Lots in Dudley.

My grandmother, Hattie Henderson Ricks, inherited two lots in the southern Wayne County town of Dudley from Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver, her great-aunt and foster mother. [Because she had been informally adopted by Sarah and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr., my grandmother used the surname Jacobs until adulthood, when she reverted to Henderson.]

Sarah Jacobs, who moved to Wilson about 1905, supported her parents  in their final years, sending them food via train and building a small house in Dudley proper closer to neighbors and family. My grandfather recalled:

Mama had the lot where the house was, where Grandma Mag [Margaret Balkcum Henderson (1836-1915)] lived. Had that house built for her. The house they was staying in was up by the railroad, was just about to fall down. Somewhere down up there by where the Congregational Church is. And she built that house down there next to Babe Winn. I don’t think it was but one room. The porch, one room, and a little shed kitchen, a little, small, like a closet almost, and had the stove in it. Then had a stove in the room where she was, one of them round-bellied stoves where you take the top off and put wood in it. I remember that.

Just recently, we discovered documents related to the purchase of these lots. They were in this envelope from the Wayne County Register of Deeds, postmarked 11 August 1941 and addressed to my grandmother at 1109 Queen Street in Wilson. (She penciled in updated addresses as she moved in the 1940s and ’50s.) Sarah Jacobs Silver died in 1938, and I imagine my grandmother received this letter pursuant to the settlement of her estate.

There was this promissory note for the purchase for $20 of lots 15 and 16 of block number 2. It is signed “Sary Jackobs” by someone other than Sarah Jacobs.

And then another, dated 16 October 1911 at Dudley, that she did sign. (Her address was given as 106 Elba Street, Wilson, which was an early designation for 303 Elba.) A notation scribbled in pencil across it confirms that she timely paid off the purchase price.

Annual farm family picnic.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 June 1941.

County Extension Agent Carter W. Foster published a reminder of the annual county-wide picnic for farm families, held in 1941 at Yelverton School in far southeastern Wilson County.

Pfc. Simms’ remains returned.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 June 1948.

Five years after his death in India, Herbert Lee Simms‘ body was returned to Wilson for burial.


In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Marcella [Marcellus] Simms, 30; wife Tempie, 30; and children Annie M., 7, Herbert L., 5, and Guthra [Gertrude] M., 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: cotton oil company truck driver Marcellaus Simms, 40; wife Tempie, 41; and children Annie Mae, 17, Herbert Lee, 15, Gertrude, 12, Doris O., 9, Robert L., 7, Roland, 4, and Willie Jr., 7 months.

Herbert Lee Simms registered for the World War I draft in 1941. Per his registration card, he was born 12 March 1923 in Wilson County; lived at Route 4, Box 39, Wilson; his contact was mother Tempie Simms; and he was unemployed.

The application for Herbert L. Simms’ military headstone.

A Memorial Day parade to the cemetery.

Memorial Day services at “the cemetery” — which might have been Rest Haven, but was probably what we now know as Vick and Odd Fellows Cemeteries — were a regular event in the early 20th century.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 May 1940.

The newly formed Wilson Dodgers.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 January 1948.

The Wilson Dodgers made their debut in 1948, opening against the Rocky Mount Black Swans.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 March 1948.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 May 1949.

The description “newly formed” more than a year later suggests they did not play a full season in ’48.


  • Douglas Simms, manager and pitcher — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 308 East Street, Frances Simms, 49, widow; children Geneva, 23, Margaret, 17, Retha, 18, “runs store — retail gro.,” Douglas, 19, “cleans tourist home,” Raymond, 26, and Eva, 20; and grandson Ralph, 2. Douglas Simms registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his draft card, he was born 1 January 1918 in Wilson; lived at 308 North East Street; his contact was mother Frances Simms; and he worked for Imperial Tobacco Company, Barnes Street. Douglas Simms died 30 November 1967 in Wilson.
  • Alfonza Watson, first baseman — possibly, Alfonza Watson born in 1930 in Wilson to Willis Watson and Mamie Atkinson Watson.
  • Robert Ellis, second baseman (“at the keystone sack”)
  • Crevan Moses, shortstop — on 10 June 1948, Lathrop Crevound Moses, 17, of Wilson, son of Eugene Moses and Annie Mae Tate Moses, married Annie Elizabeth Ruffin, 17, of FarmVille, N.C., daughter of Roosevelt Ruffin and Senora Hardy Ruffin, in Wilson.
  • Wimp Morgan, third baseman (“a hot corner man”)
  • Jim Haines, captain and catcher
  • Amos Ellis, outfielder — perhaps: Amos Staley Ellis registered for the draft in 1946. Per his registration card, he was born 7 September 1926 in Edgecombe County; lived at 624 Darden’s Alley; his contact was Rosa Ellis of the same address; and he worked for Jim Blount.
  • Major Hinnant, outfielder — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 908 East Vance, Mary Hinnant, 54, widow; children Robert, 21, Thomas, 19, Jessie, 17, Bennie, 16, Eveline, 14, Major, 11, and Dannie, 33; and grandchildren Festus, 16, Blossie, 12, Martha, 11, James T., 8, Clarence, 7, Samuel, 5, Mary R., 1, and George, 6 months. Major Hinnant registered for draft in 1945. Per his registration card, he was born 6 September 1927 in Wilson County; lived at 908 East Vance; his contact was mother Mary Hinnant; and he was unemployed.
  • Robert King, outfielder
  • Willie Lee Hines, outfielder (“other outer gardeners”) — Willie Lee Hines registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 10 October 1924 in Wilson County; lived at 206 Ashe Street; his contact was mother Daisy Hines; and he worked as “laborer on defense job contract” at Glider Base, Edenton, N.C.
  • William Johnson, batter (“twirler”)
  • Chester Jones, batter
  • Thomas Dickerson, batter