Court Actions

Artis’ Cafe padlocked.

Screen Shot 2018-11-03 at 11.15.18 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 13 February 1939.

  • June Scott Artis — A history of Stantonsburg gave the date of the cafe’s opening as 1947, which apparently was off by at least a decade. It remained in business into the 1960s.
  • Edgar Artis, June S. Artis’ son.
  • Walter Ward — The 6 February 1939 edition of the Wilson Daily Times reported that Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 15 to 18-year sentence.
  • H.B. Swenson — H.B. Swinson died 28 January 1939. Per his death certificate, he was “murdered, knife wound of breast”; was born 18 April 1913 in Greene County to Allen Swinson and Henrietta Applewhite of Greene County; lived i Stantonsburg; and worked in farming.

Goffney bound over.

The Times published a blow-by-blow of the preliminary hearing Wilson mayor E.F. Killette held over the homicide of Blanche Williams. Joe Goffney entered a plea of not guilty, but Killette found sufficient evidence to hold him over for trial in the Superior Court.

Joe Brodie testified first. Goffney, who was married, came with Williams to the house in which she lives. Brodie was in the back room when the shot rang out. Williams staggered out and fell to the floor. Goffney ran out, shouting that he had not known the gun was loaded. Brodie sent for Dr. Mitchner, who declared Williams dead.

Nellie Williams testified that Goffney and Blanche Williams had entered the house laughing and talking. She was in the next room lacing her shoe when she heard the gun fire and heard Goffney say, “I didn’t say a word — or I will kill all of you.” Nellie Williams ran out of the house with one shoe on.

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 6.18.32 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 6.18.48 PM.png

Clifton Johnson also testified that Goffney and B. Williams entered the house talking and laughing. Johnson said he saw the gun on the center table when he entered and did not know to whom it belonged. (Neither Brodie nor N. Williams corroborated this, saying that as far as they knew there had been no gun in the house.) Goffney picked up the gun and said “let me see it.” Johnson’s back was turned to them when Goffney fired. Goffney did not say anything “out of the way” to Williams. The remark about “killing them all” came after the shooting. Goffney told them to get a doctor, then left the house. He gave Johnson the gun, who threw it away.

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 6.19.07 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 6.19.24 PM.png

“Colored physician” William Mitchner testified that he found Blanche Williams on the porch dead. The bullet had struck her in the chin, breaking her lower jaw, and exited the back of her neck, possibly fracturing her spine. In his opinion, Goffney was standing directly in front of Williams when he fired, and the bullet’s trajectory was slightly downward.

Clifton Johnson was recalled to testify that he and Goffney were on the same side of the table, and he was behind Williams.

Goffney testified that Clarence Johnson carried concealed weapons. [Is this Clifton? Or a different man?] Clarence had placed a magazine and .32 cartridges on the table.

Officer Weathersbee testified that he and Officer Sikes asked Johnson for the gun, and Johnson said he had thrown it in the pea patch. Johnson admitted the gun was his, and it had not been found.

Clarence Johnson denied telling Weathersbee the gun was his. He did not own a gun. Goffney was mistaken when he said Johnson had pulled the gun from his pocket and that there had been a magazine on the table. Johnson works at an express office and borrowed a holster from a fellow employee. He did not borrow a gun. The holster is in a bureau drawer at his house. Mayor Killette interjected that the holster had been found between the bed[frame] and mattress in Johnson’s room. Johnson could not explain why he borrowed a holster.

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 6.19.41 PM.png

Joe Lee denied seeing Goffney take a pistol from Johnson’s pocket. Apparently, Nettie Williams did, too. Johnson’s mother testified that he did not own a gun and had not brought one to the house the night of the killing.

Johnson’s lawyer F.D. Swindell argued that in the excitement of the moment, it was perfectly natural for Johnson to throw away the gun Goffney gave him. The only evidence that the gun was his was Goffney’s testimony, which was inherently biased.

The mayor was satisfied that Johnson had borrowed the pistol and bound him over as a material witness and for carrying a concealed weapon. He fined Johnson $75 and set his bond for $500. Goffney was sent to jail to await trial.

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 6.19.56 PM.png

Screen Shot 2018-09-29 at 6.20.14 PM.png

Wilson Times, 30 September 1921.

  • Joe Goffney — Was Joe Goffney convicted? I have not found a follow-up, but the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists: Goffney Joseph tobwkr [tobacco worker] h 206 Manchester. This is likely the Joseph Goffney listed in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Lemon Barnes, 51; wife Dollie Ann, 51; children Ida, 26, Lemon Jr., 20, Mattie, 17, Charlie, 15, and Howard, 12; stepsons Cornelius Neal, 11, Paul Goffney, 17, and Joseph Goffney, 15; and grandson Sylvester Barnes, 6.
  • Blanche Williams — Per her death certificate, Blanch Williams was 24 years old; single; resided on Stantonsburg Street; and worked as a common laborer. She was born in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Wash Smith and Laura Williams, and Selena Craig of Goldsboro was informant. Her cause of death: “revolver wound of head (probably accidental).” [A 26 September 1921 Times article about the shooting reported that Williams was married and lived in Goldsboro, but had come to Wilson to work briefly in domestic service. She had planned to return to Goldsboro the week she was shot. She had been “going with” Goffney while in Wilson, and jealousy was believed to be at the root of the violence. Unnamed witnesses heard Goffney tell Williams, “If you go with that man, I will kill you,” as they walked to Joe Lee’s home. As Williams walked out of the house to return home, Goffney called her back in and shot her.]

  • Joe Brodie — possibly Josephine Brodie listed in the 1922 city directory as a student living at 303 Mercer Street.
  • Nellie Williams
  • Clifton/Clarence Johnson — perhaps the Clifton Johnson listed in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as a porter living at 118 Ashe Street.
  • Dr. Mitchner — William A. Mitchner.
  • Joe Lee — possibly Joseph Lee listed in the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory as a factory hand living at 115 Manchester Street. [However, the 26 September Times article identified Joe Lee and Joe Brodie as the same person, a woman.]
  • F.D. Swindell — lawyer Fred D. Swindell.
  • W.A. Finch — lawyer William Atlas Finch.
  • Mayor Killette — mayor Edwin F. Killette Sr.
  • Officer Weathersbee
  • Officer Sikes

They gave him a good switching.

Three African-American men were tried and convicted, but given only nominal punishment for whipping a white man whose common-law wife was a black woman.

BAA 1 28 1921.png

Baltimore Afro-American, 28 January 1921.

——

  • James Elons
  • Bill Artis
  • Edgar Artis
  • Melissa Wilkins

Liquor bust.

201805211127588084.jpg

201805211131229344.jpg

Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1944.

  • Clarence Barnes
  • Mark Jenkins — on 17 October 1944, the Daily Times reported that Jenkins received one year’s probation for a liquor law violation.
  • Gus Armstrong — the same article reported that Armstrong was sentenced to a year and a day at the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary for a liquor law violation.
  • Sam Moore — Moore also received a year and a day at Atlanta.

Unemployment fraud?

On 30 April 1938, the Pittsburgh Courier reported that three African-American Wilson women were facing fraud and misrepresentation charges connected with unemployment compensation applications. Though the details of their alleged crimes are not listed, the article notes that several others had recently been penalized after refusing employment in strawberry fields.

Pittsburgh Courier, 30 April 1938.

  • Maggie Rogers — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: perhaps, at 705 Dew Street, high school lunchroom cook Maggie Rogers, 40, and her sons Phillip Henry, 18, a tobacco factory laborer, Millard Jr., 16, and Coach V., 14.
  • Lena Kirby
  • Tiny Hobbs Jefferson — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: fertilizer plant laborer Tom Jefferson, 43; wife Tiny, 32; and children George, 12, Lena, 10, Tom Jr., 4, and Momynise, 2.

Fined $10 for cursing out the boss in the street.

Wilson Mirror, 9 May 1894.

——

Julia Battle, 19, of the Town of Wilson, daughter of Lewis Battle, married Thomas Day, 24, of the Town of Wilson, on 30 November 1892 at the bride’s father’s house. Presbyterian minister L.J. Melton performed the ceremony in the presence of J.J. Wilson and J.W. Rogers.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Thomas Day, 33, tobacco stemmer; wife Julia B., 27, laundry woman; and boarders James Barham, 25, teamster, John H. Gregory, 19, tobacco stemmer, and Donald Rankin, 17, tobacco stemmer.

 

Surprise verdicts?

Just after Christmas 1948, an all-white jury acquitted Woodrow Taylor, a white service station operator, in the murder of Hugh Bynum, a black man.

In a nutshell: Bynum and Taylor had a “conversation” about a pack of cigarettes. Bynum stepped out of the store. Taylor followed and asked, “You don’t think I’ll kill you?” Bynum said no. Taylor went back in and returned with a shotgun. Again: “You don’t think I’ll kill you?” And shot Bynum in the chest. Or, “the gun went off” — Taylor said it fired accidentally when he tried to set it down on a “cold drink crate.” And he denied aggressively questioning Bynum. The jury believed him.

201803021452310625.jpg

Wilson Daily Times, 29 December 1948.

Bynum was not the only black man whose manner of death went before a jury that day. On 7 October 1947, William Cooper was thrown into the street at Nash and Pender Streets when M.O. Tripp, driving drunk, struck his wagon. Cooper died two weeks of later of injuries sustained, and Tripp was charged with manslaughter. The Daily Times reported the verdict in this case the next day. Surprise.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 December 1948.

——

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Lynn Bynum, 70; wife Lena, 50; and children Patience, 18, Lynn, 8, Harvey, 6, Hubert, 5, and Bunny, 3.

In 1940, Hubert Bynum registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born in 1915 in Edgecombe County; resided at Route 1, Stantonsburg, Wilson County; and his contact and employer was his first cousin Jack Bynum. He was described as “feeble-minded” with a “displaced eye.”

S123_335-1060.jpg

——

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: William F. Cooper, 43, delivery man for ice and coal company; wife Lillie, 30, cook; and step-daughter Anna Bobbitt, 16.

S123_329-2153.jpg

The negroes are eager to get on the roads.

Screen Shot 2018-03-10 at 7.24.10 PM

Pittsburgh Courier, 2 March 1935.

In the 1940 census of Raleigh, Wake County: Alex Morrison, 35, of Wilson was listed as an inmate of North Carolina State Penitentiary.

Alex Morrison died 24 December 1969 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1904 to Fannie Bethea; was a widower; resided at 310 Hackney Street; and had worked as a laborer. Katie Farmer of Route 1, Elm City was informant.