Rev. John W. Perry, Episcopal priest.


Educated at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, John W. Perry was a deacon when appointed in 1882 to serve Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church in Tarboro. Perry was ordained a priest in 1887 and two years later was assigned to lead the congregation at Saint Mark’s in Wilson in addition to Saint Luke’s. He shared these posts for the next twelve years.

See Rev. Dr. Brooks Graebner, “Historically Black Episcopalian Congregations in the Diocese of North Carolina: 1865-1959” (2018), for more on Rev. Perry.


Efficient, painstaking and polite superintendent marries.

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Wilson Mirror, 19 November 1890.

Frank Oscar Blount married Nettie Amanda Steward in Philadelphia in 1890.

Nettie S. Blount of 926 Lombard Street, aged about 30, died 2 April 1892 in Philadelphia. She was buried in Philadelphia’s Lebanon Cemetery.

Minutes of the school board.

The Wilson County Public Library’s Local History Collection contains a bound transcription of the Minutes of the Wilson Graded School 1881-1887, 1891-1902, compiled by school superintendent Charles L. Coon. Here, with annotations in brackets, are extracts from those minutes.


July 14th 1891

The Board met in the offices of F.A. Woodard.

The first order of business was the election of teachers. The following was selected with the salary of each (for colored school). P.O. [F.O.] Blount salary $30.00, Prof. Winstead $25.00, Levi Peacock $25.00, Addie Battle $20.00, Lucy Thompson 20.00


Sept 29th 1891

The Board met in office of F.A. Woodard.

The object of the meeting was to hear complaints against some of the Col teachers in Col Graded School viz Levi Peacock and Ida Thompson.

Several Col men were present & urge their dismissal.

The Board discussed the matter & decided unanimous that the charges were not sufficient cause for removal. Nothing further appearing the Board adjourned.

[There are no further clues to the complaints lodged or the reasons “several colored men” urged the dismissals of Levi H. Peacock and Ida Thompson.]


Dec. 30th 1891

The Board met in the office of Dr. Albert Anderson.

The first business was the resignation of F.O. Blount, principal of Col. School. On motion resignation was accepted.

B.R. Winstead was elected principal to fill the unexpired term of F.O. Blount.

Annie Washington was elected as teacher in col school to commence on Jany 6th 1892 at $20.00 per month if qualified for the position after examination by supt. Foust. No other business the board adjourned.


May 9th 1892

The Board met in office of F.A. Woodard, President.

The first order in business was the election of Supt. & Teachers for the white & colored schools.

Teachers for col. school

B.R. Winstead Principal $30.00, L.H. Peacock $25.00, Annie Washington Vick $25.00, Annie Blake $20.00, Sudie Harris $20.00


May 30th 1896

The Board in office at Branch & Co.’s bank, with Gen. Hackney ch’m in chair.

It was stated that the object of the meeting was to elect the teachers of the Colored School. The election resulted as follows:

Principal of building S.A. Smith $30.00 per month

Teachers L.H. Peacock $25.00, G.H. Towe $25.00, Miss Ida Rountree $20.00, Mrs. S.H. Vick $20.00

[Though among the best-educated members of their community, African-American teachers struggled to make ends meet on their salaries. As shown in this 1899 notice of sheriff’s sale, several waited until their property was at risk to pay taxes — or lost it to public auction.]


Feb. 10th 97

The Board met in the office of Mr. A.B. Deans, Dr. Moore absent.

Mr. Oettinger moved that the position of Primary Teacher in the Colored School, held by Mrs. S.H. Vick, be declared vacant, owing to her physical inability to fill the place the remainder of the spring. Carried.

Mr. Oettinger moved that Mrs. R.C. Melton be employed to fill out the unexpired term. Carried.

The Committee appointed to arrange for the rental of an additional home for the Colored School, reported that they had investigated the matter & decided not to rent for this spring.

[“Physical inability” appears to have been a euphemism for Annie Washington Vick’s pregnancy with son Daniel, born in 1897.

The crowded conditions of Wilson’s only public school for black children had become acute by 1897, when the school board considered, but rejected, a suggestion to rent a house as an overflow classroom.]


Mar 13th, 97

School Board met in office of Mr. A.B. Deans, Mr. Oettinger, Dr. Anderson & Mr. Wootten absent.

Prof. Smith, Prin. of Col. Sch., made a statement as to his understanding of the conditions upon which he took the sch. census of the col. race last year.

After discussion, Dr. Moore moved to reconsider the motion made at a previous meeting, to deduct $16.22 from am’t p’d Prof. Smith for his work) from the last month’s salary, & to deduct only $6.22 thus paying him $10.00 for his services. Carried.

[Each year, a school board representative conducted a survey of school-aged children in its district to determine the need for teachers at each grade level. Occasionally, as noted elsewhere in the minutes, the board would scrap an upper grade for want of students. The root of Simeon Smith’s pay question is not clear.]


Feb. 18th, 1898

School Board met in the office of Mr. J. Oettinger, Mr. A.B. Deans absent.

Supt stated that he had called the meeting to consider the crowded condition of affairs at the colored school, and to make arrangements for securing more room.

It was agreed to build at once, a two room addition, 24×50 ft. and place sufficient piazza space for the entire building.

Mr. Oettinger moved that Mr. W.P. Wootten, Dr. C.E. Moore and the Supt. be appointed a committee to have building put up at once. Carried.

[The board finally moved to address the crowding, authorized the building to two new classrooms and a porch.]


Mar. 2nd, 98

Called meeting of School Board at office of Mr. A.B. Deans. All present.

Supt. was ordered to purchase desks necessary to properly seat the new building at colored school.

Building comm. reported new building about ready for use.

[It’s hard to imagine that the rooms were thrown up in less than two weeks, but if they were, this seems a testament to poor quality.


Aug. 31, 98.

Board met at call of Supt. to elect a teacher for 5th & 6th Grades, Colored School. All present.

Supt. reported that he had held an examination on the 29th inst. at which all applicants were examined.

Mrs. A.V.C. Hunt had stood the best examination, and was duly elected to fill the vacancy at salary of $20.00 per month.


[Two months after her hire as a teacher, erstwhile grocer Annie V.C. Hunt was embroiled in a conflict that led to the shooting death of her husband James Hunt in 1900.]


Sept. 27, 00.

Board met in extra session, at office of W.P. Wootten. All present except Mr. Oettinger.

Sec’y stated that meeting had been called at request of S.A. Smith, Prin. Col. School, for the purpose of investigating the charges against him, as per rumors being circulated regarding his character by Chas. Barbour.

Chas. Barbour, being called, stated that he had no charges to make against Smith, that he merely wanted Board to discharge his wife, Sallie Barbour, from her position as teacher in Col. School. She had not requested to be allowed to  resign, but he desired her discharged. He gave no valid reason for his wish. Supt. stated that he had no complaints to make against Mrs. Barbour.

Charges against Smith were dismissed, & Barbour was told that Board could not discharge his wife without cause.

[Shortly after this humiliating attempt by Charles Barbour to have his wife discharged from her teaching position, Sallie Barbour filed for divorce. Her petition cited a litany of abuses, including physical violence, and she sought custody of their sons.


Nov. 10, 00.

Called meeting of Board held in office of Drs. Moore & Anderson, Mr. Wootten and & Mr. Simms absent.

Sec’y stated that he had been enjoined by S.A. Woodard, Att’y for Chas. Barbour, against paying Mrs. Barbour any further salary.

Upon motion, the Sec’y was instructed to inform Mrs. Barbour that her salary was withheld till she obtained legal order, giving full authority to Board to pay her salary to her alone.

[Failing to get her fired, Barbour secured an injunction prohibiting the school board from paying his wife. The board determined to advise Sallie Barbour that her salary would be withheld until she got a court order making it payable to her alone.]


Feb. 2, /01

Meeting of the Board, all present. Sec’y stated that he received the resignation of Mrs. Hunt as teacher of 5th Grade, Col. School.

Resignation accepted to take effect at once.

Motion made that Clarrissy Williams be elected to fill the unexpired term of Mrs. Hunt. Carried.

[The board hired Clarissa Williams to fill the position vacated by Annie Hunt when she left Wilson. Williams would prove to be a loyal employee, declining to resign in the wake of the Coon-Euell slapping incident and serving briefly as colored school principal when J.D. Reid was forced out.]


Mar. 30, 1901.

At a called meeting of the Board, the Sec’y presented the resignation of G.H. Towe, as teacher of 3rd and 4th Grades, in Colored.

The resignation was accepted to take effect at once.

The Supt. reported the result of an examination he had held to fill this vacancy, and, upon motion, Cora Miller was elected to fill out the unexpired term of G.H. Towe.

[Five months later, Cora Miller married George Washington, brother of Annie Washington Vick.]



[No date.]

Board met in the office of Dr. Moore, Mr. Simms absent.

The resignation of S.A. Smith as Principal of the Colored School was accepted, as he had been elected to a similar position in the Schools of Winston. To fill this vacancy the Board elected J.D. Reid, Wilson, N.C.

To fill the other vacancies in the Colored School, the Board elected Cora Miller, and Mrs. S.A. Smith, both of Wilson, N.C.

[Simeon Smith took a position at a large African-American graded school in Winston-Salem. His wife soon joined him there.]


  • F.O. Blount — Frank Oscar Blount.
  • Prof. Winstead/B.R. Winstead — Braswell R. Winstead.
  • Levi Peacock/L.H. Peacock — Levi H. Peacock.
  • Addie Battle
  • Lucy Thompson — Lucy A. Thompson died 24 July 1946 at her home at 310 Singletary Street. Per her death certificate, she was 71 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ennis Thompson of Greene County and Hellen A. Ruffin of Louisburg, N.C.; was single; and was a teacher. Virginia D. Humphrey was informant. Thompson was buried in Rountree cemetery.
  • Ida Thompson
  • Annie Washington/Annie Washington Vick/Mrs. S.H. Vick — Annie Washington Vick.
  • Annie Blake — Annie Blake Rodgers.
  • Sudie Harris
  • S.A. Smith — Simeon A. Smith.
  • Mrs. S.A. Smith — Minnie Joyner Smith.
  • G.H. Towe — Granville H. Towe.
  • Ida Rountree — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter Henry Rountree, 52; wife Emma, 55; and children Charley, 34, drayman, and Ida, 27, schoolteacher.
  • Mrs. R.C. Melton — Rebecca Canty Melton.
  • Mrs. A.V.C. Hunt — Annie V. Collins Hunt.
  • Clarrissy Williams — Clarissa Williams.
  • J.D. Reid — Judge James D. Reid.

The estate of Patrick Williamson.

Henry Singletary Williamson was appointed executor of his father Patrick Williamson‘s estate. On 11 July 1896 , H.S. Williamson conducted an inventory of his father’s personal possessions, which included hogs, sheep, a horse, cattle, turkeys, chickens, geese, farm implements, dried peas and corn, 200 pounds of meat and lard, a clock, a watch, four beds, furniture and a gun.


The record of the actual sale of Williamson’s property, however, paints a much richer — in more than one sense — picture of his life. His neighbors gathered to bid on quilts, six walnut chairs, a sewing machine, a loom and three different kinds of plows, as well as farm animals.

Estate of Patrick Williamson, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records 1665-1998, http://www.ancestry.com.

Colored Presbyterians.

Several black Presbyterians with Wilson ties participated in a Sunday School convention in Goldsboro, North Carolina, in 1899.

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Goldsboro Daily Argus, 12 August 1899.

  • C. Dillard — Clarence Dillard.
  • Mamie Parker — In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter Daniel Vick, 52; wife Fannie, 52; and granddaughters Annie, 8, and Nettie B. Vick, 6, and Mamie Parker, 20, laundress. Vick reported that both his parents were born in Virginia.
  • S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick. Mamie Parker was his niece.

The Melton children, redux.

I posted here of five cartes de visite photographs taken at Francis M. Winstead’s studio in Wilson, most likely in the early 1890s. I had received slightly pixelated copies of the photos from a woman who had assembled a large collection of photos of African-Americans.

Last week, Warren Milteer gave me a heads up about a photo listed at eBay. I purchased it, and it arrived today. I didn’t realize it til then, but it’s the original of one of the copies I received some years ago. The seller told me that it was just one of thousands of photographs he was liquidating for an estate. I intend to keep an eye out for the others.

In the meantime, here, in their glory, are two of the children of Presbyterian minister Leavy J. Melton and Rebecca Canty Melton.

On 29 October 2019, I donated this photograph to Wilson’s Freeman Round House and Museum.


In May 1892, Rev. Leavy J. Melton, with Rev. J.F. Jordan, jointly presided over the marriage of Samuel H. Vick and Annie M. Washington at the A.M.E. Zion church in Wilson. Vick was a staunch Presbyterian and apparently insisted on the inclusion of his pastor.

On 12 July 1893, Levi J. Melton, 29, obtained a license to marry Rebecca Canty, 23, in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.

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.

In 1917, Marion Campbell Melton registered for the World War I in Charlotte. Per his registration card, he lived at 811 East 7th Street, Charlotte; was born 11 May 1894 in Wilson, N.C.; was a student at Biddle University, Charlotte, and a candidate for the ministry; and was single.

Levi J. Melton died 23 May 1941 at his home at 623 East Seventh Street, Charlotte. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 December 1864 in Mechanicsville, South Carolina; was a widower; and was a minister.

In 1942, Marion Campbell Melton registered for the World War II draft in New York, New York. Per his registration card, he was born 11 May 1894 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 207 West 147th Street, Apartment 2; worked for Grand Central Terminal, 42nd and Park Avenue; his contact was wife Beatrice Melton.

Hallie M. Mayberry died 6 January 1944 at her home at 2217 Douglas Street, Charlotte, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 July 1896 in Wilson to Rev. Levi J. Melton and Rebecca Canton; she worked as a teacher; and she was married to Rev. W.R. Mayberry.

Ona Bell Sanders died 19 October 1961 in James Island, South Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 August 1900 in Wilson to Levy Melton and Rebecca Canty; was married to Rev. Marion J. Sanders; and was a teacher-principal.

Fred Davis buys a bicycle.

I, Fred M. Davis of Wilson, Wilson County State of North Carolina for value received hereby sell and mortgage unto Rouse Hazard & Co of Peoria, Ill. the following goods and chattels, to wit:

One #3 Overland safety bicycle with Morgan & Wright pneumatic tires provided that if the said Mortgagor shall pay the sum of Forty six and 66/100 dollars with interest [illegible] and collection charges according to the terms of Nine certain promissory notes  signed by said Mortgagor Payable to Rouse Hazard & Co on order as follows to wit:

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Sept 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Oct 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Nov 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Decr 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Jany 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Feby 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Mar 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Apl 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due May 10th 1893 for $6.66

Mortgage Book 35, page 24, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

To have and to hold the land, pt. 3.

Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-Americans in Wilson County during the first fifty years of freedom:

  • Hilliard Ellis paid R.J. Taylor and wife Gallie Taylor $500 for 92 acres. The purchase was recorded 11 March 1872 in Deed Book 6, page 24, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 21 October 1873, William Airs [Ayers] paid Simon Newsom and Oliver and Penina Farrell $525  for 150 acres. The purchase was recorded 26 October 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 402, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 29 December 1874, Emily Gay paid Frank W. Barnes and wife Mattie B. Barnes $750 for a lot of land containing about one and a half acres on the east side of Wilson near the corporate limits and adjoining R.J. Taylor, Samuel Williams and others for “the sum of her natural life remainder to Charles Gay Mary Gay Ethelders Gay and William F. Gay children of said Emily Gay.”  The purchase was recorded 31 December 1874 in Deed Book 9, page 522, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Gay lost a half-acre of this property in 1885.]
  • Jesse Aires [Ayers] paid Martha Hawley $106 for 16 acres known as “Bits Aires Place” adjoining the lands Hawley and Ayers. The purchase was recorded 13 November 1879 in Deed Book 15, page 489, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Hilliard Ellis paid Alpheus Branch and wife Nannie Branch and A.J. Hines and wife Eliza A. Hines $300 for a 50-acre parcel adjoining Ellis’ own land. The purchase was recorded 22 December 1879 in Deed Book 16, page 71, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 10 December 1879, Garry Armstrong paid C.S. Braswell and wife Martha A. Braswell $125 for 15 acres. The purchase was recorded on 6 March 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 353, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • Benjamin Hardy paid Thomas Woodard and wife Elmina Woodard $500 for a 29 1/2 acres on the New Road from Barefoots Mills in Cross Roads township. The purchase was recorded 16 December 1880 in Deed Book 16, page 628, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
  • On 9 November 1892, Penelope Tynes paid Mahala Artis of Buncombe County, North Carolina, $250 for a 81′ by 143′ lot “in the northern angle of Green and [blank] Streets” adjoining Thomas Knight and Penelope Tynes Proctor. The purchase was recorded 18 November 1892 in Deed Book 31, page 351, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. [Mahala Artis moved to Asheville, North Carolina, circa 1890.]
  • Hilliard Ellis Jr., Master Workman; Austin Williams, Treasurer; Charles Williams, Financial Secretary; and Milly Ellis, Recording Secretary of Local Association of the Knights of Labor No. 734 paid Hilliard Ellis Sr. one dollar for a one-acre parcel on the west side of the Wilson and Nashville Road in Taylor township. “The condition of this deed is such that whereas the parties of the first part are justly indebted to Hilliard Ellis in the sum of Eighty dollars (money borrowed to erect a building upon the above described land) due and payable Jan’y 1, 1892 with 8 % interest.” If the Lodge defaulted, Ellis Sr. was authorized to sell the parcel on the courthouse steps. This purchase was recorded 10 March 1893 in Deed Book 33, page 246, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.