Thanks to my frequent collaborator S.M. Stevens and her grandmother Willia Jones Turner for sharing this document.
Many thanks to John Teel for sharing these images from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. They are catalogued as PhC_196_CW_104H_StAlphonseSchool1, PhC_196_CW_104H_StAlphonseSchool2 and
Lauraetta J. Taylor (1916-1977), daughter of Russell Buxton and Viola Gaither Taylor, was a legendary women’s basketball coach at Fayetteville State University. A gymnasium on campus is named in her honor.
Pittsburgh Courier, 26 March 1977.
In the 1920 census of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina: on Johnston Bow, preacher Russell B. Taylor, 35; wife Viola, 31, seamstress; and children Beatrice, 7, Janett, 5, and Sarah, 1.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on East Nash Street, Methodist minister Russell B. Taylor, 48, widower; children Laura, 14, Sarah, 11, Christopher, 7, and William, 4; daughter Beatrice Barnes, 18, public school teacher, and her son Elroy, 1; and lodgers Cora Speight, 49, laundress, and Mamie Williams, 30, ironer, and Roscoe McCoy, 32, farm laborer.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 536 East Nash, preacher and public school teacher Russell B. Taylor, 52; children Loretta, 23, and Sarah, 21, both teachers, Leonard, 16, and William, 14; grandson Elroy Barnes, 11; and lodgers Isiar Jones, 36, Virginia-born construction laborer; Mitchell Frazier, 32, South Carolina-born truck driver; John Baldwin, 29, Lumberton, N.C.-born tobacco redrying factory laborer, and his wife Clyde, 26, a native of Wilmington, N.C.
1939 edition of The Ayantee, the yearbook of North Carolina State A.&T. University in Greensboro. Taylor’s sister Sarah G. Taylor graduated from A.&T. that year.
Wilson Daily Times, 22 March 1935.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Warren Street, Hester Haskins, 56; and children Estella, 18, Annie, 22, Martha, 36, Ernest, 21, Ambroga, 17, Damp, 12, and [grandson] Joseph, 8.
On 15 November 1922, George Pitt, 31, of Nash County, son of Wiley Pitt and Ida McNair, married Martha Haskins, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Damp and Hester Haskins. James Haskins applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister John A. Mebane performed the ceremony in the presence of Glenn S. McBrayer, Jeff Holloway and Eula Farmer.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1200 Wainwright Street, owned and valued at $1700, Damp Haskins, 24, laborer at Coca-Cola plant; wife Sudie B., 21; children Damp Jr., 2, and Hellen, 6 months; widowed mother Hester, 72; brother [nephew] Joseph, 18; Martha Pitt, 52; and nephew Jim R. Haskins, 10.
On 18 February 1931, Jos. F. Haskins, 19, son of Jas. Haskins and Martha H. Pitt, married Beatrice O. Bryant, 17, daughter of Isham and Rossie Bryant. Rev. J.T. Douglas performed the ceremony at Calvary Presbyterian Church in the presence of Judge Mitchell and the Bryants.
In the 1940 census of Washington, D.C.: at 1231 W Street, N.W.: at 1231 W Street N.W., barber John Jones, 37, wife Sarah, 37, and daughter Ruby, 13; and hotel waiter Joseph Haskins, 27, mother Martha, 58, and uncle James, 36, post office department laborer. Both Joseph and Martha reported being divorced, and both had lived in Wilson, North Carolina, five years previously. [Joseph also reported that he had completed three years of college, which suggests that did not finish Johnson C. Smith.]
In 1940, Joseph Franklin Haskins registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he was born 8 January 1913 in Durham, North Carolina; resided at 1231 W Street, N.W.; his contact was mother Martha Whitehead Haskins, 1231 W Street, N.W.; and he worked for Dr. R.M. Williams, 1914 – 11th Street, N.W.
On 11 April 1942, Joseph Franklin Haskins married Florence Windom Green in Washington, D.C.
Joseph Franklin Haskins died 16 September 1983 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Johnson C. Smith University Bulletin (1935), page 109.
Martha Tyson Dixon‘s husband Luke D. Dixon consented to a Federal Writers Project interview, too. His story, starting with his Africa-born grandparents, is electric.
“My father’s owner was Jim Dixon in Elmo County, Virginia. That is where I was born. I am 81 years old. Jim Dixon had several boys — Baldwin and Joe. Joe took some of the slaves his pa gave him, and went to New Mexico to shun the war. Uncle and Pa went in the war as waiters. They went in at the ending up. We lived on the big road that run to the Atlantic Ocean. Not far from Richmond. Ma lived three or four miles from Pa. She lived across big creek — now they call it Farrohs Run. Ma belonged to Harper Williams. Pa’s folks was very good but Ma’s folks was unpleasant.
“Ma lived to be 103 years old. Pa died in 1905 and was 105 years old. I used to set on Grandma’s lap and she told me about how they used to catch people in Africa. They herded them up like cattle and put them in stalls and brought them on the ship and sold them. She said some they captured they left bound till they come back and sometimes they never went back to get them. They died. They had room in the stalls on the boat to set down or lie down. They put several together. Put the men to themselves and the women to themselves. When they sold Grandma and Grandpa at a fishing dock called New Port, Va., they had their feet bound down and their hands bound crossed, up on a platform. They sold Grandma’s daughter to somebody in
“Texas. She cried and she begged to let them be together. They didn’t pay no ‘tension to her. She couldn’t talk but she made them know she didn’t want to be parted. Six years after slavery they got together. When a boat was to come in people come and wait to buy slaves. They had several days of selling. I never seen this but that is the way it was told to me.
“The white folks had a iron clip that fastened the thumbs together and they would swing the man or woman up in a tree and whoop them. I seen that done in Virginia across from where I lived. I don’t know what the folks had done. They pulled the man up with block and tackle.
“Another thing I seen done was put three or four chinquapin switches together green, twist them and dry them. They would dry like a leather whip. They whooped the slaves with them.
“Grandpa was named Sam Abraham and Phillis Abraham was his mate. They was sold twice. Once she was sold away from her husband to a speculator. Well, it was hard on the Africans to be treated like animals. I never heard of the Nat Turner rebellion. I have heard of slaves buying their own freedom. I don’t know how it was done. I have heard of folks being helped to run off. Grandma on mother’s side had a brother run off from Dalton, Mississippi to the North. After the war he come to Virginia.
“When freedom was declared we left and went to Wilmington and Wilson, North Carolina. Dixon never told us we was free but at the end of the year he gave my father a gray mule he had ploughed for a long time and part of the crop. My mother jes
“picked us up and left her folks now. She was cooking then I recollect. Folks jes went wild when they got turned loose.
“My parents was first married under a twenty five cents license law in Virginia. After freedom they was remarried under a new law and the license cost more but I forgot how much. They had fourteen children to my knowing. After the war you could register under any name you give yourself. My father went by the name of Right Dixon and my mother Jilly Dixon.
“The Ku Klux was bad. They was a band of land owners what took the law in hand. I was a boy. I scared to be caught out. They took the place of pattyrollers before freedom.
“I never went to public school but two days in my life. I went to night school and paid Mr. J.C. Price and Mr. S.H. Vick to teach me. My father got his leg shot off and I had to work. It kept me out of meanness. Work and that woman has kept me right. I come to Arkansas, brought my wife and one child, April 5, 1889. We come from Wilson, North Carolina. Her people come from North Carolina and Moultrie, Georgia.
“I do vote. I sell eggs or a little something and keep my taxes paid up. It look like I’m the kind of folks the government would help — them that works and tries hard to have something — but seems like they don’t get no help. They wouldn’t help me if I was bout to starve. I vote a Republican ticket.”
NOTE: On the wall in the dining room, used as a sitting room, was framed picture of Booker T. Washington and Teddy Roosevelt sitting at a round-shaped hotel dining table ready to be
“served. Underneath the picture in large print was “Equality.” I didn’t appear to ever see the picture.
This negro is well-fixed for living at home. He is large and very black, but his wife is a light mulatto with curly, nearly straightened hair.
This is the image that Luke Dixon’s interviewer so studiously ignored. The event it depicted, which scandalized white America in 1901, is the subject of Deborah Davis’ recent book, Guest of Honor: Booker T. Washington, Teddy Roosevelt and the White House Dinner That Shocked a Nation (2012).
I have not found Luke Dixon or his parents in the censuses of Virginia. There is no “Elmo County,” Virginia, but New Port may have been Newport News, which was little more than a fishing village in the antebellum era.
Dixon apparently attended night school at Wilson Academy, but it is not clear when. Joseph C. Price headed the school from 1871 to 1873, when Samuel H. Vick was just a child. Vick assumed the helm at age 21 after graduating from Lincoln University.
I do not know the context of this puzzling letter Rev. Jeremiah Scarborough wrote to the editor of Wilson Times.
Wilson Times, 15 September 1899.
Twenty years later, Scarborough was still preaching the gospel of accommodationism.
Wilson Times, 2 June 1919.
Scarborough is elusive in records, too. He appears in the 1877 edition of Shaw University’s catalog as a Wake Forest native and graduate of its Normal School division. He is also listed in Claude Trotter’s History of the Wake Baptist Association, Its Auxiliaries and Churches, 1866-1966 (1876) as a pastor in 1878 at Wake County’s Friendship Chapel, near Wake Forest.
Signatures are often-overlooked scraps of information that yield not only obvious clues about literacy, but also subtleties like depth and quality of education and preferred names, spellings and pronunciations. They are also, in original documents, tangible traces of our forebears’ corporality — evidence that that they were once here.
This is the fourth in a series of posts featuring the signatures of men and women born before 1900, men and women who could not take even a basic education for granted.
Rev. Joseph C. Price (1854-1893).
“Joseph Charles Price, black educator, orator, and civil rights leader, was born in Elizabeth City to a free mother, Emily Pailin, and a slave father, Charles Dozier. When Dozier, a ship’s carpenter, was sold and sent to Baltimore, Emily married David Price, whose surname Joseph took. During the Civil War, they moved to New Bern, which quickly became a haven for free blacks when it was occupied by Federal troops. In 1863 his mother enrolled him in St. Andrew’s School, which had just been opened by James Walker Hood, the first black missionary to the South and later the bishop of the A.M.E. Zion Church. Price showed such promise as a student at this and other schools that in 1871 he was offered a position as principal of a black school in Wilson. He taught there until 1873, when he resumed his own education at Shaw University in Raleigh with the intention of becoming a lawyer. But he soon changed his mind and transferred to Lincoln University in Pennsylvania to study for the ministry in the A.M.E. Zion Church. He was graduated in 1879 and spent another two years at its theological seminary. During this period, he married Jennie Smallwood, a New Bern resident he had known since childhood. They were the parents of five children.
“In 1881, soon after his ordination, Price was chosen as a delegate to the A.M.E. Ecumenical Conference in London. While there,Bishop Hood urged him to make a speaking tour of England and other parts of Europe to call attention to the plight of black education in the South and, more specifically, to raise funds to establish a black college in North Carolina. His effectiveness as an orator drew large crowds and resulted in contributions of almost $10,000. This, plus the support of white residents of Salisbury, enabled him to establish Livingstone College and to become its president in October 1882, when he was twenty-eight years old. (Originally called Zion Wesley College, its name was changed to that of the African explorer and missionary David Livingstone in 1885.) Sponsored by the A.M.E. Zion Church, Livingstone began with five students, three teachers, and a single two-story building, but it grew rapidly to become one of the South’s most important liberal arts colleges for blacks. Though he encouraged the support of southern whites, such as Josephus Daniels, and philanthropists, such as Leland Stanford and Collis P. Huntington, Price felt that blacks themselves must bear the real responsibility for educating their race. In 1888 he stated that ‘Livingstone College stands before the world today as the most remarkable evidence of self-help among Negroes in this country.’
“Price’s leadership of the college and his ability as an orator gained him national attention. In 1888 President Grover Cleveland asked him to serve as minister to Liberia, though he declined, saying he could do more for his people by remaining in Salisbury. In 1890 he was elected president of both the Afro-American League and the National Equal Rights Convention and named chairman of the Citizens’ Equal Rights Association. But conflict among the groups and lack of financial support led to their decline soon afterwards. Like Booker T. Washington, Price believed that blacks’ self-help through education and economic development was their best hope for solving the race problem, and he assured whites that social integration with them was not among their goals. But he was less conciliatory than Washington in demanding that the civil rights of blacks be upheld. Blacks were willing to cooperate and live peaceably with southern whites, but not at the cost of their own freedom of constitutional guarantees. ‘A compromise,’ he wrote, ‘that reverses the Declaration of Independence, nullifies the national constitution, and is contrary to the genius of this republic, ought not to be asked of any race living under the stars and stripes; and if asked, ought not to be granted.’
“Price’s activist role in civil rights and black education ended abruptly in 1893, when he contracted and died of Bright’s disease at age thirty-nine. He was buried on the campus of Livingstone College. W. E. B. Du Bois, August Meier, and others felt that it was the leadership vacuum created by Price’s death into which Booker T. Washington moved, and that had he lived, the influence and reputation of Price and of Livingstone College would have been as great or greater than that achieved by Washington and Tuskegee.”
Text (citations omitted) from Joseph Charles Price, www.ncpedia.org.