obituary

The obituary of Ernest Artis.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 November 1950.

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In the 1930 census of Bull Head township, Greene County: Ernest Artis, 50; wife Saddie, 37; and children Robert, 18, Lawyer, 17, Spencer, 15, Ernest, 9, William, 8, Metta, 19, and Sudie, 6.

In the 1940 census of Bull Head township, Greene County: widow Sadie Artis, 45, and children or grandchildren Robert, 25, Lawyer, 24, Spence, 23, Earnest, 19, and William, 1. 

Ernest Artis died 21 November 1950 at the Veterans Administration hospital in Kecoughtan, Virginia; lived at 700 Vance Street, Wilson; was born 20 October 1920 in Wilson to Ernest Artis and Sadie Thompson; was single; and worked as a laborer.

On 4 December 1950, Sadie Artis, 700 East Vance Street, applied for a military grave marker for her son Earnest Artis. Per the application, Artis was born 20 October 1920 in Greene County; was inducted on 28 October 1942 and discharged honorably on 26 October 1943; ranked private; and served in Company B, 134th Engineer Training Battalion, Corps of Engineers. He was buried in Artis cemetery near Stantonsburg, and the marker was to be shipped to the Wilson freight station from Proctor, Vermont. 

For more about Greene County’s Artis Town, see here. (The sign has been replaced, by the way.) For more about the Artis Town cemetery, where Ernest Artis was buried, see here.

The obituary of David Hines.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 October 1949.

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On an unstated date in 1915, David Hines, 23, of Green County, N.C., son of Carrie Hines, married Julia A. Best, 23, daughter of Tom and Lizzie Best, at the “Patret Place” [D.W. Patrick’s farm] near Snow Hill, Greene County. 

Toney Hines died 3 April 1917 in Olds township, Greene County. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 April 1917 in Greene County to David Hines of Pamlico County and Julia Ann Best of Greene County; and was buried on the D.W. Patrick farm.

George Washington Hines died 29 June 1919 in Beaver Dam township, Pitt County, N.C. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 June 1919 in Pitt County to David Hines of Pitt County and Julie Best of Greene County; and was buried on the D. Patrick farm.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer David Hines, 46; wife Julia, 37; daughter Mary E., 9; and lodger Elijah Jones, 20.

In the 1940 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmhand David Hines, 56; wife Julia Anne, 46, cook; daughter Mary Elizabeth, 19; and farmhand Jeana Ionia Mainer, 16, lodger.

David Hines died 11 October 1949 in Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 May 1893 in Pamlico County, N.C., to Benjamin Hines and Carrie [maiden name unknown]; was married; worked as a laborer; and lived in Lucama, Wilson County.

Rest in peace, Vanilla P. Beane.

Black Wide-Awake mourns the passing of Vanilla Powell Beane, Wilson native, Washington, D.C., legend, and milliner extraordinaire. Her 103 years of life were exceptionally well-lived, and the world so much richer for her talents.

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Vanilla Beane, the District’s ‘Hat Lady,’ dies at 103.

By Michael Rosenwald, The Washington Times, 25 October 2022.

Vanilla Beane, whose radiant hats topped the heads of legions of African American women at church, weddings and funerals in the District for half a century, earning her the title of “D.C.’s Hat Lady,” died Oct. 23 at a hospital in Washington. She was 103.

The cause was complications following an aortic tear, said her grandson Craig Seymour.

Mrs. Beane’s hats, which she had designed and fabricated at the Bené Millinery and Bridal Supplies shop on Third Street NW, were featured on postage stamps and in collections at the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Every hat was one-of-a-kind.

“Nobody wants to walk into a church and see someone else wearing their hat,” she once said.

Poet Maya Angelou wore one of Mrs. Beane’s millinery creations. Civil rights activist Dorothy I. Height donned them for meetings with presidents and other officials. “Hats give me a lift and make me feel real special,” Height explained — a sentiment shared by the countless others who shopped at Mrs. Beane’s store.

Mrs. Beane worked six days a week into her 100th year.

“Some people like real fussy hats,” she told The Washington Post in 2009. “Others like sophisticated hats, and a lot of people like simple hats. I try to please people regardless of their race or background.”

Mrs. Beane made her hats the old-fashioned way, wetting buckram — a stiff cotton — into molds decorated with all manner of fabrics. Keeping her fingernails cut short, Mr. Beane made tams, turbans, panamas, sailors and cloches. Decades of the repetitive fashioning turned her fingers stiff and rough.

“They look like I have been digging potatoes,” she said.

Vanilla Powell was born in Wilson, N.C., on Sept. 13, 1919, the second youngest of nine siblings. Her father was a carpenter and farmer, and her mother was a seamstress who also worked in White people’s homes washing their clothes.

Growing up during the Depression instilled a robust work ethic in the Powell children, who worked in the fields picking tobacco and cotton. On Sundays, they rested and walked to Sandy Point Baptist Church, where women sat in the pews wearing fancy hats.

“In the past, when most Blacks had blue-collar jobs, dressing up on Sundays was a cherished ritual,” Craig Marberry, co-author of “Crowns: Portraits of Black Women in Church Hats,” said in a 2019 story about Mrs. Beane in The Post. “The hat tradition grew out of the idea that you were expressing how God has blessed you. The more flamboyant a hat, the more God has blessed you.”

After graduating from [C.H. Darden] high school in 1940, Vanilla Powell moved to Washington and two years later married Willie Beane Sr., producing the name that endlessly charmed her customers and friends, though it took her a little bit to realize its novelty.

“I was in the drugstore and the pharmacy said, ‘Do you know there is a Vanilla Beane?’” she recalled in a television interview in 2020. “I said I guess it was meant to be.”

In Washington, Mrs. Beane worked as an elevator operator in a downtown building with a hat store called Washington Millinery Supply. She was enamored by the intricate hats and the craft of making them, so she bought some supplies and began making them herself.

Eventually she showed her hats to the store’s owner, Richard Dietrick Sr. “She had very much talent, but she didn’t have the design know-how in those days,” Dietrick recalled later. “She picked it up very quickly.”

Mrs. Beane eventually began working for him, and when he moved his shop to Gaithersburg, Md., she bought his supplies and, in 1979, opened her own store. She was a shrewd businesswoman, convincing Ethel Sanders, the owner of Lovely Lady Boutique in Bethesda, Md., to move her store near Bené Millinery.

“People knew us as a team,” Sanders recalled in 2019. “Women would come in for a dress and I’d send them to Vanilla for a hat. Or they’d go for a hat and she’d send them to me for an outfit.”

Mrs. Beane’s shop had White customers, as well. One of them was Sherry Watkins, who founded the Rogue Hatters, a group of women who collected Mrs. Beane’s hats. Watkins owned 75.

Mrs. Beane taught them the rules of hat wearing.

“Don’t match the hat to the outfit,” Watkins recalled. “Just buy a hat you like and the outfit will come. Never wear your hat more than one inch above your eyebrows. Slant it to look more interesting and possibly even risque.”

Mrs. Beane seemed to never get designer’s block. Her designs constantly evolved.

At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, one of Mrs. Beane’s hats is green velveteen.

“The hat is circular with a rounded peak and constructed by layering a strip of fabric over itself in a wrapped design,” the museum’s description says. “The base of the fabric is a light green while the pile is a darker green, giving the hat a two-tone appearance.”

Another is a red felt bicorn style.

“The hat is composed of a single piece of stiff felt that has been folded up at the center front,” the museum notes. “The dome of the hat is cylindrical, with the raised brim attached at the top of the crown. There are red felt bows affixed at the attachment points.”

Mrs. Beane’s husband died in 1993. Their son, Willie G. Beane Jr., died in 1980. Ms. Beane is survived by two daughters, Margaret L. Seymour of Charleston, S.C., and Linda R. Jefferson of the District; seven grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Beane was such a fixture of Washington that then-Fox News host Chris Wallace named her “Power Player of the Week” in the summer of 2020.

Wallace asked her what made a proper church hat.

“Well,” she answered, “any hat that’s not too fancy, not too wide.”

The host marveled at her longevity.

“In these challenging times,” Wallace said, “it’s nice to know there are still some constants in the world, like Vanilla Beane.”

Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post.

The obituary of Georgianna Forte Artis.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 October 1949.

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In the 1910 census of Mary Fort, 38, widow, and children Maggie, 10, Georgiea A., 9, James A., 6, Mamie R., 4, and Minnie B., 1. Mary and Maggie Fort were farm laborers “working out,” i.e. as hired hands.

Nathan Artis, 29, of Pikeville married Georgie Anna Fort, 25, of Goldsboro on 8 January 1929 in Goldsboro, Wayne County, North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: laborer Nathan Artis, 39, wife Georgiana, 37, and children Bertha Lee, 17, Virginia, 14, and Minnie Louise, 7.

Georgianna O. Artis died 14 October 1949 in Stantonsburg. Her death certificate reports that she was born 16 June 1903 in Wayne County to James Ford [Forte] and Mary Coley.

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 William Gray Taylor.

Rocky Mount Telegram, 30 September 1988.

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In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Rocky Mount Road, Mattie Taylor, 36, and children Gray, 14, Benjamin F., 8, Lee R., 7, Mary, 6, Annie, 2, and Hilliard, 6 months.

In 1917, Gray Taylor registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 1 December 1895 in Wilson County; lived in Stantonsburg, Wilson County; worked as a farm laborer for Albert Skinner; was single; and had gray eyes and light hair. He signed his card with an X.

On 30 April 1921, William Gray Taylor, 24, of Wilson County, son of Joe Pittman and Mattie Taylor, married Fannie Hardy, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of Allice Hardy, in Wilson. [Joseph J. Pittman (1875-1922) was a white farmer in the Saratoga area.]

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Gray T. Taylor, 31; wife Fannie, 25; children Julias, 5, William, 3, Rebecca, 2, and Eunice, 2 months; and lodger Johnnie Bess, 20. [The family was erroneously listed as white.]

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Gray Taylor, 42; wife Fannie, 26; and children Julias, 19, William A., 14, Rebetha, 12, Unice, 10, Russell, 8, William Irvin, 6, Bobbie G., 5, Bobbie Gene, 3, and Wallace, 7 months.

In the 1950 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: on Gardners Road, farmer Grey Taylor, 54; wife Fannie, 43; and children Eunice, 20, Russell, 17, William, 16, Bobby Grey, 14, Bobby Jean, 12, Helen, 10, Wallace, 8, and Grace Marie, 6; and Bernice, 8, lodger.

Fannie Taylor died 3 August 1961 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 27 August 1909 in Wilson County to Alice Hardy and was married to Gray Taylor.

William Gray Taylor (1896-1988).

The death of Lizzie Bullock.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 February 1936.

“Liz” was 81 year-old Lizzie Pitt Bullock, who may or may not have adored Sallie Egerton Blount, but surely did not love the Blounts as much as she loved her own children.

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On 15 May 1877, Lizzie Pitt married Frank Bullock in Edgecombe County, North Carolina.

In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County:  Frank Bullock, 27; wife Lizzie, 23; and son Ruffin, 1.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: brick setter Frank Bullock, 45; wife Lizzie, 41, cook; and children Ernest, 14, house servant, Hugh, 11, nurse, Malvina, 9, and Obed, 5.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Lee Street, garden laborer Frank Bullock, 65; wife Lizzie, 60, cook; children Ernest, 25, odd jobs laborer; Hudy, 23, livery stable laborer; Petronia, 20, private nurse; and Obert, 16, drugstore servant. [By the way, the Bullocks were next-door neighbors to my great-grandparents, Michael and Rachel Barnes Taylor.]

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 410 Pine Street, widow Lizzie Bullock, 65, cook “McLean” [i.e., the family of Sallie Blount’s daughter Sallie Blount McLean]; daughter Gertrude, 25, cook; and son Obert, 24, cook in cafe. 

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 409 Pine Street, rented for $12/month, Lizzie Bullock, 70, widow; children Ernest, 43, house painter, Obert, 33, hotel cook, and Gertrude, 35, laundress; and lodgers Charlie Moye, 29, truck gardener, and Edward Williams, 53, farm laborer. 

Earnest Bullock died 16 May 1931 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 April 1886 in Edgecombe County to Frank Bullock and Lizzie Pitt; was the widower of Flora Bullock; lived at 409 Pine; and worked as a painter. Gertrude Bullock was informant.

Lizzie Bullock died 26 February 1936 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 81 years old; was born in Edgecombe County to Jack Pitt and Lucinda Pitt; was a widow; and lived at 409 Pine Street. Informant was Gertrude Bullock.

Gertrude Eddie died 14 November 1953 at her home at 409 North Pine Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 17 March 1897 in Wilson County to Frank Bullock and Lizzie Petts, and was married to John Eddie.

The obituary of Sallie Barbour, revered teacher.

Wilson Daily Times, 25 April 1942.

In the 1880 census of Clayton, Johnston County, North Carolina: Essex Blake, 53; wife Clara, 43; and children Della, 23, Robert, 21, Sallie, 19, Benjamin, 17, James, 15, Halsey, 12, Antney, 10, Timothy, 8, Ardelia, 6, Narsissie, 6, and Jerry, 5.

On 11July 1886, Charles Barber married Sallie Blake in Clayton, Johnston County.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: mechanic Charley Barber, 41, described as married; sons Luther, 13, James and John, 7, and Hubert, 5; widowed sister Mary Tomlingson, 42, and her children Ella, 9, and Charley, 4; and boarders Turner Utley, 27, John Purkison, 31, and George Garrett, 25. In a different household: John W. Rodgers, 30; wife Mary E., 22; sister Minnie, 17; and boarder Sallie Barber, 35, described as “widowed.” [In fact, she and her husband had separated.]

In the 1908 version of Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, the only Barbers listed are James M., Jno. W., and Luther Barber at 129 Pender Street, and Sallie Barber next door at 131 Pender.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: mechanic Charlie Barber, 47; wife Sallie, 40, teacher; sons Luther, 21, James and John, 17, and Hubert, 15; and roomers Willie Harris, 17, and Carrie Mayswood, 16.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 Nash Street, barber John Barber, 27; wife Ethel, 26; widowed mother Sallie, 59, a school teacher; and brother Luther Barber, 32, also a barber.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1100 East Nash Street, Sallie Barber, 67, widowed public school teacher, and her sister Tiny Hill, 69, also a widowed teacher.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sallie Barbour, 85, widow, and lodgers Ordelia Nunn, 66, and James Pettiford, 47, barber at Hines barbershop.

Sallie Minnie Barbour died 22 April 1942 at her home at 1100 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 71 years old; was born in Wake County to Essex Blake and Clara Hodge; was a widow; and was a schoolteacher. Ardelia Nunn, 1100 East Nash, was informant.

Wilson Daily Times, 29 April 1942.

Clippings courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

The obituary of Bessie McNair Best.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 August 1949.

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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.