1940s

Snookum Russell’s orchestra is coming to town!

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Indianapolis Recorder, 22 November 1947.

This Indianapolis newspaper article mentioned that Snookum Russell‘s Be-Bop Orchestra was scheduled to play “the annual winter prom” in Wilson on the night before Thanksgiving 1947. Russell, a pianist, lead a territory band that toured the South and Midwest in the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, playing tobacco warehouses and dance halls.

A lot in Rest Haven.

Ed and Daisy Hagans purchased a plot at Rest Haven cemetery for twenty-five dollars on 26 July 1948. Such a sale constitutes a real estate transaction, and the Haganses’ transaction was recorded in Deed Book 357, page 413, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

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This is somewhat confusing, as Edward Hagans died 20 July 1948. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 April 1913 in Wilson County to Isaac Hagans and Essie Mae Farmer; was married to Daisy Hagans; lived at 555 East Nash Street; worked as a laborer; and was buried in Rest Haven on 22 July 1948.

Edward and Daisy Hagans’ daughter Gloria Devetta Hagans died at home on 28 July 1948 of pulmonary tuberculosis (as had her father.) Per her death certificate, she was born 25 November 1934 in Wilson to Edward Hagans and Daisy Melton; was a student; lived at 536 East Nash; and was buried at Rest Haven.

Per Joan Howell’s Cemetery, Volume 5, Edward, Daisy and Gloria Hagans, plus Albert Hagans, are buried in Section 3 between rows L and M.

Establishing a property line.

On 12 February 1946, Leslie and Minnie Diggs Artis of Eureka, Wayne County, and the Trustees of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church reached an agreement to resolve uncertainty over the location of back boundary for property that each party owned on Smith and Church Streets.

Both Artises had close ties to Wilson. Leslie Artis, son of Napoleon and Sallie Taylor Artis, was the nephew of Cain, C.E., June Scott, Walter and William Artis, Josephine Artis Sherrod, and Amanda Artis Cooper, as well as Jonah Williams, whose daughter Clarissa Williams owned the lot adjoining the disputed properties.

Leslie Artis (1892-1974).

Minnie Diggs Artis was a cousin of Edgar H. Diggs. And the Artises’ daughter Sallie Mae Artis Shackleford (1924-2013) was a long-time resident of Academy Street in East Wilson.

Minnie Diggs Artis (1897-1970).

The church’s trustees were Camillus L. Darden, John Mack Barnes, Separise P. Artis, Louis Thomas, James Henry Knight, Charles Knight, D.E. Simms, C.L. Hardy, A.J. McCoy, Linwood Moore, and David Henry Coley.

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Photos courtesy of Leroy Barnes; deed book 318, pages 183-185, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Snaps, no. 65: At the Zam Zam Club.

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In 1946, Raines and Cox provided photography service to patrons of the Zam Zam Club, a private, white-only supper club just north of Wilson on Highway 301. While on duty, the photographers also took photos of staff of the club, including this dapper gentleman. Anyone recognize him?

Many thanks to John Teel for sharing this image from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina. The photo is catalogued as PhC_196_ZZ_8C.

The roots of Rest Haven cemetery.

Heather Goff, Wilson Cemetery Commission Leader, has gone above and beyond to educate herself about the city’s historic black cemeteries and to search for documents concerning these little-known properties. She recently unearthed these Cemetery Commission records shedding light on Rest Haven Cemetery’s early days.

A document labeled Agreement: Town of Wilson vs. Colored Cemetery Commission:

The text of the document does not make reference to a lawsuit or the Colored Cemetery Commission. The passive voice construction in the first independent clause conceals a critical fact: who conveyed 38 acres known as the Jesse Barnes land to the Cemetery Trustees of the Town of Wilson on 24 October 1933? The Town of Wilson actually put up the money for the property and held it in trust until the Trustees paid the Town $3500, plus interest. This amount was to be realized, after deducting operating expenses, from sums raised from the sales of burial lots. The document is signed by the white Cemetery Trustees of Wilson, and I have not been able to identify any “colored” ones. The notes on the reverse show six payments totaling $2000 made between 1939 and 1945.

And thus we get an establishment date for Rest Haven cemetery — 1933 — and the provenance of its earliest section.

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So, who was Jesse Barnes?

This 12 June 1975 letter proclaims that “the lots adjacent to the Rest Haven Cemetery are have been, and in the future will be set aside for the heirs of the said, Jessie R. and Sarah L. Barnes. These lots are located at the back of Section No. 2 on row beside the ditch in the cluster of trees.” Frank Barnes signed the letter.

Jesse Reese Barnes (1873-1949) and Sarah Eliza Barnes Barnes (1872-1936) were married in 1893. Frank Washington Barnes was their son. Without access to deeds, I cannot determine at this time when the Barneses purchased their 38 acres. However, presumably, Jesse and Sarah sold it to the Cemetery Commission.

And “the back of Section No. 2 on row beside the ditch in the cluster of trees”? It’s here:

Less than a month after the note above, Frank W. Barnes sold four grave plots to John E. Dixon. This note is on file with the Cemetery Commission: “This is to certify that I, Frank W. Barnes of 308 Ward Boulevard, Wilson, North Carolina acting on behalf of myself and with the full consent of other concerned members of the Barnes family do hereby  for the sum of Ten Dollars ($10.00) and other value received do convey to said John E. Dixon and family of 411 N. Vick Street of Wilson, North Carolina space for four (4) grave plots in the Barnes Family Cemetery which is a part of REST HAVEN CEMETERY of Wilson, North Carolina. These grave plots are located near the south-east corner of the Barnes Cemetery between two (2) big Cedar trees. These plots are theirs to have and hold from this day hence-forth.” Joan Howell’s Cemeteries, Volume V, lists the burials of Jesse Barnes, Jesse J. Barnes, John E. Dixon, Mabel B. Dixon and Levi C. Dixon in the Barnes section of Rest Haven.

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In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Lemon Barnes, 32, farmer; wife Nancey, 26; and children Morrison, 8, Jessee R., 7, Ida, 6, Eddie, 3, Lemon Jr., 2, and General, 3 months.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Ned Barnes, 34; wife Margaret, 35; and children Luvenia, 9, Franklin, 8, Walter, 10, and Sarah Eliza, 7.

Jesse Barnes, 19, married Sarah Barnes, 21, daughter of Ned Barnes and Margarett Artis, on 2 December 1893 at the bride’s home in Wilson County. Per their marriage license, Presbyterian minister L.J. Melton performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Moore, John Hardy and Davis Barnes.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Jesse R. Barnes, 27; wife Sarah, 28; and children Lucretia, 5, Ned, 4, Nancy, 2, and Lemon, 11 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, Jesse Barnes, 37, farmer; wife Sarah, 31, public school teacher; and children Lucresia, 16, Ned, 14, Nancy, 12, Lemon, 11, Jessie Bell, 10, Maggie May, 7, and Ardenia, 5.

Lucrettia Barnes died 11 March 1915 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 October 1894 to Jesse Barnes and Sarah Barnes.

In 1919, Margaret Edmundson Barnes Artis, signed her mark to a will leaving her real property to daughter Sarah Barnes Barnes. The land was described as a tract “adjoining the lands of Martin Barnes, Harry Clark, Daniel Vick‘s heirs, Dollison Powell and the Singletary Place, containing forty-four acres more or less.” (Margaret had jointly owned or inherited this property from her second husband Cain Artis.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Jesse Barnes, 46; wife Sarah, 47; and children Ned, 23, Nancy, 22, Lemon, 20, Jessie Belle, 18, Maggie, 15, Ardenia, 13, Frank, 11, James, 6, and Mildred, 3.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Powell Street, farmer Jessie R. Barnes, 55; wife Sarah, 56; and children Mildred, 16, James, 13, and Frank, 18; granddaughter Alma, 10; daughter Nancey Farmer, 30, and son-in-law Andrew Farmer, 29, truck driver for Wilson Sales Grocery.

Sarah Eliza Barnes died 29 August 1936 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 52 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ned Barnes and Margarette Edmundson; lived on East Nash Road; and was married to Jesse R. Barnes.

Jessie Reese Barnes died 20 April 1949 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 April 1873 in Wilson County to Lemuel Barnes and Nancy Woodard; was a widower; was a farmer. Frank Barnes, 513 East Nash, was informant.

Many thanks to Heather Goff for her diligent search for these records.

Anatomy of a photograph: Williams Lumber Company.

Founded in 1912 in Elm City, Williams Lumber Company‘s Wilson sawmill was sandwiched between Banks Street and Hominy Swamp Canal to the north and south, and Douglas (formerly Spring) and South Lodge Streets to the west and east. (There is still a lumber company at that location, but it’s not Williams Lumber.)

In the mid-1940s, Charles Raines and Guy Cox photographed Williams’ workers posing with equipment in the lumber yard.

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A tractor driver.

A forklift driver sits atop a load.

Seven drivers lounge against their trucks.

If you recognize any of these men, please let me know.

This top image is found among the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. It is catalogued as PhC_196_CW_299H_WilliamsLumber3. Many thanks to John Teel for sharing. 

Three drown; three thousand attend funeral.

The day after graduation, Darden High School’s Class of 1942 road-tripped south to Kinston for a picnic at a lake. The day ended in tragedy when three young men drowned trying to save the life of a classmate.

Wilson Daily Times, 4 June 1942.

The Daily Times estimated that three thousand mourners jammed the “Wilson Community Center” [Reid Street Community Center] for joint services for Harvey Ford, Raymond Edwards, and Russell Clay

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 June 1942.

  • Harvey Ford — Per his death certificate, Harvey Gray Ford died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 January 1921 in Wilson, N.C., to Curtis Ford of Dillon, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Mamie Ford, 910 East Green Street, was informant.
  • Raymond Edwards — Per his death certificate, Raymond Edwards died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 15 November 1924 in Wilson, N.C., to McKenly Edwards of Greene County and Maggie Thomas of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Maggie Edwards, 609 South Railroad Street, was informant.
  • Russell Clay — Per his death certificate, Russell Clay died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 April 1921 in Jarrett, Virginia, to Larry Clay of Wilson, and Hattie Grice of Wilson; was a student; and was single. He was buried in Newsome cemetery near Lucama. Hattie Clay, 902 Viola Street, was informant.
  • Parthenia Robinson — Anne Parthenia Robinson. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Vick Street, barber Golden Robinson, 30; wife Bertie, 23; and children Parthenia, 5, Gold M., 3, and Glean, 1.
  • E.M. Barnes — Edward M. Barnes was principal of C.H. Darden High School.
  • Rev. F.M. Davis — Fred M. Davis was pastor of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Rev. A.D. Dunstan
  • Charles D. James
  • Eunice Cooke — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hadley Street, railroad mail clerk Jerry L. Cook, 43; wife Clara, 39, teacher; children Henderson, 20, Edwin D., 18, Clara G., 14, Georgia E., 12, Annie, 8, Jerry L., 6, and Eunice D., 4; sister Georgia E. Wyche, 48, teacher; and nieces Kathaline Wyche, 7, and Reba Whittington, 19.
  • James Mincey — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: fertilizer plant laborer James Mincey, 39; wife Lucinda, 35; grandfather William Ran, 87, widower; and James Mincey Jr., 15.
  • Eleanor Reid — Eleanor P. Reid was principal of Sallie Barbour Elementary School.
  • Annie Cooke
  • M.D. Williams — Malcolm D. Williams was principal of Samuel Vick Elementary School.
  • Rev. W.A. Hillard — in 1942, William Alexander Hilliard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 14 September 1904 in Greenville, Texas; was a minister in the A.M.E. Zion Church serving in Wilson; resided at 119 Pender Street; and his contact was Mrs. Veta Watson, 2449 Woodland Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Quincey Ford — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 409 Carroll Street, carpenter Curtis Ford, 52; sons Quincey, 20, and Harvey G., 19, tobacco factory laborers; wife Mayme, 48, teacher; son-in-law Liston Sellers, 22, tobacco factory laborer; daughter Leah, 22, and granddaughter Yvette, 2.
  • Leah Ford — Leah Ford Sellers‘ daughter Yevette Sellers died just three and a half years after her uncle Harvey.
  • Kennie and Maggie Edwards — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 609 South Railroad Street, William Edwards, 52, farm laborer; wife Lillie, 49; son McKinley, 28, wife Maggie, 25; and son Ramond, 6.
  • Hattie Clay — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 902 Viola, hospital cook Hattie Clay, 42, widow, and children Russell, 19, Buelah M., 15, and Arthur, 7; plus mother Mary Grice, 76, widow.
  • Beulah Clay
  • Arthur Clay

The Latham-Farmer marriage.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 March 1948.

The Daily Times‘ 8 March 1948 edition announced the marriage of Nelson T. Farmer and Almeter L. Latham. Their marriage license gives a few more details (and the correct spellings of attendees’ names.)

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  • Mr. and Mrs. James Lathan — James H. Latham, 21, son of Moses Latham and Fannie [maiden name unknown], married Marzella Jones, 19, daughter of Daniel H. and Lillie J. Jones, at the bride’s home in Wilson on 5 October 1924. Free Will Baptist minister E.W. Hagans performed the ceremony in the presence of Peller Chambers, William Uzzell, and James Brady. In the 1930 census of Williamston, Martin County: on State Highway No. 90, farmer James Latham, 24; wife Marzella, 24; daughter Almeta, 5; and sister Carrie, 15.
  • Almeter La Verne Lathan
  • Nelson Thomas Farmer — Nelson Thomas Farmer registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 10 November 1925 in Wilson County; his contact was father John Robert Farmer, Elm City; and he worked for S.S. Daniel, Elm City.
  • Mr. and Mrs. John Farmer — in the 1940 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Jhon R. Farmer, 53; wife Clee, 46; and children Robert, 22, Ruth, 19, Willie, 16, Nelton, 14, Marshall, 12, and Mary Ann, 10.
  • Rev. P.J. McIntyre
  • Jennette Cooper — Jeanette Cooper.
  • Dan H. Jones — in the 1920 census of Rocky Point township, Pender County, North Carolina: widowed farmer Daniel H. Jones, 40, and children Ellis, 17, Lottie, 14, Marsella, 13, Daniel H. Jr., 11, Minnie, 9, Alexandra, 7, and Pembrook, 6. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 700 East Suggs Street, tobacco factory laborer Daniel H. Jones, 49; wife Lou H., 48; children Lottie, 23, Daniel Jr., 21, Alexand, 16, and Pembroke, 15; roomers Alexander, 23, and Minnie Yarborough, 20; grandchildren Hattie L., 16, David, 13, Marian, 24, and Etta Lewis, 21, James Maloyed, 6, and Mattie L. Lewis, 3; and roomer Willie Windley, 30.
  • Alice Jones
  • Rhody Jurify — Rhoda Jones Purefoy died 12 September 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 November 1895 in Virginia to Dennis Jones and Sarah Eliza Miller; was a widow; and lived at 104 South Vick Street. Informant was Thaddeus Purefoy of the home.
  • Bert Farmer
  • Morris Farmer — in 1945, James Morris Farmer registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 4 June 1927 in Wilson County; his contact was John R. Farmer; and he worked “farming with father.”