registered nurse

Nurse Mabel Weaver Ellis.

My father told me:

“She was — they called her ‘the shot lady.’ [Laughs.] They used to come to school, and you had to line up. And you talking ‘bout hollering and screaming. [Laughs.] And then you’d line up to take your shot. And she’d come in there, had on her — I remember she had on a blue cape, with a whatchacallem … cap. One of them nurse’s caps. I think it was red and blue. And had on heeled shoes. A little heel. Clunky-heeled shoes and all. And she had a black bag that she brought all her stuff in. And you’d line up to get shots. I mean it was a mess. They’d be holding folk, and they’d be hollering and screaming and ….  And she’d be coming. Mable Ellis. Nurse Ellis, the Shot Lady.” 

Wilson Daily Times, 12 September 1964.

Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 1964.


In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: oil mill laborer Nathan Weaver, 35; wife Sallie, 30; and children Doretha, 9, Mable, 7, Louis, 2, and Sallie, 4 months.

On 28 September 1927, George W. Ellis, 52, of Wilson, married Mable Weaver, 26, of Wilson in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister B.F. Jordan preformed the ceremony in the presence of James Whitfield, Robert Haskins and Rosa Arrington.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1101 Atlantic Street, owned and valued at $2500, Geo. W. Ellis, 56, public school janitor; wife Mabel, 28, grocery store proprietor; and children Elizabeth, 13, and Montie, 16.

Per this history of the organization, in 1934 Mabel W. Ellis joined North Carolina’s chapter of the National Association of Colored Graduate Nurses. I have not been able to determine where she received her nursing training, but Raleigh’s Saint Agnes Hospital or Durham’s Lincoln Hospital.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1101 Atlantic Street, owned and valued at $1400, George Ellis, 65, school carpenter; wife Mabel, 38, health department nurse; and daughter Elizabeth, 23.

George Washington Ellis died 7 September 1943 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 29 February 1875 in Wilson County to Jacob Ellis and Millie Forbs; lived at 1101 Atlantic Street; was a carpenter; and was buried in Rountree Cemetery.

Mable Weaver Ellis died in Wilson on 8 February 1995.

Interview with R.C. Henderson by Lisa Y. Henderson, January 1995, all rights reserved.

Registered nurses.

Early African American Registered Nurses in NC lists all known African-American nurses in the state to 1935, including two in Wilson:

(The number presumably refers to the nurse’s license and the date to the date she was certified or registered to practice.)

Ada Artis died 31 December 1950 at her home at 611 East Green Street. Per her death certificate, she was born 18 June 1891 in Brooks County, Georgia, to William Adams and Elizabeth Troup; was married [to Columbus E. Artis]; and worked as a “R.N. nurse.” Katie Creigh of Waycross, Georgia, was informant and her husband’s firm handled her burial.

Henrietta Colvert was from Statesville, North Carolina, and trained at Raleigh’s Saint Agnes Hospital, prior to Good Samaritan, a large African-American hospital in Charlotte.

Many thanks to Renate Yarbrough Sanders for bringing this article to my attention.