Detail, Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1908.
Cross-referencing the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory and the 1908 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson reveals the specific locations of Black-owned businesses just after the turn of the century. Above, the section of the 100 block of North Goldsboro Street opposite the county courthouse.
Levi H. Jones‘ barbershop stood at the rear of today’s Planter’s Bank building, which was erected in 1920 and now houses county government offices. Within a couple of years, Jones changed locations, opening the Mayflower at 108 East Nash Street, a narrow two-story brick building near First National Bank. First National is now the Wilson County-Nash Street Office Building, and the Mayflower’s site is a parking lot.
Wilson Times, 30 June 1911.
Alexander D. Dawson, a former local Republican Party stalwart, operated a fish and oyster stall in the city market building, which burned down in 1929.
Wilson city hall, market and fire department, circa 1900.
Postcard courtesy of North Carolina Digital Heritage Center’s digitalnc.org.
A notice in the matter of P.B. Deans vs. Shade Jones et al. ran for a month in the summer of 1883. The matter was an action for the partition of land, land that apparently was part of the estate of Willis Jones. Willis and Sarah K. Jones‘ children included Josiah Jones, Charity Jones Taylor (ca. 1827-1891), Jacob Jones (ca. 1828), Shade Jones (ca. 1832), Henry Jones (ca. 1840), Alexander Jones (ca. 1841), Noel Jones (1843), Willis Kingsberry Jones (ca. 1847), Payton A. Jones (ca. 1849), and Bethany Jones Barnes (ca. 1852). Two of Willis Jones’ children resided out of state, and the court ordered the notice commanding them to answer the complaint in the case. Charity Jones Taylor and her husband, Kingsberry Taylor, were believed to be in Indiana; Josiah Jones, in South Carolina.
Wilson Advance, 13 July 1883.
In fact, by 1883, Charity Taylor had been living in western Michigan for decades.
Kingsberry Taylor married Charity Jones on 4 July 1846 in Nash County, North Carolina. Both were free people of color. Jones for certain and Taylor likely lived in a section of Nash County that became Wilson County in 1855.
The couple immediately migrated to Indiana. In the 1850 census of Madison township, Jefferson County, Indiana: laborer Kingsberry Taylor, 29, owner of $100 real estate, born in N.C.; wife Charity, 20, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A., 3, born in Indiana. All were classified as mulatto.
They did not stay long. Mid-decade, the family moved more than 300 miles due north in Allegan County, Michigan. Per the History of Allegan and Berry Counties, Michigan, With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Their Men and Pioneers (1880), Kingsbury Taylor was one of ten men who bought land in Section 28 of Cheshire township between 1852 and 1858. “A considerable proportion of the population are of the colored race, who merit notice in a history of Cheshire [township]. As a class they stand well for both sobriety, and industry. Many of them have farms upon which comfortable houses are built, and the land of which is improved and well maintained. They also have two church organizations, to which a liberal support is accorded, and of which mention is made farther on. They are by no means the least influential of the citizens of the township, and have won much credit for the ambition they display in their farming pursuits and the good reputation they have established in all their social relations. The first colored men to settle in the township were C. Tomison and K. Taylor, who located on the southwest quarter of section 28. The land owned by the colored people was mostly bought of the Indians when they departed.”
In the 1860 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: Kingsbury Taylor, 35, farmer, owned $400/real property, $250/personal property, born in N.C.; wife Charity, 30, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A., 13, born in Indiana.
In the 1870 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: Kingsbury Taylor, 52, farmer, owned $2500/real estate, born in N.C.; wife Charity, 42, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A., 22, born in Indiana.
In the 1880 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: Kingsbury Taylor, 61, farmer, born in N.C.; wife Charrita, 48, born in N.C.; and daughter Sarah A. Brown, 33, divorced, born in Indiana.
On 17 September 1880, Foster H. Maxwell, 42, mason, of Manger, Michigan, born in Ross County, Ohio, married Sarah A.J. Taylor, 33, divorced, of Cheshire, Michigan, born in Jefferson County, Indiana, in Bloomingdale, Michigan. The marriage entry noted that they were black. [Maxwell was a Civil War veteran, having served in Co. D, 102nd United States Colored Infantry.]
Charity Taylor died 16 April 1891 in Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan. Per her death certificate, she was 63 years old; was born in N.C. to Wilis Jones and Sarah Jones; and was a farmer.
Illustrated Atlas of Allegan County, Michigan (1895). (Would that these types of plat maps existed everywhere.)
In the 1900 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan: widower Kinbury Taylor, 82, farmer, and granddaughter Nina Maxwell, 19.
In the 1900 census of Springfield, Clark County, Ohio: Sarah Maxwell, 52, and daughters Dayette, 18, and Christina, 14. All were classified as white. Sarah was married, and three of her five children were living.
On 5 June 1900, in Allegan County Circuit Court, Foster H. Maxwell, 59, was granted a divorce from Sarah A. Maxwell, 45, on the grounds of desertion.
Kingsbury Taylor died 3 November 1906 in Cheshire township, Allegan County, Michigan. Per his death certificate,
The Hartford Day Spring (Hartford, Michigan), 14 November 1906.
In the 1910 census of Cheshire township, Allegan County: Sarah A. Maxwell, 62, “own income,” and daughter Dayetta, 27.
In the 1920 census of Allegan, Allegan County: at 634 Academy, widow Sarah A. Maxwell, 72.
In the 1930 census of Allegan, Allegan County: at 634 Academy, owned and valued at $1000, widow Sarah A. Maxwell, 82, and granddaughter Betty A., 6.
Sarah Ann Maxwell died 11 September 1938 in Allegan, Michigan. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 August 1847 in Madison, Indiana, to Kingsburg Taylor and Charity Jones, both of Wilson, N.C.; was the widow of Foster Maxwell; lived at 634 Academy Street; and was buried in Lindsley Cemetery, Allegan. Dayette Maxwell was informant.
Kingsberry and Charity Jones Taylor were also buried in Lindsley Cemetery.
Christine Charity Maxwell Chandler (1885-1937), daughter of Foster H. and Sarah A. Taylor Maxwell.
Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user PatriciaPhillips212.
In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas A. Jones, 51; wife Mary I., 45; children Milbry, 28, Andrew, 19, Leonia, 17, James H., 14, Ollie T., 9, Ida May, 7, Paul H., 5, and Jim Lawrence, 3; and granddaughter Bettie Lee, 4.
In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer J.A. Jones, 42; wife Bettie, 28; and children Johnnie W., 16, Grover, 7, Susie, 5, Maomie [Naomi], 4, and Ruth, 1.
In the 1920 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: widowed farmer George Gaston, 69, and children [and grandchildren] Ada, 33, Nina, 31, August, 27, George J., 6, Lucile, 2, and Ernest, 9 months. (Also, in Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Garfield Perkins, 36; wife Laura, 36; children Ethel, 15, and G. William, 12; and boarder P. Ada Gaston, 34, a teacher.
In the 1940 census of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan: on East Canfield, renting for $50/month, Southern Jones, 33, born in North Carolina, general work-W.P.A. project. He reported that he had been living in the same place in 1935.
Southen Jones registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 26 December 1906 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 1971 East Canfield, Detroit; his contact was friend Walter Dale; and he worked for W.P.A. He was described as Negro, 5’7″, 140 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, dark brown skin, and a scar above his left eye.
Alphonza Jackson registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 9 June 1906 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 996 Ferry Avenue, Detroit; his contact was common-law wife Pearl Jackson; and he was unemployed. He was described as Negro, 5’9″, 184 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and dark skin.
Walter Dortch Hines
Walter Dortch Hines registered for the World War II draft in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 17 July 1909 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 7068 Michigan, Detroit; his contact was mother Sara Elizabeth Hines, 617 East Green, Wilson; and he was a self-employed medical doctor. He was described as Negro, 5’10”, 154 pounds, with blue eyes, brown hair, dark skin, and a scar on “dorsal aspect of left hand.”
Sead Abdulla (formerly Lonnie Bailey)
In the 1910 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer John D. Bailey, 42; wife Jeneva, 33; and children Rhoda, 15, Pearlie, 12, Mary L., 9, Lonnie, 8, Ora, 6, John T., 5, William H., 4, Melton P., 2, and Richard E., 1.
In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Saratoga Road, farm laborer Gilbert Vick, 29; wife Pearlie, 22; daughter Carrie Belle, 5; and brother-in-law Lonnie Bailey, 17.
Lonnie Bailey registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 26 January 1902 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 1023 Illinois, Detroit; his contact was friend Geneva Bailey, 516 Church Street, Wilson; and he worked for Linwood Coal Company, Detroit. He was described as Negro, 5’9″, 165 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, dark brown skin, and a scar on his left wrist. Via Probate Court, Bailey formally changed his name to Sead Abdulla on 1 June 1944. [His apparent conversion to Islam is the first I have seen for a Wilson County native, and it is reasonable to assume that he was a member of the Nation of Islam, founded in Detroit.]
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 617 East Green, Walter S. Hines, 60; wife Sarah E., 58; son Carl W., 24, teacher; son’s wife Ruth, 23, teacher; and son Ray W. [sic], 17.
Clifton Ray Hines registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 24 December 1922 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 7068 Michigan, Detroit [his brother Walter D. Hines’ home, see above]; his contact was mother Sarah Hines, 617 East Green Street, Wilson; and he worked for “Wayne Co. Rd. Comm. Traffic Census.” He was described as Negro, 5’7″, 140 pounds, with blue eyes, brown hair, dark skin, and a scar on his left cheek.
Clifton Ray Hines died 11 September 1993 in Mayfield Heights, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.
Karole Turner Campbell shared this photograph of her maternal grandparents, Wesley and Martha Taylor Jones, sitting on the stoop of their Stantonsburg Street house in Wilson. In 1954, when she was nine years old, Turner Campbell spent the summer with them. It was her first “sleep-away camp,” and her grandfather Wesley gave her a job. She was to help her grandmother Martha, then 64 years old, learn to read so she could register to vote for the first time in her life. This was the Jim Crow era, and North Carolina still imposed literacy tests and poll taxes to disenfranchise its Black citizens. Martha Taylor had achieved only a third grade education when she had to leave school and go to work. Writes Turner Campbell, “I CANNOT EXPLAIN HOW THAT EXPERIENCE TOUCHED, MOVED AND INSPIRED ME! Nine years old, and I helped teach my grandma to read and vote. This is one reason I became an educator. This is why I ALWAYS vote.”
I woke up this morning disappointed and apprehensive and angry. But, ever inspired by those whose shoulders I stand on, resolute.
Many thanks to Karole Turner Campbell and to the many political pioneers of Wilson County’s Jones family.
The one-hundred-twenty-fourth 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. 1922; 1 story; Alf McCoy house; Queen Anne cottage with hip roof and double-pile plan; evidence of original turned posts and patterned-tin roof.”
In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: McCoy Alfred (c) lab h Reid betw Carolina & E Green
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Town of Wilson laborer Alfa McCoy, 43; wife Florence, 40; widowed mother-in-law Adline King, 78; sister-in-law Mattie Mercer, 30; and roomers Leroy Mercer, 35, Town of Wilson laborer, Silvester Mercer, 15, and Dempsey Mercer, 1.
The 1922 Wilson, N.C., Sanborn fire insurance map, detail below, shows only three houses on North Reid between Carolina and Green Streets. As indicated in the 1916 city directory, Queen Street had not been cut through yet. The house thus appears to be a few years older than estimated in the nomination form.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Reid Street, owned and valued at $2000, Alford McCoy, 53, fertilizer company laborer, and wife Florance, 52, laundry.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 404 Reid Street, owned and valued at $2000, Alfred McCoy, 72, “not able” to work, and wife Florence, 60, washing.
Alfred McCoy died 5 November 1953 at his home at 404 North Reid Street. Per his death certificate, he was born 15 September 1875 in Edgecombe County to Alexander McCoy and Ellen [last name unknown]; was married; and worked as a laborer for the Town of Wilson. Informant was Florence McCoy
In her 3 October 1955 will, filed after her death in Wilson County Superior Court, Florence McCoy left her house at 404 North Reid Street to her neighbor John H. Jones.
Florence McCoy died 21 August 1956 at her home at 404 North Reid Street. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1883 in Nash County to Berry King and was a widow. Informant was John H. Jones, 405 North Reid Street.
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.
From the 1949 edition of The Bear, the yearbook of Shaw University, Raleigh, North Carolina:
Helen Jean Harrison
In the 1930 census of Bailey township, Nash County: farmer Ellie W. Harris, 45; wife Rosa A., 44; and children Carrie L.,21, William E., 19, Ojetta, 18, Lila M., 16, Ethel M., 14, Mattie E., 13, Robert H., 10, Jessie L., 10, Beatrice, 8, George L., 6, and Hellin J., 2. Ellie, Rosa, and their four oldest children were born in South Carolina; Ethel in Virginia; and the remaining in North Carolina.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Lane Street, Eli Harrison, 56, mechanic helper in “carpentering”; wife Rosa, 54, tobacco factory laborer; and children Ethel, 23, Jessie, 19, Beatrix, 17, Leroy, 16, and Helen, 12. Eli, Rosa and Ethel Harrison was South Carolina-born; the others, North Carolina.
Frances Jones Smith Edmundson and Katie Hill, undated but probably early 1970s. (Are they standing in front of a school?)
In the 1870 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: Lewis Speight, 34; wife Kezzie, 36; and son Bill, 1.
In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: Lewis Speight, 34; wife Cuzzie, 30; and children Edward, 10, Violet, 8, Annie, 6, and Mirtie, 2.
Jos. J. Jones, 38, and Violet Speight, 22, were married 17 June 1896 in Wilson County. O.L.W. Smith performed the ceremony in the presence of Burt Ellis, Annie E. Speight, and Louisa Washington.
In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 40, farmer; wife Violet, 27; and children Agnes, 13, and Anna, 12. [The children’s ages appear to be in error and should be 3 and 2.]
On 23 April 1902, Cuzzy Speight filed a widow’s application #765144 for the pension of Lewis Speight, who had served in an unknown unit of the United States Colored Troops.
In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 55, farmer; wife Violet, 36; and children Agnes, 11, Roscoe, 10, Frances, 6, William H., 4, and Benjamin, 2.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph J. Jones, 58, tenant farmer; wife Violet, 45; and children Rosco, 19, Frances, 15, William H., 14, Benjamin, 12, and Lizzie Beth, 8; and mother-in-law Cuzzie Ward, 65.
On 29 January 1924, Rosco Jones, 22, of Stantonsburg, son of Joe and Violet Jones, married Lavinia Hagins, 20, daughter of Dave and Almena Hagans, at the home of “Mr. J.J. Jones” in Stantonsburg. A.J. Rhoades, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Joe Ward, M.V. Reid and Mena Winstead.
On 3 February 1924, William Jones, 21, of Stantonsburg, son of Joseph and Violet Jones, married Mena Winstead, 18, daughter of Will Hall and Amanda W. Williams, at Mena Winstead’s residence. J.F. Ward, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Lavenia Jones, Joe Ward and Alexander Ellis.
Roscoe Jones died 29 July 1928 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 June 1900 in Wilson County to Joseph J. Jones of Wilson County and Violet Speight of Greene County, and was a farmer.
Frances Jones, 25, married Robert Speight, 40, on 9 December 1928 in Stantonsburg. A.M.E. Zion minister J.F. Wardperformed the ceremony at the Missionary Baptist church.
In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Robert Speight, 48; wife Frances, 26; and son Albert, 4.
In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Speight, 20; father Lewis, 73; mother Violet, 55; sister Elizabeth, 18; and grandmother Cuzzie Ward, 80, widow.
Violet Jones died 25 January 1931 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1876; was married to Joseph Jones; was born in Wilson County to Lewis Speights and Cussey Speights; and farmed.
Agnes Beamans died 23 November 1931 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 35 years old; was born in Wilson County to Joseph Jones and Violet Speights; and was married to Jasper Beaman.
Causey Ward died 13 July 1932 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 90 years old; was born in Greene County; and was the widow of Lam Ward. [I have not found the marriage license for Cuzzey Speight and Lam Ward.]
On 9 December 1932, Ben Jones, 21, of Saratoga, son of Joseph and Violet Jones, married Irene Speight, 18, of Saratoga, daughter of Marie Speight. C.D. Ward, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony at his home in the presence of Ernest Barnes, Elizabeth Jones and Mary Speight.
William Henry Jones died 1 September 1934 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 31 January 1905 in Wilson County to Joseph Jones and Violet Speight; was married to Minnie Jones; worked as a truck driver; and his informant was Benjamin Jones.
Frances Speight, 50, daughter of Joe Jones and Violet Speight, married Hadie Edmundson, 54, son of Rufus Edmundson and Eva Rice Edmundson, on 15 July 1956 in Wilson.
Frances Louise Speight Edmundson died 14 June 1976 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Her death certificate lists her birth date as 12 October 1905 [but it was likely 1903]. Her parents were Joseph Jones and Violet Speight Jones of Stantonsburg, Wilson County.
Elizabeth Barnes Turner died 1 June 1992. She was born 1 January 1912 to Joseph Jones and Violet Speight.
Katie Hill was likely Katie Brown Hill, who was born in 1908 to Leroy Brown and Fannie Levester in Greene County and died in Wilson County in 1996.
Many thanks to Tiyatti Speight for sharing this family photograph.