Month: January 2019

Snaps, no. 49: Clara Dupree Atkins.

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In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Moses Dupree, 45; wife Henrietta S., 41; daughters Clara, 19, and Smithy, 17; and grandson William, 8 months.

On 7 October 1921, Fred Atkinson, of Cross Roads township, son of Mary Adams, married Clara Dupree, 20, of Cross Roads township, daughter of Moses and Henrietta Dupree. Missionary Baptist minister R. Crockett performed the ceremony in the presence of Mark McCoy and Charlie Davis of Wilson and Willie Harris of Lucama.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fred Adkins, 49; wife Clara, 39; and children Gladys, 18, Sally, 16, Rubby, 14, Earlean, 12, Thomas, 10, Willie, 9, Allie, 7, Thelma, 5, and Paul, 2.

Clara Atkins died 9 October 1957 at Lincoln Hospital, Durham, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 January 1903 in Greene County to Moses Dupree and Henrietta Speight and was married to Fred Atkins. Informant was Ethel Atkins, Durham.

Photo courtesy of user shoys2000.

The United Service Mission: to improve health and aid the poor.

In the summer of 1946, Rev. James M. Stallings led a public meeting of the newly formed United Service Mission at Reid Street Community Center.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 June 1946.

Per the Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of North Carolina 1946-1948, United Service Mission Assistance incorporated in Wilson on 11 October 1947 as a non-stock corporation.  As the article below noted, the organization’s purpose was to “operate a board of health for the protection and improvement of the health of its members and the community” and “to aid the poor and the suffering and assist in the finding of employment for its members.”

Wilson Daily Times, 20 December 1947.

  • Fred M. Davis
  • James M. Stallings — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: W.P.A. project laborer James Stallings, 23; wife Kattie, 22; and step-son William, 1. Also in 1940, James Mayo Stallings registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 27 May 1917 in Duplin County, North Carolina; was married to Katie May Stallings; resided at 709 Suggs Street; and was unemployed. James M. Stallings died 18 March 1999 in Scotland Neck, North Carolina.

Where we worked, 1922 — Mc.

City directories offer fine-grained looks at a city’s residents at short intervals. The 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., directory reveals the types of work available to African-Americans during the booming tobacco era. This post is the eleventh in an alphabetical series listing all “colored” directory entries for whom an occupation was listed. The address is the resident’s home, unless a business address is noted.

  • McBrayer Glenn S., attorney, 525 East Nash R3, 906 East Nash
  • McCadden, Preston, proprietor — The Eatmore, and chauffeur — 201 West Nash
  • McCall, James, driver — V.C. Langley & Co., 306 South
  • McClain, James, laborer, 806 East Nash
  • McClain, Julia, domestic, 806 East Nash
  • McClain, Neal, mill hand, 810 South Lodge
  • McCloud, James, laborer, 302 North East
  • McCormick, Blanche, cook, 304 East South
  • McCowan, William, bricklayer, 513 Church
  • McCoy, Bessie, laundress, 404 South Bruton
  • McCoy, Clyde, tobacco worker, 903 Mercer
  • McCoy, Frank, tobacco worker, 409 East Walnut
  • McCoy, George, tobacco worker, 613 Darden Alley
  • McCoy, Russell, driver, 119 West Walnut
  • McCrain, Frank, mill hand, 408 Maury
  • McCray, Emma, domestic, 808 Robinson [Roberson]
  • McCray, Mack, tobacco worker, 808 Robinson
  • McCray, Mary, domestic, 505 Hines
  • McCray, Susie, domestic, 505 Hines
  • McCrimon, Allen, laborer, 1011 Stantonsburg Road
  • McCrimon, Cicero, farmer 1011 Stantonsburg Road
  • McCrimon, Edwin, porter, 1011 Stantonsburg Road
  • McCullers, Clarence, driver, 118 Pender
  • McCullers, Rosa, cook, 118 Pender
  • McCullers, Edward, upholsterer, 622 Darden Alley
  • McCullom, Rosa, laundress, 622 Darden Alley
  • McDonald, John, laborer, 309 East Jones
  • McDougall, Joseph, tobacco worker, 203 Stantonsburg Road
  • McDuffee, Bettie, cook, 901 East Nash
  • McDuffee, Percy, laborer, 901 East Nash
  • McKeithan, Isaac, porter, 910 Robinson [Roberson]
  • McKinley, John, laborer, 517 South Spring
  • McKnight, Henry, tobacco worker, 110 Manchester
  • McLean, Bessie, domestic, 107 North East
  • McLean, Edith, laundress, 503 East Green
  • McLean, Frank, tobacco worker, 204 Manchester
  • McLean, George, laborer, 410 East Hines
  • McLean, Henry, laborer, 303 North East
  • McLean, Lloyd, tobacco worker, 708 Robinson
  • McManon, Joseph, painter, 412 West Walnut
  • McMillan, Aleck, laborer, 500 Warren
  • McMillan, Annie, domestic, 500 Warren
  • McMillan, Dennis, laborer, 511 Stantonsburg Road
  • McMillan, Hosea, presser, 210 East Hines
  • McMillan, Mack, presser, 210 East Hines
  • McMillan, Sister, millworker, 705 South Lodge
  • McNair, Hubert, laborer, 1022 Robinson [Roberson]
  • McNair, Nora, domestic, 1022 Robinson
  • McNeal, Hassie, tobacco worker, 516 Smith
  • McNeal, Lina, domestic, 516 Smith
  • McNeal, Mary, laundress, 306 Elba
  • McNeal, William, tobacco worker, 306 Elba
  • McNeil, Maggie, maid – Wilson Sanatorium, Viola
  • McNeill, Angus, barber – James H, Barnes, home 610 Viola
  • McNeill, Mary, tobacco stemmer, 306 East South
  • McPhail, Bessie, teacher, 208 South Vick
  • McPhail, David, auto mechanic, 208 South Vick
  • McPhail, Mary, domestic, 208 South Vick
  • McPhail, Rayford J., janitor, 208 South Vick
  • McPherson, Ethel, domestic, 627 Wiggins
  • McPherson, Eula, tobacco worker, 503 Stantonsburg Road
  • McRay, Minnie, hairdresser, 807 East Nash

The Colored High School on display.


This photograph of Wilson Colored High School, later known as Darden High, was displayed in Philadelphia’s Sesqui-Centennial International Exposition of 1926. It was one of several dozen featured in an exhibit staged by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Division of Negro Education. The caption: Cost of Building $65,000.00 — Total Value Colored School Property $96,250.00 — Total Population of the City 14,000 — Total Colored Population of City 6,650.

From Sesquicentennial International Exposition Photographs, Division of Negro Education, Department of Public Instruction, North Carolina State Archives.

The new decorated Ritz.

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The Carolina Times, 19 September 1942.

The ad above, touting the “new decorated” Ritz Theatre, ran in The Carolina Times, an African-American newspaper based in Raleigh, North Carolina. The white-owned Ritz, which catered to a “colored” audience, was located at 523 East Nash Street.

This photograph of the Ritz, which hangs in a hallway of the Freeman Round House and Museum, is undated, but contains some clues however. The magnificent movie posters at either side of the entrance promote Lena Horne, Bill Robinson and Cab Calloway in the acclaimed musical Stormy Weather, which was released in 1943.  The sign above the ticket booth reads “GRAND RE-OPENING, Monday May 13th,” but 13 May 1943 was not a Monday. Nor was that date a Monday in 1942, when the reopening ad above ran. The closest years that fit are 1940 and 1946. Thus, either the sign was left hanging for several years, or Stormy Weather was a re-run showing several years after original release. If this photograph were taken by Raines & Cox studio, which seems probable, the 1946 date is more likely.

Stormy Weather film poster in vivid color. I have not been able to find color images of the two magnificent posters in the Ritz’ glass cases.


Update: Mystery solved. Many thanks to Steve Brown for locating this ad from the 11 May 1946 edition of the Wilson Daily Times, touting the Grand Re-Opening of The State’s Finest Most Modern Colored Theatre!

An invitation to the fair and tournament ball.

From the Freeman Round House and Museum, an invitation and ticket to the Wilson County Industrial Association’s Fair and Tournament Ball at Wilson’s Mamona Opera House in 1887. Marcus W. Blount was an honorary manager for the ball, which accompanied the Association’s first agricultural fair.

Mrs. Johnson seeks a pension.

In March 1933, Lula Johnson applied to the North Carolina Confederate Pension Board for a widow’s pension.

Johnson’s application noted that she was 60+ years of age; resided at 608 East Nash Street, Wilson; and her late husband was John Streeter, also known as John Johnson. She did not know when or where Streeter/Johnson enlisted, but claimed he was a member of “Company H, 14 W.S. Colord Heavy Artillery.” The couple had married in 1922, and Streeter/Johnson died in June 1932, three years after he had begun to draw a pension. Arthur N. Darden and Darcey C. Yancey were witnesses to her application, which Yancey stamped as notary public.


Lula Johnson’s application was denied. She was “not eligible” (underscored) for a pension. (To boot, she was “Negro,” underscored four times.) Though the Pension Board did not set forth a reason for denying Johnson’s claim, there is a glaringly obvious one. The 14th Regiment, Colored Heavy Artillery, were United States Army troops, not Confederate. The regiment — comprised of runaway enslaved men and free men of color — was organized in New Bern and Morehead City, North Carolina, in March 1864; primarily served garrison duty in New Bern and other points along the coast; and mustered out in December 1865.


Here is a record of the military service of John Streeter, alias Johnson. He was born in Greene County about 1846 and had enlisted in the Army in New Bern in 1865. Three months later, he was promoted to corporal. John Johnson had served his country honorably, which did not entitle his widow to Confederate benefits.


I did not find any evidence that the Johnsons actually lived in Wilson County. The address Lula Johnson listed as her own was that of C.H. Darden & Sons Funeral Home, the family business at which Arthur Darden worked. Was she (or her husband) related to the Dardens? Census records show John Johnson and his wife Mary in Leflore County, Mississippi, in 1900 and 1910, but Mary Moore Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, in 1913.

John Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, North Carolina, on 8 June 1932. Per his death certificate, he was about 90 years old; was married to Lula Johnson; had been a preacher; and was born in Greene County to Ned and Manervie Johnson. He was buried in Farmville, and Darden & Sons handled the funeral. (Charles H. Darden was also a Greene County native. )

Act of 1901 Pension Applications, Office of the State Auditor, North Carolina State Archives [online]; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865  [database on-line],

507 Church Street.

This heavily modified shotgun house on Church Street is not located in the East Wilson Historic District. Nor was its single block included in the Wilson Central Business-Tobacco Warehouse District, though it lies just behind East Nash and Pettigrew Streets. Once densely packed with working-class housing, Church Street is now empty. Only three houses stand on the block, none occupied, and 507 is the last house remaining on the north side of the street.

The 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories list Lucy Sherrod at 507 Church. Also in 1930: Hall Lonnie (c; Mamie L) laborer 507 Church

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Church, renting for $16/month, Lonnie Hall, 34, odd jobs laborer, wife Mamie, 34, hotel maid, and daughter Elsie, 2; nieces and nephews Estha, 16, Christine, 13, and lodgers Lucile Sherif [sic], 30, widow, hotel maid, Lucile Sherif, 14, and Jack Sherif, 17, odd jobs laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Church, renting for $12/month, laborer Will Rogers, 28, and wife Sally, 30, odd jobs. Both seemed to be Arkansas natives — he, from Pine Bluff, and she, from Fayetteville.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Rogers William (c; Sallie) yd mn 507 Church

As the Central Business Historic District survey map shows, as recently as 1984, Church Street was filled with houses. 507 is encircled.

Google Maps shot this image of 507 Church in 2012. It appears that, at that time, the house was occupied.