Law

Charles S. Darden, Esq.

The second of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden’s sons, Charles Sylvester Darden made his mark far from home — in Los Angeles, California.  Though he largely eluded the decennial censuses, the trajectory of Darden’s career as a hard-charging attorney can be glimpsed in contemporary newspapers and other documents.

Dinah Darden and her elder sons, James B., Charles S. and John W. Darden.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charles Darden, 26; wife Diana, 21; and children John, 3, Annie, 2, and Charlie, 9 months.

Charles Darden received an undergraduate degree at Howard University and graduated from its law school in 1904.

The Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), 31 May 1904.

In short order, Darden headed West and in 1906 passed the examination for admission to the California bar. He was one of the first licensed African-American lawyers in the state.

The anomaly of Darden’s position early caught the attention of the local press, and in 1907 this mocking piece appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Times, 25 December 1907.

Within his community, however, Darden was taken seriously. In May 1908, his place in the political life of black Los Angeles was signaled by his inclusion among leaders calling for a protest against Republican presidential nominee William H. Taft for his recommendation that President Theodore Roosevelt dismiss black soldiers blamed for murder in the Brownsville Affair.

 

Los Angeles Herald, 31 May 1908.

That same year, Darden was instrumental in organizing a Howard University alumni association in Los Angeles. The Times covered the group’s annual banquet in 1909.

Los Angeles Times, 11 February 1909.

By 1911, Darden had entered the arena in which he had the greatest impact — real estate development and litigation. That year, as the first black lawyer to argue before the California Supreme Court, Darden attacked racially restrictive covenants

By 1913, he and ten others incorporated the Co-operative Commercial Investment Company.

Los Angeles Times, 27 November 1913.

He also was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1913.

Journal of the Supreme Court of the United States.

In 1915, black police officer Homer L. Garrott purchased a home in the Angeles Park subdivision of Los Angeles. Angeles Park lots were covered by a restrictive covenant prohibiting sales to black, Japanese and Chinese buyers, and the Title Guarantee Company sued to enforce it. Charles S. Darden stepped up to defend Garrott. A Superior Court judge ruled in Garrott’s favor, striking down race restrictions as null and void. Angeles Park and the title company appealed, and the case reached the California State Supreme Court in 1919. The ruling was affirmed, but bizarrely undercut by the court’s decision in another case upholding the validity of occupancy clauses. (For more re Garrott, see Douglas Flamming, Bound for Freedom: Black Los Angeles in Jim Crow America (2005)).

As the United States entered World War I, Darden got involved in protests over the forced retirement of African-American Colonel Charles Young in the wake of resistance by white officers balking at being outranked by a black man. In a letter to Dean Kelly Miller of Howard University, Darden also championed of the causes of Captain Benjamin O. Davis Sr. and a Captain Green, who had also been effectively sidelined.

Kansas City Sun, 21 July 1917.

Two months later, Darden wrote directly to the Secretary of the War Department, complaining that the applications of well-qualified young African-American men were being turned down “because of their color.” The response was terse and not entirely to the point: “At the present time no colored squadrons are being formed and applications from colored men for this branch of service cannot be considered for that reason.”

Letter from Secretary of War to Charles S. Darden, 11 August 1917; W.E.B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312); Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

In 1918, Charles Sylvester Darden registered for the World War I draft in Los Angeles. Per his registration card, he was born 10 August 1879 in Wilson, North Carolina; resided at 224 South Spring, Los Angeles; was a self-employed lawyer at 407 Germain, Los Angeles; was 5’4″ and of medium build; and his nearest relative was Charles H. Darden, 110 Pender Street, Wilson, North Carolina.

“Incorporations,” Southwest Builder and Contractor, volume 57, number 11 (18 March 1921).

The beach at Santa Monica’s Bay Street, popular with African-Americans in the early 20th century, was derogatorily called “The Inkwell”. While they appreciated the access to the Pacific Ocean that the beach represented, local African-American leaders also wanted an end to all efforts to inhibit their freedom to use all public beaches. In 1922, the Santa Monica Bay Protective League attempted to purge African Americans from the city’’s shoreline by blocking an effort by the Ocean Frontage Syndicate, an African American investment group led by Norman O. Houston and Charles S. Darden, to develop a resort with beach access at the base of Pico Boulevard. Santa Monica officials quickly enacted zoning laws to deny the Ocean Frontage Syndicate beach front property, changing such regulations once whites bought the land and made similar development proposals.

In 1940, Darden partnered with two African-American doctors to form the Los Angeles Negro Professional Men’s Athletic Club, a venue for boxing matches, ball games, dances and other affairs.

Pittsburgh Courier, 29 June 1940.

A whiff of scandal touched Darden in 1940, but failed to gain traction. He was held blameless in a fatal automobile accident on Anaheim’s Santa Ana Canyon Road. Darden apparently never married, and the paper was careful to note that his female companion was white.

Santa Ana Register, 27 August 1940.

In 1942, Charles S. Darden registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 10 August 1879 in Wilson, North Carolina; he resided at 1802 Central, Los Angeles; his phone number was PR 3750; he was employed as an attorney at 1802 Central; and his contact was C.L. Darden, Wilson, North Carolina.

Charles S. Darden died in March 1954 in Los Angeles.

The Daily Press (Newport News, Va.), 17 March 1954.

Photograph of Dardens courtesy of N.J. and C. Darden, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine; J. Clay Smith Jr., Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer 1844-1944 (1993).

Williamson v. Williamson, 57 N.C. 272 (1858).

This case was filed in Wilson County Court of Equity by Garry Williamson and Jesse Fulgham, executors of the will of Thomas Williamson, concerning the distribution of certain enslaved people for whom Williamson claimed ownership. The principle question posed to the North Carolina Supreme Court was whether enslaved children, born before Williamson died, passed with their mothers to the designated legatees. “The general rule is clearly settled that the bequest simply of a female slave and her increase passes the mother only, and not the increase which she may have had before the will was executed, or between that time and the death of the testator.” An exception would be where the testator’s intent to include the children can be inferred from a reference to the enslaved woman having previously been in the possession of the legatee. Otherwise, the children become part of the “residue,” i.e. property to be liquidated and the proceeds equally divided among legatees.

The chart below summarizes the fates of 26 of the enslaved people — all women and children — that Thomas Williamson owned. It is a stark encapsulation of the devastating impact of slavery on African-American families. And where were their men? An examination of Williamson’s will, drafted in August 1852, reveals further separation. Thomas Williamson had separately bequeathed Turner, Patrick and Dennis to his wife Keziah Williamson, and Jack to son Garry Williamson.

 

“Standing by your old ni**er, are you?”

b Woodard 1 31 1908

News & Observer (Raleigh), 31 January 1908.

This nasty bit of “news” is a sample of the gratuitous racism that permeated Josephus DanielsNews & Observer in the Jim Crow era. Daniels had grown up in and gotten his journalistic start in Wilson and undoubtedly knew all the involved parties well.

Benjamin Woodard, a notorious folk doctor in Wilson County, had been arrested on unclear charges (probably involving bootlegging liquor) and hauled into federal court in Raleigh. Several notable white Wilsonians showed up to serve as counsel and character witnesses, including brothers and law partners Frederick A. Woodard (a former United States Congressman) and Sidney A. Woodard (a state congressman). The Woodards were described as Ben Woodard’s former owners, though F.A. had been a child and S.A. an infant at war’s end. Ben’s owner, then, had been their father, Dr. Stephen Woodard of Black Creek, Wilson County. F.A. requested a nolle prosequi (“nol. pros.”), which is odd, as this is generally a motion made by a prosecutor who wishes to drop charges. The District Attorney here politely indicated his unwillingness to make such a request, but the judge cheerfully entered it anyway. Thus Dr. Ben benefitted from ties forged in slavery and earned an insulting article in the state’s newspaper of record.

Establishing a graded school.

From “The Graded School Bill: An Act to Establish a Graded School in Wilson township, Wilson County,” as published in the Wilson Advance. The North Carolina legislature ratified the bill on 27 February 1883.

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Wilson Advance, 23 March 1883.

  • E.C. Simms. Edward Cicero Simms was a teacher. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher Edward C. Simms, 23, wife Nicy, 26, and son Edward, 7 months. By 1891, the Simms family had moved to Norfolk, Virginia, where Edward is listed in the city directory. By 1897, Edward was an ordained A.M.E. Zion minister, as shown in this 9 May 1897 edition of the Norfolk Virginian:

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  • G.A. Farmer. Probably, Gray Farmer, a carpenter and constable.
  • Peter Rountree was a shoemaker.
  • Charles Battle was a blacksmith.
  • Jerry Washington. Jeremiah Washington was a blacksmith. His daughter Annie Maria married Samuel H. Vick.
  • C.M. Jones
  • Daniel Vick, carpenter, farmer and politician, was the father of Samuel H. Vick.
  • Samuel Williams was a baker, then grocer. In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: baker Samuel Williams, 30, with carpenter Daniel Vick, 25, wife Fanny, 24, and children Samuel, 8, Earnest, 3, Netta M., 5, and Violet Drake, 52. On 24 September 1870, Samuel Williams, parents unknown, married Ann Scarbro, daughter of Jack and Zaly Adams, in Wilson. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Samuel Williams, 38, wife Ann, 47, and daughter Anna, 9. In the 1900 census, grocer Samuel Williams, 58, with lodgers William Jackson, 36, and William Allen, 25, both tobacco graders.
  • C.H. Darden. Charles H. Darden was a blacksmith and, later, undertaker. In 1938, Wilson’s high school for African-American children would be named for Darden.

Strung from a tree and shot to death.

The story broke 86 years ago today. Twenty-nine year-old Oliver Moore, accused of raping two small white girls, had been dragged from a Tarboro jail by a mob of 250. After hauling him across the line into Wilson County, the crowd strung Moore from a tree with plow lines and shot him to pieces. (He may have been “maltreated” — castrated — beforehand, but that was just a rumor.) Officially, it was the first lynching in North Carolina since 1921, and the first ever in Wilson County. The sheriff was chagrined. “… I shall not hesitate to bring the leaders to justice,” he declared. “If I find them.”

North Carolina’s relatively progressive governor, O. Max Gardner, professing outrage from his vacation spot, called Moore’s lynching a disgrace, but dawdled over a decision to have the state lead an investigation into the murder. The first coroner’s jury threw up its hands.

SRL 8 21 1930

Statesville Record & Landmark, 21 August 1930.

Governor Gardner offered a $400 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the lynchers, and Wilson County’s solicitor uttered strong protestations of his intentions to see this thing through.

However.

“Not a clue,” said the Edgecombe County sheriff. The mob had been quiet and swift and manned with utter strangers who’d been shrewd enough to remove their license plates.

SRL 8 21 1930 2

Statesville Record & Landmark, 21 August 1930.

And four days later, the matter wrapped.

Officials were “unable to place the blame.” There was not a clue. On the other side of the state, Statesville’s newspaper of record expressed disappointment in the outcome and wagged a disapproving finger at Down East folks who apparently strongly supported “mob murder.” (Memory of the notorious 1906 Gillespie-Dillingham triple lynching just down the road in Salisbury had apparently faded into the ignominious past.)

SRL 8 25 1930

Statesville Record & Landmark, 25 August 1930.

——

Though newspaper reports emphasized that the crowd had taken Oliver Moore into Wilson County — presumably to shake the jurisdiction of Edgecombe’s hapless deputy sheriff — his death certificate was filed in Edgecombe and described his place of death as “near Macclesfield.” The coroner duly noted Moore’s sex, race and marital status, then skipped the rest of the personal preliminaries to bluntly record a cause of death: “riddled with bullets and shot from hands of unknown mob (lynched).”

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I have not identified Oliver Moore in any census. The Morgan family, however, lived in Township 9 (also known as Otter Creek township), which shares several miles of border with Wilson County approximately 12-15 miles east of Wilson. Oliver’s brother, who refused (did not dare?) to claim his body, may have been the Andrew Moore, 23, listed with his young family in the 1920 census of Otter Creek.

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We do not know who, in fact, attacked the Morgan sisters. We never will. We do know, however, that justice was not served.

For a minute analysis of the lynching of Oliver Moore, offering details of the alleged rape, the kidnapping of Moore, the response of local citizens and media, and a social and historical outline of Edgecombe County, see the Chapter “North Carolina Slips Back” in Arthur F. Raper’s The Tragedy of Lynching, published in 1933 by the University of North Carolina Press.

Fifteen lashes.

Ord. 15. Any free negro caught at the house of a slave after night without the permission of the owner or manager of the slave shall be whipped not to exceed fifteen lashes; and any slave caught at the house of a free negro without a pass from his owner or manager shall be whipped not to exceed fifteen lashes.

——

Wilson’s earliest town ordinances have been transcribed in Minutes of City Council, Volume 1, 1850-1885, a bound volume shelved at Wilson County Public Library, Wilson.

Negroes on credit at 6% interest.

Bartlett Deans vs. Wyatt Moye  }

By virtue and in pursuance of a commission to me directed from the Superior Court of Law for the County of Wilson State of North Carolina, to take the deposition of Robert S. Adams, a witness on the part of the Defendant in the above entitled Cause, I have this day caused to come before me the said Robert L. Adams, who being by me, first duly sworn to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, touching and concerning the facts in aforesaid suit, deposes as follows.

I stayed all night near Bartlett Deans on my way to Mississippi on the night of the 14th September AD 1848 with a lot of Negroes belonging to Moye & Adams and Bartlett Deans offered to sell us (Moye & Adams) two Negroes, Aberdeen and Abraham, both about twenty Six years old, for Eleven Hundred and fifty Dollars on one or two years Credit, with Six per cent Interest, and we refused to buy at that price. We then made with him the following Contract. We were to take the two Negroes above mentioned to Mississippi for the said Deans, and to hire them out for said Deans in the State of Mississippi Monroe County, or to deliver them over to some agent, and bring him the agents receipt, or if R.S. Adams could see them, so as to make them nett said Deans Eleven Hundred and fifty Dollars, then they were to be sold: but if said Adams hired them, Deans was to pay all expenses and trouble for bringing them out, And on that occasion, said Deans did offer to hand us the money for bringing them out, which money we refused, not knowing whether the negroes would be sold on his account or hired. I did not deliver the above named Negroes over to any agent, because I thought I could sell them for more money that limit set on them. And all over the Eleven Hundred and fifty Dollars, was to go to us for bringing the Negroes out, in paying us for our trouble and expense. I did sell said Negroes on the 11th day of November AD 1848 to Lewis McLendon, he giving me John Brooks for security. I consulted with several of my best friends, before consummating the trade, if it would not be a good debt, and was told, it would be undoubted, as to the solvency of the Debt. I then sold the said Negroes for the Sum of Thirteen Hundred and fifty Dollars on one and two years credit with interest from the date at the rate of Six per cent, per annum, as Deans agent, and gave the Bill of Sale, sighning Deans name by me as his agent. At the time we received the said negroes and gave our receipt for them, Deans instructed us to take them, and if we sold them to sell either on time or on Cash just as we thought best, and as Negroes at that time were very low and dull we had to sell all of our lot on time, and also sold his in the same way. When the money became due I applied to McLendon several times for the money, and he as often promised that he would pay; but we found he would not Comply with his promise, and we then put the notes in the hands of an Attorney to bring suit upon, which was brought in the United States Court for the North District of Mississippi. There he through his Attorney’s plea, the Statute then in force in the State of Mississippi declaring that any Negro over fifteen years of age, should be accompanied by a certificate, Sworned to by two freeholders before the Clerk of the Court that they were of good character. The Judge, then presiding, decided, or was about to decide, sustaining the pleas, when the Counsel in both sides agreed for each party to pay half the cost, and stop the suit, in that Court, as an appeal could not be taken from that Court to the Supreme Court of the United States at Washington City, because the Sum was under two thousand Dollars.  We then commenced suit on both the notes in the Circuit Court of Monroe County State of Mississippi. He made the same pleas in the said Circuit Court, which were made in the United States District Court, and which were not sustained there. He then took an appeal to the High Court of Errors and Appeals for the State of Mississippi in both cases. The said High Court of Errors and Appeals sustained his pleas and liberated him from both the notes. We in all the Courts employed Messrs Davis and Acker and William H. Dowd, who were considered as good Lawyers as any in the Northern portion of Mississippi. This we did in accordance with letters received from Bartlett Deans, which telling us to employ the best Counsel we could get. He in said letters recognized the suits as his and not ours. The endorsements on the receipt was put on them after the Negroes were sold; the one written by Wyatt Moye was on the receipt when I put the bottom one on written by myself, which I did at the March Superior Court of Wayne County at Waynesboro about the last week in March AD 1849. At the time I put the endorsements on the receipt Deans did not claim the money from us, but from the notes. Nor I never heard of his claiming it from us until I hear that he had sued Wyatt Moye. Always when talking to me about the debt, he spoke of it as his own, and would want to know when he would get his money from those men out in Mississippi whom he had sued.

His only object he said in getting me to put the endorsements on the receipt, stating the time the Negroes were sold, was to know from what time the claim began to draw Interest. I saw Deans several times during the time the suits were pending, and he always asked me about the suits and how they were progressing, and always spoke of the suits as his own, and never in any other way, only as his own. I am entirely uninterested in the suit in Wilson Superior Court State of North Carolina between Bartlett Deans and Wyatt Moye which grew out of the sale of the two Negroes Aberdeen and Abraham as he, the said Wyatt Moye, was given me a release both in Law an Equity, which release I annex to this deposition marked Exhibit B.   /s/ Robert S. Adams

The State of Mississippi, Monroe County   } I Newton J. Beckett Justice of the Peace in and for said State and County, do hereby Certify that I caused to come before me, at the office of William F. Dowd Aberdeen Mississippi Robert S. Adams, the witness named in the foregoing Interrogatories and whose name is signed to this depositon, who being by me first duly sworn to speak the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth did depose thereto in the foregoing answers or statement; that the said statement of the said witness was by me reduced to writing in his presence, read to him and signed by him as his deposition in my presence. I do hereby further certify that the said deposition has not been altered, or changed since the same was subscribed by the said [illegible] and that the same has remained in my possession even to the time of sealing and delivering the same to the Post Master of Aberdeen Monroe County State of Mississippi. In witness whereof I do hereunto set my hand and affix my hand & private seal having no seal of office this the 29th day of April AD 1858   /s/ Newton J. Beckett {seal} Justice of the Peace and Commissioner

Exhibit B.

State of Mississippi Monroe County April 26th 185[illegible] I hereby Release both as law & Equity Robert L. Adams from all liability growing out of a Suit in the Wilson Superior Court State of North Carolina B. Deans vs Wyatt Moye related to two negroes Aberdeen & Abraham or any other suit which may grow out of said Transaction. Witness by hand & seal  /s/ Wyatt Moye   Witness /s/ J.E. Cunningham

——

It is safe to say that Wyatt Moye and Robert S. Adams were two of the largest slave traders ever to come out of Wilson County. For nearly twenty years — individually, together and in other partnerships — these men built thriving businesses facilitating the sale of enslaved men and women in eastern North Carolina “down the river” to Mississippi and Louisiana.

Moye was born in Greene County in 1793 and lived in Edgecombe until about 1845, when “soon after his wife’s death, Wyatt left for Mississippi where he established Wyatt Moye & Co., which either owned plantations or operated them for many of the wealthy landowners from Eastern North Carolina, including his future son-in-law, William Francis Dancy of Tarboro.” At least, this is way his memorial at Findagrave.com puts it.

In fact, Moye had not left North Carolina for good. On December 20, 1848, as senator from Edgecombe County, he introduced a bill in the Senate to “incorporate Toisnot Depot and Hickory Grove in the County of Edgecombe into a town by the name of Wilson.” He is listed in the 1850 census of Edgecombe County with no occupation but owning $5000 in real property. Ten years later, he is listed in the Western Division of Monroe County, Mississippi, as a “trader” owning $5500 in real property and $7500 in personal property [read: slaves]. Simultaneously, more than 400 miles away in Saint Mary Parish, Louisiana, Wyatt Moye & Company appears in the slave schedule as the owner of 119 slaves. Moye died at Dancy, his Saint Mary plantation, in 1862 and was buried in Tarboro, North Carolina.

Moye’s long-time involvement in the slave trade is borne out in these two ads:

Newbern Spectator 9261829

Newbern Spectator, 26 September 1829.

Gboro Patriot 12251847

Greensboro Patriot, 25 December 1847.

Robert S. Adams (1813-1873) was appointed postmaster at Stantonsburg, then in Edgecombe County, in 1840. He seems to have maintained part-time residency in the Stantonsburg area into the 1850s, but otherwise lived in Aberdeen, Monroe County, Mississippi. He built a grand columned Greek Revival-style mansion there in 1856 and was counted among the town’s residents in the 1860 federal census.

The kerfuffle over Aberdeen and Abraham was not the first deal to go bad for Moye and Adams. In 1849, Moye, Adams and Stephenton Page of Edgecombe County formed a partnership to buy and sell slaves. Using Moye and Adams’ money, Page bought six slaves for $2,762.50. One, Jim, escaped, but Page took the others — Martha, John, Adeline, Viney and Mary — to Mississippi. When he could not sell them, he turned them over to Adams, who sold them for $3375. However, in an action filed in Edgecombe County in 1850, Moye and Adams alleged that Page had captured and sold Jim without sharing any profits and owed them other expenses.

Adams formed another partnership in Aberdeen, Mississippi, with Moses J. Wicks:

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Natchez Free Trader, 20 November 1852.

In the letters below, he corresponded with Ziba B. Oakes, Esq., a Charleston slave trader, concerning sending a group of slaves to Wilmington and purchasing a “small lot of negroes” in Richmond:

RS Adams to Ziba Oakes

Directions for sending Negroes to Wilmington. Letter from Robert S. Adams to Ziba B. Oakes, 29 July 1853. Rare Books Department, Boston Public Library.

Adams Wicks to Oakes

Request for remittance. Adams & Wicks, Aberdeen, Mississippi, manuscript letter signed to Ziba B. Oakes, 4 January 1854. Rare Books Department, Boston Public Library.

adams french house

Adams-French House, Aberdeen, Mississippi. It has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1988.

Bartley Deans, Sr. (1776-1860), for his part, was a Nash County-born farmer whose last will and testament disposed of 44 enslaved people.

Records of Slaves and Free People of Color, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Captain Glavis’ district.

On the Freedmen’s Bureau “court day” in Wilson County:

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Colonel Eliphalet Whittlesey, the Freedmen’s Bureau’s first assistant commissioner for North Carolina, appended to his Congressional testimony an unattributed article from the 3 February 1866 edition of the New York Tribune, in which the writer chronicled his train voyage through the South. Found in The Reports of the Committees of the House of Representatives, Made During the First Session Thirty-Ninth, 1865-’66.

Protests Jim-Crow; jailed.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 5 February 1938.

WILSON, N.C., Feb. 3 — Sidney Ingram of this city, was named by Federal Agents Friday after writing protest letters to the Presidents of  the Norfolk, Southern and Seaboard Airline railways over Jim Crow treatment while traveling.

He told operatives he bought a ticket from Eilson to Bailey, was told to get on Greenville train, then put off mile from Wilson station. His letters signed “David Ingram.” Not threatening but asked aid in getting “just calls” from railroad. Ingram was released after investigation.

——

Two years later, Sidney Ingram was counted in the 1940 census among the “inmates” housed at the notorious Eastern North Carolina Insane Asylum for Negroes.

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1940 census, Fork township, Wayne County, North Carolina.

He spent the remainder of his life institutionalized and died at the state hospital in 1954. His death certificate notes that he was a New Jersey native, that he was married, that his usual residence was Wilson County, and that he had been at the asylum for 15 years, three months and 16 days. He died of bladder cancer and “insanity,” and his body was sent “to Chapel Hill to be used by Anatomical Board.”

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Thus passed one of Wilson’s earliest civil rights activists.

——

If you are interested in the world of the Eastern North Carolina Insane Asylum, please read Susan Burch and Hannah Joyner’s Unspeakable, the story of Junius Wilson (1908-2001), a deaf African-American man who spent 76 years there, including six in the criminal ward, though he had never been declared insane by a medical professional or found guilty of any criminal charge.

 

 

No error.

Here is the decision of the North Carolina State Supreme Court in State v. Reid, 230 N.C. 561, 53 S.E.2d 849 (1949), an appeal from Allen T. Reid’s conviction for burglary with intent to rape (a white woman):

Supreme Court of North Carolina

State v. Reid, No. 76, June 16, 1949.

Appeal from Superior Court, Wilson County.  W.H.S. Burgwyn, Special Judge.

Criminal prosecution tried upon indictment charging defendant with the crime of burglary in the first degree.

When the case was called for trial, and before the trial jury was chosen, sworn or impaneled, counsel for the defendant filed a motion challenging the array of petit jurors, upon the ground of disproportionate representation of Negroes on petit juries in Wilson County, and long, continuous and systematic exclusion of Negroes from petit juries solely and wholly on account of their race and color, contrary to the laws of the State of North Carolina and the United States.

The defendant offered evidence in an effort to sustain his challenge to the array of petit jurors. Upon the evidence produced by counsel for defendant, the Court found as a fact that the officers whose duty it was to prepare the jury list and draw the panels of veniremen to be summoned by the Sheriff of Wilson County “from which petit jurors were drawn, have not selected and summoned jurors for the December 6 Term, 1948, in violation of G.S. of 1943, Chapter 9, Sections 1, 2, 3 and/or 9, and the Constitution and Laws of the United States, with the unlawful and avowed purpose of discriminating against persons of the Negro race; and that there is no evidence before the Court to show that the said officers have been systematically and continuously, over a long period of years, excluding Negroes from said juries in said county solely on account of their race or color; to the contrary, it has been effectively shown that there are the names of Negroes in the jury boxes of Wilson County, and that one member of that race was drawn and served as a member of the Grand Jury which returned the Bill of Indictment in this case, and that four or five members of the colored race were drawn for the special venire and summoned for the purpose of the trial of this case.” Whereupon the Court overruled the motion, and the defendant excepted. Exception No. 15.

It is disclosed by the evidence that Mr. and Mrs. James Barnes, at the time the alleged crime was committed, were living in a ground floor apartment, at 204 Park Avenue, in the City of Wilson.

The night of the alleged crime Mr. Barnes was in Washington, D. C., and Mrs. Barnes retired in the early morning of 2 September, 1948; no other member of the family or guests being in the apartment at the time. About 2:30 a. m., she was awakened by someone placing a hand on her shoulder. She was on an antique bed about three and a half feet high. The person who touched her was on the far side of the bed and when she realized that the hand was on her shoulder, she immediately got off the bed away from the person. The person grabbed her wrists and ordered her to be quiet and not to scream. She asked the person who he was, and he replied, “Never mind who I am.” She asked him how he entered the room and he said, “That’s all right; I got in here.” The prosecuting witness managed to free her right wrist after several minutes. The person then ordered her to get back on the bed. She asked him what he wanted. He stated that he wanted to commit an act, which would have been, if accomplished, a crime against nature. He also said to her several times: “If you scream, you know what I have.” She told him to leave and he told her if she would just get back on the bed it wouldn’t take long. She would not get back on the bed and he began twisting her left wrist. She testified that she realized something had to be done, and she yelled for Mrs. Mayo, the lady in whose home the apartment is located. The person then jumped out the bedroom window, head first. Mrs. Barnes further testified she did not know who the party was, except her assailant was a male person; that when she went to bed the window in her bedroom was approximately two-thirds raised; that there was a screen in the window which hooked into the side of the window and it was in good condition when she retired.

Mrs. Sarah Mayo testified that when she heard Mrs. Barnes scream “Sarah,” she immediately got out of bed, called her son and went into Mrs. Barnes’ apartment, and found her at the telephone. She noticed that the screen was cut but did not see anyone leave the house.

A witness who lived next door to Mrs. Mayo testified she was reading in bed and heard Mrs. Barnes scream about 2:30 a.m.; that she looked but did not see anyone but heard “footsteps running.” She then heard a car start.

A member of the Police Department of the City of Wilson, in response to a call, went to the Barnes apartment. He examined the window and found that the screen outside the window had been cut all the way from the top to the bottom with some sharp instrument. He found two razor blades just underneath the window on the outside. The razor blades were “Treet” blades. He also found a paper wrapping that goes on razor blades. Shortly thereafter police officers found a wrecked Chevrolet car on the railroad track of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad, four blocks from the Barnes apartment. In the car the officers found a wrapping from a “Treet” razor blade, which was on the floorboard of the front seat. The wrecked car belonged to the father of the defendant. The father testified the defendant took the car on the night of September 1st, and said he wanted to go to a show; that he did not see the car any more until it was pulled in after the wreck. The husband of the prosecuting witness testified he had never used “Treet” blades, and had no such blades in his home.

Between 8:30 and 8:45 on the morning of 2 September, 1948, A. J. Hayes, Jr., the identification officer of the Wilson Police Department, who was found by the Court to be a fingerprint expert, went to the Barnes apartment and made an investigation for fingerprints. He testified that on the inside of the window through which the entrance to the Barnes apartment had been made, he found a fingerprint on the lower right-hand corner of the window sill and bottom section of the window; and he photographed the fingerprint. At the trial this witness, and two other witnesses who are with the State Bureau of Investigation and were qualified as fingerprint experts, compared the fingerprint found in the Barnes apartment with fingerprints of the defendant made after his arrest in Norfolk, Va., on 25 October, 1948, and each one of them testified that the fingerprint found on the window sill on the inside of the Barnes apartment was identical with the fingerprint of the right index finger of the defendant.

The defendant offered no evidence.

From a verdict of guilty of burglary and sentence of death by asphyxiation, the defendant appeals and assigns error.

Attorney General Harry M. McMullan and Assistant Attorneys General Ralph M. Moody and T. W. Bruton, for the State.

Herman L. Taylor, Raleigh, and C. J. Gates, Durham, for defendant.

DENNY, Justice.

The exception to the failure of the Court to sustain defendant’s challenge to the entire array of petit jurors is not brought forward, as required by the Rules of this Court, Rule 28. However, the defendant discusses the exception at some length in his brief. Consequently, we have considered the exception and find it without merit.

His Honor’s findings of fact are supported by the evidence and are conclusive on appeal, since the exception presents no reviewable question of law. G.S. s 9-14; State v. Davenport, 227 N.C. 475, 42 S.E.2d 686; State v. Lord, 225 N.C. 354, 34 S.E.2d 205; State v. DeGraffenreid, 224 N.C. 517, 31 S.E.2d 523; State v. Wall, 211 N.C. 487, 191 S.E. 232; State v. Cooper, 205 N.C. 657, 172 S.E. 199; State v. Daniels, 134 N.C. 641, 46 S.E. 743. The question raised has been considered in a number of recent cases before this Court and no useful purpose would be served by a further discussion of the subject here. See State v. Speller, 230 N.C. 345, 53 S.E.2d 294; State v. Speller, 229 N.C. 67, 47 S.E.2d 537; State v. Brunson, 229 N.C. 37, 47 S.E.2d 478; State v. Koritz, 227 N.C. 552, 43 S.E.2d 77, certiorari denied 332 U.S. 768, 68 S.Ct. 80, 92 L.Ed. 354, and a rehearing denied 332 U.S. 812, 68 S.Ct. 106, 92 L.Ed. 390; and the cases cited.

Exception No. 16 is brought forward in the brief, but no argument is made or authority cited in support thereof, hence it will be considered as abandoned. Rules of Practice in the Supreme Court, Rule 28, 221 N.C. 546.

The defendant moved for judgment as of nonsuit at the close of the State’s evidence, on the ground that while the bill of indictment charges the defendant with burglarious entry with the felonious intent to ravish and carnally know Mrs. James Barnes, forcibly and against her will, the evidence he contends, tends to show only an intent to commit a crime against nature, condemned by G.S. sec. 14-177.

The conduct of the defendant in breaking and entering the bedroom of the prosecutrix in the night-time, and under the circumstances disclosed by the evidence, indicates the extent to which he was willing to go to accomplish his purpose. He might have preferred and intended to commit a crime against nature, or his statement in that respect might not have been indicative of his actual intent. We think the evidence was sufficient to carry the case to the jury under the allegations contained in the bill of indictment, and it was for the jury to determine, under all the circumstances, whether or not the defendant had the ulterior criminal intent at the time of the breaking and entering, to commit the felony charged in the bill of indictment. State v. Allen, 186 N.C. 302, 119 S.E. 504; State v. Boon, 35 N.C. 244, 57 Am.Dec. 555.

The trial judge charged the jury on the defendant’s contention in this respect, and instructed the jury to acquit the defendant if it found as a fact that the defendant entered the home of the prosecuting witness with the intent to commit a crime against nature and not with the intent to commit rape, as alleged by the State in the bill of indictment.

In State v. Boon, supra, Pearson, J., in speaking for the Court, said: “The evidence of the intent charged is certainly very slight, but we cannot say there is no evidence tending to prove it. The fact of the breaking and entering was strong evidence of some bad intent; going to the bed and touching the foot of one of the young ladies tended to indicate that the intent was to gratify lust. And the hasty retreat without any attempt at explanation, as soon as the lady screamed, was some evidence that the purpose of the prisoner, at the time he entered, was to gratify his lust by force. It was, therefore, no error to submit the question to the jury. Whether the evidence was sufficient to justify a verdict of guilty is a question about which the Court is not at liberty to express an opinion.”

In the instant case, it is clear the defendant wanted the prosecutrix to know he would resort to other means if she screamed. Whether he had the intent to commit the crime of rape, as charged, or the intent to commit a crime against nature, at the time of breaking and entering, was a question of fact to be determined by the jury.

Evidence as to the conduct of the defendant after breaking and entering may be considered by the jury in ascertaining the intent of the accused at the time of the breaking and entering. But where there is a breaking and entering into a dwelling house of another, in the night-time, with the intent to commit a felony therein, the crime of burglary is consummated, even though the accused person by reason of unexpected resistance or the outcry of his intended victim, may abandon his intent to commit the felony. State v. Hooper, 227 N.C. 633, 44 S.E.2d 42; State v. Allen, supra; State v. McDaniel, 60 N.C. 245; State v. Boon, supra.

Exceptions 65 and 67 are directed to the refusal of the Court below to grant the defendant’s motion for judgment as of nonsuit, challenging the sufficiency of the evidence to warrant its submission to the jury.

The appellant is relying largely on the case of State v. Minton, 228 N.C. 518, 46 S.E.2d 296, where the defendant’s fingerprint was found upon broken glass from the front door of a store that had been unlawfully entered. That case is distinguishable from the present one. The defendant in the Minton case was lawfully in the store in the afternoon of the day on which the crime was committed, and he may have made the fingerprint at that time.

We must keep in mind that a motion for judgment as of nonsuit in a criminal prosecution is properly denied if there is any competent evidence to support the allegations of a bill of indictment; and all the evidence tending to sustain the allegations in the bill of indictment upon which a defendant is being tried, will be considered in a light most favorable to the State, and the State is entitled to every reasonable inference to be drawn therefrom.  State v. Braxton, 230 N.C. 312, 52 S.E.2d 895; State v. Gentry, 228 N.C. 643, 46 S.E.2d 863; State v. Webb, 228 N.C. 304, 45 S.E. 2d 345; State v. Hough, 227 N.C. 596, 42 S.E.2d 659; State v. Ewing, 227 N.C. 535, 42 S.E.2d 676; State v. McKinnon, 223 N.C. 160, 25 S.E.2d 606; State v. Brown, 218 N.C. 415, 11 S.E.2d 321. Here the defendant was never lawfully in the apartment of the prosecutrix, and the presence of his fingerprint on the inside of the window sill in the sleeping quarters of the prosecutrix, when considered with the other evidence, was sufficient to carry the case to the jury.

The defendant has abandoned the remaining sixty-seven exceptions set out in the record.

The exceptions brought forward and argued in the defendant’s brief fail to show any prejudicial error in the trial below.

No error.

——

A few comments:

(1) First degree burglary was a capital crime in North Carolina until 1974.

(2) And then there was this:

stville-landmark-22-jan-1949

Statesville Daily Record, 22 January 1949.

Allen Reid’s lawyers, Herman L. Taylor of Raleigh and C.J. Gates of Durham, were African-American. They appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court, which denied cert.

(3) In 1949, “death by asphyxiation” meant the gas chamber.  According to the Statesville Daily Record, on 9 December, Allen Reid, 30, entered the chamber with Audie Lee Brown, 27, convicted of murder. They were seated side-by-side, and “the deadly cyanide pellets dropped at 10:02 a.m. EST.” After the gas cleared, prison officials executed Monroe Medlin, 23. Reid took 13 minutes to die; Brown, a minute less; and Medlin, a minute less than that. The other men on death row moaned “Rock of Ages” as the three took their last walk.

(4) The belief on the east side of Wilson’s railroad tracks was that Reid was in a clandestine relationship with Mrs. James Barnes. I found this report, written by a Reid cousin of Allen Reid, online.  I haven’t figured out yet what it was appended to, but it amplifies the suspicions I’ve heard and confirms my father’s recollection and my hunch that Allen Reid’s service in World War II had some bearing on the situation in which he found himself. It also contains unsurprising commentary on North Carolina’s uneven application of the death penalty for this particular crime (and, of course, in general.)