City of Wilson

The obituary of Fletcher F. Pierce.


Philadelphia Daily News, 22 February 2002.


Fletcher Forest Pierce was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson to Nazareth Pierce and Ella Armstrong Pierce.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 806 Vance Street, Export Tobacco laborer Nazareth Pierce, 42; wife Ella, 43; children Eugene S., 18, Almira, 16, Leroy J., 14, Louie, 10, and Fletcher, 7; and mother-in-law Luvicy Armstrong, 65.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, insurance agent Nazareth Pierce, 54; wife Ada, seamstress; son Fletcher, 17, and daughter Elmira, 25.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, Milton Fisher, 32, teacher; wife Elmira, 28, teacher; and brother-in-law Fletcher Pierce, 26, insurance salesman.

In 1940, Fletcher Forest Pierce registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his draft registration card, he was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson; lived at 905 East Vance; his contact was father Nazerth Pierce, 415 East Green; and he worked for Winston Mutual Life Insurance, 656 East Nash Street, Wilson.

On 12 June 1943, Fletcher Forest Pierce, 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of N.A. and Ella Pierce, married Lucile Helen Russell, 30, of Charlotte, daughter of L.M. and Irene Russell, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 1950, Fletcher F. Pierce filed for World War II compensation.

Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line],

Doctors in the house.

Again, for a town whose population did not hit 10,000 until 1920 (of which only half were black), Wilson produced an astounding number of African-American physicians in the last decades of the nineteenth century and first few of the twentieth century. To the ranks of Drs. Joseph Henry WardCharles Hudson Bynum, William Henry BryantJohn Wesley Darden, James Thomas Suggs, Walter Theodore Darden, James Alexander Battle, James Arthur Cotton, John Clemon Williamson and Rolland Tyson Winstead, add four grandsons of Della Hines Barnes — Drs. Boisey O. Barnes, William C. Hines, Walter D. Hines and Clifton R. Hines.

African-American physicians who practiced in Wilson prior to World War II, but were born elsewhere, included: George W. Williams, Frank Settle HargraveWilliam Arthur Mitchner, Michael Edmund Dubissette, William H. Atkinson Jr., Thomas Clinton Tinsley, Matthew Stanley Gilliam Sr., and Joseph Franklin Cowan.

Native-born dentists from this period, none of whom practiced in Wilson, included Paul L. Jackson, Christopher L. Taylor and James D. Reid, while William H. Phillips, Lee C. Jones and George K. Butterfield Sr. settled in the community from elsewhere.

Simms’ Blue Book and National Negro Business & Professional Directory (1923).

Registered motor vehicle owners, 1919 and 1920.

“The first one I knew to have a car was Dr. Reid, the veterinarian. And the Vicks.”

Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001)

In 1919, the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office published a hefty volume listing the first 112,000 motor vehicles registered in the state. Not surprisingly, Samuel H. Vick was an early adopter, registering five automobiles — by four different car companies — at once and receiving license numbers 685 through 689.

The document is not easily searched, but I was able to find these early African-American Wilson County drivers. Most lived in town, and only two — Chestiney Wilder and Georgia Aiken — were women. (May Locus was a man.)

  • 685 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Chandler
  • 686 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Reo
  • 687 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Hudson
  • 688 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Hudson
  • 689 — S.H. Vick, Wilson, Cadillac
  • 5278 — Albert S. Gay, 620 E. Green St., Wilson, Ford
  • 7563 — J.Z. Staton, 804 Viola St., Wilson, Ford
  • 8583 — C.L. Darden, Wilson, Hudson
  • 17476 — May Locus, Rt. 1, Black Creek, Ford
  • 19608 — Will Artis, Stantonsburg, Oldsmobile
  • 26225 — Chestiny Wilder, Rt. 3 Lucama, Ford
  • 28151 — Josh Armstrong, Rt. 1, Elm City, Grant
  • 29157 — Henry Bryant, 145 Sugg St., Wilson, Dort
  • 32649 — Oscar Best, care of Wilson Live Stock Co., Wilson, Dort
  • 34116 — S.F. Hargrove [F.S. Hargrave], M.D., 625 E. Green St., Wilson, Columbia
  • 47620 — Dr. W.H. Phillips, 530 1/2 E. Nash St., Wilson, Hudson
  • 50184 — Neverson Green, Wilson, Reo
  • 55819 — Noah J. Tate, Wilson, Buick
  • 55820 — W.S. Hines, Wilson, Hudson
  • 57201 — Ned Kent, Rt. 3 Box 100, Kenly, Overland
  • 57479 — D.E. Reid [Dr. Elijah L. Reid], 650 Viola St., Wilson, Ford
  • 57551 — Dr. W.A. Mitchiner [Mitchner], E. Nash St., Wilson, Dodge
  • 60503 — Mrs. Georgia C. Aiken, 314 Barnes St., Wilson, Ford (for hire)
  • 69272 — Dennis Brooks, E. Nash St., Buick (for hire)
  • 71345 — G.E. Tyler, 603 E. Green St., Wilson Ford
  • 72510 — Neil Handy, Rt. 6, Box 144, Wilson, Ford
  • 73129 — A.N. Darden, Wilson, Dodge
  • 85889 — Crawford Darden, Black Creek, Cadillac
  • 86536 — Buck Locus, Rt. 4, Elm City, Grant
  • 87236 — C.E. Artis, 210 Pender St., Wilson, Ford
  • 88103 — Ben J. Ellis, Rt. 1, Box 153, Wilson, Ford
  • 89487 — Roscoe Johnson, 634 E. Green St., Wilson, Jordan
  • 90310 — Jim Brown, 805 Viola St., Ford
  • 90872 — Ed. Artis, Rt. 1, Stantonsburg, Ford
  • 90873 — Leslie Artis, Rt. 1, Stantonsburg, Ford
  • 91282 — Bud Sims, 624 Viola St., Metz
  • 92886 — June S. Artis, Rt. 6, Box 89, Wilson, Ford
  • 93517 — J.D. Reid, 601 E. Green St., Wilson, Reo
  • 94988 — Wm. H. Baker, 1020 E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford
  • 95012 — William Hines, Wilson, Hudson
  • 96664 — Rev. E.S. Hargrove, 702 Viola St., Overland
  • 97230 — Garry Armstrong, RFD, Elm City, Overland
  • 98115 — L.H. Peacock, 141 Ash St., Wilson, Hudson
  • 100721 — John W. Farmer, 635 E. Green St., Wilson, Chalmers
  • 104807 — Linwood Barefoot, E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford
  • 105289 — Turner Hines, Rt. 1, care of J.W. Cherry & Son, Elm City, Ford
  • 109186 — Dotson Locus, Rt. 2, Elm City, Chevrolet
  • 110274 — Garfield Ruffin, 1007 E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford

From the 1920 supplement to the Registry:

  • 113666 — Clifton Best (col.), R. 1, Stantonsburg, Ford
  • 114015 — Harry Carter, 517 E. Nash St., Wilson, Buick (for hire)
  • 121735 — Dempsey Blount, 516 E. Nash St., Wilson, Ford
  • 122953 — George Rutherford, 517 E. Nash St., Wilson, Buick (for hire)
  • 124283 — James Sellers, 651 E. Vance St., Wilson, Oldsmobile (for hire)
  • 124827 — Bill Smith (col.), care of Tilghman Motors Co., Wilson, Columbia

REO touring car, 1919.

Interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. List of Registered Motor Vehicle Owners — North Carolina (1919); List of Registered Motor Vehicle Owners, Supplement No. 1 (1920).

Fred Davis buys a bicycle.

I, Fred M. Davis of Wilson, Wilson County State of North Carolina for value received hereby sell and mortgage unto Rouse Hazard & Co of Peoria, Ill. the following goods and chattels, to wit:

One #3 Overland safety bicycle with Morgan & Wright pneumatic tires provided that if the said Mortgagor shall pay the sum of Forty six and 66/100 dollars with interest [illegible] and collection charges according to the terms of Nine certain promissory notes  signed by said Mortgagor Payable to Rouse Hazard & Co on order as follows to wit:

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Sept 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Oct 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Nov 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Decr 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Jany 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Feby 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Mar 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due Apl 10th 1893 for $5.00

One note dated August 10th 1893, due May 10th 1893 for $6.66

Mortgage Book 35, page 24, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

310 North Reid Street.

The one hundred-nineteenth 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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1930; 1 story; Thomas Foster house; bungalow with hip roof and engaged porch; Foster was janitor at Wilson post office.”

In the 1925, 1928 and 1930 Wilson city directories, Thomas and Olivia Foster are listed at 310 North Reid.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: owned and valued at $3000, Tom Foster, 45, post office janitor, and wife Oliva, 43.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: owned and valued at $3000, John T. Foster, 60, post office janitor; wife Olivia, 59; and her brother Claude Artist, 53, odd jobs.

In 1940, Du Bissette Best registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 January 1922 in Wilson; lived at 308 North Reid; his contact was Tom Foster, 310 North Reid; and he worked for W.G. Taylor, Taylor’s Barber Shop, 106 South Tarboro.

Tom Foster died 17 October 1956 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 April 1883 in Wayne County to John Thomas Foster and Louise Thompson; was married to Olivia Foster; worked as an elevator laborer; and resided at 310 North Reid.

Olivia Foster died 15 November 1956 at her home at 310 North Reid. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 October 1886 in Wayne County to Jesse Artis and Lucinda Hobbs; was a widow. Informant was Ada Rowe, 1006 Atlantic Street, Wilson.

Tom and Olivia Foster had mortgaged their home early in 1955 and, the spring after their deaths, the loan went into default. Trustee Wade A. Gardner posted this notice of sale in the local newspaper. Among the details: the Fosters had purchased the lot, part of the Rountree Tract, from Levi H. and Hannah Peacock in 1916.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 May 1957.

Around the same time, Tom Foster’s executor advertised a sale of the contents of the house, which offers an interesting glimpse at the typical furnishings of a working-class household in mid-century East Wilson.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 June 1957.

Claude Artis died 16 January 1960 at his home at 310 North Reid Street. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 January 1890 in Wayne County to Jesse Artis and Lucinda Hobbs; was never married; and worked as a laborer. Ada Rowe, 310 North Reid, was informant. (Claude Artis was Olivia Artis Foster’s brother. Did he buy the house, or did he pay rent to whomever purchased it?)

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019.

Parcel No. 5 for sale.

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Wilson Daily Times, 4 March 1933.

The assets of the failed Planters Bank went up for sale in 1933, including a house and two lots Samuel H. Vick had owned at the intersection of Manchester and Douglas Streets. The house, in fair condition, was described as one-story, with five rooms and a composition roof.

[I am not sure where this was. Douglas Street (renamed from Spring in the late 1920s) runs on the other side of the railroad from and in no place intersects Manchester.]