railroad

The colored firemen’s convention.

The Red Hot Hose Company of Wilson hosted the 1904 convention and tournament of North Carolina Volunteer Firemen’s Association (Colored). Southern Railway ran this notice of special round-trip rates for firemen and brass bands making the trip from various points across the state.

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The Morning Post (Raleigh, N.C.), 28 July 1904.

The Shoo Fly train ran over him.

Wilson Mirror, 30 August 1893.

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On 11 April 1878, Hilliard Hunter, 26, of Nash County, married Mary Jane Pitt, 25, of Wilson County, in Toisnot township.

In the 1880 center of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Hilliard Hunter, 25; wife Mary J., 27; and son Walter, 5 months.

In 1893, Mary Jane Hunter filed an unsuccessful suit against Wilmington and Weldon Railroad over her husband’s death.

On 6 July 1899, Turner Anderson, 21, married Lillie Hunter, 20, in Toisnot township in the presence of Annie Bryant, Martha Modica and Nancy Deans.

On 2 August 1903, Mary Jane Hunter, 40, of Elm City, daughter of Moses and Marina Pitt, married Daniel Foster, 45, of Elm City, son of Austin and Rachael Foster of Kansas at George Barnes‘ in Toisnot township. Red Batts applied for the license.

On 12 July 1905, Willie Hunter, 22, of Elm City, son of Hilliard and Mary J. Hunter, married Mary Whitehead, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Ben and Francis Whitehead, in Toisnot township. T.H. Nicholson applied for the license, and the ceremony took place at Ben Drake’s in the presence of T.H. Nicholson, William Short and W.A. Whitfield.

In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Elm City-Stantonsburg Road, widowed farm laborer Mary J. Hunter, 40, and daughter Alice, 20, a laundress.

On 18 January 1914, Arthur Hunter, 20, of Toisnot, son of Mary J. Hunter, married Estelle Wooten, 24, of Toisnot, daughter of Linda Wooten, in the presence of Turner Anderson, Lillie Anderson and Clarence Wiggins, all of Elm City.

On 23 March 1915, Liza Hunter, 20, of Elm City, daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary J. Pender, married Jim Pinkney, 21, son of Henny and Hilly Pinkney, in Johnston County.

On 14 September 1921, B.S. Jordan, 58, son of Hardy and Mary J. Jordan, married Lilly Anderson, 39, daughter of Hilliard Hunter and Mary J. Hunter, at Lilly Anderson’s in Toisnot township. Wiley Locus applied for the license, and Baptist minister Elias Lucas performed the ceremony in the presence of L.A. Johnson and Bud Simms of Wilson and Hamp Mordcia [Modica] of Elm City.

Alice Hunter died 20 April 1960 in Elm City. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 October 1901 to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane Pitt; and was never married. Informant was Eliza Pinkney, Elm City. [Note that Alice Hunter’s birthdate is off by at least 10 years.]

Willie Hunter died 28 April 1960 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 February 1884 in Wilson County to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jane [last name not listed]; lived at 204 South East Street; and worked as a laborer. Informant was Doris H. Wilson, 204 South East Street.

Eliza Pinkney died 10 July 1969 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 June 1898 in North Carolina to Hilliard Hunter and Mary Jones; resided in Elm City; was married to Jim Pinkney; and was buried in Elm City cemetery. Doretha H. Farmer, 706 East Green Street, was informant.

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White Swamp runs about 5 miles south of Elm City.

The regular daily Norfolk-to-Wilmington passenger train was known as the Shoo Fly. In 1906, the train had a cataclysmic accident near Warsaw, Duplin County. After, a ghost train legend grew in the area.

 

 

They filled up with bug juice.

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Wilson Advance, 17 September 1891.

  • Hood Phillips — in the 1880 census of Tarboro, Edgecombe County: minister H.C. Philips, 37, wife Emma, 34, and children Louisa, 12, Hood, 9, Walton, 6, and Cornelius, 3. On 18 May 1893, Hood S. Phillips, 22, of the town of Wilson, son of H.C. and E.E. Phillips, married Phillis Gay, 24, of the town of Wilson, daughter of Wiley and Catharine Gay. Rev. H.C. Phillips performed the ceremony at the A.M.E. Zion church. Witnesses were Annie Mincy, Annie Thorn and Alex Warren. Hood Phillips is listed as a barber living at 623 Viola in the 1908 Wilson City directory. He died 22 February 1919 in Wilson.
  • James Grant Taylor — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: railroad worker Jordan Taylor, 35, wife Jane, 22, and children James Grant, 7, Manora Ann, 4, General Washington, 3, and Lilly Green, 1.
  • Alex Warren — in the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: laborer Pompee Warren, 54, wife Della, 26, and sons John, 12, and Alexander, 2. In 24 December 1896, Alex Warren, 23, married Ida Davis, 22, in Wilson. Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodard performed the ceremony in the presence of Emma Burton, Mary Davis and Isaac Thompson. In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 367 Spring Street, ice factory blocker Alex Warren, 34, wife Ada, 36, and son John, 19, the latter two, factory workers. Alexander Warren died 4 January 1948 in Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born about 1879 in Wilson County to Pompie and Della Warren; had worked as a laborer; resided at 403 E. Walnut Street; and was buried at Rountree cemetery. His neighbor John Parks of 405 E. Walnut was informant.
  • Chas. Yellock
  • Thomas Ellis

“Bug juice” was a slang term for low-quality whiskey.

Atlantic Coast Line.

They went where the train went. Clutching tickets. Piled suitcases tied with rope. To a cafe in Norfolk. A government job in Washington. A Philadelphia dock. A season of day’s work in the Bronx. A school year in Brooklyn. The Atlantic Coast Line took them. It brought them back. It took them again.

ACL Map

Atlantic Coast Line system map, circa 1900. Wilson is midway through the column of stops stacked across eastern North Carolina along the stretch of railroad that had formerly been the Wilmington & Weldon.

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Standing in the railroad crossing at Nash Street, passenger train station at left, looking North. Wilson, May 2016.

Negro tenements.

There, at the lower right edge of this page of the May 1885 Sanborn map of Wilson, a cluster of “Negro tenements.” Just below them and across a short rail spur was a ticket office and freight depot, and it’s safe to assume that many of the men living here were employed as railroad laborers.

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The site is now an empty lot, roughly across Pettigrew Street from the union hall of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union, Local 270T.

Protests Jim-Crow; jailed.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 5 February 1938.

WILSON, N.C., Feb. 3 — Sidney Ingram of this city, was named by Federal Agents Friday after writing protest letters to the Presidents of  the Norfolk, Southern and Seaboard Airline railways over Jim Crow treatment while traveling.

He told operatives he bought a ticket from Eilson to Bailey, was told to get on Greenville train, then put off mile from Wilson station. His letters signed “David Ingram.” Not threatening but asked aid in getting “just calls” from railroad. Ingram was released after investigation.

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Two years later, Sidney Ingram was counted in the 1940 census among the “inmates” housed at the notorious Eastern North Carolina Insane Asylum for Negroes.

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1940 census, Fork township, Wayne County, North Carolina.

He spent the remainder of his life institutionalized and died at the state hospital in 1954. His death certificate notes that he was a New Jersey native, that he was married, that his usual residence was Wilson County, and that he had been at the asylum for 15 years, three months and 16 days. He died of bladder cancer and “insanity,” and his body was sent “to Chapel Hill to be used by Anatomical Board.”

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Thus passed one of Wilson’s earliest civil rights activists.

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If you are interested in the world of the Eastern North Carolina Insane Asylum, please read Susan Burch and Hannah Joyner’s Unspeakable, the story of Junius Wilson (1908-2001), a deaf African-American man who spent 76 years there, including six in the criminal ward, though he had never been declared insane by a medical professional or found guilty of any criminal charge.