Wilson Daily Times, 13 October 1897.
Justice was swift, if not necessarily sure, in 1897:
Wilson Times, 5 November 1897.
- Louis Pitt
- Bill Ayers
- John Swader
- Emma Gay‘s place
Wilson Daily Times, 13 October 1897.
Justice was swift, if not necessarily sure, in 1897:
Wilson Times, 5 November 1897.
Wilson Daily Times, 12 June 1896.
The welcome mat laid out for Little Richmond was quickly rolled up. Within months, the neighborhood developed a reputation for violent crime, and complaints replaced the cheers.
The corner of East Wilson (specifically, Little Richmond neighborhood) shown in this 1946 plat map of D.C. “Cash” Williams‘ property between Maury and Railroad Streets was demolished for the construction of the Carl B. Renfro Bridge in the early 1970s. This collection of duplexes and endway (the local name for shotgun) houses would have housed mostly workers at one of several nearby oil mills and factories.
The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the duplexes on Maury, Gay, and Railroad Streets were already in place by then.
Here, via Google Maps, is Williams’ former block now. Railroad Street ends several hundred feet to the west. Taylor Street is gone. Gay Street peters out in a dead-end well short of its former terminus at Railroad. All of the houses have been torn down.
Plat map 4, page 56, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
Coroner’s Inquest over body of Willie Crank Dec 21st 1896
State of North Carolina, Wilson County }
Be it remembered that on the 21st day of December 1896 I William Harris a Conroner of said County attended by a Jury of Good and lawful men viz: J.F. Farmer, G.W. Ryan, Tom Hadley, Jas. Harris, R.C. Andrews, Wm. Hines col. by me summoned for that purpose according to law after being by me duly sworn and empanelled at Maggie Wade’s House in the county aforesaid did hold an inquest over the dead body of Willie Crank and after inquiring into the facts and circumstances of the death of the deceased from a view of the corpse and all the testimony to be procured the Jury find as follows that the said Willie Crank came to his death from a wound received in his head from the discharge of a pistol in the hands of Albert Tucker (col) /s/ J.F. Farmer, G.W. Bryan, Thos. J. Hadley Jr., James H. Hariss, R.C. Andrews, William Hines
Evidence of Witnesses
1st Witness — Easter Baldin col — was sitting on box & Albert Tucker was sitting on same box with his head in my lap & Willie Crank the deceased came around to window & said Easter & Tucker look like 2 old apes whereupon Tucker shot Willie through window & Jim English who was in house with us ran out & saw deceased & came back in house & said Tucker man you killed deceased. All of us went out & found deceased lying in a tub of water with left hand in his pocket. We bought him in house all 5 of us viz — Jim & Tom English, Maggie & Tom Wade & myself were in the house of Maggie Wade /s/ Easter Bolling
2nd Witness — Maggie Wade Me & my bro Tom Wade, Jim & Tom English & Easter Baldin were all in my house. I was laying across my bed nursing my baby & Easter was sitting in Tuckers lap. Deceased came around to window & knocked at window saying hello Mag, then said Easter you & Tucker look like 2 monkeys (or something like that) sitting there & thereupon Tucker pulled out his pistol & shot him through the window. Knew it was deceased from his voice. Occurred early in the night. As soon as the shooting, Jim English run out of house & i said why Tucker you have shot Willie. Tucker said no I reckon not. Tom English run out of house & said Lord Mag Willie is shot. Then Tucker went out of house & with Jim brought deceased in my door & his pistol dropped out of his pocket. /s/ Maggie Wade
3rd witness — Tom English col age about 14 we 5 witnesses all in Maggie Wage’s House & also Albert Tucker & deceased. Deceased went out to water closet & came back to window & nocked at window & said Tucker you & Easter sitting up there like 2 monkeys trying to play pretty. Tucker said get away from there before I shoot you & then pulled out his pistol & shot him. Tom (X) English
4th witness — Tom Wade col. Evidence same as the others. See below.
5th witness — Jim English col. Evidence about same. See below.
6th witness — Mattie Lewis col. Heard pistol shot & about 1 Hour afterward heard Albert Tucker kiss Easter Baldin & tell her that he would shoot any man for her. Gave her some money & told her to meet him in Rocky Mt Monday. Emiline Scott, Tom Jones & Lucy Scott & me followed Tucker from here up from as far as Wootten & Stevens shop & there Tucker ran away. Mattie (X) Lewis
7th witness — Dr Albert Anderson. About 7 1/2 o’clock I was called to Little Richmond and found a negro in a house no 2 with a gun shot wound entering the sckull about 1 1/2 in above left eye. There was brain tissue coming out of the opening and some hemorrhage. Breathing was irregular and stertorous. Circulation was good. From his Symptoms I thought he would die in few hours. /s/ Albert Anderson
4th witness — Tom Wade col. Willie Crank (deceased) came to window & knocked & said Easter you & Tucker look like two monkeys sitting there. Tucker said get away from there & drawer his gun out & shot Willie. /s/ Thomas Wade
5th witness — Jim English. We 5 were sitting in Maggie Wade’s house Willie came to window & knocked said Easter why don’t you & Tucker get up from there. You look like two monkeys trying to play pretty & Tucker said go on away & pulled out his pistol & shot Willie Jim (X) English
Recognizance of Witnesses
State of North Carolina, Wilson County
Mattie Lewis, Maggie Wage, Tom English, Tom Wade and Jim English, acknowledge themselves indebted to the State of North Carolina in the sum of One Hundred dollars, conditioned to be void nevertheless, in case they appear before the next term of the Superior Court of Wilson County, to be held at Wilson NC Monday February 1st 1897, to give evidence concerning the death of Willie Crank and not depart the County without leave. Taken and acknowledged before me this 21st day of December 1896. /s/ Wm. Harris, Coroner
Upon the recommendation of the Jury the witness Easter Bolling, is hereby turned over to J.W. Cherry Sheriff of Wilson County for safe keeping and appearance at next term at Superior Court of Wilson County viz Monday Feby 1/97. /s/ Wm. Harris, Coroner
Not surprisingly, given the transience and relative youth of Little Richmond’s denizens, I have found few traces of the victim or witnesses in Wilson County records.
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
That the deceased, Thomas Matthews, came to his death by a pistol shot wound inflicted by George W. Mumford, a policeman of the town of Wilson, in the lawful discharge of his duties in the execution of a certain warrant issued by the Mayor of the town of Wilson against the said Thomas Matthews for larceny. That said wound was necessary to prevent the escape of the deceased. And it further appearing that the said Mumford is in the custody of the sheriff , the jury recommends that he be forthwith discharged. /s/ W.L. Banks, T.H. Jones, B.T Amerson, B.H. Cozart, J.T. McCrow, J.W. Corbett
Testimony taken at a coroner’s inquear held over the body of Tom Matthews, C.W. Gold Special Coroner
Coroner’s Jury, State vs. Geo. Mumford
Mr. Mumford told me to assist him in making arrest, said he had a warrant vs. Tom Mathews, he went down by Graded School & come by later. He got to the house & come out at front door, the negro came out and he asked him to stop. Saw Mumford shout about 20 or 25 yards from deceased. Mumford kept hollowing at him to stop, the negro ran faster and kept running
Said he broke in Garris’ store about in Feby
Am a policeman in Wilson
Geo. M. is a police.
Started about 445 Garris store was broken into some time in Feb. I knew the goods were stolen & Tom Mathis was suspected. Mumford had arrested him in Feb. He was carried in Walston store & asked Walston to hold him, went for me & he had escaped. I took warrant vs. him & have been looking for him ever since first saw him. When I first saw Mumford the deceased was in the second house from the Graded School. Mumford kept hollowing stop. When first saw him he was about 10 ft when first told him to stop, he was running, M ran after him & ran all of 75 or 80 yds, kept hollowing stop, Mathis was going running away, he was about 60 ft from him when he shot. Heard Mumford say will shoot if don’t stop, also heard woman say stop. He could not have gotten him without shooting, he was going towards the woods & was nearly at the woods when he shot. Only 1 shot fired. I helped pick deceased up with Mumford & brought him back to the house. Deceased said he was the cause of it all, said it was all his fault that he had no business running he walked with us 60 or 70 yds got a dray brought him to sanatorium & then got a dray & carried him to station house. He did not read the warrant, said he did not need him to read Mumford had on police uniform badge & [illegible] knew we were policemen & that we had a warrant for him. /s/ W.F. Fulton
Dr. C.E. Moore
Negro was brought to my office, & had him sent to station house, where I examined him found him suffering from shock & internal hemorrhages. Sent for Dr. W.S. A[nderson] to assist in giving chloroform We saw evidence of ball have lodged in abdominal wall, 2 inches below ombillicus made prognostic closed him up the best we could made an incision over the ball & where the ball [section missing] there was a gush of blood showing the abdominal cavity was full of blood. Then executed the incision longer [illegible] to examine the abdominal cavity, found a good many loops punctured & the ball entered the posterior part of the left hip. Had he been in an erect position the ball would have passed through the thigh and been a harmless shot. Repaired we think all of the wounded intestines we could find. Think the immediate cause of his death was the shock & infection. Had a good pulse for 24 hours after we closed him up. Rendered service at instance of the gentlemen of the town and Mrs Mumford’s father. Should have been a harmless shot had he been in an erect position. The operation was a successful one & the patient in a good condition for 24 hours. /s/ C.E. Moore
Mary Frances Scott
I was standing in my house down near the Graded School, Tom ran out of the gate, Mumford behind. I hollowed at him to stop, he didn’t stop & Mumford shot him when at 50 yds. Tom was in Sarah Grants house across the street from me. Know the deceased well. Didn’t hear Mr. Mumford hollow stop, I was scared. Didn’t remember the position the deceased was running from me. Tom and I both knew Mr. Mumford was a policeman. Tom didn’t answer at all when I told him to stop, he kept on running and Tom was gaining, Tom was running and Mr. Mumford running after him.
First I saw was Mr M at steps at Tom at door, Tom and I both knew he was a policeman, Both were running every minute, Tom was gaining on him Tom was running to the woods as fast as he could, I hollowed when he first came out the gate if you haven’t done any thing stop. Saw no one at the time of the shooting Tom come so he said from Lbg., have heard he broke away from the chain gang there. Saturday evening is the first time, I think I have seen him since he went away, when were play children together and had he been here I would have seen him. I knew at the time I hollowed to him to stop that the police were after him. /s/ Mary Francis Scott
I come from Lbg. [Lynchburg, Virginia] about 3 years ago. Knew Mathis in Lbg. He was on the chain gang in Lynchburg. He was disposed to be fussy, was up before the mayor quite often. Know nothing about the killing. He left here about 2 or 3 months ago, didn’t see him until the last game Saturday before he was shot. Heard Tom accused of the Garris robbery. Knew Tom nearly all his life he was in trouble quite often in Lynchburg & several times on the chain gang. He worked here for Maury a little while this year. After Garris store was broken open Mr Felton asked me about “the boys” and I told him Little Andrew Brown about [passage missing, page torn] the Hobos and men like Tom and his crowd. /s/ Henry (X) Claxton, witness R.W. Mumford
Dr. W.S. Anderson
Saturday evening I went to the Station house & found the man with a ball in his abdomen 3 or 4 inches below navel. We decided from symptoms it was better to cut in & see the extent of his injury, after cutting thru the skin found ball & extracted it. Enlarged opening [passage missing] found several holes in there possibly 6 or 8, didn’t think to count the number sewed up. The deceased must have been stooping over when shot an ordinary stooping running position would cause such a wound as the deceased has. Had he been standing erect don’t think the ball would not have killed him. /s/ W.S. Anderson.
I know nothing about the killing. These knives (the ones shown him) are very much alike, if not the knives (2 large ones) I sold Mr Garris when I sold out to him. Don’t think I have ever seen in Wilson any knives like these except those I sold Garris. They are the same make or shape. Sold out to Garris abt. 18 Nov. 97. The knives are cheap knives not regularly sold thro the channels of trade. /s/ M.T. Cousins
Know nothing about the killing. The knives shown me are exactly like the knives stol from me when my store was broken open in Feb. Found the knives at Mr. G.W. Walston. They had been pond. Saw the knives the following week after my store were broken open. They are knives not usually sold, are too large. Saw dec’d in Walstons store, he was under arrest, recognized him as one who had been in my store several times. /s/ J.H. Garriss
Don’t know when the knives were left with me. Mr. Garris came over & saw the knives said they were like his, spoke to Mumford & he commenced to look into it. A few nights after M. brought in Tom Mathis & asked if he was the one left the knives there. I identified him as the one I got 2 of the knives. Mr. Mumford said if keep him there, he stepped out and the next I saw of the boy he went out the door. He (the decd) pawned there with me. I suspected at time of the knives being pawned they were those stolen of Garris, I then reported the matter to Mr. Mumford. Mr. Mumford was pointed out the deceased by my clerk. Never seen the dec’d since. When Mumford left the dec’d boy with me it was [illegible]. /s/ G.D. Walston
Know nothing about the killing or stealing. I was born in Lbg. Have known Tom about 13 yrs. He left Lbg. about 1 yr. ago. He was working in the factory at Lbg. Staying at his mothers and broke away from the chain gang when he left. Was put on the chain gang for resisting and fighting a policeman who attempted to arrest him. He then went to Richmond. Mathis trampled his way down here – by the frt [freight]. The last time he left there was account of the police being after him. /s/ George Athey
Was in Sarah Grants house & when I came to the door both were running. Mr. Mumford was going to the front door & Felton to the back door. Mathews said nothing he was sitting on the floor with me & others, raised up & saw Mumford, then hopped up jumped out of the door & ran. Was so far from me when they came out that couldn’t hear anything was said. There was in the house with me Warren Crank Sarah Grant & the deceased. I was the only one that saw him until after he was laying down. Tom stayed on the road all the time here last year about two months. Tom knew the policeman had out papers for him. Didn’t see him for some time until Friday night. Have known Tom 10 or 12 years, have lived in Little Richmond since I came here about 2 years ago. Tom said Monday morning following Saturday night after Garris saw him Friday night for the first time in some time. I heard some of them talking about Tom being in the robbery knew Mr. Mumford had us all three about some knives Both Tom & I knew M. was a policeman [illegible] Was on the road as a Tramp or Hobo [illegible] from that [illegible] don’t know. Had he been here I would have seen him. Tom heard this. There is what is called a “Band” down in Little Richmond, composed of people who don’t work, they offer for sale goods of different kinds, such as soap, handkerchiefs, they were all together, Tom stopped with 2 others stayed out in the street there were 5 in all 2 came in and Tom & 2 others stayed in the street. Haven’t seen anything of the band since the Garris store was broken in. Heard from my wife that Tom was in trouble in Richmond about shooting at a policeman. There is lots of complaint among the better class of store was broken in follow me & lets go up street & get drunk had only 10 cents the day before, he was not working. Mr. Mumford had Jim English Tom Mathis & myself to go on Monday to see about some knives of Mr. Garris. Mr. Mumford recovered Mr Garris [section missing] ran out of this side door & didn’t see him any more until Friday before the shooting. Tom knew the police were after him. Tom was running pretty fast & Mumford after him, he was 50 or 60 yards from him when Mumford shot. He would have gotten away had not Mumford shot him /s/ Orion Crank
Know Geo. W. Mumford, have know him since a boy his general character is good
Am town clerk Came into contact with Mumford daily his character for a police officer is good
Geo. W. Mumford is a policeman, his character is very good. He is one of the best policemen I have ever had. He surrendered to the sheriff Saturday evening. I signed his bond for $500.00 for his appearance. Have always considered him of a very even temperament.
Geo. W. Mumford
I knew Thos. Mathis, have known him since he first came here. I am a policeman of the town of Wilson have been such since Feby 1897. On Saturday night the later part of Feby 1899 Mr Garris store was broken open. The next week Mr. Walston called my attention to 2 knives I then saw Garris & he said he believed they were his knives. I swore out a warrant & the next day went down to the store. The boy was pointed out by Walstons clerk I saw him carried him to Walston and he identified the boy as the one who had pawned the knives. Left him with Walston when I came back he had gone. Mr [passage missing] him Saturday and went down with a warrant after him. (Warrant is shown and read) I asked Mr. Frank Felton to help me to arrest him, he went down Saratoga road and I the Stantonsburg road got thru first saw dec’d thru window, he ran out the door, I hollowed to him to stop, he saw Felton and turned to the woods. I hollowed if you don’t stop at least 20 times [illegible] shoot & did shoot after he had got over a ditch. Shot to try & stop him. I could not stop him he was going [illegible] me. We were about 10 or 12 ft when I first started after him, he was all of 40 ft before I shot. Heard several women hollering at him to stop. I had no grudges or ill feelings against him. He knew me, my beat being below the RR am known to most of the people below there. I shot him in an attempt to arrest him, could not have gotten him otherwise. I surrendered to the sheriff Saturday evening. I could have killed him had I desired when in a few feet of him. I ran him fully 75 feet before I shot. /s/ G.W. Mumford
[Sidenote: Officer Mumford went on to become a Wilson County deputy sheriff. He was killed in 1911 in a shoot-out while trying to arrest members of the “Louis West Gang.” More about that notorious set of events later.]
Coroner’s Records, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives; federal population schedules, 1900; North Carolina Deaths, 1906-1930 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line], www.ancestry.com.
In 1895, Richmond Maury Tobacco Company of Danville, Virginia, purchased a site at the south corner of South Railroad and Stemmery (then Taylor) Streets and erected a five-story frame building. (The original building burned in 1920 and was replaced by a three-story building in 1922.) Richmond Maury operated a tobacco stemmery here, a facility in which the stem of a cured tobacco leaf was stripped prior to processing for packing and shipping. In 1896, Maury sold the plant to Tobacco Warehousing Trading Company of Virginia, which retained the Richmond Maury name. The stemmery employed scores of African-Americans, and a 9 January 1896 article in the Wilson Advance asserted that three or four hundred people had shown up at a labor call. The factory needed experienced hands, however, and brought in workers from Virginia to fill its needs. This influx of laborers had to be housed, and in June 1896 the Wilson Daily Times reported approvingly on Richmond Maury’s plans for a mill village called “Little Richmond.”
Wilson Daily Times, 11 June 1896.
Sanborn map, Wilson, North Carolina, December 1897.
Over the next four months, the company brought in more than one hundred factory hands by train.
Wilson Daily Times, 14 August 1896.
Wilson Daily Times, 16 October 1896.
The boosterish mood quickly faded, however. Just two weeks after “a car load of 50 negroes” from Lynchburg arrived, the editor of the Times complained that Little Richmond was already a “young hell” well on its way to ruining Wilson’s reputation: “We stand and wonder at each outrage and think, well perhaps this is the climax — but instead it gets worse.” He attributed a swelling crime rate to the influx of African-Americans drawn by Wilson’s tobacco boom and urged immediate intervention.
Wilson Daily Times, 30 October 1896.
Richmond Maury got the hint. Blaming the problem on “outsiders” raising ruckuses, it hired a personal prosecutor to make sure that all Little Richmond residents charged with crimes felt the heavy hand of justice.
Wilson Advance, 11 March 1897.
Here’s Colonel Bruton in action:
Wilson Advance, 11 March 1897.
Seven months later, the cutting and shooting continued unchecked.
Wilson Daily Times, 15 October 1897.
A month later, the Wilson Advance described “the Little Richmond Negroes” as workers bought from Danville, Lynchburg and other old tobacco centers to work in Wilson’s new stemmeries. The paper had no suggestions for dealing with this “source of annoyance.”
Wilson Advance, 11 November 1897.
Thirteen years later, Little Richmond (and Grabneck, a black neighborhood north of downtown) remained a disagreeable locale to many, as indicated by concerns raised over the possible placement of passenger rail station in the neighborhood.
Wilson Daily Times, 24 June 1910.
So just where was Little Richmond? (Editor’s note: I’d never heard of it.) Though the landscape is much changed, the basic street grid is not, and the section is not hard to find.
What’s there now? Not much. The houses of Little Richmond were clustered along Railroad and Stemmery Streets and across the tracks on Layton and Wayne Streets. Few remain, and none on Railroad or Stemmery. (The sole set of cottages left on Stemmery date from a later period.) On-line aerial maps show the factory that replaced Richmond Maury, but they are outdated. The buildings were demolished in 2013.