In the fall of 1951, having opened several modern — or modernized — brick buildings across the county, the Wilson County Board of Education moved to auction off its old colored school houses, some of which had been built with Rosenwald funds. For several weeks, the Wilson Daily Times ran lengthy notices identifying the properties by name and metes and bounds. Schools set for sale included Bynums, Saratoga, Yelverton, Stantonsburg, and Evansdale Colored Schools in Gardners, Saratoga, and Stantonsburg townships.
In the fall of 1951, having opened several modern — or modernized — brick buildings across the county, the Wilson County Board of Education moved to auction off its old colored school houses, some of which had been built with Rosenwald funds. For several weeks, the Wilson Daily Times ran lengthy notices identifying the properties by name and metes and bounds. Schools set for sale included Ruffin, Lofton, Lucama, Calvin Level, Rocky Branch, Williamson and Wilbanks Colored Schools in Black Creek, Cross Roads, Spring Hill, and Gardners townships.
Jonah Reid and wife — Wayne County native Jonah Reid was a son of Jonah Williams below. Jonah married his first cousin Magnolia Artis, daughter of Thomas and Louisa Artis Artis, on 30 August 1892 in Wayne County, North Carolina.
In the fall of 1951, having opened several modern — or modernized — brick buildings across the county, the Wilson County Board of Education moved to auction off its old colored school houses, some of which had been built with Rosenwald funds. For several weeks, the Wilson Daily Times ran lengthy notices identifying the properties by name and metes and bounds. Schools set for sale included New Vester, Jones Hill, Sims, Farmer’s Mill, Howard’s, Brooks and Minshew’s Colored Schools in Old Fields, Taylors and Black Creek townships.
This Indenture made the 28th day of January 1868 between Thomas Lamm administrator of Martin R Thorn deceased of the County of Wilson State of North Carolina of the first part & Patrick Williamson of the county & State aforesaid of the second part, Whereas at the Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions held for the County of Wilson on the fourth Monday in October 1867 it was ordered by the said court in a said cause then pending in said court wherein Thomas Lamm administrators petitions that the land mentioned in the petition in this case be sold on a credit of six months &c and Thomas Lamm in pursuance of said order did on the 22nd day of October 1867 sell at public auction the tract of land hereinafter described having first been given lawful notice of the time & place of sale by advertisements at which sale the land was struck off to Patrick Williamson for the sum of one hundred & sixty three dollars that being the high bid for the same & whereas said party of second part having complied with the terms of said sale & whereas the said Williamson hath fully paid off said purchase money together with all Lawful Interest, Now Therefore the Indenture witnesses that the said Thomas Lamb administrator had granted bargained sold & conveyed to the said party of the second part his heirs & assigns The tract of land in the county of Wilson known as the Martin R. Thomas tract adjoining the lands Wilie Lamm Ransom Thorn et al containing ninety four acres more or less to have & to hold the same to him & his heirs forever Thomas X Lamm
The Execution of the foregoing deed was duly acknowledged before me by Thomas Lamm the subscriber this 29th day of Dec 1868 Let the same be registered. A Barnes Probate Judge
Deed book 2, page 568, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson, Wilson County.
These stories appeared in early and late editions of the Wilson Daily Times on 8 January 1924 and paint an unsurprising picture of the erasure of Wilson’s African-American Grabneck community.
One paragraph unabashedly spells it out, emphasis added: “The history of this Grab Neck property is interesting. Four years ago there were in this locality a number of small houses, that stood in the way of the progress of the city, and Mr. Roscoe Briggs put up the money in order to remove this obstacle.” Obstacle cleared; a “fashionable residence section” emerges.
The lots sold like gangbusters. Atlantic Coast Realty Company handled the auction, which pulled in $21.935. “The property, which was formerly owned by Mr. R.G. Briggs, and others, was divided into 26 lots, all of which faced on Nash Street. This property was purchased by Mrs. Cora M. Dupree, Mrs. Sarah E. Griffin and Messrs. Troy T. Barnes, J.C. Eagles and H.P. Yelverton.”
[Sidenote: Wilson Best held out for almost two more years. Pressure from “the people of Wilson” to remove obstacles to the gentrification of West Nash Street must have reached fearsome intensity by time he sold to Harry Abbitt in October 1925.]
This notice of impending sheriff’s sale for non-payment of property taxes included these African-Americans (and a reference to Washington Suggs):
Charles Barber — Or, Charles Barbour. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: mechanic Charley Barber, 41; sons Luther, 13, James and John, 7, and Hubert, 5; widowed sister Mary Tomlingson, 42, and her children Ella, 9, and Charley, 4; and boarders Turner Utley, 27, John Purkison, 31, and George Garrett, 25.
Josephine Battle — possibly, Josephine Moore Battle. [Note that African-American women were not afforded honorifics in the Times.] Possibly, in the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: laborer Paul Battle, 26; wife Josephine, 27; and children Clestia, 3, and Earnest Battle, 6 months, and Tiney, 8, and Jessee Moore, 6. In the 1900 census of Washington, D.C.: on Q Street, laborer Paul Battle, 46; wife Josephine, 40; and children Israel, 24, Austen, 17, and Indimuel, 11. (All were born In North Carolina except Indimuel, born in D.C.)
Dennis Batts — In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, farmer Dennis Batts, 46, widower; and children John H., 22, William A., 20, Mary J., 17, Patience, 15, Haywood, 13, Hattie, 11, Samuel, 9, Gorman, 6, and Rosa, 3.
Smith Bennett — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed brickmason Smith Bennett, 47, and daughter Addie, 20, with boarder Robert Wilkerson, 36; and lodgers Archie Williams, 34, and Samuel Wooten, 18.
F.K. Bird — Franklin K. Bird. In the 1900 census of Raleigh, Wake County: at 575 Blount Street, preacher Frank Bird, 42, wife Agnes, 36, and children Oscar S., 17, a laborer, Mamie, 15, a student, and Fred, 12.
Mark Blount — Marcus W. Blount. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: the widower Mark Blount, 38, a cook, and his children Coneva, 10, Dotsey, 9, and Theodore W., 6, were lodgers in the household of George Faggin, just a few households away from Samuel Vick.
John Boykin — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house mover John Boykin, 50; wife Dicy, 44, cooking; and children Sallie, 19, cooking, James, 18, day laborer, Dotia, 14, Susia, 14, Lillie, 10, and Eliza, 7.
Julia Bryant — Julia Suggs Bryant. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Harry Bryant, 34; wife Julia, 34; and sons Leonard, 10, and Leroy, 4. [Julia S. Bryant was the daughter of Washington and Esther Suggs.]
M.D. Cannon — Mack D. Cannon. Mack D. Cannon died 15 December 1938 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 210 Pender; was married to Bettie Cannon; was employed as a barber; was born in Oxford, North Carolina, to Henry Cannon and Mary Dinger; and was buried in Wilson. Marie Mathews was informant.
Julius Freeman — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: 56 year-old carpenter Julius Freeman, wife Eliza, 46, and children Elizabeth, 19, Nestus, 17, Junius, 11, Ernest, 9, Tom, 6, Daniel, 4, and Ruth, 4 months.
Walter Kersey — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith John Kersey, 61; wife Julia, 53; and son Walter, 21; plus boarder William Joyner, who worked in the blacksmith shop. In the 1910 census of Center township, Marion County, Indiana: widower Walter Kersey, 40, a blacksmith, was a boarder in a household at 914 Weikel Street.
Sam McGowan — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, hotel porter Saml. McGown, 57; wife Ann, 42; and children Bettie, 18, and Margaret, 16, both nurses, Saml., 12, Minnie, 3, and Lanie, 1.
Charlie Parker — in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: carpenter Charles Parker, 32; wife Maggie, 23; and children John, 6, Charles, 3, and Henry, 1 month, plus lodger Florence Hooks, 18.
Phillis Phillips — On 18 May 1893, Hood S. Phillips, 22, of the town of Wilson, son of H.C. and E.E. Phillips, married Phillis Gay, 24, of the town of Wilson, daughter of Wiley and Catharine Gay. Rev. H.C. Phillips performed the ceremony at the A.M.E. Zion church. Witnesses were Annie Mincy, Annie Thorn and Alex Warren.
John W. Rogers — in the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John W. Rodgers, 30; wife Mary E., 22; sister Minnie, 17; and boarder Sallie Barber, 35, described as “widowed.”
George Short — perhaps, in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer George Short, 39; wife Martha, 35; and children Lizzie, 8, Minnie, 5, and Dorah, 2, and boarder Basha Joyner, 47, farm laborer.
S.A. Smith — Simeon A. Smith. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher Simeon A. Smith, born 1849; his wife Minnie E., born 1865, also a teacher; and their son [sic] Georgie, 3, all natives of North Carolina.
G.H. Towe — Granville H. Towe. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: schoolteacher Granville Tower, 40, wife Rosa, 40, and children Ophelia, 21, Addie, 18, Stella, 15, Ambrose, 14, Granville, 12, Powhatan, 9, Marry, 7, and Sinclair, 7.
Eighty-seven years ago today, Mercy Hospital was sold at auction to the highest bidder. J.D. Reid had pledged the facility as security several years before, and the scandal that undid the Commercial Bank also dragged the struggling Mercy under. Oliver N. Freeman had signed the deed of trust transferring title.