The Colored Graded School’s early days.

This beautifully sharp photograph is the earliest known depicting the Colored Graded School. Photographer F.M. Winstead, who operated in Wilson from about 1880 to about 1908, shot this wintertime scene, most likely within a few years of the school’s opening in the 1890s. The school was built at what was then the edge of town, and I am fairly sure that the field in front of the school has been picked clean of cotton.

My thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for this photograph.

W.C. Coleman’s worthy enterprise.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 May 1897.

Coleman Manufacturing Company was organized in 1897 by Warren C. Coleman and others in Concord, North Carolina. It was the first African-American-owned textile mill and operated seven years before collapsing financially. I have not been able to identify its Wilson investors.

Coleman Manufacturing Company, circa 1899. “Coleman Manufacturing Co., a Negro operated cotton mill, Concord, N.C.,” African American Photographs Assembled for 1900 Paris Exposition, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C.

Vick delivers address in Scotland Neck.

In 1896, Samuel H. Vick delivered the keynote address at the laying of the cornerstone for Shiloh Baptist Church in Scotland Neck, Halifax County, North Carolina. The church, which still meets, was built “under the auspices” of Scotland Neck’s Little Kehukee Lodge No. 3492, Grand United Order of Odd Fellows, established four years earlier.

The Commonwealth (Scotland Neck, N.C.), 27 August 1896.


Kerfuffle at the Board of Education.

The appointment of three populists, including Samuel H. Vick, to the Wilson County Board of Education in June 1897 created a firestorm and was condemned in the Times as a result of lawlessness and chicanery.

Notwithstanding, the new Board members were qualified at the beginning of July, and got on with their business. On July 23, C.H. Mebane issued an interim ruling recognizing Vick, George W. Connor, and Nathan Bass as Board members, as they had received a majority of votes from a majority of county commissioners during a meeting marked by confusion (and, likely, rancor.) Democrats Boykin, Moore, and Aycock were the choices of the county commissioners’ minority Democrat members. 

Wilson Daily Times, 23 July 1897.


Calvary Presbyterian celebrates its 90th anniversary!

Calvary United Presbyterian Church issued this commemorative booklet when it celebrated its 90th anniversary in 1979. The photo at top right depicts the church’s 1924 building under construction, with the tower of the 1893 building poking through the unframed roof.

Booklet courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The final resting place of Rev. John Perry and family.

I’ve written here of Rev. John W. Perry, the Episcopal rector who served both Tarboro’s Saint Luke and Wilson’s Saint Mark’s for more than a decade beginning in 1889. 

I was headed out of Tarboro back toward Wilson yesterday when a sign at the edge of a somewhat shabby cemetery caught my eye — it was Saint Luke’s graveyard. The cemetery was established in the 1890s and likely contains many more graves than its headstones would indicate. Rev. Perry, his wife Mary Pettipher Perry, and several of their children are among the burials. 

The Perry family plot lies in the shadow of this impressive light gray granite marker. 

Rev. John W. Perry 1850-1918 He served St. Luke’s Parish for 37 years with honor to his Maker and himself.

Mary Eliza Pettipher Wife of Rev. J.W. Perry 1854-1929 Our lives were enriched because she lived among us.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2023.

Recommended reading, no. 11.

I’m overdue for a re-reading of Race and Politics in North Carolina 1872-1901, a 43 year-old classic.

Eric Anderson’s monograph focuses on North Carolina’s so-called “Black Second” Congressional district — one of the most remarkable centers of Black political influence in the post-Reconstruction, late nineteenth-century America. Though the work only touches lightly on Samuel H. Vick, it provides indispensable context for his life and work.