high school

The remains of Williamson High School.

The six-room Williamson High School, the second high school for African-American children in Wilson County, opened in 1942 near Lucama in Springhill township. Long-closed, its roof and cinderblock exterior remain intact, but its interior is a moldering shambles.

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Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2017.

Class of ’28.

In 1928, Wilson Colored High School was led by principal William H.A. Howard and teachers F. Meredith (math), J.E. Amos (home economics), J.F. Anderson (science), C.F. Hunt (English), and B.M. Davis (history and French).

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  • Jennie Moring Parker Kerbo, prophet (1909-2006, daughter of Charles and Maggie Hedgepeth Parker)
  • Herman Bess, valedictorian (possibly, son of William and Ada Best)
  • Ada Elizabeth Harris Reid Sharpe, treasurer (1908-2010, daughter of Leander and Lucy Brooks Harris)
  • Esther Lue Purdie, president (1907-??, daughter of Street P. and Lenora Bethea Purdie)
  • Walter Jefferson Giles, vice president (1909-2001, son of George W. and Lucettie Sutton Giles)
  • Vivian Elizabeth Peacock Smith, secretary (1909-1999, daughter of Levi H. and Hannah Pyatt Peacock)
  • Odelle Whitehead Barnes, salutatorian (1912-2011, daughter of J. Henry and Victoria Ennis Whitehead)
  • Mattie Smith, poet
  • Henderson Jesse Cooke, orator (1910-1971, son of Jerry and Clara Godette Cooke)
  • Catherine W. Whitehead Bynum, giftarian (1910-1999, daughter of J. Henry and Victoria Ennis Whitehead)
  • Maggie M. Ricks, alphabet (1909-??, probably, daughter of Ed and Nannie Gaston Ricks)
  • Beatrice Taylor Barnes, pianist (1912-1995, daughter of Russell B. and Viola Gaither Taylor)
  • Mary Street, historian
  • Cora Miller Washington Artis, class soloist (1909-??, daughter of George W. and Cora Miller Washington)
  • Ruby Speight, critic
  • Isaac Artis
  • Sarah Virginia Thomas Bryant (1909-1992, daughter of Charles and Sarah Best Thomas)
  • Pearl Foreman
  • Cora Bell Exum Lane, class will (1908-1984, daughter of Frank and Mamie Johnson Exum)
  • Clara Battle (1908-??, daughter of Joseph and Gertrude Battle)
  • Martha Bedford Savage Lucas (1907-1965, daughter of Frank and Serena Woodard Savage)
  • Naomi Scott Edwards (1910-??, daughter of Charles and Susie Ann Jones Edwards)

As was their principal, the Colored High School’s teachers seem to have been short-term Wilson residents:

  • F. Meredith — in the 1928 Wilson city directory, duplicate entries (though the names differ slightly): Wm. J.F. Meredith, school teacher, 624 East Green; James Meredith, school teacher, Wilson High School, 624 East Green. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Edwin W. Fisher, 56, district manager insurance company; wife Daisey V., 52; daughter Susie A., 21; and lodgers James F. Anderson, 26, Indiana-born school teacher, and William Meredith, 25, Tennessee-born school teacher.
  • J.E. Amos — in the 1928 Wilson city directory, Jane E. Amos, teacher, Wilson High School, 111 Pender. In the 1930 city directory, Jane E. Amos, teacher, Wilson High School, 919 Atlantic. However, in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 919 East Nash, brickmason James Russell, 42; wife Julia, 42; and daughter Annie, 7, plus lodger James E. Amos, 41, South Carolina-born school teacher. This is surely Jane E. Amos.
  • J.T. Anderson — see James F. Anderson at F. Meredith, above.
  • B.M. Davis — in the 1928 Wilson City directory, Bessie M. Davis, teacher, Wilson High School, 908 East Nash. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 913 East Green Street, teachers Ruth A. Brown, 23, of Nevada; Annie Wilson, 25, of North Carolina; Lucile Wynn, 22, of Virginia; and Bessie Davis, 28, of Washington, D.C.
  • C.F. Hunt — in the 1928 Wilson City directory, Cornelia F. Hunt, teacher, Wilson High School, 1009 East Nash. In the 1930 city directory, Cornelia F. Hunt, teacher, Wilson High School, 910 East Green. This is likely the Cornelia Frances Hunt born in 1907 in Granville County, North Carolina.

Photograph courtesy of Darden Alumni Center, Wilson.

Class of ’37.

This photograph of Wilson Colored High School’s Class of 1937 also hangs in the hallway of the Darden Alumni Center.

A label listing the students’ names has been augmented where possible with birth and death dates and parents’ names, below.

  1. Charles Darden James (1914-1994, Randall R. and Elizabeth Darden James)
  2. Howard Monroe Fitts Jr. (1921, Howard M. and Elizabeth Plummer Fitts)
  3. Doris Louise Crooms Caldwell Robinson (1920-1992, Lloyd and Maggie Jones Crooms)
  4. Herman Oliver Marshall (1918-??, John and Annie Marshall)
  5. Delores Robbins Coleman (1920-2003, James D. and Louise Davis Robbins)
  6. Alice McCoy (1915-1983, Russell and Ometa Smith McCoy)
  7. Lucy Dawson Artice Moss (1922-1989, Jesse A. and Sophia Dawson Artice)
  8. Hennie Ennis Campbell (1919-??, Samuel and Maggie Taylor Ennis)
  9. Hattie E. Ross McKeithan (1918-2008)
  10. Estelle Dew McNair (1917-2005, Ross and Ivory Taylor Dew)
  11. Catherine Joyner Foster
  12. Williard Jordan
  13. Primrose Carter (1914-1972, Willie E. and Henrietta Cooper Carter)
  14. Montez Colesse Hooker Boatman (1922-1990, Gray F. and Bettie Caddell Hooker)
  15. Celeste Hardy McClain
  16. William Nelson Knight (1916-2011, James H. and Ada Green Knight)
  17. Virginia Walden Wilson (Albert L. and Annie Moore Walden)
  18. Ernest D. Lassiter (1918-??, Jesse C. and Lessie Dew Lassiter)
  19. Jesse Fitzhugh Reid (1920-??)
  20. William Harry Howell (1921-2004, Harry B. and Annie Mae Thompson Howell)
  21. Evelyn Johnson Stone
  22. Alvis Ashley Hines (1918-1981, Ashley and Mattie Barnes Hines)
  23. Charles Futrell
  24. Henry Venson Whitehead (1918-2004, William and Nettie Bivins Whitehead)
  25. Arthur Lee Battle (1917-2007, William and Nora Williams Battle)
  26. Earl E. Ennis (1917-1964, Samuel and Maggie Taylor Ennis)

Photograph courtesy of Darden Alumni Center, Wilson.

Class of ’38.

The Class of 1938 was the first to graduate from the newly rechristened Charles H. Darden High School. Camillus L. Darden, after donating books to stock the school library, won the right to rename Wilson Colored High School after his father.

A label listing the students’ names has been augmented where possible with birth and death dates and parents’ names, below.

First row: Kester Congress Mitchell (1919-??, Kester R. and Martha Taylor Miller); William Aaron Best (1921-??, Aaron and Estell Best); Clarence Herman Best (1918-1994, Clarence and Best); Milton Jasper King (1920-??); Walter M. McMillon (1919-1994, Tommie and Willie McMillon); Herbert Vendrick Whitehead (1920-2007, Henry and Victoria Ennis Whitehead); James F. Coley.

Second row: Ida Doretha Parks Hinnant (1917-2007, John and Emmeline Bobbitt Parks); Lillian Boykin Kent (1917-2006, William and Sarah Williamson Boykin); Helen Elveta Reid Worsley (1921-1981, Willie C. and Mary Galley Reid); unknown; Carlotta Bernice GeraldClyde Joan Dickerson Faison (1921-1997, Fred and Almeter Edmundson Dickerson); Bessie Mae Joyner Redden (Eddie L. and Annie Joyner)Doris P. Freeman James (1920-2003), Julius and Pattie Hagans Freeman); Yvonne Taylor; Edna Gray Taylor Desvigne (1921-2011, Roderick and Mary John Pender Taylor; Doretha Hunter Farmer (1912-1992, Will and Mary Whitehead Hunter); Annie Elizabeth Cooke Dickens (1921-??, Jerry L. and Clara Godette Cooke); Annie Frances Crawford (1921-??, Clarence and Maggie Barnes Crawford); unknown; Lusynthia Page Johnson Marshall (1922-??, Theodore R. and Rachel Bynum Johnson); Mary A. Barnes; unknown.

Third row: Katie Powell; Virginia Ann Mitchell Williams (1918-2002, George and Rose Lipscomb Mitchell); Sallie Baldwin Howard (1916, Marcellus Simms and Narcissa Baldwin); Mary MooreAurelia Janet Lucas Hagood (1920-1997, Henry and Mamie Battle LucasMary Tena Melton (1920-1992, John and Cora Barnes Melton); Margaret PowellBeulah Sutton Legrand (1915-1975, George and Henrietta Sutton); Lena Cherry Goodman (1920-1988, John and Mable Langley Cherry); Mary J. BarnesHelen L. Potter; Estelle Ellis Coble Newsome (1919-1994, Oscar and Mamie Bynum Ellis); Cora Bynum Boney; Margaret Powell [one of these women is mislabeled; there was only one Margaret Powell in this class]; Nora Allen Jones MitchellRosa Lee Hart (1920-1943, Grover and Mamie Taylor Hart); Addie Pearl Farmer Vailes (1917-??, John D. and Rosetta Simms Farmer).

Photograph courtesy of Darden Alumni Center, Wilson.

Glee.

Another gem from Darden Alumni Center, here depicting the Wilson Colored High School glee club in 1937. A label listing the students’ and teachers’ names has been augmented where possible with birth and death dates and parents’ names, below. Many eastern North Carolina counties did not provide secondary education for African-American children in the 1930s. As a result, families who wanted schooling beyond the elementary grades chose to send their children to Wilson to board with local families and attend high school. Where discovered, the hometowns of such children are noted below.

Front row: Annie Elizabeth Cooke Farmer (1921-??, Jerry and Clara Godette Cooke); Delores Robbins Coleman (1920-2003, James D. and Louise Davis Robbins); Edna Gray Taylor Desvigne (1921-2011, Roderick and Mary John Pender Taylor); Helen E. Reid Worsley (1921-1981, Willie C. and Mary Galley Reid); Lucy Gray Pittman Cunningham Parker (1922-2003, Aaron and Lucy Graham Pittman); unknown; Bessie Mae Joyner Redden (Eddie L. and Annie Joyner); Gracie White Terrell (1923-1994); Willia B. Jones Turner (1923, Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones); Lucy Dawson.

Second row: Spencer J. Satchell; Aurelia Janet Lucas Hagood (1920-1997, Henry and Mamie Battle Lucas); Helen Crutchfield Lewis (1924-1993, Willie and Novella Bryant Crutchfield), Doris Louise Crooms Caldwell Robinson (1920-1992, Lloyd and Maggie Jones Crooms); Bernice Gerald; Annie Frances Crawford (1921-??, Clarence and Maggie Barnes Crawford); Retha M. Best; Millicent Monroe; Naomi Lee Dawson Clark (1920-1978, Clarence and Elizabeth Thomas Dawson); Rosemary Plummer Fitts Funderburg (1923-2000, Howard and Elizabeth Plummer Fitts); Hattie L. Dixon; Evelyn Knight (1921-??, James H. and Ada Green Knight); Alice McCoy (1915-1983, Russell and Ometa Smith McCoy); Juanita Pope Morrisey.

Third row: Leroy Foster (1917-??, Claude and Cora White Foster); Harvey Gray Ford (1921-1942, Curlis and Mamie Battle Ford); Cornelius Best; Eula Mae Horton Bryant (1912-1990, Louis and Minnie Horton); unknown; Montez Colesse Hooker Boatman (1922-1990, Gray F. and Bettie Caddell Hooker);  Virginia Walden Wilson (Albert L. and Annie Moore Walden); Thomas H. Haskins (1919-1978, Robert and Gertrude Haskins); Primrose Carter (1914-1972, Morehead City, Carteret County, Willie E. and Henrietta Cooper Carter).

Fourth row: William Nelson Knight (1916-2011, James H. and Ada Green Knight); John Henry Mincey (1919-1982, Benjamin and Mattie Barnes Mincey); Charles Darden James (1914-1994, Randall R. and Elizabeth Darden James); James F. Coley (1921-??); Clarence Herman Best (1918-1994, Clarence B. and Geneva Smith Best); Weldon Williams; unknown; Clinton Rudolph Leacraft (1918-2007, Swansboro, Onslow County, Frank and Hagar Duncan Leacraft).

Fifth row: James Aaron Best; Marion Vernon Jones (1919-1975, Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones); unknown; Charles Elva Kittrell (1918-1990, Solomon and Lettie Roberts Kittrell); unknown; Elmond Henry McKeithen (1914-2003, Cumberland County, Henry and Sarah Robinson McKeithan).

Paul T. Williamson.

Paul Thomas Williamson (1879-1960).

Merchant-farmer Paul T. Williamson donated the land upon which the Wilson County School Board built a six-room high school to serve African-American students in southwestern Wilson County. Williamson High School, which opened in 1942, later became known as Springfield High School.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 January 1960.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 December 1960.

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In the 1880 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Elic Williamson, 44; wife Gracy, 29; and children John, 14, Lugen, 11, Joseph, 9, Jennie, 7, Mary, 6, Clem, 4, Sarah J., 2, and Pall, 1.

In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Williamson, 63; wife Gracy, 50; children Genny Whitley, 26, and Sarah, 22, Paul, 21, Daniel, 19, Henietta, 15, Edna, 15, and Katie Williamson, 12; and grandchildren Nancy, 8, Della, 5, and Pearle Whitley, 4.

On 23 November 1904, Paul Williamson, 25, son of Alex and Grace Williamson of Springhill township, married Mary Hinnant, 23, daughter of Joe and Rhoda Hinnant of Spring Hill township. W.H. Horton of the Christian denomination performed the ceremony at Thom Hinnant‘s house in the presence of  J.T. Hinnant, L.H. Horton and W.H. Shaw.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Wilson & Smithfield Branch Road, farmer Paul Williamson, 31; wife Mary, 28; and children Beatrice, 4, and James C., 3.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Old Clayton & Wilson Road, farmer Paul T. Williamson, 40; wife Mary, 38; and children Beatrice, 14, and James, 12.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Paul T. Williamson, 51; wife Mary, 48; daughter Beatrice, 24; son James C., 23; daughter-in-law Anna D., 22;  grandson James W., 6 months; and boarder Ozie Allen, 35, a farm laborer.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Paul Williamson, 61; wife Mary, 57; daughter Beatrice, 34; son James, 33, filling station operator; daughter-in-law Anna, 32; and grandchildren Jantice, 8, and Paul W., 6.

Paul Thomas Williamson died 27 December 1960 in Lucama, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 14 February 1879 in Wilson County to Alex Williamson and Grace Shaw; worked as a grocery store merchant; and was married to Mary Williamson.

Photo of Williamson courtesy of Wilson Daily Times.

The new colored graded school opens.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 January 1924.

Wilson Colored High School, later christened Charles H. Darden High School, was the first school in Wilson County — and the only, for another 25 years — offering high school instruction. The building, which expanded in the 1940s and ’50s, stood on Carroll Street, facing the dead-end of Green, until the 1990s. The site is now occupied by Samuel H. Vick Elementary School. For more on Principal Irvin Saint Clair, see here. (Note that, per this article, none of Wilson’s African-American contractors or craftsmen were afforded the opportunity to help build the school.)

 

Photograph courtesy of Charles L. Coon, “Public Schools of Wilson County,” Wilson County Board of Education (1924).


Plan of Wilson Colored High School, 1930 Sanborn insurance map. The classroom wings were recent additions to the building.

Approval of Negro schools.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 13 February 1943.

Edward Morrison Barnes was appointed principal of Darden High School in 1932 and served until 1969.

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: buggy factory laborer Lemon Barnes, 28; wife Lizzie, 28; and children Edward, 5, Henry E., 3, and Elizabeth, 11 months, plus mother-in-law Rosette Smith, 58.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Atlantic Street, buggy factory laborer Lemon Barnes, 38; wife Lizzie, 37; and children Edward, 14, Alma G., 12, Elizabeth, 10, Ester, 5, and Hattie G., 3.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 913 Green Street, high school principal Edward M. Barnes, 34, and wife Odell, 28, a high school teacher.  That same year, he registered for the World War II draft.

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A 1952 graduate of Livingstone College in Salisbury, North Carolina, Barnes received a master’s degree from University of Michigan in 1945.

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University of Michigan General Register, Section III, Part XVIII, School of Education (1947).

Edward M. Barnes died 3 October 2003 in Wilson.

Darden teachers, 1949.

From its 1949 yearbook, the faculty of Charles H. Darden High School (which housed grades six through twelve):

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  • Ethel D. Alexander — Ethel DeBrew Alexander, native of Scotland Neck, North Carolina.
  • B.T. Barnes — Beatrice Taylor Barnes (1912-1995), Wilson native, daughter of Russell B. and Viola Gaither Taylor.
  • O.W. Barnes — Odelle Whitehead Barnes (1912-2011), Wilson native, daughter of John H. and Victoria Ennis Whitehead. She married Edward Morrison Barnes (1905-2002), son of Lemon and Elizabeth Smith Barnes, and principal of Darden High School from 1932-1969.
  • F.C. Bethel — Flora Clark Bethel (1898-1985), Wilson native, daughter of John H. and Ida Ross Clark.
  • C.E. Branford — Charles E. Branford (1923-2008), born in Baltimore, graduated Darden ’41.
  • E.R. Bryant — Erdman Ray Bryant (1923-1978), native of Jones County, North Carolina.
  • B.E. Cartwright
  • C.R. Cooke — Clara R. Godette Cooke, native of New Bern, North Carolina.

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  • Z.C. Daniels — Zelma C. Daniels.
  • John E. Dixon — John Ezra Dixon (1909-2004), native of Bladen County, North Carolina. Later served as principal of Adams and Samuel H. Vick Elementary Schools.
  • Annie M. Dupree
  • D.H. Ellis — Dorothy H. Ellis.
  • James C. Ellis — James Charles Ellis (1919-1991).
  • Julius Freeman — Julius Franklin Freeman Jr. (1888-1960), Wilson native, son of Julius F. and Eliza Daniels Freeman.
  • Doris G. Gaston — Doris Gwendolyn Gaston (1924-2007), Elm City native, daughter of Dewey and Mary Howard Gaston. Married South Carolina-native Julian B. Rosemond, who established a dental practice in Wilson in the 1950s.
  • J.B. Harris — Johnie Bynum Harris (1917-1980), native of McDowell County, North Carolina.

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  • O.W. Harris — Oswald William Harris (1914-2001), native of Warrenton, North Carolina.
  • C.W. Hines — Carl Wendell Hines (1914-1995), Wilson native, son of Walter S. and Sarah Dortch Hines. Later served as principal of Adams and Boisey O. Barnes Elementary Schools.
  • Louise M. Jenkins — Louise McNeill Jenkins (1922-1988), native of Laurinburg, North Carolina.
  • Alice H. Jones — Alice H. Albright Jones (1892-1957), native of Lexington, North Carolina.
  • F.W. Jones — Frissell Wagner Jones (1917-2006), native of Gressit, Virginia. Went on to teach at Saint Augustine’s College and North Carolina A&T State University.
  • Marian H. Miller — Marian Howard Miller (1916-2003), native of Virginia.
  • Mabel A. Morgan
  • S.J. Satchell — Spencer Jordan Satchell (1910-1992), native of Hampton, Virginia.

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  • I.D. Taylor — Inez Dickerson Taylor Bell (1927), Wilson native, Darden ’44, daughter of Fred and Almeta Edmundson Dickerson.
  • Cora M. Washington — Cora Miller Washington (1909-??), Wilson native, daughter of George H. and Cora Miller Washington.
  • M.E. Whitehead — Mamie E. Whitehead.
  • H.D. Whitted — Helen Delzelle Beckwith Whitted (1888-1976) married Walter C. Whitted. She was one of the teachers who staffed the Colored Graded Shool after teachers and parents staged a boycott.
  • Rosa Lee Williams — Rosa Lee Kittrell Williams (1905-??), Wilson native, daughter of William H. and Mary Williamson Kittrell, married to Malcolm D. Williams (1909-??), principal of Sallie Barbour School, Samuel Vick Elementary, and superintendent of Wilson Negro Schools.