1920s

Alec Donald found dead beside railroad.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 October 1923.

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In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lawson Donald, 23; wife Mariah, 20; and Ellic, 6, Rufus, 1, and Hamilton Donald, 12.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Lawson Donnell, 39; wife Maria, 35; and children Alex, 16, Rufus, 11, Sallie, 8, Moses, 6, Lawson Jr., 2, Eunice, 4, and Ann, 1.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Alexander Donald, 37; aunt Lizzie Williams, 67, washerwoman; and niece Elizabeth B. Williams, 12, nurse girl.

On 22 January 1902, Alex Donald, 39, of Stantonsburg, son of Lawson and Moriah Donald, married Adline Barnes, 26, daughter of Lewis and Allie Barnes, in Stantonsburg.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, which he owned, Alex Donald, 58, farm [croper?], and wife Adline, 44.

On 29 February 1920, Willie Donald, 31, of Stantonsburg, son of Alex Donald and Mandy Donald, married Pearl Melton, 28, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Ella Donald, at a church in Wilson. Free Will Baptist minister J.E. Brown performed the ceremony in the presence of E.S. Hargrove, C.C. Worthington, and E.H. Cox.

On 7 November 1920, Albert Thompson, 21, of Stantonsburg, son of Alex Donald and Frances T. Artis, married Ida Whitley, 17, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Council and Ida Whitley, at Council Whitley’s in Stantonsburg. Elder Isaac Barfield performed the ceremony.

Alex Donald died 14 October 1923 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1854 in Wilson County to Lawson Donald; was married to Adline Donald; worked as a day laborer; and was buried in Bethel Cemetery. Cause of death: “Killed by train.”

Per probate records, on 27 November 1923, A.P. Moore applied for letters of administration for Donald’s estate, estimating its value at $400 and his heirs as wife Adline Donald and one brother.

Adline Donald died 1 January 1931 at a state hospital in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

In 1945, fourteen years after Adline’s death, Alex Donald’s heirs filed a petition to divide what remained of his estate. Though his children seem not to have survived, several of his siblings — far more than the one brother — laid claim to “certain real estate located in the Town of Stantonsburg … known as the Alex Donald lots.” Lawson Donald Jr. and wife Fannie Speight Donald were living in Johnston County, N.C. Rufus Donald had migrated to Baltimore, Maryland, at least 40 years earlier. I have not been able to locate Moses Donald.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 March 1945.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Craps game ends in deadly shooting.

In early March 1924, Tom Hagin allegedly shot Otto King to death over a cheating allegation during a game of craps. The Daily Times could not help but engage in casual racism in reporting the tragedy, referring to the dice game as “African golf.”

Wilson Daily Times, 4 March 1924.

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In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Shandy King, 51; wife Nancy, 49; and children Jack, 21, Marcellus, 19, Shandey, 16, Mahala, 14, Columbus, 12, Otto, 7, and Harriett, 6. 

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jim Bass, 19, and lodgers James Allen, 21, and Otto King, 19, all farm laborers.

In 1918, Otto King registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 March 1891 in Wilson; lived at Route 4, Wilson; worked in farming for Charley Walston; and was single.

Otto King’s World War I service record.

On 11 January 1919, Otto King, 26, of Saratoga township, son of Shandy King, and Roberta Taylor, 16, of Gardners township, daughter of Moses Fent and Rena Taylor, were married in Saratoga township, Wilson County.

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Plank Road Highway, farmer Otto King, 28, and wife Roberta, 17. 

“Shot through neck & lungs Homicide”

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Maggie Parker slays her infant daughter Maggie.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 April 1928.

Per her death certificate, baby Maggie Marie Parker‘s mother killed her with an auto spring. On 8 September 1928, the Times reported that charges against Maggie Parker had been dropped, and she had been sent to the state “insane asylum” in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  

“Killed with auto spring by the hands of mother”

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On 7 November 1920, Anthony Parker, 28, of Wilson, son of Anthony Parker and Bettie P. Barnes, married Maggie Taylor, 24, of Toisnot township, daughter of Callie and Marcellus Taylor, at the residence of William K. Taylor, Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister C.H. Hagans performed the ceremony in the presence of Andrew Rountree, Raiford Rountree, and Albert Farmer.

 

Where we worked: domestic service.

Through much of the 20th century, the overwhelming majority of African-American women in Wilson who worked outside their homes worked either as domestic servants or tobacco factory laborers. Mittie Clarke‘s death certificate identifies her employment precisely — she performed domestic work for Mrs. W.D. Adams.

Mittie Clark’s parents, Rhoden and Sarah Hill Clark, migrated to Wilson from Scotland Neck, Halifax County, North Carolina, circa the 1890s. Rhoden Clark was a mechanic; Sarah Clark, a laundress. Sarah Clark bought a lot on Green Street from Samuel H. Vick in 1898, and the family built a large house, signaling their ensconcement in East Wilson’s Black middle class. Maintaining their position required the contributions of all, however, and the 1900 census shows five of the seven Clark children, ranging from age 13 to 30, engaged in nursing (as in childcare — this was Mittie), dressmaking, laundry work, and work as waiters.

William D. Adams was president of Barnes-Harrell Company, Wilson’s Coca-Cola bottler. His wife, Bess Hackney Adams, was a granddaughter of Willis N. Hackney, founder of Hackney Brothers Body Company.

[Note that Mittie Clark was buried in Rountree Cemetery. This may indicate Rountree, in fact, but more likely Odd Fellows or Vick Cemeteries. No grave markers for her or her family members have been found to date.]

White personnel make way for Dr. Ward and staff.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 March 1924.

In early 1924, Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward, a major in the Army Medical Corps and a pioneering physician in Indianapolis, was appointed first African-American chief surgeon and medical director of a Veterans Administration hospital. The appointment was poorly received by many in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the displacement of former personnel by a nearly all-Black staff was initially stiffly resisted.

Burch Williams’ Golden Follies at Lincoln Theatre.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 March 1928.

The Lincoln Theatre, a theatre catering to African-American audiences, operated in the late 1920s and early 1930s at 417 East Nash Street. Greek immigrant George C. Woller was the theatre’s proprietor. Burch Williams’ Golden Follies were a Black act, but white audiences could buy tickets for a special midnight show at another Greek-owned establishment, the European Cafe.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.