Hangouts and hospitals.

In 1991, front desk clerk turned newspaper man Roy G. Taylor (1918-1995) self-published a memoir of his years working in Wilson. Though tinged with the casual racism of the time, My City, My Home offers fascinating glimpses of Wilson in the World War II era.

Here are excerpts:

“And Negroes congregated en masse on Barnes Street in the block in which P.L. Woodard Company is located. It wasn’t that they had to gather there, for they had the privilege of meeting at any place in town, just as did the whites. They liked that area, and too, it was in close proximity to several hot dog joints and other eating places. Few white people were seen in that block on Saturday, and few Negroes were seen on Nash Street. It was a matter of the two races choosing to be with their own kind.” p. 44. [Editorial note: This is revisionism of the worst stripe. Wilson in the 1940s was as rigidly segregated by law as any other Southern town. — LYH]

“In the mid-1940s there were three hospitals in Wilson — the Woodard-Herring, the Carolina General, and Mercy. … Mercy Hospital was for the citizens of color. And it didn’t boast many, if any, doctors in those days. Doctors from both hospitals treated Negroes and performed surgery on them, but the surgeons went to Mercy and took their own nurses, did the operations and left the patients in the care of black nurses and attendants.

“If there was an emergency at either hospital and surgery was required, it was performed  at the hospital, and the patient kept there until they came out of the anesthetic. Then they were transported back to Mercy Hospital.

“Mercy Hospital was established in 1913 and had a 40-bed capacity.” pp. 45-46.


[Sidenote: P.L. Woodard Company, founded as an agricultural supply store in 1898, is the oldest established business still operating in Wilson. It’s in the 100 block of Barnes Street between Goldsboro and Tarboro Streets.]

Teachers at Sam Vick.

vick 49-50

Teachers at Samuel H. Vick Elementary School, 1949-50.

Front row

Back row

  • John Maxwell Miller Jr. — J.M. Miller (1910-1995), a native of Chesterfield, South Caroline, was principal of Sam Vick Elementary from 1944 to 1968.
  • Irene Wallace
  • Carrie Herndon — Carrie Lee Herndon (1915-1986) was probably a Nash County native.
  • Classie Jones Jarman — Classie Jones Jarman (1925-1993) was a native of Tarboro, North Carolina.
  • Ann Bostic — Annie Watson Bostic (1915-1959), a native of Johnston County, apparently lived in Wilson only briefly.
  • Etta Givens — Etta Daisy Wynn Givens (1921-2002) was a native of Mount Olive, Wayne County.
  • Hattie Dixon Nemo
  • Alvis Hines — Alvis Ashley Hines (1918-1981) was the son of Ashley and Mattie Barnes Hines. (His mother was a daughter of Ned and Louisa Gay Barnes.)

This photograph, contributed by Jennie P. Kerbo, is reprinted from 23 February 1999 edition of the Wilson Daily Times.

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).