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Bicycles lost and found.

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Wilson Times, 21 January 1922.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Rodgers, 30, day laborer; wife Mary E., 22; sister Minnie, 17; and boarder Sallie Barber, 35.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, John Rogers, 33, odd jobs; wife Mary E., 30; public school teacher; daughter Mary J., 2; and sisters Winnie, 22, cook, Ethel T., 12, and Ida E., 8.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Rodgers, 49, general laborer, and wife Mary, 38, at 555 [East] Nash Street.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 546 East Nash, John W. Rogers, 57, janitor at dry goods store; wife Mary R., 47; adopted son Leonard G., 7 (born in the West Indies to West Indian parents); and niece Ernestine Atkinson, 22.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: J. Wesley Rogers, 71, retail candy store operator, and wife Mary, 70, at 546 East Nash Street.

Mary Elizabeth Rogers died 24 May 1950 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 April 1878 in Smithfield, N.C., to John Thomas; was married; resided at 546 East Nash Street; and was buried in Thomas cemetery, Johnston County. Informant was Wesley Rogers.

John Wesley Rogers died 19 December 1951 at his home at 546 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 May 1870 in Durham, N.C., to Charles Rogers; was a widower; had worked as a department store porter; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. Earnestine Coley was informant.

The twin Gastons.

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Wilson Advance, 21 April 1892.

The Gaston twins were John A. Gaston and George A. Gaston. George established perhaps the leading barber shop in Elm City, seven miles north of Wilson. Though John was sometimes referred to as “Twin Gaston,” this ad, with Gastons plural, suggests that the brothers were in business together in Wilson at least briefly.

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In the 1870 census of Kinston, Lenoir County, North Carolina: brickmason George Gaston, 53, wife Matilda, 30, and 13 year-old sons George and John, both farm laborers.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason George Gaston, 60, wife Matilda, 44, and son John, 23, a farm laborer. John’s twin George Gaston, 23, barber, is listed by himself in the 1880 census of Town of Toisnot, Wilson County.

Stop hoarding! (An early Great Depression appeal.)

Buy Now! Buy At Home! Stop Hoarding!

Presented below are a representative number of live Wilson County Merchants and professional men. The energies of the individuals composing these firms are not only devoted to the upbuilding of their own interests, but also to make Wilson County a bigger, better and more prosperous place in which to live. Consult this page often, when the services or merchandise of these people are needed, buy with them or consult them, they want and will appreciate your business.

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Wilson Daily Times, 28 March 1932.

Vote for your favorite group.

Reid Street Community Center hosted a gospel group contest in the spring of 1946. Tickets were available at Shade’s Pharmacy and C.E. Artis Funeral Home.

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Wilson Daily Times, 19 April 1948.

Per an unsourced inventory compiled by Freeman Round House and Museum, the Wilson Chapel Four performed for Franklin D. Roosevelt’s inauguration and were the first African-American gospel quartet to sing on WGTM, a Wilson radio station.

The Wilson Chapel Four performed on Sunday at 10:30 A.M. Wilson Daily Times, 17 July 1943.

Presumably, the quartet was affiliated with Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church at 513 East Barnes Street. If anyone can identify members of the Wilson Chapel Four, I’d appreciate hearing from you.

Benefit for Mercy Hospital.

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“All receipts given to colored hospital,” Wilson Daily Times, 11 April 1930.

This advertisement touts a midnight variety show and movie screening to benefit Mercy Hospital. The institution, in continuous financial straits, had recently been sold at auction to businessman Wade H. Gardner.

Though the ad is not explicit, it seems to be directed at a white audience. James Edward Andrews, Carl S. Hinnant (described in the 1930 federal census of Wilson as an orchestra musician), Sidney Willoughby and Lester Rose were local white men, and a “black face comedy act” would not have had primary appeal to an African-American audience.

 

$50 reward for runaway Willie.

On 5 February 1853, E.D. Hall, sheriff of New Hanover County, North Carolina, placed an ad in the Wilmington Daily Journal. His office had “taken up and committed” to jail a runaway enslaved man named Wiley. Wiley, who was about 24 years old, told the sheriff he belonged to a woman named Cynthia A. Ellis and had been leased to a Dr. Dortch of Stantonsburg. As was customary, Hall’s ad served notice for Ellis to make arrangements (including paying fees) to take him or he would be sold at auction.

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Three and a half years later, Wilson’s Southern Sentinel newspaper printed this ad:

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Southern Sentinel, 17 October 1856.

Was 30 year-old Willie the same man as Wiley? The name were often pronounced the same way in that era, and it seems so. Having apparently been returned to Wilson County, Willie had run away again in February 1856. The ad is rich with detail. Willie was a “bright mulatto” (this generally meant white-looking, or nearly so); he wore his hair in long plaits; he was a cooper (a builder of staved wooden vessels like barrels and buckets) by trade; he had a wife in Georgetown District, South Carolina (sold away from Wilson County? or met while he was a runaway?); and he refused to look slaveholders in the eye. He was thought to be hiding near the farms of William Ellis or his son Jonathan Ellis near Stantonsburg, as he had relatives in the area.

A month later, Willie was still missing.

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Southern Sentinel, 15 November 1856.

Images courtesy of the N.C. Runaway Slave Advertisements project, which “makes available some 2400 advertisements that appeared in North Carolina newspapers between 1751 and 1840. A collaboration between The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG)  and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NC A&T), the project builds on the work of Freddie L. Parker (Stealing a Little Freedom: Advertisements for Slave Runaways in North Carolina, 1791-1840) and Lathan Windley (Runaway Slave Advertisements)and presents digital images of the advertisements alongside full-text transcripts and additional metadata to facilitate search and discovery.”

The new decorated Ritz.

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The Carolina Times, 19 September 1942.

The ad above, touting the “new decorated” Ritz Theatre, ran in The Carolina Times, an African-American newspaper based in Raleigh, North Carolina. The white-owned Ritz, which catered to a “colored” audience, was located at 523 East Nash Street.

This photograph of the Ritz, which hangs in a hallway of the Freeman Round House and Museum, is undated, but contains some clues however. The magnificent movie posters at either side of the entrance promote Lena Horne, Bill Robinson and Cab Calloway in the acclaimed musical Stormy Weather, which was released in 1943.  The sign above the ticket booth reads “GRAND RE-OPENING, Monday May 13th,” but 13 May 1943 was not a Monday. Nor was that date a Monday in 1942, when the reopening ad above ran. The closest years that fit are 1940 and 1946. Thus, either the sign was left hanging for several years, or Stormy Weather was a re-run showing several years after original release. If this photograph were taken by Raines & Cox studio, which seems probable, the 1946 date is more likely.

Stormy Weather film poster in vivid color. I have not been able to find color images of the two magnificent posters in the Ritz’ glass cases.

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Update: Mystery solved. Many thanks to Steve Brown for locating this ad from the 11 May 1946 edition of the Wilson Daily Times, touting the Grand Re-Opening of The State’s Finest Most Modern Colored Theatre!