In 1936, Wilson-born pharmacist William Henry Vick wrote a letter to Kansas Governor Alf Landon, predicting that he would win the Republican nomination for president. Vick wished “to be the first Negro of New Jersey as Landon booster.” Vick’s prescience notwithstanding, Landon lost badly to Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Richard A.G. Foster made the most of his brief time as pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church, as chronicled here and here. In the letter to the editor below, he called to task Wilson County Commissioners for failing to heed the pleas of African-American residents for adequate schooling, including serious repairs for the Stantonsburg Street School (also known as Sallie Barbour School).
At the entrance to my parents’ neighborhoods, signs for these candidates — George K. Butterfield for United States Congress, Milton F. “Toby” Fitch for North Carolina Senate, Jean Farmer Butterfield for North Carolina House of Representatives, and Calvin L. Woodard for Sheriff. I was struck by the deep roots that all have in Wilson County.
G.K. Butterfield’s earliest Davis ancestor, Judith Davis, arrived in the town of Wilson in 1855, and his grandfather Fred M. Davis Sr. led Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church for decades.
Toby Fitch’s maternal Dunstan ancestors were free people of color in antebellum Wilson County and his Whitteds and Beckwiths arrived before the turn of the 20th century.
“Farmer” is a classic Wilson name, and Jean Farmer Butterfield’s father Floyd Willie Farmer was a force in the effort to get Wilson County to build rural high schools for African-Americans in the 1940s.
Calvin L. Woodard is descended on his mother’s side from Benjamin and Violet Barnes, were well into middle age and newly freed from slavery when they registered their long marriage in Wilson County in 1866.
One hundred thirty years ago today, Josephus Daniels at the helm, the Wilson Advance whipped its readership into a froth with articles warning of the perils of black political participation. The paper called out B.A. Peele for making common cause with black voters and warned of the dire consequences of Negro rule.
More information about the African-American Wilson County men nominated as delegates to the North Carolina constitutional convention just after the Civil War. None were selected.
Henry Jones, farmer, black, age 30, born in N.C., 30 years in district, “cannot read or write quite intelligent but colored people seem to lack confidence in him.”
Lawrence Moye, preacher, black, age 25, born in N.C., 25 years in district, “represented as an intelligent freedman can read but not write, will do.”
Gordon Grimes, farmer, black, age 35, born in N.C., 35 years in district, “represented as intelligent cannot read or write — character good — will do.”
Mac. Jones, farmer, black, age 24, born in N.C., 24 years in district, “represented as being vicious and otherwise inferior — Won’t do.” [Harry and Mac Jones were brothers.]
Edw. Barnes, farmer, black, age not listed, born in N.C., “represented as quite intelligent cannot read or write considered qualified.”
Jeremiah Bullet, farmer, black, age not listed, born in N.C., “cannot be found.”
Israel Barden, laborer, colored, 29, born in N.C., 6 years in district, “”is quite intelligent can read & write a little appears to be the most capable colored man in that section the colored people prefer him to any one of their number.”
Registers and reports of registrars recommended for the election of delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1868, North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Assistant Commissioner Records, 1862-1870, http://www.familysearch.org.
I do not know the context of this puzzling letter Rev. Jeremiah Scarborough wrote to the editor of Wilson Times.
Wilson Times, 15 September 1899.
Twenty years later, Scarborough was still preaching the gospel of accommodationism.
Wilson Times, 2 June 1919.
Scarborough is elusive in records, too. He appears in the 1877 edition of Shaw University’s catalog as a Wake Forest native and graduate of its Normal School division. He is also listed in Claude Trotter’s History of the Wake Baptist Association, Its Auxiliaries and Churches, 1866-1966 (1876) as a pastor in 1878 at Wake County’s Friendship Chapel, near Wake Forest.
This photo, titled “An Early Picture of the Men’s Civic Club,” is in the collection of Wilson’s Freeman Round House Museum. The Civic Club was founded in 1939 to address “the problems and needs (civic, educational and recreational) of the Negroes of greater Wilson — city and county.” The photo probably dates from around 1950. I can only partially name the men depicted. Standing are an unidentified man; Episcopalian priest Rev.Robert J. Johnson; Baptist minister Rev. Fred M. Davis; and an unidentified man. Seated are Camillus L. Darden; an unidentified man; Presbyterian minister Rev. Obra J. Hawkins; and Charles Darden James.
If you can help identify any of these men, please contact me. Thank you.