Black Wide-Awake turns 4.

Dear Reader,

Today marks the 4th anniversary — and 2216th post — of Black Wide-Awake.

This blog was to be the first of at least three location-specific sites into which I would pour all the “extra” that I uncovered in the course of my genealogical research. All the court records and photographs and newspaper clippings that did not pertain directly to my people, but documented the lives of the people who built and nurtured (or disrupted) the communities in which they lived.

I started with Wilson and, despite my best and oft-uttered intentions to curate similar blogs for Wayne and Iredell Counties, my grandmothers’ home counties, I’ve never moved beyond. Somewhere along the way I realized that though I’m no longer in Wilson, I’ve never been more of her, and my deep, deep knowledge of this people and this place are critical to making the most of the material I uncover. Gazing at the palimpsest that is African-American Wilson, I’m able to read both the smudged original text and the layers upon layers inscribed upon it over the last 150 years. Wilson is my wheelhouse, and I’ll continue to cast down my bucket here.

Thanks so much for your support and suggestions over these four years. So many of you have been generous with your time and tips and have shined lights in corners in which my ignorance lay thick. (By the way, if you’ve got pre-1950 photos or other artifacts that you’re willing to share, I’d love to research and feature them!)

Thanks also to those who’ve let me know when a post has touched them. Black Wide-Awake‘s raison d’etre is to connect us with rare material evidence of our ancestors’ lives. It’s an intervention. A ministry.

A couple of days ago I thought to ask Regina Carter Garcia, a fellow genealogist, via Facebook if Rev. Austin F. Flood is today remembered in Greenville, the city to which he returned after fighting the good fight in Wilson during and just after the Civil War. She assured me that he is and shared my post about Flood’s letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau with Shelton Tucker, another genealogist/history buff. Here’s what happened:

I grinned all day. I’d continue to curate Black Wide-Awake with no audience at all, but I am thrilled when my posts find their people. On to more.

Yours, Carolina Street’s own,

Lisa Y. Henderson

The 101st anniversary of the school boycott.

Today marks the 101st anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman.  Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.

The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.

Golden wedding … and more.

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Wilson Daily Times, 1 December 1953.


Wilson Daily Times, 23 November 1963.


B.H. Edwards, 23, of Nash County, married Lucy Kearney, 17, of Wilson, on 9 November 1903 in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of J.J. Murfree, J.H. Pulley and W.L. Hardy.

Lucy K. Edwards died 26 March 1966 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 8 November 1886 in Franklin County, North Carolina, to Anna Williams; resided in Elm City, Wilson County; was married to Buck H. Edwards; and was buried in William Chapel cemetery.

Buck H. Edwards died 12 December 1967 in Elm City, Taylors township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1891 in Nash County to Robert Edwards and Sallie Parker; was married to Bettie M. Edwards; was a minister; and was buried in William Chapel cemetery. Informant was Mrs. Mae Guzman, 1214 Queen Street, Wilson.

Mr. and Mrs. Jones celebrate their 50th anniversary.

NY age 3 21 1959

New York Age, 21 March 1959.

In late March 1959, the seven children of Wesley and Martha Taylor JonesMildred Jones Crittenden, Lucille Jones Peterson, Vernon Jones, Willia Jones Turner, John Wesley Jones, James Jones and Elroy Jones — threw a party in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York, to celebrate their parents’ 50th anniversary.


Marriage license of Wesley Jones and Martha Taylor, who were married 26 March 1910 in Taylor township, Wilson County.


Martha and Wesley Jones with six of their children, circa late 1950s.

Photo courtesy of Shaunna M. Stevens.