Cleo Jones — in the 1940 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer James L. Wood, 23, and wife Cleo C., 18; mother Flonnie Hall, 41; half-brother Lewis, 13, and Lizzie, 8.
Charles Ruffin — in the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Ruffin, 39; wife Henrietta, 38; and children Bertha, 19, Charles, 17, James R., 16, Juanita, 12, Gladys Lee, 10, Christine, 8, Bruce, 7, Bertie Mae, 4, and and Curtis, 10 months.
Aaron Clay — in the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Joe Clay, 47; wife Ezzie, 44; children Moses W., 19, Eva E., 9, Aron D., 18, and [Aaron’s wife] Gertrude, 17; brother John, 39; and granddaughter Ann D., newborn. All but Gertrude and the baby had lived in Sussex County, Virginia, five years before.
June Langston — in 1942, June Boney Langston Jr. registered for the World War II in Wayne County, N.C. Per his registration card, he was born 1 July 1922 in Wayne County; lived at “Fremont (Blackcrek) Wilson NC”; and his contact and employer was Jennie Langston, Fremont, Wayne, N.C.
Joseph Simmons — in the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Junius Simmons, 44; wife Clara, 39; and children Levi, 21, Joseph, 20, Frank, 15, Julia, 10, Lettie, 5, Thomas, 1, and Edward, 9.
Recently, Brooke Bissette Farmer of Wilson’s fantastic Imagination Station reached out to me with a remarkable set of photos. A man (whom, it turns out, I’ve known since our childhoods) came into the museum to ask about an artifact he found while clearing out a house on Viola Street in the 1990s.
Though rusty and missing its top plate, the instrument is clearly identifiable as the seal embosser for Peaceful Valley Lodge 272, Wilson’s African-American Knights of Pythias lodge.
Peaceful Valley, like most of North Carolina’s Knights of Pythias lodges, is defunct. Lodge 272’s founding date is not clear, but it definitely was established well after Wilson’s Black Masons and Odd Fellows.
Pleasant Valley Lodge 272 was active into the 1980s. Frank W. Barnes, Howard English and Emanuel Spells were among its last leaders.
Picnics organized by Wilson County’s Black 4-H and Home Demonstration clubs were annual social highlights. In 1941, a hundred and fifty families traveled to Yelverton School at the far eastern edge of the county for fun and frolic in such contests as milk-sucking, cracker-eating, nail-driving, bag-racing, and horseshoe-pitching.
Virginia Ward — probably, in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Preston Ward, 38, widower; sister Annie, 26; and children James P., 20, Alonza, 18, Johnny Lee, 17, Rosa, 14, Virginia, 12, Sylvester, 10, Ruby, 8, Doris, 6, and Golden, 2.
In early March 1924, Tom Hagin allegedly shot Otto King to death over a cheating allegation during a game of craps. The Daily Times could not help but engage in casual racism in reporting the tragedy, referring to the dice game as “African golf.”
Wilson Daily Times, 4 March 1924.
In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Shandy King, 51; wife Nancy, 49; and children Jack, 21, Marcellus, 19, Shandey, 16, Mahala, 14, Columbus, 12, Otto, 7, and Harriett, 6.
In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Jim Bass, 19, and lodgers James Allen, 21, and Otto King, 19, all farm laborers.
In 1918, Otto King registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 22 March 1891 in Wilson; lived at Route 4, Wilson; worked in farming for Charley Walston; and was single.
On 11 January 1919, Otto King, 26, of Saratoga township, son of Shandy King, and Roberta Taylor, 16, of Gardners township, daughter of Moses Fent and Rena Taylor, were married in Saratoga township, Wilson County.
In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Plank Road Highway, farmer Otto King, 28, and wife Roberta, 17.