Newspapers

The most blighted fraction.

In the early 1970s, Maury and neighboring streets, already hemmed in on one side by the railroad, were further cut off from the fabric of the larger community by the construction of Hines Street extension and the towering Carl B. Renfro Overpass. In the unselfconscious lingo of the early 1980s, the Wilson Daily Times described the neighborhood bounded by Gay, Stemmery, Pender and the railroad as “the most blighted fraction of the Wilson ghetto.”

The article focuses on the city’s efforts to eliminate blighted housing (“more often than not, … stem[ming] from the landlords’ greed”) and provide adequate public housing for its poorest citizens. Interviews of some residents offer stark testimony about the deterioration of many houses in the neighborhood, some already more than a half-century old.

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Wilson Daily Times, 24 October 1981.

Close-up of photograph of shotgun houses facing Pender Street, near Stemmery Street. All were demolished in the mid-1980s.

A related article in the same issue of the Daily Times highlighted successes of the Wilson Department of Community Development, which, via a multi-million-dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, offered grants and low-interest loans to homeowners to improve their property.

Thirty-seven years after its rehab, this house at 309 Elba has relapsed into serious disrepair. 

Cooke’s Wilson Notes, no. 1.

In 1940, Henderson J. Cooke wrote a regular column about Wilson social doings for Durham’s The Carolina Times. This week, Cooke focused much of his attention on the doings of Rev. Hattie L. Daniels and his own family.

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The Carolina Times, 24 March 1940.

  • Rev. Mrs. Hattie L. Daniels — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Cleveland Daniel, 40, fireman at city plant; wife Hattie, 38, saleswoman at Steward Co.; and father-in-law Mack Owens, 60, farm laborer. All were born in Georgia.
  • Willis Owens Jr.
  • Mildred Blakney
  • Rev. Woods
  • R.A.G. Foster — Richard A.G. Foster.
  • Elinor Foster — Elenore Hasting Foster.
  • J.L. Cooke — Jerry L. Cooke.
  • Mrs. J.L. Cooke — Clara Godette Cooke.

“The official business of Christ.”

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The Carolina Times, 20 November 1937.

Elder C.L. Faison is elusive in census records and directories of Wilson, and apparently divided his time between Wide-Awake and Durham, North Carolina, where his Church of God in Jesus Christ, New Deal, Inc., was incorporated. Per his death certificate, Cluster L. Faison died 27 March 1963 in Durham. He was born 9 September 1889 in McCrae [McRae], Georgia, to Eli Faison and Della Thorpe; was a clergyman; and was married to Isabelle Faison.

Masons’ annual meeting.

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Wilson Daily Times, 9 December 1947.

  • Rev. L.E. Rasbury — on 14 June 1954, L.E. Rasberry, 66, of Kinston, N.C., son of Ed and Sarah Harper Rasberry, married Sudie Ella Young, 56, of Wilson, in Wilson. U.F.W.B. minister H.R. Reaves of Ayden, N.C., performed the ceremony.
  • W.C. Hart — Walter C. Hart.
  • Rev. C.T. Jones — Charles T. Jones.
  • C.W. Foster — Carter W. Foster.
  • Rev. Fred M. Davis
  • J.M. Miller, Jr. — John M. Miller, Jr.
  • Ximena Moore — Xzimenna Moore.
  • Mattille Floyd — on 2 August 1950, Harold E. Gay, 30, son of Albert and Annie Bell Gay, married Matteele Floyd, 26, daughter of Ambrose and Mattie Floyd, in Nashville, Nash County. Ethel M. Coley and Albert Gay [Jr.] were witnesses.
  • Rev. O.J. Hawkins — Obra J. Hawkins.

 

A little paint does not help a situation like that.

Richard A.G. Foster made the most of his brief time as pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church, as chronicled here and here. In the letter to the editor below, he called to task Wilson County Commissioners for failing to heed the pleas of African-American residents for adequate schooling, including serious repairs for the Stantonsburg Street School (also known as Sallie Barbour School).

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Wilson Daily Times, 3 August 1938.

Misfortunes of Marcus.

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Wilson News, 7 December 1899.

The course of events here is not entirely clear, but it seems that Haywood Marcus, Lee Whitaker and John Mobley were on the west side of the tracks at a saloon or shot house. Mobley was drunk, and Whitaker and Marcus tried to help him get back “across the railroad” home. Mobley’s brother Jim Mobley intercepted them, cursed Marcus out, and shot him. (Huh?)

  • Haywood Marcus
  • Lee Whitaker
  • John and Jim Mobley — John and James Mobley were sons of John H. and Jane Rountree Mobley.

Headed to college.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 September 1948.

Howard University

  • Doris V. Smith
  • Mary Frances Diggs (1930-1971), daughter of Edgar and Mary Grant Diggs
  • Charles Seville Plater (1929), son of Simon T. and Ruth Jones Plater
  • Thomas Levi Peacock(1928), son of Levi and Eloise Reavis Peacock
  • Norma Adelaide Carter Murphy (1931-), daughter of Luke and Eunice Godette Carter
  • Hoover Curtis Bowens (1928-2007), son of Jacob and Flossie Cobb Bowens

A&T College

  • Edward Kerphew Harris (1930-2007), son of Benjamin and Pauline Artis Harris
  • Winford Lee Morgan (1931-2000), son of James and Addie Fisher Morgan
  • Wade Nicholas Lassiter (1928-??) and Harvey Green Lassiter (1926-1998), sons of Jesse C.K. and Lessie Dew Lassiter
  • Harold Cannady
  • Leonard Elroy Barnes Jr. (1929-1967), son of Leonard E. and Beatrice Taylor Barnes
  • Walter Rufus Stephens (1926-2014), son of James H. and Parnella Jackson Stephens
  • James Thomas Jones (1927-2011) and John Wesley Jones (1925-2004), sons of Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones

From the 1951 edition of The Ayantee, the yearbook of North Carolina State A.&T. University.

N.C. College [now N.C. Central University]

  • Helen Woodard
  • Ralph Cornell Gay (1928-1992), son of Albert and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay
  • James Henry Spivey Jr. (1930-??) and Glenda Vermell Spivey Middleton (1927-2006), children of James H. and Mary Clark Spivey
  • Eva Elnora Coley Jarrett Oxendine (1929-), daughter of David H. and Eva Speight Coley
  • Preston Walter Diggs (1928-), son of Edgar and Mary Grant Diggs
  • Hattie Moye Floyd (1929-1985), daughter of Ambrose and Mattie Moye Floyd
  • Thomas Dawson
  • Laura Mae Murphy Baker (1925-1988), daughter of Clarence and Mittie Wilkes Murphy
  • Victoria Whitehead McCray (1928-2017), daughter of John H. and Victoria Ennis Whitehead

Shaw University

  • James L. Nicholson Jr. (1929-2018), son of James and Celestia Nicholson
  • Donnie L. Joyner Freeman (1928-), daughter of Eddie and Annie Wynn Joyner
  • Eva L. Carter (1928-2017), daughter of Willam and Eva Overton Carter
  • Doug Melton 
  • Nathaniel Gray Hodges (1929-), son of Nathaniel and Bessie Sutton Hodges
  • Helen Harris
  • R.J. Dancy

J.C. Smith

  • Mamie Ruth Ellis (1930-2004), daughter of Oscar and Mamie Bynum Ellis
  • Roderick Taylor Jr. (1928), son of Roderick and Mary J. Pender Taylor
  • Ellis Brown Jr. (1921-1989), son of Ellis and Margaret Scarborough Brown

Barber-Scotia

  • Ann Battle
  • Van Royall
  • Doris Joyner
  • Pauline Deloris Harris (1927-), daughter of Benjamin A. and Pauline Artis Harris

Virginia State

  • Annie Miller Stokes (1930-), daughter of James and Viola Reese Stokes
  • Frances Williams 

West Virginia State

Saint Augustine

  • Mary Knight
  • Richard Barnes
  • Virginia Ward
  • Margaret Evangeline Speight Williams (1929-1998), daughter of Theodore and Marie Thomas Speight
  • Marian Anderson 

Livingstone College

  • Trumiller Wimberly
  • Christine Snow

Temple University

  • Katheryn Spells (1927-2004), daughter of Neros and Nancy Taylor Spells

Cortez Peters Business School

  • Beatrice McNeil (1928-2007), daughter of Matthew and Ola Belle Jiggette McNeil
  • Ozie L. Pender (1928-2010), daughter of Albert and Mary Pender

Winston-Salem Teachers College

  • Agnes Hoskins (1929-), daughter of Lonnie and Gertrude Simms Hoskins
  • Charity Wells (1930-1978), daughter of Willie and Mamie Holland Wells
  • Bertha Cobb

A swarm of Locus(t)s.

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Wilson Advance, 16 March 1883.

Though Register Barnes’ snarky comment suggests otherwise, cousin marriages were not uncommon in the 19th century. The Locus/Locust/Lucas family was one of the largest free families of color in eastern North Carolina. Most Wilson County Locuses had roots in neighboring Nash County.

James and Missouri Locus Lucas.

In the 1870 census of Springfield township, Nash County: Zachariah Locust, 47; wife Emily, 47; and children Blurdy, 12, Margaret, 9, Zerry, 4, and Willie, 7.

In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Wilson County: Zachariah Locus, 53; wife Emily, 49; and daughters Margaret A., 18, and Missouri N., 12.

James Locus, 24, married Miszura Locus, 19, both of Nash County, on 14 March 1883 at the Wilson County courthouse. Zelus Howard, Wash Barnes and B.J. Barnes witnessed.

In the 1900 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: James Lucas, 43; wife Missouri, 35; and children Frederick, 16, Sallie A., 15, Louzetta, 12, Victoria, 7, Effie, 5, Mattie, 2, and Johnnie, 8.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on path leading to Raleigh Road, James Lucas, 54; wife Missouri, 41; and children Louzetta, 19, John, 17, Victoria, 15, Effie, 13, Mattie, 11, Emma, 7, Bettie, 5, and Maoma, 7 months.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James Lucas, 63, farmer; wife Missouri, 49; and children Bettie, 13, Naomi, 10, and Lucile, 3.

Missouri Lucas died 22 March 1926 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was about 55 years old; was married to James Lucas; was the daughter of Zachariah and Emily Lucas; and was buried at New Vester cemetery.

James Lucas died 12 April1928 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1859 to Jane Taborn; had been married to Missouri Lucas; was a farmer; was buried at New Vester cemetery. John Davis of Simms was informant.

Luzettie Lucas Creech died 28 June 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1893 to James Lucas and Missouri (last name unknown); was a widow; resided at 500 Hadley Street; and was buried at New Vester. Roberta Creech Spells was informant.

Victoria Lucas Kent died 2 July 1973 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 September 1900 to James Savannah Lucas and Missouri Taylor; resided at 611 Benton Street, Wilson; and had worked in farming. Informant was Janie Richardson, 611 Benton Street.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user HVByrd.

Dr. Mitchner’s ordeal.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 April 1938.

In late March or early April 1938, white newborn baby was found abandoned under a tree on Hines Street in Wilson, and died a short time later. The police quickly identified Mittie E. Lucas, reported as a 43 year-old widowed seamstress in the 1940 census of Wilson, as the child’s mother and Jesse Hamilton, also 43 and a married former policeman, as its father. Lucas and Mary Fuller, an African-American midwife, were charged with the baby’s homicide, and Hamilton was charged with abortion along with black physician William A. Mitchner. The four criminal cases were consolidated.

It is not difficult to imagine Mitchner’s terror. He testified that Lucas called on him on February 2 and, in 30 years of medical practice, he had never before examined a white woman. He denied attempting an abortion, asserting that he told Lucas he didn’t “do that kind of work and not to let anyone else do it.” He admitted referring Lucas to Dr. Clarence Dillard Jr., an African-American doctor in Goldsboro, but claimed he did not know whether Dillard were an abortionist, he just “wanted to get rid of them and stop them from coming to me.” [In fact, just four months later, newspapers would breathlessly cover a trial in which Dillard was accused of performing an abortion on a young white woman pregnant by her black boyfriend.] More than a dozen character witnesses stood for Mitchner, including “prominent negro undertaker” Camillus L. Darden and “prominent local druggist” Doane Herring, who was white.

On 26 April 1938, the Daily Times reported that Recorder McLean had dismissed charges against Mitchner, concluding that the other defendants’ actions after visiting Mitchner suggested that he “would do nothing for them.”

The charges against Lucas, Hamilton and Fuller dragged on. Lucas’ brother, U.R. Moore, posted her bond at the end of April, but Fuller and Hamilton remained in jail. After several court continuances, startling news broke on 8 February 1939 after the state rested its case. Witnesses testified that Hamilton admitted that he was the baby’s father; that Hamilton went to a Negro doctor for “medicine” and that the doctor had refused to do what was “intimated”; that Lucas had given the infant to Fuller to place with “some rich person or some hospital”; and that Fuller had placed the child under a tree and called a neighbor to the scene. However, the solicitor conceded that he could not establish if the baby had died of exposure [or, presumably, died of natural causes]. Thus, he could not establish homicide. (And as Lucas seemingly delivered a full-term child, nor could he show that Lucas had obtained an abortion.) With this failure, he proferred a nolle prosequi, i.e. dropped charges, against Lucas and suspended five-year sentences to Hamilton and Fuller if they pleaded no contest.

——

Perhaps, in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Mary Fuller, 56, laundress; daughter Mildred, 22; and boarder Texanna Whitley, 23, and her children Cleo, 7, and Charlie, 2.