census

Odd jobs, no. 1.

The occupation and industry columns in federal population schedules sometimes yield unusual results, even in an era in which most African-Americans in Wilson worked as farm laborers, tobacco factory hands, or domestic workers.

In the 1930 census, 22 year-old Alfonso Ward gave his occupation as:

I have not been able to find any additional information on Ward’s career as a roadshow comedian, though he likely played chitlin’ circuit venues.

——

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 122 East Street, laborer John Ward, 28; wife Addie, 27; and children Alfonsa, 13, Edgar, 8, Oritta, 5, Thelma, 2 months, and Jos[illegible], 3. 

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 112 East Street, rented at $12/month, widow Addie Ward, 37, and children Alfonso, 22, Edgear, 17, Othena, 16, Jasper, 14, and Thelma, 10. 

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ward Alfonso (c) hlpr r 112 East

In 1940, Alfonso Ward registered for the World War II draft in Kings County, New York. Per his draft card, he was born 1 May 1908 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 3040 B 7th Street, [Brooklyn], Kings County; his contact was friend Flossie Barrington, 614 Ocean View Avenue; and he worked for Louis Super, 419 B[righton] B[each] Avenue, Kings County. Ward’s address was amended to 413 Bri[ghton] Beach Ave. on 15 February 1943. [Per his signature, Ward spelled his first name “Alfonza.”]

Census man a-comin’.

In the 1940s, the Daily Times regularly published John G. Thomas’ “Wilsonia,” a column of observations of town life. Thomas considered himself a great wit and took particular interest in shining a light on the more picturesque aspects of Wilson’s black community. Here, he praises a “stunt” an enumerator pulled to secure African-American cooperation with census-taking.

Screen Shot 2020-07-04 at 1.40.58 PM.png

Wilson Daily Times, 4 April 1940.

Free people of color, 1860: Wilson district.

Free people of color enumerated in Wilson County’s first federal census, taken in 1860.

Wilson district (outside town limits)

#430. Silas Lassiter, 38, farmer; wife Orpie, 34; children Sallie, 12, Mary, 11, James, 9, John, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Penina, 4, Hardy, 3, Silas, 1, and George, 2 months; and Delphia Simpson, 14. Silas reported $490 in real estate and $155 in personal property.

#436. Susan Mitchel, 26, washing, and children James, 10, Annie, 7, and George, 2. Susan claimed $257 in real estate and $60 in personal property.

#442. Henry Booth, 15, in the household of white farmer James Tomlinson.

#443. Green Lassiter, 36, farmer; Mary Lassiter, 24; Matthew Lassiter, 37; and Rachel Lassiter, 30, farm laborer. Green reported $750 in real estate.

#450. Louisa Artis, 17, in the household of white farmer William T. Taylor.

#501. Elijah Powell, 23, and Josiah Blackwell, 21, laborers in steam mill, both black, in the household of white engineer John Valentine.

#544. Lucinda Jones, 8, black, in the household of white brickmason Joseph E. Beamon.

#546. John T. Farmer, mulatto, 4, in the household of white farmer John Farmer.

#592. Mahaly Artis, 30, washing, black, and daughter Sarah, 8, mulatto.

#596. Jonas Barnes, 14, mulatto, in the household of white farmer Joseph S. Barnes.

#599. Turpentine laborer Joseph Jones, 40, black; wife Zillah, 34; and children Milly, 17, Jesse, 10, Nathan, 8, and twins Frances and Lenora, 6, all mulatto.

State v. Martin Locust and Bede Wells.

At April Term 1856 of Wilson County’s Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, a grand jury charged Martin Locust and Bede Wells, both of Wilson County, “being lewd and vicious persons not united together in the bonds of marriage” before and after 1 April 1856 “unlawfully lewdly and lasciviously associate bed and cohabit together … to the evil example of all others.”  William Wells and Josiah Boyett were subpoenaed as witnesses, and jury foreman Jacob Taylor returned a true bill to the clerk of court.

This is the bond Locus and Wells pledged for their appearance in court. Curiously, the names of two co-pledgers were crossed out — Kingsberry Wells and William Wells. Both were likely relatives of Bedie Wells, and William was a witness before the grand jury.

Martin Locus was of African, European and Native American descent. Obedience Wells was white. Their prosecution and, presumably, conviction did not much alter their lives, as they are found living together four years later in the 1860 census. (The third column after their names was used to indicate race or color. Wells’ was left blank; white was the default. Locus’ M stood for mulatto.)

1860 census of Kirbys district, Wilson County.

The 1850 census of Nash County shows the household of Kingsberry Wells and his next-door neighbors, Beedy and Martin Wells, who was actually Martin Locus. (The age disparity is likely a recording error. In fact, Martin Locus and Obedience Wells, listed as “Pheby Wells,” were married in Nash County on 22 November 1822, during a period in which laws forbidding interracial marriage were only loosely enforced. Per descendant and family historian Europe Ahmad Farmer, after about 1830, when North Carolina began to strip away rights from free people of color, the couple made an effort to appear to live separately.)

Martin Locus and Obedience Wells’ son Martin Locus Jr. was the father of Martin John Locus.

1822 Nash County marriage license of Martin Locust and Pheby Wells.

Adultery Records-1856, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

Slave schedule.

1860.PNG

Prior to 1850, enslaved people were enumerated only as numbers in columns designated for sex and age. In 1850 and 1860, the federal government expanded the census to include “slave schedules.” Though enslaved people still were not recorded by name, they were enumerated individually by age, sex and color and grouped by slaveowner (or representative). Additional columns tallied “fugitives from the state,” “number manumitted,” “deaf, dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic,” and “no. of slave houses.”

These pages are the first and second in the 1860 slave schedule of Black Creek township, Wilson County. In them,

  • Sallie Simms reported that she owned ten slaves aged 7 months to 72 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • William Thompson reported that he owned 22 slaves aged 7 months to 44 and sheltered them in five houses.
  • Dr. A.G. Brooks reported that he owned 29 slaves aged 1 to 55 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Enos Barnes reported that he owned two teenaged boys and sheltered them in one house.
  • Celia Barnes reported that she owned 28 year-old and 53 year-old men.
  • James Barnes reported that he owned nine slaves aged 3 to 50 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Jesse Watson reported that he owned one ten year-old boy.
  • James Daniel reported that he owned four male slaves aged 9 to 60 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Joseph Farrell reported that he owned nine slaves aged 5 months to 38 and sheltered them in one house.
  • James Nusom reported that he owned 22 slaves aged 1 to 28 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Jesse Sauls reported that he owned seven slaves aged 3 to 26 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Nancy Bass reported that she owned eight slaves aged 5 months to 36 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Belinda Aycock reported that she owned six slaves aged 3 to 38 and sheltered them in two houses.
  • Sallie Daniel reported that she owned 14 slaves aged 11 months to 53 and sheltered them in four houses.
  • Elisha Bass reported reported that he owned six slaves aged 3 months to 30 and sheltered them in one house.
  • Jeremiah Bass reported that he owned a 17 year-old girl and two babies, aged 2 years and 4 months, who were probably her children.
  • Ephraim Bass reported that he owned a 36 year-old man.

Where we worked: 1922 — G.

City directories offer fine-grained looks at a city’s residents at short intervals. The 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., directory reveals the types of work available to African-Americans during the booming tobacco era. This post is the seventh in an alphabetical series listing all “colored” directory entries for whom an occupation was listed. The address is the resident’s home, unless a business address is noted.

  • Gaines, Charles, elevator operator, 203 Stantonsburg Road
  • Gaines, Dora, domestic, 528 Smith
  • Gardner, Alice, maid — Wilson Sanatorium, Sunshine Alley
  • Gardner, George, farmer, Spring Street Alley
  • Gardner, Preston, clerk — Peter Artis, Wiggins Street
  • Gardner, William, tobacco worker, 602 South Lodge
  • Garrity, Mary, teacher, 400 Stantonsburg Road
  • Gaston, Lorenzo, tobacco worker, 118 Manchester
  • Gaston, Mancie, barber — W.S. Hines, Elm City
  • Gaston, Sattena, dressmaker, 118 Manchester
  • Gay, Albert, porter, 623 East Green
  • Gay, Charles, tobacco worker, 625 East Green
  • Gay, Rachel, tobacco worker, 812 Robinson [Roberson]
  • Gay, William, tobacco worker, 713 Stantonsburg Road
  • Gear, Cora, maid, 505 East Nash
  • George, Arthur H., teacher, 401 North Vick
  • Gerald, Edgar, tobacco worker, 108 South Vick
  • Gibbs, James, tobacco worker, 604 Park Avenue
  • Gibbs, Priscilla, domestic, 604 Park Avenue
  • Gilchrist, Harrison, tobacco worker, 904 Mercer
  • Gilliam Cafe, 509 E Nash, Rachel Gilliam proprietor
  • Gilliam, Mary, domestic, 646 Wiggins
  • Gilliam, Matthew S., physician — 516 East Nash, 805 East Nash
  • Gilliam, Rachel, proprietor — Gilliam Cafe, 228 Smith
  • Gillis, Walter, helper, 411 South Goldsboro
  • Glenn, Price, laborer, 800 South Lodge
  • Globe Theatre (moving pictures), 543 East Nash
  • Godwin, Robert, laborer, 903 Robinson
  • Goffney, Clinton F., tobacco worker, 704 Suggs
  • Goffney, Joseph, tobacco worker, 206 Manchester
  • Goolsby, Kirby, helper, 536 East Nash
  • Gordon, Elmer, barber — W.S. Hines, 721 East Green
  • Gordon, Oscar C., hairdresser, 511 East Nash
  • Gorham, Ernest, laborer, 405 East Bank[s]
  • Gorham, George, tobacco worker, 417 South Goldsboro
  • Gowen, Walter, tobacco worker, 203 Stantonsburg Road
  • Graham, Henry, tobacco worker, 414 East Walnut
  • Grant, Mary, trained nurse, 203 Pender
  • Grantham, Dessimore, barber, 309 Forbes
  • Grantham, Garfield, carpenter, 908 Viola
  • Gray, Albert, tobacco worker, 606 South Lodge
  • Gray, Mattie, laundress, 606 South Lodge
  • Gray, Sam, tobacco worker, 105 Manchester
  • Green, Arthur, laborer, 202 Pender
  • Green, Edwin, tobacco worker, 13 Stantonsburg Road
  • Green, James, tobacco worker, 546 East Green
  • Green, Marion, laborer, 314 Pender
  • Green, Mary, domestic, 518 East Nash
  • Green, Minnie, laundress, 135 Narroway
  • Green, Missouri, laundress, 507 Grace
  • Green, Naomi, domestic, 202 Pender
  • Green, Nelson, grocer, 420 South Spring, 502 South Lodge
  • Green, Oscar, tobacco worker, 606 South Lodge
  • Green, Richard, Laborer, 314 Pender
  • Green, Walter, tobacco worker, 314 Pender
  • Green, Wash, laborer, 518 East Nash
  • Greenfield, Clarence, driver, 203 Stantonsburg Road
  • Greenfield, Luvenia, cook, 522 South Lodge
  • Griffin, Boston, tobacco worker, 503 Viola
  • Griffin, Mary, tobacco worker, 705 South Lodge
  • Griffis, Delia, laundress, 310 North East
  • Griffis, Donald, blacksmith, 310 North East
  • Griffis, John H., farmer, 310 North East
  • Grimes, Carrie, tobacco worker, 306 East Walnut
  • Grissom, Hattie, domestic, 201 North Vick
  • Grissom, Lydia, hairdresser, 201 North Vick
  • Gunn, Daniel, tobacco grader, 512 South Lodge, 514 South Lodge

Notes:

  • Peter Artis was a confectioner with a shop at 502 East Green.
  • Dessimore Grantham’s Forbes Street? I have never heard of it, and it’s not listed in the directory’s Guide to Streets.

Thousandaires.

For the first time in 1940, the federal census recorded income. As reported in column 32, “Amount of money wages or salary received (including commissions),” these 27 men and women had the highest incomes among African-Americans in the city:

  • Joseph Cowan, $2355, medical doctor
  • Jasper McClain, $2200, bricklayer
  • Edward M. Barnes, $1720, principal — high school
  • Alex A. Morisey, $1600, newspaper reporter
  • Rufus Hilliard, $1300, power plant fireman — City of Wilson
  • Benjamin Mincey, $1280, plumber — City of Wilson
  • Luther Hamonds, $1274, fireman — light plant
  • Richard Foster, $1200, minister — Saint John Methodist
  • Aaron Pittman, $1200, brickmason
  • James Speight, $1200, janitor — post office
  • M.D. Williams, $1200, teacher — public school
  • Jeff Russell, $1190, bricklayer
  • James Sellers, $1170, brickmason
  • Cecil Spellman, $1140, farm demonstration — County of Wilson
  • Jesse Holden, $1100, brickmason
  • Flora Bethel, $1088, school teacher — Darden High School
  • Ruth Coppedge, $1078, school teacher — county school
  • Florence Whitley, $1078, school teacher — city graded school
  • Chester McNeal, $1066, porter — railroad station
  • Ike Collins, $1040, cook — cafe
  • Branch Hines, $1040, W.P.A. laborer
  • Roderick Taylor, $1040, barber
  • Fred Wingate, $1029, fireman — oil mill
  • Ned Brown, $1000, odd jobs laborer
  • Alberta Daniels, $1000, school teacher — private school
  • Tom Little, $1000, cement finisher — building contractor
  • Willie Reid, $1000, barber — own shop

Notes:

  • Only four women earned a thousand or more dollars a year, all of them teachers. (At what “private school” did Alberta Daniels teach?)
  • Dr. Joseph F. Cowan reported the highest salary of any African-American in town. However, other doctors and dentists in East Wilson, including Boisey O. Barnes, George K. Butterfield Sr., and William A. Mitchner, reported no wages or salary at all, perhaps because their income derived not from self-paid salaries, but from practice or business profits or investments.)
  • The (presumably) wealthiest businessmen and real estate developers in East Wilson, such as Samuel H. VickWilliam Hines, Walter Hines, Camillus L. Darden and O. Nestus Freeman, also reported no income to the census enumerator.
  • Brickmasonry was far and away the most remunerative skilled construction trade.
  • Factory firemen, who stoked the enormous boilers that powered plants, were also relatively well-paid.

Mortality schedule, no. 4: Wilson township, 1870.

Each of the United States federal censuses from 1850 to 1880 included a mortality schedule enumerating  individuals who had died in the previous year previous. Each entry noted family number in the population schedule, name, age, sex, color, marital status, place of birth, month of death, occupation, and cause of death.

Here is the 1870 mortality schedule for part of Wilson township, Wilson County:

  • Farmer, James. Age 28, black, worked in iron foundry, died in February, consumption.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Rosa Farmer, 35, and children Gray, 16, Turner, 17, Mary, 16, Thomas, 13, Daniel, 12, Leah, 10, Jefferson, 8, Louisa, 10 months, and Anna, 3, plus Arche Barnes, 73, cooper.

  • Rountree, Louisa. Age 18, black, died in February, consumption.
  • Rountree, Jesse. Age 3 months, mulatto, died in November, hooping cough.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Rebecca Rountree, 50, and children and grandchildren Henry, 20, butcher, John, 23, barber, Dempsy, 26, farm laborer, Charles, 15, Benjamin, 24, butcher, Mary, 30, domestic servant, Joseph, 9, Willie, 8, Lucy, 20, domestic servant, Worden, 2, and Charles, 1.

  • Taylor, Marcellus. Age 1, black, died in November, scrofula.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Peter Taylor, 32; wife Classy, 37; and children Harred, 8, Haywood, 10, William, 5, and Susan, 8 months.

  • Blount, Mary. Age 30, mulatto, married, died in June, consumption.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Calvin Blount, 35; farm laborer John Bantler, 23; and Dick, 12, Tillman, 10, Frank, 6, Wright, 7, and William Blount, 4.

  • Mitchell, Maggie. Age 6 months, black, died in July, inflammation stomach.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Eliza Mitchell, 26, and daughter Rebecca, 9.

  • Renfrow, [illegible].  Age 46, black, married, farm laborer, died in October, pneumonia.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Sarah Renfrow, 45, Isaac, 14, Rosa, 30, and Dennis, 4, plus Lewis Kelly, 23.

  • Milton, Lindsey. Age 48, black, married, farm laborer, died in May, heart [illegible].

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: domestic servant Eliza Milton, 41, and children John, 13, Robert, 12, and Francy, 8; Susan Benjamin, 2; and Mark Blount, 18.

  • Ruffin, infant. Age 1, black, died in October, unknown.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Green Ruffin, 36; wife Tamer, 30; children Ora, 3, and Martha, 2; and Nicey Watson, 58.

  • Farmer, Luther. Age 19, black, died in February, farm laborer, pleurisy(?).

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Washington Farmer, 43; wife Wady, 44; and children Edith, 14, Fortin, 13, Gimsey, 11, John W., 8, Nancy, 6, and Orgius, 6; and farm laborer Nelson Thomas, 21.

  • Bell, Adeline. Age 20, black, died in February, worked on farm, consumption.
  • Battle, Manerva. Age 30, mulatto, died in May, worked on farm, asciteas.

Ascites is the abnormal accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity. In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Hardy Bell, 65; Lucinda, 48; and children Wilson, 17, Isabella, 13, and Ellen, 7; and Turner, 4, Julia, 10, William, 8, Lucinda, 6, Anna, 3, and infant Battle, 10 months.

  • Not known. Age 65, black, widowed, died in March, general debility.

Remarks: “The name of the person in column 2, line 19 could not be ascertained.”

  • Barnes, Caswell. Age 1, black, died in October, cholera infantum.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Barnes, 26, born in Maryland, and Jackson, 19, and Williams Barnes, 3.

  • Saunders, Jane. Age 4 months, black, died in October, pertussis.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Guilbert Sanderson, 34; wife Mary, 36; and children Nash, 12, Timothy, 9, Henry, 8, and Margrett, 6.

  • Eatman, Judea Ann. Age 8 months, black, died in September, pertussis.
  • Eatman, Zora. Age 8 months, black, died in October, pertussis.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Cynthia Eastman, 40, and children Luke, 23, domestic servant, Turner, 21, Wady, 18, and David, 6.

  • Barnes, Vilet. Age 75, black, widowed, domestic servant, died in September, died from general debility.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: blacksmith Mark Barnes, 56; wife Judea, 55; daughter Adeline, 19; and grandchildren Lara, 2, and Warren, 7; farm laborer Robert Rountree, 19; and invalid Sophia Barnes, 40.

  • Barnes Rachel. Age 1, black, died in March, epilepsy.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Short Barnes, 35, wife Rosa, 21, and daughter Rena, 5.

  • Wilder, Caroline. Age 75, black, widowed, died in March, consumption.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Mathews, 68, and wife Sarah, 65; farm laborer Alfred Farmer, 26, wife Cilla, 23, and son Henry, 2; and Jane Noobly, 8.

Enumerators.

census

Wilson Mirror, 11 June 1890.

The 1890 census was destroyed by fire, so it is not clear whether Frank Blount and Alex D. Dawson were able to carry out their duties as enumerators, a plum patronage position.

Twenty years later though, Arthur N. Darden, just 21 and the youngest son of Charles H. and Diana Scarborough Darden, was knocking on doors in the streets of Wilson. (Counting black households, only, of course.)

and