The death of Lucy Dawson.

Death of Mrs. A.D. Dawson.

“A star has gone down

To rise upon some fairer shore;

An ardent toiler has fallen asleep,

A faithful pilgrim has reached home.”

Mrs. Lucy A. Dawson, wife of Mr. A.D. Dawson of Wilson, N.C., went to sleep Sunday evening, May 20, just after the sun had gone down behind the western hills and all was quiet and still. So peaceful was her death that those watching by her bedside scarcely knew the end had come.

Mrs. Dawson was a true Christian, a loving wife and a devoted mother. Mrs. Dawson had lived in Wilson more then 40 years and the friendships she formed are too numerous to mention. Mrs. Dawson was erudite, affable and kind and her removal from our midst “to join the innumerable caravan which moves to that mysterious realm” has made a wound in our community which only the lapse of time can heal. Mrs. Dawson was a lady of the highest type, having in her life indelible stamp of the Christ-life and during her life she placed before us a standard of Christian living worthy of our emulation; and now that her life’s work is ended we rejoice in the thought that “having fought the good fight and kept the faith” she has received the “crown of life that fadeth not away.”

Mrs. Dawson leaves to mourn her loss nine children, a father, husband, two sisters, three brothers and a host of friends. All the children were present at her bedside. Miss Mattie Dawson, a teacher in Selden institute, Brunswick, Ga., and Miss Lucile Dawson, of Emerson institute, Blackville, S.C., reached home just before the end came. The funeral services were conducted by Rev. H.B. Taylor and Rev. C. Dillard of Goldsboro, N.C., at Calvary Presbyterian church, Tuesday afternoon, May 22. The Household of Ruth ceremony was conducted by Mrs. Mattie Dortch of Goldsboro, N.C., district most noble governor. In expression of high respect many floral offerings were received, among them a wheel with a broken spoke by the family, a crescent by Calvary Presbyterian church, a pillow by Household of Ruth, a cross by A.M.E. Zion church and a wreath of carnations from Prof. and Mrs. S.H. Vick and other beautiful designed from her many friends.

“There are no dead.

The stars go down

To rise upon some fairer shore;

And bright in Heavn’s jeweled crown

They shine forevermore.” 

Joseph H. Foy, Wilson Daily Times, 13 June 1917.

  • Lucy A. Dawson —

In the 1870 census of Swift Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Joseph Hill, 31; wife Sallie, 30; [mother?] Lucie, 76; and children Lucie, 17, Josephine, 14, Mason, 9, Sarah, 7, Sherman, 4, and Jacob, 3.

On 8 April 1875, Lucy A. Hill, 17, married James Gatlin, 26, in Edgecombe County.

On 1 November 1882, A.D. Dawson, 25, of Wilson, son of Robert and Rachel Dawson, married Lucy Gatlin, 24, of Wilson County, daughter of Joseph and Sally Hill, at Gatlin’s residence in Wilson County. Methodist minister P.M. Hilliard performed the ceremony in the presence of Sam Collins, Lewis Battle and Martha Tyson.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: dealer in fish Edd [Alexander D.] Dawson, 40; wife Lucy, 40, dressmaking; and children Mattie, 14, Virginia, 9, Lucy, 8, Edd, 5, Clarence, 3, and Augusta, 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: restaurant cook Alexander Dawson, 50; wife Lucy, 49; and children Sophie,  25, school teacher, Mattie, 23, stenographer, Virginia, 19, school teacher, Lucile, 17, Alexander, 15, Clarence, 13, Augusta, 11, and Arlander, 1. 

Lucy Annie Dawson died 20 May 1917 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 October 1860 to Joseph Hill of Virginia and Sally Slaughter of Virginia [but residents of Edgecombe County, N.C.], was married, and was engaged in dressmaking. Sophia Dawson was informant.

  • A.D. Dawson —

Possibly, in the 1870 census of Snow Hill township, Greene County: Robert Dawson, 30; wife Cherry, 25, and son Elice, 5.

In the 1908 Dawson Alex D (c) fish City Market h 505 E Vance. In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson city directory, these Dawsons were listed as residents of 505 E Vance: Alex D. (eating house 215 S Goldsboro); Alex D., Jr. (barber); Clarence C. (clerk); Lucille P. (music teacher); Mattie H. (stenographer), Sophie L. (teacher); and Virginia S. (teacher.)

  • Mattie Dawson
  • Selden Institute — An historical marker in Brunswick, Georgia’s Selden Park reads: “Selden Normal & Industrial Institute. Established 1903. Operated by Negro citizens of Brunswick and Miss Carrie E. Bemus, high school courses in teacher training, practical and industrial arts. Site purchased by industrialist E. P. Selden and Dr. Charles Selden, a Christian missionary to China, named Selden in honor of Dr. Charles Selden. Later taken over by board of general missions, Presbyterian Church North, and became a Presbyterian school. Three principals served: Miss Carrie E. Bemus, Rev. H.A. Bleach, and Rev. S.Q. Mitchell. Consolidated with Gillespie Institute, Cordele, Ga., 1933. Presented by Selden Alumni and Former Students. Original Board of Directors Rev. S.G. Dent, Sr., Chas. A. Shaw, Alex Atkinson, Rev. John Williams, Mrs. Ellen Buggs. Glynn County Commissioners R.L. Holtzendorf, Chairman, John E. Taylor, R.E. Owens, Gerald Edwards, Roy J. Boyd.”
  • Lucile Dawson — On 10 December 1919, Simon Frazier, 24, of Georgia, married Lucille P. Dawson, 24, of Wilson, in Wilson. In the 1920 census of Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia: medical doctor Simon F. Frazier, 30; wife Lucile, 24; and lodger Martha Daniels, 39, public school teacher. In the 1930 census of Savannah, Chatham County, Georgia: at 222 East Park Avenue, physician Simon F. Frazier, 40; wife Lucille P., 33; and children Muriel E., 9, Ouida, 6, and Wahwee A., 3 months.
  • Emerson Institute
  • Rev. C. Dillard — Clarence Dillard.
  • Rev. H.B. Taylor — Halley B. Taylor.
  • Mrs. Mattie Dortch
  • Prof. and Mrs. S.H. Vick — Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick.
  • Joseph H. Foy 

Thanks to J. Robert Boykin III and Sue Powell for details of the clipping.

The 500 block, 1930.

Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1930.

As a supplement to this post, here is an excerpt of the 1930 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson detailing town’s Black business district. Though the northeast side of the 500 block of East Nash Street was almost completely commercial, the southwest side was largely residential. Segregation was in full effect at the time, but several white merchants operated businesses catering to African-American clientele, and one, Jesse Verser, lived on the block (around the corner from his Stantonsburg Street grocery.)

Detail of the Sanborn map showing several tenant houses on the west end of Smith Street, the tightly packed commercial buildings on Nash, Verser’s home at 504, and the sole freestanding two-story house on the north side of Nash at 529. Notice, behind 509, a garage (marked A) and toilets (marked WC). There were also garages behind 511 (with nearby gasoline tank) and 513-515. Several of the businesses were owned by native whites or Lebanese immigrants, and there was even a Chinese laundry.

Nash Street

  • 500 — Gatlin Amos J & Co (Amos J Gatlin, Jas P Gatlin) gros 500 E Nash
  • 501 — Maynard’s Market (Geo W Maynard) gros 501 E Nash and 401 Stantonsburg
  • 502 — vacant
  • 503 — Barnes Rachel G (c) restr 503 E Nash r 1118 E Nash
  • 504 — Verser Jesse W (Frances) gro 100 Stantonsburg h 504 E Nash; Verser Bettie (wid Jesse W) h 504 E Nash
  • 505 — Barnes John (c; Rachel) barber 505 E Nash h 1118 do [ditto]
  • 506 — Wah Jung Laundry (Yee G Wah) 506 E Nash
  • 507 — Ziady Jos gro 507 E Nash h 107 E Pettigrew
  • 508 — Service Barber Shop (c) (Ernest A Artis) 508 E Nash
  • 509 — vacant
  • 509 1/2 — Stokes Thos (c; Babe) fish 509 1/2 E Nash h 615 W Wiggins
  • 510 — vacant
  • 511 — Lupe Peter (c) shoe shiner 511 E Nash h do
  • 512 — Braswell Ezekiel (c; Mary E) restr 512 E Nash h 1118 1/2 do
  • 513 — vacant
  • 514 — Lesley Samuel G (c; Lillian) tailor 514 E Nash h 802 Robeson
  • 515 — vacant
  • 517 — Moore John H (c; Armincie) shoe repr 517 E Nash h 1113 Atlantic
  • 519 — Phillips Chas (Minnie A) bicycle repr 519 E Nash h 410 Herring
  • 521 — Smith Preston (c; Minnie) clothes presser and clnr 521 E Nash h 314 Stantonsburg 
  • 523 — Wooten W L Co, H Paul Yelverton pres, Jesse W Thomas v-pres, Wm L Wooten sec-treas, furn 523 E Nash
  • 525 — Thomas Chas S (c; S Blanche) barber 525 E Nash h 719 E Nash
  • 527 — Phillips Wm H (c; Rena) dentist 527 E Nash h do; Shade’s Pharmacy (c) (Isaac A Shade) 527 E Nash
  • 529 — Coppedge Sarah (c) factory hd h 529 E Nash

Smith Street

  • 506 — Johnson Wm (c; Lula) lab h 506 Smith; Johnson Wm J (c) lab 506 Smith
  • 508 — vacant
  • 510 — Reaves Robert (c; Daisie) lab 510 Smith
  • 514 — Lee Addie (c) factory hd h 514 Smith 

The transition from commercial to residential on the south side of the street. 526 is the Hotel Orange, a boarding house run by Mattie B. Coleman.

Nash Street

  • 516 — vacant
  • 518 — no listing
  • 520 — Dixon Lenora G (c) billiards 520 E Nash h 611 do
  • 522 — Atkinson Henry (c) shoe repr
  • 524 — Gilliam Matthew S (c; Annie L) phys 524 E Nash h 805 do
  • 524 — Howard Mary (c) lndrs h 524 E Nash
  • 526 — Coleman Mattie B (c) h 526 E Nash
  • 528 — Bowser Sarah L (c) smstrs h 528 E Nash
  • 530 — Stokes Turner (c) carp h 530 E Nash

Mid-block, two multi-story buildings dominated — the Whitley Hotel and the Odd Fellows lodge hall. The Odd Fellows building featured commercial space at street-level and the Globe Theatre above. 

Nash Street

  • 531 — Swindell Deborah (c) hair drsr 531 E Nash h 630 Suggs
  • 533 — Taylor Bertha (c) dom h 533 E Nash
  • 535 — Najim Geo candy mfr 535 E Nash h 107 S Pettigrew 
  • 537 — Lucas William T (Sallie) gro 537 E Nash h 216 N Railroad
  • 539 — no listing
  • 541 — Whitley Hotel (c) (Maggie A Whitley) 541 E Nash; Marshall Lodge IBPOE
  • 543 — Jones Luther J (c; Lula) restr 543 E Nash h 712 Hadley
  • 545 — Ford Cleaners (Herbert H and Alf J Ford jr) 545 E Nash
  • 547 — Am Legion, Henry Ellis Post (c); IOOF, Hannibal Lodge, No 552 (c) 
  • 549 — Fahad Kattar billiards 549 E Nash h 313 N Pine
  • 551 — Rutherford Geo (c; Maggie B) restr 551 E Nash h 1200 Queen

Smith Street

  • 516 — Britt Mamie (c) factory hd h 516 Smith 
  • 518 — Ray Neil (c; Annie) junk 518 Smith h do
  • 526 — Gay Wm (c) lab h 526 Smith

In the eastern third of the block, the south side of the street was almost entirely residential. Ideal Pharmacy and First Baptist Church dominated the north side.

Nash Street

The final stretch of the south side of the 500 block, all commercial.

Nash Street

  • 550 — vacant
  • 552 — Alston Robt T (c) watch repr 552 E Nash h [ditto]
  • 554 — Baxter & Co (Herman C Baxter, Jas F Downing) gros 554 E Nash

Stantonsburg Street [now Pender]

  • 100 — Verser Jesse W (Frances) gro 100 Stantonsburg h 504 E Nash

I confess surprise that, as late as 1930, the entire 100 block of South Pettigrew was an all-white residential street.

South Pettigrew Street

  • 107 — Ziady Jos gro 507 E Nash h 107 S Pettigrew
  • 109 — Hawley Geneva Mrs h 109 S Pettigrew
  • 111 — vacant
  • 113 — Nordan J Herman (Kath) lab h 113 Pettigrew
  • 115 — vacant
  • 117 — Hinnant Geo W (Mary A) projectionist Lincoln Theatre h 117 S Pettigrew; Robinson Sarah E (wid John R) h 117 S Pettigrew
  • 119 — Brown Edgar (Mamie) woodwkr Hackney Bros Body Co h 119 S Pettigrew
  • 121 — Bradberry Cora O hlpr 121 S Pettigrew; Bradberry Geo F pntr Hackney Bros Body Co h 121 S Pettigrew; Bradberry Luther farmer h 121 S Pettigrew

A marriage in New Hampshire.

Some who joined the Great Migration went from Point A to Point B and stayed. Others had more peripatetic journeys. Corneda Moore Jackson Woodard Bentley Kelsey stopped in Philadelphia, then Haverhill, Massachusetts, before settling in Cranford, New Jersey.

Herschel F. Bentley, 36, and Corneda J. Woodward, 38, both of Haverhill, Massachusetts, were married 2 September 1925 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (just a few miles up the coast.) It was Bentley’s first marriage. He was a native of Columbia, South Carolina, and a cook. Woodward, a Wilson native and widow, worked as a domestic. 

Herschel Bentley was the son of Joseph [Bentley?] of Macon, Georgia, and Grace Piot, born in Wall Hollow, South Carolina, and resident of Columbia, South Carolina. Cordena Woodard was the daughter of Bryant Moore, a farmer in Wilson, North Carolina, and Peonia Hagans, born in Greene County, North Carolina, and a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


In the 1860 census of Fields district, Greene County: day laborer Robert Hagans, 31; wife Sarah, 30; and children Mary, 12, Joseph, 8, Penelope, 5, and Edwin, 1.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: siblings Joseph, 15, Penelope, 12, Edwin, 11, Sarah, 8, and George Hagans, 6, all farmer’s apprentices.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Howel Moore, 50; wife Gatsey, 42; and children Bettie, 14, Eliza, 12, Simon, 21, Clora, 10, Jesse, 8, Howel, 3, Gatsey, 2, Penny, 17, and Bryant, 19.

In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farmer Evans Jackson, 36, and wife Charity, 26; niece Penny Moore, 25, and [her children] Florence, 2, and Victoria, 8 months; and apprentices Benjn. Farmer, 19, and George Hagens, 15.

Perhaps, in the 1880 census of Raleigh, Wake County: Bryant Moore, 25, farm laborer.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow [sic; she was likely separated or divorced] Pennie Moore, 45; children Florence, 22, Victora, 20, Cornetta, 18, Besse, 15, Fenner, 14, and Gussie L., 1; and granddaughter Gaslen, 1.

On 16 September 1903, Bryant Moore, 52, of Wilson, son of Howard and Gatsey Moore, married Maggie Farmer, 37, of Wilson, daughter of Barbara Lucas, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Cooper Barnes, Jackson Barnes, and Bessie Ratley.

In the 1910 census of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: widow Pinney Moore, 51; daughter Florence Lee, 32, divorced, and her daughters Gussie, 11, and Madeline, 2; daughter Canetor Jackson, 27, divorced; daughter Bessie M. Bessa, 25; son-in-law James Bessa, 27, and daughter Mable, 7; and lodgers Alfred O. Smith, 56, James Bell, 40, William Willand, 32, and Harrison R. Tyler, 31.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wiggins Street, odd jobs laborer Bryant Moore, 58, and wife Maggie, 37.

Fennell Moore died 25 December 1914 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 28 years old; was married; and was born in North Carolina to Bryant Moore and Penny Hagans.

In the 1920 census of Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts: at 21 Ashland Street, office building janitor William R. Woodard, 42, and wife Corneda J., 33, laundress. William was born in Ohio to a N.C.-born father and Ohio-born mother. Corneda was born in N.C.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, cotton mill laborer Bryant Moore, 65, and wife Maggie, 40, tobacco factory worker. 

In the 1930 census of Cranford, Union County, New Jersey: at 15 McClelland, owned and valued at $5000, Hersher F. Bentley, 41, cook for government service cafeteria, and wife Corneda J., 43, daily domestic.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 641 Wiggins Street, owned and valued at $1000, farm laborer Bryant Moore, 74; wife Maggie H., 45, farm laborer; and son Thomas, 16.

In the 1931 Westfield, N.J., city directory: Bentley Herschel F. (Corneda J.) cook h 103 McClellan

Bryant Moore died 23 March 1931 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was married to Maggie Moore; was a farmer; was born in Wilson County to Howard and Gatsey Moore; and lived at 640 Wiggins Street.

Victoria A. Hill died 27 February 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 September 1883 in North Carolina to Bryant Moore and Penny Moore; lived at 252 East Sharpnick, Philadelphia; and was married to Phillip Hill.

In the 1940 census of Cranford, Essex County, New Jersey: Ganes Kelsey, 44, scavenger collector; wife Corneda, 52, domestic; and lodgers Jake Bowers, 36, truck driver, and Charles Llyod, 47, laborer. 

Florence Tyler died 3 December 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 April 1889 in N.C. to Bryant Moore and Penney Hagans; lived at 6623 Ross Street, Philadelphia; and was a widow.

Gladys Moore died 17 January 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 June 1914 to Bryant Moore and Gladys Moore; lived at 914 Carolina Street; was single; and worked as a domestic. Informant was Gracie Allen, 1006 Atlantic Street.

Corneda Kelsey died 15 May 1971 in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey.

J. Burton Harper, Lincoln ’00.

Lincoln University‘s 1900 yearbook listed Wilson, N.C., as Joseph Burton Harper‘s permanent address.

His senior bio, however, listed his birthplace as Hookerton, in Greene County, and I’ve found no other records that place him as a Wilson County resident. We’ll claim him though.

In the 1880 census of Hookerton township, Greene County: laborer Stephen Harper, 48; wife D.A., 44; and children Edna, 17, John C., 13, Joseph B., 3, and Herbert C., 2.

In the 1900 census of Hookerton township, Greene County: farmer Stephen Harper, 57; wife Dilsey, 58; and children Edney, 37, Joseph B., 23, and Herbert C., 22; plus niece Sarah Edwards, 17.

In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 408 East Goldleaf, Presbyterian clergyman and teacher Joseph B. Harper, 32, and wife Olive S., 28, music teacher.

In 1918, Joseph Burton Harper registered for the World War I draft in Edgecombe County. Per his registration card, he was born 10 September 1877; lived at 606 Gold Leaf, Rocky Mount; was a minister and teacher; and his nearest relative was Olive Sagerna Harper.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 606 East Goldleaf, Presbyterian minister Joseph Burton Harper, 41; wife Olive, 39; and daughter Stella, 11.

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 810 Holly Street, Presbyterian minister Joseph B. Harper, 51; wife Olive, 49; and children Stella, 11 [sic: 21], and Robert, 9, plus several lodgers.

Rev. Joseph Burton Harper died 19 April 1940 at his home at 810 Holly Street, Rocky Mount. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 September 1878 in Hookerton, N.C. to Stephen Harper; was married to Olive Sagerna Harper; was a minister and teacher. He was buried in Hookerton.

Other suns: California

Though the Great Migration to California most often drew seekers from states like Louisiana, Texas, and Arkansas, Wilson County natives also joined the tide that increased the African-American population of that state exponentially.

Perhaps the first nationally known Wilson native to take up residence in California arrived not in the Great Migration, but as a result of the National Football League draft. The Los Angeles Rams drafted Saint Augustine’s College defensive end Isaac T. Lassiter in 1962, and he later spent five seasons with the Oakland Raiders, playing in the 1967 Super Bowl. Lassiter was born in 1940 in Wilson to Dempsey and Mary Jane Bynum Lassiter and graduated from C.H. Darden High School.

Hat tip to Bernard Patterson for the football card image.

Want ads, 1927.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 August 1927.

From at least 1925 until at least the mid-1940s, 1011 East Nash Street was the address of Butler and Myrtle Brodie Jones.

From the early 1920s until the early 1940s, Matilda Roberts lived at 802 East Vance. Available records do not show that Roberts worked as a practical nurse.

Hannibal Lodge building burns.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 October 1997.

For more about the Odd Fellows Hannibal Lodge building, see here and here. Shortly after it erected this building, Lodge #1552 established the Odd Fellows cemetery that now lies abandoned and overgrown on Lane Street.  

The obituary of John W. Jeffries (or Jefferson).

Wilson Daily Times, 27 June 1938.

The “local negro fire company” was, of course, the Red Hots.


On 20 November 1887, John W. Jefferson, 36, of Wilson County, son of Jack Jefferson, married Lizzie D. Dotson (or Doster) at “the rectory at St. Timothys church.” Episcopal priest B.S. Bronson performed the ceremony.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer John Jefferson, 52, widower.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jeffreys John V (c) lab h 708 S Spring

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 360 Spring Street, odd jobs laborer John Jeffries, 60, and wife Maggie, 30.

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jefferson John (c) lab h 708 S Spring

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Spring, house carper John Jefferson, 68, and wife Maggie, 31.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jefferson John (c) lab h 607 S Spring

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jefferson John (c) carp h 521 Spring

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jeffreys Jno W (c) carp h 521 Spring

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jeffries John W (c) carp h 521 Spring

John Wesley Jeffrey died 27 June 1938 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 May 1849 in Harnett County, N.C.; lived at 307 Spruce Street, Wilson; was divorced from Maggie Wilson; and was a laborer.