Wilson Mirror, 19 November 1890.
Frank Oscar Blount married Nettie Amanda Steward in Philadelphia in 1890.
Nettie S. Blount of 926 Lombard Street, aged about 30, died 2 April 1892 in Philadelphia. She was buried in Philadelphia’s Lebanon Cemetery.
The Wilson County Public Library’s Local History Collection contains a bound transcription of the Minutes of the Wilson Graded School 1881-1887, 1891-1902, compiled by school superintendent Charles L. Coon. Here, with annotations in brackets, are extracts from those minutes.
July 14th 1891
The Board met in the offices of F.A. Woodard.
The first order of business was the election of teachers. The following was selected with the salary of each (for colored school). P.O. [F.O.] Blount salary $30.00, Prof. Winstead $25.00, Levi Peacock $25.00, Addie Battle $20.00, Lucy Thompson 20.00
Sept 29th 1891
The Board met in office of F.A. Woodard.
The object of the meeting was to hear complaints against some of the Col teachers in Col Graded School viz Levi Peacock and Ida Thompson.
Several Col men were present & urge their dismissal.
The Board discussed the matter & decided unanimous that the charges were not sufficient cause for removal. Nothing further appearing the Board adjourned.
[There are no further clues to the complaints lodged or the reasons “several colored men” urged the dismissals of Levi H. Peacock and Ida Thompson.]
Dec. 30th 1891
The Board met in the office of Dr. Albert Anderson.
The first business was the resignation of F.O. Blount, principal of Col. School. On motion resignation was accepted.
B.R. Winstead was elected principal to fill the unexpired term of F.O. Blount.
Annie Washington was elected as teacher in col school to commence on Jany 6th 1892 at $20.00 per month if qualified for the position after examination by supt. Foust. No other business the board adjourned.
May 9th 1892
The Board met in office of F.A. Woodard, President.
The first order in business was the election of Supt. & Teachers for the white & colored schools.
Teachers for col. school
B.R. Winstead Principal $30.00, L.H. Peacock $25.00, Annie Washington Vick $25.00, Annie Blake $20.00, Sudie Harris $20.00
May 30th 1896
The Board in office at Branch & Co.’s bank, with Gen. Hackney ch’m in chair.
It was stated that the object of the meeting was to elect the teachers of the Colored School. The election resulted as follows:
Principal of building S.A. Smith $30.00 per month
Teachers L.H. Peacock $25.00, G.H. Towe $25.00, Miss Ida Rountree $20.00, Mrs. S.H. Vick $20.00
[Though among the best-educated members of their community, African-American teachers struggled to make ends meet on their salaries. As shown in this 1899 notice of sheriff’s sale, several waited until their property was at risk to pay taxes — or lost it to public auction.]
Feb. 10th 97
The Board met in the office of Mr. A.B. Deans, Dr. Moore absent.
Mr. Oettinger moved that the position of Primary Teacher in the Colored School, held by Mrs. S.H. Vick, be declared vacant, owing to her physical inability to fill the place the remainder of the spring. Carried.
Mr. Oettinger moved that Mrs. R.C. Melton be employed to fill out the unexpired term. Carried.
The Committee appointed to arrange for the rental of an additional home for the Colored School, reported that they had investigated the matter & decided not to rent for this spring.
[“Physical inability” appears to have been a euphemism for Annie Washington Vick’s pregnancy with son Daniel, born in 1897.
The crowded conditions of Wilson’s only public school for black children had become acute by 1897, when the school board considered, but rejected, a suggestion to rent a house as an overflow classroom.]
Mar 13th, 97
School Board met in office of Mr. A.B. Deans, Mr. Oettinger, Dr. Anderson & Mr. Wootten absent.
Prof. Smith, Prin. of Col. Sch., made a statement as to his understanding of the conditions upon which he took the sch. census of the col. race last year.
After discussion, Dr. Moore moved to reconsider the motion made at a previous meeting, to deduct $16.22 from am’t p’d Prof. Smith for his work) from the last month’s salary, & to deduct only $6.22 thus paying him $10.00 for his services. Carried.
[Each year, a school board representative conducted a survey of school-aged children in its district to determine the need for teachers at each grade level. Occasionally, as noted elsewhere in the minutes, the board would scrap an upper grade for want of students. The root of Simeon Smith’s pay question is not clear.]
Feb. 18th, 1898
School Board met in the office of Mr. J. Oettinger, Mr. A.B. Deans absent.
Supt stated that he had called the meeting to consider the crowded condition of affairs at the colored school, and to make arrangements for securing more room.
It was agreed to build at once, a two room addition, 24×50 ft. and place sufficient piazza space for the entire building.
Mr. Oettinger moved that Mr. W.P. Wootten, Dr. C.E. Moore and the Supt. be appointed a committee to have building put up at once. Carried.
[The board finally moved to address the crowding, authorized the building to two new classrooms and a porch.]
Mar. 2nd, 98
Called meeting of School Board at office of Mr. A.B. Deans. All present.
Supt. was ordered to purchase desks necessary to properly seat the new building at colored school.
Building comm. reported new building about ready for use.
[It’s hard to imagine that the rooms were thrown up in less than two weeks, but if they were, this seems a testament to poor quality.
Aug. 31, 98.
Board met at call of Supt. to elect a teacher for 5th & 6th Grades, Colored School. All present.
Supt. reported that he had held an examination on the 29th inst. at which all applicants were examined.
Mrs. A.V.C. Hunt had stood the best examination, and was duly elected to fill the vacancy at salary of $20.00 per month.
[Two months after her hire as a teacher, erstwhile grocer Annie V.C. Hunt was embroiled in a conflict that led to the shooting death of her husband James Hunt in 1900.]
Sept. 27, 00.
Board met in extra session, at office of W.P. Wootten. All present except Mr. Oettinger.
Sec’y stated that meeting had been called at request of S.A. Smith, Prin. Col. School, for the purpose of investigating the charges against him, as per rumors being circulated regarding his character by Chas. Barbour.
Chas. Barbour, being called, stated that he had no charges to make against Smith, that he merely wanted Board to discharge his wife, Sallie Barbour, from her position as teacher in Col. School. She had not requested to be allowed to resign, but he desired her discharged. He gave no valid reason for his wish. Supt. stated that he had no complaints to make against Mrs. Barbour.
Charges against Smith were dismissed, & Barbour was told that Board could not discharge his wife without cause.
[Shortly after this humiliating attempt by Charles Barbour to have his wife discharged from her teaching position, Sallie Barbour filed for divorce. Her petition cited a litany of abuses, including physical violence, and she sought custody of their sons.
Nov. 10, 00.
Called meeting of Board held in office of Drs. Moore & Anderson, Mr. Wootten and & Mr. Simms absent.
Sec’y stated that he had been enjoined by S.A. Woodard, Att’y for Chas. Barbour, against paying Mrs. Barbour any further salary.
Upon motion, the Sec’y was instructed to inform Mrs. Barbour that her salary was withheld till she obtained legal order, giving full authority to Board to pay her salary to her alone.
[Failing to get her fired, Barbour secured an injunction prohibiting the school board from paying his wife. The board determined to advise Sallie Barbour that her salary would be withheld until she got a court order making it payable to her alone.]
Feb. 2, /01
Meeting of the Board, all present. Sec’y stated that he received the resignation of Mrs. Hunt as teacher of 5th Grade, Col. School.
Resignation accepted to take effect at once.
Motion made that Clarrissy Williams be elected to fill the unexpired term of Mrs. Hunt. Carried.
[The board hired Clarissa Williams to fill the position vacated by Annie Hunt when she left Wilson. Williams would prove to be a loyal employee, declining to resign in the wake of the Coon-Euell slapping incident and serving briefly as colored school principal when J.D. Reid was forced out.]
Mar. 30, 1901.
At a called meeting of the Board, the Sec’y presented the resignation of G.H. Towe, as teacher of 3rd and 4th Grades, in Colored.
The resignation was accepted to take effect at once.
The Supt. reported the result of an examination he had held to fill this vacancy, and, upon motion, Cora Miller was elected to fill out the unexpired term of G.H. Towe.
[Five months later, Cora Miller married George Washington, brother of Annie Washington Vick.]
MINUTES OF BOARD SESSION OF 1901-1902.
Board met in the office of Dr. Moore, Mr. Simms absent.
The resignation of S.A. Smith as Principal of the Colored School was accepted, as he had been elected to a similar position in the Schools of Winston. To fill this vacancy the Board elected J.D. Reid, Wilson, N.C.
To fill the other vacancies in the Colored School, the Board elected Cora Miller, and Mrs. S.A. Smith, both of Wilson, N.C.
[Simeon Smith took a position at a large African-American graded school in Winston-Salem. His wife soon joined him there.]
Today marks the 101st anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman. Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.
The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.
Wilson Daily Times, 10 March 1922.
To my astonished delight, historian David Cecelski cited to my recent post on Mary C. Euell and the school boycott — and shouted out Black Wide-Awake — today. In a piece dedicated to Glenda Gilmore on the occasion of her retirement, Cecelski describes a letter from Euell to W.E.B. Du Bois he found among Du Bois’ papers, collected at and digitized by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Researching the letter’s context led him to Black Wide-Awake, and he penned a warm and gracious thanks for my research.
Euell wrote the letter from her home at 135 Pender Street on 22 April 1918, not two weeks after leading her colleagues in a walkout. She made reference to Du Bois’ letter of the 18th and promised to send “full details of [her] trouble here in Wilson,” including newspaper clippings and photographs. Though no follow-up correspondence from Euell is found in the collection, there is a newspaper clipping sent April 12 by Dr. A.M. Rivera, a dentist and N.A.A.C.P. leader from Greensboro, North Carolina. (Coincidentally, Dr. Rivera’s office was in the Suggs Building.)
Greensboro Daily News, 12 April 1918.
(The collection also contains a brief letter from Mrs. O.N. Freeman [Willie Hendley Freeman] referring to an enclosed a 7 August 1920 Wilson Daily Times article and noting “this might interest you or be of some value to some one as I know your sentiments by reading the Crisis.” I have not been able to locate the article in online databases and do not know whether it related to the on-going boycott.)
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the resignation of 11 African-American teachers in Wilson, North Carolina, in rebuke of their “high-handed” black principal and the white school superintendent who slapped one of them. In their wake, black parents pulled their children out of the public school en masse and established a private alternative in a building owned by a prominent black businessman. Financed with 25¢-a-week tuition payments and elaborate student musical performances, the Independent School operated for nearly ten years. The school boycott, sparked by African-American women standing at the very intersection of perceived powerless in the Jim Crow South, was an astonishing act of prolonged resistance that unified Wilson’s black toilers and strivers.
The school boycott is largely forgotten in Wilson, and its heroes go unsung. In their honor, today, and every April 9 henceforth, I publish links to these Black Wide-Awake posts chronicling the walk-out and its aftermath. Please read and share and speak the names of Mary C. Euell and the revolutionary teachers of the Colored Graded School.
This astounding photograph depicts the teachers on staff at the Colored Graded School around 1918, when school superintendent Charles L. Coon slapped Mary C. Euell after principal J.D. Reid complained that she was insubordinate. Euell, who pressed charges against Coon and led a boycott of the public school, is seated second from left.
Information about the teachers is elusive. Only one, S. Roberta Battle, was a native of Wilson. Georgia native Georgia Burke spent about a decade in Wilson, and Virginia native Mary Jennings at least four years. The remaining women are not found in local census records or directories.
Photograph courtesy of Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr., D-NC, a Wilson native. Thank you!
In 1921, Wilson Colored Graded School educated students through the eighth grade. The wide range of students’ ages reflects the difficulty of regular school attendance, in an era of untreatable childhood illness and other family challenges.
Digitized at www.digitalnc.org.
The single surviving edition of the Wilson Blade, an African-American newspaper, reported this “Roll of honor of the colored graded school for the month ending Nov. 13th, 1897.”
Wilson Blade, 20 November 1897.
Charles H. Smith was born in Jones County, near New Berne, N. C., in 1853, and is the son of Thomas and Harriet Smith. At an early age he entered the Northern school at New Berne, remaining there till he obtained a normal education, and then attended St. Augustine College, Raleigh, N. C., for three years. He occupied the position of principal of the Wilson graded school, giving entire satisfaction, until, becoming desirous of entering the ministry, he was ordained deacon by Bishop J. W. Hood at Salisbury in November, 1877, and given charge of Snow Hill Circuit. Here he so rapidly increased the membership that Bishop Hood divided the work, making two circuits. In 1880 he was ordained an elder at Tarboro, N. C. When he entered upon his duties as pastor of the Whiteville Circuit he found the Methodists and Baptists worshiping in the same church edifice, and at once set to work and built a beautiful church for Zion. A strong man was needed at Henderson, the Baptists being about to absorb the Methodists. Elder Smith entered his field, published a pamphlet on the proper mode of baptism, which obtained a general circulation, and soon became master of the situation. Henderson is now one of the strongholds of Zion in the North Carolina Conference.
In 1887 Rev. Smith was appointed pastor of St. Peter’s Church at New Berne and grandly entertained the General Conference at that church in 1888. A large debt on the church was canceled during his pastorate. While at New Berne he married the accomplished Miss Mamie Stanley, a teacher in the graded school of that city. Mrs. Smith makes a model minister’s wife. While a member of the North Carolina Conference Rev. Smith won the first prize in gold for the largest collection of General Fund. He was a member of the General Conferences of 1884, 1888, and 1892. He was transferred to the West Alabama Conference, where he erected a fine parsonage at Jefferson and relieved the church of debt. At Selma, Ala., he saved the church, which was about to be sold, and greatly reduced its debt. He is a strong temperance advocate, is generous and sympathetic, and an able scholar and theologian.