Houses

A house fire in Happy Hill.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 April 1932.

Cash Williams owned both Williams Lumber Company and rental housing throughout the surrounding neighborhood, Happy Hill. In 1932, one of his duplexes burned to the ground. The names of the displaced families were not reported.

Below, Williams Lumber yard sprawls across the bottom half of this image,  southwest of the Norfolk-Southern railroad. The tightly packed houses of Happy Hill are on the other side of the tracks, with the tower of Saint Rose Church of Christ rising at the center of the image.

Photo courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III, now in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

801 East Green Street.

The one hundred eighty-third 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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1913; 1 story; aluminum-sided and remodeled L-plan cottage.”

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The house appears as an unnumbered dwelling on the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson, N.C. This detail from page 32 of the 1922 Sanborn maps of Wilson, shows the house numbered 801 East Green Street. (As detailed below, for many years owners of this house operated a small grocery around the corner and behind the house, on North Vick. That store was built between 1922 and 1928.)

In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Faison Grant J (c; Charlotte) gro 502 N Vick h 801 E Green

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 East Green, Grant Faisson, 46, grocery store merchant, and wife Charlotte, 42, trained hospital nurse. 

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 East Green, Grant J. Faison, 58, retail grocery operator, and wife Charlotte, 52, saleswoman in grocery store.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 December 1940.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Faison Grant J (c; Charlotte M) gro 502 N Vick h 801 E Green

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Foster Carter (c; Estelle W) gro 502 N Vick and County Farm Demonstration agent h 801 E Green

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 East Green, county farm agent Carter W. Foster, 36; wife Estelle, 34; daughter Bobbie J., 7; and nephew Dannie Jones, 8, born in Pennsylvania.

Carter Washington Foster died 17 February 1955 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 January 1914 in Wilson to Walter Foster and Rosa Parker; was married; resided at 801 East Green; and worked as a county agricultural agent.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2022.

The 100 and 200 blocks of South Pender Street.

I had the chance to visit briefly with Bobby Boykin when I was in Wilson recently. The hundreds of Wilson Daily Times clippings Bobby has sent me — most never digitized — have been a tremendous source of material for Black Wide-Awake, and I deeply appreciate his interest and action in supporting the documentation of Wilson County’s African-American history. Recently, Bobby has been culling through boxes of photographs donated to him in the 1980s, and he pulled several that might be of interest to my readers.

I struggled a bit with the perspective in these photos, though I knew we were looking one way or another toward the intersection of Nash and Pender Streets. The images document heavy street flooding, most likely in the late 1960s or very early 1970s — the Chevrolet truck model in the second photo was first produced in 1964 — on South Pender Street. The photographer was standing just below East Barnes Street, facing Nash. In the first photo, the peaked roof of Jackson Chapel First Baptist’s tower is visible at left, and the finials of Saint John A.M.E. Zion’s tower are center-frame.

The view today, per Google Maps.

These black-and-white photos were taken well after the timeframe of Black Wide-Awake‘s focus, but offer a rare glimpse of the former density of dwellings along the east side of South Pender Street. Every house you see here has been demolished, as was the two-story brick building at the edge of the second photo. Fortunately, however, all were standing when the survey was made for the nominating report for East Wilson Historic District, which allows us to identify them for closer study. The houses and commercial buildings will receive their own posts.

South of Nash Street, Pender Street was named Stantonsburg Street until the mid-1960s. Also, the street numbers of the buildings of these two blocks shifted over time to accommodate infill and other changes. This makes identifying the house numbers of the two dwellings visible south of the filling station a challenge.

Here is this section as depicted on page 31 of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson:

At that time, the tip of the wedge at Stantonsburg and East Nash Streets was occupied by an auto repair shop. The first house on the east side of the street was numbered 107 (changed from 111 when the city revamped its numbering system circa 1921); the second, 201 (formerly, 115); the third, 203; and the fourth 207 (formerly, 209).

As we will see later, by 1928, a house had been built between 107 and 201 and numbered 109. Also, a brick building had been erected between 203 and 207 and numbered 205 (but, by 1941, was 203 1/2).

By time the nomination form was drafted, the first house beyond the filling station was 103, but its description does not match the house shown. Rather, the form’s description of 103 matches 109, i.e. the second house beyond the filling station. (Which means that the form omits the first house, 107, which may have been demolished some time between the time this photo was taken and 1988, when the form was completed.)

Stay tuned for deeper dives.

929 Carolina Street.

The one hundred eighty-first 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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1940; 1 story; shotgun with bungalow type porch posts.”

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In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bullock Joseph (c; Sadie) lab h 929 Carolina

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, the house was vacant.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 October 1940.

This issue of the Wilson Daily Times reported that the draft numbers of James Woodard of 929 Carolina Street and Lewis Townsend of 506 Banks Street.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Woodard James (c; Annie; 1) delmn h 929 Carolina

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Handley [Handy] Jessie (c; Levan) brklyr h 929 Carolina

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022.

1200 Washington Street.

The one hundred eightieth 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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1922; 1 story; hip-roofed, two-bay cottage with side hall.”

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In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Leaston (c; Maggie) cooper h 1200 Washington

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McNeil Jesse (c; Cornelia) h 1200 Washington

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1200 Washington Street, “plaster helper” John L. Hart, 49; wife Eloise, 20; and lodger Ross Barnes, 41; his wife Emma, 32; and their daughter Bettie, 1.

Ben Hart died 7 November 1951 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 20 March 1881 in Edgecombe County to Wiley Hart; was a widower; resided at 1200 Washington Street, Wilson. Informant was Rev. J.L. Hart, 1200 Washington Street.

John L. Hart died 6 February 1963 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 28 January 1901 in Wilson County to Benjamin Hart and Temie Ann Jones; was a minister; lived at 1200 Washington Street; and was married to Elouise Hart.

917 Mercer Street.

This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, the blocks of Mercer Street southwest of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad lines have been an African-American residential area since the early twentieth century.

In-fill building in the 1920s and ’30s caused house numbers in this block to shift several times. Now 917 Mercer, it was once 913 1/2, and briefly 915 1/2.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Moses Narcissus (c) lndrs h 915 1/2 Mercer

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Moses Narcissus (c) dom h 913 1/2 Mercer

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 913 1/2 Mercer Street, rented at $12/month, Narcissus Moses, 35; Elsie B. Moses, 70, mother; and roomer Darthy Curry, 26, cook.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 917 Mercer Street, Narcissus Moses, 51, hangs tobacco at redrying plant; cousin Effie Read, 38, private cook; and adopted son Jerome Wallace Lassiter, 9.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Moses Narcissus (c; 1) lndrs h 917 Mercer

In 1942, Narcissus Moses hosted a banquet for the Saint Rose Bible Band at her home at 917 Mercer Street.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 March 1942.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Moses Narcissus (c) tob wkr h 917 Mercer

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 917 Mercer, Narcissa B. Moses, 62, and cousins Effie B. Read, 46, cook, and Ralph B. Read, 6. 

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022. 

 

1004 Washington Street, revisited.

The James and Lizzie Whitfield house at 1004 Washington Street is in a bad way and apparently is set to be demolished using American Rescue Plan Act funds. Eligible uses of such funds for vacant or abandoned properties include rehab costs, acquisition and marketing costs, environmental remediation costs, demolition, and converting such properties to affordable housing. 

Guidelines for the funds warn that demolition is not to be undertaken where it would create a “net reduction in occupiable housing units for low- and moderate-income individuals” in areas in which the need for such housing exceeds available supply. (It’s hard to imagine that demolition of this house won’t have just such a result, but it is also clear from a peak through that gap by the porch pillar that it is in deplorable condition.) Nor should low-income housing be converted to housing units “unaffordable to current residents in the community.” (Such as the $250,000 renovation two blocks away on Atlantic Street.)

There’s some irony here. James A. Whitfield was the first African-American member, and later chair, of the Wilson Housing Authority. The Whitfield Homes housing project is named for him.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 November 1960.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022.

The Blounts sell a lot.

On 28 March 1905, for $200, Calvin and Effie Blount sold Daniel Blount a one-quarter acre lot and house “on the south side of the Alley running from Cemetery Street towards the Colored Cemetery ….” The deed mentions several features of the landscape — several ditches, a bridge at the intersection of the alley with Cemetery Street, a house occupied by Walter Jones. (The ditches and bridge remind us that this was low-lying, flood-prone land, which was likely a factor in the abandonment of Oakdale Cemetery in favor of Vick Cemetery after 1913.)

Calvin Blount and Daniel Blount were likely either relatives or shared a history of enslavement by Richard H. Blount of Pitt, then Wilson, County. 

Deed book 68, page 363, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

1008 Washington Street.

The one hundred-seventy-eighth 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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1930; 1 story; Clarence McCullers house; bungalow with low hipped roof and double-pile plan; McCullers was a chauffeur.”

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 Washington Street, Clarence McCullers, 42, hardware store laborer; wife Rosa E., 37, who did washing; and son Willie E., 17.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 Washington Street, Clarence McCullers, 45, born Johnston County, light plant employee; wife Rosa, 43, born Wilson County, a laundress; and roomer Ethel Alexander, 28, born Scotland Neck, North Carolina, a teacher at Darden High.

Rosa E. McCullers died 18 January 1944 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she resided at 1008 Washington Street; was 50 years old; was born in Wilson to John Hardy and Lucinda Rountree; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Clarence McCullers was informant.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McCullers Clarence (c) lab h 1008 Washington

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1008 Washington, Leonard Moore, 33, A.C.L. Railway porter, and wife Mary A., 30, clerk at local drug store.

On 18 July 1953, Ozzie Moore, 26, of 1113 Atlantic Street, son of Johnnie Moore and Araminice Cohen [Armencie Cone] Moore, married Bessie Howard, 22, of 412 East Walnut Street, daughter of Monk Johnson and Clara Howard, in Wilson. Rev. E.F. Johnson, a Disciples of Christ minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Leonard Moore, 1008 Washington Street; Annie D. Jones, 414 East Walnut Street; and Noel B. Jones, 411 Banks Street.

Emiline Edwards Woodard died 15 April 1971 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 December 1894 to a mother named Hagar and an unknown father and was a widow. Informant was Mrs. Mary W. Moore, 1008 Washington Street.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022.

911 Mercer Street.

This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, the blocks of Mercer Street southwest of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad lines have been an African-American residential area since the early twentieth century.

As a result of infill building, this house appears to have been numbered 111, then 909, then 909 1/2, then 911 Mercer. Now heavily modified from its original appearance, 911 Mercer Street was held by the family of John H. and Cornelia Barnes Tillery for nearly 90 years.

On 27 December 1915, John Tillery paid Samuel H. and Annie M. Vick $300 for Lot No. 22 Mercer Street, as shown on the plat map of Winona suburb.

Deed book 102, page 567, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 111 Mercer, owned free and clear, John Tillery, 47, office janitor; wife Cornelia, 35; and children Ernest, 13, Ashley, 8, Jessie, 12, Raymond, 6, Adelia, 4, and Lanford, 1.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c) lab h Mercer nr N S R R

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c) lab h 909 Mercer

Detail of Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., page 33, 1922.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c) emp city h 909 Mercer. Also, Tillery Ernest (c) farmer h 909 Mercer

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c; Cornelia) farmer h 909 Mercer. Also, Tillery Ernest (c) farmer h 909 Mercer, and Tillery Raymond (c) lab 909 Mercer

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer, owned and valued at $1500, John Tillery, 51, farmer; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, family cook, Ashley L., 18, truck farm helper, Raymond, 16, truck farm helper, Adelia, 14, house maid, Johny L., 11, Elnora, 7, and Clyde, 5. 

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John H (c; Cornelia) lab 909 1/2 Mercer. Also listed at 909 1/2 Mercer: Adelia, cook; Ashley L., laborer; Jessie, cook; and Raymond Tillery, laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 Mercer, owned and valued at $1200, John H. Tillery, 66, “hires out and plows”; wife Cornelia, 56, redrying plant stemmer; children Nelora, 17, and Clyde Tillery, 15, “cleans up yards,” and Jessie Williams, 30, cleans and cooks in private home; and granddaughters Alice Rosabelle, 4, and Barbara Anna, 2.

In 1940, Clyde Tillery registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 16 October 1926 in Wilson; lived at 911 Mercer Street; his contact was father John Tillery; and he was unemployed.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery Cornelia (c; 2) h 911 Mercer

Wilson Daily Times, 23 November 1945. 

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillery John (c; 2) h 911 Mercer

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 Mercer, John H. Tillery, 68; wife Cornelia, 62, plows gardens at private homes; daughter Jesse B. Williams, 41; and granddaughter Magnolia Williams, 7.

John Tillery died 8 October 1960 at Barnes Rest Home, 626 East Vance Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 December 1883 in Halifax County, N.C., to Benjamin and Cherry Tillery; was married to Carnelia B. Tillery; and worked as a city employee. Ashley Tillery, Williamston, N.C., was informant.

Cornelia Barnes Tillery died 6 June 1964 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Aaron Barnes and Pennina [maiden name unknown]; was widowed; and lived at 911 Mercer Street. Ashley Tillery was informant.

In March 1973, Wilson City Council ordered the demolition of the dwelling at 911 Mercer Street. May 1983, the Wilson building inspector’s office issued Ashley Tiller a permit to demolish a single family dwelling at 911 Mercer. However, when Clyde Tillery died in May 1997, his obituary noted his address as 911 Mercer. 

In October 2004, 911 Mercer Street was listed for foreclosure sale. Details of the notice reveal that the Tillery heirs had mortgaged the property to a real estate company in 1986 and had defaulted on the loan.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022.