Institutions

Smith Ques.

The Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, based at Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, included three men with Wilson ties.

Brothers Ellis Brown Jr. (1921-1989) and William Edward Brown (1922-1993) were the sons of Ellis Brown and Margaret Scarborough Brown. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 306 Elba Street, truck driver Ellis Brown, 37; wife Margaret, 36; sons Ellis Jr., 19, and William E., 17; and father-in-law Jerry Scarboro. Ellis Brown taught high school in Wilson for 37 years, much of that time at Darden, and served as president of the Men’s Civic Club.

Baker Thompson Howell (1925-1980) was a son of Harry and Annie Thompson Howell and brother of William H. Howell. After service in the Army during World War II and graduation from JCSU, he attended Howard University Medical School. Dr. Howell did a residency at Homer G. Phillips Hospital in Saint Louis, Missouri, and practiced medicine in Chicago, serving as chief of psychiatry at Cook County Department of Mental Health.

 

Cemeteries, no. 15: Living Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

This small cemetery, outside Lucama on Artis Road next to Living Hope Missionary Baptist Church, contains only eight marked graves.

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The earliest burial seems to be that of Rev. Clemon J. Phillips, one of the church’s pastors.

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Clement Phillips, 20, of Gardners township, son of Walter Phillips and Lizzie P. Edwards, married Estelle Farmer, 17, of Gardners, daughter of Jim Farmer and Mary F. Horne, on 4 December 1929 in Gardners. Elder Robert Edwards, a Primitive Baptist minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Oscar Braswell, Jessie D. Pender and Elanzer Pender.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Macclesfield Road, farm laborer Clement Phillips, 28; wife Estelle, 27; and children Lula, 8, Mary L., 6, and Clement Jr., 5; plus uncle Ernest Blunt, 40.

In 1940, Clemant Phillips registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 February 1912 in Norfolk, Virginia; was married to Estelle Phillips, Route 3, Stantonsburg; and worked for Lonnie C. Worrell, Route 3, Stantonsburg.

Clemon Phillips died 8 October 1973 in a car accident near Lucama, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 February 1912 to Walter Phillips and Lizzie Blount; was married to Estelle Minerva Farmer; and was a Protestant clergyman. He was buried at Living Hope Church cemetery.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2016.

Ground-breaking. 

A couple of weeks ago, the Freeman Round House African-American History Museum broke ground on its new exhibition hall. When I was in Wilson last weekend, workmen — the occupational descendants of Oliver and Julius Freeman — were pouring cement for the hall’s foundation. The addition is being developed by a professional design team, and I look forward to seeing the museum’s holdings displayed and interpreted in their brand-new facility!

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The Round House and Oliver Freeman’s famous concrete dinosaur, which once stood in his front yard.

 

Paul T. Williamson.

Paul Thomas Williamson (1879-1960).

Merchant-farmer Paul T. Williamson donated the land upon which the Wilson County School Board built a six-room high school to serve African-American students in southwestern Wilson County. Williamson High School, which opened in 1942, later became known as Springfield High School.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 January 1960.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 December 1960.

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In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Elic Williamson, 44; wife Gracy, 29; and children John, 14, Lugen, 11, Joseph, 9, Jennie, 7, Mary, 6, Clem, 4, Sarah J., 2, and Pall, 1.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Williamson, 63; wife Gracy, 50; children Genny Whitley, 26, and Sarah, 22, Paul, 21, Daniel, 19, Henietta, 15, Edna, 15, and Katie Williamson, 12; and grandchildren Nancy, 8, Della, 5, and Pearle Whitley, 4.

On 23 November 1904, Paul Williamson, 25, son of Alex and Grace Williamson of Springhill township, married Mary Hinnant, 23, daughter of Joe and Rhoda Hinnant of Spring Hill township. W.H. Horton of the Christian denomination performed the ceremony at Thom Hinnant‘s house in the presence of  J.T. Hinnant, L.H. Horton and W.H. Shaw.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Smithfield Branch Road, farmer Paul Williamson, 31; wife Mary, 28; and children Beatrice, 4, and James C., 3.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Old Clayton & Wilson Road, farmer Paul T. Williamson, 40; wife Mary, 38; and children Beatrice, 14, and James, 12.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Paul T. Williamson, 51; wife Mary, 48; daughter Beatrice, 24; son James C., 23; daughter-in-law Anna D., 22;  grandson James W., 6 months; and boarder Ozie Allen, 35, a farm laborer.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Paul Williamson, 61; wife Mary, 57; daughter Beatrice, 34; son James, 33, filling station operator; daughter-in-law Anna, 32; and grandchildren Jantice, 8, and Paul W., 6.

Paul Thomas Williamson died 27 December 1960 in Lucama, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 February 1879 in Wilson County to Alex Williamson and Grace Shaw; worked as a grocery store merchant; and was married to Mary Williamson.

Photo of Williamson courtesy of Wilson Daily Times.

Annie Weeks and the Federated Club.

In the 1880 census of Wake Forest, Wake County, North Carolina: farmer Henderson Cook, 37; wife Mariah, 30; and children Livelina, 12, Lidia J., 9, Bryant, 7, Bettie A., 5, Willie, 3. and Laura A., one month.

In the 1910 census of New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina: at 176 George Street, pastor Alfred L. Weeks, 34; wife Annie, 34, a teacher; daughter Marie E., 4; and sister Bessie, 20.

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Hill’s New Bern, N.C., City Directory (1911-1912).

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: Alfred Weeks, 44, a minister; wife Annie, 44; daughter Marie, 14, and sister Bessie, 26.

In the 1930 census of Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey: at 233 West Grand Street, minister Alfred L. Weeks, 54; wife Annie, 54; and seven boarders.

Annie Elizabeth Cook Weeks, then a resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, died while visiting Wilson on 19 April 1943. Her death certificate noted that she was born in Wake Forest, North Carolina, on 4 December 1875 to Henderson B. and Mariah D. Batchlor Cook of Wake County, and was a teacher. [Annie Weeks died at 916 East Green Street, the home of her brother Jerry L. Cook. He acted as informant on the death certificate.]

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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.

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[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.

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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.]