Lawyer Sanders has 35 children.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 May 1940.

Lawyer Sanders married Dora Clark in 1904 and Beatrice Ruffin in 1914. Readily available records reveal only 17 of Lawyer Sanders’ purported 35 children: Gilly, Rosetta, Lillie, Earnest, an unnamed girl, Maggie, Daisy Ella, Lorena, Mavis, Odessa, Lawyer Jr., David, Bertha, Dorothea, Mary Lee, Theodore Roosevelt, and Mae. 


On 18 May 1904, Lawyer Sanders, 20, of Saratoga, son of M.A. Williams, married Dora Clark, 18, of Saratoga, daughter of Dora Clark, at Eason Brothers Store in Saratoga.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Plank Road, Lawyer Sanders, 22; wife Dora, 22; and children Gilly, 2, and Rosa, 1.

An unnamed three month-old female child died 23 October 1913 on Railroad Street in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born August 1913 to Lawyer Sanders and Dora Clark.

On 11 June 1914, Lawyer Sanders, 25, of Gardners township, married Beatrice Ruffin, 15, daughter of Ransom Ruffin, at the residence of Ransom Ruffin. Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony in the presence of Ransom Ruffin, Charles Bynum, and James Braswell.

In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Lawyer Sanders, 33; wife Beatrice, 20; and children Rosetta, 16, A. Lillie, 11, G. Earnest, 8, Maggie, 4, E. Daisy, 3, and Lorena, 1.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Lawyer Sanders, 43; wife Maggie, 30; and children Maggie R., 14, Dazella M., 14, Lorena, 11, Mavis E., 9, Odessa, 7, Lawyer J., 5, David A., 3, and Bertha L., 1.

Rosetta Sanders died 11 July 1933 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 28 years old; was born in Wilson County, N.C., to Lawyer Sanders and Dora Clarke; and worked in farming.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 708 Railroad Street, rented at $6/month; WPA laborer Lawyer Sanders, 51; wife Beatrice, 41; children Maggie, 23, farm laborer, Essie Mae, 19, cook, Odessa, 18, cook, Lawyer Jr., 15, farmhand; David A.J., 13; Bertha Lee, 11, Dorothea, 9, Mary Lee, 7, Roosevelt, 5, and Mae E., 2; and granddaughter Eldewards, 2.

The Sawyers’ “shack” back on Daniel Hill was on a short stretch of dirt road called West Railroad Street, which ran alongside the Norfolk-Southern railroad between Park Avenue and Daniel Street. (And is not to be confused with the Railroad Street that borders the Atlantic Coast Line railroad downtown.) West Railroad no longer exists, and a roofing supply business and a large empty lot stand in its place. Detail, 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson. 

In 1942, Lawyer J.R. Sanders registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he lived at 621 West Railroad Street, Wilson; was born 5 January 1924 in Wilson; and his contact was Beatrice Sanders.

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Norfolk-Southern Railroad Street, Lawyer Sanders Sr., 61, ditching for water line-street department for city; wife Beatrice R., 51, private service work; children Theodore, 16, Eloise, 12, and Mary Lee, 17; and grandchildren Velma L., 1, and Willie L., 1. 

Eloise Sanders Johnson died 18 July 1953 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 June 1937 in Wilson to Lawyer Sanders and Beatrice Ruffins and was married to Clarence Johnson.

Lawyer Sanders died 30 January 1959 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 9 May 1888 in Wilson County to Bill and Martha Ann Sanders; was married to Beatrice Sanders; worked as a laborer; and lived at 214 Graham Street, Wilson.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 January 1959.

David Sanders died 22 January 1968 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, she was born 25 March 1927 to Lawyer Sanders and Beatrice Ruffin; was married to Doretha Sanders; and lived at 104 Tacoma Street, Wilson.

Maggie Sanders Clark died 17 January 1968 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 May 1915 in Wilson to Lawyer Sanders and Beatrice Ruffin; was married to Sam Clark; was a tobacco factory laborer; and lived at 212 West Walnut Street, Wilson.

Beatrice Sanders Ricks died 14 October 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 8 February 1911 in Wilson County to Ransom Ruffin and Maggie Pender; was a widow; was a tobacco factory laborer; and lived at 614 Manchester Street, Wilson. Informant was Doretha Mitchell, 906 Hadley Extension.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 October 1970.

The Lawyer Sanders family joined with the J.D. Taylor family in 1980 to hold a family reunion at Brown’s Chapel Free Will Baptist Church. 

Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1980.

Ernest Sanders Sr. died 8 July 1987 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 March 1910 in Wilson to Lawyer Sanders and Beatrice Ruffin; lived at 516 Forrest Street, Wilson; and worked as a construction helper.

Daisy Sanders Rice [Rhice] died 18 August 1991 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 April 1916 in Wilson to Lawyer Sanders and Beatrice Ruffin; was married to Richard Rice; and lived at 1002 Macon Street.

The Daily Times’ Negro news carriers.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 April 1944.

The news carrier “boys” included a girl, Susan Moody.

  • Teddy Jenkins
  • Robert Barnes
  • Willie Lee Smith
  • Navarro Artis
  • James Delaney — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: WPA bricklayer George Delany, 46; wife Marian, 39; and children Lewis, 18, Willie, 15, Joyce, 12, Ray, 9, James D., 8, Ruby, 4, and Fred, 2.
  • William Farmer
  • Willie Jones
  • Charles Moody — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 410 Daniel Street, Charlie Moody, 38, W.P.A. laborer; wife Martha, 36, laundress; and children Magnolia, 17, Susie G., 14, and Charlie Jr., 12; and mother-in-law Susan Lipscomb, 56.
  • Edward Harris — probably Edward K. Harris, son of Benjamin and Pauline Artis Harris.
  • Susan Moody — see above.
  • Evander Barnes
  • Winford Lee Morgan — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 611 Spring, James Morgan, 34; wife Addie May, 29; son Winford Lee, 9; mother-in-law Eunice Lara Fisher, 55, widow; and cousin Ruth Richard, 14.
  • Billie Dew
  • James Spivey
  • Willie Blue
  • Pete Bryant
  • Joseph Knight
  • Joseph Hunter

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Maggie Parker slays her infant daughter Maggie.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 April 1928.

Per her death certificate, baby Maggie Marie Parker‘s mother killed her with an auto spring. On 8 September 1928, the Times reported that charges against Maggie Parker had been dropped, and she had been sent to the state “insane asylum” in Goldsboro, North Carolina.  

“Killed with auto spring by the hands of mother”


On 7 November 1920, Anthony Parker, 28, of Wilson, son of Anthony Parker and Bettie P. Barnes, married Maggie Taylor, 24, of Toisnot township, daughter of Callie and Marcellus Taylor, at the residence of William K. Taylor, Wilson. Primitive Baptist minister C.H. Hagans performed the ceremony in the presence of Andrew Rountree, Raiford Rountree, and Albert Farmer.


County Commission gives in, buys more buses for rural schools.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1941.

In March 1941, after repeated complaints by “a delegation of negroes,” Wilson County Commissioners were forced to supply two additional school buses to alleviate severe overcrowding on the buses ferrying children to and from the county’s two Black high schools, Elm City and Williamson. A state school commission inspection disclosed that the two buses serving Elm City were carrying 280 children a day on a route that wove across the top half of the county. (Children were picked up in dangerously overcrowded shifts, which resulted in forces tardiness and absences for many.)

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The final resting place of baby George E. Smith.

George E., Son of Rev. O.L.W & Adora Smith, Aug. 31, 1905 June 21, 1906

I recently noticed for the first time in the Masonic Cemetery the little white marble headstone of George E. Smith, infant son of Rev. Owen L.W. and Adora Oden Smith. It was a rough decade for the Smith family. Five year-old daughter Flossie burned to death in 1901, the Reverend’s mother Maria Hicks died in 1902, and little George and his mother Adora followed in 1906.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2022.

Williamson School P.T.A., 1942.

This remarkable photograph was taken in 1942 at a Williamson High School Parent-Teacher Association meeting. Williamson had opened the year before as the third Black high school in Wilson County.

As identified by Oazie Mitchell and friends, seated on the front row: Isaac Renfrow, Arabella Greenfield Renfrow, Paul H. Jones, Calvin Jones (squatting), Gertrude Creech Jones, Joe Kent, Cleo Newsome, Otis Newsome, Pauline Kent, Cleveland Mitchell, Addie Lee Kent, Bud Atkinson, Ida Mae Finch, unidentified, Mattie Shelley, Leona Jones, and unidentified. Second row: Annie Mitchell, Carlester Mitchell, Addie Creech, Luther Creech, Irene Jones, Jim L. Jones, Lillie Powell, Luther Wilder, Doretha Finch, Doris Finch, Roy Shelley, Ada Carter Locus, Carl Locus, Ida Carter Brockington, and Annie Barham.

Photo shared by Tondra Talley, whose grandparents Paul and Gertrude Jones and many other relatives are depicted. Thank you! 

Rosenwald Day.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 March 1932.


Wilson Colored High School (later Darden High School) observed a day honoring Julius Rosenwald, whose charitable foundation funded the school’s construction.

  • O.N. Freeman Jr. — Oliver N. Freeman Jr.
  • Lillian Whitfield
  • Zelma Arrington 
  • Alice Thigpen
  • Alma Lucas — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Jones Street, South Carolina-born drayman Henry Lucas, 35; wife Mamie, 35; and children James, 16, Leroy, 14, Milton, 12, Lucille, 10, Alma, 5, Margret, 6, and Charles, 2.
  • Alcestia Langley — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: grocery store merchant Jarrette J. Langley, 51; wife Mary, 49; and children Mary, 21, Esmond, 18, grocery store delivery boy, Ruttena, 16, Alcesta, 14, and Eunice, 8.
  • Mildred Jones
  • Mabel Williams –probably, in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Williams, 55; wife Mary C., 58; and children William, 25, Mable, 16, Sarah J., 17, and James Jr., 18.
  • Principal W.H.A. Howard


Unidentified suicide.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 1932.

The decedent was Jesse Strickland, a cafe proprietor who lived on South Lodge Street. (The man who shot Leroy Lucas was, in fact, Roger Shelley.)

“Suicide Shot self in head with revolver”

This close-up of a section of an 1940 aerial image of Wilson shows the location of the Park Avenue bridge over Hominy Swamp.

The penny milk program.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 February 1943.

My father, Rederick C. Henderson, who attended Vick Elementary School from 1940 to 1944, recalled the half-pint milk program: “… they’d give you a little thing of milk [that] cost a penny. You shake it up. Shake it up. It’d be in a bottle. And then that much butter would come to the top. That’s what we used to get.” 

Interview with R.C. Henderson by Lisa Y. Henderson, 2001, all rights reserved. Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.