Wilson Daily Times, 17 August 1948.
Barbershops serving white clients charged uniform prices and operated uniform hours in the 1930s and 1940s.
Wilson Daily Times, 3 July 1935.
Wilson Daily Times, 29 July 1941.
Per the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory:
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.
Samuel Caswell Lathan sat in the front row during my presentation at Wilson County Public Library last week, making me a little nervous. This extraordinary musician, who once played drums for James Brown, was especially interested in the topic — he grew up on the 500 block of East Nash Street in the 1930s and ’40s. I visited with Mr. Lathan the next afternoon, soaking up his memories of the people and businesses of the block, whom he credits for setting him on his path as a drummer. He urged me to continue my documentation of East Wilson and expressed appreciation for and satisfaction with my work thus far.
Mr. Lathan also shared with me some extraordinary photographs of pre-World War II East Nash Street. Here he is as a toddler, circa 1931.
This stunning image depicts Neal’s Barbershop, with three of its barbers, circa 1935. Mr. Lathan is the boy leaning against the window, and Walter Sanders is seated in the chair awaiting a cut. “Billy Jr.” stands to his left in the photo, and an unidentified boy to the right.
African-American photographer John H. Baker took this family portrait of an adolescent Sam Lathan with his mother Christine Barnes Collins, grandmother Jeanette Barnes Plummer, and aunt Irene Plummer Dew in the late 1930s.
And this Baker portrait depicts Mr. Lathan’s beloved late wife, Mary Magdelene Knight Lathan.
Sam Lathan has graciously agreed to meet with me again to further explore his recollection of Black Wilson. I thank him for his interest, his time, and his generosity.
Photos courtesy of Samuel C. Lathan, please do not reproduce without permission.
Wilson Blade, 20 November 1897.
Only one issue of the Wilson Blade, a short-lived African-American newspaper, is known to exist.
In the 1900 census of the Town of Wilson, Wilson County: day laborer James Farmer, 22, and his siblings Rosa, 17, Freeda, 10, Robert, 7, Richard, 5, Mark, 2, and Erickers, 7 months, plus boarder Tobias Farmer, 47, a barber.
In the 1908 city directory, Tobias Farmer is listed as a barber living at 203 Manchester Street.
In the 1912 city directory, Tobias Farmer is listed as a barber working for Austin Neal and residing at 121 Ashe Street.
Tobias Farmer died in Wilson on 17 May 1914. Per his death certificate, he was born 5 January 1854 in North Carolina to Elija Farmer and Rosa Barnes; was a widower; and worked as a barber. Rosa Crank was informant.
African-Americans dominated certain trades in early twentieth-century Wilson, including barbering and operating eating houses. Here, in their entireties, are the entries for these vocations in the 1908 Wilson city directory. “Colored” people were designated with asterisks.
Sanborn Fire Map of Wilson, N.C., 1908.
(Click to enlarge.) In eating houses in red: (1) Annie Best, 121 South Goldsboro; (2) Moses Brandon, 127 South Goldsboro. Four other eating houses were three blocks southeast in the 400 block of Nash Street, which straddled the Atlantic Coastline Railroad. Barbershops in blue: (1) S.W. Barnes, 123 South Goldsboro; (2) Richard Renfrow, 126 South Goldsboro, (3) A.N. Neal, 109 East Nash; (4) Henry C. Holden, Branch Bank, 125 East Nash; (5) Tate & Hines, New Briggs Hotel, 209 East Nash Street; (6) Levi Jones, 105 North Goldsboro; (7) William Hines, 119 South Tarboro.
All census and vital records found at http://www.ancestry.com.
Wilson Daily Times, 21 October 1921.
Della Hines Barnes‘ sons, barber Walter Scott Hines (1879-1941), barber/hospital administrator/real estate developer William Hines (1884-?), and Dr. Boisey Otha Barnes (1902-1956), were three of East Wilson’s most influential residents in the first half of the twentieth century.