Commerce

Wilson’s queerest market.

In a September 1940 “Wilsonia” column, John G. Thomas memorialized Saturday afternoon rummage sales carried out by white women from cars parked along Stantonsburg (now Pender) Street. Their customers? Black tobacco factory workers whose weekly pay was burning a hole in their pockets.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 September 1940.

Dispute at the cold drink stand.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 July 1911.

Johnny Matthews and Luther Barber [Barbour] were fined ten dollars each (or was it $22?) after an altercation over two bottles of Coca-Cola at Matthews’ cold drink stand on the Plank Road (roughly, Martin Luther King Parkway). State law prohibited the sale on Sunday of any goods other than “drugs, undertaking supplies, ice and those things absolutely necessary for the sick.”

Mitchell wins suit against First National Bank.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 June 1930.

In 1930, James Gray Mitchell, whose “thriftiness” netted him a prosperous farm, a bank vice-president position, and the wherewithal to donate land for a school near Elm City, sued First National Bank to recover $350 paid from his account to the bearer of a forged check. He won.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The goose grease man.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 October 1914.

George Flack, the “goose grease man,” drove geese throughout the sales territory of the Goose Grease Company, hawking Mother’s Joy Croup and Pneumonia Salve. In 1914, he arrived in Wilson for a thirty-day stay with the W.H. Woodard & Company. In relaying Goose Grease Company’s history, the Daily Times listed Flack, two geese, and five hundred dollars as the company’s starting assets.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 1919.

1914 clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Bill Hargrove, horse shoer.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 August 1897.

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In the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: Jerry Hargrove, 29; wife Sarah, 29; and children Anna, 9, Gordon, 6, William, 4, and Marcus, 1.

In the 1880 census of Cocoa township, Edgecombe County: Gerry Hargrove, 39; wife Sarah, 38; and children Gordon, 15, William, 13, Marcus, 11, Farrar, 8, Matthew, 6, Frank, 6, and Henry, 10 months.

On 30 December 1890, William Hargrove, 23, of Wilson, son of Jerry and Sarah Hargrove, and Louvenia Hines, 21, of Edgecombe, daughter of Joshua Bulluck and Harriet Hines, were married at Joshua Bulluck’s in Township #14, Edgecombe County. Hilliard Reid and Bush Dew of Wilson were witnesses. 

Wilson Mirror, 23 September 1891.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith William Hargrove, 32; wife Leuvenia, 30, washing; daughters Bessie, 6, and Lillie, 3; widowed sister Mary Boddie, 25, cooking; and cousin Julious Heat, 20, farm hand.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hargrove Wm blksmith 206 E Goldsboro h 606 E Green

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 606 Green, blacksmith William Hargrove, 43; wife Louvenia, 40; daughters Bessie, 17, and Willie L., 13; and boarder John Howard, 18. But also, in the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Joyner, 51; wife Annie, 51; and boarder William Hargrove, 40, horse shoer in own shop.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hargrove Wm blksmith h 606 E Green

Per his headstone, William Hargrove died 4 January 1914. Per Findagrave.com, Hargrove is buried in the Hines/Bullock cemetery near Pinetops, Edgecombe County.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 606 East Green, Luvenia Hargrove, 40, widow, and daughter Willie, 20, public school teacher.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 605 East Green, Luvenia Hargrove, 60, widow, and daughter Willie, 29, public school teacher.

Luevenia Hargrove died 22 February 1958 in Wilson at her home at 605 East Green. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 February 1869 in Edgecombe County to Joshua Bulluck and Harriet Hines and was buried in Bulluck cemetery, Edgecombe County. Informant was Mrs. Willie Smith, 605 East Green.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Black businesses, 1908, no. 4: 200 block of South Goldsboro Street.

Detail, Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1908.

Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the intersection of the 100 block of East Barnes Street and the 200 block of South Goldsboro Street.

  • Sidney Wheeler
  • J. Thomas Teachey
  • William Hargrove — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith William Hargrove, 32; wife Leuvenia, 30, washing; daughter Bessie, 6, and Lillie, 3; widowed sister Mary Boddie, 25, cooking; and cousin Julious Heat, 20, farm hand.
  • Isaac J. Young‘s blacksmith shop operated in the present-day location of Worrell’s Seafood. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 315 Spring Street, horse shoer Isaac J. Young, 46; wife Laura, 29; and sons Cornelius, 12, and Robert, 9; plus lodger Henry Moy, 5.

Aerial view courtesy of Google Maps.

Black businesses, 1913, no. 5: City Baking Company.

A three-page Wilson Times insert published about 1914 highlighting the town’s “progressive colored citizens” featured City Bakery, then located at 540 East Nash Street, “under Odd Fellows Hall,” with R.B. Bullock as proprietor.

The bakery had a predecessor though, as shown in the 1912 city directory:

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1912).

Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.

This detail from the 1913 Sanborn map shows the location of the oven in the back of the small brick “bake house.” In 1914, City Bakery boasted that its premises were “sanitary in ever particular.” Such a claim must have been difficult to make when it sat within feet of multiple rail lines. 

  • Richard Bulluck — Bulluck is listed in the 1912 directory living at 412 South Lodge Street.
  • Alex Henderson — perhaps, Sandy Henderson.
  • William Kittrell

Black businesses, 1913, no. 4: 400 block of East Nash Street.

Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.

Cross-referencing the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Here’s a closer look at one side of the first block east of the railroad.

Though described as a restaurant in 1913, the 1912 city director listed Charles H. Knight‘s barbershop at 414 East Nash Street. In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: barber Charles Knight, 35; wife Elsie, 37; and sons Charles, 8, and Frank, 6; plus boarders Ethel Coleman, 23, and Sarah Jackson, 28, both teachers.

Sarah Gaither operated a small eating house at 418 East Nash as early as 1908, per city directories. In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Rufus Gaither, 57; wife Sarah, 56; and children Julius, 22, Mandy, 18, Aaron, 17, and Clarence, 15, sharing a house with Ella Gaston, 30, and her sons Ralph, 10, and Albert, 2. Rufus and Sarah Parks Gaither married 2 February 1873 in Iredell County, N.C., and are listed in the 1880 census of Turnersburg, Iredell County, with their young children. Sarah Gaither died 1912-1915. Rufus Gaither died 23 July 1915 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 August 1853 and was a widower. Bertha Farmer was informant.

John Blount‘s barbershop occupied 422 East Nash. 

The three buildings that now occupy this block were built in the 1920s. However, Google Maps shows a modern barbershop operating in the footprint of Blount’s business.