Snaps, no. 45: Mary Jane Taylor Johnson.

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Mary Jane Taylor Johnson (1863-1940).

In the 1870 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Lemuel Taylor, 35; wife Martha, 26; and children Thomas, 12, Iredell, 10, George, 8, and Mary, 4.

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Annis Taylor, 70; daughter Isbell, 30; and granddaughter Mary J., 14.

On 11 November 1881, Ben Johnson, 33, married Mary J. Taylor, 22, in Toisnot township, Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of South Whitakers township, Wilson County: farmer Ben Johnson, 52; wife Mary J., 34; and children Junius, 18, Frank, 15, Hunn, 11, Shug, 9, Bud, 7, Mattie L., 4, Nettie M., 2, and Ben, 1 month.

In the 1910 census of Enfield township, Halifax County: on Crowell Road, widowed farmer Mary Johnson, 48, and children Daisy, 20, Carry, 18, Samuel, 16, Lula, 13, Nettie, 10, Bee Jay, 9, Maggie, 7, and Ida, 5.

In the 1920 census of Rocky Mount township, Edgecombe County: on River Road, Mary Johnson, 50, and children D.J., 19, Maggie, 16, and Ida, 13.

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount township, Edgecombe County: Sam L. Johnson, 36; mother Mary, 65; adopted daughter Willard B., 20; Nettie Edmond, 30, Delorice Edmond, 5 months; and Ida Johnson, 23.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry user Roxie1104.

Misfortunes of Marcus.


Wilson News, 7 December 1899.

The course of events here is not entirely clear, but it seems that Haywood Marcus, Lee Whitaker and John Mobley were on the west side of the tracks at a saloon or shot house. Mobley was drunk, and Whitaker and Marcus tried to help him get back “across the railroad” home. Mobley’s brother Jim Mobley intercepted them, cursed Marcus out, and shot him. (Huh?)

  • Haywood Marcus
  • Lee Whitaker
  • John and Jim Mobley — John and James Mobley were sons of John H. and Jane Rountree Mobley.

The Schoolyard.

After years of complaints about deteriorating conditions at the Sallie Barbour School, Wilson’s Board of Education finally constructed a new elementary school for African-American children in southeast Wilson. The opening of Elvie Street School left Sallie Barbour School obsolete, and the city made plans to sell off the property.

The first plat shows a survey of the property as it existed in January 1951 — the frame school building (which dated from the 1890s) with its distinctive five-sided porch , a small frame lunch room off to one side, and a brick toilet building in the rear.

The second plat shows, superimposed over an outline of the buildings, the proposed division of the land — known to this day as “The Schoolyard” — into 28 lots.

The Schoolyard today. About 1955, a developer built a row of double-shotgun houses on the Manchester Street side of the property. The Black Creek Road (formerly Stantonsburg Street) side is now home to a small supermarket and a series of apartment buildings.

Plat Book 5, pages 32 and 34, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County courthouse; photo courtesy of Google Maps.

Headed to college.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 September 1948.

Howard University

  • Doris V. Smith
  • Mary Frances Diggs (1930-1971), daughter of Edgar and Mary Grant Diggs
  • Charles Seville Plater (1929), son of Simon T. and Ruth Jones Plater
  • Thomas Levi Peacock(1928), son of Levi and Eloise Reavis Peacock
  • Norma Adelaide Carter Murphy (1931-), daughter of Luke and Eunice Godette Carter
  • Hoover Curtis Bowens (1928-2007), son of Jacob and Flossie Cobb Bowens

A&T College

  • Edward Kerphew Harris (1930-2007), son of Benjamin and Pauline Artis Harris
  • Winford Lee Morgan (1931-2000), son of James and Addie Fisher Morgan
  • Wade Nicholas Lassiter (1928-??) and Harvey Green Lassiter (1926-1998), sons of Jesse C.K. and Lessie Dew Lassiter
  • Harold Cannady
  • Leonard Elroy Barnes Jr. (1929-1967), son of Leonard E. and Beatrice Taylor Barnes
  • Walter Rufus Stephens (1926-2014), son of James H. and Parnella Jackson Stephens
  • James Thomas Jones (1927-2011) and John Wesley Jones (1925-2004), sons of Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones

From the 1951 edition of The Ayantee, the yearbook of North Carolina State A.&T. University.

N.C. College [now N.C. Central University]

  • Helen Woodard
  • Ralph Cornell Gay (1928-1992), son of Albert and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay
  • James Henry Spivey Jr. (1930-??) and Glenda Vermell Spivey Middleton (1927-2006), children of James H. and Mary Clark Spivey
  • Eva Elnora Coley Jarrett Oxendine (1929-), daughter of David H. and Eva Speight Coley
  • Preston Walter Diggs (1928-), son of Edgar and Mary Grant Diggs
  • Hattie Moye Floyd (1929-1985), daughter of Ambrose and Mattie Moye Floyd
  • Thomas Dawson
  • Laura Mae Murphy Baker (1925-1988), daughter of Clarence and Mittie Wilkes Murphy
  • Victoria Whitehead McCray (1928-2017), daughter of John H. and Victoria Ennis Whitehead

Shaw University

  • James L. Nicholson Jr. (1929-2018), son of James and Celestia Nicholson
  • Donnie L. Joyner Freeman (1928-), daughter of Eddie and Annie Wynn Joyner
  • Eva L. Carter (1928-2017), daughter of Willam and Eva Overton Carter
  • Doug Melton 
  • Nathaniel Gray Hodges (1929-), son of Nathaniel and Bessie Sutton Hodges
  • Helen Harris
  • R.J. Dancy

J.C. Smith

  • Mamie Ruth Ellis (1930-2004), daughter of Oscar and Mamie Bynum Ellis
  • Roderick Taylor Jr. (1928), son of Roderick and Mary J. Pender Taylor
  • Ellis Brown Jr. (1921-1989), son of Ellis and Margaret Scarborough Brown


  • Ann Battle
  • Van Royall
  • Doris Joyner
  • Pauline Deloris Harris (1927-), daughter of Benjamin A. and Pauline Artis Harris

Virginia State

  • Annie Miller Stokes (1930-), daughter of James and Viola Reese Stokes
  • Frances Williams 

West Virginia State

Saint Augustine

  • Mary Knight
  • Richard Barnes
  • Virginia Ward
  • Margaret Evangeline Speight Williams (1929-1998), daughter of Theodore and Marie Thomas Speight
  • Marian Anderson 

Livingstone College

  • Trumiller Wimberly
  • Christine Snow

Temple University

  • Katheryn Spells (1927-2004), daughter of Neros and Nancy Taylor Spells

Cortez Peters Business School

  • Beatrice McNeil (1928-2007), daughter of Matthew and Ola Belle Jiggette McNeil
  • Ozie L. Pender (1928-2010), daughter of Albert and Mary Pender

Winston-Salem Teachers College

  • Agnes Hoskins (1929-), daughter of Lonnie and Gertrude Simms Hoskins
  • Charity Wells (1930-1978), daughter of Willie and Mamie Holland Wells
  • Bertha Cobb

Where we worked, 1922 — L.

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 tenth 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.

  • Lafter, John, painter, 514 East Spruce
  • Lamb, William, laborer, 519 South Lodge
  • Lane, Frederick, laborer, 407 North Lane
  • Lane, Lula, domestic, 501 South Railroad
  • Lane, Rosa, domestic, 407 North Pine
  • Langley, Jerry J., grocer, 901 Viola
  • Lassiter, Dempsey, fireman, 106 South East
  • Lassiter, Henry, carpenter, 518 East Nash
  • Lassiter, Matilda, laundress, 415 South Railroad
  • Lassiter, Sylvester, farmer, 415 South Railroad
  • Leach, Bessie, domestic, 403 Spring Street alley
  • Leach, Louisa, cook, 403 Spring Street alley
  • Leavister, Bradford, helper, 404 East Bank[s]
  • Leavister, Rayford, helper, 404 East Bank[s]
  • Lee, Ada, tobacco worker, 514 Smith
  • Lee, Fletcher, horseshoer — J.Y. Buchanan, 114 Manchester
  • Lee, James, laborer, 402 South Daniel
  • Lee, James, laborer, 531 Smith
  • Lee, Mamie, domestic, 401 Viola
  • Lee, Mary, domestic, 413 South Railroad
  • Lee, Octavia, domestic, 114 Manchester
  • Leggett, John, waiter, 121 Ashe
  • Legion, Dicey, tobacco worker, 605 East Nash
  • Lenzy, George, barber, 504 East Goldsboro
  • Leonard, Annie, trained nurse, 117 Darden Alley
  • Leonard, Samuel, laborer, 117 Darden Alley
  • Lewis, Jane, laundress, 102 Pender
  • Lewis, John, carpenter, 411 North Vick
  • Lewis, John H., carpenter, 411 North Vick
  • Lewis, Turner, laborer, 211 South Railroad
  • Lewis, William, tobacco worker, 118 Ashe
  • Lilly, Charles, laborer, 505 East Hines
  • Lilly, Edna, domestic, 505 East Hines
  • Lindsay, George, barber, 504 South Goldsboro
  • Lindsay, Myrtle, laundress, 504 South Goldsboro
  • Little, James, laborer, 618 East Vance
  • Little, Lula, tobacco worker, 414 South Spring
  • Lloyd, Henrietta, laundress, 102 Ashe
  • Lovitt, Almus A., horseshoer — G.T. Pervis, 301 North Vick
  • Lovitt, Letitia, dressmaker, 301 North Vick
  • Lucas, Gertie, cook, 406 South Bruton
  • Lucas, Henry, drayman, 307 East Jones
  • Lucas, James, shoe polisher, 307 East Jones
  • Lucas, John, porter, 114 South East
  • Lucas, LeRoy, driver, 307 East Jones
  • Lucas, Lucille, hair dresser — Carrie Strickland, East Jones
  • Lucas, Luther, laborer, 1108 Wainwright Avenue
  • Lucas, Polly, tobacco worker, 107 Manchester
  • Lucas, Sarah, private secretary — Amos Batts, Elm City
  • Lucas, Stanley, tobacco worker, 114 South East
  • Lucas, Susan, cook, 316 Pender
  • Lumsden, Creecy, domestic, 614 Wiggins
  • Lyons, Lonnie, tobacco worker, 603 South Spring




A swarm of Locus(t)s.

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Wilson Advance, 16 March 1883.

Though Register Barnes’ snarky comment suggests otherwise, cousin marriages were not uncommon in the 19th century. The Locus/Locust/Lucas family was one of the largest free families of color in eastern North Carolina. Most Wilson County Locuses had roots in neighboring Nash County.

James and Missouri Locus Lucas.

In the 1870 census of Springfield township, Nash County: Zachariah Locust, 47; wife Emily, 47; and children Blurdy, 12, Margaret, 9, Zerry, 4, and Willie, 7.

In the 1880 census of Jackson township, Wilson County: Zachariah Locus, 53; wife Emily, 49; and daughters Margaret A., 18, and Missouri N., 12.

James Locus, 24, married Miszura Locus, 19, both of Nash County, on 14 March 1883 at the Wilson County courthouse. Zelus Howard, Wash Barnes and B.J. Barnes witnessed.

In the 1900 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: James Lucas, 43; wife Missouri, 35; and children Frederick, 16, Sallie A., 15, Louzetta, 12, Victoria, 7, Effie, 5, Mattie, 2, and Johnnie, 8.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on path leading to Raleigh Road, James Lucas, 54; wife Missouri, 41; and children Louzetta, 19, John, 17, Victoria, 15, Effie, 13, Mattie, 11, Emma, 7, Bettie, 5, and Maoma, 7 months.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James Lucas, 63, farmer; wife Missouri, 49; and children Bettie, 13, Naomi, 10, and Lucile, 3.

Missouri Lucas died 22 March 1926 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was about 55 years old; was married to James Lucas; was the daughter of Zachariah and Emily Lucas; and was buried at New Vester cemetery.

James Lucas died 12 April1928 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1859 to Jane Taborn; had been married to Missouri Lucas; was a farmer; was buried at New Vester cemetery. John Davis of Simms was informant.

Luzettie Lucas Creech died 28 June 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1893 to James Lucas and Missouri (last name unknown); was a widow; resided at 500 Hadley Street; and was buried at New Vester. Roberta Creech Spells was informant.

Victoria Lucas Kent died 2 July 1973 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 September 1900 to James Savannah Lucas and Missouri Taylor; resided at 611 Benton Street, Wilson; and had worked in farming. Informant was Janie Richardson, 611 Benton Street.

Photo courtesy of user HVByrd.

Dr. Mitchner’s ordeal.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 April 1938.

In late March or early April 1938, white newborn baby was found abandoned under a tree on Hines Street in Wilson, and died a short time later. The police quickly identified Mittie E. Lucas, reported as a 43 year-old widowed seamstress in the 1940 census of Wilson, as the child’s mother and Jesse Hamilton, also 43 and a married former policeman, as its father. Lucas and Mary Fuller, an African-American midwife, were charged with the baby’s homicide, and Hamilton was charged with abortion along with black physician William A. Mitchner. The four criminal cases were consolidated.

It is not difficult to imagine Mitchner’s terror. He testified that Lucas called on him on February 2 and, in 30 years of medical practice, he had never before examined a white woman. He denied attempting an abortion, asserting that he told Lucas he didn’t “do that kind of work and not to let anyone else do it.” He admitted referring Lucas to Dr. Clarence Dillard Jr., an African-American doctor in Goldsboro, but claimed he did not know whether Dillard were an abortionist, he just “wanted to get rid of them and stop them from coming to me.” [In fact, just four months later, newspapers would breathlessly cover a trial in which Dillard was accused of performing an abortion on a young white woman pregnant by her black boyfriend.] More than a dozen character witnesses stood for Mitchner, including “prominent negro undertaker” Camillus L. Darden and “prominent local druggist” Doane Herring, who was white.

On 26 April 1938, the Daily Times reported that Recorder McLean had dismissed charges against Mitchner, concluding that the other defendants’ actions after visiting Mitchner suggested that he “would do nothing for them.”

The charges against Lucas, Hamilton and Fuller dragged on. Lucas’ brother, U.R. Moore, posted her bond at the end of April, but Fuller and Hamilton remained in jail. After several court continuances, startling news broke on 8 February 1939 after the state rested its case. Witnesses testified that Hamilton admitted that he was the baby’s father; that Hamilton went to a Negro doctor for “medicine” and that the doctor had refused to do what was “intimated”; that Lucas had given the infant to Fuller to place with “some rich person or some hospital”; and that Fuller had placed the child under a tree and called a neighbor to the scene. However, the solicitor conceded that he could not establish if the baby had died of exposure [or, presumably, died of natural causes]. Thus, he could not establish homicide. (And as Lucas seemingly delivered a full-term child, nor could he show that Lucas had obtained an abortion.) With this failure, he proferred a nolle prosequi, i.e. dropped charges, against Lucas and suspended five-year sentences to Hamilton and Fuller if they pleaded no contest.


Perhaps, in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Mary Fuller, 56, laundress; daughter Mildred, 22; and boarder Texanna Whitley, 23, and her children Cleo, 7, and Charlie, 2.

Unlawful migration.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County   } Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions October Term 1859

The Jurors for the State aforesaid upon their oath present that Gray Powel a free negro late of the county of Wilson on the 1st day of June AD 1859 at & in the said county unlawfully did migrate into the State of North Carolina contrary to the provisions of the act of the general assembly in such cases made & provided & that the said Gray Powel afterwards to wit up to this time doth yet remain in said State & in the county aforesaid contrary to the form of the Statute in each case made & provided & against the peace & dignity of the State    /s/ B.B. Barnes Solicitor


In the 1850 census of Stephen Powell, 47, wife Synthia, 36, and children Gray, 9, Queen Anne, 8, Dolly, 7, Crockett, 3, and Noab, 1. [If this is the same Gray Powell, it suggests that he left his birth state prior to 1859, then returned, an act considered an “unlawful migration.”]

Slave Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.


The obituary of Dr. Rolland T. Winstead.

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Wilson Daily Times, 29 May 1934.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: assistant postmaster Braswell Winstead, 39, wife Ada, 25, and children Arnold, 13, George, 12, Rolland, 11, and Christine, 8. [Note: Ada Davis and Braswell Winstead were married in 1899, and the children were his by his first wife.]

On 14 September 1905, Rolland T. Winstead, 26, of Wilson County, son of B.R. and Eliza Winstead, married Julia B. Daves, 25, of Nash County, daughter of Charles Hamlin and Julia A. Daves, in Happy Hill, Rocky Mount, Nash County. Episcopal priest Robert Nathaniel Perry performed the ceremony in the presence of Harvey G. Barnes of Wilson and H.W. Bullock and George W. Daves of Rocky Mount.

Rolland Tyson Winstead registered for the World War I draft in June 1917 in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 16 June 1889 in Wilson; resided at 603 Green Street, Wilson; and worked as a barber for John Bradsher, Rocky Mount, North Carolina.

On 28 October 1917, the Greensboro Daily News published the “names of negro officers given commissions in the army after training with seventeenth provisional training regiment at Fort Des Moines, Iowa ….” The list included Rolland T. Winstead, second lieutenant, officers reserve corps, Rocky Mount, N.C.

In the 1920 census of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee: R.T. Winstead, 29, and wife Julia, 28, cook, both natives of North Carolina, were roomers in the household of Robert M. and Kate S. Hall. Two years later, Winstead was still enrolled at Meharry Medical College.

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Nashville, Tennessee, city directory (1922).

When he completed his medical studies, the Winsteads returned to Rocky Mount.

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Rocky Mount, N.C., city directory (1928).

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Baltimore Afro-American, 28 April 1928.

In March 1933, Rolland T. Winstead executed his last will and testament. He was a relatively young man, but suffering ill health. His friends, physician Leonard P. Armstrong and insurance agent Orin A. Whitted, witnessed.

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Rolland Tyson Winstead died 28 May 1934 at Duke Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he had suffered from heart disease for twenty years.

Rocky Mount Herald, 1 June 1934.

Julia Daves Winstead lived another 50 years, passing 20 August 1986 in Rocky Mount.