census

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.

 

Free people of color, 1860: Joyners & Gardners district.

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

Joyners & Gardners district

#606. Elba Lassiter, 16, mulatto, farm laborer, in the household of white farmer John B. Batts, 32.

#614. Isaac Lassiter, 26, mulatto, farm laborer, in the household of white farmer Thomas H. Bridgers, 27.

#631. Margaret Rose, 28, mulatto, farm laborer, with Clara, 9, and Diana Rose, 7, both mulatto, in the household of 68 year-old white farmer Mary E. Batts.

#649. Blessen Heggins, 39, black, farm laborer, with Elizabeth, 14, and Jolly Heggins, 12, black, in the household of white farmer Elijah Winsted, 71.

#665. Kinchen Locust, 8, black, and Joseph Perry, 6, mulatto, in the household of white farmer Henry Dixon, 76.

#669. Chessie Portice, 52, black, and William Portice, 25, black, farm laborer.

#719. Farm laborer Mariah Lassiter, 20, black, and child Esset, 3, in the household of white farmer Elizabeth Barnes, 79.

#741. Farmer Penny Lassiter, 50, mulatto, with children Priscilla, 14, Theresa, 12, Hardy, 10, Haywood, 8, William, and Pennina, 2, all black. Penny reported owning $600 real property and $300 personal property.

#774. Arch Artis, 65, black, in the household of white farmer Calvin Woodard, 32.

#782. Martha Mitchel, 44, mulatto, with children William, 13, Franklin, 11, George, 10, Thomas, 9, and Martha, 6. Martha reported $20 personal property.

#802. Jordan Thomas, 50, mulatto, with daughters Henrietta, 21, Eliza, 20, and Harley, 18, and grandson John, 1. Jordan reported $100 in real property and $80 in personal property.

 

Free people of color, 1860: Saratoga district.

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

Saratoga district

#805. Jane Artis, 14, black, in the household of 28 year-old white farmer J.J. Lane.

#817. Henry Mitchell, 24, black, carpenter; Martha Mitchell, 18, mulatto; Olive Mitchell, 25, black; Mary Mitchell, 1, black; and Jesse Mitchell, 60, black, farm laborer. Henry owned $200 real property and $30 personal property.

#851. Eliza Sampson, 30, mulatto, cook, living with two white men, Streeter Dilda, 25, and Benj’n Baker, 20, both grog shop workers. Eliza reported $100 real property and $34 personal property.

#919. William, 15, Patrick, 14, Margaret, 13, Lou, 12, Balum, 11, and Eliza Hall, 45, all mulatto, in the household of James B. Peacock, 25.

#921. Samuel Hall, 13, mulatto, in the household of white farm laborer Noah Walker.

#940. Wyatt Lynch, 38, plasterer and brickmason, with wife Caroline, 23, and daughter Frances, 3. Wyatt reported owning $50 in personal property.

#942. Brickmason Etheldred Caraway, 29, black, with wife Susan, 25, and children Bunyan, 5, and Joseph, 3, all black. [This family’s last name actually was Carroll.] Etheldred reported $30 personal estate.

#954. James Jones, 51, day laborer, in the household of white merchant John Williamson, 41.

#959. Teamster Richard Simpson, 27, mulatto; wife Mariah, 19, mulatto, cook; and son John, 1 month, mulatto.