Jim Crow

Appeal for bus for Daniel Hill.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 October 1948.

Daniel Hill parents formed Daniel Hill Educational Club in September 1948 and by December 1949 were able to buy a school bus for the community’s children.

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  • Moses Haskins — in the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 West Spruce Street, Moses Haskins, 42, “works on the machines” at tobacco redrying plant; wife Minnie W., 41, babysitting; daughter Gloria, 16; daughter Doris H. Jones, 24.
  • Mattie Randolph — in the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 West Spruce Street, Paul Randolph, 51, automobile dealer mechanic; wife Mattie B., 50, practical nurse in private home; and daughter Betty L., 9.
  • Best Stewart — in the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 407 West Spruce Street, retail grocery store proprietor Best Stewart, 39; wife Marjorie F., 32, sales lady in retail grocery; children Best Jr., 12, James A., 10, Elemia, 7, Shirley A., 4, Jimmy L., 3, and Constance B., 1; and mother Ellen McCoy Best, 85, widow.
  • William Powell — in the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 405 Warren Street, William Powell, 61, janitor in body factory; wife Margaret, 45; and children Willie M., 16, babysitting, Joe L., 14, William T., 10, Betty J., 9, Jessie G., 7, James A., 5, Margaret A., 4, and Maud R., 2.
  • Jesse Stewart — in the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 701 Walnut Street, Edna Stewart, 52, domestic worker; nephew Jessie, 37, retail grocery store proprietor; and niece Annie, 35, grocery store saleswoman.
  • Rev. J.L. Murphy
  • L.H. Lewis

Parker refuses to give up his seat on the bus.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 April 1943.

Meet James Parker, American hero.

In April 1943, Parker boarded a Wilson city bus on Saturday evening. He sat down in the white section and remained firmly ensconced when the driver asked him to move. The driver, James Batchelor, abandoned his route to drive the bus to the police station, where Parker was arrested and charged with violating North Carolina’s “passenger law,” which allowed for the designation of colored and white sections in commercial transport vehicles. Parker was adjudged guilty and given a thirty-day suspended sentence provided he remain “in good behavior.” Per the Daily Times, Parker was the first person to challenge Jim Crow laws in Wilson County in 25 years.  

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

White personnel make way for Dr. Ward and staff.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 March 1924.

In early 1924, Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward, a major in the Army Medical Corps and a pioneering physician in Indianapolis, was appointed first African-American chief surgeon and medical director of a Veterans Administration hospital. The appointment was poorly received by many in Tuskegee, Alabama, and the displacement of former personnel by a nearly all-Black staff was initially stiffly resisted.

Hi-de-hi-de-hi-de-ho.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 1932.

This ad for musical comedy The Big Broadcast focused on Cab Calloway and his Orchestra (who performed the opening of their big new hit “Minnie the Moocher), rather than stars like Bing Crosby. Wilson’s African-American moviegoers would have had to enter through a side door and watch from Carolina Theatre’s balcony.

A theatre for the Negroes.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 August 1935.

This theatre for colored patrons presumably was the Ritz Theatre at 523 East Nash Street.

A few comments:

The waiting rooms.

As discussed here, the Atlantic Coast Line’s handsome passenger rail station was the point of departure for many African-Americans leaving Wilson during the Great Migration. Now an Amtrak stop, the station was restored and renovated in the late 1990s.

Here’s the station’s main waiting room today. Through a doorway, a sign marks a second room for baggage.

Into the 1960s, though, the baggage area was the train station’s “colored” waiting room.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, June and September 2021.

Southern chivalry?

This short bit appears in a Cleveland Gazette column reporting Cincinnati, Ohio, happenings:

Cleveland Gazette, 4 August 1894.

What happened here?

Joe Ward of Indianapolis is Dr. Joseph H. Ward, though he was not yet a doctor in 1894. In fact, he was newly graduated from high school and just about to commence his medical studies. This passage from an 1899 Indianapolis Freeman feature mentions Ward’s return to North Carolina after graduation.

I am surprised that Mittie Ward Vaughn was in Wilson as late as 1894 — I’d assumed she was in Washington, D.C., with her daughter Sarah Ward Moody‘s family. I’m more intrigued, not to say perplexed, by the reference to an incident involving his wife.

First, Joseph Ward had a wife in 1894? His first marriage of which I am aware was to Mamie Brown in Indianapolis in 1897. It ended in divorce. Then, in 1904, he married Zella Locklear.

Let’s assume there was an earlier wife, though, and the incident happened to her. (In other words, the encounter was personal, not a third-party incident to which Ward was reacting.) Mrs. Ward sassed a white woman for whom she was working (in Wilson?), the white woman’s husband “smacked down” Mrs. Ward, and Mrs. Ward was arrested and fined $12.50 for her impertinence???

I have not found any references to Ward’s visit in Wilson newspapers, but will continue to search for further details.

The Moore family’s card of thanks.

Firm racial identification was paramount during Jim Crow, and Southern newspaper often carried notices clarifying that status or making it plain even in contexts in which it would not seem to be important. Did John L. Moore submit his acknowledgment to the Times with “(Colored)” already included? Or did staff insert it to make clear that this John Moore was not one of the white John Moores?

Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1927.

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On 30 May 1895, John Moore, 22, of Black Creek township, son of L. and Vinney Moore, married Mattie Simms, 18, of Black Creek township, daughter of Jno. Lassiter and Rachel Simms. L.A. Moore applied for the license, and a justice of the peace performed the ceremony at Larnce Moore’s residence in Black Creek in the presence of C.F. Darden, M. Roundtree, and David Moore.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer John Moore, 28; wife Mattie, 23; and sons Arthur, 4, and John H., 1.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Moore, 36; wife Mattie, 36, dressmaker; and sons Arthur, 14, William B., 7, Zack, 6, and James, 5.

Mattie Moore died 7 November 1927 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 24 December 1877 in Wilson County to John Lassiter and Rachel Sims; was married to Johnie Moore; and lived at 910 Washington Street. She was buried in Wilson [likely in Vick or Rountree cemeteries.]