Colored Graded School

Schoolhouse “I do.”

Well into the twentieth century, African-American couples married overwhelmingly at an office of a justice of the peace or the home of a relative. However, on 21 March 1906, as carefully noted a Wilson County marriage register, William Sutton and Laura Williams tied the knot at Wilson’s Colored Graded School. Free Will Baptist minister John Steward performed the ceremony, and Charles Best, Charley Dawson, Minnie Sutton, and Henry Garnett.

School closings and reopenings.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 December 1936.

For a brief period in November-December 1936, all three of Wilson’s Black schools were closed down. The Stantonsburg Street School (formerly known as Colored Graded and later as Sallie Barbour) shut down for repair of a burst boiler. The Colored High School (later known as Darden) was closed indefinitely due to a serious fire, and Sam Vick Elementary’s grand opening had been delayed by late furniture arrivals.

The majority of the children are picking cotton.

Wilson Advance, 15 October 1891.

School calendars aligned with the rhythms of the agricultural calendar. Even so, children picking cotton missed the beginning of school in October. (Just as children at my high school who worked in tobacco nearly one hundred years later sometimes did not report until after Labor Day.)

——

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Enos Thompson, 41; wife Hillon, 41; and children John, 17, Margaret, 16, Lucy, 6, Pet, 4, and Ennis, 3.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: garden laborer Ennis Thompson, 72; wife Helen, 65; and daughter Lucy, 35, laundress.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 144 East, Lucy Thompson, 40, and father Ennice Thompson, 81, widower.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 200 Pender, renting [likely a room] at $2/month, Lucy Thompson, 65.

Lucy A. Thompson died 24 July 1946 at her home at 310 Singletary Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 71 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ennis Thompson of Greene County, N.C., and Hellen A. Ruffin of Louisburg, N.C.; worked as a teacher; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.

  • Victoria Battle

 

Closing exercises of the Colored Graded School.

Wilson Mirror, 9 May 1888.

Twenty-five year-old Samuel H. Vick had been teacher and principal at the Colored Graded School since shortly after his graduation from Lincoln University. A year after this graduation, he was appointed by President William H. Harrison to his first stint as Wilson postmaster, a highly sought-after political patronage position. Vick hired his old friend Braswell R. Winstead, with whom he had attended high school and college and taught at the Graded School, as assistant postmaster. Teacher A. Wilson Jones was married to Vick’s sister Nettie Vick Jones — and murdered her in 1897. Annie Washington was about 18 years old when this article was published. She and Samuel Vick married almost exactly four years later.