1900s

“We are commanded by Jesus … and we refuse to budge.”

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.

Lane Street Project: Gray Pender, Louvenia Pender, and Lottie Marlow.

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 Marlow

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.

  • B.E.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2020.

Tuskegee Institute annual catalogues.

Alfred L. Moore is listed as a junior in the 1903-04 Tuskegee Institute Annual Catalogue.

Oliver N. Freeman is listed in the B Middle Class in the 1903-04 catalogue, A Middle Class in 1904-05, and a senior in 1905-06.

Artelia M. Darden is listed in A Preparatory Class in the 1905-06 catalogue.

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.

J. Burton Harper, Lincoln ’00.

Lincoln University‘s 1900 yearbook listed Wilson, N.C., as Joseph Burton Harper‘s permanent address.

His senior bio, however, listed his birthplace as Hookerton, in Greene County, and I’ve found no other records that place him as a Wilson County resident. We’ll claim him though.

In the 1880 census of Hookerton township, Greene County: laborer Stephen Harper, 48; wife D.A., 44; and children Edna, 17, John C., 13, Joseph B., 3, and Herbert C., 2.

In the 1900 census of Hookerton township, Greene County: farmer Stephen Harper, 57; wife Dilsey, 58; and children Edney, 37, Joseph B., 23, and Herbert C., 22; plus niece Sarah Edwards, 17.

In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 408 East Goldleaf, Presbyterian clergyman and teacher Joseph B. Harper, 32, and wife Olive S., 28, music teacher.

In 1918, Joseph Burton Harper registered for the World War I draft in Edgecombe County. Per his registration card, he was born 10 September 1877; lived at 606 Gold Leaf, Rocky Mount; was a minister and teacher; and his nearest relative was Olive Sagerna Harper.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 606 East Goldleaf, Presbyterian minister Joseph Burton Harper, 41; wife Olive, 39; and daughter Stella, 11.

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: at 810 Holly Street, Presbyterian minister Joseph B. Harper, 51; wife Olive, 49; and children Stella, 11 [sic: 21], and Robert, 9, plus several lodgers.

Rev. Joseph Burton Harper died 19 April 1940 at his home at 810 Holly Street, Rocky Mount. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 September 1878 in Hookerton, N.C. to Stephen Harper; was married to Olive Sagerna Harper; was a minister and teacher. He was buried in Hookerton.

Massachusetts marriages.

Around the turn of the 19th century, at least five Wilsonians said their vows in Boston, Massachusetts:

  • John A. McLeod and Abbie G. Holloway

On 12 February 1892, John A. McLeod, 24, of Boston, waiter, born in Fayetteville, N.C., to John and Ruth McLeod, and Abbie G. Holloway, 21, resident of New York, N.Y., domestic, born in Wilson, N.C., to James and Amanda Holloway, were married in Boston.

In the 1900 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 15 Village, porter John McLeod, 33, and wife Abbie, 28, and 13 lodgers (all but one, a New Jersey man, were migrants from the South.)

In the business section of the 1911 Boston, Massachusetts, city directory, under “Laundries”: McLeod Abbie, 10 Clarendon.

In the 1920 census of Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts: at 72 Yarmouth Street, John A. McLeod, 50, laundry business, and wife Abagail, 46, laundry business, with eight lodgers.

  • William Henry Harris and Henrietta Murphy Allen  

On 29 November 1899, Wm. Henry Harris, 30, of 183 Elm Street, barber, born in Wilson, N.C., to James H. and Nancy Hill, and Henrietta (Murphy) Allen, 40, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, born in Baltimore, Md., to Benjamin and Caroline Murphy, were married in Cambridge.

  • Charlie Hinton and Lottie Green 

On 6 March 1905, Charlie Hinton, 24, resident of 393 Northampton Street, laborer, born in Wilson, N.C., to Calvin Hinton and Maggie Thomas, and Lottie Green, 24, same residence, domestic, born in Savannah, Ga., to John Green and Mary Field, were married in Boston.

  • Walter S. Hines and Sara E. Dortsch

On 6 September 1907, Walter S. Hines, 27, of Wilson, N.C., barber, son of Walter S. Hines [sic] and Della Barnes, and Sara E. Dortsch, 24, of Goldsboro, N.C., school teacher, daughter of Whitmore Dortsch and Mary Burnett, were married in Boston.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 30; wife Sarah, 29; children Elizabeth, 2, and Walter D., 8 months; and boarder Inez Moore, 31, a school teacher.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 40, wife Sara, 37, Elizabeth, 11, Walter Jr., 10, and Carl, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 50, wife Sarah, 48, and children Elizabeth, 21, Walter, 20, Carl W., 16, and Clifton R., 7.

  • Charles Dashun and Carrie Pitts 

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer William Pitts, 34; wife Violet, 25; and children Ailsey, 10, Martha, 5, Hattie, 3; and Laura, 10 months.

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 1905 state census of Brooklyn, Kings County, New York: Carrie Pitts, 19, servant, in the household of William Fletcher, 752 Ocean Avenue.

On 10 October 1911, Charles Dashun, 26, resident of New York, N.Y., bartender, born in Danish West Indies to John Dashun and Rosalind Steven, and Carrie Pitts, 26, resident of New York, N.Y., domestic, born in Wilson, N.C., to William Pitts and Violet Woodard, were married in Boston.

In 1918, Charles Dasher registered for the World War I draft in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio. Per his registration card, he was born 20 April 1884; lived at 2403 East 39th Street, Cleveland; and his wife was Carrie Dasher.

In the 1920 census of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio: Harvey C. Dasher, 36, Pullman porter, New York; wife Carrie, 34, North Carolina; son Harvey Jr., 17, North Carolina; and widow Hattie Johnson, 42, department store elevator operator, North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of New York, New York County, New York: on West 121st Street, Carrie Dasher, 58, widow, maid, North Carolina, with six lodgers.

Rev. Edward C. Simms, Presiding Elder.

This brief bio of Rev. Edward C. Simms is found in souvenir volume issued for an A.M.E. Zion General Conference. I do not have the access to the full volume, its title, or its date of publication.

REV. EDWARD CUTHBERT SIMMS, P.E., Tampa, Fla.

Rev. Simms hails from Wilson, North Carolina, and of the year 1862; he graduated from the Wilson Academy in 1883; was converted there in 1875; joining the Farmer A.M.E. Zion Church at the same time. He became a preacher in 1896 at Norfolk, Va., and joined the Virginia Conference. Later on, he was ordained deacon at Hickory, N.C., in 1897, and ordained elder at Franklin, Va., in 1899.

His pastoral labors were exerted at Mosley Street A.M. E. Zion Church, Norfolk, Newport News, Va., and Mount Sinai Church, Tampa, Fla. He built the Centreville Chapel in Norfolk County, and Zion Chapel at Bear Quarter, Va. Rev Simms is a prominent member of the South Florida Conference, and a preacher who draws and holds an audience. As a pastor his success reaches the best average. This will be his first official appearance in the General Conference. He makes a highly acceptable administrator and his constituency love, honor and revere him. 

Biographical Souvenir Volume of General Conference A.M.E. Zion Church

Norfolk Virginian, 9 May 1897.

In its coverage on the Philadelphia Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church, the 30 May 1908 edition of the Washington Bee noted that “Rev. E.C. Simms, a delegate from Florida, died suddenly from heart disease; a sum of one hundred dollars was raised by Conference for his funeral, and a Florida delegate was sent to accompany the remains home.”

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Esther Simms, 45, and Ned Simms, 19, both farmworkers.

On 8 May 1879, Ned Simms, 25, married Nicy Best, 26, in Wilson. Benjamin S. Brunson performed the ceremony at the A.M.E. Zion Church in the presence of Hayes Best, Jas. Harriss, and S.A. Smith.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher Edward C. Simms, 33; wife Nicy, 26; and Edward, 7 months.

In the 1900 census of Norfolk, Virginia: at 62 Moseley, teacher Edward C. Simms, 44; wife Nicy, 43, nurse; and children Edward, 20, porter, Theodocia, 18, teacher, Sacona, 16, errand boy, Adonis, 14, Cicero, 12, Henny, 10, and Hattie, 6. All were born in North Carolina, except the youngest two, who were born in Virginia.

In the 1906 Tampa, Florida, city directory: Simms Edward C (m) pastor A M E Zion Church, h 952 Harrison 

In the 1908 Tampa, Florida, city directory: Simms Edward C Rev (m) pastor A M E Zion Church, h 952 Harrison

E.C. Simms died 14 May 1908 of diabetes at 313 North 38th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old and was born in Virginia to E.C. Simms of North Carolina and an unnamed mother born in Virginia. Informant was J.B. Harris [who apparently knew little about Simms.] He was buried in Norfolk, Virginia.

In the 1910 census of Tanner Creek, Norfolk County, Virginia: at 4 Byrd Street, widow Nicey Simms, 50, and children Adonis, 22, candy maker in factory, Henrietta, 18, and Hattie, 15.

Nicy Simms died 6 January 1922 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 60 years old; was a widow; lived at 914 Dunbar; and was born in Wilson, N.C., to Daniel Bass [Best] and Jane [last name unknown]. Theadesia Simms of Norfolk was informant.

Adonis Simms died 9 July 1930 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1887 in North Carolina to Edward Simms; worked as a laborer; and was married to Vessie Simms.

We had farm labor as a natural resource back then.

The collection in Wilson County Public Library’s Local History Room includes the transcript of a 1986 interview with Clifton Tomlinson, a farmer who had grown up in the Black Creek-Lucama area.

These pages include recollections of the some of the African-Americans who had been his family’s tenants and neighbors.

——

  • Sidney and Milbry Ramseur

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Sidney Johnson [sic], 56, and wife Millie, __, both laborers working out.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Black Creek and Lucama Road, farmer Sidney R. Ramseur, 69, and wife Milly, 60.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Sidney Ramsoo, 73, and wife Millie, 70.

Sidney Ramseur died 30 October 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 90 years old; was born in Wilson County; lived on Viola Street; and was the widower of Milbry Ramseur. Informant was J. Clifton Tomlinson, Black Creek.

  • John and Robert Clay

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John Clay, 45; wife Elizabeth, 46; and children Maggie, 21, Charlie, 20, Joseph, 17, Pearle, 15, Levi, 13, Johnnie, 10, Esrayson, 8, Bettie, 7, and Earl, 2; plus nephew Sam, 15, and widowed mother Mariah, 84.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Clay, 24; wife Mary, 23; son James, 7 months; and sister-in-law Hattie Artis, 12.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John H. Clay, 54, wife Elizabeth, 54, and children Lary, 24, Bettie, 16, and Early, 12; next door, farmer Robert Clay, 33, wife Mary, 32, and children James, 10, Ollie,  6, and Lottie, 3; and next door to them Joseph Clay, 28, wife Essa, 22, and children Ethel, 2, and Joseph, 9 months.

  • John Edward Artis

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Wilson Road, John Ed Artis, 31, tenant farmer; wife Maggie, 32; and children Jessie, 9, Rosa, 7, Henry, 5, Claud, 2, Lyra, 2, and Ella, 6 months.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: John E. Artis, 41, farmer, widower, and children Jesse, 19, Rosa, 18, Henry, 15, Claud, 13, Larry, 12, Mary, 10, Eddie, 8, Mamie, 6, Carry L., 4, and Maggie, 2.

  • Ruthie and Anderson Hunter

Anderson Hunter, 45, of Toisnot township, applied for a license to marry Lula Farmer, 23, of Toisnot township, on 7 May 1901.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 50; wife Lula, 33; and children Chanie, 18, Sam, 16, Emma, 15, Robert, 11, Annie, 6, and Clyde, 2.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 62; wife Lula, 39; and children Emma, 25, Robert, 21, Annie, 15, Clyde, 11, and Hazel, 4.

In the 1930 census of Town of Sharpsburg, Edgecombe County: cotton and tobacco farmer Anderson Hunter, 71; wife Lula, 47; and children Clyde, 22, Hazel, 14, and James C., 9.

I have not found record of Ruthie Hunter.

Killed by falling timber.

S123_20-1013

“Killed suddenly by falling timbers.”

This newspaper article tells the story:

Wilmington Morning Star, 23 November 1909.

B.B. Tyler was working for P.L. Wood & Company (noted on the death certificate), who appears to have been the builder on-site at Contentnea Guano Company. Neither Tylor, a Maryland native whose regular occupation was ministry, nor P.L. Wood & Company are listed in the 1908 Wilson city directory.