Lucian J. Henderson, in aviator helmet and goggles, stands with a dog between two unidentified houses in East Wilson. The boy at left in striped socks, also unidentified, is standing in the remnants of a light snow. The photo dates to the mid-1930s.
A three-page Wilson Times insert published about 1914 highlighting the town’s “progressive colored citizens” featured City Bakery, then located at 540 East Nash Street, “under Odd Fellows Hall,” with R.B. Bullock as proprietor.
The bakery had a predecessor though, as shown in the 1912 city directory:
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1912).
Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.
This detail from the 1913 Sanborn map shows the location of the oven in the back of the small brick “bake house.” In 1914, City Bakery boasted that its premises were “sanitary in ever particular.” Such a claim must have been difficult to make when it sat within feet of multiple rail lines.
Richard Bulluck — Bulluck is listed in the 1912 directory living at 412 South Lodge Street.
“Injury of heel and an open sore cause by wearing a plaster cast”
Four year-old Archie Henderson was my father’s cousin. A poorly fitting cast rubbed a raw spot on his heel, gangrene set in, and he quickly succumbed. Little Archie very likely was buried in Vick cemetery.
Excerpt from my interview with my grandmother, Hattie Henderson Ricks, about where her family bought food during her childhood on Elba Street:
“But when I was a little girl, the only place you could get milk was from the Vicks. It was a quarter. That was the only place we had to get the milk, if you got any. Unless you used canned milk. She had a back porch. Closed-in back porch. Screened in. Anyway, glass in it all around, there on the back porch, and tables out there. One of them things you churn, what I mean, a great, old big urn out there where the milk get too old, and then she’d have buttermilk. And she had a ‘frigerator sitting out there, where she’d taken the shelves out, look like where she’d made a big thing to put it in there. But she would get fresh milk everyday. The cows was somewhere out there, I don’t know where, I didn’t see ‘em in the yard. They wont nowhere up there. But somebody was working for them would go out and get the milk and bring it in these cans where you have, where got the churn in the top of it. And she would put them out there on the porch. Miz Annie seemed to be pretty clean, and the house was clean. Didn’t nobody get sick. Yeah, and they had the two daughters, and I don’t know how many boys it was. Robert was the youngest boy, and I went to school with him, and Doris and I was in the same class in school. And — I didn’t know whether she was a sister to the man, or whether she was sister to the lady, I never did find out which way — but that house, they built that two-story house right next to the Vicks, and they didn’t stay in it, they went to Washington or somewhere. And they rented the house out. And I think somebody else bought it.”
My grandmother, right, and her sister Mamie Henderson Holt, around the time their family was buying milk from the Vicks.
“the cows was somewhere out there” — the Vicks maintained a farm on property they owned east of Wilson’s town limits.
Excerpt from my interview with my father, Rederick C. Henderson, who was born in Wilson in 1934:
My father with Darden classmates Helen Williams, Lillie Dixon and Eloise Parker in 1948-49.
What do you remember about race relations? Or what were you told about dealing with white people?
Well. See, we never had a lot, the only white people that I saw had little stores in the black community. And you know, they said, you can’t, just don’t have a whole lot of dealings with white folks. And racism … things I saw about racism. I was, I remember I was maybe 12, 13, and I went downtown walking over to the stadium somewhere. I was walking over to one of my friend’s house stayed on Mercer Street, and they had these prisoners of war. Germans. And they had this “P.W.” on the back of their thing, and they were cleaning up ‘round the factory. And they had some MPs or something with them. And they were sitting down on a bench outside resting. One of them little regular benches. A wood bench that they used to advertise or something. And so I stopped – they had gone in – and I stopped, and I was sitting down, and a man came out, and he spit on my leg.
A German or an American?
Naw, this was a white American. He said, “You can’t sit on that bench.” I don’t know if he called me a boy or whatever, but had that tobacco spit on me. And he –
But the Germans were sitting on the bench. Prisoners of war in this country.
Right. And I couldn’t sit on the bench.
Then I remember they had an incident at the theater where something had happened, and this girl [Marie Everett] slapped a white girl. And they took her and put her in jail. Took her and put her in prison. She went off and stayed. She must have stayed ‘bout a year. And Mama and all them said, “Don’t y’all go downtown.” So far as I got to go was to the [Ritz] theater and then come back home.
And all over there behind Vick School [Academy, Crowell and Mayo Streets] was all white back in there. And they used to throw stuff at us on the [playground] — we’d be throwing rocks back and forth, back and forth. But the police didn’t ever come over there. Now the police would be downtown on Saturday afternoon ‘cause see in Wilson, like Friday and Saturday was when we’d go to the movie. And I’d go to the movies on Saturday and stay all day long. Stay in there ‘til it’d be almost dark. That’s how you’d know it was time to go home. Come down there, walk down there, say, “Can I look outside and see…?” Lady’d just: “Yeah.” Walk down there; look out there; see. If it’s still light, you’d come back up and watch the movie again. Sit upstairs in the movie. And so they had all the white police. They would walk from uptown, I guess, down to Pender Street. And on the sidewalk. And black folk had to get out the way. I mean, they’d walk right up, push you right out in the street. Or whatever. And just walk right on down to the end and turn around and come back and all.
The two children she birthed did not live to adulthood, but Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver nonetheless was mother to the Wilson County branch of my Henderson family. She reared my great-grandmother Bessie Henderson and great-great-uncle Jack Henderson alongside her step-children in Wayne County. Around 1907, she and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Sr. and his youngest children settled in Wilson in a little cottage on Elba Street, and Jack Henderson followed. When Bessie died, my eight-month-old grandmother Hattie Mae Henderson and later her sister Mamie came to live on Elba Street, too. And she lived long enough to help my grandmother raise her four children in their earliest years. Though she was the direct ancestor of none of us, I recognize and honor Mama Sarah as matriarch to us all.