1920s

Sarah Shade visits her brother in Brooklyn.

Thirteen year-old Sarah L. Shade spent some time with her brother John A. Shade and sister-in-law Ruby Purcell Shade before the school year began in 1924.


New York Age, 18 October 1924.

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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. [Estella Lane Shade was Isaac A. Shade‘s second wife. His first marriage, to Emma Green Shade, apparently ended in divorce.]

On 9 September 1937, Sarah Luvenia Shade, 27, of Wilson, daughter of I.A. Shade and Estella Shade, married Richard Clyde Minor, 27, of Columbus, Ohio, son of Richard C. Minor and Alice G. Minor, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister Richard A.G. Foster performed the ceremony in the presence of Thelma B. Foster, Norma E. Darden, and C.L. Darden.

In the 1940 census of Jefferson City, Cole County, Missouri: at 809 East Dunklin, university professor Richard C. Minor, 40; wife Sara, 28; and boarder Rubye Harris, 20, university music teacher. [Richard Minor and Harris taught at Lincoln University.] Both Minors reported having lived in Salisbury, N.C., five years earlier.

The Lincoln Clarion (Jefferson City, Missouri), 30 October 1942.

Sarah L. Shade died 5 March 1992 in Wilson. [She reverted to her maiden name after divorce.] Per her death certificate, she was born 10 November 1910 in Asheville, N.C., to Isaac Albert Shade and Estelle Lane.

 

Other suns: Michigan.

If World War II draft registrations are representative, migrants from Wilson County to Michigan landed overwhelmingly in Detroit.

  • Taylor, Kingsberry and Charity Jones Taylor, Allegan County, ca. 1855.
  • Williams, Mosley, Detroit, bef. 1924.
  • Hagans, Charles W., Battle Creek (from Pennsylvania), bef. 1930.
  • Perry, Nelson Jr., Detroit, bef. 1930.
  • Winn, Ernest, and Jesse Winn, Detroit, bef. 1930.
  • Pittman, Plummer, Detroit, bef. 1931.
  • Hines, Walter D., Detroit, late 1930s.
  • McCullers, Horace, Detroit (from Pennsylvania), 1930-1940.
  • Deans, Gray C., Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Easton, Bennie, Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Harris, Clarence, Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Jackson, Alphonza, Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Jones, Southen, Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Lindsey, James W. and Roy J., Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Sherwood (or Kittrell), William H., Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Taylor, Moses, Detroit, bef. 1940.
  • Hines, C. Ray, Detroit, ca. 1941.
  • Bailey, Lonnie, Detroit, bef. 1942.
  • Barnes, Marvin, Detroit, bef. 1942.
  • Cone, Rader, Detroit, bef. 1942.
  • Gaffney, Sylvester O., River Rouge, bef. 1942.
  • Mayo, John E., Detroit, bef. 1942.
  • Moore, Absalom, Detroit, bef. 1942.
  • Rich, Willie J., Detroit, bef. 1942.
  • Richardson, John W., Detroit, bef. 1942.
  • Wellons, Julia Tart, Detroit, bef. 1944.

A visit to Oklahoma.

The Black Dispatch (Oklahoma City), 25 May 1922.

Ada G. Battle and Nicholas R. Battle, both born in Wilson County, were the children of Charles Battle.

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In the 1880 census, Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith Charles Battle, 35, wife Leah, 30, and children Adelia, 5, Geneva, 2, Virgil, 1 month, and Nicholas, 18.

On 27 February 1901, Nicholas R. Battle, 37, born in North Carolina, residing in Chandler, Oklahoma, married Mrs. Dora J. Bolton, 39, born in Mississippi, residing in Guthrie, Oklahoma, in Logan County, Oklahoma.

In the 1910 census of Chandler township, Lincoln County, Oklahoma: farmer Nicklos Battle, 46; wife Dora, 41; adopted children Charley Suggs, 5, and Henry Caldwell, 3; and hired man Cleveland Smith, 24.

In the 1920 census of Chandler township, Lincoln County, Oklahoma: farmer Nichols Battles, 56; wife Dora J., 58; and son Henery N., 12.

Dora Battle died 10 November 1921 in Chandler, Oklahoma.

In the 1930 census of Chandler, Lincoln County, Oklahoma: farmer Henry Battle, 22; wife Vannie, 23; son Henry Jr., 3; and father Nicholas B. Battle, 64, widower, farmer.

In the 1940 census of Chandler township, Lincoln County, Oklahoma: farmer Nichols Battles, 75; wife Ella, 39; and children Ada L., 5, Nicholas R., 3, and Evelene, 1.

Nicholas R. Battle died 24 December 1946 in Chandler, Oklahoma.

Elm City in 1923.

I regularly mine Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Wilson for information, but only now have discovered the 1923 maps of Elm City. Sheet 4 covers the town’s historic African-American east side. Three inserts show streets beyond the borders of the map.

Though the street grid has not changed much in a hundred years, the names of Elm City’s streets have.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Elm City, N.C. (1923).

Tarboro Road is now East Langley Road. The “First Baptist Church (Colored),” founded 1875, remains an active congregation, now known as First Missionary Baptist Church of  Elm City. The building now sits perpendicular to the road.

Corker Street is now Tyson Lane. The Elm City Colored Graded School stood near its intersection with Church Street.

Wilson Street retains it name. A lodge hall — Masons? Odd Fellows? — stood near the current location of Wynn’s Chapel Church.

Further east on Wilson, the First Presbyterian Church (Colored), which would gain national attention nearly 40 years later when targeted by the Ku Klux Klan.

Sheet 5 shows the area south of Elm City’s business and residential center. The Free Will Baptist Church (Colored) beneath J.D. Winstead Cotton Gins was Wynn’s Chapel in its original location.

Elm City, Wilson County, N.C., Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Library of Congress.

Six weeks later, white man charged with murder of Lovett Cameron.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 May 1927.

Lovett Cameron died six weeks after Tom Moore struck him in the head with a glass bottle at Rose Bud crossroads, near the modern-day Bridgestone Firestone plant.

I have not been able to find Cameron’s death certificate or anything further about his murder.

 

 

Negro white supremacist given 24 hours to leave.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 January 1925.

I’m not sure what to make of this. Who was Socrates A.E. O’Neil of Wilson? What was the Ethiopia International School? And what was the “wrong sort of propaganda”?

A search for information about O’Neil primarily yielded newspaper articles, all remarkably consistent in tone over the span of more than twenty years. The first reference I found was in a 1918 Baltimore Sun ad Rev. Socrates O’Neil of God Charitable International Ethiopian Organization, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, placed touting his 37-cent pamphlet, “Negro Problem Solved.” 

Baltimore Sun, 5 November 1918.

In 1922, the Shreveport Journal published a partial transcript of one of O’Neil’s speeches, presumably delivered to a white audience. It’s eye-popping. (The piece also resolves one question: O’Neil’s Ethiopian School was 60 miles north of Wilson in Weldon. Whew.) Asserting that he aspired to fill the late Booker T. Washington’s shoes, O’Neil declared that “southern white people are better to negroes than northern white people,” Black people “need to be educated with [his] common sense ideas or driven on old boss’s farm to learn common sense,” he was “representative of white supremacy and teach it in my school with Biblical authority,” and “[t]he lynching question will be abolished, if science is accurate, when the negroes, men and women, morally live in their own places.” 

Shreveport Journal, 8 December 1922.

Shreveport Journal, 4 January 1923.

A 1925 New York Age piece took O’Neil apart. 

New York Age, 8 August 1925.

Finding North Carolina Negroes insufficiently grateful, Bishop O’Neil headed south, but ran into trouble. He was arrested for theft in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1931. 

Baltimore Afro American, 29 August 1931.

In November 1932, O’Neil was convicted of larceny in Savannah, Georgia, and sentenced to two months on the chain gang.

He bounced back. A year later, O’Neil delivered a speech in Biloxi, Mississippi, in which he described the Ku Klux Klan as “a help to the negroes.”

Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), 13 November 1935.

In 1939, O’Neil — whose real name may have been Abelard E. O’Neil — was sent to prison in Indiana on an intoxication charge. This is the last I found of him.

Palladium-Item (Richmond, Ind.), 18 April 1939.

First clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III; City Court Criminal Minute Books, Savannah, Georgia, Court Records, 1790-1934, database online, http://www.ancestry.com.

The life and times of Wilton M. Bethel, part 2.

The first few pages of Wilton M. Bethel‘s photo album contained pages in which to memorialize and be memorialized by friends.

——

My Friends

Flora R. Clarke, 706 E. Nash Street, Wilson, N.C., May 31, 1929, Class of ’24, “Je vous aime, toujours.”

Geneva P. Brown, 1013 E. Martin St., Raleigh, N.C., June 2, 1929, Class of ’22, Live not without a friend.

Inez Middleton, 807 East Davie St., Raleigh, N.C., June 2, 1929, Class of ’27, “Be humble or you’ll stumble.”

Bernice Taylor, Box 233, Windsor, N.C., Live for “Lil Flo.”

J. Whiteside Chippey, St. Augustine’s College, Raleigh, N.C., May you always be the “Con.Sten.”

Edith E. Thompson, 504 Weinacker Ave., Mobile, Ala., In your golden chain of friendship always consider me a link.

Alleen J. Poitier, 1837 N.W. 3rd Ave., Miami, Florida, June 9, 1929, Class of ’31, “Always look toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.”

Arthesa S. Douglas, 117 Edgecombe Ave., New York, N.Y., Always be your very self for to you nature is kind.

A. Zenobia Howse, 816 East Fifth Street, Chattanooga, Tennessee, May you always regard me as one of your friends.

Louise Cherry, 1119 E. Nash St., Wilson, N.C., “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

——

A section for personal notes contained brief letters from Bethel’s sister Jessica Bethel and friends Arthesa Douglas and Louise Cherry.

The stonework caught my eye. This is, I am fairly certain, the Nestus Freeman-built house at 1115 East Nash Street. Bethel’s good friend Louise Cherry lived two houses down at 1119. Is she one of the young women shown?