census

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, no. 4.

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

The mystery of Astor B. Bowser.

Astor Burt Bowser, born 1896, was one of three sons of Burt L. and Sarah Rountree Bowser. He appears with his parents (and grandparents) in the 1900 and 1910 censuses of Wilson, but in 1916 is listed at 17 Mott Street in the city directory of White Plains, New York. When he registered for World War I draft in September 1918, however, he was in Wilson, working in his father Burt’s cafe.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, the Bowser family’s surname was erroneously recorded as “Brown.”

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Occupations of the household’s inhabitants were recorded in the right-most columns. Astor’s? Doctor/dentist.

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Dentist? When and where did Astor Bowser attend dental school?

Astor married Deloris Harvey of Alamance County on 17 August 1921 in Wilson. Throughout the 1920s, he appears to have continued to move between Wilson and greater New York City.  In the 1922 and 1925 city directories of Wilson, he is listed as an insurance agent residing at 520 East Nash. However, in the 1924 White Plains city directory: Astor B Bowser, clerk, at 17 Mott. And in the 1925 New York state census of White Plains, Westchester County: bank messenger Astor Bowser, 28, wife Deloris, 24, daughter Sarah, 2, and Lettia Bowser, 49, a widow. In the 1926 and 1928 city directories of White Plains, Astor is listed as a porter living at 7 Mott Street. But Astor B. Bowser Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, in May 1928.

In the 1930 census, Astor B. Bowser, 32, Delores, 29, and their children, Astor B., Jr., 1, and Sarah, 6, are listed in Chicago, Illinois, at 4905 Vincennes, where they were lodgers. Astor worked as an artist in his own studio and Deloris as a saleslady in a millinery.

In 1942, Astor registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 29 September 1896 in Wilson, North Carolina; resided at 4905 Vincennes, Chicago; was married to Delores Bowser; and worked for the Fannie May Candy Company.

Astor died in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 1981.

Was Astor really then a dentist?

A brief entry in an industry journal may clear up the matter:

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The Dental Cosmos: a Monthly Record of Dental Science, Edward C. Kirk, ed. (1917).

In fact, it was Astor’s elder brother Russell L. Bowser who attended dental school, graduating from Howard in June 1917. The same month, he registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card: Russell Linwood Bowser was born 5 March 1891 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 416 Oakdale Place, Washington, D.C.; was single; worked as a dental surgeon in Washington; was tall, medium build, with brown eyes and black hair; and had “defective eyesight and a weak heart.”

In the 1920 census of Chicago, Illinois: North Carolina-born Dr. Linwood Bowser, 28, dentist, was a lodger on Evans Avenue.

In 1942, Russell Linwood Bowser registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card: he was born 5 March 1891 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 5634 South Parkway, Chicago (telephone number Went 2910); listed as a close contact Mr. A.B. Bowser, 4905 Vincennes Avenue, Chicago; and worked in the Central Investigating Unit, Federal Security Agency, Public Health Service, 54 West Hubbard Street, Chicago.

Per the Cook County, Illinois, Death Index, Russell L. Bowser died 2 December 1951.

Occupations, 1880.

Here are the occupations carried out by African-Americans enumerated in the 1880 census of the town of Wilson, and the number of people working these jobs. The youngest person listed with a job was a 12 year-old nurse, who most likely cared for small children. In the ten years between 1870 and 1880, employment opportunities for African-Americans continued to diversify. Though most continued to work low-wage, low-skilled farm laborer and domestic services jobs, there is evidence of a tiny educated class emerging, as well as folk engaged in commerce.

  • Baker — 1.
  • Barber — 1.
  • Blacksmith/work in blacksmith shop — 3.
  • Brickmason — 3.
  • Brickyard worker — 1.
  • Butcher — 1.
  • Cook — 22.
  • Cook and washer — 1.
  • Domestic servant/servant — 52.
  • Drayman — 3.
  • Eating saloon keeper — 1.
  • Farm laborer/works on farm — 27.
  • Farmer — 1.
  • “Fires up steam engine” — 1.
  • Hireling/hired hand — 12.
  • Hotel servant — 5.
  • House carpenter — 2.
  • House painter — 1.
  • General merchant — 1.
  • Grocery shop owner — 2.
  • Ice house worker — 1.
  • Iron foundry worker — 1.
  • Laborer — 24.
  • Lightning rod wagon worker — 1.
  • Livery stable worker — 1.
  • Mattressmaker — 1.
  • Mechanic — 3.
  • Midwife — 1.
  • Nurse — 1.
  • Nursery worker — 1.
  • Painter — 1.
  • Plasterer — 1.
  • Preacher, Methodist — 1.
  • Railroad station worker — 3.
  • Schoolteacher — 3.
  • Shoemaker — 2.
  • Street worker — 1.
  • Teamster — 3.
  • Washer and ironer — 4.
  • Washerwoman — 9.
  • Wood sawyer — 4.

Occupations, 1870.

In 1870, the year of the first post-Emancipation census, African-Americans overwhelmingly lived in rural communities and engaged in agricultural labor. However, even small towns like Wilson offered greater opportunities to pursue different and often more skilled occupations. Though livelihoods open to them remained few, black women dominated household service positions and thus were able to bring wages into their own homes.

Here are the occupations carried out by African-Americans enumerated in the 1870 census of the town of Wilson, and the number of people working these jobs. The youngest person listed with a job were a 10 year-old domestic servant and a 12 year-old who “works about the house.” Seven of the farm laborers were inmates at the county prison.

  • Baker/bakery worker — 2.
  • Barber — 2.
  • Blacksmith/blacksmith apprentice — 4.
  • Brickyard worker — 1.
  • Carpenter — 4.
  • Chambermaid — 2.
  • Hotel cook — 1.
  • Domestic servant/servant — 88.
  • Farm laborer/farm worker — 40.
  • Furniture shop worker — 1.
  • Gardener — 2.
  • General laborer — 1.
  • Hotel servant — 7.
  • Housekeeper — 1.
  • Iron foundry worker — 1.
  • Porter, general, hotel and store — 4.
  • Railroad station worker/railroad worker — 4.
  • Schoolteacher — 1.
  • Shoemaker — 2.
  • Teamster — 2.
  • Washerwoman/washer — 11.

 

Free People of Color, 1860: Old Fields.

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

Old Fields district

#971. Farmer Willis Heggins, 51; wife Rhody, 47; and children Thomas, 4, Jackson, 2, and Delpha, 12; all mulatto.

#977. William Jones, 35, making turpentine, and wife Mary, 37, domestic, mulatto, in the household of white farmer Jethro Harrison, 31.

#990. Noel Jones, 15, black, making turpentine, with Gray Flowers, 28, white, also making turpentine.

#1007. John Brantley, 11, and Zilpha Brantley, 9, both mulatto, in the household of white farmer Hilliard Boykin, 47.

#1018. Louisa Hall, 31, and daughter Clara, 12, both mulatto, in the household of D.C. Clark, 30, a distiller of turpentine.

#1042. Thomas Brantley, 52, farmer; wife Lucinda, 35; and children William, 9, and James W., 6; all mulatto. Thomas claimed $800 in real property, $200 in personal property.

#1049. Emerson Locus, 13, black, in the household of white farmer John W. Driver, 39.

#1052. Hardy Taborn, 70, mulatto, farm laborer.

#1055. Isabell Rowe, 40, spinning, with Exaline, 23, Isaah, 20, Nancy, 12, and Winefred Rowe, 4. All were white except Nancy, who was described as mulatto.

#1061. Jolly Heggins, 36, mulatto, farm laborer, in the household of white farmer Jordan Winstead, 38.

#1065. Chilty Locas, 23, black, washing, claimed $20 personal property.

#1066. Caroline Locas, 27, black, farm laborer, with Cintha, 9, mulatto, and William Locas, 1, black.

#1083. Moses Heggins, 60, farmer, mulatto, and wife Theresa, 48, mulatto. Moses claimed $125 in real property and $115 in personal property.

#1084. Nelson Eatman, 50, farmer; wife Marinda, 45, and children Elizabeth, 20, Ginsey, 18, Smithey, 17, Alfred, 14, Nelson, 5, Emily, 7, and Jarman, 2, all mulatto. Nelson claimed $800 in real property; $320, personal.

#1085. Martin Locas, 45, farmer; wife Eliza, 30; and children Isham, 16, Edith, 10, Ervin, 8, Neverson, 6, Cedney, 5, and Susan Locus, 2, all mulatto. Martin claimed $250 in personal property.

#1089. Elijah Locus, 60, ditcher, wife Mariah, 60; and Martha Locus, all mulatto. Elijah claimed $30 in personal property.

#1091. Gage Locus, 30, black, farm laborer, in the household of white farmer Jarman Eatman, 50.

#1100. Peter Locus, 23, black, turpentine laborer, in the household of white turpentine laborer William Boykin, 29.

#1126. John Davis, 20, mulatto, turpentine laborer, in the household of white turpentine laborer laborer Arthur Davis, 25.

#1137. Willis Jones, 62, black, farm laborer; wife Sarah, 51, mulatto; and children Henry, 20, Alexander, 17, Noel, 16, Willis, 12, Paton, 10, Burthany, 7, Sarah, 13, and James, 10.

#1141. William Jones, 20, mulatto, farm laborer; Mahaly Jones, 17, domestic; John Locus, 10; Mary Jones, 35, domestic; John, 10, and Josiah Jones, 6; all mulatto; in the household of white farmer Elizabeth Sampson, 30.

#1142. Jane Locus, 28, black, in the household of white farmer W.W. Williamson, 24.

#1143. Anderson Blackwell, 90, farm laborer, and Drucinda Blackwell, 80, with Edith Jones, 14; all black.

#1147. Nathan E. Blackwell, 20, mulatto, wagoner, in the household of white farmer Robinson Baker, 42.

#1148. Jacob Jones, 31, day laborer, with wife Milly, 31, and children Louisa, 11, Charity, 10, John, 6, Stephen, 4, and Joana, 2; all black. Jacob reported $40 in personal property.