A.M.E. church

Saint Luke A.M.E. lays its cornerstone.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 September 1948.

First: Saint Luke is an A.M.E., not an A.M.E. Zion church. A.M.E. Zion is a much larger denomination than A.M.E. in North Carolina and has had several churches in Wilson, including Saint John and Trinity. 

In 1906, a group of A.M.E. trustees bought a lot on Suggs Street and built a church there. The church was not organized as Saint Luke until 1910. In the 1930s, the congregation moved to a storefront at the corner of Vick and Atlantic Streets and erected its current edifice in 1948. The church had early struggles. In 1953, the Times carried a notice of sale for the property; the trustees had defaulted on a loan. 

(I belonged to this church as a child, by the way. Thirty years after its construction, it was little changed, down to its handbuilt pews and wall-mounted gas heaters.)

The cornerstone of Saint Luke A.M.E. Church: “Erected to the glory of God.”

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  • P.J. McIntyre — Rev. McIntyre was pastor of Saint Luke from 1944 to 1952.
  • Dan Jones — Dan Henry Jones Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his draft registration card, he was born 7 November 1907 in Pender County, N.C.; his contact was father Dan Henry Jones, Rose Hill, Duplin County; and worked at Wilson Tobacco Company, Stemmery Street.
  • F.V. Worley — Frank Void Worley. Frank Worley died 30 January 1963 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson.  Per his death certificate, he was born 22 February 1888 in Robeson County, N.C.; was a tobacco factory laborer; and loved at 408 Grace Street. Informant was Robert Murphy, 716 Hooks Street, Wilson.
  • Wilbert Williams — Wilbert Williams registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was 27 years old; was born in Robeson County, N.C.; lived at 703 Walnut Street, Wilson; and his contact was mother Mary Blanch Williams, same address.
  • J.C. Bess — Rev. James Clinton Bess.
  • A.L. Walden — Alfred Lee Walden died 9 January 1964 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 March 1893 in Northampton County, N.C., to John Walden and Martha Jane Roberson; lived at 1301 Washington Street; and was a World War I veteran. Nannie Walden was informant.
  • Samuel Williams
  • B.M. Adams

Rev. T.G. Clark, who helped make the A.M.E. church what it is.

CLARK, Rev. Thomas Garrett, one of 9 children of Harry and Flora Clark, was born in Wilson county, N.C., July 10, 1876; grew up on the farm and attended the country and also public school; Lincoln University, Pennsylvania; converted May 22, 1899, and connected with the Presbyterian Church; entered Howard University, 1902, graduating May, 1905; joined the AME Church in 1906; was licensed in February at Bethel AME Church, Philadelphia; ordained deacon at the Philadelphia Annual Conference, June 14, 1908, at Carlisle, Pa., by Bishop [Wesley J.] Gaines, and also transferred to the Liberian Annual Conference, West Africa, June 15; sailed for Africa with Bishop [William H.] Heard and other missionaries December 5, 1908. He preached in Africa January 1, 1909, and met the first annual conference January 27; was ordained elder January 31, 1909, and appointed to the Eliza Turner Memorial Church, Monrovia; reappointed January 26, 1919, and made principal of the Mission School, with 130 students; he rebuilt the church; was appointed to Bethel AME Church, Lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa, March 20, 1911, and established a mission station among the Kroo Tribe at Kroo Town, November 26th. He baptized 76 persons; was appointed general missionary at the Annual Conference held at Monrovia, March 15, 1912, and returned to the U.S. with a native boy “Ulch” from the mission station, for the purpose of educating him; he arrived in America April 10 and was married to Miss Sarah B. Wainwright April 21. He was pastor of Victor’s Chapel AME Church, Montclair, 1912-1913; St. John’s AME Church, Catskill, N.Y., 1913-1914; Elmira, N.Y., 1914-1917; Jamaica, N.Y., 1917-1923; raised nearly $20,000 mortgage of long standing was burned; Flushing, N.Y., 1923-1924; Glen Cove, N.Y., 1924-1925; Stamford, Conn., 1925-1926; Middletown, N.Y., 1926-1928; Arverne, L.I.N.Y., 1928; purchased building at cost of $1500, all of which he paid. In the recent history of the Goshen Presbyterian Church of more than 225 years standing, it is set forth therein that the branch if that denomination, founded among the Colored race near half-century ago, and supervised by the Caucasian members interview the Rev. T.G. Clark, a number of times for the purpose of serving the latter Branch which he eventually agreed and did for a number of years.

Richard R. Wright Jr., Centennial Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Containing principally the Biographies of the Men and Women, both Ministers and Laymen, whose Labors during a Hundred Years, helped make the A.M.E. Church What It Is; also Short Historical Sketches of Annual Conferences, Educational Institutions,General Departments, Missionary Societies of the A.M.E. Church, and General Information about African Methodism and the Christian Church in General Being a Literary Contribution to the Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Formation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Denomination by Richard Allen and others, at Philadelphia, Penna., in 18162nd ed. (1947); postcard image of Eliza Turner Memorial A.M.E. Chapel, commons.wikimedia.org.

The obituary of Rev. James C. Bess.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 April 2002.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason Clinton Bess, 37; wife Minnie, 26; and children Hampton, 7, Ruth G., 6, and James C., 4. 

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, brickmason Clinton Bess, 40; wife Minnie, 30; children Glenwood, 5, Gladis, 15, and James, 12; and boarders Mary Reid, 21, and Martha Robinson, 25, teachers.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 208 Pender Street, widow Minnie Best, 48; and children Hartford, 30, delivery boy for retail dry goods business; Ruth, 27, teacher at Williamston School; James, 23, janitor at Oettinger’s store; and Glenwood, 10, grocery delivery boy.

James Clinton Bess registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 9 November 1915 in Wilson County; lived at 208 Pender; his contact was mother Minnie Bess; and he worked for Oettinger’s Estate, Wilson.

[N.B.: “Wilson Training School” was another name for the Wilson Industrial and Normal School.]

The reverends grew up together.

NY age 3 15 1930

New York Age, 15 March 1930.