The obituary of Rev. J.O. Vick, A.M.E. minister.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 May 1945.

A.M.E. minister James Oscar Frank Vick, died just a year before his eldest brother Samuel H. Vick.


In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: grist mill worker Daniel Vick, 38; wife Fannie, 35; children Samuel, 16, Nettie, 14, Earnest Linwood, 12, Henry, 10, and James O.F., 8; plus boarders (nephews) Frank O., 20, and Marcus W. Blount, 26.

O.F. Vick is listed as a second-year English student, Preparatory Department, in the 1892-1893 catalogue of Biddle University [now Johnson C. Smith University], Charlotte, North Carolina.

I have not determined when Vick graduated from Gordon Theological Seminary, but by 1902, he was well-established in the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Boston District.

Boston Globe, 10 June 1902.

On 30 June 1903, the Fall River Evening News reported that J.O. Vick had been transferred the A.M.E.’s New York Metropolitan District. His first known pastoral assignment was at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Kinderhook, N.Y., just south of Albany.

Courtesy of Dennis Dickerson’s The Past Is In Your Hands: Writing Local A.M.E. Church History (1989).

New York Age, 2 February 1905.

In mid-1906, a Brooklyn newspaper noted that Rev. Vick had taken charge of Bethel A.M.E. in Freeport, New York, on Long Island.

The Brooklyn Daily Times (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 21 July 1906.

By 1909, Rev. Vick led yet another Bethel, this time in Olean, New York, about 40 miles south of Buffalo.

Times Herald (Olean, N.Y.), 31 March 1909.

In the 1910 census of Olean, Cattaraugus County, New York: clergyman James O. Vick, 40, boarder in the household of Willard, a day laborer, and Frances Reaze, who were white.

Buffalo Evening News, 28 February 1910.

Between 1910 and 1914, Rev. Vick married Ella Ruth Reeves and assumed duties at Emmanuel A.M.E. in Montclair, New Jersey.

In the 1914 Montclair, New Jersey, city directory: Vick James O Mrs nurse h 26 Myrtle av; also, Vick James O Rev pastor Emmanuel AME  Church h 26 Myrtle av

In the 1915 state census of Montclair, New Jersey: at 14 Miller, clergyman James O. Vick, 34, and wife Ella R., 29.

Rev. Vick held refreshingly progressive views:

“Why I Am Going to Vote for Equal Suffrage, By Fifty Montclair Men,” The Montclair Times, 2 October 1915. 

Between 1915 and 1918, the family moved again, this time to Easton, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles north of Philadelphia on the Delaware River.

In 1918, Rev. James Oscar Vick registered for the World War i draft in Easton. Per his registration card, he was born 10 March 1874; lived at 416 Canal, Easton; was minister of the gospel at Union A.M.E. Church, 439 Ferry, Easton; and his nearest relative was Mrs. Ella Ruth Vick.

Rev. Vick’s signature on his draft card.

During the first half of the 1920s, Rev. Vick pastored at several A.M.E. churches in northern New Jersey, including Mount Teman in Elizabeth and Heard in Roselle, but settled in Princeton by 1926.

In 1920 census of Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey: M.E. Church pastor James O. Vick, 46; wife Ruth, 36; servant Emma Robins, 22; and niece Fanny M. Vick, 10. [Like her uncle, Fanny Vick was born in North Carolina. I’m not sure whose daughter she was.]

In the 1920 Montclair, New Jersey, city directory: Vick James O Rev rem to Easton Pa

In the 1921 Elizabeth, New Jersey, city directory: Vick James O Rev pastor Mt Teman AME Church h 16 S Union

In the 1926 Asbury Park, New Jersey, city directory: Vick J Oscar h 126 Atkins av

In the 1927 and 1928 Princeton, N.J., city directory: Vick J Oscar pastor Mt Pisgah AME Church h 22 Jackson; also, Vick Mrs J Oscar (Ella R) 22 Jackson

In the 1930 census of Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey: clergyman James O. Vick, 49; wife Ella R., 35; and adopted son Victor, 0, a “foundling.”

In the 1931, 1932 and 1933 Princeton, N.J., city directories: Vick J Oscar (Ella R) pastor Mt Pisgah AME Ch h 10 McLean [Sidenote: Mount Pisgah’s modest former parsonage at 10 McLean Street is now valued at more than a million dollars.]

In the late 1930s, Rev. Vick assumed his last assignment at Trinity A.M.E. Church in Long Branch, New Jersey.

Asbury Park Press, 5 March 1941.


Elba Street school?

It was not until I puzzled over this out loud that I realized that the new school referred to in this article was on Elvie Street, not Elba. Sallie Barbour School was the nearby former Colored Graded School, and U.S. Highway 301 was what we now know as South Pender Street.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 April 1949.

[Sidenote: by time I entered Coon Junior High School in the fall of 1977, the annex described here, though only thirty years old, was distinctly decrepit. It was demolished a couple of years later.]

County Commission gives in, buys more buses for rural schools.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1941.

In March 1941, after repeated complaints by “a delegation of negroes,” Wilson County Commissioners were forced to supply two additional school buses to alleviate severe overcrowding on the buses ferrying children to and from the county’s two Black high schools, Elm City and Williamson. A state school commission inspection disclosed that the two buses serving Elm City were carrying 280 children a day on a route that wove across the top half of the county. (Children were picked up in dangerously overcrowded shifts, which resulted in forces tardiness and absences for many.)

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The obituary of Mamie Battle Ford, teacher.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 November 1946.


Earnestine Ford died 10 November 1916 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was five months old; was born in Wilson to Curtis Ford of Dillon County, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, N.C. Curtis Ford, 605 East Green Street, was informant.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Clarcy Williams, 50; roomer Curtis Ford, 37, house carpenter; nephew [sic] Mamie Ford, 24; and roomer Lias L., 4, and Quincey B. Ford, 2. [Mamie Battle Ford was the daughter of Clarissa Williams’ half-brother Richard Battle.]

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 407 Carroll, rented for $12/month, Curtis Ford, 52; sons Quincey, 20, and Harvey G., 19; wife Mayme, 42; son-in-law Liston Sellers, 22; daughter Leah, 22; and granddaughter Yvette Sellers, 2.

In 1940, Quincey Ford registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 23 October 1918 in Wilson; lived at 910 East Green Street; his contact was mother Mamye Ford; and he was employed by E.B. Pittman, 509 East Nash Street.

In 1942, Harvey Gray Ford registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 8 January 1921 in Wilson; lived at 910 East Green Street; his contact was mother Mamie Ford; and he was unemployed. His card is marked: “Dead Cancelled Feb. 19, 1943.”

Harvey Gray Ford died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 January 1921 in Wilson, N.C., to Curtis Ford of Dillon, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Mamie Ford, 910 East Green Street, was informant.

Mamie Battle Ford died 14 November 1946 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, she was born 29 November 1892 in Wayne County to Richard Battle and Leah [Coley] Battle; was married to Curtis Ford; was engaged in teaching; and was buried in Rest Haven Cemetery.

Quincy Ford died 2 December 1965 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 October 1918 in North Carolina to Curtis Ford and Mamie Battle Ford; lived at 2037 Master Street, Philadelphia; was a machine operator; and was married to Helen Ford.

Williamson School P.T.A., 1942.

This remarkable photograph was taken in 1942 at a Williamson High School Parent-Teacher Association meeting. Williamson had opened the year before as the third Black high school in Wilson County.

As identified by Oazie Mitchell and friends, seated on the front row: Isaac Renfrow, Arabella Greenfield Renfrow, Paul H. Jones, Calvin Jones (squatting), Gertrude Creech Jones, Joe Kent, Cleo Newsome, Otis Newsome, Pauline Kent, Cleveland Mitchell, Addie Lee Kent, Bud Atkinson, Ida Mae Finch, unidentified, Mattie Shelley, Leona Jones, and unidentified. Second row: Annie Mitchell, Carlester Mitchell, Addie Creech, Luther Creech, Irene Jones, Jim L. Jones, Lillie Powell, Luther Wilder, Doretha Finch, Doris Finch, Roy Shelley, Ada Carter Locus, Carl Locus, Ida Carter Brockington, and Annie Barham.

Photo shared by Tondra Talley, whose grandparents Paul and Gertrude Jones and many other relatives are depicted. Thank you! 

Rosenwald Day.

Wilson Daily Times, 5 March 1932.


Wilson Colored High School (later Darden High School) observed a day honoring Julius Rosenwald, whose charitable foundation funded the school’s construction.

  • O.N. Freeman Jr. — Oliver N. Freeman Jr.
  • Lillian Whitfield
  • Zelma Arrington 
  • Alice Thigpen
  • Alma Lucas — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Jones Street, South Carolina-born drayman Henry Lucas, 35; wife Mamie, 35; and children James, 16, Leroy, 14, Milton, 12, Lucille, 10, Alma, 5, Margret, 6, and Charles, 2.
  • Alcestia Langley — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: grocery store merchant Jarrette J. Langley, 51; wife Mary, 49; and children Mary, 21, Esmond, 18, grocery store delivery boy, Ruttena, 16, Alcesta, 14, and Eunice, 8.
  • Mildred Jones
  • Mabel Williams –probably, in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Williams, 55; wife Mary C., 58; and children William, 25, Mable, 16, Sarah J., 17, and James Jr., 18.
  • Principal W.H.A. Howard


The penny milk program.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 February 1943.

My father, Rederick C. Henderson, who attended Vick Elementary School from 1940 to 1944, recalled the half-pint milk program: “… they’d give you a little thing of milk [that] cost a penny. You shake it up. Shake it up. It’d be in a bottle. And then that much butter would come to the top. That’s what we used to get.” 

Interview with R.C. Henderson by Lisa Y. Henderson, 2001, all rights reserved. Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Sallie B. Howard School centers local history.

I stopped by Sallie B. Howard School of Arts & Science to check out its recently installed Black Wilson Hall of Fame. The series pulls from Black Wide-Awake to introduce important historic local heroes to a new generation of black and brown children. But the Howard School went further, introducing the material to its young scholars in daily announcements and developing lesson plans for its teachers to use to in-depth discussions of the material. I’d hoped when I started BWA to provide a well from which my community could draw a better understanding of itself, and I’m honored to collaborate with SBHS this Black History Month!

Want to know more about Sallie B. Howard School? Its website describes its history and purpose:

Established in 1989, YEP (Youth Enrichment Program) of Wilson, Inc. is a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational and cultural organization inspired by the legendary educator and playwright Mrs. Sallie Baldwin Howard and founded by Dr. JoAnne Woodard, a licensed psychologist and Wilson native.

From the very beginning, this work was a labor of love. YEP began as a volunteer grassroots initiative devoted to breaking the cycle of drugs, crime, truancy and teenage pregnancy in low-income communities. The organization developed educational programs — summer camps, community choirs, workshops for boys, rites of passage training, parent education seminars and more –- to build self-confidence and raise the achievements and aspirations of local youth.

For 8 consecutive summers, YEP served over 400 children each year thanks to the support of area churches, elected officials and community leaders. The program’s impact was immediate: Wilson saw a decline in juvenile crime during the summers and demand for enrollment created long waiting lists.

After just a few years, it became clear that YEP needed a more permanent year-round presence in the community. The organization went on to apply for and win one of North Carolina’s first contracts to operate a public charter school. Thus, in 1997, the Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts & Education (SBHS) was born.

Two decades later, SBHS serves over 1,000 students in grades K-8 and features a performing arts-based curriculum, a travel abroad program, and a culturally diverse faculty. In 2020, the school will expand to include the SBH High School of Biotechnology and the Fine Arts.

Thank you, Dr. JoAnne Woodard and Saptosa Foster!