jonah Williams, and Tom Artis’ wife Loumiza Artis Artis.