Entertainment

Wilson news.

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New York Age, 16 September 1922.

  • The Wilson Church — I am not aware of any surviving issues of this newspaper.
  • Rev. Mebane — John A. Mebane. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mebane  Jno A Rev (c; Rachel) Mt Siani [Sinai] Missionary Baptist Ch h 1008 Woodard av
  • Rev. A.H. George — Arthur H. George.
  • Ruth Whitehead Whaley — Ruth W. Whaley was a native of Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per Wikipedia, Whitehead Whaley (February 2, 1901–December 23, 1977) was the third African American woman admitted to practice law in New York in 1925 and the first in North Carolina in 1933. She was the first Black woman to graduate from Fordham University School of Law, where she graduated cum laude in 1924.
  • Mr. & Mrs. A.B. Bowser — Astor B. and Deloris Hawley Bowser.
  • Charles Knight

Desperate gambling gang.

In 1909, Wilson police raided Samuel H. Vick‘s Orange Hotel to bust up a “gambling joint” ensconced in its upper floor. Two gamblers escaped through windows, but the police managed to round up seven, plus the operator.

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 11 June 1909.

  • Charles Evans, alias Charles Stover, alias “Dog Head”
  • Banks Blow
  • Arthur D. Keiser
  • Wallace Dixon
  • Walter Scott
  • “Kid” McKoy
  • Henry Battle — perhaps, in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wiggins Street, railroad laborer Harry Battle, 50; wife Ezabell, 45, hotel servant; and sons Henry, 24, and Frank, 21, railroad laborer. Henry Battle died 31 December 1910 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he lived on Nash Street; was born 6 January 1888 in Edgecombe County to Harry Battle and Isabella Bullock; and worked as a railroad hand. Informant was Harry Brant.
  • Jim Thompson

The Harris Brothers.

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Elm City’s Harris Brothers Quartet. Left to right: Jesse Harris Jr., William Amos Harris, Archie Harris, James Roscoe Harris Sr., and Willie Richardson (on guitar). [The photo is dated about 1945, but likely was somewhat later, as William Amos Harris was born in 1932 and Archie Harris in 1933.]

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In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Harris, 34; wife Delphia, 36; and children Rosetta, 12, Alberta, 9, James, 2, and Jessie James, 1; and mother Rosa, 66.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jack Harris, 43; wife Delphia, 40; children Rosetta, 22, Odell, 20, Annie M., 15, James Oscar, 13, Jessie, 12, Thelma, 10, Amos, 8, Archie, 7, and Chaney Mae, 5; plus grandchildren Ned, 5, and Leroy, 1.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Harris (and printed in the Wilson Daily Times, 25 May 2018).

 

“Chocolate Dandies” comes to town — one night only!

Wilson Daily Times, 12 November 1925.

“This li’l old typewriter hasn’t been reading programs for more than forty years, so it is unable to single out from the more or less confused card of the races that dancin’ colored boy who makes ‘The Chocolate Dandies’ stand out in an uncommonly good road season of uncommonly good road shows. In that jungle of names and numbers, his name is lost. This is regretted, seriously, for the reason that, without regard to color or condition, this keyboard is glad to pound out the fact that he is the most brilliant dancer of his type ever seen on the stage – certainly on the Richmond stage, and, be it remembered, the road sees the good dancers and good actors long before they are “discovered” by reviewers who cover Broadway shows. That statement must be qualified, of course, so as to except imported stars and manufacturer stars – such for example, as Mr. Belasco has fabricated. And, moreover – but this has nothing to do with the case.

“‘The Chocolate Dandies’ is an all-colored show after the general style of ‘Shuffle Along’ and ‘Runnin’ Wild,’ but, in so far as the road production is a guide, it is much more pretentious – to use the press agents’ favorite word – than its predecessors. It is slighter in its comedy than either of the others mentioned: but its costuming and setting are more elaborate and handsome than those of both the others put together. A long, gangling colored man named Lew Payton wrote the book and plays the comedy lead. He is so free from exaggeration in his work on the stage and has been so true to life in his comedy writing for the stage that it is quite easy for us down here to understand why this particular play and performance did not turn ‘em away in New York. At any rate, to those who fully realize how good this man is he is the acting star of his own show. That dancin’ colored boy walks away with the performance because his work is spectacular and brilliant and, in its own field just about unapproachable.

“It’s a fact, perfectly clean, amusing show, in which every member of the cast and chorus plays and dances as if for the love of it. The little orchestra carried by the company plays admirably. And the pianist-director, a woman, plays beautifully. One-man opinion is that ‘The Chocolate Dandies’ is clinking good entertainment – provided the entertainment is not submerged by the pitiful tragedy of some of the performers, who are white – but colored.

“Why, several of them have well schooled voices, one of the women would make ‘White Cargo’ more realistic than ever it has been – but this is not moralization: it is supposed to be a report of a performance. Therefore, it is repeated that ‘The Chocolate Dandies’ is clinking good entertainment – but what a piteous aching thing is this problem of ours!   — Douglas Gordon.”

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The Wilson Theatre‘s manager reprinted a Richmond critic’s bizarrely incomprehensible review to promote — to an all-white audience — a one-night performance of The Chocolate Dandies, a lavish musical meant to capitalize on the success of Shuffle Along, Noble Sissle and Eubie Blake‘s break-out Broadway production. Based on a book by Sissle and Lew Payton and with music by Blake, the stage show played 96 shows the 1200-seat New Colonial Theatre at 1887 Broadway at 62nd Street from 1 September through 22 November 1924. Josephine Baker — a few years away from her Paris debut — had a minor role, but it is not clear whether she took to the road with the traveling show. Douglas Gordon’s piece — which seems to be positive — aside, the critical reception was mixed.

Image courtesy of Maryland Historical Society.

Dancing and games on East Nash Street.

Pittsburgh Courier, 20 January 1934.

  • Mr. and Mrs. R.W. Hilliard — Rufus Hilliard, 35, of Wilson, son of A.H. Hilliard and Penina V. [Wimly?], married Lela M. Washington, 29, daughter of William Washington and Martha (last name not listed) on 30 December 1932 in Wilson. Baptist minister B.F. Jordan performed the ceremony in the presence of J.S. Spell, E. D.[illegible] Fisher and Nancy Wilkins. Rufus Wimberly Hilliard died 5 December 1976. Lela Washington Hilliard died 26 July 1985.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Levi Peacock Jr. — Levi H. Peacock, 22, of Wilson, son of Levi and Hannah Peacock, married Elouise Reavis, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Joseph and Etta Reavis, on 4 October 1922 in Wilson. W.A. Mitchner applied for the license, and Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of John D. Henry, Henrietta Foster and John H. Parris.
  • Gilda Whitley
  • Jethro Couch
  • Ruth E. Hooker — Ruth Hooker Coppedge died 26 May 1945 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 41 years old; resided at 200 South Vick Street, Wilson; was married to George Coppedge; was born in Wilson to Frank Richard Hooker of Greene County and Eleanor Farmer of Wilson County; and was a school teacher.
  • Allie M. Hines — Within days of the Hilliards’ soiree, on 27 January 1934, Willis E. Prince, 47, son of Turner Prince and Sarah (last name not given) married Alma Mae Hines, 29, daughter of Amos and Sarah Hines, in Wilson. C.E. Artis applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister I. Albert Moore performed the ceremony in the presence of M.W. Hines, C.L. Darden and A.M. Dupree. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Willis Prince, 54, carpenter contractor, and wife Allie, age not listed.
  • Willis Prince — Willis Ephriam Prince died 2 October 1960 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 January 1889 in Edgecombe County to Turner Prince and Sarah (last name not listed); worked as a merchant; was married; and resided at 205 Stantonsburg Street. Allie Mae Prince was informant.

Washingtonians feted.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 12 January 1929.

On 27 December 1928, Professor and Mrs. J.D. Reid threw a buffet lunch and whist party at their home at 600 East Green Street, which was followed by a dance at the Samuel H. Vick home at 622 East Green, all in honor of Irene and May Miller of Washington, D.C. [Who were the Miller sisters, and what was their Wilson connection?]

Thelma, J.D. Jr. and Frederick Reid were children of J.D. and Eleanor Frederick Reid. Robert and Samuel H. Vick Jr. were sons of Samuel and Annie Washington Vick.

Fine tea and program.

Pittsburgh Courier, 8 January 1949.