This photograph of the Wilson Bus Center and the Oak Filling Station (built around the truck of its namesake tree) was probably taken not long after they opened in 1938. An African-American man is pumping gas at the rear of a vehicle. Another African-American man stands near its front fender.
“We now employ white people only, which we feel is just what the home people of Wilson want. Our motto stands for itself, …” Wilson Daily Times, 22 February 1928.
Mollie E. Farrell and Allie C. Lamm operated B&G Cafe at 112 East Nash Street, across the street from the Wilson County Courthouse. John D. Marsh was their cook. Their collective idea about what the home people wanted seems to have been off the mark. B&G was gone before 1930.
The paper carried a ranking of 13 barber shops in Wilson, ten of which exclusively served white customers. The shops known to be African-American-owned were William Hines, Briggs Hotel (the location of Walter Hines‘ shop), Hargroves, Neal’s, and Sanitary, and perhaps.
Billy Dew attended the “colored encampment” of Boys State in 1948.
Here’s William Lyman Dew‘s senior portrait in the 1949 edition of Darden High School’s Trojan yearbook.
William Dew was born 28 October 1931 in Wilson to Irma I. Dew and Edwin Cooke. He joined the United States Air Force in 1951 and, when he married Martha Lucretia Reid of Portsmouth, Virginia, in 1957, was working as an assistant air traffic controller with the Civil Aeronautics Administration at Stapleton Air Field, Denver, Colorado. Dew died in Denver in 1987 and is buried in Rest Haven Cemetery, Wilson.
United States Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007, http://www.ancestry.com; Pittsburgh Courier, 3 August 1957, page 15; clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.
In April 1943, Parker boarded a Wilson city bus on Saturday evening. He sat down in the white section and remained firmly ensconced when the driver asked him to move. The driver, James Batchelor, abandoned his route to drive the bus to the police station, where Parker was arrested and charged with violating North Carolina’s “passenger law,” which allowed for the designation of colored and white sections in commercial transport vehicles. Parker was adjudged guilty and given a thirty-day suspended sentence provided he remain “in good behavior.” Per the Daily Times, Parker was the first person to challenge Jim Crow laws in Wilson County in 25 years.
We see Maplewood, founded in 1876 (and since expanded northwest across Hill Street), laid out in an orderly grid. The circle of trees, since removed, at the center of the first eight sections marks the location of the city’s Confederate monument, which was unveiled in 1902. The gateway arch is southwest of the monument, at Woodard Street.
And here we see Vick Cemetery — plus Odd Fellows and Rountree — on a dirt road outside city limits and surrounded by piney woods and corn fields. Vick, founded in 1913, is at left and takes up about two-thirds of what looks like a single graveyard, but is in fact three. There is no internal grid, no clearly marked access paths, no uniform spacing of graves or family plots. Certainly no Spanish Revival gateways or monuments to heroic ancestors. Though the city had established Rest Haven Cemetery in 1933, Vick remained active until the early 1960s, and hundreds of people were buried there in the 1940s alone. As poorly as it compares to Maplewood, Vick Cemetery never looked this good again.
In March 1941, after repeated complaints by “a delegation of negroes,” Wilson County Commissioners were forced to supply two additional school buses to alleviate severe overcrowding on the buses ferrying children to and from the county’s two Black high schools, Elm City and Williamson. A state school commission inspection disclosed that the two buses serving Elm City were carrying 280 children a day on a route that wove across the top half of the county. (Children were picked up in dangerously overcrowded shifts, which resulted in forces tardiness and absences for many.)