race

Negroes punish white man.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 December 1920.

The Baltimore Afro-American‘s rather more detailed version of this incident is here. The “negro woman” was Melissa Wilkins. I have not been able to identify her father, who allegedly owned a blind tiger.

  • James Dickerson
  • Henry Elons
  • Bill Artis
  • Edgar Artis

The Evans and Taylor families of Taylor township.

As we’ve seen here, here, herehere, here and here, “race” in the 19th century could be an expansive construct, even within a family. Some people classified as “mulatto” into the turn of the 20th century transitioned to full whiteness within a few decades. Others, classified as white, but having mixed-race children, became mulatto, though nothing had changed about their physical presentation. The Evans and Taylor family of Taylor township, connected by marriage, are another example. The Evanses were descended from Elizabeth Evans, a white woman, whose children were mixed-race. This Taylor family descended from Sally Taylor via her daughter Harriet Taylor, both white.

In the 1850 census of Edgecombe County: Elizabeth Evans, 45, white, with Ivey, 16, and Elizabeth Evans, 13, both mulatto; plus Temperance Perry, 35, and Margaret Perry, 7, both white. Also, E. Evans, 50; Edith Evans, 19, both white, and Ivy, 14, and E. Evans Jr., 12, both mulatto.

On 27 August 1851, Elizabeth Evans married Richard Locus in Edgecombe County. [This is the younger Elizabeth Evans.]

On 18 May 1855, Ivy Evans and Sarah Brantley received a license to marry in Nash County, but never returned it to the courthouse.

In the 1860 census of Mannings township, Nash County: Ivey Evans, 23, farm laborer, and wife Sally, 28, with farm laborer Gilbert Howard, 20, all mulatto. Next door: Richard Locus, 35, farm laborer, wife Elizabeth, 26, and children William J., 7, Frances E., 4, Julia A., 3, and John E., 1, all mulatto; plus Elizabeth Evans, 50, white.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Ivey Evans, 37, and wife Sallie, 39, both mulatto. Next door: Betsey Evans, 65, white. Next door to her: Telitha Driver, 53, Harriet Taylor, 21, and Margrett Taylor, 2, all white.

In the 1870 census of Joyners township, Wilson County: Richard Locust, 48, farm laborer; wife Betsey, 36; children William, 17, Francis, 15, Julia, 13, John, 10, Elizabeth, 8, Robert, 5, James, 3, and Henriettie, 1.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Elisha Driver, 60, white, “stays with niece”; Harriett Taylor, 35, white; her children Margrett, 12, Ellen, 9, John H., 6, and Dora Taylor, 4, all mulatto. Next door: Ivory Evans, 50, and wife Sally, 45, both mulatto. Ivey Evans was the father of at least some of Harriett Taylor’s children.

On 18 November 1888, Ellen Taylor, 18, of Wilson County, son of Harriett Taylor, married Dora Locus, 18, of Wilson County, daughter of John and Delphia Locus, in Taylors township, Wilson County. [Delphia Taylor Locus was the daughter of Dempsey Taylor and Eliza (or Louisa) Pace and was Harriett and Ellen Taylor’s cousin.]

On 10 May 1890, Ivy Evans, 56, son of Betsey Evans, married Harriett Taylor, 47, daughter of Sally Taylor, in Taylors township, Wilson County. Though Harriett was white in 1880, both are described as colored.

On 7 April 1900, John Davis, 50, of Wilson County, married Dora Taylor, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Iva Evans and Harriette Taylor, in Old Fields township, Wilson County. John A. Jones, James E. Jones, and Deal Howard were witnesses.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Iva Eavins, 68; wife Hattie, 50; children John H., 23, Margret, 17, Manuell, 15, Bettie, 13, and Francis, 10; grandson Leavy, 3; and boarder Willie Blackwell, 23, all black.

In the 1900 census of Coopers township, Nash County: farmer John Pulley, 44; wife Margarett, 33; children Jesse, 10, Tabitha, 11, Martha, 7, Minnie, 5, and Fed, 3; widowed mother Harriett, 77; and brother-in-law Ellen Taylor, 28, day laborer, widower, and his children Sallie A., 10, and Thomas, 7.

In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: day laborer Richard Locus, 85; wife Betsy, 68, cook; and grandson Wiley, 6.

On 19 November 1902, John Blackwell, 22, colored, of Wilson County, son of Albert and Classie Blackwell, married Bettie Liles, 18, colored, of Wilson County, daughter of Ivy Evans and Sis Liles, in Isaac Ivens’ residence in Taylors township, Wilson County. Ellen Taylor applied for the license, and George Taylor, Dock High and Hence Brantley were witnesses.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Ellen [sic] Evans, 39; wife Eliza, 25; son Thomas, 18; mother Harriet, 68, cook; widowed sister Dora Davis, 28; and nieces and nephews Levi, 14, Ivy, 12, Lillie, 10, Mamie, 5, and Margaret Davis, 2.

Eliza Evans died 19 November 1921 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was about 40 years old; was married to Allen Evans; was engaged in tenant farming for John Griffin; was born in Nash County to Elija Joyner and Mary Taylor. Allen Taylor was informant.

Margaret Pulley died 13 December 1935 in Sturgeon district, Brunswick County, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1876 in Wilson County, N.C., to Ivey Evans and Harriet Taylor; and was a widow. Monnie Pulley was informant.

Dora Strickland died 6 August 1949 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 July 1899 [actually, circa 1886] in Wilson County to Ivory Evans and Harriet Taylor; was married; worked as a farmer; and was colored. Isaac Strickland was informant.

The 103rd anniversary of the school boycott.

Today marks the 103rd anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman.  Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.

The teachers.

The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.

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A few reasons why Negro ministers should support race enterprises.

The Word, in short: “buy Black.”

Cleveland Gazette, 6 July 1912.

  • A.N. Darden — Arthur N. Darden, son of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden, was only 23 years old when he penned this opinion letter published in the Cleveland Gazette, an African-American newspaper. His message of “race pride” to Black clergy is summarized in his final paragraph: ” … if the race sticks together in business life the day is nearer than we think when Ethiopia shall stretch forth her hand to God and our race become the chief corner stone that the builders rejected.”

Negro weddings.

Who knew that “negro wedding” was a whole subgenre of blackface?

… Me either.

But it was, and quite popular in Wilson County as late as the 1940s.

In 1927, Mrs. R.H. Llewellyn, clever and entertaining, entertained the Rotary Club with a negro wedding and a negro sermon. 

Wilson Daily Times, 14 December 1927.

In 1938, Stantonsburg High School’s senior class’ evening of “good clean fun and amusement” included a negro wedding.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 March 1938.

In 1941, Saratoga High School’s Beta Club presented a negro wedding whose finale was a stirring “Dark Town Strutter’s Ball.”

Wilson Daily Times, 26 February 1941.

Participants did not need to make up their own mockeries. Titles of negro wedding plays include “Henpeck at the Hitching Post,” “My Wild Days are Over,” and “The Coontown Wedding.” Characters in Mary Bonham’s “The Kink in Kizzie’s Wedding: A Mock Negro Wedding,” published in 1921, include Lizzie Straight, Pinky Black, Sunshine Franklin, Necessary Dolittle, George Washington Goot, and Uncle Remus. The opening lines: “CAPT. COTTON — ‘Bein’ as Ise de Knight ob de Hoss-shoe, an’ while we’s waitin’ fo’ de bridal paih, we will practice de riding’ gaits.’ ALL GROOMSMEN — ‘Thank-u-doo, obleeged-to-you!’ (They salute the Captain.)” Charming.

Relation between the races.

Smithfield Herald, 13 February 1896.

John H. Skinner, an accommodationist’s accommodationist, wrote this letter to the editor of the Smithfield Herald in 1896. His point is not entirely clear, but his disparagement of African-Americans — in service to race relations — is painfully so.  

Take it down.

From The News and Observer, today’s headline: “Daniels family removes statue of racist ancestor in Raleigh“:

“Frank Daniels Jr. of Raleigh, retired president and publisher of The News & Observer, said in a statement Tuesday that his grandfather’s bigoted beliefs overshadowed his other accomplishments, including, Daniels said, ‘creating one of the nation’s leading newspapers.’”

“’Josephus Daniels’s legacy of service to North Carolina and our country does not transcend his reprehensible stand on race and his active support of racist activities,’ Daniels said. ‘In the 75 years since his death, The N&O and our family have been a progressive voice for equality for all North Carolinians, and we recognize this statue undermines those efforts.’”

The article glancingly mentions Daniels’ ownership of the Wilson Advance. It was in this newspaper that he cut his teeth as an unabashed white supremacist, using the paper as a platform for his relentless drumbeat for the suppression of civil rights for African-Americans.
In two columns of the same issue, published 31 October 1884, Daniels published editorial comment ranging from the snide:

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… to the unvarnished:

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… to the grotesque:

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Wilson Advance, 31 October 1884.

The Wilson County Historical Association erected a marker for Josephus Daniels near the county courthouse. It makes no mention of his most efficacious role — spearhead of the disenfranchisement and general subjugation of North Carolina’s African-American citizenry. Despite repeated calls for its removal, notably led by the indefatigable Castonoble Hooks, the marker stands.

I amplify Mr. Hooks’ voice here: TAKE IT DOWN.

——

Update, 18 June 2020: Today, the city of Wilson quietly removed the historical marker honoring Josephus Daniels today and returned it to the Wilson County Historical Association.

“Wilson removed Josephus Daniels marker: Family cited his ‘indefensible positions on race,” Wilson Daily Times, 18 June 2020.

The South is all right.

On the eve of the civil rights movement, Wilson Daily Times editor John D. Gold penned this soothing editorial meant to reassure his readers (or the white ones, anyway) that there was no trouble “between the races” in the South, that colored people know “the Southern white man is his friend,” and that Negroes are loyal and faithful around the house and farm. The piece is rubbish, but includes views of Charlie Thomas, who worked for the Golds as a house servant and at the newspaper, and Dick Pender, who worked for the Golds and, most especially, for Joshua Barnes. (Pender died in 1896; Gold had to reach way back for him.)

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Wilson Daily Times, 12 May 1948.

Held for murder of neighbor.

The Rocky Mount Telegram‘s headline blares “WILSON NEGRO,” and the article identifies both the alleged shooter and his victim as black. However, the Wilson Daily Times‘ 28 January 1938 coverage of the incident reveals that both Charles Davis and Lawrence Lamm were, in fact, white.

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Rocky Mount (N.C.) Telegram, 28 January 1938.

Lamm’s death certificate, marriage license, and census records confirm that he was white. (The Daily Times‘ piece revealed that the bad blood between Davis and Lamm stretched back “since a day over a decade ago when Lamm is alleged to have bitten off Davis’ father’s ear in a quarrel.” On 8 September 1938, the Daily Times reported that the defendant, whose actual name, was Charles Smith, was found not guilty on a directed verdict as the evidence determined that he had acted in self-defense.)

A deep kudos (and recommended reading, no. 4).

Last week, the MacArthur Foundation awarded a “Genius Grant” to writer-historian Saidiya Hartman.  Per the Foundation, Hartman “is a scholar of African American literature and cultural history whose works explore the afterlife of slavery in modern American society and bear witness to lives, traumas, and fleeting moments of beauty that historical archives have omitted or obscured. She weaves findings from her meticulous historical research into narratives that retrieve from oblivion stories of nameless and sparsely documented historical actors, such as female captives on slave ships and the inhabitants of slums at the turn of the twentieth century.”

She’s also, obviously, a role model for me, both for her purpose and the beautiful language with which she brings it to light. If you don’t know Hartman, see here a transcript of her NPR interview with Farai Chideya following publication of Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route, and here, the MacArthur Foundation’s fantastic video of Hartman discussing her work, then read both Lose Your Mother (2007) and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (2019).