Children admitted to Colored Orphanage Asylum, Oxford, North Carolina.

DigitalNC recently uploaded a ledger of African American children admitted into Grant Colored Asylum, an institution established by the North Carolina legislature in 1883. The facility’s name was changed to the Colored Orphanage Asylum of North Carolina in 1887 and is now known as the Central Children’s Home of North Carolina. Ledger entries record a child’s name, town and county of residence, date of admittance into the orphanage, date of birth, physical description, and observations about the child’s character. Other information documented could include the child’s parents’ names and church affiliation, notes about the parents, and names of those recommended the orphanage and filed the application for admittance. Some entries contain detailed information about the child’s stay at the orphanage and his or her whereabouts after the stay. [Warning: by today’s standards, descriptions of the lives of these children and their families can appear harsh and judgmental.]

I found entries for these six Wilson County children:

  • Edwin [Edward] Pitt

Ten year-old Edwin Pitt entered the orphanage on 8 June 1908. His parents, who were not married, were Thomas Day, who died in 1902 after a fall, and Martha Pitt, who was living. Dr. Frank S. Hargrove recommended Edwin’s admission; Martha Pitt applied; and A.M.E. Zion minister Nicholas D. King approved it. “Neither mother nor child bear good reputation. The mother once stood well.”


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Violet Pit, 50, washing, and children Martha, 24, washing, Hattie, 22, cooking, Lula, 21, cooking, Ben, 19, tobacco stemmer, Carry, 12, cooking, Rosa, 16, nurse, Meaner, 11, Jenney, 5, and Edward, 2.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pitt Martha (c) laundress h 410 S Goldsboro

In the 1910 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, North Carolina: at Oxford Colored Orphanage, Edward Pitt, 12, inmate, home farm laborer.

Edward Pitts died 14 January 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 21 years old; was born in Wilson County to Thomas Day and Martha Pittman [sic]; was single; and worked as a hotel waiter. Elsie Pitts was informant.

  • Eddie Woodard

Twelve year-old Eddie Woodard entered the orphanage on 23 November 1908. His parents, who were not married, were Eddie Sanders, who died in 1902, and Chloe Woodard.


In the 1910 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, North Carolina: at Oxford Colored Orphanage, Eddie Woodard, 12, inmate.

In 1917, Eddie Woodard registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 21 October 1896 in Wilson, N.C.; lived in Wilson; was single; and worked as a delivery boy at a dry goods store, Barrett Patrick Company, Wilson.

On 17 July 1919, Eddie Woodard, 23, married Ada Melton, 18, at Milton’s house. Otis Wright applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister William Baker performed the ceremony in the presence of Augustus Blow, Otis Wright, and Sarah Jones.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Cora [sic] Woodard, 47; won Eddie, 24, tobacco factory worker; daughter-in-law Ada, 19, tobacco factory worker; grandson Robert Wright, 6 months; and son-in-law Odis Wright, 25, widower, hardware company laborer.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 815 Mercer Street, owned and valued at $1500, Clora Woodard, 56, washing; son Eddie Woodard, 34, clothes presser at pressing club; and Robert L. Wright, 10, grandson.

In 1942, Eddie W. Woodard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 3 October 1895 in Wilson; lived at 815 Mercer Street (411 Church Street, Norfolk, Virginia, was crossed out); was unemployed; and his contact was mother Cloara Woodard.

  • Nola Davis

Sixteen year-old Nola Davis entered the orphanage on 16 November 1909. Her parents Alonzo and Adeline Parks Davis were dead; they had had a “good reputation.” Dr. William Mitchner had recommended her admittance; Amanda Bynum had applied; and Samuel H. Vick had approved it.

  • Lillian and Dave Morris

Siblings Lillian Morris, 12, and Dave Morris, 7, entered the orphanage in February 1917. Their father Dave Morris had died of tuberculosis several years earlier, and their mother Lillian Hinson Morris was “a hopeless invalid.” Episcopal rector E.R. Perry [R.N. Perry] recommended that they be sent to Oxford.


In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, painter David Morris, 34; wife Lillian, 30; and children Pearle E., 12, Charles, 9, Lillian, 7, and David, 7 months.

By 1920, Lillian had aged out of the orphanage and returned home. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 108 Smith, William Johnson, 25, born in South Carolina; wife Lillian, 32, born in England; and [his] stepchildren Charles, 17, Lillie, 15, and Mabel, 6.

However, in the 1920 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, N.C.: in the Oxford Colored Orphanage, inmate David Morris, 10.

Lillian [Hinson Morris] Johnson died 6 March 1921 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia; was married to William Johnson; and lived on Smith Street.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Morris Lillian (c) elev opr Court House h 22 Ashe

On 14 December 1935, David E. Morris married Lorenza Williams in Brooklyn, New York.

In the 1940 census of Kings County, New York: at 624 Madison, David Morris, 30, W.P.A. worker; wife Lorenza, 22; and son Edward, 4.

However: also in 1940, David Edward Morris registered for the World War II draft in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York. Per his registration, he was born 28 February 1909 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 99 Stockton Street, Brooklyn; his contact was Sylvia Lipshitz Morris; and he worked for W.P.A., 70 Columbus Avenue, New York. On the reverse of the card, Morris is described as having a light brown complexion with black hair and brown eyes. Under “Race,” the check mark beside “Negro” is blacked out and the word “Error” written in; “White” is checked with a different pen in a different hand.

Detail from David E. Morris’s draft registration card. 

In the 1950 census of Brooklyn, David Morris is not found, but S.O. Morris is described as divorced, and Lorenza Morris as separated.

David Morris died in Brooklyn on 3 August 1965.

  • Maggie Cox

Scant notes survive for Maggie Cox, who was 13 years old when she entered the orphanage in, most likely, 1917. There were “no particulars” about her background, other than that she had been “sent by S.N. [sic] Vick.”

Grant Colored Asylum and the Colored Orphanage Asylum of North Carolina Enrollment Ledger, Central Children’s Home of North Carolina, North Carolina Memory,

Save Your Spaces.

I’m honored to join these amazing women at Save Your Spaces Cultural Heritage and Historic Preservation Festival to talk about successes and challenges in the critical work of preserving African-American cemeteries.

If you’re intrigued by local history, have stories to tell or histories to preserve, are curious and want to learn more about cultural heritage and create ways to preserve it, please join us March 4 at Create ATL, 900 Murphy Avenue SW, Atlanta.

Where was the Tubercular Home?

When Dr. Frank S. Hargrave and Samuel H. Vick envisioned the healthcare facility they would found to treat African-American patients in Wilson, it had two parts — a hospital and a “tubercular home,” i.e. sanatorium, outside town limits.

Wilson Hospital opened on East Green Street in 1913. Later that year, Sam Vick sold a forty-acre parcel south of downtown to The Wilson Tubercular Home, Inc., for $5000.   Vick had bought the parcel in 1902 from S.W. and Jean S. Venable.

Deed book 97, page 313, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Despite reports that a building on the site was near completion, the Tubercular Home apparently never opened. 

With the help of Wilson County’s GIS Coordinator Will Corbett, I have identified the rough location of “high sandy knoll self-drained and one-third of which is covered with native pines” upon which a sanatorium and patient cottages were to be built., Pinpointing the area will require additional research in the Register of Deeds office.

Lane Street Project: congrats to Winston-Salem’s Friends of Oddfellows Cemetery!

Wilson’s Odd Fellows Cemetery is not the only one that fell on hard times. Nor is it the only one under the care of a dedicated group of volunteers. Winston-Salem, N.C.’s Odd Fellows Cemetery is much larger than Wilson’s, and F.O.C. is a much older organization founded under different circumstances than Lane Street Project. They are a model, though, for work we may seek to undertake in Wilson, and we congratulate them on winning the 2022 Minnette C. Duffy Landscape Preservation Award!

W.C.P.L. presents “Wilson County’s African American Firefighters 1893-1965.”

I cannot say enough in praise of Wilson County Public Library and its incredible cadre of dedicated librarians. WCPL offers an incredible array of services and steadfastly walks the walk of inclusion, holding space for the stories of all of us.

This month, local history librarian Tammy Medlin produced an information-packed segment on the histories of our favorite Red Hot Hose Company and the East Nash Volunteer Fire Department.

Please support your local library — here’s how

The obituary of L.A. Moore, grocer and insurance agent.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 February 1948.

Like many prominent men in early 20th century East Wilson, Lee A. Moore was a member of both the Masonic and Odd Fellows lodges. His obituary indicates that he was to be “buried with Masonic honors in the Masonic cemetery.” However, Odd Fellows Hannibal Lodge 1552 submitted a notice to members to meet at its lodge hall for Moore’s funeral and noted that “the lodge will charge at the grave.”

Wilson Daily Times, 28 February 1948.

Lane Street Project: our story.

Technological miscues last night prevented me from reaching the question-and-answer portion of my LSP presentation, but I did manage to record my exposition on the history of the Lane Street Project cemeteries and the Project itself. Please send me any questions you have about our work, and I’ll answer promptly.

The Season 3 kick-off clean-up is Saturday, January 14, and we hope to see you there!

The death of Robert Smith, prominent farmer.

Mercy Hospital provided critical healthcare not only to African-Americans in Wilson County, but those in surrounding counties as well.

Robert B. Smith, a prominent Black farmer near Walstonburg, Greene County, came to Wilson for treatment of his kidney disease. He died at Mercy on 21 September 1935.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 October 1935.

Rev. Rufus A. Horton performed Smith’s funeral service. Lula Smith of 630 Suggs Street was informant for the death certificate.

Lane Street Project: Zoom Q. and A. tonight.

Please join me tonight for a little history of Wilson’s African-American cemeteries and of Lane Street Project. The Season 3 opening clean-up is in just a few days, and this will be an opportunity to ask anything you want to know about us!


Lisa Y. Henderson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Lane Street Project Q&A
Time: Jan 10, 2023 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 853 9578 0016
Passcode: 463995
One tap mobile
+13092053325,,85395780016#,,,,*463995# US
+13126266799,,85395780016#,,,,*463995# US (Chicago)

Find your local number: