In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: medical doctor Frank Hargrave, 32; wife Bessie, 23; and boarder Lena Harris, 26, an insurance bookkeeper. Bessie Hargrave reported that she borne two children, but none were living.
In the 1930 census of Orange, Essex County, New Jersey: at 83 Kenilworth Place, valued at $10000, doctor Frank Hargrave, 50; wife Bessie E., 38; and South Carolina-born lodger Alexander Wilson, commercial dry goods salesman.
In the 1940 census of Orange, Essex County, New Jersey: at 83 Kenilworth Place, doctor Frank S. Hargrave, 58, and wife Bessie, 50.
On 21 December 1920, Dr. Frank S. Hargrave penned a letter to the editor of the Wilson Daily Times expressing quiet alarm about anonymous invitations sent to white men to become members of “the most powerful secret organization in America,” the Ku Klux Klan.
Wilson Daily Times, 22 December 1920.
Though not framed as a direct response, the Times published a tepid editorial a week later in which it cautioned against the rise of secret societies comprising the “worst,” not the “best” men in the county. “We just throw this out as food for thought, for we believe we know some of the gentlemen who are members of the Ku Klux Klan, and we believe also that they would not have joined if they had for one moment suspected that they had a single member in the fraternity with brains so small and intelligence so little” as to have written J.D. Gold an unspecified note — perhaps the invitation to which Dr. Hargrave referred?
My thanks to Wilson County Historical Association, Wilson County Tourism Development Authority, Drew C. Wilson of Wilson Times (where you can read the accompanying article), Reginald Speight of Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr.‘s office, and local elected officials and members of the public who took time to show interest and support.
Dr. Frank S. Hargrave did not take a position at Tuskegee Veterans’ Hospital, but he left Wilson in 1924 nonetheless, migrating to Orange, New Jersey. Who got the job, then? Dr. Joseph H. Ward of Indianapolis, who was a Wilson native.
Though the coronavirus pandemic has forestalled the customary installation ceremonies, Wilson County Historical Association has erected two of four planned markers commemorating significant African-American people and places in Wilson’s history.
Charles H. Darden. Born in Greene County, 1854. Arrived in Wilson after Civil War. In 1875, here established the first African-American funeral business in Wilson, diversified by son C.L. Darden. Operated for more than 100 years. Local high school named in his honor. (Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church is at rear.)
Dr. Frank S. Hargrave. Born in Lexington, NC. Graduated Leonard Medical School, 1901. Arrived in Wilson, 1903. Founder and Chief of Staff, Mercy Hospital. In 1914, elected President, National Medical Ass’n. President, Lincoln Benefit Society. Home was at 624 E. Green St. (Hargrave’s former home is at left, and Samuel and Annie Washington Vick‘s at right.)
I collaborated with W.C.H.A. on the subject, text, and siting of these markers. I give thanks to the Association and honor to these ancestors.
More than two years ago, I wrote here of the house at 624 East Green Street, built for Dr. Frank S. Hargrave. The house has been heavily and disfiguringly modified both inside — it’s been cut up into at least three apartments — and out, and is now unoccupied and sealed up. I recently trespassed just long enough to get a glimpse through the one unboarded window, which revealed a glimpse of the house’s former good looks.
This paneled stairwell originally led from the western edge of a large front room to the second floor. Now, there is an exterior door underneath the first flight (not visible from this angle) and, just out of the frame, a solid wall that separates the parts of the house entered through the front door from those entered through side doors.
Below, a straight-on view of Dr. Hargrave’s house. The original porch was enclosed at left and center, and the vertical siding on the second floor facade suggests alteration there as well.
Below, via Google Map, an aerial view of 624 East Green. The part of the house outlined in red is surely an add-on, as is likely the wing in yellow. The roof appears to be in remarkably good shape, given the condition of the rest of the house. The roof over the “porte cochere” (notwithstanding the National Historic Register description, it is really more of a portico) appears to be tin, which may be original. (Next door, the Vicks sprang for a slate roof.)