These stories appeared in early and late editions of the Wilson Daily Times on 8 January 1924 and paint an unsurprising picture of the erasure of Wilson’s African-American Grabneck community.
One paragraph unabashedly spells it out, emphasis added: “The history of this Grab Neck property is interesting. Four years ago there were in this locality a number of small houses, that stood in the way of the progress of the city, and Mr. Roscoe Briggs put up the money in order to remove this obstacle.” Obstacle cleared; a “fashionable residence section” emerges.
The lots sold like gangbusters. Atlantic Coast Realty Company handled the auction, which pulled in $21.935. “The property, which was formerly owned by Mr. R.G. Briggs, and others, was divided into 26 lots, all of which faced on Nash Street. This property was purchased by Mrs. Cora M. Dupree, Mrs. Sarah E. Griffin and Messrs. Troy T. Barnes, J.C. Eagles and H.P. Yelverton.”
[Sidenote: Wilson Best held out for almost two more years. Pressure from “the people of Wilson” to remove obstacles to the gentrification of West Nash Street must have reached fearsome intensity by time he sold to Harry Abbitt in October 1925.]