City of Wilson

Colored cafe.

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Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1948.

Wrote Roy Taylor in My City, My Home: “And Negroes congregated en masse on Barnes Street in the block in which P.L. Woodard is located. It wasn’t that they had to gather there, for they had the privilege of meeting at any place in town, just as did the whites. They liked that area, and too, it was in close proximity to several hot dog joints and other eating places. Few white people were seen in that block on Saturday, and few Negroes were seen on Nash Street. It was a matter of the two races choosing to be with their own kind.”

Taylor’s take on the privileges and choices of legally sanctioned and enforced segregation is ridiculous, but this passage does offer context for the location of Gus Gliarmis’ cafe on the southern edge of downtown, far from Wilson’s African-American neighborhoods in the 1940s.

 

504 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.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 [sic] Lodge Street, cafe proprietor Jessie Strickland, 28, and wife Viola, 27, and roomers Mack Strickland, 18, transfer truck driver, and James Johnson, 20, guano company laborer.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) propr Strickland Cafe h 504 S Lodge

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 504 Lodge Street, owned and valued at $4000, Jesse Strickland, 46, and wife Viola, 37. Their occupations are listed as farm laborer and “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant.” However, it appears that entries are off by a line, and should read “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant” and cook for private family.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) 504 S Lodge

In a familiar tale of woe, the Stricklands defaulted on their mortgage, and Wilson Home & Loan Association advertised the property for auction.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 1930.

Jessie Strickland died 18 March 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 40 years old; was born in Wilson to Mose Farmer and Hannah Strickland; was a clerk in a store; and lived at Spring Street. Informant was Viola Strickland, 504 South Lodge.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) maid h 504 S Lodge

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) h 504 S Lodge

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2017.

Studio shots, no. 90: Edna E. Gaston.

Per an eBay listing for a reproduction of this photo: “Photo. North Carolina. Black girl and doll carriage. The girl’s name is Edna Earl Gaston. She was the niece of John Clark who was a founder of St Mark’s Episcopal Church. He was also the first Black mail carrier in Wilson, North Carolina. 1925.”

In fact, Edna Earline Gaston was the daughter of Albert Sessle Gaston of Wilson and Annie House Gaston of Moore County, North Carolina. John H. Clark was her great-uncle, brother of Albert Gaston’s mother Ella Clark Gaston.

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In the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson County: Ella Gaston, 30, divorced, with sons Ralph, 10, and Albert, 2. [Also in the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, North Carolina: 44 year-old barber John Gaston, [second] wife Sabrina [Sattena] 22, and children Theodore, 13, Cicero, 10, George, 8, and Caroline, 2 months. John A. Gaston was Albert Gaston’s father.]

In 1918, Albert Gaston registered for the World War I draft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 16 August 1897 in Wilson, N.C.; resided at 2105 Nassau Street, Philadelphia; worked as a longshoreman; and his nearest relative was Anna Gaston.

In the 1920 census of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania: at 2105 Nassau Street, building laborer Albert Gaston, 22; wife Anne T., 23; daughter Edna E., 1;  lodger Harry Jenkins, 19, a laundry laborer; and “mother” Hellen Hunton, 53. All were born in North Carolina.

Shortly after the census, the Gastons returned to North Carolina, where they took positions in Annie H. Gaston’s home county. On 28 April 1921, The Moore County News of Carthage printed principal Albert Gaston’s address to the Shady Grove colored school.

By October 1921, Gaston had take over as head of the struggling Addor school. Per this 1997 National Register of Historic Places nomination report, the Gastons began an energetic campaign to raise money for a Rosenwald School, and the Lincoln Park school near Pinebluff was the result.

Albert Sessel Gaston registered for the World War II draft in 1942 in Raeford, Hoke County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 15 August 1897 in Wilson; was employed by the Board of Education in Raeford; and his contact was Annie L. Gaston, 119 Lincoln Street, Hampton, Virginia.

Annie Lillian Gaston died 2 June 1952 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 July 1896 in Moore County to John House and Maggie Gunter; was a schoolteacher; and was married. Albert Gaston was informant.

Per the Social Security Death Index, Albert Gaston died November 1979 and Edna Gaston Coles died 25 July 1999, both in Philadelphia.

Our new president.

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Journal of the National Medical Association, volume 6, number 4 (1914).

  • Dr. Frank S. Hargrave
  • Bessie Parker Hargrave — In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: postmaster Samuel H. Vick, 37; wife Annie M., 28; and children Elba L., 17, and Daniel L., 3; plus cousin Bessie Parker, 15. On 19 September 1907, F.S. Hargrave, 33, of Wilson, son of Henry and Laura Hargrave, married Bessie Parker, 20, of Wilson, in Wilson. Presbyterian minister Charles E. Tucker performed the ceremony at Calvary Presbyterian Church in the presence of J.D. Reid, Fred M. Davis, and Lena N. Harris. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: medical doctor Frank Hargrave, 32; wife Bessie, 23; and boarder Lena Harris, 26, an insurance bookkeeper. Bessie Hargrave reported that she borne two children, but had none living. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 625 Green Street, doctor Frank S. Hargrave, 40, and wife Bessie, 30. In the 1930 census of Orange, Essex County, New Jersey: at 83 Kenilworth Place, valued at $10000, doctor Frank Hargrave, 50; wife Bessie E., 38; and South Carolina-born lodger Alexander Wilson, commercial dry goods salesman. In the 1940 census of Orange, Essex County, New Jersey: at 83 Kenilworth Place, doctor Frank S. Hargrave, 58, and wife Bessie, 50. [83 Kenilworth Place has disappeared under the construction of the Essex Freeway, Interstate 280.]

Worthy colored man bitten by dog.

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Wilson Daily Times, 7 October 1921.

  • Jim Crocker — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: odd jobs laborer James W. Crocker, 40, and wife Nancy, 34. In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Crocker James lab h 206 Pender and Crocker Nancy cook h 206 Pender
  • Lula Creech — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: renting 421 Green Street, general laborer Haywood Creech, 28, and wife Lula, 26.

 

Your father probably taught you to do this.

In 1924, “White Barbers of Wilson” placed an ad in the Daily Times complaining of white customers — women, even — patronizing African-American barber shops. Hair-cutting had  long been dominated by black men, and white barbers keenly felt the loss of caste that their trade entailed. After chastising “the public” for going to “dark skin shops,” they shook a challenging finger: “Ladies and gentlemen, we believe when you see the thing the way we do you will be a full blooded Southerner, and join the ranks of a true born American citizen.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 5 September 1924.

413 East Green Street.

The seventy-ninth 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 encompasses 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.

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1893; 1 story; Zachariah Barnes house; two-room house; aluminum-sided; Barnes was a porter.” The house was formerly numbered #414.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Zachariah porter 414 E Green

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: office maid Mary Palmer, 50, and her children Beatrice, 23, private cook; James E., 18, drugstore delivery boy; Glayds, 14, private nurse; Mary L., 12, private nurse; Lonie, 9; and Robert L., 8.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Palmer Mary (c) janitress h 413 E Green; Palmer Beatrice (c) domestic 413 E Green; and Palmer Edw (c) porter Turlington & Morrison h 413 E Green

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 413 East Green, rented at $15/month, Georgia-born household servant Isaac Butler, 44; wife Estelle, a household servant; and lodger Eleanor Deans, 38, also a household servant.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Russell Julia (c) cook h 413 E Green

In the 1947-48 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lee John W (c; Irene) orderly Woodard-Herring Hosp h 413 E Green

On 16 September 1986, the Wilson Daily Times ran an obituary for Lula B. Collins, who had last lived at 413 East Green:

We are what you should be.

In early 1928, a group of young African-American men — friends and neighbors and almost all barbers or porters at barber shops — founded a social club in East Wilson.

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Baltimore Afro-American, 11 February 1928.

WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA

WILSON, N.C. On Tuesday evening, January 31st, the following young men of this city organized a club to be known as the Klondike Club. Bill Bryant, William Brown, Woodie Farmer, Freeman Ennis, John Love, Golden Venters, Oscar Hicks, George E. Brodie, Rufus Speight and George H. DuBose. The meeting was held at the Hotel Whitby and the following officers elected: B. Bryant, president; Freeman Ennis, vice president; Golden Venters, secretary; G.E. Brodie, treasurer; John Love, sergeant-at-arms, and George H. DuBose, journalist. On February 2nd, the club met at the home of the present and the following members initiated, Murphy Richardson, Jerval Barnes and Ossie Edwards. Club motto is, “We are what you should be.”

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  • Bill Bryant
  • William Brown —  In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Brown Wm (c; Eva L) barber Bonnie Reid h 202 S Vick
  • Woodie Farmer — William Woody Farmer. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Farmer Woody (c) porter Wm Hines h 706 E Green. On 13 January 1929, Woody Farmer, 22, son of John Wash Farmer and Edmonia [no maiden name], married Savannah Powell, 21, daughter of Wiley Powell, in Wilson. Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of Emma Farmer, Rufus E. Speight and Theodore Speight. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 East Green, plasterer John A. Farmer, 60; wife Nona, 61; sons James E., 17, and Woodie, 22, barber; and daughter-in-law Savana, 22, lodge bookkeeper.
  • Freeman Ennis — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ennis Freeman (c) barber W S Hines h 904 Viola. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 904 Viola, rented for $15/month, Maggie Ennis, 45, and children Freeman, 22, barbershop bootblack, Earl, 12, and Hennie, 10, and roomer Julus Barnes, 27, laborer at Hackney body plant. Freeman Ennis died 5 January 1938 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was 29 years old; single; worked as a bell boy; and was born in Wilson to Samuel Ennis of Smithfield and Maggie Taylor of Wilson. Informant was Earl Ennis, 904 Viola.
  • John Love
  • Golden Venters — Golden T. Venters married Ethel P. Lane in Philadelphia in 1925. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Venters Golden T (c; Ethel) porter Wm Hines h 902 Viola
  • Oscar Hicks — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hicks H O (c) barber Levi’s Barber Shop h 812 E Green
  • George E. Brodie — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Brodie Geo (c) student h 903 E Green. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 311 Pender, Lawrence Hardy, 39, pantry(?) servant at college; brother James Hardy, 39, presser at cleaning works; and George Brodie, 33, barber.
  • Rufus Speight — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Speight Rufus (c) porter Wm Hines h 624 Viola. In 1940, Rufus Edward Speight registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he lived at 624 East Viola; was born 4 October 1907 in Whitaker, North Carolina; his contact was brother Theodore Speight; and he worked for Bill Hines at 130 South Goldsboro Street.
  • George H. DuBose
  • Murphy Richardson — On 8 June 1927, Murphy Richardson, 20, and Laura Martin, 22, both of Nash County were married in Wilson County by minister Charles T. Jones in the presence of Levi Jones, W.H. Phillips and Laura Graves. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Richardson Murphy (c) barber Levi’s Barber Shop h 116 Pender
  • Jerval Barnes — probably, Jerrell Randolph Barnes, who died 14 December 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 May 1909; was single; worked as a common laborer; and was born to Ned Barnes and Louisa Gay. Informant was Alice Bryant, Wilson.
  • Ossie Edwards