Detail, Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1908.
Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the section of the 100 block of North Goldsboro Street opposite the county courthouse.
Levi H. Jones‘ barbershop stood at the rear of today’s Planter’s Bank building, which was erected in 1920 and now houses county government offices. Within a couple of years, Jones changed locations, opening the Mayflower at 108 East Nash Street, a narrow two-story brick building near First National Bank. First National is now the Wilson County-Nash Street Office Building, and the Mayflower’s site is a parking lot.
Wilson Times, 30 June 1911.
Alexander D. Dawson, a former local Republican Party stalwart, operated a fish and oyster stall in the city market building, which burned down in 1929.
Wilson city hall, market and fire department, circa 1900.
Postcard courtesy of North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s digitalnc.org.
As pointed out by a descendant, an early 1900’s photograph of early leaders of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church misidentified its rector, the Rev. Robert N. Perry. Charlotte, N.C., native Perry, who served in Wilson from 1905 to 1919, is depicted in the portrait above. He was married to Mary Ada Jackson Perry, and their children William M., Robert Nathaniel II, Alice L., John L., and Frank Hargrave Perry were born in Wilson.
Patrick M. Valentine’s The Episcopalians of Wilson County: A History of St. Timothy’s and St. Mark’s Churches in Wilson, North Carolina 1856-1995, provides a detailed account of Rev. Perry’s tenure, including this opening summary: “… Perry ‘found things some what neglected and the congregation scattered but hopeful. The work began to take on new life and enthusiasm was created for anything [that] might be suggested.’ During his fourteen years in Wilson, Perry married thirty-four parishioners, baptized forty-three, presented thirty-three for confirmation, and buried eight. Membership rose rapidly from eighteen in 1906 to twenty-five in 1907, thirty-three in 1909, forty-seven in 1917, and sixty-seven the very next year. The congregation remained at that level during the rest of his tenure.”
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, Robert Perry, 28, public school teacher; wife Mary A., 26; and son William, 5 months. [“Public school”? Was Rev. Perry actually a teacher at Saint Mark’s private elementary school?]
Robert Nathaniel Perry registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 6 December 1881; lived at 315 South Street, Wilson; was minister of the Colored Episcopal Church; and his nearest relative was wife Mary Ada Perry.
During Rev. Perry’s tenure, Saint Mark’s church and school were located at the corner of South and Lodge Streets. 315 South Street was the school’s address, as well, and suggests that its building did double-duty as a parsonage.
Detail, Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1908.
Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the intersection of the 100 block of East Barnes Street and the 200 block of South Goldsboro Street.
William Hargrove — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith William Hargrove, 32; wife Leuvenia, 30, washing; daughter Bessie, 6, and Lillie, 3; widowed sister Mary Boddie, 25, cooking; and cousin Julious Heat, 20, farm hand.
Isaac J. Young‘s blacksmith shop operated in the present-day location of Worrell’s Seafood. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 315 Spring Street, horse shoer Isaac J. Young, 46; wife Laura, 29; and sons Cornelius, 12, and Robert, 9; plus lodger Henry Moy, 5.
Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the west side of the first block of South Goldsboro Street.
Hardy & Holland’s livery stable was wedged, improbably, between a wholesale grocery and a garage with a second floor print shop. Per the Wilson, North Carolina, Industrial & Commercial Directory, published in 1912, “This business is located on South Goldsboro street between Nash and Barnes streets and the business has been established for the last four years. The proprietor [James Hardy] has succeeded in building up a good patronage. He is very prompt in answering calls and his prices for Livery are very reasonable. Telephone Number 9. Hack and Dray work solicited. The proprietor wants your patronage and guarantees the right sort of treatment. He is a colored man and has the good wishes of all.” Hardy’s business partner was Thomas Holland, a Wake County native.
Henry C. Holden‘s barbershop occupied the basement level of the Branch Bank building at the corner of East Nash and South Goldsboro Streets.
This screenshot from Google Streetview shows the wrought-iron rail around the former exterior entrance to the barbershop below the Branch Bank building.
Page 4, Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C. (1908).
Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the intersection of South Goldsboro and East Nash Streets.
Moses Brandon operated an eating house at 127 South Goldsboro Street. (Within a few years, he moved to 411 East Nash Street.)
John H. Aiken andBraswell R. Winstead ran livery stables at 125 and 129 South Goldsboro. The map does not make clear how the space was divided between the two. Aiken was a long-time stablekeeper, but Winstead is a surprise. He was a teacher, then an assistant postmaster to Samuel H. Vick, then a barber.
Short W. Barnes was a carpenter by trade, and his ownership of a South Goldsboro Street barbershop is a surprise.
Annie Best‘s eating house at 121 South Goldsboro was just a few blocks from her home at 313 South Spring.
A barber pole is visible curbside in this postcard depicting New Briggs Hotel circa 1900. Tate & Hines occupied the first storefront on the left.
In the interior of the block, circled in red, a narrow freestanding rectangle of a building labeled “servants.” There were few white servants in Wilson in this era, so the reference is surely to African-American workers, but whose servants? What kind of servants? And what did they do in this space?
I’ve gone on and on about the artistry of Clarence B. Best, the marble cutter who carved hundreds of gravestones in and around Wilson County between the 1920s and mid-1970s. Now, after a few years of exploring local African-American cemeteries, I recognize the signature work of other monument makers. Whether the work of an individual, like Best, or a company, they were likely produced in Wilson or an adjoining county, and perhaps by African-American craftsmen.
One common type of concrete monuments dates from the first quarter of the twentieth century. The basic design, which I will call Concrete Stipple Style, is a large rectangle with rounded edges, a smooth central field with stamped block letters and no punctuation, and a stippled border. Unlike Clarence Best’s work, the inscriptions are rigorously centered. I do not know enough about molding concrete to speculate why so many Concrete Stipple stones develop a deep crack about one-third down the face of the monument. (See below.)
My guess would have been that this is a foot stone for the grave of Charles S. Thomas, who died in 1937. However, this marker is in the Masonic cemetery, and Charles S. Thomas’ lovely headstone is in Odd Fellows.
When Holy Rollers were thrown in jail in 1918, it was not the first time a Wilson mayor cracked down on traveling African-American pentecostals. In 1907, a town official encountered three Texans — two women and a man — “preaching to an immense crowd” near the dispensary, a pharmacy on South Goldsboro Street. The mayor asked the group to move. The women refused, exclaiming, “We are commanded by Jesus to go in the highways and byways and preach, and we refuse to budge.” They were locked up. When the man continued to preach, he was locked up, too. “Angry mutterings are to be heard by the negroes, but little importance is attached to it.”
Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 1 September 1907.
Tuesday’s clean-up netted two and a half intact additional gravestones — Gray Pender and his daughter Louvenia Pender and Lottie Marlow, whose name was hidden on the enshrouded side of the marker she shares with her husband Daniel Marlow. Gray and Louvenia Pender’s headstone were nearly buried under vines and leaf mulch within a few feet of one another. A large base (without a headstone) nearby suggests additional graves in what appears to be a Pender family plot. In addition, about 25 feet east, we found a small concrete marker carved with the initials B.E. along one edge.
Gray Pender and Louvenia Pender
Gray Pender born Feb 15 1861 died Aug 22 1928 Beloved father farewell
Louvenia dau of Gray & Katie Pender born Dec. 23, 1885 died July 4, 1908
We first met Gray Pender in 1877, when his grandfather Abram Farmer petitioned for guardianship after the death of Gray’s parents.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Rich’d Pender, 28, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 25; and sons Gray, 9, and George, 1.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Abram Farmer, 63; wife Rhoda, 45; step-children Charlotte, 16, Kenneth, 15, Fannie, 11, and Martha, 10; and grandchildren Gray Pender, 17, Gray Farmer, 19; and Thad, 13, and John Armstrong, 10.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Gray Pender, 37, farmer; wife Katie, 36; and children Richard [Richmond], 16, Louvenia, 13, Caroline, 10, Wilson, 6, Floyd, 4, and Jonah, 11 months.
Louvenia Pender died in 1908, prior to the issuance of death certificates in Wilson County.
In the 1910 census to Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Pender, 47; wife Lillie, 35; and Eliza, 18 months, and Aniky, 4 months.
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: laundress Katy Pender, 47, and children Richmond, 26, grocery store delivery man, Carrie, 18, Willie, 16, Floyd, 14, and Joseph, 10. [Apparently, Gray Pender and Katie Pender were permanently separated or divorced.]
Catie Pender died 16 December 1910 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 48 years old; was born in Wilson County to George and Carolina Woodard; worked washing and ironing; and was married. (Her cause of death: laryngitis and “change of life.”)
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Grey Pender, 58; wife Lily, 44; and children Elijah, 11, Annie, 10, Herman, 8, Rosetta, 9, Furney, 6, Dennis, 4, and Victoria, 2.
Grey Pender died 22 August 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was born in Wilson County to Richmond and Sarah Pender; was married to Lillie Pender; and was a tenant farmer for Mrs. Mattie Williams.
Lottie wife of Daniel Marlow born Oct 11 1874 died Feb 6 1916
D.J. Marlow, 28, of Wilson, married Lottie Battle, 23, of Wilson, daughter of Turner and Effie Battle, on 2 February 1898 at Mrs. F.A. Battle‘s. A.M.E. Zion minister H.H. Bingham performed the ceremony in the presence of W.A. Roberts, Charles H. Darden, and Linc[?] Mills.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Dan G. Marlow, 40; wife Lottie, 35; and Hattie May, 6.
Lottie Marlow died 6 February 1916 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 41 years old; was born Edgecombe County to Turner Battle and Effie Parker; was a widow; and was a factory hand. Effie Battle was informant.
Henry Howard is listed in B Preparatory Class in the 1905-06 catalogue. In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer James Howard, 33, widower, and children Henry, 14, Mirantha, 9, Lela Ann, 7, Kinzey, 5, and Cleo, 4; plus boarders Mary Jane, 24, and David Battle, 2. In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, Jeasee Howard, 45; wife Zillar, 40; and children Henry, 25, Marenda, 19, Lena, 17, Kensey, 15, Leaola, 13, and Jessee Jr., 16 months.