cornerstone

Saint Luke A.M.E. lays its cornerstone.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 September 1948.

First: Saint Luke is an A.M.E., not an A.M.E. Zion church. A.M.E. Zion is a much larger denomination than A.M.E. in North Carolina and has had several churches in Wilson, including Saint John and Trinity. 

In 1906, a group of A.M.E. trustees bought a lot on Suggs Street and built a church there. The church was not organized as Saint Luke until 1910. In the 1930s, the congregation moved to a storefront at the corner of Vick and Atlantic Streets and erected its current edifice in 1948. The church had early struggles. In 1953, the Times carried a notice of sale for the property; the trustees had defaulted on a loan. 

(I belonged to this church as a child, by the way. Thirty years after its construction, it was little changed, down to its handbuilt pews and wall-mounted gas heaters.)

The cornerstone of Saint Luke A.M.E. Church: “Erected to the glory of God.”

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  • P.J. McIntyre — Rev. McIntyre was pastor of Saint Luke from 1944 to 1952.
  • Dan Jones — Dan Henry Jones Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his draft registration card, he was born 7 November 1907 in Pender County, N.C.; his contact was father Dan Henry Jones, Rose Hill, Duplin County; and worked at Wilson Tobacco Company, Stemmery Street.
  • F.V. Worley — Frank Void Worley. Frank Worley died 30 January 1963 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson.  Per his death certificate, he was born 22 February 1888 in Robeson County, N.C.; was a tobacco factory laborer; and loved at 408 Grace Street. Informant was Robert Murphy, 716 Hooks Street, Wilson.
  • Wilbert Williams — Wilbert Williams registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was 27 years old; was born in Robeson County, N.C.; lived at 703 Walnut Street, Wilson; and his contact was mother Mary Blanch Williams, same address.
  • J.C. Bess — Rev. James Clinton Bess.
  • A.L. Walden — Alfred Lee Walden died 9 January 1964 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 March 1893 in Northampton County, N.C., to John Walden and Martha Jane Roberson; lived at 1301 Washington Street; and was a World War I veteran. Nannie Walden was informant.
  • Samuel Williams
  • B.M. Adams

Mary Grove.

Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church is on Wiggins Mill Road northwest of Lucama in Springhill township. Founded in 1909, the church is home to branches of the Kent, Renfrow, Jones, Barnes, Creech and Powell families, among others. (Including members of the Gospel Four.)

These photographs, which appear to date from the early 1970s, show the church’s wooden mid-century iteration, an early cornerstone, and the road sign that once identified the church to passersby.

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Mary Grove Church today. The sanctuary has undergone several remodels in its 100+ years and is now a modern brick structure with attached offices and meeting space. The cornerstone in the brick plinth shown above is now embedded front left.  The church’s cemetery is located behind the parking lot at the far right edge of the image below.

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Many thanks to Edith Jones Garnett for sharing family photographs of Mary Grove Church.

Cornerstones, no. 3.

Jerusalem Grove Primitive Baptist Church, 3339 Airport Blvd., Wilson.

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Ellis Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, 5032 Aviation Place, Wilson.

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Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church, 571 East Nash Street, Wilson.

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Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church, 119 Pender Street, Wilson.

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Johnson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, 317 Beauvue Road, Elm City.

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Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, 2110 Martin L. King Blvd., Wilson.

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Dixon Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, Stantonsburg Road, Wilson.

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Saint John Apostolic Holiness Church, 5546 Central Road, Black Creek.

[N.B. One of the cornerstones was engraved by marble worker/artist Clarence B. Best.]

Cornerstones, no. 2.

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, 414 Hadley Street, Wilson.

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Brown Chapel Baptist Church, 1507 Hadley Street, Wilson.

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“Established Mar. 23, 1900 in old Grab Neck by Rev. R. Rodman named for Rev. J. Brown moved to Hadley St. Ext. Sept. 1956.”

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Saint Luke A.M.E. Church, 112 North Vick Street, Wilson.

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Mount Zion Original Free Will Baptist Church, 305 Lane Street Southeast, Wilson.

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Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church, 309 North Vick Street, Wilson.

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“Founded 1882 by Revs. A. Blunt & D. Blunt.”

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Piney Grove’s original location on Vance Street, at the corner of Elba. (Sanborn Map, Wilson, North Carolina, 1913.)

[N.B. Two of the five cornerstones were engraved by marble worker/artist Clarence B. Best.]

Cornerstones, no. 1.

Calvary Baptist Church, 704 Gay Street, Wilson.

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Wilson Chapel Free Will Baptist Church, 513 East Barnes Street, Wilson.

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This church was founded in 1910. The congregation initially met in a parishioner’s home, then moved into the building first occupied by Jackson Chapel. (Jackson Chapel merged with First Missionary Baptist Church, which stands one block away at Pender and Nash.) The original one-story wooden structure is shown below.

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Sanborn Insurance Map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.

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Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church, 627 East Green Street, Wilson.

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The church building, at the corner of Green and Elba Streets, is now occupied by Christ Deliverance Tabernacle Ministries.

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Sanborn Insurance Map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.

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Union Grove Primitive Baptist Church, 519 Singletary Street, Wilson.

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The original church, a small wooden building, is at left below. (The larger brick church, designated Tabernacle Missionary Baptist, is now the site of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.)

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Sanborn Insurance Map, Wilson, N.C., 1922.

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Mount Zion Holy Church, 517 Hadley Street, Wilson.

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Organized in North Carolina in 1886, the United Holy Church of America, Inc., is a predominantly black Pentecostal Holiness Christian denomination and the oldest African-American Holiness-Pentecostal body in the world. Bishop G.J. Branch of Goldsboro, North Carolina, established congregations up and down the East Coast.

[N.B. Three of the five cornerstones were engraved by marble worker/artist Clarence B. Best. (Four, if you count the dates added to the Pilgrims Rest cornerstone.]