Sharpsburg is not just a Nash County town. Parts of the town lie in Edgecombe and Wilson Counties, with its historical African-American community in the latter. Though the violence here did not directly involve Black people, I post it for its insight into prejudice so deeply ingrained that the mere image of a “negro office holder … dictating to a white stenographer” could provoke a former mayor to shoot down the police chief (who was also his brother-in-law).
Signed only “Colored Citizen,” this anonymous tribute to George Whitfield Connor gets in a little pointed jabs at the “enemies of our race” while praising Connor, who had been appointed resident judge of North Carolina’s Second Judicial Circuit six months earlier. Connor, like his father Henry G. Connor, later was appointed a North Carolina Supreme Court justice.
Farmer & Mechanic (Raleigh, N.C.), 2 September 1902.
It’s not entirely clear, but this report seems to claim that Jack Sharp, a former Wilson County resident, boarded a train to unseat the county’s representatives on their way to the state Republican convention and to appoint a new set. William S. Hagans, the Wayne County native who provided the report, was African-American, and my guess is that the original delegates contained Black members.
Join us September 8 at Wilson County Public Library’s Main Branch for my talk about Dr. George K. Butterfield Sr.’s historic election to Wilson’s Board of Alderman in the 1950s. The lecture is part of a series of events leading up to National Voter Registration Day on 20 September 2022.
Billy Dew attended the “colored encampment” of Boys State in 1948.
Here’s William Lyman Dew‘s senior portrait in the 1949 edition of Darden High School’s Trojan yearbook.
William Dew was born 28 October 1931 in Wilson to Irma I. Dew and Edwin Cooke. He joined the United States Air Force in 1951 and, when he married Martha Lucretia Reid of Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1957, was working as an assistant air traffic controller with the Civil Aeronautics Administration at Stapleton Air Field, Denver, Colorado. Dew died in Denver in 1987 and is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery, Wilson.
United States Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, http://www.ancestry.com; Pittsburgh Courier, 3 August 1957, page 15; clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.
George H. White: Searching for Freedom airs on PBS NC June 16, 2022, at 9:30 PM. Samuel H. Vick was a political ally and close friend of White, and Vick’s legacy can only be understood in the context of White’s impact on late 19th century North Carolina politics. “Explore the enduring legacy of one of the most significant African American leaders of the Reconstruction Era. Born in 1852 in Eastern North Carolina to a family of turpentine farmers, White rose through the ranks of state politics to serve in the 55th US Congress from 1887 to 1901 as its sole Black voice.”
A recent post revealed pharmacist D’Arcey C. Yancey‘s April 1947 declaration of candidacy for a seat on Wilson’s Board of Aldermen, today’s equivalent of City Council. I had not been aware of Yancey’s political career, and his campaign is not covered in Charles McKinney’s Greater Freedom: The Evolution of the Civil Rights Struggle in Wilson, North Carolina.
The Daily Times made sure, of course, to highlight Yancey’s race, but otherwise made no comment about his extraordinary bid for elected office.
Wilson Daily Times, 4 April 1947.
The campaign season was only weeks long, and the Times wasted little ink covering it. May 6 saw a record turnout at the polls, and the Daily Times announced the results the next day. Yancey had been badly defeated, garnering only 75 votes to incumbent Ed W. Davis’ 348.
My thanks to Matthew Langston for following up on the initial post.