The pandemic has shuttered Vanilla Powell Beane‘s millinery shop, but could not stop her from creating a hat especially for Congresswoman Cori Bush of Missouri. Now This Politics delivers the take:
Baltimore Afro-American, 12 July 1930.
James D. Reid Jr., a dentist, was born in Wilson in 1905 to J.D. and Eleanor Frederick Reid. On 7 July 1930, he married Irene Miller, whose father Kelly Miller was a renowned mathematician and sociologist at Howard University and an outspoken anti-racism intellectual.
In the 1940 census of Washington, District of Columbia — at 2826 Fourth Street, widow Annie M. Miller, 71; son-in-law James D. Reid, Jr., 39, dentist; daughter Irene Miller Reid, 39, teacher at Miner Teacher College; daughter-in-law Carlissa Miller, 39, clerk; and granddaughters Annie Mae 18, and Gloria Miller, 16.
In 1940, James D. Reid Jr. registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he was born 5 January 1905 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 2225 Fourth Street, N.W., Washington; his contact was wife Irene Miller Reid; and was self-employed, with an office at 1203 U Street, N.W. [2225 Fourth Street is now the site of Howard University’s Bethune Annex residence hall.]
Dr. Reid’s U Street office was in this building.
Photo courtesy of Google Maps.
Eddie C. Powell (1892-1968).
In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farm laborer David Powel, 35; wife Sallie, 27; and children Eddie, 8, Rosa, 5, Henry, 4, and Joseph, 1.
In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer Edward C. Powell, 17, and wife Nellie B., 17.
In 1917, Eddie C. Powell registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 5 September 1892 in Wilson County; lived near Sims; was a self-employed farmer; and had a wife and four children.
In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: on Old Wilson and Raleigh Road, farmer Eddie C. Powell, 27; wife Nellie, 27; and children Beula M., 9, Sallie M., 7, Willard, 6, Rosa Lee, 4, and Johnie, 8 months.
In the 1930 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Williard Powell, 17, farmer; mother Nellie, 37; siblings Beula, 20, Rosie, 14, Johnie, 11, Hattie, 8, Pattie, 8, Betrice, 7, and Earnest T., 3; plus sons(?) E.C. Jr., 5, and James R., 2.
In the 1940 census of Washington, D.C.: on K Street NE, Beula M. Powell, 28, maid; siblings Willard, 25, lunchroom bar tender, Rosa L., 24, lunchroom waitress, John, 21, club busboy, and Pattie L., 19, maid; nephew Willie T. Powell, 8; sister Hattie L. Warren, 19, maid, and her children Melton T., 2, and Barbara J., 7 months; father Eddie C. Powel, 50, drugstore porter; and lodgers Beatrice Smith, 17, and Issac Brown, 30, W.P.A. sewer project laborer. Per the census, in 1935, Beula, Rosa, Pattie, Eddie and Beatrice had been living in Washington, D.C.; Willard in Newport News, Virginia; John and Hattie in Wilson; Willie in Philadelphia; and Isaac in Richmond, Virginia.
In 1942, Eddie Conner Powell registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C. Per his registration card, he was born 5 September 1895 in Wilson, N.C.; resided at 1859 California Street, N.W., Washington; his contact was Sally Powell of the same address; and he worked for Peoples Drug Store #128, Bethesda, Maryland.
Eddie C. Powell died in September 1968 in Washington, D.C.
Photo courtesy of Ancestry user Eva Renee Powers.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Find more on Vanilla Beane here:
The Washington Post, Celebrating 3 sisters’ lives and longevity, Avis Thomas-Lester, 5 November 2011
The Washington Post, Celebrated 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
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.
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:
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.
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.”
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.