1940s

Pvt. Ford killed in Christmas Eve car accident.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 December 1944.

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In the 1930 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farm laborer Rosco Ford, 48; wife Mary J., 37; and children Roxy L., 19, Iola, 17, Beatrice, 16, David, 14, Gestine, 13, John D., 11, Rosetta, 8, Virginia, 7, Horris C., 6, Ester J., 4, Mary L., 3, and Henry C., newborn.

In the 1940 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Roscoe Ford, 55; wife Mary, 48; children Beatrice, 25, David Lee, 24, J.D., 21, Rose Esther, 19, Virgina, 17, Harries, 15, Esther, 14, Mary, 13, Henry Clay, 10, and Willie Clinton, 9; and grandchildren John Beregs, 4, and and Odain McKennon, 1.

Horace Clee Ford registered for the World War II draft in June 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 28 January 1924 in Wilson County; lived on Route 1, Elm City; his contact was Roscoe G. Ford; and he worked for Walter Pridgen, Elm City.

Horace C. Ford died 24 December 1944 in rural Wilson township, Wilson County “3 mi N of Wilson.” Per his death certificate, he was born 24 January 1924 in Wilson County to Roscoe Ford and Mary Jane Simms; was single; was a soldier in the U.S. Army; and was buried in William Chapel cemetery.

Dawes suffocates in tobacco barn.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 August 1946.

Here’s another example of the value of newspaper accounts in providing broader context to the clipped conclusions set forth in death certificates. Per the coroner’s conclusion, the certificate said only “found dead, no sign foul play.”

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In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Ed Dawes, 38; wife Cora, 27; and children Jesse, 14, Lena, 12, Della, 10, Lonny, 2, and Ned, 1 month.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on the Plank Road, farmer Edward Dawes, 52; his second wife Cora F., 33; and children Lena, 18, Mary D., 17, Lonnie, 11, Ned, 8, Isaih, 7, Charlie, 6, Estelle, 3, and Cora F., 9 months.

In the 1920 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Ed Daws, 62; wife Cofranza, 41; and children Lonie, 21, Mary D., 25, Ned, 18, Izel, 17, Charlie, 14, Estella V., 12, Cora, 9, David L., 7, Mathew, 5, Claudy, 3, and [granddaughter?] Dolly May Edwards, 1.

Ned Dawes, 27, son of Ed and Cora F. Dawes, married Martha Goones, 40, daughter of Arthur and Minnie Goones, in Pitt County, N.C., on 21 December 1925.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm operator Ned Dawes, 41, and Martha, 30. 

Ned Dawes registered for the World War II draft in 1942 in Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 28 December 1898 in Wilson County; lived at Route 1, Elm City, care of R.H. Hinton; his contact was R.H. Hinton; and he worked for Earl Gardner, Saratoga, N.C.

The obituary of Samuel H. Vick, postmaster, educator, banker, real estate dealer, theatre owner and businessman.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 July 1946.

Samuel H. Vick‘s grave marker was unearthed last month by Lane Street Project volunteers. Though “Rountree” was already the name used collectively for the three cemeteries at the east end of Lane Street, Vick was in fact buried in Odd Fellows.

Employee of the Robinson minstrel show.

In 1940, 29 year-old Langstard Miller registered for the Word War II draft in Wilson County. A native of Saint Louis, Missouri, Miller listed his address as 700 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson, the home of his friend Betsy Freeman. [Was this actually his permanent address or just a mailing address?] Miller listed his employer as Dr. C.S. Robinson Minstrel Show, based on Wilmington, North Carolina.

I have found very little on Miller and nothing else to link him to Wilson. However, on 11 July 1932, Gurnie Langstard Miller, 25, son of Joe Miller and Mattie Langstard, married Annie Amelia Evans, 21, daughter of John Evans and Ida Ash, on 11 July 1932 in Northampton County, Virginia.

Betsy Freeman was not living at 700 Stantonsburg Street when the census enumerator arrived in 1940. Rather, the censustaker found City of Wilson laborer George Freeman, 56; wife Effie, 45, tobacco factory laborer; son James, 26, tobacco factory laborer; and grandchildren Edward, 13, and Doris Evans, 11. The latter were the children of Bessie [sic] Freeman and James Evans, whom she had married in Wilson on 23 June 1925. [Was Betsy/Bessie Freeman also a minstrel show employee?]

Robinson’s Silver Minstrels were a white-owned tent show that featured African-American performers. The “Repertoire-Tent Shows” section of the 21 November 1942 issue of The Billboard magazine featured this short piece:

A few months later, in the 27 February 1943 Billboard, Robinson’s Silver Minstrels advertised for “colored performers and musicians, girl musicians OK; trumpets, saxophones, piano player, chorus girls, novelty acts.” The company promised the “highest salaries on road today” and a “long, sure season.” “All performers who have worked for me in past, write” to the show’s Clinton, N.C., address.

Attention, colored people!

Wilson Daily Times, 19 September 1944.

Though earlier in the century many of the largest developers of East Wilson real estate were Black, such as Samuel H. Vick and brothers Walter and William Hines, by World War II realtors and landlords increasingly operated from the other side of the tracks. Here, Cecil B. Lamm appealed to African-American buyers to invest their wartime earnings in narrow lots on Atlantic and Washington Streets.

Elm City schools consolidated.

Frederick Douglass High School in Elm City was the first high school for African-American students outside the city of Wilson. In 1949, the one- and two-room schools administered by the Elm City Schools were consolidated with Douglass (formerly called Elm City Colored School. When additional classroom space was completed, children who had attended Mitchell, Pender, and Turner Schools were bussed into Elm City to attend Douglass. (Like Darden, though called “high school,” Douglass had both elementary and secondary divisions.)


Wilson Daily Times, 29 December 1949.

 

Drive to curb holiday liquor sales.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 December 1948.

  • Sylvester Barnes
  • Pete Randolph 

Pete Randolph registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 22 June 1914 in Edgecombe County; lived on R.F.D. #1, Elm City; his contact was wife Easter Esther Randolph; and he worked “farming with Mrs. C. Parker” near Elm City.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm operator Pete Randolph, 25; wife Easter, 21; and sons Eddie Morris, 5, Pete Jr., 4, and James E., 1. Pete, Easter and Eddie Randolph had lived in Pitt County in 1935.

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.

Scrapbook chronicles: the matriarch Josephine A. Sherrod.

Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook contained two photos of her mother, Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988). Though not taken on the same day, they were clearly taken within a short span of time and in the same place. They appear to date from the 1950s. (Was the occasion Mother’s Day? Her birthday? Both were in May.) I have not yet identified the two-story house in the background.

Handwritten in pencil on the back of this image: “To my baby, Love Mother.”

Nursery school at Reid Street Community Center.

Just before Christmas 1940, with the assistance of the National Youth Administration, the City of Wilson opened a nursery school at Reid Street Community Center, staffed by four unnamed “negro college graduates.” At the same time, the City organized a formal recreation program at the Center. (Sidenote: a program I benefitted from thirty years later when I learned to swim at Reid Street.)

Wilson Daily Times, 10 December 1940.