Month: December 2020

New Year Greetings!

Janitors at National Bank of Wilson, 113 East Nash Street, placed ads sending New Years greetings and thanking their customers for Christmas gifts.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 December 1933.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 January 1935.

[Sidenote: This building, which now houses county offices, was the tallest building in Wilson until the construction of Branch Banking & Trust’s twin towers at Nash and Pine Streets. The towers were demolished 19 December 2020, and the old National Bank building thus reclaims its title.]

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  • David Graham — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 712 East Green Street, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory laborer David Graham, 40; wife Goldie, 46; daughters Cora, 17, and Marie, 15; and grandson Cleo, 3.
  • Jesse McPhail 
  • Hardy Anderson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $12/month, Hardy Anderson, 45, National Bank janitor; wife Sarah H., 34; and roomer Robert Good, 32, fertilizer laborer.
  • Calvin Carr — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 419 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $15/month, bank janitor Calvin Carr, 27; wife Lena, 23, private family cook; and sister-in-law Ina Blount, 25.
  • James T. Speight — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 209 Finch Street, owned and valued at $1000, Lula Speight, 34, drink stand proprietor, widow, and son James T., 19, bank porter; also, paying $8/month rent, William Hodge, 25, oil mill laborer; wife Sarah, 23; and children Eva R., 6, and William Jr., 1.
  • Ashley Tillery — in the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer Street, owned and valued at $1500, farmer John Tillery, 51; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, cook, Ashley L., 18, truck farm helper, Raymond, 16, truck farm helper, Adelia, 14, housemaid, Johny L., 11, Elnora, 7, and Clyde, 5.
  • Walter Jackson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 515 Church Street, owned and valued at $2000, James McCowan, 76, brickmason, and wife Louise, 63; Jenealia Murphy, 33, private cook, and son Elbert, 18, bank elevator boy, paying $12/month rent; and Rosa Jackson, 36, laundress, and children Annie, 19, cook, Walter, 16, bank elevator boy, and Lucil, 3, also paying $12.

Attention, colored people!

Wilson Daily Times, 19 September 1944.

Though earlier in the century many of the largest developers of East Wilson real estate were Black, such as Samuel H. Vick and brothers Walter and William Hines, by World War II realtors and landlords increasingly operated from the other side of the tracks. Here, Cecil B. Lamm appealed to African-American buyers to invest their wartime earnings in narrow lots on Atlantic and Washington Streets.

Studio shots, no. 166: Wilbert Sharpe Sr.

Wilbert Sharpe Sr. (1952-2015), probably late 1940s.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Larry Sharpe, 62; wife Bessie, 42; and children Edward, 17, Marie, 16, Lucinda, 13, Larry Jr., 12, Wilbert, 8, Aurther Lee, 8, Juanita, 3, and James E. Sharpe, 1, and Debbie Barnes, 19.

Photo courtesy of LeRoy Barnes.

 

Minstrels with a well-earned reputation.

Year-end entertainment in Wilson in 1897 featured a nationally popular minstrel show, Gorton’s — “strictly refined” and “entirely fit from start to finish for a lady audience.” Most importantly, Gorton’s was a white minstrel outfit, not one of the Black companies offering weak knock-offs off Gorton’s reputation. (That boast is so rich it needs to be read slowly. And repeatedly. Yes, Gorton’s did Black music better than Black people did.)

Wilson Advance, 30 December 1897.

Gorton’s Original New Orleans Minstrels, Minstrel Poster Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Posters Division, Washington, D.C.

The obituary of John R. Reid, house carpenter.

John R. Reid was a descendant of Rhoda Reid, a free woman of color, and her enslaved husband David Reid, who lived in Nahunta township, Wayne County, north of present-day Eureka. As described here, many of the Reids migrated into Wilson around the turn of the twentieth century. Though veterinarian Elijah L. Reid and school principal and banker J.D. Reid were most prominent, the Wilson branch of Reids included several notable carpenters. John Right Reid, born in 1887 to Isaiah and Edith Evans Reid, was one.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 December 1960.

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In the 1900 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County: farmer Isiah Reed, 47; wife Eidie, 34; and children John W[right]., 17, Ida L., 15, Oscar, 8, Bessie J., 5, Waid J., 4, and Parthenie, 2. 

Johnie Reid married Laura Anderson on 17 December 1906 in Wayne County, N.C.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, wagon shop laborer Johnie Reid, 25; wife Laura, 21; and children Louisa, 3, Odell, 2, and George W., 2 months.

In 1918, John Right Read registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 October 1884; lived at 105 4th Street, Wilson; worked as a carpenter for Emmett L. Winn, Pine Street, Wilson; and his nearest relative was Laura Reid. He signed his name “John Rite Reid.”

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in Fourth Street, house carpenter John Reid, 34; wife Laura, 31; and children Odell, 11, John Jr., 8, Augustus, 7, Elton, 6, Eula, 4, Alfonso, 2, and Sammie, 9 months.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 109 Fourth Street, owned and valued at $750, house carpenter John R. Reid, 44; wife Laura, 41; and children Oden, 20, bookstore delivery boy; Johnnie, 19, ready-to-wear delivery boy, Augusta, 17, Elton, 15, Mary, 14, Alfonza, 12, Sam, 11, Christine, 8, Margaret, 5, and William, 3.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 109 Fourth Street, carpenter John R. Reid, 55; wife Laura, 42; and children Gus, 25, tobacco factory laborer, Alfonza, 19, grocery store delivery boy, Christine, 17, Sam, 17, Fobbs’ Grocery delivery boy, Margret, 13, William, 11, and Edgar, 9. 

In 1940, Addison Odel Reid registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 3 October 1910 in Wayne County; lived at 1104 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was father John R. Reid, 109 4th Street; and he worked for Bissette’s Drug Store. He signed his name “Adderson Odel Reid.”

Odell Reid died 1 April 1944 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 35 years old; lived at 205 South Reid Street; was a widower; was born in Wayne County to John R. Reid of Wayne County and Laura Anderson of Wilson County; and worked as a defense laborer. John R. Reid was informant.

Elm City schools consolidated.

Frederick Douglass High School in Elm City was the first high school for African-American students outside the city of Wilson. In 1949, the one- and two-room schools administered by the Elm City Schools were consolidated with Douglass (formerly called Elm City Colored School. When additional classroom space was completed, children who had attended Mitchell, Pender, and Turner Schools were bussed into Elm City to attend Douglass. (Like Darden, though called “high school,” Douglass had both elementary and secondary divisions.)


Wilson Daily Times, 29 December 1949.

 

Snaps, no. 77: James W. Cooper.

Curating Black Wide-Awake brings innumerable rewards, among them making surprise connections between people I’ve known all my life and people who pop up in records. Even better, sometimes those connections hit home.

I made a startling discovery a couple of weeks ago when I was updating my family tree with information I found in cousin Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook. The material included several funeral programs, including one for Alberta Artis Cooper. This wasn’t new to me; I featured it here. But, looking for obituaries for Alberta Cooper’s children, I found that of her son, John Hardy Cooper. I studied the names of his children … Frances Cooper BynumChristine Cooper Barnes … Wait — what?

I’ve been friends with the children of these sisters since middle school — and we’re cousins!

… but not in the way I first thought.

Though she reared him as her own, John H. Cooper was actually Alberta Artis Cooper’s step-son, the son of James W. Cooper and his first wife, Susannah (or Susie Anna). But Susannah Cooper was also an Artis — the daughter of Richard Artis and Susannah Yelverton Artis. Richard Artis (1849-1923) was the youngest brother of Adam T. Artis, who was Alberta Artis Cooper’s father (and my great-great-great-grandfather.) Thus, James W. Cooper’s wives were first cousins, a not-uncommon phenomenon in small communities in that time.

So, having already featured Alberta Artis Cooper, here is James William Cooper:

James W. Cooper (1886-1967), who, as president of Tobacco Workers Union Local 270, worked to improve working conditions for leaf house workers.

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In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer George Cooper, 46; wife Stellar, 40; and children Arrettor, 22, George B., 16, Juley, 14, James, 12, Mary, 10, Maggie, 7, Bessie, 4, and Royal, 3 months.

James Cooper, 21, of Wayne County, son of George and Stella Cooper, married Susie A. Artis, 19, of Wayne County, daughter of Richard and Susanna Artis, on 6 December 1905 at Richard Artis’ residence in Nahunta township, Wayne County.

James Cooper married Alberta Artis on 18 July 1918 in Kings County, New York.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Brick House and Moore School Road, James Cooper, 33, farmer; wife Alberta, 20; and son Albert Horton, 1.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James Cooper, 39, farmer; wife Alberta, 26; and children Elija, 21, Albert, 10, Mollie A., 8, Willard M., 5, Lauzin, 3, Annie M., 7 months; sister Oretter Bailey, 45; and niece Irene Artis, 18.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Cooper, 54, farmer; wife Alberta, 40; and children Marilyn, 18, Willard, 15, Laurzene, 13, Annie, 11, George, 9, Alberta, 5, Chester, 3, and Lillie, 1.

James William Cooper died 12 February 1967 at his home at 110 Fourth Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 July 1887 in Wayne County to George Cooper and Estelle Smith; worked as a foreman for Jas.I. Miller Co.; and was a World War I veteran. Wife Alberta A. Cooper was informant.

Photo courtesy of George Cooper and Frances C. Bynum, via Vernette B. Roberson. Thank you!