Photographs

Studio shots, no. 160: Annie Hagans Ellis.

Annie Hagans Ellis.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Larnce Haggan, 49, wife Etha, 44, and children Joe, 21, Augustus, 19, Oscar, 18, Charlie, 16, Annie, 13, Connie, 10, Lena, 8, Mollie, 7, William L., 4, Minnie, 3, and Pattie, 1, and Lawrence’s widowed mother Alice Hagans, 70.

Annie Hagans, 18, of Wilson township, daughter of Laurence and Mary Hagans, married Jonathan Ellis, 32, of Wilson township, son of James and Zanie Ellis, on 11 January 1905. Benjamin Ellis applied for the license, and Primitive Baptist minister Jonah Williams performed the ceremony at Laurence Ellis’ house in Saratoga township in the presence of M.L. Newby, F.S. Hargrave, and S.H.Vick.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Johnathan Ellis, 37; wife Annie, 23; and children Earnest, 4, Dollina, 2, and Johnathan, 1.

Frederick Douglas Ellis died 8 September 1918 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 December 1917 in Wilson County to Jonathan Ellis and Annie Haggans.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road, farmer John Ellis, 47; wife Annie, 53 [sic]; children Ernest, 14, Dollena, 12, John Jr., 11, Nettie, 7, Chasey, 6, Nathaniel, 6; and sister-in-law McCordy Ellis, 50.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Jonathan Ellis, 51; wife Annie, 43; children Jonathan J., 21, Nettie, 18, Chasie, 17, Nathaniel, 15, Macordie, 5, Leroy, 3, and Pattie M., 2; and boarder Mcordie Ellis, 58, widow.

In the 1940 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer J.C. Ellis, 67; wife Annie, 52; children Macordia, 12, Larry, 13, and Pattie May, 12; and sister Macord Ellis, 75.

In 1940, Jonathan Ellis registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 30 January 1909 in Wilson; lived at R.F.D. 2, Box 273, Elm City; his contact was mother Annie Hagans Ellis; and he worked for Morrison Webb, Elm City.

Jonathan Ellis died 12 February 1944 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 October 1875 in Saratoga to James Ellis and Zannie Applewhite; was married to Annie Ellis; was a farmer.

In 1944, Leroy Ellis registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 November 1926 in Nash County; lived at Route 2, Box 261-A, Elm City; his contact was mother Annie Ellis; and he worked for Rosa Watson, Washington, D.C. “rent the farm.”

Thanks to Cathy Thorne Bynum for contributing this photo of her grandmother!

1000 East Nash Street.

The one-hundred-twenty-sixth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompassed 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map, showing a grocery store at 1000 East Nash

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1922; 1 story; Progressive Primitive Baptist Church; brick-veneered former grocery and bottling plant; parapet front with spire added.” 

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Higson Bros (B H and V H) gros 1000 E Nash [The Higsons — owners Booth H. and Velborn H., clerk William B, and his wife Sidney S. —  lived at their shop. Like all who operated businesses at 1000 East Nash, the Higsons were white.]

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pridgen Babe D (Mattie) gro 1000 E Nash and 513 Stantonsburg h 506 Pender

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Pilot Beverage Co (Roger J Crawley Andrew C Byrd) 1000 E Nash

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wilson Bottling Co Moffett L Carson Mgr, Bottlers of Nesbitt’s California Orange 1000 E Nash tel 2408

Ad, 1947 city directory.

In the 1950 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wilson Bottling Co Moffett L Carson Mgr, Bottlers of Nesbitt’s California Orange 1000 E Nash tel 2408

In its 30 July 1953 edition, the Wilson Daily Times announced the opening of a new grocery business, Super Duper, at 1000 East Nash. Thus, the building returned to its original use.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1956.

In the 1963 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Super Duper Market No 1 (Lerby Bryant Odell C Tant) gros 1000 E Nash

These food stamp credit tokens for Super Duper No. 1 date from the 1970s. For an interesting history of this currency, see this 2015 CoinWeek digital article.

In 1978, the owners of the building advertised it for rent in the Daily Times.

Per mentions in the Wilson Daily Times, from 1982 to 1988 and possibly longer, Goodwill Progressive Primitive Baptist Church operated from 1000 East Nash Street.

Per mentions in the Wilson Daily Times, from 1995 to 1999 and possibly longer, Brotherhood of Deliverance Pentecostal Church operated from 1000 East Nash Street.

The building has been demolished.

1000 East Nash Street now, per Google Street View.

600 East Carroll Street.

The one-hundred-twenty-fifth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1922; 1 story; shotgun with hip-roofed porch and gable returns.” 

This house lies outside the boundaries of the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson. The 1950 city directory reveals the original house number was 512:

The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory listed laborer Charles Finley and wife Martha Finley at 512 North Carroll, but the 1930 reveals that the couple’s surname was actually Winley. 

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 512 Carroll, Charlie Winley, 28; wife Martha, 25; and children Chas. L., 9, Annie M., 7, and Mary F., 5.

In the 1941 city directory the house was vacant.

Floyd Woods died 21 February 1945 at his home at 600 North Carroll. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 December; was 52 years old; was born in Lenoir County to Charlie Woods and Aurey Sutton; was married to Louise Woods; and worked as a laborer.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Wood Louise (c; wid Floyd) tob wkr h 512 N Carroll

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

Sunshine Alley.

As noted in the earlier “Lost Neighborhoods” posts, downtown Wilson was once shot through with narrow alleys packed with the tiny double-shotgun dwellings of African-American tobacco workers. The whole of Sunshine Alley ran one and a half blocks between Tarboro and Mercer Streets, in the shadow of Liggett & Meyers’ tobacco warehouse and within a block of Planter’s Warehouse, Banner, Monk-Adams, Farmers, and Watson Warehouses. The neighborhood survived a 1924 fire, but by the end of 1928 it was gone — obliterated to make way for the massive Smith’s Warehouses A and B. (You can read a whole page about Smith’s in the nomination report for the Wilson Central Business-Tobacco Warehouse Historic District, but you’ll find no mention of Sunshine Alley.)

Here’s Smith’s in the 1940 aerial of Wilson, occupying the entire block bounded by East Jones, South Goldsboro, Hines, and Mercer Streets.

Today there’s nothing in this block but a Family Dollar store. Stand at the mouth of its driveway at Goldsboro Street. Look west:

Then east:

This was Sunshine Alley.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

404 North Reid Street.

The one-hundred-twenty-fourth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1922; 1 story; Alf McCoy house; Queen Anne cottage with hip roof and double-pile plan; evidence of original turned posts and patterned-tin roof.”

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McCoy Alfred (c) lab h Reid betw Carolina & E Green

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Town of Wilson laborer Alfa McCoy, 43; wife Florence, 40; widowed mother-in-law Adline King, 78; sister-in-law Mattie Mercer, 30; and roomers Leroy Mercer, 35, Town of Wilson laborer, Silvester Mercer, 15, and Dempsey Mercer, 1.

The 1922 Wilson, N.C., Sanborn fire insurance map, detail below, shows only three houses on North Reid between Carolina and Green Streets. As indicated in the 1916 city directory, Queen Street had not been cut through yet. The house thus appears to be a few years older than estimated in the nomination form.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Reid Street, owned and valued at $2000, Alford McCoy, 53, fertilizer company laborer, and wife Florance, 52, laundry. 

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Reid Street, owned and valued at $2000, Alfred McCoy, 72, “not able” to work, and wife Florence, 60, washing. 

Alfred McCoy died 5 November 1953 at his home at 404 North Reid Street. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 September 1875 in Edgecombe County to Alexander McCoy and Ellen [last name unknown]; was married; and worked as a laborer for the Town of Wilson. Informant was Florence McCoy

In her 3 October 1955 will, filed after her death in Wilson County Superior Court, Florence McCoy left her house at 404 North Reid Street to her neighbor John H. Jones.

Florence McCoy died 21 August 1956 at her home at 404 North Reid Street. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1883 in Nash County to Berry King and was a widow. Informant was John H. Jones, 405 North Reid Street.

William “Bill” Pharaoh Powell died 23 July 1963 at his home at 404 North Reid Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 February 1891 in Wilson County to Echabud Powell and Mary Ann Lassiter; was married to Margaret H[agans] Powell; and worked as a laborer. 

A branch of Toisnot Swamp.

I have a vague childhood memory of playing in a ditch that ran behind the Reid Street Community Center pool. Keith M. Harris and I — ever chasing our explorer fantasies — would dig greasy clumps of red and gray clay from its banks, dipping them in the water to coat our fingers in slip. 

A 1940 aerial image clearly shows that what I remember as a ditch was in fact a narrow branch of Toisnot Swamp. The branch ran behind and west of present-day Eastern North Carolina School for the Deaf and Longleaf Neuro-Medical Center, crossed Lipscomb Road (now Ward Boulevard), and coursed behind Reid Street Center and Vick Elementary. It then crossed Vance Street just beyond Vick Street and forked before seeming to peter out.

A modern aerial, courtesy of Google Maps, reflects the wooded course of the branch across Ward Boulevard and over to Gold Street. There, however, it disappears into underground culverts.

Here’s this waterway on the ground today. Looking west from Gold Street just below Reid, the concrete embankment and corrugated steel culvert pipe that contain the branch. The heavily polluted water of the stream is visible beyond the pipe’s opening.

Below, looking east into the park behind the Community Center. These willow oaks once grew on the banks of the “ditch” that now flows underground.

1940 aerial photo courtesy of “Wilson County Aerial Photographs, 1940,” State Archives of North Carolina Raleigh NC, http://www.flickr.com; other photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.

Who was G.G.W. Coppedge?

Wilson Daily Times, 1 April 1955.

Though his success was singular, G.K. Butterfield Sr. was not the only African-American seeking elected office in Wilson in the mid-1950s. Brickmason General George Washington Coppedge also threw his hat in the ring for a First Ward seat.

——

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Coppedge General (c) bricklyr h 133 E Nash; also Coppedge James G Rev (c) pastor Second Baptist Church h 113 Manchester

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, brickmason George Copage, 25, and wife Mary A., 23, restaurant cook.

James G. Coppedge died 16 July 1913 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1861 in North Carolina to Washington Coppedge and an unknown mother; lived on Manchester Street; was married; and worked as a butler. G.W. Coppedge was informant.

On 26 September 1915, Geo. W. Coppedge, 30, of Wilson, son of J.G. Coppedge and Sarah D. [last name not given], married Mittie Bynum, 27, of Wilson, daughter of Berry Bynum, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister J.S. Jackson performed the ceremony in the presence of Dudley Bynum, C.L. Coppedge and Allen Brown.

General Washington Coppedge registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 1 February 1885; lived at 200 Vick Street; worked as a bricklayer for John Barnes, Green Street; and his nearest relative was Mittie Coppedge.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 200 Vick Street, brickmason George Coppedge, 34; wife Mittie, 34; and children George Jr., 4, and Elenora, 2.

Mittie Coppedge died 13 December 1933 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 December 1887 in Wilson to Berry Bynum and Lottie Willoughby; was married to G.W. Coppedge; lived at 200 North Vick; and was a housewife.

On 18 November 1936, George Coppedge Jr., 21, of Nash County, son of George and Mittie Coppedge, married Eloise Allen, 19, of Nash County, daughter of James and Rachel Allen, in Nashville, Nash County, North Carolina.

On 5 June 1937, Ruth E. Hooker, 29, of Wilson, daughter of Frank and Ella Hooker, married General W. Coppedge, 45, of Wilson, son of James and Sallie Coppedge. Presbyterian minister O.E. Sanders performed the ceremony at 708 East Green Street in the presence of Annie L. SandersLenora Carroll and Eleanor J. Hooker.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 200 South Vick, George Coppedge, 55, bricklayer; wife Ruth, 40, schoolteacher at county school; [his] son George Jr., 23; daughter-in-law Elouise, 20; and grandchildren Julia, 4, Deloris, 2, and Carrol, 1.

In 1940, George W. Coppedge Jr. registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 14 November 1915 in Lynchburg, Virginia; lived at 1823 H Street, N.E., Washington, D.C.; his nearest relative was father George W. Coppedge Sr., 200 South Vick, Wilson; and he worked for “Fed. Wk. Ag.”

Ruth Hooker Coppedge died 26 May 1945 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 41 years old; resided at 200 South Vick Street, Wilson; was married to George Coppedge; was born in Wilson to Frank Richard Hooker of Greene County and Eleanor Farmer of Wilson County; and was a school teacher.

On 10 July 1963, the Wilson Daily Times reported that George W. Coppedge was awarded a plaque in recognition of fifty years of service to Wilson as a firefighter. Wilson Fire Chief Tyrus Bissette and George K. Butterfield Sr. “praised Coppedge’s work and participation in religious organizations, politics and fraternal groups.”

George W. Coppedge died 15 May 1973 in Washington, D.C. His obituary noted that he ran for public office twice.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 May 1973.

The streets of East Wilson, part 3.

Many of East Wilson’s streets were laid out on parcels of land owned by African-Americans and still bear the names they chose.

  • Smith Street

Originally called Zion Alley, Smith Street was renamed about 1910, almost certainly in honor of Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, whose historic marker is visible behind the street sign.

  • Washington Street

When originally platted, this was Booker T. Washington Avenue. Washington, who had personal ties to Samuel H. Vick and O. Nestus Freeman, famously visited Wilson in 1910. 

  • Atlantic Street

Similarly, today’s Atlantic Street was originally Atlanta Avenue, most likely in honor of Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Compromise speech of 1895.

  • Freeman Street

Freeman Street was named for the Julius Freeman family, who owned land in the area and whose most prominent member was Oliver Nestus Freeman.

The family of Simon and Isabel Locus Baines.

The family of Simon Baines, seated middle, and Isabel Diana Locus Baines, seated at left. Son Henry Roscoe Baines stands behind and between them. Daughter Zannie Baines Hinnant, holding her daughter Vandelia Hinnant, sit at right. The other children on the front row are Cornelia, Roy, and James Baines. Standing left of Henry Baines are daughter Fannie Baines and son Frank Baines. Roscoe Baines’ wife Minnie Barnes Baines stands next to him. Beside him are Zannie’s husband Robert Hinnant and William Arthur Baines.

——

In the 1880 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: Simon Baines, 30, wife Isabel, 27, and children Duncan E., 9, Henry R., 2, and Vandelia, 5 months, plus Hasty Locust, 21. Simon, Isabel and Hasty’s ages were indicated as approximate.

In the 1900 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Bains, 53; wife Isabell, 47; and children Frank, 18, Zannie, 15, Cora, 11, Julia, 8, William A., 7, and Fannie, 2.

On 2 December 1906, Robert Hinnant, 21, of Springhill township, son of H.D. and Mary Hinnant, married Zanie Bains, 20, of Oldfields township, daughter of Simon and Diana Bains. Missionary Baptist minister William H. Mitchiner performed the service.

On 12 January 1910, Henry R. Baines, 32, of Oldfields, son of Simon and Diana Baines, married Minnie Barnes, 34, of Wilson, daughter of George and Annie Barnes, in Wilson.

On 23 January 1910, Jarvie Hinnant, of Nash County, son of Gray and Milbry Hinnant, married Julia Bain, of Oldfields, daughter of Simon and Dinah Bain, in Oldfields township.

In the 1910 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Simon Banes, 58; wife Dina, 56; children William A., 16, Fannie, 12, and Henry O., 33; and daughter-in-law Minnie, 31.

In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: on Jones Hill Road, farmer Simon Baines, 67; wife Diana, 64; daughter Fannie, 22; and grandchildren Troy Lee, 7, Loretta, 4, and Della May Baines, 2.

Simon Baines died 8 September 1930 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 80 years old; was born in Nash County to Mack Eatman and Rachel Baines; was married to Diannah Baines; resided at 806 Singletary Street, Wilson; and worked as a tenant farmer. Henry R. Baines, 309 Reid Street, Wilson, was informant.

Diana Baines died 16 January 1937 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old; lived at 1010 Singletary Street; was born in Nash County to Gaines Locus and Zanie Locus; and was the widow of Simeon Baines. Informant was Roscoe Baines, 309 North Reid Street.

Fannie Baines died 5 September 1951 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1898 in Wilson County to Simon Baines and Dora Locus and was married.

Cora Hinnant died 25 January 1965 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per her death certificate, she was born 25 December 1891 in North Carolina to Sim Baines and Diane Lucas; was the widow of Eddie Hinnant; and lived at 3124 W. Clifford Street, Philadelphia. Informant was Arthur Baines.

Photograph (enhanced by Devon Brooks) courtesy of Abdul East.