Biography

The Hilliard family in Toisnot township.

Thomas Hilliard and daughter Marie.

“Our late father and mother were Thomas and Mamie Armstrong Hilliard. Members of Mt. Zion First Baptist Church in Rocky Mount in 1914, they moved to Wilson Co. in or around 1917 when their two daughters, Cornelia and Magnolia, were eight and nine years old. Our grandparents were Tom and Fortant Hilliard and Nelson and Mary B. Armstrong.

“We farmed and attended Parker and Turners Elementary School in Wilson Co. Our social activities were concerts and in-school spelling matches every Friday evening. After growing up and marrying we still farmed and kept house. Our pleasures were fireplace reading and church and Sunday school.

“Our most sorrowful experience was when we lost our mother at an early age in 1932. Often we picked cotton in the late fall; the weather was so cold that icicles were hanging on the bolls of cotton. We helped clear new ground by removing stumps and roots by hand after school in the evening.

“We had a 1919 Model T Ford our father drove often. We drove a mule and buggy to Sunday school and church. The family was missionary Baptist. Our father, Tom, was the Sunday school superintendent. Today Cornelia, Magnolia and Marie are mission workers around our community, if we can help somebody along life’s way. Our children are all grown and have their own families.

“After marriage I, Magnolia H. Joyner, went to Baltimore, Md. reared six children and worked for 30 years. I bought a home and retired; then I came back to my old house in Toisnot township to live the rest of my life in 1978. My husband expired, but I’m not alone; God is still by my side.”

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In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Hilliard, 53; wife Fortine, 58;  children Olive, 24, Becky, 21, and Thomas, 16; and adopted son Thadeous Battle, 12.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12.

On 7 February 1906, Thos. Hilliard, 22, son of Tom and F. Hilliard, married Mamie Armstrong, 21, daughter of Nelson and Mary Armstrong. Missionary Baptist minister N.H. Arrington performed the ceremony at Thomas Hilliard’s in Toisnot township.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot, Wilson County, on Wells Daws Avenue, Nelson Armstrong, 58, Mary, 45, daughter Hattie Armstrong, 22, son Henry Armstrong, 20, son-in-law Thomas Hilliard, 25, daughter Mamie, 24, and their children Carnelia, 3, and Magnora Hilliard, 2.

In 1918, Thomas Hilliard registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 September 1883; resided on R.F.D. 1, Elm City; was a self-employed farmer; and his nearest relative was Mamie Hilliard. He was literate.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Tarboro Road, farmer Thomas Hilliard, 36; wife Mamie, 35; and children Cornelia, 12, Magnolia, 11, and Luther Thomas, 1.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Tom Hilliard, 45; wife Mamie, 40; and children Maggnolia, 22, Luther, 11, Marie, 7, and Robert, 7.

Mamie Hilliard died 23 May 1932 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 December 1885 in Wilson County to Nelson Armstrong and Mary Bulluck and was married to Tom Hilliard.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Hilliard, 56; wife Rena, 41; and children Robert, 17, and Marie, 17; and Lucille, 15, Bettie Ruth, 14, and Helen Earles, 11.

Thomas Hilliard died 24 August 1966 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 November 1886 in Wilson County to Thomas Hilliard and Fortney Killebrew; resided in Elm City; was a farm laborer; and was married to Rena B. Hilliard. He was buried in Sharpesburg cemetery, Nash County.

Text and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Dr. John Clemon Williamson.

Winston-Salem Journal, 7 June 1914.

Winston-Salem Journal, 7 June 1914.

Born near Lucama in 1876 to Alex and Gracie Shaw Williamson, John Clemons Williamson attended Slater Industrial (the precursor to Winston-Salem State University), then Leonard Medical School. He returned to Winston-Salem to practice medicine and founded a private sanitarium in 1914.

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In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Elic Williamson, 44; wife Gracy, 29; and children John, 14, Lugen, 11, Joseph, 9, Jennie, 7, Mary, 6, Clem, 4, Sarah J., 2, and Pall, 1.

In the 1900 census of Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina, John C. Williamson, 24, is listed as a pupil at Slater Industrial and State Normal School.

On 14 January 1905, John C. Williamson, 28, of Winston-Salem, son of Alexander and Gracie Williamson of Wilson, married Callie S. Hairston, 22, of Winston-Salem, daughter of Robert and Catherine Hairston of Winston-Salem.

In the 1906 Winston-Salem, N.C., city directory: Williamson John C (Callie) tchr Slater Sch r[esidence] Columbian Hts

In the 1910 Winston-Salem, N.C., city directory: Williamson Callie S tchr Graded Schl [boards at] 605 Chestnut. Also, Williamson J C (Callie) student h 930 Ida Bell av, Columbian Heights

In 1918, John Clemon Williamson registered for the World War I draft in Winston-Salem. Per his registration card, he was born 19 May 1876; resided at 1326 East Bank Street; was a physician at 408 Church Street; and was married to Callie S. Williamson.

In the 1920 census of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina: Dr. J.C. Williamson, 43, physician; wife Callie S., 38; and daughter Plummer M., 7; niece Pearl Whitley, 22, office assistant to Dr. Williamson; and boarders John J. Green, 34, merchant; Rev. C.A. Nero, 38, of Nevis, West Indies, clergyman at Saint Stephens Episcopal Church; and nieces Liggitt Hairston, 15, of Saint Kitts, West Indies, and Catherine Hairston, 11.

The Twin City Daily Sentinel, 25 June 1920.

In the 1923 Winston-Salem, N.C., city directory: Williamson Jno C (Callie) pres Eureka Drug Co and Phys 800 N Ridge av h 1326 E Bank

John Clemon Williamson died 17 April 1927 in Winston-Salem. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 May 1876 in Wilson County to Alexander Williamson of Nash County and Grace Shaw of Wilson County, and he was a physician.

Undated and unattributed news clipping.

John C. Williamson left a straightforward will leaving all his property to his wife. Probate but anything but smooth though, as creditors disputed Callie Williamson’s handling of her husband’s estate and petitioned for her removal as executrix for mismanagement. The doctor’s $12000 estate was illusory, as his real property was encumbered by deeds of trust and his accounts receivable proved uncollectible. In 1929, Callie Williamson pulled up stakes and moved to Harlem with her daughter and infant granddaughter.

In the 1930 census of Manhattan, New York County, New York: at 196 Edgecombe Avenue, rented for $150/month, Callie Williamson, 48, widow; daughter Plummer, 17, domestic; and grandchild Jacqueline, 11 months, born in North Carolina; plus 13 roomers.

Callie Williamson died 27 May 1930 in Manhattan.

Signature from Williamson’s World War I draft registration card.

Women are best.

While director of the University of North Carolina Press, W. T. Couch also worked as a part-time official of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration, serving as assistant and associate director for North Carolina (1936-1937) and as director for the southern region (1938-1939). The Federal Writers’ Project Papers are housed at U.N.C.’s Southern Historical Collection and include Couch’s correspondence and life histories of about 1,200 individuals collected by F.W.P. members. At least two African-American residents of Wilson, Georgia Crockett Aiken and William Batts, were memorialized in this way. 

Folder 324 contains the transcript of the interview with Georgia Crockett Aiken, titled “Women are best.”

The first page is a key to the pseudonyms used in the transcript.

Georgia Aiken is mistakenly described as white. She lived at 120 Pender Street in Wilson. When her interview began, she was in her kitchen directing the work of two children who were cleaning the house. She was born in 1872 into a family of ten children, all of whom were dead except her. [The family had lived in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and Georgia’s brothers included Alexander and James Crockett.]

Georgia Aiken grew up near a school and, because both her parents were wage-earners, was able to attend through the ninth grade. She obtained a teaching certificate and started teaching in 1889 a one-room school “out in the country.” She made $25 a month for teaching seven grades and reminisced on the hardships — and reward — of serving the children of the community.

In 1908, Georgia Aiken arrived in Wilson. She started high school coursework [where? the Colored High School did not open until 1924] and received a big raise when she completed it. She taught for 48 years, all told.

She dated John Aiken for two years before they married. Aiken owned a prosperous livery stable, and the couple saved their money to build a house. When they bought the Pender Street lot, a widow lived with her children in a small house there. [A 1905 plat map shows John Aiken already owned a lot on Pender Street. Was it a different one?] John Aiken died before the house was completed [in 1914] and Georgia Aiken took over the business.

Though worried about finances, Georgia Aiken went ahead with plans to build. The livery business did well until “automobiles came in.” She sold the business at a loss and turned her attention to teaching and caring for her house.

The writer described Aiken’s kitchen in deep detail.

Her “cook stove … finished in blue porcelain” was probably much like this one, found in an on-line ad:

Aiken continued, speaking of training her helper, her standards for housekeeping and food preparation, and her preference for paying cash.

And then: “I might as well say that I voted in the last city elections and have voted ever since woman’s suffrage has come in, and I expect to as long as I can get to the polls. I would like to see some women run for some of the town offices. I think they’re just as capable as the men who set themselves up so high and mighty. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if women didn’t get more and more of the high positions in the near future. …”

And: churches and government are run by rings, and “if you don’t stand in well with these, you don’t stand a chance.”

“I believe the women do more in church work than men.”

Georgia Aiken took in boarders at her home on Pender Street and always tried to make her “guests feel at home.” “When times are good and business is stirring” — likely, she meant during tobacco market season — “I always have my house full.” In slow times, though, it was hard to meet expenses. Taxes were due and though she knew she would make the money to pay them in the fall, she hated to incur fees.

Aiken paid her helper in board and clothes only, though she wished she could pay wages. If she stayed long enough, Aiken would consider leaving her some interest in the property after her death, though her niece in New York might object. She lamented a long delay in repainting the exterior of the house, but had plans to do so.

The writer described the house’s rooms and furnishings, mentioning their wear and age. Aiken indicated her preference for “clean decent folks” as tenants. She had two baths in the house and hot water from the stove for both. She could not afford to install steam heat when the house was being built and rued the dustiness of coal.

“Helping anyone in need is being nice to anyone, and the one that helps me most during the few years that I’ve left in this life is the one I hope to remember with the most of what I leave when I’m called to the life to come.”

A summary:

Georgia Crockett Aikens died 17 August 1939 in Wilson, apparently just a few months after giving this interview. Per her death certificate, she was 67 years old, born in Wayne County to William Crockett and Rachel Powell, resided at 120 Pender Street in Wilson, and was married to John Aikens.

“Federal Writers’ Project Papers, 1936-1940, Collection No. 03709.” The Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tobe Bellamy, centenarian.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 August 1986.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer Henry Bellamy, 30; wife Emma, 28; and children Arthur [Tobe], 11, Joseph, 7, Roscoe, 6, and Harry, 4.

In 1930, Tobe Bellamy led the Elk Club’s efforts to find families to receive gifts of food and candy during the Christmas season.

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Wilson Daily Times, 26 December 1930.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: fertilizer plant laborer Tobe Bellamy, 51; wife Mary, 41; adopted son Jessie, 7; and mother Emma, 75.

Emmaline Bellamy died 22 September 1947 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 January 1874 in Wilson County to Archie Amie and Sylvia Taylor, both of Wilson County and lived at 718 Stantonsburg Street. Tobie Bellamy was informant.

On 24 December 1954, Jesse Bellamy, 25, of Wilson, son of Tobe Bellamy and Mary Barnes, and Queen Esther Thomas, 25, of Rocky Mount, daughter of Ben Thomas and Etta Hilton. Holiness minister W.H. Holiday performed the ceremony in the presence of Allen Barnes, Walter Whitted and Mary Bellamy.

Mary Bellamy died 19 April 1967 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 September 1903 in Wilson County to Allen Barnes and Caroline Woodard; was a retired laborer at Watson Tobacco; was married to Tobie Bellamy; and lived at 718 South Pender Street.

Jesse Bellamy died 19 December 1972 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 October 1932 to Tobie Bellamy and Mary Barnes; was married to Zelma Bellamy; worked as a laborer for Export Tobacco Company; and lived at 907 Phillips Street.

In the summer of 1980, Tobe Bellamy shared his thoughts on a heatwave then baking Wilson:

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 August 1980.

Tobe Bellamy died 5 August 1988 in Wilson, aged 104.

There was something unusual in that green-looking country boy.

In which the Indianapolis Freeman enlightens us regarding Joseph H. Ward‘s journey from Wilson to Naptown:

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Indianapolis Freeman, 22 July 1899.

A few notes:

  • Joseph Ward’s mother was Mittie Ward Vaughn. His father Napoleon Hagans was a prosperous free-born farmer in Wayne County near Fremont.
  • The school in LaGrange at which Ward worked was most likely Davis Military Academy:  “By 1880 a second school for boys … Davis Military Academy, was founded by Colonel Adam C. Davis. “School Town” became La Grange’s nickname as the military school would eventually have an enrollment of 300 students from every state and even some foreign countries. The school also had a band, the only cadet orchestra in the country during that time. The school prospered, but an outbreak of meningitis closed it in 1889.”
  • Dr. George Hasty was a founder of the Physio-Medical College of Indianapolis, which Joseph Ward later attended.

Physio-Medical College of Indiana, undated. IUPUI Image Collection.

Rosa’s Place.

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Wilson Daily Times, 3 August 1981.

In the 1910 census of Wilsons Mill, Johnston County: farmer William Nunn, 39; wife Lucy, 28; and children Percie, 13, Rosa, 7, Paul, 5, Nora, 3, and Elsie, 9 months.

On 21 August 1920, Eugene Rhine, 26, of Wilson married Rosa B. Nunn, 18, of Wilson in Wilson. Minister H.E. Clank performed the ceremony in the presence of David Richardson, Hubert Vinson, and T.S. Holt.

On 29 November 1939, Peter Lupes married Rosa Rhyne in Emporia, Greenesville County, Virginia. He was a merchant, a resident of Wilson, North Carolina, divorced, and listed his age as 45. He was born in Portugal to Joe and Mary Lupes. Rosa was widow born in Johnston County who also lived in Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 717 Viola Street, Peter Lucas [sic], 50, and wife Rosa, 35. Peter’s birthplace was listed as Massachusetts. He worked as the operator of a beer parlor and Rosa as the operator of a cafe.

Peter Lupe died 21 May 1958 in Wilson. He death certificate notes that he was a resident of the city for 50 years and that he was a United States citizen. He was born 21 March 1891 in “Cape of Verdia Island, Portugal” to Teorga Montel Lupe and Mary Montel Lupe; lived at 717 East Viola Street; and worked as a merchant. His wife Rosa Lupe was his informant.

On 2 July 1960, James Monroe Weathers, 41, of Granada, Mississippi, married Rosa R. Lupe, 53, of Wilson, in Wilson. Catholic priest John R. Ferris performed the ceremony in the presence of Bessie Richardson, Clarence Crawford, and Inez Watson.

Rosa Weathers died 25 October 1999 in Garner, Wake County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 September 1902 in Johnston County; her maiden name was Nunn; and was a manager in an eating and drinking place.

 

Fred Artis brings local history to life.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 June 1992.

On 9 October 1912, Fred Artis, 23, married Mattie Lewis, 18, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of Alonzo Phillips, Samuel Mercer and Tobe Beland.

In the 1920 census of Fountain township, Pitt County: Fred Artis, 33; wife Mattie, 23; and children Christine, 5, and Fred, 4.

Mattie Artis died 2 December 1927 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 32 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Frank Lewis and Clarrisa Joyner; married to Fred Artis; and resided at 1013 Stantonsburg Street.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 101 Reid Street, school janitor Fred Artist, 56, widower; children Christine, 16, Fred, 14, and Mildred, 11; and lodger Luddie Brown, 22, private cook.

Fred Artis [Sr.] died 12 May 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 38 years old; was born in Wilson County to Edward Artis and Addie Artis; was married to Annie Artis; lived at 101 Reid Street. Fred Artis Jr. was informant.

In 1940, Fred Artis Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 17 March 1916 in Wilson; resided at 101 North Reid Street; his contact was mother Annie Artis; and he was unemployed.

Betty Ann Artis died 4 December 1960 in Wilson at her home at 501-A Hadley Street. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 September 1925 in Wilson County to Ben Guest and Fannie Harris; and was married to Fred Artis.

Nona Braswell Artis died 17 September 1996.

Fred Artis Jr. died 18 September 2000 in Wilson.

Wiley Ricks is still barbering.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 October 1980.

Wiley Ricks and young customer.

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In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Millie Ricks, 40, widow, with sons William, 12, and Wiley, 1.

In the 1910 census

On 27 July 1918, Wiley Ricks, 21, of Toisnot, married Fannie Fort, 21, of Toisnot, in Elm City. Presbyterian minister A.E. Sephas performed the ceremony in the presence of John Gaston, Samuel T. Ford and T.H. Nicholson.

Fannie Ford Ricks died 9 March 1924 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 January 1899 in Wilson County to Sam Ford of Halifax County and Mattie Williams of Wilson County and was married to Wiley Ricks.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Wiley Ricks, 30, barber; wife Carrie, 29; and children Miriam, 2, and Maggie, 9 months.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Branch Street, barber Wiley Ricks, 41; wife Cary P., 39; and children Miriam, 12, Maggie R., 10, Lois, 8, and Malinda, 1.

Wylie Ricks died 28 March 1985 in Hollister, Halifax County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 December 1898 in Wilson County to Wiley Sharpe and Millie Sharpe; was a barber; resided in Elm City; and was married to Carrie Parker Ricks.

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A 1947 photo taken outside Wiley Ricks’ barbershop. Courtesy of Thomas Griffin via Wilson Daily Times, 15 January 2002.

Haircut photo courtesy of article re Ricks in History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Roscoe Harvey gets along with everybody.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 August 1994.

  • Roscoe Lee Harvey — in the 1910 census of Lumberton, Roberson County: Lonnie L. Harvey, 31, wife Rosa L., 24, and son Rosco, 5.

In the 1920 census of Lumberton, Roberson County: Rosa Harvey, 32, cook, and son Roscoe, 14.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harvey Love barber 114 E Barnes h 410 E Walnut; (also) Harvey Roscoe L barber Love Harvey 114 E Barnes h 410 E Walnut

In the 1926 Polk’s Tampa, Florida, city directory: Harvey Roscoe L barber Lee Davis r 301 Hillsborough

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harvey Roscoe barber r 1112 Carolina

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harvey Love L (c; Mollie) r 507 Banks; (also) Harvey Roscoe (c) barber r 507 Banks

On 27 June 1930, Roscoe Lee Harvey, 24, son of Lony Harvey of Wilson and Rosa L. Clark of Florida, married Helen McMillan, 20, daughter of Morris and Victoria McMillan, in Wilson. Rev. G.J. Branch of the United Holy Church of America performed the ceremony in the presence of Anderson Holden, Levi Godwin and Haywood Townsend.

In 1940, Roscoe Lee Harvey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he resided at 724 East Green, Wilson; was born 5 July 1905 in Lumberton, N.C.; his contact was wife Helen McMillan Harvey; and was self-employed at 114 East Barnes.

On 7 July 1947, Roscoe Lee Harvey, 42, son of Lonnie Lovelace Harvey and Rosa Lee Harvey, married Rowena Stephenson, 26, daughter of Deans and Hattie Stephenson, in Wilson.

Roscoe Lee Harvey Sr. died 17 August 2003 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

  • Carolina Stompers
  • Cherry Apartments — in the mid-1980s, Wilson Housing Authority renovated the former Hotel Cherry to create 108 apartments for senior citizens. See Wilson Daily Times, 20 October 1994, page 3.
  • Fred Artis — “Fred Artis Jr., son of the late Fred and Mattie Artis, was born March 17, 1916. He and his sister, Christine Currie, who preceded him in death, lived all of their lives in Wilson, NC. Fred departed this life on Monday, September 18, 2000.” Wilson Daily Times, 21 September 2000.

Fred Artis Jr.

  • Louis Perrington — Louis Alexander Manuel Perrington. “March 14, 1914 Dec. 5, 2001 Louis Alexander Perrington, 87, of 702 Elvie St., died Wednesday at his residence. The funeral will be conducted by the Rev. William L. Neill at 2 p.m. on Sunday at St. John AME Zion Church, 119 N. Pender St. Burial will follow at Rest Haven Cemetery. Perrington was a member of St. John AME Zion Church and Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge No. 42. He was retired from the Cherry Hotel. He is survived by his wife, Pearlean Barnes Perrington; one daughter, Jean Perrington-Ballard of Raleigh; one sister, Wilhelmenia Smith of Portsmouth, Va.; two grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.” Wilson Daily Times, 8 December 2001.