Russell L. Darden.

“Russell Darden — front row, second from left, in his class at Biddle, now Johnson C. Smith.”

“… [O]ne of the first funerals under [Camillus and Arthur Darden‘s] direction was that of their younger brother, Russell, who was in his last year at Howard University Law School. Russell had gone to New York City to look for adventure during the Christmas vacation. While there, he caught pneumonia and died at Harlem Hospital before any of the family could reach him. Russell had been a daring, fun-loving, robust, athletic young man known for his prowess on the football field. [His brother Walter T. Darden remembered] that the last time he saw Russell play football was at Livingston[e] College. The score was Livingston[e] 3, Biddle 3. The ball was snapped and thrown to Russell. He was running hard. The opposition tried for the tackle but missed and tore off the seat of his pants instead. Oblivious to the cheers and laughter of the crowd, Russell kept running and won the game 9-3 with his rear end showing. He had an aggressive spirit and was the pride and joy of his family. His death left an aching gap in the family circle.”

N.J. and C. Darden, Spoonbread and Strawberry Wine (1978).


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wheelwright Charles Dardin, 44; wife Dianna, 40, sewing; and children Annie, 21, sewing; Comilous, 15, tobacco stemmer; Arthor, 12; Artelia, 10; Russell, 5; and Walter, 4.

In the 1908 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Darden, Russell, carpenter, h 110 Pender. [At age 15?]

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith Charlie Darden, 55; wife Dianah, 48; and children Cermillus, 24, bicycle shop owner; Arthur, 22, teacher; Artelia, 18, teacher; Russel, 16; and Walter, 14.

In the 1912 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Darden, Russell, porter, h 110 Pender.

In the 1913 Charlotte, N.C., city directory: Darden, Russell, bds [boards] Seversville.

In 1917, Russell Lenoir Darden registered for the World War I draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he was born 9 June 1893 in Wilson, N.C.; resided at 940 Westminster Street, Washington, D.C.; was a student; was single; and was stout and of medium height.

Russell Darden died 26 January 1918 in Manhattan, New York, New York.

A brief mention in the New York Age suggests that C.L. and Arthur could not, after all, bring themselves to bury their brother and called in Calvin E. Lightner of Raleigh to assist.

New York Age, 9 February 1918.


Are you ready for some football?

From In Retrospect: “In 1933, the first [Darden High School] football team was formed under the leadership of Robert Kornegay. The Trojan Mascot was selected as a result of a contest held in the fall of ’33. The colors ‘Blue & White’ were also formally selected at that time.”

Here is the earliest known photograph of a Trojans gridiron team. The date is somewhat ambiguous, but the photo was taken no later than 1941, when several of the players graduated.

darden trojans football

  • #60 Joe Williams
  • #61 Clarence Hoskins (1924-2010, son of Lonnie and Gertrude Simms Hoskins)
  • #63 Marvin Jones (1923-??)
  • #64 William Criss Taylor
  • #65 Dolly Octavous Brown Jr., Class of ’41 (1922-1993, son of Dolly and Mabel Brown)
  • #67 Hubert Odell Speight, ’44 (1922-2009, son of Gray Edmundson and Christine Speight)
  • #68 Charles E. Branford Jr. ,’41 (1923-2008, son of Charles and Annie McIntyre Branford)
  • #69 Samuel Price Geralds, ’41 (1920-2008, son of Boyd and Viola Geralds)
  • #70 David M. Barnes (1921-2006, son of Littleton and Elnora James Barnes)
  • #71 Troy Lee Chatman (1922-??, son of George and Daisy Chatman)
  • #72 William Edward Brown, ’41 (1922-1993, son of Ellis and Margaret Scarborough Brown)
  • #73 Ellis Brown Jr., ’41 (1921-1989, son of Ellis and Margaret Scarborough Brown)
  • #75 Jesse Frank Barnes, ’42 (son of Harry and Rena Barnes)
  • #76 Allen McCrimmon (1923-1973, son of Alexander and Mary Watson McCrimmon)
  • #77 Daniel Scott Brown, ’41 (1922-2009, son of Booster and Louisa Brown)
  • #79 Joe Parker
  • #80 Edgar Gerald (1922-??, son of Morant and Lizzie Gerald)
  • #81 Joe Pittman
  • #82 Joseph Rountree (1923-2001, son of Wiley and Mary Barnes Rountree)
  • #83 James W. Ellis, ’41
  • Coach B. Miller
  • Coach Roberson

Wilson news.

PC 2 17 1940

Pittsburgh Courier, 17 February 1940.

  • Johnnie Mincy — John Henry Mincey. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 650 Wiggins Street, plumber Benjamin Mincey, wife Mattie, 60, sons Benjamin Jr., 31, a hotel cook, and Johnnie, 21, a daily paper deliveryman, and granddaughter Deloris Woodard, 5. In 1940, John Henry Mincey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 8 April 1919 in Wilson, resided at 650 Wiggis Street, had telephone number 3909, was employed by National Youth Administration, and his closest relative was Mrs. Mattie Mincey. John H. Mincey died in Wilson 14 December 1982.
  • Hartford E. Bess — Hartford Eugene Bess. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, widow Minnie Best, 48; and children Hartford, 30, delivery boy for retail dry goods business; Ruth, 27, teacher at Williamston School; James, 23, janitor at Oettinger’s store; and Glenwood, 10, grocery delivery boy. Hartford Bess died in Wilson on 2 December 1988.
  • S.J. Satchell — Spencer Jordan Satchell. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 Viola Street, retail grocer Jarrette J. Langley, 60; wife Mary, 60; daughter Orris, 21; Virginia-born son-in-law Spencer Satchell, 29, teacher; and daughter Ivory, 30, teacher. Spencer J. Satchell died 20 February 1982.
  • Robert Haskin — Robert Douglas Haskins. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: drug company salesman Robert Haskins, 55; wife Gertrude, 48; children Mandy, 36, cook Elizabeth, 33, beauty shop cleaner Estelle, 29, hotel kitchen worker Robert D., Jr., 27, N.Y.A. stenographer Lossie, 24, and barbershop shoeblack Thomas, 20; and granddaughter Delores, 15; plus lodger Henry Whitehead, 21, tobacco factory shaker. Robert D. Haskins died 11 December 1966 in Wilson.
  • Ossie M. Royall — Ossie Mae Jenkins Royall. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 203 Pender Street, widow Ossie M. Royall, 33, an elevator girl at the courthouse; her mother Tossie Jenkins, 53, stemmer at a tobacco factory; daughters LaForest, 16, and Evauline Royall, 14; and a roomer named Ed Hart, 45, a laborer employed by the town of Wilson. Ossie and LaForest were born in Wilson; Evaline in Battleboro [Nash County]; and Tossie and Ed in Nash County. By the late 1950s, Ossie Royall had moved to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and was working as the dining hall supervisor at Elizabeth City State Teachers College. She died in Amherst, Massachusetts, 16 March 2000.


  • Susie Moore
  • Robert L. Jeans — Robert Lee Jeans registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1942. Per his registration card, he resided at 510 East Green Street; was born 17 April 1903 in Tate County, Mississippi; and was minister of Calvary Presbyterian Church. His contact person was Mrs. A.G. Douglas, 416 North Meyers Street, Charlotte. The same year, Jeans was appointed head of Tabor Presbyterian in Des Moines, Iowa. Rev. Jeans died in Washington, D.C., on 17 November 1994.
  • Margaret K. Bridgers — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1209 East Nash Street, furniture company truck driver Jessie Bridgers, 32; wife Margret, 27; and children Elizabeth, 6, Jessie Jr., 5, and twins Saul and Carl, 2.
  • William A. Swinston
  • Mrs. R.L. Williams
  • Mrs. Brodie — possibly Anna Kearney Brodie.
  • Calvary Presbyterian Church
  • Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church
  • Darden High School
  • WGTM

Image courtesy of The Pirate (1960), Elizabeth City State Teachers College, digitized at U.S. School Yearbooks 1880-2012,

Go, TC!

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This 1945 photograph of Winston-Salem Teachers College’s pep squad depicts, front: senior Carl Hargraves, president of squad, Winston-Salem, N.C. and freshman William Stevenson, Winston-Salem; back: senior Ethel Ellerbe, Morven, N.C.; senior Joy Mae Hairston, Winston-Salem; sophomore Effie Dunston, Warrenton, N.C.; junior Marie Darden, Washington, D.C.; sophomore Hattie Russell, Manson, N.C.; and sophomore Dora Dickerson, Wilson, N.C.

Photograph courtesy of



Pop-Eye Leonard and the Wilson Braves.


Pittsburgh Courier, 21 September 1925.

Charles “Pop-Eye” Leonard is not well-known, but his brother Walter F. Leonard — better known by the nickname Charles gave him, “Buck” — was a legend. The Leonards were natives of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, 18 miles north of Wilson. I have not been able to discover much about Charles, but a bio brief about Buck in Jason T. Powers’ Bringin’ Gas and Dialin’ 9: A Seven Score Addition to the National Pastime, volume 1, describes the brothers’ relationship, and Buck’s attempts to steer his brother away from baseball.

The Wilson Braves, presumably, were affiliated with an African-American minor league.

The finest game of ball ever played.

Today is opening day of Major League Baseball’s 2016 season. In keeping:

mirror 7 20 1892

Wilson Mirror, 20 July 1892.

8 8 1894

Wilson Mirror, 8 August 1894.

6 19 1896

Wilson Times, 19 June 1896.

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Wilmington Morning Star, 8 May 1904.

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Raleigh News & Observer, 30 April 1910.

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Wilson Times, 3 May 1910.

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Wilson Times, 6 May 1910.

5 2 1911

Wilson Times, 2 May 1911.

Dr. Michael Edmund DuBissette.

The 1922 Wilson city directory listed three African-American doctors — Michael E. Dubissette, Matthew S. Gilliam, and William A. Mitchner.

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Unlike Gilliam (more about him later) and Mitchner, Dr. DuBissette spent only a few years of practice in Wilson. Born in 1885 in Grenada, West Indies, Michael Edmund DuBissette immigrated to the United States about 1912. He attended Saint Augustine’s College and Shaw University in Raleigh (where he likely met his wife, Betty Alford of Smithfield, Johnston County) and obtained a medical degree from Howard University. He was a resident of New York (and a British citizen) in June 1917 when he registered for the World War I draft. In March 1918, he married Alford in Wake County.


Wilmington Morning Star, 15 May 1915. (Note Eustace DuBissette, who was likely a younger brother. Born in Grenada in 1890, he opened a dental practice in Wilmington, North Carolina.)

By 1922, the DuBissettes had set up in Wilson, living at 911 East Green Street while Dr. DuBissette saw patients at 550 East Nash. (Not Hicks, as the directory shows.) In his idle hours, he managed to maintain competitive tennis rankings.


New York Age, 12 February 1927. 

He remained in Wilson as late as 1928, when DuBissette last appears in a city directory. By 1929, however, he had moved on to Enfield, Halifax County, North Carolina. From there he filed in the Eastern District of the North Carolina, United States District Court, a declaration of his intention to seek American citizenship. Wife Bettie and children Bettie Agnes (born 1919) and Michael DuBissette Jr. (born 1921) were still in Wilson.


In February 1930, Dr. DuBissette resettled in New York City and threw himself into the city’s Negro professional life, giving lectures, fundraising, and gaining hospital credentials.


New York Age, 27 February 1932.


New York Age, 3 March 1934.

In 1936, Dr. DuBissette petitioned for naturalization in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of New York. Bettie Alford Dubissette had died two years prior, but his children continued to reside with him at 460 West 147th Street in Harlem.


By the early 1940s, however, Dr. DuBissette had returned to North Carolina. He married his second wife, Louise Goodson, in 1943 in Goldsboro and established a long-lasting practice there. Michael E. DuBissette died in New York City in 1963.

Wash Af-Am 12-31-1963

Washington Afro-American, 31 December 1963.

Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944, National Archives and Records Administration, available online at

Dixie Trotters seek to play.

Pitt_Courier_12_3_1938_Dixie_Trotters (1)

Pittsburgh Courier, 3 December 1938.

Jack Benjamin Sherrod was born in Speed, Edgecombe County, North Carolina, in 1912. Less than two years after this brief article posted, he registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. He listed his mother as Lucy E. Sherrod of 807 E. Nash and his place of employment as the Cherry Hotel.