Month: September 2020

The streets of East Wilson, part 1.

Many of East Wilson’s streets were laid out on parcels of land owned by African-Americans and still bear the names they chose.

  • Vick Street

Samuel H. Vick built his Queen Anne mansion on Green Street, but developed the neighborhood around it. He named several streets for his daughters, others for family friends and his personal hero, Booker T. Washington.

  • Elba Street

Vick named this three-block street after his eldest daughter Elba Louise Vick, born in 1893.

  • Viola and Reid Streets

Viola Street was named for Viola Leroy Vick, who was born in 1894 and died as a toddler. Reid Street was named for either (or both) veterinarian Elijah L. Vick or J.D. Reid, school principal and banker.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

505 South Pender Street, redux.

A year ago, Black Wide-Awake featured the abandoned endway house at the corner of South Pender and Hines Streets.

September 2020 finds the hundred-year-old house under complete renovation.

The interior has been gutted to the studs, but the house will essentially retain its original floor plan — an entry door opening directly into a front room, then a middle room, then at rear a kitchen and bath. (The bathroom was originally a back porch and would have been enclosed in the 1950s or ’60s.)

The house was once heated by an oil stove that vented through a chimney.

The house sits on new concrete block pillars, but a skirt of some sort will likely be added to enclose the crawlspace.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

The Wide Awakes.

Yesterday, the New York Times published a feature on the revival of sorts of a Civil War-era political movement, the Wide Awakes, who mobilized against slavery and in support of Abraham Lincoln. Both artist-activists and re-enactors have been moved to create political and social change in the spirit of the Wide Awakes, who engaged in raucous, but peaceful, marches in the streets of Northern cities.


They like football, and they have that old school spirit.

In the fall of 1944, Darden High School’s football team, finding no teachers available to fill the role, coached itself.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 October 1944.

(Note the reference to the team’s playing field. Darden had no formal football field, and the team had to spend its own money to rent Fleming Stadium for home games.)


The team:

  • Herman Hines — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1001 Vance Street, wagon factory laborer Wesley Hines, 35; wife Lucy, 30, a private nurse; and sons Herman, 13, and Charles, 10. Oddly, three before the article above was published, Herman Wesley Hines registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 7 October 1944 in Wilson; lived at 1001 East Vance; his contact was his father Wesley Edward Hines; had a burn scar on his left ankle; and worked as a section hand for the railroad. Was this in fact his father’s occupation? Hines and others were members of the Class of 1945. [Note: Herman Hines died 30 July 2014 in Reidsville, North Carolina. His obituary mentions his coaching stint at Darden.]
  • Bennie Hill
  • James Jones — In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 Stantonsburg Street, Wesley Jones, 51, fertilizer plant laborer; wife Martha, 52, tobacco factory laborer; and children Lucille, 22, teacher at Fremont School, Vernon, 20, Willie, 16, John, 14, James, 12, and Elroy, 10. On 26 December 1945, James Thomas Jones registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 23 December 1927 in Wilson; lived at 901 Stantonsburg Street; his contact was Wesley Jones; and he worked at Contentnea Guano Company, Wilson.
  • John Melton — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow T[illegible] Barnes, 72, washing; daughter Cora Melton, 42, widow and private cook; and grandchildren Lucy, 16, Virginia, 15, John, 14, W.T., 8, and Hilda, 7; and daughter Lillie Barnes, 40, “sick.” On 11 September 1944, John Melton registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 11 September 1926 in Wilson; lived at 1206 Washington Street; his contact was mother Cora Melton; and reworked at Imperial Tobacco Company, Wilson.
  • Lindbergh Wilson  — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Elizabeth Wilson, 55; daughter Marie, 29; lodgers Earnest Mack, 35, and Jessie McMillion, 34; and grandsons Lindberg, 12, and Rodney Wilson, 14. On 10 September 1945, Lindbergh Wilson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 September 1927 in Wilson County; he lived at 1013 Stantonsburg Street; his contact was Marie Wilson; and his “employer” was N.C. State [North Carolina College?], Durham.
  • Lester McNeil — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 107 South Carroll Street, railroad station porter Chester McNeal, 49; wife, Mary, 36, tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ula, 20, and son Lester, 12; adopted daughter Elane Barnes, 20; and adopted son William McNeal, 1. On 28 September 1945, Lester McNeil registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 27 September 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 107 South Carroll; his contact was Chester McNeil; and his “employer” was Darden High School.
  • Charles Hines — Hines was the younger brother of Herman Hines, above. On 19 December 1957, Charles Edwin Hines married Anna Johnson Goode in Wilson.
  • Thomas Stokes — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1208 Atlanta Street, barber James Stokes, 35; wife Viola, 25; children Frank, 8, Dorthea, 4, Thomas, 2, and Julia, 18 months; and mother Julia, 64. On 24 July 1945, Thomas Watson Stokes registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 24 July 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 1206 Atlantic Street; his contact was Viola Stokes; he had a small scar on his forehead; and he was a self-employed painter.
  • Robert Speight — On 9 August 1944, Robert Elton Speight registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 August 1926 in Wilson County; he lived at 624 Viola Street; his contact was father Theodore Speight; and he was a student at Darden High School.
  • Ernest Halliday — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 East Suggs Street, Westley Holiday, 40; wife Rosa, 30; and children Earlise, 13, Edward, 11, Deborah, 9, Lula M., 6, Earnest, 4, and Joseph, 1. On 19 June 1944, Ernest Holliday registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 18 June 1926 in Wilson County; he lived at 512 East Spruce Street; his contact was Rosa Holliday; and he was unemployed.
  • Robert Jenkins — On 22 January 1945, Robert Allen Jenkins registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 21 January 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 611 Viola Street; his contact was mother Geneva Mercer; he had a scar on his right leg below his knee; and he was a student at Darden High School.

County schools, no. 17: Bynum School.

The seventeenth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Bynum School

Though commonly believed to be, it is not clear that Bynum School was a Rosenwald school. It is not listed as such in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.It likely originally was a school for white students, turned over to educate black children after white schools consolidated. It closed circa 1949.

Screen Shot 2020-06-21 at 6.04.38 PM

“Rosenwald’s Ripples Continue to Spread,” Wilson Daily Times, 8 September 2001.

Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Bynum School on present-day Tartt’s Mill Road.

Per notification of public sale in 1951: “BYNUMS COLORED SCHOOL in Gardners Township, containing one-half acre, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: ALL that certain tract of land beginning at a stake near a Branch on the lands of Charles Bynum, thence in a northerly direction 70 yards to a stake, cornering, thence in an easterly direction 35 yards, cornering, thence in a Southerly direction 70 yards to a pine, thence West 35 yards to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a deed recorded in Book 14, at page 377, Wilson County Registry.”

Bynum School building is still standing, but was long ago converted to a dwelling. This may be it:

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Bynums School was a one-room school seated on one acre and valued at $400.

Per a 8 September 2001 Daily Times article: the school was “a simple, two-room building that housed first through seventh grades.” “When [Simon Barnes Jr.] was 7 years old, [teacher Beatrice] Jones had paid him 25 cents to build a fire in the cast iron stove in the schoolhouse.” “‘I took a biscuit filled with preserves and ham in my back pocket everyday,’ [Simon Barnes Jr.] said, ‘I sat on it all morning. When I took it out, it was flat.’ After eating his lunch, he slaked his thirst with water from the big pump in the school yard.” “[Fannie] Corbett said by the time she was there, the parents had contributed lumber to partition off a lunch room and bought a little oil stove and some bowls. A nearby housewife baked biscuits fresh each day for the students.”

Known faculty: Principal Doris Freeman James; teachers Mrs. Dunstan, Lena Washington Hilliard, Beatrice Jones, Mamie PenderThelma Saunders Cooper.”In those days you made do with what you had, [Bennie Woodard] said. ‘The teachers did an outstanding job with what they had.’ And that set an example for the students. ‘That’s why none of us can forget Beatrice Jones,’ [Woodard] said. ‘I don’t think any of us would have made it had it not been for her.’

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

East Wilson aerial view, 1940.

North Carolina State Archives’ Flickr account contains a folder holding more than one hundred aerial photographs of Wilson County shot in 1940.

Here, East Wilson more or less entirely. (The dark curve superimposed on the image marks the future path of Ward Boulevard. Though this road was plotted largely through open land, it did require the obliteration of a stretch of houses on East Nash Street.)

Below, a close-up look at the bottom left quadrant of this image. South of Nash Street, the road now known as Pender Street was then called Stantonsburg Street. At (1), the Sallie Barbour School, formerly known as the Colored Graded or Stantonsburg Street School. At (2), a tightly packed block of endway (shotgun) houses, which were form of choice for developers of rental housing for Wilson’s African-American working poor. Clusters of these narrow dwellings can be seen across the map. This block, on Railroad Street between Elvie and Lincoln Streets, is still intact.

The blocks south of Wiggins and Wainwright Street were still relatively sparsely settled, but several churches had set up in the area, including (3) Mount Zion Free Will Baptist Church, (4) Union Grove Primitive Baptist Church, and (5) Branch Memorial Tabernacle United Holy Church.

Around Cemetery Street, the open space attests to the location of Wilson’s earliest Black cemetery (cemeteries?). The following year, the city disinterred Oakdale cemetery and moved its graves to Rest Haven.

The northern half of East Wilson, below. At (1) Reid Street Community Center; (2) Samuel H. Vick Elementary School; (3) Charles H. Darden High School; (4) endway houses on Queen Street; (5) William Hines’ two-story rental houses; (6) C.H. Darden Funeral Home; (7) Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church; (8) Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; (9) Mercy Hospital; (10) Calvary Presbyterian Church; (11) Wilson Normal and Industrial School (also known as the Independent School); and (12) the Samuel and Annie Vick house.

The elbow of Lane Street, below. The Harry Clark family farm, later Rest Haven cemetery, at (1), and a relatively clear view of (2) Vick, (3) Odd Fellows, and (4) Rountree cemeteries.

Wilson_CSP_6B_12, U.S.D.A. Photograph Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church, revisited.

I was on my way to Saratoga when I spotted a road sign for Cornerline Place and thought of this old church. The first post about Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church relied on Google Maps for a relatively recent photo. The up-to-date situation reveals not just the expected decay of an abandoned church, but quite intentional depredation as well.

Here is Corner Line straight on. At left, a collapsed wooden building, one room wide, with a gabled front.

The church’s plywood sign has rotted beyond help. In its last days, Corner Line held worship services only once a month.

The church’s front doors are gone. As is half its floor, which, based on the straight cut across its width, appears to have been scavenged. The back of the church shows ordinary damage, collapsed ceilings from a rotting roof. The church’s original tongue-and-groove beadboard is visible under the wall’s faux paneling and sheetrock ceiling. Look closely at bottom left. That stump may have been one of the original posts supporting the church’s floor.

Corner Line Primitive Baptist, 2020.

Anatomy of a photograph: Calvary Presbyterian Church.

Here in its glory is the church O.N. Freeman, Benjamin Harris Sr., and others built for Calvary Presbyterian Church in 1924.

Below, at the far edge of the frame, are the four white columns of Mercy Hospital (then Wilson Colored Hospital). The houses between the church, demolished in the 1990s, were 508 and 510 East Green Street. 

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson showing the old Calvary, Mercy Hospital, and the two houses between. The house at 510, closest to the church, was later replaced by a two-story dwelling. It served as Calvary’s parsonage.

The automobile below is a Ford coupe. I estimate its model year as circa 1940. Can anyone give a better identification?

This streetlight dangled above the intersection on crossed wires.

The highway signs below designate U.S. 301, U.S. 264-A, and N.C. 58. Highways 301 and 264 date to 1932, but the “A” indicates that the photograph was taken no earlier than 1950, when 264 was re-routed

The resolution of the photograph is too poor to render the church’s message board  or cornerstone readable. (Was the cornerstone saved during demolition?)

The small white obelisk at the corner was a street sign of a type seen in Wilson well into the 1970s. PENDER ST was stamped into one side, and GREEN ST into the other, and the letters painted black.

Photo courtesy of Wilson City Archives. Hat tip to L. Monson.

The death of Lula Hinnant.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 February 1920.

Despite being described as a “good old colored woman,” Lula Jones Hinnant Hinnant was barely 40 when she died.


Murray Hinnant, 21, of Springhill township, son of Randle and Angeline Hinnant, married Lula Locus, 18, of Old Fields township, daughter of John and Milly Locus, on 4 December 1897 at Gray Deanes‘ residence in Old Fields. D.H. Hinnant of Springhill, James Deanes of Old Fields, and James Dolphus Williams of Springhill were witnesses.

Roscoe Hinnant [misspelled “Hinyard” on the upper portion of the license application], 24, of Old Fields township, son of Gray and Milbry Hinnant, married Lula Hinnant, 21, of Old Fields, daughter of Jno. and Millie Locus, on 23 March 1904 in Wilson County.

Roscoe Everett Hinnant registered for the World War I draft in 1918 in Wilson County. Per his draft registration, he was born 4 January 1879; lived at Route 1, Sims, Wilson County; farmed for William Dew; and his nearest relative was Lula Hinnant.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on Turkey Creek Road, farmer R.E. Hinnant, 40, wife Lula, 37, and daughter Minnie, 12.

Loula Hinnant died 28 January 1920 in Bailey, Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 37 years old; was born in Nash County to John and Mary Lucus; was married to Everett Hinnant; and farmed.