News of Turner 4-H Club.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 March 1942.

Like all rural Wilson County schools, Turner Colored School had an associated 4-H Club. Turner School closed in 1949 when its pupils were assigned to the newly built Frederick Douglass High School.


  • Maggie Dew — in the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Joseph Dew, 28; wife Mittie, 27; and daughters Julia, 4, and Maggie, 1.
  • Daisy Armstrong
  • Willie C. Maryland — in the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Richard Maryland, 36; wife Mary, 30; and children Dasie Lee, 14, and Willie C., 12.
  • Frances Weaver — in the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Lonnie Weaver, 40; wife Anner, 34; daughter Frances, 9; and widowed mother-in-law Clara Daws, 56.
  • Rose Armstrong
  • James Hall — in the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Sela Hall, 34, and children Sylvester, 16, Joe and Joseph, 15, James, 13, Ora Lillie, 9, Erma Lee, 7, and Mildred R., 4.
  • Daniel Armstrong — in the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Henry Armstrong, 52; wife Minnie, 42; and children Mary, 19, Fred, 18, Rosa, 16, Clarence, 14, Nathan, 11, Daniel, 9, Louise, 8, David, 6, and Henry, 6 months.
  • C.W. Foster
  • Vera Armstrong — in the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Harvey Lee Armstrong, 36; wife Lelah, 30; and children Vera, 11, James, 9, Harvey Lee, 7, Mary, 5, Shirley, 3, and William E., 1.

Recommended reading, no. 11.

I’m overdue for a re-reading of Race and Politics in North Carolina 1872-1901, a 43 year-old classic.

Eric Anderson’s monograph focuses on North Carolina’s so-called “Black Second” Congressional district — one of the most remarkable centers of Black political influence in the post-Reconstruction, late nineteenth-century America. Though the work only touches lightly on Samuel H. Vick, it provides indispensable context for his life and work.

New Vester Church and School.

Several rural African-American churches donated or contributed to the purchase of land upon which Wilson County Board of Education built public schools for the surrounding community. New Vester Colored School thus sat adjacent to New Vester Missionary Baptist Church, in far western Wilson County.

The photos of the old church (since replaced) above and the Rosenwald-funded school, below, come courtesy of New Vester Missionary Baptist Church, which celebrated its 150th anniversary in the fall of 2022.

New Vester School was built on the two-teacher plan, but was later enlarged. The view above shows one of the two banks of six windows at the rear of the building.

Anita Patti Brown in recital.

Noted soprano Anita Patti Brown criss-crossed the country (and even South America) in the 1910’s, performing in twice in Wilson in 1914.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 March 1914. 

Presbyterian minister Halley B. Taylor penned a glowing review of Brown’s March concert, lauding her exemplary styling and voice “peculiarly rich and full and completely under control. He also praised the local talent on the bill, pointedly assigning honorifics to “Miss Barnes and Mrs. Whitted as vocal soloists, Mrs. Forbes as violinist, Messrs. Barnes, Thomas, Tennessee and Whitted as quartette, Miss Shepard as elocutionist and Misses Lander and Fitts and others as pianists ….”

Wilson Daily Times, __ October 1914.

Oak Park (Ill.) Oak Leaves, 15 May 1915.

Where we worked: The Oak filling station.

This photograph of the Wilson Bus Center and the Oak Filling Station (built around the truck of its namesake tree) was probably taken not long after they opened in 1938. An African-American man is pumping gas at the rear of a vehicle. Another African-American man stands near its front fender. 

Detail from photo above.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 September 1938.

Photo courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

C.S. Darden writes the Secretary of War.

Four months after the United States entered World War I, Wilson-born attorney Charles S. Darden (then living in Los Angeles, California) wrote Secretary of War Lindley Garrison on behalf of African-American men who had tried to enlist in the military’s “Aviation Department.” “I was informed, some time ago,” he wrote, “through the News Papers, that applications from young colored men would be acceptable to the government …, and I am now unable to understand where the local Recruiting Officers of of [sic] that Department get their instructions to the contrary.”

Signal Corps Captain Thomas H. McConnell responded quickly and succinctly: “At the present time no colored aero squadrons are being formed and applications from colored men for this branch of the service cannot be considered for that reason.”

United States War Department. Letter from Secretary of War to Charles S. Darden, August 11, 1917. W.E.B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Thanks to Patricia Freeman to bringing this letter to my attention!

B&G Cafe, “All White–All American Service.”

“We now employ white people only, which we feel is just what the home people of Wilson want. Our motto stands for itself, …” Wilson Daily Times, 22 February 1928.

Mollie E. Farrell and Allie C. Lamm operated B&G Cafe at 112 East Nash Street, across the street from the Wilson County Courthouse. John D. Marsh was their cook. Their collective idea about what the home people wanted seems to have been off the mark. B&G was gone before 1930.

Lane Street Project: sponsor a marker.

Want to help Lane Street Project, but you’re nowhere near Wilson? Adopt a headstone!

For the discounted rate of $50, Foster Stone and Cemetery Care will clean, stabilize, and reset a headstone in Odd Fellows or Rountree Cemeteries. Billy Foster has more than “20 years of experience honoring the memory of loved ones” and in just a few weeks has already transformed the appearance of Odd Fellows. 

Newly cleaned and reset grave markers gleaming in the evening light. Photo courtesy of Billy Foster, Foster Stone and Cemetery Care.

These markers are among those available for sponsorship:

  • Hood S. Phillips

Hood S. Phillips was a barber. His wife Phillis Phillips was probably buried nearby, but we have not yet found her marker. Phillips’ marker will be cleaned and set upright, and the small collapsed area at the grave filled in.

  • Walter M. Foster 

Walter M. Foster‘s beautiful white marble headstone has a splintered corner that needs repair. Foster worked as a fireman (one who tended the fire to run a boiler, heat a building, or power a steam engine) for Hackney Wagon Company. 

  • Lula Dew Wooten

Lula Dew Wooten‘s headstone is perhaps my favorite in all of Odd Fellows. A simple rectangle with softly rounded shoulders and delicate engraving, the marker needs only cleaning and straightening. Wooten was a dressmaker, and her husband Simeon Wooten is likely buried nearby.

  • Nettie Foster

Nettie Foster‘s headstone badly needs cleaning.

  • H.B. Taylor

H.B. Taylor has not been identified. (He was not Rev. Halley B. Taylor, minister of Calvary Presbyterian Church for several years.) Taylor’s marker, which bears symbols of both the Masons and Odd Fellows, needs cleaning and straightening.

If you’re interested in sponsoring these or another marker, you can CashApp fifty dollars to $blackwideawake, Venmo to @lanestreetproject, or email me at to arrange payment otherwise. Contributions less than $50 will be pooled — so no amount is too small!

In memoriam: Howard M. Fitts Jr. (1921-2023).

Wilson native Howard Monroe Fitts Jr. passed away 30 January 2023 in Durham, North Carolina, at age 101. Dr. Fitts was a Professor Emeritus at North Carolina Central University and a widely recognized public health advocate.

In 1994, Dr. Fitts sat for an interview for Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies’ Behind the Veil Oral History Project.  Funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the project aimed to record and preserve the living memory of African American life during the era of legal segregation in the American South. Dr. Fitts’ interview, which can be found here, richly explored his upbringing in Wilson in the 1920s and ’30s.

Rest in peace, Dr. Fitts.

Cemeteries, no. 5, pt. 2: Elm City Colored Cemetery.

Heritage Cemetery today, annotated, per Google Maps.

I recently revisited Elm City Colored Cemetery, now known as Heritage Cemetery. Founded in 1892 and containing hundreds of graves, Heritage offers a glimpse of what Odd Fellows and Vick Cemeteries might have looked like with consistent, even if half-hearted, maintenance over the last 70 years. 

The front section of Heritage is lightly wooded, but with little undergrowth and none of the invasive vines seen in Odd Fellows or Vick. (None of the grave plantings either, such as daffodils or yuccas.)

This large stuccoed brick vault, which appears to belong to the Wynn family, is the only one in the cemetery. There are none similar in Odd Fellows, and we don’t know if there were any in Vick.

The back section of Heritage is an open field traversed by a drainage ditch. In contrast to graves in the front section, which generally lie roughly east-southeast to west-northwest, graves here are orientated northeast to southwest.

As with graves in Odd Fellows, and probably much of Vick, Heritage’s graves primarily are arranged in family groups, not ranks of straight lines. 

Aerial view of Elm City Colored Cemetery, 1940.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2023.