My chosen family lost yet another patriarch in the closing days of 2022. Fred L. Valentine Sr. passed away in Washington, D.C., on December 26, surrounded by family. An outfielder for the Washington Senators and Baltimore Orioles, “Uncle Fred” spent a stand-out summer with the Wilson Tobs in 1958, where he met his future wife, Helena Smith, and demanded desegregation of the whites-only section of Fleming Stadium after the “colored section” collapsed under an overflow crowd of African-American fans.
The Valentines became close friends of my parents and, as I wrote here, their children were “play cousins” of my sister and me. I honor Fred Valentine’s memory, and send love to his beloved wife, daughters, son, and grandson.
Fred Valentine as a Tob. Photo detail courtesy of North Carolina Baseball Museum, Wilson.
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Geo. Braswell, 25; wife Lizzie, 21; and children Cornelia, 5 [Cornelius, erroneously listed as a daughter], James, 4, and Elouise, 4 months.
In the 1930 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer George Braswell, 41; wife Lizzie, 35; and children Cornelius, 15, James, 13, Eloise, 10, Arthur, 8, Rena, 5, Ollin, 3, and Walter, 23 months.
In 1941, Cornelius Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 26 May 1914 in Wayne County, N.C.; his contact was mother Lizzie Braswell; he lived on Route 3, Wilson; was employed by “(SH & P.W.C.) Prisoner until Feb. 20 1941,” Prison Camp 406, Wilson.
In the 1880 census of Buckhorn township, Wake County, N.C.: Nash Horton, 46, minister; wife Hannah, 27; son Gray Horton, 27; stepchildren Martha, 13, Alvis, 8, and William Walker, 5; boarders [who were his children] Jane, 17, and Susan Horton, 15; children Bartley and Matthew, 10, and Leonidas Horton, 8; and nephew Rufus Horton, 6.
On 5 July 1896, Rufus Horton, 23, of Johnston County, N.C., son of Nash and Elizabeth Horton, married Mary J. Davis, 19, of Johnston, daughter of Ollin and Mary F. Davis, in Pine Level, Johnston County. [Rufus, in fact, was a grandson of Nash Horton and was reared by Horton and his wife.]
In the 1910 census of Pine Level township, Johnston County: farmer Rufus A. Horton, 37; wife Mary J., 33; and children William O., 12, Fredie, 10, Alonzo V., 9, Callie M., 7, Flossie V., 5, Romie, 3, and Rufus Jr., 2 months.
In the 1920 census of Smithfield, Johnson County: farmer Ruffes Horton, 47; wife Mary J., 44; and children Van Dan, 19, Calla M., 18, Flosie, 16, Ramon, 13, Ruffes, 9, and Etheal, 4.
In the 1930 census of Smithfield, Johnson County: Baptist minister Ruffus A. Horton, 55; wife Mary J., 51; and children Ruffus, 19, Elthel, 15, and Ulla M., 8.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 721 East Green Street, Floyd Johnson, 28, tobacco factory laborer; wife Flossie, 32, tobacco factory hanger; daughters Ella M., 11, Ernestine, 5, and Bobbie J., 2; and mother-in-law Mary Horton, 59.
Near the end of the Great Depression, Libby McPhatter opened a cafe in the 500 block of East Nash Street that served barbecue dinners for three decades.
In the 1910 census of Lumber Bridge township, Robeson County, North Carolina: farm laborer Archie G. McDonald, 28; wife Lucy J., 35; and children Suda, 14, Augusta, 8, Hetta, 6, Sandy, 5, Libby, 4, and Pibel, 1.
In the 1920 census of Lumber Bridge township, Robeson County: farmer A.G. McDonald, 42; wife Elam, 42; and children Samuel, 15, Libie, 14, Manilie, 8, William, 7, and Susie R., 3.
On 11 April 1926, Nathaniel McPhatter of Robeson County, son of Fred and Maggie McPhatter, married Libby S. McDonald, 20, of Robeson County, daughter of A.G. and Ella McDonald, in Lumber Bridge township, Robeson County.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McPhatter Nathan (c; Libbie) truck driver h 113 Pender
James Arthur McPhatter died 23 March 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 4 September 1931 in Wilson to Nathaniel McPhatter and Libbie McDonald, both of Robeson County, and he lived at 113 Pender Street.
In 1940, Elmond Henry McKeithan registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 5 July 1914 in Cumberland County, North Carolina; resided at 539 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was cousin Libby McPhatter, 539 East Nash; and he worked for Woodard-Herring Hospital, Green and Douglas Streets, Wilson.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McPhatter Libby (c; Libby’s Cafe) h 539 E Nash. Also: McPhatter Nathaniel (c; Libby) driver h 539 E Nash.
In 1942, Nathaniel Green McPhatter registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 7 November 1902 in Robeson County, North Carolina; resided at 539 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was Pinkey Townsed, Red Springs, N.C.; and he was unemployed.
In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 539 East Nash (“over Libby’s Cafe”), restaurant proprietor Lillie McPhatter, 44, widow; Louise C. McPhatter, 8; and roomers Doll Brown Jr., 30; Mabel Brown, 45; J.C. White, 38, tobacco factory laborer; Wilbert Signal, 35, construction company building helper; Alfonso Hodge, 40, restaurant cook; and Ozy Allen, 50, restaurant cook. [In fact, McPhatter was separated. She and Nathaniel McPhatter did not divorce until 1953.]
In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Finch Mill Road, farmer Julius Hagans, 45; wife Matha, 32; daughters Frances, 10, and Margaret, 8; and hired man Andrew Sanders, 21.
In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on Boswell Road, widower Julus Haggens, 55, and children Margrett, 18, Henry, 13, and Cecil, 4.
On 9 February 1924, William Powell, 33, of Nash County, son of Ichabod and Mary Ann Powell, married Margarette Hagans, 22, of Wilson County, daughter of Julius Hagans, in Wilson County. James Powell applied for the license.
In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer William Powell, 30, and Margaret, 28.
Willie B. Powell died 2 March 1938 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 September 1937 in Wilson to William Powell and Margret Hagans and lived at 701 West Hines Street, Wilson.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 609 Hines Street, W.P.A. laborer William Powell, 48; wife Margaret, 38; and children Odell, 8, Willie Mae, 6, Joe Louis, 3, and William T., 8 months.
In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: body factory janitor William Powell, 61; wife Margaret H., 45; and children Willie M., 16, babysitting, Joe L., 14, William T., 10, Betty J., 9, Jesse G., 7, James A., 5, Margaret A., 4, and Maud R., 2.
William “Bill” Pharaoh Powell died 23 July 1963 at his home at 404 North Reid Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 February 1891 in Wilson County to Echabud Powell and Mary Ann Lassiter; was married to Margaret H[agans] Powell; and worked as a laborer.
On 22 February 1905, Judge Mitchell, 21, of Wilson, married Jane Simms, 22, of Wilson, daughter of Zanie Jordan, at B.S. Jordan‘s residence in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister William Baker performed the ceremony.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Judge Mitchell, 25; wife Jane, 24; and children Lillian, 8, and Raymond, 1.
In 1918, Judge Mitchell registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 12 November 1881; lived on 115 Manchester Street, Wilson; worked packing tobacco for Selby Anderson and H.G. Whitehead; and his nearest relative was Jane Mitchell.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Judge Mitchell, 39, tobacco factory worker; wife Jane, 46; and son Wylie, 1.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mitchell Judge (c; Jane) porter h 116 Manchester
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 116 Manchester, janitor Jerry [sic] Mitchell, 55; wife Jane, 40; and son Wiley, 12.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: public service laborer Judge Mitchell, 59; wife Jane, 50; and son Wiley, 22, tobacco factory laborer.
In 1940, Wiley Thomas Mitchell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 28 March 1919 in Wilson; lived at 301 South Vick Street; his contact was his father Judge Mitchell, same address; and he worked for C.H. Darden Funeral Home, Wilson.
Judge Mitchell died 3 May 1944 at his home at 312 South Vick Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 59 years old; was born in Nash County, N.C., to Wiley Mitchell and Bessie Taylor; was married to Jane Mitchell; and worked as a laborer. He was buried in Rountree cemetery.
Jane Mitchell died 24 January 1948 at the Wilson County Home. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 May 1881 in Wilson County to Jack Simms and Fannie Simms; was the widow of Judge Mitchell; and was buried in Rountree Cemetery.
My father loved some Darden High School and Darden High School Alumni Association and kept a stack of these in his trunk for whomever he encountered that might have wanted one. It’s a list of every known graduate of Darden from 1924 until it closed its doors as a high school in 1970.
I didn’t attend Darden, but I grew up in the glow of its glory. Memorial Day weekend is synonymous with Darden Alumni Reunion. My father was a founder and an early president of the Association, and his class celebrates its 70th anniversary this year. Jean Wynn Jones lovingly spoke on their behalf at his funeral, and several of his classmates helped carry flowers from the church.
As I continue to celebrate and honor my father’s legacy, I raise a toast to the Class of 1952!
I know East Wilson because my father knew East Wilson. He was born in a house on Elba Street, was raised on Queen and Reid Streets, and was educated at Samuel H. Vick Elementary and Charles H. Darden High School. He played basketball at the Community Center, spent whole Saturdays watching movies at the Ritz Theatre, and knocked on the back door of Hines Barbershop to get spending money from his father. Long before Black Wide-Awake, my father introduced me to so many of the people and places that have made their way into this blog’s 4000 posts. Even as his final illness progressed, he loved to ride through the streets of East Wilson, pointing and narrating, peeling back layers of time to expose the pentimenti of our shared birthplace.
My father transitioned Friday night, surrounded by the four women who loved him most — his wife of 61 years, his two daughters, and his granddaughter. We are heartbroken, but blessed that we could comfort and care for him as he has done for us always. I honor his life and legacy here. Rest in power, Daddy.