Wilson Mirror, 30 July 1890.
Wilson Mirror, 30 July 1890.
On 17 February 1882, the Wilson Advance ran a brief piece announcing that the colored people would begin publishing the Wilson News in March of that year, and S.N. Hill would be an editor of this for-the-people-by-the-people paper. (No editions are known to survive.) Two months later, Samuel Hill was well-enough established in local politics to be appointed a poll holder in Wilson.
Wilson Advance, 14 April 1882.
The Advance was the first foray of notorious, but much celebrated, Josephus Daniels into the newspaper business, and the white supremacist world view he later honed to a fine point at Raleigh’s News & Observer was on naked display in its pages. Local and regional Republican politics, which were dominated by African-Americans, were not spared. That the Advance‘s presses printed Hill’s paper did not shield him either. The Advance printed the satirical letter below (and a similar one a few weeks later) purportedly written by “Jedekiah Judkins” to George W. Stanton, a die-hard Unionist and Republican.
Wilson Advance, 20 October 1882.
Snide commentary in the white press notwithstanding, Hill networked and exchanged ideas with other black journalists and political figures in eastern North Carolina the following summer. [Was the Independent yet another newspaper?]
Wilmington Daily Review, 5 July 1883.
His statewide networking secured his designation as a marshal for the state colored fair.
The Banner-Enterprise (Raleigh), 27 October 1883.
The News apparently was still in publication in December 1883 when the Advance printed a small blurb suggesting that Hill was angling for postmaster appointment under the auspices of James E. O’Hara, who had been elected in 1882 as a Republican to the United States House of Representatives from North Carolina’s “Black Second” district.
Wilson Advance, 21 December 1883.
Months later, however, the paper seems to have faltered, and Hill had to relaunch the publication.
Wilson Advance, 25 April 1884.
On 22 January 1885, the Advance printed a brief note that a Samuel Hill referred to in a recent article as having been chaged with perjury in Toisnot township was not the “Samuel N. Hill that all our people know.” The known Hill had stopped by the Advance‘s offices and informed them that “he is now traveling for a newspaper at New Bern.”
By the late 1880s, Hill was living in Wilmington, where newspaper reports note that he was active in efforts to encourage African-American investment in local railroad companies
Not quite five years later, the Advance reported that Hill, an “irrepressible” “coon,” had received a patronage position in Washington. There is no evidence that he returned to Wilson.
Wilson Advance, 29 August 1889.
Within the next few years, however, Hill withdrew from active politics and began to espouse an accommodationist philosophy. On 27 November 1898, New Bern Daily Journal published a letter by Hill lashing out at “unscrupulous white Republicans” and “scheming politicians” and praising the good white folks who had always shown “the best sympathy” to colored people. “Make friends with the best white people among whom you live,” he exhorted. “Their interests are greater than yours and the maintenance of happiness depends upon their efforts.” A few weeks later, on 10 December, the Wilmington Morning Star cited Hill’s “sensible and calm utterances” in the wake of the Wilmington Insurrection as a positive contrast to the stridency of Congressman George E. White, a “bumptious strutter.” For his part, Hill had pshawed agitation against “fancied evils which do not exist” and counseled “[t]he best public meeting for the negro to attend is his church, where he may commune with his God, and where he may be influenced for good.”
So where did Sam Hill come from? And where did he go?
Most likely, he was the Samuel Nelson Hill who opened two accounts at the Freedmen’s Bank’s New Bern branch. The first time, on 9 August 1871, Hill was 12 years old. His account registration card notes that he resided in Bragg’s Alley; was light-complected; was the son of Moses M. and Adeline Hill; had brothers named Benjamin Starkey (dead), Moses Hill and Thomas Hancock; and sisters named Carolina and Holland Hill. The boy signed his own name.
Hill opened another account on 8 June 1874. Per that account registration, he was born and “brought up” in New Bern; resided in Windsors Brickyard, Virginia; worked for Dr. Windsor; was 15 years old; was of yellow complexion; and had a brother named Noah Harper, also of New Bern. Samuel signed his name with a mature version of his earlier signature and with a confident, curlicued firmness that connotes deep literacy.
In the 1880 census of New Bern, North Carolina: on Elm Street, shoemaker Moses Hill, 49, wife Adelaine, 43, son Samuel, 20, a shoemaker, and daughter Susan, 1. Moses reported that he suffered from rheumatism and Susan from whooping cough.
Hill probably arrived in Wilson in 1881. His star there burned bright and brief, and by about 1885, he had moved on. His whereabouts the decade of the 1890s are unclear, but just after the turn of the century Hill is found in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, performing manual labor.
On 19 November 1904, Samuel Nelson Hill, 45, of 288 North Street, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, married Georgeanna Treadwell Vanderburgh, 43, of 6 Cole Avenue, Pittsfield. Hill reported that he was the son of Moses Hill and Adeline Hancock and was born in New Bern, North Carolina. He worked as a laborer, and this was his first marriage.
In the 1910 census of Pittsfield, Berkshire County, Massachusetts: electrical works janitor Samuel N. Hill, 50, and wife Georgeanna, 49.
Samuel Nelson Hill of 164 Linden died 21 March 1918 in Pittsfield, age 58 years, five months, five days.
Wilson Advance, 17 February 1882.
Apparently, this Wilson News was a short-lived venture. Another newspaper by the same name — but pretty clearly not operated in the interests of the colored race — was published in 1899.
Founded in 1867 as Saint Augustine’s Normal School by Episcopal clergy to educate freed slaves, this historically black institution institution changed its name to Saint Augustine’s School in 1893 and then to Saint Augustine’s Junior College in 1919 when it began offering college-level coursework. It began offering coursework leading to a four-year degree in 1927 and changed its name to Saint Augustine’s College one year later. The first baccalaureate degrees were awarded in 1931.
The following pages featuring the names of Wilson students and alumni were culled from Saint Aug catalogues published between 1915 and 1920.
Flora Ruth Mingo Clark (1898-1985) was the daughter of John H. and Ida Crenshaw Clark. (The family resided at 706 East Nash Street, a house that was only recently demolished.) She married Wilton Maxwell Bethel on 18 June 1930 at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church in Wilson.
Dinah (or Diana) Ada Adams (1891-1950) was the daughter of William and Elizabeth Troup Adams of Brooks County, Georgia. She married Wilson native Columbus E. Artis on 4 July 1918 in Washington DC. They returned to Wilson and settled at 308 Pender Street. C.E. operated an undertaker business and a filling station. They later moved to 611 East Green Street.
Glennie Dora Hill (1906-1989) was the daughter of George and Mary Bynum Hill. They appear in the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County, with Glennie’s siblings Lena, Emma, George and Edwin. In the 1930 census, Glennie is listed in Cross Roads township, Wilson County with husband Nathan Donald and children Eugene, Frank L., Hubert L, Alma and Algie. Ten years later, the family is listed in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. Glennie later was married to a Council.
Raleigh native William H. Phillips (1885-1957), son of Frank and Margaret Haywood Phillips, was Wilson’s first African-American dentist. His first wife was Jewel J. Phillips and his second, Rena Maynor Carter Phillips.
Wilson city directory, 1922.
Phillips lived at 405 East Green Street and maintained an office at 525 East Nash.
Marie Wells (1898-1997) was the daughter of Mack and Cherry Wells. The family resided at 615 Viola Street. Marie worked as a teacher and married Joseph Lucas in 1934 in Wilson. (Flora Clark Bethel’s husband W.M. Bethel was a witness to the ceremony.) They had at least three children: Joseph (1936), John Dennis (1940) and Joseph Clifton (1942).
Viola P. Adkinson married Belton Parker in Wilson in 1925. They are listed in the city’s 1928 city directory at 224 Ashe Street. Belton worked as a chauffeur.
Catalog images via http://library.digitalnc.org/cdm/ref/collection/yearbooks/id/6161