Education

Doctors in the house.

Again, for a town whose population did not hit 10,000 until 1920 (of which only half were black), Wilson produced an astounding number of African-American physicians in the last decades of the nineteenth century and first few of the twentieth century. To the ranks of Drs. Joseph Henry WardCharles Hudson Bynum, William Henry BryantJohn Wesley Darden, James Thomas Suggs, Walter Theodore Darden, James Alexander Battle, James Arthur Cotton, John Clemon Williamson and Rolland Tyson Winstead, add four grandsons of Della Hines Barnes — Drs. Boisey O. Barnes, William C. Hines, Walter D. Hines and Clifton R. Hines.

African-American physicians who practiced in Wilson prior to World War II, but were born elsewhere, included: George W. Williams, Frank Settle HargraveWilliam Arthur Mitchner, Michael Edmund Dubissette, William H. Atkinson Jr., Thomas Clinton Tinsley, Matthew Stanley Gilliam Sr., and Joseph Franklin Cowan.

Native-born dentists from this period, none of whom practiced in Wilson, included Paul L. Jackson, Christopher L. Taylor and James D. Reid, while William H. Phillips, Lee C. Jones and George K. Butterfield Sr. settled in the community from elsewhere.

Simms’ Blue Book and National Negro Business & Professional Directory (1923).

Walter Dortch Hines, U. of Michigan A.B. ’30, M.D. ’33.

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Walter D. Hines, son of Walter S. and Sarah Dortch Hines, received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan in 1930 and a medical degree from the same in institution in 1933. Above, his senior portrait as it appears in the university’s 1930 yearbook. Below, the 1933 yearbook.

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 30; wife Sarah, 29; children Elizabeth, 2, and Walter D., 8 months; and boarder Inez Moore, 31, a school teacher.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 40, wife Sara, 37, Elizabeth, 11, Walter Jr., 10, and Carl, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 50, wife Sarah, 48, and children Elizabeth, 21, Walter, 20, Carl W., 16, and Clifton R., 7.

In the 1931 edition of Polk’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, Directory: Hines Walter D student 1003 E Huron

In the 1933 edition of Polk’s Ann Arbor, Michigan, Directory: Hines Walter D student 1005 Catherine

On 2 January 1938, the Pittsburgh Courier carried this announcement of the marriage between Walter D. Hines and Cadence Lee Baker, formerly of Chicago, and her ascension into the haute mode of Detroit’s black elite:

The Hineses had been married for some time, however, as they appear in the 1936 Durham, N.C., city directory; Walter working as a physician and Cadence as a stenographer for North Carolina Mutual.

In 1940, Walter Dortsch Hines registered for the World War II draft in Detroit, Michigan. Per his registration card, he was born 17 July 1909 in Wilson, North Carolina; he resided at 7068 Michigan [Avenue], Detroit; he was a self-employed physician at the above address; his next-of-kin was mother Sarah Elizabeth Hines, 617 East Greene, Wilson; he was 5’10’, 154 lbs., with blue eyes and brown hair; he had a dark complexion; and he had a scar on the dorsal aspect of his left hand.

On 27 April 1946, the Pittsburgh Courier printed a photo (so dark as to be useless) of the Detroit Hineses visit to Los Angeles, where Elizabeth Hines Eason and her husband Newell lived. Sarah Dortch Hines crossed the country from Wilson to join her children. Within two years, Walter and Cadence Hines had relocated to California.

Per the 1960 California Board of Medical Examiners Directory, Hines was licensed to practice in California in 1948 and maintained an office at 4830 Avalon Boulevard, Los Angeles.

Dr. Walter D. Hines died 6 February 1996 in Los Angeles.

Frederick Douglass resurrected.

“We have a righted a wrong”: Board votes to name elementary school for Frederick Douglass

By Drew C. Wilson, Wilson Daily Times, 19 February 2018.

The Wilson County Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to rename Elm City Elementary School after abolitionist Frederick Douglass.

All six board members supported the proposal. Board member Robin Flinn was absent from the meeting.

“I am just proud of them for understanding and knowing that it was time,” said Alice Freeman, a 1964 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and a former president of the Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association.

The effort to rename the school was led by alumni association members who have made multiple requests to adopt the Douglass name going back to the early 1970s.

“I am very happy and I am just so proud of our organization and the hard work that it took,” Freeman said. “I am just really proud of the school board because they realized the importance of it. They realized our contributions. They realized that after 40 years, almost 50 years, we have remained active. We’ve got good folks and we are going to move forward with this. We’re just excited.”

Bill Myers, a former teacher at Frederick Douglass High School, said after the decision that it was hard to put his feelings at the moment into words.

“I can’t even express it really. We have righted a wrong,” Myers said.

“The question should have been ‘Why change the name in the first place?’ So to do it now is just electrifying,” Myers said.

Elm City Elementary has been named after the community in which it is located since 1970, when integration began in Wilson County. The school was named Frederick Douglass High School from 1939 to 1969. During that time it was attended by members of the African-American population in Wilson County. In 1970, former Frederick Douglass students joined students at Elm City High School to form an integrated school.

Though Elm City Elementary has undergone multiple renovations since 1970, two major portions of the school, the auditorium and the gymnasium, were originally part of Frederick Douglass High School.

The original Douglass auditorium.

The Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association has a long history of financial support of Elm City Elementary and Elm City Middle.

“I’m just tickled to death, particularly for all those kids that were here tonight and the association that has been doing so much to promote and keep the thing going,” Myers said. “They have been giving away money, scholarships, everything, every year and this is why I wanted to be here to do this, for them.”

Myers said he felt a major part of this effort to rename the school and regain the 30-year legacy of the high school.

“This was my first teaching job over here and I feel very much still a part of it,” Myers said. “I am happy for them. I am happy that this board could see through that and try to rectify something that happened that was definitely wrong.”

According to Lane Mills, superintendent of Wilson County Schools, costs associated with changing the name of Elm City Elementary School would be about $11,353.

The costs would include $4,317 for staff long-sleeve and short-sleeve T-shirts, $2,500 for a new school marquee, $800 for a new school sign, $704 to replace the rugs at the entrances, $450 for new checks, receipts, a deposit stamp, $450 for new PTO checks and deposit slips, $250 for school pencils, $200 for school stamps and $200 for ink pens, plus other miscellaneous items.

The original Douglass gymnasium.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, August 2019.

Music lessons.

Though this image of Sister Antonio Spruill of Oblate Sisters of Providence was taken in the 1950s, just beyond the range of Black Wide Awake, it’s really just too great not to be included here. Barbara Farmer, at far left, identified the other girls as Josephine Collins, Gail Peacock, JoAnn Jenkins and Wilter Davis. (Thank you!)

“Music Class St. Alphonsus School in Wilson, N.C.”

In 1947, per the city directory, Saint Alphonsus Catholic School operated from 600 East Green Street, the large two-story house at the corner of Pender Street built for J.D. and Eleanor Reid. By 1950, the house was a nunnery for the Oblate Sisters.

Founded in 1828, the Oblate Sisters of Providence was the first permanent community of Roman Catholic sisters of African descent in the United States. Though small, the order remains active.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 May 1946.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 September 1948.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Women are best.

While director of the University of North Carolina Press, W. T. Couch also worked as a part-time official of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration, serving as assistant and associate director for North Carolina (1936-1937) and as director for the southern region (1938-1939). The Federal Writers’ Project Papers are housed at U.N.C.’s Southern Historical Collection and include Couch’s correspondence and life histories of about 1,200 individuals collected by F.W.P. members. At least two African-American residents of Wilson, Georgia Crockett Aiken and William Batts, were memorialized in this way. 

Folder 324 contains the transcript of the interview with Georgia Crockett Aiken, titled “Women are best.”

The first page is a key to the pseudonyms used in the transcript.

Georgia Aiken is mistakenly described as white. She lived at 120 Pender Street in Wilson. When her interview began, she was in her kitchen directing the work of two children who were cleaning the house. She was born in 1872 into a family of ten children, all of whom were dead except her. [The family had lived in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and Georgia’s brothers included Alexander and James Crockett.]

Georgia Aiken grew up near a school and, because both her parents were wage-earners, was able to attend through the ninth grade. She obtained a teaching certificate and started teaching in 1889 a one-room school “out in the country.” She made $25 a month for teaching seven grades and reminisced on the hardships — and reward — of serving the children of the community.

In 1908, Georgia Aiken arrived in Wilson. She started high school coursework [where? the Colored High School did not open until 1924] and received a big raise when she completed it. She taught for 48 years, all told.

She dated John Aiken for two years before they married. Aiken owned a prosperous livery stable, and the couple saved their money to build a house. When they bought the Pender Street lot, a widow lived with her children in a small house there. [A 1905 plat map shows John Aiken already owned a lot on Pender Street. Was it a different one?] John Aiken died before the house was completed [in 1914] and Georgia Aiken took over the business.

Though worried about finances, Georgia Aiken went ahead with plans to build. The livery business did well until “automobiles came in.” She sold the business at a loss and turned her attention to teaching and caring for her house.

The writer described Aiken’s kitchen in deep detail.

Her “cook stove … finished in blue porcelain” was probably much like this one, found in an on-line ad:

Aiken continued, speaking of training her helper, her standards for housekeeping and food preparation, and her preference for paying cash.

And then: “I might as well say that I voted in the last city elections and have voted ever since woman’s suffrage has come in, and I expect to as long as I can get to the polls. I would like to see some women run for some of the town offices. I think they’re just as capable as the men who set themselves up so high and mighty. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if women didn’t get more and more of the high positions in the near future. …”

And: churches and government are run by rings, and “if you don’t stand in well with these, you don’t stand a chance.”

“I believe the women do more in church work than men.”

Georgia Aiken took in boarders at her home on Pender Street and always tried to make her “guests feel at home.” “When times are good and business is stirring” — likely, she meant during tobacco market season — “I always have my house full.” In slow times, though, it was hard to meet expenses. Taxes were due and though she knew she would make the money to pay them in the fall, she hated to incur fees.

Aiken paid her helper in board and clothes only, though she wished she could pay wages. If she stayed long enough, Aiken would consider leaving her some interest in the property after her death, though her niece in New York might object. She lamented a long delay in repainting the exterior of the house, but had plans to do so.

The writer described the house’s rooms and furnishings, mentioning their wear and age. Aiken indicated her preference for “clean decent folks” as tenants. She had two baths in the house and hot water from the stove for both. She could not afford to install steam heat when the house was being built and rued the dustiness of coal.

“Helping anyone in need is being nice to anyone, and the one that helps me most during the few years that I’ve left in this life is the one I hope to remember with the most of what I leave when I’m called to the life to come.”

A summary:

Georgia Crockett Aikens died 17 August 1939 in Wilson, apparently just a few months after giving this interview. Per her death certificate, she was 67 years old, born in Wayne County to William Crockett and Rachel Powell, resided at 120 Pender Street in Wilson, and was married to John Aikens.

“Federal Writers’ Project Papers, 1936-1940, Collection No. 03709.” The Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Coley receives a degree in library science.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 June 1947.

Elizabeth Pauleze Coley was almost certainly the first, and perhaps the only, African-American native of Wilson to graduate what is now Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. A 1940 graduate of Charles H. Darden High School, she received her first degree from North Carolina College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) in 1944.

Coley married Kelly Winslow Bryant of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and eventually migrated to suburban Washington, D.C. Though it’s not clear whether she ever worked in Wilson — the main library on West Nash Street was whites-only in 1947, and the tiny Negro branch remained a fledgling — Elizabeth Pauleze Coley Bryant did become a librarian.

Roundtable (1969), the yearbook of Frank W. Ballou High School, Washington, D.C.

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Elizabeth P. Coley was born 1 May 1923 in Wilson to David Henry Coley and Eva Jane Speight.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 930 [sic, 931] Carolina Street, barber Henry Coley, 48; wife Eva, 46, teacher; and children James, 16, Eva, 15, and Elizabeth, 13. [The ages of this entire family are off. David H. Coley was in fact about; Eva, about 30; Elizabeth, about 6; and Eva, about 4.]

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 East Green, rented for $15/month, barber Henry D. Coley, 44; wife Eva J., 39, teacher in public schools; and daughters Elizabeth P., 16, Grace L., 14, and Eva E., 10.

In the 1948 Rocky Mount, North Carolina, city directory: Bryant Kelly W (c; Pauleze; Wright’s Chick Shack) r 522 Raleigh rd

 

Lynching going on, and there are men trying to stand in with the white folks.

Charles Stump was the pen name of Kentucky-born journalist Charles Stewart (1869-1925). By 1914, Stewart was working for the Associated Press and the National Baptist Convention and was known as “the press agent of the Negro race.” As Stump, Stewart reported to The Broad Axe, a black Chicago newspaper, his impressions of the areas through which he traveled. His 1918 sojourn through North Carolina coincided with the boycott of Wilson Colored Graded School.

Stump misreported principal J.D. Reid‘s name as A.D. Reed, but spared no words in describing his disdain for Reid’s conduct — “It is a small man who would strike a woman, but they have it down fine in Wilson, N.C., and if it is kept up much longer there will be some going home, but which home I am not prepared to say myself …. I never want to see a white man strike one of our best women in this world, for I would just then send word to the angels to dust my wings for I will be on my way for them, and then send word to the devil to heat the furnace just a little hotter, for I have started some one to take quarters therein.” Mary Euell, on the other hand, received her full due as “a refined, cultured, christian woman” with the “dignity of a queen.”

Stump’s account contains new details of Reid’s actions and the startling news that Reed’s karmic redress included the public slap of his ten year-old daughter Thelma by white merchant W.D. Ruffin.

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The Broad Axe (Chicago, Ill.), 26 July 1919.

The Redd-Moore wedding.

An account of the wedding of Dr. James H. Redd to Inez Emily Moore, who had been a teacher at Wilson Colored Graded School for the past four years.

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The New York Age, 28 September 1911.

  • Inez Emily Moore– in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 30; wife Sarah, 29; children Elizabeth, 2, and Walter D., 8 months; and boarder Inez Moore, 31, a school teacher.
  • Dr. James H. Redd
  • Prof. Chas. H. Moore — Charles H. Moore, organizer of the National Negro Business League and close associate of Booker T. Washington. Moore accompanied Washington during the latter’s historic 1910 visit to Wilson.
  • Anna L. Bullock
  • Prof. Chas. Stewart
  • Elizabeth Hines
  • Uhlma and Edith Moore
  • Rev. W.H. Goler — William H. Goler, educator, church leader, and president of Livingstone College.