We have seen Ellen (not Ella) Clarkhere, in a post about her headstone, discovered in Odd Fellows Cemetery.
Ben Wootten — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on West Walnut Street, Ben Wooten, 45, restaurant proprietor; wife Georgia, 36; and Rosina, 16, and Russell, 11. Ben Wooten died 18 October 1936 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 77 years old; was married to Georgia; lived at 119 West Walnut; engaged in farming; and was born in Pitt County, N.C.
Lonnie Hopkins — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Hines Street, Rhesa Moore, 45, laundress, widow; daughter Ethel Moore, 15, factory laborer; lodger Mary Lumford, 23, cook; grandson Willie Lumford, 7; and lodgers Alfred Cook, 28, and Lonnie Hopkins, 26, guano factory laborers. On 24 September 1916, Lonnie Hopkins, 28, of Wilson, son of Jim and Julia Hopkins, married Ara Blount, 19, of Wilson, daughter of Daniel and Sue Bynum Blount, in Wilson. Disciples minister J.B. Kornegay performed the ceremony in the presence of Millard Grady, Ellar Blount, and W.M. Edwards.
We did a little trip down to Cordele, Georgia, this weekend. Once there, I was a little hazy on the directions, but I spotted A.S. Clark Drive and knew we were good.
Augustus S. Clark was among the cohort of (mostly) young men who erupted from Wilson in the 1880s and ’90s,* determined to lead. Born in the final days of slavery, or just after, they drank in everything J.C. Price and Samuel H. Vick poured at Wilson Academy, went straight to university (often at Lincoln, their instructors’ alma mater), then set out, in Clark’s later words, to “… do what I can for the uplift of my people.”
Dr. Augustus S. Clark (1874-1959). (Photo courtesy of Frank T. Wilson, ed., “Living Witnesses: Black Presbyterians in Ministry II,” Journal of Presbyterian History, volume 53, number 3 (Fall 1985).)
For his part, in 1902 Clark founded, with his wife Annie, the Gillespie Normal School, later Gillespie-Selden Institute, in Cordele. In 1925, the institute added an hospital. (The closest Black medical facility was 142 miles away in Atlanta.) I’ve written of Gillespie-Selden here and finally went to see it.
Gillespie Institute Founded By Rev. and Mrs. Augustus Clark September 1, 1902 Served By Them Until October 1, 1941 Alumni 1942
The school complex forms the heart of Cordele’s Gillespie-Selden Historic District. Below, the school’s administration building, built in 1935.
The girls’ dormitory below, built in 1929, is the most imposing building in the neighborhood.
A rear addition has been largely torn down, and an open door grants access to the interior.
The building holds evidence of fairly recent use as a family resource and daycare center, as well as squatters. All things considered though, it is in pretty good condition.
This room runs the length of the back wall on the first floor.
At the front of the building, a series of small interconnected rooms flanks a central entry hall. I didn’t venture upstairs.
The cornerstone of the girls’ dormitory.
A marble plaque inlaid by the class of 1929.
The President’s House, also known as Dr. Clark’s house, which sits just to the west of the girls’ dormitory. The Clarks retired from active teaching and school leadership in 1941.
Below, Saint Paul Presbyterian, also founded by Rev. Clark. The tin-roofed section at right appears to be the original church, updated with brick.
Gillespie-Selden Institute closed in 1956 when Cordele finally erected a high school for African-American students. Named in honor of A.S. Clark, the school eventually converted to an elementary school, but closed in 2014. The building is now under development as a non-profit biomedical institute.
For more about Gillespie-Selden Historic District, see the Gillespie-Selden Historic District National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, which contains this passage:
“Within the Gillespie-Selden Historic District, the outreach missionary role of Dr. Augustus S. Clark (1874-1959) and St. Paul Presbyterian Church is significant to the development of the neighborhood. Dr. Clark completed his theological training at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1897; he was sent by the Presbyterian National Board of Missions to Cordele in 1898 as a missionary to help the struggling Portis Memorial Presbyterian Church. During that same year, a loan was secured from the Board of the Church Erection Fund of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church for the construction of a new church building to be named St. Paul Presbyterian Church.
“In 1902, Dr. Clark and his wife, Anna, realized that there were less than adequate educational institutions for African-Americans to attend in Cordele as well as the entire southwest region of the state. Dr. Clark taught elementary-level and Sunday-school classes in the basement of St. Paul Presbyterian Church, but found he needed more space. … By 1904, enough money had been donated by white members of northern Presbyterian churches, especially the Gillespie family of Pittsburgh, that three buildings of the school complex were constructed. …”
In the 1880 census of Rocky Mount, Nash County: farm worker Right Whitley, 31; wife Tempie, 32; and children Blunt, 10, Ellin, 8, Bunch, 7, and Ann Wright, 2.
Ellen Whitley married Will Clark on 31 October 1896 in Nash County, North Carolina.
Ella Clark died 13 June 1913 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 35 years old; was born in Nash County to Wright Whitley and Tempie Lewis; was widowed; lived at 313 Goldsboro Street; and “fell dead on street — some cardiac event.” Eli Bryant was informant.
Thanks to Joe Stair for finding and photographing Ellen Clark’s headstone.
[Update: While searching for a different group of markers, I spotted the red flag Joe Stair placed at Ellen Clark’s headstone. I also noticed two small terra cotta pots placed nearby. Happenstance? Or evidence of flowers placed in her memory decades ago? — LYH, 4/20/2021]
“From 1932 to 1964, Mrs. Bethel was employed in the Wilson city schools system where she furthered the use of her musical talents. For many years, she was the musical assistant for the Darden School Choir.
“In addition she has taught private classes in piano and organizing for a number of students in the Wilson community, while at the same time serving as organist for the St. Mark’s Mission. Mrs. Bethel’s contribution to music at St. Mark’s Mission will be recognized during the concert by the St. Augustine’s choir, which is said to be a tribute to all the makers of music to the greater glory of God.”
N.C. Mutual Life Insurance affiliate Home Development Company was a major player in East Wilson real estate in the mid-twentieth, buying and selling distressed properties by the dozens. Below, a plat map the company recorded in 1944 for two lots on Viola Street between C.E. Artis at 308 North Pender and Sadie Joyner at 609 Viola.
The house at 607 Viola Street was demolished in the early 1980s. There has never been a house on the second lot.
Plat book 4, page 13.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Church Alton (c; Hattie) lab h 607 Viola; Church Helen (c) maid Cherry Hotel H 607 Viola.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Clark Saml (c; Cath) h 607 Viola; Clark Martha (c) dom h 607 Viola.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Viola, at $16/month rent, Catherine Clark, 42, born in S.C., hospital cook; husband Sam, 52, born in Georgia; granddaughter Martha Clark, 15, born in S.C.; grandson Willie McGill, 6, born in N.C.; and two roomers, Talmage Smith, 21, and Roy Maze, 26, both orchestra musicians. [Orchestra musicians?]
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Viola, at $6/month, Nora Farmer, 28, tobacco factory hanger, and lodgers Maggie Smith, 23, also a hanger, and Lester Parker, 28, highway laborer. Also, at $8/month, Charlie Williams, 42, service station attendant; wife Ellen, 38, laundress; son David, 23, tobacco factory laborer; and niece Eloise Tarboro, 18, servant.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city director: Williams Chas (c; Ellen) porter G Duke Ricks h 607 Viola
In the 1930s, Mrs. Dawson’s grandparents Samuel and Catherine Frison McFadden Clark lived on Smith Street, which ran parallel to Nash for one block. They were members of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church and owned a horse and buggy. Catherine Clark was a cook at Woodard-Herring Hospital on West Green Street and also cooked for Camillus L. and Norma D. Darden at their Pender Street home.
In 1918, Sam Smith registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 18 April 1874; lived at 118 Smith Street; worked as a laborer for Imperial Tobacco Company; and his nearest relative was wife Katherine Clark.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Viola, rented for $16/month, hospital cook Catherine Clark, 42; husband Sam, 52; grandchildren Martha Clark, 15, and Willie McGill, 6; and roomers Talmage Smith, 21, and Roy Maze, 26, both orchestra musicians.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Clark Samuel (c; Cath) h 607 Viola
Samuel Clark died 21 January 1935 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 53 years old; was born in Macon, Georgia; was a laborer; was married to Katherine Clark; and lived at 513 Smith Street.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: boarding house keeper FloydMitchell, 56, and lodgers Rosa Taylor, 39, laborer; Catherine Clark, 51, cook, Willie Cook, 14, and David Cook, 9; Alice Cutts, 34; Irvin Cutts, 39; George K. Cutts, 9, and Charles Cutts, 7.
Catherine Frison Clark died 9 November 1944 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 February 1875 in Charleston, South Carolina, to David Frison and Easter [last name unknown]; she was a widow; and she lived at 401 Grace Street. She was buried in Rountree cemetery, and Lottie Cohen, 401 Grace, was informant.
CLARK, Rev. Thomas Garrett, one of 9 children of Harry and Flora Clark, was born in Wilson county, N.C., July 10, 1876; grew up on the farm and attended the country and also public school; Lincoln University, Pennsylvania; converted May 22, 1899, and connected with the Presbyterian Church; entered Howard University, 1902, graduating May, 1905; joined the AME Church in 1906; was licensed in February at Bethel AME Church, Philadelphia; ordained deacon at the Philadelphia Annual Conference, June 14, 1908, at Carlisle, Pa., by Bishop [Wesley J.] Gaines, and also transferred to the Liberian Annual Conference, West Africa, June 15; sailed for Africa with Bishop [William H.] Heard and other missionaries December 5, 1908. He preached in Africa January 1, 1909, and met the first annual conference January 27; was ordained elder January 31, 1909, and appointed to the Eliza Turner Memorial Church, Monrovia; reappointed January 26, 1919, and made principal of the Mission School, with 130 students; he rebuilt the church; was appointed to Bethel AME Church, Lower Buchanan, Grand Bassa, March 20, 1911, and established a mission station among the Kroo Tribe at Kroo Town, November 26th. He baptized 76 persons; was appointed general missionary at the Annual Conference held at Monrovia, March 15, 1912, and returned to the U.S. with a native boy “Ulch” from the mission station, for the purpose of educating him; he arrived in America April 10 and was married to Miss Sarah B. Wainwright April 21. He was pastor of Victor’s Chapel AME Church, Montclair, 1912-1913; St. John’s AME Church, Catskill, N.Y., 1913-1914; Elmira, N.Y., 1914-1917; Jamaica, N.Y., 1917-1923; raised nearly $20,000 mortgage of long standing was burned; Flushing, N.Y., 1923-1924; Glen Cove, N.Y., 1924-1925; Stamford, Conn., 1925-1926; Middletown, N.Y., 1926-1928; Arverne, L.I.N.Y., 1928; purchased building at cost of $1500, all of which he paid. In the recent history of the Goshen Presbyterian Church of more than 225 years standing, it is set forth therein that the branch if that denomination, founded among the Colored race near half-century ago, and supervised by the Caucasian members interview the Rev. T.G. Clark, a number of times for the purpose of serving the latter Branch which he eventually agreed and did for a number of years.
Richard R. Wright Jr., Centennial Encyclopedia of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Containing principally the Biographies of the Men and Women, both Ministers and Laymen, whose Labors during a Hundred Years, helped make the A.M.E. Church What It Is; also Short Historical Sketches of Annual Conferences, Educational Institutions,General Departments, Missionary Societies of the A.M.E. Church, and General Information about African Methodism and the Christian Church in General Being a Literary Contribution to the Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Formation of the African Methodist Episcopal Church Denomination by Richard Allen and others, at Philadelphia, Penna., in 1816, 2nd ed. (1947);postcard image of Eliza Turner Memorial A.M.E. Chapel, commons.wikimedia.org.
While researching for the Henry Flowers estate piece, I noticed that John H. Clark was informant on the death certificates of Isabel Taylor and Alex Taylor, children of Annis Taylor and Henry (last name uncertain). What was Clark’s connection to this family?
Detail from death certificate of Isabel Taylor, who died 26 October 1929 in Wilson.
The crucial clue: Katherine Elks mentioned that Henry Flowers’ youngest daughters married brothers John P. Clark and Sidney P. Clark. Their father, Phineas P. Clark, had brought his family from Connecticut to Nash County to set up as a buggy maker. (His employee Willis N. Hackney went on to found the carriage-making company that became Hackney Brothers Body Company.)
P.P. Clark does not appear to have been a slaveholder. However, John P. Clark is listed in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County as the owner of five enslaved people. One was a 19 year-old male, the correct age and sex to have been Harry Clark, John H. Clark’s father. John P. Clark was a 21 year-old newlywed at the time of the census. Where he had obtained five slaves? Had his wife Nancy Flowers brought them into the marriage?
Detail from the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson district, Wilson County.
Recall the distribution of Henry Flowers’ enslaved property. In 1850, the group was divided into three lots. Lot number 3 included a boy named Harry. Though existing estate records do not specify, it’s reasonable to assume that Lot 3 went to Nancy Flowers when she achieved majority some years later. When Nancy married John P. Clark, he assumed legal control over her property, which included Harry. (The 25 year-old woman was likely Peggy, who was also in Lot 3, and the children were probably hers. They were born after the 1850 division of Henry’s property and thus were not named.)
Harry was one of the children of Annis, as were Isabel and Alex. Harry adopted the surname Clark after Emancipation, while his siblings adopted Taylor, the surname of their last owners, William and Charity Flowers Taylor. So, what was John H. Clark’s connection to Isabel and Alex Taylor? He was their nephew.
The city’s response to my request for documents about Vick cemetery yielded an unexpected bit of information. One of the plat maps revealed a property across Lane Street from Vick that the city’s Cemetery Trustees purchased from Augustus S. Clark of Cordele, Georgia, in 1953 for $4400. Partially visible next to it is a parcel marked “Bethel.”
The deed for the Augustus Clark parcel describes it as:
“The public road leading from Ward’s Boulevard pass [sic] Rest Haven Cemetery” is the western leg of what is now called Lane Street. “The road leading to Highway #264” is the eastern leg. Harry Clark was Augustus S. Clark’s father, and a 1921 plat map of his farm is annotated here:
In short, the southeastern half of Rest Haven cemetery was once the northeastern half of Harry Clark’s farm. ￼In 1953, the Cemetery Commission purchased three tracts from the Clark family for the cemetery’s expansion.
On 23 January 1923, the same day A.S. Clark sold his share of his father’s estate, his niece Flora Clark Bethel and her husband Wilton Bethel sold Tract No. 6 to the Cemetery Trustees. (Flora C. Bethel had inherited the tract from her father, John H. Clark.)
On 5 June 1953, pursuant to a suit filed by the Cemetery Trustees against William H. Clark‘s heirs (widow Mary Clark, Thomas Clarkand wife Sarah, A.S. Clark, Flora Clark Bethel and husband Wilton, A.S. Gaston, Theodore Gaston, Ralph Gaston and wife Dora, Cicero Gaston, George Gaston and unnamed wife, Russell Golding and unnamed wife, Flora Golding Parks and unnamed husband, and Harry Jenkins and wife Bertha), Tract No. 5 of the Clark farm was condemned. The heirs were awarded $3600, split according to their interests.
The road separating Tracts 1, 2, 3, and 4 from 5, 6, and 7 is now Lane Street, as is the road extending toward Martin Luther King Parkway from the dead-end of the first road. Tract No. 4 belonged to the heirs of Ella Clark Gaston Hinton, who died in 1947. The small black square in this tract shows the location of the Clark “home-house” (as the house recognized as the family seat is called in Wilson-speak.)
Here’s this area now:
The old path of Lane Street is clearly visible running alongside the softball field toward Stantonsburg Road. The electrical substation that the city lopped off A.S. Clark’s tract is the square of cleared land off Lane Street mid-frame. Vick cemetery is the field below Lane Street closest to the right edge of the frame. My best estimate is that the southwest half of Harry Clark’s farm stretched roughly from today’s Snowden Drive to the former path of Lane Street. The northeast half encompassed the portion of Rest Haven in which the sections widen over to Lane Street.
Plat Book 1, page 220; Deed Book 489, page 439, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; Deed Book 489, page 437;Deed Book 499, page 353,Register of Deeds Office, Wilson. Aerial view courtesy of Bing Maps.
With brother John H. Clark nearby, Ella M. Hinton drafted her last will and testament on 15 August 1946. Her major asset consisted of six acres inherited from her father Harry Clark, and she was very particular about to whom it would go.
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Harry Clark, 27; wife Flora, 26; and children John, 6, Mary, 5, Ella, 3, and Henriett, 1.
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.
John A. Gaston and Ella Clark Gaston divorced prior to November 1899, when he married Sattena Barnes.
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Ella Gaston, 30, divorced, and children Ralph, 10, and Albert, 2. Also, per the 1900 census of Wilson, John and Ella’s sonsTheodore, 13, Cicero, 10, George Gaston, 8, remained in their father’s household. (By 1910, they lived in Warsaw, Duplin County, North Carolina.)
On 18 December 1902, Alexander Hinton, 29, of Wilson, married Ella Clark, 31, of Wilson, in Wilson. Presbyterian minister E.A. Mitchell performed the service in the presence of Ida R. Clark and E.J. Hooker.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Nash Street, Alex Hinton, 40, college cook, and wife Ella, 39, laundress. Both reported having been married twice, and Ella reported that five of her seven children were living.
In the 1940 census of Hampton, Virginia: at 35 Tyler, Ella Hinton, 72, widow; granddaughters Edna, 21, tea room waitress, and Eloise Gaston, 13; and lodgers Jessie Wright, 75, Elliott Wyche, 32, gardener, and Rebecca Butler, 20. Ella and Edna were born in North Carolina, Eloise in Pennsylvania, Jessie and Elliott in Virginia, and Rebecca in “Africa.”
Ella Hinton died 17 May 1947 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 6 June 1871 in Wilson to Harry Clark and Maude [sic; maiden name unknown]; was widowed; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. Albert Gaston was informant.