Winstead was born about 1866 in Wilson County to Riley Robbins and Melissa Winstead. Melissa Winstead died about 1880, leaving three heirs — adult daughters Jennie Smith, wife of Charles Smith, and Eliza Joyner, wife of Joe Joyner, and minor son Braswell Winstead (whose name is first listed as John Braswell.) Two of the children filed in Wilson County Superior Court to have their mother’s lot in Wilson township partitioned into equal parts. There was a problem though — the lot was too small to yield useful thirds. Accordingly, the Smiths and Braswell Winstead were petitioning for the sale of the property with six weeks’ notice in the local paper for the benefit of the Joyners, who lived in Georgia. The petition was granted.
Charles and Virginia Smith
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Roberts Winstead, 26, farm laborer; Caleshea, 28; Eliza, 15; Virginia, 13; Barnwell [Braswell], 7; Caroline, 19; Simmons, 17; Prince, 14; Frank, 7; and Harret Winstead, 7. [The relationships between the members of this household are not clear. Eliza, Virginia “Jenny,” and Braswell were siblings, but I am not sure about the others.]
On 28 August 1874, Charly Smith, 22, married Jennie Barnes, 17, in Wilson County.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, minister Charles Smith, 26; wife Virginia, 22; and children Arminta, 7, John T., 3, and Charles H., 1; and brother-in-law Braswell Winstead, 20, teaching school.
Joseph and Eliza Winstead Joyner
In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Roberts Winstead, 26, farm laborer; Caleshea, 28; Eliza, 15; Virginia, 13; Barnwell [Braswell], 7; Caroline, 19; Simmons, 17; Prinnce, 14; Frank, 7; and Harret Winstead, 7.
On 3 June 1879, Joseph Joyner, 24, and Eliza Winstead, 23, were married in Wilson County by A.M.E. Zion minister R.B. Bonner in the presence of A. Lindsay, Joseph Hinton, and Jas. Harriss.
In the 1880 census of Wayne County, Georgia: Robert Roberson, 30, and wife Hattie; Joseph Joyner, 25, and wife Eliza, 22; and Jacob Dove, 30, and wife Susan, 25. All were born in North Carolina, except Susan Dove, who was born in Florida. All the men worked turpentine.
We did a little trip down to Cordele, Georgia, this weekend. Once there, I was a little hazy on the directions, but I spotted A.S. Clark Drive and knew we were good.
Augustus S. Clark was among the cohort of (mostly) young men who erupted from Wilson in the 1880s and ’90s,* determined to lead. Born in the final days of slavery, or just after, they drank in everything J.C. Price and Samuel H. Vick poured at Wilson Academy, went straight to university (often at Lincoln, their instructors’ alma mater), then set out, in Clark’s later words, to “… do what I can for the uplift of my people.”
Dr. Augustus S. Clark (1874-1959). (Photo courtesy of Frank T. Wilson, ed., “Living Witnesses: Black Presbyterians in Ministry II,” Journal of Presbyterian History, volume 53, number 3 (Fall 1985).)
For his part, in 1902 Clark founded, with his wife Annie, the Gillespie Normal School, later Gillespie-Selden Institute, in Cordele. In 1925, the institute added an hospital. (The closest Black medical facility was 142 miles away in Atlanta.) I’ve written of Gillespie-Selden here and finally went to see it.
Gillespie Institute Founded By Rev. and Mrs. Augustus Clark September 1, 1902 Served By Them Until October 1, 1941 Alumni 1942
The school complex forms the heart of Cordele’s Gillespie-Selden Historic District. Below, the school’s administration building, built in 1935.
The girls’ dormitory below, built in 1929, is the most imposing building in the neighborhood.
A rear addition has been largely torn down, and an open door grants access to the interior.
The building holds evidence of fairly recent use as a family resource and daycare center, as well as squatters. All things considered though, it is in pretty good condition.
This room runs the length of the back wall on the first floor.
At the front of the building, a series of small interconnected rooms flanks a central entry hall. I didn’t venture upstairs.
The cornerstone of the girls’ dormitory.
A marble plaque inlaid by the class of 1929.
The President’s House, also known as Dr. Clark’s house, which sits just to the west of the girls’ dormitory. The Clarks retired from active teaching and school leadership in 1941.
Below, Saint Paul Presbyterian, also founded by Rev. Clark. The tin-roofed section at right appears to be the original church, updated with brick.
Gillespie-Selden Institute closed in 1956 when Cordele finally erected a high school for African-American students. Named in honor of A.S. Clark, the school eventually converted to an elementary school, but closed in 2014. The building is now under development as a non-profit biomedical institute.
For more about Gillespie-Selden Historic District, see the Gillespie-Selden Historic District National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, which contains this passage:
“Within the Gillespie-Selden Historic District, the outreach missionary role of Dr. Augustus S. Clark (1874-1959) and St. Paul Presbyterian Church is significant to the development of the neighborhood. Dr. Clark completed his theological training at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1897; he was sent by the Presbyterian National Board of Missions to Cordele in 1898 as a missionary to help the struggling Portis Memorial Presbyterian Church. During that same year, a loan was secured from the Board of the Church Erection Fund of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church for the construction of a new church building to be named St. Paul Presbyterian Church.
“In 1902, Dr. Clark and his wife, Anna, realized that there were less than adequate educational institutions for African-Americans to attend in Cordele as well as the entire southwest region of the state. Dr. Clark taught elementary-level and Sunday-school classes in the basement of St. Paul Presbyterian Church, but found he needed more space. … By 1904, enough money had been donated by white members of northern Presbyterian churches, especially the Gillespie family of Pittsburgh, that three buildings of the school complex were constructed. …”
When Nellie Bullock Whitehead made out her will on 10 November 1949, she was very clear that only her daughters Anna Whitehead Hagans and Elnora Whitehead Sauls would inherit.
Nellie Bullock Whitehead was a native of Wilson County; her husband John Whitehead was from Georgia. I have not found a marriage license for them, but they lived in Dodge County, Georgia, in 1910, and all their children were born in Georgia. By 1920, they had returned to live in Nellie Whitehead’s home county.
In the 1910 census of Mullis township, Dodge County, Georgia: John Whitehead, 26; wife Nellie, 25; and sons Edmund, 7, and Will. H., 4.
In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on S.H. Crocker Farm Road, tenant farmer, John Whitehead, 37; wife Nellie, 36; children E.K., 16, William H., 13, Anna V.O., 7, Anna Nula, 5, and J.B., 4; and great-uncle[?] Josh Whitehead.
In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, express laborer [no first name] Whitehead, 49; wife Ella, 45; and children Anna V., 17, Nora, 16, John, 14, and William, 24. All were born in Georgia except Ella [Nellie], who was born in North Carolina.
John Whitehead died in Wilson on 24 October 1937. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old; was born in Georgia to Joshua Whitehead and Georgian Melvin; was married to Nellie Whitehead; lived at 1513 Nash Street; and worked as a meat packer.
In the 1940 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: widow Nellie Whitehead, 56; son J.B., 24, truck driver for a contractor; daughter Anna Hagans, 27, tobacco company stemmer; son-in-law Henry Hagans, 32, town garbage remover; and daughter Elnora Whitehead, 26.
John Baptist Whitehead registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1915 in Chester, Georgia; lived at Route 4, Box 39, Wilson; worked for Imperial Tobacco, Barnes Street; and his contact was his mother, Nellie Whitehead.
Nellie B. Whitehead died 27 March 1951 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 August 1884 in Elm City, N.C., to Equia B. Bullock and William Ann Barnes and was a widow. Anna B. Hagans was informant.
Months after the fact, a North Carolina newspaper picked up this blurb about the murder allegedly committed by a Wilson man:
Wilmington Messenger, 1 August 1893.
This short account appeared in an Atlanta paper just after the crime:
The Atlanta Constitution, 4 April 1893.
After Courney’s execution, The Constitution ran a deeply detailed story of Courney’s life and the events that led to Smith’s death:
The Atlanta Constitution, 29 July 1893.
Jim Courney — His real name was Burroughs Kearney. Though not found in Wilson County records, in the 1880 census of Shocco township, Warren County, North Carolina: farmer Logan Kearney, 45; wife Virginia, 35; and children Burroughs, 15, Lucy, 13, Cherrie, 10, Cilla, 7, George, 4, and Emely, 3. The family appears in the 1870 census of Sparta township, Edgecombe County, and Burroughs Kearney was married there in 1887.
A.B. Caldwell, ed., The History of the American Negro and His Institutions, Georgia Edition (1917).
“On June 26, 1907, [Newton Alexander Doyle] was married to Miss Ella Stokes, a daughter of Henry and Charity Stokes, of Wilson, N.C. Prior to her marriage she was a teacher. They have three children: Geraldine, Christine and Leonora.”
Dr. Newton A. Doyle, 33, of Gainesville, Georgia, married Ella Stokes, 24, of Wilson on 26 June 1907. [Their license reports Ella’s parents as unknown. The 1880 census of Jackson township, Nash County: farm laborer Thomas Stokes, 27, wife Charity, 31, and their children, including daughter Ella, 7. This Ella Stokes is several years older than Ella Stokes Doyle.] Dr. Frank S. Hargrave applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Moses Brandon‘s house in the presence of Estella Holden and Roberta Battle. [Presumably the couple met at Shaw University.]
In the 1910 census of Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia: at 60 Athens Street, physician Nathan [sic] A. Doyle, 35; wife Ella, 30; daughter Julia, 1; and sister Florence, 20, a public school teacher.
On 12 September 1918, Newton Alexander Doyle registered for the World War I draft in Hall County. Per his registration card, he was born 30 September 1873; resided at 60 Athens Street, Gainesville; worked as a physician; and was of medium build with gray eyes and sandy hair. Ella Doyle was his nearest relative.
In the 1920 census of Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia: at 60 Athens Street, physician Newton O. Doyle, 45; wife Ella, 39; and daughters Geraldine, 10, Christine, 8, and Ella Lenore, 6.
In the 1930 census of Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia: at 60 Athens Street, physician Newton A. Doyle, 56; wife Ella, 49; daughters Christine, 19, and Lenora, 17; and nephew Willie, 25, a drug store clerk.
Newton A. Doyle died 18 January 1936 in Gainesville. His estate, perhaps battered by the Depression, was relatively modest: mortgaged vacant lots in Gainesville and Jefferson County, Alabama; the stock of medicines and merchandise in his drugstore at 78 Athens Street; a second-hand Essex automobile; and the furnishings and accessories of his home and business, many yet unpaid for.
In the 1940 census of Gainesville, Hall County, Georgia: on “street S. of Queen near Negro School,” Burnette W. Gallman, 31, public school principal; wife Lenora D., 26, school teacher; and mother-in-law Ella Doyle, 61.
Keowee Courier (Pickens, South Carolina), 3 July 1907.
The Rev. Dr. Willie Oliver Wells Sr.–- pastor of Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, in Cocoa, Florida, for more than 50 years, well-known civil rights leader, and great servant of the Lord in church and civic affairs –- died on November 4, 2015. He was 84.
Rev. Wells was an inspiring leader who identified with the struggle for decency, justice and security for all people. The U.S. Army veteran served the church and his country with fearless courage and was a champion of all causes he believed to be right. His kind, friendly spirit will be missed, especially by those who worked closely with him.
Rev. Wells rendered faithful service and will long be remembered for his many contributions to the betterment of our community. Not the least of these is the part he played in the development of affordable housing for local residents, equal opportunity employment, and his leadership and courageous support of racial justice.
Rev. Wells was born on April 11, 1931, in Miami. He was the youngest of seven children born to Lillie and Rev. Oliver W. Wells Sr., pastor of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, Fort Lauderdale.
He graduated from Dillard High School in 1949 and attended Bethune Cookman College on a football scholarship. During his sophomore year, his father passed, and he entered the U.S. Army. He attended leadership school in Virginia, and was stationed in Germany for two years. Afterwards, he attended Fisk University and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. Also, he attended the American Baptist Theological Seminary in Nashville, and graduated with a Bachelor of Theology degree in 1955.
In 1955, he married Annie Ruth Collins of Cocoa. The couple lived in Tennessee, and he was pastor of Westwood Baptist Church, Nashville, for two years.
In 1959, when there was a vacancy for a pastor at Greater St. Paul Baptist Church, Rev. Wells was selected to fill that position. Then, the couple moved to Cocoa.
At that time, blacks were barred from public beaches, parks, restrooms and restaurants, in Brevard County and elsewhere. Rev. Wells worked to change the oppressive “Jim Crow” laws. During the early 1960’s, Rev. Wells was a Freedom Rider who led non-violent civil protests. He was an original member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference -–along with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.–- and during his lifetime Rev. Wells spearheaded many projects to combat racism, poverty, drug abuse and crime. He was instrumental in bringing about desegregation in Brevard County, where he led anti-segregation campaigns and held various civic leadership positions.
He served as president of the Brevard County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, vice-president of the Florida branch of the NAACP, and chairman of the Redevelopment Commission of the City of Cocoa.
Rev. Wells established the Community Action Agency of Brevard, which provided low-income day care centers; Project Uplift, a fund for interest free loans to the church’s members; and in 1968, he constructed two low-rent apartment complexes, Shull Manor in Melbourne and Tropical Manor in Merritt Island. In 1978, Dr. Wells led Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in building a $1.2 million complex.
Dr. Annie Ruth Wells passed in 2008. Rev. Wells retired as pastor of Greater St. Paul Baptist Church in 2011. He leaves to mourn his passing his four children, Rev. Willie Oliver Wells Jr. (Jimmie Lee), Rev. Oliver W. Wells (Linda), and Annette O. Wells, all of Cocoa; and Dee Dee Wells (Michael) of Maryland; and 10 grandchildren.
Florida civil rights leader Rev. W.O. Wells had roots in Wilson County. His grandfather Burt Wells was born in Toisnot township circa 1872 to Alexander and Nancy Joyner Wells and migrated to south Georgia in the late 1800s. Burt Wells’ son Oliver W. Wells, born in 1895 in Willacoochee, Georgia, was Rev. W.O. Wells’ father.
On 28 May 1868, Ellick Wells, son of Kain and Milly Wells, married Nancy Joyner, daughter of Polly Joyner, at Harris Winstead’s in Wilson County.
On 19 December 1868, Isaac Wells,son of Cain and Milly Wells, married Clarky Farmer, daughter of Ben Dowley and Ellen Dowly, at C.C. Barnes’ in Wilson County.
In 1868, Cain Wells obtained a license to marry Sarah Braswell, daughter of Quincy Braswell. The license was not registered with the Wilson County clerk and, presumably, the couple never married.
Toney Wells, son of Cain and Milly Wells, married Laura Ethridge, daughter of Julia Ethridge, in Liberty township, Nash County, on 30 January 1869.
In the 1870 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Ellick Wells, 26, Nancy, 18, Clara, 2, and Milly Batchelor, 70.
Nancy died in the early 1870s, and, on 3 August 1879, Alex Wells, 33, married Easter Parker, 22, in Wilson County.
In the 1880 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Al’x Wells, 35, wife Easter, 19, and children Delpha, 10, Birt, 8, and Arnold, 7.
Delphia Wells married William Drake on 1 July 1888 at A.F. Williams’ in Toisnot township.
In perhaps the early 1890s, Burt Wells and perhaps his father Alex moved from Wilson County to south Georgia. The 1900 census of Pearson township, Coffee County, Georgia, shows: Alexander Wells, 60, born in North Carolina, with his wife of seven years, Mary Ann, 40. Burt is not found in the 1900 census, but the World War I draft registrations of his oldest sons Willie, Oliver and Dewey show that they were born in Coffee (now Atkinson) County, Georgia.
In the 1910 census of Pearson township, Coffee County, Georgia: farmer Burt Wells, 45, wife Susie, 34, and children Sindy, 15, Elisah, 14, Willie, 12, Oliver, 11, Duey, 10, Oscar, 8, Delphy, 7, Squire, 6, Arnold, 4, Felton, 2, boarder Solomon Street, 21.
In the 1920 census of Pearson township, Atkinson County, Georgia: on Columbine Road, Burt Wells, 50, wife Lela, 30, and children Dewey, 22, Arnel, 13, Felton, 10, Osie, 3½, and Odom, 1 1/2.
In the 1930 census of Military District 1026, Atkinson County, Georgia: North Carolina-born Bert Wells, 60, wife Lelia, 37, and children Ocie, 13, Odom, 11.
Like thousands of North Carolinians, Harry and Pet Sharp left Wilson County for better opportunities. However, unlike most African-American migrants, they headed south. A clue to their unusual movement is found in the 1900 census of Tatnall County, in which Harry’s occupation was listed as woods rider. A woods rider was a foreman on horseback who oversaw the rough labors of the turpentine workers moving on foot through brutally hot, rattlesnake-infested forests, “dipping” pine gum. With eastern North Carolina’s longleaf pines bled to ruin, its large and lucrative naval stores industry shifted southward to Georgia and Florida, with displaced workers in its wake. The Sharps were among them.
This Sharp family portrait was probably taken about 1900 in Georgia.
In the 1870 census of Otter Creek, Edgecombe County, North Carolina: Gustin Sharp, 51, wife Bithy, 54, and children Lisha, 16, Harry 12, and Amanda, 10.
In the 1880 census of Auters Creek, Edgecombe County: Gustin Sharp, 63, wife Bythy, 65, and children or grandchildren Sarah, 18, Harry, 23, and Green, 15.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Nelson Farmer, 30, wife Rose, 45, children Pett, 10, and Luke, 6, nieces Jimmie Ann, 14, and Lou, 10, and Rose’s children Daniel, 21, Lear, 18, and Jef, 16.
On 30 January 1889, H.H. Sharp, 31, of Wilson, married Pett Farmer, 19, of Wilson, at G.S Sharp’s in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister J.T.Clark performed the ceremony before B.R. Winstead, William Connor and John Hardy.
In the 1900 census of Lyons, Tattnall County, Georgia: woods rider Harry Sharpe, 38, wife Pet, 30, and children Rena, 10, Lela, 8, Jessie, 5, Menar, 5, Cora, 2, and Mittie, 5 months. Rena was born in North Carolina; the remaining children in Georgia.
In the 1910 census of Toombs County, Georgia: farmer Harry H. Sharpe, 53, wife Pet, 40, and children Rena, 21, Jessie, 17, Mena, 13, Cora, 12, James, 9, David, 8, Harry, 6, Green, 4, and Caesar, 2 months.
Harry Sharp died in 1917, and Pet Farmer Sharp died in 1945, both in Toombs County, Georgia.
Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user lavoniarcarter.
The Gillespie-Selden Historic District is located in southwest Cordele, Georgia, and is roughly bounded by US 280/GA 30 (16th Avenue) to the south, 13th Avenue and the CSX Railroad to the north, 11th Street to the east, and 15th Street to the west. The Gillespie-Selden neighborhood centers around the Gillespie-Selden Institute campus on West 15th Avenue.
The Gillespie Normal School was founded in 1902 by Dr. Augustus S. Clark and his wife, Anna Clark, to provide educational facilities for African-American boys and girls. The school was named in recognition of the Gillespie family of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, whose financial gift made the school possible. The Clarks met the Gillespies during a Presbyterian Conference in South Carolina. With the financial gift, the Clarks were able to build a school and support a boarding program. Students from the eastern section of the United States, such as New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, attended the school. Some of the students worked as laborers in the rail yards to attend the institute.
Gillespie-Selden Institute originally consisted of two wood-framed buildings, a faculty of three teachers, and an enrollment of 28 students. In 1923, a hospital was financially secured with a gift of $1,000. At that time the nearest hospital for African-Americans was located 160 miles away. The first nurse was Mrs. Eula Burke Johnson, a graduate of the Gillespie Normal School. The hospital was located on the second floor of one of the early wood-framed buildings and consisted of two beds and one operating room. Local doctors, white and African-American, were on the staff. The Charles Helm Hospital, named for the benefactor, also functioned as a nursing training school. The nurses trained in patient care at the hospital and attended classes at the Gillespie-Selden Institute. In 1937, a 25-bed hospital was constructed near the Gillespie-Selden Institute and named Gillespie Hospital for William Gillespie, who donated the funds needed to build it. The hospital, in cooperation with the state nursing service and under the direction of Nurse Johnson, held weekly clinics for midwives who cared for over 50% of all maternity cases in this area of the state. In 1949, a separate nursing college, Selden Cottage, was constructed to house the nursing program.
The Gillespie-Selden Institute, located at the corner of 15th Avenue and 12th Street, includes a complex of buildings consisting of the President’s Home, Founder’s Home, girls’ dormitory, Gillespie Memorial Hospital, Administration Building and Selden Cottage. The President’s home, built circa 1925 is located next to the girls’ dormitory and is a two-story brick building with Craftsman style detailing. The Founder’s Home, also known as Dr. Clark’s House, is a Colonial Revival style house built circa 1941 and located on 15th Avenue near St. Paul Presbyterian Church. The girls’ dormitory is a three-story brick building with Colonial Revival style features built in 1929. This building was one of the first brick buildings constructed on the campus. The Gillespie Memorial Hospital is a one-story brick building with a center gable built in 1937 with Colonial Revival style features. The Administration Building, built in 1937, is a two-story brick building featuring a center tower with Colonial Revival style detailing. Selden Cottage, which served as a nursing school, is a two-story brick building constructed in 1949.
In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, farmer Henry Clark, 39, wife, Florah, 38, and children John, 16, Mary J., 14, Ella, 12, Henrietta, 9, Henry, 8, Augustin, 5, Thomas, 3, and Margaret, 10 months.
On 12 September 1918, 44 year-old Augustus Simeon Clark registered for the World War I draft. His occupation? “Teaching and preaching.”
In the 1920 census of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia: at 611 – 15th Avenue West, Rev. Augustus S. Clark, 46, wife Annie, 40, and adopted daughter Louise, 14. Annie and Louise were Alabama natives.
In the 1930 census of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia: A.S. Clark, 55, superintendent of Gillespie School; wife A.W., 52, teacher; daughter K. Louise, 24, teacher; and ten boarders, including a campus laborer, students, a nurse and two teachers.
One of the testimonials of “Negro college presidents” who joined and contributed to National Urban League’s labor programming, Pittsburgh Courier, 7 July 1934.
In the 1940 census of Cordele, Crisp County, Georgia: at Gillespie Normal School, Augustus S. Clark, 65, president, and wife Anna Clark, 60, dean.
Augustus S. Clark died 28 July 1959 in Cordele, Georgia.