I’ve written here of Rev. John W. Perry, the Episcopal rector who served both Tarboro’s Saint Luke and Wilson’s Saint Mark’s for more than a decade beginning in 1889.
I was headed out of Tarboro back toward Wilson yesterday when a sign at the edge of a somewhat shabby cemetery caught my eye — it was Saint Luke’s graveyard. The cemetery was established in the 1890s and likely contains many more graves than its headstones would indicate. Rev. Perry, his wife Mary Pettipher Perry, and several of their children are among the burials.
The Perry family plot lies in the shadow of this impressive light gray granite marker.
Rev. John W. Perry 1850-1918 He served St. Luke’s Parish for 37 years with honor to his Maker and himself.
Mary Eliza Pettipher Wife of Rev. J.W. Perry 1854-1929 Our lives were enriched because she lived among us.
I’m overdue for a re-reading of Race and Politics in North Carolina 1872-1901, a 43 year-old classic.
Eric Anderson’s monograph focuses on North Carolina’s so-called “Black Second” Congressional district — one of the most remarkable centers of Black political influence in the post-Reconstruction, late nineteenth-century America. Though the work only touches lightly on Samuel H. Vick, it provides indispensable context for his life and work.
DigitalNC recently uploaded a ledger of African American children admitted into Grant Colored Asylum, an institution established by the North Carolina legislature in 1883. The facility’s name was changed to the Colored Orphanage Asylum of North Carolina in 1887 and is now known as the Central Children’s Home of North Carolina. Ledger entries record a child’s name, town and county of residence, date of admittance into the orphanage, date of birth, physical description, and observations about the child’s character. Other information documented could include the child’s parents’ names and church affiliation, notes about the parents, and names of those recommended the orphanage and filed the application for admittance. Some entries contain detailed information about the child’s stay at the orphanage and his or her whereabouts after the stay. [Warning: by today’s standards, descriptions of the lives of these children and their families can appear harsh and judgmental.]
I found entries for these six Wilson County children:
Edwin [Edward] Pitt
Ten year-old Edwin Pitt entered the orphanage on 8 June 1908. His parents, who were not married, were Thomas Day, who died in 1902 after a fall, and Martha Pitt, who was living. Dr. Frank S. Hargrove recommended Edwin’s admission; Martha Pitt applied; and A.M.E. Zion minister Nicholas D. King approved it. “Neither mother nor child bear good reputation. The mother once stood well.”
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 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Martha (c) laundress h 410 S Goldsboro
In the 1910 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, North Carolina: at Oxford Colored Orphanage, Edward Pitt, 12, inmate, home farm laborer.
Edward Pitts died 14 January 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 21 years old; was born in Wilson County to Thomas Day and Martha Pittman [sic]; was single; and worked as a hotel waiter. Elsie Pitts was informant.
Twelve year-old Eddie Woodard entered the orphanage on 23 November 1908. His parents, who were not married, were Eddie Sanders, who died in 1902, and Chloe Woodard.
In the 1910 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, North Carolina: at Oxford Colored Orphanage, Eddie Woodard, 12, inmate.
In 1917, Eddie Woodard registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 21 October 1896 in Wilson, N.C.; lived in Wilson; was single; and worked as a delivery boy at a dry goods store, Barrett Patrick Company, Wilson.
On 17 July 1919, Eddie Woodard, 23, married Ada Melton, 18, at Milton’s house. Otis Wright applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister William Baker performed the ceremony in the presence of Augustus Blow, Otis Wright, and Sarah Jones.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Cora [sic] Woodard, 47; won Eddie, 24, tobacco factory worker; daughter-in-law Ada, 19, tobacco factory worker; grandson Robert Wright, 6 months; and son-in-law Odis Wright, 25, widower, hardware company laborer.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 815 Mercer Street, owned and valued at $1500, Clora Woodard, 56, washing; son Eddie Woodard, 34, clothes presser at pressing club; and Robert L. Wright, 10, grandson.
In 1942, Eddie W. Woodard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 3 October 1895 in Wilson; lived at 815 Mercer Street (411 Church Street, Norfolk, Virginia, was crossed out); was unemployed; and his contact was mother Cloara Woodard.
Sixteen year-old Nola Davis entered the orphanage on 16 November 1909. Her parents Alonzo and Adeline Parks Davis were dead; they had had a “good reputation.” Dr. William Mitchner had recommended her admittance; Amanda Bynum had applied; and Samuel H. Vick had approved it.
Lillian and Dave Morris
Siblings Lillian Morris, 12, and Dave Morris, 7, entered the orphanage in February 1917. Their father Dave Morris had died of tuberculosis several years earlier, and their mother Lillian Hinson Morris was “a hopeless invalid.” Episcopal rector E.R. Perry [R.N. Perry] recommended that they be sent to Oxford.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, painter David Morris, 34; wife Lillian, 30; and children Pearle E., 12, Charles, 9, Lillian, 7, and David, 7 months.
By 1920, Lillian had aged out of the orphanage and returned home. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 108 Smith, William Johnson, 25, born in South Carolina; wife Lillian, 32, born in England; and [his] stepchildren Charles, 17, Lillie, 15, and Mabel, 6.
However, in the 1920 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, N.C.: in the Oxford Colored Orphanage, inmate David Morris, 10.
Lillian [Hinson Morris] Johnson died 6 March 1921 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia; was married to William Johnson; and lived on Smith Street.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Morris Lillian (c) elev opr Court House h 22 Ashe
On 14 December 1935, David E. Morris married Lorenza Williams in Brooklyn, New York.
In the 1940 census of Kings County, New York: at 624 Madison, David Morris, 30, W.P.A. worker; wife Lorenza, 22; and son Edward, 4.
However: also in 1940, David Edward Morris registered for the World War II draft in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. Per his registration, he was born 28 February 1909 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 99 Stockton Street, Brooklyn; his contact was Sylvia Lipshitz Morris; and he worked for W.P.A., 70 Columbus Avenue, New York. On the reverse of the card, Morris is described as having a light brown complexion with black hair and brown eyes. Under “Race,” the check mark beside “Negro” is blacked out and the word “Error” written in; “White” is checked with a different pen in a different hand.
Detail from David E. Morris’s draft registration card.
In the 1950 census of Brooklyn, David Morris is not found, but S.O. Morris is described as divorced, and Lorenza Morris as separated.
David Morris died in Brooklyn on 3 August 1965.
Scant notes survive for Maggie Cox, who was 13 years old when she entered the orphanage in, most likely, 1917. There were “no particulars” about her background, other than that she had been “sent by S.N. [sic] Vick.”
In December 1909, Samuel H. Vick purchased fifteen shares of the capital stock of The McGirt Publishing Company and was issued this certificate:
Robeson County native James E. McGirt was poet of very modest talent who published a few collections of verse before moving to Philadelphia and founding McGirt’s Magazine, a monthly dedicated to African-American arts, literature, and general affairs. Public accommodationist declarations notwithstanding, Sam Vick was a race man, and his investment in this Black-owned business is not a surprise. It was a risky move, however, and in 1910 McGirt’s went under.
When Dr. Frank S. Hargrave and Samuel H. Vick envisioned the healthcare facility they would found to treat African-American patients in Wilson, it had two parts — a hospital and a “tubercular home,” i.e. sanatorium, outside town limits.
Wilson Hospital opened on East Green Street in 1913. Later that year, Sam Vick sold a forty-acre parcel south of downtown to The Wilson Tubercular Home, Inc., for $5000. Vick had bought the parcel in 1902 from S.W. and Jean S. Venable.
Deed book 97, page 313, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
Despite reports that a building on the site was near completion, the Tubercular Home apparently never opened.
With the help of Wilson County’s GIS Coordinator Will Corbett, I have identified the rough location of “high sandy knoll self-drained and one-third of which is covered with native pines” upon which a sanatorium and patient cottages were to be built., Pinpointing the area will require additional research in the Register of Deeds office.
Please send license by return mail for the marriage of Mingo Ward colored age 25 years son of Lam Ward living, Mother dead to Lizzie Smith Age 21 years daughter of Wright Smith Mother dead. All of Wayne County. These are n*ggers and are all right.
Enclose you will please find County order for $3.00 if any more due let me know.
Very truly yours, B.F. Aycock
I can only guess at the backstory, but my guess is not wild, and the thing practically speaks for itself. The young people wanted to get married; they had no way to get to Goldsboro and probably no time to go; they certainly had no money to pay for the license. Benjamin F. Aycock extended them credit or maybe even vouchsafed the three dollars; he put in a good word with the Register of Deeds; he slurred these young lovers; he felt himself generous.
To love oneself and to find love in such a world as this? Revolutionary.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina: Lem Ward, 40; wife Mariah, 35; and children Kater, 14, and twins Sarah and Sophia, 12, Susan, 8, Lam, 9, Lawrence, 5, Mingo, 3, and Junius, 2.
The marriage license issued in response to Aycock’s letter.
On 14 March 1907, Mingo Ward, 25, of Wayne County, son of Lam Ward, married Lizzie Smith, 21, of Wayne County, daughter of Wright Smith, in Great Swamp township, Wayne County, North Carolina. Free Will Baptist minister G.W. Davis performed the ceremony.
In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Mingle Ward, 28; wife Lizzie, 24; and son Junious, 7 months.
In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Meng[illegible] Ward, 42; wife Lizzie, 37; and daughters Bettie E., 9, and Gladies, 7.
In the 1930 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 46; wife Lizzie, 44; and children Bettie, 18, Gladys, 12, Christine, 8, and Sarah, 6.
In the 1940 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Ward, 60; wife Lizzie, 56; daughters Christine, 18, and Sarah, 16; daughter Gladys Thompson, 20, and son-in-law Edward Thompson, 21.
Mingo Ward died 27 January 1941. I have not found his death certificate, but he is buried in Daniel Quarters Cemetery, near Fremont, Wayne County.
In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1317 Washington Street, Lizzie Ward, 65, “picking cotton”; daughter Sarah, 26, housecleaning; and grandchildren James Edward Thomas, 9, and Jean Elizabeth Thomas, 8.
Lizzie Ward died 30 October 1965 at her home at 1321 Atlantic Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 March 1885 in Wayne County to Wright and Lizzie Smith; was a widower; and was born in Daniel Quarters cemetery, Wayne County. Bettye Ingram, Washington, D.C., was informant.
I cannot say enough in praise of Wilson County Public Library and its incredible cadre of dedicated librarians. WCPL offers an incredible array of services and steadfastly walks the walk of inclusion, holding space for the stories of all of us.
The Odd Fellows offered burial policies to members and their families, and state law required that yearly filing of statements of assets and liabilities, which were made public. Among other things, president W.W. Lawrence and secretary S.H. Vick reported the Endowment Department of Wilson had written 2357 hundred-dollar policies during the year.
News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 1 June 1904.
W.W. Lawrence — I have not been able to identify Lawrence.
Samuel H. Vick was one of two African-American delegates from North Carolina to the 1904 Republican National Convention. The other was Henry Plummer Cheatham, former Second District Representative to the United States Congress.