Death of Mrs. Roscoe Wilkins (aka Nina Mercer Wilkins), NC, 1882


October 5, 1882 (The Commonwealth, a newspaper of Scotland Neck, NC, 3rd page, 4th columns)


This community was shocked this morning to learn of the death of Mrs. Roscoe Wilkins, which sad event occurred at her home, near this town, this morning.

This is particularly sad. Only one year ago and she was a bride, today she sleeps the long sleep of death. She leaves a devoted husband and infant child, and many relatives to mourn her death. She was a daughter of Mr. Dossey Mercer, of Edgecombe, and a sister of Mrs. Dr. Petway, of this town. The bereaved family have the sympathies of this entire community.


[This took a little work, but with so many names given in the article, I really felt like the riddle could and should be solved. Mrs. Dr. Petway is Fannie Mercer Petway, born in February 1846 to W.D. Mercer and Lucinda Bradley. Her sisters were Sallie, Bettie/May, Lucy, Henrietta, and Nina. Sallie’s married name was Garrett. In 1880, Bettie/May, Henrietta, and Nina were still all unmarried. However, Nina “Mercer,” age 17 in 1890 lived with Fannie Petway as her “daughter,” and was born in Sept. 1872 ( has transcribed as 17 but born in Sept. 1877, so I think it is an error and in looking at it, the year looks like 1872). Looking on, there is a death certificate for Nina Wilkins Gilbert showing her father to be Roscoe Wilkins and no mother. Roscoe Wilkins shows him as widowed but does not give the wife’s name. It actually looks (briefly from census records and various family trees on as if he never remarried. I am guessing Fannie raised her infant niece Nina as her own, though Nina apparently knew who her father was.

So, the summary I think I have pieced together is that Nina Mercer married Roscoe Wilkins on 19 October 1881 (marriage record on Daughter Nina Wilkins was born 18 September 1882. Mother Nina died October 5, 1882, less than a month later. It appears her husband never remarried and Aunt Fanny Petway raised the infant Nina. She grew up, married Loami Gilbert, and died 21 November 1957.

I am so glad to have come across this newspaper article, as tragic as it is! No other records that I have ever found in this search list her mother’s name, and it took a bit of digging, even with all the information in the article. Of course, if Fanny raised her, there was probably a strong maternal bond. But, this might answer the question why she is listed on the 1900 census as Mercer instead of Petway and, if looking at her death record, why the mother’s name was left blank.

The mother and wife who died in this story, Nina Mercer Wilkins’ ID# on is LDYG-ZYS, and this story has been attached. Other family members can be found through her tree.

I have also sent messages to two owners of public trees and one owner of a private tree on–it is hard to know who to contact when all of the tree owners have not been on recently. I don’t want to pressure them, just want to let someone know the story is here and available to be added to personal trees, if desired.]


About Kindra

Executive Director for Quaker House, bringing a little bit of peace through counseling and support to military members and their families.
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2 Responses to Death of Mrs. Roscoe Wilkins (aka Nina Mercer Wilkins), NC, 1882

  1. Elaine Hooten McDuffie says:

    if you know what happened to WDMercer’s son Lafayette Dorsey Mercer and wife, please let me know

    • Kindra Bradley says:

      I will. I plan to get back to researching and posting articles again after I take the bar exam in February. I actually can’t wait to get back to this project.

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