1890s

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.

Vick and Melton, Albion Academy trustees.

“The Albion Academy was designed to prepare young men and women to be teachers in schools intended for the instruction of colored people in the Southern States.

“It was organized by the late Rev. Moses A. Hopkins, its first principal, and aided by his Presbyterian friends North and South.

“Like all schools, at its commencement, it had many obstacles to fight. But by prayer, and the indefatigable energy and push of its founder, it grew gradually until it attracted the public in such a way, that the State of North Carolina, feeling the need of having intelligent, warmhearted citizens who will exercise their right of suffrage intelligently, and for the good of their country, the elevation of the race, and the glory of God, established six Normals, and located one at Franklinton, in connection with the Albion Academy.”

Albion Academy’s 1892-93 catalog listed 58 students by name in the Academic program and claimed another 189 in the preparatory and primary programs. Though Samuel H. Vick and Rev. Leavy J. Melton (and Clarence Dillard) served on the school’s board of trustees, no children from Wilson matriculated at Albion that year.

Excerpts from catalog found at http://www.ancestraltrackers.net/nc/franklin/catalogue-albion-academy-1892.pdf

Commissioners meeting.

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Wilson Times, 10 April 1896.

  • John Atkinson — perhaps, in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Atkinson, 63, farmer; wife Jane, 58; and children Nellie, 21, James, 19, Nettie, 18, Naoma, 15, Lucy, 13, and Robert E., 8.
  • Amos Bunn — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Amos Bunn, 51 farmer; wife Mojana, 40, cook; children Tildy, 24, cook, Amos, 21, day laborer, William G., 19, Lewis B., 17, and Genetta B., 14, all farm laborers, Sallie B., 13, cook, Jonas B., 10, nurse, Louisanna, 7, Eddie B., 3, and James W., 2, plus mother Tabitha, 80.
  • Abram Moore

A wreck on the first day at sea.

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The Colonies and India (London, England), 9 April 1898.

Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, his wife Adora Oden Smith, and their daughter Flossie took passage on the African Steamship Company steamer Dahomey, which sailed from Liverpool to his assignment as ambassador in Monrovia, Liberia, on 6 April 1898. Hours after leaving port, the ship struck rocks near Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales. Passengers and crew were safely evacuated, but the ship remained stranded for 14 days before it could be floated off and returned to Liverpool. The incident was investigated, and a magistrate held: “The Court having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the stranding of and material damage to the said vessel were due to the improper navigation of the master, Mr. James G. Cawthorne, whose certificate, No. 34,575, the Court suspends for a period of six months from the date hereof.”

Physiology, Hygiene, Narcotics.

Moore book

This book was found discarded near the former home of insurance salesman Lee A. Moore at 106 North Pender Street. Orestes M. Brands’ Health Lessons for Beginners: A Physiology and Hygiene, With Special Reference to the Effects of Alcoholic Drinks and Other Narcotics Upon the Human System was a book for school children first published in 1885.

The inside cover bears two inscriptions: “Mr. L.A. Moore, book Jan 5, 1898, Wilson Station, N.C.” and “Ometa Parrington, #324 South Spring St. Wilson.”

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 614 Gold Street, widow Louise Perrerrington, 48; daughters Annie, 22, and Omma, 23, both cooks; son John, 17; and grandchildren John, 2, and Virginia Glastor, 4.

Morris M. Ellis, 25, and Ometa Sylvia Perrington, 22, daughter of Louisa Perrington, all of Wilson, were married 10 August 1910 at Saint John A.M.E. Zion church. Rev. D.L. Maultsby performed the ceremony in the presence of Floyd Mitchell, Dr. W.A. Mitchner and Chas. H. Darden.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 324 South Spring Street, barber Morris Ellis, 35; wife Ameta, 34; children Morris Jr., 5, and Linnai, 2; widowed mother-in-law Louisa Perrington, 62; and her granddaughter Inez Perrington, 14.

Ometa Ellis died 3 May 1928 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was married to Morriss Ellis; resided at 702 Nash Street; was 42 years old; and had been born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to Weldon Perrington of Wilmington and Louisa Scarborough of Wilson. Louisa Parrington was informant.

Many thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for sharing these images.