A closer look at the 1872 map of Wilson.

In a post about the 1872 E.B. Mayo map of Wilson, I erroneously stated that Lemon Taborn‘s barber shop was the only African-American landmark depicted. A close look at a clearer image of the map revealed two others.

Tilman McGowan‘s house was on Vance Street northwest of Pine Street. McGowan was the long-time jail keeper in Wilson. His house and the lot on which it was situated were sold at auction after McGowan’s death.

On Tarboro Street, west of Barnes, there is a reference to “Jack Williams Black Smith Shop,” which is likely to have been the workshop of blacksmith Jack Williamson.

Sam Vick and his assistants.


Wilson Mirror, 26 February 1890.


Wilson Mirror, 1 April 1891.


Wilson Mirror, 11 August 1891.


Raleigh Morning Post, 14 July 1898.


Raleigh Morning Post, 4 January 1902.


Raleigh Morning Post, 8 April 1903.

  • Samuel H. Vick
  • Braswell R. Winstead
  • Levi H. Peacock
  • Jim Thorp — On 22 March 1900, James J. Thorp, 22, of Wilson, son of Edy Thorp, married Hattie Bunn, 17, daughter of Joshua and Emma Bunn, at Joshua Bunn‘s house in Wilson. Richard Renfrow applied for the license, and Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Hilliard Ellis, Levi Jones and Phyllis Ellis. In the 1912 Wilson city directory, James Thorp, insurance agent, is listed at 654 Viola Street.
  • Fannie McGowan — on 30 August 1905, at the bride’s residence on Vance Street, Henry Matt Daniel, 40, son of Dave and Flora Daniel, married Flora McGowan, 28, parents unknown. A.M.E. Zion minister N.D. King performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Moore, J.S. Spell, and Mack Sharp.

The last will and testament of Esther McGowan.

I, Esther McGowan of the County of Wilson and State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, do make and declare this to be my last Will and Testiment in manner and form following to wit: First that my executor hereinafter named shall provide for my body a decent burial suitable to the wishes of my relatives and friends, and pay all my funeral expenses together with my just debts howsoever and to whomsoever owing out of the first monies that shall come into his hands as a part or parcel of my estate.

Item 1st  I give and devise unto my beloved grand daughter Alice Moore All the property which I have except such as shall be hereinafter set forth, to the said Alice Moore to have and to hold to her self the said Alice Moore during her natural life.

Item 2nd I give and devise to my great-grand children, namely: Charlie Moore and Hester Moore one bed each.

Item 3rd After the death of the said Alice Moore, all of said property given and devised to her shall be given to the heirs of the said Alice Moore, during their natural lives, and after their deaths, then to their heirs and assigns forever And lastly I hereby constitute and appoint my friend Charles Battle Executor to this my last Will and Testiment. I hereby declare utterly void all former Wills and Testiments made by me In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal. This the 18th day of July A.D. 1895.  Esther (X) McGowan

Witnesses /s/ S.A. Smith, Chas. H. Darden


In the 1870 census of the Town of Wilson, Wilson County: Estha McGowan, 70, and Alice McGowan, 16.

On 28 January 1875, Prince Moore, 21, married Allice McGowan, 22, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County, Esther McGowan, 65; daughter Alice, 25, cook; and son-in-law Prince Moore, 25, laborer.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed cook Alice Moore, 40, with children Hester, 12, and Wilbert T., 11.

In the 1910 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 923 Para Street, Alice Moore, 49; son Charles, 27, a store porter; daughter-in-law Lizzie, 30; grandson Sylvester T., 1; and son Wilbert, 16. Alice, Charles and Wilbert were born in North Carolina; Lizzie in Tennessee; and Sylvester in Indiana.

In the 1920 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 809 West Pratt Street, Charles Moore, 38; wife Elizabeth, 40; children Sylvester, 11, Beatrice, 7, and Ruth, 6; mother Alice, 65; and brother Wilbur, 26.

In the 1930 census of Indianapolis, Indiana: at 809 West Pratt Street, hotel porter Charles Moore, 38; wife Elizabeth, 50; children Sylvester, 21, a station porter, Beatrice, 17, and Ruth, 16; mother Alice, 65; brother Wilbert, 37, a railroad station janitor, and nephew Wilbert Jr., 10.

Alice Moore died 4 June 1946 at her home at 809 West 9th Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. Her death certificate reports that she was born 10 March 1852 [the year is incorrect] in Wilson, North Carolina, to John Bright and Mary McGown; that she had resided in Indianapolis for 43 years; that she was buried in Crown Hill cemetery; and that her informant was Charles Moore.

Charles Moore died at home on 27 May 1947 in Indianapolis, Indiana. His death certificate reports that he was born 22 November 1883 in Wilson, North Carolina, to Prince Moore and Alice McGowan; was married to Elizabeth Moore; worked as a porter at Fannie May’s Candy Shop; and was buried in Crown Hill cemetery.

Wilbert T. Moore died 14 February 1963 at his home at 937 Camp Street in Indianapolis, Indiana. His death certificate reports that he was born 6 November 1896 in Wilson, North Carolina; was married to Ida Moore; worked as a laborer for B&O railroad; and was buried in Crown Hill cemetery.


The colored jailer.

For at least five years, and presumably more, Tilghman McGowan was the jailer at Wilson’s town hoosegaw. He is known primarily from unflattering mentions in the newspaper.

Here, he is deservedly chastised for beating a small African-American boy:

8 20 1887

Wilson Mirror, 20 August 1887.

Here, he is mocked for allowing an inmate to escape at dinner time:

9 13 1887

Wilson Mirror, 13 September 1887.

And here, he and his unnamed wife receive a treacly double obituary:

2 17 1892

Wilson Mirror, 17 February 1892.

McGowan’s hut may have been lowly, but he seems to have owned it, and in late 1894, a half-acre lot he’d owned just across from Maplewood cemetery was sold at auction. (I have not found evidence of any probate records for McGowan, so do not know whether the sale was occasioned by an estate settlement.)

12 19 1894

Wilson Mirror, 19 December 1894.


In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Setta Whitfield, 37, domestic servant; Gross Conner, 18, a white news dealer; Tillman McGown, 35, farm laborer, wife Charity, 36, and children Amy, 17, Lucinda, 15, Aaron, 20, Ira, 5, Delia A., 7, Nathan, 3, and Courtney, 1.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Tilman McGown, 43, wife Charity, 49,  and children Delia A., 18, Ira R., 15, and Nathan, 13.