1940s

Dear Santa Claus.

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Wilson Daily Times, 24 December 1940.

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In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Joe Jones, 44, tobacco factory laborer; wife Mary L., 33, county home nurse; and children Marie, 12, and Joseph Jr., 9.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Oliver W. Best, 32, [occupation illegible],and wife Sadie L., 24, public school teacher.

Model 1938 Red Ryder BB gun, today.

A Christmas party at Saint Alphonsus School.

On 22 December 1946, Raines and Cox arrived at Saint Alphonsus Catholic School to photograph the children’s Christmas party.

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The boy kneeling at far left is Carl W. Hines Jr. Two other kneeling boys, including the one at far right in the double-breasted jacket, may be sons of Ruel and Louisa Jones Bullock. Can you identify other children in this photo?

Again, many thanks to John Teel for sharing this image from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. It is catalogued as PhC_196_CW_218H_StAlphonseHolidayParty.

Handel chorus and a cappella choir to perform.

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Wilson Daily Times, 20 December 1940.

Smallest prints on file.

I have been unable to find more to elucidate this strange kidnapping story. The Daily Times‘ initial report, which focused more on a novelty angle than on the tragedy, misidentified the baby as “11 months old Mildred Pace,” and suggested that her birth mother had taken her from a black doctor in Washington, D.C., to whom she had sold the child for fifty dollars.

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Wilson Daily Times, 14 November 1940.

Two weeks later, while still strangely stuck on peripheral details like the light skin color of the baby and her mother, the Times had more details. The child Lorraine was 20 months’ old, and Delores Pace was accused of stealing her from her birth parents, Ida and Massie Vaughn. (Massie Vaughn was a W.P.A. worker, not a doctor.) As best I can decipher, the allegations were these:

Delores Pace befriended the Vaughns under the alias Annie Mae Johnson. On October 28, she took the youngest two of their six children to the movies, where three year-old Cephus was found alone that night. Pace’s friends told police she had taken Lorraine to Wilson. United States marshals were called in to track down Pace and the toddler, and a D.C. policeman followed, took the child into custody and stashed her in the Raleigh City Jail under the care of a janitor.

Pace did not testify at her arraignment. The Vaughns identified their daughter and produced her birth certificate (and the newspaper made much of the contrasting skin tones of all involved.) Pace was ordered to stand trial. After the hearing, Pace told someone (the reporter?) that the child had been born in New York and that her father, Marvin Knight, had promised to marry Pace if Pace showed him the child, and Knight confirmed his paternity. That’s it.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 November 1940.

The 1940 census of Washington, D.C., shows that Lorraine was the youngest of the Vaughns’ six children.

I have not found any record of Delores Pace anywhere.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, retail grocer James Henry Knight, 53; wife Ada Elsie, 52; and children Marvin, 22, retail grocery clerk; Evelyn, 19, Nancy Doris, 10, and Joseph Frank, 8. On 6 June 1944, Marvin Robert Knight, 26, of Wilson, son of James and Ada Knight, married Jewell Dean Stokes, of Middlesex, daughter of T.O. and Anna Stokes, in Wake County.

Smith keeps a “contract.”

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Pittsburgh Courier, 13 December 1941.

  • Mable Smith
  • John Dallas McGirt — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Archie McGirt, 52, fertilizer plant laborer; wife Pearl, 47, tobacco factory laborer; son John, 23, fertilizer plant laborer; daughter Lillian Simms, 21, tobacco factory laborer; son Belton [McGirt], 19, delivery boy for grocery store; [grandson] Walter, 5; and son-in-law Allen Simms, 25, cement finisher for contractor. John Dallas McGirt registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 May 1916 in Maxton, N.C.; lived at 1013 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson; his contacts as father Archie McGirt, same address; and he worked for Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, Wilson. McGirt died 7 March 1972.
  • Ada Barnes

Letters to Santa Claus.

In early December 1948, the Daily Times published letters to Santa from William B. “Billy” Davis Jr. and Diana Davis (now Myers), children of William B. and Hazel Ingram Myers.

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Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1948.

The children wrote again a few days later with revised lists. (Only the request for a baby brother remained constant.)

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 December 1948.

Williams admits a shooting.

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Statesville Record & Landmark, 16 November 1949.

Here is Delbert Williams‘ death certificate. It reports that he was born 12 May 1912 in Dillon, South Carolina, to Hat Williams and Katie Singletary, was married; lived (and died) on Dew Street; worked as a laborer; and died of a gunshot blast to the neck.

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