Month: March 2018

Essie Mae Earp Taybron, 101.

Mother Taybron on her 100th birthday.

Mrs. Essie M. Taybron, 101, of 612 Grove Street, Wilson, NC passed away on June 4, 2017.

Funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, June 10, 2017 at 2:00 pm at Branch Memorial Holiness Church, 517 Hadley Street, SE, Wilson, NC. Pastor Herman Lucas will deliver the eulogy. Burial will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery, Lane Street, Ext., Wilson, NC.

A public visitation will be held on Friday, June 9, 2017 from 3:00 pm until 6:00 pm at Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC.

The family will receive friends at the home where they will assemble on Saturday at 1:00 pm in preparation for the funeral precession.

Arrangements are by Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King, Jr. Parkway, Wilson, NC.

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Obituary and photos courtesy here.

For sale in the colored section.

In the late 1940s, the Wilson Daily Times regularly ran classified ads for housing restricted to African-American tenants and buyers. The realty companies that placed the advertisements below were white-owned.

The lot Cecil B. Lamm & Co. was hawking lay in the Vicksburg Manor subdivision, land once owned by Samuel H. Vick.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 February 1946.

Realtor George A. Barfoot sought to unload houses to both homeowners and investors.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 August 1947.

J.E Miles offered building lots across East Wilson. (Where was Stronach Avenue?)

Wilson Daily Times, 9 December 1948.

George A. Barfoot, who was the major player in East Wilson real estate sales in this period, advertised what appears to be the short sale of 706 East Viola. Realtor Hugh S. Sheppard showcased a more modest offering, a two-room house near Export Leaf Tobacco Company, which was at 601 South Goldsboro Street.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 August 1949.

Marvin Jones: “We were just making the day.”

As noted in NCPedia.org, “[h]istorian David Cecelski wrote a popular oral history series called “Listening to History” for the Raleigh News & Observer from 1998 to 2008. With the support of the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cecelski traveled across the state listening to, recording and preserving stories that spoke to the state’s history throughout the 20th century. ‘Listening to History’ appeared monthly in the newspaper’s ‘Sunday Journal,’ a special section of the Sunday edition of the newspaper that focused on the state’s cultural life.”

In 2004, as part of his series, Dr. Cecelski interviewed Marvin Jones, who began working for the Export Leaf Tobacco Company in Wilson in 1946. An excerpt from that interview, in which Jones “recalled the strong, and sometimes irreverent, camaraderie that enlivened tobacco factory life and laid a foundation for” the historic tobacco workers’ labor movement, is found here.

Marvin Jones died ten years after his “Listening to History” interview. Per his obituary:

“Mr. Marvin Jones, age 90, of 1020 SE Hines Street, Wilson, NC died Sunday, June 1, 2014 at his residence. Funeral arrangements are scheduled for Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm at Tabernacle of Prayer, 1601 Lane Street, SE, Wilson, North Carolina.

“Mr. Jones was preceded in death by: his wife, Johnnie Mae Brevard Jones; his parents, Rufus Haney and Gladys Jones Barnes; two sons, Bobby Julian Batts, Sr. and Tony Lewis; six sisters, Jessie Haney Locus, Thelma Roundtree, Annie Mae Barnes, Bessie Lee Davis, Rosa Barnes and Louise B. Johnson; four brothers, Rufus Haney, Jr., Joe Bonnie Haney, Issac Barnes and Jasper Barnes.

“He leaves cherished memories to one son, Walter Jones Jr. of the home; three daughters, Evelyn Wade (Donald) of the home, Gale Artis (James) of Wilson and Gwendolyn Fisher of Wilson; twelve grandchildren; thirty-one great grandchildren and nineteen great-great-grandchildren; one sister, Louise Reynolds of Philadelphia, PA; one sister-in-law, Ruth Barnes of Wilson; two special care givers, his great granddaughter, Tamara Richardson and Hattie Batts; and  a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends.

“A public viewing will be held on Friday, June 6, 2014 from 3:00 pm until 8:00 pm with the family receiving friends from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Stevens Funeral Home, 1820 Martin Luther King Jr., Parkway, Wilson, North Carolina.”

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In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in Happy Hill, road construction laborer Jesse Barnes, 41; wife Gladys A., 38; and children Marvin J., 16, Mary, 18, Rosa, 15, Isaac, 11, Bessie, 10, and Jasper Lee, 7.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 912 East Vance Street, South Carolina-born tobacco factory cooper Rufus Haney, 38, and children Rufus Jr., 13, and Jiosa Lee, 10, and mother Minder, 74.

In 1942, Marvin Jones registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 18 November 1923 in Wilson; resided at 612 Wiggins Street; his contact was Mrs. Julia Barnes, Wainright [sic], Wilson; and he worked for N.L. Baker, Route 1, Wilson.

The (heroic) teachers of Principal Reid’s school.

This astounding photograph depicts the teachers on staff at the Colored Graded School around 1918, when school superintendent Charles L. Coon slapped Mary C. Euell after principal J.D. Reid complained that she was insubordinate. Euell, who pressed charges against Coon and led a boycott of the public school, is seated second from left.

Information about the teachers is elusive. Only one, S. Roberta Battle, was a native of Wilson. Georgia native Georgia Burke spent about a decade in Wilson, and Virginia native Mary Jennings at least four years. The remaining women are not found in local census records or directories.

  • G.M. Burks — Georgia Mae Burke. Georgia Burke boarded with Roberta Battle’s family during her time in Wilson. In 1921, she and Mary Euell were nearly involved in a second slapping incident in Wilson. In 1928, she moved to New York City to commence an acting career.
  • L.B. Wayland
  • M.L. Garrett
  • S.R. Battle — Sallie Roberta Battle Johnson.
  • S.D. Wiseman
  • M.A. Davis
  • M.C. Euell
  • M.M. Jennings — Mary M. Jennings. Virginia-born Mary Jennings, 28, private school teacher boarded with the family of Hardy Tate at 208 Pender at the time of the 1920 census. In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C. city directory, she was described as the principal of Wilson Normal School, which was probably the independent school founded by black parents and businessmen in the wake of the boycott. In the 1922 city directory, she is listed as a teacher at the Wilson Normal School and resided at 307 [formerly 208] Pender.
  • J.B. Pride

Photograph courtesy of Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr., D-NC, a Wilson native. Thank you!

Who was the “new colored doctor”?

Wilson Daily Times, 13 October 1939.

Arkansas native Dr. William H. Atkinson Jr. seems to have practiced in Wilson for less than a year. (Dentist George K. Butterfield has been spoken of here.)

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In the 1920 census of Dallas, Fordyce County, Arkansas: teacher William H. Atkinson, 36; wife Pearl, 28, teacher; son William H., 6; and sister Jeppie Mathews, 25, farm laborer.

In the 1930 census of Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio: post office letter carrier William Atkinson, 44; wife Pearl, 39; son William, 16; and lodger Theodore Jones, 24, a steel mill laborer.

On 22 December 1938,  in Norfolk, Virginia, William Henry Atkinson Jr., 25; physician; of 1007 Harmony Street, Youngstown, Ohio; born in Van Buren, Arkansas, to William H. Atkinson Sr. and Pearl Ella Crosby; married Florence Lee Branch, 23, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; born in Pittsburgh to John Lawrence Branch and Minnie Elise Robinson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1105 Atlantic Avenue, butler Ola Dupree, 44; wife Georgia, 32; and roomers Florence Atkinson, 24, and her husband William Atkinson, 26, a medical doctor.

In 1940, William Henry Atkinson Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card: he was born 26 April 1913 in Van Buren, Arkansas; resided at 206 North Vick Street, Wilson; was a self-employed medical doctor with an office at 559 1/2 East Nash Street [the Darden commercial building]; and his contact was Florence Lee Atkinson, 1007 Harmony Street, Youngstown, Ohio.

However, also in the 1940 census of Youngstown, Mahoning County, Ohio: mail carrier William Atkinson Sr., 57, wife Pearl, 42, and son William Jr., 26, a medical doctor.

Further, William and Florence Atkinson’s daughter Florence was born in Los Angeles, California, on 30 December 1940.

William Henry Atkinson Jr. died 15 August 1896 in Inglewood, California.

“Chocolate Dandies” comes to town — one night only!

Wilson Daily Times, 12 November 1925.

“This li’l old typewriter hasn’t been reading programs for more than forty years, so it is unable to single out from the more or less confused card of the races that dancin’ colored boy who makes ‘The Chocolate Dandies’ stand out in an uncommonly good road season of uncommonly good road shows. In that jungle of names and numbers, his name is lost. This is regretted, seriously, for the reason that, without regard to color or condition, this keyboard is glad to pound out the fact that he is the most brilliant dancer of his type ever seen on the stage – certainly on the Richmond stage, and, be it remembered, the road sees the good dancers and good actors long before they are “discovered” by reviewers who cover Broadway shows. That statement must be qualified, of course, so as to except imported stars and manufacturer stars – such for example, as Mr. Belasco has fabricated. And, moreover – but this has nothing to do with the case.

“‘The Chocolate Dandies’ is an all-colored show after the general style of ‘Shuffle Along’ and ‘Runnin’ Wild,’ but, in so far as the road production is a guide, it is much more pretentious – to use the press agents’ favorite word – than its predecessors. It is slighter in its comedy than either of the others mentioned: but its costuming and setting are more elaborate and handsome than those of both the others put together. A long, gangling colored man named Lew Payton wrote the book and plays the comedy lead. He is so free from exaggeration in his work on the stage and has been so true to life in his comedy writing for the stage that it is quite easy for us down here to understand why this particular play and performance did not turn ‘em away in New York. At any rate, to those who fully realize how good this man is he is the acting star of his own show. That dancin’ colored boy walks away with the performance because his work is spectacular and brilliant and, in its own field just about unapproachable.

“It’s a fact, perfectly clean, amusing show, in which every member of the cast and chorus plays and dances as if for the love of it. The little orchestra carried by the company plays admirably. And the pianist-director, a woman, plays beautifully. One-man opinion is that ‘The Chocolate Dandies’ is clinking good entertainment – provided the entertainment is not submerged by the pitiful tragedy of some of the performers, who are white – but colored.

“Why, several of them have well schooled voices, one of the women would make ‘White Cargo’ more realistic than ever it has been – but this is not moralization: it is supposed to be a report of a performance. Therefore, it is repeated that ‘The Chocolate Dandies’ is clinking good entertainment – but what a piteous aching thing is this problem of ours!   — Douglas Gordon.”

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The Wilson Theatre‘s manager reprinted a Richmond critic’s bizarrely incomprehensible review to promote — to an all-white audience — a one-night performance of The Chocolate Dandies, a lavish musical meant to capitalize on the success of Shuffle Along, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake‘s break-out Broadway production. Based on a book by Sissle and Lew Payton and with music by Blake, the stage show played 96 shows the 1200-seat New Colonial Theatre at 1887 Broadway at 62nd Street from 1 September through 22 November 1924. Josephine Baker — a few years away from her Paris debut — had a minor role, but it is not clear whether she took to the road with the traveling show. Douglas Gordon’s piece — which seems to be positive — aside, the critical reception was mixed.

Image courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

How the Tobs got a bat boy.

It’s Opening Day of the 2018 Major League Baseball season. Wilson has hosted minor league teams since 1908; most called Tobs (for Tobacconists). In 1939, the year Fleming Stadium opened, Wilson was a member of the Class D Coastal Plain League.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 August 1939.

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In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 715 Stantonsburg Street, hospital orderly Calvin Swinson, 31; wife Alice, 25; and children Jesse, 6, Calvin Jr., 3, and Earlean, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hospital orderly Calvin Swinson, 41; wife Alice, 35; and children Jessie, 15, Calvin, 12, Earlean, 11, Horace, 9, Soisetta, 6, and Charles, 2.

[Note that, like many newspapers of the era, the Daily Times exaggerated the speech of African-Americans no matter that Southern whites also spoke a heavily accented dialect.]

 

401 1/2 North Pender Street.

The sixty-third 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.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1908; 1 story; two-room house with chamfered-post, hip-roofed porch; fine example of the type in the district.”

The 1908 Sanborn map of Wilson shows 401 1/2 as 300 Pender. By 1922, per the Sanborn map, the house had been renumbered 401. 401 Pender Street is a now 1930-era shotgun shoehorned between Vance Street and 401 1/2 Pender.

Vance Street marked a hard boundary on Pender Street. The 300 block of Pender and points south-west were home to African-American families. The 400 block and points north-east were white. This excerpt from the householder’s directory section of the 1930 edition of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory reveals the line of demarcation plainly:

The parameters of this sharply segregated neighborhood persisted into the 1960s.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.

Butler Jones, prompt and dependable.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 November 1925.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cook Susan Jones, 42; her children William E., 23, tobacco stemmer, Levi H., 22, barber, Charles T., 20, tobacco stemmer, Butler E., 19, tobacco stemmer, Mary J., 15, Nancy A., 11, Luther, 8, and Harvey L., 2, plus niece Arnetta Sexton, 8.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Levi Jones, 32, barber, with sister Nancy, 24, brothers Butler, 28, house carpenter, and Harvey, 12, and mother, Susan Jones, 50.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Butler carp h 536 Church

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Butler painter h Robinson nr Manchester

On 20 September 1914, Butler Jones, 34, son of Henry and Sue Jones, married Mirtie Brodie, 28, daughter of Henry and Louise [Kersey] Johnson, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister H.E. Edwards performed the ceremony, and Ed Cox, Chas. T. Jones and Minnie McDaniel witnessed. [Myrtle Johnson‘s first marriage was to James A. Brodie on 25 November 1903 in Wilson. Her sister Gertrude Johnson married Butler Jones’ brother Charles T. Jones.]

In 1918, Butler Jones registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 5 December 1879; resided at 808 East Nash; worked as a carpenter for Boyle Robertson Construction Company, Camp Hill, Newport News, Virginia; and was married to Mertie Jones.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Butler painter h 808 E Nash

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 808 East Nash, Butler Jones, 39, painter; wife Myrtle, 36; and children Gertrude, 12, Louise, 6, Joseph, 5, Ruth M., 3, and Willard, 3 months.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Butler pnter h 1011 E Nash

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Butler (Myrtie) pnter h 1011 E Nash

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Butler (c; Myrtie) pnter h 1011 E Nash

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1011 East Nash, owned and valued at $2500, Buller Jones, 49, building painter; wife Myrtle, 46; and children Gertrude, 23, cook, Louise, 16, Joseph, 15, Myrtle, 11, William, 9, and John, 8.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1011 East Nash, Butler Jones, 59, painter; wife Myrtie, 51; sons Joseph, 25, Willard, 20, and John, 19, all painters; and William Tabron, 26, janitor at Carolina Theatre, wife Myrtie Tabron, 21, and daughter Patsy, 3 months.

In the early 1940s, Butler and Myrtle Jones’ sons registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. All listed their address as 1011 East Nash Street; the contact as mother, Myrtle Jones, of the same address; and their employer as father, Butler Jones: in 1940, Joseph Jones, born 27 April 1914, and Willard Jones, born 3 April 1919, and in 1942, John Henry Jones, born 15 December 1921. In 1943, Butler’s brother Harvey Jones, born 23 December 1898, also registered. He resided at 1011 East Nash, but was unemployed.

Butler Jones died 24 December 1961 at his home at 405 North Reid Street. Per his death certificate, he was 83 years old; his parents were Henry Jones and Sue (maiden name unknown); he was a self-employed painter; he was a widower; and he was buried in the Masonic cemetery. John H. Jones of 405 North Reid was informant.