New York Age, 11 June 1908.
Rev. Richard Alburtus Morrisey got his start in the A.M.E. Zion church ministry in Wilson in 1887.
New York Age, 11 June 1908.
Rev. Richard Alburtus Morrisey got his start in the A.M.E. Zion church ministry in Wilson in 1887.
Toward the end of his life, Rev. William John Moore served as pastor of Saint John’s A.M.E. Zion Church in Wilson and Presiding Elder of the Wilmington District, Cape Fear Conference, of the A.M.E.Z. Church. In younger years, however, he had been a vital force in establishing the denomination throughout the region, as this entry in J.W. Hood’s One Hundred Years of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; or, the Centennial of African Methodism makes clear:
Rev. W.H. Davenport’s The Anthology of Zion Methodism, published in 1925, notes: “The Autobiography of Rev. William J. Moore, D.D., is interesting from cover to cover. Zion Methodism had its inception in the South in New Bern, N. C. Eliza Gardner, Mary Anderson and others of the Daughters of Conference of New England raised money to send Rev. J. W. Hood to the South. Shortly after his arrival he and Moore met and there began a friendship between them which was beautiful in its sincerity and purity. The early struggles of Moore’s life are intimately connected with the early struggles of Zion Methodism in North Carolina. The book is not cast in a high literary mold, but is a rugged and straightforward statement of a religious frontiersman and pioneer.”
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: minister William J. Moore, 64; wife Sarah J., 60; daughter Mary E., 29; and grandsons Alfred Hill, 12, and Wilbur, 3.
On 6 December 1906, Mary E. Moore, 29, daughter of W.J. and Sallie Moore, married Willie Mitchell, 24, son of Wiley and Betsy Mitchell, in Wilson. Judge Mitchell applied for the license, and Rev. N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Moore, Isaac Stone, W.J. Moore and Mrs. Burtie Farmer.
On 2 January 1908, Alex Moore, 38, and Mary Magett, 26, were married in Wilson by Methodist minister G.A. Wood in the presence of Martha Wood, Joseph Sutton and C.G. Lewis.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C, Directory (1908).
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, Willy Mitchell, 34, odd jobs laborer, wife Mary, 39, and son Wilton, 13.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Grace Street, Alex Moore, 46, factory laborer, wife Mary, 28, and son Charlie, 3.
Rev. Moore drafted and executed a will on 15 November 1913.
In it, he gave his children Mary and Alex a house and five lots in Wilson (which later revoked) and “all the endowment money ” coming from the Masonic Lodge, the Eastern Star Chapter, and the Brotherhood of the A.M.E. Zion Church. He further passed to Mary his interest in the mortgage held on property in Pamlico County, North Carolina, and named her his executrix. One of the witnesses, New Bern native Rev. Clinton D. Hazel, also served as Presiding Elder of Wilmington District.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 314 Stantonsburg Street, widowed cook Mary Mitchell, 46; barber Alex Moore, 43, his wife Mary, 38, a laundress, and their son Charles, 44. [The 1920 Wilson city directory lists Alex as an employee of M.D. Cannon‘s barber shop.]
On 9 November 1920, Mary E. Mitchell drafted a will with very terms. She had three insurance policies and specified that from the policy for $121.00 on the Durham Company [North Carolina Mutual] $50 be paid to Dr. W.A. Mitchner and $50 to Fannie Simpson “who nursed me last winter.” She owned “a house and some lots on Stantonsburg Street in the town of Wilson.” They were to go to Sylvia Best on the condition that she live in or rent out the house for ten years. “If at the time of the expiration of said ten years my son Alfred Hill, whom I have not heard from in a number of years, has not returned to Wilson,” the land would pass in fee to Best. If Alfred returned, he would receive the lot on which the house was located, and Sylvia the best. If he returned earlier than ten years, he was to allow Sylvia and her family to live with him until the ten years expired. W.A. Mitchner was named executor.
Mary E. Mitchell died 5 February 1921 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was divorced; resided on Stantonsburg Street; worked as a laundress; and was born 10 May 1865 in Beaufort County, North Carolina, to W. John Moore of Washington, North Carolina, and Sarah Moore. Informant was Alex Moore.
Mary Moore Mitchell’s will entered probate on 14 February 1921.
Alex Moore died 28 December 1928 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 108 Manchester Street; was a widower; worked as a common laborer; was 60 years old; and was born in Wilson to John and Sallie Ann Moore, both of New Bern, North Carolina. Charles Moore was informant.
North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
J. H. Mattocks joined the church at New Berne, N. C., in 1868. He was licensed to preach in 1872, and in November the same year was sent to the Annual Conference at Wilmington, N. C., as a delegate, and was also recommended by his Quarterly Conference as a candidate for membership. He was admitted and ordained a deacon. His first appointment was the Onslow Mission. He succeeded in organizing three churches, as follows: Young’s Chapel, on New River, Burnett’s Chapel, and Topsail Sound Mission. His salary for the first year was $16.25 collected from the people and $2.50 from the Mission Fund. In 1874 he was sent to the Redding Springs Circuit, composed of three congregations worshiping under bush arbors, with sixty members in all. He bought lots and built at each place, and also organized the Jonesville, Hudson Grove, and Pineville Churches. At the close of three years’ labor he left the circuit with thirteen hundred members. He was ordained elder in 1877, and was appointed to the Mooresville Circuit, but was soon after sent to the Henderson Circuit, which Rev. R. D. Russel had to give up on account of sickness in his family. This was a strong Baptist section. The ministers who had preceded Brother Mattocks had thought it not best to attack the Baptist doctrine, and, though they had succeeded fairly well, yet when they had large revivals the Baptists would get more than half their converts. Brother Mattocks boldly defended the Methodist doctrine, and the result was that he held nearly all of his converts and baptized them by sprinkling, which was a very unusual thing in that section. The effect of his teaching remains till this day. In 1878 and 1879 he espoused the temperance cause with great success, and was elected chaplain of the Good Templars.
In 1879 he was appointed to Clinton Chapel, New Berne. In 1871 he was appointed to Washington, where his usual success attended him, and the church was greatly improved during his administration. In 1882 he was sent to Goldsboro. The church there at that time was in a languishing condition. Rev. Mattocks remained three years, during which time there were 185 persons converted and 217 added to the church. In 1885 Rev. Mattocks was made presiding elder, and labored in that capacity for three years. In 1888 he was relieved of the presiding eldership at his own request and was appointed pastor of the church at Wilson. In 1891, he was transferred to the Central North Carolina Conference and appointed to Fayetteville, N. C., where he served acceptably for one year, and was next appointed to Monroe. In 1892 he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Concord District. He is a successful presiding elder. He has common sense in a large degree, is earnest and honest. He has filled all positions in his Conference — secretary, statistical secretary, recording secretary, compiler and publisher of the Minutes, and Conference steward. He has been frequently elected as fraternal delegate to other Conferences, and has been a delegate to every General Conference since and including 1880. He read a strong paper on the subject of the presiding elder system at the General Conference in 1880. He is conservative, and can always be depended upon to support sensible measures and oppose foolish ones.
T. F. H. Blackman was born in Goldsboro, N. C., March 9, 1852. He received his early training in the Freedmen’s School maintained at that place partly by Northern aid. He entered St. Augustine Normal School, at Raleigh, but failed to finish the course by reason of having to work to care for his father. He has finished the course in the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle, also a course in Hebrew. He was baptized when about thirteen or fourteen years old; was converted and taken into full connection May 30, 1869, at Wilson, N. C., where he was engaged in teaching school. He received a local preacher’s license at Mosley Hall, March 4, 1871. He was received into the Annual Conference and ordained deacon at Lincolnton, N. C., December 1, 1871, and was ordained elder at Concord November 30, 1875. His first appointment was to the Evergreen Circuit, Brunswick County, N. C.; here he served for two years. His next appointment was Mount Pleasant, Columbus County, for three years. He was then sent to Lincoln, where he remained for four years. During these nine years in the pastoral work he had uninterrupted success. He built up the church spiritually, improved the church property, and paid off debts. The church at Lincolnton has never since been in as good condition as it was when he had charge. In 1880 he was appointed Presiding Elder of the Statesville District, which position he filled with credit for one year, during which time he succeeded in establishing the church at Morganton, where we had long labored in vain to get a start. He then filled a missionary appointment in South Carolina for one year in the interest of the church in Columbia, and raised ninety dollars above his salary and expenses. He then had a very successful year as pastor of the church at Lancaster, S. C. His seventh appointment was to Opelika, Ala. This was among his most pleasant charges, and he had very great success.
From this point he was transferred to the Tennessee Conference and appointed to Chattanooga, where his usual success attended him; he paid more than one thousand dollars on the debt. At the end of two years’ service he was appointed to Maryville, Tenn.; here he improved the church both spiritually and temporally, leaving it in excellent condition. He was then appointed to the Shiloh Circuit in Buncombe County, N. C.; but Presiding Elder White, of the Bristol District, having resigned, Rev. Blackman was appointed to fill the vacancy for the balance of the year. He filled that position to the great satisfaction of both bishop and pastors for two years. He is now serving the second year as Presiding Elder of the Asheville District.
Brother Blackman has had a very quiet but successful ministry. While Presiding Elder of the Statesville District he secured the first lot for a church in Winston. He has been a painstaking and industrious member of several General Conferences. He was married in 1881 to Miss Lillian M. Carson, who has been a faithful helpmate.
The subject of this sketch, Franklin Kesler Bird, was born December 1, 1856, at Rutherfordton, N. C. He was the only child of his father, William Bird, who died when young Franklin was two years of age. He and his mother, Mary Martha, lived with his grandfather, the “Blacksmith,” Wylie Morris, until 1867, when his mother was married to Cain Gross.
By early industry and economy Wylie Morris succeeded in purchasing his freedom for $2,000, and marrying a freeborn woman. All of Franklin’s relatives were freeborn, and strict members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, until after the close of the war, when they connected themselves with the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which remains the choice of the family. Young Franklin connected himself with the Church of which he is now a member at the age of eleven years, and soon afterward manifested much usefulness and devotion. His stepfather being engaged yearly in a large farming business, in which Franklin was regularly employed, together with the meagre school system of his home section, deprived him of early school advantages, except one or two months occasionally in some private or public school.
In 1869 his grandfather moved and settled at Newport, Tenn. In 1871, while visiting him, he was favored with one year’s instruction in the high school of that place, under Professor William H. McGhee as instructor. On his return to his native home he had made sufficient advancement to obtain a third grade teacher’s certificate, and taught his first school at Mykle’s Chapel Schoolhouse, near his home. This was the small beginning of an eventful life of public usefulness.
It was while teaching this small school that he grasped the opportunities of educating himself. He paid out of his income for private instruction to one Professor –, a white teacher, at the rate of $2 for three recitations each week at night, on condition that he would never divulge his teacher’s name. During this time he succeeded in completing his studies in arithmetic, grammar, geography, history, etc. He also cultivated his talent in vocal music, and while teaching the same his fame had reached Marion, N. C., from which place he received a call to the principalship of a large school, which gave him from five to six months’ employment in each year. He remained at the head of this school for six years consecutively, during which time he found his way to Biddle University, Charlotte, N. C., where he spent four terms, paying for the same with the money he obtained by teaching. He professed faith in Christ June 24, 1874, served in every local official capacity in his church, was licensed to exhort July 4, 1876; received local preacher’s license in November of the same year, and joined the North Carolina Annual Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, at Salisbury, N. C., December 4, 1877. He took his first appointment in the following year at the hands of his Presiding Elder. Rev. S. S. Murdock, to a part of the Marion Circuit.
At the following Conference, Goldsboro, N. C., he was ordained deacon and appointed in charge of the entire circuit. This work was so enlarged that it became the work of two pastors at the end of his two years’ administration. At Lincolnton, N. C., in 1879, when the North Carolina Conference was divided, and the Central and North Carolina Conferences formed, he was appointed to Wilson Station, in the North Carolina Conference. At the end of the year the property, which had been long involved in litigation, was redeemed, and the church doubled in membership. At Tarboro, N. C., 1880, he was ordained to the office of an elder and stationed at Concord, N. C., where he rendered efficient service to Bishop C. R. Harris, as business manager of the Star of Zion. On April 7, of this year, at Wilson, N. C., he was united by marriage to Miss Agnes M. Barnes, a student of St. Augustine Institute, Raleigh, N. C.
During this year he also met President Mattoon, D.D., of Biddle University, with whom he arranged, and in the next year reentered the university, filling at the same time the pastorate at Biddleville Station. He remained in the university five terms, during which he completed the normal course and advanced rapidly in the classical course. He was considered by the faculty as being one of the brightest students in that institution. He is yet a student, and has mastered many of the studies most helpful to him in his work by persistent effort and private instructions.
In February, 1883, Bishop Hood secured his services by transfer, and stationed him at the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, Exchange Street, Worcester, Mass., where he rendered more than three years’ successful service, to the general satisfaction of the people. He was then removed to the church, corner Broad and Gregory Streets, Bridgeport, Conn. Here he had a splendid financial success. At the end of two years, feeling that his services could be more effective in the Southern field, he transferred back to his native State, and has since filled with success the pastorates at St. Paul Station, Tarboro, N. C., Farmer’s Temple, Washington, N. C., and St. James Station, at Goldsboro, N. C. He has filled the position of secretary in all of his Conferences, receiving all his ordinations under the administration of Bishop Hood, and has been in attendance upon the last three General Conferences, where he was an able representative of his Church and race.
While at the General Conference at Pittsburg, Pa., May, 1892, he received notice from the President of Bethany College, at Lumberton, N. C., that the trustees of said institution had, without solicitation, conferred upon him the degree of Divinitatis Doctor. Upon refusing to accept their proffer he found on his arrival home the certificate awaiting him at the express office. At his Conference on December 6, 1892, he was unanimously elected to the position of presiding elder, as the result of a long-expressed desire upon the part of the ministers, and was appointed Presiding Elder of the Wilmington District of the North Carolina Conference, where he is doing a great work in building up and extending the borders of Zion. He is unassuming in public life, affable, congenial in disposition, self-sacrificing, and devoted to his calling in the ministry.
In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: domestic servant Edwin Barnes, 34, Virginia-born wife Lucy, 30, and children Agnes, 10, Joseph, 1, Nancy, 13, and Susan, 5.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wood chopper Edwin Barnes, 45, Virginia-born wife Lucy, and children Nancy, 22, Agnes, 18, Anna, 8, Lucy, 4, Joseph, 13, Edwin, 9, and Amos Leslie, 3 months.
On 7 April 1881, Agnes M. Barnes, 20, of Wilson, married F.K. Bird, 24, of Rutherford County, in Wilson. J.W.S. Council, a minister, performed the ceremony at the Colored M.E. Zion Church, and A.W. Jones, S.N. Hill and L.H. Peacock were witnesses.
In the 1900 census of Raleigh, Wake County: at 575 Blount Street, preacher Frank Bird, 42, wife Agnes, 36, and children Oscar S., 17, a laborer, Mamie, 15, a student, and Fred, 12.
In the 1910 census of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County: at 410 North Myers Street, F.K. Bird, 53, wife Agnes M., 48, and children Oscar, 27, and Mammie, 25. F.K.’s occupation was minister, Christian publishing company; Oscar’s was tailor; and Mamie’s was seamstress.
In the 1913 Charlotte city directory: Bird Frank K Rev (Agnes M) bus mgr AME Zion Pub House h 407 S Brevard phone 791-I.
Rev. F.K. Bird died 10 May 1914 in Charlotte. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 December 1856 in Forest City, North Carolina, to Mary Gross; was a minister; was married; and was buried in Pinewood cemetery. Informant was Agnes M. Bird.
Rev. Frank K. Bird Stricken While Preaching at Grace Church.
Rev. Frank K. Bird, manager of A. M. E. Zion Publishing House and one of the best known and most highly esteemed colored citizens of the city, passed away at his home on South Brevard street yesterday at 1 o’clock, after an illness of only an hour. he was preaching yesterday morning at Grace Church when stricken with apoplexy and passed away very shortly after being removed to his home. He had lived in Charlotte for several years and was highly esteemed for his excellent character and fine business traits. The valuable property and new publication house on South Brevard street, which is one of the largest and most successful enterprises owned by negroes in the South, was built under his administration. Doctor Bird always stood for the right as he saw it and gave himself freely in the service of his people.
Charlotte Observer, 11 May 1914.
Edward Moore was born on the 22d day of June, 1853, near the town known as Little Washington, in eastern North Carolina. He was the second of seven children born to James H. and Peggy A. Moore. The first eight years of his life were spent under the watchful care and protection of both parents, but the call to arms in our late unpleasantness deprived him for a time of a father’s attention, his father having enlisted in the United States army, and served with the prospect of freeing the slaves as well as the preservation of the Union.
These years of his absence, however, were attended with no unfavorable results in the development of young Moore, for he was under the training of a vigorous, energetic Christian mother, who appreciated the advantages made possible by the opening of the Freedmen’s schools, and Edward, with the other children, shared the benefits of the instruction given by those well-educated, painstaking New England young ladies who taught in the neighborhood immediately after the war. These self-denying Christian teachers aided him, as they did many others, in laying the foundation for an early education and a subsequent life of great usefulness.
He early gave proofs of a mind noted for vigor and acquisitiveness; through the training of these schools, by private study, and later by attending the school under the principalship of W. P. Mabson, of Tarboro, N. C., at one time having the honor of being the most distinguished teacher of eastern North Carolina, Mr. Moore was prepared for college.
It was while studying at Tarboro he met and made the acquaintance and became the stanch friend and classmate of J. C. Dancy, the distinguished layman of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and the two have ever since been very sincere friends.
In the fall of 1874 he entered the freshman class of Lincoln University, Pa.; and ranked deservedly high in scholarship and manly deportment. He was here associated as classmate with the late J. C. Price, D.D.; Dr. N. F. Mossell, of the Philadelphia Medical Fraternity; Dr. Jamison, of York, Pa.; and as his college associates Rev. J. P. Williams, D.D., of the Protestant Episcopal Church; Dr. Goler, of our own Church; Dr. Weaver and Rev. W. C. Brown, of the Presbyterian, and Rev. S. P. Hood.
He graduated in 1879 with high honors. He came South and was employed as principal of the Wilson Academy, where he served successfully for two years, having in the meantime prepared for different colleges a number of young men, among whom are Professor D. C. Suggs, A.M., now vice president of the A. and M. College, Savannah, Ga.; Samuel N. Vick, Postmaster Wilson, N. C., Professor B. R. Winstead, principal of the Wilson graded school. He was also private instructor to S. A. Smith, now one of the most distinguished lawyers of the Wilson bar.
It was at Wilson that he met the accomplished Miss Serena L. Suggs, and after years of wooing succeeded in making her his wife in 1881. The result of this union has been a happy home and four healthy children, two boys and two girls, to cheer and bless his life.
In the establishment of Zion Wesley Institute, which has since become Livingstone College, Professor Moore yielded to the solicitations of his classmate, Dr. J. C. Price, and associated in the educational work of that institution. His services were of incalculable value to Dr. Price.
Professor Moore is a hard student, and possesses the ability of making the result of his study felt upon those he teaches. He is an earnest Christian, especially devoted to all that concerns Zion Church and the spread of the connection. He passed a successful examination and received the degree of Ph.D. from his alma mater in 1893. He is now spending his summer vacation in the study of medicine at San Francisco, Cal. W.H.G.
One hundred twenty-four years ago today:
Wilson Mirror, 1 June 1892.
Wilson Blade, 20 November 1897.
Buffalo Courier-Express, 1 October 1943.
Between 1908 and 1912, Booker T. Washington embarked upon a series of “educational pilgrimages” across several Southern states. In the fall of 1910, Washington and a phalanx of businessmen and A.M.E. Zion clergymen set off on an arc across North Carolina, making speeches and setting examples in Charlotte, Concord, Salisbury, High Point, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Reidsville, Durham, Wilson, Rocky Mount, New Bern, and Wilmington.
On October 21, Wilson’s local newspaper announced Washington’s impending lecture in the auditorium of the colored graded school.
Wilson Daily Times, 21 October 1910.
The response to the announcement of Washington’s tour was positive, but not without fine points made. The Times cited an opinion piece by the Greensboro press, noting approvingly that “foremost living negro” or not, white men should not be put to the task of receiving him into their cities. There were “plenty of public spirited colored people available for that.”
Wilson Daily Times, 1 November 1910.
Along those lines, the Times assured white Wilsonians that “special arrangements” had been made for them as “a great many seem to want to hear” Washington.
Wilson Daily Times, 1 November 1910.
On a practical note, black veterinarian Elijah L. Reid, recently returned from a residency of sorts at Washington’s Tuskegee Institute, seized the occasion to take out a large ad in the paper touting an endorsement by the Wizard himself.
Wilson Daily Times, 1 November 1910.
A commemorative poster and ticket from the event are here. By all accounts, the Wilson stop was a great success. Washington rubbed elbows with Sam Vick and other local heavy-hitters, including all three of the town’s black doctors and several of its most accomplished building tradesmen. The visit happily coincided with the ground-breaking for a new First Baptist church, and Washington laid its cornerstone. The next day, as Washington’s special Pullman car rolled out of town, Raleigh’s News & Observer ran a pleasant piece emphasizing the gaiety of the occasion.
News & Observer (Raleigh NC), 2 November 1910.
In its next publication, the Times — with a gracious nod to “ex Congressman F.A. Woodard” — also commented favorably upon the evening’s events and published excerpts from Washington’s speech.
Wilson Daily Times, 4 November 1910.
The photo below was apparently taken early in the day before the main event. The instantly recognizable Booker T. Washington is seated center, surrounded by his all-star retinue of traveling companions and Wilson’s African-American luminaries. Below the image, more about these men. (Wilson residents, as usual, are in bold text.)
“Education Tour of Dr. Booker T. Washington, Home of Samuel H. Vick, November 1, 1910.”
The photo that ran several days later in the New York Age seems to show only the Visiting V.I.P. contingent.
New York Age, 10 November 1910.
For a brief description of Washington’s Wilson visit embedded in a detailed account of his entire North Carolina tour, see David H. Jackson’s Booker T. Washington and the Struggle Against White Supremacy (2008).
Many thanks to Representative G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., who provided the numbered photograph and a key listing the names of the men depicted. That key was the basis of the expanded list above.