migration to New York

Left for Wilson.

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New York Age, 31 May 1919.

The 1919 city directory of Niagara Falls, New York, lists only one Whitehead — the mayor — but the 1918 edition shows Jesse Whitehead, laborer, living at 26 Cherry Street:

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Jesse Whitehead registered for the World War I draft in September 1918 in Niagara Falls. Per his registration card, he was born 7 September 1878, worked as a packer for an electrolytic company on Old Main, Niagara Falls, and was married to Rose Whitehead. He was literate.

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Jesse Whitehead’s visit down South had no return. He died of pulmonary tuberculosis on 4 October 1919 in Wilson. Per his death certificate he was 40 years old; worked as a cooper; was married to Rosa Whitehead; lived at 639 East Green Street; was born in Wilson County to Spencer Whitehead; and had contracted his fatal illness in “Niagra Falls.”

In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Spencer Whitehead, 38; wife Rhoda, 40; and sons W.D., 13, and Jesse, 1.

On 23 December 1908, Jesse Whitehead, 28, of Wilson, son of Spencer Whitehead, married Rhoda Pender, 27, of Wilson, daughter of Amos Pender, in Wilson. Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Amos Pender’s in the presence of D.S. Lassiter, Elton Thomas and Hardy Mercer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Jessie Whitehead, 35; wife Rhoda, 24; and boarder Ada Jaspin, 25.

Rosa Whitehead remained in Wilson at least briefly after her husband’s death. In the 1920 census, she is listed at 801 Kenan Street as a servant of farm supply retail merchant Lewis Tomlinson. Whitehead was 39 years old and described as a widow. However, in the 1920 Wilson city directory, her address is listed as 639 East Green.

Rosa/Rhoda Whitehead grew up in Toisnot township, north of Wilson. In the 1900 census of Toisnot township: farmer Amos Pender, 57, widower, and daughters Vanedous, 22, and Rhoday, 19, plus adopted daughter Prussie Armstrong, 18.

Amos Pender died 26 January 1922 in Wilson township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 8 March 1844 in Wilson County to Abraham Farmer and Amy Bullock; was married to Pennie Pender; and was a farmer. Rhoda Whitehead was informant.

I have not been able to identify Rosa Whitehead’s sister, Miss E. Pittman.

Clerk comes to the city.

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New York Age, 13 September 1917.

In the 1900 census of Asheville, Buncombe County: at 174 Haywood Street, Isacc Shade, 24, laborer; wife Emma, 29; and children John, 7 months; and mother Alice Shade, 40.

In the 1910 census of Asheville, Buncombe County: on Jordan Street, Isacc Shade, 34, physician at drugstore; wife Emma, 22; son John, 10, Alice, 8, and Kenneth, 3; and widowed roomer Ollie Burgin, 41.

Isaac Shade moved his family to Wilson shortly before World War I, and he opened a pharmacy on Nash Street.

John Albert Shade registered for the World War I draft in Wilson in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 10 August 1900; resided at 530 East Nash Street, Wilson; worked as a clerk at Shade’s Pharmacy, 530 East Nash; and had blue eyes and black hair and no apparent disqualifications.

On 27 September 1922, John A. Shade, 22, and Ruby Percell, 20, both of Wilson County, were married by Presbyterian minister A.H. George in the presence of W.H. Phillips, Henry N. Cherry and Will Farmer.

In the 1925 New York State census, in Brooklyn: at 718 Cleveland, John Shade, 24; wife Ruby, 21; and daughter Emma, 1. John worked as an attendant at Grand Central Station.

In the 1940 census of Bronx County, New York: North Carolina-born hotel elevator operator John Shade, 40; South Carolina-born wife Rubie, 35, bedding operator; and daughters Emma, 16, and Grace, 13.

John A. Shade died 8 October 1969 and is buried in Rest Haven cemetery, Wilson.

Per Social Security records available at Ancestry.com, Emma Evangeline Shade was born in New York on 4 February 1924 to John A. Shade and Ruby I. Purcell. Emma S. Galiber died 19 June 1995.

Studio shots, no. 39: Thomas Levi Peacock.

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Tom Peacock, mid-1940s.

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In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 204 Vick Street, hotel bellboy Levi Peacock, 30; wife Elouise, 28, a public school teacher; children Jewel D., 4, and Thomas L., 14; and mother-in-law Etta Reaves, 50, post office maid. [This entry contains serious errors. Jual D. Peacock was a daughter, rather than son, of Levi and Eloise Peacock, and Thomas was in fact just over a year old in 1930.]

Thomas Levi Peacock registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1946. Per his registration card, he was born 6 December 1928 in Wilson County; resided at 414 North Reid Street; his contact was Levi Harry Peacock; and he was a student at Darden High School.

Thomas Levi Peacock graduated from Darden in 1947 and entered Howard University in Washington, D.C.  He pledged Alpha Chapter of Omega Psi Phi fraternity in 1948 and graduated in 1951.

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The Bison (1951).

Peacock enlisted in the Air Force after graduation and in 1952 graduated from Officer Candidate School.

Wilson Daily Times, 12 July 1952.

Peacock went on to Meharry Medical College’s Dental School and in 1958 was licensed to practice dentistry in North Carolina:

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Within a few years, Dr. Peacock opened a practice in Jamaica, Queens, New York, where he immediately rose to prominence in social, as well as professional circles …

Baltimore Afro-American, 17 December 1963.

… and was named one of the “Bachelors for 1964” in the August 1964 issue of Ebony magazine.

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Dr. Peacock is retired and, after returning to live in Wilson for several years, now resides in Florida.

Photograph in the collection of Hattie Henderson Ricks, now in possession of Lisa Y. Henderson.

The reverends grew up together.

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New York Age, 15 March 1930.

The mystery of Astor B. Bowser.

Astor Burt Bowser, born 1896, was one of three sons of Burt L. and Sarah Rountree Bowser. He appears with his parents (and grandparents) in the 1900 and 1910 censuses of Wilson, but in 1916 is listed at 17 Mott Street in the city directory of White Plains, New York. When he registered for World War I draft in September 1918, however, he was in Wilson, working in his father Burt’s cafe.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, the Bowser family’s surname was erroneously recorded as “Brown.”

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Occupations of the household’s inhabitants were recorded in the right-most columns. Astor’s? Doctor/dentist.

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Dentist? When and where did Astor Bowser attend dental school?

Astor married Deloris Harvey of Alamance County on 17 August 1921 in Wilson. Throughout the 1920s, he appears to have continued to move between Wilson and greater New York City.  In the 1922 and 1925 city directories of Wilson, he is listed as an insurance agent residing at 520 East Nash. However, in the 1924 White Plains city directory: Astor B Bowser, clerk, at 17 Mott. And in the 1925 New York state census of White Plains, Westchester County: bank messenger Astor Bowser, 28, wife Deloris, 24, daughter Sarah, 2, and Lettia Bowser, 49, a widow. In the 1926 and 1928 city directories of White Plains, Astor is listed as a porter living at 7 Mott Street. But Astor B. Bowser Jr. was born in Chicago, Illinois, in May 1928.

In the 1930 census, Astor B. Bowser, 32, Delores, 29, and their children, Astor B., Jr., 1, and Sarah, 6, are listed in Chicago, Illinois, at 4905 Vincennes, where they were lodgers. Astor worked as an artist in his own studio and Deloris as a saleslady in a millinery.

In 1942, Astor registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 29 September 1896 in Wilson, North Carolina; resided at 4905 Vincennes, Chicago; was married to Delores Bowser; and worked for the Fannie May Candy Company.

Astor died in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 1981.

Was Astor really then a dentist?

A brief entry in an industry journal may clear up the matter:

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The Dental Cosmos: a Monthly Record of Dental Science, Edward C. Kirk, ed. (1917).

In fact, it was Astor’s elder brother Russell L. Bowser who attended dental school, graduating from Howard in June 1917. The same month, he registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card: Russell Linwood Bowser was born 5 March 1891 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 416 Oakdale Place, Washington, D.C.; was single; worked as a dental surgeon in Washington; was tall, medium build, with brown eyes and black hair; and had “defective eyesight and a weak heart.”

In the 1920 census of Chicago, Illinois: North Carolina-born Dr. Linwood Bowser, 28, dentist, was a lodger on Evans Avenue.

In 1942, Russell Linwood Bowser registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card: he was born 5 March 1891 in Wilson, North Carolina; lived at 5634 South Parkway, Chicago (telephone number Went 2910); listed as a close contact Mr. A.B. Bowser, 4905 Vincennes Avenue, Chicago; and worked in the Central Investigating Unit, Federal Security Agency, Public Health Service, 54 West Hubbard Street, Chicago.

Per the Cook County, Illinois, Death Index, Russell L. Bowser died 2 December 1951.

Visiting and representing.

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New York Age, 20 October 1934.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: 39 year-old farmer Henry Clark, wife Florah, 38, and children John, 16, Mary J., 14, Ella, 12, Henrietta, 9, Henry, 8, Augustin, 5, Thomas, 3, and Margaret, 10 months.

John H. Clark was Wilson’s first African-American letter carrier and a stalwart and founding member of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church. He and wife Ida Crenshaw Clark resided at 706 East Nash Street, built around 1908 and described in the East Wilson Historic District Nomination Report as a “triple-A cottage with intact wrap-around porch; includes corner gazebo and turned porch posts; among district’s finest early 20th-century houses.” It was recently demolished.

Clark house

Clark house, 706 E. Nash Street.

See more about Rev. Thomas G. Clark here.