Saint John AME Zion

Rev. Foster flays white Methodism.

Rev. Richard A.G. Foster, a native of Whiteville, North Carolina, did not stay long at Wilson’s Saint John A.M.E. Zion, but he certainly made his mark there and elsewhere.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 5 November 1938.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 21 January 1939.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 13 May 1939.

NYA 10 19 1940

New York Age, 19 October 1940.

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Telegram from Negro Ministers of New Haven to W.E.B. DuBois, 21 April 1945; W. E. B. Du Bois Papers (MS 312). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 22 August 1964.

(For more about The Men of Tomorrow, see here.)

The accommodating and faithful transfer man.

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Wilson Daily Times, 14 March 1919.

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In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Walter S. Mitchel, 42, mason; wife Elizabeth, 36, laundress; and children Ada, 14, and Esther, 18; plus, wagon factory laborer Oleone Brooks, 18, and laborer Henry Tart, 18.

Henry Tart registered for the World War I draft on 18 September 1918. He recorded his address as the corner of Green and Reid Streets, his birth date as 11 April 1884, and his occupation as self-employed in the transfer business. His wife Julia C[lark] Tart was his next-of-kin, and he signed his card in a neat, well-spaced hand.

Upon Henry’s death, Tart’s wife applied for Letters of Administration for her husband’s estate. She listed four surviving daughters, all minors — indeed, young children — Olivia, Julia, Josephine, and Miriam Tart.

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North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database online], http://www.ancestry.com.

New A.M.E.Z. church.

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Wilson Daily Times, 19 May 1913.

St john dedication

Wilson Daily Times, 8 November 1917.

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Saint John African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, November 2015.

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Rev. Bryant Pugh Coward, here.

Lee A. Moore was one of the earliest agents of North Carolina Mutual and Provident Association (later, Insurance Company). Moore was born about 1863 in Black Creek township, Wilson County, to Lawrence and Vinnie Moore. He died in Wilson in 1948.

That’s your wife.

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Wilson News, 21 September 1899.

Ignore the snark, which was par for the course for newspapers covering African-American social and cultural events. This is a fascinating peek into early East Wilson’s social circles.

  • Henry S. Perry — Henry S. Perry (1873-1927) was a native of Lagrange, Lenoir County. He worked as a bellhop, porter and waiter.
  • Centha Barnes — Lucinda Barnes (1881-circa 1909), known as “Cintha” or “Cindy,” was the youngest child of Willis and Cherry Battle Barnes.
  • Roebertha E. Long
  • Rev. S.B. Hunter — Rev. Southey B. Hunter (1847-??) was an A.M.E. Zion minister.
  • Chas. B. Gay — Charles Benjamin Gay (1878-1953) was the son of Samuel and Alice Bryant Gay.
  • J.H. Brown
  • Michael Taylor — Henry Michael Taylor (1861-1927), married to Rachel Barnes, was the bride’s brother-in-law. Known as “Mike,”he worked as a drayman.
  • Edward Barnes — Edward Barnes (1869-1912) was the bride’s brother. He was much better known as Ned Barnes and married Charles and Lucy Gay’s sister Louisa Gay.
  • Walter Clark — Walter Clark (1884-??) was the son of mechanic Rhoden Clark and Sarah Hill Clark, who were Edgecombe County natives. The family lived at 606 E. Green Street.
  • Lucy Gay — Lucy Gay was a sister of Charles Gay. She later married John H. Lewis in Wilson.
  • L.H. Jones — Levi Hunter Jones (1877-1961), a native of Hertford County, North Carolina, was a barber.
  • E.J. Tate — Tate was probably a relative of Hardy Tate (1854-1938), a brickmason.
  • Williams Barnes — William Barnes (1879-1917) was also the bride’s brother.
  • Leutha Clark — Alethia Clark (1882-1936) was the sister of Walter Clark.
  • John Coleman
  • Sattena Barnes — Sattena Barnes (1878-1928) was born in Elm City, Wilson County, to Dublin and Eliza Batts Barnes. She later married John Gaston.
  • William Kittrel — William Kittrell (1875-??) was an Oxford, North Carolina, native and bricklayer.
  • Catharine Clark — Catherine Clark (1880-1933) was a sister of Walter and Lethia Clark.
  • Maggie Taylor — Maggie Taylor (1885-) was Mike and Rachel Barnes Taylor’s daughter.
  • Virginia Dawson — Virginia Dawson (1890-1933), daughter of fishmonger/merchant Alexander D. Dawson and dressmaker Lucy Annie Hill Dawson.
  • Bettie Clark — Bettie Clark (1885-??) was another of Rhoden and Sarah Clark’s children.
  • Lucy Hines — Lucy Hines (1886-??) was the daughter of Della Hines Battle.
  • Anna Pridgen
  • Glace Battle — Glace Battle (circa 1890-??) was the daughter of Parker and Ella Battle. She later married Timothy Black.
  • Alice Pierce — Alice Pierce (1889-1915) was the daughter of Andrew Pierce and Alice Knight Pierce. She later married Walter A. Maynor.
  • Bertha Taylor — Bertha Taylor (1891-1962) was also Mike and Rachel Barnes Taylor’s daughter.

Dr. William Arthur Mitchner.

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WA Mitchner

A.B. Caldwell, ed., History of the American Negro and His Institutions, North Carolina Edition (1921).

Dr. William A. Mitchner apparently moved to Wilson very shortly after graduating Leonard Medical School. In June 1910, he married Mattie Louise Maultsby, daughter of Daniel L. and Smithey C. Maultsby (who seem to have been natives of Pitt County.) Camillus L. Darden applied for the license on their behalf, and they were married at Saint John A.M.E. Zion church.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, at 534 E. Nash Street: Wm. A Mitchner, 40, son Wm. M., 8, mother Lucy, 60, and nephew Hubert Mitchner, 23, a barber.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, at 604 E. Green Street: Dr. W. A. Mitchner, 53, born Johnston County; wife Marie, 40, born Wake County; and mother Lucy Mitchner, 80, born in Johnston County.

The East Wilson Historic District Nomination Report describes 604 E. Green, built circa 1913, as an “L-plan Queen Anne structure with cutaway front-facing bay.” The house has since been demolished.

Dr. Mitchner died 5 November 1941.

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Wilson Daily Times, 20 October 1911.

Will Jenkins, in fact, survived his wounds. In 1917, he registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. He noted that he was born in 1893 in Edgecombe County, that he was married and lived at 672 Viola Street, and that he was a lumber yard laborer.

Rev. Owen L.W. Smith.

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The State Department was among the first agencies to appoint blacks to positions of prominence and one of the few to continue to do so beyond Reconstruction through World War I. African Americans were part of the diplomatic service on the ministerial level in Liberia and Haiti (where Frederick Douglass served, 1889-1891) and on the consular level in other countries. Four North Carolinians served as minister resident and consul general in Monrovia, Liberia. Owen Lun West Smith was the last in that line.

Owen L. W. Smith was born into slavery in Sampson County in 1851. He followed the Confederate Army as a personal servant but by war’s end had joined Federal forces and was part of Sherman’s army at Bentonville and the Grand Parade in Washington, D.C. He taught school briefly and studied at the University of South Carolina 1874-1876. In 1880 he was converted at a camp meeting and the next year began to preach. Active in the A.M.E. Zion Church, he served or built churches across eastern North Carolina and served as presiding elder, secretary of the Sunday School convention, private secretary to Bishop John Small, conference delegate, and corresponding editor of the Star of Zion.

In 1885 Smith took up a pastorate at St. John’s A.M.E. Zion in Wilson. In 1897, he sought the diplomatic post to Liberia and received endorsements from the state governor, attorney general, congressmen, and others. President William McKinley selected him from a field of forty-three applicants. During his first of four years in Liberia, Smith received an honorary doctorate from Livingstone College. When his posting ended, he returned to Wilson. He died there in 1926 and is buried in the Masonic cemetery.

Adapted from the website of North Carolina Historical Highway Marker Program.

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For more information about Reverend Dr. Smith’s life, see E. Renee Ingram, “Rev. Owen Lun West Smith: From Minister to Minister Resident and General Consul,” Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society Journal, volume 20, number 1 (2001).

He is prominent in all the work of the denomination.

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A.B. Caldwell, ed., History of the American Negro and His Institutions, North Carolina Edition (1921).

In the 1870 census of Olds township, Greene County: David Coward, 37, Chaney, 25, Diner, 11, Bryant, 8, Bayington, 6, Melvin, 4, and Pennine, 4 months. [N.B. The family lived very near wealthy white farmer William Coward, who may have been their former owner.]

In the 1880 census of Olds township, Greene County: David Coward, 47, Cherrey, 36, Diner, 16, Bryant, 14, Bainton, 12, Melvina, 10, Pennina,8, David, 5, Owen, 3, and Leon, 1.

In the 1900 census of Township 1, Craven County: farmer Bryan Coward, 36, wife Sarah, 33, son Arthur D., 8, and niece Malissa Jenkins, 13.

In the 1910 census of New Bern, Craven County, at 2 Green Street: pastor Bryan Coward, 45, wife Sarah, 43, son Arthur D., 18, and adopted daughter Malissa Jenkins, 22.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, at 122 Pender Street: minister of the gospel Bryant Coward, 53, wife Sarah A., 49, and roomers Joe Ward (who worked as a cook at Hotel Briggs), 30, and Sophia Ward, 29.

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Wilson Daily Times, 5 August 1921.

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New York Age, 13 August 1921.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 12 March 1938.

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Masonic Cemetery, Lane Street extension, Wilson, November 2015.

Rev. Jordan is a go-ahead man.

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Wilson Mirror, 16 March 1892.

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Wilson Mirror, 12 October 1892.

Energy and favorable reception notwithstanding, Rev. J.F. Jordan did not remain long in Wilson. In keeping with Methodist practice, A.M.E. Zion ministers are appointed annually and may be reassigned by a bishop at annual conference.