Odd jobs, no. 2.

The occupation and industry columns in federal population schedules sometimes yield unusual results, even in an era in which most African-Americans in Wilson worked as farm laborers, tobacco factory hands, or domestic workers.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, 48 year-old Deal Tillman gave his occupation as: 

Tillman spent much of his life in Randolph County and only lived a few years in Wilson.

In the 1910 census of Trinity township, Randolph County, N.C.: Sandy T. Tillman, 75; wife Tempa, 78; daughter Adaline, 50; granddaughter Ella, 24; great-grandchildren Roy, 6, and Mary, 2; and grandson Dealie, 20, farm laborer.

In 1917, Dealie Tillman registered for the World War II draft in Randolph County, N.C. Per his registration card, he was born 12 July 1892 in Trinity, N.C.; resided in Trinity; worked as “keeper of kennel” for Dr. P.P. Satterwhite, Trinity; had a wife and two children; and “claims right leg stiff from fracture; thumb on left hand disabled.” [Dr. Preston P. Satterwhite was a Kentucky-born retired surgeon and art collector with homes in Palm Beach and New York City. His marriage to Florence Brokaw Martin, widow of a Standard Oil executive (and herself an heiress) allowed him to retire from the practice of medicine early. I have found no record of Satterwhite’s maintenance of a residence (or kennels) in North Carolina, but, per the Asheboro Courier, Florence Satterwhite’s brother, socialite W. Gould Brokaw, owned an estate with a kennel, called Fairview, near Trinity The kennel was just one of many in the county catering to well-heeled Northerners game for hunting.]

Asheboro Courier, 7 January 1915.

In the 1920 census of Trinity township, Randolph County: Deal Tillman, 28, manager of dog kennels; wife Effie, 25; and children Albert, 7, Ruth, 5, and Mary, 2.

In the 1930 census of Blue Springs township, Hoke County, N.C.: Deal Tilman, 41, dog trainer at kennels; wife Julia, 39; daughters Alberta, 17, and Ruth, 15; and others.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 314 New Bern Street, rented at $10/month, Deal Tillman, 49, dog trainer in private practice; wife Julia B., 48, cook at training school; and grandchildren John, 13, and Bertha Smith, 11.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Tillman, Deal (c; Julia; 2) porter h 204 Powell

Deal Tilghman died 29 December 1941 at his home at 204 Powell Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 July 1892 in High Point, N.C.; was married to Julia Tilghman; and worked as a laborer. He was buried in Rest Haven cemetery.

Julia Tilman died 19 December 1945 in Raeford, Hoke County, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1891 in Red Springs, N.C. to Archa and Nerva Melvin; was the widow of Deal Tilman; and was a teacher. Bertha Smith, Raeford, was informant.

Where we worked, 1922 — S.

City directories offer fine-grained looks at a city’s residents at short intervals. The 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., directory reveals the types of work available to African-Americans during the booming tobacco era. This post is the fourteenth in an alphabetical series listing all “colored” directory entries for whom an occupation was listed. The address is the resident’s home, unless a business address is noted.

  • Sams, Hattie, tobacco worker, 907 Mercer
  • Sams, Lucinda, tobacco worker, 907 Mercer
  • Sanctious, John, laborer, 210 Finch
  • Sanders, Branch, laborer, 916 Washington Av
  • Sanders, Daniel, laborer, 916 Washington Av
  • Sanders, Luther, porter, Gilmer’s Inc, 307 Pender
  • Sanders, Mark, porter, The Mayflower, 916 Washington Av
  • Sanders, Maryland, domestic, 127 Narroway
  • Sanders, Richard, laborer, 916 Washington Av
  • Saunders, Ashley, laborer, 211 Finch
  • Saunders, Cora, cook, 206 Sunshine Alley
  • Saunders, Lena, laundress, 211 Finch
  • Savage, Anna, cook, 400 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Scarboro, James, painter, 913 E Vance
  • Scott, John, farmer, 1110 Woodard Av
  • Selby, James, tobacco workers, 311 Hackney
  • Sellers, James, bricklayer, 700 E Vance
  • Sellers, William, carpenter, 700 E Vance
  • Shadd, Sue, cook, 300 Broad
  • Shade, Isaiah [Isaac] A., proprietor Shade’s Pharmacy, 524 E Nash
  • Shade’s Pharmacy, 525 E Nash, I.A. Shade, proprietor
  • Sharp, Katie, laundress, 916 Robinson [Roberson]
  • Sharp, Minnie, domestic, 716 E Green
  • Sharp, Wiley, tobacco worker, 716 E Green
  • Shaw, Ella, teacher, 308 Hackney
  • Shoulder, Burrell, ice puller, 295 W Gold
  • Simmons, Olivia, cook, 513 Railroad
  • Simmons, Rosa, tobacco worker, 513 Railroad
  • Simms, Alonzo, laborer, 509 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Simms, Mack, laborer, 1004 Robinson [Roberson]
  • Simms, Mary, tobacco worker, 509 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Simms, William, laborer, 1105 E Nash
  • Simms, Zelpha, laundress, 1007 Robinson [Roberson]
  • Simon, Jack, laborer, 406 N Pine
  • Simpson, Fannie, cook, 603 E Nash
  • Sims, Carey, freight hand, 408 E Walnut
  • Sims, Frances, tobacco worker, 106 Manchester
  • Sims, George, laborer, 200 Manchester
  • Sims, Wiley, laborer, 507 S Mercer
  • Singletary, Mary, cook,  605 W Nash
  • Singletary, Samuel, tobacco worker, 510 Church
  • Singletary, Walter, porter, 605 W Nash
  • Small, James, barber W.S. Hines, 307 Elba
  • Smith, Adeline, laundress, 1008 Woodard Av
  • Smith, Alice, domestic, rear 408 Whitley
  • Smith, Andrew, laborer, 613 Wiggins
  • Smith, Annie, domestic, 209 Manchester
  • Smith, Augustus, fireman, 605 Darden Alley
  • Smith, Benjamin, tobacco worker, 525 Smith
  • Smith, Caroline, domestic, 914 Robinson [Roberson]
  • Smith, Delia, tobacco worker, 504 E Walnut
  • Smith, Della, domestic, 408 S Bruton
  • Smith, Edward, laborer, 408 N Pine
  • Smith, Ella, laundress, 313 Pender
  • Smith, Ethel, domestic, 502 Grace
  • Smith, Kate, domestic, 808 Mercer
  • Smith, Lena, tobacco worker, 613 Wiggins
  • Smith, Lonnie, tobacco worker, 413 S Goldsboro
  • Smith, Lucy, tobacco worker, 203 S Railroad
  • Smith, Mack, laborer, 521 S Lodge
  • Smith, Mamie, tobacco worker, 910 E Nash
  • Smith, Mary, cook, 311 S Goldsboro
  • Smith, Mary, domestic, 110 Ashe
  • Smith, Mary J., laundress, 410 E Hines
  • Smith, Millard, carpenter, 504 E Walnut
  • Smith, Mittie, domestic, 507 Hadly
  • Smith, N.B., Rev., pastor Seventh Day Adventist Church 532 E Nash
  • Smith, Nancy, cook, 217 Broad
  • Smith, Owen L.W., Rev., 200 Pender
  • Smith, Sandy, bricklayer, 417 S Goldsboro 
  • Solomon, Julian, presser, 111 N Pettigrew
  • Sowers, William, porter, 217 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Speight, Junius, laborer, 511 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Speight, Rebecca, domestic, 700 E Green
  • Spell, John S., carpenter, 204 Pender
  • Spells, Nancy, cook, 508 S Lodge
  • Spicer, Lila, domestic, 809 E Nash
  • Spikes, Edgar, factory hand, 213 E Spruce
  • Staffet, John, tobacco worker, 811 Robertson [Roberson]
  • Stallion, Georgia, cook, 518 Banks
  • Stanback, H.S., cashier, The Commercial Bank of Wilson, 600 E Green
  • Stantonsburg Street Public School, Stantonsburg Rd, E.J. Hayes principal
  • Staton, Ida, domestic, 702 Suggs
  • Staton, Josie, tobacco worker, 812 Robinson [Roberson]
  • Staton, Mollie, laundress, 703 Suggs
  • Steadman, Elvina, domestic, 212 S Vick
  • Steadman, John J., tobacco worker, 212 S Vick
  • Steadman, Necie, laundress, 212 S Vick
  • Stephens, James, factory hand, 510 S Goldsboro
  • Strickland, Jesse, proprietor Strickland Cafe, 504 S Lodge
  • Strong, Lyman D., barber, 505 Viola
  • Studaway, Wyatt, grocer 112 1/2 Manchester, 112 Manchester
  • Suggs, Alexander, laborer, 409 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Surles, Rosa, laundress, 211 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Sutton, George, student, 304 E Walnut
  • Sutton, James, laborer, 805 Stantonsburg Rd
  • Sutton, May, tobacco worker, 304 E Walnut

Odd jobs, no. 1.

The occupation and industry columns in federal population schedules sometimes yield unusual results, even in an era in which most African-Americans in Wilson worked as farm laborers, tobacco factory hands, or domestic workers.

In the 1930 census, 22 year-old Alfonso Ward gave his occupation as:

I have not been able to find any additional information on Ward’s career as a roadshow comedian, though he likely played chitlin’ circuit venues.


In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 122 East Street, laborer John Ward, 28; wife Addie, 27; and children Alfonsa, 13, Edgar, 8, Oritta, 5, Thelma, 2 months, and Jos[illegible], 3. 

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 112 East Street, rented at $12/month, widow Addie Ward, 37, and children Alfonso, 22, Edgear, 17, Othena, 16, Jasper, 14, and Thelma, 10. 

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Alfonso (c) hlpr r 112 East

In 1940, Alfonso Ward registered for the World War II draft in Kings County, New York. Per his draft card, he was born 1 May 1908 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 3040 B 7th Street, [Brooklyn], Kings County; his contact was friend Flossie Barrington, 614 Ocean View Avenue; and he worked for Louis Super, 419 B[righton] B[each] Avenue, Kings County. Ward’s address was amended to 413 Bri[ghton] Beach Ave. on 15 February 1943. [Per his signature, Ward spelled his first name “Alfonza.”]

O.N. Freeman’s handiwork.

O. Nestus Freeman‘s stonework was not limited to houses. Below, a mailbox stand he created for his good friend John W. Woodard, who lived west of Wilson on Tartts Mill Road.

The handcarved inscription reads
: J.W. Woodard, R.F.D. No 4, Box 33, Wilson N.C. Nov. 12, 1935

Photo courtesy of J.W. Woodard’s grandson Daryl M. Woodard. Thank you!

She Changed the World: Ruth Whitehead Whaley.

Last week, Wayne County Public Library presented Part II of “Well-Behaved Women Rarely Make History,” Wayne County’s contribution to She Changed the World: North Carolina Woman Breaking Barriers, an initiative by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to celebrate the achievements of North Carolina women and explore the diversity of their experiences and impact on our history. Part II focuses on Goldsboro native Ruth Whitehead Whaley, the first African-American woman admitted to the North Carolina bar.

My thanks to Local History librarians Marty Tschetter and Paul Saylors for inviting me to contribute remarks on the influence Ms. Whaley has had on my mission in Black Wide-Awake and the importance of stories like hers.

Goldsboro News-Argus, 30 May 1932.

[Sidenote: Judge Frank A. Daniels was the older brother of Josephus Daniels, newspaper editor and racist demagogue. Both grew up in Wilson.]

County teachers retire.

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Wilson Daily Times, 27 June 1962.

In the 1900 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farmer Dennis Tabron, 51; wife Harrett, 49; and children Cephus, 18, Theodorie, 16, Anna D., 13, and Arena H., 7.

In the 1910 census of Ferrells township, Nash County: farmer Dennis T. Tabron, 66; wife Harret, 50; and daughters Anna D., 18, and Irena, 15.

Barney Reid, 27, of Wilson, son of Jessie and Sallie Reid, married Elnora Taborn, 21, of Nash County, daughter of Denis and Harrit Tayborn, on 28 May 1912 in Wilson.

Barney Reid registered for the World War I draft in 1918 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 13 April 1885; lived at 300 Vick Street, Wilson; worked as a mechanic for Boyd-Robertson Construction in Newport News, Virginia; and was married to Anna D. Reid.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 300 Vick Street, building carpenter Barney Reid, 43; wife Anna, 39; children Earl, 4, Piccola, 13, and Fitzhugh, 9; and in-laws Harriot, 69, and John Tayborn, 80.

Anna Dora Reid Hall died 20 April 1969 in Kinston, Lenoir County.

  • Cora Sherrod Barnes

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Jack Sherard, 56; wife Cassy; and children Ida, 27, Benjamin, 25, Dalas, 20, Exum, 16, Arthur, 15, and Cora, 11.

Columbus Ward, 26, of Greene County, son of Pearson and Cherry Ward, married Cora Sherrod, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Jack Sherrod, on 17 April 1907 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Cassie Sherrod, 75; grandchildren Zenobia, 25, Doris, 7, and Jeraldine, 6; and daughter Cora Powell, 30, public school teacher, divorced.

John M. Barnes died 27 April 1958 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1870 in Wayne County to Charles and Rebecca Pope Barnes; lived at 500 East Green; worked as a brickmason; was married to Cora Sherrod Barnes [daughter of Jack and Cassie Sherrod]; and was buried at Rest Haven. Thelma Byers was informant.

Cora Sherrod Barnes died 12 June 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 13 December 1888 to Jack and Cassie Sherrod; was a widow; and was a retired teacher. Ralph Sherrod was informant.

Employees of Wainwright Foundry.

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On 18 May 1985, the Wilson Daily Times printed this remarkable photograph with the caption: “The employees of Wainwright Foundry, located on the north side of Pine Street between Broad and Kenan streets, posed for this photograph in 1894. From left are Jack Williamson, Frank Perry, George Rowland, Ad Holland, proprietor George H. Wainwright, William D. Thomas, Parker Battle and Smith Bennett. (Photo contributed by Hugh B. Johnston, restoration by Claude Anthony.”

Hat tip to Jim Skinner.


Twelve of the fifteen dressmakers listed in the 1922 Wilson city directory were African-American women.

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Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1922).

  • Lucy Alston — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Walnut Street, hospital janitor Zick Artis, 26, and wife Belle, 30; and, renting from them, tobacco factory worker Lucy Alston, 33, and children Luvenia, 9, Eluse, 7, and Lucille, 6.
  • Mabel E. Anderson — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Vick Street, painter William Brown, 29; wife Eva, 28, dressmaker; brother-in-law Walter Anderson, 23, plasterer; sister-in-law Mable, 21, dressmaker; and sister-in-law Alma Purcell, 20, all born in South Carolina.
  • Sarah L. Bowser — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Best [Burt] Bowser, 48, pool room conductor; wife Sarah, 40, seamstress; sons Russell, 19, Astor B., 13, and Thomas F., 11; sister-in-law Rosa Rountree, 21, public school teacher; brother-in-law James Rountree, 14, milliner store servant; and mother Lucinda Bowser, 60, widow.
  • Eva L. Brown — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Vick Street, painter William Brown, 29; wife Eva, 28, dressmaker; brother-in-law Walter Anderson, 23, plasterer; sister-in-law Mable, 21, dressmaker; and sister-in-law Alma Purcell, 20, all born in South Carolina.
  • Stattie Cannon — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charles Cannon, 35, barber in a “white shop”; wife Statie, 34; and children Charles, 11, Ruth, 9, and Statie Benton, 13.
  • Lethia Clark — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Sarah Clark, 40, school teacher, and daughters Catherine, 22, Letha, 19, and Bettie, 17; granddaughter Ruth Jenkins, 8; and servant  Mary James, 26.
  • Sattena Gaston — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 120 Manchester Street, seamstress Sattena Gaston, 41, and sons Johnnie, 16, and Lorenzo, 13.
  • Jane Hooks
  • Letitia Lovitt — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 415 Stantonsburg Street, Almus Lovett, 42, shop blacksmith, and wife Letitia, 43, seamstress. Both were Georgia natives.
  • Eva Mitchell — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 549 Nash Street, widow Annie Mitchell, 71,  children Sallie, 46, Eddie, 44, Albert, 42, Eva, 36, and Floyd, 34, niece Severana, 18, and nephew Lester, 16.
  • Ruby I. Purcell — on 27 September 1922, John A. Shade, 22, son of I.A. and Estella Shade, married Ruby Percell, 20, daughter of H.H. and Ida M. Percell, in Wilson. W.H. Phillips applied for the license, and Presbyterian minister A.H. George performed the ceremony in the presence of Phillips, Henry N. Cherry and Will Farmer.
  • Ada Winstead — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Braswell Winstead, 60, wife Ada E., and daughter Ethel L., 13, at 300 Pender Street.

Doctors in the house.

Again, for a town whose population did not hit 10,000 until 1920 (of which only half were black), Wilson produced an astounding number of African-American physicians in the last decades of the nineteenth century and first few of the twentieth century. To the ranks of Drs. Joseph Henry WardCharles Hudson Bynum, William Henry BryantJohn Wesley Darden, James Thomas Suggs, Walter Theodore Darden, James Alexander Battle, James Arthur Cotton, John Clemon Williamson and Rolland Tyson Winstead, add four grandsons of Della Hines Barnes — Drs. Boisey O. Barnes, William C. Hines, Walter D. Hines and Clifton R. Hines.

African-American physicians who practiced in Wilson prior to World War II, but were born elsewhere, included: George W. Williams, Frank Settle HargraveWilliam Arthur Mitchner, Michael Edmund Dubissette, William H. Atkinson Jr., Thomas Clinton Tinsley, Matthew Stanley Gilliam Sr., and Joseph Franklin Cowan.

Native-born dentists from this period, none of whom practiced in Wilson, included Paul L. Jackson, Christopher L. Taylor and James D. Reid, while William H. Phillips, Lee C. Jones and George K. Butterfield Sr. settled in the community from elsewhere.

Simms’ Blue Book and National Negro Business & Professional Directory (1923).