Crime

Pennsylvania prisoners.

  • Bud Wright

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Bud Wright was convicted in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, of “assault and battery to kill” in February 1921 and sentenced to five to seven years. Per his prison record, he was born in Wilson on 26 February 1892; worked as a laborer; was illiterate, having dropped out of third grade at age 12; left home at age 12; occasionally drank to excess; was married with no children; had 26 cents in cash, one pocketbook, and four keys; and his wife Rosie Wright lived at 732 Siegel Street, Philadelphia.

  • William Hall

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William Hall was convicted of second degree murder and sentenced 25 June 1924 in Philadelphia to six to twelve years. Per his prison record, he was born 4 September 1894 in Wilson; had a patch of white hair (a birthmark) above his left eyebrow; worked as a bell boy; left home at age 14; was Baptist; was unmarried; had two shirts and two sleeve buttons; and his sister Ella Wilcher lived at 2424 Oxford Street, Philadelphia.

Hall’s record included a card recording his Bertillon measurements, an early system of criminal identification.

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  • James Foreman

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James Former, alias James Henry Forman, was convicted of larceny and sentenced 11 October 1919 in Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania, to one to three years. Per his prison record, he was born 8 May 1895 in Wilson; occasionally drank too much; worked as a bell boy; left school at age 12 and left home at age 18; was married with no children; had one money belt; and his mother Anna Forman lived at 205 Spruce Street, Wilson.

  • Samuel Ennis

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Samuel Ennis was convicted of assault and battery and aggravated assault and battery and sentenced 2 October 1928 in Philadelphia to two to four years. Per his prison record, he was born 10 March 1890 in Wilson; worked as a laborer; completed the fourth grade; left home at age 15; was Baptist; was unmarried; had 15 cents, one carfare carrier and one key on a ring; and his sister Gertrude Brodie lived at 802 Green Street, Wilson.

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Gertrude Ennis, 18, of Wilson, daughter of Tom and Mariah Ennis, married George Broddie, 21, son of Thornton and Lizzie Brodie, on 15 February 1903 in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Ed McCullers‘ residence in the presence of Ellen Brodie, Ione Holden and Eddie McCullers.

Pennsylvania, Prison, Reformatory, and Workhouse Records, 1829-1971, http://www.ancestry.com.

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

Wilson Mirror, 9 May 1894.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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The negroes are eager to get on the roads.

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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.

A feud of long standing.

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Wilson Advance, 4 March 1881.

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Turner Eatman, 22, married Cherry Woodard, 18, on 9 April 1873 in Wilson, Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township (south of Nash Road), Wilson County: farmer Turner Eatmond, 30; wife Cherry, 23; and brother David, 15.

No Calvin Barnes is found in the neighborhood of John W. Farmer or Turner Eatmon in the1880 census.

The sins of the husband.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 1 March 1930.

After abruptly withdrawing their appeals, J.D. Reid and H.S. Stanback entered the state prison at Raleigh to begin serving five-year sentences for convictions for receiving deposits at Commercial Bank, knowing the institution was insolvent. In so doing, they avoided prosecution on charges of forgery and embezzlement. They also opened a path for Reid’s wife, Eleanor P. Reid, to retain her position as principal of the Colored Graded School.

H.T. Bowers, known for his sinful life, gets saved.

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Wilson Daily Times, 3 February 1922.

Alfred L.E. Weeks was pastor of Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, then located on Hadley Street.

Though he may have been “chief among the gamblers,” H.T. Bowers [not Bowser] did not leave much record in Wilson. He and Bertha Knight were married 30 January 1922 by Rev. Weeks. Per their marriage license, Bowers, 33, was the son of H.T. and Manda Bowers of Wilson County, and Knight, 31, was the daughter of Mahala Knight of Wilson County. The ceremony took place in the presence of F.F. Battle, Mack Bullock and David C. Weeks.

Bowers repented just in time, as he died of typhoid fever on 23 January 1923, a week shy of a year after his marriage. Per his death certificate, he was about 40 years old; was born in Texas; lived at 306 South Street; and was married to Bertha Bowers. Daisy McClain, 306 South, was the informant.