David Morris will never get well.

In June 1911, two articles in the Wilson Daily Times mentioned the plight of David Morris, an African-American painter stricken with tuberculosis. Morris, his wife, and four children were newcomers to Wilson with no apparent relatives in the area, and he was receiving both public and private charity. As a “chronic case,” Morris was “a continuous drain” on resources, and there was discussion of having him moved to the County Home.

The Morrises intrigue me. David Morris was born in Henderson, North Carolina, but met and married Canadian Lillian Hinson in Boston, Massachusetts. Somehow they made their way to Wilson by 1908, where Morris soon fell too ill to work. His death circa late 1911 devastated the family; two children eventually were sent to an orphanage. [More about them soon.] Lillian Hinson remarried in 1919, but died just two years later. Her youngest child, Mabel, was only 6 years old.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 June 1911.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 June 1911.


Elizabeth Sophia Morris was born 22 October 1898 at 2 Wirth Place, Boston, Massachusetts, to David Hinson, painter, of Henderson, N.C., and Lillian Hinson, of Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Massachusetts Marriage Records, 1840-1915,

On 23 May 1899, David A. Morris, 24, painter, of Henderson, North Carolina, son of George H. Morris and Lizzie Barnes, 26 1/2 Kendall Street, Boston, married Lillian Hinson, 20, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, daughter of Richard Hinson and Sofia Dornton, seamstress, 2 Wirth Place, in Boston, Massachusetts.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Morris David A (c) painter 636 Viola

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Green Street, painter David Morris, 34; wife Lillian, 30; and children Pearle E., 12, Charles, 9, Lillian, 7, and David, 7 months.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Morris Lillian (c) laundress h 122 Smith

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Morris Lillian (c) laundress h 114 N Pettigrew; Morris Pearl (c) dom h 114 N Pettigrew

On 16 August 1919, William Johnson, 26, of Wilson, son of Robert and Ella Johnson, married Lillian Morris, 36, of Wilson, daughter of Richard and Sophia Hinson, in Wilson.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 108 Smith, William Johnson, 25, born in South Carolina; wife Lillian, 32, born in England; and [his] stepchildren Charles, 17, Lillie, 15, and Mabel, 6.

Lillian Johnson died 6 March 1921 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old; was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia; was married to William Johnson; and lived on Smith Street.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Morris Pearl (c) cook h 215 Stantonsburg rd

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Morris Lillian (c) elev opr Court House h 22 Ashe

Pearl Morris died 16 October 1936 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 28 years old; was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to David Morris of Henderson, N.C., and Lillian Hinson of Boston; was single; and lived at 1123 East Nash Street. Mable Phillips was informant.

Christmas Opportunity.

On 5 December 1936, when the Wilson Daily Times reported preparations for the Wilson Welfare Association’s Christmas Opportunity list, it noted: “The Christmas opportunity list will carry the names of very few colored cases, just those that are blind; as the colored families are handled by a group from the Colored Social Service Bureau. The Wilson Welfare Association is the only organized relief society that handles both white and colored cases in the city and with the closing of the factories the load is increasing daily.”

Two Black families met the Welfare Association’s criteria. Unfortunately for the regular poor, the Colored Social Service Bureau’s cases did not benefit from advertisement in the local newspaper.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 December 1936.