Wilson Daily Times, 26 June 1941.
The eighteenth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.
Yelverton School is listed as a Rosenwald School in Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.”
Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Yelverton School on present-day Aspen Grove Church Road near the Pitt County line.
Per notification of public sale in 1951: “YELVERTON COLORED SCHOOL in Saratoga Township, containing two acres, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: BEGINNING at a stake on the East side of Aspin Grove Road beside a white oak, runs thence South 55 1/2 [degrees] East 204 feet to a stake with a sourwood and 2 pine pointers, corners, runs thence 34 1/6 [degrees] West 420 feet to a stake, corners, runs thence North 55 1/2 [degrees] to a stake on the easterly side of said road, thence with said road to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a judgment recorded in Book 179, at page 155, in the Office of the Register of Deeds of Wilson County.”
Description: Per The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24, Bynums School had two acres valued at $200, but “no house.” Yelverton School was built in 1925-16 with $700.00 from the Rosenwald Fund, $2025.00 from Wilson County, and $50.00 from local families.
Yelverton School building is one, and the better preserved, of two Rosenwald schools (officially) standing in Wilson County. Per Research Report: Tools for Assessing the Significance and Integrity of North Carolina’s Rosenwald Schools and Comprehensive Investigation of Rosenwald Schools In Edgecombe, Halifax, Johnston, Nash, Wayne and Wilson Counties (2007), in 1926, State Rosenwald Supervisor William F. Credle gave this report on the newly built Yelverton School to the Wilson County Board of Education:
“This is good two-teacher school with cloak rooms and industrial room. It is properly located on a good site. I recommend that the following improvements be made:
“Put in at least 30 feet of blackboard to the room. This should be provided with a chalk rail.
“Put in terra cotta thimbles in all chimneys.
“Provide good stoves. Jacketed stoves are to be desired. We furnish blue prints for jackets and they can be made for about $20.00 a piece at an good tinner’s.
“Hooks for cloaks and shelves for lunch boxes should be provided in the cloak rooms.
“The seats now in the building should be reconditioned and a sufficient number of new ones provided to accommodate the enrollment. The old seats that are badly cut can be put in very good condition by planing off the rough tops and staining and varnishing.
“Finally the privies should be removed to the line of the school property. They should be provided with pits and the houses should be made fly proof.
“The patrons should be encouraged to clean off the lot so as to provide play ground for the children.”
The condition of Yelverton School has declined considerably in the 13 years since Plate 256, above, published in the research report.
A bank of nine-over-nine windows.
One of the two classrooms. Note the stove and original five-panel door.
The rear of the school.
Known faculty: teachers Otto E. Sanders, Esther B. Logan, Merle S. Turner, Izetta Green, Louise Delorme, Dorothy Eleen Jones.
Plate 256 published in the Research Report; other photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2020.
The sixteenth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.
Healthy Plains School
Healthy Plains School is not listed as a Rosenwald School in “Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.” Nor is it listed in Superintendent Charles L. Coon’s report The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24.
Location: A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Healthy Plains School on present-day U.S. 264 Alternate, just west of the Greene County line near Spring Branch Church Road.
Description: This school was likely named for (and near by) Healthy Plain Primitive Baptist Church, an African-American church (to be distinguished from a white church of the same name near Buckhorn in western Wilson County).
Known faculty: teacher Mary Estelle Barnes.
The fourteenth in a series of posts highlighting the schools that educated African-American children outside the town of Wilson in the first half of the twentieth century. The posts will be updated; additional information, including photographs, is welcome.
Saratoga School is listed as a Rosenwald school in “Survey File Materials Received from Volunteer Surveyors of Rosenwald Schools Since September 2002.” This school was consolidated with other small schools in 1951, and its students then attended Speight High School.
Location: Per a sale advertised in the Wilson Daily Times for several weeks in the fall of 1951, “SARATOGA COLORED SCHOOL in Saratoga township, containing two acres, more or less, and more particularly described as follows: BEGINNING at a stake in the Saratoga-Stantonsburg Road, thence Northwest 140 yards to a stake, thence Southwest 70 yards parallel with said road thence Southeast 140 yards and parallel with the first line in the said Saratoga-Stantonsburg Road, thence with the said road 70 yards to the beginning. Being the identical land described in a deed recorded in Book 157, at page 70, Wilson County Registry.”
The school has been demolished.
Description: This school is described in The Public Schools of Wilson County, North Carolina: Ten Years 1913-14 to 1923-24 as a one-room building on two acres.
Known faculty: teachers Alice Mitchell, Naomi Jones, Mary E. Diggs, Corine l. Francis, Katie J. Woodard, Mary J. Lassiter.
Lois Artis Daniels generously shared several photographs of Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church, a congregation active for about 100 years near the town of Saratoga. Her great-great-grandmother Eva Ellis Edmundson Barnes was the first of many family members who belonged to Corner Line, and was married to its long-time pastor, Reverend Wiley Barnes. Daniels’ great-grandmother Ella Jane Edmundson Smith was also a member, as were her daughters Geneva Smith Anderson (Daniels’ grandmother) and Bessie Smith Barnes.
Corner-Line Primitive Baptist Church sign, 1989.
Exterior of Corner-Line Primitive Baptist Church, 2003.
Interior of Corner-Line Primitive Baptist, 1989.
This photo and write-up of Corner Line appear in Robert C. Bainbridge and Kate Ohno’s Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Inventory (1980).
“The parent institution of Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church was Bartee Church in Stantonsburg Township. In the early twentieth century Bartee Church was abandoned and Thomas and Victoria Felton gave the land and lumber for the construction of the church. The name of the church was inspired by its location at the junction of three separately owned parcels of land. The first pastor was Elder Sam Brystern [Buston], who served the church until his death in 1930. Wiley Barnes was the church’s second pastor, and his son, Tom Barnes, took charge of the church in 1964 and is the present pastor. The Barnes family has historically been active in church affairs and Ellen, grandmother of the present paster, was one of the first black members of the White Oak Primitive Baptist Church. The church building, like many other Wilson County country churches, is a one-room rectangular building with a gable roof. The gable end entrance consists of double five-panel doors and the six-over-six windows in the side and rear elevations are protected by board and batten shutters.”
On 20 December 1899, Rufus Edmundson, 24, son of Green Edmundson and Rancy Edmundson, married Eva Ellis, 25, daughter of Laura Hudson, at “Few In Number Church” in Township #8. [Township 8? Were they married in Edgecombe County? The license was issued in Wilson County.] Primitive Baptist minister N.T. Johnson performed the ceremony; Louis Hagins applied for the license.
In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Rufus Edmundson, 28; wife Eva, 26; and children Robert, 2, and Alfred, 2 months.
In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Ellis Road, farmer Rufus Edmonson, 33; wife Eva, 33; and children Ella J., 7, Hada, 6, Sadie, 4, and “son-in-law” [stepson] Robert, 13.
On 2 January 1918, Crum Smith, 19, of Saratoga, son of Ed and Annie Smith, married Ella Edmundson, 18, daughter of Rufus and Eva Edmundson, on J.B. Eason’s farm in Saratoga. Rufus Edmundson applied for the license, and Sam Bynum, Isaa Bynum and James Bynum witnessed.
In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Rufus Edmonson, 45; wife Eva, 46; and children Robert, 20, Haden, 17, and Sadie, 15.
In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Crum Smith, 21, wife Ella, 19, and daughter Eva, 1.
In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Rufus Edmundson, 50, and wife Eva, 32.
In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Highway 91, farmer Crumble Smith, 31; wife Ella, 30; and children Jeneva, 11, Tommy, 10, Minnie, 7, Mary, 5, Bessie, 4, Moses, 2, and Hattie, 1.
Rufus S. Edmundson died 13 May 1934 in Saratoga township. Per his death certificate, he was born in Greene County, North Carolina, to Green Edmundson; was married to Eva Edmundson; and was a farmer. Wiley Barnes was informant.
Ella Jane Smith died 23 December 1977 in Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 August 1903 in Wilson County to Rufus Edmundson and Eva Rice; resided in Stantonsburg; and her informant was Geneva S. Anderson, 1630 Freeman Street Extension, Wilson.
Mid-century obituaries for two of Corner Line’s members:
Wilson Daily Times, 1 February 1947.
Wilson Daily Times, 24 December 1952.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 April 1993.
Corner Line Primitive Baptist Church is now abandoned, but still stands on Speight School Road near its termination at Highway 264 Alternate. This Google Maps image dates to 2012.
Wilson Daily Times, 7 November 1932.
Though the news report did not find it worth mentioning, Benjamin Summerlin, “negro tenant farmer,” was only 13 years old when he was killed.
In the 1920 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Summerlin, 24; wife Pearl, 22; and sons Harvey, 4, and Benjamin, 6 months.
Martha Ann Tyson Dixon of DeValls Bluff, Arkansas, sat for an interview with a Federal Writers Project worker in the late 1930s. Dixon had spent her childhood enslaved near Saratoga, Wilson County, and she and her husband Luke D. Dixon had migrated west in the late 1880s. More than 50 years after Emancipation, she vividly described the hardships of life during and after slavery.
“I am eighty-one years old. I was born close to Saratoga, North Carolina. My mother died before I can recollect and my grandmother raised me. They said my father was a white man. They said Jim Beckton [Becton]. I don’t recollect him. My mother was named Mariah Tyson.
“I recollect how things was. My grandmother was Miss Nancy Tyson’s cook. She had one son named Mr. Seth Tyson. He run her farm. They et in the dining room, we et in the kitchen. Clothes and somethng to eat was scarce. I worked at whatever I was told to do. Grandma told me things to do and Miss Nancy told me what to do. I went to the field when I was pretty little. Once my uncle left the mule standing out in the field and went off to do something else. It come up a hard shower. I crawled under the mule. If I had been still it would have been all right but my hair stood up and tickled the mule’s stomach. The mule jumped and the plough hit me in my hip here at the side. It is a wonder I didn’t get killed.
“After the Civil War was times like now. Money scarce and prices high, and you had to start all over new. Pigs was hard to start, mules and horses was mighty scarce. Seed was scarce. Everything had to be started from the stump. Something to eat was mighty plain and scarce and one or two dresses a year had to do. Folks didn’t study about going so much.”
“I had to rake up leaves and fetch em to the barn to make beds for the little pigs in cold weather. The rake was made out of wood. It had hickory wood teeth and about a foot long. It was heavy. I put my leaves in a basket bout so high [three or four feet high.] I couldn’t tote it — I drug it. I had to get leaves in to do a long time and wait till the snow got off before I could get more. It seem like it snowed a lot. The pigs rooted the leaves all about in day and back up in the corners at night. It was ditched all around. It didn’t get very muddy. Rattle snakes was bad in the mountains. I used to tote water — one bucketful on my head and one bucketful in each hand. We used wooden buckets. It was a lot of fun to hunt guinea nests and turkey nests. When other little children come visiting that is what we would do. We didn’t set around and listen at the grown folks. We toted up rocks and then they made rows [terraces] and rock fences about the yard and garden. They looked so pretty. Some of them would be white, some gray, sometimes it would be mixed. They walled wells with rocks too. All we done or knowed was work. When we got tired there was places to set and rest. The men made plough stocks and hoe handles and worked at the blacksmith shop in snowy weather. I used to pick up literd [lightwood] knots and pile them in piles along the road so they could take them to the house to burn. They made a good light and kindling wood.
“They didn’t whoop Grandma but she whooped me a plenty.
“After the war some white folks would tell Grandma one thing and some others tell her something else. She kept me and”
“cooked right on. I didn’t know what freedom was. Seemed like most of them I knowed didn’t know what to do. Most of the slaves left the white folks where I was raised. It took a long time to ever get fixed. Some of them died, some went to the cities, some up North, some come to the country. I married and come to Fredonia, Arkansas in 1889. I had been married since I was a young girl. But as I was saying the slaves still hunting a better place and more freedom. Grandma learnt me to set down and be content. We have done better out here than we could done in North Carolina but I don’t believe in so much rambling.
“We come on the passenger train and paid our own way to Arkansas. It was a wild and sickly country and has changed. Not like living in the same country. I try to live like the white folks and Grandma raised me. I do like they done. I think is the reason we have saved and have good a living as we got. We do on as little as we can and save a little for the rainy day.”
In the 1860 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Nancy Scarborough, 47; Victoria, 10, Susan, 6, and Laurina Scarborough, 3; farm manager Seth Tyson, 23; and Julia, 18, Nancy, 17, Aaron, 15, and Abner Tyson, 13.
In the 1870 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: Mary Tyson, 62, with Edith, 23, John, 21, Abraham, 16, and Martha Tyson, 11.
In the 1880 census of Lower Town Creek township, Edgecombe County: Martha Tyson, 20, was a cook in the household of white marchant/farmer Mark Atkinson.
Martha Tyson, 26, married Luke Dixon, 26, in Wilson County on 12 February 1885. Minister E.H. Ward performed the ceremony in the presence of Charles Batts, Tempey Cotton and Green Taylor.
In the 1910 census of Watensaw township, Prairie County, Arkansas: Luke Dixon, 49, saw filer at Bar factory, and wife Martha M., 52.
In the 1920 census of DeValls Bluff, Prairie County, Arkansas: on Cedar Street, farmer Luke Dixon, 58; wife Martha, 59; and cousins Margaret Tyson, 14, and Oleo McClarin, 9.
In the 1930 census of DeValls Bluff, Prairie County, Arkansas: on Cypress Street, owned and valued at $2000, Luke D. Dixon, 70, born in Virginia, and wife Martha, 70, born in North Carolina, with cousin Allen Reaves, 8.
In the 1940 census of DeValls Bluff, Prairie County, Arkansas: on Cypress Street, owned and valued at $2000, Luke Dixon, 84, born in Virginia, and wife Martha A., 84, born in North Carolina.
Federal Writers’ Project: Slave Narrative Project, Vol. 2, Arkansas, Part 2, Cannon-Evans, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.mss/mesn.022.
Kinston Daily Free Press, 27 December 1918.
Sherman Bridgers, 21, married Susan Moore, 19, on 25 March 1903 in Saratoga township, Wilson County.
Jesse Price, 23, of Stantonsburg, son of William and Susan Price of Nash County, married Hattie Barnes, 22, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Nelson and Ellen Barnes, on 26 December 1906. Nathan, Sidney and Mittie Locust were witnesses to the ceremony.
In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: odd jobs ditcher Sherman Bridgers, 28; wife Susan, 26; and children Rosa L., 6, Willie, 4, Georgiana, 2, and Nathan, 2 months.
In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: odd jobs farm laborer Jesse Price, 24, and wife Hattie, 23, and lodger John Floyd, 34, a widower and farm laborer.
On 12 September 1918, Gen. Sherman Bridgers registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 19 March 1882; lived on route 4, Wilson; farmed for I.M. Washington; and his nearest relative was Willie Bridgers.
These photographs of James and Addie Barnes Artis and several of their children are drawn from a family history booklet, Our Heritage 1812-1996: Edwards, Evans, Woodard, published in 1996.
James A. Artis (1876-??), in the one-armed wicker chair at Picture-taking Barnes’ studio in Wilson.
In the 1880 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Artis, 44; wife Jane, 42; and children Polian, 14, Mary J., 13, Dora, 12, Walter, 9, Joseph, 7, Corinna, 6, James, 4, and Charles, 6 months.
In the 1900 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Ned Artis, 65; wife Jane, 60; and children Dora, 31, Walter, 28, Joe, 26, Jimmie, 21, Charley, 20, Effie, 18, Fred, 15, and Jim, 15.
On 21 November 1900, James Artis, 22, son of Ned and Jane Artis, married Addie Barnes, 20, daughter of Isaac and Bettie Barnes, at the home of Parish Bynum in Saratoga. Walter Artis applied for the license, and Missionary Baptist minister E.P. Pearsall performed the ceremony in the presence of Dempsey Bullock, Andrew Sauls, and G.H. Moore.
In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer James Artis, 30; wife Addie, 28; and children Isaac, 9, Archie, 7, Thelonia, 5, Dorothy, 4, Gladys, 2, and an unnamed newborn daughter.
[Ned Artis died 21 November 1917 in Falkland township, Pitt County, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born about 1838 to Arch and Rosa Artis in Wilson and was buried in Wilson County. Informant was Joe Artis, Falkland.]
In the 1920 census of Fountain township, Pitt County: farmer James Artis, 40, widower, and children Isah, 18, Archie, 16, Thelonia, 15, Dortha, 13, Virginia, 9, Saparrisa, 8, and Bettie Lee, 5.
In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Jim Artis, 52; wife Silva, 49; and children Dorthy, 19, Virgina, 18, Bettie L, 15, and Seph P., 17.
Addie Barnes Artis (1879-1917)
Isaac Barnes, 22, married Bettie Ellis, 21, on 11 January 1877 at Levi Valentine’s in Wilson County.
In the 1880 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: laborer Isac Barnes, 26; wife Elizebeth, 24; and children Parish, 5, James, 2, and Addie, 8 months.
Addie Artis died 30 June 1917 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 20 June 1879 in Wilson County to Isaac Barnes and Bettie Ellis; was a tenant farmer; and was married. Informant was James A. Artis.
Isaac Amos Artis Sr. (1902-1973)
Isaac A. Artis, 32, of Pitt County, married Lillian Lee Daniels, 30, of Pitt County, on 1 April 1937 in Williamston, Martin County, North Carolina.
In the 1940 census of Greenville, Pitt County: on Third Street, teachers I.A. Artis, 38, and wife Lillian L., 35; their daughter A.L., 2; and his sister Dorthy, 32.
In 1942, Isaac Amos Artis registered for the World War II draft in Greenville, Pitt County. Per his registration card, he was born 13 December 1902 in Wilson County; resided at 106 Tyson Street, Greenville; his contact was wife Lillian Lee Artis; and he was employed by Pitt County Board of Education.
Isaac A. Artis died 28 November 1973 in Greenville, Pitt County. Per his death certificate, he was born 13 September 1903 to James Artis and Addie (last name unknown); resided in Greenville; was married to Lillian Daniels; and was buried in Brownhill cemetery, Greenville.
Archie Charles Artis (circa 1904-1958)
In the 1930 census of Durham, Durham County, North Carolina: barber Archie Artis, 24, was listed as a boarder in the household of dentist Edward P. Norris.
In the 1940 census of Durham, Durham County, North Carolina: barber Archie C. Artis, 33, was listed as a lodger in the household of dentist Edward P. Norris.
In 1940, Archie Charles Artis registered for the World War II draft in Durham. Per his registration card, he was born 24 August 1906 in Fountain, North Carolina; resided at 607 Thomas Street, Durham; his contact was father James Artis, East Nash Street, Wilson; and he was self-employed at 711 Fayetteville Street, Durham.
On 19 December 1940, Archie Charles Artis, 34, of Durham County, married Evelyn Elma Bryant, 25, of Chatham County, in Oakland township, Chatham County, North Carolina.
Archie Charles Artis died 23 December 1959 in Durham. Per his death certificate, he was born 24 August 1906 in Wilson County to James Artis and Addie Bynum; was married to Evelyn Artis; taught at a barber college; was buried in Beechwood cemetery, Durham. Brother S.P. Artis was informant.
Thelonia “Theodore” Artis (ca 1907-??)
Dorothy Artis Hines (circa 1907-??)
Virginia B. Artis Jones (circa 1910-1959)
Virginia B. Artis Jones died 18 April 1959 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 August 1911 in Pitt County to James Artis and Addie Barnes; was married to Lee Jones; and worked as a beautician. She was buried at Rest Haven cemetery.
Separise “S.P.” Artis (1912-1998)
Grace Whitehead, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Henry and Victoria Whitehead, married Separise Artis, 25, of Wilson, son of James and Attie Artis, in Nashville, North Carolina, on 1 August 1938.
In 1940, Separise Artis registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 12 December 1912 in Wilson County; resided at 303 North Vick Street; his contact was wife Grace Emery Artis; and he was a self-employed barber.
Separise P. Artis died 13 December 1998 in Rocky Mount, Nash County.
Bettie Lee Artis (1913-1999)
Bettie Lee Artis died 16 February 1999 in Greenville, North Carolina.
Many thanks to B.J. Woodard for sharing this invaluable volume.
James, John Edward, Florence Roberta, and Johnny L. Bynum, circa 1924.
On 15 November 1914, John Bynum, 27, of Saratoga married Florence Miller, 19, of Saratoga in Stantonsburg township. Witnesses were Ora L. Barnes, Bert B. Person, and Anna S. Whitley, all of Stantonsburg township.
On 5 June 1917, John Bynum registered for the World War I draft at Saratoga precinct, Wilson County. Per his registration card: he was born 17 June 1888; worked as a farmer for L.P. Woodard; and had a wife and child. He was tall and of medium build, with dark brown eyes and black hair.
In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Bynum, 30, wife Florance, 21, sons James, 3, and John, 7 months, and brother Walter Bynum, 24.
In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer John Bynum, 42, wife Florance, 32, and sons James, 13, Jonnie, 10, and Hollie, 5.
In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer John Bynum, 52, wife Florence, 45, and children James, 23, Johnie L., 20, Harley, 15, and Marguerite, 5, daughter-in-law Gladys, 22, and grandchildren James Jr., 2, and Geraldine, 10 months.
John Bynum died 23 June 1949 at his home at 1004 Robertson Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate: he was born 17 June 1887 in Wilson County to Abaraham Bynum and Jane Atkinson. Florence Bynum was informant.
Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user copl01.