Richardson

919 Mercer Street.

This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, the blocks of Mercer Street southwest of the Norfolk & Southern Railroad lines have been an African-American residential area since the early twentieth century.

Now numbered 919, it appears that this house was numbered 915 Mercer Street until the late 1930’s.

The 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists laborer Thomas Hatcher and wife Estelle at 915 Mercer, as well as James Hatcher.

The 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists farmer James Richardson and wife Henrietta at 915 Mercer.

In April 1935, Samuel and Annie M. Vick lost 915 Mercer Street and more than one hundred other houses and lots at auction.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 919 Mercer, paying $8.50/month in rent, James Watson, 29, ditcher on a sewage project; wife Golden, 30, worker on stemmer machine at redrying plant; and children Earnestine, 11, Bessie Jean, 4, and Lucy Gray, 1. The family had lived in Kenly, N.C., in 1935.

In 1940, James Watson registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 26 December 1909 in Johnston County; lived at 919 Mercer Street; his contact was wife Golden Watson; and he worked for Imperial Tobacco, Barnes Street.

In 1941, Johnnie Clay Jones registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 23 April 1920 in Kenly, N.C.; lived at 117 South Pettigrew Street; his contact was Golden Watson, 119 [sic] Mercer Street; and he worked as a laborer for Williams Lumber Company.

The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists laborer James Watson, wife Golden, and four unnamed others at 919 Mercer.

On 19 April 1941, the Wilson Daily Times listed Willie Brown of 919 Mercer Street as a recipient of a questionnaire from the local draft board.

In 1944, Rev. Chester B. Beamon, pastor of nearby Trinity A.M.E. Zion church, lived at 919 Mercer Street, where he lead an adult education night school and a leadership training organization. The Beamons were likely renters, as Beamon and wife Louise were listed at 904 Mercer in the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, and shortly after left Wilson for a new pastorate.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 March 1944.

Tobacco worker Frank Lassiter and his wife Settie are listed at 919 Mercer in the 1947 directory. The Lassiter family remained in the house through Frank Lassiter’s death in 1972 and Settie Sanders Lassiter‘s in 1981.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2021.

Where did they go?: Michigan World War II draft registrations, no. 1.

  • Rader Cone

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Willis Cone, 62; wife Sarah, 49; and children Willie M., 23, Lillie, 17, Jamerson, 13, Romane(?), 11, Aven, 9, Armencia, 5, and Rada, 1.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on County Line Road, farmer Willis C. Cone, 75; wife Sarah A., 61; and children Avon, 17, Amincy, 13, and Rader, 11.

Rader Cone registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1918. Per his registration card, he was born 23 September 1899; lived at R.F.D #4, Wilson; farmed for Willis Cone; and his nearest relative was Sarah Cone. 

On 21 September 1925, Rader Corne, 25, married Victoria Hall, 21, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister John A. Mebane performed the ceremony in the presence of James W. Coleman, Sylvia Best and J.H. Moore.

Rader Cone registered for the World War II draft in Detroit in 1942. Per his card, he was born 20 September 1898 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 929 Montcalm Street, Detroit; his contact was Fannie May Turner; and he worked at Cadillac Ginger Ale Company, Detroit. He was described as Negro,  6’1″, 204 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair and dark brown skin.

On 9 September 1943, Rader Cohen, 43, son of Willis Cohen and Sarah Glover, married Fannie Mae Turner Smith, 43, in Lucas County, Ohio.

Rader Cohen died 1 February 1989 in Detroit.

  • Jesse Winn

In the 1920 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: Alice Wynn, 56; daughters Myrtle, 21, and Alice, 18; and grandchildren Ernest, 3, Jesse, 2, and Mildred, 11 months. 

In the 1930 census of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan: at 6321 Stanford, auto factory laborer Ernest Winn, 35; wife Almena, 37; children Ernest Jr., 14, Jesse, 13, and Mildred, 11; and lodgers Leslie, 28, auto factory laborer, and Ada Hinckle, 26, and George Griffin, 22, auto factory laborer.

In the 1940 census of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan: at 5726 Vancourt, garage attendant Jessie Winn, 23, wife Agnes, 16, and daughter Betty Mae, 5 months, were lodgers in the household of Rev. Joseph Hankerson, 55, a Georgia-born barber.

Jesse Winn registered for the World War II draft in Detroit in 1940. Per his card, he was born 13 July 1917 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 5610 – 23rd Street, Detroit; his contact was sister Mildred Perry, 3741 Moore Place, Detroit; and he worked for Detroit Waste Works. He was described as Negro,  5’8 1/2″, 160 pounds, with black hair and eyes and dark brown skin.

Jesse Winn died in Detroit 20 January 1981.

  • Ernest Carlos Winn Jr.

In the 1920 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: Alice Wynn, 56; daughters Myrtle, 21, and Alice, 18; and grandchildren Ernest, 3, Jesse, 2, and Mildred, 11 months. 

In the 1930 census of Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan: at 6321 Stanford, auto factory laborer Ernest Winn, 35; wife Almena, 37; children Ernest Jr., 14, Jesse, 13, and Mildred, 11; and lodgers Leslie, 28, auto factory laborer, and Ada Hinckle, 26, and George Griffin, 22, auto factory laborer.

On 26 June 1937, Ernest Winn Jr., 20, born in North Carolina to Ernest Winn and Anna May Richardson, occupied at factory work, married Mary B. Wilson, 18, born in Ohio to Robert and Rick Hicks Wilson, in Detroit.

In the 1940 census of Detroit, Wayne County: Ernest Winn, 23, crane man in auto factory; wife Mary, 18, born in Ohio; and sons Ernest III, 2, and Robert A., 6 months.

Ernest Carlos Winn registered for the World War II draft in Detroit in 1940. Per his card, he was born 26 March 1916 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 527 Erskine Street, Detroit; his contact was wife Mary B. Winn; and he worked for Briggs Manufacturing. He was described as Negro, 6’1″, 168 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and light skin, with a scar on his forehead.

Robert Winn died 4 January 1943 in Detroit of suffocation after inhaling smoke in a house fire. Per his death certificate, he was born 17 February 1940 in Detroit to Ernest Winn and Mary Wilson and lived at 616 Erskine.

Mary Winn filed a divorce petition on 14 August 1944, and she and Ernest Winn were divorced 6 November 1944 in Detroit.

Ernest Winn died in February 1980.

  • Moses Taylor

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on an improved dirt road, farmer Hillard Taylor, 53; wife Annie, 48; and sons Walter, 24, and Moses, 14.

Moses Taylor registered for the World War II draft in Detroit in 1940. Per his card, he was born 4 January 1916 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 2149 East Canfield, Detroit; his contact was mother Annie Vanleer, 1360 East Willis, Detroit; and he worked for E&B. He was described as Negro, 5’8″, 136 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair, and light brown skin.

  • John Walter Richardson

In the 1900 census of Mannings township, Nash County: day laborer Gid Richardson, 44; wife Milbra, 30; and children Josh, 8, John, 3, and Mary, 5 months.

John Walter Richardson registered for the World War I draft in 1918 while in the Ohio State Reformatory. Per his registration card, he was born 3 April 1898; his permanent address was Wilson, N.C.; and his contact was Mildred Richardson, Wilson.

John Walter Richardson registered for the World War II draft in Detroit in 1942. Per his card, he was born 3 April 1897 in Wilson, N.C.; lived at 742 Ionia Avenue S.W., Grand Rapids, Michigan; his contact was daughter Johnnie Mae Benney, Ann Arbor, Michigan; and he was an unemployed crane operator. He was described as Negro, 5’11 1/2″, 170 pounds, with brown eyes, black eye, dark brown skin, and a bent finger on each hand.

On 21 October 1942, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, John Walter Richardson, 46, crane operator, born in Wheeling [sic], N.C. to Gid Richardson and Mary Moore, married Sadie Mae Woods, 42, born in Chandler, Oklahoma.

Sadie Richardson filed a divorce petition on 20 April 1944, and she and John Richardson were divorced 25 July 1944 in Grand Rapids.

John Richardson died 3 June 1950 in Detroit.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The ax slaying of Ollie Richardson.

White farmer Walter Butts split open the head of farm worker Ollie Richardson after an argument. The next day, following a preliminary hearing, a justice of the peace dismissed charges against Butts.

A guide to the article: the lighter text in the second half, beginning “A preliminary hearing …,” is the first edition version. The heavier text at the beginning, which details what happened at the hearing, was inserted later.

In a nutshell, deputy sheriffs responding to the scene arrested Butts and William Moore, an African-American material witness, who was later allowed to post bond. (After all, he was not accused of committing any crime.) Butts did not testify at the hearing the next day. Moore  testified that Butts and Richardson argued, and Richardson said he was going to straighten Butts out and advanced on Butts, but Moore did not actually see anything in Richardson’s hands. “Two Negro girls” testified to something similar. Unnamed others testified that they saw a pitchfork under Richardson’s body after he’d been brained. In other words, there was no actual testimony that Richardson had threatened Butts with a pitchfork before Butts smashed him in the skull with an ax. Nonetheless, a justice of the peace declared the incident a justifiable homicide and let Butts go.

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 July 1946.

In the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Frank Richardson, 28; wife Mary W., 24; and children Lonie, 7, Ollie, 5, Bettie, 3, and Earlie, 1.

In the 1930 census of Wilson Mills township, Johnston County: Frank Richardson, 40; wife Harriet, 27; and children Lonie, 17, Bettie, 16, Ollie, 14, Early, 13, Beatrice, 10, Earnest L., 11, Vernell, 8, Gertrue, 6, Dump, 5, Tobus W., 5, Odel, 6 months, and Rosevelt, 2.

On 23 September 1935, Ollie F. Richardson, 21, of Cross Roads, son of Frank and Mary Richardson, married Crematha Wiggins, 20, of Wilson, daughter of Littleton Wiggins and Annie Royal, in Wilson in the presence of Oscar Eatman, Frank Richardson and Anna H. Royal.

In 1940, Ollie Frank Richardson registered for the World War II in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 20 August 1914 in Wilson; his contact was wife Crematha Richardson; and he worked for Otis Nichols, Bailey, Johnston County.

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“Uncle John” is killed in a fall.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 August 1936.

The local newspaper may not have known “Uncle John”‘s name, but the coroner did. Forty-nine year-old (was that “aged”?) John W. Richardson was run over on Highway 91.

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In the 1900 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer John Horton, 73; wife Esther, 65; and son Louis, 23; hired girl Rosell Peacock, 19; and nephews Nathaniel Hopson, 16, and John W. Richardson, 16.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer John W. Richardson, 43; wife Henrietta, 38; children Ramon, 11, Lena, 7, and Nannie L., 3; mother-in-law Ida Joyner, 50; and brother-in-law Isom Joyner, 20.

“I told them I wasn’t going no further east”: the life and times of Bessie Richardson.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 October 1999.

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In the 1900 census of Fishing Creek township, Granville County: farmer Henry Richardson, 60; mother Martha, 52; son Willie, 34; son Norval, 24; daughter[-in-law] Florence, 22; daughter Maggie, 18, and granddaughter Bessie, 2.

On 26 May 1917, Bessie Richardson, 21, daughter of Norman and Florence Richardson, married Hubert Jones in Petersburg, Virginia.

William R. Bowden, age illegible, of Wilson, married Bessie T. Jones, 34, of Wilson on 15 June 1926. Oscar Reid applied for the license, and J.W. Aiken, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, performed the ceremony at Willie R. Bowden’s home in the presence of Ferdinand Faison, John Sanchas and John Lee Devaughan.

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bowden Wm (c; Bessie) tailor 503 Church

In the 1947, Wilson, N.C., city directory: Richardson Bessie (c) 540 E Nash.

Willie Bowden died 5 March 1960 at his home at 203 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 November 1901 to Mary Adams; was married to Bessie Bowden; and worked as a laborer. He was buried at William Chapel cemetery, Elm City.

On 2 July 1960, James Monroe Weathers, 41, of Granada, Mississippi, married Rosa R. Lupe, 53, of Wilson, in Wilson. Catholic priest John R. Ferris performed the ceremony in the presence of Bessie Richardson, Clarence Crawford, and Inez Watson.

Bessie Richardson died 20 January 2002 in Wilson.

 

Lord, I am saved.

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Monroe (La.) News Star, 27 September 1930.

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Statesville Record & Landmark, 29 September 1930.

Randall and Bynum were granted last-minute reprieves after Sharp and Richardson asserted that the men had not been involved in the death of Williford.

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  • Aaron Sharp — in the 1910 census of Wilbanks, Gardners township, Wilson County: farm laborer Daniel Sharp, 46; wife Hattie, 38; and sons Daniel, 19, Edmond, 14, Ben, 12, Henry, 5, and Aaron, 2.  In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Daniel Sharp, 54; sons Daniel, 28, Henry, 6, and Aaron, 12; daughter-in-law Lizzie, 23; and mother Harriet, 80. Aaron Sharp died 26 September 1930 in State Prison, Raleigh, as a result of “legal electrocution.” Per his death certificate he was 22 years old; was born in Wilson County to Daniel and Hattie Sharp; was single and had worked as a farmer. His remains were removed to Duke University [presumably, for use in the newly opened Duke University School of Medicine.]
  • Berry Richardson — Berry Richardson died 26 September 1930 in State Prison, Raleigh, as a result of “legal electrocution.” Per his death certificate he was 20 years old; was born in Robeson County to Emma Hamilton; was single and had worked as a farmer. His remains were removed to Fairmont, North Carolina.
  • William Randall — possibly, in the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Charlie Randall, 48; wife Mary, 42; and children Minnie, 21, Blossie, 20, Elijah, 19, William, 18, Nathan, 16, Mary, 15, Joseph, 14, Katie, 13, Sam, 12, Charlie, 10, John, 9, and Cora, 8.
  • Wright Bynum

Studio shots, no. 98: Jerry M. Richardson.

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Jerry McKinley Richardson (1891-1971).

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Jerry M. Richardson was born in Warren County, North Carolina, and, with his family, migrated south through Nash County to settle in Johnston County. Along the way, Richardson lived for a time in Wilson County’s Springhill township.

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: on Middlesex-Kenly Road, farmer Jerry M. Richardson, 33; wife Katie B., 37; stepdaughter Eugene, 22; and in-laws Henry Dawson, 50, and Lucy Dawson, 60.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user PeggyRudd39.

 

Studio shots, no. 91: William H. Richardson.

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William Henry Richardson (1911-1983)

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In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer George Richardson, 44; wife Lottie, 37; and children Annie George, 15, Mary J., 11, and William H., 9.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Lewis Barnes, 73; daughter Charity, 27; sons Needam, 25, and David, 23; grandson Rosco, 15; daughter-in-law Hannah Bullock, 15; and roomer William Richardson, 25.

On 8 October 1932, William Henry Richardson, 21, son of George Richardson and Laura Bullock, married Queen Esther Evans, 21, daughter of Levy Evans and Lucy Coleman, in Greensville County, Virginia.

In 1940, William Henry Richardson registered for the World War II draft in Rocky Mount, Nash County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 28 November 1911 in Wilson County; resided at 2206 South Church Street, Rocky Mount; his contact was wife Queen Ester Richardson; and worked for the W.P.A. in Rocky Mount.

Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com rogerbarron52.

The Harris Brothers.

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Elm City’s Harris Brothers Quartet. Left to right: Jesse Harris Jr., William Amos Harris, Archie Harris, James Roscoe Harris Sr., and Willie Richardson (on guitar). [The photo is dated about 1945, but likely was somewhat later, as William Amos Harris was born in 1932 and Archie Harris in 1933.]

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In the 1930 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Jessie Harris, 34; wife Delphia, 36; and children Rosetta, 12, Alberta, 9, James, 2, and Jessie James, 1; and mother Rosa, 66.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Jack Harris, 43; wife Delphia, 40; children Rosetta, 22, Odell, 20, Annie M., 15, James Oscar, 13, Jessie, 12, Thelma, 10, Amos, 8, Archie, 7, and Chaney Mae, 5; plus grandchildren Ned, 5, and Leroy, 1.

Photo courtesy of Jerry Harris (and printed in the Wilson Daily Times, 25 May 2018).

 

Studio shots, no. 68: Bessie Richardson Jones Bowden.

Born in Oxford, North Carolina, Bessie Richardson [as she was known, despite her marriages] was brought to Wilson as a housekeeper and cook by Mr. and Mrs. Carl Goerch. After about a year, she went to work for opthalmologist Thomas Blackshear and his wife. “She was with the Blackshears so long until she earned the nickname of Bessie ‘Blackshear’ by many patients, friends and neighbors of the Blackshears.”

Richardson also sewed curtains for homeowners on West Nash Street and cooked [catered?] meals for black businessmen, including Dr. George K. Butterfield, Daniel “Mack” McKeithan and Dr. William M. Mitchner.

She cared for two of her brothers, Wilbur and Leo Taylor, during their last illnesses. Wilbur Taylor worked for many years as a cook at the Ship and Shore Restaurant on West Nash.

Bessie Richardson was a devout Catholic and long-time member of Saint Alphonsus Church. She and her husband, Willie “Skeeter” Bowden, had no children.

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  • William R. Bowden, age illegible, of Wilson, married Bessie T. Jones, 34, of Wilson on 15 June 1926. Oscar Reid applied for the license, and J.W. Aiken, pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church, performed the ceremony at Willie R. Bowden’s home in the presence of Ferdinand Faison, John Sanchas and John Lee Devaughan. Willie Bowden died 5 March 1960 at his home at 203 Stantonsburg Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 November 1901 to Mary Adams; was married to Bessie Bowden; and worked as a laborer. He was buried at William Chapel cemetery, Elm City.

Text adapted from article in and photo courtesy of History of Wilson County, North Carolina (1985).