This 1923 plat map detailing part of Frank Rountree’s property shows, at left, the block now home to Wilson’s main United States post office and, right, the location of a Family Dollar store.
The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson reveal more detail about Rountree’s property. The houses he owned in this block are marked with asterisks. Most were double-shotgun houses built as rentals for African-American tobacco factory workers.
Rountree’s properties on the other side of Hines are again marked with asterisks below. The houses fronting the north side of Hines Street had white occupants, but the double-shotguns behind them on Sunshine Alley and along South Goldsboro had Black tenants. (West of the tracks, especially on the southern perimeter of downtown, segregation patterns were checkerboard, blocks by block.) See more about short-lived Sunshine Alley here.
Plat Book 1, page 268, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., 1922.
This 1928 plat map of property belonging to Oliver N. Freeman is readily recognizable in the present-day landscape, though it does not appear the land was subdivided as shown. (The area was described as “near” Wilson as it was outside city limits at the time.)
Plat Book 3, Page 39, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial view, Google Maps.
N.C. Mutual Life Insurance affiliate Home Development Company was a major player in East Wilson real estate in the mid-twentieth, buying and selling distressed properties by the dozens. Below, a plat map the company recorded in 1944 for two lots on Viola Street between C.E. Artis at 308 North Pender and Sadie Joyner at 609 Viola.
The house at 607 Viola Street was demolished in the early 1980s. There has never been a house on the second lot.
Plat book 4, page 13.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Church Alton (c; Hattie) lab h 607 Viola; Church Helen (c) maid Cherry Hotel H 607 Viola.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Clark Saml (c; Cath) h 607 Viola; Clark Martha (c) dom h 607 Viola.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Viola, at $16/month rent, Catherine Clark, 42, born in S.C., hospital cook; husband Sam, 52, born in Georgia; granddaughter Martha Clark, 15, born in S.C.; grandson Willie McGill, 6, born in N.C.; and two roomers, Talmage Smith, 21, and Roy Maze, 26, both orchestra musicians. [Orchestra musicians?]
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 607 Viola, at $6/month, Nora Farmer, 28, tobacco factory hanger, and lodgers Maggie Smith, 23, also a hanger, and Lester Parker, 28, highway laborer. Also, at $8/month, Charlie Williams, 42, service station attendant; wife Ellen, 38, laundress; son David, 23, tobacco factory laborer; and niece Eloise Tarboro, 18, servant.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city director: Williams Chas (c; Ellen) porter G Duke Ricks h 607 Viola
The one hundred twenty-ninth in a series of posts highlighting buildings inEast Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.
Seeds of Hope Wilson tends a teaching and community garden at the corner of Viola and Carroll Streets and, in a revamped cottage at 906 Viola, a small community center for the neighborhood surrounding Samuel H. Vick Elementary School. (The garden had not been installed when the photo above was taken.) Community members who work in the garden take home the food they grow after donating a portion to charities such as Hope Station, a local shelter. If you’d like to support Seeds of Hope’s fine work in East Wilson, see here.
Seeds of Hope’s property is a consolidation of five original lots — two on Viola Street and three on North Carroll. Below, a look at some of the families who lived at these addresses in the first half of the twentieth century.
Detail from Plat Book 42, Page 20, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson, showing Seeds of Hope’s consolidated parcel.
As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1910; 1 story; John Dudley house; Queen Anne cottage with hip-roofed, double-pile form and turned porch posts; owner in 1925 was Dudley, a carpenter.” [The house was heavily modified for Seeds of Hope’s use.]
In the 1925 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Dudley Jno H carp h 906 Viola
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Dudley Jno H (c; Della) carp h 906 Viola
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Barnes Ned (c; Malina) truck driver h 906 Viola
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 906 Viola, rented for $12/month, Ned Barnes, 31; wife Malline, 46; stepson Johny, 20; and sons Robert, 18, and Jessie B., 14.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 906 Viola, rented for $12/month, Amos Moore, 39; wife Mattie, 29, born in Georgia; children Joseph, 5, Patricia, 3, and Iris V., 8; and sister-in-law Lillie Blue, 33, born in Georgia.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Moore W Amos (c; Mattie; 3) firemn Hotel Cherry h 906 Viola
As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1945; 1 story; gable-end bungalow with metal porch supports.”
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Cannon James (c; Debora) drayage 908 Viola
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Cannon Jas (c; Deborah) taxi driver h 908 Viola
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 908 Viola, rented for $15/month, James Cannon, 34, taxi cab driver, born in S.C.; wife Deborah, 25, born in S.C.; and children Dorthy, 10, James Jr., 9, Beatrice, 6, William H., 3, and Willie W., 2.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 908 Viola, rented for $12/month, Polly Evans, 56, widow; children Charlie, 24, Josie, 16, Alphonza, 13, and Eloise, 10; son-in-law James Parker, 30; and daughter Virginia, 25.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Evans Polly (c) h 908 Viola
505 North Carroll
As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1930; 1 story; one-room, gable-roofed house with bungalow type detail; aluminum sided; late example of traditional form.”
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ellis Jno (c; Georgia) soft drinks 1009 Carolina h 505 N Carroll
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ellis John (c; Georgia) lab h 505 Carroll
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 505 Carroll, rented for $10/month, James Tinsley, 30; wife Jensy, 23; and sister-in-law Arrie Williams, 34.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bynum General B (c) lab h 505 N Carroll; Bynum General B Jr (c) lab h 505 N Carroll
507 North Carroll
As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1930; 2 stories; gable front house with two-bay facade and side-hall plan; aluminum sided; built by black developer William Hines.”
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Ellis James (c; Matilda) lab h 507 N Carroll
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, the house at this address was vacant.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 507 Carroll, rented for $10/month, Wade Boddy, 36; wife Mildred, 32; and children Wade O., 2, and Mildred, newborn; mother-in-law Vicey Jones, 63, widow.
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jones Vicie (c) lndrs h 507 N Carroll; Body Wade (c; Mildred; 2) lab 507 N Carroll; Body Wm (c; Susie) lab 507 N Carroll
509 North Carroll
As described in the nomination form for East Wilson Historic District: “ca. 1940; 2 stories; gable front house matching #507; also built by William Hines.”
In 1918, Atlantic Coast Realty Company prepared this plat cutting new streets and subdividing the “Old Harper Place” into more than 70 lots. The proposal was ambitious, but did not get off the ground immediately. In fact, it never really came together at all.
The streets are readily recognizable today. They are not, however, lined with houses.
Neither Best, Bennett, Oliver nor Lipscomb Streets appear in the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, which was the first to include a street-by-street residential listing. Harper Street is there, however, and the directory lists five blocks. The 700 block had fifteen households, but the others were sparser, indicating larger parcels or empty lots. All the households except three are marked “colored.” W.J. Walston appears to have occupied the entire 400 block and possibly the 500 block. On the other side of the street, J.T. Strickland was the sole household listed in the 600 block.
1928 city directory.
However, the 1930 city directory notes that Harper Street was now Lipscomb Road. Unusual for the time, the street had become more integrated. White households replaced black at 238 and 300 Lipscomb. John A. Owens now lived at 400, but the 600 block on both sides of the street contained additional white households.
1930 city directory.
By time the 1941 city directory issued, Harper Street was back, but in a new place. This Harper Street is the one shown in the plat map. Or at least the two blocks of it between Best Street and Herring Avenue. This street was entirely inhabited by white families.
1941 city directory.
The description of Lipscomb Road in the 1941 directory is perplexing. On a modern map, it seems to correspond in part to modern Gold Street, which runs from Herring just past the end of Railroad Street to Reid Street. The inexplicable part is “intersecting 700 Herring av.” 700 Herring Avenue is at the corner of Herring and modern Ward Boulevard. In order to intersect with Herring, Lipscomb/Gold would have to turn back 135 degrees.
Is this 1941 Lipscomb Road? Gold Street is highlighted in solid yellow. The dotted yellow line shows the possible course of Lipscomb as described in the 1941 directory. The blue arrows show modern Lipscomb Road. (Ward Boulevard did not exist in 1941.)
In any case, this area continued to show unusual integration for mid-twentieth century Wilson. Though the majority of households were African-American, several were occupied by white families.
In 1959, per “Survivors Deeded Lucas Property,” Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 1959, George Lucas’ two daughters inherited 71 of the lots shown on the plat on Best, Benton and Harper streets. Eventually, they sold much of the land to the city for a housing project.
Plat Book 1, page 58, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial view per Bing.com.
As noted here, I have long been intrigued by the disappearance (in space and memory) of Wilson’s first African-American cemetery, sometimes called Oaklawn or Oakland or Oakdale. The precise location of the first city-owned black cemetery is a mystery, though most people believe (and as I conjectured here) it was above Cemetery Street where Whitfield Homes are now situated.
No official records related to the cemetery survive, and no plat map delineates its complete boundaries. However, I’ve found one reference to the “colored cemetery” on a 1923 plat map of “The D.C. Sugg Property Located on Stantonsburg Road and Lincoln Avenue.” Using a 1937 aerial photograph of the area (the graves in the cemetery were disinterred in the early 1940s), plus the plat, I’ve come up with a revised location estimate.
Here’s the plat map, with modern street names noted and the area marked “Colored Cemetery” emphasized:
Plat Book 1, page 215 (annotated), Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
Wilson disinterred the (known) graves at Oakdale in 1941. Accordingly, I searched the 1937 aerial photograph of this area, below. The street at left is Railroad Street. Manchester Street is at far right, and parallel to it was then Stantonsburg Street. (North of Cemetery, it is now Pender Street. The lower section is now Black Creek Road.)The red-dashed lines mark current streets, including Pender, New, Nora, and Blount. The blue-dashed line is Nora St. as it appears on the 1923 plat map above. The green marks the borders of the colored cemetery above. (I have added a northern border though none is shown on the plat map.)
If my mark-up is correct, the cemetery (or, at least, its southern extension) was south of Cemetery Street near the site now occupied by Daniels Learning Center (the former Elvie Street School.)
I ran the mark-up by Will Corbett, GIS Coordinator, Wilson County Technology Services Department, for an opinion on my conjecture. He agreed and returned this graphic:
Bingo. The blue-shaded area is the “colored cemetery” overlaid on a current map of the neighborhood. This image reveals that the cemetery covered what is now a row of houses fronting on New Street, as well nearly the entirety of the lawn and semi-circular driveway in front of Daniels/Elvie school.
Was this cemetery marked on Sanborn fire insurance maps? It is not on the 1922 map, the last one for which I have access.
The maps corresponding to the sections marked 25 and 29 show houses along Railroad, Suggs and Stantonsburg Streets, and a few along the north side of East Contentnea (now Cemetery) Street. However, south of East Contentnea, the space is blank but for subsection numbers 225 and 256, and no corresponding maps were made. Though it is not marked, Oakdale cemetery was located in this space.
With the information above, I revisited a plat map the city filed in 1942. I initially had difficulty interpreting “The Town of Wilson Property on Cemetery Street,” but I now see it is oriented south to north. Turn it upside down, and the outline of the old colored cemetery clearly emerges. As I suspected, the city had owned the section between present-day New and Cemetery Streets as well as the inverted L below New, and it is likely that there were also burials in this space.
Plat book 3, page 150, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
This plat map of the block bounded by Grace, Gay, Moore and Wiggins Streets was drawn from a survey made 22 October 1914 and proposed a subdivision into twenty lots.
Eight years later, there were only five houses on the block.
Sanborn fire insurance map, Wilson, N.C. (1922).
Here is the block today. Hines Street subsumed Wiggins Street in the late 1960s as part of a road improvement project that connected Raleigh Road and U.S Highway 301. The red-roofed endway house facing Grace Street may be the house shown on the Sanborn map above.
Plat book 1, page 14, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson; aerial view courtesy of Google Maps.
In the late 1940s, the Wilson Cemetery Trustees made plans to sell off some of its land adjacent to Rest Haven cemetery. This June 1949 plat map shows the proposed subdivision of a parcel southwest of Lane Street.
The street layout mostly came to fruition, though Merrick Street never crossed the highway, Tuskegee did not extend past Lane, and the short stretch labeled “Barbour Street” is just a sharp turn on Lane.
As detailed here,Judge Fleming and his son Johnnie died in an automobile accident in 1934. This plat map of Fleming’s Gardners township property was drawn in December 1947. Fleming’s youngest child had reached the age of majority, and the land likely was divided to be distributed among his heirs.
Plat book 4, page 82, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
The corner of East Wilson (specifically, Little Richmond neighborhood) shown in this 1946 plat map of D.C. “Cash” Williams‘ property between Maury and Railroad Streets was demolished for the construction of the Carl B. Renfro Bridge in the early 1970s. This collection of duplexes and endway (the local name for shotgun) houses would have housed mostly workers at one of several nearby oil mills and factories.
The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the duplexes on Maury, Gay, and Railroad Streets were already in place by then.
Here, via Google Maps, is Williams’ former block now. Railroad Street ends several hundred feet to the west. Taylor Street is gone. Gay Street peters out in a dead-end well short of its former terminus at Railroad. All of the houses have been torn down.
Plat map 4, page 56, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.