Business, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Paternal Kin, Vocation

The leading colored funeral director.


Goldsboro Daily Argus, 27 July 1920.

 The esteemed James N. Guess was married to Annie Smith, daughter of Isham and Nancy Henderson Smith. [Small world moment: His nephew Kennon Guess married Esther Edwards of Greene County. I knew Mrs. Guess (later, Askew) as a first grade teacher at elementary school and as a neighbor in Wilson.]

Births Deaths Marriages, North Carolina, Other Documents, Paternal Kin

Keeping it in the family.

James N. Guess operated a funeral home that served Goldsboro, North Carolina’s black community for at least 40 years. (He also ran a barbershop for a half-century and, in the early years, a billiards and pool hall.) Guess’s father Matthew Guess, father-in-law Isham Smith, nephew Kennon Guess and son James N. Guess Jr. worked for or with him to build his business.

ImageGoldsboro City Directory, 1916-17. 

Image Hill’s Directory of Goldsboro, NC, 1950-51.

Not surprisingly, Guess provided services to members of the extended family of his wife, Annie Smith Guess, daughter of Isham and Nancy Henderson Smith. Among those he buried were:

Baby Wooten 2

James N. Guess was born 2 May 1882 in Goldsboro to Matthew and Martha Guess. He died 28 November 1957 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, after a lengthy illness.