620 Viola Street.

The one hundred sixty-seventh 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 building is: “ca. 1950; 1 story; two-room, gable-roofed cottage.” This house appears to have replaced an earlier building on the site that dated from the mid-1920s. (The lot was empty at the time of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map.)

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In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Picott Wm (c; Annie) pntr h 620 Viola

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Williams Chas (c; Ellen) lab h 620 Viola

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 620 Viola, rented for $9/month, Charlie Williams, 25, body plant laborer; wife Elandor, 28; and stepson Dav S. Shaw, 12.  

On 17 September 1938, the Wilson Daily Times listed the property among those subject to auction for delinquent taxes. The owners were the heirs of Della Barnes.

In 1940, Lester Dew registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his draft registration card, he was born 7 February 1911 in Wilson County; lived at 620 Viola; his contact was wife Grace Dew; and he worked for Southern Tobacco Company, Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 610 Viola, Lester Dew, 29, tobacco packer, and wife Grace, 26, tobacco hanger.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Dew Lester E (c; Grace) lab h 620 Viola

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, the house was listed as vacant.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

Parker refuses to give up his seat on the bus.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 April 1943.

Meet James Parker, American hero.

In April 1943, Parker boarded a Wilson city bus on Saturday evening. He sat down in the white section and remained firmly ensconced when the driver asked him to move. The driver, James Batchelor, abandoned his route to drive the bus to the police station, where Parker was arrested and charged with violating North Carolina’s “passenger law,” which allowed for the designation of colored and white sections in commercial transport vehicles. Parker was adjudged guilty and given a thirty-day suspended sentence provided he remain “in good behavior.” Per the Daily Times, Parker was the first person to challenge Jim Crow laws in Wilson County in 25 years.  

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Boy accidentally shot by sister.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1943.

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On 27 February 1929, Rufus Wallace, 23, of Taylors township, son of C. and Lillie Wallace, married Dorethea Etheridge, 15, daughter of Wiley and Lula Etheridge, in Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Sterlings township, Roberson County: Rufus Wallace, 36; wife Dorothea, 29; children Wade, 10, Eileen, 8, Lula Mae, 6, Rufus Jr., 5, and Jimmie Carl, 3; and brother-in-law Wiley Etheridge, 19.

In 1942, Rufus W. Wallace registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 7 January 1904 in Robeson County, N.C.; lived on Route 4, Wilson, Gardners township; his contact was Martha Rountree, 913 Mercey [Mercer] Street, Wilson; and he worked for J.C. Corbett, Route 4, Wilson.

“Gun shot wound of head. Shot by sister accidental.”

In the 1950 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: well digger Rufus Wallace, 46; wife Doreatha, 39; and children Lula Mae, 16, Jimmy, 13, Freddie, 7, and Bobby, 4.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

608 Viola Street.

The one hundred sixty-seventh 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 building is: “ca. 1913; 1-story; L-plan cottage.” The original address was 619 Viola.

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In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harrison Reginald (c; Bessie) driver Hackney Oil Co h 608 Viola

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Reddit Jos (c; Mary) lab h 608 Viola

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 608 Viola, rented for $14/month, Joseph Redditt, 34, oil mill laborer; wife Mary, 26; niece Eva Branch, 16; and roomer Lucy Barnes, 29, cook.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 608 Viola, paying $11/month, Josh White, 48, factory deliveryman, born in Georgia, and wife Pecorria, 41, chambermaid at girls college; paying $4/month, Florine Jones, 24, servant, born in Georgia; husband Preston, 29, service station attendant, born in South Carolina; and daughters Hattie Pearl, 7, and Doris E., 4. [By October 1940, the Joneses had relocated to Richmond, Virginia, where Preston Jones registered for the World War II draft.]

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Woodard Flossie (c) cook h 608 Viola

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2022.

Cpl. John J. Braswell is stationed in the Pacific.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 May 1945.

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In the 1930 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, North Carolina: Arthur Braswell, 38; wife Julia, 31; and children John, 10, Mary J., 11, and Charles L., 7.

In 1940, John Junior Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wayne County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1917 in Wayne County; lived in Fremont, N.C.; his contact was father Arthur Braswell; and he worked for his father.

News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 21 April 1988.

The obituary of Johnny Farmer.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 March 1944. 

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In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George Farmer, 60, teamster; wife Bettie, 62, laundress; and children George N., 21, teamster, Miner, 19, Aulander, 18, drayman, Willie, 17, farm laborer, Johney, 15, farm laborer, and daughter Emma, 12.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Finchs Mills Road, George Farmer, 78, livery stable laborer; wife Bettie, 62, laundress; son John, 18, butler; and daughter Emma, 16, nurse.

In 1917, Johnie Farmer registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 February 1895 in Wilson; lived on Finch Mill Road; worked as a butler for Mrs. F.S. Davis, Wilson; and was unmarried.

On 25 July 1919, Johnnie Farmer sailed with Company C, 348th Service Battalion, from Brest, France, to the Port of New York abroad the U.S.S. Finland.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Bynum Street, Bettie Farmer, 56, widow, and children Emma, 23, cook, and Johnnie, 25, butler.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 714 Stronach Avenue, paying $10/month in rent, cook Johnny Farmer, 50, and his mother Betty, 85, widow.

Johnie Farmer died 30 March 1944 after 912 days at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Kecoughtan, Elizabeth City County, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1893 in Wilson, N.C., to George Farmer and Betsey Crowell [Crumell]; was single; was a cook; was a World War I veteran; and ordinarily lived at 714 Stronach Alley, Wilson. His body was returned to Wilson for burial.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III; Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists 1910-1939, http://www.ancestry.com.

Coaching legend Henderson dies at 87.

By Paul Durham, Wilson Times.

“Rederick Caswell Henderson, the Wilson native who built a basketball powerhouse at Rocky Mount Senior High, died Friday at the age of 87.

“Reggie Henderson, as he was known, was a 1952 graduate of Darden High in Wilson and a U.S. Air Force veteran. He played basketball at St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, where he met the love of his life, Beverly Ann Allen. [Actually, they met in Wildwood, New Jersey.]

“Aside from his time in the Air Force and in college, Henderson lived in Wilson his entire life while coaching at the main out-of-town rival school. Like his neighbor and friend Harvey Reid Jr., the coach at Douglass, Elm City and Fike high schools in compiling the most wins in NCHSAA history, Henderson built his own legend at Rocky Mount Senior High. He led the Gryphons to NCHSAA 4-A championships in 1978 and 1982 and his 1981 team lost by three points in the state 4-A final. The star of the 1978 Gryphons was Buck Williams, who was one of the top recruits in the nation as a senior. Williams played at Maryland before starting his long NBA career as the league’s Rookie of the Year in 1982.

“Henderson’s first coaching and teaching job was at Spaulding High in Spring Hope before spending time at both Wilson and Parker junior highs in Rocky Mount, where he coached future North Carolina legend and 1979 NBA Rookie of the Year Phil Ford.

“Henderson stepped away from coaching in 1983 to spend more time with his family. The Hendersons’ oldest daughter, Lisa, was in college at the University of North Carolina and Henderson said he realized that he had missed out on some of her high school years and didn’t want to do the same for youngest daughter, Karla.

“He returned to coaching in 1988 but retired for good after the 1992-93 school year.

“As much as Henderson was known for his successful basketball teams and star players, the quiet, yet intense, coach was better known for setting high standards off the court for his players and creating a family environment.

“‘Coach was a father to a lot of us,’ former point guard Reggie Barrett said in a 2018 interview with the Times. ‘For those who might not have had a father in the home, he was a father. You could go to him to talk about personal stuff. … If you didn’t have lunch money, he would help you out.’

“Henderson was the recipient of many coaching honors during his illustrious career but one of the biggest came last November when he was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame. He was the first inductee in 17 years of the hall’s existence who was not a native of Nash or Edgecombe counties.”

Lane Street Project: the end of Season 2.

Vick Cemetery, May 2022.

Thousands of graves lie here. … As do a parking lot and several utility poles. The City — or whomever they contract the work to — finally got around to cutting the grass at Vick Cemetery this past week, but the neglect otherwise continues. Wilson’s voters saw fit to return four incumbents to office. What will you demand of them in return? 

Lane Street Project’s Season 2 ends this Saturday. Please come help us mow the front section of Odd Fellows and clear cut limbs and debris a final time. We need you now as much as ever. As always, thanks for all you have done to restore dignity to our ancestors.

Rest in peace, Rederick C. Henderson.

I know East Wilson because my father knew East Wilson. He was born in a house on Elba Street, was raised on Queen and Reid Streets, and was educated at Samuel H. Vick Elementary and Charles H. Darden High School. He played basketball at the Community Center, spent whole Saturdays watching movies at the Ritz Theatre, and knocked on the back door of Hines Barbershop to get spending money from his father. Long before Black Wide-Awake, my father introduced me to so many of the people and places that have made their way into this blog’s 4000 posts. Even as his final illness progressed, he loved to ride through the streets of East Wilson, pointing and narrating, peeling back layers of time to expose the pentimenti of our shared birthplace.

My father transitioned Friday night, surrounded by the four women who loved him most — his wife of 61 years, his two daughters, and his granddaughter. We are heartbroken, but blessed that we could comfort and care for him as he has done for us always. I honor his life and legacy here. Rest in power, Daddy.