Grant burned to death in home at veneer company.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 May 1948.


Emanuel Grant had lived in Wilson only a few months when he was killed in a house fire. Though the newspaper account of his death emphasizes his alleged intoxication, Grant’s death certificate paints a different picture of his demise, describing it as “by fire in burning building” due to being “unable to escape due to unconsciousness due to smoke filled room.”

Emanuel Grant died 25 May 1948 in Wilson. He was born 21 February 1914 in Georgetown, South Carolina, to Essau Grant and Lue White; worked as a laborer at Wilson Veneer Company; lived at Wilson Veneer; was single; and was returned to Georgetown, South Carolina, for burial.

The obituary of Jake Blackwell.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 May 1943.


In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer William Blackwell, 45; wife Sally Ann, 29; and children Bennie, 10, Curvis, 7, Jakie, 5, and Nancy, 1.

In October 1940, Jake Blackwell registered for the World War II draft in Atlantic County, New Jersey. Per his registration card, he was born 15 December 1914 in Wilson County, N.C.; lived at 923 Virginia Place, Atlantic City, New Jersey; his contact was Mabell Ingram, friend; and he was unemployed.

In the 1940 census of Prince George’s County, Maryland: at Glenn Dale Sanatorium, [a tuberculosis hospital], Jake Blackwell, born in North Carolina, resident of Washington, D.C.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Georgia Burke is a Broadway star.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 May 1944.

Georgia Burke was not, of course, a “girl.” She was close to 50 years old in 1944. Burke was one of eleven African-American teachers who resigned to protest the slapping of  teacher Mary C. Euell by school superintendent Charles L. Coon and the disrespect shown them by Colored Graded School principal J.D. Reid. With the others, Burke resumed teaching at the privately funded Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute, the institution referred to above as Wilson Training School for Negroes. For more about Burke, see here and here, and about the Normal and Industrial school, see here. For more about the talented Hartford C. Bess, see here.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The obituary of Viola Barnes Bernard.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 July 1943.


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: teamster Wesley Barnes, 32; wife Ella, 35; and children Joseph, 14, Lucy, 11, Sylvester, 7, Viola, 5, and Charley, 3.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Norfolk & Southern Railroad, drayman West Barnes, 44; wife Ella, 47, laundress; and children Sylvester, 17, drayman, Viola, 15, cook, and Charlie, 13, wholesale store laborer; plus son-in-law James Watson, 23, drayman, wife Lucy, 22, cook, and children West, 4, and Lucy, 3 months.

Charles Barnes died 2 May 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1915 in Wilson County to Bert Hagans and Viola Barnes. The informant was Ella Barnes.

Henry Gray Barnes died 26 April 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 21 years old; lived at 401 North Vick Street; worked as a common laborer; was born in Wilson County to Jessie Ball of Warsaw, N.C., and Viola Barnes of Wilson; and was married to Alice Barnes. Informant was Ella Barnes, 401 North Vick. Cause of death: “Taken about 1 A.M. complaining he could not get his breath died about 7 A.M. No physician investigated since no sign of foul play.”

In the 1938 Richmond, Virginia, city directory: (possibly) Barnes Viola (c) dom h 110 E Clay; also Bernard Oscar L (c) hlpr h 10 E Marshall

In the 1939 Richmond, Virginia, City directory: Bernard Oscar L (c; Viola) hlpr h 217 E Clay

In the 1940 census of Richmond, Virginia: at 319 Brook Road, Oscar Bernard, 28, baker at bakery, and wife Viola, 26, cook at restaurant. 

In the 1941 Richmond, Virginia, City directory: Bernard Oscar (c; Viola) cook h 319 1/2 Brook Rd

In the 1942 Richmond, Virginia, City directory: Bernard Oscar (c; Viola) baker Whites h 319 1/2 Brook Rd

In 1942, Oscar Lee Bernard registered for the World War II draft in Richmond, Virginia. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1898 in Suffolk, Virginia; lived at 319 1/2 Brook Road, Richmond; his contact was Viola Bernard; and he worked for Whites Cafeteria, 513 E Grace Street, Richmond.

Viola Barnes died 8 July 1943 at her home at 401 North Vick Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 39 years old; was born in Wilson County to West Barnes of Wilson County and Ella Mercer of Edgecombe County; was single; and was buried in Rountree [probably, Vick] Cemetery. Lucy Watson was informant. 

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Up the road.

This passage appeared in the recent article I posted about Lawyer Sanders and his 35 children. By happenstance, shortly before I saw the column, my mother mentioned learning when she first came to Wilson in the early 1960s that, in local usage, to go “up the road” meant to migrate North. Thus, for reasons we cannot know, shortly after giving birth to a child that did not survive, Dora Clark Sanders joined the Great Migration, leaving her husband and remaining children in Wilson. She did not return.

The obituary of Rev. J.O. Vick, A.M.E. minister.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 May 1945.

A.M.E. minister James Oscar Frank Vick, died just a year before his eldest brother Samuel H. Vick.


In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: grist mill worker Daniel Vick, 38; wife Fannie, 35; children Samuel, 16, Nettie, 14, Earnest Linwood, 12, Henry, 10, and James O.F., 8; plus boarders (nephews) Frank O., 20, and Marcus W. Blount, 26.

O.F. Vick is listed as a second-year English student, Preparatory Department, in the 1892-1893 catalogue of Biddle University [now Johnson C. Smith University], Charlotte, North Carolina.

I have not determined when Vick graduated from Gordon Theological Seminary, but by 1902, he was well-established in the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Boston District.

Boston Globe, 10 June 1902.

On 30 June 1903, the Fall River Evening News reported that J.O. Vick had been transferred the A.M.E.’s New York Metropolitan District. His first known pastoral assignment was at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Kinderhook, N.Y., just south of Albany.

Courtesy of Dennis Dickerson’s The Past Is In Your Hands: Writing Local A.M.E. Church History (1989).

New York Age, 2 February 1905.

In mid-1906, a Brooklyn newspaper noted that Rev. Vick had taken charge of Bethel A.M.E. in Freeport, New York, on Long Island.

The Brooklyn Daily Times (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 21 July 1906.

By 1909, Rev. Vick led yet another Bethel, this time in Olean, New York, about 40 miles south of Buffalo.

Times Herald (Olean, N.Y.), 31 March 1909.

In the 1910 census of Olean, Cattaraugus County, New York: clergyman James O. Vick, 40, boarder in the household of Willard, a day laborer, and Frances Reaze, who were white.

Buffalo Evening News, 28 February 1910.

Between 1910 and 1914, Rev. Vick married Ella Ruth Reeves and assumed duties at Emmanuel A.M.E. in Montclair, New Jersey.

In the 1914 Montclair, New Jersey, city directory: Vick James O Mrs nurse h 26 Myrtle av; also, Vick James O Rev pastor Emmanuel AME  Church h 26 Myrtle av

In the 1915 state census of Montclair, New Jersey: at 14 Miller, clergyman James O. Vick, 34, and wife Ella R., 29.

Rev. Vick held refreshingly progressive views:

“Why I Am Going to Vote for Equal Suffrage, By Fifty Montclair Men,” The Montclair Times, 2 October 1915. 

Between 1915 and 1918, the family moved again, this time to Easton, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles north of Philadelphia on the Delaware River.

In 1918, Rev. James Oscar Vick registered for the World War i draft in Easton. Per his registration card, he was born 10 March 1874; lived at 416 Canal, Easton; was minister of the gospel at Union A.M.E. Church, 439 Ferry, Easton; and his nearest relative was Mrs. Ella Ruth Vick.

Rev. Vick’s signature on his draft card.

During the first half of the 1920s, Rev. Vick pastored at several A.M.E. churches in northern New Jersey, including Mount Teman in Elizabeth and Heard in Roselle, but settled in Princeton by 1926.

In 1920 census of Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey: M.E. Church pastor James O. Vick, 46; wife Ruth, 36; servant Emma Robins, 22; and niece Fanny M. Vick, 10. [Like her uncle, Fanny Vick was born in North Carolina. I’m not sure whose daughter she was.]

In the 1920 Montclair, New Jersey, city directory: Vick James O Rev rem to Easton Pa

In the 1921 Elizabeth, New Jersey, city directory: Vick James O Rev pastor Mt Teman AME Church h 16 S Union

In the 1926 Asbury Park, New Jersey, city directory: Vick J Oscar h 126 Atkins av

In the 1927 and 1928 Princeton, N.J., city directory: Vick J Oscar pastor Mt Pisgah AME Church h 22 Jackson; also, Vick Mrs J Oscar (Ella R) 22 Jackson

In the 1930 census of Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey: clergyman James O. Vick, 49; wife Ella R., 35; and adopted son Victor, 0, a “foundling.”

In the 1931, 1932 and 1933 Princeton, N.J., city directories: Vick J Oscar (Ella R) pastor Mt Pisgah AME Ch h 10 McLean [Sidenote: Mount Pisgah’s modest former parsonage at 10 McLean Street is now valued at more than a million dollars.]

In the late 1930s, Rev. Vick assumed his last assignment at Trinity A.M.E. Church in Long Branch, New Jersey.

Asbury Park Press, 5 March 1941.


A call for help from Istanbul.

We first met entertainer Isaiah Prophet Thorne via passport applications, here. In 1941, Thorne wrote the Daily Times, asking for help locating his family.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 June 1942.

Isaiah Thorne’s family appears in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Preston Thorne, 23; wife Julia, 22; William, 3, James, 1, Charity, 5 months, and Alice, 10; and John Bullock, 18.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, farmer Preston Thorne, 37; wife Edney, 36; and children William, 13, Eugene, 11, Hattie, 6, and Annie, 4.

On 12 March 1890, Hattie Thorne, 17, daughter of Preston and Edney Thorne, married Willis Grissom, 21, son of Willis and Carry Grissom, in Wilson.

Isaiah Thorne’s sister, Hattie Grissom Henry, died 21 November 1930 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in Wilson County to Preston Thorn of Edgecombe County and Eddie Adams of Greene County; lived at 203 Vick Street; was a widow; and worked in nursing. Lydia Grissom was informant.

I have not found anything else about Thorne’s family, including anything about his father and brothers in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

White personnel make way for Dr. Ward and staff.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 March 1924.

In early 1924, Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward, a major in the Army Medical Corps and a pioneering physician in Indianapolis, was appointed first African-American chief surgeon and medical director of a Veterans Administration hospital. The appointment was poorly received by many in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the displacement of former personnel by a nearly all-Black staff was initially stiffly resisted.