Robert Artis — in the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Robert Artis, 46; wife Malindy, 31; children Adam, 17, James, 28, Edgar L., 13, Luciea, 13, Christirene, 12, Georgia, 10, and Noah, 9; step-sons Hesicar, 8, and Eugenia, 6; children Lizzie, 4, Richard, 2, and Minnie B., 9 months; and mother-in-law Henrietta [Artis?], age illegible.
Richard C. Artis and father Robert E. Artis, circa 1950s. Photo courtesy of Melissa Mack.
This photograph of Mary Edwards Leach (1910-1992), probably taken in the 1940s, is stamped “Baker’s Pictures. 520 E. Nash Street, Wilson, N.C.” and thus reveals the location of this shot and these. Leach was the daughter of Stephen and Charity Bullock Edwards of Wilson and Greene Counties.
The location of the studio on East Nash suggests that Baker was African-American, but no one by that name — black or white — is listed in Wilson in Stephen E. Massingill’s Photographers of North Carolina: The First Century, 1842-1941.
The thirteenth 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: “ca. 1913; 2 stories; Queen Anne house with L-plan and cross-gable roof; intact turned-post porch.”
The history of occupancy of this shabby gem is spotty. Though the house’s year of construction is estimated at 1913, the house does not appear on the 1922 Sanborn insurance map of Wilson unless the house at 901 East Nash was moved and reoriented to face East Street at the red X. The plan of the house at 901 closely resembles that of 102 North East.
Laborer Rufus Hilliard* and his wife Pennie are listed at 102 North East Street in the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory. However, in 1940, when Roosevelt Leech [Leach] registered for the World War II draft, he listed his address as 102 North East Street. He also indicated that he was born 25 May 1913 in Johnston County; was married to Hattie Leech; and worked as a cook in his own cafe at 512 East Nash Street. He signed the card with an X. The 1941 city directory also shows Leach at the address. In 1942, when George Lee Williams registered for the draft, he named Hattie Leach of 109 [sic] North East Street as his nearest relative. Williams was born in Goldsboro on 10 March 1924 and worked for Draper Brothers in Frederica, Delaware. Roosevelt Leach died 30 October 1943 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he lived at 102 North East Street, was married to Hattie Leach, worked as a cook, and was born in Johnston County to Colman Leach and Mary Hall. In 1945, Robert Earl Williams, presumably George’s brother, named Hattie Leach, 102 North East Street, as his guardian on his draft registration card. He indicated that he had been in Wayne County on 11 August 1927 and worked as a laborer.
Sarah Sauls died 3 October 1961 in Wilson at her home at 102 North East Street. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 May 1888 in Greene County to Patric Sauls and Ada Thomas and was buried in the family cemetery in Black Creek. Bessie Sauls of 102 North East Street was informant.
In the 1963 Hill’s city directory, Hattie E. Lee is listed at 102 North East.
*The National Register nomination form describes 903 East Nash Street, just around the corner from 102 North East, as the Rufus Hilliard house and notes that Hilliard operated a store at 901 East Nash [the People’s Palace, built about 1940 and destroyed since the district was registered] and speculated in local real estate. Such real estate included 104 North East Street, built circa 1930.
Photograph taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.