Migration

Cornelia Bass Reddick of Richmond, Virginia.

I wrote in October about Richmond’s Friends of East End, the all-volunteer non-profit which, until recently, was working to reclaim historic East End Cemetery and transform it into “a public site of memory, contemplation, and beauty that honors Richmond’s black community and history.”

F.O.E.E. has turned its attention to neglected corners of Woodland Cemetery, another historic Black cemetery in Richmond, and dedicated yesterday’s find — the gravestone of Wilson County native Cornelia Reddick — to Lane Street Project!

Cornelia Reddick Died Aug. 23, 1928 Heliotrope Lodge 12 I.O. King David

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In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 41.

On 16 January 1880, Charles Bass, 51, married Rhoda A. Jordan, 23, at C. Bass’ [probably Charles Bass] residence. Justice of the Peace David G.W. Ward performed the ceremony.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Bass, 51; wife Rhoda, 23; and an unnamed four month-old infant daughter. [This child was Cornelia Bass Reddick.]

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 71, widower, and son James, 10. 

Cornelia Bass’ life has proved exceptionally difficult to track. We know, however, that sometime prior to 1928, she married equally elusive tobacco worker Henry Reddick. They appear together in the 1928 Richmond, Virginia, city directory: Reddick Henry (c; Cornelia) lab 506-A E Clay

Cornelia Reddick died 23 August 1928 at her home in Richmond, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 51 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Charles and Roda Bass; was married to Henry Reddick; and lived at 506 East Clay, Richmond. 

UPDATED: Reddick’s gravestone indicates affiliation with Heliotrope Lodge Number 12, Imperial Order of King David. Friends of East End corrected my guess at the name of this fraternal organization, founded in Richmond in 1908.

Richmond Planet, 15 November 1930.

Georgia Burke cheered on Broadway.

Jet magazine, 10 April 1952.

Though a native of Georgia, Georgia Burke spent at least ten years in Wilson, teaching third and fourth grade (and coaching basketball and tennis) to the children of the Colored Graded School and the Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute. She was one of the eleven teachers who walked off the job in support of Mary C. Euell in 1918 and, in 1921, was involved in another incident in which “a race riot was narrowly averted.” Burke auditioned for a Broadway on a lark in 1928, got the role, and never returned to teaching.

Other suns: Connecticut.

Connecticut drew a share of the Great Migration, with Wilson County migrants settling mostly in greater Hartford or in cities along the Long Island Sound coastline.

  • Artis, Silas A., New Haven, bef. 1917
  • Dyson, Jake and Catherine Dyson and son James A., New Britain, ca. 1917
  • Batts, Frank, and Jennie Jones Batts, and children James, Ernest, and John, Portland, Middlesex and New Haven, bef. 1924
  • McDaniel, Fred A., Stratford, bef. 1930 (prior, in New York)
  • Coley, George, New Haven, bef. 1935
  • Artis, John L., Albert Artis and Isaac L. Sellars, brothers, Greenwich, bef. 1940
  • Gaston, John L., New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Norfleet, Samuel, Kensington, bef. 1942
  • Norfleet, James, New Britain, bef. 1942
  • Carter, M. Elmer, Hartford, bef. 1942 (prior, in Penna. and N.Y.)
  • Williams, Willie, Fairfield, bef. 1942
  • Jones, Raymond, New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Jones, John, New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Jones, Joseph G., New Haven, bef. 1942
  • Smith, James W., New London, bef. 1944
  • Hodge, James L., New Haven, bef. 1947

Armstrong cemetery, Scott, Arkansas.

Wilson County native Haywood Armstrong, son of Abraham and Cherry Armstrong, lead his family to Lonoke County, Arkansas, in the 1890s. Armstrong and his wife, Agnes Bullock Armstrong, reared 14 children and are buried in Hickory Grove cemetery near Scott, Arkansas. In the fall of 2020, their descendants came together for a cemetery clean-up. Lydia Bledsoe Hunter shared these images of the family’s work, as well as a commemorative family calendar developed to raise funds for ongoing upkeep. 

 

Other suns: Indiana.

Indiana was an early destination for African-Americans leaving North Carolina for perceived greener pastures. Several hundred free people of color migrated to Indiana in the 1830s and 1840s, but only one family has been definitively linked to the area that is now Wilson County. Another large migration circa 1880 was the subject of a Congressional inquiry. During the Great Migration, Indianapolis was a popular focus of migration.

Other suns: New Jersey.

Beyond the cities clustered across from Manhattan, Atlantic City appears to have been the most popular landing spot for Wilsonians who moved to New Jersey during the Great Migration.

  • Jones, Morris, and Amanda Gillespie Jones and son Frank, Newark, bef. 1905
  • Artis, James, Whitesboro, bef. 1907
  • Vick, William H., Atlantic City, bef. 1910, Orange, bef. 1930, Montclair, bef. 1936
  • Darden, Walter T., Montclair, ca. 1927
  • Best, Robert, Atlantic City, bef. 1917
  • Joyner, Alexander B., Atlantic City, bef. 1917 (later, New York City)
  • Norwood, Richard T., Atlantic City, bef. 1918
  • James, Randall R., and Elizabeth Darden James and sons Randall and Charles, Newark, bef. 1920 (Elizabeth and sons returned to Wilson)
  • Taylor, Halley B., and Marie Taylor, Paterson, bef. 1923
  • Hargrave, Frank S., and Bessie Parker Hargrave, Orange, 1923
  • Wilson, Leonard, and Georgia Wilson and children Leonard Jr., Ernest, Elmer, and Toney Lee, and brother Herman Wilson, betw. 1924 and 1930
  • Weeks, Alfred L.E., and Annie Cook Weeks, Elizabeth, bef. 1930
  • Dawson, Augustus L., Newark, bef. 1930
  • Lewis, Lucy Gay, Newark, bef. 1938
  • Cannon, Charles, and mother Stattie Cannon and sister Ruth Cannon Langford, Newark, bef. 1940
  • Artis, Ernest, and Louise Artis and son Ernest, Atlantic City, bef. 1940
  • Thomas, Elton H., Newark, bef. 1942
  • Cook, Oscar, Monmouth, bef. 1942
  • Sims El, Alex, Camden, bef. 1942
  • Woodard, Edward, and William Woodard, siblings, Camden, bef. 1942
  • Williams, Lovie, Newark, bef. 1942
  • Wilson, Chester, Newark, bef. 1942
  • Whitley, Robert, Englewood, bef. 1942
  • Washington, Paul, East Orange, bef. 1942
  • Taylor, Frank, Trenton, bef. 1942
  • Taylor, Warren T., Atlantic City, bef. 1942
  • Best, Morris, East Orange, bef. 1942
  • Parker, Amos, Atlantic City, bef. 1942
  • Moore, Arthur, Glen Rock, bef. 1942
  • Barnes, William C., Plainfield, bef. 1942
  • Bynum, James H., Orange, bef. 1942
  • Baker, William H., Belleville, bef. 1942
  • Bess, Wilson, Jr., Palmyra, bef. 1945 (prior, in Baltimore, Md.)
  • Bright, Jesse L., Glassboro, bef. 1918
  • Alston, Charles S., Newark, bef. 1930
  • Tarboro, Oscar L., Pleasantville, bef. 1950
  • Reid, James D., Camden, bef. 1950
  • Barron, Robert, Plainfield, bef. 1951
  • Rountree, Fannie Best, Asbury Park, bef. 1953
  • Faison, William, and Mena Townsend Faison, Newark, bef. 1957
  • Bailey, James H., Riverton, bef. 1959
  • Powell, Beatrice Hines

Wilson Bess Jr. (1920-1995).

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user Jerry Smith.

The suitcase held one photo album.

It was the afternoon on Sunday before I noticed the shared post in a Wayne County, North Carolina, Facebook group:

By then, there were thousands of comments and further shares to genealogy groups — did anyone know this family? could anyone help? The finder had attached several photos from the scrapbook, and I gasped. “Josephine” was Josephine Artis Sherrod, who was both my grandmother’s great-aunt and cousin, and who presided until nearly her 101st birthday over a block of Viola Street called Sherrod Village. “Allister” was Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall, her eldest daughter.

The next few hours were an anxious scramble to contact the finder. Finally, we connected through intermediaries and, long story short, Cousin Alliner’s scrapbook has begun its journey home. I plan to scan all its photos and documents, upload them to cloud storage so they’re available to all family members, and return the original items to one of Aunt Josephine Sherrod’s direct descendants in Wilson. (And, of course, share the highlights with you!)

Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988), probably 1950s.

My deep gratitude goes to Rita Elsner, who followed her gut to save these priceless documents and then to track down someone connected to them and preserve them from further damage by drying them carefully and placing them in archival sleeves. Her stewardship is exemplary.

Other suns: Ohio.

Though Cleveland (and nearby Youngstown) appear to be have been the largest draw, Black Wilsonians headed to Ohio during the Great Migration settled across the state.

  • Freeman, Nestus L., Champaign County (later, Marysville), bef. 1873
  • Rountree, Charles, and Alice Thorn Rountree, Xenia, 1880
  • Rountree, Joseph, and Adeline Artis Rountree, Xenia, ca. 1889
  • Freeman, Henry A., Cleveland, bef. 1899
  • Williamson, Charles, and Clara Vick Williamson, Xenia, bef. 1900
  • Freeman, Oliver L., and Emma Pender Freeman, Cleveland, 1900 (returned to Wilson)
  • Barnes, Harvey G., Cleveland, betw. 1900 and 1910 (returned to Wilson, then to Washington, D.C)
  • Suggs, James T., Cleveland, bef. 1907
  • Blount, Willie, Xenia, bef. 1909
  • Harris, Frank W., Youngstown, bef. 1910
  • Freeman, Earnest A., Cleveland, bef. 1917
  • Dasher, Carrie Pitts, Cleveland, bef. 1918 (prior, New York City)
  • Harris, Oscar, Dublin, bef. 1918
  • Thomas, Charles, Cleveland, bef. 1920
  • Newsome, Oliver, Jr., Youngstown, betw. 1920 and 1930
  • Hill, John, Youngstown, betw. 1920 and 1930
  • Hagans, Charles W., Barberton, ca. 1921
  • Arrington, Allison, Cleveland, bef. 1928
  • Perrington, John W., Portsmouth, bef. 1930
  • Ward, Charles, Portsmouth, bef. 1930
  • Bynum, Julius, and Elizabeth Bynum and brother Hilliard Bynum, Cleveland, bef. 1930
  • Atkins, Spencer, Youngstown, bef. 1930
  • Howell, John, Youngstown, bef. 1930
  • Hill, Jeffry, Youngstown, bef. 1930 (prior, in Homestead, Pa.)
  • Sanders, James J., Youngstown, bef. 1930
  • Farmer, Paul J., Marion, then Bexley, bef. 1930
  • Barnes, James C., Cleveland, bef. 1930
  • Hines, Melvin, Cleveland, bef. 1934
  • Atkinson, Ivey T., Dayton, 1936
  • Howard, William J., Cleveland, bef. 1940
  • Smith, Grover, Portsmouth, bef. 1940
  • Briggs, William J., Cleveland, bef. 1940
  • Edwards, Philis, Cleveland, bef. 1940
  • Powell, Edward K., Cleveland, bef. 1940
  • Hill, Edward, Youngstown, bef. 1940
  • Farmer, Charles C., Coshocton, bef. 1942
  • Dawson, Arlander R., Cleveland, bef. 1942
  • Whitney, Lawyer P., Columbus, bef. 1942
  • Edwards, William H., Cleveland, bef. 1942
  • Bryant, Curtis M., Youngstown, bef. 1942
  • Moore, Webb C., Akron, bef. 1944
  • Perry, Nelson, Jr., Bowling Green, bef. 1945
  • Hayes, Marvin, Jr., Cleveland, bef. 1945
  • Stewart, Hattie Sanders, Toledo, bef. 1949
  • Artis, Sophia Dawson, Cleveland, bef. 1952

The Journal-Herald (Dayton, Ohio), 2 January 1956.

Memories of Samuel and Catherine Clark.

The recent post about the 500 block of Nash Street sparked memories from Cora Ruth Greene Wellington Dawson, who earlier shared her recollections of attending the Sallie Barbour School.

In the 1930s, Mrs. Dawson’s grandparents Samuel and Catherine Frison McFadden Clark lived on Smith Street, which ran parallel to Nash for one block. They were members of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church and owned a horse and buggy. Catherine Clark was a cook at Woodard-Herring Hospital on West Green Street and also cooked for Camillus L. and Norma D. Darden at their Pender Street home.

—— 

In 1918, Sam Smith registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 18 April 1874; lived at 118 Smith Street; worked as a laborer for Imperial Tobacco Company; and his nearest relative was wife Katherine Clark.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Viola, rented for $16/month, hospital cook Catherine Clark, 42; husband Sam, 52; grandchildren Martha Clark, 15, and Willie McGill, 6; and roomers Talmage Smith, 21, and Roy Maze, 26, both orchestra musicians.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Clark Samuel (c; Cath) h 607 Viola

Samuel Clark died 21 January 1935 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 53 years old; was born in Macon, Georgia; was a laborer; was married to Katherine Clark; and lived at 513 Smith Street.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: boarding house keeper Floyd Mitchell, 56, and lodgers Rosa Taylor, 39, laborer; Catherine Clark, 51, cook, Willie Cook, 14, and David Cook, 9; Alice Cutts, 34; Irvin Cutts, 39; George K. Cutts, 9, and Charles Cutts, 7.

Catherine Frison Clark died 9 November 1944 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 February 1875 in Charleston, South Carolina, to David Frison and Easter [last name unknown]; she was a widow; and she lived at 401 Grace Street. She was buried in Rountree cemetery, and Lottie Cohen, 401 Grace, was informant.

Thanks to Judy Wellington Rashid for sharing.

A marriage in New Hampshire.

Some who joined the Great Migration went from Point A to Point B and stayed. Others had more peripatetic journeys. Corneda Moore Jackson Woodard Bentley Kelsey stopped in Philadelphia, then Haverhill, Massachusetts, before settling in Cranford, New Jersey.

Herschel F. Bentley, 36, and Corneda J. Woodward, 38, both of Haverhill, Massachusetts, were married 2 September 1925 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire (just a few miles up the coast.) It was Bentley’s first marriage. He was a native of Columbia, South Carolina, and a cook. Woodward, a Wilson native and widow, worked as a domestic. 

Herschel Bentley was the son of Joseph [Bentley?] of Macon, Georgia, and Grace Piot, born in Wall Hollow, South Carolina, and resident of Columbia, South Carolina. Cordena Woodard was the daughter of Bryant Moore, a farmer in Wilson, North Carolina, and Peonia Hagans, born in Greene County, North Carolina, and a resident of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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In the 1860 census of Fields district, Greene County: day laborer Robert Hagans, 31; wife Sarah, 30; and children Mary, 12, Joseph, 8, Penelope, 5, and Edwin, 1.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: siblings Joseph, 15, Penelope, 12, Edwin, 11, Sarah, 8, and George Hagans, 6, all farmer’s apprentices.

In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Howel Moore, 50; wife Gatsey, 42; and children Bettie, 14, Eliza, 12, Simon, 21, Clora, 10, Jesse, 8, Howel, 3, Gatsey, 2, Penny, 17, and Bryant, 19.

In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farmer Evans Jackson, 36, and wife Charity, 26; niece Penny Moore, 25, and [her children] Florence, 2, and Victoria, 8 months; and apprentices Benjn. Farmer, 19, and George Hagens, 15.

Perhaps, in the 1880 census of Raleigh, Wake County: Bryant Moore, 25, farm laborer.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow [sic; she was likely separated or divorced] Pennie Moore, 45; children Florence, 22, Victora, 20, Cornetta, 18, Besse, 15, Fenner, 14, and Gussie L., 1; and granddaughter Gaslen, 1.

On 27 August 1900, James H. Jackson, 21, of Wilson County, married Cornada Moore, 19, at Pennie Moore’s in Wilson. Freewill Baptist Crockett Best performed the ceremony in the presence of Millie Best, James Best, and Jasper Davis.

On 16 September 1903, Bryant Moore, 52, of Wilson, son of Howard and Gatsey Moore, married Maggie Farmer, 37, of Wilson, daughter of Barbara Lucas, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Cooper Barnes, Jackson Barnes, and Bessie Ratley.

In the 1910 census of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: widow Pinney Moore, 51; daughter Florence Lee, 32, divorced, and her daughters Gussie, 11, and Madeline, 2; daughter Canetor Jackson, 27, divorced; daughter Bessie M. Bessa [Best], 25; son-in-law James Bessa, 27, and daughter Mable, 7; and lodgers Alfred O. Smith, 56, James Bell, 40, William Willand, 32, and Harrison R. Tyler, 31.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Wiggins Street, odd jobs laborer Bryant Moore, 58, and wife Maggie, 37.

Fennell Moore died 25 December 1914 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 28 years old; was married; and was born in North Carolina to Bryant Moore and Penny Hagans.

In the 1920 census of Haverhill, Essex County, Massachusetts: at 21 Ashland Street, office building janitor William R. Woodard, 42, and wife Corneda J., 33, laundress. William was born in Ohio to a N.C.-born father and Ohio-born mother. Corneda was born in N.C.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, cotton mill laborer Bryant Moore, 65, and wife Maggie, 40, tobacco factory worker. 

In the 1930 census of Cranford, Union County, New Jersey: at 15 McClelland, owned and valued at $5000, Hersher F. Bentley, 41, cook for government service cafeteria, and wife Corneda J., 43, daily domestic.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 641 Wiggins Street, owned and valued at $1000, farm laborer Bryant Moore, 74; wife Maggie H., 45, farm laborer; and son Thomas, 16.

In the 1931 Westfield, N.J., city directory: Bentley Herschel F. (Corneda J.) cook h 103 McClellan

Bryant Moore died 23 March 1931 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; was married to Maggie Moore; was a farmer; was born in Wilson County to Howard and Gatsey Moore; and lived at 640 Wiggins Street.

Victoria A. Hill died 27 February 1936 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 September 1883 in North Carolina to Bryant Moore and Penny Moore; lived at 252 East Sharpnick, Philadelphia; and was married to Phillip Hill.

In the 1940 census of Cranford, Essex County, New Jersey: Ganes Kelsey, 44, scavenger collector; wife Corneda, 52, domestic; and lodgers Jake Bowers, 36, truck driver, and Charles Llyod, 47, laborer. 

Florence Tyler died 3 December 1946 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 April 1889 in N.C. to Bryant Moore and Penney Hagans; lived at 6623 Ross Street, Philadelphia; and was a widow.

Gladys Moore died 17 January 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 June 1914 to Bryant Moore and Gladys Moore; lived at 914 Carolina Street; was single; and worked as a domestic. Informant was Gracie Allen, 1006 Atlantic Street.

Corneda Kelsey died 15 May 1971 in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey.