Wilson County

Fisher suggests a labor camp.

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Wilson Daily Times, 6 October 1942.

In the fall of 1942, farmers complained that, rather than spending their final weeks toiling to harvest crops, men waiting to be called up for military service were taking “vacations” and carousing instead. Edwin D. Fisher, ex-confirmed cabin steward, U.S. Navy, took pen in hand to suggest a solution. He was willing to join one hundred others to purchase ten acres of land in Wilson County for the establishment of a “federal migratory labor camp.” Fisher had been assured by his neighbor, “Nurse Raison,” that migrant workers were harvest specialists who did not seek “recreation or jaunts into surrounding towns,” being satisfied with the entertainment provided in the camp. Moreover, “sweat worn men, women and youth rest in their cots at night” in such camps. Fisher had seen it with his own eyes.

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In the 1910 census of New Haven, Connecticut: at 30 Hazel Street, hardware merchant Edwin W. Fisher, 37; wife Daisy, 32; and children Edwin D., 16, Eugene L., 13, Clarence R., 10, Anna V., 6, Milton W., 3, and Susie A., 1.

Edwin Dortche Fisher registered for the World War I draft in New Haven, Connecticut. Per his registration card, he was born 1 February 1894 in Essex, Connecticut; resided at 26 Charles Street, New Haven; was a student and club car waiter; worked for the N.Y.N.H. & H. R.R., New York; and had a “weak back from injury.”

In the 1920 census of Westport, Fairfield County, Connecticut: William Dorsey, 64, master mason; son-in-law Edwin Fisher, 26, steward on [illegible]; daughter Edith Fisher, 26; and their daughter Mary, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: banker Judge D. Reid, 52, public school principal Elnora Reid, 50, sons Fredrick, 17, and Herbert, 14, and lodger Edwin D. Fisher, 36, a studio photographer. The house was owned free of mortgage and valued at $6000.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Vick, widow Letitia Lovett, 62, born Georgia, dressmaker, and roomer Edwin D. Fisher, 46, “World War veteran.”

On 2 February 1941, Edwin D. Fisher, 47, son of Edwin W. Fisher and Nannie D. Fisher, married Letitia H. Lovett, 57, daughter of Frank and Sarah Jones, at Lovett’s residence. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Milton W. Fisher, Mrs. Almira Fisher, Mrs. Rosa B. McCuller, and Mrs. Eva L. Brown.

Letitia Lovette Fisher died 1 November 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 January 1876 in Georgia to Franklin Jones and an unknown mother; lived at 301 North Vick; was married Edwin Dortch Fisher; and was a seamstress and teacher.

Edwin Dortche Fisher died 15 November 1973 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 February 1893; lived at 301 North Vick Street; was a widower; and worked in photography. Harry J. Faison was informant.

Lona Edwards Alston Dunston, centenarian.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 2001.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 November 2002.

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In the 1910 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farm laborer Stephen Edwards, 31; wife Charity, 29; and children Lonnie, 9, John H., 7, Charity, 4, William, 2, and Mary, 7 months.

On 14 January 1917, Thomas Alston, 22, of Greene County, son of Thomas and Peggy Alston, married Lonie Edwards, 18, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Steve and Charity Edwards, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Rev. W.J. Fox of “A.M.E. Zion connection,” performed the ceremony.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: widow Lonie Alston, 40, farmer, and children Napoleon, 23, Willie Marie, 20, Thomas Lee, 17, J.C., 15, Stephen, 12, Jesse, 9, Mattie, 7, Lonnie, 5, and Lillian, 3.

In 1940, Napoleon Alston registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 August 1918 in Greene County; he lived in Stantonsburg; his contact was his mother Lonie Alston; and he was self-employed.

In 1944, J.C. Alston registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 October 1926 in Wilson County; his contact was his mother Lonie Alston; and he worked for John Lane, Stantonsburg, as a farmer.

Lona Edwards Alston Dunston died 1 October 2003, just weeks before her 103rd birthday.

Lane Street Project: LiDAR imagery.

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LiDAR, or Light Detection and Ranging, is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure variable distances to the Earth. These light pulses, combined with other data,  generate precise, three-dimensional information about the shape of the Earth and its surface characteristics.

The LiDAR image above reveals the surface characteristics of the ground comprising Vick, Odd Fellows, and Rountree cemeteries.

Vick cemetery is a dispiriting flat, featureless plan — not entirely unexpected given the city’s contracted leveling and grading of the site.

Odd Fellows’ surface is lightly stippled, with a short, artificially straight “scar” near its lower left corner that appears to correspond to the mysterious trapezoid revealed in old aerial photos. The image also captures the berm along the edge of Sandy Creek, which was channeled for reasons that are not apparent given its relative lack of importance as a tributary of Hominy Swamp.

Sandy Creek is the eastern border of Rountree Cemetery, and the unnaturally straight bed of the creek makes its manipulation plain. Rountree Missionary Baptist Church’s 1906 deed to the property refers to this waterway as a “canal.”

The image reveals other interesting landscape features, including the jagged path of an old watercourse, or perhaps a drainage ditch, just below Vick cemetery (now shielded by a line of deciduous trees) and two undulating parallel terraces east of Sandy Creek.

Again, many thanks to Will Corbett, GIS Coordinator, Wilson County Technology Services Department.

Brooks School.

The seventh in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Brooks School

Brooks School dates prior to 1881, making it the earliest documented rural African-American school in Wilson County. Brooks was not a Rosenwald school. It was consolidated with other small schools in 1951, and its students then attended Speight High School.

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Wilson Advance, 11 February 1881.

Dr. Alexander G. Brooks had been a wealthy slaveowner and may have donated the land upon which the school was built.

Location: Per a 1936 state road map of Wilson County, the approximate location was just east of Black Creek on present-day Woodbridge Road, in the vicinity of Bunches Church.

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Brooks School was a one-room school seated on one acre.

A February 1951 report on Wilson County schools found: “The Brooks Colored … building is in ‘fair condition’ and has only two teachers for seven grades ….” Wilson Daily Times, 16 February 1951.

Known faculty: Principal Alice B. Mitchell; teacher Nora Allen Mitchell Jones.

She swallowed a button.

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“No physician in attendance Died Suddenly All I can find out was that the child swalord a buton on Sowtha So the child told the Parnes.”

Seven year-old Rosa Lee Whitaker choked to death after swallowing a tufting button.

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In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Whitterker, 38; wife Mary, 27; and daughters Ethel, 7, Rosa, 3, and Annie, 20 months.

We had farm labor as a natural resource back then.

The collection in Wilson County Public Library’s Local History Room includes the transcript of a 1986 interview with Clifton Tomlinson, a farmer who had grown up in the Black Creek-Lucama area.

These pages include recollections of the some of the African-Americans who had been his family’s tenants and neighbors.

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  • Sidney and Milbry Ramseur

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Sidney Johnson [sic], 56, and wife Millie, __, both laborers working out.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Black Creek and Lucama Road, farmer Sidney R. Ramseur, 69, and wife Milly, 60.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer Sidney Ramsoo, 73, and wife Millie, 70.

Sidney Ramseur died 30 October 1941 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 90 years old; was born in Wilson County; lived on Viola Street; and was the widower of Milbry Ramseur. Informant was J. Clifton Tomlinson, Black Creek.

  • John and Robert Clay

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John Clay, 45; wife Elizabeth, 46; and children Maggie, 21, Charlie, 20, Joseph, 17, Pearle, 15, Levi, 13, Johnnie, 10, Esrayson, 8, Bettie, 7, and Earl, 2; plus nephew Sam, 15, and widowed mother Mariah, 84.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Clay, 24; wife Mary, 23; son James, 7 months; and sister-in-law Hattie Artis, 12.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer John H. Clay, 54, wife Elizabeth, 54, and children Lary, 24, Bettie, 16, and Early, 12; next door, farmer Robert Clay, 33, wife Mary, 32, and children James, 10, Ollie,  6, and Lottie, 3; and next door to them Joseph Clay, 28, wife Essa, 22, and children Ethel, 2, and Joseph, 9 months.

  • John Edward Artis

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Wilson Road, John Ed Artis, 31, tenant farmer; wife Maggie, 32; and children Jessie, 9, Rosa, 7, Henry, 5, Claud, 2, Lyra, 2, and Ella, 6 months.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: John E. Artis, 41, farmer, widower, and children Jesse, 19, Rosa, 18, Henry, 15, Claud, 13, Larry, 12, Mary, 10, Eddie, 8, Mamie, 6, Carry L., 4, and Maggie, 2.

  • Ruthie and Anderson Hunter

Anderson Hunter, 45, of Toisnot township, applied for a license to marry Lula Farmer, 23, of Toisnot township, on 7 May 1901.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 50; wife Lula, 33; and children Chanie, 18, Sam, 16, Emma, 15, Robert, 11, Annie, 6, and Clyde, 2.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Anderson Hunter, 62; wife Lula, 39; and children Emma, 25, Robert, 21, Annie, 15, Clyde, 11, and Hazel, 4.

In the 1930 census of Town of Sharpsburg, Edgecombe County: cotton and tobacco farmer Anderson Hunter, 71; wife Lula, 47; and children Clyde, 22, Hazel, 14, and James C., 9.

I have not found record of Ruthie Hunter.

Pender School.

The sixth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.

Pender School

Pender School was originally built to educate white children. After school consolidation 1917-1924, the building was turned over for use by black children. Pender was not a Rosenwald school. After 1939, students in Pender district attended Frederick Douglass High School in Elm City.

Location: Per Deed Book 443, page 237, on 17 October 1951, the Board of Education of Wilson County sold the Board of Trustees of the Elm City Graded Schools several parcels: “Lot No. 3: BEGINS at a lightwood stake, in the Bain Edwards line near a small Branch; thence South with said line to a stake 70 yards, cornering; thence East 35 yards to a stake, cornering; thence North 70 yards to a stake, cornering; thence West 35 yards to the beginning, containing 1/2 acre; and being the identical property conveyed to the School Committee of Gardners Township and their successors in office by deed from Edwin Pender, et al., dated April 2, 1877 and duly recorded in Book 19, at page 496 Wilson County Registry; and being known as Pender’s Colored School lot.”

Per a 1936 state road map of Wilson County, the approximate location was on what is now Rosebud Church Road opposite its intersection with Redmon Road. An 8 September 2001 Daily Times article about Rosenwald schools quotes a former student as saying the Pender school building was still standing, but it has since been demolished.

Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Pender School was a one-room school seated on one acre.

Known faculty: none.