Johnson

Johnson sues the police chief … and wins.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 July 1914.

What an odd case.

Tom Johnson was treating his ailing horse when Chief of Police J.A. Wiggs showed up and ordered Johnson to mayor’s court. Johnson instead went to get a veterinarian — perhaps Elijah L. Reid. When Johnson returned, he encountered Humane Society president Harry Wainwright, who told him, “We have killed your horse,” apparently with Chief Wiggs’ gun. Johnson sued both.

When the case hit the docket, Wainwright quickly secured a continuance and left the courtroom. Wiggs’ counsel was present, but the chief himself did not bother to show up. After he was adjudged liable and ordered to pay Johnson $30, the chief claimed that the charges against him were brought just “to stir up trouble” and the law was being against him unfairly. This strange assertion was borne out by the prosecutor’s announcement that he was not likely to prosecute Wainwright, though he was the actual shooter. 

——

In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: domestic servant Thos. Johnson, 30; wife Milley, 25, domestic servant; son Charles, 1; Louisa Ruffin, 20, domestic servant; and Phillis Perry, 19, domestic servant.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, Thomas Johnson, 31, teamster; wife Milly, 28; and children Willie, 9, Ella, 8, and Daisey, 5.

On 6 November 1884, Thomas Johnson, 34, of Wilson County, married Alice Beaman, 24, of Wilson County, at Thomas Johnson’s. Missionary Baptist minister E.H. Ward performed the ceremony in the presence of Sam Hill, Henry Linsey, and Rose Allen.

On 2 May 1895, Joe Allen, son of Matilda Allen, and Ella Johnson, daughter of Thomas and Alice Johnson, both 22 and of Wilson County, were married at “the church” by A.M.E. Zion minister L.B. Williams in the presence of S.A. Smith, S.H. Vick, and C.A. Norwood. [Thomas Johnson was a close associate of Samuel H. Vick and family.]

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Thomas Johnson, 53, mail carrier; wife Alice, 40, laundry woman; sons Keefus, 18, Thomas, 1, and Willie, 30; daughter Daisey, 22, cook; and lodger Katie Black, 19, cook.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, Thomas Johnson, 65, odd jobs laborer; wife Allice, 50, laundress; and daughter Ella, 37, cook for private family.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 320 Lodge Street, Ella Allen, 46, laundress, and her father and mother Thomas Johnson, 76, drayman, and Alice Johnson, 68.

Thomas Davis Johnson died 23 February 1924 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 78 years old; was a widower; lived at 316 Lodge; was a self-employed drayman; was born in Halifax County, N.C., to Mack Johnson and Carolina Johnson. Informant was Ella Allen.

Ella Allen died 7 January 1948 at her home at 209 Ashe Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 63 years old; was a widow; was born in Wilson to Tom Johnson and Millie Johnson. Informant was Thomas Wil[illegible], 209 Ashe. She was buried in Rountree cemetery.

Minutes of Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association.

Primitive Baptist churches organized themselves in associations, and African-American congregations in Wilson County were members of several, including Turner Swamp Primitive Baptist Association and Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association.

In November 1918, the Eighth Annual Session of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association met at Stony Creek Church in Nash County. On the first day, the delegates voted to hold the next year’s session at Corner Line Church in Wilson County. The published minutes noted that Bethlehem P.B.A.’s member churches had been members of Radicue P.B.A. until 1910, when “trouble arose” between an Elder A. Wooten and Elder N. Johnson of Few-In-Number Church in Edgecombe County. The men could not (or would not) agree to resolve the matter via ordinary channels, “[t]herefore, we the church at Few-In-Number, would not give up for our member to be tried in such an disorderly way. This is why they call us in disorder. We hope the Lord will show our brethren their wrong. This done by order of the church, assisted by five other churches joining us.” In other words, six churches broke with Radicue to form their own Association.

The minutes’ Table of Statistics reveals three Wilson County churches in the Association: Conner [Corner] Line, New Hope, and Traveler’s Rest. Elder S. Buston [Samuel Burston] of Sharpsburg helmed Corner Line, and Wiley Barnes and Peter Barnes were delegates to the Session from that church. The church reported having baptized no new members the previous year, but receiving one by profession of faith for a total membership of 16. New Hope had no sitting elder, but was represented by A. Horne and Kelley Johnson. The church had received one new member by profession, another by letter (from his or her home church), and had 14 total members. Traveler’s Rest was led by Elder J.H. Winston of Pinetops (in Edgecombe County) and was represented by B.F. Davis and Nathan Lucas. Though the church had only six members, it had baptized one the previous year and received two by profession. It had also dismissed two members.

From Minutes of the Eighth Annual Session of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association Held With the Stony Creek Church, Nash County, N.C. (1918).

Edgecombe County’s Living Hope church hotel the 11th annual session in 1921. Elder Burston was moderator, and Brother Wiley Barnes was one of two men chosen “to stand to preach for the people.” That evening, Brother Barnes sang the hymn on page 490 (of an unnamed hymnal)* and preached from Acts 9:2 — “And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”

In October 1923, Bethlehem P.B.A. convened at Wilson County’s little Travelers Rest Primitive Baptist Church.

Cover, Minutes of the Eighth Annual Session of the Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Association Held With the Traveller’s Rest Church, Wilson County, N.C. (1923).

Elder Burston was again appointed moderator, and Brother Wiley Barnes was one of two men chosen to preach. On Saturday morning, Brother Barnes sang the hymn on page 530 and preached from Ezekiel 36:3 — “Therefore prophesy and say, Thus saith the Lord God; Because they have made you desolate, and swallowed you up on every side, that ye might be a possession unto the residue of the heathen, and ye are taken up in the lips of talkers, and are an infamy of the people.”

As always, the Association closed its Session with its touching “Circular Letter”:

In 1925, Bethlehem P.B.A. held its annual meeting at Bethlehem Church in Edgecombe County. The Association favorably received a request from Diggs Chapel (in northeast Wayne County, just over the Wilson county line) to join the Association. Wiley Barnes of nearby Stantonsburg had been elevated to Elder and led this congregation.

The Association returned to Corner Line in October 1927. Elder Burston preached the introductory sermon from I Corinthians 1:1. Elder Barnes lined a hymn and preached from Exodus 3:7-8 — “7 And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; 8 And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites.” In 1927, Corner Line had 18 members; New Hope, 17; and Traveler’s Rest, 15. The delegates chose New Hope, “nine miles from Elm City and ten miles from Wilson,” for the next meeting.

Elder Burston died in 1930. Elder Wiley Barnes took over leadership of Corner Line and New Hope, in addition to Diggs Chapel. J.H. Winstead of Tarboro headed Traveler’s Rest.

——

  • Sam Buston — Samuel Burston died 29 April 1930 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was about 50 years old; was married to Lucy Burston; was a preacher; and was born in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Henry Burston and Rachel Taylor. Lucy Burston, Sharpsburg, was informant.
  • Wiley Barnes
  • Peter Barnes
  • A. Horne
  • Kelley Johnson — in the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Kellie Johnson, 32; wife Bloomer, 26; and children Arthur, 10, Elizabeth, 8, L. Rosa, 6, Kelly Jr., 5, Willie, 3, and Bloomer, 2.
  • B.F. Davis
  • Nathan Lucas — in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on the south side of Stantonsburg Road, tenant farmer Nathan Lucas, 49; wife Dilsey, 35; children James, 19, Dora, 17, Odell, 11, and Peter M., 4; sister Susan Lucas, 46; and grandson Lacey J. Edwards, 1 month. Nathan Lucus died 30 September 1921 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate he was 52 years old; was married; worked as a farmer for H.E. Thompson; and was born in Johnston County to Amos Lucus. James Lucus, Stantonsburg, was informant.

I have not identified the locations of Traveler’s Rest and New Hope Primitive Baptist Churches.

*[Update: The hymnal may have been Hymn and Tune Book for Use in the Old School or Primitive Baptist Churches, compiled by Silas H. Durand and P.G. Lester and first published in 1886. The scores of the hymns include both shape-note and conventional notation.]

Minutes digitized at Divinity Archive, a project of Duke University Divinity School Library and partner institutions. 

S.H. Vick’s Winona subdivision.

“Winona, a suburb of Wilson, N.C.” Deed book 68, page 457, Wilson County Register of Deeds.

In 1905, Samuel H. Vick filed a plat map for the subdivision of a parcel of land he owned along Mercer Street. Assuming Mercer Street follows its present course (the street was outside city limits until the mid-1920s), this appears to be the stretch west of Hominy Swamp. There’s no Daniels Mill Road in the area though, and the parallel Wells Alley and unnamed street do not match up with modern features. However, if you flip the map upside down to view it per the compass designation at top center, the landscape falls into place. Daniels Mill Road, then, is modern-day Fairview Avenue.

Below, on an inverted Google Maps image, I’ve traced modern Mercer Street and Fairview Avenue in red. In dotted yellow, the probable course of Wells Alley, which seems to track a line of trees that runs along the back edge of the lots facing Mercer, and the short crooked unnamed street that apparently never was cut through.

The cursive note added at upper left of the plat map says: “See Book 72 pp 527 et seq perfecting title to these lots.” At bottom left: “Lots 100 ft in debth [sic] & 50 ft in width except lots 23, 24, 25, 33, 61, 57, 58, 59, 60, & lots 1 and 2.”

A few of the 85 lots are inscribed with surnames, presumably of their purchasers: #46 Bynum, #48 Johnson, #53 Melton. In addition, lots 17, 19, 20 and 22 appear to be inscribed with the initials J.H. The 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists the home of William A. Johnson, an African-American cook, as “Mercer St w of N & S Ry.” Though imprecise, this is broadly describes the street on the map. No Melton or Bynum is similarly listed.

The 1910 census settles the matter. On “Winona Road,” restaurant cook William Johnson, 40; wife Pollie, 35, laundress; and children Mary E., 13, Willie C., 11, Winona, 4, and Henry W., 2, and dozens of African-American neighbors, mostly laborers and servants who owned their homes (subject to mortgage).

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Mercer Street next door to Smith Bennett and wife Mary, restaurant proprietor William Johnson, 39; wife Polly, 38; and children Wyona, 14, Margaret, 8, James, 11, and Millie, 19. Herbert and Ella Bynum owned the house on the other side, and Mollie Melton was up the street, and may have been related to the Bynum and Melton noted on the plat map.

The 1930 census reveals the house number: 910 Mercer Street, valued at the astonishing figure of $18,000. (This may well be a matter of an errant extra zero, as the 1922 Sanborn map shows a small one-story cottage at the location, which would not have commanded that sum.) Will A. Johnson, 60, worked as a cafe cook, and wife Pollie, 55, was a cook. The household included daughter Margrette Futrell, 18; infant grandson Wilbert R. Hawkins, born in Pennsylvania; widowed daughter Mary J. Thomas, 33 (noted as absent); and niece Jannie Winstead, 7.

When Sam Vick’s real estate empire collapsed in 1935, he lost three lots and houses on Mercer Street — 903, 907 and 915 — perhaps the last property he held in Winona subdivision.

Store damaged by fire.

Wilson Daily Times, 30 March 1924.

——

  • Ed Johnson — Edward Johnson died 15 April 1924 (two weeks after his store burned.) Per his death certificate, he was born 12 February 1869 in Durham County, N.C., to Martin Johnson and Francies Burks of Durham County; was married to Rachel Jane Johnson; was a self-employed grocery merchant; and lived at 406 East Hines Street. His wife Rachel Johnson was the daughter of his landlord Lewis Townsend.
  • Louis Townsend — Lewis W. Townsend and his brother Andrew J. Townsend operated groceries together and separately in the warehouse district southwest of downtown Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Saint Mark’s confirmation class (and new interior.)

This brief article about a confirmation class at Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church offers lovely details of the provenance of the church’s furnishings.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 November 1948.

  • Dr. and Mrs. Robert J. Johnson — Father Johnson served as rector at Saint Mark’s from 1943 to 1957 and supply priest from 1957 to 1964. His wife was Anna Burgess Johnson.
  • Rev. Robert N. Perry — Father Perry was rector from 1905 to 1919.

Late night hours.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 November 1930.

The “doc” was chiropodist Zebulon Myer Johnson, a Bertie County native who lived in Wilson for several years before his death in 1934. It is not clear whether (or where) he received formal medical training, but Johnson claimed the title as early as 1918, when he registered for the World War I draft in Nash County, N.C. Presumably, he held late night hours at his home office to accommodate the schedules of clients standing long hours on their feet in tobacco factories or performing domestic work.

Mother and child killed in oil can explosion.

Wilson Daily Times, 11 November 1921.

In 1917, Avery Johnson registered for the World War I draft in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Per his registration card, he was born 25 June 1891 in Marietta, N.C.; lived at 636 Green, Wilson; worked as a laborer for Worth Bros., Coatesville, Pennsylvania; and had a wife and one child.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Avery Johnson, 27; wife Carrie, 24; and children Evaline, 2, and John L., two months.

The child who died in the oil can explosion was a son, John Elry Johnson, not a daughter. He was two weeks past his second birthday.

Avery Johnson’s wife Carrie Wingate Johnson also succumbed to her injuries, after four days of suffering. 

Studio shots, no. 116: Josephus and Minnie Taylor Johnson family.

The unsuccessful legal battle of Josephus Johnson to have his children educated in white Wilson County schools is chronicled here. As noted in earlier posts, despite admitted remote African ancestry and the verdict of the North Carolina Supreme Court, the Johnsons continued to live as white people in their community and beyond.

Here are Minnie Etta Taylor Johnson, Josephus S. Johnson, and their oldest children Carl, Arthur and Fannie.

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And three of the Johnsons’ sons as adults:

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Carl Johnson (1903-1978).

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Luther Johnson (1908-1985).

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James Clinton Johnson (1911-1962).

Photos courtesy of Ancestry.com users Mary Barber, Joe Whisnant, and welderpbr.

Mrs. Johnson seeks a pension.

In March 1933, Lula Johnson applied to the North Carolina Confederate Pension Board for a widow’s pension.

Johnson’s application noted that she was 60+ years of age; resided at 608 East Nash Street, Wilson; and her late husband was John Streeter, also known as John Johnson. She did not know when or where Streeter/Johnson enlisted, but claimed he was a member of “Company H, 14 W.S. Colord Heavy Artillery.” The couple had married in 1922, and Streeter/Johnson died in June 1932, three years after he had begun to draw a pension. Arthur N. Darden and Darcey C. Yancey were witnesses to her application, which Yancey stamped as notary public.

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Lula Johnson’s application was denied. She was “not eligible” (underscored) for a pension. (To boot, she was “Negro,” underscored four times.) Though the Pension Board did not set forth a reason for denying Johnson’s claim, there is a glaringly obvious one. The 14th Regiment, Colored Heavy Artillery, were United States Army troops, not Confederate. The regiment — comprised of runaway enslaved men and free men of color — was organized in New Bern and Morehead City, North Carolina, in March 1864; primarily served garrison duty in New Bern and other points along the coast; and mustered out in December 1865.

SR_State_Auditor_1901_Pensions_5_22_226_11_Johnson_John_Wilson_County_002.jpg

Here is a record of the military service of John Streeter, alias Johnson. He was born in Greene County about 1846 and had enlisted in the Army in New Bern in 1865. Three months later, he was promoted to corporal. John Johnson had served his country honorably, which did not entitle his widow to Confederate benefits.

m1818_276-0836.jpg

I did not find any evidence that the Johnsons actually lived in Wilson County. The address Lula Johnson listed as her own was that of C.H. Darden & Sons Funeral Home, the family business at which Arthur Darden worked. Was she (or her husband) related to the Dardens? Census records show John Johnson and his wife Mary in Leflore County, Mississippi, in 1900 and 1910, but Mary Moore Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, in 1913.

John Johnson died in Farmville, Pitt County, North Carolina, on 8 June 1932. Per his death certificate, he was about 90 years old; was married to Lula Johnson; had been a preacher; and was born in Greene County to Ned and Manervie Johnson. He was buried in Farmville, and Darden & Sons handled the funeral. (Charles H. Darden was also a Greene County native. )

Act of 1901 Pension Applications, Office of the State Auditor, North Carolina State Archives [online]; U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865  [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The Joneses’ resting place.

Safe in the arms of Jesus.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born “horseler” Henry Johnson, 76; wife Luisa, 46, cook; and children Gertrude, 19, Mertie, 17, Walter, 10, and Richard, 8 months.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: cook Susan Jones, 42; her children William E., 23, tobacco stemmer, Levi H., 22, barber, Charles T., 20, tobacco stemmer, Butler E., 19, tobacco stemmer, Mary J., 15, Nancy A., 11, Luther, 8, and Harvey L., 2, plus niece Arnetta Sexton, 8.

Charles T. Jones, 24, married Gertrude Johnson, 22, on 23 April 1903 in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of William Gay, Lucy A. Richards and Rosa Farmer.

John Daniel Jones died 14 March 1914 of catarrhal pneumonia in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 June 1913 to Chas. Jones and Gertrude Johnson and resided on Nash Street.

On 20 September 1914, Butler Jones, 34, son of Henry and Sue Jones, married Mirtie Brodie, 28, daughter of Henry and Louise [Kersey] Johnson, in Wilson. A.M.E. Zion minister H.E. Edwards performed the ceremony, and Ed Cox, Chas. T. Jones and Minnie McDaniel witnessed.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 667 Nash Street,  minister Charlie Jones, 41; wife Gertrude, 39; children Ruth, 16, Charlie, 14, Elwood, 12, Louise, 10, and Sudie, 4; plus mother-in-law Louisa Johnson, 65.

On 24 December 1926, Simon Plater, 30, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, son of Simon and Birdie Plater, married Ruth Jones, 22, daughter of Charles and Gertrude Jones of Wilson. The bride’s father, a Missionary Baptist minister, performed the service in the presence of Gertrude Jones, Louisa Johnson, and W.E. [William Elwood] Jones.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Harper Lane, farmer Charlie T. Jones, 52; wife Stella [sic], 49; and children William E., 23, farm laborer, Louise M., 20, and Sadie, 14.

Sudye Jones died 4 March 1937 of meningitis in Greensboro, Guilford County, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was 21 years old; was born to Charles T. Jones of Hertford County and Gertrude Johnson of Wilson County; was a student at Bennett College; and was single. Rev. Charles T. Jones, 412 East Vick, was informant.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 412 Viola, owned and valued at $2000; Charles Jones, 61, janitor at Vick School; wife Gertrude, 59, a tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ruth Plater, 35, divorced, teacher; grandsons Torrey S., 12, and Charles S. Plater, 11; son-in-law Ruel Bullock, 35; daughter Louise, 30; grandsons Jacobia, 7, Robert, 6, Harold, 4, and Rudolph, 7 months; and granddaughter Barbara Jones, 6.

In 1940, William Elwood Jones registered for the World War II draft in Halifax County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 6 January 1907 in Wilson; he resided in Halifax, North Carolina; his contact was mother Gertrude Jones, 412 East Vick Street, Wilson; and he was employed by Weldon City Schools.

Charles Thomas Jones died 2 September 1963 at his home at 412 North Vick Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 October 1878 in Hertford County, North Carolina, to Henry Jones and Louisa Copeland; was married to Gertrude Jones; was a minister; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. Informant was Ruth Brown, 906 Faison Street, Wilson.

Louise J. Bulluck died 27 June 1968 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 4 July 1909 to Charles Thomas Jones and Gertrude Johnson; was married to Ruel Bulluck; resided at 412 East Vick Street; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. Informant was Ruth Brown, 906 Faison Street, Wilson.

Mary Gertrude Jones died 17 September 1968 in Goldsboro, Wayne County. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 February 1880 to Henry Johnson and [Louisa] Kersey; was a widow; had worked as a tobacco factory laborer; resided at 412 East Vick Street, Wilson; was buried at Masonic cemetery.

Ruth Jones Brown died 24 September 1970 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 8 February 1904 in Wilson to Charles T. Jones and Gertrude Johnson; was married to Edwin J. Brown; was a teacher; and resided at 906 Faison Street.

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, October 2018. The headstone, of course, was engraved by Clarence B. Best.