A regular meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Town of Wilson was held in the Mayor’s office, November 6, 1902.
S.H. Vick came before the Board asking that the Town furnish the gasoline for the operation of a Street Lamp on the east end of Green Street. The Lamp to be furnished and cared for by the citizens in that section of Town.
On motion, consideration of the application was deferred until
On motion, the Superintendent of Electric Lights was directed to investigate the cost of putting an Arc Light in the neighborhood of S.H. Vick and others.
Minutes of City Council, Wilson, North Carolina, transcribed in bound volumes shelved at Wilson County Public Library, Wilson.
The one hundred eighty-third in a series of posts highlighting buildings inEast Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1913; 1 story; aluminum-sided and remodeled L-plan cottage.”
The house appears as an unnumbered dwelling on the 1913 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson, N.C. This detail from page 32 of the 1922 Sanborn maps of Wilson, shows the house numbered 801 East Green Street. (As detailed below, for many years owners of this house operated a small grocery around the corner and behind the house, on North Vick. That store was built between 1922 and 1928.)
In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories: Faison Grant J (c; Charlotte) gro 502 N Vick h 801 E Green
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 East Green, Grant Faisson, 46, grocery store merchant, and wife Charlotte, 42, trained hospital nurse.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 East Green, Grant J. Faison, 58, retail grocery operator, and wife Charlotte, 52, saleswoman in grocery store.
Wilson Daily Times, 28 December 1940.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Faison Grant J (c; Charlotte M) gro 502 N Vick h 801 E Green
In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Foster Carter (c; Estelle W) gro 502 N Vick and County Farm Demonstration agent h 801 E Green
In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 801 East Green, county farm agent Carter W. Foster, 36; wife Estelle, 34; daughter Bobbie J., 7; and nephew Dannie Jones, 8, born in Pennsylvania.
Carter Washington Foster died 17 February 1955 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 January 1914 in Wilson to Walter Foster and Rosa Parker; was married; resided at 801 East Green; and worked as a county agricultural agent.
Arsonists set fire to two East Wilson houses on 17 August 2022, resulting in the demolition of one. After putting out an early morning blaze at 804 East Vance Street, firefighters were dispatched to 810 East Green, one of an original set of five identical rental houses William Hines built in the mid-1920s. Fire damaged the house extensively, and it had to be torn down.
By the late 1800s, the area of present-day Green Street east of the railroad tracks — largely farmland — was held by a handful of large landowners, notably George D. and Ella M. Green and Frank I. and Annie Finch. We’ve seen here how the Samuel H. and Annie Washington Vick sold parcels in the 600 block to their friends and family to solidify a middle-class residential district for African-Americans. The Vicks themselves bought fifteen acres from the Greens, which they later divided into the lots they sold to others.
These transactions disclose more early settlers on East Green:
On 20 July 1887, for $250, George D. and Ella M. Green, as trustees for F.I. and Annie Finch, sold Leah Battle a one-third acre lot at Green and Pender Streets near Mrs. Procise. The deed was registered 3 January 1889 in Deed Book 27, page 85.
On 31 December 1890, for $150, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Short Barnes a one-fourth acre lot on “the extension of Green Street near the corporate limits of Wilson” adjoining George Green and J.M.F. Bridgers. The deed was registered 1 January 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 150. [Barnes’ house was at 616 East Green.]
On 24 February 1891, for $300, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Samuel H. Vick “a lot on the extension of Green Street near the corporate line of Wilson” next to a lot now occupied by Alex Barnes. The lot was irregularly shaped and measured about one and one-half acres. The deed was registered 23 February 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 396.
On 24 October 1890, for $150, George D. and Ella M. Green sold Lewis Battle and his wife Jemima a one and one-quarter acre lot fronting on Green Street and adjacent to J.W.F. Bridgers, Samuel H. Vick, and G.D. Green. The deed was registered 21 March 1891 in Deed Book 29, page 488.
On 11 December 1891, for $1300.75, George D. and Emma M. Green sold Samuel H. Vick a parcel containing 13 and three-quarter acres adjacent to Sallie Lipscombe’s property, Vance Street, F.I. Finch, G.D. Green, and Samuel H. Vick. The deed was registered 28 December 1891 in Deed Book 30, page 454.
As we saw here, Samuel and Annie Washington Vick owned scores of rental properties in east and south Wilson. Sam Vick also subdivided tracts of land to sell to developers and individuals wishing to build homes, such as here and here.
Perhaps the pinnacle of the Vicks’ real estate achievement was the establishment of early twentieth-century Black Wilson’s premier residential street, the 600 and 700 blocks of East Green. The Vicks were not the first buyers on the block, but over the course of a decade or so, sold lot after lot to their middle-class friends and relatives.
Deed Book 50, page 73, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.
On 1 August 1893, for $100, the Vicks sold Charles Thomas a one-quarter acre lot on Green Street next to John Blount. The deed was registered 16 June 1894 in Deed Book 36, page 219. [There were two Charles Thomases on East Green Street in the early 1900s; this one was a long-time pressman for P.D. Gold Publishing Company. His house still stands at 619 East Green Street. John Blount sold his Green Street property (perhaps to Samuel Vick, who in turn sold it to Walter S. Hines, I need to check) and built around the corner at what is now 305 North Pender Street.]
On 1 August 1893, for $100, the Vicks sold F.M. Davis a lot next to Charles Thomas. The deed was registered 28 March 1896 in Deed Book 41, page 433. [Baptist minister Fred M. Davis’ house was at 621 East Green Street.]
On 1 January 1894, for $100, the Vicks sold Wright Barnes, Spencer Strickland, and Jackson Barnes, the trustees of the Primitive Baptist Church, Colored, a lot at the corner of Ella [Elba] Street and “the eastern extension of Green Street.” The deed was registered 16 June 1894 in Deed Book 36, page 219. [The former Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church was at 627 East Green Street.]
On 1 June 1894, for $100, the Vicks sold David Barnes a lot on Green Street adjoining Della Hines and Charles Powell. The deed was registered 19 December 1899 in Deed Book 53, page 362. [Della Hines purchased her lot on 1 January 1894 from George D. Green, recorded at Deed Book 35, page 437. Della Hines and David Barnes married 15 April 1894 at “the bride’s home,” which presumably was the house she built at 615 East Green. This house was demolished circa 1910, and she sold the lot in 1915 to her son William Hines. David and Della Hines Barnes built an imposing house at 613 East Green Street.]
On 4 September 1895, for $100, the Vicks sold Neverson Green a 10,500 square-foot lot on Green Street next to Alice Jeffreys. The deed was registered the same day in Deed Book 39, page 127. [By 1910, carpenter-turned-grocery merchant Neverson Green and his family lived at 502 South Lodge Street, nearer his Spring Street store. I have not identified Alice Jeffreys or the exact location of this lot.]
On 3 January 1898, for $180, the Vicks sold Sarah Clark a lot on Green Street bordering Jonah Williams and Millie Bryant. The deed was registered 9 January 1899 in Deed Book 50, page 474. [Though Sarah Hill Clark and her husband Rhoden Clark, natives of Scotland Neck, Halifax County, North Carolina, were married at the time, Sarah Clark bought this lot in her name only. Rhoden Clark died 1900-1910. The house was at what is now 606 East Green Street. Millie Bryant’s house was at 608 East Green Street.]
On 26 March 1898, for $100, the Vicks sold Samuel Gay a lot on Green Street adjoining the lands of F.M. Davis and Samuel Vick. The deed was registered 11 August 1898 in Deed Book 50, page 73. (See image above.) [This is the lot at what is now 623 East Green Street. Samuel Gay built a one-story house here that his son Albert Gay Sr. expanded to the two-story house that still stands. Another son, Charles Gay, built a house circa 1913 at 625 East Green.]
On 12 December 1898, for $100, the Vicks sold J.M. Artis a lot on Green Street adjoining Robert Breeze. The deed was registered 21 February 1899 in Deed Book 51, page 117. [I have not identified J.M. Artis or Robert Breeze or the location of this lot with certainty.]
The one hundred-fifty-second in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Perhaps the oldest commercial structure in the District, the facade of the grocery’s parapet is spitting bricks out onto the sidewalk.
As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1908; 1 story; Mercer’s Grocery; brick, parapet-front grocery; one of the major groceries in the district.”
513 East Green Street was originally numbered 518. Like all of the large grocery stores in East Wilson, none of its owners were African-American.
Jesse J. Amerson is the first known owner, commuting from his home on West Green Street nine blocks to the store.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1908).
Four years later, the city directory showed Samuel D. Moody as the owner. Moody lived at 301 Pender, just beyond the Vance Street boundary between Black and white sections of Pender.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1912).
Moody sold wood from a lot on the Green Street side of the grocery. Detail from Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1913.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1916).
Circa 1921, Larry Giles Boyette and Bernon S. Holdford took over the grocery and operated it together for most of the decade.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1922).
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1925).
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1928).
The 1930 city directory shows that Boyette operated the store solo and had renamed it with his middle name, Giles.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory (1930).
However, this 1932 ad reverts to Boyette & Holford. [What curious exhortations — “Stop Hoarding!” “Put Your Slacker Dollars to Work.”]
Wilson Daily Times, 21 March 1932.
In the summer of 1940, Giles advertised Onslow County pork products. (I have not been able to determine if there was something special about ham and bacon from the Jacksonville area.) As we’ll see below, this iteration of Giles likely had a different owner than the earlier.
Wilson Daily Times, 20 August 1940.
In 1947, W.R. Lang and A.R. Lafferty filed a notice of dissolution of their partnership, which had operated Giles Grocery at 513 East Green.
Wilson Daily Times, 16 August 1947.
Per the 1950 city directory, the store continued to operate under the name Giles Grocery. In the 1957 directory, it was named Jim Mercer’s Grocery and remained known as Mercer’s for the next three decades.
In the mid-1980s, Harrell’s Grocery added 513 East Green to its small stable of corner groceries.
Wilson Daily Times, 21 January 1986.
However, the store was once again known as Mercer’s in the late 1980s and remained so until at least 2001.