parochial school

Saint Mark’s Parochial School opening.

Wilson Daily Times, 26 September 1925.

In 1925, Saint Mark’s Episcopal Church, and its school, were on Lodge Street at the corner of South Street. The school offered kindergarten through elementary instruction. (This likely meant through fourth grade, as the Colored High School covered grades five and up.) The night school classes were aimed at adults or working children who had left regular school.

Per Patrick M. Valentine’s The Episcopalians of Wilson County (1996), “John Herbert Jones became minister in charge [of Saint Mark’s] on Sunday, October 12, 1924. Born in Sanford, Florida, and educated with private tutors in theology, he had married Bessie Bell in 1915. Together they had five sons and two daughters — all with biblical names. In 1921, Bishop E. Thomas Demby of Arkansas ordained Jones a deacon. When he was preparing for the priesthood under Bishop Cheshire, his committee “found him quite well prepared in all subjects, and unusually proficient in the Bible.

“One reason for the long delay in bringing in a new clergyman was that St. Mark’s lacked a rectory. Jones found all the records carefully kept in correct order and no indebtedness, ‘to the praise of our faithful Lay Reader & clerk [John H. Clark],’ but that membership was ‘greatly scattered some having become members of sectarian bodies, and otherwise.’ Starting from a ‘few standing true to the faith,’ Jones canvassed former members to return to St. Mark’s. ‘Although some refused to come back[,] a goodly number returned.’

“Reverend Jones reorganized a number of activities and services in Rocky Mount and Wilson. St. Mark’s Sunday School was put under the care of long term member Walter A. Mitchell. ‘A marked improvement has been registered in our church school life[,] the same showing continued growth.’ With the permission of the suffragan bishop [Henry B. Delany], he and Robert A. Jackson of St. Augustine’s Church in Camden, Maryland, held a public mission in March 1925. ‘This was a success of no small propor[t]ions to say the least.’ Jones was also active in the Convocation. In 1928 he left for St. Stephen’s Mission, Winston-Salem.”

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  • Rev. J.H. Jones — John H. Jones.

In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Jno H Rev (c) pastor St Mark’s Episcopal Church h 201 N Vick. [As noted, Saint Mark’s had no rectory. The house at 201 North Vick Street was rented from Lydia Grissom Coley, who does not appear to have been an Episcopalian.]

Rev. Jones and family appear in Winston-Salem, N.C., in the 1930 federal census. All their children indeed bore biblical monikers, but the most remarkable thing is that they were Mary E., John H. Jr., John L., Mary L., John D., John R., and John B. Jones. John R. Jones was the only child born during the family’s brief stay in Wilson.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Saint Mark’s Episcopal parochial school.

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Wilson Daily Times, 15 August 1980.

Notes and comments:

  • The assertion that the first school in East Wilson opened in 1910 is incorrect. Here are references to African-American education in 1869, 1871, 1877, 18831890, 1895, 1897, and 1897. (Further, the colored graded school was not called the Sallie Barbour School until the late 1930s.)
  • Per this article, the Episcopal school operated from 1891 to 1912 and perhaps into the 1920s.
  • The school taught 50-90 students per year until 1909, when two teachers served 203 pupils.
  • A permanent school space eventually was built was next door to the church at South and Lodge Streets. “We used to call that Little Washington,” Marie Wells Lucas said. (And thus cleared up a mystery about the location of that neighborhood.)
  • Families provided firewood to heat the school.
  • In 1934, Carolina Builders bought the lot on which the church and school stood.

The Episcopal church and school. This photo of John Boykin, Rev. Robert N. Perry and John H. Clark was taken below the stained glass windows in the church’s gable end.

Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C. (1922).

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: wheelwright Mack Wells, 40; wife Cherry, 38; and children Bertha, 11, Willie, 9, Clifton, 6, Lillie, 4, and Marry, 2.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 624 Viola, blacksmith Mack Wells. 57; wife Cherry, 55, washing and ironing; children Clifton, 25, blacksmith, and Marie, 22, washing and ironing; and granddaughter Minnie Green, 8.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory; Wells C Malachi (c; Cherry) gunsmith h 615 Viola. Also, Wells, Marie school tchr h 615 Viola

On 25 December 1934, Joe Lucas, 20, of Nash County, son of John Lucas, married Marie Wells, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Mack and Cherry Wells, at Mack Wells’ on Viola Street.

Charles Malacih [Malachi] Wells died 22 August 1939 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 October 1862 in Nash County to Dennis Wells of Nash and Nellie Adams of Nash; was married; resided at 615 Viola; and was a self-employed machinist at Wells Machinery. Informant was Clifton Wells, 700 Warren Street, Wilson.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 615 Viola Street, owned and valued at $1500, Cherry Wells, 74; machine shop blacksmith William, 47; lumber mill laborer Joseph Lucas, 43; Marie W., 42, teacher; and John D. Lucas, age illegible.

Cherry Wells died 22 September 1951 at 615 Viola Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was a widow; was about 86 years old; and was born in Edgecombe County to Jones Williams and Olive [no last name given]. Informant was Marie Lucas, 615 Viola.

Clifton Wells died 6 August 1971 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 July 1894 to Charles M. Wells and Cherrie Hines; resided at 501 North Carroll Street; was self-employed at C.M. Wells General Repair; and was married to Maggie Young. Informant was Marguerite Wells Murrain, Goldsboro.

Marie Wells Lucas died 6 October 1997 in Wilson, aged 99.

South and Lodge Streets, today, per Google Maps.

Photo of church and school courtesy of Patrick M. Valentine’s The Episcopalians of Wilson County: A History of St. Timothy’s and St. Mark’s Churches in Wilson, North Carolina 1856-1995 (1996).