1920s

Boy murdered by a boy.

Fifteen year-old farmer Earnest McKinley Crudup was shot in the head by another boy in January 1920. I have not been able to discover details of the incident.

S123_106-1794

“Gunshot wound in the head murdered by a boy”

——

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Rufus Crudup, 38, farmer; wife A. Susie, 39; and children Edgar, 19, Cornelia, 16, McKenly, 15, Cleo, 12, Hazel, 10, and Rufus, 1.

Earnest McKinley Crudup is buried in Jones Hill cemetery. (Which is located on the opposite side of the county from his home. What was the connection?)

The colored brethren of Wilson Primitive Baptist Church.

In 1946, the Wilson Daily Times published an article by Hugh B. Johnston commemorating the history of Wilson Primitive Baptist Church. I’ve excerpted below the sections that mention the church’s African-American members.

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.33.57 PM

Wilson Primitive Baptist Church, Asheville Post Card Co., undated.

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.41.52 PM

“On April 24, 1920, the Church agreed to begin construction as soon as possible and to include a baptismal pool, memorial windows for a number of outstanding members, and a balcony for the convenience of remaining colored brethren.”

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.45.05 PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.45.31 PM

“A gallery for colored members ran entirely around the second story of the [1859] church, excepting the end above the tall, broad pulpit.”

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.46.43 PM

At a conference held at the Tosneot Baptist Church on Sept. 23, 1865, “a proposition was made and agreed to that all colored members that had ‘left their owners before the proclamation of freedom was made, and gone to the Yankees should be dealt with and excluded if they could not give satisfaction of their disorder.’ … [N]one of the offending members appeared … [and when they failed to appear at a postponed date,] motion was made to expel them: on which motion servants Thomas Farmer and Redic Barnes were expelled from all rights of the church.”

Screen Shot 2020-05-18 at 3.47.14 PM

“As a result of the formation of London’s Primitive Baptist Church for the convenience of the colored membership who were being served outside of regular meetings by Elder London Woodard, a conference was held at the Tosneot church on May 21, 1870, and “the following resolution was adopted by unanimous consent of the members, white and colored, that in the future, as before, the white members of the church shall have the entire control of the discipline and government of the church as this place. [This understanding was entered into the minutes] so as in after days there could not be any misunderstanding between the white and colored members of this church.”

Wilson Daily Times, 19 November 1946.

——

Some thoughts:

  • The balcony in the back of the 1920 church is visible starting at 1:29 of this Youtube video.
  • What African-Americans were members of Wilson Primitive Baptist as late as 1920? Do the church’s records exist?
  • I have been unable to identify specifically Thomas Farmer and Reddick Barnes, the members who audaciously took their freedom into their own hands.
  • “The formation of London’s Primitive Baptist Church for the convenience of the colored membership who were being served outside of regular meetings” by London Woodard sounds like more like a recognition of a new reality: Toisnot’s black members had left to worship among themselves under a charismatic black preacher. It’s not surprising that those who remained unanimously agreed that white people would control the church.

A pair of homicides.

Twenty-one year-old Charlie Wynn shot and killed twenty year-old Arthur Wiggins on 22 February 1920 and was in turn shot and killed the same day. I have not been able to find more about this double homicide.

S123_106-1265

“Homicide — shot & killed by Charlie Wynne at a dance. No Dr.”

S123_109-0217

“Gun shot wound of the Heart Only saw deceased after death. Homicide.”

——

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: common laborer John Wiggins, 50; wife Mollie, 40; and children Elizabeth, 14, nurse; John, 12, brick yard employee; Arthur, 3; and Clarence, 1.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Willie Winn, 50; wife Jennie, 23; and children Bessie, 18, Cora, 14, Charlie, 11, Annie, 10, John, 9, Ray, 7, Dortch, 4, Pinkie, 1, and Jessie, 17.

Arthur Wiggins registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born in August 1897 in Elm City; lived in Elm City; his father was born in Edgecombe County; and his nearest relative was Mollie Wiggins.

Charley Winn registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born in 14 April 1900; lived in Elm City; worked as a railroad laborer for Norfolk & Southern Rail Road Company; and his nearest relative was father Will Winn.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Wiggins, 55; wife Mollie, 50, cook; and children Elizabeth, 24, cook; Arthur, 13; Clarence, 11; and Annie May, 4.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer William Winn, 59; wife Jennie, 48; and children Charley, 21, John, 19, Dorch, 13, Pink, 10, and Jeneva, 8.

The doctor accidentally killed him.

S123_1044-1145

“Accidentaly killed by auto Driven by the hands of Dr Paisley Fields Weldon N.C. occurred in Wilson Co near Elm City”

I have not been able to discover any additional information about the automobile accident that took 17 year-old Allen Deans‘ life. Five months later, however, this notice appeared in the Wilson Daily Times. “Judgment” implies that Deans’ estate won a monetary settlement from Fields, a Halifax County doctor, but no details are provided.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 June 1929.

——

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Josuah Deans, 62; wife Julia, 39; and children Glendora, 19, Minnie, 14, Daisy, 13, James, 11, Ernest, 9, Allen, 8, Louis, 6, twins Armor and Norman, 4, John, 2, and twins Mary and Martha, 8 months.

Allen Deans is buried in Elm City Colored Cemetery.

Bold hold-up.

Screen Shot 2020-05-03 at 12.58.15 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 28 May 1921.

Alfred Robinson was a boarder in Samuel H. Vick‘s house at 622 East Green Street. Short Barnes did not live across the street, but three doors down from Vick at 616.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 502 Grace, James Austin, 34, tobacco company laborer; wife   , 28, tobacco factory worker; son James Jr., 3; and roomer George Jenkins, 24, tobacco factory worker.

The obituary of Cora Artis.

Screen Shot 2020-04-24 at 7.15.42 PM.png

Wilson Times, 20 November 1925.

——

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 34; wife Patsey, 35; and children Adeline, 15, Dora, 12, Lornce, 7, Barney, 4, Jane, 2, and Corah, 2 months.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 55; wife Patsie, 58; and children Larnce, 27, Bonnie, 24, James, 22, Cora, 20, and Emma, 17.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 55; wife Patsie, 58; and children Larnce, 27, Bonnie, 24, James, 22, Cora, 20, and Emma, 17.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 69; wife A. Patsy, 64; and daughter Cora, 30.

Cora Artis died 17 November 1925. Her death certificate belied the newspaper’s claim of the heroic efforts of four physicians to save her life, noting her cause of death as “pneumonia stated to us no Doctor.”

She look at a hog.

My mother’s first job after she married and moved to Wilson was as a teacher at North Greene Elementary, a small segregated school fifteen miles southeast in tiny Walstonburg. She carpooled to and from Wilson with several other teachers who worked in Greene County, and in the spring of 1964 was pregnant with me, her firstborn. My mother generally rode in the backseat and, on this particular day, Dora Dickerson was back there with her. As they passed a farm, my mother, a city girl, exclaimed, “Ohhh! Look over there at those pigs!” Ms. Dickerson slapped her hand across my mother’s eyes. “Girl! Don’t look at that! You can’t look at pigs when you’re expecting!”

I have been hearing this story since I was a little girl, and my mother and I never fail to get a good laugh from it. The danger she faced, however, was real to many, as shown on this 1921 death certificate. Though baby John Moore was stillborn in Nahunta township, Wayne County, his parents James and Mamie Moore were from neighboring Wilson County. Midwife Cassie Exum Sherrod, who spent her life in Wayne and Wilson Counties in the Watery Branch area, attended the delivery. Though not a doctor, Sherrod completed the newborn’s Medical Certificate of Death. In her opinion, Mamie Moore’s own carelessness had caused her baby’s death: “She look at a hog an had not of look at him he might of been living to day.”

Screen Shot 2020-04-23 at 6.37.07 PM.png

“She look at a hog an had not of look at him he might of been living to day.”

Hat tip to Suzannah McCuen.

An appeal to vaccinate.

In 1920, a public health officer resorted to shaming to appeal to Wilson’s African-American community to (trust the white medical establishment enough to) be vaccinated against smallpox.

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 3.18.01 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 3.18.42 PM.png

Screen Shot 2020-04-16 at 3.19.01 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 29 January 1920.

Also, “Norfolk and Southern station”? This was not the iconic railroad station still standing at Nash Street and the Atlantic Coast Line railroad. Rather, it was a small depot at the corner of Barnes and Douglas (then Spring) Streets.

Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C. (1922).

Long abandoned as a railroad station, here is the building now.

[Sidenote: I and my cohort were among the last children in Wilson to receive smallpox vaccinations. Since 1969, I have worn the “badge of honor” at the top of my left shoulder blade.]

Streetview photo courtesy of Google Maps.