Brown’s Service Station stood at 1216 East Nash Street. Containing a small grocery, it was an early precursor to today’s convenience store. Per a label, Nestus Freeman is one of the men depicted; my guess is the man at left holding the gasoline pump nozzle. Note the Coca-Cola and Texaco advertising.
Entry under “Grocers–Retail” in the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory.
Freeman’s album is among the documents digitized by DigitalNC.org in the Oliver Nestus Freeman Round House Museum Group of the Images of North Carolina Collection.
By the late 1920s, automobiles were common on Wilson County roads, and “filling stations” and garages began to cluster on roads leading out of town. The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory includes these three owned by African-Americans:
Annie Smith was listed as the proprietor of Smith’s Filling Station, located on East Nash beyond the city limits, in the 1925 city directory. (There was no listing for the business in 1922.) It seems, then, that she sold the gas station to Columbus E. Artis (who otherwise ran an undertaking business) and the garage to Alex Obey[Obery] shortly before 1928.
Similarly, in 1925, the owner of Brown’s Filling Station, at the corner of East Nash and Wainwright, was contractor/stonemason Nestus Freeman, who lived a few houses down Nash Street. It is not clear who “Brown” was, but Albert Speight elected to retain the name when he purchased the business from Freeman.
Herbert Woodard Sr., 100, of 1735 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, died peacefully on Saturday, June 21, 2008, at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville. Herbert, son of the late James and Nancy Woodard, was born July 4, 1907, in Wilson County. Herbert was reared in Wilson County, where he attended the public schools. Though he never went beyond the 4th grade, what he lacked in education, he gained in common sense and wisdom. In the 100 years he lived, “Herb,” as he was affectionately called by friends, saw a lot of changes in this nation — from the rise of the age of television to the possibility of a black man becoming the president of these United States. He started working at the age of 13 to provide financial stability, not only for his family, but for others as well. Always self-employed, this magnate’s business ventures were successful whether selling coal and fish or by hauling water to men working at the now defunct Hackney Wagon Company. He cleaned septic tanks by day and ran a “Night Club” at night. He was the only black man to own and operate a motel in Wilson. It can be truthfully said that he was successful in every business he started. In celebration of Herbert’s 100th birthday, Mayor Bruce Rose presented him the key to the City of Wilson. Surviving to cherish fond memories are his wife, Mrs. Georgia Battle Woodard, of the home; two daughters, Georgie W. Hobbs of Hillside, N.J. and Annie Miller Woodard of Wilson; three sons, Ralph Woodard of Yonkers, N.Y., Herbert Woodard Jr., and David Woodard, both of Wilson; 13 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and other relatives and friends. Funeral services for Mr. Woodard will be conducted Friday, June 27, 2008, at 1 p.m. at St. Rose Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, 605 S. Douglas St., Wilson. Bishop M.W. Johnson will officiate. Burial will follow in the Rest Haven Cemetery. The family will receive visitors and friends at a wake on Thursday, June 26, 2008, from 7-8 p.m. at the Hamilton Funeral Chapel, 726 S. Tarboro St., Wilson, and at other times at the residence.
—Wilson Times, 25 June 2008.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Nancy Woodard, 33, widow, and children Lizzie, 14, Mamie, 11, Hubbard [Herbert], 4, and David, 2. [In fact, Nancy Woodard was divorced.]
On 13 February 1924, Herbert Woodard, 21, son of London and Nancy Woodard, married Mary Jones, 18, daughter of Tom and Mary Jones. Dock Barnes [husband of Herbert’s half-sister Lizzie Woodard Barnes] applied for the license, and A.M.E. Zion minister JohnA. Barnes performed the ceremony at the bride’s home. Witnesses were Walter Barnes, Roosevelt Lipscomb, and David Downey.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Herbert Woodard, 32, self-employed manager of filling station restaurant; wife Lucille, 28; and lodger Jimmy Long, 24, tire repairer at filling station.
In 1940, Herbert Woodard registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. His card noted that he was self-employed:
Woodard’s original filling station-cum-grocery store, built in 1935.
Jesse “Buster” Forte Jr. in front of a later version of the business.
Woodard’s Motel, at left, and the Herbert Woodard home today. At the time of construction, they were at the far outskirts of east Wilson where Nash Street became Highway 264. Image courtesy Google Maps.
On 9 February 2008, just months before his death, the Wilson Daily Times printed a full-page story on Herbert Woodard in its Life/Feature section. His story is told largely in his own words and those of his children, and all the photos above, except the last, were reprinted from that article.