1940s

Principal’s reports: Charles H. Darden High School, 1941.

High school principals were required to file annual reports with the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. In 1941, Edward M. Barnes filed this report for Charles H. Darden Hugh School.

The school year was 180 days long and ran from 5 September 1940 to 27 May 1941. (Compare Elm City Colored School, and Williamson High School, rural schools that only had 120-day terms.) Thirteen teachers taught at Darden — seven women and six men. These thirteen taught 331 children — 119 boys and 212 girls — in grades eight through eleven. All grades, including elementary, were housed in one building, which had restrooms, a principal’s office, a library, an auditorium, and a lunchroom.

The high school offered classes in English, general mathematics, geometry, civics, citizenship, world history, American history, Negro history, sociology, geography, general science, chemistry, biology, vocational guidance, and home economics.

The school day was divided into eight periods between 8:30 and 3:25. Lunch was at 12:15. The teachers were Rosa L. Williams, Arnold G. Walker, Cora Miller Washington, James F. Robinson, M.J. Cooper, P.K. Spellman, Spencer J. Satchell, Dolores L. Hines, John M. Miller Jr., Carl W. Hines, E.H. Foster, Marian H. Miller, and Randall R. James.

All the teachers were college graduates, and most had significant experience. 

The school had no dedicated science laboratory space, but did have lab equipment, and had numerous maps and globes. It published a newspaper, The Trojan Journal, and sponsored boys and girls glee clubs, a Verse Choir, and student patrol. 

The school graduated 27 students in the Class of 1941.

High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County; North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.

Principal’s reports: Williamson High School, 1941.

High school principals were required to file annual reports with the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. In 1941, Robert E. Lee filed this report for newly opened Williamson High School.

The school year was only 120 days long and ran from 21 January 1941 to 31 May 1941. (Compare Elm City Colored School, which ran from February to June. Darden, on the other hand, had a 180-day school year.) Three teachers taught at Williamson — two women and one man. Astonishingly, these three taught 114 children — 39 boys and 75 girls — in three grades. (The school had no 11th or 12th grades.) Six-room Williamson Colored School housed all grades in one building. It had no restrooms, principal’s office, library, or auditorium. It did have a lunchroom run by the home economics department.

The high school offered classes in English, spelling, general mathematics, citizenship, American history, world history, geography, general science, and biology.

Classes met at 9:00, 9:48, 10:45, 11:27, 1:48 and 2:38. Lunch was at noon. R.E. Lee taught science, geography and history. J.P. Brown taught English, spelling and citizenship. C.J. Nicholson taught math, English and spelling.

All the teachers were college graduates. Each was in his or her first year teaching at Williamson.

The school had no laboratories or maps. It published a newspaper, The Oracle, and sponsored an English Club. Lee made this note: “Our Agriculture, Home Economics and guidance programs will begin in September, 1941, as steps are already being taken to put them into effect.”

High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County; North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.

Principal’s report: Elm City Colored School, 1941.

High school principals were required to file annual reports with the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. In 1941, Robert A. Johnson filed this report for Elm City Colored School for the preceding school year.

The school year was only 120 days and ran from 10 February 1941 to 28 June 1941. Seven teachers taught at Elm City — two men and five women. They taught 164 children — 48 boys and 116 girls. Elm City Colored School housed all grades in one building. It had no restrooms, lunchroom or auditorium. It had no librarian, but it did have a library room.

The high school offered classes in English, general mathematics, geometry, algebra, citizenship, American history, world history, sociology, general science, biology, home economics, and French.

Classes met at 8:45, 9:35, 10:30, 11:30, 1:00 and 2:00. Odelle Whitehead Barnes taught English and French; Clara G. Cooke taught history and English; Mabel Brewington taught home economics and history; Earl C. Burnett taught science and math; and Robert A. Johnson taught math and tended the library on Fridays.

All the teachers were college graduates. Barnes had the most tenure at Elm City, with 8 years; Brewington and Burnett were newcomers.

The school had no laboratories or maps. It published a newspaper, The Elm City Journal; had both girls’ and boys’ glee clubs; a 4-H Club; and an English Club. Elm City Colored School graduated fourteen in the Class of 1941 — William Bynum, Volious Harris, Willie R. Mitchell, Mary Armstrong, Minnie E. Armstrong, Nelia Brown, Essie Bynum, Alice Ellis, Bessie Lancaster, Clara Lancaster, Eva Lindsey, Ada B. McKinnon, Georgia Toliver, and Marie Wynn.

High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County, North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.

Corporal Artis arrives at hospital.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 September 1944.

Columbus Esdella Artis registered for the World War II draft in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1940. Per his draft registration card, he was born 9 June 1918 in Black Creek, North Carolina; lived at 859 Landing Street, Norfolk (updated to Rt. 2 Box 335, Stantonsburg, N.C., then 1423 R Street N.W., Washington, D.C.); his contact was mother Laurine Artis, Stantonsburg; and he worked for Mr. Ferbee, Dependable Company, 617 Boush Street, Norfolk.

[SIdenote: Artis was named for his paternal uncle, undertaker Columbus E. Artis.]

Shaw ’49.

From the 1949 edition of The Bear, the yearbook of Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina:

  • Helen Jean Harrison

In the 1930 census of Bailey township, Nash County: farmer Ellie W. Harris, 45; wife Rosa A., 44; and children Carrie L.,21, William E., 19, Ojetta, 18, Lila M., 16, Ethel M., 14, Mattie E., 13, Robert H., 10, Jessie L., 10, Beatrice, 8, George L., 6, and Hellin J., 2. Ellie, Rosa, and their four oldest children were born in South Carolina; Ethel in Virginia; and the remaining in North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Lane Street, Eli Harrison, 56, mechanic helper in “carpentering”; wife Rosa, 54, tobacco factory laborer; and children Ethel, 23, Jessie, 19, Beatrix, 17, Leroy, 16, and Helen, 12. Eli, Rosa and Ethel Harrison was South Carolina-born; the others, North Carolina.

  • Claretha Jones

The obituary of Frances “Frankie” Best.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 June 1941.

——

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cook Nannie Best, 34, widow, and daughters Francis, 20, and Eliza, 16, and boarder Lula Garrett, 25. The latter three were house servants.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Nannie Best, 48, cook; her children Francis, 28, cook, Eliza, 24, public school teacher, and son Aaron, 9; and lodgers, Lula, 24, cook, and Nannie Best, 16, private nurse.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 330 South Spring Street: widowed Nannie Best, 61, her daughter Frank, 30, son Aaron, 21, daughter-in-law Estelle, 19, widowed brother Harper Best, 65, and a lodger, nurse Henrietta Colvert, 24.

In the 1922 and 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories, Frankie Best is listed as a domestic living at 320 South Spring.

In the 1930 Wilson city directory, cook Nannie Best, laundress Frankie Best and seamstress Eliza Best are listed as residents of 1009 East Nash Street.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Best Frankie (c) lndrs 1009 E Nash

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Nan Best, 75, widow; daughter Frankie, 55; and grandsons William, 19, and Audrey, 15.

Frankye Best died 23 June 1941 at her home at 1009 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 58 years old; was born in Lenoir County, N.C., to Aaron Best and Nannie Best; was single; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Eliza Best was informant.

They like football, and they have that old school spirit.

In the fall of 1944, Darden High School’s football team, finding no teachers available to fill the role, coached itself.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 October 1944.

(Note the reference to the team’s playing field. Darden had no formal football field, and the team had to spend its own money to rent Fleming Stadium for home games.)

——

The team:

  • Herman Hines — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1001 Vance Street, wagon factory laborer Wesley Hines, 35; wife Lucy, 30, a private nurse; and sons Herman, 13, and Charles, 10. Oddly, three before the article above was published, Herman Wesley Hines registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 7 October 1944 in Wilson; lived at 1001 East Vance; his contact was his father Wesley Edward Hines; had a burn scar on his left ankle; and worked as a section hand for the railroad. Was this in fact his father’s occupation? Hines and others were members of the Class of 1945. [Note: Herman Hines died 30 July 2014 in Reidsville, North Carolina. His obituary mentions his coaching stint at Darden.]
  • Bennie Hill
  • James Jones — In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 Stantonsburg Street, Wesley Jones, 51, fertilizer plant laborer; wife Martha, 52, tobacco factory laborer; and children Lucille, 22, teacher at Fremont School, Vernon, 20, Willie, 16, John, 14, James, 12, and Elroy, 10. On 26 December 1945, James Thomas Jones registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 23 December 1927 in Wilson; lived at 901 Stantonsburg Street; his contact was Wesley Jones; and he worked at Contentnea Guano Company, Wilson.
  • John Melton — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow T[illegible] Barnes, 72, washing; daughter Cora Melton, 42, widow and private cook; and grandchildren Lucy, 16, Virginia, 15, John, 14, W.T., 8, and Hilda, 7; and daughter Lillie Barnes, 40, “sick.” On 11 September 1944, John Melton registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 11 September 1926 in Wilson; lived at 1206 Washington Street; his contact was mother Cora Melton; and reworked at Imperial Tobacco Company, Wilson.
  • Lindbergh Wilson  — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Elizabeth Wilson, 55; daughter Marie, 29; lodgers Earnest Mack, 35, and Jessie McMillion, 34; and grandsons Lindberg, 12, and Rodney Wilson, 14. On 10 September 1945, Lindbergh Wilson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 September 1927 in Wilson County; he lived at 1013 Stantonsburg Street; his contact was Marie Wilson; and his “employer” was N.C. State [North Carolina College?], Durham.
  • Lester McNeil — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 107 South Carroll Street, railroad station porter Chester McNeal, 49; wife, Mary, 36, tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ula, 20, and son Lester, 12; adopted daughter Elane Barnes, 20; and adopted son William McNeal, 1. On 28 September 1945, Lester McNeil registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 27 September 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 107 South Carroll; his contact was Chester McNeil; and his “employer” was Darden High School.
  • Charles Hines — Hines was the younger brother of Herman Hines, above. On 19 December 1957, Charles Edwin Hines married Anna Johnson Goode in Wilson.
  • Thomas Stokes — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1208 Atlanta Street, barber James Stokes, 35; wife Viola, 25; children Frank, 8, Dorthea, 4, Thomas, 2, and Julia, 18 months; and mother Julia, 64. On 24 July 1945, Thomas Watson Stokes registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 24 July 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 1206 Atlantic Street; his contact was Viola Stokes; he had a small scar on his forehead; and he was a self-employed painter.
  • Robert Speight — On 9 August 1944, Robert Elton Speight registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 August 1926 in Wilson County; he lived at 624 Viola Street; his contact was father Theodore Speight; and he was a student at Darden High School.
  • Ernest Halliday — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 East Suggs Street, Westley Holiday, 40; wife Rosa, 30; and children Earlise, 13, Edward, 11, Deborah, 9, Lula M., 6, Earnest, 4, and Joseph, 1. On 19 June 1944, Ernest Holliday registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 18 June 1926 in Wilson County; he lived at 512 East Spruce Street; his contact was Rosa Holliday; and he was unemployed.
  • Robert Jenkins — On 22 January 1945, Robert Allen Jenkins registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 21 January 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 611 Viola Street; his contact was mother Geneva Mercer; he had a scar on his right leg below his knee; and he was a student at Darden High School.

East Wilson aerial view, 1940.

North Carolina State Archives’ Flickr account contains a folder holding more than one hundred aerial photographs of Wilson County shot in 1940.

Here, East Wilson more or less entirely. (The dark curve superimposed on the image marks the future path of Ward Boulevard. Though this road was plotted largely through open land, it did require the obliteration of a stretch of houses on East Nash Street.)

Below, a close-up look at the bottom left quadrant of this image. South of Nash Street, the road now known as Pender Street was then called Stantonsburg Street. At (1), the Sallie Barbour School, formerly known as the Colored Graded or Stantonsburg Street School. At (2), a tightly packed block of endway (shotgun) houses, which were form of choice for developers of rental housing for Wilson’s African-American working poor. Clusters of these narrow dwellings can be seen across the map. This block, on Railroad Street between Elvie and Lincoln Streets, is still intact.

The blocks south of Wiggins and Wainwright Street were still relatively sparsely settled, but several churches had set up in the area, including (3) Mount Zion Free Will Baptist Church, (4) Union Grove Primitive Baptist Church, and (5) Branch Memorial Tabernacle United Holy Church.

Around Cemetery Street, the open space attests to the location of Wilson’s earliest Black cemetery (cemeteries?). The following year, the city disinterred Oakdale cemetery and moved its graves to Rest Haven.

The northern half of East Wilson, below. At (1) Reid Street Community Center; (2) Samuel H. Vick Elementary School; (3) Charles H. Darden High School; (4) endway houses on Queen Street; (5) William Hines’ two-story rental houses; (6) C.H. Darden Funeral Home; (7) Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church; (8) Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; (9) Mercy Hospital; (10) Calvary Presbyterian Church; (11) Wilson Normal and Industrial School (also known as the Independent School); and (12) the Samuel and Annie Vick house.

The elbow of Lane Street, below. The Harry Clark family farm, later Rest Haven cemetery, at (1), and a relatively clear view of (2) Vick, (3) Odd Fellows, and (4) Rountree cemeteries.

Wilson_CSP_6B_12, U.S.D.A. Photograph Collection, State Archives of North Carolina.

Odd jobs, no. 2.

The occupation and industry columns in federal population schedules sometimes yield unusual results, even in an era in which most African-Americans in Wilson worked as farm laborers, tobacco factory hands, or domestic workers.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, 48 year-old Deal Tillman gave his occupation as: 

Tillman spent much of his life in Randolph County and only lived a few years in Wilson.

In the 1910 census of Trinity township, Randolph County, N.C.: Sandy T. Tillman, 75; wife Tempa, 78; daughter Adaline, 50; granddaughter Ella, 24; great-grandchildren Roy, 6, and Mary, 2; and grandson Dealie, 20, farm laborer.

In 1917, Dealie Tillman registered for the World War II draft in Randolph County, N.C. Per his registration card, he was born 12 July 1892 in Trinity, N.C.; resided in Trinity; worked as “keeper of kennel” for Dr. P.P. Satterwhite, Trinity; had a wife and two children; and “claims right leg stiff from fracture; thumb on left hand disabled.” [Dr. Preston P. Satterwhite was a Kentucky-born retired surgeon and art collector with homes in Palm Beach and New York City. His marriage to Florence Brokaw Martin, widow of a Standard Oil executive (and herself an heiress) allowed him to retire from the practice of medicine early. I have found no record of Satterwhite’s maintenance of a residence (or kennels) in North Carolina, but, per the Asheboro Courier, Florence Satterwhite’s brother, socialite W. Gould Brokaw, owned an estate with a kennel, called Fairview, near Trinity The kennel was just one of many in the county catering to well-heeled Northerners game for hunting.]

Asheboro Courier, 7 January 1915.

In the 1920 census of Trinity township, Randolph County: Deal Tillman, 28, manager of dog kennels; wife Effie, 25; and children Albert, 7, Ruth, 5, and Mary, 2.

In the 1930 census of Blue Springs township, Hoke County, N.C.: Deal Tilman, 41, dog trainer at kennels; wife Julia, 39; daughters Alberta, 17, and Ruth, 15; and others.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 314 New Bern Street, rented at $10/month, Deal Tillman, 49, dog trainer in private practice; wife Julia B., 48, cook at training school; and grandchildren John, 13, and Bertha Smith, 11.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillman, Deal (c; Julia; 2) porter h 204 Powell

Deal Tilghman died 29 December 1941 at his home at 204 Powell Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 July 1892 in High Point, N.C.; was married to Julia Tilghman; and worked as a laborer. He was buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Julia Tilman died 19 December 1945 in Raeford, Hoke County, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1891 in Red Springs, N.C. to Archa and Nerva Melvin; was the widow of Deal Tilman; and was a teacher. Bertha Smith, Raeford, was informant.