Month: April 2021

Happy birthday to a son of East Wilson!

This photograph accompanied the very first Black Wide-Awake post on 5 October 2015. Today is Michael E. Myers‘ birthday. He, as you can see, is my lifelong friend, and has deep roots in East Wilson.

Here, we’re seated on my mother’s lap on the front steps of the East Green Street home of Michael’s great-grandparents, Rev. Fred M. Davis and Dinah Dunston Davis. Rev. Davis was a long-time pastor of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist church. Michael’s maternal great-uncle Fred M. Davis Jr. was active in 1930s and ’40s voter registration efforts in Wilson. His great-aunt Addie Davis Butterfield was a teacher at Samuel H. Vick Elementary School, and her husband was dentist George K. Butterfield Sr. (Which, of course, makes Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr. his cousin.) On his father’s side, Michael’s great-grandmother Grace Battle Black was a close pal of my great-great-aunt, nurse Henrietta Colvert. Grace Black’s sister Roberta Battle Johnson was one of the teachers who resigned from the Colored Graded School after the Mary Euell incident in April 1918. (My grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks was one of the children who withdrew from the school in the aftermath, and also grew up around the corner from the Davises.) Michael’s great-great-grandfather was Parker P. Battle, a noted blacksmith with Wainwright foundry.

Michael’s lovely mother Diana Davis Myers was my beloved second-grade teacher at B.O. Barnes Elementary. (I rode to school with her, and Michael and I watched cartoons together on early weekday mornings.) His father is William E. “Bill” Myers, respected educator, renowned musician, and the visionary behind the Freeman Round House and Museum. They were treasured members of my childhood village, and I hug them every chance I can.

Happy, happy birthday, Michael Earl. Wishing you love and laughter forever.

Lane Street Project: May 1 and 15 and then a break.

Henry Tart’s obelisk early on a spring morning, April 2021.

First, if you’ve been to even one of Lane Street Project’s Odd Fellows Cemetery clean-ups, we thank you. Y’all are the real MVPs.

Now, if you haven’t, and you’ve been thinking about it, please come out tomorrow, May 1, or May 15 for our last clean-ups of Season 1. See the photo above? We need to cut back the green shoots to enable our defoliation crew to get in a good, effective spray. There are also plenty of vines to sever a little deeper into the woods and along the fence line, and pile of debris to discard.

Also, buy you a teeshirt!

Over the summer we’ll be planning and strategizing for Season 2, hoping to build on our successes, take lessons from our mistakes, and figure out ways to energize and engage the community around the important and perpetual work to be done here. (And how pay for all of it!) We’d really love to see more involvement by our local churches and civic and social organizations. Even if you can’t (or don’t want to) tramp around in the woods, there are myriad ways to support LSP’s mission. Please reach out in the Comments here or at, and together we’ll figure out how you can help us make a difference!

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson.

Allen suffers a painful accident.

Wilson Advance, 10 May 1894.


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco grader Sam Allen, 50; wife Ellen, 42, “tobacco tying”; and mother Mariar, 70, washer.

On 2 January 1907, Sam Allen, 51, of Wilson, son of Jack Allen and Mariah Clay, married Fannie Sinclair, 23, of Wilson, at the groom’s residence in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of Alex Walker, Mahala Harris, and Carrie Pettiford.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: factory laborer Sam Allen, 60; wife Fannie, 20; and lodger Charlie Herring, 50, streets work.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sam Allen, 63; wife Fannie, 35; daughter Geneva, 27; and son Charlie, 8.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 Roberson, owned and valued at $1000, warehouse laborer Sam Allen, 73, and wife Fannie, 37, “agent-srubbery” [sic].

Samuel Allen died 22 December 1930 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 60 years old; was married to Fannie Allen; lived at 706 Roberson; worked as a day laborer at a tobacco warehouse for 30 years; and was born in Oxford, N.C.

Lane Street Project: Eddie Barnes.

Eddie Barnes Born Apr. 8, 1889 Died Feb. 20, 1935

The style of this machine-cut granite headstone appears to date it well after 1935. It is located in the Mincey family plot, but may not be sited at Eddie Barnes‘ actual grave. I have not been able to identify him further. 

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, January 2021.

Dr. Basye’s bequest.

Three days after the Wilson Daily Times announced the death of Dr. Arthur A. Basye while visiting Richmond, Virginia, the newspaper published the contents of his will. Basye, an Illinois native, practiced medicine in Wilson for about ten years before his death. Among his bequests, Basye left African-American barber Andrew Pearce [Pierce] five hundred dollars. The will does not explain Pierce’s relationship to Basye or the impetus for this gift. 

Wilson Daily Times, 21 September 1926.


In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel servant Andrew Pierce, 23; wife Allice, 20; daughter Nellie, 1; Harrit Knight, 36; and Victoria Knight, 17.

On 2 February 1904, Andrew Pearce, 22, son of Andrew and Alice Pearce, married Lossie Hasket [Haskins], 21, daughter of Damp and Estelle Hasket, in Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister J.F. Farmer performed the ceremony in the presence of Thomas Barnes, Abbie Foster, and Mrs. J.F. Farmer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 614 Hines Street, barber Andrew Pearce, 26; wife Lossy, 26; and children Allice, 5, and Bossy, 6 months.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pierce Andrew (c) barber h Hines hr Daniel

In 1918, Andrew Pierce registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 4 July 1886; worked as a barber for William Hines, 119 South Tarboro; lived at 515 Warren; and his nearest relative was wife Lossie Pierce.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 515 Warren, barber Andrew Pierce, 35; wife Loss, 35; and children Alice, 15, Mayzie [Boisy], 11, Hellen, 7, Benford, 5, and Ruby, 3.

On 11 April 1930, Ray M. Pierce, 4, of 1212 East Nash Street, Wilson, son of Andrew Pierce and Lessie Haskins, died of acute myocarditis.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Vance, Andrew Pierce, 55, nurse at home (usually barber); wife Lossie, 55, in hospital; daughters Alice, 35, and Hester, 27; sons Boise, 29, cafe [cook?], and Binford, 14; daughter Ruby, 19, “cook school;” and grandchildren Randolph, 9, and Montheal Foster, 7, and Mickey Pierce, 1.

Andrew Pierce died 12 December 1948 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 June 1889 in Wilson to Andrew Pierce and Alice Knight; was the widower of Lossie Pierce; worked as a barber; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Hattie Tate, 307 Pender, was informant.

Clipping courtesy of J.Robert Boykin III.

Tribute to principal W.H.A. Howard.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 December 1932.

Hartford E. Bess, chairman of the High School Alumni Association, penned a rather overwrought tribute to William H.A. Howard, former principal of Darden High School, in 1932. As is hinted in the piece, the year before, Howard had left the school under a cloud of accusations of sexual harassment, mishandling funds and other charges.

Austin Barnes accidentally shot to death.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 January 1916. 


In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Stephen Barnes, 50; wife Adline, 48; and children Martha, 27, Florence, 18, Jennie, 17, Jodie, 16, John R., 14, and Austin, 10.

Austin Barnes died 5 January 1916 in Black Creek township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 May 1896 in Wilson County to Steve Barnes and Harritt Coehn; and was a farmer. Johnie Williams of Black Creek was informant. His cause of death: “Buy Being shot and bled to death Accident.”