Smith

410 North Reid Street.

The one hundred eighty-sixth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.

As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1940; 1 story; bungalow with gable roof and shed-roofed porch with standard tapered posts on brick piers.” 

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 408 Reid, rented for $14/month, taxi driver Essie Smith, 28, born in Red Springs, N.C.; wife Alice, 26, maid at Woodard-Herring; and daughter Aggie Nora, 2; plus Annie McCohan, 50, widow, also from Red Springs. [The Smiths may have been in house next door, which was later numbered 410.]

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory, two entries: Smith Essie (c; Alice; 1) taxi driver h 408(2) N Reid; and Woodard Oscar (c; Katie J) janitor Branch Banking & Tr Co h 408 (407) N Reid

On 28 April 1947, the Wilson Daily Times published a memorial to Jennette Barnes submitted by her daughter Alice Barnes Smith of 410 North Reid. 

Essie Smith died 25 March 1962 at his home at 410 North Reid. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 December 1896 in Robeson County, North Carolina; was married to Alice Smith; and was a self-employed taxi driver. 

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2022.

Born in Africa.

A.M.E. Zion minister Owen L.W. Smith served as United States consul general to Liberia from 1898 to 1902. His family, which included second wife Adora Oden Smith and their children Flossie and George E. Smith, remained in Wilson during his post.

Flossie Smith died in 1901, and baby George and Adora Smith in 1906. On 24 February 1908, Rev. Smith married Cynthia A. King Isler in Pitt County, North Carolina.

The 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County, lists Owen W. Smith, 58; wife Lency A., 45;  children Jessy A., 27, and Carry E. Smith, 10; and stepchildren John H., 12, and Mary A. Isler, 10. John and Mary Isler were Cynthia “Lency” Smith’s children. Jesse Alexander Smith is described in Rev. Smith’s will as an adopted son. And what of Carrie E. Smith?

Carrie Emma Smith died 2 September 1917 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 29 December 1899 in “African (Liberia)” to Owen L.W. Smith and Mary Johnson. The certificate does not specify her place of burial, but we know she was laid to rest in the Masonic cemetery in the Smith family plot.

Her headstone is one of four remaining in the plot — Rev. Smith’s is not visible — and states: CARRIE EMMA Adopted Daughter of Rev. O.L.W. & Adora Smith Dec. 29 1899 Sept. 2  1917.

Carrie Emma Smith’s headstone in the Masonic Cemetery. The stone lying flat is that of O.L.W. Smith’s mother, Maria Hicks, who died in 1902. 

Adopted?

Carrie E. Smith was born in Liberia during Rev. Smith’s stint at consul. His wife Adora Smith remained in Wilson. Carrie Smith’s mother is named, per information provided by Rev. Smith, as Mary Johnson of South Carolina. Was O.L.W. Smith Carrie Smith’s biological or adoptive father? Did he bring the child home to Wilson when returned from his diplomatic post in Liberia? Who was Mary Johnson?

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, September 2022.

The estate of Melissa Winstead.

Braswell R. Winstead was a close associate of Samuel H. Vick, attending Wilson Academy and Lincoln University, teaching at the Colored Graded School, helping establish Calvary Presbyterian Church, and working as assistant postmaster and political ally.

Winstead was born about 1866 in Wilson County to Riley Robbins and Melissa Winstead. Melissa Winstead died about 1880, leaving three heirs — adult daughters Jennie Smith, wife of Charles Smith, and Eliza Joyner, wife of Joe Joyner, and minor son Braswell Winstead (whose name is first listed as John Braswell.) Two of the children filed in Wilson County Superior Court to have their mother’s lot in Wilson township partitioned into equal parts. There was a problem though — the lot was too small to yield useful thirds. Accordingly, the Smiths and Braswell Winstead were petitioning for the sale of the property with six weeks’ notice in the local paper for the benefit of the Joyners, who lived in Georgia. The petition was granted.

——

  • Charles and Virginia Smith

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Roberts Winstead, 26, farm laborer; Caleshea, 28; Eliza, 15; Virginia, 13; Barnwell [Braswell], 7; Caroline, 19; Simmons, 17; Prince, 14; Frank, 7; and Harret Winstead, 7. [The relationships between the members of this household are not clear. Eliza, Virginia “Jenny,” and Braswell were siblings, but I am not sure about the others.]

On 28 August 1874, Charly Smith, 22, married Jennie Barnes, 17, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pettigrew Street, minister Charles Smith, 26; wife Virginia, 22; and children Arminta, 7, John T., 3, and Charles H., 1; and brother-in-law Braswell Winstead, 20, teaching school.

  • Joseph and Eliza Winstead Joyner

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Roberts Winstead, 26, farm laborer; Caleshea, 28; Eliza, 15; Virginia, 13; Barnwell [Braswell], 7; Caroline, 19; Simmons, 17; Prinnce, 14; Frank, 7; and Harret Winstead, 7.

On 3 June 1879, Joseph Joyner, 24, and Eliza Winstead, 23, were married in Wilson County by A.M.E. Zion minister R.B. Bonner in the presence of A. Lindsay, Joseph Hinton, and Jas. Harriss.

In the 1880 census of Wayne County, Georgia: Robert Roberson, 30, and wife Hattie; Joseph Joyner, 25, and wife Eliza, 22; and Jacob Dove, 30, and wife Susan, 25. All were born in North Carolina, except Susan Dove, who was born in Florida. All the men worked turpentine.

Wilson Advance, 10 September 1880.

The final resting place of baby George E. Smith.

George E., Son of Rev. O.L.W & Adora Smith, Aug. 31, 1905 June 21, 1906

I recently noticed for the first time in the Masonic Cemetery the little white marble headstone of George E. Smith, infant son of Rev. Owen L.W. and Adora Oden Smith. It was a rough decade for the Smith family. Five year-old daughter Flossie burned to death in 1901, the Reverend’s mother Maria Hicks died in 1902, and little George and his mother Adora followed in 1906.

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, March 2022.

Save your money by seeing us.

Wilson Blade, 20 November 1897.

Ed Smith and Goodsey H. Holden ran this ad in the Blade, a late nineteenth-century African-American newspaper published in Wilson.

For more highlights of the single surviving issue of the Blade, the original of which is housed at Freeman Round House and Museum, see here and here and here and here.

906 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.

906 Mercer appears in the 1922 Sanborn fire insurance maps of Wilson.

In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Outlaw Arthur (c; Mary) fishermn h 906 Mercer

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Oates Henry (c; Minnie) driver Clark Hdw Co Inc h 906 Mercer

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 906 Mercer, rented for $21/month, Henry Oates, 34, hardware store truck driver; wife Minnie L., 26; and children Willie, 9, Albert L., 8, Fredie, 6, and Bubbie, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 906 Mercer, Lettie Smith, 48, widow, works at stemming machine at redrying plant; her children Harvey, 28, gas station attendant, Mary, 15, Herbert, 13, and Elijah and Elisha, 11; and grandson Donald Ray, 8.

The house is listed as vacant in the 1941 city directory, but in the 1947 directory was occupied by tobacco worker Lena Whitley. (Whitley died in 1965 at her home at 918 Mercer. The informant on her death certificate was Eula King, 906 Mercer.)

Photo by Lisa Y. Henderson, April 2021.