Food

Follow-up: Where was the Silver Boot Grill?

In a recent post, I asked if anyone knew the location of Ola and Georgia Dupree‘s Silver Boot Grill, and reader D.C. came through.

Ads described the restaurant’s address only as Highway 301-A South, which once cut through East Wilson following the path of what is now Pender Street. D.C. forwarded me this detail from a 1945 plat with two lots highlighted. 301-A Highway shows a center median that I suspect was aspirational. At top center is a proposed new highway — today’s four lane U.S. 301/Ward Boulevard. The street cutting downward at top right is Black Creek Road and, off it at an angle, is what was then Stantonsburg Road. 

Detail from Subdivision of the Farrior-Fleming Farm Near Wilson, N.C., Plat Book 4, Page 19, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

A little searching on the Wilson County Register of Deeds website revealed that Ola and Georgia Anna Dupree bought lots 40 and 43 from Annie V. Farrior on 26 January 1945. Five years later, to secure a $3500 loan, the Duprees mortgaged both lots, as well as two electric refrigerators (a Jordan Drink Box Model 40-6 and a Hussman Reach-In Refrigerator); a gas cooking stove; a Marston Steam Table Model #90; all tables, chairs, and counters; and all other stock and equipment “used in the operation of their restaurant business now known as Silver Boot Grill.”

Lots 40 and 43 of the Farrior-Fleming tract are now 915 Pender Street South and are the site of a defunct used tire dealership. I am pretty sure that this side building at Rolling Tires started life as the Silver Boot. Painted brick appears to have been applied over the original cladding, and the stepped side walls were leveled off to support a fairly recent gabled roof.

June 2022.

Thanks, D.C.!

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.

513 East Green Street.

The one hundred-fifty-second in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

Perhaps the oldest commercial structure in the District, the facade of the grocery’s parapet is spitting bricks out onto the sidewalk.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1908; 1 story; Mercer’s Grocery; brick, parapet-front grocery; one of the major groceries in the district.”

——

513 East Green Street was originally numbered 518. Like all of the large grocery stores in East Wilson, none of its owners were African-American. 

Jesse J. Amerson is the first known owner, commuting from his home on West Green  Street nine blocks to the store.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1908).

Four years later, the city directory showed Samuel D. Moody as the owner. Moody lived at 301 Pender, just beyond the Vance Street boundary between Black and white sections of Pender. 

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1912).

Moody sold wood from a lot on the Green Street side of the grocery. Detail from Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1913. 

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1916).

Circa 1921, Larry Giles Boyette and Bernon S. Holdford took over the grocery and operated it together for most of the decade.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1922).

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1925).

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1928).

The 1930 city directory shows that Boyette operated the store solo and had renamed it with his middle name, Giles. 

 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1930).

However, this 1932 ad reverts to Boyette & Holford. [What curious exhortations — “Stop Hoarding!” “Put Your Slacker Dollars to Work.”]

Wilson Daily Times, 21 March 1932.

In the summer of 1940, Giles advertised Onslow County pork products. (I have not been able to determine if there was something special about ham and bacon from the Jacksonville area.) As we’ll see below, this iteration of Giles likely had a different owner than the earlier. 

Wilson Daily Times, 20 August 1940.

In 1947, W.R. Lang and A.R. Lafferty filed a notice of dissolution of their partnership, which had operated Giles Grocery at 513 East Green.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 August 1947.

Per the 1950 city directory, the store continued to operate under the name Giles Grocery. In the 1957 directory, it was named Jim Mercer’s Grocery and remained known as Mercer’s for the next three decades.

In the mid-1980s, Harrell’s Grocery added 513 East Green to its small stable of corner groceries.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 January 1986.

However, the store was once again known as Mercer’s in the late 1980s and remained so until at least 2001.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2022.

The colored firemen issue an invitation to feast.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 December 1925.

The Red Hot fire company issued an invitation to Wilson’s leaders to celebrate the New Year. Those who received offers to partake in a barbecue supper included City Fire Department Chief A.L. Lancaster; Herring’s Drug Store proprietor Needham B. Herring and pharmacist Doane Herring; R.J. Grantham, vice-president of Wilson Trust Company and superintendent of the City Water, Light & Gas Department; Roscoe Briggs, president of Citizens Bank, W.W. Simms Company, and Wilson Cotton Mill Company, and vice-president of Wilson Home & Loan Association; R.C. Welfare, president of Welfare Auto Company; clerk of City Police Theo Hinnant; clerk of City Police Court Glaucus Hinnant; Wilson Daily Times editor John D. Gold; and Silas R. Lucas, mayor and City Police Court judge.

Curiously, the invitation noted that “the colored fireman have been 28 years in service helping protect the property of the people of Wilson.” However, as contemporary news articles attest, Black volunteer firefighters were working in Wilson as early as 1887 and were known as the Red Hots as early as 1896.

Colored boys and girls in the corn and canning clubs.

Without comment, on 7 June 1917, the Wilson Daily Times published a lengthy list of names and addresses of children who were members of corn (for boys) and canning (girls) clubs in Wilson, Lucama, and Stantonsburg. The groups, supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, were the precursors to 4-H Clubs.

Given the canning club membership requirements, it’s astonishing that so many town girls were involved. Per Farm Life Readers, Book 5 (Bryan, Evans & Duncan, 1916, page 38): “Any girl between the ages of nine and eighteen in the county, where the work is organized may become a member. She must plant one-tenth of an acre to tomatoes, and must do all the work connected with her garden except preparing the soil for her plants. Prizes are offered for the largest yield, the largest net gain, the best display in glass jars, best history of garden work, the largest tomato, the most perfect tomato, the largest, neatest best collection of tomato recipes.”

Cover of notebook created by North Carolina canning club girl, 1915. Wilson County girls would have been required to create such a document. Jane Simpson McKimmon Papers (PC 234), State of Archives of North Carolina.

Below, the lists of children consolidated and alphabetized:

Lucama

  • Allen, Rose, Route 2
  • Atkinson, Addie, Route 2
  • Atkinson, Mattie, Route 2
  • Barnes, Fletcher, Route 3 Box 68
  • Barnes, Joseph, Route 3 Box 68
  • Barnes, Sarah, Route 3 Box 68
  • Battle, Jason
  • Battle, Mamie
  • Battle, Redmond (son of Columbus and Sallie R. Battle)
  • Bethea, Lillie, Box 77
  • Boykin, Ida, Route 3 Box 76 (daughter of William T. and Sarah Boykin)
  • Boykin, Katie, Route 3 Box 76 (daughter of William T. and Sarah Boykin)
  • Cherry, Eldora, Route 2 (granddaughter of Arch and Martha M. Atkinson)
  • Creech, Daisy, Route 3 Box 74 (daughter of Troy and Martha Creech)
  • Creech, Dorsey, Route 3 Box 74 (son of Troy and Martha Creech)
  • Creech, James, Route 3 Box 14
  • Creech, Naomi, Route 3 Box 14
  • Creech, William, Route 3 Box 14
  • Dew, Joseph, Box 92 (son of Cornelius D. and Cora L. Dew)
  • Dew, Martha, Box 92 (daughter of Cornelius D. and Cora L. Dew)
  • Ellis, Allman, Route 3 Box 14
  • Dupree, Smithie, Route 3 Box 96 (daughter of Moses and Henrietta S. Dupree)
  • Forsythe, Isabella, Route 3
  • Forsythe, Lena, Route 3 (daughter of Mac and Mary Forsythe)
  • Forsythe, William, Route 3
  • Harris, Alvester (son of Andrew J. and Henrietta Harris)
  • Kent, Elijah (son of Rufus and Maggie Kent)
  • Murchison, Johnnie, Route 3 (John J., son of Samuel A. and Martha Murchison)
  • Newsome, Adam, Route 1 (son of Larry and Louetta Artis Newsome)
  • Newsome, Genatus, Route 1 (William Genatus, Larry and Louetta Artis Newsome)
  • Pate, Alvestor, Route 3 Box 75 (son of James G. and Heterow Pate)
  • Pate, Daisy, Route 3 Box 75-A (daughter of James G. and Heterow Pate)
  • Proctor, Bessie, Route 1 Box 15 (daughter of Charlie and Dorita Proctor)
  • Thomas [Thompson], Addie, Box 11 (daughter of Nelson and Melvina Thompson)
  • Thompson, Lillie, Box 11 (daughter of Nelson and Melvina Thompson)
  • Thompson, Nettie, Box 11 (daughter of Nelson and Melvina Thompson)
  • Westley, Mattie (daughter of John A. Wesley)
  • Whitley, Clarence, Route 1 Box 61-B (son of James and India Whitley)
  • Williams, Beatrice, Route 1 Box 95
  • Williams, Essie, Route 3 Box 68
  • Williams, James, Route 1 Box 95
  • Williams, Martha, Route 1 Box 61
  • Williams, Minnie, Route 3 Box 68
  • Williams, Odessa, Route 3 Box __
  • Williamson, Eliza, Route 3 Box 68

Wilson

  • Adkinson, Viola, 649 East Green Street
  • Allen, Lema [Lena], Raleigh Road (daughter of John and Martha Allen)
  • Bagley, Herman, 609 Viola Street (son of Edward and Effie Newsome Bagley)
  • Barefoot, Martha, 103 Viola Street (son of Wiley and Maggie Barefoot)
  • Barnes, Alena, 504 East Green Street
  • Barnes, Alma, Atlanta [Atlantic] Street (daughter of Lemon and Lizzie Barnes)
  • Barnes, Anna, 103 Wiggins Street
  • Barnes, Annie, 211 Manchester Street
  • Barnes, Annie, 213 Pender Street
  • Barnes, Antelia [Artelia], 121 Pender Street (daughter of John M. and Annie Darden Barnes)
  • Barnes, Ardenia, 563 [East] Nash Street (daughter of Jesse and Sarah Barnes Barnes)
  • Barnes, Boisey, 612 East Green Street (son of Dave and Della Hines Barnes)
  • Barnes, Edward, Atlanta [Atlantic] Street (son of Lemon and Lizzie Barnes)
  • Barnes, Frank, 106 East Nash Street
  • Barnes, Gretchen, Nash and Reid Street
  • Barnes, Jessie, 561 East Green Street
  • Barnes, Joseph, 312 Manchester Street
  • Barnes, Lizzie, Route 3 Box 82
  • Barnes, Lucinda, Grabneck
  • Barnes, Mable, 504 East Green Street
  • Barnes, Margaret, Mason Street
  • Barnes, Rosa, 14 Harper Street
  • Barnes, Thelma, Leigh [Lee] Street
  • Barnes, Victoria, Route 1, Box 126
  • Barnes, Wearland, Leigh [Lee] Street (son of William I. and Madie Taylor Barnes)
  • Battle, Annie, 628 East Nash Street
  • Battle, Annie, 135 Sugg Street
  • Battle, Effie, Suggs Street
  • Bess, Suprema, 1105 East Nash Street (granddaughter of Benjamin and Eliza Ellis Best)
  • Best, Laura, West Nash Street (daughter of Noah and Sarah Best)
  • Best, Mattie, 631 East _____
  • Blount, Joseph, Cemetery Street (son of Daniel and Susana Blount)
  • Blount, Walter, 206 Pender Street (son of John and Mary J. Blount)
  • Boykin, Mabel, 700 Viola Street
  • Brannick, Bessie, 139 Ash Street
  • Bullock, Rachel, 412 Lodge Street (daughter of Richard and Lucretia Beal Bullock)
  • Bynum, Agusta, 143 Sugg Street (daughter of Charlie and Sarah Barnes Bynum)
  • Bynum, Cathrin, 541 [East] Nash Street (daughter of Mack and Victoria Bullock Bynum)
  • Bynum, Irene, 140 Suggs Street (daughter of Archibald and Lillie Woodard Bynum)
  • Bynum, Leah, 541 East Nash Street (daughter of Mack and Victoria Bullock Bynum)
  • Cannon, Ethel, 616 East Nash Street (daughter of John and Florence Cannon)
  • Carroll, Mary, 507 Vicks Alley
  • Chapman, Delzelle, 206 Stantonsburg Street
  • Crawford, Willard, 705 Spring Street (son of Joe and Annie Crawford)
  • Cox, Minnie, 109 Green Street (daughter of Floyd and Lula Cox)
  • Dawson, Almedo, 505 East Vance Street
  • Dupree, Nancy, Vick Street (daughter of Wiley and Victoria Woodard Dupree)
  • Edwards, Jonathan, 609 Robinson Street (son of Henry Edwards)
  • Ellis, Charles, 665 Carolina Street
  • Ellis, Florence, 157 Atlanta [Atlantic] Street
  • Ennis, Freeman, 401 Pine Street (son of Samuel and Maggie Barnes Ennis)
  • Farmer, Clara, Mason Street
  • Farmer, Gladys, Barnes Street (daughter of Jason and Bessie Farmer)
  • Faulk, Marie, 210 Pender Street (daughter of Hiram and Arzulia Mitchell Faulk)
  • Gaston, Lorenzo, 120 Manchester Street
  • Grantham, John E., 205 Reid Street
  • Green, Ida, 628 Green Street
  • Green, William, 1208 Pender Street
  • Griffis, Hazel, Vick Street
  • Hall, Flora, 607 Sunshine Street
  • Hargreaves, Willie, 663 East Carolina Street
  • Harper, Mary, 141 _____
  • Harris, Georgia, 617 Stantonsburg Street
  • Haskins, Estelle, 505 West _____
  • Haskins, Mandy, 303 Varn [Barnes] Street
  • Haskins, Marie, 631 East Green Street
  • Holden, Carrie, 305 John Street
  • Holman, Thelma, 503 East Vance Street
  • Holt, Maggie, 113 Pender Street
  • Hooper, Ruther, 656 Viola Street
  • Howard, Mary, 110 Pender Street
  • Howard, Ophelia, 627 East Green Street
  • Hunt, Lulu, County Road
  • [H]ussey, Rhoda, 634 [East] Nash Street
  • Jackson, Joseph, 619 East Green Street (son of Joseph and Annie Horton Jackson)
  • Jackson, Paul, 619 East Green Street (son of Joseph and Annie Horton Jackson)
  • Jeffreys, Luvinia, 702 Daniel Street
  • Johnson, Maizie Lee, 151 Sugg Street
  • Johnson, Winona, 418 East Nash Street
  • Jones, Alice, 825 Stantonsburg Street (daughter of Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones)
  • Jones, Margaret, 400 Washington Street
  • Jones, Julia, 700 Tarboro Street
  • Kittrell, Rosalie, 637 East Green Street
  • Lane, Archer, 7084 Green Street
  • Lane, Esther, 704 East Green Street
  • Langley, Harriet, 800 Viola Street
  • Lewis, John, 411 Vick Street
  • Lonze, Willis, 619 Vance Street
  • Lude, Martha, 119 Pender Street
  • Marshall, Inez, 315 Jones Street
  • McCoy, Henry, 23 Carolina Street
  • McPhail, Mary, 313 Vick Street
  • Melton, Maggie, 648 Mercer Street
  • Miller, Rebecca, 313 Goldsboro Street
  • Mimms, ___sie, Grabneck Street
  • Mitchell, Lester, 549 East Green Street
  • Moore, Samuel, 406 Wiggins Street
  • Morgan, Ella, 706 Green Street
  • Myselle, Mary, 307 Walnut Street
  • Norfleet, Ruth, 213 Lee Street
  • Norwood, Eliza, Route 4, Box 14-A
  • Oates, Rosa, 542 Narrow Way Street
  • [O’]Kelley, Gladys, 633 East Green Street
  • Palmer, Beatrice, 608 Viola Street
  • Parker, Maggie, 111 Ash Street
  • Parker, Marie, 901 _____
  • Pearce, Almira, 806 East Vance Street
  • Pitt, Elizabeth, 804 East Vance Street
  • Pur___, Alma, 413 Stantonsburg Street
  • Reed, Bruce, 601 East Green Street (son of J.D. and Eleanor Frederick Reid)
  • Rodgers, Alphonza, 607 Lodge Street
  • Sanders, Amelia, 143 East Street
  • Savage, Bedford, 623 Darehis [Dardens] Alley (daughter of Frank and Serena Woodard Savage)
  • Scarborough, Lucile, 1109 East Nash Street (daughter of Festus and Mary Parker Scarborough)
  • Scott, Mary, near Colored Gra. School
  • Scott, Sarah, Woodard Avenue
  • Selman, Francis, West Hines Street
  • Shaw, Willie, 209 Hackney Street
  • Simms, Essie, 509 Mercey [Mercer] Street
  • Speight, Bessie, 627 East Green Street (daughter of Jake and Rebecca Speight)
  • Spells, John, 133 Pender Street (son of John S. and Martha A. Gordon Spell)
  • Stephen, Elsie, 151 Lee Street
  • Stevens, Josephine, Lodge Street
  • Taylor, Gladys, Robinson [Robeson] and Reid Streets
  • Taylor, Mae, 9_6 Carolina Street
  • Taylor, Tilly, 515 East Green Street
  • Thigpen, Amanda, 603 East Elba Street
  • Thomas, Marie, 616 East Green Street (daughter of Charles and Sarah Best Thomas)
  • Utley, George, 39 East Green Street
  • Vick, George, 623 East Green Street (son of Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick)
  • Washington, _____, 630 East Green Street (child of George and Cora Miller Washington)
  • Washington, James, 630 East Green Street (son of George and Cora Miller Washington)
  • Weeks, Marie, 131 Pender Street (daughter of Rev. Alfred and Annie E. Weeks)
  • White, Patsy, Grabneck Street
  • Wilkins, Hattie, 414 East Lodge Street (daughter of Redden S. and Mary Hines Wilkins)
  • Williams, Dorthea, Rountree Street
  • Williams, Helen, 411 [South] Goldsboro Street
  • Williams, Mattie, 204 Wiggins Street
  • Williams, Nettie, Stantonsburg Road
  • Woodard, Almira, 119 Ash Street
  • Woodard, Herbert, 22 Harper Street

Stantonsburg

  • Applewhite, Alberta
  • Applewhite, Cherry (daughter of George and Jane Edmundson Applewhite)
  • Artis, Estelle
  • Artis, Nora
  • Barnes, Bessie
  • Barnes, Cora
  • Barnes, Hattie
  • Barnes, James
  • Batts, Ada
  • Foster, Mamie
  • Hagans, Luvinia (daughter of Dave and Almeta Ellis Hagans)
  • Hall, Oliver (son of James and Henrietta Hall)
  • Jones, Agnes
  • Jones, Albert
  • Jones, Ernest
  • Jones, Roscoe
  • Locus, Naomi
  • Lucus, Emma
  • Miller, Sarah
  • Newsome, Valdena
  • Reid, Loumiza (daughter of William and Bettie Wilson Reid)
  • Ward, James
  • Ward, Sarah
  • Whitley, Beatrice (daughter of Titus and Ida Whitley)
  • Whitley, Benjamin (son of Titus and Ida Whitley)
  • Winstead, Isaac (son of James Woodard and Annie Liza Winstead)
  • Winstead, Camuel [Samuel?]
  • Winstead, Mena (daughter of Mandy Winstead)
  • Yelverton, Ada (daughter of Ivory and Annie Taylor Yelverton)
  • Yelverton, Albert
  • Yelverton, Claude (son of Ivory and Annie Taylor Yelverton)
  • Yelverton, Henry (son of Ivory and Annie Taylor Yelverton)

Bazaar to benefit the hospital.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 December 1916.

A few years after it opened, friends of the Wilson Colored Hospital (later known as Mercy) held a pop-up shop of sorts in the Odd Fellows Hall on East Nash Street to raise money for indigent tuberculosis patients. On offer, clothing, but mostly undoubtedly delicious food — barbecue, chicken salad, oysters, sausages, sandwiches, sweets and ice cream.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Though I disavow the false narrative that has been passed down to us about the first Thanksgiving, I embrace the setting aside of a day to give thanks. In these times more than ever, I’m grateful for the overwhelming bounty of my life. In all my years, I have never wanted for family, health, shelter, or wealth, and I understand the privilege that bestows upon me. Black Wide-Awake and Lane Street Project are ways I honor the people and place that nourished and encouraged and shaped me.