This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, the blocks of Mercer Street southwest of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad lines have been an African-American residential area since the early twentieth century.
As a result of infill building, this house appears to have been numbered 111, then 909, then 909 1/2, then 911 Mercer. Now heavily modified from its original appearance, 911 Mercer Street was held by the family of John H. and Cornelia Barnes Tillery for nearly 90 years.
On 27 December 1915, John Tillery paid Samuel H. and Annie M. Vick $300 for Lot No. 22 Mercer Street, as shown on the plat map of Winona suburb.
Deed book 102, page 567, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 111 Mercer, owned free and clear, John Tillery, 47, office janitor; wife Cornelia, 35; and children Ernest, 13, Ashley, 8, Jessie, 12, Raymond, 6, Adelia, 4, and Lanford, 1.
In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c) lab h Mercer nr N S R R
In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c) lab h 909 Mercer
Detail of Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., page 33, 1922.
In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c) emp city h 909 Mercer. Also, Tillery Ernest (c) farmer h 909 Mercer
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c; Cornelia) farmer h 909 Mercer. Also, Tillery Ernest (c) farmer h 909 Mercer, and Tillery Raymond (c) lab 909 Mercer
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer, owned and valued at $1500, John Tillery, 51, farmer; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, family cook, Ashley L., 18, truck farm helper, Raymond, 16, truck farm helper, Adelia, 14, house maid, Johny L., 11, Elnora, 7, and Clyde, 5.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John H (c; Cornelia) lab 909 1/2 Mercer. Also listed at 909 1/2 Mercer: Adelia, cook; Ashley L., laborer; Jessie, cook; and Raymond Tillery, laborer.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 Mercer, owned and valued at $1200, John H. Tillery, 66, “hires out and plows”; wife Cornelia, 56, redrying plant stemmer; children Nelora, 17, and Clyde Tillery, 15, “cleans up yards,” and Jessie Williams, 30, cleans and cooks in private home; and granddaughters Alice Rosabelle, 4, and Barbara Anna, 2.
In 1940, Clyde Tillery registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 16 October 1926 in Wilson; lived at 911 Mercer Street; his contact was father John Tillery; and he was unemployed.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery Cornelia (c; 2) h 911 Mercer
Wilson Daily Times, 23 November 1945.
In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c; 2) h 911 Mercer
In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 Mercer, John H. Tillery, 68; wife Cornelia, 62, plows gardens at private homes; daughter Jesse B. Williams, 41; and granddaughter Magnolia Williams, 7.
John Tillery died 8 October 1960 at Barnes Rest Home, 626 East Vance Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 December 1883 in Halifax County, N.C., to Benjamin and Cherry Tillery; was married to Carnelia B. Tillery; and worked as a city employee. Ashley Tillery, Williamston, N.C., was informant.
Cornelia Barnes Tillery died 6 June 1964 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Aaron Barnes and Pennina [maiden name unknown]; was widowed; and lived at 911 Mercer Street. Ashley Tillery was informant.
In March 1973, Wilson City Council ordered the demolition of the dwelling at 911 Mercer Street. May 1983, the Wilson building inspector’s office issued Ashley Tiller a permit to demolish a single family dwelling at 911 Mercer. However, when Clyde Tillery died in May 1997, his obituary noted his address as 911 Mercer.
In October 2004, 911 Mercer Street was listed for foreclosure sale. Details of the notice reveal that the Tillery heirs had mortgaged the property to a real estate company in 1986 and had defaulted on the loan.
Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022.