President Jimmy Carter at the Wilson County Library, August 5, 1978


Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, US Minister to Liberia


Rev. Owen Lun West Smith (1851-1926)


Adora Estelle Oden Smith (1870-1906) of Beaufort, NC. Adora was Rev. Smith’s second wife. His first wife, Lucy Ann Jackson, was  murdered by his insane sister,Millie, on July 6, 1891. Adora and Owen had three children that died young. Rev. Smith’s third wife was Cynthia Ann King Isler (1868-1921) of Grifton, NC. She had four children from a previous marriage. (gleaned from the unpublished  writings of Hugh B. Johnston)

Today I stumbled upon a trove of materials about the the trailblazing Rev. Owen L.W. Smith (1851-1926).  Rev. Smith was born into slavery in Giddenville, Sampson County, NC to Ollen Smith and Maria Hicks and  was a servant in the Confederate army but escaped to become a soldier in the US army and fought  at the Battle of Bentonville.  He later rose to prominence in Wilson as the pastor of the the St. John AME Zion Church and Presiding Elder of the New Bern District of the North Carolina Conference.  Rev. Smith caught the eye of some prominent elected officials and was appointed by President William McKinley as Minister and Consul General to Liberia. You can find lovely post about him over at Black-Wide Awake.

Below are some of his letters printed in the Star of Zion, a Charlotte, NC based newspaper of the AME Zion Church.  You can find more on our Flickr page.



I like his description of first seeing Ireland as he sailed into Queenstown (now Cork). This was the first sight I ever saw of Ireland as I sailed into Cork on an overnight ferry from Swansea, Wales.


The Boykin Family of Wilson in 1935 and 1963


Uriah W. Boykin (1856-1936) is in the center and to the far right with the white hat is his son, Stephen Ransom Boykin (1895-1982).  Stephen owned Wimpy’s, a lunch counter and pool hall on Tarboro Street between Barnes and Keenan in Wilson, NC.  Uriah’s wife and Stephen’s mother, Smitha Jane Barnes Boykin, died in 1919.  Stephen’s wife, Nannie Davis Boykin  (1896-1970), is the third from the left.


Carol Arthur is the second man on the back row from the left. His wife, Janice Boykin Arthur, is to the right of him and is the daughter of Stephen and Nannie Boykin who are on the front right.


Today one of my patrons, Carol Arthur, brought two photos of the Boykin family.  There are a goodly amount of Boykins in this area so let’s just call this the Uriah Wesley/Smitha Barnes Boykin clan.

WCPL Local History and Genealogy Room: Now with Even More New Books!

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The Wilson County Genealogy Society must really like me because they just gave me thirteen more new books  (Sure, they like me well enough, but they really want to support Wilson County’s awesome library)!

This combined with the sixteen books they gave me a couple of weeks ago brings the number to 29.  And if you think that this gift giving is going to stop on an odd number you are so wrong, for the local DAR is donating the new Edgecombe County Cemetery book, bringing the number of books donated in the past month to 3o, which, I am very sure, is a round number.

If you haven’t noticed, all of the books are by Stewart Dunaway, a very prolific transcriber whom I have met at the yearly Family History Fair held every Fall at the State Library of North Carolina.  Mr. Dunaway is going to be speaking next Tuesday, March 3, 7 PM at the Wilson County Genealogy Society meeting and I am sure it going to be a great program.

Financial Ledger for the Wilson County Negro Library now Online


ledger july 1953

Page from July, 1953

A stark reminder of the segregation era in North Carolina, the Wilson County Negro Library ledger can now be perused online at DigitalNC.  It is an informative window into the  sometimes separate economy that existed during that period.

Here is what it contains (as listed in the metadata):

Categories include checks, bank (deposits and checks), general ledger, salaries, income tax, social security, N.C. Department of Revenue, books, periodicals, binding, audio visuals, library supplies, furniture & equipment, rent & building maintenance, insurance, bookmobile operation, travel, postage, miscellaneous, book processing charge, and cast surplus.