house fire

Small fire at Lou Miller’s.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 April 1912.

  • Lou Miller

In the 1908 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Miller Lou (c) grocer Elba nr E Green h 630 E Green

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed cook Lou Miller; her daughter Cora Washington, 34, a widowed school teacher; her grandchildren Irene, 7, James, 4, and Cora Washington, 1; and two boarders, Mary Hadley, 20, cook, and Mary Pender, 60, widowed servant. 

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 630 Elmo [Elba] Street, teacher Cora Washington, 39; daughters Irene, 16, Janie, 13, and Cora, 10; mother Lou Miller, 70; and boarders Isic Hicks, 28, carpenter, Manuel Wooten, 22, hotel laborer, Dalis Cutter, 20, barbershop laborer, and Eliza Henderson, 42, teacher.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 701 East Green Street, George Farmer, 55, porter for A.C.L.R.R.; wife Cora, 51, school teacher; daughters Lena, 20, teacher, and Janie L., 23, department store elevator girl; stepdaughter Cora M. Washington, 21 (marked as “absent”); mother-in-law Lou Miller, 75; and boarders Mildred Norfleet, 23, courthouse elevator girl; and Amos Moor, 35, hotel porter. [Janie, in fact, was Cora’s daughter and George’s step-daughter.]

Lula Herring’s house destroyed by fire.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 January 1932.


In the 1928 and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Luther J (c; Lula) rest 543 E Nash h 712 Hadley.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on New Bern Street, renting for $16/month, Lula Herring, 25, seamstress, and boarder Luther Jones, 38, cafe manager.

Dew children perish in fire.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 December 1911.

It is difficult to know what to take away from this erratum. Unfortunately, the previous day’s paper is not available for details of the Dew children’s tragedy.


  • Oscar Dew — in the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Oscar Dew, 32; wife Annie, 24, farm laborer; children George F., 2, and Bettie M., 5 months; sister-in-law Fannie Strickland, 26, widow, farm laborer; and “sister-in-law son” Sydney Woodard, 10, farm laborer. In the 1920 census, Oscar and Annie Dew’s children were George F., 12, Annie Bell, 5, Rita Bell, 2, and James Arthur, 5 months. Presumably, the children killed in the fire were Bettie and a child born after the 1910 census was taken.
  • Nora Woodard — most likely: in the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Alfred Woodard, 69; wife Sarah, 59; daughters Nora, 21, and Francis, 17; and servant Bessa Foard, 19. [It appears that Alfred Woodard died 1900-10 — did Nora inherit farmland from him?] In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Woodard Norah (c) h s of Cemetery rd nr A C L Ry

A house fire in Happy Hill.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 April 1932.

Cash Williams owned both Williams Lumber Company and rental housing throughout the surrounding neighborhood, Happy Hill. In 1932, one of his duplexes burned to the ground. The names of the displaced families were not reported.

Below, Williams Lumber yard sprawls across the bottom half of this image,  southwest of the Norfolk-Southern railroad. The tightly packed houses of Happy Hill are on the other side of the tracks, with the tower of Saint Rose Church of Christ rising at the center of the image.

Photo courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III, now in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Elderly trio loses all in fire.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 January 1942.


In the 1870 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Hegans, 31; wife Sarah, 20; children John, 3, Nancy A., 2, and Amos, 10; and Susan Hagans, 40, farm worker.

On 26 October 1889, Amos Hagans, 31, of Cross Roads township, son of John Hagans and Eliza Rich, married Jane Fields, 18, of Cross Roads township, daughter of Washington and Julia Fields, at Ben Binum’s in Cross Roads township, Wilson County.

On 21 February 1900, Amos Hagins, 39, son of John Hagins and Eliza Rich, married Lillie Richardson, 17, daughter of John and Mollie Richardson, at Mollie Richardson’s in Cross Roads township.

In the 1910 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Amos Hagans, 54; wife Lillie, 24; daughters Martha W., 5, and Mary E., 4; and hired man Oscar Talton, 13.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: on Road to Horns Bridge, farmer Amos Hagan, 63; wife Lillie, 36; and daughters Martha, 14, and Mary, 13.

Martha McCoyie died 11 February 1923 in Cross Roads township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 17 years old; was married to Mack McCoyie; was born in Wilson County to Amos Hagans and Lillie Richardson; and was buried the family graveyard.

In the 1940 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: Amos Hagans, 83; wife Lillie, 54; and James Pate, 71. [Presumably, these are the three elderly people living in the house at the time of the fire. If so, Lillie Hagans’ age was exaggerated.]

Amos Heggins died 30 January 1943 in Springhill township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1856 in Wilson County to John Heggins and Eliza Ricks; was married Lillie Heggins, age 56; and buried in Polly Watson cemetery near Lucama.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Mary Sims jailed for house fires.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 December 1935.

I have no further information about Mary Sims. There were few treatments for mental illness in the 1930s, and even fewer effective ones. Given the danger her alleged actions posed, it is possible that she was sent to the Eastern North Carolina Insane Asylum in Goldsboro (later known as Cherry Hospital), the state’s only psychiatric facility for African-Americans. 

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.