Author: Lisa Y. Henderson

Researcher -- and descendant -- of North Carolina's free people of color. See also my genealogy blog at www.scuffalong.com and www.afamwilsonnc.com, which documents the African-American history of Wilson County NC.

Pvt. Frank Worthington, alias Wellington.

Frank Worthington, alias Wellington, is the sole African-American veteran buried under a Civil War Memorial headstone in Wilson’s Maplewood cemetery. (For a fact, he is one of a very few African Americans buried in Maplewood, period.)

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Worthington, who ran away from a Pitt County slaveowner to join the Army, seems not to have actually lived in Wilson County. However, at least one of his children did. Charlie Wellington died 16 June 1958 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 September 1887 in Greene County to Frank Wellington and Fabie Atkinson; was married to Lovie Wellington; and was a farmer. He was buried in Red Hill cemetery, Wilson County.

Photograph courtesy of www.findagrave.com.

804 East Vance Street.

The twenty-second 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 house is: “ca. 1930; 2 stories; gable front house of concrete-block construction, with patterned tin shingles in front-facing gable;  bungalow type porch; unique in district.”

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In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Virginia-born farm laborer Jacob Roberts, 35; wife Matilda, 25; and children Willie, 8, Rebecca, 5, Lettis, 3, and Isam, 11 months.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born carpenter Jake Roberts, 54; wife Matilda, 44, washing; and children Rebecca, 23, cooking, Lettie, 21, cooking, Luginia, 18, cooking, Mattie, 16, nurse, Westly, 14, tobacco stemmer, Marrie, 13, Eddie, 8, Laura, 5, and Addie, 2.

On 29 April 1902, Solomon Kittrell, 27, of Wilson County, son of Henry and Millie Kittrell of Oxford, North Carolina, married Lettie Roberts, 23, daughter of Jacob and Tildy Roberts, all of Wilson County. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Jacob Roberts’ home in the presence of Albert Hilliard, Floyd Cox and W.C. Christmas.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Vance Street, Solomon Kittrel, no age listed, laborer in buggy factory; wife Lettie, 26; and children Rebecca, 7, Sol K., 5, Bernis, 3, and Lillie, 1.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 704 Viola Street, laborer Saul Kittrell, 41; wife Lettie, 35; and children Rebecca, 16, Saul, 15, Bernice, 10, Lillie, 8, Margaret, 7, Charles, 2, and William, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 804 East Vance, painter Saul Kittrell, 52; wife Lettie, 48, practical nurse; and children Bernice, 19, Lilly, 18, Margaret, 17, Charles, 10, and Henry, 9. Sol valued their house at $10,000.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 804 East Vance, building painter Solomon Kittrell, 65; wife Lettie, 63; children Berenice, 32, a tobacco factory hanger, and Charles, 22, assistant county agent’s office; and lodgers Charles Beatty, 40, a blacksmith in a repair shop, and his wife Emma, 28, who reported living in Clinton, North Carolina, in 1935.

In 1940, Charles Elva Kittrell registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he resided at 804 East Vance Street, Wilson; was born 12 March 1918 in Wilson; his nearest relative was his mother Lettie Kittrell of 804 East Vance; and he was employed by the National Youth Administration in Kanawha, West Virginia.

Solomon Kittrell died 10 May 1944 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was married to Lettie Kittrell; resided at 804 East Vance Street; was born 8 February 1880 in Oxford, North Carolina, to Henry Kittrell and an unnamed mother; and he worked as a carpenter. Informant was Saul Kittrell, 804 East Vance.

Lettie R. Kittrell died 14 December 1957 after being struck by a freight train at the Green Street Atlantic Coastline railroad crossing. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 January 1876 in Edgecombe County to Jacob Roberts and Matilda Hilliard; worked as a practical nurse; and was widowed. Informant was Rebecca Thomas of 914 East Green Street.

Photo taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

Elizabeth Wilson Reid.

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Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1947. 

Elizabeth “Bettie” Wilson Reid was born about 1864 in near Eureka in northern Wayne County to John and Zilpha Artis Wilson. The Artises, Wilsons and Reids were free families of color. [Zilpha A. Reid was a sister of Adam T. Artis (and Bettie was first cousin of Josephine Artis Sherrod.)] On 27 December 1882, Bettie Wilson married William Reid at her father Jack Wilson’s house in Wayne County. [William Reid was a cousin of Elijah and J.D. Reid.] They had ten children, Pinkney Reid, Hattie Reid Exum, Maggie Reid, Milton Curtis Reid, Iantha Reid Neal Braswell, Council Troy Reid, William Sylvester Reid, Loumiza Reid Cooper, Willie Gorham Reid and Mater Reid Winstead, at least six of whom settled in Wilson County.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Saratoga Road, tenant farmer William Reid, 63; wife Bettie, 52; and daughter Iantha M., 25; sons Council, 23, and Vester, 21; Vester’s wife Hattie, 19; son Gorum, 17; daughter Mater, 14; daughter(?) Marion, 7; and son(?) Melab(?), 1.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek, Wilson County: farmer Willie Gorham [sic], 27; mother Bettie Reid, 65; niece Marion, 17; and nephew Abraham, 11.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek, Wilson County: widowed farmer Iantha Braswell, 46; and children Abraham Neal, 21, and Randolph, 15, Nona Bell, 13, Mavis, 12, Bettie R., 10, and widowed mother Bettie Reed, 75.

Bettie Reid died 2 December 1947 at home at 1011 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of William Reid; was born 1 August 1874 in Wayne County to Jack Wilson and Zilphia Artis. Informant was Loumiza Artis Cooper, and C.E. Artis [Bettie’s first cousin] was undertaker.

Iantha Braswell died 9 May 1955 in Wilson. Per her death certificated, she resided at 719 Stantonsburg Street; was a widow; was born 10 September 1892 in Wayne County to William Reid and Bettie Wilson. She was buried 15 May 1955 in Turner Swamp cemetery, Wayne County. Informant was Nonnie Braswell of Wilson.

Vester Reid died 27 October 1956 at Mercy Hospital after being struck by an automobile on the highway near Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he resided at 502 East Green Street; was married to Hattie Reid; was born 7 March 1897 to William Reid and Bettie Wilson; and was buried 30 October 1956 at Reid family cemetery in Eureka, Wayne County.

Pinkney Reid died 30 November 1961 at his residence at 504 North Vick Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 July 1881 in Wayne County to William Reid and Bettie Wilson; was married to Matilda Reid; was a farmer; and was buried at Turner Swamp cemetery, Wayne County. [Pinkney Reid was the father of Allen T. Reid.]

Willie Ghorum Reid died 28 February 1963 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 1013 East Nash Street; worked as a barber at William Hines‘ Barber Shop; was married to Ada Reid; was born 12 August 1902 in Wayne County to William Reid and Bettie Wilson; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.

Council Troy Reid died 29 August 1951 in Walstonburg, Greene County.  Per his death certificate, he was a widowed farmer; was born 21 July 1885 in Wayne County to William Reid and Bettie Wilson; was a World War I veteran; and was buried 2 September 1951 in Bethel cemetery, Stantonsburg. Informant was Knowless Reid Dupree.

Mater Reid Winstead died 5 January 1979 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 31 March 1906 in Wilson County to William Reid and Bettie Wilson; was widowed; and was buried in Bethel cemetery, Stantonsburg.

Loumiza Reid Cooper died 26 June 1988 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 January 1900 to William Reid and Bettie Wilson in Wayne County and had worked as a laundry operator.

Prodigal Parker.

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Wilson Daily Times, 28 July 1945.

In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Sampson Parker, 56; wife Nancy, 51; and children Lou, 25, Cora, 21; Mira, 19; Caro, 17; Tedsy, 16; Prodigal, 14; Roda, 13; Grover, 4; and John, 6.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Elm City Road, farmer Progisal Parker, 24; wife Kizzie, 20; and children Oscar, 1, and Nancy, 3 months.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on 4th Street, transfer car driver Prodical Parker, 31; wife Kizzie, 28; and children Oscar, 11, Mary, 8, and Nathan, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 117 Fourth Street, transfer proprietor Prodigal Parker, 41; wife Kissie, 39; and son Oscar, 22, daughter-in-law Ella, 19, and son Nathaniel, 19.

In the 1941 Durham, North Carolina, city directory: Parker Prodigal (c; Kizzie) slsmn h507 Gray.

Prodical Parker died 23 July 1945 in Fremont, Wayne County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1887 in Nash County to Sampson Parker and Nancy Jones; was married to  Kissie Parker; and worked as a merchant.

Teachers at Sam Vick.

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Teachers at Samuel H. Vick Elementary School, 1949-50.

Front row

Back row

  • John Maxwell Miller Jr. — J.M. Miller (1910-1995), a native of Chesterfield, South Caroline, was principal of Sam Vick Elementary from 1944 to 1968.
  • Irene Wallace
  • Carrie Herndon — Carrie Lee Herndon (1915-1986) was probably a Nash County native.
  • Classie Jones Jarman — Classie Jones Jarman (1925-1993) was a native of Tarboro, North Carolina.
  • Ann Bostic — Annie Watson Bostic (1915-1959), a native of Johnston County, apparently lived in Wilson only briefly.
  • Etta Givens — Etta Daisy Wynn Givens (1921-2002) was a native of Mount Olive, Wayne County.
  • Hattie Dixon Nemo
  • Alvis Hines — Alvis Ashley Hines (1918-1981) was the son of Ashley and Mattie Barnes Hines. (His mother was a daughter of Ned and Louisa Gay Barnes.)

This photograph, contributed by Jennie P. Kerbo, is reprinted from 23 February 1999 edition of the Wilson Daily Times.

The awning and tent company.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 April 1946.

Hattie Henderson Ricks recounted the difficult work of men and women employed in the sewing room of Wilson Awning & Tent Company:

“There was a fellow when I was working in the tent and awning company. He was one of the boys that worked there that pulled the tent, the thing we had, where was on the table. You know it was a great big table, big as this whole length of this house. And he was on there and to pull the table, when you were putting them flaps, somebody had to pull it around and [inaudible] sewing then you sit in the cubby holes, and the machine was up there. And I was at the bobbin, I had to thread the bobbin. And time I’d get around it and thread – oh it was a big place, it was all the way ‘round and like a horseshoe. The way the sewing machines were made. And then this thing was built up, but it was this material to lay on, and somebody had to be up on that thing to pull it through the machine ‘cause they couldn’t push it. They’d just push it a little bit out, and sewing’d go along, and it’d pile up, and they had to keep it carried through. And I’d thread the bobbins.

“The war [World War II], I think, was over, but they were making, it was Boy Scout tents, like for camping tents or whatever it was. And so when I went there I was pulling on the table where was back there.   I didn’t like that, so I said, well, it was a white girl was threading bobbins and so she was sick or something one day, and she didn’t come to work, so they let me. I said, “Let me thread the bobbins.” They said, “Well, somebody’ll have to thread ‘em,” said, “Go ‘head.” So I went there, didn’t know nothing ‘bout how to thread ten bobbins on one spindle.   So I looked at the thing, and a girl had to show me. So I got a hold of it, and it was those little round bobbins where you put on this long thing, you slide ‘em on there and you thread when you start off with the first one, then it goes around it, jump right up and push the other one up there and jump up and … But you had to cut that thread on the bobbin, and so that’s where I messed up when I first got there. When I would take the razor blade and cut in there, I cut two or three pieces and every time they’d always be having thread breaking, the thread … and it was oil, and you couldn’t take it with your hands and break it. So then I have a shoebox – not a shoebox, but a cigarette box, cigar box, and that thing was full of bobbins. And I had to take it around, all the way ‘round and come up the other side, and back to place. Any time I [inaudible] piling up again, go ‘round again. “I’m out of thread! Bring me some thread!” I said, ‘Lord have mercy, these folks is there ‘fore I can get this thing together.’ And then it come to me how to work it. And, didn’t have so much oil in it. If you let the oil stay in there too long, it’d make it slick, and it didn’t half cut. But you had to put it in oil because it would break. Them little … And then it got the thing messed all up under there, and the white guy had to come there and take his pocket knife and reach down there and cut it out and take some scissors with the end and try to cut the place out. So then the white girl where was working there, she didn’t like it either. She didn’t like to thread bobbins, she’d rather pull the tent, had to have probably four, five of them girls up there pulling tents and that thing was just as big as that whole – it was big as this house. Bigger than this thing here, the table that it was on. And it [inaudible]. But I still stayed on there until the place closed up.

“And after I left there, that’s when I went over to the hospital [then the Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium, which opened in 1943 for the treatment of tuberculosis patients, now Longleaf Neuro-Medical Treatment Center] and worked. I was going over there one day and so, Lizzie – I’ll never forget what was her name – she said she was going over there to see if she could get a job. And I said, well, told her, “Come by for me,” said, “We’ll go over there.” And both of us went over there. They hired me and didn’t hire her. So I worked there ‘til I come up here to Philadelphia.”

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Wilson Awning & Tent was located at 105 South Douglas Street during Hattie Henderson Ricks’ employment. The company closed this location and moved to Highway 301 South in 1948.

Interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Josephine Artis Sherrod.

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Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988).

Josephine Artis Sherrod, a sister of Columbus E. Artis and June S. Artis, was matriarch of a tight-knit family centered on two blocks of East Viola Street described within the family as Sherrod Village.

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In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County:  Adam Artice, 68, a widowed farmer,  with children Louetta, 18, Robert, 16, Columbus, 14, Josephfene, 13, Jun S., 10, Lillie B., 9, Henry B., 6, Annie, 3, Walter, 26, and William Artis, 24. [Josephine’s mother was Amanda Aldridge Artis, who died in 1899.]

On 16 April 1907, Solomon Sherard, 28, son of Dempsey and Harriett Sherard, married Josephine Artis, 20, daughter of Adam and Amanda Artis at A.T. Artis’ in Nahunta township, Wayne County. J.H.W. Sherard of Pikeville, J.B. Best of Saulston, and Louis Sherard of Pikeville were witnesses.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: Solomon Sherard with wife Josephene and children Allena and Jarva, plus cousin Walter Smith.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Elm City Road, farmer Solomon Sherrod, 41; wife Josephine, 32; and children Alena, 11, Jarvis, 10; Doretta, 8; Dock, 6; B. Minnie, 4; and Solomon, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Harpers Road, farmer Soloman Sheard, 50; wife Josephine, 42; and children Javis, 20, Doretta, 18, Linton O., 16, Minnie B., 13, Solomon, 11, Flora, 3, Bulah, 3, and Elmore, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 802 Viola Street, Solomon Shearard, 60; wife Josephine, 52; and children Flora, 15, Beulah, 13, Elmer, 11, and Solomon, 21; plus “son’s wife” Mildred, 18, and grandson Ernest E., 8 months.

Solomon Shearard died 6 February 1948. Per his death certificate, he resided at 802 East Viola Street; was married to Josephine Shearard; and was born 21 October 1878 in Wayne County, to Dempsy Shearard and Harriett Hill, both of Wayne County.  Informant was Josephine Shearard, 802 East Viola.

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 Wilson Daily Times, 11 April 1988.

Photographs by Winstead of Wilson.

These five photographs were taken at Francis M. Winstead’s studio in Wilson, most likely in the early 1890s. They are part of a trove of cartes de visite of African-Americans assembled by S.J. Reidhead, who graciously shared them with me. The images appear to have been part of one family’s collection, but I have been able to identify only a few of the subjects.

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On the reverse: “Compliments of Rev & Mrs L.J. Melton to Mr & Mrs G.T. Foster.” These are likely two of the Melton children.

  • Leavy J. Melton — Presbyterian minister Leavy J. Melton arrived in Wilson about 1891 and remained for seven years. In the 1900 census of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: minister L.J. Melton, 36; wife Rebeca, 29; and children Marion, 6, Hally, 4, Onna Bell, 2, and Robert J., 1.
  • Rebecca Canty Melton
  • Grant T. Foster — Grant T. Foster, 22, married Alice M. Daniel, 22, in Oxford, Granville County, North Carolina, on 19 May 1886. The couple apparently moved to Wilson within the next few years, and Alice Foster is likely the Mrs. who received the photo. On 11 June 1900, presumably after Alice’s death, Grant T. Foster, 27, of Oxford, North Carolina, married Maggie Ransom, 27, of Wilson, daughter of Annie Horne, in Emporia, Virginia.

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Based on his photo in A.B. Caldwell’s History of the American Negro and His Institutions, North Carolina Edition (see link above), I am fairly sure this depicts a young Rev. Melton.

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Are these African-American children? The children of a white friend of the Meltons in Wilson? The former seems more likely.

Killed in sawmill.

Fayville Obs 10 26 1921

Fayetteville Observer, 26 October 1921.

Probably, in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Moyetown Road, tenant farmer Elijah Ward, 34; his wife Florance, 26; farm laborer Hillery Wootten, 26, servant; farm laborer Robert Speight, 35, servant; his brother James Ward, 19, and sister Sarah Ward, 16.