Charged with stealing cotton.

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Wilson Advance, 19 January 1888.


  • Jordan Taylor — possibly, the Jordan Taylor Sr. here or father of J.G. Taylor here or here.
  • Henry Williams — possibly, in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Henry Williams, 28; wife Alis, 28; and children Edwin, 8, and Mattie, 6.
  • Charlie Gay — perhaps, in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Emma Gay, 35; children Charlie, 15, a steam-mill worker, Mary, 11, Etheldred, 8, and Willie, 6; plus a boarder Fannie Thompson, 19, cook.
  • Daniel Barron

Studio shots, no. 100: John Edmond Williams.

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John Edmond Williams (1895-1992).

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Raleigh Road, Edmond Williams, 53; wife Gracy, 53; and children Emma, 24, and John, 14. [Next door to James and Missouri Lucas, by the way.]

John Edmond Williams registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born in 1896 in Johnston County, North Carolina; was a farmer; and was single.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on School House Road, farmer Edmon Williams, 63; [second] wife Casanda, 42; and children John, 24, Frank, 19, Abston, 17, and Eddie, 4.

On 8 January 1922, John Williams, 26, son of Edmond and Grace Williams, married Daisy Pate, 21, daughter of James and Hettie Pate in Lucama. Freewill Baptist minister A. Bynum performed the ceremony in the presence of Benjamin Bynum, R.B. Pate and David Thompson.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: John Williams, 35; wife Daisy, 28; and children Clovis, 7, James, 5, Eddie [Hettie], 3, and Hattie, 21 months.

In the 1940 census of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Maryland: W.P.A. project laborer John Williams, 45; wife Daisy, 39; and children Clovis, 16, James W., 15, Hattie, 13, Hattie, 11, and John Jr., 9.

In 1942, John Edmond Williams registered for the World War II draft in Baltimore, Maryland. Per his registration card, he was boron 8 March 1895 in Wayne County, North Carolina; resided at 549 West Lafayette Avenue, Baltimore (marked through and replaced with 1126 North Carey Street); his contact was Daisy Williams; and he worked for the Public Buildings Administration in Washington, D.C.

John E. Williams died 4 November 1992 in Annapolis, Maryland.

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Williams in 1965.

Photos courtesy of ancestry.com user jaw312.

Goffney bound over.

The Times published a blow-by-blow of the preliminary hearing Wilson mayor E.F. Killette held over the homicide of Blanche Williams. Joe Goffney entered a plea of not guilty, but Killette found sufficient evidence to hold him over for trial in the Superior Court.

Joe Brodie testified first. Goffney, who was married, came with Williams to the house in which she lives. Brodie was in the back room when the shot rang out. Williams staggered out and fell to the floor. Goffney ran out, shouting that he had not known the gun was loaded. Brodie sent for Dr. Mitchner, who declared Williams dead.

Nellie Williams testified that Goffney and Blanche Williams had entered the house laughing and talking. She was in the next room lacing her shoe when she heard the gun fire and heard Goffney say, “I didn’t say a word — or I will kill all of you.” Nellie Williams ran out of the house with one shoe on.

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Clifton Johnson also testified that Goffney and B. Williams entered the house talking and laughing. Johnson said he saw the gun on the center table when he entered and did not know to whom it belonged. (Neither Brodie nor N. Williams corroborated this, saying that as far as they knew there had been no gun in the house.) Goffney picked up the gun and said “let me see it.” Johnson’s back was turned to them when Goffney fired. Goffney did not say anything “out of the way” to Williams. The remark about “killing them all” came after the shooting. Goffney told them to get a doctor, then left the house. He gave Johnson the gun, who threw it away.

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“Colored physician” William Mitchner testified that he found Blanche Williams on the porch dead. The bullet had struck her in the chin, breaking her lower jaw, and exited the back of her neck, possibly fracturing her spine. In his opinion, Goffney was standing directly in front of Williams when he fired, and the bullet’s trajectory was slightly downward.

Clifton Johnson was recalled to testify that he and Goffney were on the same side of the table, and he was behind Williams.

Goffney testified that Clarence Johnson carried concealed weapons. [Is this Clifton? Or a different man?] Clarence had placed a magazine and .32 cartridges on the table.

Officer Weathersbee testified that he and Officer Sikes asked Johnson for the gun, and Johnson said he had thrown it in the pea patch. Johnson admitted the gun was his, and it had not been found.

Clarence Johnson denied telling Weathersbee the gun was his. He did not own a gun. Goffney was mistaken when he said Johnson had pulled the gun from his pocket and that there had been a magazine on the table. Johnson works at an express office and borrowed a holster from a fellow employee. He did not borrow a gun. The holster is in a bureau drawer at his house. Mayor Killette interjected that the holster had been found between the bed[frame] and mattress in Johnson’s room. Johnson could not explain why he borrowed a holster.

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Joe Lee denied seeing Goffney take a pistol from Johnson’s pocket. Apparently, Nettie Williams did, too. Johnson’s mother testified that he did not own a gun and had not brought one to the house the night of the killing.

Johnson’s lawyer F.D. Swindell argued that in the excitement of the moment, it was perfectly natural for Johnson to throw away the gun Goffney gave him. The only evidence that the gun was his was Goffney’s testimony, which was inherently biased.

The mayor was satisfied that Johnson had borrowed the pistol and bound him over as a material witness and for carrying a concealed weapon. He fined Johnson $75 and set his bond for $500. Goffney was sent to jail to await trial.

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Wilson Times, 30 September 1921.

  • Joe Goffney — Was Joe Goffney convicted? I have not found a follow-up, but the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists: Goffney Joseph tobwkr [tobacco worker] h 206 Manchester. This is likely the Joseph Goffney listed in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Lemon Barnes, 51; wife Dollie Ann, 51; children Ida, 26, Lemon Jr., 20, Mattie, 17, Charlie, 15, and Howard, 12; stepsons Cornelius Neal, 11, Paul Goffney, 17, and Joseph Goffney, 15; and grandson Sylvester Barnes, 6.
  • Blanche Williams — Per her death certificate, Blanch Williams was 24 years old; single; resided on Stantonsburg Street; and worked as a common laborer. She was born in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Wash Smith and Laura Williams, and Selena Craig of Goldsboro was informant. Her cause of death: “revolver wound of head (probably accidental).” [A 26 September 1921 Times article about the shooting reported that Williams was married and lived in Goldsboro, but had come to Wilson to work briefly in domestic service. She had planned to return to Goldsboro the week she was shot. She had been “going with” Goffney while in Wilson, and jealousy was believed to be at the root of the violence. Unnamed witnesses heard Goffney tell Williams, “If you go with that man, I will kill you,” as they walked to Joe Lee’s home. As Williams walked out of the house to return home, Goffney called her back in and shot her.]

  • Joe Brodie — possibly Josephine Brodie listed in the 1922 city directory as a student living at 303 Mercer Street.
  • Nellie Williams
  • Clifton/Clarence Johnson — perhaps the Clifton Johnson listed in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as a porter living at 118 Ashe Street.
  • Dr. Mitchner — William A. Mitchner.
  • Joe Lee — possibly Joseph Lee listed in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as a factory hand living at 115 Manchester Street. [However, the 26 September Times article identified Joe Lee and Joe Brodie as the same person, a woman.]
  • F.D. Swindell — lawyer Fred D. Swindell.
  • W.A. Finch — lawyer William Atlas Finch.
  • Mayor Killette — mayor Edwin F. Killette Sr.
  • Officer Weathersbee
  • Officer Sikes

To lose a faithful servant is to lose a friend.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 July 1935.

J.T. Watson of Elm City eulogized two African-American men in this letter to the newspaper. Per Watson, Jim Green, age about 58, died 16 June 1935 at a hospital in Wilson. He came to Elm City from Wayne County about 1905. He worked first for Dr. E.G. Moore, then took a job with the town. He bought a lot on the south end of Parker Street and built two houses, one for himself and one to rent out.

Jim Williams died 25 June 1935. He came to Wilson County from the Dunbar farm in Edgecombe County in 1884 and bought Susan Cohn’s old house on East Nash Street in Elm City. Williams worked at manual labor as a young man and later as a handyman for J.W. Cox. His only son, Jim, and Jim’s children lived in northern cities.

612 South Lodge Street.

This duplex is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, South Lodge Street — below the warehouse district — has been an African-American residential area since the turn of the twentieth century.


In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Williams Luvie (c) lab 612 S Lodge

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Case Benton (c; Beatrice) lab h 612 S Lodge

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: at 612 South Lodge, rented for $20/month, street sweeper Bynum Case, 38, and wife Beatrice, 35, laundress.

In 1931, realtor D.S. Boykin advertised the sale of 612 South Lodge, with its “one, four-room dwelling” on a 55′ x 100′ lot, pursuant to Louvie Williams’ default on a mortgage he obtained just two years earlier (before the collapse of the American economy that signaled the Great Depression.)

Wilson Daily Times, 4 March 1931.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 Lodge, two families renting at $8/month each, lumber mill laborer James Simpson, 33, wife Frances, 32, and son James Lewis, 11, and building construction laborer Henry Romey McQuen, 39, wife Pearlina, 31, and daughter Lee Winstead McQuen, 10. The McQueens were born in South Carolina.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McQueen Henry R (c; Pearline L; 1) tob wkr h 612 S Lodge

In 1942, Henry Rommie McQueen registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Leona (c) tob wkr h 612 S Lodge and Dawson Eliz (c) tob h 612 S Lodge

Eighteen years later, the address was home to Joseph Hall, who died 3 May 1965.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 May 1965.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.

The obituary of Mary Mercer Williams Bullock, 104.

Mrs. Mary M. Mercer Bullock, 104, of 1712 Westwood Avenue, Wilson, NC, passed away on January 4, 2017 at Wilson Medical Center.

The funeral service is scheduled for Wednesday, January, 11, 2017 at 12:00 noon at Contending For The Faith Church Ministries, 1006 Academy Street, Wilson, NC.  Elder Johnny Stevenson will deliver the message and burial will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery, Lane Street Ext., Wilson, NC.

A public viewing is scheduled for Tuesday, January 10, 2017 from 2:00 pm until 7:00 pm at Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC with the family present for an inspirational wake service from 6:00 pm until 7::00 pm.

Mrs. Bullock was preceded in death by her first husband and the father of her children, Samuel Williams.  Later, after Mr. Williams passed, she married Gurney Bullock who also passed prior to her death.  In addition, she was preceded in death by her parents, Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight Mercer; two sons, Samuel Williams, Jr. and Charlie Williams; one daughter, Elnora W. Williams Green; five brothers, Robert Mercer, Charles Mercer, Will Mercer, James Mercer and Walter Lee Mercer; and one sister, Cornelia Barnes.

She leaves cherished memories to: four daughters, Daisy Credle (Hubert) of Bayboro, NC, Cleo Applewhite (June) of Wilson, NC, Lugene Williams of the home and Mattie King of New York, NY; 22 grandchildren; 55 great grandchildren; 43 great great grandchildren;  and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

Arrangements are Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC.


In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Dempsy Mercer, 40, widower, and children Charley, 17, William, 15, Robert, 10, Walter, 9, and Maggie, 8; and sister-in-law Maggie Hines, 26, and her children Lula, 8, Silvy, 7, and James, 4.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 527 Lodge Street, Louise B. Johnson, 34; Samuel Williams, 34; wife Mary, 28; and children Samuel Jr., 11, Daisey Lee, 6, Cleo, 5, Charlie Lee, 2, and Eugenia, 9 months. Johnson and Samuel and Mary Samuel Williams worked in a tobacco redrying factory.

Samuel Williams died 5 June 1949 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 December 1904 in Wilson County to Bill Williams and Rachel Andrews; was a farmer; resided at Route 3, Elm City; and was buried in Rountree Cemetery. Mary Williams was informant.

Gurney Bullock, 48, son of Ed and Lula Thomas Bullock, married Mary Mercer Williams, 38, daughter of Demp and Mattie Knight Mercer, on 30 December 1950 in Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user credler2.

408 North Reid Street.

The seventy-fourth 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 house is: “1934; 2 stories; Oscar Woodard house; locally unique house with front-facing entry gable suggesting vernacular Tudor Revival style; end chimney includes decorative glazed tile; contributing stuccoed-concrete block wall, frame garage, and three storage sheds; Woodard was a chauffeur and handyman.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 408 Reid, rented at $16/month, barber Oscar Williams, 31, wife Lula, 23, son William, 1, and sister-in-law Mena Jones, 20.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 408 Reid, rented for $14/month, taxi driver Essie Smith, 28, born in Red Springs, N.C.; wife Alice, 26, maid at Woodard-Herring; and daughter Aggie Nora, 2; plus Annie McCohan, 50, widow, also from Red Springs.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, two entries: Smith Essie (c; Alice; 1) taxi driver h 408(2) N Reid; and Woodard Oscar (c; Katie J) janitor Branch Banking & Tr Co h 408 (407) N Reid

Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, 2016.

Final rites for Aggie M. Williams.


Wilson Daily Times, 24 March 1951.

The Daily Times‘ editorial policy, apparently, provided that the most remarkable fact of the lives of men and woman who had been enslaved was that they had been enslaved. However, as set forth in detail here, Aggie Mercer Williams died possessed of a house and two lots in Elm City and two farms outside of town, which suggests a lifetime of notable achievement.

“Wide A-wa-ake Lo-ove!” — the Wilson County roots of Tupac Shakur.

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Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-1996).

Via his maternal grandfather, Tupac Amaru Shakur had roots in Wilson County. He and his mother, Afeni Shakur, were descendants of Jack and Cassey Exum Sherrod, whose homestead was profiled here. Jack and Cassey Sherrod’s daughter Fannie married George Washington Powell, a native of northern Nash County. The couple and their children were tenant farmers or sharecroppers and moved often among the counties surrounding Wilson. Fannie and George Powell’s daughter Lena B. Powell married a Greene County native, Walter L. Williams, and this family also appear to have been sharecroppers in Wilson and bordering counties. Walter L. Williams Jr. married Rossie Bell McLellan of Robeson County, North Carolina, in Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1944. The couple returned to North Carolina, where the future Afeni Shakur was born Alice Faye Williams in 1947.


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.

On 18 October 1893, George Powell, 24, of Town of Wilson, son of Lawson and Lany Powell of Nash County, married Fannie Sherrod, 23, of Town of Wilson, daughter of Jack and Cassa Sherrod of Wilson County. A.M.E. Zion minister L.B. Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Rev. L.J. Melton, Rev. Fred M. Davis, and S.A. Smith.

In the 1900 census of North Whitakers township, Nash County: farmer George Powell, 33; wife Fannie, 20; and sons Earnest, 4, Sylvester, 3, and James C., 1.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer George W. Powell, 42; wife Fannie, 40; and children Earnest, 14, Sylvester, 12, Carter, 9, Lena, 8, Burser, 5, Ida, 3, and Bruss M., 2.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer George Powell, 51; wife Fannie, 51; and children Silvester, 22, Cartis, 20, Lena, 18, Bertha, 16, Ida, 14, and Fannie, 12.

On 31 March 1920, Carter Powell, 21, of Green County, son of George and Fannie Powell, married Anna Barnes, 18, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Harry and Rena Barnes, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. George Powell witnessed the ceremony.

On 12 June 1921, Lena B. Powell, 21, of Saratoga, daughter of G.W. and Fannie Powell, married Walter Williams, 28, of Greene County, son of Henry and Sarah Williams, in Saratoga. Rev. E.H. Cox of U.A.F.W. church presided, and John Williams of Saratoga, H.T. Dillard of Wilson, and Mable Speight of Saratoga witnessed.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer George Powell, 60; wife Fannie, 60, washer woman; and children Bruce, 21, and Fannie, 16.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn Road, farmer Walter L. Williams, 37; wife Lena B., 29; and children Walter Jr., 8, Ernest H., 6, Lafaett, 3, Hattie M., 1, Ada G., 1, and sister-in-law Fannie I. Powell, 16.

George Powell died 18 August 1930 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1869 in Nash County to Lawson Powell and Lannie Taylor; was a farmer; was married to Fannie Powell. Informant was Robert Powell, Stantonsburg.

In the 1940 census of Great Swamp township, Wayne County: farmer Walter Williams, 48; wife Lena, 39; and children Walter Jr., 18, Ernest Hubert, 16, Lafayette, 14, Hettie May, 12, Ada Gold, 10, Juanita, 8, Sharon, 6, and Charles Ray, 9 months.

In 1942, Walter Williams Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 April 1922 in Walstonburg, North Carolina; resided at 505 East Chapel Street, Goldsboro; his contact was mother Lena B. Williams, Route 1, Fremont, North Carolina; and his employer was Ossie Wiggs, Route 1, Goldsboro.

On 26 July 1944, Walter Williams Jr., 23, of Walstonburg, North Carolina, son of Walter Williams Sr. and Lena B. Powell, resident of Norfolk, married Rosabella McLellan, 26, of Rowland, North Carolina, daughter of Kenny McLellan and Rosa Lee Powell, resident of Portsmouth, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Alice Faye Williams [later, Afeni Shakur] was born 10 January 1947 in Robeson County, North Carolina, to Rossie Bell McLelland and Walter Williams Jr.

Joseph Sylvester Powell died 13 July 1958 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1896 in Wayne County  to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; was unemployed; was married to Minnie Powell; lived at 108 Powell Street. Informant was Bertha Reid, Wilson.

Bertha Powell Reid died 6 June 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 January 1904 to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; and resided at 118 Irma Street. Mrs. Fannie Burgess, 404 East Banks Street, Wilson, was informant.

Tupac Amaru Shakur was born 16 June 1971 in New York City. [His birth name was Lesane Crooks.]

Bruce Powell died 5 October 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 December 1906 to George Powell and Fannie Sherrod; was a farmer; was married to Blonnie Sauls; and resided at 108 Powell Street.

Rev. Walter Larry Williams died 6 November 1973 in Kenly, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 March 1893 to Henry and Sarah Williams. Informant was Mrs. Ada Jones, Kenly.

James Carter Powell died 13 October 1980 in Wilson Per his death certificate, he was born 4 January 1900 in Nash County to G.W. Powell and Fannie Sherrod; worked as a butler; and was a widower.

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Afeni Shakur (1947-2016).

Many thanks to Edith Lee Harris for bringing this connection to my attention.

Image of Tupac Shakur courtesy allhiphop.com, copyright holder unknown; image of Afeni Shakur (c) Associated Press, 2016.