Are you ready for some football?

Via Shaunna M. Stevens, Lisa Jones shared these photos of the Darden High School football team on which her late father, Elroy Jones, played in 1947.

D.H. Atkinson was head coach of the team, and James C. Ellis and Charles E. Branford were his assistants.

The players:

  • Fred Barnes, back, sophomore
  • James Barnes, center, senior
  • Gerald Best, guard, sophomore
  • John Cotton, tackle, sophomore
  • William Darden, center, junior
  • James Dew, end, sophomore
  • William Dew, back, junior
  • Jimmy Ellis, back, freshman
  • Ralph Gay, tackle, senior
  • James George, guard, senior
  • Charles Hines, end, senior
  • Ernest Holiday, captain, back, sophomore
  • Joe Holiday, end, senior
  • Charles Howell, back, junior
  • Robert Jenkins, end, junior
  • Elroy Jones, end, junior
  • Ivory Robinson, co-captain, back, junior
  • James Simms, tackle, junior
  • Clarence Thomas, guard, sophomore
  • Alphonza Watson, back, junior
  • Marvin Weaver, tackle, junior

Wilson Daily Times, 24 September 1947.

Stay tuned for more posts as we follow the Trojans through their 1947 gridiron season!

Homestead Grays play the New York Black Yankees in Wilson.

On 4 August 1942, the Daily Times printed two short pieces on the extraordinary match-up at Wilson’s Municipal (now Fleming) Stadium — the Homestead Grays vs. the New York Black Yankees!

Grays’ catcher and power hitter Josh Gibson in an undated photograph. AP.

Wilson Daily Times, 4 August 1942.

Buck Leonard at bat, 1945. He and Gibson were known as the Thunder Twins. Now regarded as among the best ever to play the game, neither played Major League baseball. Photo courtesy of National Baseball Hall of Fame. 

The Homestead Grays in 1942, the year they visited Wilson. Getty Images.

Black Yankees Leslie “Chin” Green and Jimmy Ford, 1942. Detail, Getty Images.

The newly formed Wilson Dodgers.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 January 1948.

The Wilson Dodgers made their debut in 1948, opening against the Rocky Mount Black Swans.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 March 1948.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 May 1949.

The description “newly formed” more than a year later suggests they did not play a full season in ’48.


  • Douglas Simms, manager and pitcher — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 308 East Street, Frances Simms, 49, widow; children Geneva, 23, Margaret, 17, Retha, 18, “runs store — retail gro.,” Douglas, 19, “cleans tourist home,” Raymond, 26, and Eva, 20; and grandson Ralph, 2. Douglas Simms registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his draft card, he was born 1 January 1918 in Wilson; lived at 308 North East Street; his contact was mother Frances Simms; and he worked for Imperial Tobacco Company, Barnes Street. Douglas Simms died 30 November 1967 in Wilson.
  • Alfonza Watson, first baseman — possibly, Alfonza Watson born in 1930 in Wilson to Willis Watson and Mamie Atkinson Watson.
  • Robert Ellis, second baseman (“at the keystone sack”)
  • Crevan Moses, shortstop — on 10 June 1948, Lathrop Crevound Moses, 17, of Wilson, son of Eugene Moses and Annie Mae Tate Moses, married Annie Elizabeth Ruffin, 17, of FarmVille, N.C., daughter of Roosevelt Ruffin and Senora Hardy Ruffin, in Wilson.
  • Wimp Morgan, third baseman (“a hot corner man”)
  • Jim Haines, captain and catcher
  • Amos Ellis, outfielder — perhaps: Amos Staley Ellis registered for the draft in 1946. Per his registration card, he was born 7 September 1926 in Edgecombe County; lived at 624 Darden’s Alley; his contact was Rosa Ellis of the same address; and he worked for Jim Blount.
  • Major Hinnant, outfielder — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 908 East Vance, Mary Hinnant, 54, widow; children Robert, 21, Thomas, 19, Jessie, 17, Bennie, 16, Eveline, 14, Major, 11, and Dannie, 33; and grandchildren Festus, 16, Blossie, 12, Martha, 11, James T., 8, Clarence, 7, Samuel, 5, Mary R., 1, and George, 6 months. Major Hinnant registered for draft in 1945. Per his registration card, he was born 6 September 1927 in Wilson County; lived at 908 East Vance; his contact was mother Mary Hinnant; and he was unemployed.
  • Robert King, outfielder
  • Willie Lee Hines, outfielder (“other outer gardeners”) — Willie Lee Hines registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 10 October 1924 in Wilson County; lived at 206 Ashe Street; his contact was mother Daisy Hines; and he worked as “laborer on defense job contract” at Glider Base, Edenton, N.C.
  • William Johnson, batter (“twirler”)
  • Chester Jones, batter
  • Thomas Dickerson, batter


Wilson Braves score victories.

The Wilson Braves had a much better May than April 1932.  The nine played the Bull City Aces (of Durham), the Harlem (N.Y.) Black Sox, the Hamlet Airliners, the Camel City Aces (of Winston-Salem), and teams from Leaksville and Greenville and went 9-2.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 24 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 27 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 May 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 May 1932.

Wilson Braves, Negro nine.

I was delighted to find that the Daily Times regularly covered the 1932 season of the city’s semi-pro African-American baseball team, the Wilson Braves.

I’ve been able to discover very little about the team. They played home games in the “Vance Street ballpark,” a forerunner to Fleming Stadium that stood in the vicinity of modern-day Wells Elementary School. The articles highlight players generally by first or last name only, but I am working to identify them further. They included second baseman George Leach, centerfielder Monk Johnson, pitchers Joe Haskins and Jarvis BankJoe Harris, catcher LeroyWynnHoldenTaylor, HargrovesFisher, Tate, Locus, pitcher Henry, and “Dummy.”

Here are the April games, in which the Braves played the Capital City Blue Aces (of Raleigh), the Kinston Royal Giants, the Rocky Mount Aces, the Statesville All-Stars, and a team from Suffolk, Virginia, and went 2-3-1.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 April 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 April 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 April 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 April 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 April 1932.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 April 1932.