Travel

John A. Woodard, seaman.

John A. Woodard applied for a Seaman’s Protection Certificate in December 1917. American seamen carried the document as proof of citizenship in foreign ports. Per his application, Woodard was born 15 April 1867 in Wilson, North Carolina; resided at 512 Canal Street, New York City; had been a seaman since 1906; and had last worked as a waiter on the S.S. Montgomery en route from New York to Savannah, Georgia. He was 5’9 3/4″, 179 pounds, with colored complexion, brown eyes, and black hair and a slight scar under his right eye.

“The Ocean Steamship Company of Savannah, generally known as the Savannah Line, was founded in 1872 to assume the operation of the Empire Line of steamships from William R. Garrison to operate passenger and cargo steamships between Savannah and New York. The newly founded company took over six steamers from the Empire Line to start the service. The company was to provide a major travel link over the next 70 years moving passengers, agricultural products, principally cotton and fruit from Georgia and Alabama to New York and Boston. … Two new passenger ships built by Newport News in 1910, the CITY OF ST. LOUIS and the CITY OF MONTGOMERY, were delivered to the company.”

U.S. Applications for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; original document at Application for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940, Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, 1774-1982, Record Group 41, National Archives, Washington, D.C; 

Andrew Cotton, seaman.

Andrew Cotton applied for a Seaman’s Protection Certificate in May 1936. American seamen carried the document as proof of citizenship in foreign ports. Per his application, Cotton was born 19 June 1904 in Sharpsburg, North Carolina; resided at 207 West 137th Street, New York City; and had last worked on the S.S. Evangeline as a waiter. He was 5’8″ with dark brown skin, brown eyes and black hair and had no identifying marks.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Levy Edwards Road, Isaac Cotton, 44; wife Flonnie, 34; and children Coloneous, 18, Lucy, 16, Sidney, 13, Mary, 11, Isaac E., 8, Andrew, 6, Levy, 4, and Clarence, 1.

Passenger lists from 1938 to 1954 show Cotton shipping out of ports on both sides of the Atlantic, including New York, New York; Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; Saint Georges and Hamilton, Bermuda; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Hamburg, Germany; Gourock, Scotland; Southampton, England; Cobh, Ireland; and Genoa, Italy.

U.S. Applications for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; original document at Application for Seaman’s Protection Certificates, 1916-1940, Records of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, 1774-1982, Record Group 41, National Archives, Washington, D.C; New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Studio shots, no. 62: Rev. Obra Jeffrey Hawkins.

Rev. Obra J. Hawkins was pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church from 1942 to 1962.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 May 1947.

Obra Jeffrey Hawkins died 7 May 1982 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 27 August 1905 in Panola County, Texas to Andrew Hawkins and Lela Simmons; was married; was a minister; and resided at 1310 Marlowe Street, Wilson. Informant was Inez Fisher.

The Bull (1936), yearbook of Johnson C. Smith University, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Photograph of Rev. Hawkins courtesy of Adventures in Faith: The Church at Prayer, Study and Service, a booklet commemorating the 100th anniversary of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Wilson.

The Green Book.

The Negro Motorist Green Book (later titled The Negro Travelers’ Green Book and called the Green Book) was an annual guidebook for African-American travelers. New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green published the volume during the Jim Crow era, from 1936 to 1966, when hotels, restaurants and other businesses openly discriminated against black motorists. To counter the inconveniences and dangers and inconveniences they faced along the road, Green created a guide to services and places relatively friendly to African-Americans.

Only a few of the many Wilson businesses catering to black clientele were listed in the Green Book. The 1941 edition of the guide is excerpted below.

Victor H. Green, The Negro Motorist Green-Book (1941).

  • Biltmore, East Washington Street — The 1941 Wilson city directory does not list a hotel on East Washington.
  • The Wilson Biltmore, 539 East Nash Street — The 1941 Wilson city directory lists Libby McPhatter‘s cafe at 539 East Nash. However, per the nomination form for Wilson’s Central Business District Historic District, McPhatter’s cafe was at 541, in a one of two buildings erected after the Hotel Union, a three-story frame hotel, burned in the late 1940s. (Sanborn fire insurance maps, however, seem to indicate that The Union was gone before 1928.)
  • M. Jones, 1209 East Queen Street — The 1941 Wilson city directory does not list an M. Jones at 1209 East Queen Street, nor an M. Jones who is a taxi driver.
  • The 1948 Green Book lists the same three businesses in Wilson. Odd.

Copy of Green Book courtesy of New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Clerk comes to the city.

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New York Age, 13 September 1917.

In the 1900 census of Asheville, Buncombe County: at 174 Haywood Street, Isacc Shade, 24, laborer; wife Emma, 29; and children John, 7 months; and mother Alice Shade, 40.

In the 1910 census of Asheville, Buncombe County: on Jordan Street, Isacc Shade, 34, physician at drugstore; wife Emma, 22; son John, 10, Alice, 8, and Kenneth, 3; and widowed roomer Ollie Burgin, 41.

Isaac Shade moved his family to Wilson shortly before World War I, and he opened a pharmacy on Nash Street.

John Albert Shade registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 10 August 1900; resided at 530 East Nash Street, Wilson; worked as a clerk at Shade’s Pharmacy, 530 East Nash; and had blue eyes and black hair and no apparent disqualifications.

On 27 September 1922, John A. Shade, 22, and Ruby Percell, 20, both of Wilson County, were married by Presbyterian minister A.H. George in the presence of W.H. Phillips, Henry N. Cherry and Will Farmer.

In the 1925 New York State census, in Brooklyn: at 718 Cleveland, John Shade, 24; wife Ruby, 21; and daughter Emma, 1. John worked as an attendant at Grand Central Station.

In the 1940 census of Bronx County, New York: North Carolina-born hotel elevator operator John Shade, 40; South Carolina-born wife Rubie, 35, bedding operator; and daughters Emma, 16, and Grace, 13.

John A. Shade died 8 October 1969 and is buried in Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.

Per Social Security records available at Ancestry.com, Emma Evangeline Shade was born in New York on 4 February 1924 to John A. Shade and Ruby I. Purcell. Emma S. Galiber died 19 June 1995.

Voyage to Havana.

On 20 August 1937, Camillus and Norma Duncan Darden boarded the S.S. Cuba at Havana, Cuba, for a one-day return to the United States arriving in Tampa, Florida, on the 21st. The Peninsular & Occidental Steamship Company operated the Cuba.

U.S. Citizen Passenger Lists of Vessels Arriving at Tampa, Florida, digitized at Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

A wreck on the first day at sea.

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The Colonies and India (London, England), 9 April 1898.

Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, his wife Adora Oden Smith, and their daughter Flossie took passage on the African Steamship Company steamer Dahomey, which sailed from Liverpool to his assignment as ambassador in Monrovia, Liberia, on 6 April 1898. Hours after leaving port, the ship struck rocks near Holyhead, Anglesey, Wales. Passengers and crew were safely evacuated, but the ship remained stranded for 14 days before it could be floated off and returned to Liverpool. The incident was investigated, and a magistrate held: “The Court having carefully inquired into the circumstances attending the above-mentioned shipping casualty, finds, for the reasons stated in the Annex hereto, that the stranding of and material damage to the said vessel were due to the improper navigation of the master, Mr. James G. Cawthorne, whose certificate, No. 34,575, the Court suspends for a period of six months from the date hereof.”

George R. Murrain’s journey.

On 30 July 1928, Presbyterian minister A.H. George conducted the marriage ceremony of George R. Murrain, 25, of New York, son of George R. and Elizabeth Murrain, and Della Mae Whitehead, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Henry and Victoria Whitehead, in Wilson. Witnesses were Elizabeth Brodie, H.M. Fitts, and Pennie A. Bynum. The license notes that Murrain’s father was dead, but his mother resided in Africa.

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Immigration documents reveal that George Richard Murrain was the son of George Richard Murrain and Elizabeth Burnette Murrain, missionaries who traveled the world on behalf of the Church of the Brethren, one of the three historic peace churches. The elder Murrains moved for decades between South America, Africa, Europe and North America, a peripatetic international existence that George and Della Murrain also briefly carried out.

Digitized immigration records show some of the Murrain family’s travels.

“List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival” details passengers sailing from Liverpool, England, 31 July 1913, on the S.S. Adriatic, arriving at the Port of New York on 8 August 1913. The manifest included George Richard Murrain (the elder), 45, wife Elizabeth, 43, and their children Frederick, 15, Stanley, 13, Jeanie, 12, George, 10, Joseph, 8, Mona, 6, and Elliott, 5. The family’s last permanent residence was Hualondo, Africa, and their contact was Missionaries of Christian Brethren, Bile, West Central Africa.

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This “List or Manifest of Alien Passengers for the United States Immigration Officer at Port of Arrival” shows passengers sailing from Southampton, England, 10 January 1922, on the S.S. Olympic. The manifest lists missionary Mary Augusta Murrain, 29, and students George Richard, 20, and Mona Elizabeth Murrain, 18. All were citizens of Great Britain whose last residence was Hualondo, Africa. Their father was G.R. Murrain, Missan Ingleza Bie Angola, and their final destination was Enfield, North Carolina.

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Mary, George and Mona Murrain apparently were detained upon arrival in the United States and appear on a “Record of Aliens Held for Special Inquiry.” The codes do not readily reveal the reason for their detention or how long they were held.

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On 27 July 1924, the Murrains arrived at the Port of Southampton, England, on the Zeelandia. The ship sailed originally from Buenos Aires, and the family boarded in Lisbon. Below is a portion of the “Names and Descriptions of British Passengers” showing George R. Murrain, 55, wife Elizabeth Augusta, 53, and sons Joseph Nathaniel, 20, and Elliot Sydney, 16. Angola was listed as their country of last permanent residence.

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On 29 August 1924, George R. Murrain the elder set sail to Canada on the S.S. Montclare. His “Declaration of Passenger to Canada” shows that he was married to Elizabeth Agusta; that he was a missionary; that he was born in the West Indies; was colored; was British; his religion was Brethren; was going to Canada for vacation; that he had visited the country before; that he first arrived in Canada via New York in 1914; and that his destination was Toronto.

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The trip ended in tragedy.

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There was no “British Guinea”; Murrain was likely from British Guiana, now Guyana, on the northeast Atlantic coast on South America. From “The Believers’ Magazine: For the Ministry of the Word and Tidings of the Work of the Lord,” John Ritchie, editor, volume 25, page 26 (February 1925).

Twenty years after George Murrain Jr. and Della Whitehead married, part of the family appeared on the “Manifest of In-Bound Passengers (Aliens)” arriving tourist class at the Port of New York, from Southampton, England, on the Queen Mary on 13 September 1948. The manifest shows Della Murrain, age 41, and her three children George, 11, Fitzgerald, 9, and Kenneth, 16. Della, George and Fitzgerald were United States citizens; Kenneth was British. The younger boys were born in West Africa.

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Another manifest dated 18 months later shows British citizen George Richard Murrain, age 47, of Route 4, Box 35, Wilson, North Carolina, arriving first class at the Port of New York on the Washington on 24 January 1950. The ship had left Southampton, England, a week earlier.

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George Richard Murrain died 31 August 1982 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 June 1902 in Silva Porto [now Kuito], Angola, West Africa, to George Richard Murrain and Elizabeth Burnette Murrain; was married; was a retired carpenter; and resided at 105 Tacoma Street. Della Whitehead Murrain was informant.

New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957; U.K. Incoming Passenger Lists, 1878-1960; U.K. Outward Passenger Lists, 1890-1960 [databases on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.