Knight

300 North Reid Street.

The one hundred-forty-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. 1930; 1 1/2 stories; Jesse Knight house; popular bungalow design with gable roof and engaged porch; shed dormer; Knight was a porter at the Cherry Hotel in Wilson.”

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In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hines Ashley (c; Margaret) driver h 300 N Reid

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Hines Ashley (c; Margaret) truck driver h 300 N Reid

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 300 Reid, rented for $20/month, Ash Hines, 36, tobacco factory laborer; wife Margrette, 37, public school teacher; and son Albert, 11.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 300 Reid, owned and valued at $2000, Jessie Knight, 38, cook, and wife Lessie, 42, maid. 

In 1942, Jesse Knight registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 15 March 1902 in Edgecombe County, N.C.; lived at 300 North Reid Street; his contact was Rodda McMillan, 103 South Vick Street; and he worked for J.T. Barnes.

Wilson Daily Times, 13 December 1946.

Jesse Knight died 28 January 1952 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 52 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to John Knight and Sallie Batts; lived at 300 North Reid; worked as a laborer; and was married to Lessie Knight.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2021.

Knight falls from truck and is killed.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 March 1935.

  • Boy Knight — “Boy” was, in fact, named Efird Knight. Per his death certificate, he was 27 years old; was born in Wilson to Eddie Knight and Minerva Ellis; was single; and worked as a common laborer. Minerva Gray of Wilson was informant. He died 15 March 1935, and his cause of death was: “Accidental fell of truck killing him instantly.”
  • Dock Sims

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Wilbanks news.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 June 1897.

Henry Knight, colored, who lives near here had his stables smashed by a falling tree. Fortunately he had his team in the field plowing.”

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  • Henry Knight — perhaps, Henry Knight who died 4 July 1919 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 69 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Lewis Knight; and had been a farmer. Informant was William Knight.

Blount Knight’s birthday.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 April 1946.

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In the 1880 census of Walnut Creek, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: farm laborer Martha Knight, 47, and children Ellen, 22, Blunt, 18, George, 16, Moses, 14, and Haywood, 10, plus granddaughters Emma, 3, and Delia Harrison, 4.

On 16 December 1880, Blount Knight, 23, married Lucy Bullock, 20, on 29 December 1880 in Edgecombe County.

On 21 March 1884, Blount Knight, 22, married Ginnie Carroll, 16, at Martha Knight‘s home in Wilson County.

In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Blount Knight, 42; wife Jennie, 31; and children Eddie, 17, Martha, 13, Minnie, 11, Carrie, 6, Jemmie, 4, and Mary, 9 months; plus mother-in-law Mary Coal, 68.

On 30 July 1908, Blount Knight, 50, son of Isaac and Martha Knight, of Gardners township, married Mary Ellis, 39, daughter of Frank and Sara Edmundson, of Gardners, in Saratoga township.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: ditcher Blount Knight, 52; wife Mary, 41; children Minnie, 19, Jimmie, 13, Mollie, 10, and Louisa, 6; son-in-law Willie Anderson, 30, daughter Martha, 22, and grandchildren Robert, 2, and “no name” Anderson, 0, and Jennie Knight, 1.

In the 1916 Wilson city directory: Knight Blount, laborer, Harper’s Ln near Herring Av

In the 1920 Wilson city directory: Knight Blount, farmer, 1 Carolina

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Carolina Street (suburbs Wilson), farmer Blount Knight, 59, wife Mary, 42, and daughters Mary 17, and Louisa, 15, with James Blount, 38, and wife Lulu, 19.

Blount Knight died 5 July 1957 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 April 1868 in Edgecombe County, N.C., to Isiah Knight; lived at 920 Carolina Street; was a widower of Mary Knight; and had worked as a laborer. Mary Currie was informant.

Knight’s headstone in Rest Haven cemetery lists his birth year as 1851, which would have made him 106 at his death. The records above yield birth years between 1857 and 1862, which would have made him somewhere between 95 and 100 years old.

Memorial Service for Mrs. Ada Green Knight.

Ada Green Knight‘s funeral was held 11 March 1973 at Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. Elder Lonnie Barnes of London Primitive Baptist Church officiated.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: carpenter Neverson Green, 45; wife Isabeler, 35; and children Mary J., 18, Annie B., 15, Oscar, 13, Ada, 11, Ora, 9, Rose L., 6, William O., 5, Lula B., 2, and Besse, 3 months; plus boarder William Alley, 21.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, house carpenter Neverson Green, 49; wife Ezabell, 45 and children Ada, 22, Viola, 19, Rosa, 16, William O., 14, Lula, 12, Henry, 8, Bessie, 6, and Eva, 2. Ada, Viola and Rosa were tobacco factory laborers; William worked in a box factory.

James Henry Knight registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 November 1885; lived at 607 Lodge; worked horseshoeing for J.Y. Buchanan; and his nearest relative was wife Ada Knight.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: James Knight, 31, blacksmith; wife Ada, 29, tobacco factory worker; and children Mildred, 8, James Jr., 7, William, 4, and Robert, 2.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 603 South Lodge Street, blacksmith James H. Knight, 45; wife Ada H., 43; and children James H., Jr., 17, William, 14, Marvin, 12, Eveline, 9, and Nancy J., 10 months.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: retail grocer James H. Knight, 53; wife Ada Elsie, 52; and children Marvin, 22, Evelyn, 19, Nancy Doris, 10, and Joseph Frank, 8.

Ada Green Knight died 3 March 1973 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in Virginia on 13 March 1887 to Nelson Green and Isabell Thorp; resided at 502 South Lodge Street; and was a retired laborer. Informant was Nancy Doris Lucas, 502 South Lodge.

Thanks to Lisa R.W. Sloan for sharing this funeral program from a family collection.

Smallest prints on file.

I have been unable to find more to elucidate this strange kidnapping story. The Daily Times‘ initial report, which focused more on a novelty angle than on the tragedy, misidentified the baby as “11 months old Mildred Pace,” and suggested that her birth mother had taken her from a black doctor in Washington, D.C., to whom she had sold the child for fifty dollars.

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Wilson Daily Times, 14 November 1940.

Two weeks later, while still strangely stuck on peripheral details like the light skin color of the baby and her mother, the Times had more details. The child Lorraine was 20 months’ old, and Delores Pace was accused of stealing her from her birth parents, Ida and Massie Vaughn. (Massie Vaughn was a W.P.A. worker, not a doctor.) As best I can decipher, the allegations were these:

Delores Pace befriended the Vaughns under the alias Annie Mae Johnson. On October 28, she took the youngest two of their six children to the movies, where three year-old Cephus was found alone that night. Pace’s friends told police she had taken Lorraine to Wilson. United States marshals were called in to track down Pace and the toddler, and a D.C. policeman followed, took the child into custody and stashed her in the Raleigh City Jail under the care of a janitor.

Pace did not testify at her arraignment. The Vaughns identified their daughter and produced her birth certificate (and the newspaper made much of the contrasting skin tones of all involved.) Pace was ordered to stand trial. After the hearing, Pace told someone (the reporter?) that the child had been born in New York and that her father, Marvin Knight, had promised to marry Pace if Pace showed him the child, and Knight confirmed his paternity. That’s it.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 November 1940.

The 1940 census of Washington, D.C., shows that Lorraine was the youngest of the Vaughns’ six children.

I have not found any record of Delores Pace anywhere.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lodge Street, retail grocer James Henry Knight, 53; wife Ada Elsie, 52; and children Marvin, 22, retail grocery clerk; Evelyn, 19, Nancy Doris, 10, and Joseph Frank, 8. On 6 June 1944, Marvin Robert Knight, 26, of Wilson, son of James and Ada Knight, married Jewell Dean Stokes, of Middlesex, daughter of T.O. and Anna Stokes, in Wake County.

Mercer vs. Mercer.

In 1911, Dempsey Mercer filed for divorce from his wife Mattie Knight Mercer.

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Wilson Daily Times, 11 October 1911.

In the 1900 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farm laborer Laura Mercer, 65, and children Dollie, 26, farm laborer, Susan, 22, and Dempsey, 16, farm laborer.

In the 1900 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Cooper Farmer, 55; wife Caroline, 55; boarder Lewis Williams, 18, farm laborer; and servant Mattie Knight, 16.

On 23 January 1902, Dempsey Mercer, 20, married Mattie Knight, 20, in Edgecombe County.

In the 1910 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Dempsy Mercer, 27; wife Mattie, 20; children Charles, 7, William, 6, Robert, 3, and Walter, 2 months; nieces Lula, 2, and Gertrude Hines, 1 month; and sister Margarett Hines, 19.

Dempsey Mercer died 7 July 1914 in Gardners township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 January 1914 in Wilson County to Dempsey Mercer of Edgecombe County and Mattie Hines of Nash County.

Mary Mercer died 11 February 1915 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born March 1912 to Dempsey Mercer and Maggie Hines.

In the 1920 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: Dempsy Mercer, 40, widower; children Charley, 17, William, 15, Robert, 10, Walter, 9, and Maggie, 8; sister-in-law Maggie Hines, 24, and her children Lula, 8, Silvey, 7, and James, 4. [Dempsey Mercer was divorced rather than widowed.]

On 24 June 1921, Dempsey Mercer, 40, of Wilson County, son of Joe Williams and Louisa Mercer, married Fannie Barnes, 37, of Wilson County, daughter of Luke Holmes and Mary Holmes, at W.A. Pool’s in Black Creek.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: Dempsey Mercer, 50; wife Fannie, 40; children Charlie, 27, Lee, 19, Jonah, 16, Jamar, 13, and C[illegible], 10; and lodger Rachel Melton, 30. [The younger children appear to be Fannie’s by an earlier relationship.]

In the 1930 census of Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: Gilmore C. McCoy, 58, tobacco factory stemmer, and wife Mattie, 49, laundress.

Robert Mercer died 9 December 1930 in Gardners township. Per his death certificate, he was 23 years old; was born in Wilson County to Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight, both of Edgecombe; was a farmer; and was single.

Charlie Mercer died 9 December 1936 in Gardners township. Per his death certificate, he was born January 1902 in Edgecombe County to Dempsey Mercer and Mattie Knight, both of Edgecombe; was a farmer; and was single. Informant was Mattie McCoy of Rocky Mount.

Dempsey Mercer died 20 April 1949 in Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 September 1883 in Edgecombe County to Joe Mercer and an unknown mother and was married. Informant was Will Mercer of Bailey, N.C.

Mattie Knight McCoy died 31 December 1970 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was born 9 September 1897; resided in Edgecombe County; was widowed; and was a retired tobacco worker. Mary Bullock, 1205 Atlantic Street, Wilson, was informant.

House on Young’s Line destroyed.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 May 1924.

Young’s Line was north of Grabneck, outside city limits, off what was, by the 1920s, the 1200 block of West Gold Street.

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On 18 October 1886, Joseph Knight, 46, of Wilson County, married Chrisa Heath, 45, of Wilson County, in Wilson. Minister Solomon Arrington performed the ceremony in the presence of Mariah Dunston, Wm. Plummer and Cora Davis.

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Joseph Knight, 55, and wife Treece, 50.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, farm laborer Joseph Knight, 59, and wife Lucrecia, 57.

Joseph Knight died 27 September 1918 in Wilson township. Per his death certificate, he was 63 years old; born in Edgecombe County to unknown parents; was married to Crecy Knight; and was a farmer. He was buried at K. Watson’s place in Wilson County. C.F. Knight was informant.

In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Knight Cressey dom W Nash nr Young av

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., City Directory: Knight Theresa (c) lndrs h 610 Young’s line

Trecy Knight died 27 August 1928 at her home in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was about 70 years old; a widow; lived on Young’s line; and was born in Wilson County to unknown parents.