Foster buys butcher supplies.

In April 1898, Grant T. Foster entered into a contract to purchase on credit $85 worth of equipment from Cincinnati Butchers’ Supply Company. To secure the purchase, he gave the company a mortgage on his business. On 23 June 1898, having been paid in full, Cincinnati Butchers released Foster from the mortgage. Their notice to the Register of Deeds was pasted into the deed volume, so the details of the transaction are obscured, but a reference to a cooler measuring 4 feet by six feet by nine feet is visible.

This note was placed in the deed book as well.

An advertisement touting Foster’s meat market can be found here.

Deed book 46, page 523, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.


Cockrell’s Grocery.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 August 1946.

Cockrell’s Grocery, at the corner of Green and Pettigrew Streets one block east of the railroad, served a largely African-American clientele. The building at 404 East Green now houses Saint Mary’s Love and Faith church, a Holiness congregation. Billy Strayhorn and Swindell McDonald, despite their length of service, were teenagers at the time this article was printed. I cannot identify William White with certainty.

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404 East Green Street, courtesy Google Maps.

Contributions to Mercy, part 4.

On 30 January 1947, the Wilson Daily Times published a lengthy list of contributors to the fundraising drive of the Mercy Hospital Women’s Auxiliary. The list, reproduced here in five parts, included many of black Wilson’s leading individuals, businesses and institutions.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 January 1947.

  • J.J. LangleyLangley Jarrette J (c; Mary H) grocery h 901 Viola
  • Jesse Knight — Knight Jessie (c; Eliz) grocery 1105 Washington h 300 N Reid
  • J.F. Downing — Downing James F Jr clk Virginia Downing [grocery]
  • B. Murray
  • C.B. Stewart — Stewart Columbus B (c; Pearl M; 3) grocery 602 W Spruce h 604 ditto
  • E.H. Knight — Knight Elbert emp Williams Lumber r Elm City
  • Rev. R.A. Murphy — Murphy Raymond A (c; Ethel) grocery 210 E Banks h 411 Warren
  • Best Stewart — Stewart Best (c; Marjorie) grocery 411 W Spruce h 409 ditto
  • Jesse Stewart
  • L.E. Smith
  • Wheeler Filling Station– Wheeler D Elmo (Viola H; 2; Wheelers Esso Station) filling station 711 S Goldsboro h 910 Jordon (Five Points)
  • Rev. D.W. Winstead
  • S.M. Steevrus Grocery
  • Dora Gaston — Gaston Dora (c; widow Henry) grocery 706 U S Hwy 301 h 710 ditto
  • Junius Mitchell
  • J.F. Williams Cash Grocery
  • Hochnotts Grocery — Hocutts Grocery (Wm S & Roland B Hocutt) 203 1/2 Stantonsburg
  • Yellow Front Market — (Wm L Dickerson) grocery 501 E Nash
  • J.B. Barnes — perhaps Barnes John B (c; Rachel) Quick Serv Cleaners h 526 E Nash
  • Peter LupeLupe Peter (c; Rosa R) beer 511 E Nash h 717 Viola
  • Thomas Ford — Ford Thomas (c; Dora) confectioner 515 E Nash h 1008 Mercer
  • Baxter Grocer Co. — 703 Crowell
  • Nash Street Cafe — Nash Cafe (John R Saleeby) rest 552 E Nash
  • Mercers Market — Mercers Gro (Jas Mercer) 550 E Nash
  • Haywood Ellis — Ellis Haywood W (c; Ida) beer 506 E Nash h 108 Powell
  • Mr. and Mrs. G.J. Faison
  • S.P. ArtisArtis Separise P (c; Gracie W; Artis Barber Shop) h 537 1/2 E Nash
  • Libby’s Cafe — (c) (Libby McPhatter) rest 539 E Nash
  • Wade Moore — Moore Wade M (c; Eliz O; Wade’s Shoe Shop) h 1001 Faison
  • J.H. Moore — Moore J H floor mgr Big Star Whse h Bowdens
  • Lewis Barber Shop
  • Mack’s Shoe Shop — Mack James (c; Beulah; Baltimore Show Shop) h 206 N Reid
  • C.B. Bynum — Bynum Curley B (c; Pearl) shoe shiner 522 E Nash h 102 Pender
  • Levi Godwin — Godwin Levi (c; Esther) checker Wardrobe Cleaners h 900 Washington
  • J.M. Moore
  • Clarence BestBest Clarence B (c; Eva; East Nash Monument Co) h 1302 E Nash
  • James Whittaker — Whitaker Jas (c; Effie; 2) porter Rick’s Gulf Service h 416 N Vick
  • Gills Gro. — Gills Grocery (John Gill) 915 E Nash
  • W.L. Whitley — Whitley Walter L (Marie; 2; Forbes Grocery) h 1506 S Goldsboro
  • Kirby Sutton — Sutton Kirby (c) grocery 1122 E Nash h 1200 ditto
  • Eula Locus — Locus Eula (c; widow Luther) grocery 1201 E Nash h 1108 S Wainwright Av
  • Sylvester Sauls — Sauls Sylvester (c; Mattie; 2) laborer Williford Bros h 311 Stantonsburg
  • Lillian Williams — Williams Lillian (c; 2) tob wkr h 604 Manchester
  • Leslie Best — Best Lester [sic] (c; Pennie) farmer h 1331 E Nash
  • Mrs. F. McLean — probably Flowers McLean, see below.
  • Alester McLean — McLean Alex (c; Flowers) filling station 1421 E Nash h ditto
  • Cockrells — Cockrells Grocery (John Cockrell) 404 E Green
  • Geo. Wong — Wong George (Canton Restr) h 122 N Tarboro
  • O.K. Cockrell — Cockrell Onnie R. (Lucy I) grocery 513 Stantonsburg h 400 N Goldsboro
  • Dr. B.O. Barnes — Barnes Boisey O (c; Flossie H) physician 525 1.2 E Nash h 613 E Green
  • William Hines — Hines Wm M (c; Ethel L) barber h 615 E Green

All annotations, some edited for clarity, are entries in Hill’s Wilson City Directory 1947-48.

Hamilton, for colored.

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These ads appeared in the 1947-48 edition of Hill’s Wilson City Directory. Based 25 miles away in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Hamilton Funeral Home was a late arrival to the somewhat crowded black undertaker scene in Wilson, jostling stalwarts Darden Memorial  and C.E. Artis.


On 13 August 1935, Talmon Hunter, of Wilson County, son of Will and Callie Hunter of Wilson County, married Naomi Swinney, 22, of Wilson County, daughter of Samuel and Georgia Swinney of Wilson County, in Nashville, Nash County.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 530 East Nash Street, Salmon Hunter, 29, born in Georgia, funeral director for a burial concern.

Talmon Hunter died 5 May 1986 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 November 1913 in Dodge County, Georgia, to Will Hunter and Callie Wilcher; resided at 707 East Nash; worked as a funeral director; and was married to Naomi Swinney Hunter.

Naomi S. Hunter died seven months later, on 31 December 1986. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 November 1913 in Roberson County, North Carolina, to Samuel Swinney and Georgia Rickett; was a widow; and resided at 707 East Nash. Informant was son Joseph S. Hunter, Greensboro, North Carolina.


Smith’s and Brown’s filling stations.

By the late 1920s, automobiles were common on Wilson County roads, and “filling stations” and garages began to cluster on roads leading out of town. The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory includes these three owned by African-Americans:

Annie Smith was listed as the proprietor of Smith’s Filling Station, located on East Nash beyond the city limits, in the 1925 city directory. (There was no listing for the business in 1922.) It seems, then, that she sold the gas station to Columbus E. Artis (who otherwise ran an undertaking business) and the garage to Alex Obey [Obery] shortly before 1928.

Similarly, in 1925, the owner of Brown’s Filling Station, at the corner of East Nash and Wainwright, was contractor/stonemason Nestus Freeman, who lived across Nash Street. It is not clear who “Brown” was, but Albert Speight elected to retain the name when he purchased the business from Freeman.

Papered or painted, cheap and quick.

In the earliest years of his ministry, Rev. Fred M. Davis continued to ply his trade as a wallpaper hanger, sign painter and interior decorator.

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Wilson Advance, 8 February 1894.


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fred M. Davis, 33, paper hanger; wife Diannon, 31; children Eva M., 6, Bertha E., 5, and Fred M., 17 months; plus mother Judith Davis, 50, laundress.

The People’s Palace.

The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists the People’s Palace, a soda shop at 901 East Nash Street. Washington Wilkins and Edward Taylor co-owned the establishment. Wilkins’ day jobs were in construction.

National Register nomination form describes a brick commercial building built about 1940 at 901 East Nash as the People’s Palace, a confectionary operated by Rufus Hilliard. The building has since been destroyed.  If it was the same building that housed Wilkins and Taylor’s Palace, it obviously was built well before 1940.