Raleigh Times, 30 September 1907.
- Henry Armstrong — possibly, in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12.
Raleigh Times, 30 September 1907.
This table reveals the stark disparities in wealth between whites and blacks in early twentieth century Wilson County.
The columns, representing tax categories and values, are Number of Polls; Number Acres Land; Value Land and Timber; Number Town Lots; Total Value Real Estate; Total Value Personal Property; Aggregate Value Real and Personal.
[I am intrigued by the differences in land ownership among African-Americans in different townships. Some surely is attributable merely to population, but I wonder about additional causes of inequality. Why so few taxable individuals or landowners in Stantonsburg township? Why were African-Americans in Spring Hill township so much more prosperous? I have some theories, but I want to explore more. — LYH]
Report of the North Carolina Corporation Commission as a Board of State Tax Commissioners (1907).
To secure debt of $54.55 and an additional loan of $100, Spencer S. Shaw agreed in the event of default to convey to Hawley & Revell an iron gray mule, a Hackney top buggy, five hogs, a one-horse wagon, and several farm tools.
In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Spencer Shaw, 40, wife Tabitha, 41, and children George A., 17, James R., 11, Hattie, 9, Joeseph G., 6, Seth T., 5, and Albert S., 2.
In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson and Raleigh Branch Road, Spencer Shaw, 51, wife Bitha, 49, and children James R., 21, Joseph T., 16, Seth T.,14, Albert S., 11, Merlin S., 9, Willie H., 7, and Alice M., 5.
In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Shaw Avenue on Springhill Road, farmer Spencer S. Shaw, 60; wife Bitha, 60; and children Albert, 22, Marlie, 19, Willie, 16, and Alice, 14.
Wilson Daily Times, 12 January 1920.
In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Buckhorn Road, farmer Spencer S. Shaw, 70; wife Bitha J., 70; sons William H., 26, and Seth T., 34; daughter-in-law Georgeanna, 24; and grandchildren Alice M., 4, Seth T. Jr., 2, and Franklin S., 6 months.
Book 72, Page 292, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse, Wilson.
Newspaper reports reveal a strike (or series of strikes) by African-American brick masons in Wilson in the first decade of the 20th century. Though the record is sparse, these articles offer rare glimpses of black workers flexing their economic muscle, and surprising hints of the reach of organized labor during a time and place well-known for hostility toward unionization.
Wilmington Messenger, 21 October 1902.
Brickmasons led by Goodsey Holden struck for a nine-hour work day consistent with that required by “the International union.” The protest, at least temporarily, resulted in concessions from the contractors for whom they worked.
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 2 April 1903.
Six months later, bricklayers struck again, crippling progress on the construction of several large brick commercial buildings, including Imperial Tobacco’s new stemmery. Contractors brought in nearly 20 masons from Raleigh and Durham to pick up the work. The sub-headline suggests that the men refused to cross picket lines once they arrived in Wilson, but the article does not address the matter. Masons in those cities were also engaged in strike activity.
Greensboro Daily News, 18 March 1906.
Three years later, Will Kittrell was arrested and charged with conspiracy and blackmail for allegedly warning a Henderson brickmason to leave town. Contractors continued to import masons from across North Carolina to fill the gap created by Wilson workers’ refusal to work without limits on long workdays.
Sharpe’s sole heir was his widow Cherry Sharpe, who was entitled to an immediate portion of his assets for her support. There was not much; she received an old buggy and harness, an old gun, some cart wheels, and pile of old tools. This being insufficient, on 15 January 1901 the commissioners reclaimed property that T.R. Lamm had taken, presumably to settle a debt — a forty-dollar mule, eight hogs, and $25 worth of corn and fodder.
In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farm laborer Wilson Sharp,42, and wife Cherry, 27.
In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Wilson Sharp, 52; wife Cherry, 45; nephew Jerry Bynum, 6; and James Mitchel, 47, with wife Rosa, 33, and son James G., 11.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Wilson Sharp, 65; wife Cherry, 40; and children Willie, 16, Eva, 9, and Besse, 2 months. [These were likely foster children.]
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Tilman’s Road, widowed farm laborer Cherry Sharp, 65, living alone.
Images of estate documents available at North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
In which a warrant is sworn out for the arrest of an African-American man who yelled at and frightened a white child standing in the path of his wagon. I have not found further reference to this “crime.”
Kinston Daily Free Press, 20 January 1903.
The Times (Shreveport, La.), 19 September 1902.
The United States Geological Survey’s 1904 topographic map of Wilson Quadrangle offers clear detail of Wilson just after the turn of the 20th century.
East Wilson’s streets are clearly recognizable to anyone who knows them today:
A few observations:
On the other side of town, Grabneck is also clearly visible at upper left:
In 1909, Wilson police raided Samuel H. Vick‘s Orange Hotel to bust up a “gambling joint” ensconced in its upper floor. Two gamblers escaped through windows, but the police managed to round up seven, plus the operator.
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 11 June 1909.
In which Rev. Fred M. Davis offers a dramatic telling of a lamp explosion during services at First Missionary Baptist Church. (With an appeal for donations tacked on.)
Raleigh Times, 12 July 1905.