1890s

County schools, no. 19.2: Stantonsburg School.

This “Stantonsburg Negro School History,” found in Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981), offers a detailed account of Stantonsburg Colored School‘s early history. 

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“The first reference to schooling for the Negro children in Stantonsburg Township is found in the County School Board Minutes of September 1887. ‘The colored children living on lands of William Applewhite, William Barnes, Uriah Amerson, W.J. Batts, Edwin Barnes and Frank Barnes be assigned to District Number 29.’ The location of this school is unknown at this time.

“Books and charts used by both the Negro and White schools in 1893 were published by the American Book Company.

“Very little is known about the early Negro school except there was a school for colored children in Stantonsburg prior to 1913 proven by the fact that the county Board of Education appointed H.E. Thompson, J.C. Stanton and C.L. Coon, a committee in the latter year with power to act relative to moving the colored school.

“In December of 1916, the county Board of Education voted to appropriate $75.00 to remodel the colored school. It was located just outside the city limits on Highway #58, approximately one-fourth mile from the corner of Highway #58 and Saratoga Road, on the Johnnie Page corn mill site; now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Holton.

“On March 3, 1919, the county School Board ‘agreed to sell to the colored Masonic Lodge of Stantonsburg the colored school house of that district for $900.00, provided that the colored people of said district raise $600.00 with which to erect a new colored school building.’ The county agreed to appropriate $250.00 for the new building. At the November 3rd meeting, the chairman and secretary were instructed to ‘make a deed for the Stantonsburg Colored School House and lot upon the payment of purchase money by Lodges of Masons and Knights of Gideon.’

“When the county board convened for the December 1st meeting, it was reported that the colored school house had burned since the last meeting and the following agreement was made:

“1. The Masonic and Gideon Lodges, colored of Stantonsburg, having paid $500.00 on the purchase of the colored school house it is ordered that $300.00 of the amount be returned to the two lodges.

“2. It was agreed that the county board will deed one-quarter acre of the colored school lot to these lodges for a site for a lodge building free of cost.

“After the fire in 1919, school was held in the St. Luke Free Will Baptist Church for the years 1920-1923.

“Land for the new school was acquired from R.M. Whitley. The building was completed in 1924 and is located on Macon Avenue. School was held in the four classrooms, wood framed building until it was closed down in 1951-52 and sold to Elijah Wood. The school was heated by wood and coal heaters.

“In 1951-52, the pupils were transferred to Speight’s School located between Stantonsburg and Saratoga, North Carolina.

“Very little is known about the very early teachers, except in 1916-17 we know that there were two teachers. Other records have been lost or misplaced.

“The following list of teachers and principals was found at the Wilson County Board of Education in Wilson. The earliest known teachers were: W.S. Ward, 1892-1896, District Number 29; E.L. Reide, 1894-1896; E.L. Reide and Clarissa Williams, 1898, District Number 10. [A list of teachers and principals from 1920s through 1952 follows; it will be the subject of another post.]”

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A few observations:

  • The boundaries of earliest rural school districts for African-American children were contiguous with large farms on which large numbers of Black families lived and worked as tenant farmers or farm laborers. This begs the question of where children who did not live on such farms went to school.
  • “Saratoga Road” is now NC Highway 222. I am unable to further pinpoint the location of this school from the info provided. (Does anyone recognize these landmarks: Johnnie Page’s corn mill or the Holton home?)
  • The paragraph about the land purchases involving the Masonic lodge and Knights of Gideon clarifies information set forth in a Rosenwald School report concerning Barnes School, which was located a few miles northwest of Stantonsburg, a bit north of present-day Speight Middle School. I have made notations on the post regarding that school.
  • Does anyone recall the name or location of the Prince Hall lodge in Stantonsburg?
  • The site most closely associated with this school was the Macon Street location purchased in 1924. 
  • I have not identified W.S. Ward, but E.L. Reide was Elijah L. Reid, the Wayne County-born veterinarian who practiced (and apparently taught) in Stantonsburg before relocating to Wilson. Clarissa Williams was also a Wayne County native and moved to Wilson to teach and, eventually, become principal of the Colored Graded School.

Populist vs. Republican.

Up until he killed his wife, Samuel Vick‘s sister Nettie Vick Jones, — A. Wilson Jones enjoyed a reputation as a gifted, if wily, orator.

Wilson Advance, 25 October 1894.

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  • Jeremiah Scarboro — Jeremiah Scarborough, a Baptist minister and white supremacy apologist, as well as Populist politician.

Tragedy in Elm City.

When the Daily Times reported the shooting of Ephraim Joyner on 18 August 1896, several days after the fact, it noted “the wound would probably result fatally.”

Wilson Daily Times, 28 August 1896.

Raleigh’s News and Observer got the story out a day earlier, but gave conflicting information about Joyner. The headline screams “murder” and speaks of searches for the “murderer,” but concedes Joyner was alive when the article went to press.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 27 August 1896.

Did Ephraim Joyner die after all?

It’s not clear. No death records exist for the period, and I have found no further news articles about this incident. However, there is evidence of a man named Ephraim Joyner living in the Elm City area after 1896. If he is the same man, not only did Ephraim Joyner survive the shooting, he lived a good, long life. His son Marvin Ransom was not as fortunate.

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In the 1880 census of Cooper township, Nash County, N.C.: brothers and hirelings Ephram, 22, and Dallas Joyner, 16. Also, in the 1880 census of Rocky Mount township, Nash County: Harrett Joyner, 42, and sons Ephram, 21, Dallas, 16, Ballie, 15, and Lon V., 1.

On 9 January 1888, Ephraim Joyner, 25, married Mary Ann Cooper, 22, in Nash County.

Marvin Ransom died 17 June 1928 in Township #1, Edgecombe County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1899 in Edgecombe County to Ephram Joyner of Wilson County and Jennie Shaffer of Halifax County, N.C.; was married to Dicy Ransom; was engaged in farming; and was buried at Cherry Place. Jenny Shaffer was informant.

“Gunshot wound of abdomen wounding intestine in several places. Gunshot wound of perineum & scrotum. Homicide.”

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: widower Eph Joyner, 80, farm laborer and widower, living alone.

Borrowing from Wilson Home and Loan Association, pt. 3.

East Wilson’s new property owners often turned to Wilson Home and Loan Association, a savings and loan association affiliated with George D. Green, for short-term financing.

  • On 29 April 1892, S.H. Vick borrowed $300 from W.H.L.A., mortgaging a one-half lot adjoining R.J. Taylor, Peter Rountree, and others on Nash Street. The loan was satisfied 25 September 1897. Deed Book 32, page 9.
  • On 28 January 1893, Noah Best and wife Sarah Best borrowed $125 from W.H.L.A., mortgaging a one and one-eighth acre lot on the eastern side of the northern extension of Nash Street near the town of Wilson, adjoining Orren Best, T.A. Woodard, Nelson Farmer, and others, and purchased from Orren Best. The loan was satisfied 11 May 1899. Deed Book 32, page 21.
  • On 30 March 1893, A.D. Dawson and wife Lucy Dawson borrowed $300 from W.H.L.A., mortgaging a one-half acre lot on the south side of Vance Street adjoining Silas Lucas, James T. Wiggins, and others. The loan was satisfied 29 May 1899. Deed Book 32, page 25.
  • On 26 January 1896, Della Hines borrowed $250 from W.H.L.A., mortgaging a lot on the west side of Green Street adjoining Hardy Tate, S.H. Vick, and others, and being the lot upon which Hines lived. The loan was satisfied 14 December 1899. Deed Book 32, page 33.
  • On 8 June 1894, Short Barnes and wife Frances Barnes borrowed $300 from W.H.L.A., a one-quarter acre lot on Green Street adjoining John T. Bridgers and George D. Green. The loan was satisfied 5 May 1900. Deed Book 32, page 47.
  • On 25 January 1897, C. Mack Wells and wife Cherry Wells borrowed $500 from W.H.L.A, mortgaging a one-third acre lot “on a lane in the rear of Charles Battles lot leaving Pender Street” [i.e., Viola Street] and adjoining Levi Peacock and S.H. Vick. The loan was satisfied 10 March 1913. Deed Book 32, page 85.
  • On 15 February 1897, Sam’l Barnes and wife Ida Barnes borrowed $400 from W.H.L.A., mortgaging a one-fourth acre lot on a lane [Viola Street] in the rear of Ann Bryan‘s lot leaving Pender Street and adjacent to Elder Phillips‘ lot. The loan was satisfied 23 May 1904. Deed Book 32, page 88.

This note from Wilson Home & Loan to Wilson County Register of Deeds is pasted in the deed book.

  • On 10 January 1898, R.S. Wilkins and wife Mary Wilkins borrowed $200 from W.H.L.A., mortgaging a one-quarter lot on the north side of Lodge Street adjoining Annie Bynum and others, conveyed to the Wilkinses by W.G. Batts. The loan was satisfied 19 May 1903. Deed Book 32, page 98.

The Vicks take a loan from a friend.

Daniel Vick‘s prominence in local and regional Republican politics broadened the network of people upon whom he could call for favors. In 1898, he reached out to Henry E. Hagans of Goldsboro, for a loan. Hagans had been personal secretary to United States Congressman George H. White and remained active in politics even as assumed a position as principal of Goldsboro’s State Colored Normal School.

On 9 November 1898, Daniel and Fannie Vick executed to Henry E. Hagans of Goldsboro a promissory note for $400 to be paid by 9 February 1899.  If Vick defaulted, Hagans would sell at public auction two lots on Church Street and Barefoot Road in Wilson. The Vicks missed the mark, but Hagans did not call in the loan. A handwritten note on the mortgage deed states: “The within papers transferred to S.H. Vick this the 6th day of May AD 1899 /s/ H.E. Hagans”

Henry E. Hagans (1868-1926), in a portrait appearing in a feature article in the 21 September 1904 The Colored American.

Samuel H. Vick, of course, was Daniel and Fannie Vick’s wealthy son, who was also active and well-connected in Republican circles. The deed was filed in Wilson County on 16 April 1903 and recorded in Deed Book 66, page 236. Another note states: “This mortgage is satisfied in full by taking taking a new mortgage and is hereby cancelled 4 Dec 1903 /s/ S.H. Vick”

Deed Book 66, page 236.

George and Ella Green and the development of East Green Street, pt. 1.

By the late 1800s, the area of present-day Green Street east of the railroad tracks — largely farmland — was held by a handful of large landowners, notably George D. and Ella M. Green and Frank I. and Annie Finch. We’ve seen here how the Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick sold parcels in the 600 block to their friends and family to solidify a middle-class residential district for African-Americans. The Vicks themselves bought fifteen acres from the Greens, which they later divided into the lots they sold to others.

These transactions disclose more early settlers on East Green:

  • On 20 July 1887, for $250, George D. and Ella M. Green, as trustees for F.I. and Annie Finch, sold Leah Battle a one-third acre lot at Green and Pender Streets near Mrs. Procise. The deed was registered 3 January 1889 in Deed Book 27, page 85.
  • On 31 December 1890, for $150, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Short Barnes a one-fourth acre lot on “the  extension of Green Street near the corporate limits of Wilson” adjoining George Green and J.M.F. Bridgers. The deed was registered 1 January 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 150. [Barnes’ house was at 616 East Green.]
  • On 24 February 1891, for $300, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Samuel H. Vick “a lot on the extension of Green Street near the corporate line of Wilson” next to a lot now occupied by Alex Barnes. The lot was irregularly shaped and measured about one and one-half acres. The deed was registered 23 February 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 396.
  • On 24 October 1890, for $150, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Lewis Battle and his wife Jemima a one and one-quarter acre lot fronting on Green Street and adjacent to J.W.F. Bridgers, Samuel H. Vick, and G.D. Green. The deed was registered 21 March 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 488.
  • On 11 December 1891, for $1300.75, George D. and Emma M. Green sold Samuel H. Vick a parcel containing 13 and three-quarter acres adjacent to Sallie Lipscombe’s property, Vance Street, F.I. Finch, G.D. Green, and Samuel H. Vick. The deed was registered 28 December 1891 in Deed Book 30, page 454.

Detail of T.M. Fowler’s 1908 bird’s eye map of Wilson. Green Street slices diagonally across the frame. Samuel H. and Annie Vick’s new multi-gabled mansion is at (1). The church he helped establish, Calvary Presbyterian, is at the corner of Green and Pender at (2). At (3), Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church, which bought its lot from the Vicks. At (4), the original location of Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church.