Military

Jesse Pender, veteran and chef.

In 2011, a Palm Springs, California, news reporter interviewed Wilson native Jesse D. Pender Sr., then 96, about his World War II service, his early work for a brothel keeper, and his years cooking for a president.

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The Desert Sun, 4 December 2011.

In the 1920 census of Goldsboro township, Wayne County: farmer Joseph Pender, 49; wife Ella L., 42; amd children Edward D., 14, Maggie, 9, Ernest, 12, Alonzo, 7, Jesse, 4, Georgiana, 3, and Josephine, 1.

On 29 December 1937, Jesse Pender, 23, of Wilson County, son of Joe and Ella Pender of Wilson County married Erma Dean Hines, 18, daughter of Louis and Martha Hines of Wilson County, in Nashville, Nash County.

In 1940, Jesse David Powell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Note his employer.

Betty Powell and Mallie Paul, Depression-era Wilson’s most notorious white madams, ran neighboring brothels on Jones and South Streets. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, Georgia native Bettie Powell, 46, is listed without occupation, and her three lodgers, all white women in their early 20s, were occupied as “companion-private home.”

Betty Powell made out her will in March 1945. After disposing of bonds, bank accounts, real property and jewelry, she bequeathed “all the residue of my estate to Jesse Pender and all of the girls including my maids, that may be residing with me at my death, to share and share alike.” She died just over a year later.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 May 1946.

Pender’s workplace before Betty Powell hired him to drive. Advertisement, Facts About Wilson North Carolina, Wilson Chamber of Commerce (1934).

Pender at age 102. Photo courtesy of “A Flowery Tribute in Palm Springs as Warplanes Fly in Formation in Memorial Day Salute,” The Desert Sun, 29 May 2017.

Thanks to my frequent collaborator S.M. Stevens (and her grandmother Willia Jones Turner) for forwarding this clipping. North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

Barnes wounded at war.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1919.

Though this injury may have been slight, David Barnes Jr. returned from World War I a disabled veteran.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel porter Dave Barnes, 40; wife Della; and children Walter, 20, William, 15, Lucy, 13, Dave, 5, and Viola, 11. [Walter, William, and Lucy were, in fact, Hineses — Della Hines Barnes’ children, and Viola Barnes was Dave Barnes by a previous marriage.]

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel servant Dave Barnes, 50; wife Della, 50; and children William, 25, barber, Lucy, 23, Dave, 15, Bosey, 8, Mary, 7, John, 5, Sam, 3, and Carry, 1 month.

David Barnes registered for the World War I draft in 1917 in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 3 March 1895 in Wilson; was a barber for Tate & Hines; lived at 612 East Green; and was short, of medium build, with blue eyes and black hair.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 East Green, widow Della Barnes, 50; Cleveland Chick, 25, barber, and Dasy Chick, 23, both of South Carolina; and Della’s sons Dave, 24, and Otha, 17.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 613 East Green, valued at $8000, widow Della Barnes, 71, and sons Boysie, 26, and Dav., 35, barber.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 610 East Green, Minnie Nelson, 54, tobacco factory stemmer, and sons Marion, 23, odd jobs house cleaner, Styles, 23, waiter at the English Tavern, and James Edward, 22, dress shop delivery boy, all natives of Fayetteville, North Carolina; and roomer David Barnes, 40, a war veteran.

David Barnes registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 3 March 1898 in Wilson; was a disabled veteran; and lived at 610 East Green.

David Barnes died 12 May 1966 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 March 1897 in Wilson County to David Barnes and Della Hines; never married; had worked as a barber; and was a World War I veteran.

 

Snaps, no. 38: James Battle and friends?

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These are two of 19 images from “[t]wo small souvenir albums from PhC.196, Raines & Cox Studio Photo Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC. The negatives were sent to the Raines & Cox Studio in Wilson, NC, to be printed by a James Battle, likely from Wilson, and the resulting little albums were for some reason never delivered to Mr. Battle. The photos in the smaller album depict various scenes and unidentified men and women in unidentified locations in what looks like eastern Europe, and those in the slightly larger one show an unidentified African American woman and various scenes in Atlantic City, NJ. Based on the scant information available in these albums and on the envelope in which they were originally housed, it appears that James Battle was probably a soldier in the US Army and the pictures in both albums were probably shot by him in the mid to late 1940s.

“Please help us identify James Battle and his Army buddies and lady friends depicted in these photos.”

The albums may be found at the Flickr account of the State Archives of North Carolina.

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At least eight James Battles born in Wilson registered for the World War II draft, but only one — James Carter Battle — was still living in Wilson at the time. (The others lived in nearby towns and Norfolk, Virginia.) Was this the James Battle who ordered these albums?

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The Greatest Generation: M. Elmer Carter Jr.

Milford Elmer Carter Jr. recently celebrated his 95th birthday. Born in Wilson in 1923 to Wayne County natives Milford E. and Beulah Aldridge Carter, he and his family boarded briefly in Cora Miller Washington‘s home at 701 East Green Street, around the corner from the Elba Street home of Milford Carter Sr’s uncle, Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. and, per the 1922 city directory, lived at 905 East Vance Street. The family soon migrated to Pennsylvania, then New York City. M. Elmer Carter Jr. is a veteran of World War II.

Photos courtesy of Carla Carter Jacobs.

S/Sgt. Tabron bosses a surveying crew.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 24 May 1941.

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In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 700 East Vance Street, rented for $16/month, barber Henry Tabron, 37; wife Mattie B., 39, laundress; and children William, 15, shoe shop laborer, Edmonia, 14, Bill S., 11, Berkly, 9, and Donald, 7.

S/Sgt. Olin B. Tabron, 24, son of Henry Tabron and Mattie Smith Tabron, married Lovie Dancy, 24, daughter of Johnnie Dancy and Pennie Mills Dancy, on 24 December 1945 in Wilson in the presence of T.R. Uzzell, Elma Brodie and Pennie E. Nancy.

In 1945, Olin Berkley Tabron filled a World War II draft registration card (though he had already enlisted.) Per his card, he was born 1 January 1921 [actually, December 1920] in Edgecombe County, North Carolina; his nearest relative was sister Elma Broady, 909 Green Street, Wilson; and his discharge date was 8 November 1945.

Olin Berkley “Bert” Tabron died 21 June 2004.

 

 

Nominated to West Point.

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In 1883, Congressman James E. O’Hara of North Carolina’s Second District nominated Daniel Cato Sugg of Wilson to enter the United States Military Academy at West Point in June 1884. However, Suggs, a student at Lincoln University, failed the entrance examinations in arithmetic, geography and history. In fact, the only African-American to gain entry to West Point that year was Charles Young.

U.S. Military and Naval Academies, Cadet Records and Applications, 1800-1908 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Brian Shellum, Black Cadet in a White Bastion: Charles Young at West Point (2006), page 36.

Studio shots, no. 70: Sgt. Benjamin A. Harris Sr.

Sgt. Benjamin A. Harris, World War II.

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In the 1900 census of Fremont township, Wayne County: day laborer Ed Harries, 27; wife Bettie, 25; and children Benjamin A., 5, Roday, 4, and John H., 5 months.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Ed Harriss, 37; wife Bettie, 34; and children Benjamin, 15, Rhoda, 14, Johney, 10, Nannie, 9, Nicie and Vicie, 7, Edgar, 4, and Oscar and Roscar, 1.

Benjamin Amos Harris registered for the World War I draft in Eureka precinct, Wayne County, in 1917.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Benjamin Harris, 25, and siblings Rhodie, 22, John, 20, Nanie, 18, Vicie and Nicie, 16, Edgar, 14, Oscar and Rosca, 11, Leland, 9, and Hamilton B., 7.

On 14 March 1922, Benjaman A. Harris, 25, of Nahunta, son of Ed and Bettie Harris, married Pauline Artis, 20, of Nahunta, daughter of Wash [sic; Noah] and Patience Artis, in Eureka, Nahunta township, Wayne County.

In the mid-1920s, Benjamin and Pauline Artis Harris moved ten miles north to Wilson.

In the 1925 Wilson city directory: Harris Benj bricklyr h 407 Viola.

Harris, in partnership with George Best, opened a grocery store near the city limits on East Nash Street. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harris Benj A (c; Pauline) (Harris & Best) r Finch; Harris & Best (c) (B A Harris and Geo Best) gros 1316 E Nash

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harris Benj (c; Pauline) brklyr h 312 Finch

The family was missed in the 1930 and 1940 censuses of Wilson, Wilson County.

In 1940, when Harry Bryant Harris registered for the World War II draft in Wilson, he listed his eldest brother Ben Amos Harris as his contact and employer.

Benjamin Amos Harris died 15 May 1955 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 October 1894 to Edward Harris and Betty Daniel; lived at 312 Finch Street, Wilson; worked as a bricklayer; and was a World War I veteran. Six days later, his widow applied for a military grave marker:

Photo of Benjamin A. Harris Sr. courtesy of Adventures in Faith: The Church at Prayer, Study and Service, a booklet commemorating the 100th anniversary of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Wilson; image of draft card at U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

First Lieutenant Ruth C. Speight Russell, Tuskegee Army Nurse.

In the spring of 1942, seventeen African-American registered nurses reported to the station hospital at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Alabama to provide care for the famed Tuskegee Airmen. Ruth C. Speight, born in Wilson County, reared in Greene County, and educated at Saint Agnes Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, was among them.

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Undated issue of Pittsburgh Courier, probably early 1942.

This bio of Ruth C. Speight appears in the website of the Tuskegee Army Nurses Project:

Captioned “Nurses Abbie Voorhies (Ross), Ruth Speight, Della Rainey (in cockpit) and Mencie Trotter during their flight orientation, a special part of their important duties at Tuskegee Army Air Field. U.S. Air Force Museum,” this photograph appears in Charlie and Ann Cooper’s Tuskegee’s Heroes (1996).

Pittsburgh Courier, 8 July 1944.

Ruth Speight Russell died 14 December 2016 in Albany, New York, at the age of 98. This simple obituary gives no hint of her extraordinary life.

 

Studio shots, no. 69: Dempsey L. Henderson.

A veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, Dempsey Lee Henderson received a three-star Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, Victory Medal, Purple Heart, and one-star Philippine Liberation Ribbon.

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Dempsey L. Henderson was born on or about 31 December 1927 in Wilson to Lena B. McNair and Jesse “Jack” Henderson.

In the 1940 census of Washington, District of Columbia: at 335 Elm Street, Lena Henderson, maid, 30; son Dempsey Henderson, 12; mother Mary McNary, 53; and lodger John Pendleton, 29, transfer merchant truck driver.

In 1943, Henderson registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C.

This 1944 muster roll shows that Henderson was aboard the U.S.S. Abner Read, a Fletcher-class destroyer, in September of that year.

Dempsey L. Henderson died 2003, and was buried at Quantico National Cemetery.

Photo of Dempsey Henderson in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson; Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 1940-1947, digitized at www.fold3.com; Muster rolls of U.S. Navy ships, stations, and other naval activities, 1939-1949, digitized at www.fold3.com.