Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church

The mission circles give thanks.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 August 1943.

In 1943, First Baptist Church hosted hundreds of delegates to the Baptist Women’s Home and Foreign Missionary convention. On behalf of the church, Nannie Barber, Nancy Wilkins, and Rev. Fred M. Davis thanked their many supporters.

Jackson Chapel First Missionary Church celebrated its 150th anniversary last month with a banquet and anniversary worship service.

As the Wilson Times noted in an August 18 article:

“U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, whose grandfather, the Rev. Fred Davis, served as Jackson Chapel’s third pastor, has been a member since May 1955 and knows the church’s history by heart.

“‘I’m the oldest member in Jackson Chapel, not by age but in terms of membership. … There’s no member at Jackson Chapel who can say they’ve belonged longer than I have,’ Butterfield said. 

“The church was founded in 1872 by Andrew Joshua Jackson, who was born into slavery in Virginia and became a minister after he was freed. 

“Jackson Chapel’s congregation first met on Barnes Street, where Wilson Chapel is now, and its current location at the corner of Nash and Pender streets was built in the 1910s. While in Wilson, Booker T. Washington laid the building’s cornerstone.

“Throughout its history, the church has been a voice for East Wilson.

“‘Through the years, Jackson Chapel has been the epicenter of civic activity and spiritual activity in East Wilson,’ Butterfield said. ‘During the Depression, during the war, during the civil rights era, it was Jackson Chapel that stood tall and strong and helped lead the civil rights movement. It has been a spiritual force and a political force in Wilson County.'”

Fiftieth anniversary of First Baptist Church.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 September 1922. 

Was a memorial drinking fountain ever installed in front of the church? I do not recall ever seeing one. 

——

  • “the late Rev. Jackson” — Rev. Andrew J. Jackson was founder of First Baptist Church, now known as Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church. 
  • Rev. J.A. Mebane — John Alexander Mebane, a native of Bertie County, lived in Wilson only briefly. In the 1922 Hill’s directory of the city: Mebane John A Rev (c) 308 Hackney

Rev. J.A. Mebane (1885-1974).

  • M.E. Rogers — Mary Elizabeth Rogers
  • John Battle — probably, John Parker Battle.
  • Henrietta Foster — Foster, who was listed as living at the rear of 308 Hackney Street in 1922, later married Rev. Mebane. Henrietta Foster Mebane died in 1950 and, though the Mebanes spent most of their married life in Tarboro, N.C., both are buried in Wilson’s Rest Haven Cemetery. Their daughter Grace Mebane, who died in Tarboro in 1940 at age 14, is also buried in Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user Satwun.

108 years ago this month …

Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church opened its iconic brick edifice at the corner of East Nash and Pender Streets. First Missionary Baptist’s pastor Rev. Marshall A. Talley welcomed a line-up of mostly local prominent guest speakers.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 August 1913.

John F. Bruton was the keynote speaker on opening day and delivered this strange and eye-poppingly (by today’s standards) offensive homily: “One thing you people cannot afford to stop, it is your native song. When you cut that off, you cut off your right hand. I remember my old mammy as she clasped me to her withered bosom singing ‘These bones shall rise again.’ Then I was taught the meaning of immortality, ‘when I can read my title clear,’ she sang. I knew that she was going to read her title in the skies. I do not know what heaven is, but I know she is there. As for me I’ll be content to spend the first thousand years there, listening to the angels singing, with that old mammy joining in the chorus, with her hand in mine leading me to my mother. That will be heaven for me. You can’t abandon those songs! When you do, you’d just as well turn this church into a moving picture show.”

——

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Anatomy of a photograph: First Baptist Church.

This image of First Missionary Baptist Church (later Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church) was taken by an unknown photographer circa 1920.

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Below, detail of the original entry facing Pender Street. A girl in a hat stands near the cornerstone and what appears to be a street sign at the corner of Nash and Pender Streets. Today, this entrance is seldom if ever used and features a solid set of steps lined with wrought-iron railings leading down to a landing, then turning left toward Church Street.

The close-up below reveals that the boy and man (or perhaps man and taller man) at far right of the image are standing next to their bicycles, which may have purchased cattycorner across the street at C.L. Darden‘s bicycle shop.)

Photograph courtesy of the Monk Moore Collection, digitized at digitalnc.org.

The Junior Mission Circle goes on a tour.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 1941.

  • First Baptist Church
  • Lealia Hilliard — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Lelia Hillard, 36, born in South Carolina, lived in Florence, S.C., in 1935, teacher at Lucama Grade School, and husband Rufus Hillard, 43, fireman at City of Wilson power plant.
  • Margaret Bridgers — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: furniture company truck driver Jessie Bridgers, 32; wife Margret, 27; and children Elizabeth, 6, Jessie Jr., 5, and twins Saul and Carl, 2.
  • Elsie Hobbs — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1205 Atlantic Ave., rented for $12/month, Hadie, 39, and wife Elsie Hobb, 32, both of Wayne County. Hadie’s occupation was “sick”; Elsie was a cook at Coon High School.
  • Mary Mitchell
  • Rosa Sutton — in the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Arthur Sutton, 29; wife Rosa, 26; and children James J., 7, Rosa Lee, 3, Sarah Jane, 1, and Ellen Gray, 3 months.
  • Cora Parker — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Parker, 25, Carolina Laundry employee; wife Lois, 19; mother Cora, 47, cook; and son William, 18 months.
  • Nannie Barbour
  • O.M. Royall — Ossie M. Royall.

Rev. Taylor sells his house to First Baptist Church.

In January 1923, Halley B. and Marie Taylor of Paterson, New Jersey, sold the trustees of First Baptist Church a large lot “in the southeast corner of Chas. Thomas‘ lot on Green Street and runs with Green Street, Southeasterly 60 feet to the corner of Green and Vick Streets, thence with Vick Street, Northeasterly 60 feet, cornering thence at right angles to Viola Street, Southwesterly 210 feet to Green Street.” Trustees Noah J. Tate, Austin N. Neal, George Roberson, Ed Holden, Harry Brown and Glenn S. McBrayer paid the Taylors $6500 for the property. H.B. Taylor was pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church from 1908 to 1920.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows a large one-story house with wrap-around front porch at 721 East Green Street. In the 1988 nomination form for historic register designation for East Wilson, the house is described as “ca. 1913; 1 1/2 stories; H.B. Taylor House; intact Queen Anne cottage with double-pile, hip-roofed form and front-facing wing….” The house has since been demolished.

Deed book, page, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Studio shots, no. 103: Victoria Ennis Whitehead.

Generations of the Whitehead family have been members of Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church for well over one hundred years. Portraits of their matriarch, Victoria Ennis Whitehead, and her children hang prominently in a church hallway.

Victoria Ennis Whitehead (1891-1974).

On 8 December 1908, Henry Whitehead, 34, of Wilson, son of Ben and Frances Whitehead, married Victoria Innis, 22, of Wilson, daughter of Freeman Innis of Smithfield, at the residence of James Hardy in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of James Hardy, George Brodie, and Lizzie Wayfield.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Smith Street, brickyard laborer Henry Whitehead, 34; wife Victory, 23; daughters Della M., 3, and Lucille, 1; and son Willie, 18.

Lucial Whitehead died 23 December 1910 at home at 120 Smith Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 March 1908 to Henry Whitehead and Victoria Ennis. Informant was Henry Whitehead.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, Henry Whitehead, 48; wife Victoria, 32; and children Willie, 27, Della Mae, 13, Catherine, 9, Odell, 7, James, 5, Grace, 2, and Rosalie, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, owned and valued at $2500, oil mill contractor Henry Whitehead, 53; wife Victoria, 43, seamstress; and children Katherine, 19, Odell, 17, James, 15, Grace, 13, Rosalyn, 11, Herbert, 9, Gertrude, 6, Mable, 4, and Victoria, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Victoria Whitehead, 52, sewing; children James, 25, apprentice carpenter; Rosaline, 21; Herbert, 20, tobacco company floor hand; Gertrude, 16, Mabel, 14, and Victoria E., 12; and nieces Elizabeth Brodie, 32, public school teacher, and [actually, granddaughter] Joan Bynum, 6.

Victoria Ennis Whitehead died 2 March 1974 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 December 1891 to Freeman Ennis and Della McCullers; was a widow; resided at 108 Tacoma Street; was a retired seamstress. Informant was Catherine Bynum, 1008 Carolina Street.

The children of J. Henry and Victoria Ennis Whitehead. Top: Victoria W. McCray, James Whitehead, Gertrude E. Whitehead, Herbert V. Whitehead, Rosalyn Whitehead. Bottom: Grace W. Artis (who recently turned 102), Della W. Murrain, Catherine W. Bynum, Odelle W. Barnes, Mable W. Parks.

The Jackson Chapel choir.

In about August 1946, Charles Raines and/or Guy Cox visited Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist to photograph its choir. Recognize anyone?

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Many thanks to John Teel for sharing this image from the Raines & Cox collection of photographs at the North Carolina State Archives. It is catalogued as PhC_196_CW_177H_BaptistChurch.