agriculture

Levi Simmons wins a second scholarship.

“Wilson County – July 30, 1940. Levi Simmons, Minshew Club member granted this second A and T College Club Scholarship for achievement in club work. The second project – 2 pigs. He will enter A and T in September to pursue an agriculture course.”

We’ve met David Levi Simmons before, here, here, here, and here. Simmons was a committed member of Minshew 4-H Club, which met at Minshew School near Black Creek.

4-H club member Levi Simmons with pigs for club project, University Archives Photograph Collection, 4-H Youth Development Photographs, UA 023.008, Special Collections Research Center, N.C. State University Libraries, Raleigh, N.C.

Bushrod Dew’s crop lien.

On 17 January 1903, Howard, Graves & Company agreed to advance Bush Dew up to one hundred thirty dollars in supplies to enable Dew to cultivate the land in Wilson township Dew rented from S.H. Morris. In return, Dew gave Howard, Graves a lien on his crop as well as a eleven year-old black mare mule, an iron axle cart, an open buggy and harness, and all his farming implements.

Deed book 66, page 233, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office. 

4-H Club honors.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 August 1939.

  • C.L. Spellman, county agent — Cecil L. Spellman.
  • Cleo Jones — in the 1940 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer James L. Wood, 23, and wife Cleo C., 18; mother Flonnie Hall, 41; half-brother Lewis, 13, and Lizzie, 8.
  • Edith Joyner
  • Charles Ruffin — in the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Ruffin, 39; wife Henrietta, 38; and children Bertha, 19, Charles, 17, James R., 16, Juanita, 12, Gladys Lee, 10, Christine, 8, Bruce, 7, Bertie Mae, 4, and and Curtis, 10 months. 
  • Levi Simmons — David Levi Simmons.
  • Aaron Clay — in the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Joe Clay, 47; wife Ezzie, 44; children Moses W., 19, Eva E., 9, Aron D., 18, and [Aaron’s wife] Gertrude, 17; brother John, 39; and granddaughter Ann D., newborn. All but Gertrude and the baby had lived in Sussex County, Virginia, five years before.
  • June Langston — in 1942, June Boney Langston Jr. registered for the World War II in Wayne County, N.C. Per his registration card, he was born 1 July 1922 in Wayne County; lived at “Fremont (Blackcrek) Wilson NC”; and his contact and employer was Jennie Langston, Fremont, Wayne, N.C. 
  • Mary Armstrong
  • Verdie Locus
  • Beatrice Jones
  • Joseph Simmons — in the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Junius Simmons, 44; wife Clara, 39; and children Levi, 21, Joseph, 20, Frank, 15, Julia, 10, Lettie, 5, Thomas, 1, and Edward, 9.

Ministers turn labor recruiters.

When tobacco processing plants could not convince or coerce or otherwise attract sufficient workers, Wilson’s office of the U.S. Employment Service of the War Manpower Commission turned to the Negro Ministerial Alliance. With a hiring center set up at Saint John A.M.E.Z. — the article says First Baptist, but that photo is Saint John — African-American ministers fanned out across Wilson with a basic message: “the harvest is ready and the workers are few.” (Delivered occasionally with a little of the Good Word.) In a week, they spoke with about 1500 people and signed up 700. [For perspective — Wilson’s total population in 1944 was about 20,000, of whom about 40%, or 8000, were Black.]

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 September 1944.

Levi Simmons is the state 4-H champion!

Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1940.

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We read here the letter Pfc. David Levi Simmons wrote to the newspaper . Before he was a soldier or college student, Simmons was a member of the Minshew 4-H Club and 4-H state champion, with winning projects in pigs, gardening, tobacco, cotton, corn, potatoes, and peanuts. 

You had better get them back here on Monday.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 June 1942.

The end of the Depression did not curtail the power of employment offices over the bodies of African-American laborers. We saw protests in the late 1930s against workers being sent to toil in deplorable conditions in Duplin County strawberry fields.  In 1942, even tobacco barons were crying foul as the employment office shipped nearly 200 men, women, and children to Delaware to work in fields, despite a severe  farmworker labor shortage in Wilson County. “Suggestions pointing to the ‘drafting’ of farm and tobacco labor if the work could not be done on a voluntary basis were made at the meeting.”

Tribute to Wallace Kent, alert and self-determined youth.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 May 1944.

Per his death certificate, 16 year-old Wallace Kent died of conditions brought about by schizophrenia. Given contemporary attitudes toward mental illness, the esteem in which his community held him is noteworthy.

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In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Joe Kent, 48, farmer; wife Minnie, 42; and children Joseph, 17, Elbert, 15, Elek, 13, Pauline, 10, Elve, 8, Addilee, 5, and Wallace, 3.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Joe Kent, 48; wife Minnie, 51; and children Elbert, 25, Alex, 23, Ella, 17, Addie Lee, 15, and Wallace, 13; as well as daughter Lillie Powell, 25, and her children Joseph, 9, Elmer Lee, 5, and Bill, 3.

Wallace Kent died 28 June 1943 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 16 years old; was born in Wilson County to Joe Kent of Johnston County, N.C., and Minnie Bailey of Harnett County, N.C.; was engaged in farming; and was single. He was buried at Mary Grove cemetery.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Chester Woodard participates in corn variety test.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 May 1940.

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In the 1920 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, N.C.: farmer Johnie Woodard, 28; wife Emma Line, 29; and children Marvin, 6, Chester, 4, and Mary Adell, 21 months.

In the 1930 census of Gardners, Wilson County: farmer Johnie Woodard, 47; wife Emma L., 45; children Marvin, 18, Chester, 16, Adell, 14, Vernell[Vernon] L., 12, Jounes [Junius], 10, and Sherman W., 6; and lodger John McCory, 28.

In the 1940 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: widow Emiline Woodard, 48, farmer, and children Marvin, 26, farmer, Chester, 24, farmer, Mary, 21, beautician, Vornal, 19, Junious, 15, Helen G., 9, Bennie J., 6, and Thurman, 12.

In 1940, Chester B. Woodard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his draft registration, he was born 5 August 1915 in Greene County, N.C.; lived at R.F.D. #4, Wilson; his contact was Emiline Woodard, mother; and was employed by Emiline Woodard.