cafe

Artis’ Cafe padlocked.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 February 1939.

  • June Scott Artis — A history of Stantonsburg gave the date of the cafe’s opening as 1947, which apparently was off by at least a decade. It remained in business into the 1960s.
  • Edgar Artis, June S. Artis’ son.
  • Walter Ward — The 6 February 1939 edition of the Wilson Daily Times reported that Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 15 to 18-year sentence.
  • H.B. Swenson — H.B. Swinson died 28 January 1939. Per his death certificate, he was “murdered, knife wound of breast”; was born 18 April 1913 in Greene County to Allen Swinson and Henrietta Applewhite of Greene County; lived i Stantonsburg; and worked in farming.

Colored cafe.

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Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1948.

Wrote Roy Taylor in My City, My Home: “And Negroes congregated en masse on Barnes Street in the block in which P.L. Woodard is located. It wasn’t that they had to gather there, for they had the privilege of meeting at any place in town, just as did the whites. They liked that area, and too, it was in close proximity to several hot dog joints and other eating places. Few white people were seen in that block on Saturday, and few Negroes were seen on Nash Street. It was a matter of the two races choosing to be with their own kind.”

Taylor’s take on the privileges and choices of legally sanctioned and enforced segregation is ridiculous, but this passage does offer context for the location of Gus Gliarmis’ cafe on the southern edge of downtown, far from Wilson’s African-American neighborhoods in the 1940s.

 

Eating houses.

1916-17

Hill’s 1916-17 Wilson, N.C., city directory.

  • Smithy Atkinson
  • Nan Best — Nannie Best. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 330 South Spring Street: widow Nannie Best, 61, her daughter Frank, 30, son Aaron, 21, and daughter-in-law Estelle, 19, and a lodger, nurse Henrietta Colvert, 24.
  • Burt L. Bowser
  • Dennis Brooks — In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County, 35 year-old Georgia-born merchant Dennis Brooks, wife Mary, 27, and daughter Aleo[illegible], 8, shared a household with Jordan Taylor, 50, and wife Matilda, 40. That same year, Brooks testified concerning a letter in the coroner’s inquest into the death of James A. Hunt. In 1904, Brooks testified at the coroner’s inquest into the death of George Williford concerning a conversation that took place in his bar.
  • Charles Hines — possibly, in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 408 Wiggins Street, grocery man Charlie Hines, 31; wife Eva, 29; children Anna, 3, and Charlie Jr., 7 months; and cousin Maria King, 10.
  • Goodsy H. Holden — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 603 Spring Street, brickmason Goodsey Holden, 59; wife Laura, 52; and roomer Carrie Strickland, 29, tobacco factory worker.
  • Willie A. Johnson
  • Frank Scarborough
  • Annie Smith

1925 eating houses

Hill’s 1925 Wilson, N.C., city directory.

  • James Allen
  • John Barnes
  • William I. Barnes — William Ichabod Barnes. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 401 Pine Street, tobacco laborer Samuel Ennis, 26, wife Maggie, 29, and sons Freeman, 12, and Earl, 2; boarder John Smith, 21, a wagon factory worker; cafe owner William I. Barnes, 30, wife Madie, 27, and children Weldon, 12, Dorothy, 11, Rachel, 9, Ethel G., 6, Vera, 2, and Virginia R., 6 months.
  • Laura Benger
  • Ezekiel B. Braswell — Braswell Sanitary Cafe. in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1120 East Nash, rented for $18/month, cafe proprietor Ezekiel Braswell, 38; wife Mary, 29, public school teacher; daughters Mary E., 5, and Parthenia, 3; and roomer Matilda Cherry, 26, public school teacher.
  • George Cooper — Cooper & Barnes.
  • Peter Lupe
  • Rachel Gilliam

Central Cafe, Starr Cafe and Wilson Cafe served an African-American clientele, but were owned and operated by Mike Vekrakos, Gus Gliarmis and Major M. Gartrell. Vekrakos and Gliarmis were Greek immigrants, a group that dominated the cafe business in Wilson.