A three-page Wilson Times insert published about 1914 highlighting the town’s “progressive colored citizens” featured City Bakery, then located at 540 East Nash Street, “under Odd Fellows Hall,” with R.B. Bullock as proprietor.
The bakery had a predecessor though, as shown in the 1912 city directory:
Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory (1912).
Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C., 1913.
This detail from the 1913 Sanborn map shows the location of the oven in the back of the small brick “bake house.” In 1914, City Bakery boasted that its premises were “sanitary in ever particular.” Such a claim must have been difficult to make when it sat within feet of multiple rail lines.
Richard Bulluck — Bulluck is listed in the 1912 directory living at 412 South Lodge Street.
Newspaper reports reveal a strike (or series of strikes) by African-American brick masons in Wilson in the first decade of the 20th century. Though the record is sparse, these articles offer rare glimpses of black workers flexing their economic muscle, and surprising hints of the reach of organized labor during a time and place well-known for hostility toward unionization.
Wilmington Messenger, 21 October 1902.
Brickmasons led by Goodsey Holden struck for a nine-hour work day consistent with that required by “the International union.” The protest, at least temporarily, resulted in concessions from the contractors for whom they worked.
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 2 April 1903.
Six months later, bricklayers struck again, crippling progress on the construction of several large brick commercial buildings, including Imperial Tobacco’s new stemmery. Contractors brought in nearly 20 masons from Raleigh and Durham to pick up the work. The sub-headline suggests that the men refused to cross picket lines once they arrived in Wilson, but the article does not address the matter. Masons in those cities were also engaged in strike activity.
Greensboro Daily News, 18 March 1906.
Three years later, Will Kittrell was arrested and charged with conspiracy and blackmail for allegedly warning a Henderson brickmason to leave town. Contractors continued to import masons from across North Carolina to fill the gap created by Wilson workers’ refusal to work without limits on long workdays.
Goodsie Holden — Well-known brickmason Goodsey H. Holden appears to have arrived in Wilson in the late 1890s.
The twenty-second in a series of posts highlighting buildings inEast 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 house is: “ca. 1930; 2 stories; gable front house of concrete-block construction, with patterned tin shingles in front-facing gable; bungalow type porch; unique in district.”
In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: Virginia-born farm laborer Jacob Roberts, 35; wife Matilda, 25; and children Willie, 8, Rebecca, 5, Lettis, 3, and Isam, 11 months.
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Virginia-born carpenter Jake Roberts, 54; wife Matilda, 44, washing; and children Rebecca, 23, cooking, Lettie, 21, cooking, Luginia, 18, cooking, Mattie, 16, nurse, Westly, 14, tobacco stemmer, Marrie, 13, Eddie, 8, Laura, 5, and Addie, 2.
On 29 April 1902, Solomon Kittrell, 27, of Wilson County, son of Henry and Millie Kittrell of Oxford, North Carolina, married Lettie Roberts, 23, daughter of Jacob and Tildy Roberts, all of Wilson County. Missionary Baptist ministerFred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Jacob Roberts’ home in the presence of Albert Hilliard, Floyd Cox and W.C. Christmas.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Vance Street, Solomon Kittrel, no age listed, laborer in buggy factory; wife Lettie, 26; and children Rebecca, 7, Sol K., 5, Bernis, 3, and Lillie, 1.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 704 Viola Street, laborer Saul Kittrell, 41; wife Lettie, 35; and children Rebecca, 16, Saul, 15, Bernice, 10, Lillie, 8, Margaret, 7, Charles, 2, and William, 1.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 804 East Vance, painter Saul Kittrell, 52; wife Lettie, 48, practical nurse; and children Bernice, 19, Lilly, 18, Margaret, 17, Charles, 10, and Henry, 9. Sol valued their house at $10,000.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 804 East Vance, building painter Solomon Kittrell, 65; wife Lettie, 63; children Berenice, 32, a tobacco factory hanger, and Charles, 22, assistant county agent’s office; and lodgers Charles Beatty, 40, a blacksmith in a repair shop, and his wife Emma, 28, who reported living in Clinton, North Carolina, in 1935.
In 1940, Charles Elva Kittrell registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he resided at 804 East Vance Street, Wilson; was born 12 March 1918 in Wilson; his nearest relative was his mother Lettie Kittrell of 804 East Vance; and he was employed by the National Youth Administration in Kanawha, West Virginia.
Solomon Kittrell died 10 May 1944 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was married to Lettie Kittrell; resided at 804 East Vance Street; was born 8 February 1880 in Oxford, North Carolina, to Henry Kittrell and an unnamed mother; and he worked as a carpenter. Informant was Saul Kittrell, 804 East Vance.
Lettie R. Kittrell died 14 December 1957 after being struck by a freight train at the Green Street Atlantic Coastline railroad crossing. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 January 1876 in Edgecombe County to Jacob Roberts and Matilda Hilliard; worked as a practical nurse; and was widowed. Informant was Rebecca Thomas of 914 East Green Street.