Probably, in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Moyetown Road, tenant farmer Elijah Ward, 34; his wife Florance, 26; farm laborer Hillery Wootten, 26, servant; farm laborer Robert Speight, 35, servant; his brother James Ward, 19, and sister Sarah Ward, 16.
For “School Session September 1929 to May 1929,” the Roster of Students for the Oxford Colored Orphanage listed six children from Wilson: Madell Moore; Julian and Joseph Covington; and Dempsey, Malachi and Kurfew Ward.
Madell Moore — in the 1930 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, Maedall Moore, 9, is listed as an inmate of the Oxford Colored Orphanage of North Carolina.
Dempsey Ward — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 703 Viola Street, house carpenter Jessie Ward, 36; wife Mary, 34; and children Mabel, 17, Gertrude, 12, Kerfus, 7, Malachi, 5, Dempsey, 3, Virginia, 2, and Sara, 1 month. In the 1930 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, Dempsey Ward, 14, farm laborer, is listed as an inmate of the Oxford Colored Orphanage of North Carolina. (Neither his brothers nor the Covingtons are listed.)
Malachi Ward — Malachi Ward died 14 February 1963 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 November 1919 in Wilson, N.C., to Jesse Ward and Mary Sherrod; he resided at 2819 North 11th Street, Philadelphia; and he worked as a barber. Kerfew Ward of Compton, California, was informant.
Kurfew Ward — Kurfew Melvin Ward was born 17 December 1912 in Wayne County, North Carolina. On 15 September 1937, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, issued a marriage license for Kurfew M. Ward, 24, and Elizabeth Brown, 19, both residents of Pittsburgh. Per their application, Wars was born 17 December 1912 to Jesse Ward and Mary Sheard, both dead; was from Wilson, N.C.; worked as a laborer; and lived at 621 Whittier. Brown resided at 107 Pugh and was the daughter of Earl Brown of Pittsburgh and Blanche Brown of Virginia. In the 1954 city directory of Compton, California: Kerfew M. Ward, plasterer, with Elizabeth J. Ward. Kurfew M. Ward died 4 July 1970 in Los Angeles, California.
Annual Reports of the Colored Orphanage Oxford, N.C. isavailable at https://archive.org/details/reporttoboardofd19201944.
Lurean Barnes— Lurean Barnes Zachary died 30 April 1963 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 28 February 1899 in Wilson to Sam Barnes and Ida Hinton; was married to Joe K. Zachary; and worked as a teacher.
Mary E. Isler — Mary Isler was the stepdaughter of Owen L.W. Smith. In the 1900 census of Swift Creek township, Pitt County, North Carolina, she is listed as a one month-old in the household of her parents Turney and Cynthia Isler. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County, minister Owen W. Smith, 58, wife Lucy A., 45, son Jessy A. Smith, 27, daughter Carry E. Smith, 10, and step-children John H. Isler, 12, and Mary A. Isler, 10. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 129 Pender Street, Owen L. Smith, 68; wife Cynthia, 55; stepchild Mary E. Isler, 20, a teacher; roomer John H. Isler, 21; Claud L. Burgen, 29, wife Annie L., 24, and son Claud L., Jr., 1; and five roomers, all tobacco factory workers, John Davis, 33, MajorLewis, 25, Edgar Jones, 25, Walter Walker, 25, and Paul Barnes, 21. On 2 June 1922, Mary E. Isler, 22, foster daughter of O.L.W. and Anna A. Smith, married Clarence L. King, 24, of Wayne County, son of James and Sarah King, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of J.D. Reid, C.S. Thomas, and W.T. Darden. By 1940, the Kings were living in the Bronx with daughter Grace, born about 1923. Mary E. King died in New York in April 1981.
Fannie F. Ricks — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: railroad track laborer Samuel Ford, 25, wife Mattie, 21, and daughter Fannie, 1. In the 1910 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson Street, railroad foreman Samuel T. Ford, 34; wife Mattie, 30; and children Fannie, 11, Maurice, 9, Willie, 4, and Thomas, 1. On 27 July 1919, Fannie Fort, 21, of Toisnot township, married Wiley Ricks, 21, of Toisnot township. Presbyterian minister A.E. Sephas performed the ceremony in the presence of John Gaston, Saml. T. Ford, and T.H. Nicholson. Fannie Ford Ricks died 9 March 1924 in Elm City, Toisnot township, WIlson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 January 1899 in Wilson County to Sam Ford of Halifax County and Mattie Williams of Wilson County. She was married to Wiley Ricks.
In local lore, this incident has been conflated with the Charles Coon slapping incident of 1918. The teachers “Burns” and “Izell” were probably Georgia M. Burke and Mary C. Euell. Euell had been at the center of the Coon matter. Capable, courageous Mr. Bowser, “very much of a man,” was likely Burt L. Bowser, who owned a small restaurant. The Gay Brothers, Charles and Allen T., operated a dry goods store at 216-220 East Nash Street.
In 1917, Baptist ministerAlfred L.E. Weeks and his wife Annie Weeks sold a tract of land to George W. Evans subject to mortgage. Evans defaulted in 1924, and the property was exposed to sale on the courthouse steps.
In 1921, Wilson Colored Graded School educated students through the eighth grade. The wide range of students’ ages reflects the difficulty of regular school attendance, in an era of untreatable childhood illness and other family challenges.
Artelia Barnes— Leo Artelia Barnes (1906-1962) was a daughter of John M. and Annie Darden Barnes. She married Emanuel D. Jones in 1929 and later a Davis. A retired music teacher, she died in Houston, Texas, in 1982.
Thelma Barnes — Thelma Barnes (1907-2005) was Artelia Barnes’ sister. She married Walter G. Byers and worked as a music teacher.
Bessie Speight — Bessie Speight was the daughter of Jake and Rebecca Speight.
Marie Thomas — Marie Thomas (1905-??) was the daughter of Charles and Sarah Best Thomas.
Thelma Reid — Thelma R. Reid (1908-1999) was the daughter ofJudge D. and Eleanor Frederick Reid. A Shaw University graduate, she married Matthew J. Whitehead, Johnson C. Smith ’30, on 21 April 1935, and the family eventually settled in Washington, D.C., where she taught and her husband served as a college administrator.
Mattie Baker — Mattie F. Baker (1905-??) was the daughter of William and Lula Baker.
Susan Peacock — Susan M. Peacock (1904-1992) was the daughter of Levi H.and Hannah Lee Pike Peacock. She married Abraham H. Prince of Charlotte in Wilson on 4 October 1930. Per her obituary, the Shaw University graduate and retired teacher died in Burlington, North Carolina.
John Spell — John Stephen Spell Jr. (1904-??) was the son of John S. and Mattie Spell.
Nancy Dupree — Nancy Dupree (1904-1969) was the daughter of Wiley and Victoria Woodard Dupree. She married Ed Nicholson in 1926 and worked as a teacher.
Louise Cherry — South Carolina-born Louise D. Cherry (1906-1993) was the daughter of Ervin Cherry and Clara Cherry Thomas. She married Benjamin Sherrod, a Wilson native, in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1941. Cherry, like several of her classmates became a teacher.
Alice Jones — Alice Pearl Jones (1905-1942) was the daughter of Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones. She married Calvin Swinson in Wilson in 1923.
Ruby Peacock — Ruby Peacock (1906-1975) was also a daughter of Levi and Hannah Peacock. She married Clarence Sherrod. The retired teacher died in Wilson in 1975.
Della Mae Whitehead— Della Mae Whitehead (1908-1997) was the daughter of John Henry and Victoria Ennis Whitehead.
Rebecca Kittrell — Rebecca Kittrell (1904-??) was the daughter of Solomon and Lettie Roberts Kittrell. She first married a Williams, then married Elton Thomas, son of Charlie and Sarah Best Thomas, in 1947 in Wilson.
Wilson Colored High School, later christened Charles H. Darden High School, was the first school in Wilson County — and the only, for another 25 years — offering high school instruction. The building, which expanded in the 1940s and ’50s, stood on Carroll Street, facing the dead-end of Green, until the 1990s. The site is now occupied by Samuel H. Vick Elementary School. For more on Principal Irvin Saint Clair, see here. (Note that, per this article, none of Wilson’s African-American contractors or craftsmen were afforded the opportunity to help build the school.)
Photograph courtesy of Charles L. Coon, “Public Schools of Wilson County,” Wilson County Board of Education (1924).
Plan of Wilson Colored High School, 1930 Sanborn insurance map. The classroom wings were recent additions to the building.
Ninety-five years ago today, a powerful tornado struck southeastern Wilson County, killing an African-American teacher walking to her school and injuring others.
Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.
Arzula Falke —Arzulia Mitchell Faulk. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 210 Pender Street, barber Hiram Faulk, 44, dressmaker Arzulia, 40, and daughter Marie, 14. Arzulia Faulk was killed 7 March 1922. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 April 1879 in Perquimans County, North Carolina, to John Mitchell of Pasquotank County and Rossie Kirk of Gates County; was a teacher; and was married to Hiram Faulk. She was buried in Hertford County.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 March 1922.
Daisy H. Cooper
Evansdale community today, which lies between NC-58 and Old Stantonsburg Road just past the halfway point between Wilson and Stantonsburg. Evansdale United Methodist Church stands left of the yellow circle at the intersection of Evansdale Road and Graves Road. The Norfolk & Southern Railroad is marked by the diagonal line. The long abandoned brick shell of a country store stands on the north side of Evansdale Road, nearly opposite Graves. I imagine that Faulk and the other teachers got off the train from Wilson here. I do not know the location of the school at which they taught, but there was a Rosenwald school called Evansdale School.