Mercy Hospital

Tributes to Dr. L.V. Grady.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 February 1936.

After faltering in the 1920s, Wilson’s Black hospital reorganized and reopened as non-profit Mercy Hospital in 1930. Carolina General Hospital’s Dr. Leland V. Grady was instrumental in guiding Mercy’s administrators through the hospital’s earliest years, and William Hines and Camillus L. Darden penned tributes to him at his death.

An appeal for aid.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1930.

After struggling financially for many years, in 1930 the African-American hospital on East Green Street reopened as non-profit Mercy Hospital, the name by which it is best known, with support from the Duke Foundation and the Julius Rosenwald Foundation. Though Mercy did not admit white patients, it had an integrated Board of Trustees. Its president and vice-president were white, but William Hines, secretary/treasurer, retained his duties as chief hospital administrator.

Bazaar to benefit the hospital.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 December 1916.

A few years after it opened, friends of the Wilson Colored Hospital (later known as Mercy) held a pop-up shop of sorts in the Odd Fellows Hall on East Nash Street to raise money for indigent tuberculosis patients. On offer, clothing, but mostly undoubtedly delicious food — barbecue, chicken salad, oysters, sausages, sandwiches, sweets and ice cream.

Benefit for Mercy Hospital.

Unlike this benefit in 1930, the program below was aimed at an African-American audience.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1946.

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New historical markers.

Though the coronavirus pandemic has forestalled the customary installation ceremonies, Wilson County Historical Association has erected two of four planned markers commemorating significant African-American people and places in Wilson’s history.

Charles H. Darden. Born in Greene County, 1854. Arrived in Wilson after Civil War. In 1875, here established the first African-American funeral business in Wilson, diversified by son C.L. Darden. Operated for more than 100 years. Local high school named in his honor. (Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church is at rear.)

Dr. Frank S. Hargrave. Born in Lexington, NC. Graduated Leonard Medical School, 1901. Arrived in Wilson, 1903. Founder and Chief of Staff, Mercy Hospital. In 1914, elected President, National Medical Ass’n. President, Lincoln Benefit Society. Home was at 624 E. Green St. (Hargrave’s former home is at left, and Samuel and Annie Washington Vick‘s at right.)

I collaborated with W.C.H.A. on the subject, text, and siting of these markers. I give thanks to the Association and honor to these ancestors.

Allen is getting along nicely.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 June 1937.

Allen died two days later of complications from her surgery.

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In the 1900 census of Stewarts Creek township, Harnett County, N.C.: farmer Ed Armstrong, 29; wife Mary, 25; and six daughters Josephine, 12, Ella, 9, Mary, 6, Rachel, 5, Ola, 3, and Julia, 1.

In the 1910 census of Duke township, Harnett County: farmer Ed Armstrong, 45; wife Cornelia, 45; and children Ellie, 19, Mamie, 17, Rachael, 15, Viola, 14, Julia, 12, Maggie, 10, Ernest, 8, and James, 6.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Allen James B (c; Rachel) rest 217 S Goldsboro h 900 Atlanta [217 S. Goldsboro is the site of today’s Worrell’s Seafood.]

On 26 November 1929, Rachel Armstrong, 36, of Harnett County, daughter of Eddie Armstrong and Lelia Smith, married James Bland Allen, 45, divorced, of Craven County, N.C., son of Wyatt Allen and Eliza Hicks, in Greensville County, Virginia.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 900 Atlantic Street, cafe proprietor Jim Allen, 45; wife Rachel, 32, private nurse; children Elouise, 10, and Fred, 8; and these lodgers — farm laborer Floyd Baker, 26; cook Gertrude Kannary, 27; and Katherine, 10, Martha, 7, and Elouise Baker, 1.

Rachel Allen died 5 June 1937 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born about 1897 in Dunn, N.C., to Edward and Cornelius [sic] Armstrong; was married to James Allen; lived at 405 East Green Street; and worked as a midwife and hospital nurse. Informant was Maggie Armstrong, Durham, N.C.

Boxcar.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 8 June 1913.

Joe Saunders was arrested for shooting Charles Coley at a house at 114 Wiggins Street. Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home (later known as Mercy) did not open until 1914. Other hospitals in town would not admit African-Americans, so Coley was carried to a boxcar to die or recuperate.

 

 

Benefit for Mercy Hospital.

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“All receipts given to colored hospital,” Wilson Daily Times, 11 April 1930.

This advertisement touts a midnight variety show and movie screening to benefit Mercy Hospital. The institution, in continuous financial straits, had recently been sold at auction to businessman Wade H. Gardner.

Though the ad is not explicit, it seems to be directed at a white audience. James Edward Andrews, Carl S. Hinnant (described in the 1930 federal census of Wilson as an orchestra musician), Sidney Willoughby and Lester Rose were local white men, and a “black face comedy act” would not have had primary appeal to an African-American audience.