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.

Colored cafe.

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Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1948.

Wrote Roy Taylor in My City, My Home: “And Negroes congregated en masse on Barnes Street in the block in which P.L. Woodard is located. It wasn’t that they had to gather there, for they had the privilege of meeting at any place in town, just as did the whites. They liked that area, and too, it was in close proximity to several hot dog joints and other eating places. Few white people were seen in that block on Saturday, and few Negroes were seen on Nash Street. It was a matter of the two races choosing to be with their own kind.”

Taylor’s take on the privileges and choices of legally sanctioned and enforced segregation is ridiculous, but this passage does offer context for the location of Gus Gliarmis’ cafe on the southern edge of downtown, far from Wilson’s African-American neighborhoods in the 1940s.

 

Wedding scenes.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 3 January 1942.

Robert E. Vick, son of Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick, was a groomsman in the Atlanta wedding of Alice Clarissa Clement, whose father was president of Atlanta University, and Robert Joseph Foster of Monroe, Louisiana. Vick is seated bottom right in the right-hand photograph.

Many thanks to S.M. Stevens for the referral.

504 South Lodge Street.

This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, South Lodge Street — below the warehouse district — has been an African-American residential area since the turn of the twentieth century.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 [sic] Lodge Street, cafe proprietor Jessie Strickland, 28, and wife Viola, 27, and roomers Mack Strickland, 18, transfer truck driver, and James Johnson, 20, guano company laborer.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) propr Strickland Cafe h 504 S Lodge

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 504 Lodge Street, owned and valued at $4000, Jesse Strickland, 46, and wife Viola, 37. Their occupations are listed as farm laborer and “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant.” However, it appears that entries are off by a line, and should read “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant” and cook for private family.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) 504 S Lodge

In a familiar tale of woe, the Stricklands defaulted on their mortgage, and Wilson Home & Loan Association advertised the property for auction.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 1930.

Jessie Strickland died 18 March 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 40 years old; was born in Wilson to Mose Farmer and Hannah Strickland; was a clerk in a store; and lived at Spring Street. Informant was Viola Strickland, 504 South Lodge.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) maid h 504 S Lodge

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) h 504 S Lodge

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2017.

Studio shots, no. 90: Edna E. Gaston.

Per an eBay listing for a reproduction of this photo: “Photo. North Carolina. Black girl and doll carriage. The girl’s name is Edna Earl Gaston. She was the niece of John Clark who was a founder of St Mark’s Episcopal Church. He was also the first Black mail carrier in Wilson, North Carolina. 1925.”

In fact, Edna Earline Gaston was the daughter of Albert Sessle Gaston of Wilson and Annie House Gaston of Moore County, North Carolina. John H. Clark was her great-uncle, brother of Albert Gaston’s mother Ella Clark Gaston.

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In the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: Ella Gaston, 30, divorced, with sons Ralph, 10, and Albert, 2. [Also in the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, North Carolina: 44 year-old barber John Gaston, [second] wife Sabrina [Sattena] 22, and children Theodore, 13, Cicero, 10, George, 8, and Caroline, 2 months. John A. Gaston was Albert Gaston’s father.]

In 1918, Albert Gaston registered for the World War I draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 16 August 1897 in Wilson, N.C.; resided at 2105 Nassau Street, Philadelphia; worked as a longshoreman; and his nearest relative was Anna Gaston.

In the 1920 census of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania: at 2105 Nassau Street, building laborer Albert Gaston, 22; wife Anne T., 23; daughter Edna E., 1;  lodger Harry Jenkins, 19, a laundry laborer; and “mother” Hellen Hunton, 53. All were born in North Carolina.

Shortly after the census, the Gastons returned to North Carolina, where they took positions in Annie H. Gaston’s home county. On 28 April 1921, The Moore County News of Carthage printed principal Albert Gaston’s address to the Shady Grove colored school.

By October 1921, Gaston had take over as head of the struggling Addor school. Per this 1997 National Register of Historic Places nomination report, the Gastons began an energetic campaign to raise money for a Rosenwald School, and the Lincoln Park school near Pinebluff was the result.

Albert Sessel Gaston registered for the World War II draft in 1942 in Raeford, Hoke County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 15 August 1897 in Wilson; was employed by the Board of Education in Raeford; and his contact was Annie L. Gaston, 119 Lincoln Street, Hampton, Virginia.

Annie Lillian Gaston died 2 June 1952 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 July 1896 in Moore County to John House and Maggie Gunter; was a schoolteacher; and was married. Albert Gaston was informant.

Per the Social Security Death Index, Albert Gaston died November 1979 and Edna Gaston Coles died 25 July 1999, both in Philadelphia.

Signatures, no. 5.

Signatures are often-overlooked scraps of information that yield not only obvious clues about literacy, but also subtleties like depth and quality of education and preferred names, spellings and pronunciations. They are also, in original documents, tangible traces of our forebears’ corporality — evidence that that they were once here.

This is the fifth in a series of posts featuring the signatures of men and women born before 1900, men and women who could not take even a basic education for granted.

  • Alexander Barnes Joyner (1896-?), 1917, World War I draft registration card, Wilson; 1942, World War II draft registration card, New York, New York.

  • William M. King, 1912, the marriage license of Banks Blow and Mag Parker, Wilson.

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Studio shots, no. 89: the Mobley family.

I posted the obituary of Jane Rountree Mobley here.

Her great-great-granddaughter, Carolyn Maye, has graciously shared these photographs of Jane Mobley’s descendants, many of whom moved into Edgecombe and Pitt Counties in the early years of the 20th century.

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Rhoda Mobley Barnes

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm worker John Mobley, 35; wife Jane, 28; and children Rhoda, 9, Henrietta, 6, Jane, 5, Isaac, 4, and John H., 1.

On 13 January 1889, Ben Barnes, 42, of Wilson township, married Rhoda Mobley, 21, of Toisnot township, on F.A. Woodard’s plantation in Wilson township. Primitive Baptist minister Samuel Burston performed the ceremony in the presence of Harry Sharp, Dennis Bynum and Mike Barefoot.

Rhoda Barnes died 1 June 1951 in Macclesfield, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 October 1854 [actually, about 20 years later] in Wilson County to John Mobley and Jane [maiden name unknown]; was a widow; and was buried in Harrell cemetery near Crisp, North Carolina. Mattie Howard was informant.

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Benjamin Barnes

Ben Barnes died 19 April 1935 on Amanda Pitts’ farm in Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 December 1835 in Wilson County to Isaac Barnes and Julia [maiden name not given]; was married to Rhoda Barnes; was buried at Harrell cemetery. Informant was Jessie Barnes.

Martha Lee Roberson Maye (1932-2014), daughter of Willie and Annie Barnes Roberson, at age 7 and shortly before her death.

Mattie Barnes Howard (1905-1977), daughter of Rhoda and Ben Barnes.