Civic Life

Dr. Price speaks upon the rebuilding of the race.

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Greensboro North State, 27 May 1886.

One hundred thirty-three years ago, a Greensboro newspaper ran an article from the Wilson Mirror covering the visit to Wilson of “justly celebrated negro orator” Joseph C. Price. Price, a founder and first president of Livingstone College (in 1886 still known as Zion Wesley Institute), had taught in Wilson for four years at the start of his career. Regarded as one of great orators of his day — grudging recognition in this article notwithstanding — Price’s early death cut short a trajectory that might have vied with Booker T. Washington’s to lead African-Americans.

Samuel H. Vick read an essay to open the program. The writer of the article noted that his speech as “well-written” and “couched in good English,” as well it should have been given that the 23 year-old had a degree from Lincoln University and was principal of the colored graded school.

Daniel C. Suggs, like Vick a former pupil of Price, then gave a tribute recognized by an educated white listener as “most excellent.” Suggs, too, had a bachelor’s degree from Lincoln and was a year away from receiving a master’s.

Randall James’ many hats.

In the early 1940s, Randall Roland James Jr., grandson of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden, supplemented his duties as an undertaker in the family business with gigs as a federal censustaker and registrar for Local Draft Board 1. (James’ uncle, Arthur N. Darden, had been appointed an enumerator for the 1920 census.)

John G. Thomas’ quasi-gossip column, “Wilsonia,” noted the appointment of Robert E. Vick and James:

Wilson Daily Times, 2 April 1940.

Reverse side of the registration card of Luther Jones, Wilson, N.C., signed by James as registrar on 16 February 1942.

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In the 1920 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: at 188 McWhorter Street, Randall James, 30, born in Texas; wife Elizabeth, 31, born in North Carolina; and sons Charles, 5, born in Alabama, and Randall, 3, born in North Carolina.

In 1940, Randall Roland James registered for the World War II in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 10 June 1916 In Wilson; resided at 111 Pender Street; his contact was wife Ruth Vashti James; and he worked for C.H. Darden & Sons, 608 East Nash.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 111 Pender Street, Elizabeth James, 45, nursery school cook; son Randle James, 23, assistant undertaker at Darden Funeral, his wife Ruth, 22, and their daughter Dianne, 1; son Charles, 26, undertaker at Darden Funeral; cousin Eugene Tennessee, 22, field agent for Darden Funeral; and brother Arthur Darden, 40, [occupation illegible.]

Randall R. James Jr. died 9 June 1981 in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Randall R. James Jr., Wilson Daily Times, 15 August 1952.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The passing of Old Joe.

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The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 March 1920.

It’s hard to know what to say about this racist tribute other than “wow, Charlie Chaplin came to Wilson?”

Joe Mercer was also known as Joseph Battle. In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Battle, 40; wife Rose, 35; and children Joe, 15, Frank, 13, John H., 10, Amie, 8, Mattie, 6, and Lou T., 8 months. Thomas and Rose reported having been married 5 years, and Rose as the mother of one child (presumably, the baby Lou.) [Marriage records show that Tom Battle married Rose Mercer on 23 May 1896 in Wilson County.]

Joe Mercer, 24, married Ida Colley, 22, on 7 December 1908 in Wilson County.

Joe Mercer registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born April 1881; lived at 136 Roberson; worked as a janitor. His nearest relative was Rose Battle, and he was described as “rheumatic & apparently paralytic.”

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 613 Robinson Street, bank janitor Joe Mercer, 39, and wife Ida, 40.

Joe Mercer died 11 March 1920 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 37 years old; was married; lived on Roberson Street; was engaged in butler service; and was born in Black Creek to Thomas Battle and Rosa Battle. F.F. Battle was informant.

The United Service Mission: to improve health and aid the poor.

In the summer of 1946, Rev. James M. Stallings led a public meeting of the newly formed United Service Mission at Reid Street Community Center.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 June 1946.

Per the Biennial Report of the Secretary of State of North Carolina 1946-1948, United Service Mission Assistance incorporated in Wilson on 11 October 1947 as a non-stock corporation.  As the article below noted, the organization’s purpose was to “operate a board of health for the protection and improvement of the health of its members and the community” and “to aid the poor and the suffering and assist in the finding of employment for its members.”

Wilson Daily Times, 20 December 1947.

  • Fred M. Davis
  • James M. Stallings — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: W.P.A. project laborer James Stallings, 23; wife Kattie, 22; and step-son William, 1. Also in 1940, James Mayo Stallings registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 27 May 1917 in Duplin County, North Carolina; was married to Katie May Stallings; resided at 709 Suggs Street; and was unemployed. James M. Stallings died 18 March 1999 in Scotland Neck, North Carolina.

An invitation to the fair and tournament ball.

From the Freeman Round House and Museum, an invitation and ticket to the Wilson County Industrial Association’s Fair and Tournament Ball at Wilson’s Mamona Opera House in 1887. Marcus W. Blount was an honorary manager for the ball, which accompanied the Association’s first agricultural fair.

Yule decorations.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1949.

  • Dorothy ParkerSouth Vick Street? The 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory does not show a Parker at 210 South Vick and has no listing for 210 North Vick.
  • Mrs. Dan Carroll — Lenora Carroll died 16 May 1960 at her home at 715 [sic] Elvie Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 30 September 1902 in Johnston County to Leander Smith and Luvenia [maiden name unknown] and was married to Daniel Carroll. [Both Dan and Lenora Carroll’s death certificates list 715 Elvie Street as their address, as does the obituary of Barbara Haskins Adams, the niece of Dan Carroll’s second wife, Bertha H. Carroll. However, the 1947 city directory lists Dan Carroll at 716 Elvie. My best guess is that the house at 715 Elvie, which is a small brick ranch, was built in the 1950s, and the Carrolls had previously lived — and decorated a beautiful tree — across the street.]
  • Rev. and Mrs. Rufford — Until her death in 1942, educator Sallie M. Barbour lived at 1100 East Nash Street. I have not been able to identify the Ruffords.
  • Dr. and Mrs. William Phillips — William H. and Rena Carter Phillips.

A Christmas invitation for Negro soldiers.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1942.

A resolution in honor of John W. Jones.

GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA

SESSION 2005

RATIFIED BILL  

RESOLUTION 2005-47

HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION 197 

A JOINT RESOLUTION HONORING THE LIFE AND MEMORY OF JOHN WESLEY JONES, FORMER EDUCATOR AND INFLUENTIAL LEADER.

Whereas, John Wesley Jones grew up in the City of Wilson; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones graduated from Charles H. Darden High School in 1941 at the age of 15; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones spent a year helping to construct a new addition to Charles H. Darden High School before attending North Carolina A & T State University; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones’s college education was interrupted by World War II when he was drafted into the United States Navy; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones returned to North Carolina A & T State University after serving in the United States Navy, earning a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering in 1948 and later receiving a masters degree in mathematics; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was a schoolteacher in Greene and Wilson Counties from 1948 to 1968 and served as an assistant principal and principal in the Wilson County public schools from 1968 to 1988; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones served the education community proudly as a member of State and national organizations, including the North Carolina Teachers Association, Inc., the North Carolina Association of Educators, Inc., and the National Education Association; and

Whereas, after his retirement as a principal, John Wesley Jones continued to be an advocate for education by becoming a member of the Wilson County Board of Education, serving as a member from 1988 to 2004 and as the Chair for one term; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones rendered distinguished service to his community by helping to establish the Charles H. Darden High School Alumni Association, Inc., in 1971, a national, nonprofit organization whose primary mission is to promote the educational, cultural, and social level of the community; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones’s success in establishing the Alumni Association has allowed former students of Charles H. Darden High School, who now live in other parts of the country, to communicate and stay in touch with each other, resulting in an annual reunion held in the City of Wilson and reunions held in other states; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones served as the Alumni Association’s first president and later as executive secretary to the board of directors; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones’s vision to build a community center came true in 1991 when the Charles H. Darden Alumni Center opened, providing a location for a tutorial program and community activities; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was a member of the National North Carolina A & T State University Alumni Scholarship Committee, which provided four-year scholarships to deserving high school graduates and helped students achieve their dreams of attending college; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was active in the American Legion Post #17, NAACP, Men’s Civic Club, served as treasurer of the Board of Directors of the Hattie Daniels Day Care Center, and was a charter member and past president of the Beta Beta Beta Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones was a devoted member of the Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, serving on the Board of Trustees, Finance Committee, and as Chair of the Construction Committee for the Education Building; and

Whereas, John Wesley Jones died on April 3, 2004; Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

SECTION 1.  The General Assembly honors the life and memory of John Wesley Jones for the service he rendered to his community, State, and nation.

SECTION 2.  The General Assembly extends its deepest sympathy to the family of John Wesley Jones for the loss of a beloved family member.

SECTION 3.  The Secretary of State shall transmit a certified copy of this resolution to the family of John Wesley Jones.

SECTION 4.  This resolution is effective upon ratification.

In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 9th day of August, 2005.

From The Trojan (1964), the yearbook of Charles H. Darden High School.