race

Southern chivalry?

This short bit appears in a Cleveland Gazette column reporting Cincinnati, Ohio, happenings:

Cleveland Gazette, 4 August 1894.

What happened here?

Joe Ward of Indianapolis is Dr. Joseph H. Ward, though he was not yet a doctor in 1894. In fact, he was newly graduated from high school and just about to commence his medical studies. This passage from an 1899 Indianapolis Freeman feature mentions Ward’s return to North Carolina after graduation.

I am surprised that Mittie Ward Vaughn was in Wilson as late as 1894 — I’d assumed she was in Washington, D.C., with her daughter Sarah Ward Moody‘s family. I’m more intrigued, not to say perplexed, by the reference to an incident involving his wife.

First, Joseph Ward had a wife in 1894? His first marriage of which I am aware was to Mamie Brown in Indianapolis in 1897. It ended in divorce. Then, in 1904, he married Zella Locklear.

Let’s assume there was an earlier wife, though, and the incident happened to her. (In other words, the encounter was personal, not a third-party incident to which Ward was reacting.) Mrs. Ward sassed a white woman for whom she was working (in Wilson?), the white woman’s husband “smacked down” Mrs. Ward, and Mrs. Ward was arrested and fined $12.50 for her impertinence???

I have not found any references to Ward’s visit in Wilson newspapers, but will continue to search for further details.

Lane Street Project: Who gets to speak for the dead?

“Underneath America lies an apartheid of the departed. Violence done to the living is usually done to their dead, who are dug up, mowed down, and built on. In the Jim Crow South, Black people paid taxes that went to building and erecting Confederate monuments. They buried their own dead with the help of mutual-aid societies, fraternal organizations, and insurance policies. Cemeteries work on something like a pyramid scheme: payments for new plots cover the cost of maintaining old ones. ‘Perpetual care’ is, everywhere, notional, but that notion relies on an accumulation of capital that decades of disenfranchisement and discrimination have made impossible in many Black communities, even as racial terror also drove millions of people from the South during the Great Migration, leaving their ancestors behind. It’s amazing that Geer survived. Durham’s other Black cemeteries were run right over. ‘Hickstown’s part of the freeway,’ Gonzalez-Garcia told me, counting them off. ‘Violet Park is a church parking lot.'”

I’m inspired — and encouraged — by Friends of Geer Cemetery and Friends of East End Cemetery and others doing this work for descendants. Please read.

“Whosoever live and believeth in me, though we be dead, yet, shall we live.”

Negro white supremacist given 24 hours to leave.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 January 1925.

I’m not sure what to make of this. Who was Socrates A.E. O’Neil of Wilson? What was the Ethiopia International School? And what was the “wrong sort of propaganda”?

A search for information about O’Neil primarily yielded newspaper articles, all remarkably consistent in tone over the span of more than twenty years. The first reference I found was in a 1918 Baltimore Sun ad Rev. Socrates O’Neil of God Charitable International Ethiopian Organization, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, placed touting his 37-cent pamphlet, “Negro Problem Solved.” 

Baltimore Sun, 5 November 1918.

In 1922, the Shreveport Journal published a partial transcript of one of O’Neil’s speeches, presumably delivered to a white audience. It’s eye-popping. (The piece also resolves one question: O’Neil’s Ethiopian School was 60 miles north of Wilson in Weldon. Whew.) Asserting that he aspired to fill the late Booker T. Washington’s shoes, O’Neil declared that “southern white people are better to negroes than northern white people,” Black people “need to be educated with [his] common sense ideas or driven on old boss’s farm to learn common sense,” he was “representative of white supremacy and teach it in my school with Biblical authority,” and “[t]he lynching question will be abolished, if science is accurate, when the negroes, men and women, morally live in their own places.” 

Shreveport Journal, 8 December 1922.

Shreveport Journal, 4 January 1923.

A 1925 New York Age piece took O’Neil apart. 

New York Age, 8 August 1925.

Finding North Carolina Negroes insufficiently grateful, Bishop O’Neil headed south, but ran into trouble. He was arrested for theft in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1931. 

Baltimore Afro American, 29 August 1931.

In November 1932, O’Neil was convicted of larceny in Savannah, Georgia, and sentenced to two months on the chain gang.

He bounced back. A year later, O’Neil delivered a speech in Biloxi, Mississippi, in which he described the Ku Klux Klan as “a help to the negroes.”

Sun Herald (Biloxi, Miss.), 13 November 1935.

In 1939, O’Neil — whose real name may have been Abelard E. O’Neil — was sent to prison in Indiana on an intoxication charge. This is the last I found of him.

Palladium-Item (Richmond, Ind.), 18 April 1939.

First clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III; City Court Criminal Minute Books, Savannah, Georgia, Court Records, 1790-1934, database online, http://www.ancestry.com.

A lynching in Wake County.

Hickory Daily Record, 6 November 1918.

*T R I G G E R  W A R N I N G*

On its face, this account of this terrible crime has no bearing on Wilson County.

More details emerged in newspapers over the next few days, however, and on November 9, the Greensboro Daily News reported: “From the few facts available the affair was one of genuine old-fashioned lynching. [George] Taylor was identified by Ms. [Ruby] Rogers, it was said about 1.30 Tuesday afternoon. Immediately thereafter J.T. Bolling (who, with Buddie Mitchell, of Youngsville, and Dudley Price, it was said, made the arrest at Wilson) and Oscar Barham started to Raleigh with the prisoner.

“About a quarter of a mile from Buffaloe bottom [near Rolesville] about 400 yards from where the negro was strung up, four men wearing blue hoods, completely masking their faces and bearing a single barrel and double barrel shot gun, are said to have met the negro and the officers and carried the party into the adjoining woods.

“There the party was held until Tuesday night when the mob took the negro and hanging him by the feet on a bent pine tree, slashed and cut him up and filled him with over 100 bullet holes. He was left hanging from 7.25 Tuesday night, when the firing was heard until about 9 o’clock Wednesday morning when Sheriff Sears’ office was notified.

Taylor was arrested near Wilson and tied in the foot of an automobile with a pistol pressing against his ribs, he was brought to Mrs. Rogers for identification. At first she is said not to have been positive, but later to have been convinced. When asked after the lynching she said there was no doubt but that he was the man. When he was brought before her Dr. Young of Rolesville said the negro was forced to repeat the words her assailant used and he changed his voice, later she heard him talking in the yard in his natural voice she became positive it was the man. J.T. Bolling the man from and with whom the negro was taken said that after the identification the negro confessed to the crime.”

George Taylor’s murder is the only recorded lynching in Wake County.

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.

we-tender-our-resignation-and-east-wilson-followed

the-heroic-teachers-of-principal-reids-school

a-continuation-of-the-bad-feelings

what-happened-when-white-perverts-threatened-to-slap-colored-school-teachers

604-606-east-vance-street

mary-euell-and-dr-du-bois

minutes-of-the-school-board

attack-on-prof-j-d-reid

lucas-delivers-retribution

lynching-going-on-and-there-are-men-trying-to-stand-in-with-the-white-folks

photos-of-the-colored-graded-and-independent-schools

new-school-open

the-program

a-big-occasion-in-the-history-of-the-race-in-this-city

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.