I regularly mine Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps of Wilson for information, but only now have discovered the 1923 maps of Elm City. Sheet 4 covers the town’s historic African-American east side. Three inserts show streets beyond the borders of the map.
Though the street grid has not changed much in a hundred years, the names of Elm City’s streets have.
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map, Elm City, N.C. (1923).
Tarboro Road is now East Langley Road. The “First Baptist Church (Colored),” founded 1875, remains an active congregation, now known as First Missionary Baptist Church of Elm City. The building now sits perpendicular to the road.
Corker Street is now Tyson Lane. The Elm City Colored Graded School stood near its intersection with Church Street.
Wilson Street retains it name. A lodge hall — Masons? Odd Fellows? — stood near the current location of Wynn’s Chapel Church.
The one-hundred-thirty-third in a series of posts highlighting buildings inEast Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1913; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch and gable returns.”
The constriction date of this house puzzling. Hines Street did not cross the railroad until the early 1970s. When it was finally cut through, Hines Street followed, more or less, the course of the old Wiggins Street, which no longer exists. But Wiggins Street had stopped at Stantonsburg [now Pender] Street before picking up again east of Manchester Street. The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows no street east of Stantonsburg and no house either.
And 503 East Hines? This isn’t the 500 block of East Hines Street. It should be the 800.
Was this house moved from elsewhere?
In my post on 505 South Pender, I noted that two adjacent houses on then-Stantonsburg Street had been cleared out to make room for Hines Street, which was much wider than Wiggins. They were numbered 501 and 503. Was 503 Stantonsburg Street simply lifted from its lot and slotted behind, and perpendicular to, 505?
Detail from Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1922.
I am certain this is the case.
503 Stantonsburg Street is now 503 East Hines, though the house is in the 800 block. 503 and 505 are identical shotgun houses, as drawn in the 1922 Sanborn map. Photographs of 503 and 505 (prior to renovation) confirm that they share vented gables with gable returns, shed-roofed front porches, and no back porches. 503 has been heavily, but superficially, modified, with faux-brick tarpaper siding and tin skirting. Cinderblock pillars have replaced the original brick; the porch posts, probably originally turned, have been replaced with four-by-fours; and a small shed-roofed porch has been tacked onto the back.
The houses shown in 1922 at 507 and 509 Stantonsburg are long demolished, but 511 — which was identical to 503 and 505 — is under renovation. Will 503 be renovated next?
The rear of 503 East Hines.
In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Thompson Nelson (c) mill hd h 503 Stantonsburg
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Thompson Nelson (c; Annie M) lab h 503 Stantonsburg
In 1930, the city directory lists the house as vacant.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hammett John S (c) City Light Water & Gas Dept h 503 Stantonsburg
In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hammett John S (c; Flossie L) firemn Town of Wilson h 503 Stantonsburg
This aerial image, courtesy of Google Maps, shows 503 East Hines tucked behind the apartment building that replaced 507 South Pender [Stantonsburg] Street.
Photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2021.
In about 1861, the United States Coastal Survey issued a map showing the distribution of enslaved people throughout the South. As Susan Schulten noted in a 9 December 2010 piece called “Visualizing Slavery,” “[t]hough many Americans knew that dependence on slave labor varied throughout the South, these maps uniquely captured the complexity of the institution and struck a chord with a public hungry for information about the rebellion.”
Map Showing the Distribution of the Slave Population of the Southern States of the United StatesCompiled from the Census of 1860 —Sold for the Benefit of the Sick and Wounded Soldiers of the U. S. Army.
A close-up of eastern North Carolina shows that Wilson County, with a population 37% enslaved, lay at the western edge of the state’s heaviest band of slave-holding counties.
The twentieth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.
There were two African-American schools called Barnes in early 20th-century Wilson. One was on present-day Airport Road. The other appears to have been in the vicinity of Barnes Church on Old Stantonsburg Road. (Neither church nor school is still standing.)
“On March 3, 1919, the Wilson County Board of Education agreed, as recorded in its minutes, to expend $100.00 for an acre of land for the school. They also agreed to sell the school’s apparent predecessor to the Colored Masonic Lodge of Stantonsburg for $900.00 (a surprisingly large sum of money), provided that that the ‘colored people of the district’ would raise $600.00 for erecting a new schoolhouse. If these conditions were met, they would appropriate $250.00 for the new building. On October 6 a Charles Knight appeared before the board and requested again that a new building be erected for the Barnes Colored School. The board told him that this was ‘now impossible’ and asked that he look for a house to be temporarily acquired for the winter. On December 1, however, the board reversed course once more and authorize the erection of a two-room Barnes schoolhouse.” In a footnote to this paragraph: “It seems unlikely that the Barnes schoolhouse discussed in the board minutes is the same as the one that the Rosenwald Fund supported during the 1921-1922 budget year [i.e. the Airport Road school]. [School superintendent Charles L.] Coon notes that a five-room school, valued with its land at $9300, was erected in 1920 in the city of Wilson, but the county board references the sale of any [sic] earlier building in the town of Stantonsburg. Further, the school that the fund supported was a three-teacher type that cost $6000, with $700 in Fund support, $1000 in public funds, and a whopping $4300 contribution from the black community [citations omitted].”
Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Barnes School on what is now Old Stantonsburg Road, just north of the town of Stantonsburg.
“Winona, a suburb of Wilson, N.C.” Deed book 68, page 457, Wilson County Register of Deeds.
In 1905, Samuel H. Vick filed a plat map for the subdivision of a parcel of land he owned along Mercer Street. Assuming Mercer Street follows its present course (the street was outside city limits until the mid-1920s), this appears to be the stretch west of Hominy Swamp. There’s no Daniels Mill Road in the area though, and the parallel Wells Alley and unnamed street do not match up with modern features. However, if you flip the map upside down to view it per the compass designation at top center, the landscape falls into place. Daniels Mill Road, then, is modern-day Fairview Avenue.
Below, on an inverted Google Maps image, I’ve traced modern Mercer Street and Fairview Avenue in red. In dotted yellow, the probable course of Wells Alley, which seems to track a line of trees that runs along the back edge of the lots facing Mercer, and the short crooked unnamed street that apparently never was cut through.
The cursive note added at upper left of the plat map says: “See Book 72 pp 527 et seq perfecting title to these lots.” At bottom left: “Lots 100 ft in debth [sic] & 50 ft in width except lots 23, 24, 25, 33, 61, 57, 58, 59, 60, & lots 1 and 2.”
A few of the 85 lots are inscribed with surnames, presumably of their purchasers: #46 Bynum, #48 Johnson, #53 Melton. In addition, lots 17, 19, 20 and 22 appear to be inscribed with the initials J.H. The 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists the home of William A. Johnson, an African-American cook, as “Mercer St w of N & S Ry.” Though imprecise, this is broadly describes the street on the map. No Melton or Bynum is similarly listed.
The 1910 census settles the matter. On “Winona Road,” restaurant cook William Johnson, 40; wife Pollie, 35, laundress; and children Mary E., 13, Willie C., 11, Winona, 4, and Henry W., 2, and dozens of African-American neighbors, mostly laborers and servants who owned their homes (subject to mortgage).
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Mercer Street next door to Smith Bennett and wife Mary, restaurant proprietor William Johnson, 39; wife Polly, 38; and children Wyona, 14, Margaret, 8, James, 11, and Millie, 19. Herbert and Ella Bynum owned the house on the other side, and Mollie Melton was up the street, and may have been related to the Bynum and Melton noted on the plat map.
The 1930 census reveals the house number: 910 Mercer Street, valued at the astonishing figure of $18,000. (This may well be a matter of an errant extra zero, as the 1922 Sanborn map shows a small one-story cottage at the location, which would not have commanded that sum.) Will A. Johnson, 60, worked as a cafe cook, and wife Pollie, 55, was a cook. The household included daughter Margrette Futrell, 18; infant grandson Wilbert R. Hawkins, born in Pennsylvania; widowed daughter Mary J. Thomas, 33 (noted as absent); and niece Jannie Winstead, 7.
When Sam Vick’s real estate empire collapsed in 1935, he lost three lots and houses on Mercer Street — 903, 907 and 915 — perhaps the last property he held in Winona subdivision.
Detail, Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1908.
Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the section of the 100 block of North Goldsboro Street opposite the county courthouse.
Levi H. Jones‘ barbershop stood at the rear of today’s Planter’s Bank building, which was erected in 1920 and now houses county government offices. Within a couple of years, Jones changed locations, opening the Mayflower at 108 East Nash Street, a narrow two-story brick building near First National Bank. First National is now the Wilson County-Nash Street Office Building, and the Mayflower’s site is a parking lot.
Wilson Times, 30 June 1911.
Alexander D. Dawson, a former local Republican Party stalwart, operated a fish and oyster stall in the city market building, which burned down in 1929.
Wilson city hall, market and fire department, circa 1900.
Postcard courtesy of North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s digitalnc.org.
This 1923 plat map detailing part of Frank Rountree’s property shows, at left, the block now home to Wilson’s main United States post office and, right, the location of a Family Dollar store.
The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson reveal more detail about Rountree’s property. The houses he owned in this block are marked with asterisks. Most were double-shotgun houses built as rentals for African-American tobacco factory workers.
Rountree’s properties on the other side of Hines are again marked with asterisks below. The houses fronting the north side of Hines Street had white occupants, but the double-shotguns behind them on Sunshine Alley and along South Goldsboro had Black tenants. (West of the tracks, especially on the southern perimeter of downtown, segregation patterns were checkerboard, blocks by block.) See more about short-lived Sunshine Alley here.
Plat Book 1, page 268, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1922.
Detail, Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1908.
Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the intersection of the 100 block of East Barnes Street and the 200 block of South Goldsboro Street.
William Hargrove — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith William Hargrove, 32; wife Leuvenia, 30, washing; daughter Bessie, 6, and Lillie, 3; widowed sister Mary Boddie, 25, cooking; and cousin Julious Heat, 20, farm hand.
Isaac J. Young‘s blacksmith shop operated in the present-day location of Worrell’s Seafood. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 315 Spring Street, horse shoer Isaac J. Young, 46; wife Laura, 29; and sons Cornelius, 12, and Robert, 9; plus lodger Henry Moy, 5.
A three-page Wilson Times insert published about 1914 highlighting the town’s “progressive colored citizens” featured City Bakery, then located at 540 East Nash Street, “under Odd Fellows Hall,” with R.B. Bullock as proprietor.
The bakery had a predecessor though, as shown in the 1912 city directory:
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1912).
Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.
This detail from the 1913 Sanborn map shows the location of the oven in the back of the small brick “bake house.” In 1914, City Bakery boasted that its premises were “sanitary in ever particular.” Such a claim must have been difficult to make when it sat within feet of multiple rail lines.
Richard Bulluck — Bulluck is listed in the 1912 directory living at 412 South Lodge Street.
Cross-referencing the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Here’s a closer look at one side of the first block east of the railroad.
Though described as a restaurant in 1913, the 1912 city director listed Charles H. Knight‘s barbershop at 414 East Nash Street. In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: barber Charles Knight, 35; wife Elsie, 37; and sons Charles, 8, and Frank, 6; plus boarders Ethel Coleman, 23, and Sarah Jackson, 28, both teachers.
Sarah Gaither operated a small eating house at 418 East Nash as early as 1908, per city directories. In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Rufus Gaither, 57; wife Sarah, 56; and children Julius, 22, Mandy, 18, Aaron, 17, and Clarence, 15, sharing a house with Ella Gaston, 30, and her sons Ralph, 10, and Albert, 2. Rufus and Sarah Parks Gaither married 2 February 1873 in Iredell County, N.C., and are listed in the 1880 census of Turnersburg, Iredell County, with their young children. Sarah Gaither died 1912-1915. Rufus Gaither died 23 July 1915 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 August 1853 and was a widower. Bertha Farmer was informant.