The one hundred-seventy-sixth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1913; 1 story; L-plan cottage with hip-roofed porch.”
In 1922, William Pritchitt of 812 East Vance Street advertised finding a set of keys.
Wilson Daily Times, 22 February 1922.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jenkins Jesse (c; Hattie B) car washer h 812 E Vance
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 812 East Vance, minister Roosevelt Wheeler, 26; wife Minnie, 24; and lodger Jessie Edwards, 17.
In 1940, Roosevelt Wheeler registered for the World War II in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 4 March 1910 in Darlington, South Carolina; lived at 812 East Vance Street, Wilson; his contact was wife Minnie Beatrice Wheeler; and worked for Armour & Co., Railroad Street, Wilson.
According to this news account, Minerva Barnes slashed her brother-in-law John Jenkins across the forearm because he had slapped her sister. However, the dead man’s death certificate reports his name as Thomas Washington.
Minerva Barnes’ charges were eventually upgraded to manslaughter, but she was acquitted in February 1932.
Castonoble Hooks shared this memory of winters in Wilson. Though he was born just after the close of the period covered in Black Wide-Awake, his recollection would have rung true for generations before him.
“I remember the wood stove this time of year. Wilson streets were covered with clouds of smoke — each house contributed its own stream of exhaust! Growing up in the 50’s and 60’s Wilson, you “learned” the wood stove. The first chore I remember as a child was to carry out cold ashes, the residue of burned wood. I was maybe five years old. Later that year, I could clean the stove of hot or cold ashes. The next year I was cutting wood, stacking wood, starting a fire in morning and banking the stove at night! At the age of ten, I was working for woodmen, Mr. Turner Jenkins and Mr. Columbus Ham, who rode around our hood delivering wood and coal. Almost every house had at least one stove! Wood heat is so warming and completely satisfying. Many a cold day was, the wood stove stood tall!”
Turner Jenkins —
In the 1920 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Gray Jenkins, 46; wife Mary Jane, 35; children Joseph, 17, William, 15, Lucinda, 12, Mada, 11, Mark, 9, Turner, 7, Rosa, 5, Rachel, 4, and (adopted) Lester, 7; servant Frank Braswell, 18.
In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Turner Williamson, 30; wife Mary, 21; children Mary B., 5, Sarah P., 4, and Paul, 2; sister-in-law Lucinda Jenkins, 23, and brother-in-law Turner Jenkins, 17, farm laborer.
Turner Jenkins, 21, of Gardners township, son of Gray and Mary Jane Jenkins, married Lossie Applewhite, 21, of Gardners township, daughter of Tom and Diana Applewhite, on 15 November 1933 in Wilson. Gray Jenkins, Stantonsburg; Lonnie Applewhite, Wilson, and B.E. Howard, Wilson, were witnesses.
Turner Jenkins registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 17 April 1912 in Edgecombe County; lived at 911 Carolina Street, Wilson; his contact was wife Lossie Applewhite Jenkins; and he worked for Independent Ice Company.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Turner Jenkins, 29; wife Lossie, 29; daughter Annie M., 12; sister [in-law] Minnie Applewhite, 19; and [her?] son Roy William Applewhite, 11 months.
Turner Jenkins died 11 January 1967 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 April 1912 in Edgecombe County to Gray Jenkins and Mary Jane Bridgers; was married to Lossie Jenkins; lived at 128 Narroway Street; and worked as a laborer.
Caleb Columbus Hamm Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 16 August 1920 in Greene County; lived at 913 East Nash Street, Wilson; his contact was Annie Hodges, 110 Ashe Street, Wilson; and he worked for Stephenson Lumber Company.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 502 Grace, James Austin, 34, tobacco company laborer; wife , 28, tobacco factory worker; son James Jr., 3; and roomer George Jenkins, 24, tobacco factory worker.
Feelings ran high in the days after school superintendent Charles L. Coon slapped Mary Euell, an African-American teacher who had been hauled to his office by principal J.D. Reid. So high that three men jumped Reid as he left church the following Sunday.
Per the Wilson Daily Times, 16 April 1918:
As a result of the attack on Prof. J.D. Reid, principal of the colored graded school yesterday while he was coming out of the First Baptist church, colored after the morning services three negroes named Frank Hooker, Henry Lucas and Will Jenkins, the first two were arrested yesterday and placed under bonds of $300 each for their appearance Friday morning before his honor and Will Jenkins he ran away yesterday and was not captured until this morning is now in jail. It is alleged that Will Jenkins had a gun and that it was taken away from him by a colored man by the name of John Spell and thus prevented him from using it. Will denies that he had a pistol of his own. He says that one dropped the pistol and that he picked it up, and that he had no intention of using it on Reid. Reid was not hurt in the assault. It seems that some two blows were struck him before the parties were separated.
This is an aftermath of the trouble referred to last week in this paper growing put of the reproof of the teacher by Mr. Coon, who was called into his office in the Fidelity building at the instance of Reid for alleged failure to obey a ruling regarding the opening of school on the day the new daylight law went into effect. The woman teacher says that Mr. Coon slapped her and that when she called on Reid to protect her that Reid told her to behave herself and held the door to keep her from going out.
Following this assault on the woman leading colored men of the Ministerial Union and Business League made representations to the Board of Trustees of the school preferring charges against Reid and asked them to dismiss him from the position at the head stating that he was entirely persona non grata to their people and that he had lost his usefulness among them as an educator.
The school board had before them here Saturday afternoon Prof. Sam Vick, Rev. Weeks, pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist church and Rev. Taylor, pastor of the Presbyterian church, colored of this city, and Dr. Hargrave, a leading colored physician of Wilson. The board heard the matter and agreed to take the charges under advisement.
In the meantime Prof. Reid informed Mayor Killette that he felt on account of threats that he was in danger of his life and asked for protection. This was promptly given, officers having been stationed at the residence of Prof. Reid for the past two or three nights. The prompt action of the mayor yesterday will probably stop the assaults on Reid, for he is determined to stop this effort to take the law into their own hands.
In the meantime the colored graded schools in this city are not running. Eleven of the fourteen teachers resigned at the beginning of the trouble and two of the others since. The question was asked by members of the board Saturday if it would pay to reorganize the school for the short space of time the remainder of the session and the answer was returned by the colored men present that they did not think it would.
However as to what action the board of trustees will take towards continuing the school the remainder of the session we are not prepared to say.
J.D. Reid — Reid was forced out of his position as principal, but regained the trust of the community. For a while, anyway. Two years later, Reid was appointed vice-president of the brand-new Commercial Bank, a position he held until the bank failed amid charges of forgery and embezzlement.
Frank Hooker — Hooker, a sawyer, was about 46 years old when he clouted Reid.
Don’t let anyone tell you that slavery destroyed the black family. African-Americans struggled against terrible odds to unite sundered families, often standing up to authority in the process.
In June 1866, George W. Blount wrote a letter to the Freedmen’s Bureau on behalf of Josiah D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County. Just months after being forced to free them, Jenkins had indentured eight siblings whose mother had died. Within six months, the children’s family had come for them, and the five oldest had left for more agreeable situations. Sallie, 14, Sookie, 12, and Isabella, 10, were in Wilson County with their elder sister and her husband Willie Bullock. Arden, 16, was working for what appears to be a commercial partnership in Tarboro, and Bethania, 14, was with her and Arden’s father Jonas Jenkins (paternity that Blount pooh-poohed.) Jonas Jenkins had sought custody of his children before their indenture, but his claims had been trumped by a “suitable” white man who “ought” to have them because he had “raised them from infancy” [i.e., held them in slavery since birth] and their mother “died in his own house.”
Wilson No.Ca. June 29 1866
Col. Brady Col.
Mr. Jo. D. Jenkins of Edgecombe County has been here expecting to see you; but as he did not find you here he requested me to write to you and state his case, asking you to furnish him the remedy if any he is entitled to, and such he believes he has. In Dec 1865, Capt Richards Asst Sup F.B. for the dist of Tarboro, Apprenticed to him Eight (8) Orphan Colored children. The indentures he has, five, and the only ones large enough to render any service have been enticed away from him, leaving him with three who are hardly able to care for the own wants every thing furnished. Three of them are in the custody of Willie Bullock F.M. [freedman] whose wife is the older sister of the three. The others – Arden is in the employment of Messrs. Haskell & Knap near Tarboro. Bethania is in the custody of Jonas Jenkins F.M., who claims to be the father of both of her & Arden. The three first mentioned are in Wilson County the others in Edgecombe.
Mr. Jenkins desires me to say to you that if he cannot be secured in the possession of them he desires the indentures cancelled; for according to law he would be liable for Doctors bills – and to take care of them in case of an accident rendering them unable to take care of themselves.
This man Jonas set up claim to Arden and Bethania before they were apprenticed. The matter was referred to Col Whittlesey who decided that as they were bastard children he Jonas could not intervene preventing apprenticeship to a suitable person.
Mr. J is a suitable man to have charge of them and ought to have their services now. He raised them from infancy, and after the mother died in his own house
I am Col, Very Respectfully &c, G.W. Blount
An early reply desired.
A note from the file listing the Jenkins children to which Josiah D. Jenkins laid claim.
Entry for Josiah D. Jenkins in the 1850 slave schedule of Edgecombe County. By 1860, Jenkins claimed ownership of 36 people, evenly divided between men and women.
G.W. Blount — A year later, George W. Blount was embroiled in his own battle for control over formerly enslaved children. He lost.
Jo. D. Jenkins — Joseph [Josiah] D. Jenkins appears in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, as a 59 year-old farmer who reported $25,000 in real property and $15,000 in personal property — remarkable wealth so soon after the Civil War. John Jenkins, 10, domestic servant, is the only black child living in his household and presumably of the one of the children at issue here.
Bethania Jenkins — on 7 April 1874, Turner Bullock, 23, married Bethany Jenkins, 21, in Edgecombe County.
Isabella Jenkins — Isabella Jenkins, 22, married Franklin Stancil, 30, on 16 April 1878 at Jackson Jenkins’ in Edgecombe County. Isabelle Stancill died 19 November 1927 in Township No. 2, Edgecombe County,. Per her death certificate, she was about 80 years old; was born in Edgecombe County; was the widow of Frank Stancill; and was buried in Jenkins cemetery. Elliott Stancill was informant,
Jonas Jenkins — in the 1870 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County, Jonas Jenkins, 45, farm laborer. No children are listed in the household he shared with white farmer John E. Baker.
North Carolina Freedmen’s Bureau Field Office Records, 1863-1872, Rocky Mount(assistant superintendent), Roll 55, Letters Received Dec 1865-Aug 1868, http://www.familysearch.org
On August 10, 1928, Dockery Royall, 28, of Wilson, married Ossie Mae Jenkins, 25, of Wilson in Wilson. Baptist minister B.F. Jordan performed the ceremony in the presence of Lossie Jenkins, Flonnie Farmer, and Maggie Jordan. Walter M. Foster applied for the license.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 321 Hackney Street, rented at $12/month, Doc Royall, 34, body plant laborer, and wife Ossie May, 26, cook.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 203 Pender Street, widow Ossie M. Royall, 33, an elevator girl at the courthouse; her mother Tossie Jenkins, 53, stemmer at a tobacco factory; daughters LaForest, 16, and Evauline Royall, 14; and a roomer named Ed Hart, 45, a laborer employed by the town of Wilson. Ossie and LaForest were born in Wilson; Evaline in Battleboro [Nash County]; and Tossie and Ed in Nash County.
By the late 1950s, Ossie Royall had moved to Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and was working as the dining hall supervisor at Elizabeth City State Teachers College. She died in Amherst, Massachusetts, on 16 March 2000.
Gray Jenkins, 21, son of Gray and Lucinda Jenkins, married Mary Jane Bridgers, 17, daughter of Si and Penny Bridgers, on 17 September 1898 in Township #11, Edgecombe County.
In the 1900 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Gray Jenkins, 20, wife Mary J., 18, and son Isaac, 1.
In the 1910 census of Township #10, Edgecombe County: on the Tarboro & Wilson Road, farmer Gray Jenkins, 30; wife Mary Jane, 29; and children Charity, 9, Joseph, 7, William G., 5, Lucinda, 4, and Mada, 2.
In the 1920 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Mark Jenkins, 46; wife Mary Jane, 35; children Joseph, 17, William, 15, Lucinda, 12, Mada, 11, Mark, 9, Turner, 7, Rosa, 5, and Rachel, 4; adopted son Lester, 7; and servant Frank Braswell, 18.
Joe Jenkins died 5 April 1924 “on W.W. Cobbs farm” in Township #10, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was 22 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Gray Jenkins of Edgecombe and Jane Bridgers of Wilson County; farmed for Walter Brown; was single; and was buried “in Wilson County Mr. Hyram Webb.”
In the 1930 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farmer Gray Jenkins, 54; wife Mary J., 40; and children Mark, 19, Rachel, 15, and Lucy, 9.
Billie Gray Jenkins died 3 February 1931 in Pinetops, Edgecombe County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1905 in Edgecombe County to Gray Jenkins and Mary J. Bridgers; was a laborer; resided at 310 Gold Leaf, Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County; and was buried in Wilson County.
Gray Jenkins Jr. died 8 December 1937 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1879 in Edgecombe County to Gray Jenkins and Sinda Bynum; was married to Mary Jane Jenkins; and was a farmer. Informant was Bess Jenkins, Pinetops, North Carolina.
Mary Jenkins died 19 May 1952 at Mercy Hospital. Per her death certificate, she was born 2 June 1893 to Sie Bridgers and an unknown mother; was a widow; had worked in farming; and resided at 124 Narroway Street, Wilson. Turner Jenkins was informant.
Lucinda Dixon died 27 February 1956 at her home at 604 East Vance Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 8 March 1910 in Edgecombe County to Gray Jenkins and Mary J. Bridgers; was a widow; and was buried in Rest Haven cemetery. Mark Jenkins was informant.
Rachel J. Wooten died 23 November 1960 in Pinetops, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 December 1916 to Gray Jenkins and Mary Bridgers; resided on East Cobb Street, Pinetops; was married to Charles W. “Sam” Wooten; and was buried in Pinetops cemetery.
Turner Jenkins died 11 January 1967 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 April 1912 in Edgecombe County to Gray Jenkins and Mary Jane Bridgers; worked as a laborer; was married to Lossie Jenkins; and resided at 128 Narroway Street.
Mark Jenkins died 11 June 1969 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 25 August 1910 to Gray Jenkins and Mary Bridgers; resided near Elm City; was married to Leatha Hill; was a farmer; and was buried in Sharpe Cemetery.
Charity Williams died 6 March 1970 in Tarboro, Edgecombe County. Per her death certificate, she was born 8 March 1910 in Edgecombe County to Gray Jenkins and Mary Jane Bridgers; was a widow; resided in Pinetops; and was buried in Pinetops cemetery.
Rosa Mae Bynum died 24 August 1972 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 11 March in about 1915 to Gray Jenkins and Mary Jane Bridgers; lived at 701 Manchester Street; and was married to Fred Bynum.
L.A. Moore duly sworn says: He is a resident of Wilson and Wilson County. Della Greene lived in same house that he lived in. She had room there about two months. Judged from Della’s personal appearance that she was pregnant. Did not know stage as she was a fleshy woman. Noticed that she seemed to have shrunk about abdomen after coming from Mr. Ed Rawlings, where she had worked as cook. Della got sick there and was sent to my house to her room.
The body of the infant was found yesterday in corner of garden.
The body seemed to have been burnt, as it was scorched and fingers crumped up. She had fireplace in her room. Had staid at Mr. Ed Rawlings at night. Sent to me for help to get away from Wilson. Has been sick and unable to work since snow. Knows of no doctor attending her. Della was 33 or 34 years old. She left Wilson last Wednesday. /s/ L.A. Moore
Dr. C.E. Moore, duly sworn says:
Have seen the body. It is the remains of a well matured, full term colored child. Found it in complete stage of decomposition . Evidently been dead for four or six weeks. Extremities were charred, crust on hands could be broken through. Cant say that child was born alive. /s/ C.E. Moore
Mr. E.G. Rawlings, being duly sworn says:
I employed a woman by name Della, as a cook. Who lived part of the time she slept at my house. Was taken sick while there, was confined to her room one night and day about six weeks ago. About time of first snow. My wife went to room, found it disordered, blood on bed clothing. Della gave as excuse that it was her menstrual period. We sent her home. She asked permission to take soiled bed clothes, wash and return, but failed to return them. Neither saw nor heard at any time a disturbance as of a woman in labor. Owing to situation of room the cry of an infant could have been unheard. This woman Della lived at the house of L.A. Moore. /s/ E.G. Rawlings
Louisa Moore, duly sworn says:
Della Greene lived at my house. Same woman employed at Mr. Ed Rawlings. She had prominent abdomen. When Della came in surrey from Mr. Rawling’s colored boy came with her. He or she took a sack to her room, looked like bundle. Afterwards saw bedclothes, washed, hanging in fence. She carried bedclothes away. Smelt something, smelt like broiled meat, same week. Went to her room. She was scraping with a stick in fire place. Saw nothing except chicken bone. She said it was some turkey that Mrs. Rawlings had given her. When she came down after sickness she was much smaller. Told her that she was reported to have had a baby and to have destroyed it. She denied this. When she left said she was going to Enfield. I and others helped her with money. She asked for help. Her home is in Warrenton, but would stop at Enfield to get money to get home. Child when found looked like it had been burnt. /s/ Louisa Moore
Emma Jenkins, duly sworn says:
Lived in same house with Della, who cooked for Mr. Ed Rawlings. She had a large abdomen. I had no suspicion of pregnancy. When she returned from Mr. Rawlings she had lessened in size. I saw the child. It looked like it had been burnt. Emma (X) Jenkins
Lucinda Miller duly sworn says:
I think there was as much change in [illegible] would be from anyone who had been confined. I have not seen the child. Did not smell any thing that had been burning. The child was not borned in my house. I gave her 25 cents to leave Wilson with. She had gotten behind in her dues. I told her last Monday to leave but not on account of back rent. The Dr. was sent for last Sunday morning but I did know anything about it until Sunday aft. Lucinda (X) Miller
Wilson Times, 24 March 1899.
Answers at The Bar of God.
The case of Della Greene, the negro woman charged with infanticide, was ended last night, It will be remembered that she was in jail awaiting the next term of court in Wilson, and that the evidence was heavy against her for the destruction of her infant.
But the case will not called at any earthly [illegible]. Tuesday night the Messenger of Death came to the lonely prisoner in Wilson jail, and while the storm raged without and the lightning flashed, and the thunder pealed, her soul was required of her, and at the bar of God she will answer for the crime for which she was accused.
She was sick when arrested, broken in body and mind when she held to court to answer for the awful crime of her destroying her offspring by fire, and though the physicians did all in their power to preserve her life, last night it flickered out, and she passed into the vast beyond.