Baptist church

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).

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  • 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:

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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.

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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.

Cornerstones, no. 1.

Calvary Baptist Church, 704 Gay Street, Wilson.

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Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, 513 East Barnes Street, Wilson.

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This church was founded in 1910 as Jackson Chapel. (Jackson Chapel later merged with the much older First Baptist Church, which stands one block away at Pender and Nash.) The original one-story wooden structure is shown below.

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Sanborn Insurance Map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.

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Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church, 627 East Green Street, Wilson.

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The church building, at the corner of Green and Elba Streets, is now occupied by Christ Deliverance Tabernacle Ministries.

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Sanborn Insurance Map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.

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Union Grove Primitive Baptist Church, 519 Singletary Street, Wilson.

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The original church, a small wooden building, is at left below. (The larger brick church, designated Tabernacle Missionary Baptist, is now the site of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.)

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Sanborn Insurance Map, Wilson, N.C., 1922.

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Mount Zion Holy Church, 517 Hadley Street, Wilson.

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Organized in North Carolina in 1886, the United Holy Church of America, Inc., is a predominantly black Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination and the oldest African-American Holiness-Pentecostal body in the world. Bishop G.J. Branch of Goldsboro, North Carolina, established congregations up and down the East Coast.

[N.B. Three of the five cornerstones were engraved by marble worker/artist Clarence B. Best. (Four, if you count the dates added to the Pilgrims Rest cornerstone.]