Formation of the Town of Wilson
By a deed dated December 29, 1802, and recorded in February of 1804, John Dew, Arthur Dew, William Dew, Benjamin Farmer, Barnes Simms and Jesse Barnes, the heirs of Arthur Dew, sold to the "Baptist Society" one acre of land "lying and being in the County of Edgecombe" on the "public road from Tarborough to Smithfield." Most researchers consider this deed to be the starting point for the Town of Wilson .
On this plot of land, the Toisnot Primitive Baptist Church built a church building and moved its congregation from its location on the Thomas Farm (on Highway 42) to the new site. The approximate location of the new site was the area between present-day Barnes Street and Kenan Street on Tarboro Street in Wilson . In this neighborhood and along the Tarboro-Smithfield road, a small community called Hickory Grove developed.
The second major event influencing the formation of the town was the coming of the railroad. In 1836, the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad Company began building a railroad to run from Wilmington to Weldon. The railroad reached what is now Wilson in mid 1839, and a station which the railroad named "Toisnot" was located where Barnes Street crosses the railroad line. About mid-October, 1839, passenger service started between Toisnot and Wilmington . By Christmas Eve, 1839, passenger service to Rocky Mount was inaugurated. In March, 1840, service began over the entire line from Wilmington to Weldon, and Toisnot had both north and south service.
A small community called Toisnot grew around the depot and along a road which joined Toisnot and Hickory Grove. The Mayo map of 1872 shows this as Barnes Street and shows that it terminated at the Tarboro-Smithfield road, now Tarboro Street . Both businesses and residences were built along the two roads.
James D. Barnes built a store at the crossing. Later this store served as the post office and Mr. Barnes served as the first postmaster. The road was given his name and is now Barnes Street .
The journal of the Senate of the 1848-49 session of the North Carolina General Assembly shows that on December 20, 1848 , Mr. Wyatt Moye, Senator for Edgecombe County , introduced a bill in the Senate to "incorporate Toisnot Depot and Hickory Grove in the County of Edgecombe into a town by the name of Wilson ." The bill passed its third reading on December 26, and was sent to the House of Commons where it was read for the first time on December 28. It was read the third time, passed and ordered enrolled on January 26, 1849 . The bill was ratified on January 29, 1849.
General Joshua Barnes, John W. Farmer, James D. Barnes, Jonathan D. Rountree and Arthur Farmer were named as the first commissioners.