Bessie Pauline Barnes was born December 23, 1886 in Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina to Sarah Ophelia Rose and Thomas Whitley Barnes. This lovely picture was taken when she was twenty-one years old. She has such beautiful eyes and gorgeous thick hair. The photograph was taken at the A. O. Clement Studio, Goldsboro, NC.
Bessie married Thomas Wilson Coleman (1867-1946) in Goldsboro, on November 30, 1910, when she was twenty-three and he was forty-three. Tom was the son of William Richard and Lucy Ann Hicks Coleman. From all accounts, despite their age difference, they had a very happy marriage. Bessie died on May 31, 1944.
Bessie and Tom Coleman lived in Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County, NC. They had four children: Thomas Barnes (1911-1999); William Rose (1913-1997); Edward Wilson (1916-1992); and Elizabeth Hicks (1921- 1994). The picture we have of the children shows the boys in matching wool suits, wearing knickers, and Elizabeth has a cute pixie haircut and a pretty party dress. Although it is a formal portrait, they all look comfortable before the photographer’s lens. Bessie’s mother, Sarah Ophelia Rose Barnes, lived with the Coleman family for about two decades, until her death in 1936. Ernest Howard Barnes and George Herbert Barnes were Bessie’s brothers.
The Coleman children continued the family business, Nash Brick Company, and it is still active today with different owners. From family recollections Tom was a very hard worker, and a member of many civic groups. Thomas Wilson Coleman died August 23, 1946, at a hospital in Richmond, Virginia.
I found this obituary for Thomas Wilson Coleman on the website, GenealogyBank. I’ve found that their search engine is very precise, and it saves a lot of time over some of the other genealogy and newspaper archive websites I’ve tried. Searching at http://www.genealogybank.com/ under North Carolina Newspaper Archives for “Thomas Coleman, 1946” gave me five results – including the one I was searching for. Adding the keyword “mayor” would have given me only the one record – his obituary. Using the same keywords on ancestry.com gave me at first 5,000 records. Using a few more keywords I whittled that down to thirteen results, but none that I was actually searching for.