Me: How did she work that? How did Harriet get to be the first black woman to vote [in Statesville, North Carolina]?
Margaret Colvert Allen, my maternal grandmother: Well, because her husband [Thomas Alonzo Hart] was a lawyer.
Grandma: He was a, whatchacall – a real estate lawyer. And he taught her how to read and write and do everything after he married her. Or while he was marrying her. Or something. And when time came for women to vote, she was the first black – he carried her down to the polls, and she was the first black woman to vote. And then at that time, you know, they gave you a quiz.
Me: Right. Right. Right. For black people to vote. Yeah. ‘Cause did your parents – well, did your father [Lon W. Colvert] vote?
Lon Walker Colvert (1875-1930).
Grandma: Oh, yeah. Papa voted. He voted. And the people in my home, Lisa, fought in the streets. It was dange – I mean, we could not go outside the house on election night. The people — “Who’d you vote for?” “I’m a Democrat.” “I’m a Republican.” Pam-a-lam-a-lam! [Swings fists, and I break into laughter.] People acted like they were crazy! Papa didn’t allow us out the house. “You better be getting on home!” ‘Cause they were terrible.
Me: And now you got to drag people out to vote. And then you hear people going: “I’m not gon vote now. What’s the point? I blah-blah-blah.”
Grandma: Yeah. When I came here [Newport News, Virginia] you had to pay poll tax.
Grandma: It wasn’t a whole lot, but it was ridiculous.
[Harriet Hart was my great-great-grandmother. My grandmother cast her last ballot for Barack Obama in 2008 — at age 100.]
Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved.
On 23 November 1898, Cas. Nicholson, 22, married Anna Lee Harrison, 20, daughter of Allen and Margarett Harrison, at the bride’s residence in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of H.T. Thompson, H.S. Phillips, and P.R. Jones.
In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: day laborer Cas Nickerson, 25, and wife Aner, 21.
In the the 1916 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Nicholson Cass, lab h 621 Viola
In the the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Nicholson Cass, lab h 621 Viola
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Cas Nickolson, 53, born in Mississippi; wife Lillie, 38, dressmaker; son James, 19; and lodger Lonie Fields, 24, public works laborer.
Cas Nichlson died 2 October 1926 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 47 years old; was born in Ring Wood, North Carolina, to Verga B. Nickerson of Vicksburg, Mississippi; was married to Lillie Nichlson; worked as a “urb and medicine seller”; and he was buried in Rountree cemetery. William Nickerson of Appies, North Carolina, was informant.
Hat tip to Bobby Boykin for passing along this clipping.
Eighty years ago today, Richard Sheridan and Ed Nicholsonwere fined for trespassing after protesting the exclusion of taxi drivers from Wilson’s bus station.
In a nutshell:
Miley Glover and Dr. Mallory A. Pittman leased a building to various bus companies for use as a bus station. Glover and Pittman also leased “taxi rights” to the building to J.D. Peacock of Goldsboro, who barred any other taxi drivers from seeking fares on the premises. When Sheridan and Nicholson attempted to pick up fares at the station, they were arrested and charged with trespassing. Their lawyer argued that the station owners had created a taxi monopoly in contravention of state law, but the recorder (magistrate) did not agree. Each man was assessed a five-dollar fine.
The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory reveals two taxicab companies in Wilson. J. Clifford Peacock and George B. Patrick owned Oak Cab Company, based at the bus station. Hugh T. Foster owned Taxi-Cab Service at 508 East Nash. Oak Cab’s arrangement with Glover and Peacock meant that, effectively, black drivers had no access to white patrons arriving in Wilson by bus. It also meant that black riders had to leave the station’s premises to hail a cab.
Per the nomination form for Wilson Central Business-Tobacco Warehouse District, the taxi stand and bus station at 307 East Green Street were built for Miley Glover in 1937 and 1938. The bus station was one of Wilson’s few Art Deco buildings. It operated into the 1990s and was demolished after the city built a public transportation hub on Nash Street.
Richard Sheridan — Richard Sheridan, 26, son of Richard and Fannie Sheridan, married Beatrice Bullock, 19, daughter of Alice Bullock, on 1 September 1935 in Wilson. Sheridan registered for the World War II draft in Wilson in 1940. Per his registration card, he was born 20 September 1910 in Maxton, N.C.; resided at 1115 Atlantic Street, Wilson; his contact was mother, Fannie Sheridan, 1115 Atlantic; and he worked for traveling salesman John Whelan.
Photo of bus station and taxi stand courtesy of Dean Jeffrey at Flickr, 2001.
Aggie M. Williams of Elm City dictated her will on 15 July 1914 in the presence of W.G. Britt Jr. and W.F. Cuddington.
to daughter Mary Eliza Nicholson and her children, 45 acres from her farm located about three miles from Elm City (and, specifically, the 45 acres must come from the middle of the farm, running north and south); remainder of household and kitchen furniture; house and lot on which she lived;
to daughter Cora C. Lucas, 20 acres to the north of Mary Eliza’s 45; two pair of bleaching sheets and a portion of her wearing apparel; any other personal property not mentioned to be split with Mary Eliza;
to Alice Marie Nicholson, the bedroom suite upstairs in the front room;
to Albert Thomas Lucas, the oak suite upstairs in the back room;
to Horace Lucas, a single bed;
Rev. C[larence] Dillard of Goldsboro, North Carolina, appointed executor.
Toward the end of her life, Williams made a codicil, dated 15 September 1949:
To her three grandsons Clarence E. Nicholson, Charles B. Nicholson, and Alonzo G. Nicholson Sr., jointly, with some restrictions, her property on East Main Street opposite the Jesse Wynn store in Elm City, consisting of a lot and two frame structures.
Aggy Mercer, 17, married Thos. Williams, 21, on 5 February 1876 at Toisnot township, Wilson County.
In the 1880 census of Upper Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: farmer Thomas Williams, 24, wife Aggie, 21, and daughters Clara, 3, and Mattie, 1.
On 31 May 1899, Thomas H. Nicholson, 24, of Halifax County, son of Zach Nicholson, married Clara Williams, 23, of Wilson County, daughter of Tom and Aggie Williams, at Elm City in Toisnot township.
In the 1900 census of the Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: widow Aggie Williams, 41, dress maker; and her children, nurse Cora, 18, and day laborer Burtas, 14.
On 2 January 1901, Haywood Lucas, 22, of Rocky Mount, married Cora Williams, 20, of Toisnot, at 1st Baptist Church in Elm City. Witnesses were J.C. Ellis, Preston Faison and H.W. Hunter.
In 1910 in the Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: Aggie Williams, 59, lived alone in a house she owned on Main Street. Also on Main Street: Hayward Lucas, 30, farm laborer, wife Cora, 29, laundress, and children Aggie, 9, Jessie M., 6, Albert Thomas, 4, Elias S., 2, and Hayward C., 6 months. On Wilson Street: tenant farmer Thomas H. Nicholson, 34, wife Clara, 33, and children Alonzo, 7, and Alice M., 4 months.
In 1920 in the Town of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: Aggie Williams, 51, dress maker, lived alone in a house she owned on Main Street.
Thomas Harrison Nicholson died 19 April 1923 in Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 1 May 1876 in Halifax County to Zackerie Nickolson and Nettie Lee, was a farmer, and died of pulmonary tuberculosis. Wife Clarra M. Nickolson was informant.
In the 1930 census of Washington, D.C.: at 1608 – 15th Street, N.W., lodgers Alonzo G. Nicholson, 26, barber, and wife Alice E., 19. Alonzo was born in North Carolina.
In the 1930 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: Cora Lucas, 46, laundress, divorced, with sons Elias T., 20, a filling station repairman, and Horace, 18. Both young men were described as “absent.” Cora owned her house and reported its value at $1500.
In 1940 in the Town of Elm City, Toisnot, Wilson County: Aggie Williams, 81, lived alone in a house she owned on Main Street. Daughter Cora lived next door.
In the 1940 census of Washington, D.C.: at 2603 J Street, N.W., Alonzo G. Nicholson, 36, janitor, wife Alice E., 29, son Alonzo G. Nicholson, 8, and a lodger.
Aggie M. Williams died 21 March 1951 in Elm City. Her death certificate records her birth as 14 February 1859 in Edgecombe County to Jessie and Fannie Mercer. The informant was Cora C. Lucas, her daughter.
On 22 August 1952, Clara M. Nicholson made out her will in the presence of Priscilla M. Gaston and Nannie Gaston of Elm City and Alma L. Guess of Raleigh. She left her “home place” on Branch Street in Elm City to her four children in the noted proportions: Alice Nicholson Spivey (1/2), sons Alonzo, Charles and Clarence (1/2 jointly). She also left Alice her piano. Her three sons were to divide four bedsheets, with Alice to receive the remainder of her linens. Other household furnishings they were to divide equally. In other property was devised to Alice (2/5 share) and her sons (1/5 each). Alice was named executor.
Clara Mary Nicholson died 1 February 1953 at her home on Branch Street in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 25 October 1876 in Wilson County to Thomas Williams and Aggie M. Mercer. Informant was Alice Spivey.
Cora Christine Lucas died 22 March 1963 in Rocky Mount, Nash County. Per her death certificate, she was born 23 September 1880 in Wilson County to Thomas Williams and Aggie Mercer, and was the widow of Haywood Lucas. She was buried in Elm City cemetery.
Bedford Severage – Bedford Savage Lucas was born about 1907 to Frank Savage and Serena Woodard. She married Elias Lucas on 6 July 1930 in Wilson and died 25 July 1965 in Wilson.
Elias Lucas – Elias Joseph Lucas was born in Elm City in 1908 to Haywood and Cora Williams Lucas.
Alice Hunter — in the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township, Wilson County: Eliza Pinkney, 34, and sister Alice Hunter, 40. Alice Hunter died 20 April 1960 in Elm City. Her death certificate lists her parents as Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane Pitt, and Eliza Pinkney was the informant. Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane Pitt married 11 April 1878 in Toisnot township. Per estate records, Hunter died about 1893.
Eliza Pinkney – Eliza Pinkney, wife of Jim Pinkney and daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jones, died 10 July 1969 in Wilson.
Mary Hunter – Mary Whitehead Hunter, born 1886 in Nash County to Benjamin and Frances Whitehead, was the wife of Alice and Eliza’s brother Willie Hunter. She died 1 July 1930 in Wilson.
Katie Wynn – in the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township, Wilson County: railroad shifter Jessie Winn, 38; wife Katie, 37; and children Ralph, 16; George, 14; Charlie, 9; Jennie M., 7; Marie, 6; Herbert, 4; Katie, 2; and Edward Winn, 1. Katie Davis Wynn was born 30 May 1901 in Edgecombe County to John and Mary Williams Davis. She did 13 June 1963 in Elm City. Jessie Wynn died in 1946.
Genevieve Ward — Genevieve Ward was born in 1912 to Peter James Ward and Vallie Hockaday Ward. In the 1920 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: railroad laborer Peter Ward, 35; wife Vallie, 28; and children V. Jennie V., 7; James, 6; and Eliza Ward, 3 months. Peter Ward, son of Jim and Phyliss Winstead Ward , died 17 October 1938 in Elm City.
Mamie Clyde Ricks Dantly –Mamie Clyde Ricks was born in 1909. At the time of the 1930 census, she had not yet joined her husband Aaron Dantley, who is shown living in a rooming house in Washington DC and working as a hotel waiter. Instead, she is listed as a 20 year-old in Elm City town, Toisnot township, with Ed Ricks, 52; Nannie, 50; Ruth, 16; and Eugene, 10 months.
Mary Gaston — in the 1930 census of Elm City town, Toisnot township: Dewey Gaston, 30, barber; wife Mary, 20; and children Doris L., 5, and Victor H., 3. Next door in one direction: barbershop proprietor George Gaston, 72, and daughter Ada, a teacher, 43. In the other: John Gaston, 48, brickmason; wife Nannie, 41; daughters Pricilla, 21, and Minnie, 18; plus mother-in-law Mary Barnes, 62. Dewey Gaston, 23, son of George and Priscilla Gaston, married Mary B. Howard, 24, daughter of Mary E. Darden, on 8 March 1923 in Tarboro, Edgecombe County. Witnesses were Mancie Gaston and Fannie F. Ricks of Elm City. Dewey Milton Gaston, born 11 November 1899 in Elm City, died 16 February 1948. His father George died 30 May 1934.
Charles and Clarence Nicholson — Charles B. Nicholson and Clarence Everard Nicholson were born 24 December 1914 in Elm City to Thomas Harrison Nicholson (originally of Halifax County) and Clara Williams Nicholson. [Which golf course could African Americans play on in Wilson in 1930?]