Elm City Elevator, 22 August 1902.
Elm City Elevator, 22 August 1902.
Misfortune dogged the Wheeler family for decades.
Wilson Daily Times, 6 March 1896.
Sidney Wheeler was a man, not a boy, and married nine months after this mishap. On 23 December 1896, Sidney Wheeler, 24, married Lou Armstrong, 20, in Wilson. W.T.H. Woodard performed the ceremony in the presence of Richard Renfrow, S.A. Smith and Janie Booth.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Sidney Wheelus, 27; wife Lula, 23; and son Sidney, 8 months.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sidney Wheeler, 40, barber; wife Lou, 40, private cook; and children Sidney, 9, Dave, 7, Floyd, 4, and Emma, 2.
In March 1910, Sidney Wheeler Jr. accidentally shot his sister in the head while playing with a gun. She died instantly. Their mother was away from home cooking supper for Frederick Woodard’s family; their father presumably was also at work. The Wheeler girl’s name is unknown. The 1900 census lists only one child; the 1910, only one daughter, Emma, who lived to adulthood. Though described as eight years old, Sidney Jr. was more likely about ten.
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 17 March 1910.
Fourteen months later, Sidney Wheeler Jr. (still described as eight years old) was charged with assault with a deadly weapon against General Tyler, “another colored boy.”
Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1911.
The Daily Times published two articles about the incident. The second doubled down on the sensationalist editorializing, but there seems little question that Sidney Jr. engaged in unusually violent behavior.
Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1911.
Six months later, a Raleigh paper picked up a local-interest bit from Wilson and printed it using the exaggerated dialect and descriptions saved for negro anecdotes. In a nutshell: Anderson Dew visited Sidney Wheeler”s barber shop. With half his face shaved, Dew attempted to spit. Wheeler warned there was no spitting while he was shaving. Further, there was the matter of Dew having testified against Wheeler on a liquor charge. Dew distracted Wheeler’s attention, then jumped from the chair and ran off to tell this tale.
The Farmer and Mechanic (Raleigh, N.C.), 7 November 1911.
Sidney Wheeler died 8 March 1912 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 35 years old; was born in Nash County to Richard and Annie Wheeler; worked as a barber; was married; and resided at 710 Vance Street. Lula Wheeler was informant.
Six and-a-half years after their father died, Sidney Wheeler Jr.’s younger brother Dabbie fetched up in court on a breaking and entering charge. As he had already done time on a county road gang, the judge sentenced him to five-to-ten in the state penitentiary.
News & Observer, 7 September 1918.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hackney Street, college cook Lula Wheeler, 49, widow, and children Richard, 12, Emma, 10, John, 8, and Sammie, 6.
Dabbie Wheeler died four years into his prison term of tuberculosis of the shoulder joint and bowels. He was 17.
Dabbie Wheeler died 21 June 1922 at the State Penitentiary in Raleigh, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 27 August 1904 in Wilson to Sidney Wheeler and Lula Armstrong and worked as a laborer. He was buried in Chapel Hill.
Ten months later, Sidney Wheeler Jr. escaped from a prison camp near the Rocky Face Mountain quarry in Alexander County, North Carolina. I have found nothing further about him.
Alamance Gleaner, 5 April 1923.
Lulu Wheeler died 5 May 1925 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 August 1878 in Elm City to Emma Armstrong; she was the widow of Sid Wheeler; she resided at 523 Church Street; and she did housework for Atlantic Christian College. Emma Wheeler was informant.
Wilson Advance, 21 April 1892.
The Gaston twins were John A. Gaston and George A. Gaston. George established perhaps the leading barber shop in Elm City, seven miles north of Wilson. Though John was sometimes referred to as “Twin Gaston,” this ad, with Gastons plural, suggests that the brothers were in business together in Wilson at least briefly.
In the 1870 census of Kinston, Lenoir County, North Carolina: brickmason George Gaston, 53, wife Matilda, 30, and 13 year-old sons George and John, both farm laborers.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason George Gaston, 60, wife Matilda, 44, and son John, 23, a farm laborer. John’s twin George Gaston, 23, barber, is listed by himself in the 1880 census of Town of Toisnot, Wilson County.
Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1947.
In addition to his business and real estate interests, William Hines for decades served as secretary-treasurer and general administrator of Mercy Hospital. This photograph, which probably dates from the mid-1950s, depicts Hines flanked by Helen James, nursing director, and Anna Burgess Johnson, hospital board member. Photo courtesy of O.N. Freeman Round House and Museum.
Wilson Daily Times, 13 October 1980.
Wiley Ricks and young customer.
In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Millie Ricks, 40, widow, with sons William, 12, and Wiley, 1.
In the 1910 census
On 27 July 1918, Wiley Ricks, 21, of Toisnot, married Fannie Fort, 21, of Toisnot, in Elm City. Presbyterian minister A.E. Sephas performed the ceremony in the presence of John Gaston, Samuel T. Ford and T.H. Nicholson.
Fannie Ford Ricks died 9 March 1924 in Elm City, Toisnot township. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 January 1899 in Wilson County to Sam Ford of Halifax County and Mattie Williams of Wilson County and was married to Wiley Ricks.
In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Wiley Ricks, 30, barber; wife Carrie, 29; and children Miriam, 2, and Maggie, 9 months.
In the 1940 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Branch Street, barber Wiley Ricks, 41; wife Cary P., 39; and children Miriam, 12, Maggie R., 10, Lois, 8, and Malinda, 1.
Wylie Ricks died 28 March 1985 in Hollister, Halifax County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 December 1898 in Wilson County to Wiley Sharpe and Millie Sharpe; was a barber; resided in Elm City; and was married to Carrie Parker Ricks.
A 1947 photo taken outside Wiley Ricks’ barbershop. Courtesy of Thomas Griffin via Wilson Daily Times, 15 January 2002.
Haircut photo courtesy of article re Ricks in History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).
Wilson Daily Times, 8 August 1994.
In the 1920 census of Lumberton, Roberson County: Rosa Harvey, 32, cook, and son Roscoe, 14.
In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harvey Love barber 114 E Barnes h 410 E Walnut; (also) Harvey Roscoe L barber Love Harvey 114 E Barnes h 410 E Walnut
In the 1926 Polk’s Tampa, Florida, city directory: Harvey Roscoe L barber Lee Davis r 301 Hillsborough
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harvey Roscoe barber r 1112 Carolina
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harvey Love L (c; Mollie) r 507 Banks; (also) Harvey Roscoe (c) barber r 507 Banks
On 27 June 1930, Roscoe Lee Harvey, 24, son of Lony Harvey of Wilson and Rosa L. Clark of Florida, married Helen McMillan, 20, daughter of Morris and Victoria McMillan, in Wilson. Rev. G.J. Branch of the United Holy Church of America performed the ceremony in the presence of Anderson Holden, Levi Godwin and Haywood Townsend.
In 1940, Roscoe Lee Harvey registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he resided at 724 East Green, Wilson; was born 5 July 1905 in Lumberton, N.C.; his contact was wife Helen McMillan Harvey; and was self-employed at 114 East Barnes.
On 7 July 1947, Roscoe Lee Harvey, 42, son of Lonnie Lovelace Harvey and Rosa Lee Harvey, married Rowena Stephenson, 26, daughter of Deans and Hattie Stephenson, in Wilson.
Roscoe Lee Harvey Sr. died 17 August 2003 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Fred Artis Jr.
In 1924, “White Barbers of Wilson” placed an ad in the Daily Times complaining of white customers — women, even — patronizing African-American barber shops. Hair-cutting had long been dominated by black men, and white barbers keenly felt the loss of caste that their trade entailed. After chastising “the public” for going to “dark skin shops,” they shook a challenging finger: “Ladies and gentlemen, we believe when you see the thing the way we do you will be a full blooded Southerner, and join the ranks of a true born American citizen.”
Wilson Daily Times, 5 September 1924.
In early 1928, a group of young African-American men — friends and neighbors and almost all barbers or porters at barber shops — founded a social club in East Wilson.
Baltimore Afro-American, 11 February 1928.
WILSON, NORTH CAROLINA
WILSON, N.C. On Tuesday evening, January 31st, the following young men of this city organized a club to be known as the Klondike Club. Bill Bryant, William Brown, Woodie Farmer, Freeman Ennis, John Love, Golden Venters, Oscar Hicks, George E. Brodie, Rufus Speight and George H. DuBose. The meeting was held at the Hotel Whitby and the following officers elected: B. Bryant, president; Freeman Ennis, vice president; Golden Venters, secretary; G.E. Brodie, treasurer; John Love, sergeant-at-arms, and George H. DuBose, journalist. On February 2nd, the club met at the home of the present and the following members initiated, Murphy Richardson, Jerval Barnes and Ossie Edwards. Club motto is, “We are what you should be.”
In March 1906, Noah J. Tate, Walter S. Hines and Joshua L. Tabron executed a lease-purchase agreement with Richard Renfrow for the entire contents of a barber shop, including four “hydrantic” chairs, four mirrored cabinets, a barber pole and eight water bottles. These items were “packed in R.E. Hagan’s Shop on Barnes Street,” which Tate, Hines and Tabron had purchased. Renfrow agreed to pay three dollars a week, plus insurance and taxes on the property. After 132 payments, Renfrow would own the barber shop. He paid at an accelerated rate, and the debt was cancelled before the end of the year.