Fish market at night.

On the evening of 2 July 1945, Charles Raines and/or Guy Cox aimed a camera at Hill’s Fish Market, deep in East Wilson’s commercial block. Hill’s and its next-door neighbor, Mercer’s Grocery, were white-owned, but catered to African-American shoppers.

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Hill’s and Mercer’s were at 448 and 450 East Nash Street, across from Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church. (The traffic light faced what was then the south end of Pender Street, which stopped at East Nash. On the other side of Nash, at a dog-leg, was then Stantonsburg Street.) Both buildings are long gone. Dr. Julian B. Rosemond built a dentist’s office at 548 in the late 1960s; it now houses a hair salon. 550 is a vacant lot.

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Interior of Hill’s Fish Market, owned by J. Meade Hill.

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_94-15_HillsFishMarket1 and PhC_196_CW_94-15_HillsFishMarket2

502 South Lodge Street.

This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, South Lodge Street — below the warehouse district — has been an African-American residential area since the turn of the twentieth century.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, house carpenter Neverson Green, 49; wife Ezabell, 45 and children Ada, 22, Viola, 19, Rosa, 16, William O., 14, Lula, 12, Henry, 8, Bessie, 6, and Eva, 2. Ada, Viola and Rosa were tobacco factory laborers; William worked in a box factory.

Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson showing 502 South Lodge Street in 1913.

Sanborn map showing two locations at which Neverson Green operated grocery stores, across from the Norfolk Southern tracks at 400 and 412 South Spring Street. 

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Green Neverson grocer 412 S Spring h 502 S Lodge

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: grocery merchant Neverson Green, 58, grocery merchant; wife Isabella, 54; daughters Lula, 21, Bessie, 16, and Eva, 12; and roomer Willie Ward, 19.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: grocery store merchant Nelson Green, 72; wife Isabella, 65; daughters Lula, 30, and Eva, 23; and grandchildren Lila R. Barnes, 12, and Lissa Strickland, 12.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Green Nelson (c; Isabella) gro 400 Spring h 502 S Lodge

Neverson Green died 3 March 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 March 1857 in Granville County, North Carolina, to Henry Green and Rosa Green; was a merchant storekeeper; resided at 504 [sic] Lodge; was married Isabella Green; informant was Viola Strickland, Wilson.

Isabella Green died 13 August 1936 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 March 1865 in Granville County to Haywood Thorpe and Rachel Thorpe; lived at 504 [sic] South Lodge; and was a widow. Ada Knight of Wilson was informant.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason Aaron Pittman, 38; wife Lucy, 37; daughters Helen, 18, and Lucy Gray, 17; and lodger Emmaline Hayes, 21.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pittman Aaron (c; Lucy) brcklyr h 502 S Lodge

In 1941, Haron Pittman registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 6 September 1901 in Robeson County, North Carolina; resided at 502 South Lodge Street; his nearest relative was Helen D. Ford, 502 Lodge; and he worked for Jones Brothers Contractors, Wilson.

Haron M. Pittman died 9 March 1949 at Albemarle Hospital, Pasquotank County, North Carolina, of a cervical vertebra fracture suffered in an auto accident on Highway 17 near Elizabeth City. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 September 1901 in Robeson County to Mack Pittman and Lummie Mitchell; was divorced; resided at 502 South Lodge Street, Wilson. Informant was Helen P. Ford, 502 South Lodge.

On 6 March 1957, Helen Pittman Ford and husband Quincy, Clara E. Pittman and Lucy Pittman Cunningham and husband Prince Cunningham borrowed $3000 from real estate developer George Stronach Jr. and Atlantic Building and Loan Association and gave a mortgage on the property at 520 South Lodge. The Pittman family defaulted.

The notice that ran in the Daily Times in March 1960 mentioned that Aaron Pittman had purchased the property in 1937, and Neverson Green well before that. (Though the exact date is not mentioned, deed book 42 dates to the 1890s.)

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1960.

It appears that members of Neverson and Isabella Green’s extended family regained the house at 520 South Lodge. Daughter Ada Green Knight died 3 March 1973 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in Virginia on 13 March 1887 to Nelson Green and Isabell Thorp; resided at 502 South Lodge Street; and was a retired laborer. Informant was Nancy Doris Lucas, 502 South Lodge.

Jesse Vernon Lucas and Nancy Doris Knight Lucas lived at 502 South Lodge Street until their deaths in 1986 and 2013, respectively.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 April 2013.

[A lost-and-found photo album belonging to Neverson and Isabella Thorpe Green’s granddaughter Etta Mae Barnes Taylor was the subject of a New York Times feature in early 2017.]

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.

Contributions to Mercy, part 5.

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.

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

Construction of the First National Bank.

Excavation for a new headquarters for the First National Bank of Wilson got underway in September 1926 at 113 East Nash Street. When it opened the following August, the eight-story building was the tallest in town. This photo shows African-American laborers who appear to be hauling soil from the site.

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Similar photographs of the site are marked “First National Bank — Wilson N.C. — Chas. C. Hartmann Archt Greensboro N.C. — John T. Wilson Co. Inc. Gen. Contr. Richmond Va.” Note the advertisements pasted on the building to the west hawking Rudolph Valentino’s The Eagle  and an upcoming circus. (The building to the east is the Wilson County Courthouse, erected just the year before.)

A close-up of the workers:

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Many thanks to Jim Anderson for sharing this photograph.

Snaps, no. 39: unknown man.


Over their 60+-year career as Wilson’s preeminent photographers, Charles Raines and Guy Cox recorded nearly every facet of county life, including weddings, schools, street scenes and the tobacco industry. In 1993, a Wilson Daily Times article reported that Raines & Cox had shot more than 39,000 studio portraits.

From 1947 until the early 2000s, Raines & Cox’ studio occupied the upper floor of 315-317 East Nash Street, the Carroll building. The image above, which likely depicts the building’s elevator operator, was probably shot shortly after the studio opened.

[UPDATE, 3 July 2018: Per Guy Cox Jr., Doll Speight was the long-time elevator operator and de facto building superintendent at the Carroll Building. However, this is not Speight and does not appear to be the Carroll Building elevator. Was it at Cherry Hotel? The First Union National Bank Building?]

If you can identify this gentleman by name, please let me know.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 April 1947.

Many thanks to John Teel for sharing this image from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. Though it was not taken there, this photograph is found among those shot at the Zam-Zam Club, a night club just north of Wilson city limits. The Zam-Zam, named for an Egyptian ship torpedoed by the Nazis in 1941, opened just after World War II to entertain eastern North Carolina’s “movers and shakers.” The photo is catalogued as PhC_196_ZZ_187_Elevator_Operator.

A cash register for Tate & Hines.

In May 1910, Walter S. Hines, on behalf of Tate & Hines Barbershop, 213 East Nash Street, purchased a sixty-dollar register from National Cash Register for use on the barbershop’s back counter.


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Model No. 317, National Cash Register Company.

Deed book 72, page 570, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; image of cash register courtesy of


“Work’s never hurt me”: The life of Willie R. Barnes.

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Wilson Daily Times, 24 April 1995.

In the spring of 1995, the Daily Times profiled Willie Roscoe Barnes, 84, long-time proprietor of Wardrobe Cleaners. He passed away the following year.


  • Willie R. Barnes began working at Wardrobe in 1923, when he was 13 years old.
  • He was an only child whose mother died when he was 6. His paternal grandmother reared him.
  • He attended Wilson Colored Graded School through third grade, then he “had to get out of there and go to work.” He first delivered groceries for H.W. Baxter’s store at Pender and Nash Streets. His second job was in a wood yard. He then went to work for Jim Barbour, whose Wardrobe Cleaners was across the street from Baxter’s.
  • At age 18, Barnes started dry-cleaning clothes. He eventually married Barbour’s widow.
  • He served in Morocco and Italy during World War II and at one point was assigned to guard Winston Churchill in Marrakech.
  • After the war, Barnes returned to Wilson, and he and his wife built a new facility on one of eight lots they owned on Elvie Street. The new cleaners faced Pender.
  • After his first wife died, he married a woman named Clementine. They live in a house they built on Elvie adjacent to the cleaners.
  • He scorned the quality and durability of modern fabrics.
  • He took up golf and joined the advisory board of Wedgewood Golf Course.
  • Long-time neighbor and customer Bertha H. Carroll noted that Barnes believed in helping people.
  • Long-time friend Herbert Woodard Sr., 87, said he and Barnes shared an interest in sports going back to the 1930s, often traveling to New York together to watch prize fights and the Yankees.


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1005 Atlantic, owned and valued at $2000, Nancey Barber, 30, widow and presser at pressing club; son James D., 14; widowed mother Linna Carroll, 63; and lodger Willie Barnes, 21, tobacco factory cooper.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1005 Atlantic, pool room owner Daniel Carroll, 27; wife Lenora, 24, sewing; widowed mother Lina, 76; sister Nannie Barber, 40, owner of pressing club; her son James Barber, 23, presser at pressing club; and roomer Willie Barnes, 28, pressing club tailor.

On 7 January 1957, Willie R. Barnes, 47, parents unknown, married Clementine Rogers, 46, daughter of Will and Carrie Rogers, in Wilson.

  • “grandmother” — Henrietta Farmer Lloyd died 16 December 1961 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 August 1886; her parents were unknown; she resided at Barnes Rest Home, 626 East Vance; and she was a widow. Informant was Willie R. Barnes, 732 Elvie Street.
  • Jim Barbour — James Daniel Barbour died 23 September 1959 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 September 1915 in Wilson County to James Barbour and Nannie Carroll; never married; resided at 1005 Atlantic Street; worked as a presser at Wardrobe Cleaners; and was a World War II veteran. Informant was Daniel Carroll, 715 Elvie Street.
  • “Barbour’s widow” — Barnes did not Barbour’s widow at all, but his mother Nannie Barbour (and per James Barbour’s World War II draft registration, she owned Wardrobe Cleaners.) Nannie Barbour Barnes died 13 April 1956 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 October 1897 in Henderson, North Carolina, to Daniel Carroll and Lina Coppedge; and worked in dry cleaning. The informant was Willie R. Barnes, 1005 Atlantic.
  • Clementine Rogers Barnes
  • Bertha H. Carroll — Bertha Bryant Hawkins Carroll’s husband Daniel Carroll was the brother of Willie Barnes’ wife Nannie Barbour Barnes.
  • Herbert Woodard Sr.

Willie R. Barnes registered for the World War II draft in 1940.