plat

Griffin Hill.

As detailed here, in 1920 Roscoe Briggs moved in earnest to dismantle the African-American neighborhood of Grabneck to make way for the mansions of West Nash Street. On a single day in March 1920, he bought four parcels from members of the Best family, including Frank and Mamie Best, who exchanged their lot for a house to be built in Griffin Hill by John H. Griffin.

Here’s the plat for “Griffins Hill,” surveyed days later and recorded in Plat Book 1, Page 187, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

At first I thought the Bests got the okey-doke.¬†Connor Street runs five blocks from Kenan to Lee. Cone Street runs parallel to the west. To this day, there’s no Griffin Street or Center Street or Boyette Road in Wilson.

So where did Frank and Mamie Simms Best end up?

Frank Best died in 1922. His Wilson County death certificate describes his residence as “country.” Mamie Best remarried, but second husband Charles Jordan soon died. In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County, she and her 14 year-old step daughter Mabell Jordan were listed just outside the city limits in New Grabneck, near other former Grabneck families. Mamie Simms Best Jordan died 29 January 1940, and her death certificate lists New Grabneck as her residence.

A list of delinquent property taxes published in the Daily Times on 17 September 1938 included these Griffin Hill residents. All were families who lived in the area otherwise known as New Grabneck.

Though he lived within a few houses of Ed Bobbitt, Emma Lee and Alice Mitchell, Paul Sherrod‘s listing was “New Grab Neck.”

In May 1943, Fred Lucas placed ads for farm animals that suggest that the name Griffin Hill was unfamiliar enough to require location aides. (And emphasize its rural nature.)

Wilson Daily Times, 27 May 1943.

Wilson Daily Times, 31 May 1943.

Finally, in a 21 October 1959 article announcing the construction of low-income housing for whites, the Times noted:

This terrible map accompanied the article, the hashed area depicting the site of the new project at Griffin Hill:

The dark squiggle is the Hominy Swamp Canal. The arc slicing across it is the Norfolk & Southern Railroad. Warren Street (now Elizabeth Road) is the west border; Forrest Street, at bottom. (Parallel to a short road labeled “New Grabneck.”) Griffin Hill was no hill at all. In fact, like Lincoln Heights, it was in a notorious flood plain of Hominy Swamp. And 40 years after it was developed to accommodate the relocation of the Grabneck community, it was gone.

Per Google Map, the public housing built on the former site of Griffin Hill. 

[Note: Connor Street indeed runs as described above, but in this map, Forrest Road is labeled “Connor Street.” Presumably, someone realized the inadvisability of having two streets with the same name, and the anchor street of Griffin Hill was renamed.]