Baptist church

1113 East Nash Street.

The thirty-eighth 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.

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As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “1927; 2 stories. Parsonage, Jackson Chapel Baptist Church; cubic, hip-roofed, is blend of Colonial Revival and bungalow traits, typical of a host of middle-class dwellings in district built during 1920s.”

In the 1930 Wilson city directory: Jordan Benj F Rev (c) (Maggie L) pastor First Bapt Ch h 1113 E Nash.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1113 East Nash Street, minister Benjiman Jorden, 50; wife Maggie, 44; and children Benjiman F., 16, Mary B., 14, Milford L., 12, Odis, 11, Willard, 10, Irene C., 8, and James D., 6.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1113 East Nash Street, renting for $20/month, W.P.A. project laborer Oscar Ellis, 50; wife Mamie, 48; children Henry, 23, laborer, Estell, 22, housekeeper, Aja, 21, waiter, Charles, 20, deliveryman for Moore’s Drug, James, 18, Bessie, 17, Herbert, 15, Leroy, 13, Fred, 8, Mamie, 10, and Clarence, 5; and adopted children Annie, 15, and Rosco Jones, 13.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2017.

Cemeteries, no. 20: Saint Delight church.

There is Saint Delight Missionary Baptist Church in Walstonburg, just beyond Saratoga in Greene County. This is not it. This is Saint Delight Original Freewill Baptist Church, and it is just northeast of Kenly, about a mile inside the Wilson County line, at the end of a dirt spur hard by the CSX railroad.

Per its cornerstone, the church was dedicated in 1915 by Rev. G.W. Edwards. If its large cemetery is a measure, Saint Delight was an important center of worship in the area, which has been known as Boyette and Kirby’s Crossing. Given its proximity to the county line, church membership also drew from Johnston County. The Horton family — transplants from Wake County — were important in the church’s early decades, and the numerous graves of that extended family lie closest to the sanctuary.

  • The Pierce children — Roscoe, Maggie, Sara and Toma

The four headstones read: (1) Roscoe son of E & M Pierce May 14 1921 Oct 29 1921 At rest; (2) Maggie dau of E & M Pierce Nov 12 1919 Sep 26 1920 At rest; (3) Sara dau of E & M Pierce Jun 14 1914 Jan 1 1915 At rest; and (4) Toma dau of E & M Pierce Aug 7 1911 Dec 31 1914 At rest. Sara and Toma died too early for certificates to have been issued to record their deaths. However, per his death certificate, Roscoe Pierce died of acute ileocolitis on 26 October 1921 in Springhill township. He was born 14 May 1921 in Wilson County to Ernest Pierce and Maggie Atkinson and was buried at Kirby’s Crossing. Maggie Pierce died of acute ileocolitis 19 September 1920 in Springhill township. She was born 12 December 1919 to Ernest Pierce and Maggie Atkinson and was buried in Boyetts cemetery.

  • Nathan Atkinson

Nathan Atkinson Sept. 1 1847 Nov. 2 1925 Death is eternal life why should we weep.

In the 1870 census of Bentonsville township, Johnston County: Nathan Atkinson, 18, is listed as a farmhand in the household of 47 year-old white farmer Bryant Williams.

On 8 August 1872, Nathan Atkinson, 23, married Frances Shaw, 18, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Atkinson, 28; wife Frances, 25; and children William, 7, Albert, 5, Coraan, 3; and Joseph, 10 months.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Atkinson, 55; wife Frances, 47; and children Mary I., 19, Howard F., 16, Lerogy, 14, Maggie, 12, Spencer, 10, Fannie, 8, and Henrietta, 3; and nephew Joseph S. Atkinson, 3. [Maggie Atkinson Pierce was mother of the Pierce children above.]

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Nathan Atkinson, 63; wife Fannie M., 58; and children Spencer R., 18, Fannie F., 16, and Henrietta, 13; and grandson Joseph S. Atkinson, 13.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on avenue off the new section of the Wilson & Kenly Road, widower farmer Nathan Atkinson, 72, son Joe, 25, and daughter Henrietta, 22.

Nathon Atkinson died 2 November 1925 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 77 years old; born in Wilson County to unknown parents; worked as a farmer; and was buried in Boyette cemetery. Tink Pierce was informant.

  • Mathew and Savannah Scott Horton

Savannah Horton Mar 7 1870 Jan 18 1935 Mathew Horton M___ 1870 Jun ___

This concrete headstone is enormous, easily three feet high and four feet across.

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: Nash Horton, 35; wife Elizabeth, 25; and children James, 14, Allis, 9, Jane, 6, Susan, 4, George, 2, and Matthew, 2 months.

On 28 September 1890, Savanah Scott, 20, daughter of John and Nannie Scott, married Mathew Horton, 21, son of Nash and Betsey Horton, all of Springhill. Rufus Horton applied for the license, and he, Samuel Taylor and Anderson Horton witnessed.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Mathew Horton, 32; wife Savannah, 31; and children Roscoe, 7, Sidney D., 4, and James F., 1.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Mathew Horton, 42; wife Savannah, 41; and children Roscoe, 16, Sidney, 13, Freddy, 11, Alice, 9, Allie, 7, and Rhommie, 4.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: M.H. Horton, 51; wife Savannah, 50; and children Alice, 18, Allie, 16, and Romey, 14; plus David Scott, 75, boarder.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Mathew Horton, 60, and wife Savanah, 59.

Mathew Horton died 25 July 1953, age 81.

  • Annie Scott Horton

Annie Scott  1867-1930

Perhaps this is the same Annie E.B. Scott, 20, daughter of John Scott, who married Haywood Horton, 22, son of John and Esser Horton, on 13 February 1887 in Springhill township in the presence of Samuel Taylor, Anderson Horton and Tony Mercer.

Annie Scott died 5 September 1930 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1883 [sic] in Wake County to John and Annie Scott; worked as a laundress; resided at 618 Vance Street, Wilson. Informant was Savannah Horton, Wilson.

  • Susan Horton Beckwith Johnson Farmer

Susie Horton July 14, 1865 Jan. 18, 1945 wife of Richard Johnson mother of Aaron, Carrie, Curtis & Garland

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: Nash Horton, 35; wife Elizabeth, 25; and children James, 14, Allis, 9, Jane, 6, Susan, 4, George, 2, and Matthew, 2 months.

On 21 May 1882, Joshua Beckwith, 28, of Chatham County, son of Wiley and Lucy Costin, married Susan Horton, 17, of Wilson, daughter of Nash and Elizabeth Horton, at Nash Horton‘s in Springhill township. Witnesses were John T. Hinnant, Nash Horton and Isaac Kirby.

On 2 October 1887, Richard Johnson, 22, of Wilson County, married Susan Beckford, 24, of Wilson County, in Springhill township. Witnesses were Anderson Horton, Samuel Taylor and Joel Oneil.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Susan Johnson, 34, widowed washerwoman; and children Ayren, 17, Cary, 12, Curtis, 10, and Garland, 4.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Robert Boykin, 28; wife Carrie, 23; daughters Vernell, 4, Lizzie D., 2, and Queen E., 2 months; and mother-in-law Susan Horton, 44, cook.

Susan Horton died 18 January 1945 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 July 1866 in Wake County to Nash Horton and an unnamed mother; resided at 417 South Goldsboro Street, Wilson; was the widow of Dock Farmer; and was buried in Boyett cemetery. Informant was Carrie Boykin, 417 South Goldsboro.

  • Rev. James Thomas Johnson

Rev. J.T. Johnson son of Susie Horton July 17, 1886 Dec. 18, 1933 A faithful member of the Free Will Baptist Church and a gospel preacher for twenty-two years

James Thomas Johnson died 18 December 1933 in Pine Level, Johnston County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 July 1884 in Chatham County to Josh Beckwith and Susie Horton; was married to Martha Durham Johnson; and worked as a preacher. His wife was informant, and he was buried at Boyettes cemetery.

  • James H. Horton

James H. Horton born Sep 7 1855 died May 8 1943 Gone but not forgotten

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: Nash Horton, 35; wife Elizabeth, 25; and children James, 14, Allis, 9, Jane, 6, Susan, 4, George, 2, and Matthew, 2 months.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James Horton, 45; wife Lona, 29; and children Louisa M., 7, James L., 6, Henry A., 2, and Roberta, 2 months.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James H. Horton, 55; wife Lunar, 38; and children James T., 16, Henry A., 12, Roberta, 9, Lizzie, 6, Cora, 4, and John, 1.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Fremont & Kirby’s Crossing branch or avenue, widowed farmer James H. Horton, 64, and children Henry A., 21, Lizzie, 14, Cora, 12, and Johnnie, 10.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: widowed farmer James H. Horton, 73; son-in-law James L. Lewis, 25; and daughter Cora, 23.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Black Creek Church to Kenly Fremount Road, farmer James Lewis, 35; wife Cora, 34; and children Lillie Mae, 11, and Saulie Mae, 6; and father-in-law James Horton, 85.

James H. Horton died 8 May 1943 in Springhill township. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 June 1860 in Wake County to Nash Horton and an unknown mother; was the widower of Lunar Taylor; and was buried in the Free Will Baptist cemetery. Henry Horton was informant.

  • John Horton

John Horton born Sept. 15th 1826 March 29th 1910

In the 1870 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: farm laborer John Horton, 47; wife Espram, 35; and children Milly, 13, Nancy, 11, Anderson, 7, Haywood, 6, Rufus, 3, Mitty, 1, Doctor F., 39, and John W., 7.

In the 1880 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, North Carolina: John Horton, 53; wife Hesper, 45; and children Anderson, 17, Haywood, 15, Rufus, 12, Annie, 9, Spencer, 7, Louis, 3, and Minnie, 1.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: John Horton, 73; wife Esther, 65; and son Louis, 23; hired girl Roselle Peacock, 19; nephews Nathaniel Hopson, 16, and John W. Richardson, 17; and servant George Davis, 18.

  • Louzania Hinnant Barnes

Louzania H. Barnes Aug 14 186_ Mar 23 1953

On 14 March 1893, Dred Barnes, 33, of Black Creek, son of Nelson Barnes, married Luzana Hinnant, 30, of Black Creek, daughter of Hardy Hinnant, in Black Creek. Witnesses were J.B. Bardin, J.H. Mosley, and Ben Simms.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Dred Barnes, 42; wife Lou Z., 37; son Johnnie, 14; and boarder Alex Johnson, 29.

In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Dred Barnes, 54, and wife Louzanne, 48.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Dread Barnes, 69, and wife Louisa, 47.

In the 1900 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: William O. Barnes, 61; wife Maggie B., 58; children Ruth, 17, and Mildred, 16; lodger Bennie Sheard, 17; and Louzannie Barnes, 77.

  • Mary Ayers

Mary Ayers wife of Council Ayers. Died Dec. 23, 1913.

On 30 April 1866, Council Ayers married Mary Carroll in Johnston County.

In the 1870 census of Beulah township, Johnston County: Council Ares, 52, wife Mary, 33, and William Smith, 3.

  • J.A. Kirby

J.A. Kirby born July 16, 1867 died Mch. 2, 1911

On 11 February 1900, James Kirby, 31, married Kizzy Bagley, 26, in Fork township, Wayne County.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer James A. Kirby, 40; wife Kizzie E., 37; and son Rodgers Kirby, 22.

  • Lucy Cofield

Lucy Cofield, wife of Offin Cofield. Died Oct. 15. 1914, age 98 yrs. Honored beloved and wept, here mother lies.

Lucy Coffield died 13 September 1914 in Kenly, Johnston County. Per her death certificate, she was 90 years old, was born in Bertie County to unknown parents and was buried at Boyett’s Crossing. Simon Coffield was informant.

  • Manda Perry

Manda Perry July 7, 1865 Feb. 19 1950

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 107 North East Street, laundresses Halla Harris, 74, and Mandy Perry, 62, both widowed; and roomer Westley Hines, 25, a body plant laborer.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Mahaily Harris, 75; her widowed sister Manda Perry, 73; and Manda’s grandson Fred Perry, 22, a tobacco factory laborer.

1902 topographical map of Kenly quadrant.

circa 1975 topographical map of Kenly East quadrant.

Cemeteries, no. 18: Cherry Chapel.

Cherry Chapel Baptist Church today is located just outside Elm City. Historically, however, the church’s home was several miles east on East Langley Road, just inside the Edgecombe County line. The small edifice is now occupied by Pleasant Hill Church of God, but Cherry Chapel’s cemetery remains. Well-maintained except along the edges where the woods encroach, most of its graves date from the mid-twentieth century and include:

  • Joseph Virgil (1909-1945)

Joseph Virgil died 16 January 1945 near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 June 1910 in Florence, South Carolina, to Ed Virgil and Candis Scott; was a farmer; and was married to Fannie D. Virgil, who was informant.

  • Anner B. Knight (1901-1961)

Annie Knight died 17 January 1961 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 April 1902 in Norfolk, Virginia, to Wiley Batts and Lucy Bullock; was widowed; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. [Is this a recording mistake? Was she disinterred and moved?] Informant was Mary Lancaster of Wilson County.

  • Blanche B. Barnes (1906-1959)

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Blanche Barnes died 26 September 1959 in Toisnot township. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 June 1906 in Wilson County to Charlie Batts and Lizzie Joyner; was a farmer and housewife; and was married to Wiley Barnes.

  • Clara Dawes (1884-1953)

Clara Dawes died 23 July 1953 in Elm City, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 1 September 1883 in Wilson County to Handy Lawrence and Georgeanna Bullock and was widowed. Lonnie Weaver, Elm City, was informant.

  • Sarah Satterwhite

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Sarah Satterwhite died 7 January 1945 at the Wilson “county TB sanatorium.” Per her death certificate, she was born 18 December 1900 in Nash County to Robert Arrington and Caroline Bryant; was married to Eddie Satterwhite; lived near Elm City; and was buried at Cherry’s Chapel.

 

Johnson Chapel Baptist Church.

HISTORY

Johnson Chapel Baptist Church, Elm City, N.C.

Rev. B.J. Daniels, Pastor

Johnson Chapel Baptist Church was organized 1886, under the pastorate of the Reverend Croom, in a house in Wilson Street, in Elm City, North Carolina. This organization grew out of a prayer meeting held in this house by a group of Missionaries. Some of the pioneers were: Bro. Tom Drake and wife; Bro. Levi Loverette and wife; Bro. Ollyston Walters and wife; Sister Blessing Winstead, and others.

During the time of these prayer meetings, a revival was held. Several candidates were added to the membership. Among them were Sister Belle Loverette, Sister Sarah Loverette, Bro. Wells and others.

During the year 1888, or soon afterward, this building was moved from Wilson Street to Main Street (its present site) under the Rev. Johnson’s administration. The name Johnson was selected in honor of the first pastor of the church; thus Johnson Chapel Baptist Church of Elm City was born.

After Rev. Johnson’s administration, other ministers followed. There were: Rev. Cheek, Rev. L.W. Williams, Rev. T. Ceils, Rev. Bill Tucker, and Rev. Dunston. These ministers preceded Rev. John Watson, who became pastor in the year 1914 and served 34 years before his health failed him and he died.

During Rev. Watson’s administration the church expanded. The membership increased; and a “T” was added to the building (1925). During 1944, the church was remodeled and the “T” was removed by widening the building out to encompass the “T,” and a choir stand was built. In 1946, Rev. H. Hoskins served as pastor until the death of Rev. Watson (1948), and succeeded him as a fulltime pastor of the church.

In 1954, Rev. R.H. Johnson succeeded Rev. Hoskins as pastor and served the church for four years. During his ministry, Johnson Chapel saw many innovations in the church program taking place. Some of them are being used today (taking of the Lord’s Supper, etc.)

In 1958, Rev. Daniels, our present pastor, was elected. Under his leadership many improvements have been made, and many members have been added to the membership. Major improvements are: new ceiling, new windows, new heating system and the Pastor’s Lounge and rest room toilets installed. The cornerstone was laid, 1963. We have also built a kitchen, dining room, and several ante-rooms.

Early officers of the church (all deceased) were:

Bro. Tom Drake, Bro. Charlie Hunter, Bro. Robert Lucas, Bro. Thomas Broadie, Bro. Andrew Parker, Sister Blessing Winstead, and Sister Kate Walters, Mothers; and Bro. Dolphus Wilcher, Clerk.

Other officers that followed later were:

Brothers *P.P. Lindsey, *James Robbins, *Noah Dawson, Elisha Wells, *Howard Joyner, Joe Rountree, Jesse Lindsey, Johnny Parker, Governor Winstead, William Kelly, and Elvie Robbins, respectively; Mothers — *Eugenia Lindsey, *Christianna Coley, Flora Robbins, Jennie Dawson, Rosa Armstrong, Bluma Joyner, and Corine H. Winstead, respectively. Other Clerks — Sister Ruby Hargroves and Bro. Governor Winstead, respectively.

* — Denotes deceased members. Total Membership to date: approximately 200. Oldest living members: Bro. Elisha Wells and Sister Minnie Parker.

— Elm City Centennial Committee, Elm City North Carolina Centennial 1873-1973 (1973).

——

  • Blessing Winstead — in the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Bryant Winstead, 49, and wife Blessing, 45, a farm laborer.
  • James Robbins (1897-1979) — in the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer J.R. Robbins, 38; wife Flora L., 40; daughter Nellie Ruth, 2; and grandson Elv., 6.
  • Howard Joyner — Howard Lee Joyner died 27 October 1954 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was resided in Elm City; was married; was a farmer; and was born 24 October 1912 to Bunion and Sarah Farmer Joyner. Blummer Joyner was informant.
  • Governor Winstead (1920-1986) — in 1942, Governor Winstead registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 12 September 1920, and his nearest relative and employer was Josh Winstead.
  • Elvie Robbins — see James Robbins, above.
  • Christianna Coley (1886-1956) — Christiner Coley died 22 September 1956 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born in 20 August 1886 in Sampson County to Virgal Smith and Adline Merritt and was widowed. Carl Coley was informant.
  • Flora Robbins — wife of James Robbins, above.
  • Bluma Joyner (1916-1981) — on 28 December 1934, Howard Lee Joyner, 22, of Taylors township, married Bloomer Winstead, 19, of Toisnot township. Baptist minister Howard Farmer performed the ceremony in the presence of Henry WinsteadWilliam A. Farmer and  W.D. Wells.
  • Noah Dawson (1877-1962) — Noah Dawson died 1 August 1962 on East Nash Street in Elm City. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 February 1877 in Lenoir County to Rachel Sutton; was married; and worked as a railroad man. Informant was Lula Dawson.
  • Elisha Wells (1901-1992) — Elisha Wells, 25, of Toisnot, son of Dave and Sarah Wells, and Pearlie Brodie, 23, of Toisnot, daughter of Peyton and Julia Brodie, were married 17 January 1932 in Wilson.
  • Charlie Hunter — in the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Charlie Hunter, 45, and wife Eliza, 32.
  • Thomas Brodie — on 19 January 1918, Thomas Brodie, 32, of Nash County, son of Payton and Julia Brodie [and brother of Pearlie Brodie Wells, above], married Mary Ford, 37, of Taylors township, daughter of Swift and Mary Ford, at the courthouse in Wilson.
  • Andrew Parker — on 12 September 1918, Andrew Parker registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 1 February 1873; resided at R.F.D. #2, Elm City; worked as a farmer; and his nearest relative was wife Lou Conteser Parker.
  • Dolphus Wilcher — in the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: odd jobs laborer Dolpher Wilcher, 28; wife Clara, 26; and children Sylvesta, 10, Essie M., 5, Clarance, 4, and Clora M., 2. [The Wilchers were in Dodge County, Georgia, in the 1920 census, and in 1940, in Washington, D.C.]
  • Joe Rountree (1913-2001) — on 27 December 1933, Joe Rountree, 20, of Toisnot township, son of Freeman Rountree and Martha R. Williams, married Geneva Pitt, 20, of Toisnot, daughter of Arthur and Ollie Pitt. Arthur Pitt and Wiley Rountree applied for the license, and Baptist minister McKinley Whitley performed the ceremony in the presence of William Pitt, Elisha Webb, and Frank Webb, all of Elm City.
  • Jesse Lindsey (1914-1994) — on 8 January 1938, Jessie Lee Lindsey, 21, of Wilson County, son of P.P. and Lugenia Lindsey, married Emma Bulluck, 21, of Wilson County, daughter of Alfred and Mattie Bulluck, in Nashville, Nash County. P.P. Lindsey, W.R. Lucas and Virginia Lindsey were witnesses. [P.P. and Virginia wrote their surname as “Lenzy.”]
  • Eugenia Lindsey — Lugenia Lindsey died 25 August 1967 in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 August 1889 in North Carolina to George Hawkins and an unnamed mother and her regular residence was Elm City. She was buried in William Chapel cemetery.
  • Minnie Parker — in the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Mack Parker, 33; wife Minnie, 20; and children Lula, 8, John, 7, and Mack, 6.
  • William Kelly (1919-1986)
  • Corine H. Winstead — Corine Hunter Winstead (1922-2012) was the wife of Governor Winstead, above. In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Josh Winstead, 59; wife Dora, 45; son Governor, 19; and daughter-in-law Corine, 17.

Married too much.

Rev. Spurgeon David Davis, appointed in 1918 to head one of two planned alternative schools in the wake of the Charles Coon incident, was a newcomer to Wilson. A native of Maryland, he arrived in town in 1917 to head First Baptist Church (now known as Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church.) So who was he?

In the 1900 census of Baltimore, Maryland: day laborer Jarriet Davis, 50; wife Mary A., 41; children Mary V., 21, Louis B., 20, and Jarriet W., both hotel waiters, Spurgeon D., 10, and Alice D., 7; niece Ella A. Bell, 2; daughter Augusta Addison, 17, and son-in-law Roy A. Addison, 22, a schoolteacher.

In the 1910 census of Baltimore, Maryland: farm laborer Jarrett Davis, 58, wife Alice, 50; children Alice, 17, and Spurgeon, 21, “church preacher”; grandson Jarrett, 3; niece Ella Bell, 12; and sister Annie Wall, 56.

Spurgeon Davis apparently was ordained as an A.M.E. minister prior to 1910. He headed west to a post in Kansas City, Missouri:

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Kansas City Sun, 31 January 1914.

But did not stay long:

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Kansas City Sun, 4 April 1914.

Davis fetched up in Rome, Georgia, but his stay there was even shorter and considerably less welcome:

atl-con-9-26-1914

Atlanta Constitution, 26 September 1914.

This escapade called for some reinvention. Davis cut his ties with the A.M.E.’s and reemerged as a Baptist preacher …

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New York Age, 11 January 1917.

… and headed back South.

On 5 June 1917, Davis registered for the World War I draft in Wilson, and listed his address as 648 West Mulberry Street, Baltimore; his date of birth as 26 July 1887; and his occupation as minister employed by “So. Baptist Convention; white; travelling in South.” He also noted that he was married with two children. Wilson County’s Clerk of Superior Court transmitted the registration to Baltimore.

Shady past notwithstanding, Davis — by now, somehow, a Doctor of Divinity — was a sought-after speaker in North Carolina, as these glowing briefs demonstrate:

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Wilmington Morning Star, 15 April 1917.

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The Robesonian (Lumberton), 22 August 1918.

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Richmond Planet, 2 August 1919.

On 23 April 1919, Davis married Nancy Jones, 27, of Wilson. Though the two obtained their marriage license in Wilson County, the ceremony, oddly, was conducted one county over by Baptist minister J.S. Brown in Rocky Mount. Wilson leading lights F.S. Hargrave and C.L. Darden were two of the official witnesses.

However, this “prince among preachers” was soon on the lam again, having hastily resigned his post in October 1919 as a bigamy scandal erupted.

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News & Observer, 30 October 1919.

A more succinct narrative appeared on 7 November in Elizabeth City, North Carolina’s Independent:

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Davis apparently never returned to Wilson — at least, in any long-term capacity. It is not clear who the Oklahoma wife was. Davis obtained a license to marry Ruth Olivia Jones in Lynchburg, Virginia, on 26 May 1911. The couple, however, are also listed in a District of Columbia Compiled Marriage Index with an 29 April 1912 marriage date.

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Washington Times, 29 April 1912. [Note: the Davises, though white-looking, were not “white.”]

Rev. Spurgeon Davis of 139 Pender Street appears in the 1920 Wilson city directory — a volume compiled no doubt before he left town — with no spouse noted. He is not found in the 1920 federal census. However, it seems that Nancy prevailed in the skirmish, for, in the 1923 Montgomery, Alabama, city directory: Davis Spurgeon D Rev (c[olored]; Nancy E) pastor First Baptist Church h[ome] 714 High. And in the 1930 census of Montgomery, Alabama: at 714 South Ripley (an $8000 home he owned), Maryland-born Spurgeon Davis, clergyman; North Carolina-born wife Nancy, 38; and Maryland-born daughter Mary A., 10. Tragedy befell during the Depression decade, however, and in the 1940 census of Baltimore, Maryland: at 111 Railroad Street, public school principal Carrington Davis, 52; brother-in-law Douglas Smith, 45, a baseball team manager; sister Alice Smith, 45, a laundress; brother Spurgeon Davis, 49, a house man working for a private family; and nephew Jarrett Davis, 34, a gardener. (Davis was described as married, though no wife was listed in the household. In a rented house across the street at 112 Railroad, however, was North Carolina-born Nancy Davis, 44, described as divorced.) In 1942, Davis registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card: he resided in Chattolanee, Baltimore, Maryland; he was born 28 July 1887 in Chattolanee; his contact person was Mrs. Alice Smith of Owings, Maryland; and his employer was Mrs. Horace White of Garrison, Maryland. I have not found record of his death.

From a history of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, a photograph of Rev. Davis. From the text: “The Reverend A.L. Weeks and the Reverend Spurgeon Davis were those to follow the Reverend [M.A.] Talley. In 1919, the mortgage on the new edifice was burned as a result of a great financial effort engineered by Reverend Davis, supported by the officers and members.” There was that, at least.

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Rev. J.T. Deans and the Kenansville Association.

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Though Rev. J.T. Deans lived in Wilson (A), the four Missionary Baptist churches he pastored — Mount Gilead, Willard, Shoulder’s Branch, Union Chapel — were in Mount Olive (B), Willard (C), Castle Hayne (D), and Currie (E), North Carolina, respectively. Wilson to Mount Olive is 40 miles. Wilson to Castle Hayne is 108 miles.

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——

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 514 Lodge Street, school principal James T. Deans, 53, wife Mary, 34, and children Rosevelt, 16, James Jr., 9, Walter, 5, Therodore, 3, and Dixie, 2 months, and boarder Daniel Gunn, 57, a tobacco factory worker.

James Thomas Deans died 20 December 1939 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 74 years old, born in Nash County to Sarah Deans of Nash County, resided at 514 South Lodge Street, was a preacher, was married to Ada Drewcilla Deans, and was buried in Warsaw [Duplin County], North Carolina. Ada D. Deans was informant.

Minutes of the Forty-Ninth Annual Session of the Kenansville Missionary Baptist Association (1919).

Who’s who among the Baptists.

From Williams and Watkins’ Who’s Who Among North Carolina Negro Baptists: With a Brief History of Negro Baptist Organizations (1940):

baptists

Page 68.

Rev. Frank L. Bullock of Enfield married Bertha A. Davis of Wilson. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Fred M. Davis, 50 [see below], wife Minnie, 39, children Fred Jr., 20, Berthia, 22, Addie, 18, and William B., 16, and mother Judie, 76.

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Page 213.

Rev. Fred M. Davis served multiple stints as pastor of First Baptist Church and presided over the marriages and funerals of many of Wilson’s prominent black families.

F Davis

Page 241.

Rev. Nathaniel Horton went to school in Wilson County and pastored at New Bethel and Macedonia Baptist Churches in Wilson County.

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Page 286.

As founder, Rev. Andrew Joshua Jackson put the “Jackson” in Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church.

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Page 294.

Rev. Charles A. Marriott lead the congregation at Williams Chapel Baptist Church in Elm City.

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Page 313-314.

Rev. Marshall Alexander Talley lead Wilson’s First Baptist Church in the 1910s. He moved on to Homestead, Pennsylvania, and then to Indianapolis, where he was elected in 1936 to the Indiana House of Representatives. He died in Indianapolis in 1953.

Talley

Page 379.

Rev. Alfred L.E. Weeks has been discussed here.

ALE weeks

Page 397.