crime

Evildoers.

News & Observer, 18 December 1907.

  • R.G. Wynn
  • Albert Ward
  • Oliver Brown
  • Sylvia Barnes — in the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Harry Barnes, 67; wife Sylva, 66; son Harry, 20; daughter-in-law Rena, 17; and granddaughter Henrietta, 14. Silvia Barnes died 8 September 1925 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 83 years old; married to Harry Barnes; was the daughter of Peter and Rosa Barnes; and worked as a tenant farmer for Billie Sims. Harry Barnes Jr. was informant.
  • Willie Moore
  • Moses Smith — in the 1900 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: day laborer Dudley Smith, 53; wife Mittie, 32; and children Polly, 13, Moses, 6, and Herbert, 4.
  • Tom Faison

Wanton deviltry.

One hundred twenty years ago yesterday …

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Wilson Advance, 14 October 1897.

  • Lewis Pitt — On 1 August 1872, Lewis Pitt, 24, and Charity Strayhorn, 21, were married in Edgecombe County. In the 1880 census of Hillboro township, Orange County, Lewis, 25, and Charity Pitt, 23, were listed in the household of Charity’s parents, Yank and Patsy Strayhorn. In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Lewis Pitt, 55; wife Carty, 50; and grandson Daniel, 10. In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 633 Green Street, farmer Lewis Pitt, 71; wife Charity, 68; daughter Gradis, 15; and roomers George Thompson, 16, and John Byrd, 20, both wagon factory laborers. Lewis Pitt died 6 April 1924 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was about 76 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Hardy and Peggy Atkinson; and resided at 704 East Green Street. Charity Pitt was informant.
  • Nettie Jones
  • Bill Ayers
  • John Swader

Almost a riot. (On the east side of the tracks.)

In which Spellman Moore‘s squad rescues him as he being frog-marched to court:

Prince Moore WA 7 13 1883

Wilson Advance, 13 July 1883.

The aftermath. Prince Moore, Patrick Brewer, Jerome Barden and Robert Kersey get four months of jail time.

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Wilson Advance, 7 March 1884.

  • Spellman Moore — On 27 October 1867, Spelman Moore, son of Louis Ellison, married Jane Barnes, daughter of Balaam and Genny Barnes, in Wilson County. On 9 April 1886, Spellman Moore, 30, married Rose Best, 24, at the Wayne County courthouse.
  • Prince Moore — On 28 January 1875, Prince Moore, 21, married Allice McGowan, 22, in Wilson County. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County, Esther McGowan, 65; daughter Alice, 25, cook; and son-in-law Prince Moore, 25, laborer.
  • Major Horton
  • Louis Aiken
  • Jo. Brown
  • Pat. Brewer
  • Jerome Barden — On 25 November 1890, widower Jerome Barden, 33, son of G. and P. Barden, married Laura Cherry in Wilson County.
  • Robert Kersey

She commenced giving me some slack jaw.

Agent of Freedmans Bureau

Dr Sir

A few days ago a negro Woman refused to obey an order I gave her about cooking some Tomatoes. I ordered her again. She very violently refused to obey. The land lady was absent at the time. After a lapse of two hours She returned I told that I intended to give her a good whipping if she did not Cook them. The negro was standing out a few feet from the door and commenced giving me some “slack jaw” where upon I gave her a good beating by kicks and knocks.

Being a stranger to you and to your mode of proceeding and learning that you had jurisdiction in this County I address you this letter, becoming informer against myself and holding myself amenable to your order whenever called upon or to the civil authorities I care not which. So there is but one to whom I must answer for the offense if I have committed any.

It is my opinion that you had better come up as you can by Enquiry find many who condemn the act, Justify the negro and blame me for the Course I pursued. While I have never been raised to take a taunt from a white man and can certainly never become so loyal as to take it from a negro, while I honest profess to be as loyal as any Extremist in this Country I was an Original Cessession. I have been whipped in a Contest of Arms, after the surrender of Genl Lee I accepted the situation as it was. I took an oath of allegiance to the United States Government by that I have abided. You will please write me if you wish me to appear at Goldsboro and if you wish any reference you can apply to J.J. Baker, C.A.W. Barham, Dr. Wm. H. Thompson, Dr. J.W. Davis of Goldsboro & J.J. Lutts Esqr. of this place.  Let me hear  from you soon.              Very respectfully, R.G. Barham M.D.

——

Virginia-born physician R.G. [Roscoe G.] Barham was 25 years old when the 1860 census of the town of Wilson. He died about 1880.

Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Little Richmond?

In 1895, Richmond Maury Tobacco Company of Danville, Virginia, purchased a site at the south corner of South Railroad and Stemmery (then Taylor) Streets and erected a five-story frame building. (The original building burned in 1920 and was replaced by a three-story building in 1922.) Richmond Maury operated a tobacco stemmery here, a facility in which the stem of a cured tobacco leaf was stripped prior to processing for packing and shipping. In 1896, Maury sold the plant to Tobacco Warehousing Trading Company of Virginia, which retained the Richmond Maury name. The stemmery employed scores of African-Americans, and a 9 January 1896 article in the Wilson Advance asserted that three or four hundred people had shown up at a labor call. The factory needed experienced hands, however, and brought in workers from Virginia to fill its needs. This influx of laborers had to be housed, and in June 1896 the Wilson Daily Times reported approvingly on Richmond Maury’s plans for a mill village called “Little Richmond.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 11 June 1896.

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Sanborn map, Wilson, North Carolina, December 1897.

Over the next four months, the company brought in more than one hundred factory hands by train.

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Wilson Daily Times, 14 August 1896.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 October 1896.

The boosterish mood quickly faded, however. Just two weeks after “a car load of 50 negroes” from Lynchburg arrived, the editor of the Times complained that Little Richmond was already a “young hell” well on its way to ruining Wilson’s reputation: “We stand and wonder at each outrage and think, well perhaps this is the climax — but instead it gets worse.” He attributed a swelling crime rate to the influx of African-Americans drawn by Wilson’s tobacco boom and urged immediate intervention.

WDT_10_30_1896_Little_Richmond_hell

Wilson Daily Times, 30 October 1896.

Richmond Maury got the hint. Blaming the problem on “outsiders” raising ruckuses, it hired a personal prosecutor to make sure that all Little Richmond residents charged with crimes felt the heavy hand of justice.

WA_3_11_1897_attempts_to_control_Little_Richmond

Wilson Advance, 11 March 1897.

Here’s Colonel Bruton in action:

WA_3_11_1897_Spencer_Barnes_Little_Richmond

Wilson Advance, 11 March 1897.

Seven months later, the cutting and shooting continued unchecked.

WDT_10_15_1897_Little_Richmond_shooting

Wilson Daily Times, 15 October 1897.

A month later, the Wilson Advance described “the Little Richmond Negroes” as workers bought from Danville, Lynchburg and other old tobacco centers to work in Wilson’s new stemmeries. The paper had no suggestions for dealing with this “source of annoyance.”

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Wilson Advance, 11 November 1897.

Thirteen years later, Little Richmond (and Grabneck, a black neighborhood north of downtown) remained a disagreeable locale to many, as indicated by concerns raised over the possible placement of passenger rail station in the neighborhood.

WDT_6_24_1910_Little_Richmond

Wilson Daily Times, 24 June 1910.

So just where was Little Richmond? (Editor’s note: I’d never heard of it.) Though the landscape is much changed, the basic street grid is not, and the section is not hard to find.

Little Richmond

What’s there now? Not much. The houses of Little Richmond were clustered along Railroad and Stemmery Streets and across the tracks on Layton and Wayne Streets. Few remain, and none on Railroad or Stemmery. (The sole set of cottages left on Stemmery date from a later period.) On-line aerial maps show the factory that replaced Richmond Maury, but they are outdated. The buildings were demolished in 2013.

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