High school principals were required to file annual reports with the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction. In 1941, Robert E. Lee filed this report for newly opened Williamson High School.
The school year was only 120 days long and ran from 21 January 1941 to 31 May 1941. (Compare Elm City Colored School, which ran from February to June. Darden, on the other hand, had a 180-day school year.) Three teachers taught at Williamson — two women and one man. Astonishingly, these three taught 114 children — 39 boys and 75 girls — in three grades. (The school had no 11th or 12th grades.) Six-room Williamson Colored School housed all grades in one building. It had no restrooms, principal’s office, library, or auditorium. It did have a lunchroom run by the home economics department.
The high school offered classes in English, spelling, general mathematics, citizenship, American history, world history, geography, general science, and biology.
Classes met at 9:00, 9:48, 10:45, 11:27, 1:48 and 2:38. Lunch was at noon. R.E. Lee taught science, geography and history. J.P. Brown taught English, spelling and citizenship. C.J. Nicholson taught math, English and spelling.
All the teachers were college graduates. Each was in his or her first year teaching at Williamson.
The school had no laboratories or maps. It published a newspaper, The Oracle, and sponsored an English Club. Lee made this note: “Our Agriculture, Home Economics and guidance programs will begin in September, 1941, as steps are already being taken to put them into effect.”
High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County; North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.
The school year was only 120 days and ran from 10 February 1941 to 28 June 1941. Seven teachers taught at Elm City — two men and five women. They taught 164 children — 48 boys and 116 girls. Elm City Colored School housed all grades in one building. It had no restrooms, lunchroom or auditorium. It had no librarian, but it did have a library room.
The high school offered classes in English, general mathematics, geometry, algebra, citizenship, American history, world history, sociology, general science, biology, home economics, and French.
Classes met at 8:45, 9:35, 10:30, 11:30, 1:00 and 2:00. Odelle Whitehead Barnes taught English and French; Clara G. Cooke taught history and English; Mabel Brewington taught home economics and history; Earl C. Burnett taught science and math; and Robert A. Johnson taught math and tended the library on Fridays.
All the teachers were college graduates. Barnes had the most tenure at Elm City, with 8 years; Brewington and Burnett were newcomers.
The school had no laboratories or maps. It published a newspaper, The Elm City Journal; had both girls’ and boys’ glee clubs; a 4-H Club; and an English Club. Elm City Colored School graduated fourteen in the Class of 1941 — William Bynum, Volious Harris, Willie R. Mitchell, Mary Armstrong, Minnie E. Armstrong, Nelia Brown, Essie Bynum, Alice Ellis, BessieLancaster, Clara Lancaster, Eva Lindsey, Ada B. McKinnon, Georgia Toliver, and Marie Wynn.
High School Principals’ Annual Reports, 1940-1941, Wayne County to Wilson County, North Carolina Digital Collection, digital.ncdcr.gov.
After abruptly withdrawing their appeals, J.D. Reid and H.S. Stanback entered the state prison at Raleigh to begin serving five-year sentences for convictions for receiving deposits at Commercial Bank, knowing the institution was insolvent. In so doing, they avoided prosecution on charges of forgery and embezzlement. They also opened a path for Reid’s wife, Eleanor P. Reid, to retain her position as principal of the Colored Graded School.
Robert A. Johnson served 30 years as the first African-American high school principal in the Elm City community. “Under his leadership, not only did Frederick Douglass [High School] receive high academic ratings, its superiority in co-curricular areas received state-wide recognition, particularly its band and basketball teams.”
A native of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Johnson received a B.A. from Ohio State University and, later a master’s degree from New York University.
Robert A. Johnson, 34, married Grace A. McNeil, 27, on 3 June 1939 in Forsyth County, North Carolina.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 206 Reid Street, shoe shop owner James Mack, 41; wife Beualah, 40, born in Salisbury; and Robert Johnson, 34, teacher in Wilson County school, born in Winston-Salem.
In 1940, Robert Arthur Johnson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 19 October 1905 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina; his contact was father William Johnson, 806 Stadium Drive, Winston-Salem; and his employer was Elm City Board of Trustees.
Robert Arthur Johnson died 14 March 1966 of a heart attack at Frederick Douglass High School, Elm City. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 October 1905 in Winston-Salem to William Johnson and Amie Williams; was married to Grace Johnson; and was employed as a principal by Wilson County Schools.
Text adapted from article in and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).
In the 1900 census of River township, Warren County: Ben Fitz, 46; wife Jane, 43; and children Emma, 16, Frank, 12, Howard, 10, Ruth, 8, Raymond, 6, and Amy, 3.
In the 1910 census of River township, Warren County: farmer Jane Fitts, 50, and children Emma, 23, a teacher, Frank, 22, Howard, 20, Raimond, 16, and Annie B., 14.
Howard Monroe Fitts registered for the World War I draft in 1917 in Halifax County. Per his registration card, he was born 3 April 1890 in Warren County; worked as a farmer; and lived in Littleton, North Carolina.
In the 1920 census of River township, Warren County: widowed farmer Jane Fits, 65, and children Frank, 31, Howard, 28, schoolteacher, Raymond, 25, and Amie, 13.
On 30 June 1920, Howard M. Fitts, 30, of Warren County, son of Bennie and Jane Fitts, married Elizabeth C. Plummer, 28, of Warrenton, son of John S. and Mariah Plummer, in Greenville, Pitt County.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1007 Washington Street, Howdard Fitts, 37, and wife Courtney, 36, both teachers, with children Howdard Jr., 8, and Rosemary, 6.
Howard Fitts was one of the early members of the Men’s Civic Club, founded in 1936.
Howard Monroe Fitts Sr. died 11 January 1968 at Lincoln Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 3 April 1890 in Warren County to Benjamin Fitts and Jane [last name not listed]; was married to Elizabeth Courtney Plummer Fitts; resided at 710 East Green Street; was a retired Wilson County teacher; was a World War I veteran; and was buried in Wilson. Informant was Howard M. Fitts Jr., Durham.
Isaac Albert Shade registered for the World War I draft in Wilson on 12 September 1918. Per his draft card, he lived at 110 Pender Street, Wilson; was born 17 May 1876; was a self-employed druggist at 530 East Nash Street, Wilson; and wife Estella Shade was his nearest relative.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 535 Nash Street, Turner Stokes, 50, carpenter; wife Morah, 39; mother-in-law Martha Pitt, 83; and boarders Isac Shade, 44, drugstore manager; wife Estella, 38; and children Kenneth, 13, and Sarah, 9.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 602 Green Street, drugstore owner Dr. I.A. Shade, 63; wife Estelle, 54, city school teacher; niece Myrtle Lane, 23, county school teacher, and nephew George Lane, 21, drugstore clerk; and roomers Louisa [illegible], county school teacher, Vera Green, 18, housekeeper, and Catherine Ward, 20, county school teacher.
Estelle L. Shade died 15 June 1961 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 25 October 1880 in Pocomoke City, Maryland, to William Lane and Maria Waters; was widowed; and had been a school teacher. Sarah L. Shade was informant.
Wilson Daily Times, 16 June 1961.
The Trojan (1949).
On 18 October 1899, J. Daniel Reid, 25, of Wayne County, married Elenor P. Frederick, 22, of Duplin County, in Warsaw, Duplin County. Minister of the Gospel G.L. Clark performed the ceremony in the presence of John A. Croom, Maud M. Frederick and Mrs. H.E. Hogan.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: graded school principalJames Reid, 36; wife Elanor, 32, teacher; and children Bruce, 7,James D., 5, and Thelma, 1.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Judge D. Reid, 47, wife Elenora P., 41, and children Bruce P., 17, James D., 15, Thelma R., 11, Carl F., 7, and Herbert O., 4.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: banker Judge D. Reid, 52, public school principal Elnora Reid, 50, sons Fredrick, 17, and Herbert, 14, and lodger Edwin D. Fisher, 36, a studio photographer. The house was owned free of mortgage and valued at $6000.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Sally Barbour School principal Eleanor P. Reid, 62, is listed with five roomers, Margaret Kornegay, 28, Sallie Mae Johnson, 29, Elworth Sadler, 30, Amanda Daniel, 26, and Martha Johnson, 32. All were teachers at Darden High School or Sallie Barbour Elementary School. Reid owned the house free of mortgage, and it was valued at $8000. [Eleanor was described as married, but her husband J.D. was not listed in the household and has not been discovered elsewhere.]
Wilson Daily Times, 5 December 1958.
C.H. Darden High School published its first yearbook, The Trojan, in 1948. Digital copies may be found at
William Henry Alexander Howard was born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1872. He graduated from Georgia Industrial School (now Savannah State University) and taught there under the direction of Nathan B. Young. Later recruited by Young to teach at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical College in Tallahassee, Howard had a stellar 20-year career as professor of economics and sociology, Dean of Mechanical Arts, and innovator of FAMC’s military training program. In 1923, however, Young was ousted in the wake of suggestions that FAM diversify its curriculum by adding more academic courses, and Howard was appointed interim president with a mandate to crackdown on rebellious students.
It seems odd that less than five years later, Howard had fallen from the ranks of college teaching and administration and was working as a high school principal in Wilson. Perhaps his initial connection to the school was via Daniel C. Suggs, who was president of Georgia Industrial in the first decade of the 1900s.
In the 1880 census of Montgomery, Alabama: Rich. Howard, 35, domestic servant, wife Emma, 32, children Mary M., 12, Alberta E., 10, and Wm. Henry A., 8, and two other relatives.
In the 1920 census of Leon County, Florida: Wm. H.A. Howard, 47, college teacher, wife Frances, 36, and daughter Harriett, 8.
In the 1928 city directory of Wilson, William H.A. Howard is listed as principal at Wilson High School and living at 108 Pender Street.
In the 1930 census of Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina: William H. Howard, 58, public school teacher, wife Frances, 39, daughter Harriett, 19, and Samuel Gibson, 24. [Did William leave Wilson, then return? Did his wife and daughter ever live there? Or did they maintain a household in Raleigh of which William was nominally a member?]
William H.A. Howard died 16 December 1932. Per his death certificate, he was born 6 August 1871 in Columbus, Georgia, to Richard and Emma Howard; was married to Frances Howard; worked as a school teacher and high school principal; lived at 407 Reid Street; and was buried in Wilson. His daughter Harriett Howard of Raleigh was informant.