George D. Green & Wife to Mike Taylor. Deed.
State of North Carolina, County of Wilson }
This Deed Made this the 11th day of February, 1896, by George D. Green, and wife, Ella M. Green, parties of the first part, and Mike Taylor, party of the second part, all of the town of Wilson, County and State aforesaid, Witnesseth: —
That the said parties of the first part for an in consideration of the Sun of Five Hundred And Fifty Dollars to them in hand (the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged) have bargained and Sold, and do by these presents bargain, Sell and convey unto the Said party of the Second part, his heirs and assigns, that lot or parcel of land lying and being Situate in the town of Wilson, on the corner of Pine and Lee Streets, County and State aforesaid fronting on Pine Street about 143 feet and Lee Street about 83 feet, it being the lot purchased from Warren Woodard and wife by George D. Green, To Have And To Hold Said lot of land unto the Said party of the Second part, his heirs and assigns, forever. And the said George W. Green for himself and his heirs doth covenant to and with the Said Mike Taylor that he will forever warrant and defend the title to said land against the lawful claimer claims of all other persons whatsoever.
In Testimony whereof the Said parties of the first part have hereunto Set their hands and Seals, the day and year first above written.
Witness: Geo. D. Green, Ella M. Green
The lot George Green sold Mike Taylor was situated on the corner of Pine and Lee, out toward Maplewood cemetery on what was then Wilson’s western edge. In the 1900 census of the town of Wilson, Wilson County, neither streets nor house numbers are listed, but it’s reasonable to assume that the Taylors — Mike, a drayman; his wife Rachel, who did washing; and their children Rodgrick [Roderick], Maggie, Mattie, Maddie, Bertha E., and Hennie G. — were living on the lot, and the 1908-1909 Wilson city directory lists Taylor, a driver, at 114 West Lee.
The 1910 census of Wilson paints a clearer picture of the little enclave in which the Taylors lived. Though he did not note house numbers, the censustaker inked “Lee St” along the edge of Sheet 27A of his survey of Enumeration District 116. The page records 50 residents, of whom 30, living in five consecutive households, were black. With the Taylors were the families of Jim and Annie Parrott, John and Cora Norfleet, John and Pattie Lassiter, Sam and Maggie Ennicks [Ennis], and Frank and Lizzie Bullock. The men worked a variety of jobs: a blacksmith, two odd jobs laborers, a gardener, a drayman. The women were cooks or laundresses.
The censustaker’s path is not clear. The Taylors were on the corner at 114 West Lee. According to the 1908-09 directory, the Bullocks were in the next block at 202 West Lee. The Ennises — Maggie was Mike and Rachel’s daughter — lived in the small house built on the back of the Taylor lot at 409 North Pine. In the 1912-13 city directory, Pattie Lassiter is listed at 200 West Lee, but John Norfleet was at 306 E. Barnes, on the other side of downtown. The Parrotts are found in neither directory. In any case, it is clear that these families formed a tiny cluster, and this cluster was unique in its surroundings. On the enumeration sheets before and after that listing the Taylors and their neighbors, the residents are overwhelmingly white.
Prior to Samuel H. Vick’s 1906 division of Rountree Place into the neighborhood now seen as the heart of East Wilson (more on that later), African-Americans lived dispersed across the southern half of town. For most of the 20th century, however, Wilson maintained a well-defined residential segregation pattern, with black neighborhoods confined to the south and east side of the Atlantic Coast Line (later Seaboard Coast Line, now CSX) railroad. The Daniel Hill community, a mile or so west of downtown, was the well-known exception. For first quarter of the century, however, African-Americans claimed another tiny toehold, now forgotten, just west of the tracks at Pine and Lee.
The 1913 Sanborn map, the earliest detailing the neighborhood, reveals a relatively large one-story frame house with an L-shaped porch wrapping around its west front corner. By time the 1922 Sanborn map was drawn, the city’s street numbering system had changed, and the address was now 108 West Lee. The Taylors had also added a small porch to the back of the house.
Rachel and Mike Taylor remained at 108 West Lee until their deaths in 1925 and 1927. The address is now a vacant lot.
Deed Book 50, page 14, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson NC.