migration to Virginia

The obituary of Hood Vick, World War I veteran.

Wilson Daily Times, 28 October 1950.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Marther Vick, 46, widow, washing, and sons [sic] Peater, 20, and Hud, 6.

In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Martha Vick, Peter Vick, and Hood Vick, the latter two described as laborers (though Hood was only 14 years old) are listed at 105 Pender.

In the 1912 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Martha Vick, laundress; Peter Vick, porter; and Hood Vick, cleaner and presser, are listed at 105 Pender.

Mildred Ward died 9 January 1914 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 24 October 1913 in Wilson County to Hood Vick of Wilson County and Lucy Ward of Pitt County; and lived at the corner of Nash and Railroad Streets. Lucy Ward, Wilson, was informant.

In the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, Martha Vick, laundress, and Hood Vick, ball player, are listed at 105 Pender Street. [Peter Vick died 11 January 1916 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 January 1887 in Wilson County to Peter Taylor and Matha Vick, both of Nash County, N.C., and was single.] 

In 1917, Hood Vick registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 10 June 1894 in Wilson; lived on Pender Street; worked as a machine operator at a moving picture theater for C.L. Jones; and was single. 

Hood Vick, North Carolina World War I Service Cards, 1917-1919, http://www.ancestry.com.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 105 Pender Street, Martha Vick, 65, widow, and grandchildren Artha Stokes, 15, and Hood Vick, 25, laborer.

On 8 November 1928, Hood Vick, 35, born in Washington, D.C., to Hood Vick and Lucy Taylor Vick, and employed as an operator, married Anna Windsor in Norfolk, Virginia. 

In the 1930 census of New Bern, Craven County, North Carolina: at 20 Browns Alley, private nurse Anna J. Windsor, 70, widow; and, paying $6/month rent, Hood Vick, 36, theatre operator, and wife Anna, 22.

In the 1934 Norfolk, Virginia, city directory: Vick Hood (c; Lucy) lab h 411 1/2 Church

In the 1940 census of Norfolk, Virginia: Hood Vick, 31, divorced, chauffeur, was a lodger at 411 Church Street.

In the 1941 Norfolk, Virginia, city directory: Vick Hood (c) porter Union Bus Term Inc h 417 Church

In 1942, Hood Vick registered for the World War II draft in Norfolk, Virginia. Per his registration card, he was born 10 June 1897 in Wilson; lived at 411 Church Street, Norfolk; worked for Union Bus Company, Norfolk; and his contact was Lucy Wilson, 411 Church Street.

In the 1950 census of Elizabeth City, Virginia, Hood Vick, 56, is listed as a patient in the Hospital Section of “Vet. Adm. Center.”

Hood Vick died 24 October 1950 in Kecoughtan, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 June 1893 in Wilson, N.C., to Hood Vick and Lucy [maiden name unknown]; was married; lived at 506 Church Street, Norfolk; and worked as a porter. Anna Whitney Vick was informant.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The obituary of Juanita Kelley Wilson.

Philadelphia Daily News, 1 July 1994.

Juanita Kelley Wilson made the great migration in stages. Born in South Carolina, she spent her childhood in Wilson before moving to Richmond, Virginia, and then on to Philadelphia.


In the 1920 census of Richmond, Virginia, 16 year-old Juanita Kelley is listed as a servant for the family of James and Clara Williams, 1622 Maryland Avenue.

The obituary of Bessie McNair Best.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1949.


In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 213 Ashe Street, renting for $8/month, tobacco factory laborer Virginia McNair, 40; daughter Bessie Ward, 24, a cook; and grandchildren Grace, 8, Mary N., 5, and Willie C., 7.

Bessie McNair Best died 29 July 1949 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was born 23 August 1915 in Wilson, N.C., to William McCullum and Virginia Ward; was the widow of James Best; and was taken to Wilson for burial by C.E. Artis Funeral Home.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The obituary of George Bynum.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 June 1948.


In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Suggs Street, odd jobs laborer Archie Bynum, 37; wife Lillie, 31; and children Nnez, 11, Junis, 7, George, 4, Rena, 2, and Bessie, 6 months.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 617 East Suggs Street, owned and valued at $1000, Lillie Bynum, 50, widow; children Gorge, 21, Earnest, 28, Rosa L., 17, Estella, 14, Lillie M., 11; and grandchildren Leroy, 6, and Mattie B., 4.

In the 1940 census of Richmond, Virginia: in the Virginia State Penitentiary, George Bynum, 32, divorced, born in North Carolina.

In 1943, George Bynum registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 1 October 1907 in Wilson; lived at 665 Suggs Street; his contact was mother Lillie Barnes of the same address; and he was not employed.  

The obituary of Viola Barnes Bernard.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 July 1943.


In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: teamster Wesley Barnes, 32; wife Ella, 35; and children Joseph, 14, Lucy, 11, Sylvester, 7, Viola, 5, and Charley, 3.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Norfolk & Southern Railroad, drayman West Barnes, 44; wife Ella, 47, laundress; and children Sylvester, 17, drayman, Viola, 15, cook, and Charlie, 13, wholesale store laborer; plus son-in-law James Watson, 23, drayman, wife Lucy, 22, cook, and children West, 4, and Lucy, 3 months.

Charles Barnes died 2 May 1917 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 February 1915 in Wilson County to Bert Hagans and Viola Barnes. The informant was Ella Barnes.

Henry Gray Barnes died 26 April 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 21 years old; lived at 401 North Vick Street; worked as a common laborer; was born in Wilson County to Jessie Ball of Warsaw, N.C., and Viola Barnes of Wilson; and was married to Alice Barnes. Informant was Ella Barnes, 401 North Vick. Cause of death: “Taken about 1 A.M. complaining he could not get his breath died about 7 A.M. No physician investigated since no sign of foul play.”

In the 1938 Richmond, Virginia, city directory: (possibly) Barnes Viola (c) dom h 110 E Clay; also Bernard Oscar L (c) hlpr h 10 E Marshall

In the 1939 Richmond, Virginia, City directory: Bernard Oscar L (c; Viola) hlpr h 217 E Clay

In the 1940 census of Richmond, Virginia: at 319 Brook Road, Oscar Bernard, 28, baker at bakery, and wife Viola, 26, cook at restaurant. 

In the 1941 Richmond, Virginia, City directory: Bernard Oscar (c; Viola) cook h 319 1/2 Brook Rd

In the 1942 Richmond, Virginia, City directory: Bernard Oscar (c; Viola) baker Whites h 319 1/2 Brook Rd

In 1942, Oscar Lee Bernard registered for the World War II draft in Richmond, Virginia. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1898 in Suffolk, Virginia; lived at 319 1/2 Brook Road, Richmond; his contact was Viola Bernard; and he worked for Whites Cafeteria, 513 E Grace Street, Richmond.

Viola Barnes died 8 July 1943 at her home at 401 North Vick Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 39 years old; was born in Wilson County to West Barnes of Wilson County and Ella Mercer of Edgecombe County; was single; and was buried in Rountree [probably, Vick] Cemetery. Lucy Watson was informant. 

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Thomas Deans, Co. H, United States Colored Heavy Artillery.

On 4 February 1901, in Norfolk, Virginia, Thomas Deans gave a sworn statement in support of his claim for a Union soldier’s pension.

I am about 57 years of age; my post office address is 117 Green St., Portsmouth, Va. Laborer.

My full and correct name is Thomas Deans. I was never known by any name other than Thomas Deans. I was a slave and belonged to Wiley Deans, who resides 10 miles from Wilson, N.C.

My fathers name was Harry Newsom. My mothers name was Rena Deans. I had two brothers and two sisters. Rose and Charity. Rose resides somewhere in Miss[issippi] and Charity is dead. Jacob Woodard and Jordan Woodard are my brothers. Jacob died soon after the close of the War. I have not seen or heard of Jordan for 40 years. He was sold away before the war. When these boys were born my fathers owner was Woodard — Stephen Woodard. I was only six weeks old when i was sold by Woodard to Deans.

I was born in Wilson Co. N.C. and when 18 or 19 I enlisted at Newberne N.C. in Co. H — 14th U.S.C.H.A. for three years but did not serve that long. I do not know whether I was in the service two years. I can’t tell how long I did serve. I enlisted about “shad” time, early spring, and discharged in winter, at Fort Macon, N.C.

I had no other service.

Poor was Col. Hopkins was St. and Capt. They changed so after that I do not remember the names of all the Sts. George Taylor, Samuel Boykin was my tent mates. Freeman Harvey William Jones, Alfred Dixon was in my Co. I was detailed at Morehead City loading and unloading goods. Any [illegible] for 4 months. I was in Hospital at Morehead for three months with fever. I never knew the name of the fever My Regt was not in any engagement. We were at Newbern Fort Macon and Morehead all the time.

I did not incur any disability in the service. There were no [illegible] results of the fever.

I never applied for pension until the new law was passed.

Since discharge I have resided at Wilson, Goldsboro, and Wilmington N.C. and Newberne N.C. and Norfolk, Va. I have resided in Norfolk since Feb 1900.

I have been employed at the Norfolk Navy Yard for one year, in the capacity of laborer and have received the same wages as other laborers, $1.52 per day.

Dr. Love Wilmington N.C.

Dr. Whitley Newberne N.C. have treated me, at times, in recent years.

Thomas X Deans


The National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers were established following the Civil War to provide living space for disabled American soldiers and sailors. Deans entered the home at Hampton, Virginia, a few months before his death in 1911.

The hospital’s registry shows that Deans enlisted on 8 March 1865 at Fort Macon, North Carolina, and served as a private in Company H, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. He was discharged 11 December 1865 at Fort Macon. His disabilities included a right inguinal hernia, rheumatism, impaired vision, and cardiac hypertrophy.

Deans was born in North Carolina; was 67 years old; was five foot seven inches tall; had a black complexion, black eyes, and black hair; could not read or write; had worked as a laborer; had lived in Phoebus, Virginia; was married; and his nearest relative was his wife Catherine Deans.

Deans’ rate of pension was 13.50 [dollars per …?], and he was admitted to the hospital on 24 March 1908 with pericarditis. At the time his personal effects were valued at fifty-five cents.

Thomas Deans died 21 February 1914 and was buried in Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia. Per the cemetery’s burial registry, he was buried in grave 10553 and had been a member of Company H, 14th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery.

Deans’ wife Catherine was awarded a widow’s pension of twelve dollars per month.


  • Thomas Deans

In the 1900 census of Norfolk, Virginia: on Caledonia Street, laborer Thomas Deans, 59; wife Catherine, 30; and mother-in-law Julia Joyner, 73; all born in North Carolina.

In the 1910 census of Phoebus, Elizabeth City County [Hampton], Virginia: Thomas Deans, 70, and wife Catherine, 41, washerwoman.

  • Harry Newsom
  • Rena Deans — on 3 August 1867, Jacob Woodard, son of Gabriel Woodard and Rena Deans, married Anna Tyson, daughter of Jack Tyson and Diana Tyson, at the residence of A.G. Brooks, justice of the peace. [This appears to be Thomas Deans’ brother Jacob and mother Rena.]
  • Jacob Woodard — see above. Also, on 5 September 1870, G.W. Blount, J.S. Woodard, and J.W. Blount filed letters of administration for Jacob Woodard. [Was this Thomas Deans’ brother? His death date is consistent with Deans’ testimony that his brother died “soon after the close of the War.”]
  • Joshua Woodard
  • Wiley Deans — son of Bartley Deans Sr., a large slaveowner in Oldfields township, Wilson County.
  • Stephen Woodard — most likely Stephen Woodard Sr., but possibly physician Stephen Woodard Jr.

Files #849,635, Application of Thomas Deans for Invalid’s Pension; #1,029,598, Application of Catherine Deans for Widow’s Pension; National Archives and Records Administration.

Family ties, no. 6: we got strayed apart.

Wilson’s emergence as a leading tobacco market town drew hundreds of African-American migrants in the decades after the 1890s. Many left family behind in their home counties, perhaps never to be seen again. Others maintained ties the best way they could.

Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver and her husband Jesse A. Jacobs Jr. left Dudley, in southern Wayne County, North Carolina, around 1905. They came to Wilson presumably for better opportunities off the farm. Each remained firmly linked, however, to parents and children and siblings back in Wayne County as well as those who had joined the Great Migration north. This post is the sixth in a series of excerpts from documents and interviews with my grandmother Hattie Henderson Ricks (1910-2001), Jesse and Sarah’s adoptive daughter (and Sarah’s great-niece), revealing the ways her Wilson family stayed connected to their far-flung kin. (Or didn’t.)


Tilithia Brewington King Godbold Dabney was my grandmother’s father’s first cousin. Born 1878 in Wayne County, North Carolina, to Joshua and Amelia Aldridge Brewington, she married Emanuel King in 1898. By 1910, the couple and their daughters Juanita, Elizabeth, Amelia, Maybelle, and Tilithia had settled in Norfolk, Virginia. Tilithia (pronounced “Ti-LYE-a-thy”) and Emanuel soon divorced and, by 1920, Tilithia had married railroad fireman Walter Godbold and was running a little restaurant.

Cousin Tilithia’s Strand Cafe made a deep impression on my grandmother, who laughingly recalled waiting tables during childhood visits and being dazzled by the  menu offerings.

Cousin Tilithia also offered lodging. Norfolk Journal & Guide, 12 March 1921.

“I was thinking about Cousin Tilithia Godbold when I was a little girl. She had a restaurant large enough to work in and serve patrons. It wasn’t real big, but they were serving patrons, and Mama carried me up there, and we spent the night there. And whenever she’d come to Wilson she’d stay with us.

“Cousin Tilithia, she lived in Norfolk, and she married this man. That wasn’t her children’s daddy. King was her children’s daddy. Godbold was the man she married later. He lived over in Rocky Mount, and he worked in the roundhouse or something.  I think he fixed the train, but he wasn’t the one on the train. And Godbold, Tilithia’s husband, he stayed there in Rocky Mount. ‘Cause Tilithia lived in Norfolk. Her and her five or six girls or whatever it was, and she was running what they call the Strand Café. And it was down on the first floor, and they lived up over it. Go out there, and it was a sleeping compartment. I was over there one time, and I remember it. I think I was about seven or eight years old. Went with Mama over there. We was just running all over the place. She had us waiting tables. I wanted to wait tables. I was wondering, I asked Mama, “Well, why come we couldn’t have a place like that?” And all that food!  Look like whatever the food was – I didn’t even know what it was ‘cause we ain’t never had none. It was a whole lot of stuff, look like they had, I didn’t want it, but then I know it looked good, and we ate down there in the café.

“And another time Mama took me on the train to see her. And it was right down in South Philadelphia where we went to their house. Where they was staying. And when I moved up here to Philadelphia, Tilithia’s sister Hattie, she was telling me ‘bout how the daughters were there in Norfolk, her sister and all them. I said, well, I could remember some of them, but I don’t remember what –  and I asked where some of the girls was. Some of them in Norfolk and some of ‘em, one’s dead. [Inaudible] the family. We got strayed apart.”

Norfolk Journal & Guide, 9 December 1922.

Norfolk Journal & Guide, 28 May 1927.

She and my grandmother lost touch, but Cousin Tilithia lived until 1965.

Virginian Pilot, 22 November 1965.

Interviews of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson adapted and edited for clarity. Copyright 1994, 1996. All rights reserved. 

Cornelia Bass Reddick of Richmond, Virginia.

I wrote in October about Richmond’s Friends of East End, the all-volunteer non-profit which, until recently, was working to reclaim historic East End Cemetery and transform it into “a public site of memory, contemplation, and beauty that honors Richmond’s black community and history.”

F.O.E.E. has turned its attention to neglected corners of Woodland Cemetery, another historic Black cemetery in Richmond, and dedicated yesterday’s find — the gravestone of Wilson County native Cornelia Reddick — to Lane Street Project!

Cornelia Reddick Died Aug. 23, 1928 Heliotrope Lodge 12 I.O. King David


In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 41.

On 16 January 1880, Charles Bass, 51, married Rhoda A. Jordan, 23, at C. Bass’ [probably Charles Bass] residence. Justice of the Peace David G.W. Ward performed the ceremony.

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Bass, 51; wife Rhoda, 23; and an unnamed four month-old infant daughter. [This child was Cornelia Bass Reddick.]

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Bass, 71, widower, and son James, 10. 

Cornelia Bass’ life has proved exceptionally difficult to track. We know, however, that sometime prior to 1928, she married equally elusive tobacco worker Henry Reddick. They appear together in the 1928 Richmond, Virginia, city directory: Reddick Henry (c; Cornelia) lab 506-A E Clay

Cornelia Reddick died 23 August 1928 at her home in Richmond, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 51 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Charles and Roda Bass; was married to Henry Reddick; and lived at 506 East Clay, Richmond. 

UPDATED: Reddick’s gravestone indicates affiliation with Heliotrope Lodge Number 12, Imperial Order of King David. Friends of East End corrected my guess at the name of this fraternal organization, founded in Richmond in 1908.

Richmond Planet, 15 November 1930.

Rev. Edward C. Simms, Presiding Elder.

This brief bio of Rev. Edward C. Simms is found in souvenir volume issued for an A.M.E. Zion General Conference. I do not have the access to the full volume, its title, or its date of publication.


Rev. Simms hails from Wilson, North Carolina, and of the year 1862; he graduated from the Wilson Academy in 1883; was converted there in 1875; joining the Farmer A.M.E. Zion Church at the same time. He became a preacher in 1896 at Norfolk, Va., and joined the Virginia Conference. Later on, he was ordained deacon at Hickory, N.C., in 1897, and ordained elder at Franklin, Va., in 1899.

His pastoral labors were exerted at Mosley Street A.M. E. Zion Church, Norfolk, Newport News, Va., and Mount Sinai Church, Tampa, Fla. He built the Centreville Chapel in Norfolk County, and Zion Chapel at Bear Quarter, Va. Rev Simms is a prominent member of the South Florida Conference, and a preacher who draws and holds an audience. As a pastor his success reaches the best average. This will be his first official appearance in the General Conference. He makes a highly acceptable administrator and his constituency love, honor and revere him. 

Biographical Souvenir Volume of General Conference A.M.E. Zion Church

Norfolk Virginian, 9 May 1897.

In its coverage on the Philadelphia Conference of the A.M.E. Zion Church, the 30 May 1908 edition of the Washington Bee noted that “Rev. E.C. Simms, a delegate from Florida, died suddenly from heart disease; a sum of one hundred dollars was raised by Conference for his funeral, and a Florida delegate was sent to accompany the remains home.”


In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Esther Simms, 45, and Ned Simms, 19, both farmworkers.

On 8 May 1879, Ned Simms, 25, married Nicy Best, 26, in Wilson. Benjamin S. Brunson performed the ceremony at the A.M.E. Zion Church in the presence of Hayes Best, Jas. Harriss, and S.A. Smith.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher Edward C. Simms, 33; wife Nicy, 26; and Edward, 7 months.

In the 1900 census of Norfolk, Virginia: at 62 Moseley, teacher Edward C. Simms, 44; wife Nicy, 43, nurse; and children Edward, 20, porter, Theodocia, 18, teacher, Sacona, 16, errand boy, Adonis, 14, Cicero, 12, Henny, 10, and Hattie, 6. All were born in North Carolina, except the youngest two, who were born in Virginia.

In the 1906 Tampa, Florida, city directory: Simms Edward C (m) pastor A M E Zion Church, h 952 Harrison 

In the 1908 Tampa, Florida, city directory: Simms Edward C Rev (m) pastor A M E Zion Church, h 952 Harrison

E.C. Simms died 14 May 1908 of diabetes at 313 North 38th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was 55 years old and was born in Virginia to E.C. Simms of North Carolina and an unnamed mother born in Virginia. Informant was J.B. Harris [who apparently knew little about Simms.] He was buried in Norfolk, Virginia.

In the 1910 census of Tanner Creek, Norfolk County, Virginia: at 4 Byrd Street, widow Nicey Simms, 50, and children Adonis, 22, candy maker in factory, Henrietta, 18, and Hattie, 15.

Nicy Simms died 6 January 1922 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per her death certificate, she was 60 years old; was a widow; lived at 914 Dunbar; and was born in Wilson, N.C., to Daniel Bass [Best] and Jane [last name unknown]. Theadesia Simms of Norfolk was informant.

Adonis Simms died 9 July 1930 in Norfolk, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born in 1887 in North Carolina to Edward Simms; worked as a laborer; and was married to Vessie Simms.