The one hundred-forty-fifth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1930; 1 story; shotgun with shed-roofed porch.”
The house shown at 138 Ashe Street in the 1922 Sanborn map of Wilson is clearly not the house above. That house, which belonged to the Levi and Hannah H. Peacock family and was later numbered 218, was a multi-roomed bungalow with an auto shed in the rear. It was located much closer to Darden Allen (now Darden Lane) than the present 138.
It appears that, circa 1929, several in-fill endway houses were constructed mid-block on Ashe Street, necessitating the renumbering of houses lying northeast toward Darden Alley. At that point, the Peacocks’ 138 became 218. However, in the 1941 and 1950 city directory, house numbers on Ashe Street skip from 126 to 200. The crucial clue for the house featured above is found in the 1957 city directory, in houses 200- 224 are renumbered as 126-150. Thus, we see that 138 Ashe had been 210 Ashe.
Excerpt from Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1957).
136 and 138 Ashe were constructed as mirror-image twins. (The side steps of 136 are just visible in the photo.) 138 was later modified with a rear addition.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Simpson Robert (c; Hattie) lab 210 Ashe [As a measure of the tenant turnover in Ashe Street endway houses, note that, when Hattie Simpson died in 1929, the family lived at 127, and when Robert Simpson died in 1934, they lived at 116.]
Rosa Mae Allen died 25 June 1937 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 14 years old; was a student; lived at 210 Ashe; and was born in Wilson County to Wade Allen and Fannie Barnes.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco factory laborer Wade Allen, 37; wife Fannie, 35, tobacco factory stemmer; son John H., 16; Oddesa [illegible], 18, washer; and Mary E. Smith, 16, nurse.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen Wade (c; Fannie) farmer h 210 Ashe
In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen Wade (c; Fannie) lab City Street Dept h 210 Ashe
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: tobacco grader Sam Allen, 50; wife Ellen, 42, “tobacco tying”; and mother Mariar, 70, washer.
On 2 January 1907, Sam Allen, 51, of Wilson, son of Jack Allen and Mariah Clay, married Fannie Sinclair, 23, of Wilson, at the groom’s residence in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of Alex Walker, Mahala Harris, and Carrie Pettiford.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: factory laborer Sam Allen, 60; wife Fannie, 20; and lodger Charlie Herring, 50, streets work.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sam Allen, 63; wife Fannie, 35; daughter Geneva, 27; and son Charlie, 8.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 Roberson, owned and valued at $1000, warehouse laborer Sam Allen, 73, and wife Fannie, 37, “agent-srubbery” [sic].
Samuel Allen died 22 December 1930 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 60 years old; was married to Fannie Allen; lived at 706 Roberson; worked as a day laborer at a tobacco warehouse for 30 years; and was born in Oxford, N.C.
Marjorie Allen‘s headstone was found at the edge of a trash pile in Odd Fellows cemetery. She died just before her 17th birthday.
Marjorie day of Charlie & Pearl Allen Born Oct 22, 1910 Died Aug 1, 1927
The trash in this heap was likely dumped in the 1970s, when an access road still ran across Odd Fellows into Vick cemetery. It is not clear whether Marjorie Allen’s headstone is located at or near her grave or was moved and dumped here.
In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: tenant farmer Charlie Allen, 51; wife Pearl, 29; and daughter Marjorie, 9.
Margarie Allen died 1 August 1927 in Wilson township, Wilson County, of “apoplexy-hemiplegia.” (In other words, a stroke and resulting paralysis.) Per her death certificate, she was born 22 October 1910 in Harnett County, N.C., to Charley Allen of Oxford, N.C., and Pearl Blue of Sampson County, N.C.
In the 1900 census of Stewarts Creek township, Harnett County, N.C.: farmer Ed Armstrong, 29; wife Mary, 25; and six daughters Josephine, 12, Ella, 9, Mary, 6, Rachel, 5, Ola, 3, and Julia, 1.
In the 1910 census of Duke township, Harnett County: farmer Ed Armstrong, 45; wife Cornelia, 45; and children Ellie, 19, Mamie, 17, Rachael, 15, Viola, 14, Julia, 12, Maggie, 10, Ernest, 8, and James, 6.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen James B (c; Rachel) rest 217 S Goldsboro h 900 Atlanta [217 S. Goldsboro is the site of today’s Worrell’s Seafood.]
On 26 November 1929, Rachel Armstrong, 36, of Harnett County, daughter of Eddie Armstrong and Lelia Smith, married James Bland Allen, 45, divorced, of Craven County, N.C., son of Wyatt Allen and Eliza Hicks, in Greensville County, Virginia.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 900 Atlantic Street, cafe proprietor Jim Allen, 45; wife Rachel, 32, private nurse; children Elouise, 10, and Fred, 8; and these lodgers — farm laborer Floyd Baker, 26; cook Gertrude Kannary, 27; and Katherine, 10, Martha, 7, and Elouise Baker, 1.
Rachel Allen died 5 June 1937 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1897 in Dunn, N.C., to Edward and Cornelius [sic] Armstrong; was married to James Allen; lived at 405 East Green Street; and worked as a midwife and hospital nurse. Informant was Maggie Armstrong, Durham, N.C.
Wilson County Public Library’s Local History Room holds a copy of “A History of Public Library Service to Blacks in Wilson, N.C.,” the master’s thesis Doretta Davis Anderson submitted to the University of North Carolina’s School of Library Science in 1976. Here are early excerpts :
“The honor of first suggesting a public library for the black citizens of Wilson, North Carolina belonged to a Mrs. Argie Evans Allen. Mrs. Allen suggested the idea of establishing a library for the black community as a project for her club, the Mary McLeod Bethune Civic Club. Accepting the idea, the club then authorized Mrs. Allen to carry our the project as she saw fit.
“The first actual recorded interest in the establishment of the library appeared in a letter, written by Mrs. Allen to Mrs. Mollie Huston Lee on June 7, 1943. Mrs. Lee, at that time was supervisor of North Carolina’s Negro Public Libraries. …
“Subsequently, Dr. D.C. Yancey donated a room over his drugstore to the club for the establishment of a library. …
“… Volunteers were solicited to man the library. The first official ‘librarian’ was Evangeline Royal, a local high school student employed to operate the library after school.”
“The following persons were appointed to become members of the library’s first board of trustees: Mrs. W.M. Freeman (Chairman); E. Hilliard (Secretary); James Whitfield (Treasurer); E.F. Battle; William Hines; Dr. D.C. Yancey; and C.W. Foster.
“Considering its relative obscurity, the library was to circulate 108 volumes during its first year of operations and collect $539.40 in donations for operating expenses.
“The following year showed a marked improvement. Aside from acquiring a new librarian, the board of trustees was able to solicit appropriations from the local city and county officials for the financing of the library. … Under the direction of Miss Pauleze Coley (Bryant), the college graduate employed by the library, circulation for the year ending June 30, 1945 totaled 3,172 volumes. …”
Proposed floor plan of Wilson County Negro Library’s location on Pender Street.
Evangeline Royal — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 203 Pender Street, widow Ossie M. Royall, 33, an elevator girl at the courthouse; her mother Tossie Jenkins, 53, stemmer at a tobacco factory; daughters LaForest, 16, and Evauline Royall, 14; and a roomer named Ed Hart, 45, a laborer employed by the town of Wilson. Ossie and LaForest were born in Wilson; Evaline in Battleboro [Nash County]; and Tossie and Ed in Nash County.
In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen James eating house 217 S Goldsboro h 112 Ashe and Allen Rachel cook h 112 Ashe
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen James B (c; Rachel) restr 217 Goldsboro h 900 Atlanta
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 900 Atlantic Street, rented for $20/month, cafe proprietor Jim Allen, 45; wife Rachel, 32, private family nurse; children Elouise, 10, and Fred, 8; and lodgers Floyd Baker, 26, laborer; Gertrude Kannary, 27, cook; and Katherine, 10, Dortha, 7, and Elouise Baker, 1.
Per her death certificate, Rachel Allen died 5 June 1937 at Mercy Hospital. She was 40 years old; was married to James Allen; was born in Dunn, North Carolina, to Edward Armstrong and Cornelius [sic] Armstrong; worked as a midwife and practical nurse; and resided at 405 East Green Street. Maggie Armstrong of Durham was informant.
I have not been able to identify W.S. Allen, but in the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: 55 year-old rock quarryman John Jones; Virginia-born laundress wife Mollie, 45; and children Annie B., 15, John, 15, and William, 5.
Applications for Pennsylvania veteran’s compensation benefits filed by veterans born in Wilson County:
Iredell Seward Allen
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer James Allen, 27; wife Clara, 23; and children Howard, 7, Etta, 5, Clara, 4, Iredell, 3, and Dowell, 5 months.
Ben C. Bunn
Jesse James Cox
In the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: wagon driver John W. Farmer, 37; wife Edmonia, 33; and children George, 13, Paul, 12, Annie, 9, Mary, 7, and Fannie, 5. Paul registered for the draft while living in Philadelphia,
but returned permanently to North Carolina after the war. In the 1930 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, Wilson County: Paul Farmer, 44, wife Cora, 35, and children Pauline, 4 1/2, Fredrick, 2, John W., 1 1/2, and lodger Harvey Wilson, 17.
George Alexander Gaston
In the 1900 census of Town of Wilson, Wilson township, North Carolina: 44 year-old barber John Gaston, [second] wife Sabrina, 22, and children Theodore, 13, Cicero, 10, George, 8, and Caroline, 2 months. Also in the Town of Wilson, 30 year-old divorcee Ella Gaston with sons Ralph, 10, and Albert, 2.
The first in a series — Pennsylvania death certificates for Wilson County natives:
James I. Allen, Philadelphia
James I. Allen appears in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County, with parents West and Harriet Allen; siblings Boston, Susan, Cornelius, John, Lettice and Effie Allen; and grandmother Harriet Allen.
1880 census, Wilson, Wilson County.
In 1894, James Allen and Clara Brown, below, were married by a Missionary Baptist minister in Wilson.
Clara Brown Allen, Philadelphia
William Anderson, Philadelphia
James Artis, Whitesboro, New Jersey
Per Wikipedia, “Whitesboro [New Jersey] was founded about 1901 by the Equitable Industrial Association, which had prominent black American investors including Paul Laurence Dunbar, the educator Booker T. Washington and George Henry White, the leading investor and namesake. He was an attorney who had moved to Philadelphia after serving as the last black Republican congressman representing North Carolina’s 2nd congressional district. White and his fellow entrepreneurs wanted to create a self-reliant community for blacks, without the discrimination faced the southern states. Shares in the planned community were sold to African Americans from North and South Carolina and Virginia.” Samuel H. Vick was an investor in Whitesboro.
Warren Barnes, Johnston, Cambria County
This is possibly the five year-old Warren Barnes listed in the household of Peter, 32, and Lizzie Barnes, 34, in the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County.