Month: October 2021

The obituary of Robert D. Haskins, voting rights warrior.

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the passing of Robert D. Haskins, the named plaintiff in a landmark 1982 civil rights lawsuit filed against Wilson County over its at-large system for electing county commissioner.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 October 1986.

Attorneys G.K. Butterfield Jr. (now a U.S. Congressman) and Milton “Toby” Fitch Jr. (now a North Carolina State Senator) with Robert D. Haskins. In the early 1980s, on behalf of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, photographer Jim Peppler documented Black Wilson County citizens’ efforts to secure representation on the county’s Board of County Commissioners. The series of photographs are housed at Alabama Department of Archives and History

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Robert Haskins, 37, insurance agent; wife Gertrude, 28; and children Mandy, 14; Elizabeth, 12; Estelle, 10; Robert, 7; Lossie, 5; Laurence, 4, and Thomas, 11.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Robert Haskins, 44, insurance agent; wife Gertrude, 39; and children Mandy, 22, private family cook; Elizabeth, 20; Estell, 18; Robert, 17; Lossie, 14; Larence, 12, and Tommie, 11.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Robert Haskins, 55, drug company salesman; wife Gertrude, 48; and children Mandy, 36; Elizabeth, 33, cook; Estelle, 29, beauty shop cleaner; Robert D. Jr., 29, hotel kitchen worker; Lossie, 24, N.Y.A. stenographer; and Thomas, 20, barbershop shoeblack; plus granddaughter Delores Haskins, 15, and lodger Henry Whitehead, 21.

In 1940, Robert Douglas Haskins registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 1 June 1913 in Wilson; lived at 1300 Atlantic Street, Wilson; his contact was father Robert Haskins; and he worked for Robert Haskins as a salesman.

Hat tip to LaMonique Hamilton for the link to these photos.

The death of Albert Gay Sr.

Wilson Daily Times, 4 October 1932.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Sam Gay, 54; wife Alice, 50; and children Charlie C., 23, Edgar B., 25, Lucy, 17, Samuel, 14, Albert and Beatrice, 10, and Lily, 4.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Gay, 28, wife Ella, 28, and Charlie, 18 months. Next door: Samuel Gay, 65, wife Alice, 55, and children Albert, 20, and Lilly, 15.

On 20 February 1913, Albert S. Gay, 23, of Wilson, son of Samuel and Alice Gay, married Annie B. Jacobs, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Jesse and Sarah Jacobs, in Pasquotank County, North Carolina. Rev. N.D. King performed the ceremony at his residence at 38 Bunnell Avenue, Elizabeth City. Witnesses included Albert’s sister, Mrs. Mamie R. King.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Alice Gay, 45; daughter Beatrice, 26; grandson Jerome Wood, 11; granddaughter Gereddine, 10; son Albert, 30; daughter-in-law Anabell, 24; grandsons Albert Jr., 4, and Jesse, 2; son-in-law Fredrick Bolling, 35; daughter Lillie, 23; and grandchildren Delma, 4, and Fredrick, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 623 Green, widow Annie B. Gay, 30, a laundress; husband Albert, 40, a bellboy; mother-in-law Alic, 73; and children Albert Jr., 14, Jessie, 11, Hal, 8, Samual, 6, Mirrian, 4, and Ralph, 2. The house was valued at $8000.

Other suns: Washington, D.C.

New York City may have been the Number One destination for North Carolinians during the Great Migration, but Washington, D.C., surely was second, especially after the Great Depression.

  • Moody, William, wife Sarah Ward Moody and children, bef. 1900
  • Artis, Solomon Andrew, bef. 1907
  • Artis, Columbus E., mid-1910s (returned to Wilson bef. 1922)
  • Barnes, Clinton Robert, bef. 1917
  • Bowser, Russell L., bef. 1917
  • Barnes, Harvey Grey, bef. 1918
  • Brown, Richard B., bef. 1918
  • Farrior, Dalley, bef. 1918
  • Burns [Bunn], William, bef. 1920 (first, to Maine)
  • Gaston, Augustus, bef. 1930
  • Reid, James D., bef. 1930
  • Reid, J.D., 1930
  • Ruffin, James Garfield, wife Parthenia, and children, bef. 1930
  • Winstead, Arnold Clearfield, betw. 1930 and 1934
  • Cotton, Sidney W., bef. 1931
  • Bagley, Lonnie, bef. 1933
  • Whitehead, Thelma Reid, bef. 1935
  • Bryant, Counsel, bef. 1935
  • Bynum, Theodore, bef. 1935
  • Bynum, Raymond, bef. 1935
  • Cameron, John R., bef. 1935
  • Cooper, Haywood R., bef. 1935
  • Barnes, Frederick A., bef. 1935
  • Henderson, Dempsey L., 1930s
  • McNair, Lena, 1930s
  • Powell Battle Dade, Inez, 1930s?
  • Bynum, Benjamin, betw. 1935 and 1940
  • Harrison Palmer, Ojetta, bef. 1937
  • Hill Westray, Kay, 1939
  • Barnes, John, bef. 1940
  • Brown, James E., bef. 1940
  • Bynum, Joe, bef. 1940
  • Bynum, William, bef. 1940
  • Bynum, William, bef. 1940
  • Bynum, Willie James, bef. 1940
  • Bullock, James A., bef. 1940
  • Bullock, Joseph, bef. 1940
  • Carter, Roby, ca. 1940
  • Coppedge, James E., bef. 1940
  • Campbell, Theodore, bef. 1940
  • Creech, David, bef. 1940
  • High, John W., bef. 1940
  • Powell, Eddie C., bef. 1940
  • Bullard, James, bef. 1941
  • Cox, Henry L., bef. 1941
  • Barnes, John T., bef. 1942
  • Black, Troy, bef. 1942
  • Bullard, Frank, bef. 1942
  • Byrd, Samuel, bef. 1942
  • Cogdell, Pervis, bef. 1942
  • Cotton, Isaac E., bef. 1942
  • Cotton, Zid, bef. 1942
  • Carter, Lenard, bef. 1942
  • Carter, James W., bef. 1942
  • Farmer, Lonnie, bef. 1942
  • Haskins, Allen J., bef. 1935
  • Haskins, James, bef. 1942
  • Haskins, Nathan Porter, bef. 1942 (returned to Wilson)
  • Hines, Joseph Peter, bef. 1942
  • Hockaday, Willie, bef. 1942
  • Hollings, Fred, bef. 1942
  • Jones, William Pete, bef. 1942
  • Jones, Willie, bef. 1942
  • Powell, Dempsey Ward, bef. 1942
  • Redding, Fleetwood, bef. 1942
  • Robinson, Walter, bef. 1942
  • Rosser, James Hays, bef. 1942
  • Simms, Dempsey, bef. 1942
  • Simms, Henry, bef. 1942
  • Simms, James, bef. 1942
  • Tabyran, Calvin, bef. 1942
  • Taylor, Joshua Paul, bef. 1942
  • Watson, Herbert, bef. 1942
  • Westray, William Herbert, bef. 1942
  • Whitley, John G., bef. 1942
  • Williams, James J., bef. 1942
  • Williams, Thomas, bef. 1942
  • Woodard, Calvin, bef. 1942
  • Powell Beane, Vanilla, bef. 1942
  • Jones, Johnnie W., and Marie Lofton Jones and children Ruby, Cecilia, Johnie, Charles, Joan and Jacqueline, 1944
  • Burns, James A., bef. 1945
  • Reid, Herbert O., 1947
  • Boyd, Joyce Henderson, late 1940s
  • Swinney Dupree, Gracie, late 1940s
  • Wilder, Seth, 1950s 
  • Henderson, Jesse A., 1950s (in Philadelphia, Penn., before and Baltimore, Md., after)

Jesse A. Henderson in D.C., circa early 1950s.

718 East Green Street.

The one hundred thirty-sixth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

718 East Green Street, formerly numbered 649, is now an empty lot. Any buildings on the lot were demolished prior to the survey of the East Wilson Historic District. In the early 20th century, however, it was the site of a small Black-owned grocery, one of the earliest in East Wilson. City directories reveal the store’s existence, under an ever-changing series of proprietors, as early as 1908 and as late as the 1940s.

John H. Miller and John H. Lewis are the earliest identified grocers at the location in 1908.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1908.

Four years later, the city directory shows Jacob C. Speight as the owner. He lived two houses down Green Street.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1912.

Detail of page, Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1913.

By 1916, Selly Rogers was the operator of this grocery, as well as another on Stantonsburg Road (now Pender Street South).

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1916.

By 1922, several houses had been built around the store, and its number had changed from 649 to 718.

Detail of page, Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1922.

Grant J. Foster is listed as the owner in 1925, but within a few years he was operating a grocery on Viola Street.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1925.

The ownership of the grocery during the 1930s is not yet known. By 1941, Green Street Grocery and Market had a white owner, however, John M. Coley.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1941.

Sometime during or after World War II, the building at 718 ceased use as a grocery and became a residence, perhaps as a result of intense post-war housing shortages. By 1947, it was the home of photographer John H. Baker and his wife Rosalee.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1947.

721 East Green Street.

The one hundred thirty-fifth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1913; 1 1/2 stories; H.B. Taylor house; intact Queen Anne cottage with double-pile, hip-roofed form and front-facing wing; Taylor was a minister with the Calvary Presbyterian Church.”

Per Robert C. Bainbridge and Kate Ohno in Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Survey (1980), source of the photo above: “Built c. 1913 for Halley B. Taylor, the pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church, this house is an example of the influence of the Colonial Revival style on traditional forms. The L-plan form, commonly used in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries is updated here by the additional [sic] of a dormer with a Palladian window, and a pedimented entry to the wrap-around porch. A cut out foliate motif and delicate turned columns further enhance the porch.”

721 Green Street was originally numbered 650. The house has been demolished.

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In 1918, Hally Blanton Taylor registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 11 July 1879; lived at 650 East Green Street; was a minister; and his contact was Marie L. Taylor.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Taylor Halley B Rev, pastor Calvary Presbyterian Church h 650 E Green

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 700 [sic] East Green, Henry [sic] Taylor, 40, preacher; wife Louise, 28; and children Bettie, 8, Louise, 6, Robert, 5, and Halley, 4.

I wrote of the 1923 sale of Rev. Halley B. Taylor’s house to the trustees of First Baptist here.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Calvert [sic] Henrietta (c) trained nurse h 721 E Green

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Colvert Henrietta (c) nurse h 721 E Green

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 721 East Green, rented for $40/month, Henrietta Colvert, 32, trained nurse for insurance company.

Maintaining respectability was important. Wilson Daily Times, 23 September 1935.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 721 East Green, rented at $12/month, Bettie Watts, 59, widow, and her foster daughters Amelia, 38, household servant, and Isabelle Gibson, 13.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Johnson Floyd (c; Flossie; 4) tob wkr h 721 E Green

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ellis Jas C (c; Minnie) porter RyExpAgcy h 721 E Green