Violence

A pardon.

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Wilson Advance, 5 May 1882.

  • Simon Dildy
  • Charles Gay — in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Gay, 35, wife Emma, 25, children Charles, 5, and Mary, 1, and two farm laborers Rich’d Harper, 20, and Haywood Watson, 17. Though the article above states that Gay was murdered in 1875, Emma Gay was appointed administratrix of his estate in early 1874. Gay had been a shopkeeper, and his wife took over his “old stand.”

“Times were hard and a poor nigger had to live”: the death of George Taylor.

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Wilson Times, 7 May 1918.

In a nutshell (with some augmented facts): policeman Leon M. Cooper arrested George Taylor on suspicion of theft of a chicken from Morris Barker. Taylor asked for leniency. As they walked toward the police station, Taylor “broke and ran,” and Cooper fired several shots in his direction “to scare him.” Taylor was struck and killed. After an inquest, a coroner’s jury exonerated Cooper. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme.

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  • George Taylor — in the 1880 census of Saulston township, Wayne County: farmer Jordan Taylor, 34; wife Winnfred, 43; and children Diana Taylor, 15, Nellie Langston, 14, and Robert, 12, Eliza, 11, George, 10, Rufus, 8, Mary, 9, and Jordan Taylor, 6. On 9 February 1892, George Taylor, 21, of the Town of Wilson, son of Jordan and Winnie Taylor, married Kate Lane, 20, of the Town of Wilson, daughter of Charity Lane. Baptist minister Crocket Best performed the ceremony in the presence of Mary Best, W.A. Rogers, and Vinae Araton(?). In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer George Taylor, 30; wife Catherine, 29; and daughter Nancy, 6, were listed in the household of widow Ellen M. Clark, 40. George and Catherine were servants. On 19 December 1906, George Taylor, 35, of Wilson, son of Jordan and Winnie Taylor, married Maggie Batchelor, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Peter Batchelor. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony at Jordan Taylor’s house in the presence of Leiston Pitt, Henry Stewart, Jordan Taylor and Willie Mitchell. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wagon factory laborer George Taylor, 38; wife Marguerett, 32; and daughter Nancy, 16, a private cook. Per his death certificate, George Taylor died 4 May 1918, “shot by police & killed while under arrest.” He was about 44 years old; was born in Wilson County to Jordan Taylor and Winnie (last name unknown); and worked as a carpenter.
  • Officer Cooper — in the 1920 Wilson city directory: Cooper Leon M police h 410 N Tarboro
  • Morris Barker — in the 1920 Wilson city directory, Barker was listed as proprietor of a department store at 113-115 South Tarboro. (Lithuania-born Barker lived on Maplewood Avenue and was part of Wilson’s tiny Jewish community.)
  • Kenan and Tarboro Streets

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(A) C. Culpepper & Son, (B) Morris Barker’s 5 & 10-cent store. Kenan Street is just beyond the left edge of this section of the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson.

  • Mr. Culpepper’s shop — in the 1920 Wilson city directory: Cicero Culpepper & Son is listed as a horseshoer and Wheelwright at 222-224 South Tarboro.

He is a Wilson negro and a bad one at that.

One hundred years ago today:

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The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 March 1919.

  • Kit Shaw
  • Luther Barbour — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 East Nash, John Barber, 27; wife Ethel, 26; mother Sallie, 59, teacher; and brother Luther, 32. Luther is described as single.

Suffer the little children: death by violence.

Well into the twentieth century, children faced harrowing odds against reaching adulthood. Disease, accidents, and violence bore them away with stunning regularity. In the 1910s, 17% of American children died before age 5, a figure that was higher for Southern and African-American children.

Few Wilson County children who died in that era were buried in marked graves. In town, original burials were in Oaklawn or the Masonic cemetery. The Oaklawn graves were exhumed and moved to Rest Haven in the 1940s, and headstones, if they ever existed, have been lost over time. By allowing us to call their names again, this series of posts memorializes the lives of children who died in the first twenty years in which Wilson County maintained death records. May they rest in peace.

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Though it appears that there was relatively little intentional homicide, death by gunshot was a dispiritingly common occurrence:

  • On 16 March 1910, Mary Lillie Loyd, 10, of Wilson, daughter of Bettie Loyd, died “from gunshot wound, accidentally fired.”
  • On 23 October 1911, Ida L. Speights, 7, of Wilson, daughter of J.C and Rebecca Robinson Speight, died of a “gun shot accidentally by Fred Davis carelessly handling gun among children.” (In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, Jake Speights, 45, laborer; wife Rebecca, 30; and children Eva, 14, Lennie, 12, Joseph, 10, Ida, 5, Bessie, 3, and Addie, 1.)

Wilson Daily Times, 27 October 1911.

  • On 28 January 1913, Floyd Anderson, 6, of Toisnot township, son of Charlie Anderson, “was accidentally shot by his brother a boy 8 years old.” (In the 1910 census of Rocky Mount, Township #12, Edgecombe County: Charlie Anderson, 24, and wife Viola, 20, both farm laborers, and sons Thomas, 4, and Floyd, 3.)
  • On 24 March 1914, James Scott Johnson, 8, of Elm City, son of James and Lola Batten [Battle] Johnson, died of an “accidental gunshot wound, self-inflicted.” (In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: James Johnson, 35, drayman for wholesale grocery; wife Lola, 34, washerwoman; and children Laurenzell, 6, and James S., 4.)
  • On 5 July 1914, Clinton Sylvester Ayers, 6, of Wilson, son of William and Zilfie Dew Ayers, died of a “gunshot wound, accidental.” A second death certificate, for Sylvester Ayers, 6, of Spring Hill, gives the cause of death as “gunshot wound in knee, death from shock after operation, accident.” (In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Red Hill Road, William T. Ayres, 54; wife Zilphia, 45; and children David J., 15, Lillie, 11, Albert, 9, Walter, 7, Solomon, 4, and Clinton S., 1.)
  • On 2 January 1917, Minnie Barnhill, 11, of Wilson, daughter of Marcellus and Mary Barnhill, died from a “rifle bullet through brain by another person, accidental.”
  • On 31 January 1917, Eugenia Abram, 11, of Toisnot township, daughter of Tom and Sallie Bunn Abram, died from a “hemorrhage from gun shot wound (accidental).” (In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Tom Abram, 25, sawmill laborer; wife Sallie, 22; and daughters Genie, 4, Mary, 2, and Savannah, 1.)
  • On 18 November 1918, Simon Moore, 13, of Saratoga township, son of Marcellus and Lissie Rountree Moore, was “accidentally killed by gunshot wound.” (In the 1910 census of Otter Creek township, Edgecombe County: Marcelas Moore, 26; wife Lissie, 24; and sons Simon, 4, and Henry, 2.)
  • On 22 July 1919, Lewis Henry Williams, 15, of Toisnot township, son of Czaar and Annie Williams, died of “accidental gun shot in abdomen.”
  • On 24 March 1920, Mary Brown, 16, of Wilson, daughter of Willie and Mary Brown, died of a “stab wound above left nipple, homicide.”
  • On 20 May 1920, David Jackson Moore, 4, of Wilson, son of Andrew Moore and Minnie Mercer Moore, died of “gunshot of head, accident.”
  • On 8 July 1921, Ira Owens, of Wilson, son of Mack and Mary Gardens Owens, died as a result of “punishment received while at work on county road.” [In other words, Owens was beaten or otherwise abused to death while serving on a road crew, a sentence imposed by a county court.]

Artis’ Cafe padlocked.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 February 1939.

  • June Scott Artis — A history of Stantonsburg gave the date of the cafe’s opening as 1947, which apparently was off by at least a decade. It remained in business into the 1960s.
  • Edgar Artis, June S. Artis’ son.
  • Walter Ward — The 6 February 1939 edition of the Wilson Daily Times reported that Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 15 to 18-year sentence.
  • H.B. Swenson — H.B. Swinson died 28 January 1939. Per his death certificate, he was “murdered, knife wound of breast”; was born 18 April 1913 in Greene County to Allen Swinson and Henrietta Applewhite of Greene County; lived i Stantonsburg; and worked in farming.

Old Ed.

Ed Dupree lived a colorful life.

On a Saturday night in February 1936, three white men — Offie Page, Floyd Page and Gwin Pullman — pulled up outside Dupree’s Railroad Street house, called him to the car and forced him in at gunpoint. Fighting off blows, Dupree dived through the rear window as the vehicle neared Stantonsburg Street. When the police caught up with the trio, they found a toy pistol and a pointing finger — Dupree, the men said, was the responsible for Pullman’s arrest for possession of five gallons of unlawful liquor.

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Wilson Daily Times, 4 February 1936.

Almost three years later, Dupree was in court facing his fifth bootlegging charge in the last twelve months. Nettie Williams testified that Dupree had offered to pay her to take responsibility for the half-gallon of liquor police had found at his house. Police testified that they discovered alcohol poured into a bucket and stashed in “trap doors” in the outhouse and about the house. Ed Dupree’s daughter Mary testified that Nettie had brought the liquor in and dumped it when the cops arrived. The recorder — essentially, a magistrate — was not persuaded. He sentenced Dupree to six months “on the roads,” i.e. on a chain gang, and resurrected a six-month suspended sentence on top of that.

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Wilson Daily Times, 17 January 1939.

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In the 1930 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: at 420 South Lodge Street, rented for $20/month, bottling plant laborer Egar [sic] Dupree, 55; wife Bettie, 31; children Wilder, 11, Esther, 9, Mary E., 7, and Edgar Jr., 5; and roomer Cornelia Hicks, 22.

Per the 1930 edition of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Edw. Dupree was employed by Barnes-Harrell Company, bottlers of Coca-Cola. W. Offie Page was a clerk at P.L. Woodard & Company, an agricultural supply company. The directory also lists Floyd S. Page, a salesman with Wilson Auto Sales, and Floyd T. Page, a switchman. (At least twice — in 1939 and 1943 — the Daily Times printed notices that recent references to arrests of “Floyd Page” did not refer to car salesman Floyd. I suspect that switchman Floyd was the party involved in the kidnapping of Ed Dupree.)