1940s

Saint Alphonsus graduates.

November is Black Catholic History Month. Accordingly, I offer these images of a 1949 kindergarten graduation celebration at Saint Alphonsus Catholic School captured by Wilson’s preeminent 20th century photographers Charles Raines and Guy Cox. Do you recognize any of the children?

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Many thanks to John Teel for sharing these images from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. They are catalogued as PhC_196_CW_1211H _StAlphonsusGraduation1 through 10..

The Wilson Chapel Four.

The Wilson Chapel Four, of which there were five, were the first African-American gospel group to perform on local radio station WGTM.

WGTM regularly published its schedule in the Daily Times. Here, the Wilson Chapel Four were slotted in at 8:30 Sunday night.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 August 1941.

Photo courtesy of the Freeman Round House and African-American Museum.

 

The obituary of Edgar Williams.

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Wilson Daily Times, 21 January 1949.

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In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Williams Edgar (c) lab h 213 Spruce; Williams Jane (c) lab h 213 Spruce

In 1917, Edgar Williams registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 3 January 1896 in Mount Olive, N.C.; lived at 213 Spruce, Wilson; and worked as a laborer for Wilson Country Club.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 213 Spruce, Jane Williams, 46, and son Edgar, 24, both tobacco factory workers.

On 16 December 1920, Edgar Williams, 24, of Wilson County, son of Jane Williams, married Anna McKoy, 22, of Wilson County. Rev. A.L.E. Weeks performed the ceremony in the presence of F.F. Battle and Annie Weeks of Wilson and Almer Pouncey of Bennettsville, South Carolina.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 511 South Mercer Street, rented at $8/hour, Echo Williams, 33, office boy for “Empriel Tobacco Fac.”; wife Anna, 28; and lodger Ora Sanders, 26.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 511 South Mercer Street, rented for $6/month, Edgar Williams, 44, redrying plant office janitor, and wife Anna, 39, redrying plant “hang.”

Edgar Williams died 18 January 1949 at his home at 511 Mercer Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 June 1896 in Wilson to Jane Spells; was a widower; worked as a tobacco factory day laborer; and was buried at Rountree cemetery. Inez Watson, 113 Pender Street, was informant.

The Singing Engineers.

“Billy Rowe’s Note Book” was a regular music column published in the Pittsburgh Courier. In late summer 1943, Edgar T. Rouseau filled in for the vacationing Rowe. Rouseau, with the American Allied Forces “somewhere in the Mediterranean,” shined a spotlight on “sepia bands” whose members were soldiers, including that of the famous Singing Engineers of the all-black 41st Engineer Regiment.

 

Pittsburgh Courier, 11 September 1943.

William Coleman, of Wilson, N.C., plays the alto sax. He is an experienced player who was formerly with Snookum Russell’s Min[illegible], the Frank H. Young Shows and the Carolina Stompers.”

The obituary of Charles Oats.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 July 1941.

Incredibly, the grave markers of Charles Oats and his wife Emma Oats are among the few that remain at Rountree cemetery. Oats was an employee of C.H. Darden and Sons Funeral Home.

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In the 1870 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Albert Oates, 40; wife Elizabeth, 30; and children Ferrebee, 10, and Charly, 3.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Albert Oates, 51; wife Bettie, 34; and children Charles, 13, Turner, 11, Adam, 9, and Willie, 3.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer Charles Oates, 34; wife Emma, 30; and children Willie, 11, Fannie, 9, Annie, 8, Effie, 5, and Queen Elsie, 4.

On 9 August 1916, Charles Oats, 53, applied for a license to marry Lou Woodard, 48. It was never returned for registration.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on 119 Ash Street, laborer Charlie Oats, 52; wife Lilla, 42; and step-children Lizzie, 24, and Elmira Woodard, 15.

On 6 December 1920, Fannie McCullers died in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 32 years old; married to Andrew McCullers; lived on Ash Street; and was born in Wilson County to Charley Oates of Edgecombe County and Emma Williams of Wilson County.

On 3 February 1921, Matthew Smith of Greene County married Annie Edmundson, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Charles and Emma Oats. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of James Debury, Charles Thomas and Richard Green.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 203 Stantonsburg, rented for $24/month, Charlie Oats, 67, undertaking establishment laborer; wife Emma, 53; daughter Almira, 25; and mother Betsie, 92.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Jeff Benjamin, 41, bricklayer; wife Marie, 26, tobacco factory laborer; and lodger Charlie Oats, 75, widower, undertaker shop laborer.

Charles Oats died 13 July 1941 at his home at 112 South Vick Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 September 1873 in Edgecombe County to Albert Oats and Bessie Mercer; was widowed; and was an undertakers assistant.

School days.

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Inez Dickerson Bell, Pauline Farmer White, James Ellis, Deveria Jackson Turner Wing.

James “Casey” Ellis submitted this 1941 photo of himself and three Darden High School friends to the Wilson Daily Times, which ran it on 1 April 2003. Bell, White, and Turner graduated in the Class of 1944.

 

Music lessons.

Though this image of Sister Antonio Spruill of Oblate Sisters of Providence was taken in the 1950s, just beyond the range of Black Wide Awake, it’s really just too great not to be included here. Barbara Farmer, at far left, identified the other girls as Josephine Collins, Gail Peacock, JoAnn Jenkins and Wilter Davis. (Thank you!)

“Music Class St. Alphonsus School in Wilson, N.C.”

In 1947, per the city directory, Saint Alphonsus Catholic School operated from 600 East Green Street, the large two-story house at the corner of Pender Street built for J.D. and Eleanor Reid. By 1950, the house was a nunnery for the Oblate Sisters.

Founded in 1828, the Oblate Sisters of Providence was the first permanent community of Roman Catholic sisters of African descent in the United States. Though small, the order remains active.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 May 1946.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 September 1948.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Caesar Parker of Keo, Arkansas.

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Undated issue of the Arkansas Gazette.

OLD DARKIE PASSES ON TO REWARD LEAVING MANY GOOD EXAMPLES FOR OTHERS TO FOLLOW

By Robert Sakon

In the early hours of the morning of June 27, 1940, Caeser Parker, colored, passed away. His passing was indeed marked by the stillness of the morning as he had lived his life, quiet and peaceful. Caeser Parker was born in Wilson, North Carolina in the year 1861 and moved to Arkansas in the year 1890. During this time he had resided in and around England and Keo. Coming to Lonoke county as a young man Caeser Parker, with his wife, began his lifelong work farming, producing from the earth that which all of us must depend upon. During this time he raised his family of three boys and five girls, which still survive. In the year of 1924 in the month of March, his wife died. It was a severe blow to lose his mate of forty years. So well was his family thought of that at the funeral of his wife the Colored Baptist church at Keo could not hold the ones who came to pay their respects. In the year 1926, Caesar remarried, still determined to continue his life farming, living among those who knew him best. He joined the Baptist church at Keo in 1892 and was a deacon for 44 years, the oldest deacon in that church in the point of service. At the time of his death he was living on the farm he bought from Mr. Jimmy Cobb 25 years ago. This forty acre farm was his pride and joy.

Surviving are two sons, Will and R.D. Parker of Keo; three daughters, Lula of Little Rock, Etta of Tucker and Mary Armstrong of Los Angeles, Calif. His funeral was held on the evening of June 30, at the colored Baptist church of Keo where every seat and available space was filled with those who came to pay their respects to this well known and beloved colored person. Among the many white people to attend were Mr. and Mrs. M. Adler, Mrs. A. Lindenburg and Robert Sakon of England, and many from Keo and surrounding territory. The pastor of the church called upon the writer to say a few words. Robert Sakon said: “We enter this world without our consent; we leave against our wishes, yet, if each and every one of us can live the life of the deceased then we can proudly have no fear of the hereafter. A better colored person never lived than Caeser Parker; he always was a person that was well loved by both the white and the colored. He has built a place in the hearts of all of us who knew him that can never be replaced. Caeser Parker added much to the prestige of the colored race; he lived a life that was without blemish his record was clean he was not as well known as the great Booker T. Washington, the colored educator, or as powerful with his fists as Joe Louis, but to us who knew him he was a champion in every way. everyone whether he be white or colored can proudly point to in his record of 79 years never once being in trouble of any kind. His death is a great loss to the colored people, but is a goal that to live like him is to have the respect, the best interest, the betterment of their race because of the respect of the white people and the colored. W.M. Wilson said that in the passing of Caeser Parker one of the best beloved darkies of our time has passed beyond. Caeser Parker was always trying to help, always taking pleasure in aiding the American Red Cross with his bit, always trying to build up goodwill for those of his race, in life, as in death, kind, gracious and peaceful.

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Caesar Parker (1861-1940).

In the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County: John Parker, 50; wife Piety, 40; and children Esther, 20, Sarah, 18,  Green, 16, and Ceasar, 8; [and grandchildren] John, 3, and Lucy, Fannie and Rose, 8 months. [No cohabitation record exists for John and Piety Parker in either Wilson or Pitt Counties. Assuming Caesar Parker’s birthplace is correct in his obituary,  it is not clear if the family was originally from Wilson and moved to Pitt, or were Pitt County natives who lived briefly in Wilson.]

In the 1880 census of Falkland township, Pitt County: John Parker, 60; wife Pietty, 50; children Esther, 33, Greene, 25, and Ceasur, 18; and grandchildren John, 11, Lucy and Fanny, 9, Henry, 5, and Sarah, 4.

On 26 January 1882, Caesar Parker, 21, son of John and Pristy Parker, married Judy Newton, 20, daughter of Abel and Mary Newton, in Falkland township, Pitt County.

In the 1900 census of Lafayette township, Lonoke County, Arkansas: Ceaza Parker, 39; wife Juda, 42; and children Mattie, 16, Ned, 14, Daniel, 12, Louvenia, 18, Herbert, 4, Piety, 4, and Mary A., 1. Next door: Bud Fobes, 27; wife Esther, 23; and sons Artha, 1, and an unnamed newborn; plus boarder Piety Parker, 80. All over age 4 were born in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Lafayette township, Lonoke County, Arkansas: on Witherspoon Road, farmer Caesar Parker, 49; wife Judah, 47; children Louvenia, 17, Hubbard, 15, Piety, 13, and Mary A., 11; and Frank Dancy, 10

In the 1920 census of Lafayette township, Lonoke County, Arkansas: on Keo Road, Caesar Parker, 60; wife Judie, 62; daughters Piety, 23, and Mary A., 20; and granddaughter Emma, 5.

In the 1930 census of Lafayette township, Lonoke County, Arkansas: farmer Ceasar Parker, 69; wife Annie, 56; grandchildren Emma Parker, 16, Herbert Moore, 9, and Lottie Greene, 6; and stepsons Leroy Newsom, 19, Willie Newsum, 18, and Elihue Austin, 16.

In the 1940 census of Lafayette township, Lonoke County, Arkansas: on “unimproved dirt road running west into Keo Road,” in a house owned and valued at $200, farmer Caesar Parker, 79; wife Annie, 68; daughter Prince Brockman, 40; her children Cumy, 16, Elvira, 16, Mary, 14, Andrew, 12, Willie, 8, and Almary, 6; and granddaughter Lottie Parker, 16.

Caesar Parker died 27 June 1940 in Lafayette township, Lonoke County, Arkansas. Per his death certificate, he was 80 years old; the son of John Parker and Piti Etta of North Carolina; was married to Annie Parker, 66; and worked as a farmer.

Images courtesy of Ancestry.com user Joanetta Counce.