Rogers

703 East Vance Street.

The one hundred sixty-third in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this building is: “ca. 1913; 1 story; saddlebag house aluminum-sided and heavily remodeled.”

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For several weeks in 1920, an unidentified African-American nurse living at 703 East Vance advertised her skills in the Wilson Daily Times.

Wilson Daily Times, 21 January 1920.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Bennett Fredk D (c; Lillie) h 703 E Vance

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 703 Vance, rented for $11/month, Fred D. Bennett, 46, minister, Holiness Church; wife Lily, 43, laundress; and children Herbert, 15, Willie, 12, Ruth, 6, Naomi, 10, and Charles E., 4. The Bennetts and their two oldest children were born in Georgia; the remaining children in South Carolina. [In 1940, the Bennett family was enumerated in New Haven, Connecticut.]

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Rogers Wm (c) h 703 Viola

In the 28 October 1944 edition of the Wilson Daily Times, a “Land Transfers” column detailed this transaction: 

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Darden Moses (c; Cora) h 703 E Vance

The Dardens did not keep the house long:

Wilson Daily Times, 1 December 1950.

Fatal auto crashes.

Wilson Daily Times, 16 December 1929.

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  • Clarence Rogers — Rogers died 15 December 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 24 years old; was born in Wake County, N.C., to James C. Rogers and Martha Perry; was married to Mary Rogers; worked as a common laborer; and was buried in Wake County. Millard Rogers, Wilson, was informant.

“Coronary Embolus auto accident. Not at R.R. crossing occurred at place of death”

  • Eddie Walker — in the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer Eddie Walker, 20; wife Pecolia, 24; and daughter Dallas, 9 months; also farm laborer Augustus Mitchel, 29; wife Cora, 24; and children Earnest L., 6, and Farman, 2.
  • Agelene Rountree — per her death certificate, Arger Lee Rountree of 120 Manchester Street died 15 December 1929 in Wilson. She was born 8 April 1921 in Wilson County to Wiley Rountree and Mary Barnes and was a student.

“Run down by Automobile while crossing the street, killed almost instantly. Was dead when Doctor reached there.”

  • James Artis 

The death of Minnie Rogers Prince.

Wilson Daily Times, 6 December 1932.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Rodgers, 30, day laborer; wife Mary E., 22; sister Minnie, 17; and boarder Sallie Barber, 35.

Turner Utley, 22, of Wilson County, and Mariah Williams, 24, of Wilson County, married 12 September 1901 in Wilson County. J.W. Rogers applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Rogers’ residence in the presence of Irene Miller, Minnie Rogers and Bettie Davis.

In the 1930 census of Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania: at 2215 Fitzwater Street, rented at $65/month, private domestic Minnie Rogers, 40; roomer Fred Tyler, 49, longshoremen on wharves; grandchildren Archie Washington, 34, and  Naeisa, 31; and roomer William Tyler, 16. All were born in North Carolina.

Minnie Rodgers Prince died 3 December 1932 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per her death certificate, she was 40 years old; was born in Wilson, N.C., to Peter Rodgers; was married [earlier that year, in Philadelphia] to Willis Prince; and lived at 710 South 11th Street, Philadelphia. She was buried in Wilson.

“He tink he’s sum punkins.”

Josephus Daniels’ News & Observer loved a good laugh at the expense of Black folk, even the ones back home in Wilson. Here, a “special” report of the antics of Wesley Rogers at the Mason Hotel one Saturday night. Rogers, a swell and a dandy, had taken offense at remarks made by another patron and had thrown the man out the door. Rogers’ alleged performance in Mayor’s court was deemed worthy of several column inches of print.

News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 11 November 1908.

  • Wesley Rogers — I had assumed this to be John Wesley Rogers, but the facts do not fit. Rogers owned several businesses over the course of his life, but not a clothes cleaning establishment, and he was in 1908 a married man with children who was not likely to have been lodging at a hotel.
  • “the Mason Hotel, a joint on the east side of the railroad where the negroes do congregate” — I do not know of a Mason Hotel on Nash Street. The description sounds rather like the Orange Hotel (whose owner, Samuel H. Vick, was a well-known Mason), a boarding house that was cited often for gambling and prostitution.

Fiftieth anniversary of First Baptist Church.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 September 1922. 

Was a memorial drinking fountain ever installed in front of the church? I do not recall ever seeing one. 

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  • “the late Rev. Jackson” — Rev. Andrew J. Jackson was founder of First Baptist Church, now known as Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church. 
  • Rev. J.A. Mebane — John Alexander Mebane, a native of Bertie County, lived in Wilson only briefly. In the 1922 Hill’s directory of the city: Mebane John A Rev (c) 308 Hackney

Rev. J.A. Mebane (1885-1974).

  • M.E. Rogers — Mary Elizabeth Rogers
  • John Battle — probably, John Parker Battle.
  • Henrietta Foster — Foster, who was listed as living at the rear of 308 Hackney Street in 1922, later married Rev. Mebane. Henrietta Foster Mebane died in 1950 and, though the Mebanes spent most of their married life in Tarboro, N.C., both are buried in Wilson’s Rest Haven Cemetery. Their daughter Grace Mebane, who died in Tarboro in 1940 at age 14, is also buried in Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user Satwun.

A hunting accident?

Wilson Daily Times, 15 November 1929.

I have not found any follow-up to this news story, but Harvey Rodgers‘ death certificate lists his cause of death as “Gun shot wound of chest accident while hunting.”

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  • Harvey Rodgers — in the 1920 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: Jim Rogers, 60; wife Lanie, 50; children Latina, 15, Harold, 12, Louisa, 9, and Harvey, 8; and nieces Ema B., 20, and Mabel Sanders, 6.
  • Wray Bridgers

A house blazed on the other side of town.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 January 1899.

In January 1899, a house owned by Annie Barnes and occupied by Ed Humphrey and George Rogers. The “two fire companies” that responded were, presumably, the all-white city department and all-black volunteer Red Hot Hose Company. Neighbor B.F. Briggs, as indicated by the honorific “Mister,” was white.

Teenager killed in a car-bike accident.

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Wilson Daily Times, 10 May 1946.

Fourteen year-old Jessie Lee Davis was seated on the handlebars of his friend Walter Rogers‘ bicycle when a car made a left turn in front of them. Rogers did not see the car and ran into it, killing Davis. The driver of the car, a 22 year-old white man named Vernest Ballance, was initially charged with manslaughter in Davis’ death, but the case was dismissed after a preliminary hearing.

  • Jessie Lee Davis

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Jesse Lee Davis was the son of Clinton Davis and Alliner Sherrod Davis Randall. His funeral was handled by his great-uncle, C.E. Artis.

  • Walter Rogers

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 705 East Green (one of several families in a rooming house), tobacco factory stemmer Thomas Rodgers, 37; wife Minorh, 33, housemaid; and children Ruth, 15, Joseph, 14, Otis G., 12, and Walter, 8.

Co-workers sale.

In late 1927, Oettinger’s (“The Dependable Store”) held a “co-worker’s sale,” in which employees received commissions on the sales of items they vouched for. A full page ad set out the names of dozens of employees, from corsetiere to bookkeeper to wrapper girl, touting store goods. Miss Eula Cram, for example, of the Millinery Department stood to gain from the sale of “a table of new hats.” Mr. G.H. Sullivan, the Floor Manager, noted that “Children’s jersey and silk dresses are most attractively reduced.” In the sixth and last column of the page, at the bottom, without honorifics, appear three final names. These were Oettinger’s African American employees.

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Wilson Daily Times, 29 November 1927.

Bicycles lost and found.

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Wilson Times, 21 January 1922.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Rodgers, 30, day laborer; wife Mary E., 22; sister Minnie, 17; and boarder Sallie Barber, 35.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, John Rogers, 33, odd jobs; wife Mary E., 30; public school teacher; daughter Mary J., 2; and sisters Winnie, 22, cook, Ethel T., 12, and Ida E., 8.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: John Rodgers, 49, general laborer, and wife Mary, 38, at 555 [East] Nash Street.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 546 East Nash, John W. Rogers, 57, janitor at dry goods store; wife Mary R., 47; adopted son Leonard G., 7 (born in the West Indies to West Indian parents); and niece Ernestine Atkinson, 22.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: J. Wesley Rogers, 71, retail candy store operator, and wife Mary, 70, at 546 East Nash Street.

Mary Elizabeth Rogers died 24 May 1950 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 16 April 1878 in Smithfield, N.C., to John Thomas; was married; resided at 546 East Nash Street; and was buried in Thomas cemetery, Johnston County. Informant was Wesley Rogers.

John Wesley Rogers died 19 December 1951 at his home at 546 East Nash Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 12 May 1870 in Durham, N.C., to Charles Rogers; was a widower; had worked as a department store porter; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. Earnestine Coley was informant.