Newspapers

Mary Euell and Dr. Du Bois.

To my astonished delight, historian David Cecelski cited to my recent post on Mary C. Euell and the school boycott — and shouted out Black Wide-Awake — today.  In a piece dedicated to Glenda Gilmore on the occasion of her retirement, Cecelski describes a letter from Euell to W.E.B. Du Bois he found among Du Bois’ papers, collected at and digitized by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Researching the letter’s context led him to Black Wide-Awake,  and he penned a warm and gracious thanks for my research.

Euell wrote the letter from her home at 135 Pender Street on 22 April 1918, not two weeks after leading  her colleagues in a walkout. She made reference to Du Bois’ letter of the 18th and promised to send “full details of [her] trouble here in Wilson,” including newspaper clippings and photographs. Though no follow-up correspondence from Euell is found in the collection, there is a newspaper clipping sent April 12 by Dr. A.M. Rivera, a dentist and N.A.A.C.P. leader from Greensboro, North Carolina. (Coincidentally, Dr. Rivera’s office was in the Suggs Building.)

Greensboro Daily News, 12 April 1918.

(The collection also contains a brief letter from Mrs. O.N. Freeman [Willie Hendley Freeman] referring to an enclosed a 7 August 1920 Wilson Daily Times article and noting “this might interest you or be of some value to some one as I know your sentiments by reading the Crisis.” I have not been able to locate the article in online databases and do not know whether it related to the on-going boycott.)

The end of the Red Hots?

In 1938, the city of Wilson professionalized its firefighting operations, converting the white volunteer department to semi-paid status. The Daily Times originally reported that the black volunteer organization, the Red Hots, would be abolished, but here clarified that, while they were being retired from active service, they would continue to send representatives to competitions and state conventions and would be called upon in emergencies.  

Wilson Daily Times, 14 July 1938.

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  • Ben Mincey
  • George Coppedge — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason George Coppedge, 34; wife Mittie, 34; and children George Jr., 4, and Elenora, 2.
  • Aaron Best — William Aaron Best died 21 August 1949 at his home at 1009 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 September 1900 in Wilson County to Aaron Best and Nannie Best; was a widower; and had been a laborer at Export Tobacco Company. Audrey Best was informant.
  • Ambrose Floyd — in 1942, Ambrose Floyd registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 4 February 1901 in Lumberton, North Carolina; resided at 1214 East Nash Street; his contact was Clara Smith; and he was employed by Gary Fulghum, 901 Branch Street, United States Post Office.
  • W.J. Howell
  • Henry Sauls — in 1942, Henry Sauls registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 10 February 1898 in Black Creek; resided at 21 Carolina Street (mailing address 1114 Carolina Street); his contact was Hattie Davis, 19 Carolina Street; and he worked for W.T. Clark Jr., 1415 West Nash Street, Barnes Street tobacco factory.
  • Louis Thomas — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 715 East Green Street, carpenter Louis Thomas, 53; wife Lillie, 33; and children Louis Jr., 16, Charlie H., 14, and Van Jewel, 12.

Daniel Vick, who “had accumulated quite a nice lot of property,” dies.

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News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 12 February 1908.

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Daniel Vick and Fannie Blount registered their six-year cohabitation in Wilson County on August 31, 1866.

In 1867, Fannie Blount Vick’s grandmother, Violet Blount, filed a letter with the Goldsboro Field Office of the Freedmen’s Bureau opposing the apprenticeship of her grandsons Marcus and Oscar to Benjamin H. Blount, their former owner. She named Daniel Vick as a suitable “master” for the boys, who were the sons of his wife’s deceased sister.

In 1868, Daniel Vick single-handedly halted a fire that threatened to devour all of Wilson’s downtown.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: baker Samuel Williams, 30, carpenter Daniel Vick, 25, wife Fannie, 24, children Samuel, 8, Earnest, 3, and Nettie M., 5, plus Violet Drake, 52.

In 1877, Vick purchased one acre of land just east of Wilson town limits, his first recorded real estate acquisition.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, 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. Vick, 8, plus Frank O., 20, and Marcus W. Blount, 26.

In 1883, Vick was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Colored Graded School.

In 1884, Vick was appointed to a mail carrier position in Wilson, ousting a younger white man who had held the patronage position. (Mail carriers transferred mail arriving by train to the post office for local delivery.)

In 1888, Vick was elected as a delegate to the Wilson County Republican convention.

In 1893, Argent Farmer sued Vick over contested ownership of property along what is now Church Street.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: carpenter Daniel Vick, 52; wife Fannie, 52; and granddaughters Annie, 8, and Nettie B. Vick, 6, and Mamie Parker, 20, laundress. Vick reported that both his parents were born in Virginia.

“The colored Odd Fellows cemetery just on the outskirts of the southeastern section of the city” was abandoned in the mid-20th century. Though Daniel Vick surely had a headstone, it now has been buried, lost or destroyed.

Pioneer passes.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 January 1942.

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In the 1870 census of Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina: Chaney Crenshaw, 40, and daughters Jinnie, 15, Ida, 7, and Ella, 6.

In the 1880 census of Raleigh township, Wake County: at Saint Augustine School, Jinnie, 19. Ida, 18, and Ella Crenshaw, 14.

In the 1887 Raleigh, N.C., city directory: Crenshaw Ida (col) houseservant at 522 Fayetteville, r outside

On 28 March 1888, John H. Clark, 24, of Wilson County, son of Harry and Flora Clark of Beaufort County, North Carolina, married Ida R. Crenshaw, 21, of Wake County, daughter of John and Chaney Crenshaw. Robert B. Sutton, Doctor of Divinity, Presbyter of the Protestant Episcopalian Church, performed the ceremony at the Chapel of Saint Augustine Normal School, Raleigh.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher John H. Clark, 36; wife Ida R., 34; and children Chaney V., 8, and Flora R., 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, letter carrier John H. Clark, 46; wife Ida, 46, school teacher; and daughter Floyd [sic], 12.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 635 Manchester Street, mail carrier John Clark, 56; wife Ida, 48; and daughter Flora, 12.

On 18 June 1930, Flora Ruth Clark, 21, of Wilson, daughter of John H. and Ida R. Clark, married Wilton Maxwell Bethel, 21, son of Ernest and Phillis Bethel, at Saint Mark’s Presbyterian Episcopal Church in Wilson. Presbyterian Episcopal minister Eugene Leon Henderson performed the ceremony in the presence of John H. Clark and Ida R. Clark.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 East Nash Street, John Clark, 76; wife Ida, 65; son-in-law Wilton Bethel, 33, insurance agent for N.C. Mutual Insurance; and daughter Flora, 30, school teacher at Darden High School.

Ida R. Clark died 13 June 1942 at her home at 706 East Nash, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 25 May 1873 in Franklin County to Prince and Chaney Crenshaw of Franklin County; was married; was a teacher and homemaker; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. John H. Clark was informant.

London Woodard, Penny Lassiter Woodard and the London Church.

On 14 February 1970, the Wilson Daily Times published a full-page article detailing the life of London Woodard, founder of London’s Primitive Baptist Church.

London Woodard was born enslaved in 1792. He was recorded in the estates of Asa Woodard in 1816 and Julan Woodard in 1826 (in which he was recognized as a distiller of fine fruit brandies.) In 1827, James B. Woodard bought London at auction for $500. The same year, London married Venus, a woman enslaved by Woodard. In 1828, London was baptized and appears as a member in the minutes of Tosneot Baptist Church. Venus was baptized in 1838 and died in 1845.

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Transfer of title to “a negroe man by the name of Lonon” from Nathan Woodard to James B. Woodard, 1928.

J.B. Woodard’s second wife in 1837, and he hired Penelope Lassiter, a free woman of color, as a housekeeper and surrogate mother to his children. Lassiter, born 1814, was the daughter of Hardy Lassiter, who owned a small farm south of Wilson. She met London, who was working as overseer, at Woodard’s. In 1852, Penny Lassiter bought 106 acres for $242 about five miles east of Wilson on the Tarboro Road.

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In 1854, Penny Lassiter purchased her husband London, then about 62 or 63, from J.B. Woodard for $150. In 1858 Lassiter bought another 53 acres near her first tract and purchased 21 acres in 1859. The same year, she sold a small parcel to Jordan Thomas, a free man of color [who was married to her step-daughter Rose Woodard.] In 1866, the years after he was emancipated, London Woodard bought, subject to mortgage, a 200-acre parcel.

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In 1866, London Woodard was granted authority to preach “only among his acquaintances,” i.e. African-Americans. A member of Tosneot Baptist donated an acre of land to build a black church, regarded as the first in Wilson County. London Woodard was licensed to preach in 1870.

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London Woodard preached his last sermon on 13 November 1870. The next day, he suffered a stroke and fell into an open fireplace. Despite severe burns, he was able to dictate a will before his death.

The history of London Church for the 25 years after Woodard’s death is murky. In 1895, white churches Tosneot and Upper Town Creek dismissed several African-American members in order that they might establish an independent congregation at London’s. [London Church reorganized under the umbrella of the Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association in 1897.]

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By the terms of his will, London Woodard provided for his wife Penelope; sons William, Hardy, Haywood, Howell, Elvin, Amos and London; and daughters Treasy, Rose, Pharibee, Sarah, Harriet and Penninah. (Deceased son John’s daughter was apparently inadvertently omitted.)  “A few facts” about Woodard’s children follows.

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Receipts for payments for taxes and accounts for Penny Lassiter and London Woodard.

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This building was moved around the corner to London Church Road. It has long been abandoned and collapsed in 2017 after suffering serious storm damage the year before.

Reid reunion.

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Wilson Daily Times, 26 July 1971.

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In the 1900 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Gray Read, 47; wife Lucy, 37; and children Joseph R., 18, Nancy L., 7, Elija, 5, Mart Eva, 4, Jona, 3, and Lucy, 5 months.

In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Amos Read, 64; lodger Gray Read, 57, and children Gray, 18, Eligh, 15, Margrett, 13, and John, 13.

Elijah Reid, 21, of Gardners township, son of Gray Reid, married Ida Hagans, 18, of Gardners, daughter of James and Hannah Hagans, on 13 January 1915 on the Old Whitehead farm. Witnesses were Robert Hilliard, Lawrence Hagans and J.B. Owens.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Hagans, 53; wife Nora, 50; sons John, 18, Joe, 18, and Laurence, 16; daughter Etta, 21; grandchildren Elizabeth, 15, Sudie M., 13, Leeoma, 10, David, 5, Bessie M., 3, Lillie M., 1, and Charlie Reid, 4; and daughter Ida Reid, 32.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco factory laborer Elijah Reid, 49; wife Ida, 44; and children Willie, 12, Troy, 8, Sudie, 20, Naomie, 17, David, 15, Bessie, 14, Eula, 9, and Ester, 6.

Naomi Reid, 21, born in Wilson to Elijah Reid and Ida Hagans, married Oliver Lee Howard, born in Wilson to Will Lucas and Lena Howard, were married 28 January 1943 in Norfolk, Virginia, where both resided.

Lillie Mae Reid, 20, daughter of Eligha and Ida Reid, married William Atkinson, 26, son of Lester and Martha Moore Atkinson, on 25 February 1951 at 300 South East Street, Wilson. Witnesses were Mildred Reid, 911 Washington Street; Howard Hopkins, 703 Manchester Street; and David Reid, 300 South East STreet.

Ida Hagans Reid died 29 June 1967 at her home at 300 South East Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 21 August 1896 in WIlson County to James Hagans and Hannah Bynum; was married to Elijah Reid; and worked as a tobacco factoryhand. Elizabeth Reid was informant.

Elijah R. Reid Jr. died 26 March 1977 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 October 1917 in Wilson to Elijah Reid Sr. and Ida Hagans; was married to Mildred Coel; worked as a minister; and resided at 911 Washington Street.

Elijah Reid Sr. died 24 August 1982 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 August 1894 in Edgecombe County to Gray Reid and an unknown mother; resided at 804 Hines Street, Wilson; was a widower; and worked as a self-employed repairman. Eula Wilkins of Washington, D.C., was informant.

Jordan Thomas.

Hugh B. Johnston Jr., “Looking Backward,” Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1954.

This piece on Jordan Thomas is not entirely accurate. Franklin County native Jordan Thomas’ first wife was Charity Locus, a free woman of color. His second, Eliza, also seems to have been free. His third was Rosa Woodard, the enslaved daughter of London Woodard, who bore him a son, Peter.

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In the 1810 census of Franklin County, North Carolina, were free colored heads of household Lettice Thomas and Eliza Thomas. One, perhaps Eliza, may have been Jordan Thomas’s mother.

Jordan Thomas married Charity Locus in 9 February 1837 in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

In the 1840 census of District 17, Edgecombe County: Jerdan Thomas headed a household that comprised one male aged 24-35 and two females under 10. Nearby, Hearty Thomas, head of a household that included one male under 10; three females aged 10-24; one female 24-26; and one female 36-45. [Who was Hearty Thomas? Jordan Thomas named a daughter Harty.]

In the 1850 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: in the household of white farmer J.B. Woodard, farmer Jordon Thomas, 35, “free.” [Where were his wife and children?]

In the 1860 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: turpentine laborer Jordon Thomas, 50; daughters Henrietta, 21, Eliza, 20, and Harty, 18; and grandson John, 1.

In the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County; farmer Jordan Thomas, 52, who reported owning $175 in real property and $100 in personal. Next door: Eliza Thomas, 52, Henriet, 35, Hariet, 30, Alfred, 9, Jordan, 7, John, 11, Charity, 10, and Henry, 6.

In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 68; daughters Henyeter, 42, and Harty, 40; and grandchildren John, 21, Charity, 18, Henry, 15, Jordan, 17, and Alfread, 18.

On 5 January 1881, Charity Thomas, 18, daughter of Warren Rountree and Henrietta Thomas, married Charley Hagans, 20, son of Richd. and Alley Hagans, at Jordan Thomas’ in Gardners township. London Woodard, Ed Hoskins and John Thomas were witnesses.  [Charity Thomas’ father Warren Rountree was enslaved at the time of her birth.]

On 5 July 1899, Jordan Thomas made his mark on his last will and testament. Under its terms, “beloved daughters” Harty and Henretta Thomas received a life interest in the 11 acres upon which he lived in Gardners township adjoining the lands of Benjamin Finch, Benjamin Artis and T.W Barnes. After their deaths, the property was to go to grandchildren Jordan Thomas, Alfred Thomas and Charity Hagans. The will entered probate on 21 March 1901 in Wilson, presumably shortly after Thomas’ death.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jordan Thomas, 88, widower, and daughters Henrietta, 60, and Adline, 57.

Adline Thomas died 20 May 1926 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 91 years old; unmarried; was born in Edgecombe County to Jerdon Thomas of Franklin County and Chattie Thomas; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Anderson Thomas. [“Adeline” was Harty Thomas.]

Peter Thomas died 7 July 1929 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; married to Maggie Thomas; was a farmer; was born in Wilson County to Jordan Thomas and Rosa Thomas; and was buried in Penders family cemetery, Wilson County. Sudie Barnes was informant.

On 19 December 1932, Jordon Thomas died in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 70 years old; was born in Wilson County to Henrietta Thomas; and was a farmer. Informant was J.T. Barnes.