Foster

310 North Reid Street.

The one hundred-nineteenth 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 house is: “ca. 1930; 1 story; Thomas Foster house; bungalow with hip roof and engaged porch; Foster was janitor at Wilson post office.”

In the 1925, 1928 and 1930 Wilson city directories, Thomas and Olivia Foster are listed at 310 North Reid.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: owned and valued at $3000, Tom Foster, 45, post office janitor, and wife Oliva, 43.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: owned and valued at $3000, John T. Foster, 60, post office janitor; wife Olivia, 59; and her brother Claude Artist, 53, odd jobs.

In 1940, Du Bissette Best registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 January 1922 in Wilson; lived at 308 North Reid; his contact was Tom Foster, 310 North Reid; and he worked for W.G. Taylor, Taylor’s Barber Shop, 106 South Tarboro.

Tom Foster died 17 October 1956 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 April 1883 in Wayne County to John Thomas Foster and Louise Thompson; was married to Olivia Foster; worked as an elevator laborer; and resided at 310 North Reid.

Olivia Foster died 15 November 1956 at her home at 310 North Reid. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 October 1886 in Wayne County to Jesse Artis and Lucinda Hobbs; was a widow. Informant was Ada Rowe, 1006 Atlantic Street, Wilson.

Tom and Olivia Foster had mortgaged their home early in 1955 and, the spring after their deaths, the loan went into default. Trustee Wade A. Gardner posted this notice of sale in the local newspaper. Among the details: the Fosters had purchased the lot, part of the Rountree Tract, from Levi H. and Hannah Peacock in 1916.

Wilson Daily Times, 9 May 1957.

Around the same time, Tom Foster’s executor advertised a sale of the contents of the house, which offers an interesting glimpse at the typical furnishings of a working-class household in mid-century East Wilson.

Wilson Daily Times, 8 June 1957.

Claude Artis died 16 January 1960 at his home at 310 North Reid Street. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 January 1890 in Wayne County to Jesse Artis and Lucinda Hobbs; was never married; and worked as a laborer. Ada Rowe, 310 North Reid, was informant. (Claude Artis was Olivia Artis Foster’s brother. Did he buy the house, or did he pay rent to whomever purchased it?)

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, July 2019.

All invited to the farm family picnic.

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Wilson Daily Times, 21 June 1947.

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  • C.W. Foster — Carter W. Foster.
  • Helen T. Wade — In the 1947 North Carolina Manual, published by the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office, Helen T. Wade is listed as the colored home demonstration agent for Wilson County. Wade married Charles E. Branford in 1950.
  • Frederick Douglass High School was Elm City’s African-American high school from 1939 until the end of segregation in Wilson County schools in 1969.

A little paint does not help a situation like that.

Richard A.G. Foster made the most of his brief time as pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church, as chronicled here and here. In the letter to the editor below, he called to task Wilson County Commissioners for failing to heed the pleas of African-American residents for adequate schooling, including serious repairs for the Stantonsburg Street School (also known as Sallie Barbour School).

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Wilson Daily Times, 3 August 1938.

Nurse Allen, faithful and thoughtful, dies.

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Wilson Daily Times, 7 June 1937.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen James eating house 217 S Goldsboro h 112 Ashe and Allen Rachel cook h 112 Ashe

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen James B (c; Rachel) restr 217 Goldsboro h 900 Atlanta

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 900 Atlantic Street, rented for $20/month, cafe proprietor Jim Allen, 45; wife Rachel, 32, private family nurse; children Elouise, 10, and Fred, 8; and lodgers Floyd Baker, 26, laborer; Gertrude Kannary, 27, cook; and Katherine, 10, Dortha, 7, and Elouise Baker, 1.

Per her death certificate, Rachel Allen died 5 June 1937 at Mercy Hospital. She was 40 years old; was married to James Allen; was born in Dunn, North Carolina, to Edward Armstrong and Cornelius [sic] Armstrong; worked as a midwife and practical nurse; and resided at 405 East Green Street. Maggie Armstrong of Durham was informant.

 

 

Negro curb market.

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Wilson Daily Times, 17 June 1942.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 August 1942.

Foster buys butcher supplies.

In April 1898, Grant T. Foster entered into a contract to purchase on credit $85 worth of equipment from Cincinnati Butchers’ Supply Company. To secure the purchase, he gave the company a mortgage on his business. On 23 June 1898, having been paid in full, Cincinnati Butchers released Foster from the mortgage. Their notice to the Register of Deeds was pasted into the deed volume, so the details of the transaction are obscured, but a reference to a cooler measuring 4 feet by six feet by nine feet is visible.

This note was placed in the deed book as well.

An advertisement touting Foster’s meat market can be found here.

Deed book 46, page 523, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

 

The Mitchell family reach a compromise.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 12 March 1938.

For more about Rev. Richard A.G. Foster, see here and here and here.

Georgia Farmer Mitchell died 18 February 1938 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was a 15 year-old school girl; was born in Wilson to Floyd Mitchell and Lucy Farmer, both of Wilson County; and resided at 409 South Warren Street. She died of acute appendicitis and an intestinal blockage.

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Rev. Foster, probably in the late 1930s or early ’40s, perhaps at Yale University, his alma mater.

Photograph courtesy of Sheila Coleman-Castells.

The last will and testament of Carter W. Foster.

Carter Washington Foster died 17 February 1955, deeply in debt.

Foster had been Wilson County’s Negro agricultural extension agent. To open his estate, his widow Estelle Duncan Foster testified that she had found his will among papers in a locked box at the National Bank of Wilson. Sadie H. Collins, Helen W. Branford and John M. Miller Jr. examined the paper and positively identified as the document they had witnessed Foster sign just a month before.

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On 24 February 1955, Wilson County Superior Court opened the estate. Foster’s will was straightforward — he left all property left after his debts were settled to his wife and named her his executrix. The attachment to the will is more perplexing.

First, “I suggest that the $5000 Metropolitan Policy payable to my wife be loaned to the Company and payable to Carlotta and Barbara shall need same for schooling.” (What company? Was this suggestion lawful? Barbara Jean, born 1942, and Carlotta Estelle, born 1951, were the couple’s daughters.)

Second, Foster named three people who owed him a total of $30 — Isham Bryant, Leona Hines, and Maggie Bryant.

Third, he named eleven people that he owed a whopping $3007.50 (roughly $27,000 in 2017 dollars) — M.R. Zachary ($320), Mrs. Branford ($375), Percy Williams ($100), Mark Sharp ($825), Joe Hester ($650), Frank Murphy ($350), W.R. Barnes ($105), Cora S. Wilson ($75), Isiah Whitehead ($100), M.G. Garris ($25), and Martha Mitchell ($82.50). [As newspaper notices gave witness, attempts to pay them all back would require the sale at auction of Foster’s personal belongings, such as a 1951 Plymouth, and the house on Vance Street that he and his sister had inherited from their mother.]

Fourth, he designated seven people as trustworthy advisors to his wife — Bing Miller, Charles James, Rev. Farmer, Rev. Watkins, M.R. Zachary and Thomas J. Moore.

004778533_00399

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Vance Street, Walter Foster, 46, fireman at wagon company; wife Rosa, 34; children Heneretta, 18, Carl [sic, Carter], 6, and Naomi, 4; and sister-in-law Etta Parker, 32, a school teacher.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 808 East Vance Street, teacher Rosa Foster, 42; children Carter, 16, Daily Times newsboy, and Naomi, 14; and two roomers Alice Jones, 36, and Mamie Key, 20, both teachers.

The 1939 Ayantee, yearbook of North Carolina A&T State University.

On 29 December 1939, Carter Washington Foster, 26, of Wilson, and Estelle Duncan, 25, of Maysville, North Carolina, were married in Danville, Virginia. Foster, son of Walter Foster and Rosa Parker, worked as an agriculture teacher at Chatham County Training School and lived in Siler City, and Duncan, daughter of Samuel Duncan and Annie Hicks, lived in Clinton, North Carolina.

In 1940, Carter Washington Foster registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 15 January 1914 in Wilson; resided at 808 East Vance; worked as county farm agent at 559 1/2 East Nash Street; and was married to Estelle Duncan Foster.

This newspaper article about county officials reveals that Foster was paid less than half of his white counterpart’s salary:

Wilson Daily Times, 1 December 1941.

His work, alongside black home demonstration agent Jane Boyd, was recognized, however:

“Wilsonia” column, John G. Thomas, Wilson Daily Times, 24 January 1945.

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.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1955.

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  • Sadie Collins — Wilson cafe operator Sadie Collins.
  • Helen W. Branford — per the 1953 Raleigh city directory, Helen Wade Branford (1913-1994) was an agricultural extension agent living in Wilson.
  • J.M. Miller Jr. — Wilson elementary school principal John Maxwell Miller Jr. 
  • Isham Bryant — Sampson County native Isham Bryant (1891-1961) was a machinist in Wilson.
  • Leona Hines — Leona T. Hines (1901-1988) of Wilson County and later Lenoir County.
  • Maggie Bryant — Wilson teacher Maggie Walker Bryant (1910-1958).
  • M.R. Zachary — Hertford County native Molton R. Zachary was a classmate of Foster at A&T and was a county farm agent.
  • Mrs. Branford — probably Helen W. Branford above.
  • Percy Williams
  • Mark Sharp — Wilson County farmer Mark B. Sharpe.
  • Joe Hester — Granville County native Joe Hester (1900-1984) was a Wilson County farmer.
  • Frank Murphy
  • W.R. Barnes
  • Cora S. Wilson
  • Isiah Whitehead — Isaiah Whitehead Jr. (1894-1969) was a farmer near Tarboro, Edgecombe County.
  • M.G. Garris
  • Martha Mitchell — probably, Martha Taylor Mitchell (1895-1976) of Wilson.
  • Bing Miller
  • Charles James — undertaker Charles D. James.
  • Rev. Farmer
  • Rev. Watkins — Baptist minister Talmadge Adam Watkins (1915-2002)
  • Thomas J. Moore
  • Jane Boyd — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1111 Washington Street, Walter Thorpe, 63; wife Rebecca, 46; and roomer Jane Boyd, 37, Virginia-born county home demonstration agent.

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.