Cross-referencing the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Here’s a closer look at the 200 block of South Goldsboro Street, which was dominated by wholesale groceries and small restaurants.
Curating Black Wide-Awake brings innumerable rewards, among them making surprise connections between people I’ve known all my life and people who pop up in records. Even better, sometimes those connections hit home.
I made a startling discovery a couple of weeks ago when I was updating my family tree with information I found in cousin Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook. The material included several funeral programs, including one for Alberta Artis Cooper. This wasn’t new to me; I featured it here. But, looking for obituaries for Alberta Cooper’s children, I found that of her son, John Hardy Cooper. I studied the names of his children … Frances Cooper Bynum … Christine Cooper Barnes … Wait — what?
I’ve been friends with the children of these sisters since middle school — and we’re cousins!
… but not in the way I first thought.
Though she reared him as her own, John H. Cooper was actually Alberta Artis Cooper’s step-son, the son of James W. Cooper and his first wife, Susannah (or Susie Anna). But Susannah Cooper was also an Artis — the daughter of Richard Artis and Susannah Yelverton Artis. Richard Artis (1849-1923) was the youngest brother of Adam T. Artis, who was Alberta Artis Cooper’s father (and my great-great-great-grandfather.) Thus, James W. Cooper’s wives were first cousins, a not-uncommon phenomenon in small communities in that time.
So, having already featured Alberta Artis Cooper, here is James William Cooper:
James W. Cooper (1886-1967), who, as president of Tobacco Workers Union Local 270, worked to improve working conditions for leaf house workers.
In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer George Cooper, 46; wife Stellar, 40; and children Arrettor, 22, George B., 16, Juley, 14, James, 12, Mary, 10, Maggie, 7, Bessie, 4, and Royal, 3 months.
James Cooper, 21, of Wayne County, son of George and Stella Cooper, married Susie A. Artis, 19, of Wayne County, daughter of Richard and Susanna Artis, on 6 December 1905 at Richard Artis’ residence in Nahunta township, Wayne County.
James Cooper married Alberta Artis on 18 July 1918 in Kings County, New York.
In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Brick House and Moore School Road, James Cooper, 33, farmer; wife Alberta, 20; and son Albert Horton, 1.
In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: James Cooper, 39, farmer; wife Alberta, 26; and children Elija, 21, Albert, 10, Mollie A., 8, Willard M., 5, Lauzin, 3, Annie M., 7 months; sister Oretter Bailey, 45; and niece Irene Artis, 18.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Cooper, 54, farmer; wife Alberta, 40; and children Marilyn, 18, Willard, 15, Laurzene, 13, Annie, 11, George, 9, Alberta, 5, Chester, 3, and Lillie, 1.
James William Cooper died 12 February 1967 at his home at 110 Fourth Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 July 1887 in Wayne County to George Cooper and Estelle Smith; worked as a foreman for Jas.I. Miller Co.; and was a World War I veteran. Wife Alberta A. Cooper was informant.
Photo courtesy of George Cooper and Frances C. Bynum, via Vernette B. Roberson. Thank you!
Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall‘s scrapbook contained two photos of her mother, Josephine Artis Sherrod (1887-1988). Though not taken on the same day, they were clearly taken within a short span of time and in the same place. They appear to date from the 1950s. (Was the occasion Mother’s Day? Her birthday? Both were in May.) I have not yet identified the two-story house in the background.
Handwritten in pencil on the back of this image: “To my baby, Love Mother.”
The Herald, the yearbook of Atlantic City High School, Atlantic City, N.J., 1945.
Born in Wilson in 1928, Ernest Lee Artis Jr. and his parents Ernest and Louise Artis joined the Great Migration during the early years of the Depression.
On 13 June 1923, Ernest Artis, 21, of Fountain, son of Joe and Ella Artis, married Louise McNair, 18, of Plymouth, N.C., daughter of Rufus and Louise McNair, at Louise McNair’s resident at Plymouth, Washington County, N.C.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Artis Ernest L (c; Louise) (Service Barber Shop), h 404 N Vick
In the 1940 census of Atlantic City, Atlantic County, New Jersey: at 700 Ohio Avenue, Ernest Artis, 36, barber; wife Louise, 35, storekeeper; and son Ernest, 12. All were born in North Carolina.
Ernest Lee Artis registered for the World War II draft in Atlantic City in 1946. Per his registration card, he was 27 September 1905 in Wilson County, N.C.; lived at 720 North Ohio Avenue, Atlantic City; his contact was wife Louise Artis; and he was self-employed at 135 North Penn, Atlantic City.
Ernest Artis Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Atlantic City in 1946. Per his registration card, he was born 2 January 1928 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 720 North Ohio Avenue; his contact was friend Anna Butler, 705 North Ohio; and he was a student at Lincoln University in Oxford, Pennsylvania.
The Lion, the yearbook of Lincoln University, 1949.
Columbus Esdella Artis registered for the World War II draft in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1940. Per his draft registration card, he was born 9 June 1918 in Black Creek, North Carolina; lived at 859 Landing Street, Norfolk (updated to Rt. 2 Box 335, Stantonsburg, N.C., then 1423 R Street N.W., Washington, D.C.); his contact was mother Laurine Artis, Stantonsburg; and he worked for Mr. Ferbee, Dependable Company, 617 Boush Street, Norfolk.
William Artis was killed by a falling tree while working “on the roads” somewhere near the current intersection of Lamm Road and Raleigh Road/U.S. Highway 264 Alternate between Wilson and Sims. After an inquest held at Charles H. Darden‘s funeral parlor, a coroner’s jury pronounced Artis’ death accidental. I have not found his death certificate.
In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 34; wife Patsey, 35; and children Adeline, 15, Dora, 12, Lornce, 7, Barney, 4, Jane, 2, and Corah, 2 months.
In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 55; wife Patsie, 58; and children Larnce, 27, Bonnie, 24, James, 22, Cora, 20, and Emma, 17.
In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 55; wife Patsie, 58; and children Larnce, 27, Bonnie, 24, James, 22, Cora, 20, and Emma, 17.
In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Artis, 69; wife A. Patsy, 64; and daughter Cora, 30.
Cora Artis died 17 November 1925. Her death certificate belied the newspaper’s claim of the heroic efforts of four physicians to save her life, noting her cause of death as “pneumonia stated to us no Doctor.”