Month: July 2016

Thirty-sixth annual commencement: “Do not lose faith.”

Robert Russa Moton assumed the helm as president of Tuskegee Institute after Booker T. Washington‘s death. The first commencement over which Moton presided took place on 26 May 1917. Among the candidates for diplomas and certificates presented by Emmett Scott were Daniel Elijah Freeman (1896-1972) of Wilson, son of Julius and Eliza Daniels Freeman, and Benjamin Amos Harris (1894-1955) of Stantonsburg, son of Edward and Bettie Daniels Harris. Daniel and Benjamin were first cousins once removed (Bettie Daniels’ mother Millicent Daniels Daniels was Eliza Daniels Freeman’s sister) and were encouraged to attend Tuskegee by Daniel’s older brothers, O. Nestus Freeman, Julius F. Freeman Jr. and Ernest Freeman.

NYA 6 7 1917 Tuskegee

New York Age, 7 June 1917.

Scanselize her name.

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Wilson Advance, 5 March 1880.

“Disorderly conduct” was often a catch-all charge directed at many types of behavior deemed unruly, but not dangerous.

There was more:

7 23 1880

Wilson Advance, 23 July 1880.


On 3 May 1875, in Wilson, Alexander Harris, 40, married Fanny Moody, 25.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street,  Virginia-born Fannie Moody,  35, “keeping house” with sons William, 11, and John, 8.

In the 1900 census of Washington, District of Columbia: at 2531-15th Street, waiter William Moody, 27; wife Sarah S., 24, a dressmaker; their children Augustus, 5, and Crist, 4; sister-in-law Minerva Vaughn, 10; mother-in-law Mittie Vaughn, 46, cook; and mother Fannie Harris, 55, cook. All were born in North Carolina. (William and Sarah’s Wilson County marriage license indicates that Fannie was already living in Washington when they married in 1892.)

In the 1920 census of Washington, District of Columbia: at 1032 Whittingham Place, paper hanger William Moody, 48; wife Sarah, 44; son Augustus, 26, hotel waiter; widowed daughter Christiana, 24; her children Lorine, 5, Robert W., 3, and Earl, 18 months; William’s mother Fanny Harris, 75; and lodger Hattie Carter, 12.

An ideal location for colored people.

Though he never lived in Wilson as an adult, Daniel C. Suggs maintained significant real estate interests there for decades. In the early 1920s, Atlantic Coast Realty handled the division and sale of a chunk of Suggs’ land a mile or so south of Nash Street, east Wilson’s black business block. (This property had originally belonged to his father, Washington Suggs.)

Sugg property

Wilson Daily Times, 27 January 1922.

In 1920 and 1923, Suggs filed four plats for various (and overlapping) subdivisions of the southern most section of his acreage. The land was located down Stantonsburg Road (now Pender) just across from the Colored Graded School. The lots marked off were narrow (25 to 27 feet wide) and deep, and many of the houses eventually built there were shotguns, known locally as endway houses.

The plat below, dated 26 May 1920, and filed in Book 1, page 194, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds office, shows a section of New Street and an unnamed street (now Elvie) capped to the west by Railroad Street. Land owned by S.W. Smith lies to the north, and another Suggs-owned parcel to the east.


Plat Book 1, page 194.

This map shows the area today. The lot lines drawn by Atlantic Coast Realty did not hold. Blount Street eliminated the 105′ deep lots extending back from New Street and its unnamed parallel (now Elvie Street), and lot widths along all streets (especially Railroad) are wider than the 25′ proposed.


The second plat is dated a day later and essentially a continuation to the east of the plat above. What is labeled Stantonsburg Road is now Pender Street. It’s not clear when the name “Elvie” was inked in for “School” Street. However, in the early 1950s, Wilson built an elementary school for African-Americans in the area shown in the northern half of the plat. (It was called Elvie Street School.) If ever there were one, there is now no perpendicular street mid-block, and Suggs Street runs several blocks north. (Lincoln Avenue, by the way, is now a Street, instead.)


Plat Book 1, page 195.

On 13 January 1923, Atlantic Coast Realty commissioned a broader and more detailed survey. Though on this plat New Street that fades to nothing, today it is the street below that survives only in truncated form. (And it is not called Hines, but Blount, apparently after the adjacent landowner. Daniel Blount, 80, a carpenter, is listed in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, with wife Susan, 45, Susana, 16, Josephine and Joseph, 14, Mary, 12, and George, 3.) The colored cemetery had been abandoned even at that time, and no trace of it now remains. As noted above, Suggs Street now runs north of and perpendicular to the street labeled here. Elvie Street is mislabeled “Elmer.” The area then occupied by the Contentnea Guano Company in the space between the neighborhood and the railroad is now home, via mergers and acquisitions, to Crop Production Services.

Plans_Page_06 1

Plat book 1, page ___.

The plat below, dated 1923, and drafted for Lawrence Realty Company, depicts territory east of Stantonsburg Road/Pender Street.


Plat book 1, page 275.

The former D.C. Suggs property today:


Tax sale.

Most of the delinquent taxpayers named in this notice were African-American. Late payment notwithstanding, the list gives an idea of the widespread property ownership among that group in the early 1900s, and clearly indicates Samuel H. Vick’s wealth. His back taxes totaled more than ten times the next highest sum.


Wilson Times, 1 May 1910.

Solomon Kittrell, William Mitchell, Lee A. Moore, Edmund McLean, Levi H. Peacock, B. Frank Barnes, George W. Barnes, Ned Barnes, Walter M. Foster, Charles H. Knight, Goodsey Holden, Nathan Hines, Walter S. Hines, Morris Hagans, Guilford Ellis, Daniel Gunn, Thomas Johnson, Samuel Gay, Argent Farmer, Edward Humphrey, Duncan Hargrave, William T. Hargrave, Levi H. Jones, John M. Barnes, William Barnes, William Austin, Short W. Barnes, William Bullock, Alexander Dawson, James G. Coppedge, John H. Clark, Peter Bynum, Archer Bynum, Pennie Bynum, James Bynum, Wright Bynum, Amos Bynum, Burt L. Bowser, Crockett Best, Wilson Best, Moses Bennett, Cora Beckwith, H.G. Barnes, Richard Renfrow, George Robertson, Charity Robbins, J. Wesley Rodgers, Olivia Simmons, James Simmons, Turner Stokes, Wyatt Studeway, Washington Sugg, Elijah L. Reid, Thomas G. Pitt, Amos Pender, A.J.C. Moore, Dorsey Williams, Samuel H. Vick, H. Michael Taylor, Walter Kersey, William Coley, Wiley Barefoot.

A different kind of Republican convention.

WA 5 17 1888

Wilson Advance, 17 May 1888.

6 27 1894 WM

Wilson Mirror, 27 June 1894.

  • A.D. Dawson — Alexander D. Dawson.
  • Daniel Vick
  • Gray Farmer 
  • James Bynum — Perhaps, farm worker James Bynum, 43, with wife Mary, 41, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County.
  • W.H. VickWilliam Henry Vick.
  • B.R. WinsteadBraswell R. Winstead.
  • S.A. SmithSimeon A. Smith.
  • Gray Newsome — In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Gray Newsome died 3 September 1930 in Pine Level township, Johnston County. His death certificate notes that he was born about 1853 in Wilson County to Willie and Nancy Jenkins Newsome of Wilson County.
  • Honorable Geo. H. White — United States Congressman. See here and here.

Theatrical jottings.

Samuel H. Vick‘s Globe Theatre was the first black-owned moving picture theatre in Wilson. As early as 1914, the Globe occupied the second floor of the Odd Fellows Hall at 549-551 Nash Street and, in its earliest days, under the management of J.J. Privett, also hosted vaudeville acts.

Here, from the New York Age‘s weekly “Theatrical Jottings” column in 1914 are announcements of the Globe’s offerings:

1 22

22 January.

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29 January.

2 12

12 February.

3 19

19 March.

3 26

26 March.

9 17

17 September.

9 24

24 September.

A teenaged Ethel Waters joined the Hill Sisters act when it passed through Philadelphia and, on the road with them, gained the sobriquet “Sweet Mama Stringbean.” See Cullen et al.’s Vaudeville Old and New: An Encyclopedia of Variety Performances in America, volume 1.

First-generation freedom, pt. 3.

The third in a series of annotated abstracts of Wilson County death certificates of African-Americans born before 1870, the cusp of slavery and freedom. The records are a trove of information about otherwise obscure family relationships among enslaved and free people of color and shed light on intra- and interstate migration patterns in the decades after Emancipation.

Atkinson, Archie. Born 1849, Wilson County. Died 1 December 1931, Spring Hill township. Chronic endocarditis. Father, Rite Atkinson, Wilson County. Farmer. Widower of Martha Atkinson. Buried Atkinson cemetery. Informant, James Williamson. [In the 1880 census of Wilson, Arch Atkinson, 24, wife Martha, 16, and niece Flora F., 13.]

Atkinson, Chas. Born 1865, Gardners township. Died 23 October 1915, Gardners township. Tuberculosis of lungs. Father, Harry Atkinson, Wilson County. Mother, Sophia Bridgers, Wilson County. Married. Farmer. Buried at home. Informant, H.R. Forbes, Macclesfield. [Charles Atkinson, 23, son of Harry and Sophia Atkinson, married Rosella Suggs, 21, of Edgecombe County, daughter of Calvin and Nancy Suggs, on 27 August 1891 in Gardners township.]

Atkinson, Frances. Born about 1856, North Carolina. Died 23 September 1916, Spring Hill township. Paralysis due to cerebral hemorrhage. Father, Thomas Shaw. Mother, Katie Shaw. Married. Buried Barnes graveyard. Informant, S.T. Atkinson, Kenly. [In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Shaw, 26, wife Katy, 37, and children Frances, 16, Eliza, 14, Fox, 12, David, 11, Martha, 4, and Mary Shaw, 2. On 8 August 1872, Nathan Atkinson married Frances Shaw in Wilson County.]

Atkinson, Jane. Born 1849, Wilson County. Died 3 February 1929, Black Creek township. Cerebral hemorrhage. Father, Benjamin Newsome, Wilson County. Mother, Pennie Newsome, Wilson County. Farmer. Widow of John Atkinson. Buried, Farrell cemetery. Informant, James Gray Atkinson, Black Creek. [On 3 April 1869, James Atkinson, son of James and Rillie Atkinson, married Jane Newsome, daughter of Ben and Etney Newsome, in District 3, Wilson County.]

Atkinson, John. Born 1863, Harnett County. Died 15 May 1931, Elm City. Emphysema following influenza and pneumonia. Father, Hays Atkinson. Mother, Annie Atkinson, Harnett County. Married. Watchman, ACL Railroad crossing. Buried Elm City. Informant, Priscilla Atkinson, Elm City.

Atkinson, Martha May. Born 1866, Spring Hill township. Died 1 November 1931, Spring Hill township. Acute indigestion. Father, Thomas Shaw. Mother, Katie Shaw. Husband, Archibald Atkinson. Buried at homeplace. Informant, James Atkinson, Lucama. [See Frances Atkinson, above. On 29 February 1880, Arch Atkinson, 22, married Martha Shaw, 19, at Caty Shaw’s. Witnesses were Amos Hinnant, Willis Taylor and Frank Adams.]

Atkinson, Parry. Born 1845, Pitt County. Died 26 July 1928, Wilson Colored Hospital, Wilson. Gangrene of foot. Father, Edmond Gorham, Pitt County. Mother, Harriett Gorham, Pitt County. Widower of Smithie Atkinson. Common laborer. Buried Marshboro cemetery, Pitt County. Informant, John Atkinson. [Resident of Farmville, Pitt County.]

Atkinson, Susan. Born 15 March 1854, North Carolina. Died 3 June 1919, Spring Hill township. “Acute dilitation of heart.” Father, Isaac Barnes, North Carolina. Mother, Abbie Barnes, North Carolina. Widow. Informant, Tom Atkinson, Kenly.

Austin, Ephriam. Born 1853, Warren County. Died 18 October 1918, Wilson. Apoplexy. Father, James Austin. Railroad worker, ACL. Resided 702 Railroad Street, Wilson. Wife Alice Austin. Buried Norlina, North Carolina. Informant, James Austin, Wilson.

Avery, Henry. Born 1857, Wake County. Died 30 October 1926, Wilson. “Hypertrophied prostate with retention of urine, several months duration.” Mother, Mima Smith, Wake County. Farmer. Wife, Lula Avery. Buried, Jones Hill cemetery. Informant, Lula Avery.

Aycock, Louisa. Born 1860, Edgecombe County. Died 18 March 1935, Wilson. Father, Ned Proctor, Edgecombe County. Mother, Celia Williford, Edgecombe County. Widow of David Aycock. Resided 411 Jones Street, Wilson. Informant, Lena Rodgers, Rocky Mount.

Ayers, Council. Born December 1830. Died 1 December 1915, Spring Hill township. Father, Sampson Ayers. Farmer. Widower. Buried Boyette, North Carolina. Informant, William Ayers, Lucama. [In the 1850 census of District 3, Johnston County: Council, 11, and Henry Ayers, 9, in the household of merchant James Paulk. On 30 April 1866, Council Ayers married Mary Carroll in Johnston County. In the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: Council Ares, 52, wife Mary, 33, and William Smith, 3.]

Ayers, Zilpha. Born April 1863, Wilson County. Died 18 February 1917, Spring Hill township. Mother, Laney Dew, Wilson County. Married. Buried Hinnant graveyard. Informant, William Ayers, Lucama. [In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Simon Dew, 55, wife Lithy, 48, children Laney, 27, Peter, 23, Lucy, 23, Deannah, 21, Isaih, 20, Hilliard, 18, Hester, 16, Aarch, 14, Liscy, 12, Patience, 10, Sarah, 8, and Simon, 6, and grandchildren Zilpha, 13, Roxie A., 3, and William, 1.]

Cemeteries, no. 6: Sane Williams cemetery.

On Saint Rose Church Road in western Wilson County, very nearly across from the Saint Rose United Holy Church, is the Sane Williams cemetery. It contains about 60 identifiable graves, including these:



  • Spicey Williamson


In the 1870 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: 45 year-old farm laborer Patrick Williamson, wife Spicy, 40, and children Katy, 15, Gracy, 13, Turner, 10, Mahalah, 7, Elijah, 4, and Henry, 1.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: 54 year-old farmer Patrick Williamson, wife Spicey, 46, and children George T., 20, Mahalah J., 17, Eligh, 14, Henry S., 11, Eli T., 8, and Edney E., 6.

  • Martha Williamson


  • Geneva Williamson


Martha and Geneva Williamson were two of the three wives of Henry Singletary Williamson, son of Patrick and Spicey Williamson.

On 12 July 1891, Henry S. Williamson, 22, of Old Fields, son of Patrick and Spicey Williamson, married Martha Jones, 22, of Old Fields, daughter of William and Jane Jones. Witnesses were Thomas A. Jones, J.F. Marsh[illegible], and J.H. Jones.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields, Wilson County: farmer Henry Williamson, 31, wife Martha, 32, and son William, 11.

On 8 April 1908 (less than three months after Martha’s death), Henry S. Williamson, 39, married Jeneva Thompson, 33, in Old Fields in the presence of John A. Jones, John Lucas and H.I. High.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on Jones Hill Road, Henry S. Williamson, 53, wife Jeneva, 40, laborer Mary Lizzie Jones, 13, niece Zilphia Deadman, 41, great-niece Addie Deadman, 15, and laborer Dave Powell, 48.

On 11 February 1925, Henry S. Williamson, 57, married Irene Mary Greene, 24, in the presence of Dock High, Alvin Howard, and Sallie High.

In the 1930 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Henery S. Williamson, 62, and wife Marry I., 24.

Henry Singletary Williamson, a farmer, died 28 March 1939 in Old Fields township of organic heart disease. He was born 7 November 1868 in Wilson County to Parriot and Spicie Williamson of Wilson County. Informant was Sylvester T. Jones.

  • Mary Alston 


  • Henry Alston


Henry and Mary Alston are somewhat elusive in the record, and I have not found them  together in any census records. Nor have I found their marriage license. However, Mary Alston died 1 September 1933 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson of an intestinal obstruction due to massive umbilical hernia. She was 58 years old and the widow of Henry Alston. She was born in Wilson County to Daniel Taylor and Lucinda Renfrow.

Studio shots, no. 6: Suggs siblings.

Wash Suggs children

A portrait of children of Washington and Esther Best Suggs, taken prior to 1915, when daughter Edmonia died. At top, Daniel C. Suggs (1866-1936) and Dr. James T. Suggs (1876-1934). At bottom, Serena Suggs Moore (1865-1930) at left and Mollie Suggs Watson Lucas (1869-1948), second from right. Julia Suggs Bryant (1878-1929) and Edmonia Suggs Perrington (1870-1915) are also in the bottom row, but it is not yet clear which sister is which.

Photograph courtesy of user rij1294.

Willie Hocutt ran away.

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Wilson Daily Times, 14 July 1911.

Willie Hocutt, 13, appeared in the 1910 census of Oneals township, Johnston County, in the household of his parents, William and Angia Hocutt.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Millie A. Adams, 40, daughter Lillie S., 16, and son Willie T., 13.

On 28 December 1918, Willie Hocutt, 22, of Johnston County, married Donie Cotton, 19, of Nash County in Old Fields township, Wilson County.