Late night hours.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 November 1930.

The “doc” was chiropodist Zebulon Myer Johnson, a Bertie County native who lived in Wilson for several years before his death in 1934. It is not clear whether (or where) he received formal medical training, but Johnson claimed the title as early as 1918, when he registered for the World War I draft in Nash County, N.C. Presumably, he held late night hours at his home office to accommodate the schedules of clients standing long hours on their feet in tobacco factories or performing domestic work.

New Year Greetings!

Janitors at National Bank of Wilson, 113 East Nash Street, placed ads sending New Years greetings and thanking their customers for Christmas gifts.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 December 1933.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 January 1935.

[Sidenote: This building, which now houses county offices, was the tallest building in Wilson until the construction of Branch Banking & Trust’s twin towers at Nash and Pine Streets. The towers were demolished 19 December 2020, and the old National Bank building thus reclaims its title.]


  • David Graham — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 712 East Green Street, rented for $12/month, tobacco factory laborer David Graham, 40; wife Goldie, 46; daughters Cora, 17, and Marie, 15; and grandson Cleo, 3.
  • Jesse McPhail 
  • Hardy Anderson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 302 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $12/month, Hardy Anderson, 45, National Bank janitor; wife Sarah H., 34; and roomer Robert Good, 32, fertilizer laborer.
  • Calvin Carr — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 419 Stantonsburg Street, rented at $15/month, bank janitor Calvin Carr, 27; wife Lena, 23, private family cook; and sister-in-law Ina Blount, 25.
  • James T. Speight — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 209 Finch Street, owned and valued at $1000, Lula Speight, 34, drink stand proprietor, widow, and son James T., 19, bank porter; also, paying $8/month rent, William Hodge, 25, oil mill laborer; wife Sarah, 23; and children Eva R., 6, and William Jr., 1.
  • Ashley Tillery — in the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer Street, owned and valued at $1500, farmer John Tillery, 51; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, cook, Ashley L., 18, truck farm helper, Raymond, 16, truck farm helper, Adelia, 14, housemaid, Johny L., 11, Elnora, 7, and Clyde, 5.
  • Walter Jackson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 515 Church Street, owned and valued at $2000, James McCowan, 76, brickmason, and wife Louise, 63; Jenealia Murphy, 33, private cook, and son Elbert, 18, bank elevator boy, paying $12/month rent; and Rosa Jackson, 36, laundress, and children Annie, 19, cook, Walter, 16, bank elevator boy, and Lucil, 3, also paying $12.

Attention, colored people!

Wilson Daily Times, 19 September 1944.

Though earlier in the century many of the largest developers of East Wilson real estate were Black, such as Samuel H. Vick and brothers Walter and William Hines, by World War II realtors and landlords increasingly operated from the other side of the tracks. Here, Cecil B. Lamm appealed to African-American buyers to invest their wartime earnings in narrow lots on Atlantic and Washington Streets.

Iredell County Chronicles, no. 3.

Just months after Eugene B. Drake bought her in 1863, 23 year-old Rebecca was gone. Desperate to recoup his investment, Drake posted this remarkably detailed reward notice in newspapers well beyond Statesville. After precisely noting her physical features, Drake noted that Rebecca was “an excellent spinner” and “believed to be a good weaver, and said she was a good field hand.” (He had not had the chance to see for himself.) Rebecca may have helped herself to the products of her own labor, carrying away several dresses, as well as “new shoes.” Drake had purchased her from one of Richmond’s notorious slave dealers, but she was from Milton, in Caswell County, North Carolina, just below the Virginia line and southeast of Danville. There, Rebecca had been torn from her child and other relatives. Drake believed she was following the path of the newly opened North Carolina Railroad, which arced from Charlotte to Goldsboro, perhaps to seek shelter with acquaintances near Raleigh. He offered a $150 reward for her arrest and confinement.

Daily Progress (Raleigh, N.C.), 23 November 1863.

A year later, Drake was again paying for newspaper notices, this time for the return of his “slave man” Milledge, also called John, who had also absconded in new clothes and shoes. Drake again provided precise a physical description of the man, down to his slow, “parrot-toed” walk. Milledge/John had procured counterfeit free papers and a travel pass, and Drake believed he was aiming 200 miles south to Augusta, Georgia, probably on trains. 

Carolina Watchman (Salisbury, N.C.), 28 December 1864.

I don’t know whether Drake recaptured either Rebecca or Milledge/John. If he did, the rewards he paid were money wasted. The Confederacy surrendered in April 1865, and thereafter he owned no one.

Gala Mid-Nite Show.

The 7 October 1933 edition of the Wilson Daily Times ran this advertisement for a Gala Mid-Nite Show at the Carolina Theatre featuring Moran & Mack, the Two Black Crows, and unidentified “all colored musical and dancing vaudeville acts.”

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The Carolina was a segregated theatre with seating for African-Americans available in its balcony. Moran & Mack were a famed blackface minstrel act. If you care to see a snippet of Hypnotized, here you are.

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