Children

Lane Street Project: Irma Vick.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 October 1921.

Samuel and Annie Vick‘s daughter Irma died of a pulmonary hemorrhage while a 16 year-old student in Asheville, North Carolina. Wilson Colored High School (later C.H. Darden High School) was two years away in 1921, and Irma was likely a boarding student at the storied private Allen School

Until recently, Irma’s gravestone at the edge of the cleared section of Odd Fellows was the sole clue to the burial plot of the Vick family. However, her grandparents Daniel and Fannie Vick and sister Viola were found in February 2020, and her parents in December of the same year.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson.

Memories of Hattie Daniels’ Golden Rule kindergarten.

Dr. Judy Wellington Rashid shares this excerpt, adapted for Black Wide-Awake, from her My Neighborhood Legacy Series: A Salute to the Educational Leadership of Rev. Hattie Louvenia Owens Daniels, Founder and Director of the Golden Rule Kindergarten 1944-1972 Wilson, NC.” Though it recalls a period after BWA’s focus, it offers a close look at the warm, rich experience that would have been familiar to children who attended Golden Rule earlier.

Dr. Rashid’s parents, Levi and Cora Greene Wellington, lived on Manchester Street from 1946 to 1978. Between 1957 and 1966, she and two of her siblings attended Rev. Hattie Daniels‘ Golden Rule Kindergarten at 908 Wainwright Street, just a block from their home. 

Each morning, a family member dropped the children off at the front door of the house. As they entered the living room, Rev. Daniels and her daughter Deborah Ruth Daniels, greeted each child by name with a warm and welcoming “Good morning!” Once all the children had arrived, they stood together and responded in song — “Good morning to you!, Good morning to you!, We’re all in our places, with bright shiny faces, and how do you do? How do you do?” The Danielses asked each child how they were doing and if they had eaten breakfast. If they had not eaten at home, they were fed at no charge. The children then lined up as a group and marched out the back door to the school, a long building located to the left rear of the backyard. The remaining yard was the playground. Everything they learned was recited in song and rhyme — the alphabet, numbers, sight words, etc.  Rev. Daniels rang a big hand bell to begin their daily recitations of the lessons they learned, to get their attention,  or to signal a change in activity.

Throughout the school day, children formed a neat line for everything, including forays into the public. They marched everywhere, always staying in a neat line and looking straight ahead. Golden Rule’s children took field trips to sing on a local radio program, to the county fair, and the Wilson Christmas parade. Each year, they walked from the school to downtown Wilson to sing Christmas carols on the county courthouse steps.  Rev. Daniels led the line of students while her daughter walked behind. Rev. Daniels’ students were known to have manners.

Judy Wellington Rashid graduated from Wilson’s R.L. Fike High School in 1970, completed college, and became a teacher. During her first few years teaching, she began to reflect on the invaluable academic lessons, respect for education, and order and discipline she received at the Golden Rule kindergarten. Shortly becoming a principal in 1977, she visited Rev. Daniels in her home. The old school building was still standing but not usable. Dr. Rashid went to thank Rev. Daniels for the great foundation that she had provided her in kindergarten. She also wanted to know if Rev. Daniels still had a book that she had used to teach her students, and indeed she did.

Rev. Hattie Daniels with a copy of Lillian Moore’s A Child’s First Picture Dictionary, first published in 1948.

On a 2004 visit to Wilson, Dr. Rashid noticed Deborah Daniels and another woman sitting on the porch of 908 Wainwright. Daniels recognized her, and they shared laughter over seeing each other again after so many years. Lillian Francis Lucas introduced herself and said she moved from Wiggins Street to the house next door to 908 Wainwright “when the highway came through.” She said she had come over to clean house and “wait on” Rev. Daniels. She remembered that “there were 60 students at the school at one time or the other,” aged three to five years.  She also remembered that the school day would start around 5 or 6 A.M. and last until 5 or 6 P.M. 

Rev. Daniels’ Wainwright Street home at left, a rental property she owned at middle, and the church she pastored at right.

Deborah Daniels’ chimed in: “my mother housed, clothed, fed, and took care of me from Elvie School, Catholic School, Sallie Barbour School, to Darden High School”.  Dr. Rashid closes: “May God forever bless the educational legacy of Rev. Hattie Daniels and her daughter Deborah Ruth Daniels.”

Golden Rule kindergarten in 1964. The Wilson Daily Times printed the photo, submitted by James Boyette, in its 9 July 2002 edition.

Photos courtesy of Judy Wellington Rashid.

Letters to Santa.

Thomas A. and Mary Ida Bagley Jones‘ children did not leave anything to chance with Santa Claus at Christmas of 1924.

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Wilson Mirror, 10 December 1924.

Nor did their cousins, the children of John A. and Bettie Hinnant Jones:

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Wilson Daily Times, 17 December 1924.

——

In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas A. Jones, 51; wife Mary I., 45; children Milbry, 28, Andrew, 19, Leonia, 17, James H., 14, Ollie T., 9, Ida May, 7, Paul H., 5, and Jim Lawrence, 3; and granddaughter Bettie Lee, 4.

In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer J.A. Jones, 42; wife Bettie, 28; and children Johnnie W., 16, Grover, 7, Susie, 5, Maomie [Naomi], 4, and Ruth, 1.

In the 1920 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: widowed farmer George Gaston, 69, and children [and grandchildren] Ada, 33, Nina, 31, August, 27, George J., 6, Lucile, 2, and Ernest, 9 months. (Also, in Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Garfield Perkins, 36; wife Laura, 36; children Ethel, 15, and G. William, 12; and boarder P. Ada Gaston, 34, a teacher.

(More about Jones Hill School to come.)

Family poisoned.

Jesse and Mary Sherrod Ward‘s entire family was stricken with accidental arsenic poisoning in June 1923, perhaps from eating cabbage from their own garden. Jesse Ward died immediately and his four year-old daughter Virginia Dare Ward two days later. 

Wilson Daily Times, 15 June 1923.

News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 June 1923.

Scrapbook chronicles: Jessie Lee Davis.

Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall had a son Jessie, born in 1932, and a daughter Gaynelle, born in 1941. Jessie Lee Davis, my father’s childhood playmate, was 14 years old when he was struck and killed while riding on the handlebars of a bicycle.

Alliner Sherrod Davis and son Jessie Lee, circa 1933.

Jessie Lee Davis, perhaps about 13 years old.

Jessie L. Davis as a drummer in the Darden High School marching band, circa 1945. Jesse A. Henderson lounges beside him. For a photo take just moments before or after this image, see here.

Nursery school at Reid Street Community Center.

Just before Christmas 1940, with the assistance of the National Youth Administration, the City of Wilson opened a nursery school at Reid Street Community Center, staffed by four unnamed “negro college graduates.” At the same time, the City organized a formal recreation program at the Center. (Sidenote: a program I benefitted from thirty years later when I learned to swim at Reid Street.)

Wilson Daily Times, 10 December 1940.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My aunt married into a big family, and my parents, sister, and I were often absorbed into the Barneses’ big holiday gatherings. Especially Thanksgiving. I’m not sure why I remember this one exactly, but I was about 9 or 10, I think, and Aunt Pet was hostess. At the time she was living in this house at 1112 Carolina Street, down the street from our old house. Coats heaped on a bed, folding tables pressed end to end from one room into the next, pots steaming, plates groaning. 

2020 has been terrible in so many ways, but though there will be no big family gathering, I am mindful of the grace extended to me even in this year. I am thankful for my life and all in it, and grateful to the ancestors who guide my steps. 

Mother and child killed in oil can explosion.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1921.

In 1917, Avery Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 25 June 1891 in Marietta, N.C.; lived at 636 Green, Wilson; worked as a laborer for Worth Bros., Coatesville, Pennsylvania; and had a wife and one child.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Avery Johnson, 27; wife Carrie, 24; and children Evaline, 2, and John L., two months.

The child who died in the oil can explosion was a son, John Elry Johnson, not a daughter. He was two weeks past his second birthday.

Avery Johnson’s wife Carrie Wingate Johnson also succumbed to her injuries, after four days of suffering. 

Iredell County Chronicles, no. 5.

Margaret Colvert Allen, seated far right, third row, circa 1915.

Greensboro Daily News, 10 March 1916.

Margaret C. Allen, second from right, second row from top. Her sister Launie Mae Colvert Jones, at left, first row of middle section, circa 1916. Both photos, I believe depict students of Statesville’s Colored Free School. The second photo may show the school itself shortly before it burned or may depict one of the other buildings in which the school met before a replacement was built in 1921.

Photos in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.