school

They really want to help along their own education.

BOTH WHITE AND COLORED PEOPLE ARE TAKING A LIVELY INTEREST IN THEIR SCHOOLS; NEARLY $2,000 RAISED

During October and November the following amounts have been raised and paid in to supplement the district funds of colored schools in Wilson County.

WILLIAMSON (Spring Hill)

The people have raised $300 to aid in building a new school house and to put cooking and sewing in their school.

ROCKY BRANCH (Spring Hill)

The people raised $200 in October to improve their school house and buy 20 new patent desks.

JONES HILL (Old Fields)

The people of this neighborhood raised $120 during October to improve their school house and buy 15 patent desks. They raised more than fifty dollars last spring for the same purpose.

LOVER’S LANE (Wilson)

This district has raised $50 to improve their school house.

EVANSDALE

This district has raised $400.62 for building a new house and buying desks.

POWELL’S (Cross Roads)

The people have raised $25 to get a good well and to put a pump in it.

LANE’S (Wilson)

This school has raised $75 with which to repair their school house and put in 15 new patent desks.

LUCAMA

The people have raised $100. They have installed 20 new patent desks and expect to add another school room later.

HOWARD’S (Taylor’s)

The people at Howard’s have raised $60. They ceiled their school house and have bought 15 new patent desks.

STANTONSBURG

This people of this district have raised $250. They have painted the school house, bought $100 worth of new patent desks, cleaned up the yard, put electric lights in the school house, and have secured a cook stove and a sewing machine.

SARATOGA

The people here have raised $7. They mean to increase this amount soon.

The above amounts total $1387.62. Other colored districts are now engaged in raising money to improve their school house. The results will be reported later on. The interest of the colored people in improving their school facilities has been greatly stimulated by the intelligent and untiring work of J.D. Reid, who has led in raising the amounts of money referred to above. For the first time in the history of the county the colored people have this fall made more voluntary contributions to their schools than the white people. Who can gain say the statement that the above amounts and the many others which will be reported later on show that our colored people really want to help along their own education?

I am sure it will pay handsomely to encourage this spirit of self-help on the part of our colored citizens. Those who show the interest in the welfare of their children indicated by the above sums of money deserve our thanks. I am certain all right thinking people appreciate the spirit which has prompted these donations.  CHARLES L. COON. January 1, 1917.

Wilson Daily Times, 2 January 1917.

——

[Note: the white people, at 12 schools, raised less than half as much — $537.35. — LYH]

 

No Negro blood allowed.

Though James Lamm emerged victorious in his fight to educate his children in white schools, others were not as fortunate.

JOHNSON -- WDT 9 16 1914 No Negro Blood Allowed

Wilson Daily Times, 16 September 1914.

The whole matter was decided in seven months.

At the February Term of Wilson County Superior Court in 1914, J.S. Johnson filed suit against the Board of Education of Wilson County. He resided in School District No. 6 of Spring Hill township, he asserted, and was a white man and the father of four school-age children — Arthur, about 13 years old, Fannie, about 11, Carr, about 9, and Andrew, about 7. Johnson had sent Arthur to the local white public school, where a teacher sent him home after two days. The Complaint does not specify the reason for his expulsion. (And notes that Johnson did not attempt to enroll the younger children.) Johnson’s complaint demanded that the children be allowed to attend the district’s white school.

The Board of Education filed an Answer setting forth one devastating affirmative defense: “… the defense alleges that the children of the plaintiff are not entitled under the statute of North Carolina to attend the school for the white race for that they have negro blood in their veins.”

Judge George W. Connor scheduled a hearing for 4 February 1914, which was postponed by mutual consent until the 10th. In the meantime, an additional fact was admitted (presumably by Johnson): “each of the said four minor children have a slight mixture of negro blood, the same being less in each child than one-sixteenth …” Nonetheless, the Superior Court ruled a victory for the Johnsons. Judge W.M. Bond reasoned thus: the state constitution provides that the legislature shall provide separate white and colored schools and also makes valid a marriage between a white man and a woman with less than one-eighth “admixture of colored blood.” In Bond’s opinion, the legislature overstepped when it attempted to bar from white schools the child of a valid marriage involving a white person.  “In other words, the status of the child is fixed by the Constitutional recognition of the marriage.”

The Board of Education appealed.

The Supreme Court overturned.

At the outset, Justice Walker stated plainly that J.S. Johnson was a white man of a “pure strain” of blood, and his unnamed wife had less than one-eighth Negro admixture. He then homed in on a key passage of the state constitution: “no child with negro blood in his veins, however remote the strain, shall attend a school for the white race; and no such child shall be considered a white child.” “Should it be conceded … that the marriage J.S. Johnson and the woman who is the mother of his children, is a valid one, it does not, by any means, settle the important and delicate question, [presented here, in Johnson’s favor.]” The law allowing marriage between a white person and one of remote African ancestry might legitimate their children, “but by no subtle alchemy known to the laboratory of logic can it be claimed to have extracted the negro element from the blood of such offspring and made it pure.” In fact, the Court reasoned, the law does not even declare marriage between a white person and one with “negro blood” within the prescribed limit to be valid, but only that marriage between a white person and one over the limit is void. In any case, certainly the legislature has the right to lay down an absolute — no children with any African ancestry at all, period — as a matter of public policy. (That policy being the “peace, harmony and welfare of the two races, according to each race equal privileges and advantages of education and mental and moral training with the other, but keeping them apart in the schoolroom, where, by reason of racial instincts and characteristics peculiar to each, unpleasant antagonism would arise, which would prove fatal to proper school regulation and discipline …”) The justice turned to the definition of “colored,” which was not explicitly delineated in the law. What is common usage?, he asks. Is “colored” considered to include Arthur Johnson? The term is never applied to red Indians, yellow Mongolians or brown Malays, colored as they may be. “To those of Negro blood alone is [the term] ever found to be suited” and d0es not depend upon “a shade of particular blackness ….” “Whether complexions appear distinctly black or approaching toward the fair by gradations of shading is all one.” After touching approvingly upon the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, the court reiterated the justness and wisdom of maintaining harmony through segregation. Judgment: reversed. The Johnson children were too black to go to a white school.

—–

No matter the views of school teachers and Supreme Court justices, the Johnsons’ community regarded them as white. In the 1920 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County, on the Keely Branch of the Smithfield and Red Hill Road, Arthur Johnson, 20, and his wife Bertha, 25, lived next to his parents and siblings — Josephus, 42, Minnie, 38, Fannie, 17, Carl, 15, Andrew, 12, Luther, 10, Clintard, 8, Ransom, 4, Flossie L., 2, and Leonard, 6 months. All were described as white, just as they had in the 1910 census.

Cephus Johnson, 22, son of Emma Johnson, married Minnie Taylor, 18, daughter of Silvira Taylor, at the residence of William Taylor on 25 January 1898. Both were described as white. Further, Minnie Etta Johnson of Springhill township, Wilson County, died 20 March 1937, as a white woman. J.S. Johnson was listed as her husband, and he informed the undertaker that Minnie had been born in Wilson County to Silvina Taylor and an unknown father. She was buried in a family cemetery by Joyner’s Funeral Home, a white-only business.

I have been unable to locate Silvina or Minnie Etta Taylor prior to 1898.

School Records (1914), Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives; Johnson v. Board of Education of Wilson County, 82 S.E. 832 (1914).

Institutions: 1922.

From the 1922 Sanborn map of Wilson, North Carolina:

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First Baptist Church (Colored), corner of Pender and Nash Streets.

Built 1910; now Jackson Chapel First Baptist Church, same location.

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Saint John’s African Methodist Episcopal Church, 119 Pender Street.

Built 1917; Saint John remains at this location.

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Tabernacle Missionary Church, Hadley Street.

Now site of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church.

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Pender Street Baptist Church, corner of Pender and Academy Streets.

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Private School (Colored), 604 Vance Street.

Opened 1919; founded by community leaders and parents after boycott of Colored Graded School. Demolished.

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Primitive Baptist Church (Colored), East Green Street.

Pilgrim Rest Primitive Baptist Church, now non-denominational church.

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Freewill Baptist Church (Colored), East Vance Street.

Original location of Piney Grove Primitive Baptist Church. Demolished.

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Colored Baptist Church, East Barnes Street.

Formerly Jackson Chapel Baptist Church, now Wilson Chapel Missionary Baptist Church.

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Wilson Hospital (Colored), 504 East Green Street.

Hospital closed in 1964. Building rehabbed as offices of Wilson Community Improvement Association.

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Calvary Presbyterian Church (Colored), 512 East Green Street.

Church now fronts Pender Street, and this space is occupied by an extension and a parking lot.

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Old 1st Baptist Church, Church Street.

Demolished.

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Colored Church, East Suggs Street.

Demolished.

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Colored Graded School, South Stantonsburg Street.

Demolished.

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Free Will Baptist Church, Lane Street (near Woodard Street).

 

I think a school would be sufficiently supported.

Wilson Co schools

In a letter to Brevet Lt. Col. Charles E. Compton, Assistant Commissioner of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands (better known as the Freedmen’s Bureau), Israel Barden provided information about the state of education for freedmen in Wilson County. There were two schools, he reported, one at Joyners Depot (later Elm City) and one in Wilson, and support for a new school building would justify its expense.

Records of Assistant Commissioner of the State of North Carolina; Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands; Record Group 105, National Archives; Freedmen Bureau Records of Field Offices, 1863-1878 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.

They are entitled to attend the white schools.

In November 1909, James Lamm sued Wilson’s Black Creek school district, claiming his children had been barred from admission “without just cause.” They were listed on pupil censuses as white children, said Lamm, and were entitled to attend white schools as they always had.

LAMM -- Lamm v Bd of Educ 1909_Page_1

LAMM -- Lamm v Bd of Educ 1909_Page_2

The suit prompted a detailed examination of the ancestry of Lamm’s wife, Jane Carter (also known as Jane Locus.) In due course, Wilson County Superior Court issued a short decision finding that Lamm was a “pure blooded white man” with six children; that the children’s maternal great-grandmother was 5/8 white and had a white father; that the great-grandmother had a daughter (the children’s grandmother) who had a white father; and that the children’s mother also had a white father. The children being white enough, judgment for the plaintiff. The children must be enrolled.

LAMM -- Lamm v Bd of Educ 1909_Page_5

The case file in the matter still includes notes from the testimony of two witnesses concerning the children’s lineage. Their grandmother was Equit Locus, whose father was believed to be white. (Her surname places her as a member of one of the largest free families of color in antebellum eastern North Carolina, the Locus/Locusts.) With Dallas Taylor, a white man, Ezrit had Wealthy Locus, who was described as “practically white.” Wealthy, in turn, gave birth to Jane — James Lamm’s wife — whose father was “said to be Van B. Carter,” a white man.LAMM -- Lamm v Bd of Educ 1909_Page_3

LAMM -- Lamm v Bd of Educ 1909_Page_4

Records related to “bastardy” actions in Wilson County support Joe Horne’s identification of Jane’s father. In September 1870, Wealthy Locus was summoned to court to answer charges that she “is with child whitch child when Bornd will Be a Basterd.” Wealthy named Van Carter as the father of the child, but he could not be found within county limits. It is not clear whether he ever posted a bond or otherwise supported the child. (Van Buren Carter, born about 1850, was a Nash County native. He died in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, in 1933.)

Weltha Locus Bastardy Papers_Page_2

Weltha Locus Bastardy Papers_Page_3

In the 1860 census of Bailey township, Nash County: John Locus, 60, wife Nancy, 51, and children and grandchildren Thomas, 30, Equitta, 28, Jno., 21, Neverson, 19, Cytha, 15, Sparling, 13, Nancy E., 12, Wealtha, 9, James S., 4, Polly, 2, and Eliza Locus, 2 months. All were classified as mulatto. (If John and Nancy Locus were Equitta’s parents, witnesses were incorrect in their testimony that Wealthy’s mother, too, had a white father.)

In the 1870 census of Springfield township, Nash County: John Locus, 65, with Sparling, 20 and  James Locus, 17, plus Equit, 35, Murnivia, 10, Elizia, 12, Wethia, 20, Malinda, 2 months, and Dotsey, 14; all mulatto.

Wealthy Locust, 23 [she was actually closer to 30], appeared in the 1880 census of Black Creek, Wilson County, in the household of farmer J.C. Rice. She had five children — Jane, 9, Mary, 5, James G., 3, and Bryant, 7 months — and her mother Equit lived with them. All are described as mulatto. Wealthy worked as a cook, and the relationship to her of each of her family members is oddly phrased in this context — “daughter of cook,” “mother of cook,” etc. (As we will see below, this is not an entirely accurate description of the familial ties within this household.)

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The 1880 census was the last time Wealthy’s family as a whole is classified as  mulatto. (And the last time but one that her older children bear the name Locus.) Though they remained in the community in which everyone knew them and their mother, all of Wealthy’s children transitioned to white identities as they entered adulthood.

On 15 December 1889, James Lamm, 27, married Jane Carter, 20, at Amos Hays’ in Black Creek township. Both were described as white.

Daughter Mary Locus, 18, married Robert Barnes, 23, in Black Creek on 27 July 1893. Robert is described as white; the space for Mary’s race was left blank.

Wealthy’s daughter Bettie married James Bass in 1897, and her marriage license sheds new light on that census entry. Bettie’s last name was Rice and, at 16, she was a minor. “J.C. Rice & Weltha Locas the Father & Mother” of Bettie Rice had to give written permission for her to marry. Bettie was described as white, and her sister Jane Lamm was an official witness to the ceremony.

The 1900 census of Black Creek, however, shows that the family’s social identity remained fluid, at least in the eyes of the community. At household #106, [Wealthy’s son] James G. Rice, 23, wife Lou, 21, and son Lee, 1, all white. At #108, Wealthy Locus, 50, son Zacariah, 13, and daughter Fannie, 10, all black. At #109, Pennsylvania-born James C. Rice, 55, white [father of Wealthy’s younger children.] At #113, James Lamm, 42, wife Jane, 30, and children Robert L., 9, James C., 7, Mamie, 4, and Leona, 2, all white.

In December 1909, just after he filed suit against the school board, James Lamm filed for a marriage license on behalf of Lester Lucas, 21, and his sister-in-law Fannie Rice, 19. Fannie, now white, gave her parents as J.C. Rice and Wealthy Joyner.

James C. Rice died about 1917. Under the terms of his will, executed 23 October 1915, James left (1) Welthy Joyner six five-hundred dollar promissory notes in trust, with her to have use of the interest at her discretion and to be distributed after her death to J.G. Rice, Zack Rice, Mary Barnes, Bettie Bass and Fannie Lucas, and (2) a $1000 note to be divided among the same five. (The will does not refer to them as his children.)

In the 1920 census of Black Creek: James G. Rice, 43, wife Louetta, 42, sons Lee, 21, Henry, 19, and Frank, 11, widowed mother Welthy Joyner, 70, and his in-laws. All were white.

Wealthy Locus died 18 June 1922. Her surname was recorded as “Joyner,” and her son James provided information about her life. She was again described as a widow (no marriage license has been found), William Joyner was listed as her father (James Rice supposedly had no information about his grandmother, Ezrit Locus), and she was white. (That Thomas Yelverton & Company handled her burial signals community acceptance of that identity. Undertakers were segregated in that era.)

S123_135-0154

Zack Rice, Wealthy’s youngest son, died 8 March 1934 in Black Creek. His death certificate lists his parents as Jim Rice and Wilthy Rice. James Gaston Rice died 25 February 1940. His death certificate lists his parents as James C. Rice, born in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Welthy Joyner. Jane Carter Lamm died 21 February 1945 in Wilson, Wilson County.  Her death certificate lists her parents as Van Carter and Wealthy Joyner, and she is classified as white.

School Records (1909), Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives; Bastardy Bonds, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.