1930s

The obituary of Lizzie H. Dawson, an esteemed woman.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 January 1937.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 38, printing office pressman; wife Sarah, 33; children Elton, 9, Louis, 8, Elizabeth, 6, and Hattie May, 2; and lodgers Manse Wilson, 36, and Johnnie Lewis, 21, both carpenters.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month.

Elizabeth Thomas, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Charlie and Sallie Thomas, married Clarence Dawson, 21, of Wilson, son of A.D. and Lucy Dawson, on 20 March 1917 in Wilson. Andrew Pierce applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of John Barbour, A.L. Dawson, and Elton Thomas.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Clarence Dawson, 23, barber; wife Elizabeth, 22; and daughter Eris, 2; widower father-in-law Charley Thomas, 59; brother-in-law Clifton Venters, 24, his wife Hattie, 20; and in-laws Elton, 29, Marie, 15, Sarah, 10, and Beatrice Thomas, 8.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 East Green Street, printing office laborer Charlie Thomas, 65; daughter Elizabeth Dawson, 32; son-in-law Clarence Dawson, 31; and grandchildren Eris Dawson, 11, Naomi, 9, Clarence, 7, and Thomas V. Dawson, 3; and daughters Sarah, 19, theatre ticket seller, and Beatrice Thomas, 17.

Lizzie Dawson died 16 January 1937 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 July 1894 in Wilson to Charly Thomas of Nash County and Sarah Best of Wilson, and was married to Clarence Dawson. Informant was Charly Thomas.

He was her only support: George H. Utley’s death notice.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 January 1930.

Turner Utley, 22, of Wilson County, and Mariah Williams, 24, of Wilson County, married 12 September 1901 in Wilson County. J.W. Rogers applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Rogers’ residence in the presence of Irene Miller, Minnie Rogers and Bettie Davis.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 316 Spring Street, Turner Utley, 37, cook, and wife Maria, 36, cook; and lodger Aaron Utley, 21, factory laborer.

Geo. Utley, laborer; Maria Utley, domestic; and Turner Utley, cook, are listed at 902 Atlanta [Atlantic] in the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory.

Turner H. Utley died 20 July 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 52 years old; was born in Wake County to Ellen Utley; lived at 902 Atlantic Street, Wilson; and was married to Mariah Utley. He was buried in Rountree cemetery. 

George Utley died 14 January 1930 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 24 years old; was a common laborer; lived at 902 Atlantic Street; was born in Wilson County to Turner Utley and Mariah Bailey; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 902 Atlantic, paying $18/month, McRuige Utley, 50, tobacco factory stemmer, and lodger John Powell, 14; paying $8/month, Garfield Grantham, 46, brickmason; wife Bessie, 41; and son John, 21, hotel bellboy.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 902 Atlantic, paying $8/month rent, Johnie Tillery, 24, janitor, and wife Annie, 23, tobacco factory employee; paying $4/month, Maria Utley, 57, widow, blind, on relief. 

Mariah Utley died 27 July 1944 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 65 years old; lived at 902 Atlantic Street; was born in Wilson County to Jessie Bailey and Allie Ricks of Nash County, N.C.; was the widow of Turner Utley; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Sarah Hendricks of Rocky Mount was informant.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III. Thank you!

Lane Street Project: Charles S. Thomas.

Charles S. Thomas‘ pale gray, fine-grained grave marker is unique in Odd Fellows cemetery. It faces southwest, and in late afternoon, catching the rays of the setting sun, glows golden. Thomas was a barber and insurance salesman and long-time chorist at Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. Before mid-century, granite headstones were relatively rare in Wilson’s African-American cemeteries. (Marble was the favored high-end material; concrete, the ordinary.) The machine-cut decorative features — including the harp as a nod to Thomas’ musical legacy — suggest that this was a replacement stone, perhaps an upgrade, set well after Thomas’ death.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2020.

 

Parker drowns while fishing.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 June 1930.

Matthew Parker’s death certificate told a less nuanced story of his death with a slightly judgey undertone: “Drowned Supposed accidental getting in water over his head and could not swim.”

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Roxy Parker, 24, and children Joseph, 14, Minnie, 13, Elenn, 12, Armena, 11, Mathew, 10, and Defatie, 2.

Matthew Parker registered for the World War I draft in 1918 in Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 March 1899; lived on Harper Street, Wilson; worked as a laborer for W.T. Clark; and his nearest relative was Roxy Parker.

On 9 October 1918, Matthew Parker, 18, married Emma Knight, 17, in Wilson.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lipscomb Road, William H. Knight, 32, truck driver; wife Minnie, 24; brothers-in-law Cephus, 29, Menus, 22, and Matthew Parker, 18, all farm laborers; and lodgers Mary, 25, cook, Lebis, 10, and Lovie Saunders, 8. Next door: widow Roxie Parker, 50, and daughter Ellen, 21.

Roxie Parker died 2 October 1925 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 May 1919 in Wilson to Matthew Parker and Emma Knight. She died of diphtheria

[Matthew Parker’s older brother Cephus Parker came to his own tragic end in 1944.]

He fell from the trestle and drowned.

The body of Ed Howell, who stoked the firebox and tended the boiler on an Atlantic Coast Line passenger train, was not recovered until eleven days after he fell into Contentnea Creek south of Wilson. The strap of his overalls snagged on a tree limb or root, holding him under several feet of water. The coroner noted that the eighty-five dollars Howell had on his person was missing, but opined that it might have fallen from his pocket as he fell. (Or was he robbed and murdered?)

Wilson Daily Times, 6 February 1935.

Per his death certificate, Howell died 25 January 1935. He was a native of Pitt County, but a resident of Rocky Mount, N.C., 18 miles north of Wilson. Cause of death was described as: “accidental drowning stepping off cab steps while train on tressel over Contentna Creek near Wilson NC Train #83.”

New Year Greetings!

Janitors at National Bank of Wilson, 113 East Nash Street, placed ads sending New Years greetings and thanking their customers for Christmas gifts.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 December 1933.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 January 1935.

[Sidenote: This building, which now houses county offices, was the tallest building in Wilson until the construction of Branch Banking & Trust’s twin towers at Nash and Pine Streets. The towers were demolished 19 December 2020, and the old National Bank building thus reclaims its title.]

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  • David Graham — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 712 East Green Street, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory laborer David Graham, 40; wife Goldie, 46; daughters Cora, 17, and Marie, 15; and grandson Cleo, 3.
  • Jesse McPhail 
  • Hardy Anderson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $12/month, Hardy Anderson, 45, National Bank janitor; wife Sarah H., 34; and roomer Robert Good, 32, fertilizer laborer.
  • Calvin Carr — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 419 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $15/month, bank janitor Calvin Carr, 27; wife Lena, 23, private family cook; and sister-in-law Ina Blount, 25.
  • James T. Speight — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 209 Finch Street, owned and valued at $1000, Lula Speight, 34, drink stand proprietor, widow, and son James T., 19, bank porter; also, paying $8/month rent, William Hodge, 25, oil mill laborer; wife Sarah, 23; and children Eva R., 6, and William Jr., 1.
  • Ashley Tillery — in the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer Street, owned and valued at $1500, farmer John Tillery, 51; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, cook, Ashley L., 18, truck farm helper, Raymond, 16, truck farm helper, Adelia, 14, housemaid, Johny L., 11, Elnora, 7, and Clyde, 5.
  • Walter Jackson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 515 Church Street, owned and valued at $2000, James McCowan, 76, brickmason, and wife Louise, 63; Jenealia Murphy, 33, private cook, and son Elbert, 18, bank elevator boy, paying $12/month rent; and Rosa Jackson, 36, laundress, and children Annie, 19, cook, Walter, 16, bank elevator boy, and Lucil, 3, also paying $12.

Christmas Opportunity.

On 5 December 1936, when the Wilson Daily Times reported preparations for the Wilson Welfare Association’s Christmas Opportunity list, it noted: “The Christmas opportunity list will carry the names of very few colored cases, just those that are blind; as the colored families are handled by a group from the Colored Social Service Bureau. The Wilson Welfare Association is the only organized relief society that handles both white and colored cases in the city and with the closing of the factories the load is increasing daily.”

Two Black families met the Welfare Association’s criteria. Unfortunately for the regular poor, the Colored Social Service Bureau’s cases did not benefit from advertisement in the local newspaper.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 December 1936.

Scrapbook chronicles: Jessie Lee Davis.

Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall had a son Jessie, born in 1932, and a daughter Gaynelle, born in 1941. Jessie Lee Davis, my father’s childhood playmate, was 14 years old when he was struck and killed while riding on the handlebars of a bicycle.

Alliner Sherrod Davis and son Jessie Lee, circa 1933.

Jessie Lee Davis, perhaps about 13 years old.

Jessie L. Davis as a drummer in the Darden High School marching band, circa 1945. Jesse A. Henderson lounges beside him. For a photo take just moments before or after this image, see here.