1910s

Lane Street Project: Delzela Rountree.

Delzela Dau of Jack & Lucile Rountree Born Aug. 5, 1897 Died Mar. 8, 1914 An angel visited the green earth and took the flower away.

——

In the 1900 census of Falkland township, Pitt County: farmer Jack Rountree, 49; wife Lucy, 27; and children Julius, 5, Daisy E., 2, and Cora, 2 months; sisters Marcela, 23, Cora, 24, and Ella Bargeron, 26; and boarder Jacob Worthan, 18.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jack Rountree, 53; wife Lucy, 35; and children Junius, 15, Delzel, 12, Cora Lee, 10, John H., 7, James, 6, Mable, 4, and Gollie May, 1.

Daisy L. [sic] Roundtree died 5 August 1914 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1898to Jack Roundtree and Lucy Body; was single; lived on Stantonsburg Street; and was buried in Wilson. 

There was never the least overt act indicating an implication to lynch him?

Wilson Daily Times, 1 February 1914.

A January 31 News & Observer article tells the fuller background story. J.D. Holland of Wake County was out plowing a field near his house when he was robbed at gunpoint of his knife, a gold watch, and one dollar. “Mr. Holland was taken unawares by the negro and at the point of a pistol was first forced to give up his property and then take off all his clothes and plough several furroughs of land. The robbery was not at all welcomed by Mr. Holland, but the work of imitating Adam was very disagreeable to the Wake farmer.” This humiliation was equally disagreeable to Holland’s neighbors, who quickly formed an armed posse to hunt for a Black man “of yellow complexion, weighing about 160 pounds and wearing a slightly dark moustache.” They made one false capture before encountering Tip Barnes walking on railroad tracks near Millbrook and locking him in a store.

When the sheriff arrived, he found a “small crowd of citizens” gathered, who “merely wanted to see that the negro was placed behind bars.” Barnes, however, claimed a hundred armed people milled about all night, hollering “Lynch him!” Barnes further claimed that he could not be the culprit, as he had only arrived in Raleigh the previous morning, having skipped town when he and another man got in some trouble in Wilson. Though the reporter expressed doubt, as reported above, Barnes did in fact have an airtight alibi. He was in Wilson at the time of the robbery, being questioned by Wilson police about a completely different crime.

The news bureau took care to debunk two rumors, perhaps in the interests of lowering public temperature. First, it urged, the robber had not humiliated Holland by forcing him to strip naked and continue plowing. Nor was it true that Barnes “had narrowly escaped lynching” at the time of his arrest.

Tip Barnes, who was well-known to law enforcement, escaped imprisonment (false or otherwise) in this instance. Eight years later, however, he was convicted of the murder of his wife, India Barnes, in Wilson.

The odyssey of Tate’s pool room.

This excerpt from a news account of a commissioners’ meeting caught my eye. Barber Noah Tate‘s application for a pool room license was denied, and Alderman Lewis cried discrimination. What kind of discrimination was being decried by an elected official in Wilson in 1919?

Wilson Daily Times, 6 September 1919.

An article published nearly eighteen months before yields context. On 7 May 1918, the Times reported, “The city fathers last night refused to renew the license to the pool rooms and to the bowling alleys of the city, and the remarks regarding the places where cider is sold were also far from complimentary. … The meeting was opened by the reading of a resolution by … business men setting forth the fact that both white and colored frequent these places and thus remove from the busy marts of trade and industry labor that should be employed in producing something other than thriftless habits and viciousness.” Mayor Killette railed against the shiftless and bemoaned the legal victory that allowed a local man to sell cider made from his own apples. “The gist of the argument [against pool rooms] was that the colored pool room was full of men who should be at work producing something for their families and helping to make something rather than being consumers merely and drones upon the body politic. They were corrupting because it was almost impossible to prevent gambling in these places and in addition to shiftlessness it encouraged vice and vagrancy. A number of employers stated that their help could be found in the pool room below the railroad, and the bowling alley came in for equally critical remarks as a place to encourage loafing and bad habits.” The matter was put to vote, and no’s were unanimous. [The “colored pool room,” by the way, may have been Mack Bullock‘s establishment at 417 East Nash. See Sanborn map detail, below.]

In June 1919, Luther A. Barnes, the white proprietor of a pool hall at the New Briggs Hotel, and the subject of intense criticism during the May debate received his license over the objection of the mayor. Perhaps this turn of events sparked Commissioner Lewis’ objection to Tate’s rejection three months later?

Noah Tate finally got his pool room in 1921. 

Wilson Daily Times, 8 July 1921.

“Over the railroad,” specifically, was 105-107 North Pettigrew Street.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map shows that Tate Pool Room was located in a brick building just north of Nash Street on the railroad side of the street. 

A modern aerial view at Google Maps shows that the rear of present-day 419 East Nash Street consists of two extensions. The first, with the striated roof below, sits in the footprint of Tate’s pool room and may even be the same building. 

 

At street level, two bricked-up windows are visible, as well as the original roofline. The building appears to have been cinderblock though, which was not commonly used in Wilson in the era of Tate’s business.

Noah J. Tate did not long enjoy his victory; he died in 1926.

Charles S. Darden’s groundbreaking legal work against segregation.

In 2018, the City of Los Angeles nominated the Cordary Family Residence and Pacific Ready-Cut Cottage at 1828 South Gramercy Place, Los Angeles, California, for historic-cultural monument designation. 

Page 13 of the nomination form contains this arresting statement: “Until recently the case of Benjamin Jones and Fanny Guatier, Plaintiffs v. Berlin Realty Company, a corporation, Defendant, has been an obscure footnote to history. But observers are now not just rediscovering the case itself, but also reminding us that the legal arguments against racial covenants used by Plaintiffs’ attorney Charles S. Darden in this case — and adopted by the Los Angeles Superior Court judge in ruling favorably for the Plaintiffs — preceded and foresaw what became the notable winning argument of later precedent-setting “Sugar Hill” case that took place in Los Angeles in 1945.” That case, involving actors Hattie McDaniel and Louise Beavers‘ fight against racially restrictive covenants, is credited with being the first to cite the 14th Amendment as justification for overturning such covenants. That recognition, however, more properly belongs to Jones and Gautier — and the arguing attorney, Wilson’s own Charles S. Darden — which has been overlooked because it did not rise to California’s Court of Appeals. Read more about Darden’s innovative arguments below.

Concrete Stipple Style.

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.)

A fine example of Concrete Stipple, except for the bullet holes. The couple are buried in Odd Fellows cemetery, and the stone probably dates from just after Daniel’s death in 1908. 

  • Lizzie May Barnes

Lizzie M. Barnes was buried in Odd Fellows cemetery in 1919.

  • Sylvania Sutton and Calvin Sutton

Sylvania and Calvin Sutton were buried in 1916 and 1922, respectively, in Polly Watson cemetery, which lies just over the Wilson County line in Wayne County.

  • Bessie McGowan

Bessie McGowan died in 1925 and was buried in Odd Fellows cemetery.

  • Harrison B. Davis

Harrison B. Davis died in 1915 and is buried in the Masonic cemetery.

  • C.S. Thomas

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. 

Suggs elected president of Livingstone College.

Greensboro Record, 23 January 1917.

——

With Samuel H. Vick, Daniel C. Suggs was one of the first generation of Wilson County freedmen to attend college. A Lincoln University graduate, he was not only a college president, but a lay leader in the A.M.E. Zion church and a wealthy real estate developer.

Daniel C. Suggs’ family was the Suggs of Suggs Street. His “valuable holdings elsewhere in the state” included considerable property in Wilson south of present-day Hines Street.

Men ordered to report, no. 5.

On 27 April 1918, the Wilson County Draft Board inducted these 26 African-American men into military service and ordered them sent to Camp Grant, Illinois, for basic training.

41550_1821100522_1158-00199

  • William Dorsey Shaw registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 21 August 1894 in Wake County, N.C.; resided 209 Hackney Street, Wilson; was a hostler for the Town of Wilson; and was married. He was tall and stout, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • William H. Billbry registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 8 January 1892 in Tarboro, N.C.; resided on Goldsboro Street, Wilson (crossed through and “New Bern, N.C.” entered); was a laborer for M. Popkin, Wilson; and had a wife and one child under twelve. He was tall and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Jessie Oliver registered for the draft on [5 June 1917.] Per his registration card, he was born in 24 December 1890 in Waynesboro, Georgia; resided in Black Creek, Wilson County; was a laborer for M.B. Aycock, Black Creek; and was single. He was of medium height and medium height, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Wade Brooks registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1895 in Black Creek, Wilson; resided in Wilson; was a self-employed farmer in Black Creek; and was single. He was of medium height and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • McKinley Justice registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 15 March 1896 in Edgecombe County, N.C.; resided on Route 1, Elm City; was a farmer for Frank Williams, Wilson; and was single. He was of medium height and slender, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Winsor Darden registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in September 1895 in Wilson County; resided in Wilson; was a self-employed farmer in Wilson County; and was single. He was of medium height and stout, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Walter Applewhite registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 8 February 1896 in Saratoga, N.C.; resided near Walstonburg, Wilson; was a laborer at a sawmill for R.R. Shackleford; and was single. He was of medium height and weight, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Nathan Dunnican registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1892 in Wilson, N.C.; resided in Wilson County, N.C.; was a farmer for S.J. Watson, Route 2, Wilson; and was single. He was short and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Albert Howard registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born about 1896 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Wilson, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer; and was single. He was short and of medium build, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X. [See Albert Howard in uniform here.]
  • Junius Lucas registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 18 July 1890 in Nash County, N.C.; resided in Wilson, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer; and was single. He was tall and of medium build, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Roy Evans registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 17 September 1895 in Nash County, N.C.; resided at 404 East Green Street, Wilson; was a butler for Jonus Oettinger, Wilson; was single; and had an injured back. He was tall and slender, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Fred Woodard registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in 1893 in Black Creek, N.C.; resided in Stantonsburg, N.C.; was a farmer forFred Washington; and was single. He was of medium height and slender, with brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Matthew Whitehurst registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born October 1889 in Martin County, N.C.; resided on Route 1, Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for George A. Barnes near Elm City; and was single. He was tall and of medium build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Edd Taylor registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born August 1896 in Elm City, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for Miles Pierce, Elm City; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Orlando Williams registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born in August 1891 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided on Route 6, Wilson, N.C.; was a farmer for Sallie Graves, Stantonsburg; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Jim Woodard registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 8 April 1890 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer; and was single. He was short and of medium build with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Sam Bunn registered for the draft on 27 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born July 1895 in Elm City, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farm laborer for father Amos Bunn; and was single. He was of medium height and weight, with dark blue eyes and black hair, that was slightly balding. He signed his card with an X.
  • James Thomas Revell registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 9 July 1893 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided on Route 4, Kenly, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer on Route 1, Lucama; and was single. He was tall and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • Charlie Jones registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 20 August 1893 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Wilson County, N.C.; was a farmer for J.S Jones, Sims, N.C.; and was single. He was medium height, with dark eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Larry Clay registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 15 May 1895 in Oxford, N.C.; resided in Black Creek, N.C.; was a farm laborer for John Clay, Black Creek; and was single. He was tall and of medium build, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Two African-American men named William Thomas registered for the draft on 5 June 1917 in Wilson County. One was born about 1896 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for E.R. Brinkley, Toisnot township; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card “Will Thomas.” The second was born in 1895 in Augusta, Georgia; resided in Neverson, N.C.; worked as a laborer at a rock quarry for Harris Granite Company; and had a wife and two children. He was tall and of medium build and had black eyes and hair. He signed his name with an X.
  • Robert Lee Mitchell registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 17 April 1896 in Elm City, N.C.; resided in Elm City, N.C.; was a farmer for J.G. Mitchell, Toisnot township; and was single. He was tall and slender, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.
  • James Johnson registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 10 June 1895 in Kenly, N.C.; resided in Wilson, N.C.; was a self-employed farmer in Black Creek township; and was single. He was tall and slender, with black eyes and black hair. He signed his card with his full name.
  • Several African-American men named Frank Barnes registered for the draft on 5 June 1917. The man inducted here was most likely one of two. The first was born 2 April 1895 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided in Wilson County, N.C.; was a farmhand for Drew Barnes, Wilson; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark eyes and dark hair. He signed his card with his full name. The second was born 25 August 1892 in Wilson County, N.C.; resided at 618 Lodge Street, Wilson; worked as a laborer at Farmers Oil Mill; and was single. He was of medium height and build, with dark brown eyes and black hair. He signed his card with an X.