When an airplane passed over to shoot this 1940 aerial, the landscape of much of the East Wilson into which I was born was undeveloped. My early years were spent mostly east of Carroll Street and once I started school I has essentially free range of the blocks between Carroll, Highway 301, Academy Street to the north, and Atlantic Street to the south. The housing in those blocks, except along the western and southwestern edges and a solid line of shotguns in the 1300 block of Carolina, sprang up post-World War II, when severe housing shortages and pent-up demand pushed East Wilson beyond city limits toward the planned path of a ring road (Ward Boulevard) and a widened and re-routed U.S. 301.
I came home from Mercy Hospital to 706 Ward Boulevard. Before I turned one, we had moved to a little brick rental house at 1401 Carolina Street. There, I gained my grounding in Black Wide-Awake and, on June 26, 1969, celebrated my 5th birthday in the backyard.
My friends then are my friends now. I hugged the neck of the lady at upper right just last month. And my own sweet mother, at upper left, blesses me daily. This birthday hits a little different, but I’m grateful for the journey — and proud that it started here.
Photo from the collection of Beverly A. Henderson.
Snaps, no. 98: Jimmy Forbes and his grandfather.
James T. Forbes recently celebrated his 85th birthday. Here he is, circa 1939, with his grandfather Joseph McCoy on the front steps of Bill Hines’ home on East Vance Street.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer George Bynum, 59; wife Tamer, 54; sons Robert, 18, and Jesse, 13; daughter Leesy McCoy, 25; son-in-law Willie McCoy, 22; grandchildren Joseph, 2, and Lossie, 1; and lodger Walter Taborn, 17.
In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Will McCoy, 34; wife Leesie, 32; and children Joe, 11, Lossie, 9, Nancy, 8, Robert, 4, and Mary, 3.
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farmer Willie McCoy, 47; wife Leecy, 45; and children Joe, 21, Nancy, 16, Robert, 15, Arena, 13, and Eddie, 10.
Joseph McCoy, 25, married Mittie Forbes, 25, on 17 October 1927 in Wilson. Oscar Reid applied for the license, and Free Will Baptist minister E.S. Hargrove performed the ceremony in the presence of Tom Joyner, Annie Hargrove, and Purl Hodge.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1110 East Nash Street, paying $16/month, barber Joe McCoy, 30; wife Mittie, 29, laundress; and roomer Sarah Wood, 45, widow, laundress.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 307 Reid Street, paying $14/month, barber Joe McCoy, 40, and wife Minnie [Mittie], 49, laundress; paying $4/month, Willie Forbes, 22, truck driver for Boykin Grocery Company, wife Goldie, 21, private cook, and son Jimmie, 3; also daughter Emma McCoy, 16, housekeeper; and roomer Elton Thomas, 17, tobacco worker.
In the 1941 Wilson, N.C., city directory: McCoy Jos (c; Mittie) barber John B Barnes h 307 N Reid.
In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 923 Atlantic Street, hotel bell hop Willie Forbes, 32; wife Goldie, 32, theatre cashier; and son James, 12.
Many thanks to Dawn Forbes Murphy for sharing this wonderful image. Happy birthday, Mr. Forbes!
Happy birthday to a son of East Wilson!
This photograph accompanied the very first Black Wide-Awake post on 5 October 2015. Today is Michael E. Myers‘ birthday. He, as you can see, is my lifelong friend, and has deep roots in East Wilson.
Here, we’re seated on my mother’s lap on the front steps of the East Green Street home of Michael’s great-grandparents, Rev. Fred M. Davis and Dinah Dunston Davis. Rev. Davis was a long-time pastor of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist church. Michael’s maternal great-uncle Fred M. Davis Jr. was active in 1930s and ’40s voter registration efforts in Wilson. His great-aunt Addie Davis Butterfield was a teacher at Samuel H. Vick Elementary School, and her husband was dentist George K. Butterfield Sr. (Which, of course, makes Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr. his cousin.) On his father’s side, Michael’s great-grandmother Grace Battle Black was a close pal of my great-great-aunt, nurse Henrietta Colvert. Grace Black’s sister Roberta Battle Johnson was one of the teachers who resigned from the Colored Graded School after the Mary Euell incident in April 1918. (My grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks was one of the children who withdrew from the school in the aftermath, and also grew up around the corner from the Davises.) Michael’s great-great-grandfather was Parker P. Battle, a noted blacksmith with Wainwright foundry.
Michael’s lovely mother Diana Davis Myers was my beloved second-grade teacher at B.O. Barnes Elementary. (I rode to school with her, and Michael and I watched cartoons together on early weekday mornings.) His father is William E. “Bill” Myers, respected educator, renowned musician, and the visionary behind the Freeman Round House and Museum. They were treasured members of my childhood village, and I hug them every chance I can.
Happy, happy birthday, Michael Earl. Wishing you love and laughter forever.
Wilson Daily Times, November 2005.
- Mary H. Jones
- William H. Coleman
My aunt recently celebrated her 84th birthday. She’s shown here with my grandmother, circa 1945. Wishing you many more, Hattie Henderson Ellis!
Happy birthday, Karla!
Today is my sister’s birthday. Here she is, aged about two and a half.
I love everything about this photo. The subject, the composition, the lighting. The pensive face, the little chin in the little hand. My entreaty to my mother. My unraveling braids. I don’t know who the photographer was, only that it was taken at a basketball game at C.H. Darden during what must have been its last season as a high school. And then the dam of segregation broke.
Lona Edwards Alston Dunston, centenarian.
Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 2001.
Wilson Daily Times, 15 November 2002.
In the 1910 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farm laborer Stephen Edwards, 31; wife Charity, 29; and children Lonnie, 9, John H., 7, Charity, 4, William, 2, and Mary, 7 months.
On 14 January 1917, Thomas Alston, 22, of Greene County, son of Thomas and Peggy Alston, married Lonie Edwards, 18, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Steve and Charity Edwards, in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Rev. W.J. Fox of “A.M.E. Zion connection,” performed the ceremony.
In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: widow Lonie Alston, 40, farmer, and children Napoleon, 23, Willie Marie, 20, Thomas Lee, 17, J.C., 15, Stephen, 12, Jesse, 9, Mattie, 7, Lonnie, 5, and Lillian, 3.
In 1940, Napoleon Alston registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 August 1918 in Greene County; he lived in Stantonsburg; his contact was his mother Lonie Alston; and he was self-employed.
In 1944, J.C. Alston registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 October 1926 in Wilson County; his contact was his mother Lonie Alston; and he worked for John Lane, Stantonsburg, as a farmer.
Lona Edwards Alston Dunston died 1 October 2003, just weeks before her 103rd birthday.
Another trip around the sun, another chance to count among my manifold blessings being born in this time and place and among these people.
Wilson, North Carolina, 1969.
The Dunston twins turn 90.
Wilson Daily Times, 15 April 2006.
Harry Dunston married Mary Stancil on 28 December 1897 on Oneal township, Johnston County.
In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Harry Dunston, 58, his wife of 6 years Livia A., 46, and children James, 10, Pearly, 7, Percy, 7, Alparada, 3, and Ollie, 1 1/2.
In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Harry Duncan [sic], 59; wife Livian, 39; and children Alparato, 11, Oliver W. 9, Bettie, 8, Clara, 7, Joseph, 6, Sidney, 5, Ruby and Ruth, 3, and Pearl and Percy, 15.
Livan Dunston died 29 April 1947 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 14 May 1885 in Wilson County to Best Taborn and Clara Locus; was married to Harry Dunston; and is buried at New Vester.
Harry Dunston died 10 August 1950 in Old Fields township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born December 1859 in Wake County to Ben Dunston and Harriett Hester; was a widower; was a farmer; and was buried at New Vester. Eliza Dunstan Hayes was informant.
Ruby Dunston Jones passed away 6 March 2016, just before her 100th birthday.