Dr. Joseph H. Ward

Lisa Henderson programOn Tuesday October 28 a local genealogy phenom (although she is now a lawyer in Atlanta) will present her findings on Dr. Joseph H. Ward, an African American doctor who was born in Wilson in 1870.   Although he began his life in Wilson, a place that at the time had few prospects for an African Americans, by the 1890’s he was in Indianapolis practicing medicine as a licensed physician.  Come and listen to Lisa tell how she untangled the complicated history of his life and family.

In the mean time get absorbed in her brilliant blog about the history and genealogy of the free and enslaved persons of color in North Carolina, Scuffalong: Genealogy

Civil War letter of Pvt. Bunyan Barnes, 4th Regiment, Co. F


Pvt. Bunyan Barnes’ letter home to Black Creek in Wilson County, NC


They were very concerned about Rubin swinging with the Girls.

Last week I scanned over 100 archival documents that were brought in by a patron.  I will not give her name but I am calling it the Lois Watson Bass Collection.  There are letters, deeds, wills, indentures, receipts and plats that she found tightly folded in a small tin box on a shelf in her father’s storage shed that range in date from the 1700’s to the early 1900’s.  She doesn’t seem too keen on giving any of it to the state archives so I wanted to scan the documents for use in the library at least.

Here is a transcription of the second Civil War letter in the collection.  This one is from Private Bunyan Barnes and Private Ervin Bass.  They were very concerned about all the girls back home being married off to someone named Rubin before they got back from the war.

Manassas Junction Va

Jan 9th 1862

Dear Nephew,

I this evening take the time and pleasure of writing you a few lines to inform that I am well at present and hope these few lines may come to hand and find you and Charity enjoying the same good blessings I received your letter a few days back and I was glad to hear that you were well and I was sorry to hear that there is so much sickness about there and to hear the sad Death (of) Gabriel Bass we don’t have no gradeal (great deal) of Sickness here Considering the number (of) folks there is here I can tell we have a heep of fun here with the Black Creek Boys but Girls is Scarce here we cant have no fun with Girls (who ) is not here to be with you all but I cant tell when it will be but I live in hop(e)s of coming back Some Time I tell you the Boys is Vary anxious to come to see you all again I have nothing more of interest to write this time So I will come to a close I want you to write soon

Jan 12th

P.S. I will put in a few words of news I saw your sweet heart this evening and he was feeling very poorly with a bad cold I would like to be back there to see some more fun with you and the girls but I cant fo(re)tell when I will be able to get back to see You any more but you must tell the Girls they must not get married until we all come back for I don’t think you have got any young men there to be with except Rubin I guess he is thare yet I guess he has got his own swing round the Girls I don’t think I have anymore of interest to write this Time You must excuse bad writing and mistakes for I had to do this in the knight and I was getting sleepy I will close by sayin I remain yours Truly

Bunyan Barnes

Ervin Bass

Civil War Letter of Pvt. Joseph Davis, 4th NC, Co. F


Pvt. J. Davis leave pass.


Transcript of letter


One of my patrons brought a the letter of her grandfather, Joseph Davis,  a private in the 4th NC regiment and a resident of Black Creek in Wilson County for me to digitize recently.  The letter is dated November 13, 1861 and he is stationed at Manassas Junction, VA guarding the depot that the Confederates had won after the first battle of Manassas in July.  The letter speaks of the universal longings of any soldier, food and family.

Pvt. Davis was later wounded captured at the battle of Antietam and was soon paroled and worked as a nurse at the Wilson Confederate Hospital.

Wilson County Artifacts Now Online at Digital NC


A unique electric lamp (that may have also been a fan) with seashells that was made by Nestus Freeman.


A page out of the Jesse S. Barnes Camp of the United Confederate Veterans Ledger. It is a great genealogical resource for the death dates of Confederate veterans who died before 1913, when death certificates were first issued.

All of the Oliver Nestus Freeman artifacts from the ONF Round House African American Museum are now online at Digital NC.

Also the Jesse S. Barnes Camp of the United Confederate Veterans Ledger is also online at Digital NC.

Round House African American Museum Digital Project


A terrible picture that I made of the C clamp that Oliver Freeman used to build his structures.


On of his art pieces with the shell motif that is routinely found in African American cultural objects.


A blurry picture of a glass washboard. I didn’t know such things existed before I saw this one.


A well-used shoe shine box, with all of its accessories.

Yesterday I brought all of he artifacts related to the great builder, Oliver Nestus Freeman, that are housed at the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House African American Museum to the NC Digital Heritage Center at UNC Chapel Hill.  There the photographer made digital images of all of the 3D objects while the 2D objects were scanned by the over head scanner (we called it the Zeutschel at USC) or by the overhead digital camera.

It was really interesting seeing the photographer at work.  I helped him arrange the objects and he made many pictures trying to get each one just right.  Soon the images will be up at the Digital NC website for all to enjoy.

In the near future more materials will be taken from the ONF Round House Museum to be digitized so stay tuned.

Great New Online Civil War Resource

making of americaWe have a set of the books The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies as well as a set of the covering the Union and Confederate Navy.  And I did use them recently to find correspondence between General DH Hill and one of his subordinates about the construction of a Confederate fort on  Contentnea Creek in Wilson County.  But it can be a daunting task to find what you are looking for in the 159 volumes.  Cornell University has now made it a whole lot more accessible.  They have digitized the monographs for their Making of America digital collection.  So now you can effortlessly comb through the weighty tomes from the comfort of your home or trailer for any date, officer’s name or unit, institution or location.  I searched for my great great grandfather, 1st Lieutenant Christopher Columbus Welsh and ….I didn’t find him.  But I found many entries referring to Kershaw’s brigade , SC 12th infantry and entries for Captain TF Clyburn the commander of Company E which were all associated with Lieutenant Welsh.

There is an article on this site in the new edition of NGS Magazine