Wilson Daily Times, 25 May 1936.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 December 1932.
Hartford E. Bess, chairman of the High School Alumni Association, penned a rather overwrought tribute to William H.A. Howard, former principal of Darden High School, in 1932. As is hinted in the piece, the year before, Howard had left the school under a cloud of accusations of sexual harassment, mishandling funds and other charges.
Wilson Daily Times, 7 June 1979.
Darden High School’s Class of 1949 celebrated its thirtieth class reunion in 1979 at American Legion Post 17’s hall in East Wilson. Twenty-seven out of about 63 class members attended.
The Class of ’49 was Darden’s second to produce a yearbook, and here are the senior pages:
Henry Arrington Jr., Daisy Lee Artis, George Thomas Barnes, Mary Bernice Barnes, Katie Chestnut Barnes, Ruby Mae Blue, Samuel Wesley Bowens, George Thomas Brodie, Henry Tabron Brodie.
Charles Ervin Howell, Fredrick D. Jenkins, Robert Allen Jenkins, Elroy Jones, Joseph Jones Jr., Phoebe Arletha Jones, Flora Narcissus Little, Georgia Moore, Sarah Ruth Moore.
Daniel Edward Freeman, Joseph Thomas Freeman, Annie Mae Goodman, Gladys Lyvonne Goodman, Lucille Gorham, Helen Delzel Green, Agnes Angeline Harris, Joseph Holiday, Jasper Hoskins.
Addie Lucille Murphy, Louise Parker, Rosa Lee Payne, Eula Mae Reid, Margaret Reid, Bernice Roberson, Daisy Mae Robinson, Charlie Allen Roberts, Ivory Robinson.
Marjorie A. Robinson, Rosa Mae Roundtree, Fannie D. Rountree, Josh B. Rountree, Moses Rountree Jr., Christine Ruffin, William B. Short, James Arthur Simms, Mildred Simms.
Vera Elizabeth Smith, Rosa B. Sutton, Amos Tabron, Helen Robinson, Doris D. Williams, Robert Earl Williams, Annie Ruth Woodard, Fred Augustus Woods Jr., Earl Leonard Zachary.
At least two ’49 classmates — Agnes Harris Locus and Levolyre Farmer Pitt — will soon celebrate their 72nd class anniversary. Do you know of others?
[Update, 4/11/2021: John Stembridge reports that Mildred Simms, too, is looking forward to the 72nd anniversary of her graduation from Darden High School!]
From The Trojan, the yearbook of Charles H. Darden High School, 1948-49.
- Charles E. Branford, coach
- Jimmy Holliday, sophomore forward, born 1933 to W.H. Holliday
- Clarence Reid, junior forward, born 1932 to Johnnie and Vinnie Reid
- Harold Darden, sophomore forward, born 1933 to John and Estelle Darden
- Richard Lewis, sophomore guard
- Herman McNeil, freshman guard, born 1934 to Mathew and Ola Bell Jigett McNeil
- Elroy Jones, senior guard, born 1930 to Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones
- Offie Clark, junior center, born 1932 to William and Katie Elliott Clark
- John Cotton, junior guard, born 1932 to Hilliard Cotton
- Nelson Farmer, freshman guard
- Charlie Floyd, sophomore center
- George Woodard, sophomore guard
- Raymond Harris, freshman forward, born 1933 to Frank and Mamie Carr Harris
World War II interrupted high school for many veterans, and they returned to earn their diplomas at war’s end. The Veterans Accelerated Club took this photo standing on the front steps of Darden High School.
The Trojan (1948), the yearbook of C.H. Darden High School.
The veteran-students’ instructors were John E. Dixon, Cora M. Washington, Mamie E. Whitehead, and Frissell W. Jones. The veteran-students: Walter Roberts, Paul L. Stevens, Henry Tune Jr., Ernest Edwards, Robert L. Murphy, Jesse B. Barnes, Jimmy L. Woodard, George W. Hines, Bennie Atkinson, Carlton Baker, Leo M. Bowens, Wilbert Currie, Frank Durham, Nelson T. Farmer, Nathaniel Ferguson, Henry Green, Jimmie Hines, Cle Arthur Jones, Nevalon Mitchell, Jesse Reynolds, Willie Townsend, Leon Williams, and Daniel Wright.
High school principals were required to file annual reports with the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. In 1941, Edward M. Barnes filed this report for Charles H. Darden Hugh School.
The school year was 180 days long and ran from 5 September 1940 to 27 May 1941. (Compare Elm City Colored School, and Williamson High School, rural schools that only had 120-day terms.) Thirteen teachers taught at Darden — seven women and six men. These thirteen taught 331 children — 119 boys and 212 girls — in grades eight through eleven. All grades, including elementary, were housed in one building, which had restrooms, a principal’s office, a library, an auditorium, and a lunchroom.
The high school offered classes in English, general mathematics, geometry, civics, citizenship, world history, American history, Negro history, sociology, geography, general science, chemistry, biology, vocational guidance, and home economics.
The school day was divided into eight periods between 8:30 and 3:25. Lunch was at 12:15. The teachers were Rosa L. Williams, Arnold G. Walker, Cora Miller Washington, James F. Robinson, M.J. Cooper, P.K. Spellman, Spencer J. Satchell, Dolores L. Hines, John M. Miller Jr., Carl W. Hines, E.H. Foster, Marian H. Miller, and Randall R. James.
All the teachers were college graduates, and most had significant experience.
The school had no dedicated science laboratory space, but did have lab equipment, and had numerous maps and globes. It published a newspaper, The Trojan Journal, and sponsored boys and girls glee clubs, a Verse Choir, and student patrol.
The school graduated 27 students in the Class of 1941.
High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County; North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.
In the fall of 1944, Darden High School’s football team, finding no teachers available to fill the role, coached itself.
Wilson Daily Times, 10 October 1944.
(Note the reference to the team’s playing field. Darden had no formal football field, and the team had to spend its own money to rent Fleming Stadium for home games.)
- Herman Hines — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1001 Vance Street, wagon factory laborer Wesley Hines, 35; wife Lucy, 30, a private nurse; and sons Herman, 13, and Charles, 10. Oddly, three before the article above was published, Herman Wesley Hines registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 7 October 1944 in Wilson; lived at 1001 East Vance; his contact was his father Wesley Edward Hines; had a burn scar on his left ankle; and worked as a section hand for the railroad. Was this in fact his father’s occupation? Hines and others were members of the Class of 1945. [Note: Herman Hines died 30 July 2014 in Reidsville, North Carolina. His obituary mentions his coaching stint at Darden.]
- Bennie Hill
- James Jones — In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 901 Stantonsburg Street, Wesley Jones, 51, fertilizer plant laborer; wife Martha, 52, tobacco factory laborer; and children Lucille, 22, teacher at Fremont School, Vernon, 20, Willie, 16, John, 14, James, 12, and Elroy, 10. On 26 December 1945, James Thomas Jones registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 23 December 1927 in Wilson; lived at 901 Stantonsburg Street; his contact was Wesley Jones; and he worked at Contentnea Guano Company, Wilson.
- John Melton — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow T[illegible] Barnes, 72, washing; daughter Cora Melton, 42, widow and private cook; and grandchildren Lucy, 16, Virginia, 15, John, 14, W.T., 8, and Hilda, 7; and daughter Lillie Barnes, 40, “sick.” On 11 September 1944, John Melton registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 11 September 1926 in Wilson; lived at 1206 Washington Street; his contact was mother Cora Melton; and reworked at Imperial Tobacco Company, Wilson.
- Lindbergh Wilson — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Elizabeth Wilson, 55; daughter Marie, 29; lodgers Earnest Mack, 35, and Jessie McMillion, 34; and grandsons Lindberg, 12, and Rodney Wilson, 14. On 10 September 1945, Lindbergh Wilson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 September 1927 in Wilson County; he lived at 1013 Stantonsburg Street; his contact was Marie Wilson; and his “employer” was N.C. State [North Carolina College?], Durham.
- Lester McNeil — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 107 South Carroll Street, railroad station porter Chester McNeal, 49; wife, Mary, 36, tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ula, 20, and son Lester, 12; adopted daughter Elane Barnes, 20; and adopted son William McNeal, 1. On 28 September 1945, Lester McNeil registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 27 September 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 107 South Carroll; his contact was Chester McNeil; and his “employer” was Darden High School.
- Charles Hines — Hines was the younger brother of Herman Hines, above. On 19 December 1957, Charles Edwin Hines married Anna Johnson Goode in Wilson.
- Thomas Stokes — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1208 Atlanta Street, barber James Stokes, 35; wife Viola, 25; children Frank, 8, Dorthea, 4, Thomas, 2, and Julia, 18 months; and mother Julia, 64. On 24 July 1945, Thomas Watson Stokes registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 24 July 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 1206 Atlantic Street; his contact was Viola Stokes; he had a small scar on his forehead; and he was a self-employed painter.
- Robert Speight — On 9 August 1944, Robert Elton Speight registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 August 1926 in Wilson County; he lived at 624 Viola Street; his contact was father Theodore Speight; and he was a student at Darden High School.
- Ernest Halliday — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 East Suggs Street, Westley Holiday, 40; wife Rosa, 30; and children Earlise, 13, Edward, 11, Deborah, 9, Lula M., 6, Earnest, 4, and Joseph, 1. On 19 June 1944, Ernest Holliday registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 18 June 1926 in Wilson County; he lived at 512 East Spruce Street; his contact was Rosa Holliday; and he was unemployed.
- Robert Jenkins — On 22 January 1945, Robert Allen Jenkins registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 21 January 1927 in Wilson; he lived at 611 Viola Street; his contact was mother Geneva Mercer; he had a scar on his right leg below his knee; and he was a student at Darden High School.
Wilson Daily Times, 24 February 1998.
Roderick Taylor Jr. is kneeling, second from the right.
Can anyone identify his classmates?
I’ve come to understand that the word “classmate” just hits different when you came up through all-black schools or attended an HBCU. (I did neither.) Here, my father and members of his beloved C.H. Darden High School Class of 1952. Of the men in this photo, he’s the last living; three of the women have gone on, too.
The Class of ‘52 was my village. Their children were my earliest friends. Darden High School’s last class graduated when I was not quite six, but I grew up steeped in its great legacy. Black Wide-Awake memorializes its earliest years and boosts its fading memory. “We sing a song of adoration, a song full of love and praise … Dear ol’ Darden High!”
(Also, that pennant. ✊🏾)
Photo in the collection of R.C. and B.A. Henderson.