migration to Washington DC

Minerva Louise Ward Artis Biggins Hanks.

After he left Wilson, Joseph H. Ward‘s close family members migrated to Washington, D.C. Once he was established in Indianapolis, Indiana, however, his mother Mittie Ward Vaughn and younger half-sister Minerva Vaughn, also known as Minerva Ward, joined him in the Midwest.

——

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sarah Darden, 57, son-in-law Algia Vaughn, 23, daughter Mittie, 22, and grandchildren Joseph, 8, Sarah, 6, and Macinda Vaughn, 5 months. [Joseph “Vaughn” was actually Joseph Ward, listed with his stepfather’s surname.]

In the 1900 census of Washington, D.C: William Moody, 27, wife Sarah S., 24, and children Augustus, 5, and Crist Moody, 4, plus sister-in-law Minerva Vaughn, 10, mother-in-law Mittie Vaughn, 46, and mother Fannie Harris, 55, all born in North Carolina.

Indianapolis News, 12 December 1903.

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Indianapolis News, 2 January 1909.

On 11 June 1910, Minerva Ward married S. Dillard Artis, of Marion, Indiana, son of Thomas and Esther Hall Artis (who were migrants to Indiana from Wayne County, North Carolina.) Per Grant County Indiana Biographies, www.genealogytrails.com, Artis “began as janitor of the court house located in Marion, Indiana in 1900. He later accepted private contracts trimming trees, laying sod and making lawns. This work led to contracts for digging cellars, sewer and cement work, street building, and finally municipal contracting. Dillard had a cement contract connected with the $100,000 residence of J. W. Wilson, with the First Baptist Church and numerous others as well as finishing contracts on tar via roads amounting to $840,000 in 1914.” (Artis’ first wife, Asenath Peters Artis, died in December 1909.)

Indianapolis News, 18 June 1910.

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Indianapolis Star, 26 June 1910.

In 1911, Dr. Ward and his young son, Joseph Jr., visited his sister and mother in Marion.

Indianapolis News, 19 August 1911.

Per Google Street View, the house at 920 South Boots Street, Marion, Indiana, today.

Dillard and Minerva Artis’ social life was occasionally noted in Indiana newspapers. For example, in 1915, they were guests of Mr. and Mrs. Beverly Lafoon of Kokomo, Indiana.

Kokomo Daily Tribune, 10 April 1915.

And in 1916 they joined the J.H. Weavers of Weaver, Indiana, for dinner.

Indianapolis Recorder, 4 November 1916.

But just a few weeks later:

Indianapolis Recorder, 25 November 1916.

In the 1920 census of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois: at 486 South Wabash, Diller Artis, 44; wife Minerva, 41; mother-in-law Mittie Ward, 56; and three lodgers, John Smith, 30, and William, 49, and Anna Brown, 46. Artis was working as a railroad poster. [What happened?] Minerva claimed that she and her father were born in Indiana. [In fact, both were born in North Carolina.]

The couple apparently divorced between 1920 and 1923.  On 1 January 1923, Minerva Ward married Jonas B. Biggins in Denver, Colorado. (Dillard Artis died in 1947 in Evanston, Illinois.)

The 1935 Denver, Colorado, city directory lists Jonas B. Biggins as a Pullman porter and Minerva Biggins as a charwoman at the Custom House.

However, per Findagrave.com, Jonas B. Biggins died in 1935 and was buried in Denver. On 15 July 1936, Minerva Louise Biggins married John Q. Hanks in Greeley, Colorado. The couple is listed in the 1936 Denver directory living in the home Minerva had shared with her previous husband.

In the 1940 census of Denver, Colorado: at 1433 East 25th, owned and valued at $4000, John Q. Hanks, 49, butler; wife Minerva, 37; and son Roy, 7. [Roy was born in Illinois. Whose son was he — John’s or Minerva’s?]

In 1942, John Q. Hanks registered for the World War II draft in Denver. Per his registration card, he lived at 1433 – 25th Avenue, Denver; was born 5 February 1889 in Osage, Kansas; his contact was wife Louise Hanks; and he worked for Laurence C. Phipps, 3400 Belcaro Drive, Denver.

John Hanks died in May 1966 in Denver. I have not found a death date for Minerva Ward Artis Biggins Hanks.

Vanilla Beane celebrates 100!

Jeni Hansen has graciously allowed me to share plans for the observation of the 100th birthday of her grandmother, celebrated milliner Vanilla Powell Beane, who was born in Wilson County on 13 September 1919.

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Find more on Vanilla Beane here:

  • Articles

The Washington Post, Celebrating 3 sisters’ lives and longevity, Avis Thomas-Lester, 5 November  2011

The Washington Post, C​elebrated D.C. Milliner Marks 90th Birthday With Friends, Hats, Hamil R. Harris, 20 September 2009

Afro-American Newspapers, ​D.C. Woman Celebrates 100th Birthday with Sisters, 97, and 93, Avis Thomas-Lester and Teria Rogers, 14 November 2012

Associated Press,​Dr. Height’s Hat Immortalized in Metal, Sarah Karush and Teneille Gibson, 15 June 2010

  • Videos

Hat Academy: “​Bene Millinery​
Museum of Fine Arts: ​Dorothy Height’s Hats 360

Press contact:

Jeni Hansen
jeni@jenihansen.com​

Snaps, no. 52: Jessie Ruffin Hill.

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Jessie Beatrice Ruffin Hill (1908-1990).

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1007 East Nash Street, transfer man Garfield Ruffin, 39; wife Thennie, 28; and children Jessie, 12, Emma, 8, Mary, 7, Cora, 5, Naomi, 3, Kernice, 1, and Thennie, 7 months.

On 23 May 1929, William Hill, 21, of Durham, married Jessie Hill, 23, of Durham, daughter of Pres Binn (dead) and Thenie Ruffin of Washington, D.C., in Durham, North Carolina.

In the 1930 census of Durham, Durham County: at 504 Fowler Avenue, rented for $8/month, and shared with another family, factory worker William Hill, 24, wife Jessie, 22, and son William Jr., 2 months.

[In the 1930 census of Washington, D.C.: at 728 – 12th Street, barber James G. Ruffin, 45; wife Parthenia, 36; and children Emma, 19, Mary E., 18, Cora, 16, Naomi, 15, Kernice, 12, Parthenia, 11, James B., 9, Linwood, 7, Izah, 6, Calvin C., 4, and Canlice, 2.]

William Hill registered for the World War II draft in Durham, N.C., in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 8 April 1906 in Roxobel, Bertie County; lived at 704 Pickett Street, Durham; worked for Liggett & Meyers Tobacco Company; and his contact was wife Jessie Beatrice Hill.

Jessie R. Hill died 29 July 1990 in Durham. Per her death certificate, she was born 3 March 1908 in Wilson to Henry G. Ruffin and an unnamed mother; was a widow; and had been a tobacco worker. George Hill of Albany, Georgia, was informant.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user jfount6081.

I joined to be with my husband.

On 25 October 2009, Wilson native Kay C. Westray sat for an interview with a member of Washington, D.C.’s Zion Baptist Church Historical and Preservation Commission’s Oral History Committee. Here is an excerpt:

PERSONAL BACKGROUND

BRISCOE: What is your name?
K. WESTRAY: My name is Kay C. Westray.
BRISCOE: When and when were you born?
K. WESTRAY: I was born on March 6, 1918 in Wilson, North Carolina.
BRISCOE: What were your parents’ names?
K. WESTRAY: My mother’s name was Melissa Hill and my father was named Lovet Hill.
BRISCOE: What is your educational background?
K. WESTRAY: I was educated in the Wilson, North Carolina public schools, and I graduated from Fayetteville State Secondary College in Fayetteville, North Carolina.
BRISCOE: What were the main jobs you have held?
K. WESTRAY: I worked as a clerk at the Veteran’s Administration. I quit that job in 1951. I am now retired.

BRISCOE: Tell me about your marital status and your family.
K. WESTRAY: Since September 6, 1947, I have been married to Lynwood C. Westray. We have been married for 62 years. We have one daughter, Gloria Westray Nuckles, who lives in Fort Stockton, Texas. She teaches at the prison school. We have no grandchildren.
BRISCOE: Where else have you lived?
K. WESTRAY: I lived in Wilson, North Carolina and in Fayetteville, North Carolina, where I went to college. I came to Washington, DC in 1939.
BRISCOE: Thank you for telling me about your life up to now. Our next set of questions will ask about your Faith Life.

FAITH LIFE

BRISCOE: When and where did you accept Jesus Christ as your Savior? What was the name of that church?
K. WESTRAY: I accepted Christ as my Savior and got baptized at 8 or 9 years of age. My father took me to St. Johns AME Zion Church in Wilson, North Carolina. Rev. B. P. Coward was the pastor.
BRISCOE: Why did you join Zion?
K. WESTRAY: I joined Zion in 1947 to be with my husband.

——

In the 1920 census of Township 9, Craven County, North Carolina — farmer Hugh L. Hill, 34; wife Malissie, 32; and children Mamie, 8, Katie, 6, Evolena, 4, and William, 2.

Malissa Hill died 21 March 1929 in childbirth in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 38 years old and was born in Greene County, North Carolina, to Frank Jenkins of Pitt County and Allie Mae Fonville of Greene County. Henry L. Hill was informant.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 232 Manchester Street, rented for $18/month, widower Henry L. Hill, 44, sawmill laborer, and children Mamie E., 18; Evenlyne, 15, Katie B., 17, William, 2, Jessie M., 9, Emaniel, 7, Benjamin, 5, and Myrtina, 3.

Henry Lovet Hill died 25 August 1957 of a heart attack at Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. Per his death certificate, he was born 31 [sic] November 1871 in Craven County to William Jackson Hill and Emma Jane Hill; resided at 507 Hadley Street, Wilson; was married; worked as a preacher and laborer; and “as a lay preacher he had just finished his sermon, turned to sit down, when he slumped over.”

Katie C. Westray, age 100, died “[o]n Monday, May 13, 2013; loving and devoted wife of Lynwood C. Westray; beloved mother of Gloria J. Nuckles. She is also survived by her sister Mertina H. Hill; and a host of other relatives and friends. A Memorial Service will be held at Zion Baptist Church, 4850 Blagden Avenue NW on Tuesday, May 21 at 12 noon. Interment private. Services by Stewart.”

Studio shots, no. 69: Dempsey L. Henderson.

A veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, Dempsey Lee Henderson received a three-star Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, Victory Medal, Purple Heart, and one-star Philippine Liberation Ribbon.

——

Dempsey L. Henderson was born on or about 31 December 1927 in Wilson to Lena B. McNair and Jesse “Jack” Henderson.

In the 1940 census of Washington, District of Columbia: at 335 Elm Street, Lena Henderson, maid, 30; son Dempsey Henderson, 12; mother Mary McNary, 53; and lodger John Pendleton, 29, transfer merchant truck driver.

In 1943, Henderson registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C.

This 1944 muster roll shows that Henderson was aboard the U.S.S. Abner Read, a Fletcher-class destroyer, in September of that year.

Dempsey L. Henderson died 2003, and was buried at Quantico National Cemetery.

Photo of Dempsey Henderson in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson; Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 1940-1947, digitized at www.fold3.com; Muster rolls of U.S. Navy ships, stations, and other naval activities, 1939-1949, digitized at www.fold3.com.

Studio shots, no. 41: David Creech.

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 David and Ruby Holt Creech.

In the 1920 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on New Wilson and Raleigh Road, farmer Right Creech, 48; wife Sallie, 37; and children Willie, 19, James O., 17, Maomie, 18, Luther, 14, Lillie May, 11, Alex, 9, Elizabeth, 8, Beulah, 6, Gertrude, 3, and David, 1.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Wright Creech, 56; wife Sallie A., 47; and children Lillie M., 22, Elex, 20, Elizabeth, 18, Gertrude, 13, David, 11, Sallie, 8, Genava, 6, Addie L., 3.

In 1940, David Creech registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he resided at 146 Randolph Place N.W.; had been born 10 July 1918 in Wilson, North Carolina; his contact was his mother, Sallie Ann Creech of Lucama, North Carolina; and he worked at Columbia Country Club in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

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David Creech.

Many thanks to Edith Garnett Jones for sharing these photographs of her uncle.

Neighborhood legend.

The Brutal Death of a Neighborhood Legend.

by Thomas Bell, Washington Post, 26 April 1990.

Seth Wilder, 88, was one of those old men who become neighborhood legends.

People saw him every day on his afternoon strolls or under the tree in front of his house, the same tree he planted when he moved his family here from a North Carolina farm 40 years ago.

Usually a friend would sit with him, and people would stop by and say hello. That’s the way he was — always making friends.

It’s also why his wife, Lillie Mae Wilder, didn’t think twice when he brought a stranger into their Capitol Hill Northeast home two weeks ago. The man she had never seen before followed her husband up the stairs to his bedroom.

There, he robbed Seth Wilder — and broke his neck, police and hospital officials say.

Seth Wilder, who would have turned 89 next month, died Tuesday, his big, six-foot frame strapped to a hospital bed.

For 12 days he could only blink his eyes. Doctors told the family that his chances for survival were a million to one, but his wife wouldn’t let the doctors shut off the machines that kept her husband alive. They had been married for 59 years.

Police say they have several suspects but have made no arrests in the case. They also say it was one of the most vicious attacks on an elderly person they have ever seen.

“It was an act of total brutality,” said 5th District Capt. Maralyn Hershey. “This man was defenseless and could offer no resistance.”

The crime has outraged the neighborhood, a changing middle-class community of longtime residents and young professionals. Elderly residents especially have been living in fear ever since the assault, said James Lawlor, who heads the local community association in Northeast.

He said one of Seth Wilder’s longtime friends has been walking around the street with a hammer “looking for the man who hurt his buddy.”

At a community meeting last week, Fred Raines, deputy chief of the 5th District, one of the busiest stations in the city, pledged to a crowd of 50 residents that he would find the man.

Police have interviewed dozens of neighborhood residents, including the men who live and work in a shelter for the homeless five houses away from the Wilder home on Maryland Avenue NE.

Wilder withdrew $500 in cash from a bank less than two blocks from his home early in the afternoon of April 13, according to bank records obtained by police. It was money he needed to buy a couple pairs of glasses, said his daughter, Callon Jacobs.

Police said the man followed Wilder home from that errand. His wife said she heard him and the man talking in hushed voices outside the front door. The stranger followed him inside and introduced himself. She doesn’t remember his name or what he looked like. The two men went upstairs, she said.

A few minutes later she saw the man leave “walking hard as he could,” she said.

Even then, Lillie Mae Wilder said, she didn’t think anything was wrong. About three hours later, their daughter came home and was chatting with her mother when she heard her father’s faint cry for help. She rushed up the stairs and found him on the foor, his head cocked down to the side.

“I said, ‘What happened, Daddy, did you fall?’

“He said, ‘No.’

“I said, ‘What happened?’

“He said, ‘A man came up here and choked me and took my money.’ ”

Jacobs said her father asked her to take off his shoes.

She said he never spoke a word after that.

“I don’t know what happened in that room,” she said. “That’s the thing I can’t deal with — what happened before and how afraid he must have been.”

——

Seth Wilder Sr. and Jr., Washington, D.C.

Many thanks to Eunice F., who posted a comment on a yesterday’s post about Seth Wilder reminding us that her uncle’s life was not defined by a single careless incident with tragic consequences. The Wilders relocated to Washington, D.C., after Seth Wilder’s release from prison. He became a fixture on his Capitol Hill street, and his 1990 murder shocked his neighborhood. In less than a week, a homeless man was arrested and charged with killing Wilder, but was released without indictment after spending eight months in jail.

Photo courtesy of Edith Jones Garnett.

Retired master cabinetmaker.

JOHNIE W. JONES, 83, a retired master cabinetmaker with the General Services Administration and a resident of the Washington area since 1944, died of cancer July 8 at the home of a daughter in New Carrollton.

Mr. Jones, who lived in Washington, was born in Wilson County, N.C. He went to work for the federal government when he moved here.

In 1969, he received a plaque from Lyndon B. Johnson for work he did for the president as he was preparing to retire and move to Texas.

Mr. Jones’ wife, Marie Lofton Jones, died in 1954.

Survivors include six daughters, Cecelia J. Krider of New Carrollton, Ruby M. Drake and Annetta Jones, both of Washington, Shirley J. Rollins of Capitol Heights, Dr. Scarlette J. Wilson of San Francisco, and Joan J. Bullock of Upper Marlboro; two sons, Johnie W. Jones of Washington and Charles A. Jones of Capitol Heights; three sisters, Susie Carpenter and Ruth Hunter, both of Washington, and Naomi Lucas of Capitol Heights; one brother, Grover Jones of Sims, N.C.; 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.

— Washington Post, 10 July 1987.

——

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on Jones Hill Road, farmer J.A. [John Alsey] Jones, 42; wife Bettie, 28; and children Johnie W., 16, Grover, 7, Susie, 5, Maomie, 4, and Ruth, 1. [J.A. Jones, 34, son of John A. and Susan Jones, of Old Fields, married Bettie Hinnant, 21, daughter of Vandorn and Janie Hinnant, of Springhill township, on 5 May 1912. Missionary Baptist minister William H. Mitchiner performed the ceremony. (This was John Jones’ second marriage.)]

On 11 October 1926, John William Jones, 23, of Black Creek, married Marie Lofton, 18, of Black Creek. A. Bynum performed the ceremony in the presence of Sylvester Woodard, R.H. Lofton and J.A. Jones.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek, Wilson County: farmer John W. Jones, 26; wife Maria, 20, a farm laborer; and daughters Celie Mae, 3, and Ruby Lee, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1107 Queen Street, tobacco factory carpenter Johnnie Jones, 36; wife Marie, 30, cook; and children Ruby Lee, 11, Cecilia, 13, Johnnie, 9, Charles, 7, Joan, 3, and Jacqueline, 1. Marie reported that she was born in Mount Olive, North Carolina.

In 1942, Johnie William Jones registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he resided at 1107 Queen Street; was born 18 September 1903 in Wilson; his contact person was Mrs. Marie Jones, 1107 Queen Street; and he was employed by Noy 4750 Housing Project, New River, Onslow County, North Carolina.