1900s

Rogers kits out his pool hall.

In 1905, John W. Rogers bought, subject to $209.45 mortgage, all the goods necessary to furnish a billiard hall — two pool tables, balls, a cue rack, a ball rack, cues, triangles, etc. A handwritten notation along the edge of the entry shows that Rogers paid his note in full in June 1907 and owned the goods free and clear. [The 1908 Wilson city directory lists only one African-American-operated billiard room — Matthews Pool Room at 510 East Nash., which was managed by Eugene Matthews. Rogers, who lived at 555 East Nash, was described as a foreman in the directory.]

Purchase option for nine areas just south of town.

In 1909, Daniel C. Suggs gave attorney Sidney A. Woodard a $3600 purchase option on nine-acre lot just outside town limits adjacent to the Wilmington & Weldon and Norfolk & Southern railroads. The option included the grant of a right of way for construction of a railroad siding “beginning at the second or third telegraph pole from Floyd Bynum’s house” to run through the property.

The description suggests that the nine acres was located in the lowest quadrant of the X formed by the railroads just below Contentnea Guano Company, as shown in this detail from the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson.

Here is the area today, per Google Maps:

John Artis’ crop lien.

On 2 February 1907, A.P. Branch agreed to advance John Artis, colored, forty to fifty dollars in supplies “to enable me to make a crop” on the land on which he lived in Black Creek township rented from and owned by Nathan Bass. Artis agreed to raise twelve acres in cotton, nine acre in corn and four acres in tobacco and gave Branch a lien on his crop as well as a seven year-old black mare mule named Rody, a buggy and harness, an iron axle cart, and all his farming implements.

——

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John Artis; wife Lucy, 40; children Nora, 10, John E., 15, Eliza, 13, Katie, 11, and Robert, 7; and nephew Luther, 23.

Deed book 72, page 191, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

A barbershop for sale.

In March 1906, Noah J. Tate, Walter S. Hines and Joshua L. Tabron executed a lease-purchase agreement with Richard Renfrow for the entire contents of a barber shop, including four “hydrantic” chairs, four mirrored cabinets, a barber pole and eight water bottles. These items were “packed in R.E. Hagan’s Shop on Barnes Street,” which Tate, Hines and Tabron had purchased. Renfrow agreed to pay three dollars a week, plus insurance and taxes on the property. After 132 payments, Renfrow would own the barber shop. He paid at an accelerated rate, and the debt was cancelled before the end of the year.

The Dardens secure their son’s start.

In March 1905, Charles H. and Diana Darden conveyed to their son Camillus L. Darden a one-quarter interest (with a life interest retained) in a lot on the south side of Nash Street “whereon is located the new shop and hall” in order to encourage his interest in a bicycle repair business. The elder Dardens also leased to C.L. Darden one-half of the first and second floors in the shop building. The lease was to continue year after year for five dollars per year as long as C.L. pursued his business. If C.L. ever wished to sell his interest in the property, his parents had right of first refusal to purchase it for $250.

Deed book 72, page 49, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

The Masons buy land.

In October 1900, Cain and Margaret Barnes Artis sold a large lot in southeast Wilson to Mount Hebron Lodge No. 42, Prince Hall Masons.

North Carolina, Wilson County }

This Deed made this the 8th day of October, 1900 by Cain Artis and wife Margaret Artis, the parties of the first part to Austin J. Lindsey, Worshipful Master, Lee A. Moore, Senior Warden and John Barnes, Junior Warden, acting officers of Mount Hebron Lodge No. 42 F & A Mason and their successors in office, the parties of the second part, all of said parties being of the aforesaid County and State.

Witnesseth: That the said parties of the first part, for and in consideration of the sum of One Hundred Dollars in hand paid by the said trustees, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, have bargained, sold and conveyed and do by these presents bargain, sell and convey unto the said trustees and their successors in office, that certain to or parcel of land lying and being situate in Wilson Township, County and State aforesaid, the same being near the Colored Graded School building and adjoining the lands of Charley Battle, Cain Artis, and Daniel Vick and described as follows:

Beginning at a pine stump on road (commonly called path) in Charley Battle’s corner, thence with his line N. 87. 35 E 264 feet to a stake, thence S. 36. 15 E. with Cain Artiss line 172 1/2 feet to a stake, thence S. 53. 45 W. 230 feet with Cain Artis line to a stake on the road or path thence along said path N. 36. 15 W 308 feet to the first station, containing 57,900 square feet.

To Have and to hold the aforesaid lot of land to them the said trustees and their successors in office in fee simple forever. And the said parties of the first part covenant to and with the said parties of the second part and their successors in office that they will warrant and defend the title to the said land against the lawful claim or claims of any and all persons whatsoever.

In Witness whereof the said Cain Artis and wife Margaret Artis have hereunto set their hands and seals the day and year above written.  Cain (X) Artis, Margaret (X) Artis    J.D. Borden cofc [clerk of court]

——

On 14 December 1876, Cain Artice, 23, of Wayne County, married Ann Thompson, 24, of Wilson in Wilson County. T. Felton, Jno. Newsome and Louisa Thompson were witnesses.

In the 1880 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Cain Artis, 25; wife Annie, 25; and children Ivey C., 2, and Appie, 1.

On 11 November 1888, Cain Artis, 35, of Wayne County, son of Adam Artis and Winny Artis, married Margaret Barnes, 38, of Wilson, daughter of Sherard Edmundson, at Margaret Barnes’ house in Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister P.D. Gold performed the service in the presence of H.C. Phillips, Henrietta Clarke and Mary J. Davis. Charles Battle applied for the license.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Margaret Artis, 50; daughters Appie, 21, and Mary F., 20; and boarder William Watson, 22. Margaret was described as married; Cain is not found in the 1900 census. Appie was his daughter, and Margaret’s step-daughter.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Artis Cain (Oates & A) h E Nash extd bey limits. Also: Oates & Artis (Wiley Oates – Cain Artis) grocers 601 E Nash.

Appie Artis died 28 May 1916 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born August 1879 in Wayne County to Cain Artis and Annie Thompson of Wayne County; was single; worked as a laborer; and died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Cain Artis, Wilson, was informant.

Cain Artis died 23 March 1917 in Wilson township, also of pulmonary tuberculosis. Per his death certificate, he was born March 1851 in Wayne County to Adam T. Artis and Winnie Coley; was married; and was a farmer. W.M. Coley of Wilson was informant.

Margaret Artis’ will entered probate in January 1919. Though the document is dated 1909, it seems actually to have been executed days before she died in 1919. Her sole heir is her daughter Sarah Barnes Barnes. She makes no mention of husband Cain Artis, and the 44 acres she bequeathed seems to have been that she had jointly owned or inherited from him.

Deed book 55, page 434, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

 

 

Bringing in cotton.

Orren V. Foust photographed street scenes in turn-of-the-twentieth-century Wilson. The images below, which were reproduced as postcards, depict cotton market scenes.

The first two cards show Barnes Street from two points along the street. (The tea kettle shop sign can be used for perspective. Comparisons to the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map seem to pinpoint the site as a spot just above Goldsboro Street looking toward Tarboro Street.) In the top image, two African-American men can be seen near the middle of the shot, standing behind a loaded wagon.

In this photograph, taken a little closer to the activity, another African-American man perches atop a bale of cotton, his face turned slightly toward the camera.

This shot, labeled “Sunny South Bringing In Cotton, Wilson N.C.,” shows an African-American drayman (or perhaps a farmer or farmhand) leading a team of oxen hitched to a wagon.

Images courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III’s Historic Wilson in Vintage Postcards (2003).

Suggs’ Greensboro dealings.

D.C. Suggs’ real estate speculation was not limited to property in his hometown.

Screen Shot 2018-02-24 at 3.19.37 PM.png

Brown Flats, 195-201 Lyndon Street, Greensboro, North Carolina.

Greensboro’s Lyndon Street Townhouses, also known as the Brown Flats, were listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992. Per pocketsights.com, “This series of townhouses is rare in Greensboro, where the urban prototype did not gain popularity before apartment houses with shared interior common halls grew acceptable. The four units remain among the few such townhouses in the state.

“The structures were likely built by Brown Real Estate Company, which had offices at 109 East Market Street. The firm was operated by Sample S. Brown, who was involved in several large transactions that transformed the city in the first decade of the twentieth century. At first, the flats were rented to white collar workers such as George Phoenix, clerk for the Southern railroad; rates in 1907 were $15 per unit.

“In 1919, the flats were acquired by Dr. Daniel Cato Suggs. Dr. Suggs was considered one of the wealthiest black men in North Carolina, and possibly the South. A native of Wilson, he graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (B.A. and A.M.) and Morris Brown University (Ph.D.) before beginning his career as a professor in the public school systems of Kinston and Asheville. He married Mary Nocho of Greensboro, daughter of educator Jacob Nocho, in 1902. In 1917 he was elected the President of Livingston College in Salisbury. He maintained his residence in the city until his death.”

The nomination form for the townhouses provides details of Suggs’ real estate activity in Greensboro:

“The failure of the townhouses to attract higher-class tenants was probably due to their location at the eastern edge of downtown, almost up against the tracks of the Southern Railway beyond which were the black neighborhoods of east Greensboro.  Their almost immediate transformation to working or lower middle-class housing was likely due to the construction of working-class black housing immediately to their rear along the railroad tracks in 1907 or 1908. These one-story shotgun duplexes, which no longer stand, were built by Daniel C. Suggs, a black teacher and entrepreneur, on an alley named after him (Sanborn Map Company, 1907 and 1913; Greensboro City Directories).

“Suggs had started to acquire property on the east side of Lyndon Street, on all three sides of the townhouses lot, early in the decade (Guilford County Deed Book 184, Page 240; Deed Book 186, Page 681; and Deed Book 230, Page 350, for example). Although listed in city directories as a teacher, Suggs was also an entrepreneur. He owned and lived in a large, two-story frame house at the southeast corner of Lyndon and East Market streets [a site currently occupied by a row of mid-century commercial buildings, one of which houses Uhuru Book Store], two doors up from the townhouses. A block to the west, at 239-245 East Market Street, he owned the Suggs Building, a three-story brick commercial building which housed a variety of black businesses, including a restaurant, a tailor shop, and a drug store (Greensboro City Directories; Sanborn Map Company 1919.)

“Suggs’ impact on the townhouses was to extend beyond any effect his construction of the houses on Suggs Alley may have caused. In 1919 S.S. and Helen G. Brown sold them to him, which gave him possession of the all of the property on the east side of Lyndon between Washington and Market streets and the tracks (Guilford County Deed Book 330, Page 465). Surprisingly, until 1928 the tenants in the townhouses continued to be white. During these years, Suggs was almost certainly one of the only black landlords in Greensboro who had white tenants. Ironically, in 1929, a year after the building’s tenants shifted from white to black, Suggs and his wife, Mary, defaulted on their mortgage and the townhouses came into the hands of a white owner, Mrs. Lottie Hughes Wallace (Guilford County Deed Book 634, Page 83; Greensboro City Directories). Since 1929, the townhouses have generally continued to be rented to low and  lower-income African-Americans.”

Screen Shot 2018-02-24 at 4.27.19 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-02-24 at 4.46.02 PM.png

Sanborn fire insurance map, Greensboro, N.C., 1919.

Image courtesy of Google Maps.

Evildoers.

News & Observer, 18 December 1907.

  • R.G. Wynn
  • Albert Ward
  • Oliver Brown
  • Sylvia Barnes — in the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Harry Barnes, 67; wife Sylva, 66; son Harry, 20; daughter-in-law Rena, 17; and granddaughter Henrietta, 14. Silvia Barnes died 8 September 1925 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 83 years old; married to Harry Barnes; was the daughter of Peter and Rosa Barnes; and worked as a tenant farmer for Billie Sims. Harry Barnes Jr. was informant.
  • Willie Moore
  • Moses Smith — in the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: day laborer Dudley Smith, 53; wife Mittie, 32; and children Polly, 13, Moses, 6, and Herbert, 4.
  • Tom Faison