East Green Street

George and Ella Green and the development of East Green Street, pt. 1.

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.

Detail of T.M. Fowler’s 1908 bird’s eye map of Wilson. Green Street slices diagonally across the frame. Samuel H. and Annie Vick’s new multi-gabled mansion is at (1). The church he helped establish, Calvary Presbyterian, is at the corner of Green and Pender at (2). At (3), Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church, which bought its lot from the Vicks. At (4), the original location of Piney Grove Free Will Baptist Church. 

The last will and testament of Millie Bryant.

On 3 August 1936, Millie Bryant made her mark on a will leaving all her property to her niece Cecelia Norwood. Bryant died ten weeks later. Her house was at 608 East Green Street, and Norwood held the property until she died though she lived around the corner on North Pender.

Sam and Annie Vick and the development of East Green Street, pt. 1.

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.]

624 East Green Street in its heyday.

As a reminder, here’s what Frank S. and Bessie Parker Hargrave‘s house at 624 East Green Street looks like now. It has been heavily and unfortunately modified, both cosmetically and structurally. 

Happily, though, there are photographs of the Hargraves house at its best, when a deep porch shaded its front windows and a low hedge bordered its front lawn.

624 East Green Street, probably early 1920s.

Photo courtesy of an anonymous reader. Thank you!

513 East Green Street.

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.”

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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.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2022.

716 East Green Street.

The one hundred-forty-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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1913; 1 story; shotgun with flush eaves and chamfered porch posts.” 

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The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists laborer Edward D. Gause and wife Rosa, students Lorine and Maude Gause, and laborer Maxie Gause at 716 East Green.

Ed. Gause died 19 July 1929 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, he was 54 years old; was born in Nichols, S.C., to Solomon Gause and Annie Gause; worked as a common laborer; lived at 716 East Green; and was married to Rosa Gause. Inez Williams was informant, and Gause was buried in Rountree’s cemetery.

The 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists factory hands Lorine and Maude Gause, laborers Maxwell and Winston Gause, and laundress Rosa Gause at 716 East Green.

Lorene Gause died 6 January 1933 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was single, was 21 years old, worked as a domestic, and was born in Mullens, S.C., to Ed Gause and Rosa McDaniel. Rosa Gause, 716 East Green, was informant.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 716 East Green, rented for $14/month, Joseph Sutton, 61; wife Malissa, 60; children Beatrice, 26, James, 25, Fred, 23, Bruce, 19, Beulah, 17, and Mable, 16; and grandchildren Ivan, 8, and Geraldine, 7.  

Fred Douglass Sutton registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 18 September 1918 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 716 East Green Street, Wilson; worked for Southern Tadoco [Tobacco] Company, Wilson; and his contact was mother Millisa Gray Sutton, 716 East Green.

James Wesley Sutton registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 18 August 1914 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 716 East Green Street, Wilson; worked for Southern Tobacco Company, Wilson; and his contact was mother Mallissie Grey Sutton, 716 East Green.

Joseph Levi Sutton registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 9 May 1919 in Wilson County, N.C.; lived at 534 East Nash Street, Wilson; worked for Southern Tobacco Company, Wilson; and his contact was mother Malissie Grey Sutton, 716 East Green.

Thomas Rogers registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 February 1900 in Nash County, N.C.; lived at 713 East Vance Street, Wilson; worked for R.F. Beland at Plummer Shop, 119 South Goldsboro Street, Wilson; and his contact was Mrs. Mallissa Sutton, 716 East Green.

The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists laborer Fred Sutton, maid Beatrice Sutton, CCC worker Bruce Sutton, tobacco worker James W. Sutton, laborer Levi Sutton and wife Josie, and Melissa G. Sutton at 716 East Green.

The 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists student Bruce Sutton, housekeeper Melissa G. Sutton, and domestic Rosa Sutton at 716 East Green.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2021.

406 East Green Street.

The one hundred-fortieth 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.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1893; 1 story; two-room house; among oldest in district; intact porch with chamfered posts.”

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As shown in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, the first few houses of the 400 block of East Green comprised a rare integrated block. Houses (and a grocery) numbered 402, 404, 406, 408 1/2, and 410 had white occupants. Numbers 405, 408, 411, and the remainder of the block headed east had black occupants. (400 and 407 were vacant; there was no 401 or 403.) 406 was occupied by William H. and Cora Brown.

By the 1930 Hill’s city directory, laborer Ephraim Brown and his wife Cora lived at 406. His white neighbors were Baker Brothers grocery, William J. and Mandy Pittman, Sallie A. Ezzell (who owned three adjoining houses mid-block), and James and Martha Farmer. 

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 406 East Green, Evelyne Giles, 30, stemmer, divorced; daughter Thelma, 14; mother Aline Hawkins, 42, stemmer, and her son Lee Hawkins, 22, odd jobs laborer. 

John Lee Hawkins registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 6 July 1916 in Black Creek, N.C.; lived at 406 East Green; his contact was mother Aileen Hawkins; and he worked for Liggett & Myers Tobacco Company, South Goldsboro Street.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Giles Evelyn (c) tob wkr h 406 E Green

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Giles Evelyn (c) fctywkr h 406 E Green

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2021.

More renovation in East Wilson.

I mentioned here and here the recent renovation of houses on East Green Street, a phenomenon that actually extends throughout East Wilson. Some are on the market for sale; others are upgraded rental properties. Here are two more:

  • 900 Viola Street

More about this house later.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, November 2021.

718 East Green Street.

The one hundred thirty-sixth 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.

718 East Green Street, formerly numbered 649, is now an empty lot. Any buildings on the lot were demolished prior to the survey of the East Wilson Historic District. In the early 20th century, however, it was the site of a small Black-owned grocery, one of the earliest in East Wilson. City directories reveal the store’s existence, under an ever-changing series of proprietors, as early as 1908 and as late as the 1940s.

John H. Miller and John H. Lewis are the earliest identified grocers at the location in 1908.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1908.

Four years later, the city directory shows Jacob C. Speight as the owner. He lived two houses down Green Street.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1912.

Detail of page, Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1913.

By 1916, Selly Rogers was the operator of this grocery, as well as another on Stantonsburg Road (now Pender Street South).

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1916.

By 1922, several houses had been built around the store, and its number had changed from 649 to 718.

Detail of page, Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1922.

Grant J. Foster is listed as the owner in 1925, but within a few years he was operating a grocery on Viola Street.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1925.

The ownership of the grocery during the 1930s is not yet known. By 1941, Green Street Grocery and Market had a white owner, however, John M. Coley.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1941.

Sometime during or after World War II, the building at 718 ceased use as a grocery and became a residence, perhaps as a result of intense post-war housing shortages. By 1947, it was the home of photographer John H. Baker and his wife Rosalee.

Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, 1947.