The lady with the dignified look.

The Golden Bull, Johnson C. Smith University (1947).

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 502 East Vance Street, oil mill laborer William Clark, 27; wife Katie, 27, laundress; and children Romane, 6, Jeroline, 2, and Elaine, 4.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 502 East Vance Street, fertilizer factory laborer William Clark, 37; wife Katie E., 37, laundress; and children Romaine, 16, Elaine, 14, Geraldine, 12, Arthur E., 8, Addie E., 5, and William T., 2.

Esther Romaine Brown died 25 June 1996 in Richmond, Virginia. Per

“Dr. Esther Romaine Clark Brown, 72, of Richmond, a retired professor of special education at Virginia State University. Dr. Brown taught at the elementary, secondary and collegiate levels in North Carolina, Virginia and Pennsylvania before she retired in 1984 as a professor of special education at Virginia State.

“Widow of John Clinton Brown Sr., who died in 1981. Survived by a son, John Clinton Brown Jr.; three sisters, Elaine Carter of High Point, N.C., Geraldine Pettyjohn of Sharon Hill, Pa., and Addie Sherrod of Wilson, N.C.; and three brothers, Offie Clark of Aberdeen, Md., W.T. Clark of Hanover, and Milton Grady of Greensboro, N.C.”

The reverends grew up together.

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New York Age, 15 March 1930.

Leaders of Saint Mark’s Episcopal.

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Junior warden John Boykin, Rev. Robert N. Perry, and senior warden John H. Clark, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, early 1900s.

  • John Boykin — John Boykin, son of Rose Boykin, married Dicy Bailey, daughter of Moses and Julia Bailey, on 21 April 1870 in Wilson County. In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Virginia-born farmer John Boykin, 26; wife Disey, 25; and children Julian, 8, Rear Ann, 7, John C., 5, W. Brogner, 3, and Sallie A., 9 months, plus Anna Barnes, 17. In the  1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house mover John Boykin, 50; wife Dicy, 44, cooking; and children Sallie, 19, cooking, James, 18, day laborer, Dotia, 14, Susia, 14, Lillie, 10, and Eliza, 7. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Boykins, 56, odd jobs laborer; wife Disey, 54; and children Lillie, 20, and Liza, 17. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born house mover John Boykin, 70, wife Dicey, 65, and lodgers Sam Stephens, 21, and wife Cora, 20. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 Viola Street, widower John Boykin lived alone.
  • Rev. Robert Nathaniel Perry — Rev. Robert N. Perry appears in Hills’ city directory in 1908 as the rector of Saint Mark’s, then located at Lodge Street near Bank Street. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, Robert Perry, 28, wife Mary A., 26, and son William, 5 months. Perry was described as a public school teacher. On 12 September 1918, Robert Nathaniel Perry registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 6 December 1881; resided at 315 South Street; was married to Mary A. Perry; and was minister of the colored Episcopal Church. After leaving Saint Mark’s, Father Perry served 32 years as vicar of Good Shepherd Church in Thomasville, Georgia and headmaster of its parochial school.
  • John Henry Clark

Photo courtesy of Robert Boykin, reprinted from Wilson Daily Times, 4 February 2008.

Dr. Clark’s normal school.

Adapted from Gillespie-Selden Historic District Design Guidelines 2013:

The Gillespie-Selden Historic District is located in southwest Cordele, Georgia, and is roughly bounded by US 280/GA 30 (16th Avenue) to the south, 13th Avenue and the CSX Railroad to the north, 11th Street to the east, and 15th Street to the west. The Gillespie-Selden neighborhood centers around the Gillespie-Selden Institute campus on West 15th Avenue.

The Gillespie Normal School was founded in 1902 by Dr. Augustus S. Clark and his wife, Anna Clark, to provide educational facilities for African-American boys and girls. The school was named in recognition of the Gillespie family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose financial gift made the school possible. The Clarks met the Gillespies during a Presbyterian Conference in South Carolina. With the financial gift, the Clarks were able to build a school and support a boarding program. Students from the eastern section of the United States, such as New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, attended the school. Some of the students worked as laborers in the rail yards to attend the institute.

Gillespie-Selden Institute originally consisted of two wood-framed buildings, a faculty of three teachers, and an enrollment of 28 students. In 1923, a hospital was financially secured with a gift of $1,000. At that time the nearest hospital for African-Americans was located 160 miles away. The first nurse was Mrs. Eula Burke Johnson, a graduate of the Gillespie Normal School. The hospital was located on the second floor of one of the early wood-framed buildings and consisted of two beds and one operating room. Local doctors, white and African-American, were on the staff. The Charles Helm Hospital, named for the benefactor, also functioned as a nursing training school. The nurses trained in patient care at the hospital and attended classes at the Gillespie-Selden Institute. In 1937, a 25-bed hospital was constructed near the Gillespie-Selden Institute and named Gillespie Hospital for William Gillespie, who donated the funds needed to build it. The hospital, in cooperation with the state nursing service and under the direction of Nurse Johnson, held weekly clinics for midwives who cared for over 50% of all maternity cases in this area of the state. In 1949, a separate nursing college, Selden Cottage, was constructed to house the nursing program.

The Gillespie-Selden Institute, located at the corner of 15th Avenue and 12th Street, includes a complex of buildings consisting of the President’s Home, Founder’s Home, girls’ dormitory, Gillespie Memorial Hospital, Administration Building and Selden Cottage. The President’s home, built circa 1925 is located next to the girls’ dormitory and is a two-story brick building with Craftsman style detailing. The Founder’s Home, also known as Dr. Clark’s House, is a Colonial Revival style house built circa 1941 and located on 15th Avenue near St. Paul Presbyterian Church. The girls’ dormitory is a three-story brick building with Colonial Revival style features built in 1929. This building was one of the first brick buildings constructed on the campus. The Gillespie Memorial Hospital is a one-story brick building with a center gable built in 1937 with Colonial Revival style features. The Administration Building, built in 1937, is a two-story brick building featuring a center tower with Colonial Revival style detailing. Selden Cottage, which served as a nursing school, is a two-story brick building constructed in 1949.

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In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, farmer Henry Clark, 39, wife, Florah, 38, and children John, 16, Mary J., 14, Ella, 12, Henrietta, 9, Henry, 8, Augustin, 5, Thomas, 3, and Margaret, 10 months.

On 12 September 1918, 44 year-old Augustus Simeon Clark registered for the World War I draft. His occupation? “Teaching and preaching.”


In the 1920 census of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia: at 611 – 15th Avenue West, Rev. Augustus S. Clark, 46, wife Annie, 40, and adopted daughter Louise, 14. Annie and Louise were Alabama natives.

In the 1930 census of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia: A.S. Clark, 55, superintendent of Gillespie School; wife A.W., 52, teacher; daughter K. Louise, 24, teacher; and ten boarders, including a campus laborer, students, a nurse and two teachers.

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One of the testimonials of “Negro college presidents” who joined and contributed to National Urban League’s labor programming, Pittsburgh Courier, 7 July 1934.

In the 1940 census of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia: at Gillespie Normal School, Augustus S. Clark, 65, president, and wife Anna Clark, 60, dean.

Augustus S. Clark died 28 July 1959 in Cordele, Georgia.

For more on preservation efforts in Cordele’s Gillespie-Selden Historic District, see Gillespie-Selden Design Charrette.

Lincoln legacy.

Lincoln University College and Theological Seminary Biographical Catalog 1918 lists nine Wilson-born African-American men among the school’s former students. Nearly half — John H., William H., Augustus S., and Thomas G. Clark — were brothers, sons of Henry and Flora Lathan Clark. (The John H. Clark entry is puzzling as he was only about seven years old in 1871.) Daniel C. and James T. Suggs were also brothers, sons of George W. and Esther Suggs, as were Samuel H. and William H. Vick, sons of Daniel and Fannie Blount Vick.

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Wilson news.


New York Age, 9 September 1922.

  • Mrs. Jasper Coley —  Laura (or Laurena) V. Coley, daughter of Isaac and Penny Coley, married Jasper Allison Coley on 6 June 1912 in Wayne County. A native of Pikeville, Wayne County, like her husband, Laura died 12 May 1923. She was a teacher. Jasper Coley was the son of Phillip R. and Annie Exum Coley. He is listed in Wilson city directories in the early 1920s as a carpenter, a plasterer and a bricklayer, and lived at 401 North Vick Street.
  • Mrs. William Hines — Ethel Cornwell Hines (1894-1983) was a South Carolina native.
  • Roberta Battle, Glace Battle, Georgia Burks and Henrietta Colvert
  • Mrs. B.P. Coward — Sarah Adelaide Brown Coward (1867-1946) was the wife of A.M.E. Zion minister Bryant Pugh Coward.
  • Mrs. Stattie Cannon — In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charles Cannon, 35, barber in a “white shop”; wife Statie, 34; and children Charles, 11, Ruth, 9, and Statie Benton, 13. In the 1922 Wilson city directory, Stattie Cannon is listed as a dressmaker and Charles Cannon as a carpenter; both resided at 724 East Green Street. In the 1940 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: Charles Cannon, 44, mother Stattie Cannon, 65, brother-in-law Fred Langford, 29, and sister Ruth Langford, 33. All were born in North Carolina and described as “white.”
  • A.N. Darden — Arthur N. Darden (1889-1948) was a son of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden and worked in his father’s undertaking business.
  • John Clark
  • Mrs. C.L. Darden — Norma Duncan Darden (1895-1987), a native of Montgomery, Alabama, was married to Arthur Darden’s brother, Camillus L. Darden.
  • Rev. A.H. George
  • Mrs. S.L. Bowser — Burt Bowser, born in Halifax County, married Sarah Rountree, daughter of Peter and Lucinda Rountree, on 4 December 1888 in Wilson. Reddin S. Wilkins, A.J. Lindsay and James W. Parrington were witnesses to the ceremony. In the 1900 census, Burt L. Bowser is described as a bar tender and in 1910 as the conductor of a pool room. Sarah is described as a dressmaker. Burt Landers Bowser died in 1920; Sarah Bowser, in 1935.
  • John Spells — In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pender Street, carpenter John E. Spell, 50, wife Martha A., 39, and son John E., Jr., 16. (John’s death certificate lists his middle name as Stephen.) Martha A. Spell, a native of Guilford County, died in Wilson in 1966.
  • Wesley Rogers — Per the city directory, in 1922, John Wesley Rogers lived at 548 East Nash Street and worked as a porter at Oettinger’s department store. His wife,  a native of Johnston County, was Mary Elizabeth Thomas Rogers (1878-1950). Rogers was born in Durham County in 1870 and died in Wilson in 1951.
  • Deby Harper — Deborah Harper Swindell () was the daughter of Argent Harper. She was briefly married to Louis Swindell.
  • Dr. DuBissette
  • Dr. and Mrs. J.B. Darden — Pharmacist James Benjamin Darden was a brother of Arthur and Camillus Darden. After a brief partnership with his brother John W. Darden, a doctor in Opelika, Alabama, he settled in Petersburg, Virginia.
  • Mrs. A.B. Bowser — Astor Burt Bowser, born 1896, was a son of Burt L. and Sarah L. Bowser, above. He married Deloris Harvey of Alamance County on 17 August 1921 in Wilson. Rev. B.P. Coward officiated. In the 1930 census, the couple and their children, Astor B., Jr., and Sarah, are listed in Chicago, Illinois. Astor worked as an artist in his own studio and Deloris as a saleslady in a millinery. Astor died in Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 1981.