This morning’s announcement from Wilson’s Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education:
Our beloved, Sallie Baldwin Townsend Howard, passed away at 2:50am this morning, September 25, 2018. She was 102 years old and wanted everyone to know that “she was ready”. We miss her already but her life and her legacy remains with us, enshrined in the work we do for children for generations to come. Concerning her passing from this earth, this is what she had to say…
“When I lay me down to die
Have bade farewell this beauteous world
Of valleys green and oceans swirl
Of fragrant blossoms and birds that sing
Of happy voices with childlike ring
Of ecstasy from lovers kiss
Though evermore I’m done with this
And my journey through eternity
To the dawn of nothing be…
I shall begin it cheerfully
If little children let shed a tear
To express the love they bear
And weep my passing from this earth
Because til death, yea from birth
For truth and goodness I have striven
Because of kindness I have given
If they should weep to have me stay
Because I’ve lighted up their way
Then happy upon my couch I’ll lie
When I lay me down to die.”
Robert A. Johnson served 30 years as the first African-American high school principal in the Elm City community. “Under his leadership, not only did Frederick Douglass [High School] receive high academic ratings, its superiority in co-curricular areas received state-wide recognition, particularly its band and basketball teams.”
A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Johnson received a B.A. from Ohio State University and, later a master’s degree from New York University.
Robert A. Johnson, 34, married Grace A. McNeil, 27, on 3 June 1939 in Forsyth County, North Carolina.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 206 Reid Street, shoe shop owner James Mack, 41; wife Beualah, 40, born in Salisbury; and Robert Johnson, 34, teacher in Wilson County school, born in Winston-Salem.
In 1940, Robert Arthur Johnson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 19 October 1905 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; his contact was father William Johnson, 806 Stadium Drive, Winston-Salem; and his employer was Elm City Board of Trustees.
Robert Arthur Johnson died 14 March 1966 of a heart attack at Frederick Douglass High School, Elm City. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 October 1905 in Winston-Salem to William Johnson and Amie Williams; was married to Grace Johnson; and was employed as a principal by Wilson County Schools.
Text adapted from article in and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).
John E. Dixon, The Trojan (1950), Darden High School
John Ezra Dixon, 95, died Aug. 17, 2004. Homegoing services for Mr. Dixon will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 23, 2004, at Shiloh Baptist Church, 1210 S. Eugene St., with Pastor Anthony Cozart presiding.
John Ezra Dixon was born on Aug. 16, 1909, to the union of the late James Stewart Dixon and Ruetilla Dixon in Bladen County, N.C. He received his early education in Bladen County and he received his high school training and education from Burgaw Normal and Industrial High School in Pender County, N.C. After graduation, Mr. Dixon attended Shaw University in Raleigh and earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He continued his studies at Pennsylvania State University where he earned a Master of Science degree. His thirst for knowledge led him to pursue further studies at North Carolina Central University, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and East Carolina State University.
An educator by profession, Mr. Dixon worked in the North Carolina School System for 39 years. He served 24 years as a math and science teacher and 15 years in school administration as a principal.
While living and working in Wilson, N.C., Mr. Dixon was affiliated with Jackson Chapel Baptist Church with his usual dedication and spirit. He faithfully served as chairperson of the Deacon board, member of the Gospel and Mens Choirs and he was a Sunday school teacher. For many years, he served as the church clerk. Upon his retirement, Mr. Dixon relocated to Greensboro in 1976, where he joined Shiloh Baptist Church. At Shiloh, Mr. Dixon served in many capacities including: the Mens Choir, the Sunday school department, the Laymen League, the Bible Study Group and the Shiloh Bowling League. He was involved in the Boy Scouts of America for 46 years and completed advanced training at the Schiff Reservation in New Jersey. Other civic and community involvements included: the Shaw University Alumni Club, the Gamma Beta Sigma Chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, the Ever Achieving Retired Teachers Club, and the North Carolina Retired School Personnel Group. Mr. Dixon worked and lived by his favorite quotes: “To those whom much is given, much is expected” and “Keep God in all you do.”
John Ezra Dixon leaves to cherish his memory a devoted and loving wife, Ann Belle-Dixon; one son, John E. Dixon II (Paula); a grandson, Dr. John K. Dixon; three sisters, Amy D. Young, Genola D. Burks and Verona D. Vaughn; one brother, Levie Dixon; daughter-in-law, Betty Jean Dixon; three step-children, Barbara Belle Jones, Peggy Belle Parks and Robert P. Belle; four step-grandchildren; two step-great-grandchildren; one adopted grandson, David Miller; and a former daughter-in-law, Faye Dixon.
He was preceded in death by his first wife, Mabel Brewington Dixon; a son, Levie C.Dixon; and a grandson, Ian J. Dixon.
Visitation will be at 1 p.m. at the church.
Community Funeral Home is in charge of the arrangements.
Mr. BUTTERFIELD. Madam Speaker, it is with great pride that I rise today to pay tribute to Mrs. Sallie Baldwin Howard, a native and resident of Wilson, North Carolina. For many years, Mrs. Howard dedicated her life to educating and serving the people of Northeastern North Carolina. She was recently honored as the Wilson Human Relations Commission 2007 Paul Lee Stevens Humanitarian for outstanding service to her community.
Madam Speaker, Mrs. Howard, who is affectionately known as “Bibi,” dedicated much of her life as a teacher in the New York City Public School System during her early years, but for the past 15 years she has donated all of her time and energy to rallying youth in Wilson, challenging them to be exemplary citizens and great achievers.
Madam Speaker, high praise is due to Mrs. Howard for her success in overcoming the racial and gender prejudices of her time. Mrs. Bibi Howard was born in Wilson, North Carolina, to Narcissus and Marcellus Sims on March 23, 1916. She overcame countless challenges growing up in the Jim Crow South as the daughter of sharecroppers. Nevertheless, she was driven and focused and graduated as valedictorian from Charles H. Darden High School in 1938. Mrs. Howard attended Hunter College in New York City where she earned both her bachelor and masters degree in education.
She taught for nearly 30 years as a first grade teacher in New York. While there, she worked in the New York City American Negro Theater, which helped start the careers of Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee and Esther Rolle. There she honed her acting, directing and writing talent, finding a voice through her art. Her Off Broadway play The Passing of a Dinosaur is still performed today in local schools.
Upon her retirement, Mrs. Howard returned to Wilson to lead the Christian Education Department of the St. John AME Zion Church. Her enthusiasm for education and the church inspired many of the youth of the community. Along with many other projects, Mrs. Howard founded the Youth Enrichment Program with Dr. JoAnne Woodard in 1989, and focused the program on lasting scholarship, a commitment to the cultural heritage of African Americans, and promoting the arts. Bibi Howard’s tireless work to enrich the community inspired Dr. JoAnne Howard to create the one of the first public charter schools in the state, and the only public charter school in Wilson, the Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts & Education. The school, along with the Youth Enrichment Program, has been an invaluable asset to our community.
Madam Speaker, in honor and recognition of Mrs. Sallie Baldwin Howard’s diligent service as an educator and leader, I ask my colleagues to join me in paying tribute to this great woman.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith Charles Battle, 35, wife Leah, 30, and children Adelia, 5, Geneva, 2, Virgil, 1 month, and Nicholas, 18.
Ada G. and Geneva T. Battle left Wilson to complete their studies in the western part of the state. The Charlotte Observer‘s coverage of Livingstone College’s 1890 commencement mentioned that Ada had received the freshman award for oratory.
Charlotte Observer, 1890.
In Reminiscences of College Days, his self-published 1904 memoir of Livingston College, William Frank Fonvielle remembered both Battle sisters:
A year later, she was well-enough known to personify Wilson’s African-American elite, along with Samuel H. Vick and Braswell R. Winstead:
Raleigh Gazette, 19 December 1896.
In the 1900 census, Ada G. Battle, 24, is a listed as a teacher at Scotia Seminary in Concord, Cabarrus County, North Carolina. Her younger sister Chandler Battle was enumerated among the school’s students.
On 17 November 1904, Chandler News listed Ada G. Battle of Chandler, Oklahoma, among the teachers certified as first grade instructors. Ada’s brother Nicholas Battle was a Chandler resident, and this seems to be Ada of Wilson.
On 17 September 1905, in Wilson County, Doane Battle, 19, daughter of Charles Battle, married F.O. [Frank Oliver] Williston, 24, of Wilson, son of Henrietta Williston of Fayetteville, North Carolina. Episcopal priest Robert N. Perry performed the ceremony at the residence of James Jenkins before official witnesses F.S. Hargrave, Jenkins, and William Dawson.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County, on Stantonsburg Street, widow Cortney Gofney, 50, and lodgers Ada Battle, 30, teacher, and Sylvester Gofney, 16, laborer. (Courtney Battle Goffney may have been Ada’s relative.) Teacher Chandler Battle, 27, is listed in the household of her cousin George H. Porter in Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County. In the census of Salisbury, Rowan County: Frank O. Williston, 26, wife Doane B., 23, and daughter Leah H.E., 3. In Chandler, Logan County, Oklahoma:
In the 1912 Wilson city directory: Battle Ada G tchr Wilson Graded School
Three years later, however, it appears that the peripatetic Ada had returned to Oklahoma. On 26 August 1915, Guthrie’s Oklahoma State Register published a notice of the teachers selected by Logan County schools that included Ada G. Battle, hired in District No. 94.
In the 1920 census of Iowa, Logan County, Oklahoma: 55 year-old Georgia-born farmer Stonewall J. Favers, wife Geneva, 39, daughter [sic] Charles M., 15, and sister-in-law Ada G. Battle, 41. Geneva and Ada’s brother Charles T. Battle also lived in Iowa township. In Chandler, Lincoln County, Oklahoma, their brother Nicholas R. Battle, 56, wife Dora, 58, and son Henry N., 11. Back in North Carolina, in Salisbury, Rowan County: Frank O. Williston, 38, and wife Doane, 33, and children Henrietta, 13, Inez, 8, and Dorothy, 6, and in Brinkleyville, Halifax County: farmer Charles Wright, 36, wife Chanler, 35, and brother June, 29.
On 5 June 1927, the Guthrie Daily Leader ran this respectful notice of the death of Geneva’s husband, Stonewall Jackson Faver:
FAVER, NEGRO LEADER TO BE BURIED SUNDAY Body To Lie In State In Guthrie During Morning Hour
The body of S. J. Faver, one of Logan county’s best known negro leaders, was to lie in state at the Edwards and McKee funeral home, 301 W. Harrison av. Sunday between 9:30 and 10:30 a.m.
Faver died Friday at his home south of Meridian where he has lived on his one thousand acre farm for the past few years.
Faver was for two terms a county commissioner of Logan county and was on the board at the time the county courthouse was built in 1907. He was on who secured the building for use of the state soon after statehood.
Funeral and burial ceremonies will be from the family residence at 2 p.m. on Sunday.
In the 1930 census of Brinkleyville, Halifax County: Charlie Wright, 42, wife Chandler, 38, and children Charlie, 9, and Nicholas T., 7. In Washington, D.C.: Frank O. Williston, 49, wife Doane, 44, and children Inez, 18, and Fay, 16, and Weldon Phillips, 38. In Chandler, Lincoln County, Oklahoma: Henry Battle, 22, his wife Vannie, 23, and son Henry Jr., 3, plus widower father Nicholas B. Battle, 64. In Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma: Geneva B. Faver, widow, lived alone at 1002 E. Vilas Street.
In the Educational Directory of North Carolina issued for 1934-35 by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, the list of Jeanes Industrial Supervisors (Colored) includes Ada G. Battle of Clinton, Sampson County.
In the 1940 census of Clinton, Sampson County: living at 123 McKoy, which seems to have been a teacherage, Ada G. Battle, 54. In the census of Washington, D.C.: Frank Williston, 58, wife Doane B., 54, and daughter Darthy H., 26. In the census of Brinkleyville, Halifax County: farmer Charlie Wright, 54, wife Chandler, 50, son Chas., 20, (“college — in summer works on farm”), and Nichols, 18. In the census of Chandler, Lincoln County, Oklahoma: farmer Nicholas R. Battle, 75, wife Ella, 39, and children Ada L., 5, Nicholas R., 3, and Evelene, 1. In the census of Guthrie, Logan County, Oklahoma: widow Geneva B. Faver, 60, and daughter Charles Marie Faver, 28, an instructor at Langston State University.
The Carolina Times, 22 November 1941.
Per Findagrave.com, N.R. Battle died Christmas Eve 1946 and was buried in Chandler, Oklahoma’s Clearview cemetery.
Ada G. Battle made out her will on 7 April 1951. She was living in Wilson again and had been seriously ill since at least the previous October. Her sister Chandler Wright had come from Enfield to tend her during her confinement, and Ada made special provisions for her. She also left bequests to her remaining siblings, Geneva Faver of Guthrie, Oklahoma; Doane Willistoin of Washington, D.C.; and Charles Battle of Mobile, Alabama. Rev. O.J. Hawkins was named executor, and Estella L. Shade (wife of pharmacist Isaac Shade) and pharmacist Darcy C. Yancey witnessed the execution of the document.
On 12 November 1952, Chandler Battle Wright died at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Her death certificate noted that her residence was Enfield, Halifax County; that she was 61 years old and married; that she had been born in Wilson County to Charles and Leah Hargrove Battle; and that her occupation was “graduate nurse.” Mrs. Willie H. Smith of Wilson was the informant.
Chandler Wright’s will was filed in Wilson Superior Court six days later. Though her death certificate cited her residence as Enfield, the will notes that she owned two houses in Wilson. Chandler distributed her belongings widely: a desk to cousin Willie Hargrove Smith; a gold necklace with pearl cross to niece Charlie Faver Tilghman (Geneva’s daughter); a dining room suite to son Nicholas L. Wright; a walnut bedroom suite to son Charlie Wright; all her livestock and $25.00 to husband C.W. Wright; her 304 North Pender Street house to son Nicholas; her 306 North Pender Street house to son Charlie; and all personal property to be divided between her sons. Willie H. Smith was named executrix, and Roberta Battle Johnson (daughter of Parker and Ella Burson Battle; a cousin?) and Mary L. Spivey of Wilson were witnesses.
In 1957, Willa Allegra Strong submitted a dissertation to the University of Oklahoma Graduate College entitled “The Origin, Development and Current Status of the Oklahoma Federation of Colored Women’s Clubs.” Among the women she interviewed was Geneva B. Faver, and she wrote this about this seminal figure in Guthrie’s black community:
“Mrs. Geneva Faver assumed the office of treasurer in 1940 and has served without interruption since that date. Mrs. Faver, a pioneer citizen of Guthrie, Oklahoma, has functioned as a leader in many areas of service. She was the first music teacher hired to teach in Guthrie public schools. The Negro high school of Guthrie has been named for her husband. Some special serviced rendered to the public by Mrs. Guthrie have included: secretary of the Logan County Republican Central committee, juror in Federal Court, chairman of the city library board, and member of the library board. Mrs. Faver donated a forty acre tract of land for use as a camp site for Negro boys. The location of this site was three miles south of Meridian. The presentation was a memorial to her husband, Stonewall J. Faver.”
Per Findagrave.com, Geneva Battle Faver June 1877-December 1967 and Charlie Faver Tillman 1904-1998 are buried undera double marker at Summit View Cemetery in Guthrie.