Business

Lula Simms Deans’ well-known twins.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 September 1946.

“… the well-known twin-brother’s Doan and Dock Sims; saw-mill owners and lumber dealers here”?

Given the prominence of business owners among Wilson’s early 20th-century African-American community, I was surprised never to have heard of the Simms brothers or even any Black-owned sawmills in Wilson. What I can readily find in digital records does not shed much light on the brothers’ business operations, but does provide some details of their lives.

Lula Simms Deans was born in Nash County in 1871, most likely in Jackson township, which borders Wilson County west of Elm City. Her parents, Wiley and Rachel Simms, had been enslaved in Wilson County and registered their two-year cohabitation there in 1866. Lula was about 23 years old when she gave birth to Doan E. and Dolphus F. Simms in either Wilson or Nash County. She was not married, but one source lists their father as John Taylor. When the twins were about 14 years old, Lula Simms married Wiley Deans of Wilson County.

Doan and Dolphus, known as Dock, were earning their own money as early as 1910, and soon after set out on the separate paths that would eventually lead to their lumber business.

Doan Simms was in Franklin County, North Carolina, by 1912. He fathered a son that year, whom he named after his twin brother, and married the boy’s mother in 1917, the year little Dolphus died. The same year, when he registered for the World War II draft, he described his job as a millhand for John K. Barrow, a sawmill and lumber manufacturer near Zebulon in southeast Wake County. By 1930, Doan and his family were living near Whitakers in extreme northern Nash County, and Doan was described in the census as a sawmill foreman. Ten years later, he and his family were living just over the Wilson County line in Wayne County.

Dock Simms remained in Jackson township (or nearby Zebulon) for decades before relocating to the Edgecombe County side of the Whitakers area during the Depression. In 1930, the census described his occupation as lumber mill manager and in 1940, a sawmill logger.

By 1940 (and perhaps ten years earlier), the Simms brothers had established their lumber business(es), but I have not been able to determine where it was located and even what it was called. I’ll continue to search, and any clues are appreciated.

  • Lula Deans

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer Willie Simms, 32; wife Racheal, 23; and daughters Mahala, 1, and Anna, 7.

In the 1900 census of Jackson township, Nash County, N.C.: farmer Rachael Simms, 52, widow; daughter Lula, 27, farm laborer; and grandchildren Loyd, 7, Doan and Dolphus, 6, and Maud, 2 months.

On 13 April 1908, Wiley Deans, 22, of Nash County, son of Pete and Catsey Ann Deans, married Lula Simms, 34, of Nash County, daughter of Wiley and Rachel Simms, both deceased. Free Will Baptist minister C[rockett] Best performed the ceremony at his residence in Wilson.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Wiley Deans, 27; wife Lula, 36; stepsons Loyd, 18, Doane and Dolphus, 16, and Theodore R., 5; brother-in-law Hubbert Simms, 19; and niece Mary Simms, 12.

In the 1920 census of Jackson township, Nash County: on Wilson and Stanhope Road, farmer Wiley Deans, 36; wife Lula, 45; children Thedo, 15, and Van, 9; and brother-in-law James Sims, 43.

Lula Deans died 18 September 1946 near Whitakers, Edgecombe County, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 November 1871 in Nash County to Wiley Simms and Rachel Simms, both of Wilson County; was a widow; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson. D.F. Simms, Whitakers, was informant.

  • Doan E. Simms

Also in the 1910 census of Jackson township, Nash County: Doc and Doanie Simms, 17, odd jobs laborers in the household of N. Harriss Perry, a white 35 year-old farmer.

Dolphus Simms died 21 June 1917 in Harris township, Franklin County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 June 1912 in Franklin County to Don Simms of Mecklenburg County, Virginia, and Roxana Davis of Dinwiddie County, Virginia.

In 1917, Doan Sims registered for the World War I draft in Franklin County, N.C. Per his registration card, he was born 6 March 1896 in Wilson County; lived in Louisburg, N.C.; and worked as a millhand for J.K. Barrow.

On 9 September 1917, Doane Sims, 28, of Louisburg, Franklin County, married Anna Morgan, 26, of Louisburg, daughter of Wyatt Morgan and Rebecca Morgan, in Zebulon, Wake County. [Presumably, “Anna” was Roxanna.]

On 31 July 1918, Doan Simms, sawyer, was sent to Camp Greene, Charlotte, N.C., for basic training.

U.S. Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917-18, www.ancestry.com.

In the 1920 census of Little River township, Wake County, N.C.: Doan Sims, 26, sawmill sawer; wife Roxanna, 27, born in Virginia; daughter Mary, 9, born in Virginia; and boarder Nelson York, 27, sawmill cutter, born in South Carolina. [Mary Beatrice Simms was born 3 September 1910 in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. She died 16 September 2003 and is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery, Wilson.]

On 5 May 1927, Mary B. Simms, 18, of Zebulon, daughter of Doan and Annie Simms, married Rubert Weaver, 22, of Zebulon, son of Gus and Ida Weaver, in Raleigh, N.C.

In the 1930 census of North Whitakers township, Nash County, N.C.: sawmill foreman Doan Sims, 36, and wife Roxanna, 31. Sharing their household: Rubert Weaver, 25; wife Mary B., 19; and their daughters Doris, 2, and Ruby V., 11 months. [A number of saw mill laborers were listed in the vicinity, including Nelson York, the Simms’ Wake County boarder.]

In the 1940 census of Great Swamp township, Wayne County, N.C.: farm manager Don Simms, 46; wife Roxanna, 48; grandchildren Doris, 12, Ruby, 10, Anna, 9, and Myrtle, 4; and Jimmie Joyner, 25, laborer.

In 1940, Jefferson Albert Howard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 7 June 1918 in Wilson County; lived at New Grabneck (Gen Del), Wilson; his contact was Doane E. Simms, R.F.D. Lucama, who was his employer and landlord. The card noted that Howard had a “severe burn scar on left arm & foot.”

In 1940, Jimmy Joyner registered for the World War II draft in Wayne County. Per his registration card, he was born 20 September 1912 in Bailey, Nash County; lived at R.F.D. 1, Lucama, Wayne County (updated: 53 K Street N.E., Washington, D.C.); and his contact was friend Don Simms.

Doan E. Simms died 22 December 1962 at Carolina General Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 March 1896 in Nash County to Lula Deans; was married to Roxanna Simms; lived at 200 Pender Street, Wilson; was a World War I veteran; and was a retired businessman.

Simms was buried in Rest Haven Cemetery under a large headstone engraved D.E. and D.F. Simms Family.

  • Dolphus F. “Dock” Simms

On 30 August 1919, Adolphus Simms, 35, of Nash County married Bessie Lucas, 18, of Nash County at the Wilson County Courthouse.

In the 1920 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Dolphus Simms, 25, and wife Bessie L., 17.

On 1 October 1923, Dock Simms, 28, of Zebulon, N.C., married Mary Lou Fennell, 22, of Wallace, N.C., in Burgaw, Pender County, N.C.

In the 1930 census of Jackson township, Nash County: lumber mill manager F. Dock Simms, 36; wife L. Mary, 39; and lodgers, D. John Fennell, 25, lumber mill laborer, and wife Mary, 25.

In the 1940 census of Upper Fishing Creek township, Edgecombe County, N.C.: sawmill logger Dock Simms, 46; wife Mary L., 39; and daughter Evelyn, 4. Per the census, the family lived in Wilson County in 1935.

Dock F. Simms died 30 March 1953 in Whitakers, Edgecombe County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 March 1894 in Wilson County to John Taylor and Lula Simms; was a sawmill operator; and was married to Mary Lou Simms.

Simms was buried in Rest Haven Cemetery under a large headstone engraved D.E. and D.F. Simms Family. His widow, Mary Lou F. Simms of Whitakers applied for a military headstone, which was to be shipped to D.E. Simms, 200 Pender Street, Wilson.

William Hines and Willie C. Reid merge barber shops.

In January 1932, William Hines announced the merger of his barber shop with Willie C. Reid‘s Wilson Barber Shop. The new business would occupy the space Reid had held at 130 South Goldsboro Street. (The address is the southernmost storefront of the Hackney Building at 124-130 South Goldsboro and is adjacent to today’s Eyes on Main Street gallery.)

Wilson Daily Times, 16 January 1932.

Hines’ former location at 113 South Tarboro was to close at the end of the month, and he announced an immediate reduction in service prices. (A Boncilla massage, by the way, involved a mud mask with Boncilla-brand “clasmic clay” and was touted to resolve wrinkles, lines, blackheads, enlarged pores, and oily skin.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 January 1932.

  • Willie C. Reid

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Jesse Reid, 59; wife Sallie, 53; and children Emmar J., 27, Barnes, 24, Willie, 22, Browdy, 19, Lonely, 17, Effie, 13, and Earle, 10.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Jesse Reid, 59; wife Sallie, 53; and children Emmar J., 27, Barnes, 24, Willie, 22, Browdy, 19, Lonely, 17, Effie, 13, and Earle, 10.

In 1917, Willie C. Reid registered for the World War I draft in Duplin County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 28 April 1886 in Fremont, N.C.; lived in Warsaw, N.C.; and worked as a barber for John A. Gaston, Warsaw, N.C. [Gaston was a Wilson County native.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 407 Vick Street, widow Sallie Reid, 64; sons Willie, 30, barber, Boydie, 20, tailor, and Lonely, 25, tailor, daughter-in-law Mary, 24, schoolteacher, granddaughter Hilter, 3 months, and daughters Effie, 23, and widow Emma E., 35.

On 27 October 1920, Willie Columbus Reid, 31, of Wilson, son of Jesse and Sallie Reid, married Mary E. Galley, 25, of Wilmington, daughter of James J. and Lena E. Galley, at Saint Stephen’s A.M.E. Church in Wilmington, N.C.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Reid William (c) barber The Mayflower h 304 N Vick

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Reid Wm C (c; Mary) barber 130 S Goldsboro h 304 N Vick

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 304 Vick, rented for $14/month, Willie C. Reid, 54, native of Fremont, N.C.; wife Mary E., 46, county school teacher and native of Wilmington, N.C.; and children William M., 16, and Helen E., 18.

Willie Columbus Reid died 26 January 1969 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 28 April 1886 to Jessie Reid and Sallie [maiden name not known]; was married to Mary E. Reid; lived at 1106 Atlantic Street; and had worked as a barber.

Clippings courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Our staff is composed of experts; the expense is a matter of your own desire.

“In your home, you should put aside all arguments in favor of the one fact —  the trained and proficient man is the best.” — C.H. Darden & Sons.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 December 1916.

——

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Mrs. Hamilton will specialize in embalming.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 July 1941.

Forsyth County, N.C., native Annie M. Thompson Hamilton and her husband Levi Hamilton Sr. were residents and owners of a funeral home in Goldsboro, N.C., but had recently opened a second location in Wilson. Hamilton Funeral Home served Wilson for more than 70 years.

Dr. Elijah L. Reid, the old reliable.

Another ad for veterinarian Elijah L. Reid‘s vaunted wart cure. Reid, who grew up in northwest Wayne County, had settled just across the county line in Moyton, a village adjacent to Stantonsburg.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 1897.

Twenty years later, Reid had taken his talents ten miles up the road to Wilson and advertised as “the old reliable Veterinary Surgeon” with an office at his home at Elba and Viola Streets.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 October 1917.

Wilson, N.C., Sanborn fire insurance map, 1913.

Clippings courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Dispute at the cold drink stand.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 July 1911.

Johnny Matthews and Luther Barber [Barbour] were fined ten dollars each (or was it $22?) after an altercation over two bottles of Coca-Cola at Matthews’ cold drink stand on the Plank Road (roughly, Martin Luther King Parkway). State law prohibited the sale on Sunday of any goods other than “drugs, undertaking supplies, ice and those things absolutely necessary for the sick.”

Let us do the work.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 September 1916.

In his early 30s in 1916, William Hines had already begun to branch out into real estate development and other pursuits when this ad for his primary business ran in the Daily Times.

The barbershop at 119 South Tarboro Street, Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C. (1913).

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Save your money by seeing us.

Wilson Blade, 20 November 1897.

Ed Smith and Goodsey H. Holden ran this ad in the Blade, a late nineteenth-century African-American newspaper published in Wilson.

For more highlights of the single surviving issue of the Blade, the original of which is housed at Freeman Round House and Museum, see here and here and here and here.

Hoo hoo!! Too too!! You you!!

Wilson Daily Times, 30 August 1919.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what World Glory-peace Organization was about other than it appealed to World War I veterans and was organized by businessmen and ministers of several denominations.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.