City of Wilson

The funeral of Dr. William A. Mitchner.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 1941.

The obituary of Nora A. Jones, 101.

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Nora A. Jones, 2 January 1919-18 May 2020.

Nora A. Jones, age 101, of Wilson transitioned from labor to reward on Monday, May 18, 2020.  Funeral service will be held Monday, May 25 at 12 noon at St. John AME Zion Church, Wilson.  Interment will follow in Rest Haven Cemetery.


In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Frank Mitchell, 27, laborer; wife Allice, 23; and daughter Nora A., 1; plus boarder Noah Bess, 63, widower.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, carpenter Frank Mitchell, 37; wife Alice, 31, teacher; and daughter Nora A., 10.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, carpenter Frank Mitchell, 52; wife Alice, 39, teacher; and daughter Nora Allen, 19.

On 27 October 1946, Walter A. Jones, 24, of Wilson, son of Joe Jones and Virginia Applewhite Jones, married Nora Allen Mitchel, 25, of Wilson, daughter of Frank and Alice Mitchell, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister William A. Hilliard performed the ceremony in the presence of Frank Mitchell, Alice Mitchell, and Mrs. Louis Thomas.


Sugar registration.

To prevent hoarding and to tamp down prices, the United States government mandated registration for sugar rations in the spring of 1942. Wilson established seven registration sites at schools around Wilson township — three white and four “colored.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 May 1942.

Registration at Vick School and Sallie Barbour School essentially divided East Wilson into two zones, north and south of Vick Street.

I do not know the precise locations of Barnes School, west of the city (and not the present-day B.O. Barnes Elementary), or Lane School, east of the city.

1944 sugar ration coupon.

He died sitting on the steps.


“No Physician — I understand the deceased died sudden while sitting on steps at Imperial Hotel”

Built around 1900, the Imperial Hotel was located at 320 East Nash Street, the current location of Wilson’s city bus station. Catty-corner from the Atlantic Coast Line rail station, the three-story brick hotel was a popular with travelers until the Hotel Cherry was erected across the street.

As shown on the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson below, the Imperial had a wrap-around wooden porch that faced Nash and Lodge Streets. It’s likely here that Joe Bennett was seated when he keeled over dead.

The colored brethren of Wilson Primitive Baptist Church.

In 1946, the Wilson Daily Times published an article by Hugh B. Johnston commemorating the history of Wilson Primitive Baptist Church. I’ve excerpted below the sections that mention the church’s African-American members.

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Wilson Primitive Baptist Church, Asheville Post Card Co., undated.

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“On April 24, 1920, the Church agreed to begin construction as soon as possible and to include a baptismal pool, memorial windows for a number of outstanding members, and a balcony for the convenience of remaining colored brethren.”

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“A gallery for colored members ran entirely around the second story of the [1859] church, excepting the end above the tall, broad pulpit.”

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At a conference held at the Tosneot Baptist Church on Sept. 23, 1865, “a proposition was made and agreed to that all colored members that had ‘left their owners before the proclamation of freedom was made, and gone to the Yankees should be dealt with and excluded if they could not give satisfaction of their disorder.’ … [N]one of the offending members appeared … [and when they failed to appear at a postponed date,] motion was made to expel them: on which motion servants Thomas Farmer and Redic Barnes were expelled from all rights of the church.”

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“As a result of the formation of London’s Primitive Baptist Church for the convenience of the colored membership who were being served outside of regular meetings by Elder London Woodard, a conference was held at the Tosneot church on May 21, 1870, and “the following resolution was adopted by unanimous consent of the members, white and colored, that in the future, as before, the white members of the church shall have the entire control of the discipline and government of the church as this place. [This understanding was entered into the minutes] so as in after days there could not be any misunderstanding between the white and colored members of this church.”

Wilson Daily Times, 19 November 1946.


Some thoughts:

  • The balcony in the back of the 1920 church is visible starting at 1:29 of this Youtube video.
  • What African-Americans were members of Wilson Primitive Baptist as late as 1920? Do the church’s records exist?
  • I have been unable to identify specifically Thomas Farmer and Reddick Barnes, the members who audaciously took their freedom into their own hands.
  • “The formation of London’s Primitive Baptist Church for the convenience of the colored membership who were being served outside of regular meetings” by London Woodard sounds like more like a recognition of a new reality: Toisnot’s black members had left to worship among themselves under a charismatic black preacher. It’s not surprising that those who remained unanimously agreed that white people would control the church.

Rev. Smith complains of a drainage ditch.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 1910.

The 1908 Wilson, N.C., Sanborn fire insurance map shows Wilson’s electric light station on Railroad Street between Nash and Church Streets, across the Atlantic Coast Line Rail Road from the train station. (Today, this is approximately the location of the parking lot of Green Grocery, formerly known as M&W.)

The drainage ditch of which Rev. Owen L.W. Smith complained is not shown. Presumably, it drained away from the railroad and toward the African-American neighborhood southeast of Pettigrew Street.

Gala Mid-Nite Show.

The 7 October 1933 edition of the Wilson Daily Times ran this advertisement for a Gala Mid-Nite Show at the Carolina Theatre featuring Moran & Mack, the Two Black Crows, and unidentified “all colored musical and dancing vaudeville acts.”

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The Carolina was a segregated theatre with seating for African-Americans available in its balcony. Moran & Mack were a famed blackface minstrel act. If you care to see a snippet of Hypnotized, here you are.

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Colored Graded School ’11 commencement.

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Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1911.

  • Fern Speight
  • Mazie Holland — Mazie Holland Wells. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: laundress Charity Holland, 48; and children Charlie, 24, barber; Jane, 20; Mazie and Daisy, 18; Lue, 16; and Lillian, 12.
  • Eva Davis — Eva Mashon Davis Bland. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fred M. Davis, 42, Baptist church minister; wife Dianah, 42; children Eva M., 16, Bertha, 15, Fred, 11, Ruth, 13, Addie L., 8, and William B., 5; and mother Jud., 60.
  • Nancy Jones
  • Bathenia Best —Barthena Best Fulcher.
  • Eva Speight — Eva Janet Speight Coley. In the 1910 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County, North Carolina: day laborer Jacob Speight, 38, widower; and children Arbelia, 12, Eva, 9, Furnis, 7, and Joseph, 5.
  • Dr. Charles F. Meserve