Religion

The life and times of Wilton M. Bethel, part 3.

Wilton M. Bethels collection includes several large group photographs mostly taken on the campus of Saint Augustine’s, the Episcopal Church-affiliated college for African-Americans in Raleigh, North Carolina.

One of the earliest appears to be the formal portrait below of nine African-American men. In 1996, J. Robert Boykin III, who rescued the collection, sought assistance from Sarah L. Delany (of “Having Our Say” fame) to identify them.

On the top row, they are Rev. Henry Hudson (“my classmate”), a 1910 graduate of Saint Augustine’s collegiate division; Professor Charles H. Boyer (1870-1942) (“my teacher”), Saint Augustine’s professor; Rev. Charles Mail, priest at Oxford, North Carolina; Wylie B. Latham, a mail clerk in Raleigh and member of Saint Ambrose Episcopal Church; and perhaps Mr. Latham’s son.

Seated are Rev. James E. King, priest at Saint Ambrose from 1896 to 1913; “my father” the renowned Bishop Henry Beard Delany (1858-1928), first African-American Episcopal bishop in North Carolina and the second in the United States; Rev. James K. Satterwhite, Saint Aug graduate, priest at Saint Ambrose from 1913-1919 and then in Florida; and Rev. Robert N. Perry (“1st cousin of my mother, Nanny L. Logan”) and priest at Wilson’s Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church from 1905-1919.

Below, a photograph of student nurses and, perhaps, staff of Saint Agnes Hospital, established in 1896 on Saint Augustine’s campus. This image appears in Saint Aug’s 1927-28 Annual Catalogue. Bethel’s collection contains several loose snapshots of campus buildings. Did he take them for the college’s use?

Below, a group of lay people and clergy standing in front of another presumed campus building. (Can anyone identify it?) Wilson’s John H. Clark, a longtime lay leader at Saint Mark’s Episcopal, stands furthest left. The man standing second to the right of the girl on the front row is unidentified, but appears in snapshots in Wilton Bethel’s photo album.

John H. Clark (1863-1949), Wilton Bethel’s father-in-law.

Another large group standing on the steps of Saint Augustine’s Hunter Building.

Below, an industrial arts class at Saint Augustine’s College.

Another mixed group of clergy and lay people, presumably at Saint Aug. John H. Clark is seated on the second or third row, directly behind the man on the front row with his hat on his knee.

This shot, probably dating to the late 1930s, depicts a dinner gathering of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance employees in Goldsboro, N.C. The guest of honor, N.C. Mutual’s long-time president Charles C. Spaulding, is seated below the welcome sign, wearing a bowtie. Goldsboro was Bethel’s home office. I don’t see him in the shot; perhaps he was the night’s photographer. (Notice the folding chairs borrowed from the occasion from funeral director Lawrence T. Lightner.)

In the photo below, a bow-tied John H. Clark overlooks a large group of people gathered at one side of what appears to be a church or school building. It does not appear to have been taken in Wilson at Saint Mark’s. I am not certain, but the man on the third row, at right, standing beside a woman in white, appears to be Rev. Robert N. Perry.

Praying for rain.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 August 1930.

Late in the summer of 1930, Steven Ray issued a call “to all races, tribes and tongues” to join him at Calvary Presbyterian Church to pray for rain. Ray was not pastor of Calvary, and it is not clear of which church he was minister. 

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Washington Street, David Jeffers, 47, laborer; wife Ethel, 43; stepchild Luther Mack, 18, laborer; father-in-law Stephen Ray, 55, widower, laborer. [Also on Washington Street: Jessie Williams, 42, wagon factory laborer; wife Lizzie, 38; sisters-in-law Sarah, 14, Hattie, 12, and Katie Ray, 9; brother-in-law Stephen L. Ray, 7; and sister-in-law Lillian Ray, 5; and daughter Margrett Williams, 13.]

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ray Stephen (c) lab h Washington av nr Vick

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ray Stephen (c; Emma) 901 Stantonsburg

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ray Steph (c) porter Miller’s 200 E Nash

Stephen Ray died 24 April 1933 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 59 years old; was married to Emma Ray; lived at 914 Washington Street; was a preacher; and was born in Cumberland County, N.C., to Phillip Ray and Annie Ray. Informant was Lizzie Williams. 

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

A.M.E. Zion churches host gospel groups.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 September 1948.

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  • Carolina Jubilee Singers
  • Trinity A.M.E. Zion Church
  • Rev. A.G. Dunston — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Goldsboro Street, Mary Humphrey, 65, widow, and lodgers A.G. Dunston, 59, minister; Charlie Smith, 31, redrying tobacco factory worker, and Henrietta Smith, 28, cook. Dunston reported that he was living in Lumberton, N.C., five years previously, and the Smiths reported they were living in Atlanta, Georgia. Alfred Grifton Dunston died 18 January 1965 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 26 January 1880 in Currituck County, N.C., to Henry and Emily Dunston; lived near Stantonsburg; was married; and was a minister. Lona E. Dunston was informant. [Note Rev. Dunston’s son, A.G. Dunston Jr., was an A.M.E. Zion bishop and civil rights leader in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.]
  • The Arigenaires
  • Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church

Rev. Taylor returns from Y.M.C.A. service.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 September 1919.

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Camp Zachary Taylor, near Louisville, Kentucky, circa 1918.

  • Rev. H.B. Taylor — for more about Rev. Taylor’s appointment, see here.
  • Camp Zachary Taylor

Caufield & Shook, photographers; digital image courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 

Like jumping on a holy trampoline.

A number of readers commented on my recent post about Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association, particularly sharing memories of Rev. Wiley Barnes and Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church, one of three Wilson County churches in the association. Rev. Hubert Tyson identified the location of another, Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church, which stood next door to Saint Luke Freewill Baptist Church at the eastern end of Church Street in Stantonsburg.

Rev. Tyson’s grandmother Lillie Thompson Fox Bass was a devoted Primitive Baptist and, even after migrating to Delaware, returned to Stantonsburg every year to attend the annual Association gathering. Says Rev. Tyson, who accompanied her visits to Travelers Rest and Corner Line:

“Ma Lillie was faithful. I always went inside with her. Boy, did I have questions. At first I thought they were singing in a diverse dialect, so she gave one of her old hymn books so that I could sing along. At least five preachers preached each service. No piano, but they didn’t need it. Their tribal rhythm was in the house. Everyone drank out of the same water dipper. Everyone hugged as well as kissed in the mouth (while they still had snuff in their mouth.) While singing, they partnered off with in-sync hand-shaking to the rhythm, rocking the weak shacking of the floor’s foundation. It was similar to jumping on a holy trampoline. I enjoyed taking her there.”

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On 26 January 1919, Walter Fox, 21, of Greene County, son of Henry and Hattie Fox, married Lillie Thompson, 18, of Greene County, daughter of Will and Kitsey Thompson, in Lindell township, Greene County.

In the 1920 census of Bull Head township, Greene County, N.C.: Walter Fox, 22,  wife Lillie, 20, and Mabell, 3 months.

In the 1930 census of Eureka township, Wayne County, N.C.: Walter Fox, 35; wife Lillie, 34; and children Rosa M., 11, Walter L., 9, Willie, 7, Jessie L., 5, Minnie, 2, and Walter Jr., 6 months.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Main Street, widow Lillie Fox, 40, domestic, and children Rosa Lee, 20, cook, Walter Henry, 18, Willie, 17, Minnie, 15, domestic, Jesse Lee, 13, and Alexander, 9; plus lodger Willie Bynum, 16.

Lillie Thompson Fox Bass died 25 June 1988 in Lincoln, Delaware.

Thank you, Rev. Hubert Tyson, for sharing these memories!

African-American members of Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church.

Lower Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church, founded in 1783, was the second church organized in what is now Wilson County. The church’s nineteenth-century records includes names of enslaved and freed African-American members, who worshipped with the congregation as second-class Christians even after Emancipation.

Below are African-Americans included in a circa 1877 “List of Names Now Alive” with dates they were baptized and notes about church discipline. (The Primitive Baptists were hardcore about infractions of church rules, and it seems most members were “cut off” sooner or later.)

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  • Channey Pacock, col August 1871

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Chany Peacock, 46; son Geoge, 23; and grandson Preston Barne, 7.

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Benj’n Hardy, 25; wife Mary A., 30, farm laborer; and Litha, 14, farm laborer.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Hardy, 38; wife Mary Ann, 40; daughter Tillitha, 22; and mother-in-law Hester Hinnant, 65 [next door to Woodard Hooks, below.]

  • Isirah Lane, col Aug 14 1871, cut off

Perhaps, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Isiah Lane, 40, keeping eating saloon, and wife Harriet, 38.

  • Milbry Hinnant col  Dec 10 1871

Perhaps, in the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Hinnant, 26; wife Milbary, 24; and children Sally, 4, John, 3, and Everet, 1.

  • Rhoda Hollan col, Mar 9 1872, “cut off Aug the 12th 1876”
  • Fany Woodard col, Mar 9 1872, cut off
  • Sarah Brook col, June 9 1872
  • Woodard Hooks col, date of baptism unknown, excluded

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Woodard Hooks, 52; wife Venus, 53; and children Mahaly, 20, Mariah, 18, Gabriel, 16, Isaac, 14,  Bardin, 11, and Grant, 10. [Cross Roads township is adjacent to Black Creek township, and the boundary is within a very few miles from the town of Black Creek.]

  • Elizath Horn col, date of baptism unknown, deceased
  • James Barnes col, date of baptism unknown, deceased
  • Nathon Barnes col, date of baptism unknown, excluded
  • Mardel(?) Thompson, date of baptism unknown, cut off
  • Wister Barnes, date of baptism unknown
  • Petter Woodard col, June 8th 1873

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Peter Woodard, 60; wife Renda, 60; farm laborer Adline Privett, 25, and her daughter Margaret, 6 months; and granddaughter Hetiway Ward, 3.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Peter Woodard, 70; wife Rendy, 52; and Jane, 13.

  • Trecy Woodard, June 8th 1873
  • F[illegible] Simms col, June 8th 1873, cut off
  • Mary Hardy col, Augst 11th 1873

See Benjamin Hardy, above.

  • Tilitha Hardy col, Augst 11th 1873

See Benjamin Hardy, above.

In the 1870 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Blaney Barnes, 20, farm laborer.

Blany Barnes married Rachel Cooper on 10 August 1873 at J. Barden’s in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Blany Barnes, 27; wife Rachel, 25; and children Larry, 6, Mary Ann, 4, and William Anderson, 2.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: R.R. [railroad] laborer Blaney Barnes, 47; wife Rachell, 44; and children Anderson W., 21, Louettie, 16, and Charlie, 11; and boarder Dorch Wade, 23.

On 22 September 1903, Blaney Barnes, 50, married Diana Ricks, 45, in Spring Hill township.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County:  Blaney Barnes, 55, sawmill log hauler; wife Dianna, 44, farm laborer; daughter-in-law Louvenia Furgerson, 21, divorced; daughter-in-law Jane Barnes, 19; grandsons Hiliard, 7, and Joseph N. Barnes, 5; grandson Willie Furgerson, 4; and grandchildren Martha J. Barnes, 12, and boarder Troy Barnes, 23.

Blaney Barnes died 26 April 1915 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1844 in Wilson County to Sip Barnes of Wayne County, N.C.; was married; was a farmer; and was buried in Barnes graveyard. Wiley H. Johnson, Lucama, was informant.

  • Levi Bass col, July 12 1874, fined

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Levi Bass, 23; wife Heggar, 22; and children Burket, 3, and Lydia, 2.

  • Caroline Dawson col, Aug 8th 1874
  • Rufus Bass col

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Rufus Bass, 30; wife Caroline, 25; and Josiah, 6, Willie A., Rufus H., 4, and Rebecca F., 1 month; plus

  • Smithie Cooper col, Sept 12th 1874

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farm laborer Watson Cooper, 26; wife Smithy, 25; and children Martha, 9, Margaret, 4, George, 3, and Sidney, 9 months.

  • Nellie Williams col, June 15th 1875

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer W. Williams, 50; wife Nellie, 43; servants Laura Williams, 15, and Nancy Winstead, 22, farm laborers; and Winnie Monday, 10, “no relation.”

  • Harriet Bass col, Oct 14 1875
  • Sarah Hagans col, Oct 14 1875

In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Hegans, 31; wife Sarah, 20; children John, 3, Nancy A., 2, and Amos, 10; and Susan Hagans, 40, farm worker.

  • Julia Fealds col, Jan 8th 1876

George W. Fields married Julia Moore on 26 March 1869 in Pitt County, North Carolina.

In the 1870 census of California township, Pitt County: farmer Wash Fields, 35; wife Julia, 35; and children Haywood, 10, Mary, 4, and Jane, 1.

In the 1880 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Washington Fields, 30; wife Julia, 35; and children Renda, 12, Penninah, 11, Jane, 9, Christany, 8, London, 6, William, 5, and twins Isaac and Jacob, 3.

In the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Washington Fields, 60; wife Julia, 53; daughters Chrischanie, 25, Amanda, 15, and Lutory, 10; grandson Peter, 10; and granddaughters Julia, 5, and Lillie, 7 months.

In the 1910 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Washington Fields, 68; wife Julia, 70; grandson Peter J., 18; and granddaughters Julia A., 14, and Mary Lilly, 9.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer George W. Fields, 65; wife Julia M., 70; daughter Christina, 48; and grandson Willie, 10.

Julia Fields died 20 June 1924 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 102 years old; was married to Wash Fields; was born in Greene County, N.C., to Peter Woodard and Renda Woodard; and was buried in a family cemetery. William Fields was informant. [See Peter Woodard, above.]

  • Jane Barnes col, March 4th 1876, “Jane Hooks by Marridge”

In the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Stewart Hooks, 31, and wife Jane, 23.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: basket mechanic Stewart Hooks, 51, and wife Jane, 43, dressmaker.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek town, Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, Stewart Hooks, 60, basketmaker with own shop, and wife Jane, 50, dressmaker.

Jane Hooks died 6 April 1929 at the Wilson County Home. Per her death certificate, she was 64 years old; a widow; and was born in Wilson County to Ben Barnes and Hester Horn. Lovett Barnes was informant.

  • Phillis Daniel col, July 8th 1876, “fort by a Marridge Philis fort”
  • Nicie(?) Barden col, July 9th 1876
  • Fanie Newsom col, June 11th 1876, “Restored Sept 8th 1876”
  • Ester Barnes col, April 12 1877
  • Liddy Jordon col, June [illegible] 1877, [illegible]

Copy of documents courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III. Originals now housed at North Carolina State Archives.

Saint Mark’s confirmation class (and new interior.)

This brief article about a confirmation class at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church offers lovely details of the provenance of the church’s furnishings.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 November 1948.

  • Dr. and Mrs. Robert J. Johnson — Father Johnson served as rector at Saint Mark’s from 1943 to 1957 and supply priest from 1957 to 1964. His wife was Anna Burgess Johnson.
  • Rev. Robert N. Perry — Father Perry was rector from 1905 to 1919.

“We are commanded by Jesus … and we refuse to budge.”

When Holy Rollers were thrown in jail in 1918, it was not the first time a Wilson mayor cracked down on traveling African-American pentecostals. In 1907, a town official encountered three Texans — two women and a man — “preaching to an immense crowd” near the dispensary, a pharmacy on South Goldsboro Street. The mayor asked the group to move. The women refused, exclaiming, “We are commanded by Jesus to go in the highways and byways and preach, and we refuse to budge.” They were locked up. When the man continued to preach, he was locked up, too. “Angry mutterings are to be heard by the negroes, but little importance is attached to it.”

Times-Dispatch (Richmond, Virginia), 1 September 1907.