The Wilson Daily Times was an afternoon paper in my day. It was lying in the driveway when I arrived home from school, and I could read it first if I put it back like it was — pages squared and neatly folded. (Even today, I shudder at a sloppy newspaper, flipped inside out and pages sprawling.) The Daily Times‘ roots are in Zion’s Landmark, a semi-monthly newsletter begun in 1867 by Pleasant Daniel Gold. Elder Gold (1833-1920), pastor of Wilson Primitive Baptist Church, filled the periodical with sermons and homilies, ads for homeopathic remedies, testimonials, altar calls and, most enduringly, obituaries of Primitive Baptists throughout eastern North Carolina.
African-Americans did not often make it into the pages of the Landmark, but P.D. Gold held Jonah Williams in considerable esteem. Gold preached my great-great-great-great-uncle’s funeral and published in the Landmark a lengthy obituary by Brother Henry S. Reid, clerk at Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Church:
And what does this piece add to what I already know about Jonah Williams?
- A marriage date for him and Pleasant Battle — 4 January 1867.
- Some confusion about their children. I knew Pleasant had a slew of children from a previous marriage to Blount Battle. However, I had four children for Jonah and Pleasant — Clarissa (the surviving daughter referred to in the obit), Willie F. (1872-1895), Vicey (1874-1890), and J.W., whom I know only from a stone in the Williams’ cemetery plot. I’m thinking now that this is a foot marker, rather than a headstone, and I’ll revise my notes.
- Jonah joined Aycock Primitive Baptist Church, part of the Black Creek Association, around 1875.
- Around 1895, he and others were permitted to leave Aycock and form Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Church, the first “organized colored” P.B. church in the area. The Black Creek Association ordained Jonah when he was called to serve at Turner Swamp.
- Elder P.D. Gold preached Jonah Williams’ funeral.
Text found at https://archive.org/details/zionslandmarkse4919unse_0