Lane Street Project: Chief Ben Mincey’s grave.

Here is a closer look at a photograph published in the Wilson Daily Times in February 1989. Ben Mincey Jr. is shown standing at the grave of his father, Benjamin Mincey, renowned as a chief of the Red Hot Hose Company, an all-Black volunteer fire company. Fittingly, Mincey Sr.’s gravemarker is a fire hydrant.

Tragically, that grave is in Odd Fellows cemetery, and today the hydrant is strangled by wisteria vines. 

Marker of the grave of Benjamin Mincey (ca. 1881-1950).

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2020.


The obituary of Susan Mincey.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 June 1928.

  • Susan Mincey, wife of B.J. [sic] Mincy — In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: farmer Prince Minshew, 52; wife Susan, 35; and children Frank, 12, Henry, 11, and John, 3. In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farmer Prince Mensey, 60; wife Susan, 52; children Ben, 19, Emma, 19, and Oscar, 12; and niece Rosetta Mensey, 7. [Prince, Ben and Oscar Mincey are buried in Odd Fellows cemetery; Susan Mincey probably was, too.]
  • Rev. E.D. Cox — probably Eddie H. Cox, a Free Will Baptist minister.
  • Revs. Davis, Kennedy, Coward, Hargrove and Bynum — Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis; probably John E. Kennedy or L.V. Kennedy, both A.M.E. Zion; Bryant P. Coward, also A.M.E. Zion. 
  • Tom King
  • Dock Royal — Dockery Royal. In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Royal Dock (c; Ossie M) lab Hackney Bros Body Co r 321 Hackney
  • Walter Foster
  • Tobe Belma — Tobe Bellamy.
  • Gus Mercer — in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mercer Gus (c; Daisy) h 715 Harper
  • Hardy Tate
  • Boldon Tyson — in the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 408 Youngs Allie, Bolden Tyson, 65, light plant janitor; wife Mary, 49, laundress; daughter Christana, 14; and sister-in-law Jimie Ellis, 39.
  • Margie Jones — Jones Margie (c) dom r 805 Robeson
  • Annie Mae Neal
  • Henrietta King

The end of the Red Hots?

In 1938, the city of Wilson professionalized its firefighting operations, converting the white volunteer department to semi-paid status. The Daily Times originally reported that the black volunteer organization, the Red Hots, would be abolished, but here clarified that, while they were being retired from active service, they would continue to send representatives to competitions and state conventions and would be called upon in emergencies.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 July 1938.


  • Ben Mincey
  • George Coppedge — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brickmason George Coppedge, 34; wife Mittie, 34; and children George Jr., 4, and Elenora, 2.
  • Aaron Best — William Aaron Best died 21 August 1949 at his home at 1009 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 21 September 1900 in Wilson County to Aaron Best and Nannie Best; was a widower; and had been a laborer at Export Tobacco Company. Audrey Best was informant.
  • Ambrose Floyd — in 1942, Ambrose Floyd registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 4 February 1901 in Lumberton, North Carolina; resided at 1214 East Nash Street; his contact was Clara Smith; and he was employed by Gary Fulghum, 901 Branch Street, United States Post Office.
  • W.J. Howell
  • Henry Sauls — in 1942, Henry Sauls registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 10 February 1898 in Black Creek; resided at 21 Carolina Street (mailing address 1114 Carolina Street); his contact was Hattie Davis, 19 Carolina Street; and he worked for W.T. Clark Jr., 1415 West Nash Street, Barnes Street tobacco factory.
  • Louis Thomas — in the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 715 East Green Street, carpenter Louis Thomas, 53; wife Lillie, 33; and children Louis Jr., 16, Charlie H., 14, and Van Jewel, 12.

Chief Mincey.

Benjamin Mincey, after Edmund Poole, was the second “chief” of Wilson’s African-American volunteer fire department, the Red Hot Hose Company. This magnificent photograph depicts Mincey in full fireman dress regalia.

Benjamin Mincey (circa 1881-1950).


In the 1900 census of Wilson town, Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Prince Mensey, 60; wife Susan, 52; children Ben, 19, Emma, 19, and Oscar, 12; and niece Rosetta Mensey, 7.

Ben Mincey, 21, of Wilson, son of P. Mincey, and Mattie Barnes, 20, of Wilson, daughter of M. and Mariah Barnes, were married on 12 January 1904. Berry Williams applied for the license, and Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in his home in the presence of Harry Mercer, W. Aken, and E.M. Davis.

In 1918, Ben Mincey registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1879; resided at 411 Wiggins Street; worked as a laborer for the city of Wilson; and his nearest relative was Mattie Mincey.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 411 Wiggins Street, city pipe fitter Benj. Mency, 38; wife Mattie, 37, tobacco factory worker; and children Benjamin J., 11, Mildred, 7, Maddison, 5, and John, 3 months.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 June 1929.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 656 Wiggins Street, valued at $800, town of Wilson plumber Benjamin Mincy, 48; wife Mattie, 49; and children Benjamin Jr., 23, Briggs hotel cook; Madison B., 16; Mildred, 17; and John H., 11; and roomer Andrew P. Sugg, 59.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: City of Wilson plumber Benjamine Mincy, 60; wife Mattie, 60; and sons Benjamine, 31, hotel cook, and Johnnie, 21, daily paper deliveryman; and granddaughter Deloris Woodard, 5.

Benjamin Mincey died 14 July 1950 at his home at 712 Wiggins Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 67 years old; was married; worked as a plumber for the town of Wilson; was born in Greene County to Prince Mincey and Susan Suggs; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Informant was Mattie Mincey.

Photograph of Mincey reprinted from Wilson Daily Times, 29 April 1999. Many thanks to Pamela Mincey Myers, who advises that the original of this portrait of her great-grandfather hung in the living room of her grandparents, Benjamin Madison Mincey and Lala Rook Barnes Mincey at 723 Lincoln Street, Wilson.

The Red Hot Hose Company.


Wilson Mirror, 30 November 1887.


Wilson Advance, 1 December 1887.


Wilson Advance, 14 September 1893.


Wilson Advance, 22 February 1894.

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Wilson Advance, 10 May 1894.


Wilson Advance, 11 April 1895.

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Wilson Daily Times, 31 July 1896.


Wilson Advance, 13 August 1896.

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Wilson Advance, 19 January 1899.


Wilson Daily Times, 18 August 1899.


The North Carolinian (Raleigh NC), 28 August 1902.


Wilson Daily Times, 7 March 1911.


Wilson Daily Times, 10 December 1918.


Wilson Daily Times, 19 August 1921.


Edmund Poole (1846-?) was living in Wilson by 1882, when he married Adeline Gay. He worked as a teamster.

Greene County native Benjamin Thomas Mincey (1879-1950) was the son of Prince and Mattie Barnes Mincey. The family moved to Wilson when Ben was young, and he married Mattie Barnes there in 1904. When not fighting fires, he worked as a laborer for the city.