Miss Freeman, student of social work.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 17 February 1940.

Mary Frances Freeman Ellis (1914-1996) was the daughter of O. Nestus and Willie Mae Hendley Freeman.

Founded in 1920, the Atlanta School of Social Work merged with Atlanta University in 1947.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, Oliver N. Freeman, 38; wife Willie May, 31; and children Naomi, 8, Oliver N. Jr., 7, Mary F., 5, and Connie, 4.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1300 East Nash Street, valued at $6000, Oliver N. Freeman, 48, building contractor; wife Willie May, 41, born in Tennessee; and children Naomi, 18, Oliver N. Jr., 17, Mary F., 16, and Connie H., 14.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Nestus Freeman, 58; wife Willie, 51; and daughters Connie, 25, and Mary Frances, 24.

The Washingtons arrive from Goldsboro.

This Indenture made the twenty ninth day of December in the year one thousand eight hundred & sixty six (1866) between Richard H Blount of the county of Wilson & State of North Carolina of the first part & Jerry Washington of the Town of Goldsboro of the County of Wayne & State of North Carolina of the second part. Witnesseth that the said party of the first part for & in consideration of one hundred dollars $100 lawful money of the United States to himself paid before the delivery hereof, hath bargained, sold & by these presents doth grant & convey to the said party of the second part his heirs & assigns forever all of a certain piece or parcel of land lying & being in the county of Wilson & State of North Carolina which is known & described as follows to Wit beginning at the line of Arthur D Farmer in the County road to Goldsboro near the Town of Wilson & running with the line of said road seventy yards to a corner thence at a right angle from said corner directly back one hundred & forty yards to a corner thence again forming another right angle & running in a straight line with parallel with the aforesaid Goldsboro Road to the aforesaid Arthur D Farmers line Thence with street line back to the beginning forming a parallelogram in figure & containing by estimate ten acres, together with all the appurtenances & all the estate, title & interest of the said party of the first part therein, and the said party of the first part doth hereby covenant & agree with the said party of the second part that at the time of the delivery thereof, the said party the first parties ts the lawful owner of the premises above granted & seized thereof in fee simple absolute & that hw will warrant & defend the above granted premises in the quiet & peaceable possession of the said party of the second part his heirs & assigns forever. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal This 29th day of December one Thousand eight hundred & sixty six  R.H. Blount

Signed sealed & delivered in the presence of C. Lee Parker, Henry E. Benton

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Newly freed Jerry Washington and Jane Washington registered their four-year cohabitation in Wayne County in 1866. Just before the year ended, Jerry Washington bought ten acres of land just outside Wilson town limits and moved his family 25 miles north.

Six years later, Washington paid $1000 for another ten acres on the south side of town.

Deed book 2, page 238, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.

Margaret Caldwell and the Adventist school.

This entry appears in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory:

Who was Margaret Caldwell, and when did the Seventh Day Adventist Church begin operating a school?

The Seventh Day Adventists established a congregation in Wilson prior to 1920. The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows the church at an unnumbered address beside a house at 905 Atlantic Street. The school, presumably, occupied the same building.

In the 1930 city directory, Margaret E. Caldwell is listed as a teacher at the Seventh Day Adventist school, and her residence was at 1109 Atlantic (which was the home of Lehman and Nancy Woodard Barnes.) The church was listed at 907 Atlantic Avenue, with Napoleon Smith as pastor.

Caldwell did not remain long in Wilson. In August 1935, from Georgia, she contributed this article to the church’s Southern Tidings newsletter:

In its 8 December 1937 issue, Southern Tidings noted that Caldwell was heading a colored church school in Jacksonville, Florida.

Mount Hebron Seventh Day Adventist Church continues to operate a school at 700 South Pender Street. The Atlantic Street location is now home to Amazing Grace Church.

Photos courtesy of Google Maps.

915 East Vance Street.

The sixtieth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

This house is misnumbered 913 East Vance in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District:  “ca. 1930; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch.”  It is identical to 909 and 913. (Apparently, there was never a house at 911.)

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 915 East Vance was vacant.

Green Taylor is listed as the inhabitant of 915 East Vance Street in the 1941 city directory.

1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory.

Green Taylor died 2 April 1942 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was 57 years old; was born in Greene County to Green Shackleford and Mary Taylor; was married to Rebecca Taylor; worked as a common laborer; resided at 915 East Vance; and was buried in Bethel cemetery, Wilson County.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2018.

307 Elba Street.

The fifty-ninth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1908; 1 story; Jesse Holden house; L-plan cottage with turned porch posts and traces of decorative millwork along porch; Holden was a brick mason.”

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Robert Conner, 63, odd jobs laborer; wife Lillie, 40; and sons Joseph, 2, Sam, common laborer, and Jack, 22, odd jobs laborer.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 608 Elmo [sic] Street, a rented house, factory laborer Orier Harrison, 28; Vasti Robins, 19, and Net Robins, 21, barber, both lodgers; and Carron Harrison, 44, oil mill laborer, and his children Margaret, 8, and Clarence Harrison, 4.

1922 Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Holden Jesse bricklyr h 307 Elba

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Holden Jesse (Beatrice) lab h 307 Elba

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory 307 Elba was listed as vacant, and the 1930 census does not enumerate anyone at that address.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 Elba Street, brickmason Jesse Holden, 46; wife Beatrice, 46, household servant; and daughter Geraldine, 30, tobacco floor girl.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Brown Ellis (c; Margt) driver R E Quinn & Co h 307 Elba; Brown Ellis Jr (c) tob wkr h 307 Elba.

In 1942, Ellis Brown registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 12 May 1902 in Wilson County; resided at 307 North Elba Street; his contact was Jessie M. Cox, Viola Street; and he worked for R.E. Quinn Furniture Company, South Goldsboro Street.

 

On the agenda.

This 1925 Daily Times article detailed the business of a single February city aldermen’s meeting. First on the agenda, the Wilson Colored Hospital. The article listed the white members of the hospital’s board of trustees first, then noted its African-American members — S.H. Vick, J.D. Reid and “Permillus” [Camillus] Darden. After some discussion, the “the Board” decided to reinstate the city’s $75/month appropriation to the hospital, which had been discontinued the previous September.

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The trustees stated that the hospital was “a necessity among the colored people of the city, and that many of them would be without treatment but for the institution.” Alderman Daniel asked if the trustees had personal knowledge that “the affairs of the institution were properly administered.” Dr. C.A. Woodard responded that “no institution of this kind made any money, and that they understood the disadvantages under which those connected with it were laboring.” Hospital management agreed to file monthly reports to the city.  Trustee F.N. Bridgers invited the city to appoint a member to the board, and J.D. Reid noted that alderman Graham Woodard had been asked. Woodard acknowledged the invitation, but cited a busy schedule.

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Hospital business satisfactorily concluded, Vick broached another subject — street lights. Would “the city extend its Whiteway below the railroad to the Baptist church, at the corner of Nash and Pender Streets”? A lighted north side and dark south did not present a good look to voyagers passing through on trains. The aldermen referred the matter to the Water and Light Commission. The Business Men’s League and the J.C. Price Literary Society endorsed the project, Vick added. (Joseph C. Price “taught here fifty years ago and afterwards founded Livingstone College.”) Mayor Lucas raised another point: lighting would help the police do their job. One had been killed and another nearly so in “pistol duels in that section of the city.”

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Vick raised item number three — the colored cemetery. Would the city place an awning and also fix the roads so people could get in and out? Mr. Grantham of the cemetery commission responded defensively: “it was difficult to get the cemetery into a correct shape, and lay it out. The graves had been placed everywhere, and without regard to lines or streets.” Also, “there was some of the land that was worthless for the purpose, as it was a bottom. He spoke of land in the old cemetery which if the graves were removed would be worth considerable money.” Anyway, he agreed to “go over the property and work out some plan to get it in shape.”

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No further colored business.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 February 1925.

  • Why had the city discontinued its $75/month allocation in the first place?
  • What did the J.C. Price Literary Society do? When was it founded? Who were its members?
  • When did streetlights finally cross the tracks?
  • For what purpose was an awning needed in the cemetery?
  • “Fix the roads“? What roads led to the cemetery?
  • Were there still burials in Oakdale as late as 1925? Was the question more of access to existing graves than for new ones?

 

An appeal.

I seldom post from a first-person perspective, but beg your indulgence again here. I’m still a little giddy from my talks in Wilson and Goldsboro last week. The turnout and the response of both audiences validated the time and energy I devote to my blogs Black Wide-Awake, Fourth Generation Inclusive, and Scuffalong and renewed my dedication to telling our stories. In Wilson, I received an additional boon by tapping into the collective intelligence of the crowd for some answers to my long-standing questions about the locations of New Grabneck and Oakdale cemetery. To my astonishment, a number of people recalled walking through the abandoned graveyard on their way to the Graded School and thereby opened up a whole new field of inquiry for me. So, I have a favor to ask. If you read this blog regularly — and many of you said you do — please comment on it, or ask questions, or send me tips and pointers, or share your photos and other artifacts of pre-World War II black Wilson County. By crowdsourcing, I hope to tap caches I wouldn’t otherwise have access to and share them with all who share my deep love of local history and belief in the importance of its documentation.

Thanks, as always, for your unflagging support, and stay tuned!

Jack Williamson, blacksmith.

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Wilson Advance, 26 March 1880.

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Wilson Advance, 16 November 1883.

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Wilson Times, 30 June 1899.

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On 4 February 1868, Jack Williamson, son of Toney Eatmon and Hester Williamson, married Ann Boykin, daughter of John Harper and Alder Ried, at Jack Williamson’s in Wilson.

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: domestic servant Robert Vick, 19, and wife Spicy, 18; Anna Williamson, 25, washerwoman, children Jena, 10, Charles, 5, and Ann I.M., 2, and husband Jackson Williamson, 45, blacksmith.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Tarboro Street, Jack Williamson, 55, blacksmith; wife Ann, 30; and children Eugina, 20, cook, Charles 16, blacksmith shop worker, Tete, 14, and Lea, 4.

On 6 January 1887, Charles Williamson, 21, son of Jack and Ann Williamson, married Clara Vick, 18, daughter of Nelson and Viney Vick, in the Town of Wilson. Amanda Vick applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister H.C. Phillips performed the ceremony in the presence of S.H. Vick, H.C. Rountree and Daniel Vick.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ann Williamson and Lugenia Williamson, both laundresses, listed at West Walnut Street near Henry Street.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 558 Spruce Street, widow Ann Williamson, 70, laundress, daughter Jane, 38, and grandchildren Bell Williamson, 13, Henry Bell, 14, and Paul Bell, 7.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ann Williamson and Lugenia Williamson, both laundresses, listed at West Walnut Street near Tarboro Street.

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Anne and Eugenia Williamson, both laundresses, 123 West Walnut.