Wilson township

Mortality, no. 3.

Each of the United States federal censuses from 1850 to 1880 included a mortality schedule enumerating  individuals who had died in the previous year previous. Each entry noted family number in the population schedule, name, age, sex, color, marital status, place of birth, month of death, occupation, and cause of death.

Here is the 1870 mortality schedule for part of Wilson township, Wilson County (which does not include the town of Wilson and does not specify family numbers):

  • Hines, Charles. Age 1, black, died in June, cholera infant.
  • Locust, Infant. Age 1 day, black, died in February, asphyxia.
  • Mercer, Robert. Age 1 month, black, died in December. Hooping cough.
  • Thomas, Lucy. Age 25, black, domestic servant, died in April, consumption.
  • Blunt, Vilet. Age 70, mulatto; married; domestic servant; died in July; cancer.
  • Jordan, Mary. Age 26, mulatto, domestic servant; died in May; died from child birth.
  • Edwards, Marzillie. Age 3 months, black, died in December, intermittent fever.
  • Lassiter, Jesse. Age 6, mulatto, died in November, typhoid fever.

“Remarks: 366. Lassiter Jesse. Cause of death unknown; supposed to be typhoid fever from best information obtained.” Household #366: farm laborer Silas Lassiter, 47, and children Ophelia, 25, Mary, 20, Elizabeth, 16, Handy, 14, Penninah, 15, Silas W., 12, Milly, 8, and Jerusha, 4.

  • Powell, Nannie. Age 25, mulatto, farm laborer, died in September, bowel disease.
  • Edmundson, Shepard. Age 51, black, married, farm laborer, died in September, paralysis.
  • Due, Amanda. Age 4, black, died in October, “brain inflam. of.”
  • Horn, Mary. Age 30, black, married, died in April, child birth.
  • Due, Stella A. Age 6 months, black, died in July, cutting teeth.
  • Cook, Alex’dr. Age 3, black, died in August, ascites.
  • Cook, Infant. Age 1 month, black, died in April, epilepsy.
  • Cook, Infant. Age 1 month, black, died in April, epilepsy.


Daniel Best awaits the resurrection morn.


Wilson Advance, 25 July 1889.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Daniel Best, 62; wife Jane, 50; and children Laura, 19, Nicy, 17, Noah, 16, Orange, 21, and Hancy, 21.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: hireling Daniel Best, 72, and wife Jane, 55, living amid a cluster of household that included farmer Orren Best, 31, wife Hancy, 31, and children James, 9, Oscar, 6, George, 4, Frances, 2, and Hattie, 3 months; hireling Lewis Best, 53, wife Harriette, 50, and children Daniel, 23, Sarah, 12, John, 8, and Willie, 10; and brickmason Noah Best, 27, wife Sarah, 25, and sons William, 2, and Thomas, 4 months.

The Jim Baker family.

On 24 February 1984, subscribers to the Wilson Daily Times received a supplement with their regular papers. “Tracing Our Roots” was packed with old photos contributed by readers, including this one.


“FARM FAMILY,” the caption read. “Mr. and Mrs. Jim Baker, their children and family dog posed outside their farmhouse on Old Stantonsburg Road in 1914. Baker was a farmer, and his descendants still live in Wilson County. The house is still standing.”


On 5 January 1905, James Baker, 24, of Wilson, son of Dossey and Ella Baker, married Mollie Cooper, 18, of Toisnot, daughter of Lucy Williams, at the office of Justice of the Peace J.W. Cox in Elm City.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer James Baker, 30, wife Mollie, 24, and children Rena, 4, Moses, 2, and Roncey, 4 months.

When Jim Baker registered for the World War I draft on 12 September 1918, he reported his address as RFD 1, Wilson; his birthdate as 15 April 1879; his occupation as farmer and employer as Atlantic Christian College; and his nearest relative as wife Mollie Baker. He was of medium height and weight, with brown eyes and dark hair, and signed his name with an X.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, farmer James Baker, 40, wife Mollie, 33, and children Irena, 14, Moses, 12, Rony, 10, and Lossie, 7.

On 27 July 1940, James Baker died at Wilson’s Mercy Hospital. His death certificate states that he was 57 years old, married to Molly Baker, and lived at 812 East Green Street. Baker was buried at Rountree cemetery, and his daughter Irene Farmer was informant for the certificate.

Mollie Baker died 22 February 1964 and is buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Hat tip to Will Robinson of Wilson County Public Library.

Cemeteries, no. 1: the Hilliard Ellis family.

Hilliard Ellis, born in slavery, was a successful farmer and landowner in Wilson township. He married Fereby Rountree circa 1848 and registered their 18-year cohabitation in Wilson County on 11 August 1866. As culled from census, marriage and death records, their children included: Louisa Ellis Rowe (1850-1924), Adeline Ellis Mitchell (circa 1853-??), Caroline “Carrie” Ellis Coleman Woodard (1854-1914); William Ellis (1856); George Ellis(1859-1941); Emma Ellis Bunn (1861-1937); Hilliard D. Ellis (1865-1924); Mary Anne Ellis(1866-??); Warren Ellis (1869-??); Phillis Ellis Barnes Hagans (1870-??); and Millie Ellis Smith Hunt (1874-??).

The Hilliard Ellis family cemetery is located just off Nash Street, in an area known as New Hope that is now within the extreme northwest city limits of the city of Wilson. There are approximately 25 identifiable graves in the cemetery, including those of Ellis and his children Hilliard Ellis Jr., Carrie Coleman, Louisa Rowe, and Warren Ellis Jr.


Hilliard I. Ellis, 6 Jan 1825-22 Sept 1900.


Louisa Rowe, 1850-7 May 1924.



General Joshua Barnes plantation.

Gen. Joshua Barnes House is a historic home located near Wilson, Wilson County. Built about 1844, it is a two-story, central-hall-plan, Greek Revival-style frame dwelling built around the nucleus of an earlier, Federal style dwelling dating to 1830 and was remodeled about 1870. The house features a shallow hipped roof and one-story, full-width front porch. Attached to the rear of the house is a small one-story Greek Revival frame structure connected by an enclosed breezeway. Gen. Joshua Barnes, who built the house, is considered the father of Wilson County.

The National Register of Historic Places nomination form for the house waxes enthusiastic: “The exterior appearance of the house is very simple and elegant. The house is set in a grove of mature trees at the intersection of Waterworks Road and London’s Church Road just outside the city limits of Wilson. Prime agricultural land surrounds the house. The boxy massing of the house is typical of Greek Revival architecture in general and of this type of plantation house in Wilson County in particular. The house, set on a low brick foundation, is oriented to the east and to the road. A plain continuous frieze forms a band under the boxed cornice. Applied diamond motifs ornament the rear and parts of each side elevation. Similar diamonds are found on buildings in Wilson dating from the last quarter of the nineteenth century and these diamonds may date from this period. Many plantation houses originally had a double gallery porch on the front elevation, which may account for the lack of frieze ornament on the main facade of this house. A single story porch with square posts with molded caps shelters the main facade. The broad trabeated door boasts some original etched cranberry glass in the transom and sidelights. Large six-over-six-sash windows are the dominant window type used in the house. The southern side facade has four bays on the first floor, but only three on the second floor. The rear elevation gives clues to the orientation and placement of the earlier structure as well as showing the additions which have been made to the house since 1844 including a pantry, laundry and enclosed porch.”

Of Joshua Barnes’ success: “In 1860, on the eve of the Civil War and five years after his great success in the legislature, Barnes was one of the wealthiest men in Wilson County. According to the 1860 census he was a farmer owning $27,500 worth of real property and $79,000 worth of personal property.” As usual, nowhere in the glowing description of Barnes, his house and his accomplishments is any mention of the main source of Barnes’ wealth — his slaves.

The 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County pulls back the curtain: Joshua Barnes owned 66 men, women and children, ranging in age from eight months to 94 years, housed in ten dwellings. Benjamin Ellis‘ family were among them:


Wilson Daily Times, 13 June 1922.

J Barnes house 1976

Joshua Barnes house, 1976. The house, recently sold, remains in excellent condition.