1930s

Artis’ Cafe padlocked.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 February 1939.

  • June Scott Artis — A history of Stantonsburg gave the date of the cafe’s opening as 1947, which apparently was off by at least a decade. It remained in business into the 1960s.
  • Edgar Artis, June S. Artis’ son.
  • Walter Ward — The 6 February 1939 edition of the Wilson Daily Times reported that Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 15 to 18-year sentence.
  • H.B. Swenson — H.B. Swinson died 28 January 1939. Per his death certificate, he was “murdered, knife wound of breast”; was born 18 April 1913 in Greene County to Allen Swinson and Henrietta Applewhite of Greene County; lived i Stantonsburg; and worked in farming.

Old Ed.

Ed Dupree lived a colorful life.

On a Saturday night in February 1936, three white men — Offie Page, Floyd Page and Gwin Pullman — pulled up outside Dupree’s Railroad Street house, called him to the car and forced him in at gunpoint. Fighting off blows, Dupree dived through the rear window as the vehicle neared Stantonsburg Street. When the police caught up with the trio, they found a toy pistol and a pointing finger — Dupree, the men said, was the responsible for Pullman’s arrest for possession of five gallons of unlawful liquor.

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Wilson Daily Times, 4 February 1936.

Almost three years later, Dupree was in court facing his fifth bootlegging charge in the last twelve months. Nettie Williams testified that Dupree had offered to pay her to take responsibility for the half-gallon of liquor police had found at his house. Police testified that they discovered alcohol poured into a bucket and stashed in “trap doors” in the outhouse and about the house. Ed Dupree’s daughter Mary testified that Nettie had brought the liquor in and dumped it when the cops arrived. The recorder — essentially, a magistrate — was not persuaded. He sentenced Dupree to six months “on the roads,” i.e. on a chain gang, and resurrected a six-month suspended sentence on top of that.

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Wilson Daily Times, 17 January 1939.

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In the 1930 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: at 420 South Lodge Street, rented for $20/month, bottling plant laborer Egar [sic] Dupree, 55; wife Bettie, 31; children Wilder, 11, Esther, 9, Mary E., 7, and Edgar Jr., 5; and roomer Cornelia Hicks, 22.

Per the 1930 edition of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Edw. Dupree was employed by Barnes-Harrell Company, bottlers of Coca-Cola. W. Offie Page was a clerk at P.L. Woodard & Company, an agricultural supply company. The directory also lists Floyd S. Page, a salesman with Wilson Auto Sales, and Floyd T. Page, a switchman. (At least twice — in 1939 and 1943 — the Daily Times printed notices that recent references to arrests of “Floyd Page” did not refer to car salesman Floyd. I suspect that switchman Floyd was the party involved in the kidnapping of Ed Dupree.)

Practicing midwifery without a license.

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Wilson Daily Times, 19 January 1938.

Mariah Battle Gaston‘s plight was a common one for midwives in the early twentieth century. As the practice of medicine professionalized, and backed by the twin pressures of sexism and racism, doctors began to usurp the traditional role of granny midwives and to criminalize their practice of their vocation.

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In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Frank Battle, 48; wife Martha, 49; and children Dolly, 25, Patsey, 17, and Mariah, 14.

On 16 July 1874, William Gaston, 22, married Mariah Battle, 20, in Toisnot township.

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer William Gaston, 28; wife Maria, 21; and children Willie, 7, Lola E., 5, Clara, 4, and Nannie, 2; plus schoolteacher George Harrison, 35.

In the 1900 census of Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: washerwoman Mirah Gaston, 35, widow; children Lola, 22, Nancy, 19, Lula, 16, Eddie, 15, Cora, 13, Fredrick, 8, and Elma, 6; and “orphans” Eva, 11, and Mary Barnes, 20.

On 23 October 1906, Ed Gaston, 22, son of Mariah Gaston, married Stella Williams, 22, in Elm City.

In the 1910 census of Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: on East Main Street, widow Maria Gaston, 49, washer woman, and sons Eddie, 24, lumber mill laborer, Fred, 21, Elma, 17, odd jobs laborer, Arma, 15, and Willie, 12.

Fred Gaston died 17 November 1916 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 27 years old; was born in Elm City to William Gaston of Virginia and Marriah Battle of North Carolina; and worked as a farm hand.

On 19 October 1920, Ed Gaston, 40, of Toisnot, married Ida Price, 39, in Elm City. Jesse Wynn applied for the license.

In the 1940 census of Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Nash Street, widow Mariah Gaston, 79, and son Ed, 53, a laborer at Williams Lumber.

Myria Gaston died 18 March 1947 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 December 1880 in Wilson County to Frank and Martha Battle of Wilson County and was the widow of William Gaston. She was buried in Elm City cemetery, and Lula Dawson of Elm City was informant.

Eddie Gaston died 10 November 1951 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 February 1886 in Wilson County to William Gaston and Mariah Battle; was a widower; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Elm City cemetery. Lula Lawson was informant.

Cora Gaston Latham died 9 January 1964 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 August 1891 in Wilson County to William Gaston and Mariah Battle; was widowed; and resided in Elm City. Maxine Kelly of Elm City was informant.

The obituary of Sarah Cone.

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Wilson Daily Times, 9 November 1935.

On 7 August 1868, Willis Cone and Sarah Glover were married in Nash County, North Carolina.

In the 1870 census of Springfield township, Nash County: farmer Willis Cone, 30, and wife Sarah, 18.

In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Willis Cone, 40; wife Sarah, 28; and children Kindred, 9, Kincaid, 7, Junius, 5, Willie M., 3, and Joseph I.G., 1 month.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Willis Cone, 62; wife Sarah, 49; and children Willie M., 23, Lillie, 17, Jamerson, 13, Romane(?), 11, Aven, 9, Armencia, 5, and Rada, 1.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on County Line Road, farmer Willis C. Cone, 75; wife Sarah A., 61; and children Avon, 17, Amincy, 13, and Rader, 11.

In September 1912, Willie Cone registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 April 1877; resided in Wilson; worked as a cook for W.R. Marlow, Railroad Cafe, Nash Street; and his nearest relative was his mother, Sarah Cone.

Willis Cone died 20 November 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 85 years old; was married to Sarah Cone; was a farmer; and was born in Nash County. Raymond Cone of Wilson was informant.

Sarah Cone died 5 February 1935 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 98 years old [more likely about 85]; was born in Nash County to Lessie Glover; was the widow of Willis Cone; and resided at 1113 East Atlanta [Atlantic] Street. Willie Cone was informant.

The obituary of Louis Barnes.

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Wilson Daily Times, 17 September 1935.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Barnes, 64; wife Barney, 54; and children Lewis, 27, Nancy, 17, Caroline, 14, Gray, 13, and Spicey, 11.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Louis Barnes, 50; wife Jane, 40; and children Maggie, 17, Lillie, 16, Reese, 15, Oscar, 13, Hattie, 12, Grey, 10, Jimmy, 6, Wiley, 4, Henry, 3, Navis, 1, Charity, 7, and Mary Jane, 1 month.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Wilson Road, farmer Lewis Barnes, 57; wife Jane, 48; and children Lucy, 26, Hattie, 21, Gray, 20, Chairaty, 18, James L., 16, Henry, 14, Navis, 13, Mary Jane, 11, Joe, 9, Needham, 7, and David, 2.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Wilson Road, farmer Lewis Barnes, 70; wife Jane, 58; and children Maggie Bullock, 35, and Lee, 25, Lossie, 18, J. Mary, 17, Joseph, 16, William, 15, and David, 13; and grandchildren Charity, 5, and Oscar Bullock, 3.

Jane Barnes died on 28 March 1924 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 65 years old; married to Lewis Barnes; and was born in Johnston County to Charity Cruddup.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: widower farmer Lewis Barnes, 73; children Charity, 27, Needam, 25, and David, 23; grandson Rosco Barnes, 15; daughter-in-law Hannah Bullock, 17; and boarder William Richardson, 22.

Louis Barnes died 16 September 1935 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 82 years old; was the widower of Jane Barnes and son of Grey and Bonnie Barnes; was born in Wilson County; and was a farmer. Lucille Batts was informant.

Lucy Batts died 13 March 1954 in O’Neals township, Johnston County. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 January 1890 in Wilson County to Louis Barnes and Jane Harris and was married. Valentine Batts was informant.

 

 

Financial report.

As a publicly funded institution, Mercy Hospital was required to disclose its revenues and expenditures. In December 1935, the Times published secretary-treasurer William Hines‘ account of the previous month’s financial operations.

As is unsurprising for any institution during the depth of the Great Depression, Mercy Hospital was operating in the red. It began the month with just over $702 in the bank and ended with $367. Only $678 came through the door. At $300, payroll comprised more than a quarter of the month’s expenditures, which also included major payments for groceries, laundry service, utilities and supplies.  Mercy owed $3000 to a local bank and hundreds more to vendors (and employees.) Fewer than 1 in 12 of its patients had paid full-rate, nearly half paid nothing at all, and the hospital carried more than $3000 in unpaid patient bills on its books.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 December 1935.

504 South Lodge Street.

This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, South Lodge Street — below the warehouse district — has been an African-American residential area since the turn of the twentieth century.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 [sic] Lodge Street, cafe proprietor Jessie Strickland, 28, and wife Viola, 27, and roomers Mack Strickland, 18, transfer truck driver, and James Johnson, 20, guano company laborer.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) propr Strickland Cafe h 504 S Lodge

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 504 Lodge Street, owned and valued at $4000, Jesse Strickland, 46, and wife Viola, 37. Their occupations are listed as farm laborer and “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant.” However, it appears that entries are off by a line, and should read “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant” and cook for private family.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) 504 S Lodge

In a familiar tale of woe, the Stricklands defaulted on their mortgage, and Wilson Home & Loan Association advertised the property for auction.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 1930.

Jessie Strickland died 18 March 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 40 years old; was born in Wilson to Mose Farmer and Hannah Strickland; was a clerk in a store; and lived at Spring Street. Informant was Viola Strickland, 504 South Lodge.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) maid h 504 S Lodge

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) h 504 S Lodge

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2017.

A tobacco thief is caught.

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Wilson Daily Times, 21 August 1933.

  • Robert Artis — in the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Artis, 46; wife Malindy, 31; children Adam, 17, James, 28, Edgar L., 13, Luciea, 13, Christirene, 12, Georgia, 10, and Noah, 9; step-sons Hesicar, 8, and Eugenia, 6; children Lizzie, 4, Richard, 2, and Minnie B., 9 months; and mother-in-law Henrietta [Artis?], age illegible.
  • Walter Leach

Richard C. Artis and father Robert E. Artis, circa 1950s. Photo courtesy of Melissa Mack.

To lose a faithful servant is to lose a friend.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 July 1935.

J.T. Watson of Elm City eulogized two African-American men in this letter to the newspaper. Per Watson, Jim Green, age about 58, died 16 June 1935 at a hospital in Wilson. He came to Elm City from Wayne County about 1905. He worked first for Dr. E.G. Moore, then took a job with the town. He bought a lot on the south end of Parker Street and built two houses, one for himself and one to rent out.

Jim Williams died 25 June 1935. He came to Wilson County from the Dunbar farm in Edgecombe County in 1884 and bought Susan Cohn’s old house on East Nash Street in Elm City. Williams worked at manual labor as a young man and later as a handyman for J.W. Cox. His only son, Jim, and Jim’s children lived in northern cities.

Father and son killed in auto accident.

 

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Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 1934.

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In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Luke Flemmons, 40; wife Emily, 45; and children James Flavius, 20, Willie, 15, Sarah, 12, Judge Thomas, 10, Henry, 6, Eddie, 4, Harriet, 3, and Mary E., 1.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: widow Emily Fleming, 60, and children Harriet, 24, Judge, 23, and Sam, 12.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Ellis Road, farmer Judge Fleming, 36; wife Mollie, 27; and children Lissie, 7, Sarah J., 3, Lula, 2 months, and Aaron, 6.

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Judge Fleming, 49; wife Molly, 40; and children Lizzie, 18, Arron, 16, Sarah, 12, Lula, 10, Addie, 8, Jordan, 5, and John, 3.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Judge Fleming, 57; wife Mollie, 47; and children Arron, 25, Sarah J., 21, Lula, 20, Judge, 15, Johnie, 14, and Mary L., 6.

Judge Fleming died 29 September 1934 in Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; married to Mollie Fleming; was a farmer; was born in Wayne County to Luther Fleming and an unknown mother. Informant was Mollie Fleming.

Johnnie Fleming died 29 September 1934 in Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 18 years old, single, and born in Wilson County to Judge Fleming of Wayne County and Mollie Sutton of Greene County. Informant was Mollie Fleming.