Photographs

414 North Reid Street.

The one hundred eighty-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: “ca. 1913; 1 story; Levi Peacock House; Queen Anne cottage with hip roof and double-pile plan; aluminum sided but retains distinctive patterned-tin roof; Peacock was a barber.” The patterned-tin roof has been replaced by ordinary shingles.

The original address of this house, as shown in the detail below from the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, appears to have been 418. The drawing of the house shows that the porch wrapping around the Green Street elevation and the front extension were later modifications.

From the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, page 31. Note that East Green Street dead-ended at North Reid at the time, and Queen Street did not yet exist.

Prior to the Peacocks, Henry and Julia Clark Tart owned this house. Henry Tart was a well-regarded drayman, and his headstone is one of the most imposing in Odd Fellows Cemetery.

Henry Tart registered for the World War I draft on 18 September 1918. He recorded his address as the corner of Green and Reid Streets, his birth date as 11 April 1884, and his occupation as self-employed in the transfer business. His wife Julia C. Tart was his next-of-kin, and he signed his card in a neat, well-spaced hand.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tart Julia (c) laundress h Reid cor E Green

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tart Julia (c) lndrs h 418 N Reid

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tart Julia (c) h 418 N Reid; also, Tart Olivia (c) student r 418 N Reid

Thomas Levi Peacock registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1946. Per his registration card, he was born 6 December 1928 in Wilson County; resided at 414 North Reid Street; his contact was Levi Harry Peacock; and he was a student at Darden High School.

Elouise R. Peacock died 15 June 1951 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1906 in Wilson to Etta Fain; was a public school teacher; was married; and resided at 414 North Reid Street. Informant was Jeuetta Anderson.

The front room modification. Wilson Daily Times, 27 April 1962.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2022.

Studio shots, no. 203: Evangeline Dancy Barnes.

Evangeline Dancy Barnes (1919-1993).

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In the 1920 census of Contentnea Neck township, Lenoir County, North Carolina: farm laborer John C. Dancy, 24; wife Penny E., 19; and daughter Enlishel V., 2 months.

On 9 May 1924, John Allen Dancy, age 18 months, died in Ormonds township, Greene County. Per his death certificate, he was born to John Dancy of Ayden, N.C., and Pennie Mills of Pitt County, and was buried in Mills cemetery, Pitt County.

In the 1930 census of Township 9, Craven County, North Carolina: farmer Johnie C. Dancy, 34; wife Pennie, 29; and children Evangeline, 10, Lovie, 8, R.J., 5, and Aribell, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Dancy, 44, city of Wilson laborer; wife Pennie, 39, tobacco factory laborer; and children Evangline, 20, tobacco factory laborer, Lovie, 18, R.J., 15, Olie, 11, Mildred, 8, and Leo, 5.

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1319 East Nash Street, Frank R. Barnes, 35, worked in tobacco factory blending room, and wife Evangeline, 30, tobacco factory sweeper.

Photo courtesy of Angelo A. Barnes.

Mother Lizzie J. Fleming of Saint Luke F.W.B. Church.


Lizzie Jones Beamon Fleming (1892-??)

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In the 1900 census of Saulston township, Wayne County, N.C.: Isaiah Jones, 29, farmer; wife Sidney, 25; and children Lizzie, 7, Leuberter, 6, Octava, 4, and Febry, 8 months.

On 4 October 1908, Willie Beamon and Lizzie Jones, both of Greene County, N.C., were married in Speights Bridge township, Greene County.

On 4 December 1919, Josh Fleming, 38, of Wilson County, son of Jim and Jane Fleming, married Lizzie Beamon, 26, of Greene County, N.C., daughter of Isiah Jones, in Greene County. A.M.E. minister J.W. Saunders performed the ceremony in the presence of J.G. Brooks, J.H. Williams, and Isaiah Jones, all of Stantonsburg.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Josh Flemmin, 38; wife Lizzie, 26; children Wade, 10, Clifton, 7, Dydie, 5, and Antabelle, 3; [Josh’s] stepchildren Viola, 10, Susie, and Simm S. Beamon, 2; and nephew Connie Fort, 19.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Josh Flemming, 47; wife Lizzie, 37; and children Viola, 19, public school teacher, Clifton, 17, Dida, 15, Sudie, 14, Archie B., 13, Esie, 12, Josh Jr., 9, Lizzie, 7, Mary, 5, Douglas, 2, and Jernas, 7 months.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Josh Flemming, 47; wife Lizzie, 37; and children Josh Jr., 20, Lizzie, 17, Mary, 15, Douglas, 13, and Jernis, 10; Ivy Robinson, 10; Nathaniel Fleming, 7; mother-in-law Sidney Jones, 66, widow; and lodger Ida Holmes, 48, widow, cook.

In the 1950 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Whitley Street, widow Lizzie J. Fleming, 37; children Journice E., 20, Nathaniel, 18, and Alma D., 11; daughter Lizzie F. Charles, 27, house service, and her children Vivian E., 8, Joyce A., 7, and Mary V., 1.

Photo courtesy of Saint Luke Free Will Baptist Church, Stantonsburg. Thank you!

A burial ground for the enslaved?

Per unsourced notes, a slave cemetery lies adjacent to the Boykin-Lamm-Wells cemetery in Oldfields township. On an overcast November morning, I went to see what I could see. I am aware of only one verified slave cemetery in Wilson County, though there must have been many dozens. I was skeptical of this one, but also hopeful.

The cemetery, set a hundred yards or so behind a house under construction, contains 44 graves. Twenty-nine are marked with readable headstones, the earliest of which dates to 1892. Thus, there is no visible evidence that the cemetery dates to the antebellum period.

Of the remaining, several are marked with dressed fieldstone markers, such as those seen below. These graves are intermingled with those of Boykin-Lamm-Wells family members, an unlikely arrangement for the graves of enslaved people.

Stephen D. Boykin (1832-1910) was patriarch of the intermarried families buried here. He does not appear to have been a slaveowner, but his father, also named Stephen Boykin (1797-1864), was. In the 1850 federal slave schedule, the elder Boykin reported owning five enslaved people, ranging from a one month-old boy to a 35 year-old woman, and in 1860 reported 11 enslaved people, ranging from an eight-month-old girl to a 55 year-old man. If Boykin the elder is buried here, his grave is either unmarked or is marked by one of the fieldstones. If enslaved people are buried here, their graves are likely in the woods that border the cemetery on two sides.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2022.

A house fire in Happy Hill.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 April 1932.

Cash Williams owned both Williams Lumber Company and rental housing throughout the surrounding neighborhood, Happy Hill. In 1932, one of his duplexes burned to the ground. The names of the displaced families were not reported.

Below, Williams Lumber yard sprawls across the bottom half of this image,  southwest of the Norfolk-Southern railroad. The tightly packed houses of Happy Hill are on the other side of the tracks, with the tower of Saint Rose Church of Christ rising at the center of the image.

Photo courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III, now in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

The Spell family portrait.

Photographs of formerly enslaved people are relatively rare, and I am grateful to Roy S. Spell Jr. for sharing one that his family has cherished for well over a century. His grandfather Johnnie Spell, born about 1903, is at bottom left, leaning against his grandmother Chaney Spell, who was born into slavery about 1845. Other Spell family members surround them.

We met Chaney Spell here in the interview she gave a Works Project Administration worker in the late 1930s. (Annie Finch Artis can be heard giving voice to Chaney Spell’s words in an exhibit first staged at Wilson’s Imagination Station and now permanently housed at Freeman Round House Museum.) 

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In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: widowed farmer Chaney Spells, 55, sons James S., 19, Gray, 17, Walter, 16, and Charley, 13, grandchildren Unity, 14, Fannie, 10, Irvin, 7, and Chaney Farmer, 2, and boarder Harriet Killibrew, 45.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: widow Chanie Spell, 65, farmer; son Walter, 21; and grandchildren Yearnie, 20, Chanie, 13, Thomas, 5, and Louise, 3.

The Stantonsburg Hawks.

Wilson was not the only county town to field an African-American semi-pro baseball team. From 1945 into the late 1970s, the Stantonsburg Hawks traveled neighboring counties

John Lee Woodard (1917-1995) was the team founder, and players throughout its history included his son Willie Woodard, Ernest D. Hall, Frederick Brown, Johnnie Streeter, Roy Lee Pender, Marvin R. Artis, George Artis, Tommy Rogers, Nathaniel Green Jr., William Sutton, Henry Revelle, Carter Knight, Raymond Mackey, Marvin Sessoms, Levy Daniel Jr., Melvin Hodges, Cleveland Leach, Joseph Green, Julius Green, Theodore Ward, Douglas Artis, Melvin Artis Jr., George Atkinson, and Ronnie Diggs.

I am trying to identify the Hawks’ earliest players, teammates of John L. Woodard. Do you know of anyone who played baseball with them in the 1940s?

I recognize three men in this photo — Ernest D. Hall seated at front left; Willie Lee Woodard (son of John L. Woodard, front row with glove on ground; and George Artis, second in second row. Who do you see?

Thanks to Tiyatti Speight for bringing this team to my attention and for the copy of this wonderful photo.

Where we worked: Boykin Grocery Company.

Boykin Grocery was a major grocery wholesaler in Wilson for decades. The business moved to this handsome brick building, formerly home to Barnes-Harrell Grocery Company, in the mid-1920s, and this photograph was likely taken shortly thereafter. (The building still stands, largely unaltered except for the enclosure of the bays, at the corner of Barnes and Douglas Streets.) 

The front office staff, all clad in dark suits except the lone woman, stands in front of the first bay. To their left, six African-American men (one is barely visible on the running board) lean against two company vehicles, and a sixth leans against the building. The men standing at the cars were likely truck drivers, like Willie Forbes and Orlando Farmer.

Photo courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III. Thank you!

The former Lofton Chapel Original Free Will Baptist Church.

Even tucked away as it is behind two houses, I don’t know how I’ve missed this church the thousands of times I have driven up and down (the former) Lane Street. 

The sign out on Bishop L.N. Forbes Street identifies New Christian Original Free Will Baptist Church. What I took for a driveway leading to the building is actually the short unpaved, uncurbed, unguttered length of Graham Street. It didn’t take much sleuthing to figure out that, until recently, this was Lofton Chapel Original Free Will Baptist Church. 

The earliest reference I have found for Lofton Chapel is 1955. This building has been heavily renovated, but is decades older than that — the vinyl siding doesn’t entirely conceal its early 20th century origins. (Those lancet windows!) Strangely, the building does not appear in a 1940 aerial photograph of the site, suggesting that it was moved to this location from another at some time after. Whether it was built as Lofton Chapel, I do not know.

Aerial view of the church per Google Maps.

Top photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2022.

101 South Pender Street.

The one hundred eighty-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.

The corner today, per Google Maps.

The corner of Pender and Nash, at 101 South Pender Street [Stantonsburg Street] (also known as 600 East Nash Street), as described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1950; 1 story; porcelain-enameled steel gas station with clean lines and simple square form suggesting International Style; altered and in disrepair.”

The 1908 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson, N.C., depict an irregularly shaped vacant brick building at the tip of the triangle formed by the intersection of East Nash Street and Stantonsburg Street (now South Pender Street). It was numbered 601-603 East Nash Street. The building shown just below it was the original location of Darden Funeral Home. The three-story building also housed C.H. Darden’s bicycle shop and general repair business. The third floor was reserved for lodge meetings. (Which lodge? The Odd Fellows and Masons had their own lodges.)

The 1913 Sanborn map shows the building modified with a wooden porch on the Stantonsburg Street side and cast-iron porches at the entrance and Nash Street side. A grocery occupied the space.

By time the 1922 Sanborn map was drawn, the street numbers had flipped from odd to even and vice-versa, and the auto repair shop at the corner was at 600 East Nash Street.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Triangle Service Station (Wm H Taylor) 600 E Nash

In the 1941 and 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Triangle Service Station (Cleveland T Barnes) filling sta 101 Stantonsburg

The Oblong Box-Style gas station described in the nomination form may date to 1950, but petroleum corporations began adopting the style in the late 1930s. I have not found photos of Triangle Service Station to determine whether it was built in the style or upgraded to it.

In the 1963 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Sutton’s Gulf Service (Cecil E Sutton) 600 E Nash St

The  Gulf gas station is just visible in this detail from a mid to late 1960s photo of the area.

The building is currently home to a carwash business.