Skilled Trades

“I didn’t want red. … Well, you know why.”

The pandemic has shuttered Vanilla Powell Beane‘s millinery shop, but could not stop her from creating a hat especially for Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri. Now This Politics delivers the take:

The obituary of John R. Reid, house carpenter.

John R. Reid was a descendant of Rhoda Reid, a free woman of color, and her enslaved husband David Reid, who lived in Nahunta township, Wayne County, north of present-day Eureka. As described here, many of the Reids migrated into Wilson around the turn of the twentieth century. Though veterinarian Elijah L. Reid and school principal and banker J.D. Reid were most prominent, the Wilson branch of Reids included several notable carpenters. John Right Reid, born in 1887 to Isaiah and Edith Evans Reid, was one.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 December 1960.

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In the 1900 census of Pikeville township, Wayne County: farmer Isiah Reed, 47; wife Eidie, 34; and children John W[right]., 17, Ida L., 15, Oscar, 8, Bessie J., 5, Waid J., 4, and Parthenie, 2. 

Johnie Reid married Laura Anderson on 17 December 1906 in Wayne County, N.C.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, wagon shop laborer Johnie Reid, 25; wife Laura, 21; and children Louisa, 3, Odell, 2, and George W., 2 months.

In 1918, John Right Read registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 October 1884; lived at 105 4th Street, Wilson; worked as a carpenter for Emmett L. Winn, Pine Street, Wilson; and his nearest relative was Laura Reid. He signed his name “John Rite Reid.”

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in Fourth Street, house carpenter John Reid, 34; wife Laura, 31; and children Odell, 11, John Jr., 8, Augustus, 7, Elton, 6, Eula, 4, Alfonso, 2, and Sammie, 9 months.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 109 Fourth Street, owned and valued at $750, house carpenter John R. Reid, 44; wife Laura, 41; and children Oden, 20, bookstore delivery boy; Johnnie, 19, ready-to-wear delivery boy, Augusta, 17, Elton, 15, Mary, 14, Alfonza, 12, Sam, 11, Christine, 8, Margaret, 5, and William, 3.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 109 Fourth Street, carpenter John R. Reid, 55; wife Laura, 42; and children Gus, 25, tobacco factory laborer, Alfonza, 19, grocery store delivery boy, Christine, 17, Sam, 17, Fobbs’ Grocery delivery boy, Margret, 13, William, 11, and Edgar, 9. 

In 1940, Addison Odel Reid registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 3 October 1910 in Wayne County; lived at 1104 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was father John R. Reid, 109 4th Street; and he worked for Bissette’s Drug Store. He signed his name “Adderson Odel Reid.”

Odell Reid died 1 April 1944 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 35 years old; lived at 205 South Reid Street; was a widower; was born in Wayne County to John R. Reid of Wayne County and Laura Anderson of Wilson County; and worked as a defense laborer. John R. Reid was informant.

Dr. C.T. Battle Scholarship.

The Rho Delta Lambda Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., based in Anderson, South Carolina, sponsors a scholarship for high school students named in honor of Cr. Charles Tecumseh Battle Jr. Dr. Battle’s father, Charles T. Battle Sr., was a blacksmith and industrial arts teacher born in Wilson in 1888.

The obituary of Moses Woodard, carpenter.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 August 1928.

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In 1918, Moses Woodard registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1873; lived at 615 Darden, Wilson; worked as a laborer for Imperial Tobacco Company, Ltd.; and his nearest relative was wife Mary Woodard.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 Darden, carpenter Moses Woodard, 47, and wife Mary, 32.

“Septicemia due to a burn on finger. Arm had to be opened in two places”

Hat tip to J. Robert Boykin III for sharing this clipping.

Nestus Freeman’s crew at work. (But where?)

This copy of a photograph is said to show O. Nestus Freeman‘s workmen building Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on West Vance Street, Wilson. Does it though?

Freeman came out of retirement to direct the stonework at Our Redeemer, which was completed after World War II. The photo above is undated, but appears to date from earlier in the twentieth century. Moreover, this crew is clearly building an addition to a pre-existing church.

Here’s a photo of Our Redeemer published at the church’s 25th anniversary at the Vance and Rountree Streets site. (The building itself was not completed until after 1941.) This does not appear to be the same church as the one above. The men above are laying brick, not stone. The buttresses between the windows below do not appear in the image above. And the windows themselves are much taller in the image above. The church’s raised stone rake is also missing from the gable end above.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 May 1966.

On 1 September 2001, the Daily Times featured a long piece contributed by Robert B. Lineberger, whose father was pastor at Our Redeemer in the early 1940s. In pertinent part, here is Lineberger’s recollection: 

“Oliver Nestus Freeman was the stone mason for the church. The stone was delivered to the lot in 1942. It was supposed to be 4 inches thick, and the supplier brought half to it from the quarry at Roleville [Rolesville, in Wake County, N.C.] and dumped it on the lot when no one was there. It was 8 inches thick. When the quarry realized its mistake, they said Dad could have it at half price if he would accept it where it was.

“He asked what he could do with it that thick. They indicated it could be split just like a cake of ice … except you would use a sledge hammer with a pointed side to it instead of an ice pick. Tap it on one side, roll it, tap it on the second side, roll it, tap it on the third side, roll it … and when you tap it on the fourth side, it would split in half. That meant the church got the stone for 25 percent of the original price!

“[My father] acted as general contractor for the church. During the early war years contractors and builders were doing all the work they could at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Camp Lejeune. He hired Mr. Freeman, who came out of retirement to build the church.

“Mr. Freeman then lived in a stone house off of East Nash …. I mixed mortar for him and placed the stones at his directions on the scaffold on which he worked. He chose each stone for a particular place as he worked. I worked with him for a long time during the summer and after school of the year the church was built.

“Mr. Freeman was a fine man, and I learned a lot about stone masonry, mixing mortar and life from him. …”

Lineberger provided some photographs of construction, including these:

Wilson Daily Times, 1 September 2001.

These images further strengthen my belief that the first photograph depicts Freeman’s crew working on some church other than Our Redeemer.

Any thoughts?

Our Redeemer Lutheran today.

Top photo courtesy of Freeman Round House and Museum, Wilson, N.C., digitized at Images of North Carolina, digitalnc.org; bottom photo by Lisa Y. Henderson.