A good day.

Yesterday, I attended the dedication by Wilson County Historical Association of an historical marker commemorating the establishment of Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home, later known as Mercy Hospital. For much of the 20th century, Mercy was the only hospital open to African Americans in northeastern North Carolina. I was born there in its final months of operation.

A little later, I made a presentation about this blog to Association members at the group’s annual meeting.

It was a good day.

Shouts out to Perry Morrison of W.C.H.A. for spearheading the effort to establish the marker, and to Barbara Blackston and Wilson Community Improvement Association for their excellent stewardship of this building.

[John Mack Barnes, who lived next door, built this hospital as well as Saint John A.M.E. Zion and other fine brick buildings in Wilson. He was partial to this dark red brick and white marble cornerstone combination. See here.]

Darden High School, in retrospect.

In the spring of 1974, Ruth Hart Harris ’52 and Hattie Henderson Ellis ’53 published a brief history of the first fifty years of Charles H. Darden High School’s history. Here, with annotations, is the memorial booklet in its entirety:




  • Christine Armstrong — Ethel Christine McDaniel Venters Smith Armstrong (1912-1999) was the daughter of George and Minnie Hicks McDaniel.
  • Mary D. Bass — Mary Della Wilkins Bass.
  • B.T. Barnes — Beatrice Taylor Barnes.
  • Connie Banks — Connie Freeman Banks (1915-??) was the daughter of O. Nestus and Willie Hendley Freeman.
  • Odell Barnes — Odelle Whitehead Barnes.
  • E.M. Barnes — Edward Morrison Barnes.
  • Hartford Bess — Hartford Eugene Bess.
  • Hattie Ricks — Hattie Mae Henderson Ricks.
  • Martha Barnes
  • Norma Darden — Norma Duncan Darden.
  • Maria Delaney — Maria Richburg Delaney (1901-1982) was a native of Clarendon County, South Carolina. She and husband George A. Delaney (1893-1957) migrate to Wilson prior to 1930.
  • Cora Farmer — Cora Lee Rountree Farmer (1900-1990) was the daughter of Jack and Lucille Bergeron Rountree. She married Paul F. Farmer.
  • Minnie Ellis — Minnie Virginia Woodard Ellis (1903-1986) was the daughter of James and Jennie Farmer Woodard. She married James Cornell Ellis in Wilson in 1928.
  • Pauline Harris — Pauline Artis Harris.
  • C.W. Hines — Carl Wendell Hines.
  • William Hines
  • Lula Hayes — Lula Mae Sutton Hayes.
  • Robert Locus — Robert Locus (1912-1986) was the son of Luther and Eula Alston Locus.
  • Mattie Randolph — Mattie Burnett Randolph (1899-1998) was a native of South Carolina.
  • Sarah Shade — Sarah Luvenia Shade (1910-1992) was the daughter of Isaac and Estelle Lane Shade, see below.
  • S.J. Satchell — Spencer Jordan Satchell.
  • Willie Smith — Willie Hargrove Smith (1896-1983) was the daughter of Lawrence Hargrove.
  • Walter Whitted, Sr. — Walter Craig Whitted (1890-1975) was the son of James A. and Tempie Jordan Whitted. He was married to Helen Beckwith Whitted, below.
  • Cora Fitch — Cora Whitted Fitch (1918-1987) was the daughter of Walter and Helen Beckwith Whitted.


  • I.W. St. Clair — Irvin Webster St. Clair.
  • Lucille St. Clair — Lucille Weaver St. Clair.
  • Alvin Pryor
  • Ruby Collins — Ruby F. Collins is listed in the 1925 Wilson city directory as a teacher at Wilson Colored High School. She resided at 111 North Pender Street.
  • Virginia Edmunds — Virginia L. Edmunds is listed in the 1925 Wilson city directory as a teacher at Wilson Colored High School. She resided at 602 East Green Street.
  • Estelle Shade — Estelle Lane Shade (1880-1961) was a native of Pocomoke City, Maryland. She and husband Isaac Shade, a pharmacist, settled in Wilson before 1920.
  • Annie Dupree — Anna Mae Parker Dupree (1905-1999) was the daughter Silas and Mahalia Parker Parker.
  • Alice Jones — probably, Alice Albright Jones (ca. 1892-1957), who was born in Lexington, North Carolina. In the 1930 census of Wilson, she is listed as a boarder in the household of Rosa Carter at 8808 East Vance Street.
  • Helen Whitted — Helen Delzelle Beckwith Whitted.
  • Mattie Baker
  • Artelia Barnes — Leo Artelia Barnes Jones Davis.
  • Thelma Barnes — Thelma Barnes Byers.
  • Louise Cherry — Louise Cherry Sherrod.
  • Nancy Dupree  — Nancy Dupree Nicholson.
  • Julia Hicks
  • Susan Peacock — Susan Peacock Prince.
  • Bessie Speight
  • Marie Thomas
  • Cora Bryant
  • Frank Hicks
  • Ruby Peacock — Ruby Peacock Sherrod (1906-1975) was the sister of Levi and Hannah Pike Peacock. She married Clarence Sherrod.
  • Della Whitehead — Della Whitehead Murrain.


  • Freddie Blue — Frederick Blue is listed in the 1930 Wilson city directory as a student living at 1220 Carolina Street. He was the son of Joseph and Ella Blue.
  • Delvell Chapman — Delzell Chapman is listed in the 1928 Wilson City directory as a school teacher residing at 201 Stantonsburg Street. In the 1940 census of Kinston, North Carolina: farmhand Delzell McNeil, 35, widow, with her mother Hattie Chapman, 67, widow, at 203 Springhill. Both reported living in Wilson in 1935.
  • Elaine DuBissette
  • George Grogan — George Grogan is listed as a student residing at 719 East Green in the 1925, 1928 and 1930 Wilson city directories.
  • Catherine Hines
  • Martha Parker — Probably the Martha Parker, born about 1909, who was the daughter of Allison and Mary Hilliard Parker.
  • Magdeline Parker
  • Ruth Strong
  • Addie Speight — Addie M. Speight is listed in the 1928 Wilson city directory as a school teacher living at 700 East Green Street.
  • Mildred Taylor — Mildred Taylor (1909-??) was the daughter of James and Mamie Spicer Taylor.
  • Ester Battle — This may have been Esther Battle, born about 1905, who was the daughter of William and Nonie Battle.
  • Mary Barnes
  • George Brodie — George Edward Brodie (1907-1985), a Johnston County native, was the son of George and Gertrude Brodie.
  • Mary Dawson
  • Beatrice Faulkland — Beatrice Faulkland Kanakanaka Williams (1907-2007) was the daughter of Willie and Pearl Barnes Faulkland.
  • Milton Fisher — Milton Wallace Fisher.
  • Mary Haskins
  • Walter Patterson— Walter Patterson (1905-1957), a Robeson County native, was the son of Silas and Zelphia Covington Patterson.)
  • Sarah Shade — see above.



The Book and Garden Club.

An early photo of the Book and Garden Club, founded in 1948 by Anna B. Johnson and Norma Darden, who are seated at the table. Behind them, from left, Beatrice McCowan (fourth), Courtney Fitts (fifth), Willie H. Freeman (eighth, just over Mrs. Johnson’s shoulder), Johnnie Boatwright (ninth), Estelle L. Shade (twelfth) and Flossie H. Barnes (thirteenth).

Image courtesy of Anna Hines, reprinted in Wilson Daily Times, 15 February 2008. Many thanks to Mrs. Inez Dickerson Bell for helping identify some of the club members.

Cemeteries, no. 11: the Masonic cemetery.

Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge #42 founded this cemetery, probably in the late 1890s and appears to have been used for burial into the middle of the 20th century. It was the first of three cemeteries on Lane Street. Among those interred there are:

  • Cora Barnes


On 21 December 1899, George Barnes, 25, son of James and Harriett Barnes, married Cora Cook, 18, daughter of Alfred and Nancy Cook, in Wilson.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer George Barnes, 35, wife Cora, 26, and children Estella, 6, Johnnie, 4, and Daisy E., 3 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer George W. Barnes, 40; wife Cora, 38; and children Estella, 16, Johnnie, 15, Nancy, 7, and Lizzie, 5.

Cora Barnes died in Wilson township on 22 September 1917. Per her death certificate, she was married; was a tenant farmer; was about 41 years old; and was born in Wilson County to Alfred Cook and Nancy Edmundson. George W. Barnes was informant.

  • J.H. Aiken


On 24 February 1908, John H. Aiken, 44, of Wilson County, and Georgia Williams, 37, Goldsboro, were married in Goldsboro, Wayne County. L.A. Moore of Wilson was a witness.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born livery stable laborer John Aiken, 44, and wife Georgia, 38, at 471 Jones Street.

John H. Aikins died 20 July 1914 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1860 in North Carolina to Edward Aikins and Annie King, both of Virginia and was a horse dealer or liveryman. Georgia Aikins was informant.

[Personal note: this large headstone, with its asymmetrical carving, is one of the most aesthetically impressive in this cemetery. It is like no other I’ve seen on an African-American grave in Wilson County.]

  • Mary Ann Hines Boddie Wilkins


On 28 January 1903, Redden S. Wilkins, 33, of Wilson, married Mary [Hines] Boddie, 26, of Edgecombe County, at Haret Hines’ in Township No. 14, Edgecombe County. Witnesses were E.L. ReidA.S. Henderson and John A. Gaston, all of Wilson.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at Lodge Street, Redmond Wilkins, 42, odd jobs laborer; wife Mary, 35; and daughters Hallie, 4, Mary B., 23, a cook, and Isabell, 1. [Mary B. was Redden’s daughter with Mary Blount Wilkins. Hallie and Isabell, in fact, were named Hattie Margaret and Mary Della.]

Redden S. Wilkins died 7 October 1915 in Wilson.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Vance Street, widow Mary Wilkins, 45, cook, and daughters Margaret, 13, and Della, 10.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 Vance Street, rented for $12/month, cook Mary Wilkins, 47; daughter Della Mary, 18; lodgers Ethel Adkins, 20, a divorced teacher, and Henretta Smith, 53, widow; and nephew Paul Bullock, 21.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 East Vance Street, widow Mary B. Wilkins, 65, and lodger Marion Sanders, 25, both of whom worked as a household servants.

Mary Ann Wilkins died 10 October 1956 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 May 1874 in Edgecombe County to Joshua Bullock and Harriette Hines; was widowed; and lived at 504 East Vance Street. Mary Della Bass was informant.

  • Samuel and Ida Barnes


In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, washer and ironer Margarett Hinton, 30, children Nelly, 12, Alex, 10, and Ida B., 8, plus Mary Hodge, 19. Nelly and Alex were working as servants.

On 9 October 1895, Saml. Barnes, 26, married Ida Hinton, 22, at Ida Hinton’s in Wilson. L.B. Williams, A.M.E. minister, performed the service in the presence of Nannie Brinkley, Braswell R. Winstead and Alex Hinton.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: drayman Sam Barnes, 26, wife Idda, 25, a washerwoman, and daughter Tinnie, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Francis Barnes, 63; son Sam, 40, oil wagon driver; daughter-in-law Ida, 38, laundress; granddaughter Liu[intelligible], 11; and daughters Annie, 23, housemaid, and Nannie, 21, cook.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 Viola Street, public drayman Samuel Best, 50; sister Fannie, 27, a public cook; wife Ida, 45; and daughter Lurean, 21, public school teacher.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 604 Viola, drayman Sam Barnes, 56, wife Ida, 52, and daughter Lorine, 29, a school teacher.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 604 Viola Street, Mrs. Ida Barnes, –, son-in-law Knolly Zachary, 39, a barber, and daughter Larean, 39, a public school teacher.

Ida Barnes died 26 April 1953 at her home at 602 Viola Street. Per her death certificate, she was a widow and was born 20 March 1874 in Wilson County to John Hinton and Margaret Matthew. Lurean Zackery of 604 Viola was informant.

  • John Stephen Spell and Martha A. Gordon Spell

On 14 June 1902, John S. Spell, 26, son of Henry and Esther Spell of Pitt County, and Martha A. Gordan, 26, daughter of Pompie F. and Grace Gordan, were married at the Baptist church by Rev. Fred M. Davis.  Redden S. Wilkins applied for the license, and A.G. Battle, A.V.C. Hunt and Orren Best were witnesses.

In the 1908 Wilson city directory,  Jno. S. Spell appears as a contractor living at 133 Pender Street.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pender Street, house carpenter John E. Spell, 50, wife Martha, 46, a seamstress, and son John E., Jr.

In the 1925 Wilson city directory, the following are listed at 204 Pender Street: Jno. S. Spell, carpenter; Jno. S. Spell, Jr.; and Martha A. Spell, dressmaker.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 204 Pender Street, building carpenter John L. Spell, 65, and wife Martha, 46, a seamstress. They owned the house, which was valued at $3000.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 204 Pender Street, odd job laborer J.S. Spell, 74, born in Pitt County, and wife Martha, 65, an invalid born in Oxford. Grocery deliveryman Arthur Darden, 27, and his wife Bettie, 19, rented rooms in the house.

John Stephen Spell died 31 January 1946 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 204 Pender Street; was married to Martha Spell, age 61; was 80 years old; was born in Pitt County to Easter Spell; was a carpenter; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. M.G. Spell was informant.

Martha A. Spell died 12 March 1966 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, her residence was 501 South Spaulding Street, Wilson; she was a widow; she was born 7 January 1874 in Guilford County to Proctor Bowden; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. John H. Spell was informant.

  •  Rachel Foster


The infant Rachel Foster was the daughter of Grant T. Foster and Maggie Joyner Ransom Foster.

  • Henry and Mamie Lucas


On 6 October 1902, Henry Lucas, 26, married Mamie Battle, 25, daughter of Parker and Ella Battle, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister Rev. C.L. Alexander performed the ceremony at the home of B.F. Robbens(?), and B.F. Robbens(?), Moses Woodard and Andrew W. McCullers witnessed.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 410 Jones Street, brickmason Henry Lucas, 32; wife Mamie, 29; and children James L., 6, Arthur R., 5, Milton B., 3, and Irene, 4.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Jones Street, South Carolina-born drayman Henry Lucas, 35; wife Mamie, 35; and children James, 16, Leroy, 14, Milton, 12, Lucille, 10, Alma, 5, Margret, 6, and Charles, 2.

Henry Lucas died 25 April 1942 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 60 years old; was born in Bennettsville, South Carolina, to Boykin Lucas of Columbia, South Carolina, and Hepsey Zimmon of Bennettsville; resided at 914 East Green Street; was married to Mamie Lucas, age 52; worked as a laborer; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. Lucille Lucas was informant.

  • William J. and Sarah A.J. Moore


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: minister William J. Moore, 64; wife Sarah J., 60; daughter Mary E., 29; and grandsons Alfred Hill, 12, and Wilbur, 3.


Hill’s Wilson, N.C, Directory (1908).

Saint Alphonsus school.


This photograph of a classroom at Saint Alphonsus School, which was affiliated with the all-black (except for the priest) Saint Alphonsus Catholic Church, probably dates from the early 1940s. According to a history of the school, in 1948 the church purchased a surplus Army PX and transformed into a school building with classrooms, offices and an assembly hall. The school faced Carroll Street (and the rear of the church) between Faison and Academy Streets. With nuns of the Oblate Sisters of Providence teaching, Saint Alphonsus School remained open until it merged with Saint Therese School in the late 1960s. The building was then rented to Concerned Parents of Wilson, Inc., a non-profit organization that founded and funded Kiddie Kollege of Knowledge to provide quality private kindergarten education for African-American children.

[Personal note: I attended Kiddie Kollege of Knowledge 1968-70. The photo below was taken at my graduation in the school’s assembly hall; I’m on the right, holding my Bachelor of Rhymes “degree.” — LYH]


Photograph of Saint Alphonsus reprinted from Wilson Daily Times, 29 April 1999; kindergarten photo in private collection of B.A. Henderson.

Progressive citizens, pt. 1.

Sometime in 1914, the Wilson Times published a three-page insert highlighting the achievements of the town’s African-American community. “Wilson is fortunate in having a large proportion of sensible negroes,” the writer opined, and counted among the laudable such well-known citizens and institutions as Samuel H. Vick; J.D. Reid; Dr. Frank S. Hargrave; Charles, Camillus and Arthur Darden; Levi Jones; William Hines; Henry Tart; and H.G. Barnes; Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home for Colored People; the Colored Graded School; First Baptist Church; Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers; and Lincoln Benefit Society.

On page one, the main text of digitized version of the insert is difficult to read, but the advertisements and photographs are clear. Surrounding an image of the just-opened Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home are ads placed by Henry Tart, “The Transfer Man”; York Pressing Shop; and C.H. Darden Undertakers. In addition to their funeral business, the Dardens touted their bicycle and firearm dealerships and their status as agents for Victor talking machines and records. The proprietors of the pressing club are listed only as Reed and Whitty. I have not been able to identify Whitty, but Reed seems to have been Lonnie Reid (a cousin of J.D. Reid), who is listed in the 1912 Hill’s city directory of Wilson operating a clothes cleaning shop at 603 East Nash Street. York was short-lived, as in the 1916 directory Reid was in business with Dunn, North Carolina, resident William Bates. Their tailor shop, Bates & Reid, also operated from 603 East Nash.

141061 (1)_Page_1

Original document in the collection of the Freeman Round House Museum, Wilson, and digitized at

Benjamin Frank Barnes.


Cornerstone, Mount Hebron Lodge.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charley Barnes, 50, wife Beckey, 36, and children John, 10, Frank, 6, Ann, 4, William C., 3, Thomas, 1, and Corah H., 1 month.

On 3 May 1899, Benjamin F. Barnes, 25, son of Charles and Rebecca Barnes of Wilson County, married Prudy Miller, 20, daughter of Prissy Miller, in Wilson. Rev. S.B. Hunter performed the ceremony at Saint John’s A.M. E. Zion in the presence of L.A. Moore, Charlotte Aycock and Annie V.C. Hunt.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house mover Frank Barnes, 28, wife Prudence, 21, mother-in-law Priscillia Miller, 45, and her son John, 14.

On 14 September 1904, B.F. Barnes, 31, of Wilson County, son of Charles and Rebecca Barnes, married Nicey A. Harper, 30, daughter of John and Edna Harper of Greene County, in Snow Hill township, Greene County.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Benj. F. Barnes, bricklayer, is listed residing at 221 Pender Street.

In the 1910 census of Snow Hill, Greene County: in the household of John and Edna Harper, son-in-law Frank Barnes, 37, married twice, brickmason, and daughter Nicie A., 38.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 418 Green Street, brickmason Frank Barnes, and wife Nicey, 47.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason Frank Barnes, 68, wife Nicey, 69, and brother-in-law Will Harper, 62.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2016.