Photographs

Saint Alphonsus graduates.

November is Black Catholic History Month. Accordingly, I offer these images of a 1949 kindergarten graduation celebration at Saint Alphonsus Catholic School captured by Wilson’s preeminent 20th century photographers Charles Raines and Guy Cox. Do you recognize any of the children?

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Many thanks to John Teel for sharing these images from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. They are catalogued as PhC_196_CW_1211H _StAlphonsusGraduation1 through 10..

Samuel H. and Annie W. Vick family, no. 2.

This formal portrait of Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick and their children was taken around 1913, a few years after the photograph posted here.

The woman at left does not appear to be an immediate family member. Otherwise, by my best judgment, there is daughter Elba, Sam Vick, son Robert, son Daniel (center), daughter Doris, Annie Vick, son Samuel, son George, and daughter Anna.

Photo courtesy of the Freedman Round House and African-American Museum, Wilson, N.C.

The Hilliard family in Toisnot township.

Thomas Hilliard and daughter Marie.

“Our late father and mother were Thomas and Mamie Armstrong Hilliard. Members of Mt. Zion First Baptist Church in Rocky Mount in 1914, they moved to Wilson Co. in or around 1917 when their two daughters, Cornelia and Magnolia, were eight and nine years old. Our grandparents were Tom and Fortant Hilliard and Nelson and Mary B. Armstrong.

“We farmed and attended Parker and Turners Elementary School in Wilson Co. Our social activities were concerts and in-school spelling matches every Friday evening. After growing up and marrying we still farmed and kept house. Our pleasures were fireplace reading and church and Sunday school.

“Our most sorrowful experience was when we lost our mother at an early age in 1932. Often we picked cotton in the late fall; the weather was so cold that icicles were hanging on the bolls of cotton. We helped clear new ground by removing stumps and roots by hand after school in the evening.

“We had a 1919 Model T Ford our father drove often. We drove a mule and buggy to Sunday school and church. The family was missionary Baptist. Our father, Tom, was the Sunday school superintendent. Today Cornelia, Magnolia and Marie are mission workers around our community, if we can help somebody along life’s way. Our children are all grown and have their own families.

“After marriage I, Magnolia H. Joyner, went to Baltimore, Md. reared six children and worked for 30 years. I bought a home and retired; then I came back to my old house in Toisnot township to live the rest of my life in 1978. My husband expired, but I’m not alone; God is still by my side.”

——

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Hilliard, 53; wife Fortine, 58;  children Olive, 24, Becky, 21, and Thomas, 16; and adopted son Thadeous Battle, 12.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Nelson Armstrong, 45, wife Mary Ann, 40, and children Mamie, 15, Hattie, 13, and Henry, 12.

On 7 February 1906, Thos. Hilliard, 22, son of Tom and F. Hilliard, married Mamie Armstrong, 21, daughter of Nelson and Mary Armstrong. Missionary Baptist minister N.H. Arrington performed the ceremony at Thomas Hilliard’s in Toisnot township.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot, Wilson County, on Wells Daws Avenue, Nelson Armstrong, 58, Mary, 45, daughter Hattie Armstrong, 22, son Henry Armstrong, 20, son-in-law Thomas Hilliard, 25, daughter Mamie, 24, and their children Carnelia, 3, and Magnora Hilliard, 2.

In 1918, Thomas Hilliard registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 September 1883; resided on R.F.D. 1, Elm City; was a self-employed farmer; and his nearest relative was Mamie Hilliard. He was literate.

In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Tarboro Road, farmer Thomas Hilliard, 36; wife Mamie, 35; and children Cornelia, 12, Magnolia, 11, and Luther Thomas, 1.

In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Tom Hilliard, 45; wife Mamie, 40; and children Maggnolia, 22, Luther, 11, Marie, 7, and Robert, 7.

Mamie Hilliard died 23 May 1932 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 December 1885 in Wilson County to Nelson Armstrong and Mary Bulluck and was married to Tom Hilliard.

In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Hilliard, 56; wife Rena, 41; and children Robert, 17, and Marie, 17; and Lucille, 15, Bettie Ruth, 14, and Helen Earles, 11.

Thomas Hilliard died 24 August 1966 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 November 1886 in Wilson County to Thomas Hilliard and Fortney Killebrew; resided in Elm City; was a farm laborer; and was married to Rena B. Hilliard. He was buried in Sharpesburg cemetery, Nash County.

Text and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).

Snaps, no. 59: unidentified group.

The photograph is found in the O.N. Freeman Family Collection, and a copy is displayed in the Round House and Museum. It is clearly taken outside a school building, or perhaps a church, but is otherwise anonymous. (If it’s a school, it may be Wilbanks School, to which the Freemans commuted to teach first grade. The school, which was located in the Bridgersville community in eastern Wilson County, was not a Rosenwald facility.)

Alex Williamson cemetery, revisited.

I wrote here about visiting the Alex and Gracy Shaw Williamson cemetery. This cemetery lies in a partially cleared patch of woods adjacent to the Hardy H. Williamson cemetery, and I wondered about the relationship between the two families. I asked Gregory D. Cosby when I met with him recently and was astounded by his answer. Though the earliest marked grave in the Alex Williamson cemetery dates to 1885, the graveyard is much older. It was originally, in fact, the burying ground for African-Americans enslaved by Hardy H. Williamson’s family. The wooden markers that identified the oldest graves have been lost, but some rough fieldstone markers remain. Though I know the locations of many graves of formerly enslaved Wilson County residents, most are buried in church graveyards or graveyards established on family land, and this is the only so-called “slave cemetery” that I have located in the county.

The John B. Williamson house, which is built around a house originally built for Hardy Williamson.

Gregory Cosby also told me that the house across the road from the cemeteries, which I had used as a landmark to find them, was originally the Hardy Williamson house. (Hardy Williamson was Hardy H. Williamson’s father.) In History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985), I found this entry for John Bartley Williamson Family that I’ve been overlooking for decades: “The original portion of the John Bartley Williamson homeplace, located on Highway 42, west of Wilson, in Spring Hill township near Buckhorn, is believed to have been built by his grandfather, Hardy Williamson. … Most of the Williamsons are buried in the Williamson cemetery, which is located across the highway from the John B. Williamson someplace, or in the Buckhorn church cemetery. Almost adjacent to the Williamson cemetery is a Williamson slave cemetery.

Photo of house by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2019; aerial photo courtesy of Google Maps.

Washington’s hosts, up close.

Here I blogged about Booker T. Washington’s visit to Wilson, and the photograph taken on Samuel H. Vick‘s lawn that day. On a recent visit to the Freeman Round House and African-American Museum, I examined an enlargement of that photo on exhibit. Many of the men depicted were from Washington’s entourage, but here are close-ups of the Wilson men invited to a private meet-and-greet with him.

  • 13. Samuel H. Vick (1863-1945), educator, postmaster, political and business leader.

  • 37. Dr. Frank Settle Hargrave (1874-1942), physician. Founder of Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home and its medical director from 1913 to 1923. President of the National Medical Association, 1914-15.

  • 40. William Hines (1885-1981), barber and real estate developer.

  • 41. Oliver Nestus Freeman (1882-1955), stonemason.

Darden faculty.

The faculty of C.H. Darden High School, 1937-38:

Bottom row: Spencer J. Satchell, Juanita Pope Morrisey, Cora Miller Washington Artis, Naomi Freeman, Flora Clark Bethel, Marian Howard Miller, Margaret Edwards, Edward M. Barnes, John M. Miller Jr.

Middle row: Margaret Harris, Jane Amos Boyd, Annie Parker Dupree, Helen Delzelle Beckwith Whitted, Rosa Lee Kittrell Williams, A.A. Morrisey.

Top row: Marie Davis, Estelle Lane Shade, Ethel Alexander, Mamie Whitehead.

Photo courtesy of Freeman Round House and African American Museum.

The Wilson Chapel Four.

The Wilson Chapel Four, of which there were five, were the first African-American gospel group to perform on local radio station WGTM.

WGTM regularly published its schedule in the Daily Times. Here, the Wilson Chapel Four were slotted in at 8:30 Sunday night.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 August 1941.

Photo courtesy of the Freeman Round House and African-American Museum.