Politics

I certify to his high character.

When Lily-White Republican Senator Jeter C. Pritchard set out to oust postmaster Samuel H. Vick, who represented “the last vestige of negro office holders in the state,” a slew of prominent Wilson Democrats bucked convention to rally in Vick’s favor. Among the politicians, lawyers and businessmen supporting Vick was John H. Blount, whose letter of recommendation noted that Vick’s “mother and grandmother belonged to [his] father.”

The writer of this opinion piece mocks the Democrats who had once lamented Vick’s sinecure, “pictur[ing] how their dear wives and daughters were humiliated by having to transact all their postal business at Wilson with a negro postmaster and negro postal clerks.

peoples paper 12 10 1902

The People’s Paper (Charlotte, N.C.), 10 December 1902.

Called out and shot at.

Screen Shot 2017-12-08 at 4.17.20 PM.png

Daily Charlotte Observer, 11 December 1878.

Raiford Yelverton married Eliza Locust in Wayne County on 17 January 1869.

In the 1870 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farm laborer Raford Yelverton, 26; wife Elizar, 24; and daughter Mary,

In the 1880 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Raford Yelverton, 30; wife Anne M., 26; and daughter Mary J., 14.

Rayford Yelverton died 9 December 1917 in Nahunta township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 84 years old; married; a farmer; and was born in Wayne County to Adam Outland and an unknown mother. William Locus of Stantonsburg was informant.

Mary Susan Artis died 7 November 1958 in Oldfield township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 85 years old; born in 1873 to Raiford Yelverton and Barbara Locust; and was a widow. Her informant was Mary E. Applewhite of Lucama.

The white boy walked the plank.

Roanoke News, 8 May 1884.

James Edward O’Hara was elected to the United States House of Representatives from North Carolina’s Black Second district in 1882.

Daniel Vick was Samuel H. Vick‘s father. John H. Clark is generally credited with being Wilson’s first African-American mail carrier, but this brief article tells another story.

Who in the Sam Hill …?

On 17 February 1882, the Wilson Advance ran a brief piece announcing that the colored people would begin publishing the Wilson News in March of that year, and S.N. Hill would be an editor of this for-the-people-by-the-people paper. (No editions are known to survive.) Two months later, Samuel Hill was well-enough established in local politics to be appointed a poll holder in Wilson.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 6.18.41 PM

Wilson Advance, 14 April 1882.

The Advance was the first foray of notorious, but much celebrated, Josephus Daniels into the newspaper business, and the white supremacist world view he later honed to a fine point at Raleigh’s News & Observer was on naked display in its pages. Local and regional Republican politics, which were dominated by African-Americans, were not spared. That the Advance‘s presses printed Hill’s paper did not shield him either. The Advance printed the satirical letter below (and a similar one a few weeks later) purportedly written by “Jedekiah Judkins” to George W. Stanton, a die-hard Unionist and Republican.

10 20 1882

Wilson Advance, 20 October 1882.

Snide commentary in the white press notwithstanding, Hill networked and exchanged ideas with other black journalists and political figures in eastern North Carolina the following summer. [Was the Independent yet another newspaper?]

wilm daily rev 7 5 1883

Wilmington Daily Review, 5 July 1883.

His statewide networking secured his designation as a marshal for the state colored fair.

The Banner-Enterprise (Raleigh), 27 October 1883.

The News apparently was still in publication in December 1883 when the Advance printed a small blurb suggesting that Hill was angling for postmaster appointment under the auspices of James E. O’Hara, who had been elected in 1882 as a Republican to the United States House of Representatives from North Carolina’s “Black Second” district.

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 5.27.38 PM

Wilson Advance, 21 December 1883.

Months later, however, the paper seems to have faltered, and Hill had to relaunch the publication.

4 25 1884

Wilson Advance, 25 April 1884.

On 22 January 1885, the Advance printed a brief note that a Samuel Hill referred to in a recent article as having been chaged with perjury in Toisnot township was not the “Samuel N. Hill that all our people know.” The known Hill had stopped by the Advance‘s offices and informed them that “he is now traveling for a newspaper at New Bern.”

By the late 1880s, Hill was living in Wilmington, where newspaper reports note that he was active in efforts to encourage African-American investment in local railroad companies

Not quite five years later, the Advance reported that Hill, an “irrepressible” “coon,” had received a patronage position in Washington. There is no evidence that he returned to Wilson.

wa 8 29 1889

Wilson Advance, 29 August 1889.

Within the next few years, however, Hill withdrew from active politics and began to espouse an accommodationist philosophy. On 27 November 1898, New Bern Daily Journal published a letter by Hill lashing out at “unscrupulous white Republicans” and “scheming politicians” and praising the good white folks who had always shown “the best sympathy” to colored people. “Make friends with the best white people among whom you live,” he exhorted. “Their interests are greater than yours and  the maintenance of happiness depends upon their efforts.” A few weeks later, on 10 December, the Wilmington Morning Star cited Hill’s “sensible and calm utterances” in the wake of the Wilmington Insurrection as a positive contrast to the stridency of Congressman George E. White, a “bumptious strutter.” For his part, Hill had pshawed agitation against “fancied evils which do not exist” and counseled “[t]he best public meeting for the negro to attend is his church, where he may commune with his God, and where he may be influenced for good.”

So where did Sam Hill come from? And where did he go?

Most likely, he was the Samuel Nelson Hill who opened two accounts at the Freedmen’s Bank’s New Bern branch. The first time, on 9 August 1871, Hill was 12 years old. His account registration card notes that he resided in Bragg’s Alley; was light-complected; was the son of Moses M. and Adeline Hill; had brothers named Benjamin Starkey (dead), Moses Hill and Thomas Hancock; and sisters named Carolina and Holland Hill. The boy signed his own name.

Hill opened another account on 8 June 1874. Per that account registration, he was born and “brought up” in New Bern; resided in Windsors Brickyard, Virginia; worked for Dr. Windsor; was 15 years old; was of yellow complexion; and had a brother named Noah Harper, also of New Bern. Samuel signed his name with a mature version of his earlier signature and with a confident, curlicued firmness that connotes deep literacy.

In the 1880 census of New Bern, North Carolina: on Elm Street, shoemaker Moses Hill, 49, wife Adelaine, 43, son Samuel, 20, a shoemaker, and daughter Susan, 1. Moses reported that he suffered from rheumatism and Susan from whooping cough.

Hill probably arrived in Wilson in 1881. His star there burned bright and brief, and by about 1885, he had moved on. His whereabouts the decade of the 1890s are unclear, but just after the turn of the century Hill is found in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, performing manual labor.

On 19 November 1904, Samuel Nelson Hill, 45, of 288 North Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, married Georgeanna Treadwell Vanderburgh, 43, of 6 Cole Avenue, Pittsfield. Hill reported that he was the son of Moses Hill and Adeline Hancock and was born in New Bern, North Carolina. He worked as a laborer, and this was his first marriage.

In the 1910 census of Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts: electrical works janitor Samuel N. Hill, 50, and wife Georgeanna, 49.

Samuel Nelson Hill of 164 Linden died 21 March 1918 in Pittsfield, age 58 years, five months, five days.

Rosetta Whitley Ellis.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 April 1949.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Counsel Whitley, 27; wife Annis, 24; and children Alice Ida, 4, Matha J., 2, and Rosa Ella, 6 months.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Concil Whitley, 42; wife Annis, 37; and children Ida, 14, Jane M., 12, Rosetta, 10, Isaca, 8, Dortha, 6, Council Jr., 4, and Mina, 2, plus widower brother William Haskins, 34.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Council Whitley, 50; wife Annis, 44; and children Ida, 24, Jane, 23, Rosetta, 20, Hezekiah, 18, Dorothy, 16, Council Jr., 14, Mimy, 13, Mandy L., 9, Mary M., 6, and Ruth L., 3, plus widowed mother Mimy Whitley, 70, and lodger John H. Dean, 20.

Rosetta Ellis died 29 March 1949 in Spring Hill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 October 1910 in Wilson to Council Whitley and Anis Batts; was married; and worked in farming. She was buried in Bethel cemetery. Informant was Eddie Ellis.

 

Negroes take advantage. (Vick is an unusual negro.)

NY Times 12 7 1902 Vick

President William H. Harrison appointed Samuel H. Vick postmaster of Wilson in 1889. President William McKinley selected Vick again for the position in 1898. Despite the setback described above, the Lily Whites ultimately were successful in thwarting Vick’s reappointment in 1903.

Loafers are not wanted here.

JOSEPH ELLIS.

I am from Wilson, N.C.; I have been here three weeks. I found employment readily, and a good home. I live and work with Mr. F.B. Gardner, a good farmer in Russell township, Putnam county. He pays me $13 per month until spring, and then he will give me more. I find him a very kind and good man to me in the way of accommodations. Mr. Gardner could not get possession of his own house for me until the first of March, but he procured from his brother-in-law, Mr. D. Evans, a good and comfortable house for us until he can get the use of his. I am well pleased with my situation, and like this country finely. I would not go back to North Carolina for any consideration, and I would advise all my friends in that State to come to this county, as they can better their condition. But they should not come unless they expect to do good work, as loafers are not wanted here.

——

In the 1880 census of Russell township, Putnam County, Indiana: laborer Joseph Ellis, 27, and wife Prissa, 23, both born in North Carolina.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana: widowed day laborer Joseph Ellis, 48; son Theodore, 16, and daughters Margaret, 10, and Vera, 8.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

As different as chalk and cheese.

WILLIAM CROOM.

The man is working for Daniel Evans, near Russellville, Putnam County. He has a nice brick house to live in, has a nice garden spot, fire-wood, and a team to haul it, a milch-cow and food to feed her, and $15 in cash each month; in all, equivalent to about $24 a month. He is delighted with Indiana, and urges that all his people come to our State as soon as they can get there. In an interview with me, he said: “Neither you nor any other Republican in Greencastle ever said a word to me about voting, nor asked me how I was gaining to vote; nor have I known of your asking any of our people how they were going to vote. All that has been said to us was about finding us homes and work, and taking care of us. They have done all for us they could, and our people are grateful to them for it. None of us want to go back to North Carolina; neither does any man who is honest and has sound judgment. I would take my oath on that. Most of our people who have come here are religious. I belong to the Missionary Baptist church, and am a licensed preacher. I came here to better the condition of myself and family, and to raise them respectably. I have found it better than I expected. Indeed, I don’t think that I hardly deserve as good treatment as I have received and am still receiving. From my own experience, I know that my people in North Carolina could greatly better their condition by coming here, and if they knew the facts they would come.

In a subsequent interview Croom said:

“I came from Wilson County, North Carolina. Have been here several weeks. I came because I had heard that colored men could do better here than in North Carolina, and I find that it was a true statement. There is as much difference between there and here as there is between chalk and cheese. It is altogether different. Here we are men just like the whites, get good wages, have good homes, and there are good schools for our children. The climate is no worse for us here than there. I have not yet seen as cold weather in Indiana as I have seen in North Carolina. And then the people are so different. They are just as kind to us as they can be. It seems as though they can’t do enough for us.”

——

Possibly: William Croom died 17 July 1910 in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per his death certificate, he was 57 years old; was born in North Carolina to Sam Croom and Cherry Latta; was married to Diana Croom; and was a farmer. He was buried in Mount Jackson cemetery.

Cora Allen died 9 November 1925 at Provident Sanitarium in Indianapolis, Center township, Marion County, Indiana. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 May 1884 in Indiana to William Croom and Diana Ellis, both of North Carolina and was married to James Allen. She was buried in Floral Park cemetery.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

This is the cause of the exodus.

THOMAS BYNUM.

I lived in Wilson County, North Carolina. I have a wife and eight children. It cost me one hundred and twenty-three dollars to get here. I never heard any thing about politics until I got to Indianapolis; then I was asked by a Democrat if some Republican did not go South and make fine promises to me, and did they not bring me here to vote? I told him, no, that I brought myself; I came on my own money; and that I came because I could not get any pay for my work, nor could I educate my children there; and now that I have seen the difference between the North and South I would not go back to North Carolina for anything, and I never expect to go back in life nor after death, except the buzzards carry me back. Mr. Turnbull, of Toisenot, N.C., a white Democrat, told me that I was coming out here to perish, but so far from perishing I am faring better than I ever fared before in my life. I wish to say that cases like the following is what brought about the exodus: A colored man rented a farm, for which he was to pay three bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each; he raised on that farm eleven bales of cotton, weighing 450 pounds each, and 25 barrels of corn, which left to the tenant eight bales of cotton, and 25 barrels of corn, pease, &c. The tenant bought nothing but a very small amount of very coarse food and clothing, using all the economy during the crop season to make no large account, thinking thereby to have something coming to him at settling day; but when settling day came the landlord had so enlarged his account as to cover everything — the eight bales of cotton, the 25 barrels of corn, pease, and all, and then said that the tenant lacked a little of paying out, although cotton sold at ten cents per pound. This and numerous other things is the cause of the exodus.

——

Probably, in the 1870 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas Bynum, 32; wife Bethana, 28; and children James, 11, Oliver, 8, Mary, 6, Lavinia, 4, and “no name,” 2; and Lucy Pitt, 53. “Ages of this family are in doubt.”

In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: merchant P.J. Turnbull, 29, and family.

In the 1900 census of Indianapolis, Howard County, Indiana: at 1622 Guffin Street, street laborer Albert Whitley, 36; Polly, 32; children Cicero, 13, Mamie, 12, Albert, 9, Leonard, 6, and Wilber, 3; and grandfather Thomas Bynum, 65. All the adults were born in North Carolina.

Senate Report 693, Part 2, 2nd Session, 46th Congress.  Proceedings of the Select Committee of the United States Senate to Investigate the Causes of the Removal of the Negroes from the Southern States to the Northern States (1880).  U.S. Congressional Serial Set.

Commissioners meeting.

4 10 96

Wilson Times, 10 April 1896.

  • John Atkinson — perhaps, in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: John Atkinson, 63, farmer; wife Jane, 58; and children Nellie, 21, James, 19, Nettie, 18, Naoma, 15, Lucy, 13, and Robert E., 8.
  • Amos Bunn — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Amos Bunn, 51 farmer; wife Mojana, 40, cook; children Tildy, 24, cook, Amos, 21, day laborer, William G., 19, Lewis B., 17, and Genetta B., 14, all farm laborers, Sallie B., 13, cook, Jonas B., 10, nurse, Louisanna, 7, Eddie B., 3, and James W., 2, plus mother Tabitha, 80.
  • Abram Moore