In 1929, when Julius Powell provided information for the death certificate of his father Howard Powell, undertaker C.E. Artis noted his address as “K. of K.S. Bldg.” — the Knights of King Solomon Building at 203 1/2 Stantonsburg [now 205 South Pender] Street.
In the early 1960s, the brick building marked B.P.O. Reindeer Lodge No. 32 at 205 South Pender. The building has been demolished.
As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District: “#205 [formerly 203 1/2]; ca. 1930; 2 stories; (former) Central Grocery and Market; simple brick commercial building has parapet front and five-bay facade; remodeled recessed entry; upper floor at one time contained Knights of King Solomon civic club; interior has been altered for apartments.”
In April and May 1935, a series of notices appeared in the Wilson Daily Times alerting the public of the court-ordered sale of “the Knights of Solomon building, located on Stantonsburg Street, in the Town of Wilson” on May 18 of that year.
The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory shows Wade H. Pridgen as the proprietor of a grocery at 203 1/2 Stantonsburg Street, with tobacco worker Eva Pringle as the upstairs tenant.
The 1947 and 1950 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories show Hocutt’s Grocery (William S. and Roland B. Hocutt, proprietors) at 203 1/2 Stantonsburg Street, with Eva Pringle still upstairs.
The 1963 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory shows BPO Reindeer at the address.
By the early 1970s, the first floor of this building housed the East Branch of the Wilson County Public Library, the successor to the Negro Library formerly located two blocks north on Pender Street.
The building was occupied as a lodging house during its final decades before demolition circa 2005.
The first quarter of the twentieth century may have been the hey-day of fraternal and benevolent societies in Wilson’s African-American community. The 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory listed the Grand United Order of Good Samaritans and Daughters of Samaria, which rented meeting space at Mount Hebron Masonic Lodge every Tuesday evening.
- L.A. Moore — Lee A. Moore.
- Ella Overstreet — in the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on “N.&S.” [Norfolk & Southern Railroad], gardner Amos Whitley, 57, widower, and daughter Ester, 16, servant; daughter Blanch Hagins, 20, tobacco factory laborer, and her children Nettie B., 2, Pearl, 1, and Gladis, 0. Also [apparently in the other half of a duplex], Thomas Overstreet, 43, railroad laborer, and wife Ella, 29, laundress.
- Samuel Gay
- William Washington — in the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Washington Wm (c) lab h 307 Moore
Knights of Gideon Mutual Society were just one of many fraternal organizations and benevolent societies operating in East Wilson in the early twentieth century. Information about K. of G. is scarce, but Mount Maria [Moriah?] Lodge No. 7 was included in the 1908 edition of the Wilson city directory.
Hill’s Wilson, N.C, city directory (1908).
Lodge No. 7 met at the Mount Hebron Masonic hall at the corner of Pender and Smith Streets.
Recently, Brooke Bissette Farmer of Wilson’s fantastic Imagination Station reached out to me with a remarkable set of photos. A man (whom, it turns out, I’ve known since our childhoods) came into the museum to ask about an artifact he found while clearing out a house on Viola Street in the 1990s.
Though rusty and missing its top plate, the instrument is clearly identifiable as the seal embosser for Peaceful Valley Lodge 272, Wilson’s African-American Knights of Pythias lodge.
Peaceful Valley, like most of North Carolina’s Knights of Pythias lodges, is defunct. Lodge 272’s founding date is not clear, but it definitely was established well after Wilson’s Black Masons and Odd Fellows.
Pleasant Valley Lodge 272 was active into the 1980s. Frank W. Barnes, Howard English and Emanuel Spells were among its last leaders.
Wilson Daily Times, 18 July 1974.
Wilson Daily Times, 12 October 1957.
The Jewel of Julia Tent 449 [not “Jewels” and not 444] was established in Wilson in 1933. This is the earliest reference I have found for the organization and would appreciate any information anyone has.
[Update, 2 January 2022: And in a matter of hours, a reader — thank you, Theresa E. Williams! — comes to the rescue.
The Jewel of Julia was a chapter of the United Order of Tents. From their website: “Organized in 1867 by two ex-slaves, Annetta M. Lane of Norfolk, Virginia and Harriett R. Taylor of Hampton, Virginia. The United Order of Tents is a Christian Fraternal Benevolent Organization managed predominately by black women. Its membership spans Georgia, North Carolina, District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. The Order was incorporated on June 17, 1883, by the Circuit Court of the city of Norfolk as “The J. R. Giddings and Jolifee Union” and began operations as such. Through error, the Corporation became popularly known by its present name and on June 28, 1912, a charter amendment was granted changing the name. The Order was first licensed as a fraternal benefit society in 1906 and has continually operated as such. The entire history of the organization displays a record of providing shelter and service to people who are unable to care for themselves.”
Years ago, I ran across a certificate of memberships in the Tents for my grandmother, Hattie Henderson Ricks. I had never heard her mention the organization, and I suspect she was affiliated only during the years before she migrated to Philadelphia, when she worked at the sanatorium. Assuming there was only one only chapter in Wilson, my grandmother was a Jewel of Julia!]
This beautifully crisp photo depicts a gathering of Prince Hall Masons in front of Saint John A.M.E. Zion‘s distinctive Gothic arches during the church’s construction. Dated 1914-1915, I do not know who took the photograph (though it seems to have passed through the hands of Wilton M. Bethel), the specific occasion for the photograph, or whether it features only members of Mount Hebron Lodge No. 42, whose lodge was just across Smith Street. I do know that it is fantastic in every detail.
Though my focus is on the men assembled at center, the edges of the image are rich with detail as well — the boy in a newsboy cap perched on the scaffolding; the boys peering over the heads of the suited men; the few girls clustered at right, with a woman in a magnificent hat just behind them; another woman at extreme left, visible only as an eye under the wide brim of her hat.
Of the 36 men depicted, as of now, I have only been able to identify only eleven certain and a few possibles. Do you recognize any others?
And a question to any Prince Hall Masons, do the medallions, swords, aprons, or other regalia disclose anything public about the wearer’s status or office within the lodge?
Rev. Halley B. Taylor (1879-??), Worshipful Master, Presbyterian minister.
Julius F. Freeman Sr. (1844-1927), carpenter.
Roderick Taylor Sr. (1883-1947), barber.
William Hines (1883-1981), businessman, hospital administrator.
Camillus L. Darden (1884-1956), businessman, funeral director.
Rev. Bryant P. Coward (1864-1940), pastor of Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church.
Short W. Barnes (1860-1943), carpenter.
Samuel H. Vick (1863-1946), educator, businessman.
Charles H. Darden (1854-1931), blacksmith, funeral director.
John H. Clark (1863-1949), postal employee.
Charlie H. Thomas (ca.1865-1945), printing office pressman.
Probably, Arthur N. Darden (1889-1948), mortician.
Probably, Leonard L. Barnes (1888-1952).
Probably, Edgar H. Diggs (1890-1970), barber.
Possibly, Darcy C. Yancey (1883-1957), pharmacist.
[Sidenote: There is something incredibly moving about seeing these men in the early part of what arguably was Black Wilson’s Golden Age in the 1910s and ’20s. Though the photograph was staged, their expressions (other than Sam Vick, who was obviously accustomed to formal portrait-posing) are almost candid. They are a mix of old heads, born in the final days of slavery, and a new generation of young lions. I was surprised by my instant recognition of Charles and Camillus Darden and William Hines. It took me longer to realize my own grandfather stood at far left. My identification of Arthur N. Darden is based in part on his close resemblance to his mother, Dinah Scarborough Darden. Most of the others I was able to name only after reviewing other photos of men I know to have been Masons. Leonard Barnes, astonishingly, I recognized because of his close resemblance to his grandson, who was my childhood playmate.]
Many thanks to J. Robert Boykin III for the copy of this photograph. And a special shout-out to Stanley Horton, Past Worshipful Master, Foundation Lodge #592, Prince Hall Affiliated, for his help in identifying offices and emblems.
[Updates: Rev. Halley B. Taylor and the Jones brothers added 3 September 2020. Charlie H. Thomas added 1 February 2023.]
Deed Book 179, page 403, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
On 31 January 1929, John and Cora Melton sold a parcel of land in Black Creek township for $100 to James M. Barnes, W.M. Forsythe, and J.A. Artis, trustees of Love Union Lodge #209, Knights of King Solomon. The parcel adjoined lands of John Melton and John Mercer on “the Ruffin Lane Road” near the Colored School Building and measured about one-half acre.
[Where was Ruffin Lane Road? Where was the Black Creek Colored School?]
Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-American churches and lodges in Wilson County:
- On 25 June 1919, Samuel H. Vick and Mabel Harriss, trustees of Black Creek Council No. 130 of the Lincoln Benefit Society, and Walter Barnes, John Artis, and J.F. Ellis, trustees of Black Creek Lodge No. 8754, Odd Fellows, paid $350 for a lot in Black Creek on the corner of West Railroad and Church Streets.
Deed book 121, page 381, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.
- On 20 February 1920, Gary Armstrong and wife Henrietta borrowed $3282.60 from the Endowment Department of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. In exchange, the Armstrongs gave a mortgage on four parcels measuring 34, 112, 55, and 42 acres. If the Armstrongs defaulted on the loan, the Endowment Department would sell the land to satisfy the debt. This mortgage deed was cancelled 3 January 1924, after the debt was paid in full. Deed book 141, page 59.
- On 29 October 1923, James Rountree, William Thorne, James Bass, Warren Rountree, Phebe Rountree, and Emma Daniel, trustees of Saint Pauls Disciples Church (Colored), sold to Barnes Chapel Lodge #78, Knights of King Solomon, a one-eighth acre parcel on the north side of the old County Line Road and east side of the public road from Wilson to Nashville, N.C., to be used for lodge purposes only and never for “a place of public amusement or in any manner that will be in derogation of the peace and dignity of the church” next door. [Saint Paul’s is an active church on Lake Wilson Road, just east of N.C. Highway 58, the “public road” referred to. I am not clear if the church not to be disturbed is Saint Paul or some other church.] Deed book 146, page 271.
- On 1 December 1923, J.L. Newsom, Nathan Bass, and James H. Newsom sold W.K. Knight, Willie Newton, Elias Barnes, C.L. Battle, Charlie Newton, L.W. Williams, and Walter Thompson, trustees of First Baptist Church (Colored) of Lucama, for $125 a one-quarter acre parcel adjacent to the Wilson County Public School (Colored)’s lot on the extension of Main Street near the town of Lucama. Deed book 146, page 397.
As this Google Maps image shows, First Baptist Church still stands just outside Lucama. Its parcel is considerably larger than a quarter-acre and may include the land on which Lucama Colored School formerly sat.
Abstracts of deeds recording the purchase of real property by African-American churches and lodges in Wilson County:
- On 16 November 1916, J.L. Yelverton and Mary B. Yelverton sold J.H. Winston, Nathan Locus, and Peter Barnes, trustees of Travelers Rest Church of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association, for $50, a lot in Stantonsburg bordering the Yelvertons, the colored school, and B.M. Whitley. The purchase was recorded 6 October 1917 in Deed Book 111, page 347, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.
- On 18 October 1917, Ace Lucas and wife Anne Lucas sold L. Blackwell, Wesley Strickland, Herbert Taylor, and Ace Lucas, trustees of Sandy Fork Missionary Baptist Church, a 90′ by 90′ lot in Taylors township adjacent to the lands of U.H. Cozart and Ace Lucas. The lot was to be used for Missionary Baptist church building and would revert to the Lucases otherwise. The purchase was recorded 17 November 1917 in Deed Book 111, page 423, Register of Deeds office, Wilson. [Sandy Fork’s current church is just across the county line in Nash County.]
- On 24 February 1919, Jesse R. Barnes and wife Sarah L. Barnes, having borrowed $300 from George W. Harris, W.M. Pearce, and E.H. Haskins, trustees of the Christian Aid Society of Rountree Missionary Baptist Church, signed over to the Society 3.44 acres on “Colored Masonic Cemetery Road” [Lane Street] adjacent to the lands of Dollison Powell, Margaret Artis, Raleigh Real Estate and Trust Company and S.H. Vick. The Barneses had purchased this property from S.H. and Annie Vick on 26 April 1913, per Deed Book 91, page 580, and the $300 went to pay them off. The loan to the Society was due 24 February 1920. If the Barneses were to default, the Society’s trustees were to sell the land at auction, recoup the debt, and pay any remainder to the Barneses. On the other hand, if the note were satisfied, the deed was void. The deed, filed at Deed Book 117, page 285, was marked paid on 8 February 1923. [This parcel was much smaller than the Barnes land that ultimately became Rest Haven cemetery.]
- On 9 March 1926, Glenn S. McBrayer and wife Lillian L. McBrayer sold W.H. Brown, W.H. Kittrell, A.C. Winstead, Jno. A. Parker, and Jesse Holden, trustees of Marshall Lodge No. 297, Approved Benevolent Protective Order of Elks of the World, a lot at the corner of Vick and Nash Streets, being part of Lot No. 1 of Block B of the Rountree property recorded in Deed Book 78, pages 62-63, Register of Deeds office, Wilson. The purchase was recorded 29 May 1926 in Deed Book 161, page 608, Register of Deeds office, Wilson.
Deed Book 161, page 608.