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.

A conversation.

Last night, I spent an hour on Facebook Live in conversation with Amelia Rivera Speight and Craig Barnes Jr. of Change Coalition of Wilson. At the end, I was both full and spent and above all grateful for the opportunity to talk about what Say Their Names means to me. With Change Coalition’s permission, I share video of our discussion here.

Imagination Station is still closed, but Change Coalition plans to lead more private tours of Say Their Names in coming months. You can also contact director Jennifer Baker Byrd at the museum to arrange a visit. Please see it for yourself. Also, please join The Change Coalition on Facebook and support their efforts to dismantle systemic barriers to equality and promote justice and opportunity for all Wilson’s people.

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.

Farmer’s mare stolen.

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Wilson Advance, 21 June 1888.

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The 1900 census of Wilson County lists three men named Toby Farmer, any of whom might have been the man whose horse was stolen. (Though barber Tobias Farmer, who lived in town, is least likely.)

In Black Creek township: John Melton, 42, farmer; wife Lucy, 43; sons John, 15, and Samuel D., 3; stepson Johnson Farmer, 23; and father-in-law Tobious Farmer, 75, widower.

In Wilson township: Tobias Farmer, 70, wife Willie, 69, and son Warren, 48.

In Wilson town: day laborer Junius, 22, Rosa, 17, Freeda, 10, Robert, 7, Richard, 5, Mark, 2, and Ericker Farmer, 7 months, plus boarder Tobias Farmer, 48, barber.

Five days of wokeness in Wide-Awake.

The Change Coalition of Wilson presents “Translating Pain Into Purpose: Wake Up, Wide Awake Spirit Week” — five days of programming to promote civil, historical, educational, legislative and social awareness !

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Today, Craig Barnes Jr. will be leading groups of visitors on a tour of Say Their Names, my exhibit at Imagination Station. If you didn’t get an opportunity to see the exhibit before the pandemic temporarily closed the museum’s doors, please come out today. I couldn’t be prouder of the work Change Coalition is putting in to push Wilson forward, and I’m pleased to be able to contribute to the curriculum of change.

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Three cheers for Grant Goings.

“Wilson City Manager Grant Goings explained to council members Thursday night how the city became involved in removing Josephus Daniels’ historical marker earlier that day.

“Goings said he ordered the marker removed after the Daniels family settled the issue for him earlier in the week. Daniels’ relatives removed his Raleigh statute, citing his indefensible positions on race. Goings said the Cox-Corbett Historical Association and the Wilson County Historical Association had disagreements about Daniels’ history. One wanted it removed; the other did not. No compromise could be reached, and the debate regarding the marker lingered until Thursday when Goings made the decision.

“’Wilson is fortunate to have two historical societies,’ Goings said in a Friday statement to The Wilson Times. ‘In this case, there was respectable disagreement between the two about the history of Josephus Daniels. The family’s statement cleared that confusion, and the right thing to do was remove the marker as soon as possible.’”

Goings’ unilateral decision was absolutely the right thing to do, but took some backbone in Wilson. I recognize and honor his resolute matter-of-factness in getting this job done.

For the complete Wilson Times article re Goings’ decision, see here.

Snaps, no. 69: Darden High prom, 1949.

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On 8 June 1999, the Wilson Daily Times published this photograph of Jacobia L. Bulluck and Marie Everett at Darden High School’s 1949 prom. Everett submitted the image.

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  • Jacobia L. Bulluck — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 412 Viola, owned and valued at $2000; Charles Jones, 61, janitor at Vick School; wife Gertrude, 59, a tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ruth Plater, 35, divorced, teacher; grandsons Torrey S., 12, and Charles S. Plater, 11; son-in-law Ruel Bullock, 35; daughter Louise, 30; grandsons Jacobia, 7, Robert, 6, Harold, 4, and Rudolph, 7 months; and granddaughter Barbara Jones, 6.
  • Marie Everett

Road map to county schools.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has made available digitally copies of many of its historic maps. The 1936 North Carolina County Road Survey not only maps Wilson County’s roads, it also shows the locations of schools and churches. African-American county schools appear as “other”:

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Some of the schools are easily identified, but for others I have made best guesses.

Starting in the northern part of the county, which covers parts of Taylor, Toisnot, Wilson, and Gardners townships:

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  1. Turner School
  2. Page School
  3. Wilbanks School
  4. Pender School
  5. Mitchell School
  6. William Chapel Missionary Baptist Church

The southeast sector, covering parts of Wilson, Saratoga, Stantonsburg, and Black Creek townships. Holdens and Saratoga Schools do not appear:

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  1. London’s Primitive Baptist Church
  2. Bynum School
  3. Lane School
  4. Evansdale School
  5. Brooks School
  6. Minshew School
  7. Stantonsburg School
  8. Healthy Plains School
  9. Yelverton School

The southwest sector, covering parts of Wilson, Spring Hill, Cross Roads, and Black Creek townships:

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  1. Rocky Branch Christian Church; Rocky Branch School
  2. Williamson School
  3. Calvin Level School
  4. Kirby School
  5. Powell School
  6. probably Ruffin or Ferrell School

The northwest sector, covering parts of Wilson, Taylors, and Old Fields townships. Barnes, Sims, Howard, and Jones Hill Schools do not appear to be marked:

  1. Lofton School
  2. New Vester Missionary Baptist Church; New Vester School
  3. Farmer School