Samuel H. Vick

Sam and Annie Vick and the development of East Green Street, pt. 1.

As we saw here, Samuel and Annie Washington Vick owned scores of rental properties in east and south Wilson. Sam Vick also subdivided tracts of land to sell to developers and individuals wishing to build homes, such as here and here.

Perhaps the pinnacle of the Vicks’ real estate achievement was the establishment of early twentieth-century Black Wilson’s premier residential street, the 600 and 700 blocks of East Green. The Vicks were not the first buyers on the block, but over the course of a decade or so, sold lot after lot to their middle-class friends and relatives.

Deed Book 50, page 73, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office.

  • On 1 August 1893, for $100, the Vicks sold Charles Thomas a one-quarter acre lot on Green Street next to John Blount. The deed was registered 16 June 1894 in Deed Book 36, page 219. [There were two Charles Thomases on East Green Street in the early 1900s; this one was a long-time pressman for P.D. Gold Publishing Company. His house still stands at 619 East Green Street. John Blount sold his Green Street property (perhaps to Samuel Vick, who in turn sold it to Walter S. Hines, I need to check) and built around the corner at what is now 305 North Pender Street.]
  • On 1 August 1893, for $100, the Vicks sold F.M. Davis a lot next to Charles Thomas. The deed was registered 28 March 1896 in Deed Book 41, page 433. [Baptist minister Fred M. Davis’ house was at 621 East Green Street.]
  • On 1 January 1894, for $100, the Vicks sold Wright Barnes, Spencer Strickland, and Jackson Barnes, the trustees of the Primitive Baptist Church, Colored, a lot at the corner of Ella [Elba] Street and “the eastern extension of Green Street.” The deed was registered 16 June 1894 in Deed Book 36, page 219. [The former Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church was at 627 East Green Street.]
  • On 1 June 1894, for $100, the Vicks sold David Barnes a lot on Green Street adjoining Della Hines and Charles Powell. The deed was registered 19 December 1899 in Deed Book 53, page 362. [Della Hines purchased her lot on 1 January 1894 from George D. Green, recorded at Deed Book 35, page 437. Della Hines and David Barnes married 15 April 1894 at “the bride’s home,” which presumably was the house she built at 615 East Green. This house was demolished circa 1910, and she sold the lot in 1915 to her son William Hines. David and Della Hines Barnes built an imposing house at 613 East Green Street.]
  • On 4 September 1895, for $100, the Vicks sold Neverson Green a 10,500 square-foot lot on Green Street next to Alice Jeffreys. The deed was registered the same day in Deed Book 39, page 127. [By 1910, carpenter-turned-grocery merchant Neverson Green and his family lived at 502 South Lodge Street, nearer his Spring Street store. I have not identified Alice Jeffreys or the exact location of this lot.]
  • On 3 January 1898, for $180, the Vicks sold Sarah Clark a lot on Green Street bordering Jonah Williams and Millie Bryant. The deed was registered 9 January 1899 in Deed Book 50, page 474. [Though Sarah Hill Clark and her husband Rhoden Clark, natives of Scotland Neck, Halifax County, North Carolina, were married at the time, Sarah Clark bought this lot in her name only. Rhoden Clark died 1900-1910. The house was at what is now 606 East Green Street. Millie Bryant’s house was at 608 East Green Street.]
  • On 26 March 1898, for $100, the Vicks sold Samuel Gay a lot on Green Street adjoining the lands of F.M. Davis and Samuel Vick. The deed was registered 11 August 1898 in Deed Book 50, page 73. (See image above.) [This is the lot at what is now 623 East Green Street. Samuel Gay built a one-story house here that his son Albert Gay Sr. expanded to the two-story house that still stands. Another son, Charles Gay, built a house circa 1913 at 625 East Green.]
  • On 12 December 1898, for $100, the Vicks sold J.M. Artis a lot on Green Street adjoining Robert Breeze. The deed was registered 21 February 1899 in Deed Book 51, page 117. [I have not identified J.M. Artis or Robert Breeze or the location of this lot with certainty.]

Vick presents a notice to the Republican convention.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 June 1920.

The Republican Party’s 1920 convention in Chicago nominated Warren G. Harding and Calvin Coolidge for president and vice-president. Samuel H. Vick, long active in Republican politics and well-known from the battles over his appointment as Wilson’s postmaster, formerly registered his protest against North Carolina’s exclusion of African-Americans from its deliberations.

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.

S.H. Vick’s Winona subdivision.

“Winona, a suburb of Wilson, N.C.” Deed book 68, page 457, Wilson County Register of Deeds.

In 1905, Samuel H. Vick filed a plat map for the subdivision of a parcel of land he owned along Mercer Street. Assuming Mercer Street follows its present course (the street was outside city limits until the mid-1920s), this appears to be the stretch west of Hominy Swamp. There’s no Daniels Mill Road in the area though, and the parallel Wells Alley and unnamed street do not match up with modern features. However, if you flip the map upside down to view it per the compass designation at top center, the landscape falls into place. Daniels Mill Road, then, is modern-day Fairview Avenue.

Below, on an inverted Google Maps image, I’ve traced modern Mercer Street and Fairview Avenue in red. In dotted yellow, the probable course of Wells Alley, which seems to track a line of trees that runs along the back edge of the lots facing Mercer, and the short crooked unnamed street that apparently never was cut through.

The cursive note added at upper left of the plat map says: “See Book 72 pp 527 et seq perfecting title to these lots.” At bottom left: “Lots 100 ft in debth [sic] & 50 ft in width except lots 23, 24, 25, 33, 61, 57, 58, 59, 60, & lots 1 and 2.”

A few of the 85 lots are inscribed with surnames, presumably of their purchasers: #46 Bynum, #48 Johnson, #53 Melton. In addition, lots 17, 19, 20 and 22 appear to be inscribed with the initials J.H. The 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists the home of William A. Johnson, an African-American cook, as “Mercer St w of N & S Ry.” Though imprecise, this is broadly describes the street on the map. No Melton or Bynum is similarly listed.

The 1910 census settles the matter. On “Winona Road,” restaurant cook William Johnson, 40; wife Pollie, 35, laundress; and children Mary E., 13, Willie C., 11, Winona, 4, and Henry W., 2, and dozens of African-American neighbors, mostly laborers and servants who owned their homes (subject to mortgage).

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Mercer Street next door to Smith Bennett and wife Mary, restaurant proprietor William Johnson, 39; wife Polly, 38; and children Wyona, 14, Margaret, 8, James, 11, and Millie, 19. Herbert and Ella Bynum owned the house on the other side, and Mollie Melton was up the street, and may have been related to the Bynum and Melton noted on the plat map.

The 1930 census reveals the house number: 910 Mercer Street, valued at the astonishing figure of $18,000. (This may well be a matter of an errant extra zero, as the 1922 Sanborn map shows a small one-story cottage at the location, which would not have commanded that sum.) Will A. Johnson, 60, worked as a cafe cook, and wife Pollie, 55, was a cook. The household included daughter Margrette Futrell, 18; infant grandson Wilbert R. Hawkins, born in Pennsylvania; widowed daughter Mary J. Thomas, 33 (noted as absent); and niece Jannie Winstead, 7.

When Sam Vick’s real estate empire collapsed in 1935, he lost three lots and houses on Mercer Street — 903, 907 and 915 — perhaps the last property he held in Winona subdivision.