1920s

Worthy colored man bitten by dog.

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Wilson Daily Times, 7 October 1921.

  • Jim Crocker — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer James W. Crocker, 40, and wife Nancy, 34. In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Crocker James lab h 206 Pender and Crocker Nancy cook h 206 Pender
  • Lula Creech — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: renting 421 Green Street, general laborer Haywood Creech, 28, and wife Lula, 26.

 

Your father probably taught you to do this.

In 1924, “White Barbers of Wilson” placed an ad in the Daily Times complaining of white customers — women, even — patronizing African-American barber shops. Hair-cutting had  long been dominated by black men, and white barbers keenly felt the loss of caste that their trade entailed. After chastising “the public” for going to “dark skin shops,” they shook a challenging finger: “Ladies and gentlemen, we believe when you see the thing the way we do you will be a full blooded Southerner, and join the ranks of a true born American citizen.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 5 September 1924.

They gave him a good switching.

Three African-American men were tried and convicted, but given only nominal punishment for whipping a white man whose common-law wife was a black woman.

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Baltimore Afro-American, 28 January 1921.

——

  • James Elons
  • Bill Artis
  • Edgar Artis
  • Melissa Wilkins

We are what you should be.

In early 1928, a group of young African-American men — friends and neighbors and almost all barbers or porters at barber shops — founded a social club in East Wilson.

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Baltimore Afro-American, 11 February 1928.

WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA

WILSON, N.C. On Tuesday evening, January 31st, the following young men of this city organized a club to be known as the Klondike Club. Bill Bryant, William Brown, Woodie Farmer, Freeman Ennis, John Love, Golden Venters, Oscar Hicks, George E. Brodie, Rufus Speight and George H. DuBose. The meeting was held at the Hotel Whitby and the following officers elected: B. Bryant, president; Freeman Ennis, vice president; Golden Venters, secretary; G.E. Brodie, treasurer; John Love, sergeant-at-arms, and George H. DuBose, journalist. On February 2nd, the club met at the home of the present and the following members initiated, Murphy Richardson, Jerval Barnes and Ossie Edwards. Club motto is, “We are what you should be.”

——

  • Bill Bryant
  • William Brown —  In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Brown Wm (c; Eva L) barber Bonnie Reid h 202 S Vick
  • Woodie Farmer — William Woody Farmer. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Woody (c) porter Wm Hines h 706 E Green. On 13 January 1929, Woody Farmer, 22, son of John Wash Farmer and Edmonia [no maiden name], married Savannah Powell, 21, daughter of Wiley Powell, in Wilson. Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of Emma Farmer, Rufus E. Speight and Theodore Speight. 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.
  • Freeman Ennis — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ennis Freeman (c) barber W S Hines h 904 Viola. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 904 Viola, rented for $15/month, Maggie Ennis, 45, and children Freeman, 22, barbershop bootblack, Earl, 12, and Hennie, 10, and roomer Julus Barnes, 27, laborer at Hackney body plant. Freeman Ennis died 5 January 1938 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was 29 years old; single; worked as a bell boy; and was born in Wilson to Samuel Ennis of Smithfield and Maggie Taylor of Wilson. Informant was Earl Ennis, 904 Viola.
  • John Love
  • Golden Venters — Golden T. Venters married Ethel P. Lane in Philadelphia in 1925. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Venters Golden T (c; Ethel) porter Wm Hines h 902 Viola
  • Oscar Hicks — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hicks H O (c) barber Levi’s Barber Shop h 812 E Green
  • George E. Brodie — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Brodie Geo (c) student h 903 E Green. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 311 Pender, Lawrence Hardy, 39, pantry(?) servant at college; brother James Hardy, 39, presser at cleaning works; and George Brodie, 33, barber.
  • Rufus Speight — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Speight Rufus (c) porter Wm Hines h 624 Viola. In 1940, Rufus Edward Speight registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he lived at 624 East Viola; was born 4 October 1907 in Whitaker, North Carolina; his contact was brother Theodore Speight; and he worked for Bill Hines at 130 South Goldsboro Street.
  • George H. DuBose
  • Murphy Richardson — On 8 June 1927, Murphy Richardson, 20, and Laura Martin, 22, both of Nash County were married in Wilson County by minister Charles T. Jones in the presence of Levi Jones, W.H. Phillips and Laura Graves. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Richardson Murphy (c) barber Levi’s Barber Shop h 116 Pender
  • Jerval Barnes — probably, Jerrell Randolph Barnes, who died 14 December 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 May 1909; was single; worked as a common laborer; and was born to Ned Barnes and Louisa Gay. Informant was Alice Bryant, Wilson.
  • Ossie Edwards

Intersection of Nash and Pender.

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, North Carolina.

  1. Colored Baptist Church — Formerly home to First Missionary Baptist Church, by 1922 this wood-framed building housed Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church.
  2. Wilson County Gin Company — A cotton gin. The main building later housed Faulkner Neon Company.
  3. 546 East Nash Street — In the 1922-23 Wilson city directory, this house is listed as the residence of several apparently unrelated people, including tobacco workers James Baker and James Green, helper Robert Hines, and laundress Easter Ruffin.
  4. 548 East Nash Street — J. Wesley Rogers, a porter at Oettinger’s department store, lived at this address. By the 1930s, this house had been demolished, and a fish market stood in its place.
  5. Law office at 550 East Nash Street — The 1922-23 Wilson city directory shows African-American attorney Glenn S. McBrayer‘s business address as 525 East Nash. Oddly, the advertising novelties concern of white businessman Troy T. Liverman and the office of African-American physician Michael E. DuBissette are listed at 550.
  6. Watch shop at 552 East Nash Street — Robert T. Alston ran a jewelry and watch repair shop at this location.
  7. Grocery at 556 East Nash Street — The 1922-23 city directory carries no listing for 556 East Nash, but at 558 there is the white-owned grocer Baxter & Company.
  8. Pender Street — In 1922, Pender Street ended (or began) at Nash Street. The dog-legged continuation across Nash was then called Stantonsburg Street. Much later, the course of Pender was shifted via an angle to meet Stantonsburg Street, and Stantonsburg was renamed Pender.

Cherry Hotel and the color line.

Wayne County native Caswell C. Henderson (1865-1927) migrated to New York City in the 1890s, but returned South to Wilson to visit his sister Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver. Their great-niece Hattie Henderson Ricks recalled the elaborate steps he took to carry out his daily ritual. First, Henderson would leave their house on Elba Street and walk west on Green Street. He crossed the railroad tracks and walked a few more blocks before turning left on a cross street, then left to walk east on Nash Street to the Hotel Cherry. He entered the hotel through its front doors — as any white guest would — bought a newspaper, shot the breeze for a while with other white guests and staff, then exited right to walk back up Nash Street. After a few blocks, he turned right, then right again on Green and crossed the tracks back into the African-American world.

——

“Uncle Caswell had been home, he’d been to Wilson.  He come down there visiting Mama …. He passed for white.  He would go and get a paper every morning down there to Cherry Hotel.  Walk down there for the exercise and get that paper.  And they all thought he was white.  He’d go in the hotel there and ask for a paper and come in there and talk to the people.  And he’d leave the hotel and walk the other direction, then walk back down Green Street and come on home.”

Cherry Hotel in an undated postcard issued by the Asheville Post Card Company.

Interview of Hattie Henderson Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

An aged negro pays her respects.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 August 1929.

I have not been able to locate Lucy Worthington in records.

Virginia “Jennie” Wise Boykin’s husband William Monroe Boykin was the son of Hilliard and Willie Flowers Boykin. In the 1850 census of Nash County, Hilliard Boykin reported $200 worth of real estate and, in the slave schedule, ownership of three enslaved people — a 35 year-old mulatto man, a 21 year-old mulatto man, and an 11 year-old black girl. With the creation of Wilson County in 1855, the 1860 census found Hilliard Boykin in Old Fields district of Wilson County (with son Monro, 15, in his household), claiming $3000 in real property and $7655 in personal property, which included women aged 33 and 22; girls aged 3, 2, and one month; and boys aged 7, 5 and 4. Presumably, Lucy Worthington was one of this group of enslaved people.

Eating houses.

1916-17

Hill’s 1916-17 Wilson, N.C., city directory.

  • Smithy Atkinson
  • Nan Best — Nannie Best. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 330 South Spring Street: widow Nannie Best, 61, her daughter Frank, 30, son Aaron, 21, and daughter-in-law Estelle, 19, and a lodger, nurse Henrietta Colvert, 24.
  • Burt L. Bowser
  • Dennis Brooks — In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County, 35 year-old Georgia-born merchant Dennis Brooks, wife Mary, 27, and daughter Aleo[illegible], 8, shared a household with Jordan Taylor, 50, and wife Matilda, 40. That same year, Brooks testified concerning a letter in the coroner’s inquest into the death of James A. Hunt. In 1904, Brooks testified at the coroner’s inquest into the death of George Williford concerning a conversation that took place in his bar.
  • Charles Hines — possibly, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 408 Wiggins Street, grocery man Charlie Hines, 31; wife Eva, 29; children Anna, 3, and Charlie Jr., 7 months; and cousin Maria King, 10.
  • Goodsy H. Holden — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 603 Spring Street, brickmason Goodsey Holden, 59; wife Laura, 52; and roomer Carrie Strickland, 29, tobacco factory worker.
  • Willie A. Johnson
  • Frank Scarborough
  • Annie Smith

1925 eating houses

Hill’s 1925 Wilson, N.C., city directory.

  • James Allen
  • John Barnes
  • William I. Barnes — William Ichabod Barnes. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 401 Pine Street, tobacco laborer Samuel Ennis, 26, wife Maggie, 29, and sons Freeman, 12, and Earl, 2; boarder John Smith, 21, a wagon factory worker; cafe owner William I. Barnes, 30, wife Madie, 27, and children Weldon, 12, Dorothy, 11, Rachel, 9, Ethel G., 6, Vera, 2, and Virginia R., 6 months.
  • Laura Benger
  • Ezekiel B. Braswell — Braswell Sanitary Cafe. in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1120 East Nash, rented for $18/month, cafe proprietor Ezekiel Braswell, 38; wife Mary, 29, public school teacher; daughters Mary E., 5, and Parthenia, 3; and roomer Matilda Cherry, 26, public school teacher.
  • George Cooper — Cooper & Barnes.
  • Peter Lupe
  • Rachel Gilliam

Central Cafe, Starr Cafe and Wilson Cafe served an African-American clientele, but were owned and operated by Mike Vekrakos, Gus Gliarmis and Major M. Gartrell. Vekrakos and Gliarmis were Greek immigrants, a group that dominated the cafe business in Wilson.

Colored graded school honor roll.

WCGS students

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.

  • Blount, Hellen — Born about 1915 to Mark and Mary Alice Black, Blount. Helen died 15 April 1932 of pulmonary tuberculosis. She lived at 113 South East Street.
  • Williams, Edmund — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 701 Vance Street, A.C.L. station laborer Allen Williams; wife Fennie, 39, laundress; and children Guss, 23, barber; Osca, 20, barber; Rosca, 20, A.C.L. station laborer; Lenard, 16; Edmond, 12, Albert, 10; Lizzie, 11; and Frederick, 3.
  • Boykin, Lila Ruth — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 900 Viola Street, valued at $4000, Christian church clergyman James Boykin, 44; wife Nancy S., 59; daughter Lila R., 19; and roomers Ines Williams, 23, widow, and Minnie Nelson, 20, who both worked as servants.
  • Haskins, Estelle — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Warren Street, Robert Haskins, 37, bottling company laborer; wife Gertrude, 28; and children Mandy, 14, Elizabeth, 12, Estelle, 10, Robert, 7, Lossie, 5, Lawrence, 4, and Thomas, 1. Estelle H. Goodman died 6 January 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 February 1911 in Wilson to Robert Haskins Sr. and Gertrude Farmer; was married to Arthur Goodman; and resided at 1224 Queen Street.
  • Cooke, Clementine — Perhaps, Cook Clementine (c) cook Cherry Hotel h 605 Nash.
  • Freeman, Naomi — Naomi Olivia Freeman. In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, Oliver N. Freeman, 38; wife Willie May, 31; and children Naomi, 8, Oliver N. Jr., 7, Mary F., 5, and Connie, 4.
  • Wilson, Irene — Probably, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, Mollie Wilson, 46; son Lennie, 25, house carpenter; daughter-in-law Georgia, 23; grandson Lennie Jr., 2; and children John A., 22, house carpenter; Annie D., 19, Sarah, 17, Bunyon, 16, Hirmon, 14, William H., 12, James J., 10, and Ire, 7.
  • Gilliam, Matthew — In 1940, Matthew Stanley Gilliam registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 19 August 1913 in Wilson; his contact was mother Annie Lee Gilliam; and he was employed by State Department (K.R. Curtis), Court House, Wilson. [His father was physician Matthew S. Gilliam.]
  • Bynum, Lizzie Mae — Probably, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 511 Narroway, widow Annie Bynum, 47, and children Ruth, 23, Joseph, 17, Curley C., 16, Feedy, 14, Lucy, 15, and Lizzie M., 7. Lizzie Bynum died 16 April 1932 of pulmonary tuberculosis. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1909 to Cooper and Emma Woodard Bynum, both born in Edgecombe County; was a student; and the family resided at 208 North East Street. Curley Bynum was informant. [Three blocks from Hellen Blount, above, who died the day before Lizzie.]
  • Brooks, William
  • Cox, Ebenezer — in the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Eddie Cox, 27, wife Mattie, 27, and son Ebernezer Cox, 11. In the 1925 Wilson city directory, Ebenezer is listed as a resident at 111 Carroll Street, the address at which his father operated Cox’s Pressing Club.
  • Williams, Martha — Perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: laundress Minnie Williams, 27, and children Martha, 11, and Lawrence, 9, on Bynum Street.
  • Speight, Inez L.
  • Barnes, Frank Washington — Frank W. Barnes (25 March 1911-21 March 1982) was the son of Jesse Reese Barnes and Sarah Eliza Barnes. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jesse Barnes, 46; wife Sarah, 47; and children Ned, 23, farm laborer; Nancy, 22, college student; Lemon, 20, pressing club laborer; Jessie Belle, 18, high school student; Maggie, 15; Ardenia, 13; Frank, 11; James, 6; and Mildred, 3.
  • Brown, James
  • Purdie, Esther — in the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Street P. Purdie, 49; wife Lenora, 28; and children Ethel, 20, Jane, 19, Raleigh, 20, Needie, 18, Mittie, 16, Esther, 14, Niney, 7, Paul, 6, Samuel, 5, and Erand, 3.
  • Williams, John
  • Blount, Florence — Florence Blount Hollingsworth English (26 March 1912-26 February 1988) was the sister of Hellen Blount, above. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cafe cook Mark Blount, 67; wife Alice, 31; children Florence, 10, and Helen, 7; son-in-law Boston Griffin, 39, furniture company delivery man; and roomer David Carrol, 40, tobacco factory worker.
  • Griffith, Mildred
  • Bullock, Viola — perhaps Viola Bullock Sams, who died 14 May 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 5 March 1909 in South Carolina to Sam Bullock and Martell Coper; was widowed; resided at 415 South Pender Street. Fred Woodard was informant.
  • Battle, Daisy — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Spring Street, Mary Battle, 41, tobacco factory worker, and children Flonnie, 12, Daisy, 12, David, 22, railroad crossing flagman, Jimmie, 7, and John, 5.
  • Farmer, Alice Gray — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 Hines Street, tobacco factory worker Jeff Farmer, 57; wife Blanche, 47, laundress; and children Charlie, 24, a tobacco factory worker, Jeff Jr., 18, a grocery company truck driver, Henry, 14, Alice, 12, Sam, 8, and Blanche, 5.
  • Jones, Gertrude — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 808 East Nash, Butler Jones, 39, painter; wife Myrtle, 36; and children Gertrude, 12, Louise, 6, Joseph, 5, Ruth M., 3, and Willard, 3 months.
  • Parker, Lucile — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wagon factory laborer Allison Parker, 46; wife Mary, 40, a tobacco factory worker; and children Marie, 14, Martha, 11, and Lucille, 8, at 901 Nash Street.
  • Taylor, Ossie Mae — Ossie Taylor Barnes died 12 February 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was a widow; was born 4 July 1908 in Wilson to Joseph and Martha Taylor and resided at 202 North East Street. Informant was Ida Edmundson, 711 Suggs Street.
  • Wilkerson, Maggie Belle
  • Barnes, Frank
  • Bowens, Nathan — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 South Lodge Street, rented for $10/month, North Carolina native Flora Royal, 42, tobacco factory worker, and her Florida-born son Nathan Bowens, 22, tobacco factory laborer.
  • Ellis, Robert — perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 640 Nash Street, sawmill laborer Robert Ellis, 30; wife Ella, 28; and children Robert, 9, John H., 7, James H., 6, and Ella P., 4; plus sister-in-law Hermenetta, 25.
  • Gardner, Levi — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, tobacco factory worker Will Gardner, 44; wife Mary, 40; and son Levi, 9.
  • Perry, Samuel — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, wagon factory laborer Sam Perry, 39; wife Sis, 36, tobacco factory worker; and children David, 11, Samuel, 9, and Nettie, 7.
  • Perry, David — see above.
  • Townsend, Haywood — Haywood Townsend’s delayed birth certificate indicates that he was born in Wilson in 1909 to Andrew Townsend and Lula McCoy. In the 1928 Wilson city directory, Townsend Haywood (c) student h 506 Banks.
  • Battle, Clara — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 304 East South Street, rented for $24/month, Joseph Battle, 50, janitor at colored high school; wife Gertrude, 42; and daughter Clara, 22; and roomers Earnest Heath, 24, cook, barber James Pettiford, 32, Robert McNeal, 23, servant, Essie M. Anderson, 18, servant, and Viola McLean, 24, “sick.”
  • Tarboro, Emma Lou — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, ice plant laborer Issac Tarboro, 39; wife Emma, 38; and children Thomas, 14, Emma Lou, 12, Issac Jr., 8, John, 5, Virginia, 3, and Richard, 8 months.
  • Weaver, Lewis — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 620 Stantonsburg Street, oil mill laborer Nathan Weaver, 47; wife Pattie, 45; and sons Lewis, 12, and Perry, 6.
  • Spells, E____
  • Williams, Marie — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1004 Nash Street, Edd Williams, 39; wife Minnie, 37; and children Marie, 14, Reges, 12, Gency, 10, and Jessie, 5 months.
  • Best, Herman — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1107 Nash Street, William Best, 37; wife Ada, 39; children Dorthy L., 6, Andrew(?), 12, Herman, 11, and Elizabeth, 8; plus brothers-in-law James Sims, 48, and Willie Sims, 38.
  • Woo[dard?], George A.
  • Ruffin, ____
  • DuBerry, Sherman — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 Stantonsburg Street, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory worker Linda Deberry, 70, widow, and sons Sherman, 19, tobacco factory worker, and Herman, 10.
  • Venters, ____
  • Shade, Sarah — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 535 Nash Street, Turner Stokes, 50, carpenter; wife Morah, 39; mother-in-law Martha Pitt, 83; and boarders Isac Shade, 44, drugstore manager; wife Estella, 38; and children Kenneth, 13, and Sarah, 9.
  • Shade, Kenneth — see above.
  • Huzzy, [Eliza]beth
  • Baker, Irene
  • Peacock, Susan — Susan Peacock Prince.