Immigration

George R. Murrain’s journey.

On 30 July 1928, Presbyterian minister A.H. George conducted the marriage ceremony of George R. Murrain, 25, of New York, son of George R. and Elizabeth Murrain, and Della Mae Whitehead, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Henry and Victoria Whitehead, in Wilson. Witnesses were Elizabeth Brodie, H.M. Fitts, and Pennie A. Bynum. The license notes that Murrain’s father was dead, but his mother resided in Africa.

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Immigration documents reveal that George Richard Murrain was the son of George Richard Murrain and Elizabeth Burnette Murrain, missionaries who traveled the world on behalf of the Church of the Brethren, one of the three historic peace churches. The elder Murrains moved for decades between South America, Africa, Europe and North America, a peripatetic international existence that George and Della Murrain also briefly carried out.

Digitized immigration records show some of the Murrain family’s travels.

“List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival” details passengers sailing from Liverpool, England, 31 July 1913, on the S.S. Adriatic, arriving at the Port of New York on 8 August 1913. The manifest included George Richard Murrain (the elder), 45, wife Elizabeth, 43, and their children Frederick, 15, Stanley, 13, Jeanie, 12, George, 10, Joseph, 8, Mona, 6, and Elliott, 5. The family’s last permanent residence was Hualondo, Africa, and their contact was Missionaries of Christian Brethren, Bile, West Central Africa.

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This “List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival” shows passengers sailing from Southampton, England, 10 January 1922, on the S.S. Olympic. The manifest lists missionary Mary Augusta Murrain, 29, and students George Richard, 20, and Mona Elizabeth Murrain, 18. All were citizens of Great Britain whose last residence was Hualondo, Africa. Their father was G.R. Murrain, Missan Ingleza Bie Angola, and their final destination was Enfield, North Carolina.

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Mary, George and Mona Murrain apparently were detained upon arrival in the United States and appear on a “Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry.” The codes do not readily reveal the reason for their detention or how long they were held.

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On 27 July 1924, the Murrains arrived at the Port of Southampton, England, on the Zeelandia. The ship sailed originally from Buenos Aires, and the family boarded in Lisbon. Below is a portion of the “Names and Descriptions of British Passengers” showing George R. Murrain, 55, wife Elizabeth Augusta, 53, and sons Joseph Nathaniel, 20, and Elliot Sydney, 16. Angola was listed as their country of last permanent residence.

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On 29 August 1924, George R. Murrain the elder set sail to Canada on the S.S. Montclare. His “Declaration of Passenger to Canada” shows that he was married to Elizabeth Agusta; that he was a missionary; that he was born in the West Indies; was colored; was British; his religion was Brethren; was going to Canada for vacation; that he had visited the country before; that he first arrived in Canada via New York in 1914; and that his destination was Toronto.

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The trip ended in tragedy.

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There was no “British Guinea”; Murrain was likely from British Guiana, now Guyana, on the northeast Atlantic coast on South America. From “The Believers’ Magazine: For the Ministry of the Word and Tidings of the Work of the Lord,” John Ritchie, editor, volume 25, page 26 (February 1925).

Twenty years after George Murrain Jr. and Della Whitehead married, part of the family appeared on the “Manifest of In-Bound Passengers (Aliens)” arriving tourist class at the Port of New York, from Southampton, England, on the Queen Mary on 13 September 1948. The manifest shows Della Murrain, age 41, and her three children George, 11, Fitzgerald, 9, and Kenneth, 16. Della, George and Fitzgerald were United States citizens; Kenneth was British. The younger boys were born in West Africa.

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Another manifest dated 18 months later shows British citizen George Richard Murrain, age 47, of Route 4, Box 35, Wilson, North Carolina, arriving first class at the Port of New York on the Washington on 24 January 1950. The ship had left Southampton, England, a week earlier.

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George Richard Murrain died 31 August 1982 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 June 1902 in Silva Porto [now Kuito], Angola, West Africa, to George Richard Murrain and Elizabeth Burnette Murrain; was married; was a retired carpenter; and resided at 105 Tacoma Street. Della Whitehead Murrain was informant.

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957; U.K. Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960; U.K. Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 [databases on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Early Afro-Latinx residents of Wilson.

Peter Lupe, Cape Verde

  • When Pearlean Barnes married Louis Perrington in Cumberland County in 1943, she listed Peter Lupe as her father. (Her mother, Lucy Barnes Watson, is listed as “Lucy Lupe,” but was never married to Peter.) Pearlean was born about 1916.
  • On 5 June 1917, Peter Lupes registered with the draft board in Wilson, Wilson County. He stated that he was born in 1896 in Portugal and was not a United States citizen. He lived on West Nash Street and was employed as a lot boy for J.T. Wiggins. He was single, and his mother and father partly depended on him. He was described as tall and of medium build with brown eyes and black hair.
  • On 30 April 1924, Peter Lupes, age 30, son of Manuel and Mary Lupes, married Hannah L. Peacock, 21, daughter of Levi and Hannah H. Peacock, in Wilson. Rev. John Mebane performed the ceremony at a Missionary Baptist church, and W.H. Phillips, W.H. Kittrell, and James Mack served as witnesses.
  • In the 1925 city directory of Wilson: Peter Lupes, carpenter, 140 Ashe. His wife Hannah Lupe is listed as a schoolteacher.
  • In the 1930 city directory of Wilson: Peter Lupe (c), shoe shiner, 511 E Nash.
  • On 29 November 1939, Peter Lupes married Rosa Rhyne in Emporia, Greenesville County, Virginia. He was a merchant, a resident of Wilson, North Carolina, divorced, and listed his age as 45. He was born in Portugal to Joe and Mary Lupes. Rosa was widow born in Johnston County who also lived in Wilson.
  • In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 717 Viola Street, Peter Lucas [sic], 50, and wife Rosa, 35. Peter’s birthplace was listed as Massachusetts. He worked as the operator of a beer parlor and Rosa as the operator of a cafe.
  • Peter Lupe died 21 May 1958 in Wilson. He death certificate notes that he was a resident of the city for 50 years and that he was a United States citizen. He was born 21 March 1891 in “Cape of Verdia Island, Portugal” to Teorga Montel Lupe and Mary Montel Lupe; lived at 717 East Viola Street; and worked as a merchant. His wife Rosa Lupe was his informant.


Peter Lupe’s house at 717 Viola, July 2016.

Ramon Jose Martinez, Argentina

  • In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Ramon Martinez, 38, is listed as a roomer in the household of Mena Pitts, 39, at 903 Vance Street. He reported that he was born in Argentina, had been living in Pennsylvania five years previously, and worked as a sign painter.
  • On 16 February 1942, Ramon Jose Martinez registered for the draft in Wilson. He listed his birth date and place as 7 September 1898 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He worked as a commercial artist, resided at 903 Vance Street, and Ximena Pitts Martinez was his contact person. He was 5’6″, 184 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and dark brown skin. The registrar noted: “he limps (right leg).”
  • Ramon Jose Martinez died 15 September 1973 in Wilson. His death certificate reports that he was born 7 September 1900 in Argentina and worked as a self-employed commercial artist. His parents were unknown.

John Sanchas [Sanchez], Texas

  • In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Texas-born macadamized road laborer John Sancha, 38, was a lodger in the household of Henry Maynard. Sancha, who was described as mulatto,  reported that both his parents were born in Mexico.
  • In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Texas-born laborer John Sanchas, 49, wife Mary, and children Hattie, 21, Timothy, 17, Herbert, 14, and John Jr., 11; all described as black.
  • In Hill’s 1925 edition of the Wilson city directory, Herbert, Jno., Jno H. and William Sanctious are listed at 210 Finch Street.
  • On 20 May 1931, John Sanchas, a resident of 210 Finch Street, Wilson, died of chronic myocarditis. He was colored, age 57, married to Mary Sanchas, and worked as a common laborer. He was born in Texas; his parents’ names were unknown to informant Bessie Bowden.

Emilio Suarez Guzman, Puerto Rico

  • On 27 January 1974, Emilio Suarez Guzman died in Wilson of pancreatic cancer. He was born in Puerto Rico on 20 July 1892 and his “color or race” was Spanish. He resided at 1212 Queen Street and worked as a dry goods merchant. He was buried at William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church cemetery. Wife Mae G. Edwards Guzman was informant.

Photographs of house and gravemarkers (in Rest Haven cemetery), Wilson, by Lisa Y. Henderson.