Newspapers

He is a Wilson negro and a bad one at that.

One hundred years ago today:

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The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 March 1919.

  • Kit Shaw
  • Luther Barbour — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 East Nash, John Barber, 27; wife Ethel, 26; mother Sallie, 59, teacher; and brother Luther, 32. Luther is described as single.

Charged with stealing cotton.

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Wilson Advance, 19 January 1888.

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  • Jordan Taylor — possibly, the Jordan Taylor Sr. here or father of J.G. Taylor here or here.
  • Henry Williams — possibly, in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Henry Williams, 28; wife Alis, 28; and children Edwin, 8, and Mattie, 6.
  • Charlie Gay — perhaps, in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Emma Gay, 35; children Charlie, 15, a steam-mill worker, Mary, 11, Etheldred, 8, and Willie, 6; plus a boarder Fannie Thompson, 19, cook.
  • Daniel Barron

The program.

The Times published the full program of commencement exercises for Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute’s first graduating class. The composition of the school’s board of directors reveals the depth of investment by East Wilson’s elite. (Even veterinarian E.L. Reid, whose brother J.D. Reid lit the match that started the public school boycott conflagration.)

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Wilson Times, 28 May 1919.

  • Harry C. Eldridge and J. Bassett Willard published Arcticania, or Columbia’s Trip to the North Pole, an Operetta in Two Acts, a “juvenile fairy spectable,” in 1916. Eldridge and Elizabeth F. Guptill published Midsummer Eve, a Musical Fairy Play for Children in 1920.
  • S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick, former teacher, former postmaster, real estate developer.
  • W.S. Hines — Walter S. Hines, barber.
  • W.H. Phillips — William H. Phillips, dentist.
  • N.J. Tate — Noah J. Tate, barber.
  • C.L. Darden — Camillus L. Darden, undertaker and business owner.
  • W.A. Mitchner — William A. Mitchner, physician.
  • J.W. Rogers — John W. Rogers, businessman.
  • D.C. Yancy — Darcy C. Yancey, pharmacist.
  • M.H. Wilson — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 126 Pender Street, Virginia-born house contractor Mansfield H. Wilson, 60; son Samuel H., 20; and sister-in-law Lucy Richards, 40.
  • L.A. Moore — Lee A. Moore, merchant and insurance agent.
  • William Hines — barber and real estate developer.
  • E.L. Reid — Elijah L. Reid, veterinarian.
  • A.L.E. Weeks — Alfred L.E. Weeks, Baptist minister.
  • R.R. Forman — Organist, pianist and composer Allie Waling Forman (1855-1937) registered her work under the name Mrs. R.R. Forman.
  • Frederic Boscovitz composed the duet “Bella Napoli” in 1900.
  • Rogenia Barnes — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street,
  • Lillian Wilson
  • Boisey Barnes — Boisey O. Barnes, half-brother of Walter and William Hines.
  • Lester Mitchell
  • Willard Crawford
  • Addie Davis — Addie Davis Butterfield, daughter of Baptist minister Fred M. Davis Sr.
  • Jos. Rosemond Johnson — James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) composed “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” as a poem in 1900, and his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) set it to music in 1905. In 1919, the year of the Industrial School graduation, the NAACP dubbed the song the “Negro National Anthem.”
  • R.N. Perry — Robert N. Perry, Episcopal priest.

 

With his willing strength he bore her gently into the house.

This notice of the events surrounding the death of Eliza Lewis, a hard-working farm wife in Old Fields township, includes details of the actions of her African-American neighbor, Essec C. Watson, to assist the stricken woman and her family. (You will note that, though praised, Watson is not given the honorific “Mr.” and is referred to by his first name later in the piece.)

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Wilson Times, 18 November 1910.

——

Esec Watson, 21, of Springhill township, son of Mary Stancil, married Mary Ann Locust, 18, of Old Fields township, daughter of John and Millie Locust, on 5 May 1895 at Jno. P. Locust’s residence.

In the 1900 census of Smithfield township, Johnston County: school teacher E.C. Watson, 34; wife Mary, 25; and children Laurena, 8, Pieneta, 5, Rica, 4, and Sister, 5 months.

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Esic C. Watson, 34; wife Mary, 32; children Pieneta, 14, Eureka, 12, Ila, 10, Ola, 8, and Edgar, 6; and hired man Cordie Lucas, 26.

On 24 November 1912, Peter Jones, 21, of Nash County, married Nettie Watson, 18, of Old Fields township, Wilson County, in Wilson County.

On 20 December 1914, Miley Bailey, 22, of Old Fields township, son of Will Hart and Polly Bailey, married Ila Watson, 18, of Old Fields, daughter of Essec and Mary Watson at Original Free Will Baptist minister B.H. Boykin’s place.

On 21 March 1915, Edmund Earp, 18, of Old Fields township, son of W.G. and Lucy Earp, married Ricker Watson, 17, of Old Fields, daughter of Essec and Mary Watson at  S.T. Boykin’s place.

On 23 January 1916, Walter Robinson, 21, of Old Fields township, son of Bill and Sissie Robinson, married Ola Watson, 16, of Old Fields, daughter of Essec and Mary Watson at Original Free Will Baptist minister B.H. Boykin’s place.

Pinettie Jones died 19 December 1973 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born 26 July 1895 in North Carolina to Esse Watson and Mary [last name unknown], and was the widow of James P. Jones. Christine Shoulders was informant.

 

A big occasion in the history of the race in this city.

I was astonished to realize that this article memorializes the first commencement exercises at the Independent School — here called by its full and official name, the Wilson  Normal and Industrial Institute. As chronicled here and here and here, a coalition of African-American parents and religious and civic leaders founded the Independent School (also known as the Industrial School) in the wake of an assault on a black teacher by the white school superintendent.

I have not been able to identify Judge William Harrison of Chicago, who delivered to the new school’s graduates a remarkably unprogressive message that seemingly flew in the face of the stand for civil rights the community had resolutely made just a year earlier. The Times reporter made no mention of the school’s genesis, preferring to focus at length on Harrison’s message of admiration for the white man’s guidance and fine example.

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Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1919.

  • Judge William Harrison
  • Prof. S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick furnished a building on Vance Street to house the new school.
  • Rev. A.L.E. Weeks — Alfred L.E. Weeks was a member of the Colored Ministerial Union committee appointed to address the community’s concerns to the school board.
  • Joseph S. Jackson — Joseph S. Jackson Jr.
  • Boisy Barnes — Boisey O. Barnes.
  • Lester Mitchell — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Annie Mitchell, 70, her children Sallie, 46, Eddie, 44, Albert, 42, Eva, 36, and Floyd, 34, plus niece Sevreane, 18, and nephew Lester, 15.
  • Willard Crawford — probably, Daniel Willard Crawford who died 16 October 1964 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 January 1900 in Wilson County to Daniel Crawford and Annie Whitted; was never married; and worked as a carpenter. Walter H. Whitted was informant.
  • Addie Davis — Addie Davis Butterfield.
  • Rev. R.N. Perry — Episcopal priest Robert N. Perry was also on the Ministerial Union’s committee.
  • Lillian Wilson — perhaps, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: livery stable groom William Wilson, 51; wife Sarah, 48, and daughters Elen, 23, and Lillian, 21, both tobacco factory workers.

In the neighborhood of Watson’s land.

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Plat book 1, map 254.

This 1937 notice of sale of the property of John A. and Nannie K. Watson contains bits of information about land ownership by African-Americans in Taylors township, a few miles northeast of the town of Wilson.

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Lots 1-4 on the plat map were known as the “Ellis and Woodard tract of Kinchen Watson.” They lay about a half-mile west of the Wilson-Nashville highway (now N.C. Highway 58) and the description of their outer perimeter begins at the corner of “the old Warren Rountree lands and the Hilliard Ellis home tract.” Warren Rountree and Hilliard Ellis were half-brothers. Both were born into slavery, but became prosperous farmers and landowners within a few years after Emancipation. The irregular pentagon of Lot 1 of the tract wrapped around a two-acre rectangle belonging to the Warren Rountree heirs, and Lot 2 excluded “a parcel of land containing one-half acre called the Ellis Chapel lot upon which stands a colored church.”

Detail of lots 1 and 2 of the Ellis & Woodard tracts.

The second tract up for auction, “the Jim Howard tract,” is marked Lot 5 on the plat map at page 251 of Plat Book 1, below.

The third tract, the “Lamm tract,” consisted of Lots 1-4 of the plat map below. These properties were surrounded by tracts belonging to African-American men whose families were connected by blood, intermarriage and historical status as free people of color. James G. “Jim,” Kenyon, Jesse and Allison (not Anderson) Howard were sons of Zealous and Rhoda Eatmon Howard, and William Howard appears to have been a grandson. Charles Brantley‘s daughter Mollie married her cousin Kenyon Howard. John and Kenyon “Kenny” Locust (also spelled Locus and Lucas) were father and son, and John’s mother was Eliza Brantley Locus.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 November 1937.

Plat Book 1, Page 251.

Per Google Maps, the area shown in the first plat today. At (A), Ellis Chapel Free Will Baptist Church; at (B), the approximate location of the Warren Rountree heirs’ two acres; at (C), the Hilliard Ellis cemetery, which is outside the Watson land; at (1) Aviation Place; at (2) Packhouse Road; at (3) N.C. Highway 58; and at (4) Little Swamp, which is a tributary of Toisnot Swamp.

Plat books at Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.

 

Influenza cases.

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Wilson Times, 7 January 1919.

  • Frank Mitchell, Grab Neck — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, laborer Frank Mitchell, 27, wife Alice, 23, daughter Nora M., 1, and boarder Noah Bess, 63.
  • Alex Hall, Elm City — in the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: widower Alex Farmer, 50; his mother Saro, 80; sister Maggie, 45; and children Leaston, 18, Randolf, 17, and Annie, 8.
  • Albert Wright, South Elm City — Albert Wright registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 17 May 1890 in Clinton, N.C.; resided in Elm City; farmed for Jno. D. Bailey in Toisnot township; had a wife and four children; and had a “stiff foot.”
  • Kirby Haskins, Stantonsburg — in the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Kirby Hoskins, 22, wife Lula, 24, and son Eddie, 7 months.
  • Maria Lipscomb, Route 1, Wilson

Negro mystery man in court.

During our conversation in February, Samuel C. Lathan told me that Peter Lupe was the only black person “allowed” to sell beer on the 500 block of East Nash. This piece, floating somewhere between news and society column, supports Mr. Lathan’s observation.

Thomas’ first bit of “triviata” — Attorney George Tomlinson appeared at an alderman meeting on behalf of Willie Prince to complain that the police were showing favoritism toward Lupe while harassing Prince and others and that Prince’s on-premise wine license had been revoked, but Lupe remained free to pour. City tax collector Richard R. Smiley step up to resolve part of Prince’s complaint by revoking Lupe’s license on the spot.

The second item — One Saturday night, exactly five minutes after a “negro woman” was booked on a liquor charge, Lupe bonded her out.

The third — The police arrested James Patrick on a vagrancy charge and found his pockets full of “good luck negro charms.” (Again, “jo-mo.” Was this actually a local variant on “mojo”?) Patrick explained that, in exchange for rent, he had promised to get his landlady’s boyfriend to come back. [Sidenote: Vagrancy laws essentially criminalized joblessness and were wielded to harass poor people, especially those of color. After a number of constitutional challenges, in the 1960s most vagrancy laws were replaced by statutes prohibiting more specific behavior, such as public intoxication or disorderly conduct.]

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Wilson Daily Times, 9 September 1940.

The obituary of Mariah Lipscomb.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 December 1924.

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: carpenter Stephen Lipscomb, 49; wife Mariah, 29; and children Anna, 13, Tilitha, 12, Betha, 12, Frank, 10, Archibald, 8, Penny, 6, and Daniel, 1 month.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Stephen Lipscum, 52; wife Mariah, 42; children Penny, 13, Daniel and Louvenia, 9, Mary, 5, Rosa, 4, and George, 3 months; and grandchildren Isabella, 7, James, 5, and Henryetta, 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer George Hines, 53; wife Lew, 48; children Howard, 19, Hubbard, 17, May Lillie, 12, Joseph, 10, Nora, 8, Robert, 5, William, 4, and Charlie, 2; and widowed mother-in-law Mariah Lipscombe, 72.

Lou Lipscombe Hines applied for a Social Security number or claim in May 1937. Per her application, she was born 6 May 1868 in Wilson, North Carolina, to Stephen Lipscombe and Maria Barnes.

Frank Lipscomb died 5 October 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 80 years old; resided at Wilson County Home; was a widower; was a farmer; and was born in Wilson County to Stephen and Mariah Lipscomb. Johnnie Coley was informant.

 

The new Darden Memorial.

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Wilson Daily Times, 11 June 1949.

“Established in 1875, the Darden Memorial Funeral Home has given Wilson almost 75 years of continuous service, and with the occupation of its new building is now prepared to render even more efficient service in the future.

“The new building, which boasts the most modern conveniences, is designed to provide beautiful and comforting funeral service, and includes the slumber room, a chapel and a large casket display room.”

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As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: 608-610 East Nash Street, “1949; 2 stories; (former) Darden Funeral Home; brick-veneered Tudor Revival structure with hip-roof and half-timber decor on upper story; building replaced earlier funeral home on this site established by Charles H. Darden, North Carolina’s first black licensed mortician.”

The building has been demolished.