Saint Alphonsus school.


This photograph of a classroom at Saint Alphonsus School, which was affiliated with the all-black (except for the priest) Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church, probably dates from the early 1940s. According to a history of the school, in 1948 the church purchased a surplus Army PX and transformed into a school building with classrooms, offices and an assembly hall. The school faced Carroll Street (and the rear of the church) between Faison and Academy Streets. With nuns of the Oblate Sisters of Providence teaching, Saint Alphonsus School remained open until it merged with Saint Therese School in the late 1960s. The building was then rented to Concerned Parents of Wilson, Inc., a non-profit organization that founded and funded Kiddie Kollege of Knowledge to provide quality private kindergarten education for African-American children.

[Personal note: I attended Kiddie Kollege of Knowledge 1968-70. The photo below was taken at my graduation in the school’s assembly hall; I’m on the right, holding my Bachelor of Rhymes “degree.” — LYH]


Photograph of Saint Alphonsus reprinted from Wilson Daily Times, 29 April 1999; kindergarten photo in private collection of B.A. Henderson.

Working on the railroad, drowned on the river.

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Wilson Advance, 16 February 1883.

When construction resumed after the Civil War, the state of North Carolina leased thousands of African-American convicts — many sentenced for trivial crimes — to the Western North Carolina Rail Road Company to perform the dirty, dangerous work of grading, laying rail and excavating tunnels. Hundreds died, including Jerry Smith.

The W.N.C.R.R. crosses the Tuckaseegee River, which flows entirely in North Carolina, several times between Bushnell and Almond, North Carolina.

The Wilson Collegiate Institute, a private school for boys, opened in 1872 and operated for about 20 years.

911 Viola Street.

The fifteenth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.


As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this well-preserved house is a: “ca. 1913; 1 story; Queen Anne cottage; double-pile, hip-roofed with projecting front wing; bracketed porch posts.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 Viola, paying $10/month rent, farmer George Bullock, 59, wife Ella, 56, sons Buddie, 15, and Author, 13, grandchildren Bulah M., 8, Willie, 6, and Charlie L., 5, and daughter Effie Davis, 23, and her husband Ernest Davis, 28.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 Viola, laundress Cherry Ellis, 42, and son Paul, 19, a farm laborer. Ellis rented for $10/month and reported that the family had lived in the house in 1935. In the 1941 edition of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Cherry Ellis is listed at 911 Viola Street. In 1942, when Wesley Edwin Hines registered for the World War II draft, he listed Cherry Ellis of 911 Viola as his contact person. Per his registration card, Hines lived at 1001 East Vance Street; was born 28 April 1904 in Wilson County; and worked for Hackney Wagon Company on Gold Street in Wilson. Paul Ellis also registered in 1942. Born 1 April 1921, he lived with his mother at 911 Viola and was unemployed.

Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

Whiskey hurt him. (Or Tab Baker.)

I H.D. Lucas being duly sworn did examine the body of Alex Godwin & found a contusion of the left knee a lacerated wound of the right knee & fracture of the femur near its lower end, a lacerated wound on right side of face above the mouth, a wound above right eye & another on posterior part of head, & think them suficient to produce death

I saw him dead in Wilson County   /s/ H.D. Lucas M.D.   /s/ H.W. Peel


P.S. Hicks being duly sworn Testifies as follows I saw Mr Godwin in Wilson about two oclock & sold him some medicine I saw him again about half an hour by sun and he was somewhat intoxicated though seemed to be quiet. I stoped at Mr Williamson that night & Mr Amerson come there about three quarter of an hour after dark and said he had found a man wounded on the tract of the Lattice he wanted help to get him off the tract & I went with him in company with col’d man & found Mr Godwin on the tract groaning but speechless Lying(?) with face down with his neck across the rail of the Road we got him soon as possible about twenty minutes he called for water I ask him who hurt him he answered Tab Baker hit or hurt him sometimes he spoke rational at others talk at random we found some apples bottle cologne & cartiges in coat pocket & pocket Book also with no money but a tax Recpt given on that day I ask him where his pistol was he said he had thrown it away sometime he would answer qestion refuse at other Ice water complained of being very cold frequently I helped to get him off the Road & get him in a cart this took place on Saturday & Saturday night of the seventeenth Decb AD 1881 On Tuesday morning the 20th of same months I come by Lattice & found a pearl handled pistol & a piece of Iron broken from RRoad tract at the southern end of Lattice & below the Road the Iron was stuck in ground about 9 feet from pistol Iron look to be freshly broken from RRoad tract I found Mr Godwin near the midle of Lattice all the blood we saw was where we found him  /s/ P.S. Hicks


Richard Johnson being duly sworn testifies as follows I found the deceased on RR bridge over contentnea creek in a wounded condition myself & Isaac Amerson carried him off the bridge, he called for water was asked who had hurt him & answered whiskey hurt him, myself & Warner Darden placed him upon a cart & started with him to his home, he died near the Town of Black Creek    Richard (X) Johnson


Warren Darden being duly sworn Testifies as follows I first saw Tobe Godwin in the shantie house for the RRoad bridge gard Mr Winstead ask me to go see if I knew who he was I did not know him at first then Mr Winstead hired me to carry him home he was badly hurt I then put him on a cart and started to Black Creek with him he called for water several times continued to groan seemed to be Rational he cease to groan when I got near Howell Dardens & when I got to Mr Bun Lucas tenant house south & near the mill swamp I found he was dead I carried him to Black Creek & then carried him to his house at J L Newsom this was all on Saturday night the 17th Decb 1881   Warren (X) Darden


Benjamin Moore being duly sworn Testifies as follows I saw Mr Godwin a few minutes after he was taken off RRoad his first words were he called for water Mr Hicks ask him how come him hurt he said it was a damned negro Tab Baker we ask him his name he answered Alex Godwin we ask him if the train hurt him & he said no he seemed to speak Rational at intervals saying Tab Baker hurt him said he was not on the train this was all on Saturday night the 17th of Decb 1881 Benjamin (X) Moore


E.T. Lucas being duly sworn Testifies as follows I saw Alex Godwin in Jo Lamms shop in Wilson on Saturday night the 17th Decb 1881 about six oclock seemed to be somewhat intoxicated he ask me to loan him a quarter to come to Black Creek on the train I did not Loan him any money when the train past Jo Lamms shop he turned back toward Jo Lamms shop when the train started off from the depot he then run of to the train & took hold of it I did not see him get on the train. He took hold of train at the hindmost part I did not see him after the train past was the passenger going south. E.T. (X) Lucas


Jordan C. Winstead being duly sworn Testifies as follows I was sent for to go down to contentnea bridge to look after a man supposed to be killed but on getting there found the man Living I ask him his name he answered his name was Alex Godwin he had been removed from R Road tract I ask him if he was a man with a family he said he had a wife & three children I ask him if the train hit or hurt him & he said no I ask him if he did not want to go him [home] he said yes and ask me to please send him home first I saw Godwin was between 8 and 9 oclock Saturday night 17th Decb 1881 /s/ J.C. Winstead


Isaac Amerson being duly sworn Testifies as follows I was sitting on fence about seven or eight Hundred yards from the Lattice I went up to Lattice & saw something on it I suppose it to be a newspaper I found it to be a man struggling struck a match a went to him. I called him and ask his name he did not speak. I went up to Penina Williamson a got Phis Hicks & a negro we went to the man found he was not dead the negro took him from the Lattice it was five or ten minutes before he spoke his first words were cursing called for water said his name was Alex Godwin he said next he lived at Stephen Woodards had a wife & three children we ask him what hurt him answers were the train did not hurt him. I found him about twenty or twenty five minutes after the train passed this was on the seventeenth at six oclock P.M. Isaac (X) Amerson


B.C. Campbell being duly sworn Testifies as follows I saw Alex Godwin at Jo Lam shop Saturday night 17th Decb 1881 he left Lams shop. I saw him again Just before the south bound passenger train come up about dark when the train stoped he wanted money from E.T. Lucas to come home on he did not let him have any money Just as the train started he run up as though he was going to get on did not see him after the train left he was somewhat intoxicated. /s/ B.C. Campbell


State of North Carolina, Wilson County } Know all men by these presents held and firmly bound unto the State of North Carolina in the sum of Two Hundred Dollars to make our personal appearance at Wilson on the first Monday in March next and not depart without Leave. Otherwise the bound to remain in full and effect given under our hand & seal thus the 20th day Decb AD 1881 /s/ J.C. Winstead, Isaac (X) Amerson, P.S. Hicks, E.T. (X) Lucas, N.D. Lucas, Warren (X) Darden, B.C. Campbell, Benjamin (X) Moore, Richard (X) Johnson


A “lattice” is a form of truss bridge. The railroad crosses Contentnea Creek about 2 miles southeast of Wiggins Mill reservoir and just above a spur leading to the town of Black Creek. Lattice Road still marks the area.

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  • Alex Godwin — in the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Elexander Godwin, 23, common laborer, with wife and three daughters.
  • Warren Darden — Warren Darden, 24, married Louisa Dew, 18, on 1 May 1873 in Wilson, before witnesses Amos Dew and Raiford Dew. In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, farmer Warren Darden, 30, wife Louisa, 25, children Warren, 3, and an unnamed infant, and farmhand Wilie Lee, 14.
  • Howell Darden was Warren Darden’s father.
  • Jordan C. Winstead — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County, age 35, listed as an overseer on the railroad.
  • Benjamin Moore — in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, age 45, listed as farm laborer.
  • Isaac Amerson — in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, age 25, listed as a farmer.
  • B.C. Campbell — perhaps, in the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County, Bennet Campbell, 21.

Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives; image courtesy of Google Maps.

William Hines, making good.

In March 1913, the Indianapolis Recorder, a nationally focused African-American newspaper, ran a front-page feature on William Hines, a “native of [Wilson] and a forceful character for the intellectual, moral, spiritual, social and economic development of young North Carolinians.”

Citing Samuel H. Vick and Biddle University as Hines’ influences, the article detailed his entry into the real estate business after establishing a successful barber shop. In just five years, Hines had accumulated 11 houses and “a number of very desirable lots.”

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Indy Recorder 3 1 1913

Indianapolis Recorder, 1 March 1913.

Hines’ real estate investments eventually made him one of the largest builder-owners of rental property in east Wilson. His barber shop operated for many decades, and his varied civic involvement included work as leader in the World War I Liberty Loan Campaign, charter investor in the Commercial Bank of Wilson, founding member of the Men’s Civic Clubboard of trustees of the Negro Library, board of directors of the Reid Street Community Center, and administrator of Mercy Hospital.


William Hines, a little later in life.

William Hines was born 29 October 1883 in Edgecombe County and died 17 October 1981 in Wilson. He is buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Photo of Hines courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Wilson news.

PC 2 17 1940

Pittsburgh Courier, 17 February 1940.

  • Johnnie Mincy — John Henry Mincey. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 650 Wiggins Street, plumber Benjamin Mincey, wife Mattie, 60, sons Benjamin Jr., 31, a hotel cook, and Johnnie, 21, a daily paper deliveryman, and granddaughter Deloris Woodard, 5. In 1940, John Henry Mincey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 8 April 1919 in Wilson, resided at 650 Wiggis Street, had telephone number 3909, was employed by National Youth Administration, and his closest relative was Mrs. Mattie Mincey. John H. Mincey died in Wilson 14 December 1982.
  • Hartford E. Bess — Hartford Eugene Bess. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, widow Minnie Best, 48; and children Hartford, 30, delivery boy for retail dry goods business; Ruth, 27, teacher at Williamston School; James, 23, janitor at Oettinger’s store; and Glenwood, 10, grocery delivery boy. Hartford Bess died in Wilson on 2 December 1988.
  • S.J. Satchell — Spencer Jordan Satchell. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 Viola Street, retail grocer Jarrette J. Langley, 60; wife Mary, 60; daughter Orris, 21; Virginia-born son-in-law Spencer Satchell, 29, teacher; and daughter Ivory, 30, teacher. Spencer J. Satchell died 20 February 1982.
  • Robert Haskin — Robert Douglas Haskins. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: drug company salesman Robert Haskins, 55; wife Gertrude, 48; children Mandy, 36, cook Elizabeth, 33, beauty shop cleaner Estelle, 29, hotel kitchen worker Robert D., Jr., 27, N.Y.A. stenographer Lossie, 24, and barbershop shoeblack Thomas, 20; and granddaughter Delores, 15; plus lodger Henry Whitehead, 21, tobacco factory shaker. Robert D. Haskins died 11 December 1966 in Wilson.
  • Ossie M. Royall — Ossie Mae Jenkins Royall. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 203 Pender Street, widow Ossie M. Royall, 33, an elevator girl at the courthouse; her mother Tossie Jenkins, 53, stemmer at a tobacco factory; daughters LaForest, 16, and Evauline Royall, 14; and a roomer named Ed Hart, 45, a laborer employed by the town of Wilson. Ossie and LaForest were born in Wilson; Evaline in Battleboro [Nash County]; and Tossie and Ed in Nash County. By the late 1950s, Ossie Royall had moved to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and was working as the dining hall supervisor at Elizabeth City State Teachers College. She died in Amherst, Massachusetts, 16 March 2000.


  • Susie Moore
  • Robert L. Jeans — Robert Lee Jeans registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1942. Per his registration card, he resided at 510 East Green Street; was born 17 April 1903 in Tate County, Mississippi; and was minister of Calvary Presbyterian Church. His contact person was Mrs. A.G. Douglas, 416 North Meyers Street, Charlotte. The same year, Jeans was appointed head of Tabor Presbyterian in Des Moines, Iowa. Rev. Jeans died in Washington, D.C., on 17 November 1994.
  • Margaret K. Bridgers — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1209 East Nash Street, furniture company truck driver Jessie Bridgers, 32; wife Margret, 27; and children Elizabeth, 6, Jessie Jr., 5, and twins Saul and Carl, 2.
  • William A. Swinston
  • Mrs. R.L. Williams
  • Mrs. Brodie — possibly Anna Kearney Brodie.
  • Calvary Presbyterian Church
  • Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church
  • Darden High School
  • WGTM

Image courtesy of The Pirate (1960), Elizabeth City State Teachers College, digitized at U.S. School Yearbooks 1880-2012,

A wreck on the first day at sea.


The Colonies and India (London, England), 9 April 1898.

Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, his wife Adora Oden Smith, and their daughter Flossie took passage on the African Steamship Company steamer Dahomey, which sailed from Liverpool to his assignment as ambassador in Monrovia, Liberia, on 6 April 1989. Hours after leaving port, the ship struck rocks near Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales. Passengers and crew were safely evacuated, but the ship remained stranded for 14 days before it could be floated off and returned to Liverpool. The incident was investigated, and a magistrate held: “The Court having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the stranding of and material damage to the said vessel were due to the improper navigation of the master, Mr. James G. Cawthorne, whose certificate, No. 34,575, the Court suspends for a period of six months from the date hereof.”

A one-man crusade on child problems.

PC 3 25 1944

Pittsburgh Courier, 25 March 1944.

C.B. Beamon was an A.M.E. Zion minister, presumably at Trinity, rather than Saint John. Newspaper articles show that he pastored a church in Missouri in 1926 and later lead churches in Tennessee, Kentucky and Nebraska, but I have not been able to find anything else about his time in Wilson.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones celebrate their 50th anniversary.

NY age 3 21 1959

New York Age, 21 March 1959.

In late March 1959, the seven children of Wesley and Martha Taylor JonesMildred Jones Crittenden, Lucille Jones Peterson, Vernon Jones, Willia Jones Turner, John Wesley Jones, James Jones and Elroy Jones — threw a party in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York, to celebrate their parents’ 50th anniversary.


Marriage license of Wesley Jones and Martha Taylor, who were married 26 March 1910 in Taylor township, Wilson County.


Martha and Wesley Jones with six of their children, circa late 1950s.

Photo courtesy of Shaunna M. Stevens.

Virginia divorces.


Annie Barnes, 24, daughter of Charles and Rebecca Barnes, married Moses Gunn, 31, son of Joe and Amanda Gunn, on 22 December 1900 in Wilson. (Annie Barnes Gunn was a sister of John M. Barnes and B. Frank Barnes.)


Artelia Marian Darden, daughter of Charles and Diana Scarborough Darden, married John Jesse Tennessee in Wilson on 14 November 1914.