C.H. Darden High School

Three drown; three thousand attend funeral.

The day after graduation, Darden High School’s Class of 1942 road-tripped south to Kinston for a picnic at a lake. The day ended in tragedy when three young men drowned trying to save the life of a classmate.

Wilson Daily Times, 4 June 1942.

The Daily Times estimated that three thousand mourners jammed the “Wilson Community Center” [Reid Street Community Center] for joint services for Harvey Ford, Raymond Edwards, and Russell Clay

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 June 1942.

  • Harvey Ford — Per his death certificate, Harvey Gray Ford died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 January 1921 in Wilson, N.C., to Curtis Ford of Dillon, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Mamie Ford, 910 East Green Street, was informant.
  • Raymond Edwards — Per his death certificate, Raymond Edwards died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 15 November 1924 in Wilson, N.C., to McKenly Edwards of Greene County and Maggie Thomas of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Maggie Edwards, 609 South Railroad Street, was informant.
  • Russell Clay — Per his death certificate, Russell Clay died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 April 1921 in Jarrett, Virginia, to Larry Clay of Wilson, and Hattie Grice of Wilson; was a student; and was single. He was buried in Newsome cemetery near Lucama. Hattie Clay, 902 Viola Street, was informant.
  • Parthenia Robinson — Anne Parthenia Robinson. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 202 Vick Street, barber Golden Robinson, 30; wife Bertie, 23; and children Parthenia, 5, Gold M., 3, and Glean, 1.
  • E.M. Barnes — Edward M. Barnes was principal of C.H. Darden High School.
  • Rev. F.M. Davis — Fred M. Davis was pastor of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church.
  • Rev. A.D. Dunstan
  • Charles D. James
  • Eunice Cooke — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hadley Street, railroad mail clerk Jerry L. Cook, 43; wife Clara, 39, teacher; children Henderson, 20, Edwin D., 18, Clara G., 14, Georgia E., 12, Annie, 8, Jerry L., 6, and Eunice D., 4; sister Georgia E. Wyche, 48, teacher; and nieces Kathaline Wyche, 7, and Reba Whittington, 19.
  • James Mincey — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: fertilizer plant laborer James Mincey, 39; wife Lucinda, 35; grandfather William Ran, 87, widower; and James Mincey Jr., 15.
  • Eleanor Reid — Eleanor P. Reid was principal of Sallie Barbour Elementary School.
  • Annie Cooke
  • M.D. Williams — Malcolm D. Williams was principal of Samuel Vick Elementary School.
  • Rev. W.A. Hillard — in 1942, William Alexander Hilliard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 14 September 1904 in Greenville, Texas; was a minister in the A.M.E. Zion Church serving in Wilson; resided at 119 Pender Street; and his contact was Mrs. Veta Watson, 2449 Woodland Avenue, Kansas City, Missouri.
  • Quincey Ford — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 409 Carroll Street, carpenter Curtis Ford, 52; sons Quincey, 20, and Harvey G., 19, tobacco factory laborers; wife Mayme, 48, teacher; son-in-law Liston Sellers, 22, tobacco factory laborer; daughter Leah, 22, and granddaughter Yvette, 2.
  • Leah Ford — Leah Ford Sellers‘ daughter Yevette Sellers died just three and a half years after her uncle Harvey.
  • Kennie and Maggie Edwards — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 609 South Railroad Street, William Edwards, 52, farm laborer; wife Lillie, 49; son McKinley, 28, wife Maggie, 25; and son Ramond, 6.
  • Hattie Clay — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 902 Viola, hospital cook Hattie Clay, 42, widow, and children Russell, 19, Buelah M., 15, and Arthur, 7; plus mother Mary Grice, 76, widow.
  • Beulah Clay
  • Arthur Clay

Langston Hughes speaks for Negro History Week.

Today marks the 118th anniversary of the birth of poet, playwright and social activist Langston Hughes. To my astonishment, shortly after he celebrated his birthday in 1949, Hughes came to Wilson to deliver a lecture in the auditorium of Darden High School. The event marked a celebration of National Negro History Week, and its proceeds went to support the Wilson Negro Library‘s bookmobile fund.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 February 1949.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 February 1949.

Hat tip to Wilson County local historian Tammy Medlin for leading me to this story.

The Oleanders Quartette performs.

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 December 1937.

This was probably the Oleander Quartet, comprised of George Boyd, Cecil Murray, Howard Scott, George Hall, and pianist Elijah Lamar, which performed blues and spirituals on radio, mostly as a backup to Leadbelly, the legendary folk and blues singer. (Notably, the group backed him on a recording of “Pick a Bale of Cotton” circa 1935.)

Darden faculty.

The faculty of C.H. Darden High School, 1937-38:

Bottom row: Spencer J. Satchell, Juanita Pope Morrisey, Cora Miller Washington Artis, Naomi Freeman, Flora Clark Bethel, Marian Howard Miller, Margaret Edwards, Edward M. Barnes, John M. Miller Jr.

Middle row: Margaret Harris, Jane Amos Boyd, Annie Parker Dupree, Helen Delzelle Beckwith Whitted, Rosa Lee Kittrell Williams, A.A. Morrisey.

Top row: Marie Davis, Estelle Lane Shade, Ethel Alexander, Mamie Whitehead.

Photo courtesy of Freeman Round House and African American Museum.

Dorothy H. Ellis celebrates her 100th birthday.

From the 7 July 2019 edition of Wilson Times:

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Dorothy Hammond Ellis of Wilson was honored at her 100th birthday July 3 in the fellowship hall of Calvary Presbyterian Church by her daughter, Cynthia Ellis, goddaughters and church family.

“Dorothy H. Ellis is a beloved retired schoolteacher who taught eighth grade at Darden High School starting in 1942. She and her husband, Coach [James C.] “Shank” Ellis went on to teach at Coon Junior High School until they retired early in 1979. While teaching at Darden, she was asked to use her basketball skills to coach the boys basketball team while the men went off to fight in World War II.

“Dorothy Ellis was born July 3, 1919 in Cheraw, South Carolina.”

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Dorothy H. Ellis and James C. Ellis in the 1949 edition of the Trojan, the yearbook of C.H. Darden High School.

Headed to college.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 September 1948.

Howard University

  • Doris V. Smith
  • Mary Frances Diggs (1930-1971), daughter of Edgar and Mary Grant Diggs
  • Charles Seville Plater (1929), son of Simon T. and Ruth Jones Plater
  • Thomas Levi Peacock(1928), son of Levi and Eloise Reavis Peacock
  • Norma Adelaide Carter Murphy (1931-), daughter of Luke and Eunice Godette Carter
  • Hoover Curtis Bowens (1928-2007), son of Jacob and Flossie Cobb Bowens

A&T College

  • Edward Kerphew Harris (1930-2007), son of Benjamin and Pauline Artis Harris
  • Winford Lee Morgan (1931-2000), son of James and Addie Fisher Morgan
  • Wade Nicholas Lassiter (1928-??) and Harvey Green Lassiter (1926-1998), sons of Jesse C.K. and Lessie Dew Lassiter
  • Harold Cannady
  • Leonard Elroy Barnes Jr. (1929-1967), son of Leonard E. and Beatrice Taylor Barnes
  • Walter Rufus Stephens (1926-2014), son of James H. and Parnella Jackson Stephens
  • James Thomas Jones (1927-2011) and John Wesley Jones (1925-2004), sons of Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones

From the 1951 edition of The Ayantee, the yearbook of North Carolina State A.&T. University.

N.C. College [now N.C. Central University]

  • Helen Woodard
  • Ralph Cornell Gay (1928-1992), son of Albert and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay
  • James Henry Spivey Jr. (1930-??) and Glenda Vermell Spivey Middleton (1927-2006), children of James H. and Mary Clark Spivey
  • Eva Elnora Coley Jarrett Oxendine (1929-), daughter of David H. and Eva Speight Coley
  • Preston Walter Diggs (1928-), son of Edgar and Mary Grant Diggs
  • Hattie Moye Floyd (1929-1985), daughter of Ambrose and Mattie Moye Floyd
  • Thomas Dawson
  • Laura Mae Murphy Baker (1925-1988), daughter of Clarence and Mittie Wilkes Murphy
  • Victoria Whitehead McCray (1928-2017), daughter of John H. and Victoria Ennis Whitehead

Shaw University

  • James L. Nicholson Jr. (1929-2018), son of James and Celestia Nicholson
  • Donnie L. Joyner Freeman (1928-), daughter of Eddie and Annie Wynn Joyner
  • Eva L. Carter (1928-2017), daughter of Willam and Eva Overton Carter
  • Doug Melton 
  • Nathaniel Gray Hodges (1929-), son of Nathaniel and Bessie Sutton Hodges
  • Helen Harris
  • R.J. Dancy

J.C. Smith

  • Mamie Ruth Ellis (1930-2004), daughter of Oscar and Mamie Bynum Ellis
  • Roderick Taylor Jr. (1928), son of Roderick and Mary J. Pender Taylor
  • Ellis Brown Jr. (1921-1989), son of Ellis and Margaret Scarborough Brown

Barber-Scotia

  • Ann Battle
  • Van Royall
  • Doris Joyner
  • Pauline Deloris Harris (1927-), daughter of Benjamin A. and Pauline Artis Harris

Virginia State

  • Annie Miller Stokes (1930-), daughter of James and Viola Reese Stokes
  • Frances Williams 

West Virginia State

Saint Augustine

  • Mary Knight
  • Richard Barnes
  • Virginia Ward
  • Margaret Evangeline Speight Williams (1929-1998), daughter of Theodore and Marie Thomas Speight
  • Marian Anderson 

Livingstone College

  • Trumiller Wimberly
  • Christine Snow

Temple University

  • Katheryn Spells (1927-2004), daughter of Neros and Nancy Taylor Spells

Cortez Peters Business School

  • Beatrice McNeil (1928-2007), daughter of Matthew and Ola Belle Jiggette McNeil
  • Ozie L. Pender (1928-2010), daughter of Albert and Mary Pender

Winston-Salem Teachers College

  • Agnes Hoskins (1929-), daughter of Lonnie and Gertrude Simms Hoskins
  • Charity Wells (1930-1978), daughter of Willie and Mamie Holland Wells
  • Bertha Cobb

Darden expansion.

This 1940 plat map shows the boundaries of additional land proposed to expand the campus of Charles H. Darden High School, referred to here as a “school site for colored people.”

(Note that the property was purchased in part from Louise Fike and Hadley Blake, whose names were memorialized in nearby streets laid out in the 1950s — Fikewood and Blakewood.)

Plat Book 2, page 152, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson County Courthouse.