1910s

Registered motor vehicle owners, 1919 and 1920.

“The first one I knew to have a car was Dr. Reid, the veterinarian. And the Vicks.”

Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001)

In 1919, the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office published a hefty volume listing the first 112,000 motor vehicles registered in the state. Not surprisingly, Samuel H. Vick was an early adopter, registering five automobiles — by four different car companies — at once and receiving license numbers 685 through 689.

The document is not easily searched, but I was able to find these early African-American Wilson County drivers. Most lived in town, and only two — Chestiney Wilder and Georgia Aiken — were women. (May Locus was a man.)

  • 685 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Chandler
  • 686 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Reo
  • 687 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Hudson
  • 688 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Hudson
  • 689 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Cadillac
  • 5278 — Albert S. Gay, 620 E. Green St., Wilson, Ford
  • 7563 — J.Z. Staton, 804 Viola St., Wilson, Ford
  • 8583 — C.L. Darden, Wilson, Hudson
  • 17476 — May Locus, Rt. 1, Black Creek, Ford
  • 19608 — Will Artis, Stantonsburg, Oldsmobile
  • 26225 — Chestiny Wilder, Rt. 3 Lucama, Ford
  • 28151 — Josh Armstrong, Rt. 1, Elm City, Grant
  • 29157 — Henry Bryant, 145 Sugg St., Wilson, Dort
  • 32649 — Oscar Best, care of Wilson Live Stock Co., Wilson, Dort
  • 34116 — S.F. Hargrove [F.S. Hargrave], M.D., 625 E. Green St., Wilson, Columbia
  • 47620 — Dr. W.H. Phillips, 530 1/2 E. Nash St., Wilson, Hudson
  • 50184 — Neverson Green, Wilson, Reo
  • 55819 — Noah J. Tate, Wilson, Buick
  • 55820 — W.S. Hines, Wilson, Hudson
  • 57201 — Ned Kent, Rt. 3 Box 100, Kenly, Overland
  • 57479 — D.E. Reid [Dr. Elijah L. Reid], 650 Viola St., Wilson, Ford
  • 57551 — Dr. W.A. Mitchiner [Mitchner], E. Nash St., Wilson, Dodge
  • 60503 — Mrs. Georgia C. Aiken, 314 Barnes St., Wilson, Ford (for hire)
  • 69272 — Dennis Brooks, E. Nash St., Buick (for hire)
  • 71345 — G.E. Tyler, 603 E. Green St., Wilson Ford
  • 72510 — Neil Handy, Rt. 6, Box 144, Wilson, Ford
  • 73129 — A.N. Darden, Wilson, Dodge
  • 85889 — Crawford Darden, Black Creek, Cadillac
  • 86536 — Buck Locus, Rt. 4, Elm City, Grant
  • 87236 — C.E. Artis, 210 Pender St., Wilson, Ford
  • 88103 — Ben J. Ellis, Rt. 1, Box 153, Wilson, Ford
  • 89487 — Roscoe Johnson, 634 E. Green St., Wilson, Jordan
  • 90310 — Jim Brown, 805 Viola St., Ford
  • 90872 — Ed. Artis, Rt. 1, Stantonsburg, Ford
  • 90873 — Leslie Artis, Rt. 1, Stantonsburg, Ford
  • 91282 — Bud Sims, 624 Viola St., Metz
  • 92886 — June S. Artis, Rt. 6, Box 89, Wilson, Ford
  • 93517 — J.D. Reid, 601 E. Green St., Wilson, Reo
  • 94988 — Wm. H. Baker, 1020 E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford
  • 95012 — William Hines, Wilson, Hudson
  • 96664 — Rev. E.S. Hargrove, 702 Viola St., Overland
  • 97230 — Garry Armstrong, RFD, Elm City, Overland
  • 98115 — L.H. Peacock, 141 Ash St., Wilson, Hudson
  • 100721 — John W. Farmer, 635 E. Green St., Wilson, Chalmers
  • 104807 — Linwood Barefoot, E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford
  • 105289 — Turner Hines, Rt. 1, care of J.W. Cherry & Son, Elm City, Ford
  • 109186 — Dotson Locus, Rt. 2, Elm City, Chevrolet
  • 110274 — Garfield Ruffin, 1007 E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford

From the 1920 supplement to the Registry:

  • 113666 — Clifton Best (col.), R. 1, Stantonsburg, Ford
  • 114015 — Harry Carter, 517 E. Nash St., Wilson, Buick (for hire)
  • 121735 — Dempsey Blount, 516 E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford
  • 122953 — George Rutherford, 517 E. Nash St., Wilson, Buick (for hire)
  • 124283 — James Sellers, 651 E. Vance St., Wilson, Oldsmobile (for hire)
  • 124827 — Bill Smith (col.), care of Tilghman Motors Co., Wilson, Columbia

REO touring car, 1919.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. List of Registered Motor Vehicle Owners — North Carolina (1919); List of Registered Motor Vehicle Owners, Supplement No. 1 (1920).

Lynching going on, and there are men trying to stand in with the white folks.

Charles Stump was the pen name of Kentucky-born journalist Charles Stewart (1869-1925). By 1914, Stewart was working for the Associated Press and the National Baptist Convention and was known as “the press agent of the Negro race.” As Stump, Stewart reported to The Broad Axe, a black Chicago newspaper, his impressions of the areas through which he traveled. His 1918 sojourn through North Carolina coincided with the boycott of Wilson Colored Graded School.

Stump misreported principal J.D. Reid‘s name as A.D. Reed, but spared no words in describing his disdain for Reid’s conduct — “It is a small man who would strike a woman, but they have it down fine in Wilson, N.C., and if it is kept up much longer there will be some going home, but which home I am not prepared to say myself …. I never want to see a white man strike one of our best women in this world, for I would just then send word to the angels to dust my wings for I will be on my way for them, and then send word to the devil to heat the furnace just a little hotter, for I have started some one to take quarters therein.” Mary Euell, on the other hand, received her full due as “a refined, cultured, christian woman” with the “dignity of a queen.”

Stump’s account contains new details of Reid’s actions and the startling news that Reed’s karmic redress included the public slap of his ten year-old daughter Thelma by white merchant W.D. Ruffin.

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The Broad Axe (Chicago, Ill.), 26 July 1919.

Aaron Barnes dies.

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1910.

Perhaps, in the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Aaron Barnes, 60; wife Adline, 50; and niece Effie, 10.

Or perhaps, in the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Aaron Barnes, 62; wife Tilda, 55; sons Robert, 21, and Aaron, 18; and grandchildren James, 18, and Carrie, 10.

Moore returns home.

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New York Age, 28 July 1910.

Earnest Moore who recently came here from Livingston college returned to his home at Wilson, N.C., on last Friday; a sudden illness of his mother was the cause.”

——

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: merchant Lee Moore, 36, wife Louisa, 32, and son Ernest, 12.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, life insurance agent Lee Moore, 40; wife Mary, 36; and son Earnest, 19.

 

The strange affairs of Silas Parker.

Silas Parker died without a will in 1914, and two years later his 51-acre tract went up for sale at public auction to pay his debts. His widow Mahalia Parker, who served as administratrix of his estate and filed the petition to sell, was high bidder at $500. The couple’s children were Maggie V. Parker, Mary B. Parker, John W. Parker, Mack McKinley Parker, Este Parker, Jerry D. Parker, Bertha Parker, Anna Parker, Sarah J. Parker and Adeline P. Parker.

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Via Dickensian proceedings, Silas Parker had inherited most of this tract of land from his uncle, Jerry Dunn.

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In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Toney Parker, 41; wife Julia, 34; and children Harry, 10, Silas, 10, Bray, 8, William, 5, Mary, 3, and George, 3 months.

Also, in the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Jerry Dunn, 48; wife Sarah, 40; and Silas Parker, 8. (Next door: Zania Hill, 43, and daughter Della, 17.)

In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Jere Dunn, 60; wife Sarah, 55; and nephew Silas Parker, 21, laborer.

In early 1881, Jerry Dunn drafted his last will and testament:

State of North Carolina Edgecomb County I Jary Dunn thankin God that I am in Good Bodily helth and sound mind do acknowlege this my last Will and testemaning that I do give unto Silas Parker after the deth of my self and my beloved Wife sara Dunn a serten tract of land containing forty one acres known as the Boiten Wilaford tract Joanding the lands of Boston Armstrong and others to him the said Silas Parker to have and In Joy forever as he may ce cause I Jarey Dunn in Presans of God and Witnss have hear to set my hand and seal the 9 day of Januarey AD 1881 Jarey X Dunn Witness Jesse W. Williams Richard X Wilkins

On 20 December 1888, Silas Parker, 27, of Nash County, son of Toney Parker of Wilson County and Julia Parker, married Mahala Parker, 20, of Nash County, daughter of Ruffin Parker and Morning Parker, at Ruffin Parker’s in Nash County.

On 31 December 1888, Jerry Dunn, 65, of Toisnot township, son of Harry and Rachel Dunn, married Sarah Wilkins, 58, of Toisnot township, daughter of Daniel Pitt and Piney Wilkins, in Wilson township. Methodist minister J.H. Mattocks performed the ceremony, and Silas Parker and C.H. Darden witnessed. [Was this a second wife, also named Sarah?]

Jerry Dunn died in 1889, and the strangeness started. In August, attorneys Bunn & Battle filed this petition in Wilson County Superior Court on behalf of administrator D.L. Lancaster. The petitioner claimed that (1) Jerry Dunn was $800 in debt to Silas Parker; (2) the value of Dunn’s personal estate was only $50; (3) Dunn owned a 41-acre tract in Wilson County worth $300; (4) this land descended to Dunn’s children [sic] Ben Pitt, age 73 or 74, of Edgecombe County, Mariah Taylor, age 44 of Wilson County, Harry Atkinson, age 50, of Wilson County, Blount Atkinson, age 55, of Edgecombe County, Harriet Webb, wife of Eli, age 40, of Wilson County, Mills Atkinson, 64, of Edgecombe County; Dunn died intestate without wife or children; and Pitt, Taylor and Harry Atkinson conveyed their interest in Dunn’s estate to Silas Parker.

Eli and Harriett Webb filed an answer to the petition in October 1889. The opening paragraph was true, they acknowledged, but as to paragraph 1, Jerry Dunn was not carrying $800 in debt and owed nothing to Parker. Dunn had settled with Parker, paying him “every cent” he owed him and not incurred any new debt to Parker in the last three years. As to paragraphs 2 and 3, Dunn’s personal estate ought to be worth at least $250 and his land worth $450. As to paragraph 4, these were Dunn’s siblings, not his children, and none had signed over their interest to Parker. There was no need to sell Dunn’s land to pay his debts, which amounted to no more than $50, as his personal assets should cover them. Further, Mills Atkinson was a “lunatic” without a guardian.

At that point, it seems, Jerry Dunn’s will suddenly turned up. He was not intestate, after all. The will was entered into probate on 6 January 1890 in Wilson County Superior Court, and the whole game changed. The court dismissed the petition to sell land and began to transfer Dunn’s wealth to his sole heir under his will, Silas Parker. Parker was the sole buyer at the sale of Dunn’s personal property in December 1891, scooping up farm animals, some equipment and a bed. He also, of course, received Dunn’s 41 acres.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Parker, 38; wife Mahala, 31; and children Maggie, 9, Mary B., 7, John W.L., 5, McKilley, 3, and Estie, 1.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wells Daws Avenue, farmer and teacher Silas Parker, 49; wife Mahalley, 41; and children Maggie, 19, May B., 17, John, 15, Mack M., 13, General Este, 11, Jerry B., 18, Bertha, 6, Anna, 4, Sarah, 2, and Addie P., 3 months.

Administrator’s bond for estate of Silas Parker, 21 February 1914.

On 13 December 1915, Mahala Parker filed the petition to sell land for assets, asserting that Silas Parker had died with about $1000 in outstanding debt; that all of his personal estate had been allotted to her as widow’s support; that she had paid down $600 of her husband’s debt; that at his death Silas Parker owned a 51-acre parcel in Toisnot township and a 3/4 acre parcel near Nashville, Nash County; that she and Silas’ children lived on the “old Silas Parker home place” and that two of the children were adults and the rest minors; and that sale of the land was necessary.

Undated notice from estate file of Silas Parker, probably published in the Wilson Daily Times.

On 6 January 1916, William Battle, 21, of Edgecombe County, son of Jackson and Hannah Battle, married Bell Parker, 20, of Toisnot township, daughter of Silas and Mahalia Parker. Minister of the Gospel Samuel Burston performed the ceremony at Mahala Parker’s in Toisnot in the presence of Sidney Cotton, George Armstrong and Kinley Battle.

On 4 September 1918, John W. Parker, 24, son of Silas and Mahalia Parker, married Indiana Terry, 22, daughter of Henderson and Mary Terry, in Toisnot township.

Mahala Parker died 13 October 1921 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was the widow of Silas Parker; was about 51 years old; and was born in Nash County to Ruffin Parker and Mourning Joyner. Informant was Mack Parker, Elm City.

On 22 November 1935, Estee Parker, 30, son of Silas and Mahala Parker, married Irene Davis, daughter of Ellis and Bessie Davis, in Greenville County, Virginia.

On 17 June 1936, David King, 21, of Wilson, son of Peter King and Freay (last name unknown), married Adlena Parker, 23, of Wilson, daughter of Silas Parker and Mahala Parker. Missionary Baptist minister Charles T. Jones performed the ceremony at James Alston‘s on Green Street in Wilson in the presence of Mag Parker, James Alston and Mary Whitely.

Jerry Parker died 5 July 1938 on the Parker farm, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 February 1902 in Wilson County to Silas Parker of Wilson County and Mahala Parker of Nash County; was a farmer; and was buried in Parker cemetery. John Parker, Elm City, was informant.

Maggie McGeachy died 13 November 1953 in Sharpsburg, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 21 April 1883 in Wilson County to Silas Parker and Mahalia Parker; was married to Willie McGeachy; and was buried in the Parker cemetery, Wilson County.

Mack McKinnley Parker died 20 May 1968 in Elm City, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 May 1899 to Silis Parker and Mahalia Parker; was a farmer; and was married to Minnie Parker. He was buried in the Parker cemetery in Wilson County.

Mary Bell Battle died 4 August 1971 in Hampton, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 77 years old; was the widow of William Battle; and was the daughter of Galas Parker and Mahalia (last name unknown). Informant was Willie Lee Battle, Rocky Mount, N.C.

John Parker died 22 January 1975 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per his death certificate, he was born 22 November 1892 to Silas Parker; was married to India Parker; and was retired. Walter Parker of Rocky Mount was informant.

Estate records of Jerry Dunn (1889 and 1890) and Silas Parker (1914), North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Mercer vs. Mercer.

In 1911, Dempsey Mercer filed for divorce from his wife Mattie Knight Mercer.

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Wilson Daily Times, 11 October 1911.

In the 1900 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Laura Mercer, 65, and children Dollie, 26, farm laborer, Susan, 22, and Dempsey, 16, farm laborer.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Cooper Farmer, 55; wife Caroline, 55; boarder Lewis Williams, 18, farm laborer; and servant Mattie Knight, 16.

On 23 January 1902, Dempsey Mercer, 20, married Mattie Knight, 20, in Edgecombe County.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Dempsy Mercer, 27; wife Mattie, 20; children Charles, 7, William, 6, Robert, 3, and Walter, 2 months; nieces Lula, 2, and Gertrude Hines, 1 month; and sister Margarett Hines, 19.

Dempsey Mercer died 7 July 1914 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 January 1914 in Wilson County to Dempsey Mercer of Edgecombe County and Mattie Hines of Nash County.

Mary Mercer died 11 February 1915 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born March 1912 to Dempsey Mercer and Maggie Hines.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Dempsy Mercer, 40, widower; children Charley, 17, William, 15, Robert, 10, Walter, 9, and Maggie, 8; sister-in-law Maggie Hines, 24, and her children Lula, 8, Silvey, 7, and James, 4. [Dempsey Mercer was divorced rather than widowed.]

On 24 June 1921, Dempsey Mercer, 40, of Wilson County, son of Joe Williams and Louisa Mercer, married Fannie Barnes, 37, of Wilson County, daughter of Luke Holmes and Mary Holmes, at W.A. Pool’s in Black Creek.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Dempsey Mercer, 50; wife Fannie, 40; children Charlie, 27, Lee, 19, Jonah, 16, Jamar, 13, and C[illegible], 10; and lodger Rachel Melton, 30. [The younger children appear to be Fannie’s by an earlier relationship.]

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: Gilmore C. McCoy, 58, tobacco factory stemmer, and wife Mattie, 49, laundress.

Robert Mercer died 9 December 1930 in Gardners township. Per his death certificate, he was 23 years old; was born in Wilson County to Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight, both of Edgecombe; was a farmer; and was single.

Charlie Mercer died 9 December 1936 in Gardners township. Per his death certificate, he was born January 1902 in Edgecombe County to Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight, both of Edgecombe; was a farmer; and was single. Informant was Mattie McCoy of Rocky Mount.

Dempsey Mercer died 20 April 1949 in Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 September 1883 in Edgecombe County to Joe Mercer and an unknown mother and was married. Informant was Will Mercer of Bailey, N.C.

Mattie Knight McCoy died 31 December 1970 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 September 1897; resided in Edgecombe County; was widowed; and was a retired tobacco worker. Mary Bullock, 1205 Atlantic Street, Wilson, was informant.