Business

New Year Greetings!

Janitors at National Bank of Wilson, 113 East Nash Street, placed ads sending New Years greetings and thanking their customers for Christmas gifts.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 December 1933.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 January 1935.

[Sidenote: This building, which now houses county offices, was the tallest building in Wilson until the construction of Branch Banking & Trust’s twin towers at Nash and Pine Streets. The towers were demolished 19 December 2020, and the old National Bank building thus reclaims its title.]

——

  • David Graham — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 712 East Green Street, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory laborer David Graham, 40; wife Goldie, 46; daughters Cora, 17, and Marie, 15; and grandson Cleo, 3.
  • Jesse McPhail 
  • Hardy Anderson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $12/month, Hardy Anderson, 45, National Bank janitor; wife Sarah H., 34; and roomer Robert Good, 32, fertilizer laborer.
  • Calvin Carr — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 419 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $15/month, bank janitor Calvin Carr, 27; wife Lena, 23, private family cook; and sister-in-law Ina Blount, 25.
  • James T. Speight — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 209 Finch Street, owned and valued at $1000, Lula Speight, 34, drink stand proprietor, widow, and son James T., 19, bank porter; also, paying $8/month rent, William Hodge, 25, oil mill laborer; wife Sarah, 23; and children Eva R., 6, and William Jr., 1.
  • Ashley Tillery — in the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer Street, owned and valued at $1500, farmer John Tillery, 51; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, cook, Ashley L., 18, truck farm helper, Raymond, 16, truck farm helper, Adelia, 14, housemaid, Johny L., 11, Elnora, 7, and Clyde, 5.
  • Walter Jackson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 515 Church Street, owned and valued at $2000, James McCowan, 76, brickmason, and wife Louise, 63; Jenealia Murphy, 33, private cook, and son Elbert, 18, bank elevator boy, paying $12/month rent; and Rosa Jackson, 36, laundress, and children Annie, 19, cook, Walter, 16, bank elevator boy, and Lucil, 3, also paying $12.

Drive to curb holiday liquor sales.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 December 1948.

  • Sylvester Barnes
  • Pete Randolph 

Pete Randolph registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 22 June 1914 in Edgecombe County; lived on R.F.D. #1, Elm City; his contact was wife Easter Esther Randolph; and he worked “farming with Mrs. C. Parker” near Elm City.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm operator Pete Randolph, 25; wife Easter, 21; and sons Eddie Morris, 5, Pete Jr., 4, and James E., 1. Pete, Easter and Eddie Randolph had lived in Pitt County in 1935.

A few reasons why Negro ministers should support race enterprises.

The Word, in short: “buy Black.”

Cleveland Gazette, 6 July 1912.

  • A.N. Darden — Arthur N. Darden, son of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden, was only 23 years old when he penned this opinion letter published in the Cleveland Gazette, an African-American newspaper. His message of “race pride” to Black clergy is summarized in his final paragraph: ” … if the race sticks together in business life the day is nearer than we think when Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hand to God and our race become the chief corner stone that the builders rejected.”

The 500 block, 1930.

Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1930.

As a supplement to this post, here is an excerpt of the 1930 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson detailing town’s Black business district. Though the northeast side of the 500 block of East Nash Street was almost completely commercial, the southwest side was largely residential. Segregation was in full effect at the time, but several white merchants operated businesses catering to African-American clientele, and one, Jesse Verser, lived on the block (around the corner from his Stantonsburg Street grocery.)

Detail of the Sanborn map showing several tenant houses on the west end of Smith Street, the tightly packed commercial buildings on Nash, Verser’s home at 504, and the sole freestanding two-story house on the north side of Nash at 529. Notice, behind 509, a garage (marked A) and toilets (marked WC). There were also garages behind 511 (with nearby gasoline tank) and 513-515. Several of the businesses were owned by native whites or Lebanese immigrants, and there was even a Chinese laundry.

Nash Street

  • 500 — Gatlin Amos J & Co (Amos J Gatlin, Jas P Gatlin) gros 500 E Nash
  • 501 — Maynard’s Market (Geo W Maynard) gros 501 E Nash and 401 Stantonsburg
  • 502 — vacant
  • 503 — Barnes Rachel G (c) restr 503 E Nash r 1118 E Nash
  • 504 — Verser Jesse W (Frances) gro 100 Stantonsburg h 504 E Nash; Verser Bettie (wid Jesse W) h 504 E Nash
  • 505 — Barnes John (c; Rachel) barber 505 E Nash h 1118 do [ditto]
  • 506 — Wah Jung Laundry (Yee G Wah) 506 E Nash
  • 507 — Ziady Jos gro 507 E Nash h 107 E Pettigrew
  • 508 — Service Barber Shop (c) (Ernest A Artis) 508 E Nash
  • 509 — vacant
  • 509 1/2 — Stokes Thos (c; Babe) fish 509 1/2 E Nash h 615 W Wiggins
  • 510 — vacant
  • 511 — Lupe Peter (c) shoe shiner 511 E Nash h do
  • 512 — Braswell Ezekiel (c; Mary E) restr 512 E Nash h 1118 1/2 do
  • 513 — vacant
  • 514 — Lesley Samuel G (c; Lillian) tailor 514 E Nash h 802 Robeson
  • 515 — vacant
  • 517 — Moore John H (c; Armincie) shoe repr 517 E Nash h 1113 Atlantic
  • 519 — Phillips Chas (Minnie A) bicycle repr 519 E Nash h 410 Herring
  • 521 — Smith Preston (c; Minnie) clothes presser and clnr 521 E Nash h 314 Stantonsburg 
  • 523 — Wooten W L Co, H Paul Yelverton pres, Jesse W Thomas v-pres, Wm L Wooten sec-treas, furn 523 E Nash
  • 525 — Thomas Chas S (c; S Blanche) barber 525 E Nash h 719 E Nash
  • 527 — Phillips Wm H (c; Rena) dentist 527 E Nash h do; Shade’s Pharmacy (c) (Isaac A Shade) 527 E Nash
  • 529 — Coppedge Sarah (c) factory hd h 529 E Nash

Smith Street

  • 506 — Johnson Wm (c; Lula) lab h 506 Smith; Johnson Wm J (c) lab 506 Smith
  • 508 — vacant
  • 510 — Reaves Robert (c; Daisie) lab 510 Smith
  • 514 — Lee Addie (c) factory hd h 514 Smith 

The transition from commercial to residential on the south side of the street. 526 is the Hotel Orange, a boarding house run by Mattie B. Coleman.

Nash Street

  • 516 — vacant
  • 518 — no listing
  • 520 — Dixon Lenora G (c) billiards 520 E Nash h 611 do
  • 522 — Atkinson Henry (c) shoe repr
  • 524 — Gilliam Matthew S (c; Annie L) phys 524 E Nash h 805 do
  • 524 — Howard Mary (c) lndrs h 524 E Nash
  • 526 — Coleman Mattie B (c) h 526 E Nash
  • 528 — Bowser Sarah L (c) smstrs h 528 E Nash
  • 530 — Stokes Turner (c) carp h 530 E Nash

Mid-block, two multi-story buildings dominated — the Whitley Hotel and the Odd Fellows lodge hall. The Odd Fellows building featured commercial space at street-level and the Globe Theatre above. 

Nash Street

  • 531 — Swindell Deborah (c) hair drsr 531 E Nash h 630 Suggs
  • 533 — Taylor Bertha (c) dom h 533 E Nash
  • 535 — Najim Geo candy mfr 535 E Nash h 107 S Pettigrew 
  • 537 — Lucas William T (Sallie) gro 537 E Nash h 216 N Railroad
  • 539 — no listing
  • 541 — Whitley Hotel (c) (Maggie A Whitley) 541 E Nash; Marshall Lodge IBPOE
  • 543 — Jones Luther J (c; Lula) restr 543 E Nash h 712 Hadley
  • 545 — Ford Cleaners (Herbert H and Alf J Ford jr) 545 E Nash
  • 547 — Am Legion, Henry Ellis Post (c); IOOF, Hannibal Lodge, No 552 (c) 
  • 549 — Fahad Kattar billiards 549 E Nash h 313 N Pine
  • 551 — Rutherford Geo (c; Maggie B) restr 551 E Nash h 1200 Queen

Smith Street

  • 516 — Britt Mamie (c) factory hd h 516 Smith 
  • 518 — Ray Neil (c; Annie) junk 518 Smith h do
  • 526 — Gay Wm (c) lab h 526 Smith

In the eastern third of the block, the south side of the street was almost entirely residential. Ideal Pharmacy and First Baptist Church dominated the north side.

Nash Street

The final stretch of the south side of the 500 block, all commercial.

Nash Street

  • 550 — vacant
  • 552 — Alston Robt T (c) watch repr 552 E Nash h [ditto]
  • 554 — Baxter & Co (Herman C Baxter, Jas F Downing) gros 554 E Nash

Stantonsburg Street [now Pender]

  • 100 — Verser Jesse W (Frances) gro 100 Stantonsburg h 504 E Nash

I confess surprise that, as late as 1930, the entire 100 block of South Pettigrew was an all-white residential street.

South Pettigrew Street

  • 107 — Ziady Jos gro 507 E Nash h 107 S Pettigrew
  • 109 — Hawley Geneva Mrs h 109 S Pettigrew
  • 111 — vacant
  • 113 — Nordan J Herman (Kath) lab h 113 Pettigrew
  • 115 — vacant
  • 117 — Hinnant Geo W (Mary A) projectionist Lincoln Theatre h 117 S Pettigrew; Robinson Sarah E (wid John R) h 117 S Pettigrew
  • 119 — Brown Edgar (Mamie) woodwkr Hackney Bros Body Co h 119 S Pettigrew
  • 121 — Bradberry Cora O hlpr 121 S Pettigrew; Bradberry Geo F pntr Hackney Bros Body Co h 121 S Pettigrew; Bradberry Luther farmer h 121 S Pettigrew

915 East Nash Street.

The one hundred twenty-seventh in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompassed 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “909-911 [Nash]; ca. 1930; 1; Cain’s Grocery; district’s largest grocery; brick-veneered structure with parapet front.” The correct address for this building is in fact 915 East Nash Street. 909 and 911 are empty lots.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of the block shows three contiguous wood-framed commercial buildings, two marked as groceries, in the 900 block of Nash Street. The middle building, at 913, appears to be the precursor of the building above.

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., directories, 915 East Nash Street is listed as vacant.

As early as July 1936, Gill’s Grocery advertised in the local newspaper:

Wilson Daily Times, 17 July 1936.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Gill’s Grocery (John D Gill) 915-917 E Nash.  (On either side, two more groceries, Jesse Verser’s at 913 and Smith’s, owned by Leander and Maggie Smith, at 919-921.)

Gill’s Grocery remained in business at 915 East Nash Street into the 1970s. Cain’s Grocery and other supermarkets succeeded Gill’s into the early 21st century. Most recently, the building has housed a church.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2018.

1000 East Nash Street.

The one-hundred-twenty-sixth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompassed 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map, showing a grocery store at 1000 East Nash

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1922; 1 story; Progressive Primitive Baptist Church; brick-veneered former grocery and bottling plant; parapet front with spire added.” 

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Higson Bros (B H and V H) gros 1000 E Nash [The Higsons — owners Booth H. and Velborn H., clerk William B, and his wife Sidney S. —  lived at their shop. Like all who operated businesses at 1000 East Nash, the Higsons were white.]

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pridgen Babe D (Mattie) gro 1000 E Nash and 513 Stantonsburg h 506 Pender

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pilot Beverage Co (Roger J Crawley Andrew C Byrd) 1000 E Nash

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wilson Bottling Co Moffett L Carson Mgr, Bottlers of Nesbitt’s California Orange 1000 E Nash tel 2408

Ad, 1947 city directory.

In the 1950 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wilson Bottling Co Moffett L Carson Mgr, Bottlers of Nesbitt’s California Orange 1000 E Nash tel 2408

In its 30 July 1953 edition, the Wilson Daily Times announced the opening of a new grocery business, Super Duper, at 1000 East Nash. Thus, the building returned to its original use.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1956.

In the 1963 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Super Duper Market No 1 (Lerby Bryant Odell C Tant) gros 1000 E Nash

These food stamp credit tokens for Super Duper No. 1 date from the 1970s. For an interesting history of this currency, see this 2015 CoinWeek digital article.

In 1978, the owners of the building advertised it for rent in the Daily Times.

Per mentions in the Wilson Daily Times, from 1982 to 1988 and possibly longer, Goodwill Progressive Primitive Baptist Church operated from 1000 East Nash Street.

Per mentions in the Wilson Daily Times, from 1995 to 1999 and possibly longer, Brotherhood of Deliverance Pentecostal Church operated from 1000 East Nash Street.

The building has been demolished.

1000 East Nash Street now, per Google Street View.

It wasn’t just wages we wanted.

On this Labor Day, I bring you “It Wasn’t Just Wages We Wanted, But Freedom”: The 1946 Tobacco Leaf House Workers Organizing in Eastern North Carolina, a compilation of all known scholarship related to the Tobacco Workers International Union and Food, Tobacco, Agricultural & Allied Workers’ mass organizing campaign. The campaign secured union contracts at more than 30 leaf houses, and workers engaged in voter registrations and political action that presaged the civil rights movement a decade later. 

In an introduction to the first edition, Phoenix Historical Society’s Jim Wrenn noted, “This movement began as early as March 1946 when three workers at Export Leaf in Wilson — Aaron Best, Harvey Moore and Chester Newkirk — met with TWIU organizer Dr. R.A. Young … at Best’s home on East Nash Street in Wilson. This meeting led to the establishment of TWIU Local 259 at Export Leaf, the leading tobacco local in Wilson. Best became its first president, Moore its first secretary and Newark its first treasurer. Local 259 members reached out to workers at five other Wilson leaf houses, who were organized as Locals 260, 268, 270, 271, and 272. Today, Local 259 has been absorbed into local 270, the last surviving union local of the 1946 movement.”

The work was published by the Phoenix Historical Society, an organization devoted to the preservation of the African American history of Edgecombe County, and I purchased this copy directly from them.