1910s

706 East Green Street.

The nineteenth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1913; 1 story; extensively remodeled two-room house with stuccoed facade and added wings.” Because of its extensive remodeling, the house was considered “non-contributing” to the historic character of the district.

The photograph below accompanies a fine article published in the January 2011 volume of North Carolina Historical Review, Richard L. Mattson’s “The Cultural Landscape of a Southern Black Community: East Wilson, North Carolina, 1890-1930.” The image dates from about 1910, and 706 East Green — though now heavily modified — is easily recognized in the twin gables fronting the house. The family depicted is that of John W. and Edmonia Barnes Farmer, whose grandson James E. Farmer provided the photograph.

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In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Washington Farmer, 43; wife Wady, 44; and children Edith, 14; Fordin, 13; Gimsey, 11; John W., 8; Nancy, 6; and Orgius, 6; and Nelson Farmer, 21.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer George Barnes, 30; wife Anner, 24; and children Hardy, 8, Rena, 7, Edna, 1, and Jesse, 3.

In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer Washington Farmer, 52; wife Waity, age about 50; and children Edieth, 25; Gincy, 21; John W., 18; Nancy, 16, Ojus, 13; Mariah, 2; and Margaret, 2.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: George Barnes, 41; wife Anna, 34; and children Hardy, 19; Reny, 17 (“toothache”); Jessee, 12; Edmonia, 11; George, 9; Minnie Adeline, 6; twins Joshua and General, 3; and William, 1 month.

On 25 December 1884, John W. Farmer, 22, married Edmonia Barnes, 18, at George Barnes’. G.T. Williamson and B.B. Barnett were witnesses.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wagon driver John W. Farmer, 37; wife Edmonia, 33; and children George, 13, Paul, 12, Annie, 9, Mary, 7, and Fannie, 5.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: express wagon driver John Farmer, 48; wife Edmonia, 41, a laundress; and children George, 23, factory laborer; Paul, 19, hotel servant; Annie, 18; Mary, 16; Fannie, 14; Arthur, 8; Melton, 6; and William, 4.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 East Green, plasterer John A. Farmer, 60; wife Nona, 61; sons James E., 17, and Woodie, 22, barber; and daughter-in-law Savana, 22, lodge bookkeeper.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: washer Edmonia Farmer, 71; husband John, 73; son James E., 27, a plasterer; daughter-in-law Doretha, 27, a beauty operator; and their son James E., 6; and grandchildren Marvin, 10, and Vera Farmer, 14.

Edmonia Farmer died 18 January 1947 at home. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old, married to John Wash Farmer, and born in Wilson County to George Barnes of Wilson County and Annie Parker of Edgecombe County. George W. Farmer was informant, and Dr. William Hines certified the death.

John Wash Farmer died 20 January 1947 at home. Per his death certificate, he was 79 years old; was born in Wilson County to Wash Farmer of Wilson County and an unknown mother; and worked as an expressman. The informant was George W. Farmer, 1207 Carolina Street, Wilson.

Who was U No Barnes?

In 1914, in a show of mutual support, Progressive Colored Citizens included a glowing write-up of H.G. Barnes on its front page, and the painter placed two ads in its three pages.

“H.G. Barnes, the sign painter, better known as ‘U No Barnes,’ is a good workman and has practically all of the white business of the town. He was trained in the trade in Cleveland, Ohio, although he is a native of this community. With careful attention to the details of his business, he has established himself as worthy. He also installs all kinds of electrical signs.”

Who was U No Barnes?

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: teamster Ed Pool, 54; wife Adeline, 44; and nephew Harvey Barnes, 15.

Harvey G. Barnes took out a large in the 1912-13 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory to promote his business. The directory noted that Barnes lived at 623 Darden Alley, and his House of Signs was at 107 South Goldsboro Street.

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On 28 June 1916, Harvey G. Barnes, 30, of Wilson, son of Jim and Harriet Barnes, both deceased, married Roslin Pitts, 21, of Guilford County, daughter of Morgan and Georgia Pitts of Spaulding County, Georgia, in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina. The union merited a lengthy write-up in the New York Age. The wedding party included best man Camillus L. Darden and groomsman W.H. Jones of Wilson. Barnes and Pitts apparently met during the year that she taught at Wilson’s Colored Graded School.

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New York Age, 29 June 1916.

On 12 September 1918, Harvey Grey Barnes registered for the World War I draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he resided at 410 L Street, S.E.; was born 22 March 1886; worked as a painter for W.M. Spore, 35 M Street; was married to Rosalind B. Barnes; and was 5’4″ and slender with black hair and eyes.

In the 1920 census of Washington, D.C.: at 410 L Street, S.E., North Carolina-born Harvey Barnes, 33, and his Georgia-born wife Rosylind, 23. Barnes worked as a coach painter in a paint shop. [This house, located in the Navy Yard area, no longer stands.]

In the 1930 census of Washington, D.C.: at 1013 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Harvey G. Barnes, 40, painter in paint shop, and wife Rosaline, 32, seamstress. Barnes owned the house, which was valued at $2385. [This house no longer stands.]

Harvey Grey Barnes applied for a Social Security number in November 1936. He listed his parents as James and Harriette Barnes on his application.

In the 1940 census of Washington, D.C.: at 1013 New Jersey Avenue, N.W., Harvey Barnes, 53, and sister Alice Willist, 48. Both were divorced. Barnes worked as a painter in an auto shop.

In 1942, Harvey Gray Barnes registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he was 56 years old; was born 27 March 1886 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided at 1013 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.; and worked at National Trailways Bus Garage, 66 Hanover Street, N.W. He was 5’4, 150 pounds, with light brown skin, gray eyes and gray hair, and his contact was Miss Alice K. Barnes, 300 W. Franklin Street, Richmond, Virginia.

Progressive citizens, pt. 3.

Sometime in 1914, the Wilson Times published a three-page insert highlighting the achievements of the town’s African-American community. “Wilson is fortunate in having a large proportion of sensible negroes,” the writer opined, and counted among the laudable such well-known citizens and institutions as Samuel H. VickJ.D. Reid; Dr. Frank S. HargraveCharlesCamillus and Arthur Darden; Levi JonesWilliam HinesHenry Tart; and H.G. Barnes; Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home for Colored People; the Colored Graded School; First Baptist Church; Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers; and Lincoln Benefit Society.

Here is page 3 of the insert:

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  • Crockett & Aiken
  • Acme Sign Works — “Estimates and designs furnished. Up-to-date electric signs promptly. Gold, silver and brass letters. Satisfaction guaranteed. Glass, cloth, wood, brass, metal and wire. ‘Anything in signs.’ H.G. Barnes, proprietor. ‘U No Barnes.’ He does the work.”
  • The Sanitary Shop — William Hines’ “up-to-date barber shop.”
  • Levi H. Jones, the Barber — “Hot and cold baths. No long waits. Clean shaves and everything sanitary. None but up to date workmen employed. Look for revolving sign opposite Lumina. Old customers stick. Drop in and join the stickers.”
  • Henry Tart, the Reliable Transfer Man — “When you need the luggage wagon or a hack — call Henry Tart at either phone 437 or phone 40. You get personal attention and careful handling of baggage. Our wagons and hacks meet all trains at both depots and we transfer baggage promptly to either depot or home or hotel and do it right. Hand baggage cared for with personal attention and delivered at the depot promptly. Passengers transferring between trains will find our drivers courteous. They will take of your hand baggage as well as transfer your trunks.”

Progressive citizens, pt. 2.

Sometime in 1914, the Wilson Times published a three-page insert highlighting the achievements of the town’s African-American community. “Wilson is fortunate in having a large proportion of sensible negroes,” the writer opined, and counted among the laudable such well-known citizens and institutions as Samuel H. Vick; J.D. Reid; Dr. Frank S. Hargrave; Charles, Camillus and Arthur Darden; Levi Jones; William Hines; Henry Tart; and H.G. Barnes; Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home for Colored People; the Colored Graded School; First Baptist Church; Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers; and Lincoln Benefit Society.

Here is page 2 of the insert:

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  • The small photograph, labeled C.J. Darden, actually depicts Camillus L. Darden.
  • Crockett & Aiken — “Moving Houses a Specialty. Barnes Street adjoining Norfolk Southern Station.” Livery stable owner John H. Aiken died in July 1914. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 123 Pender Street, widow Gergia Akin, 45, livery stable manager; her brother Alexander Crockett, 47, stable salesman; and two laborers, John Norfleet, 30, and Mose Parker, 32.

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Sanborn insurance map, Wilson, N.C, 1913.

  • City Bakery — “540 East Nash St., under Odd Fellows Hall. First class and sanitary in ever particular.” R.B. Bullock.
  • Down Town Pressing Club — L.B. Barefoot.
  • Dennis Brooks Livery Stables — “Rear Odd Fellow Hall Nash Street.” Georgia-born Dennis Brooks also operated a grocery and a bar.
  • The Globe Theatre — “Odd Fellows Hall Nash St. Only place of amusement of its kind in the county — Colored People.” The Globe was a Samuel H. Vick enterprise.
  • Lincoln Benefit Society — “Chartered by the Legislature of North Carolina as a Fraternal Society. Has councils in the principal towns and cities of the state. Safe, reliable, economical.” Officers included Dr. F.S. Hargrave, president, and S.H. Vick, secretary.
  • Ideal Pharmacy — “Any physician’s prescription will be filled at Ideal Pharmacy exactly as it would be by the best drug stores of the country. We guarantee the quality of drugs, accuracy of compounders, reasonableness of charges, and unexcelled service. Give us a trial.” Darcey C. Yancey opened this pharmacy as early as 1908.
  • J.H. Shaw Groceries — “Fruits, candy, cigars, tobacco, cold drinks and produce. Get my prices before buying cheap for cash.”
  • Dr. W.A. Mitchenor — “Special attention given to the diseases of women and children. … Rear of Ideal Pharmacy.” Dr. William A. Mitchner, a Johnston County native, practiced medicine in Wilson until his death in 1941.
  • Sanitary Shaving Parlor — “The cleanest and most up-to-date in the town. We keep sharp tools, clean towels and pure toilets. Hot towels with every shave if desired. Good barbers always on hand. Satisfaction guaranteed.” Charles S. Thomas (1877-1937) was a native of Bennettsville, South Carolina.
  • R.T. Alston — “Watches, clocks, jewelry, eye glasses, spectacles, etc. I handle the very best grade of watches, such as the Elgin, Waltham, Illinois, Hampden, and Hamilton. Your credit is good. Yes, I will sell you a watch on the weekly payment plan: that is, ‘So much down and so much each week.’ I do a mail order business also. If you want a watch or other jewelry, write me for terms and order blanks. No in a few days I shall have a large stock of watches, clocks, etc. on hand. Call to see me or write.”  Robert T. Alston was a native of Granville County, North Carolina.

William Hines, making good.

In March 1913, the Indianapolis Recorder, a nationally focused African-American newspaper, ran a front-page feature on William Hines, a “native of [Wilson] and a forceful character for the intellectual, moral, spiritual, social and economic development of young North Carolinians.”

Citing Samuel H. Vick and Biddle University as Hines’ influences, the article detailed his entry into the real estate business after establishing a successful barber shop. In just five years, Hines had accumulated 11 houses and “a number of very desirable lots.”

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Indy Recorder 3 1 1913

Indianapolis Recorder, 1 March 1913.

Hines’ real estate investments eventually made him one of the largest builder-owners of rental property in east Wilson. His barber shop operated for many decades, and his varied civic involvement included work as leader in the World War I Liberty Loan Campaign, charter investor in the Commercial Bank of Wilson, founding member of the Men’s Civic Clubboard of trustees of the Negro Library, board of directors of the Reid Street Community Center, and administrator of Mercy Hospital.

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William Hines, a little later in life.

William Hines was born 29 October 1883 in Edgecombe County and died 17 October 1981 in Wilson. He is buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Photo of Hines courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Progressive citizens, pt. 1.

Sometime in 1914, the Wilson Times published a three-page insert highlighting the achievements of the town’s African-American community. “Wilson is fortunate in having a large proportion of sensible negroes,” the writer opined, and counted among the laudable such well-known citizens and institutions as Samuel H. Vick; J.D. Reid; Dr. Frank S. Hargrave; Charles, Camillus and Arthur Darden; Levi Jones; William Hines; Henry Tart; and H.G. Barnes; Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home for Colored People; the Colored Graded School; First Baptist Church; Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers; and Lincoln Benefit Society.

On page one, the main text of digitized version of the insert is difficult to read, but the advertisements and photographs are clear. Surrounding an image of the just-opened Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home are ads placed by Henry Tart, “The Transfer Man”; York Pressing Shop; and C.H. Darden Undertakers. In addition to their funeral business, the Dardens touted their bicycle and firearm dealerships and their status as agents for Victor talking machines and records. The proprietors of the pressing club are listed only as Reed and Whitty. I have not been able to identify Whitty, but Reed seems to have been Lonnie Reid (a cousin of J.D. Reid), who is listed in the 1912 Hill’s city directory of Wilson operating a clothes cleaning shop at 603 East Nash Street. York was short-lived, as in the 1916 directory Reid was in business with Dunn, North Carolina, resident William Bates. Their tailor shop, Bates & Reid, also operated from 603 East Nash.

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Original document in the collection of the Freeman Round House Museum, Wilson, and digitized at www.digitalnc.org.