The Gazette visits Wilson.

Raleigh Gazette, 30 January 1897.


A house blazed on the other side of town.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 January 1899.

In January 1899, a house owned by Annie Barnes and occupied by Ed Humphrey and George Rogers. The “two fire companies” that responded were, presumably, the all-white city department and all-black volunteer Red Hot Hose Company. Neighbor B.F. Briggs, as indicated by the honorific “Mister,” was white.

Minstrels with a well-earned reputation.

Year-end entertainment in Wilson in 1897 featured a nationally popular minstrel show, Gorton’s — “strictly refined” and “entirely fit from start to finish for a lady audience.” Most importantly, Gorton’s was a white minstrel outfit, not one of the Black companies offering weak knock-offs off Gorton’s reputation. (That boast is so rich it needs to be read slowly. And repeatedly. Yes, Gorton’s did Black music better than Black people did.)

Wilson Advance, 30 December 1897.

Gorton’s Original New Orleans Minstrels, Minstrel Poster Collection, Library of Congress Prints and Posters Division, Washington, D.C.

Hannibal Lodge building burns.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 October 1997.

For more about the Odd Fellows Hannibal Lodge building, see here and here. Shortly after it erected this building, Lodge #1552 established the Odd Fellows cemetery that now lies abandoned and overgrown on Lane Street.  

An open safe.

Wilson Mirror, 26 November 1897.

The mid-1890s’ surge of white supremacy, best and most horrifically exemplified in the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, created an atmosphere in which crude and casual racism flourished even in “respectable” publications. The Wilson Mirror led a story about a robbery with this gratuitous doggerel.

  • Riley Faison — Riley Faison, 30, of Wilson County, son of Henry and Sophia Faison, married Frances Farmer, 26, of Wilson County, daughter of Tom and Polly Farmer, on 8 May 1902. A.M.E. Zion ordained elder N.L. Overton performed the ceremony at Frank Barnes’ plantation in Toisnot township in the presence of Mattie M. Overton, James Smith, and Polly Farmer.
  • Ed. Barnes
  • “across the railroad near the Methodist church” — in the vicinity of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. 

A suit for seduction.

The Indianapolis Journal, 28 January 1896.

A suit alleging seduction claimed a tort action under the law. Here, Nathan Blackwell, acting in the place of deceased Edwin Blackwell, filed to recover damages for the seduction by Walter Kersey of his niece (or cousin?) Mary Ella Blackwell, a minor. (I do not know if their “relationship” was consensual or forced, but it likely resulted in a pregnancy.) Kersey, like the Blackwells, was a migrant to Indianapolis from Wilson County and was about twenty years Mary Ella’s senior.

A year later, Mary Ella married a man three times her age.  On 27 January 1897, Mary Ella Blackwell, 17, born in North Carolina to Edwin and H. Blackwell, married Thomas Parsons, 50, born in North Carolina to Jefferson Parsons and Zilphia Burns, in Indianapolis.

But the relationship did not last: in the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: Hattie Blackwell, 43, widowed laundress, and children Mary, 29, divorced laundress, and John, 23, coal yards worker, single. All were born in North Carolina. 

Teachers, 1890.

From the chapter concerning Wilson County in the 1890 edition of Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory:

Massachusetts marriages.

Around the turn of the 19th century, at least five Wilsonians said their vows in Boston, Massachusetts:

  • John A. McLeod and Abbie G. Holloway

On 12 February 1892, John A. McLeod, 24, of Boston, waiter, born in Fayetteville, N.C., to John and Ruth McLeod, and Abbie G. Holloway, 21, resident of New York, N.Y., domestic, born in Wilson, N.C., to James and Amanda Holloway, were married in Boston.

In the 1900 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 15 Village, porter John McLeod, 33, and wife Abbie, 28, and 13 lodgers (all but one, a New Jersey man, were migrants from the South.)

In the business section of the 1911 Boston, Massachusetts, city directory, under “Laundries”: McLeod Abbie, 10 Clarendon.

In the 1920 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 72 Yarmouth Street, John A. McLeod, 50, laundry business, and wife Abagail, 46, laundry business, with eight lodgers.

  • William Henry Harris and Henrietta Murphy Allen  

On 29 November 1899, Wm. Henry Harris, 30, of 183 Elm Street, barber, born in Wilson, N.C., to James H. and Nancy Hill, and Henrietta (Murphy) Allen, 40, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, born in Baltimore, Md., to Benjamin and Caroline Murphy, were married in Cambridge.

  • Charlie Hinton and Lottie Green 

On 6 March 1905, Charlie Hinton, 24, resident of 393 Northampton Street, laborer, born in Wilson, N.C., to Calvin Hinton and Maggie Thomas, and Lottie Green, 24, same residence, domestic, born in Savannah, Ga., to John Green and Mary Field, were married in Boston.

  • Walter S. Hines and Sara E. Dortsch

On 6 September 1907, Walter S. Hines, 27, of Wilson, N.C., barber, son of Walter S. Hines [sic] and Della Barnes, and Sara E. Dortsch, 24, of Goldsboro, N.C., school teacher, daughter of Whitmore Dortsch and Mary Burnett, were married in Boston.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 30; wife Sarah, 29; children Elizabeth, 2, and Walter D., 8 months; and boarder Inez Moore, 31, a school teacher.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 40, wife Sara, 37, Elizabeth, 11, Walter Jr., 10, and Carl, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 50, wife Sarah, 48, and children Elizabeth, 21, Walter, 20, Carl W., 16, and Clifton R., 7.

  • Charles Dashun and Carrie Pitts 

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer William Pitts, 34; wife Violet, 25; and children Ailsey, 10, Martha, 5, Hattie, 3; and Laura, 10 months.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Violet Pit, 50, washing, and children Martha, 24, washing, Hattie, 22, cooking, Lula, 21, cooking, Ben, 19, tobacco stemmer, Carry, 12, cooking, Rosa, 16, nurse, Meaner, 11, Jenney, 5, and Edward, 2.

In the 1905 state census of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: Carrie Pitts, 19, servant, in the household of William Fletcher, 752 Ocean Avenue.

On 10 October 1911, Charles Dashun, 26, resident of New York, N.Y., bartender, born in Danish West Indies to John Dashun and Rosalind Steven, and Carrie Pitts, 26, resident of New York, N.Y., domestic, born in Wilson, N.C., to William Pitts and Violet Woodard, were married in Boston.

In 1918, Charles Dasher registered for the World War I draft in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Per his registration card, he was born 20 April 1884; lived at 2403 East 39th Street, Cleveland; and his wife was Carrie Dasher.

In the 1920 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: Harvey C. Dasher, 36, Pullman porter, New York; wife Carrie, 34, North Carolina; son Harvey Jr., 17, North Carolina; and widow Hattie Johnson, 42, department store elevator operator, North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of New York, New York County, New York: on West 121st Street, Carrie Dasher, 58, widow, maid, North Carolina, with six lodgers.

Relation between the races.

Smithfield Herald, 13 February 1896.

John H. Skinner, an accommodationist’s accommodationist, wrote this letter to the editor of the Smithfield Herald in 1896. His point is not entirely clear, but his disparagement of African-Americans — in service to race relations — is painfully so.