Politics

Commissioners meeting.

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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

Enumerators.

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Wilson Mirror, 11 June 1890.

The 1890 census was destroyed by fire, so it is not clear whether Frank Blount and Alex D. Dawson were able to carry out their duties as enumerators, a plum patronage position.

Twenty years later though, Arthur N. Darden, just 21 and the youngest son of Charles H. and Diana Scarborough Darden, was knocking on doors in the streets of Wilson. (Counting black households, only, of course.)

and

Sam Vick and his assistants.

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Wilson Mirror, 26 February 1890.

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Wilson Mirror, 1 April 1891.

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Wilson Mirror, 11 August 1891.

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Raleigh Morning Post, 14 July 1898.

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Raleigh Morning Post, 4 January 1902.

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Raleigh Morning Post, 8 April 1903.

  • Samuel H. Vick
  • Braswell R. Winstead
  • Levi H. Peacock
  • Jim Thorp — On 22 March 1900, James J. Thorp, 22, of Wilson, son of Edy Thorp, married Hattie Bunn, 17, daughter of Joshua and Emma Bunn, at Joshua Bunn‘s house in Wilson. Richard Renfrow applied for the license, and Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Hilliard Ellis, Levi Jones and Phyllis Ellis. In the 1912 Wilson city directory, James Thorp, insurance agent, is listed at 654 Viola Street.
  • Fannie McGowan — on 30 August 1905, at the bride’s residence on Vance Street, Henry Matt Daniel, 40, son of Dave and Flora Daniel, married Flora McGowan, 28, parents unknown. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Moore, J.S. Spell, and Mack Sharp.

Shrewd, pugnacious, saucy, intelligent Negro gives advice.

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Wilson Advance, 11 June 1891.

  • Charles H. Darden
  • Susie Harris — Susie J. Harris, age illegible, married James J. Wilson, 23, on 5 January 1893 in Wilson. L.J. Melton, Presbyterian minister, performed the ceremony at the Baptist church in the presence of M.H. Cotton, S.H. Vick, and Edmund Pool. In the 1910 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: clergyman James J. Wilson, 43; wife Susie, 43, a schoolteacher; and children Mattie M., 13, Frank T., 11, Nannie R., 8, Charles E., 6, and Ophelia, 4. In the 1920 census of Wadesboro, Anson County: Presbyterian minister James J. Wilson, 52; wife Susie J., 52; and children Frank T., 20, Nannie R., 18, a teacher, Charles E., 16, Ophelia A., 13, and Lena, 8. Susie J. Wilson died 13 October 1925 in Wadesboro, Anson County. Per her death certificate: she was 57 years old; was born in Wilson to Jas. Harris and Nancy Hill; was married to Rev. J.J. Wilson; and worked as county superintendent for the North Carolina Board of Education. Informant was F.T. Wilson, 213 Oakwood Drive, Orange, New Jersey.
  • Charles H. Bynum

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The Messenger and Intelligencer (Wadesboro), 1 May 1919.

Poll holders for the coming election.

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Wilson Advance, 6 October 1892.

  • A.D. Dawson — Alexander D. Dawson (circa 1860-??) worked as a teacher, and then a fishmonger and merchant.
  • Samuel Gay — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Sam Gay, 54, wife Alice, 50, and children Charlie, 23, Edgar B., 25, Lucy, 17, Samuel, 14, Albert, 10, Beatrice, 10, and Lily, 4. Samuel Gay died 2 July 1919 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 73 years old; born in Wilson County; married to Allace Gay; and worked as a tenant farmer at W.E. Warren’s.
  • Jack Woodard — in the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Jackson Woodard, 56, wife Fannie, 53, and children Daisy, 30, Aaron, 22, Harry, 19, Augustus, 18, Steven, 16, Mary, 11, and Harriet, 8, plus grandchildren Eddie, 5, Bessie, 3, and Nank, 10 months. Jack Woodard died 15 March 1920 in Black Creek township. Per his death certificate, Jack, 78, was born in Wilson County to Aaron Farmer and an unknown mother, was married to Carlin [Caroline] Woodard, and was a tenant farmer for Graham Woodard.
  • Smith Mercer — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Smith Mercer, 60, wife Chaney, 46, children Lily V., 12, LeRoy, 8, and Linda, 24, and grandchildren Annie Bell, 6, and Charlie, 1.
  • Isaac Rich — in the 1900 census of Crossroads township, Wilson County: widower farmer Isaac Rich, 50, daughters Martha A., 28, and Wibby, 16, niece Littie Langston, 8, and nephew Rommie O’Neil, 8.
  • Joseph Hinnant — in the 1900 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farmer James T. Hinnant, 35, his mother Rhoda, 59, father Joseph, 70, sisters Louisa, 25,  Martha, 21, and Mary, 18.
  • Richard Jones — in the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Richard Jones, 65, wife Lucy, 52, sister Cherry, 50, granddaughter Annie, 9, brother Joseph Huston, 50, and nephew Weston Huston, 25.
  • Noel Jones — in the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: laborer Noel Jones, 34, wife Sarah, 32, and children Josiah, 13, Charity, 12, Edieth J., 10, and Noel J., 6.
  • Hilliard Ellis — see here and here and here and here.
  • Alfred Woodard — in the 1900 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: farmer Alfred Woodard, 69, wife Sarah, 59, daughters Nora, 21, and Francis, 7, and servant Bessa Foard, 19.
  • John Ellis — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer John Ellis, 50, wife Marry, 50, and children Antney, 21, Alex, 18, James, 16, Marry, 14, and Delphia, 8.
  • Mark Barron — in the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Mark Barron, 54, wife Mason, 50, children Frank, 18, Peter, 21, John, 20, and Mary, 16, granddaughter Mary M., 6 months, and sister Gatsie, 51. Mark Barron died 26 April 1928 in Gardners township. Per his death certificate, he was 83 years old; lived on Route 3, Elm City; was born in Wilson County to Benjamin and Marion Barron, both of Wilson County; and worked as a tenant farmer.
  • William Taylor
  • Amos Ellis — in the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Amos Ellis, 39, wife Cherry, 37, and children Samuel, 15, Lizzie C., 14, James, 7, Lena, 4, Mack B., 3, and Walter L., 9 months.
  • Louis Barnes — in the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Lewis Barnes, 57, wife Allie, 53, and children Adline, 24, James, 19, Sallie, 15, and Lucinda, 13.

We are the Republican party and those who denounce us are the traitors.

One hundred eighteen years ago today, four of Wilson’s African-American politicians — William H. Vick, W.S. Mitchell, Levi H. Peacock and Elijah L. Reid — submitted for newspaper publication a letter firmly denouncing the fusion politics of the era and declaring their firm allegiance to the Party of Lincoln.

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Wilson Advance, 25 October 1894.

Alfred Robinson, barber, civic leader, postal worker.

Who was Alfred Robinson?

In the 1870 census of Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina: Becky Robinson, 44, huckster; her children Athalia, 24, Polly, 21, and George W., 22; and Sophie Newhoff, 14. Athalia and Polly were dressmakers; George, a shoemaker; and Sophie, a seamstress. Becky reported owning $900 in real estate. She was described as black, and her children as mulatto.

In the 1870 census of Washington, D.C., Alfred Robinson, 19, student, is listed in “Dormitory Howard University.”

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Catalogue of Howard University for the Years 1869-1870.

After completing his studies, Alfred returned to Wilmington. In 1878, he married Lucy A. Leary, who had been educated at Hampton Normal & Agricultural Institute. (Lucy was a native of Fayetteville and the daughter of Lewis Sheridan Leary, Harper’s Ferry revolutionary.)

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(Notably, the couple’s marriage license listed no parents for Lucy and only Alfred’s mother. His brother George W. Robinson was the official witness.)

The couple initially boarded with Alfred’s sister Athalia’s family.  In the 1880 census of Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina: Benjamin F. Scott, 37, wife Athalia M., 34, and children Warren F., 9, Armon W., 7, and Benj. F., Jr., 4, and Thos. A., 2; Alfred Robinson, 27, barber, brother-in-law, and Lucy Robinson, 25, sister-in-law; John Howard, 21, boarder, a porter; James S. Robinson, 1, nephew; and Eliza Carrel, 13, servant.

They’re also found in the 1880 census of Monroe, Union County, North Carolina: Alfred Robinson, 29, barber, wife Lucy, 24, and son James S.A., 1, plus boarder Samuel Pride, 23, barber.

A second child, Mariah, was born in 1880.

By 1884, the Robinsons had relocated to Wilson, where Alfred opened a barbershop on Tarboro Street catering to white clientele.

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Wilson Advance, 17 October 1884.

He quickly joined the leadership of the town’s African-American community and was elected president of the Wilson County Industrial Association. Samuel H. Vick, with whom Alfred would become a friendly rival for federal patronage positions, was elected secretary.

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Wilson Advance, 3 November 1887.

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Weekly State Chronicle (Raleigh), 29 December 1887.

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Wilson Advance, 28 March 1889.

Alfred was the first to land a postal job under the patronage of Congressman Henry Plummer Cheatham.

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Wilson Advance, 11 April 1889.

The job required frequent travel along his postal rail route, and Alfred sold his barbershop in Wilson.

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Wilson Advance, 2 May 1889.

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Wilson Advance, 8 August 1889.

The Robinson family apparently kept its home in Wilson at least part-time, though, as Lucy Leary Robinson died there on 30 April 1896.

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Wilmington Messenger, 1 May 1896.

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Raleigh Gazette, 17 July 1897.

Less than two years after his wife passed, Alfred Robinson lost his mother. She died in Raleigh while visiting Alfred’s sister, Mary Robinson King. The ever-flattering Gazette mentioned her “clever” son Alfred’s postal route between Norfolk and Wilmington.

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Raleigh Gazette, 12 February 1898.

Though he is elusive in census records, Alfred Robinson seems to have made a home base in Norfolk by the mid-1890s. In the 1894 Norfolk city directory, he is listed as a clerk living at 28 Lee Av. In the 1904 Norfolk city directory, he is listed as a “Carrier P O” living at 393 Bank. In the 1910 Norfolk city directory, he is a “clerk R M S” [railroad mail service] living at 446 Bute.

James S.A. Robinson married Emma Mossom in Phoebus (now Hampton), Virginia, on 22 December 1903.

In the 1920 census of Norfolk, Virginia: Alfred Robinson, 67, divorced, United States post office mail clerk; James A. Byers, 39, physician; and Maria Byers, 36. The Byerses were renting from Robinson. [From whom was he divorced?]

Within a few months, Maria Robinson Byers was dead of a stroke. Per her death certificate, she died 25 July 1920 at her home at 314 East Bute, Norfolk. She had been born in North Carolina on 2 July 1880 to Alfred Robinson and Lucy Leary, and her body was returned to Wilmington for burial.

Before the year was out, Alfred retired from government service, having served the postal service for 31 years.

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Twin City Daily Sentinel (Winston-Salem NC), 26 November 1920.

Alfred Robinson made out a will on 16 July 1926. Reflecting, perhaps, his peripatetic lifestyle, his city of residence is omitted from the document. Golden Robinson, son of his brother George, was the principal legatee with a $2000 bequest, but he also set aside $500 to bury his “mentally afflicted” son James S.A. Robinson; $1000 to be divided among the children of his deceased nephew Benjamin Scott; and $800 to be divided among nieces Parthenia Blakeley, Annie Sadgwar, Rebecca Robinson, and Mrs. Vincent Waters. After bequests to pay for a headstone and the upkeep of his grave, Alfred earmarked the remainder of his estate to be divided among the children of nephews Warren Scott, Thomas A. Scott and Benjamin Scott.

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In the 1928 and 1930 city directories of Wilson, Alfred Robinson is listed living at 622 East Green Street. (In other words, he lived in Samuel H. Vick’s household.)

Alfred’s son James S.A. Robinson died 22 July 1930. That year Alfred was involved in an imbroglio with Dr. Lovelace B. Capehart, grand master of the Ancient Free & Accepted Masons, whom he blamed for causing him to lose his position as treasurer of the organization. A Wilson Superior Court judge agreed and awarded Alfred $400 in damages.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 22 November 1930.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 30 November 1930.

On 6 November 1936, Alfred remarried in Wilson. His wife, Julia Winstead, was a Nash County native. He was about 85 years old, and nearly 40 years his wife’s senior.

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On 29 November 1938, Alfred Robinson executed a new will devising an entire estate to his nephew Robert H. Scott, with whom he was living. His property consisted of two lots in Norfolk; a house and lot at 207 North Tenth Street, Wilmington; and two lots in Raleigh. He specifically made no provision for his wife Julia, asserting that he had already made her a property settlement. Nor did he mention his many other nieces and nephews.

Alfred Robinson died 26 June 1939 in Wilmington.

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On 27 July 1939, Alfred’s nephew Golden Robinson, son of his brother George, filed his 1926 will in Wilson County Superior Court, asserting that he had found the document “in a small satchel in [Alfred’s] home.” On November 1939, his other nephew, Robert H. Scott the 1938 will in New Hanover Superior Court.

Which prevailed?

 

The Men’s Civic Club.

“By 1939, [George K.] Butterfield and others began advocating for the creation of a more effective organization to fight for the ballot in addition to the NAACP. Joined by doctors J.F. Cowan, I.A. Shade, and D.C. Yancey, funeral home director C.L. Darden, barber shop owner William Hines and others, Butterfield helped create the Men’s Civic Club in the fall of 1939. At the second meeting the men selected their officers. Dr. B.O. Barnes was selected as president; C.L. Spellman, vice-president; M.D. Williams, secretary and C.L Darden treasurer. … The group’s primary objective was to ‘study and support all proposals that we consider beneficial to the Negroes of Wilson.’ Though interested in the benefit of the entire community, the Club specifically concerned itself with ‘the problems and needs (civic, educational and recreational) of the Negroes of greater Wilson — city and county.'”

This photograph was published in the 2 July 1976 edition of the Wilson Daily Times. Though undated, it most likely was taken at an early meeting of the Men’s Civic Club and certainly before the end of 1941, when two of the men depicted passed away.

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  • Dr. B.O. Barnes — Boisey Otha Barnes (1902-1956), physician, a Wilson native, son of Dave and Della Hines Barnes.
  • Dr. G.K. Butterfield — George Kenneth Butterfield (1900-1995), dentist and city councilman, a native of Bermuda.
  • David Coley — David Henry Coley (1895-1974), barber, native of Wayne County.
  • C.L. Darden — Camillus Lewis Darden (1884-1956), undertaker, a Wilson native, of Charles and Diana Scarborough Darden.
  • Dr. William Mitchner — William Arthur Mitchner (1882-1941), physician, native of Johnston County.
  • Walter Hines — Walter Scott Hines (1879-1941), barber, native of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, son of Della Hines Barnes.
  • Knolly Zachary — Joe Knolly Zachary (1900-1984), barber, native of Perquimans County, North Carolina.
  • Dr. J.F. Cowan — Joseph Franklin Cowan (1896-1985), physician, native of South Carolina.
  • E.M. Barnes — Edward Morrison Barnes (1905-2002), high school principal, a Wilson native, son of Lemon and Elizabeth Smith Barnes.
  • Dr. D.C. Yancey — D’Arcey C. Yancey (1883-1957), pharmacist, native of Danville, Virginia.
  • Howard Fitts — Howard Monroe Fitts (1890-1968), teacher, native of Warren County.
  • Malcolm Williams — Malcolm Demosthenese Williams (1909-1991), school principal, native of Duplin County.
  • Spencer Satchwell — Spencer Jordan Satchell (1910-1992), music teacher, native of Hampton, Virginia.
  • Jim Whitfield — James Ashley Whitfield (1892-1960), painter, Wilson native, son of A.W. and Sallie Whitfield.
  • Rev. Sanders — Otto Eugene Sanders (1886-1978), Presbyterian clergyman, native of South Carolina.
  • Randall James — Randall Roland James Jr. (1916-1981), undertaker, Wilson native, son of Randall and Elizabeth Darden James.
  • Robert Johnson — Robert Josiah Johnson (1884-1964), Episcopal priest, native of Hartford, Connecticut.
  • Milton Fisher — Milton Wallace Fisher (1907-??), school principal, native of New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Levi Jones — Levi Hunter Jones (1876-1961), barber, native of Hertford County, North Carolina.
  • Charlie Jones — Charles T. Jones (1878-1963), barber and minister, native of Hertford County, North Carolina.
  • Dr. W.H. Phillips — William Haywood Phillips (1875-1957), dentist, native of Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • William Hines — William Hines (1884-??), barber and hospital administrator, native of Edgecombe County, son of Della Hines Barnes.
  • W.M. Bethel — Wilton Maxwell Bethel (1906-1986), insurance agent, native of Florida.
  • Sidney S. Boatwright — Sidney Sherwood Boatwright (1900-1977), barber, native of Mullins, South Carolina.
  • Carter Foster — Carter Washington Foster (1914-1955), county agricultural extension agent, Wilson native, son of Walter and Rosa Parker Foster.
  • Roderick Taylor — Roderick Taylor (1883-1947), barber, Wilson native, son of Mike and Rachel Barnes Taylor.

Passage excerpted from Charles W. McKinney Jr., Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina (2010).