Santa Claus

The Barnes sisters write Santa.

Wilson Daily Times, 17 December 1930.

Four years later, Mary Barnes’ younger sister wrote Santa:

Wilson Daily Times, 22 December 1934.


In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1020 [Wainwright], William Barnes, 58, cotton mill engineer; wife Julia, 55; children Evylene, 25, beautician in beauty parlor, Mary, 19, and William, 17, shoeshine boy in shoe shop; and “adopted daughter” Nebraska, 11.

Santa, I am sitting here thinking of no one but you.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1936.


In the 1930 census of Ormonds township, Greene County, N.C.:  farmer Clearance Murphy, 32; wife Mittie, 25; and children Mamie, 6, Laura M., 4, Clearance Jr., 3, and Walter, 1.

On 23 September 1955, Laura Mae Murphy, 30, of Wilson, daughter of Clarence Murphy and Mittie Wilks Murphy, married John H. Wm. Baker, 48, son of Haywood Baker and Ora Harper Baker, in Wilson.

On 1 December 1988, the Wilson Daily Times ran an obituary for Laura Mae Murphy Baker of Wilmington, formerly of Wilson. The notice noted that she was survived by husband Rev. John H. Baker; daughters Brenda James and Ora Jean Willoughby of Durham, N.C., and Joann Baker of Raleigh, N.C.; sons Carl and Peter Baker of Durham and Reginald Baker of Bolivia, N.C.; sisters Addie L. Murphy of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Mamie Tyson of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and brothers, Clarence Paul Murphy Jr. of Los Angeles, California, Charlie Murphy of Wilson, and Walter Murphy of Long Island, N.Y.; plus six grandchildren.

Bring me a bicycle and some nuts and apples.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 December 1924.


Albert Gay, whose letter to Santa was published in 1924, was the son of Albert S. Gay Sr. and Annie Bell Jacobs Gay. At that time, his brothers were Jesse, Harold, and baby Samuel. (Albert Jr. apparently received the bicycle he wished for — seven months later, he broke three ribs when he and his bike collided with an automobile.)

Letters to Santa.

Thomas A. and Mary Ida Bagley Jones‘ children did not leave anything to chance with Santa Claus at Christmas of 1924.

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Wilson Mirror, 10 December 1924.

Nor did their cousins, the children of John A. and Bettie Hinnant Jones:

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Wilson Daily Times, 17 December 1924.


In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas A. Jones, 51; wife Mary I., 45; children Milbry, 28, Andrew, 19, Leonia, 17, James H., 14, Ollie T., 9, Ida May, 7, Paul H., 5, and Jim Lawrence, 3; and granddaughter Bettie Lee, 4.

In the 1920 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County: farmer J.A. Jones, 42; wife Bettie, 28; and children Johnnie W., 16, Grover, 7, Susie, 5, Maomie [Naomi], 4, and Ruth, 1.

In the 1920 census of Elm City, Toisnot township, Wilson County: widowed farmer George Gaston, 69, and children [and grandchildren] Ada, 33, Nina, 31, August, 27, George J., 6, Lucile, 2, and Ernest, 9 months. (Also, in Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Garfield Perkins, 36; wife Laura, 36; children Ethel, 15, and G. William, 12; and boarder P. Ada Gaston, 34, a teacher.

(More about Jones Hill School to come.)

Dear Santa Claus.


Wilson Daily Times, 24 December 1940.


In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Joe Jones, 44, tobacco factory laborer; wife Mary L., 33, county home nurse; and children Marie, 12, and Joseph Jr., 9.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: in New Grabneck, Oliver W. Best, 32, [occupation illegible],and wife Sadie L., 24, public school teacher.

Model 1938 Red Ryder BB gun, today.

Letters to Santa Claus.

In early December 1948, the Daily Times published letters to Santa from William B. “Billy” Davis Jr. and Diana Davis (now Myers), children of William B. and Hazel Ingram Myers.


Wilson Daily Times, 4 December 1948.

The children wrote again a few days later with revised lists. (Only the request for a baby brother remained constant.)

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 December 1948.

I will not ask for much this year, because you can’t afford it.

At the dawn of the Great Depression, these children wrote letters to Santa Claus making modest requests for themselves and asking Saint Nick to remember their parents, siblings and teachers.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 December 1930.