World War I

This Memorial Day: who was Henry T. Ellis?

On 3 June 1919, the Daily Times published a list of Wilson County soldiers who died during World War I. The list is segregated. First in the Colored List is Henry Ellis, who was killed 6 October 1918 and in whose honor Wilson County’s African-American post of the American Legion was named.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 June 1919.

The Daily Times had commemorated Ellis’ death when it received word in December 1918:

“Private Henry Ellis Son of Mrs. Mary J. Howard, Route 1, Wilson, N.C. Died of wounds received in action while fighting for his country and oppressed humanity.” Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1918.

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In the 1870 census of Chesterfield township, Nash County, N.C.: farmer Martin Lucus, 52; wife Eliza, 42; and children Irvin, 19, Neverson, 16, Sidney, 13, Eliza, 7, Westray, 6, Anne, 4, and Mary, 2.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Eatmon, 66, wife Eliza Eatmon, 50, daughters Amanda Locus, 18, and Mary J. Locus, 14, “son-in-law” Asa Locus, 10, and “daughter-in-law” Lougene Locus, 4, Margaret Howard, 21, and Harriet Howard, 2. [Nelson Eatmon married Eliza Locust on 28 January 1880 in Wilson County. The Locuses’ relationship designations are obviously erroneous; they were Nelson Eatmon’s stepchildren.]

On 6 February 1887, Warren Ellis, 19, of Wilson County, married Mary Jane Locust, 19, of Wilson County, in Wilson County. Phillis Ellis was one of the witnesses.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Mary J. Ellis, 34, widow, and children Willis, 12, Walter, 9, William, 8, Henry, 5, and Lou, 4.

In the 1910 census of Jackson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Mary Jane Ellis, 44, and children Henry, 16, Louise, 13, and Charles, 6; and brother Neverson Lucas, 56.

Henry Ellis registered for the World War I draft in Nash County, N.C, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 November 1895 in Wilson County; lived at Route 2, Bailey; was a tenant farmer for Elijah Griffin; and was single. He signed his card in a neat, well-practiced hand: “Henry T. Ellis.”

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Mary Howard, 52, widow; son Charlie Ellis, 17; and sister Luginer Colman, 45, widow.

Mary J. Howard died 20 June 1936 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Manuel Howard; was 65 years old; and was born in Wilson County to Martin Locus and Louisa Brantley. Gray Ellis was informant.

Henry T. Ellis, then, was the son of Warren Ellis and Mary Jane Locus Ellis and stepson of Manuel Howard. He was descended (or connected) on his mother’s side from several free families of color with deep roots in the area of western Wilson County — Locuses, Brantleys, Eatmons, Howards — and on his father’s from Hilliard and Faribee Ellis, a formerly enslaved couple who established a prosperous farm in the New Hope area shortly after the Civil War.

I have seen no evidence that Ellis’ body was returned to Wilson County for burial. His parents, grandparents, and siblings are buried in Hilliard Ellis cemetery, but there is no marked grave for him there.

American Legion Post 17’s memorial services.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 May 1921.

Poppy Day.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 May 1930.

Rev. Taylor returns from Y.M.C.A. service.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 September 1919.

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Camp Zachary Taylor, near Louisville, Kentucky, circa 1918.

  • Rev. H.B. Taylor — for more about Rev. Taylor’s appointment, see here.
  • Camp Zachary Taylor

Caufield & Shook, photographers; digital image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 

American Legion Post 17 groundbreaking.

On 25 March 1978, the Wilson Daily Times published this photo with a long caption about the groundbreaking ceremony for a new headquarters on New Bern Street for Henry Ellis Post 17 of the American Legion.

The veterans depicted are (front row):

  • James C. Bess, post commander — Rev. Bess (1915-2002) was a World War II veteran.
  • George C. Alexander, post adjutant — George Caswell Alexander (1911-1986) was a World War II veteran.
  • E.L. Joyner, finance officer — Eddie Lee Joyner (1895-1989) was a World War I veteran.
  • Bennie Sanders, “a World War I veteran who is one of the oldest members of the local post” — Bennie Saunders (1894-1980).

On the back row:

  • Milton Lucas, member — Milton Lucas was a World War II veteran.
  • Nelson Farmer, service officer — Nelson Thomas Farmer Jr. (1925-2005) was a World War II veteran.
  • S.J. Satchell, membership chairman — Spencer J. Satchell Jr. (1910-1986) was a World War II veteran.
  • Ernest Bridges, member — Ernest Bridgers (1921-2000) was a World War II veteran.
  • Raleigh Williams, member — Raleigh Ferguson Williams (1909-1992) was a World War II veteran.

Applications for military headstones, no. 3: Rountree Cemetery.

As here, the applications below were made for military headstones to be installed in “Rountree Cemetery,” i.e. Rountree, Odd Fellows, or Vick Cemeteries. Of these, only James F. Scott’s grave marker has been found. (Another is now in Rest Haven, presumably the result of an exhumation and reburial.) The number of missing military headstones provides scale to the total loss of monuments in these cemeteries. 

  • James Franklin Scott

The gravestones of James F. Scott and his father, the Rev. John H. Scott, have been located in Odd Fellows Cemetery. (Rev. Scott applied for his son’s gravestone.) However, they were found piled and stacked with more than a dozen other markers, and the location of the actual graves is not known.

Frank Scott’s headstone. Interestingly, the marker is engraved with after-market text — a birthdate and an epitaph, “Who is now with the Lord.” 

  • Larry Barnes

Howard M. Fitts applied for the marker on Barnes’ behalf, as he did for many veterans.

  • Marcellus Lassiter

Marcellus Lassiter died 4 July 1947 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 April 1897 in Wilson County to John Lassiter and Isabell Gear; worked as a laborer; was a World War I veteran; was the widower of Mamie Lassiter; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Hardy Lassiter of Baltimore, Maryland.

  • Hubert Romaine Mitchener

Hubert Mitchener’s gravestone now stands in Rest Haven cemetery.

  • Sam Nash

Sam Nash registered for the World War I draft in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 20 February 1890 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 1069 West Lexington Street, Baltimore; and worked as a laborer for B. & O. Railroad.

Minnie Nash of Baltimore submitted the application and requested that the headstone be shipped to Rosa Battle, 913 Washington Street, Wilson.

  • John W. Pitts

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 904 East Vance Street, John W. Pitts, carpenter, 53, born in South Carolina; wife Penina, 52, hotel maid; and son Junius, 20, farm laborer.

  • Nathan Austin

Nathan Austin died 22 July 1948 at a Veterans Hospital in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1893 in Wilson County to Marshall Ingram and Louise Ingram Austin; was a widower; lived at 610 Taylor Street, Wilson; and was unemployed.

  • Robert E. Ashford

[This is not the Robert Edward Ashford born 23 November 1918 in Wilson, who was white.]

Robert Edward Ashford registered for the World War II draft in 1942 in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 23 July 1923 in Wilson; lived at 614 East Green Street, Wilson; his contact was mother Rosa Ashford; and he worked at the Marine Base in Jacksonville, N.C.

Rosa L. Ashford submitted the application.

  • Fred Hyman

Fred Hyman registered for the World War I draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 15 September 1887 in Tarboro, North Carolina; lived at 1323 South Markoe Street, Philadelphia; was a farmer for “Dougherty” in Haddonfield, New Jersey; and was married.

Fred Hyman died 23 August 1947 at a Veterans Hospital in Kecoughtan, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 September 1888 in Tarboro; was separated from Magnolia Hyman; lived at 1233 South 47th Street, Philadelphia. His body was shipped to Wilson, N.C., to the care of C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers.

Sam Hyman, 816 Mercy [Mercer] Street, Wilson, submitted the application.

  • John Henry Jackson

John H. Jackson died 7 April 1946 at the Veterans Hospital in Asheville, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 27 September 1872 in Surry County, N.C., to Tom Jackson; was married to Ida Mae Jackson; worked as a laborer; lived at 1201 East Washington Street; and was a veteran of the Spanish American War.

  • Henry Hines

Henry Hines died 11 March 1937 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 October 1892 in Wilson County to Mary Hines; was married to Lela Hines; lived at 808 Suggs Street; and was a day laborer for Farmers Oil Mill. 

  • Will Dixon

Will Dixon registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1896 in Farmville, North Carolina; lived on Stantonsburg Street, Wilson; was a laborer for W.L. Russell Box Company, Wilson; and was single.

Lenora Dixon applied for his headstone.

U.S. Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1970, http://www.ancestry.com.

Men ordered to report, no. 5.

On 27 April 1918, the Wilson County Draft Board inducted these 26 African-American men into military service and ordered them sent to Camp Grant, Illinois, for basic training.

41550_1821100522_1158-00199

  • William Dorsey Shaw registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 21 August 1894 in Wake County, N.C.; resided 209 Hackney Street, Wilson; was a hostler for the Town of Wilson; and was married. He was tall and stout, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • William H. Billbry registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 8 January 1892 in Tarboro, N.C.; resided on Goldsboro Street, Wilson (crossed through and “New Bern, N.C.” entered); was a laborer for M. Popkin, Wilson; and had a wife and one child under twelve. He was tall and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Jessie Oliver registered for the draft on [5 June 1917.] Per his registration card, he was born in 24 December 1890 in Waynesboro, Georgia; resided in Black Creek, Wilson County; was a laborer for M.B. Aycock, Black Creek; and was single. He was of medium height and medium height, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Wade Brooks registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1895 in Black Creek, Wilson; resided in Wilson; was a self-employed farmer in Black Creek; and was single. He was of medium height and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • McKinley Justice registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 15 March 1896 in Edgecombe County, N.C.; resided on Route 1, Elm City; was a farmer for Frank Williams, Wilson; and was single. He was of medium height and slender, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Winsor Darden registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in September 1895 in Wilson County; resided in Wilson; was a self-employed farmer in Wilson County; and was single. He was of medium height and stout, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Walter Applewhite registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 8 February 1896 in Saratoga, N.C.; resided near Walstonburg, Wilson; was a laborer at a sawmill for R.R. Shackleford; and was single. He was of medium height and weight, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Nathan Dunnican registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1892 in Wilson, N.C.; resided in Wilson County, N.C.; was a farmer for S.J. Watson, Route 2, Wilson; and was single. He was short and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Albert Howard registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born about 1896 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Wilson, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer; and was single. He was short and of medium build, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X. [See Albert Howard in uniform here.]
  • Junius Lucas registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 18 July 1890 in Nash County, N.C.; resided in Wilson, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer; and was single. He was tall and of medium build, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Roy Evans registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 17 September 1895 in Nash County, N.C.; resided at 404 East Green Street, Wilson; was a butler for Jonus Oettinger, Wilson; was single; and had an injured back. He was tall and slender, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Fred Woodard registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1893 in Black Creek, N.C.; resided in Stantonsburg, N.C.; was a farmer forFred Washington; and was single. He was of medium height and slender, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Matthew Whitehurst registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born October 1889 in Martin County, N.C.; resided on Route 1, Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for George A. Barnes near Elm City; and was single. He was tall and of medium build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Edd Taylor registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born August 1896 in Elm City, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for Miles Pierce, Elm City; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Orlando Williams registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in August 1891 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided on Route 6, Wilson, N.C.; was a farmer for Sallie Graves, Stantonsburg; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Jim Woodard registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 8 April 1890 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer; and was single. He was short and of medium build with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Sam Bunn registered for the draft on 27 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born July 1895 in Elm City, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farm laborer for father Amos Bunn; and was single. He was of medium height and weight, with dark blue eyes and black hair, that was slightly balding. He signed his card with an X.
  • James Thomas Revell registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 9 July 1893 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided on Route 4, Kenly, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer on Route 1, Lucama; and was single. He was tall and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Charlie Jones registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 20 August 1893 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Wilson County, N.C.; was a farmer for J.S Jones, Sims, N.C.; and was single. He was medium height, with dark eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Larry Clay registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 15 May 1895 in Oxford, N.C.; resided in Black Creek, N.C.; was a farm laborer for John Clay, Black Creek; and was single. He was tall and of medium build, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Two African-American men named William Thomas registered for the draft on 5 June 1917 in Wilson County. One was born about 1896 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for E.R. Brinkley, Toisnot township; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card “Will Thomas.” The second was born in 1895 in Augusta, Georgia; resided in Neverson, N.C.; worked as a laborer at a rock quarry for Harris Granite Company; and had a wife and two children. He was tall and of medium build and had black eyes and hair. He signed his name with an X.
  • Robert Lee Mitchell registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 17 April 1896 in Elm City, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for J.G. Mitchell, Toisnot township; and was single. He was tall and slender, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • James Johnson registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 June 1895 in Kenly, N.C.; resided in Wilson, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer in Black Creek township; and was single. He was tall and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Several African-American men named Frank Barnes registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. The man inducted here was most likely one of two. The first was born 2 April 1895 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Wilson County, N.C.; was a farmhand for Drew Barnes, Wilson; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark eyes and dark hair. He signed his card with his full name. The second was born 25 August 1892 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided at 618 Lodge Street, Wilson; worked as a laborer at Farmers Oil Mill; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.

The remains of West Vick, a colored soldier, return.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 1919.

In the 1900 census of Stony Creek township, Nash County: farm laborer John Vick, 45; wife Hanna, 40; and children Tassey, 21, Clara, 19, Johnnie, 17, Berry, 15, Elisha, 13, Joseph, 10, Westray, 9, Paul 3, and Baby, 1.

Wesley Vick, 21, son of John and Hannah Vick, married Sarah Locus, 20, daughter of Jesse and Florida Locus, on 25 May 1912, in Wilson.