Snaps, no. 58: Artelia Spells Buchanan.

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Artelia Spells Buchanan, at left.


In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 Lincoln Street, fertilizer plant laborer James Pender, 45; wife Lillie, 29; and children Artesia, 12, Mosses, 10, Ometa, 8, Farro M., 4, and Isaac, 1.

On 11 August 1937, Artelia Spell, 19, of Wilson County, daughter of Ervin and Lillie Spell, married James Buchanan, 22, of Wilson County, son of James Luther and Annie Lee Buchanan, in Nash County. George Vick applied for the license.

In 1940, James Hardy Buchanan registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his draft card, he was born 25 September 1915 in Rennent, North Carolina; his contact was Mrs. Artelia Buchanan; he resided at 1002 Wainwright Avenue, Wilson; and he worked for R.E, Quinn & Co., Goldsboro Street, Wilson.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user kmiles65.


Snaps, no. 47: Lillie Edwards Spells Pender.

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Lillie Edwards Spells Pender (1894-1991).

In the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Mingo Edwards, 53; wife Martha, 45; and children Charley, 17, Leandis, 16, Bunk, 13, Callie, 12, Jacob, 10, Lula [Lillie], 8, Learer, 7, Mingo, 5, Emma, 3, Clara, 2, and Vandore, 1.

On 15 November 1916, Irvin Spell, 21, son of Hurl and Patsy Spell, married Lillie Edwards, 20, daughter of Mingo and Martha Edwards, in Wilson. Free Will Baptist minister J.E. Brown performed the ceremony in the presence of Whit Lewis, Charlie Newkirk and Carrie Parker.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Irving Spell, 23, farm laborer, and wife Lilly Spell, 22.

On 16 June 1928, James Pender, 37, married Lillie Edwards, 28, in Wilson. Disciple minister W.W. Webb performed the ceremony in the presence of Bessie Harris, Ella Adams and Victoria Webb.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 Lincoln Street, fertilizer plant laborer James Pender, 45; wife Lillie, 29; and children Artesia, 12, Mosses, 10, Ometa, 8, Farro M., 4, and Isaac, 1.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 Lincoln Street, tobacco factory laborer James Pender, 55; wife Lillie, 39; tobacco factory laborer; children Isaac, 12, James, 9, Lillie M., 7; stepchildren Omeda, 18, and Vara Spells, 14; and nephews Albert, 10, and James McCoy, 15.

Lillie Edwards Pender died 7 September 1991 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 October 1894 and was a widow.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry.com user kmiles65.

204 North Pender Street.

The seventy-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. 1922; 2 story; John Spells house; L-plan cottage with patterned-tin roof; asphalt shingles.”

A 1905 plat of Pender Street property shows that John Spells (or Spell) owned this lot as early as 1905. The house has been demolished. In the photo above, Ash Street (parallel to Pender) and its elbow intersection with Darden Lane (formerly Darden’s Alley) are visible beyond the vacant lot at 204. The darker green area at left marks the former continuation of Darden Lane to Pender Street. Today, a foot path — just visible below the green house at far left — snakes diagonally to exit into Pender via the former driveway of 208 North Pender, the now-demolished Best house.

In the 1908 Wilson city directory,  Jno. S. Spell appears as a contractor living at 133 Pender Street. (133 was the earlier number of the lot now designated 204 North Pender. Whether the house surveyed for the nomination committee was the same house that earlier stood at 133 is not clear.)

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pender Street, carpenter John E. Spell, 50, wife Martha A., 39, and son John E., Jr., 16.

In the 1925 Wilson city directory, the following are listed at 204 Pender Street: Jno. S. Spell, carpenter; Jno. S. Spell, Jr.; and Martha A. Spell, dressmaker.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 204 Pender Street, building carpenter John L. Spell, 65, and wife Martha, 46, a seamstress. They owned the house, which was valued at $3000.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 204 Pender Street, odd job laborer J.S. Spell, 74, born in Pitt County, and wife Martha, 65, an invalid born in Oxford. Grocery deliveryman Arthur Darden, 27, and his wife Bettie, 19, rented rooms in the house.

John Stephen Spell died 31 January 1946 at Mercy Hospital in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 204 Pender Street; was married to Martha Spell, age 61; was 80 years old; was born in Pitt County to Easter Spell; was a carpenter; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. M.G. Spell was informant.

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Spells Martha A h 204 Pender

In May 2018, the Wilson Times published this notice:




204 North Pender Street

The Public will take notice that the Board of Commissioners of Wilson County has received and proposes to accept an offer to purchase the property located at 204 North Pender Street, PIN# 3721-59-1516, in the amount of $1,000. Additional information may be obtained by contacting the County Manager’s Office, 252-399-2803, 2201 Miller Road South, PO Box 1728, Wilson, NC 27896-1728, http://www.wilson-co.com, or by email amparrish@wilson-co.com.

Any person may raise the bid within ten (10) days of this notice. The bid must be raised by at least 10% of the first $1,000 and 5% of the remainder. The raised bid must be delivered to the Clerk to the Board located in the County Manager’s office and must include a 5% bid deposit.

Raised bids will be advertised until no further qualifying upset bids are received.

The 1922 Sanborn map of Wilson, N.C., shows the original course of Darden Alley hard by the north edge of 204 North Pender. 204, 206 and 208 have been razed.

Photograph courtesy of Google Maps.

Nadal’s neighbors.


This plat, drawn in September 1905, shows an irregular plot of land near Nash and Pender Streets. Part of the Anthony Nadal estate, the tract measured just under three acres. Wilson’s African-American community had begun to coalesce east of Pender, across from First Baptist Church, Saint John A.M.E. Zion and Calvary Presbyterian, and a close look at the plat shows some of Nadal’s neighbors.

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  1. John Mack Barnes, master builder, carpenter and brickmason, who would soon built Saint John, among other fine brick buildings.
  2. John W. Aiken, a horse dealer and liveryman.
  3. Rev. Owen L.W. Smith, just returned from his stint as consul to Liberia.
  4. John S. Spell, carpenter and contractor.
  5. Darden Alley, named for the Charles H. Darden family and called so to this day.

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Plat Book 1, page 17, Wilson County Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.

Wilson news.


New York Age, 9 September 1922.

  • Mrs. Jasper Coley —  Laura (or Laurena) V. Coley, daughter of Isaac and Penny Coley, married Jasper Allison Coley on 6 June 1912 in Wayne County. A native of Pikeville, Wayne County, like her husband, Laura died 12 May 1923. She was a teacher. Jasper Coley was the son of Phillip R. and Annie Exum Coley. He is listed in Wilson city directories in the early 1920s as a carpenter, a plasterer and a bricklayer, and lived at 401 North Vick Street.
  • Mrs. William Hines — Ethel Cornwell Hines (1894-1983) was a South Carolina native.
  • Roberta Battle, Glace Battle, Georgia Burks and Henrietta Colvert
  • Mrs. B.P. Coward — Sarah Adelaide Brown Coward (1867-1946) was the wife of A.M.E. Zion minister Bryant Pugh Coward.
  • Mrs. Stattie Cannon — In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charles Cannon, 35, barber in a “white shop”; wife Statie, 34; and children Charles, 11, Ruth, 9, and Statie Benton, 13. In the 1922 Wilson city directory, Stattie Cannon is listed as a dressmaker and Charles Cannon as a carpenter; both resided at 724 East Green Street. In the 1940 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: Charles Cannon, 44, mother Stattie Cannon, 65, brother-in-law Fred Langford, 29, and sister Ruth Langford, 33. All were born in North Carolina and described as “white.”
  • A.N. Darden — Arthur N. Darden (1889-1948) was a son of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden and worked in his father’s undertaking business.
  • John Clark
  • Mrs. C.L. Darden — Norma Duncan Darden (1895-1987), a native of Montgomery, Alabama, was married to Arthur Darden’s brother, Camillus L. Darden.
  • Rev. A.H. George
  • Mrs. S.L. Bowser — Burt Bowser, born in Halifax County, married Sarah Rountree, daughter of Peter and Lucinda Rountree, on 4 December 1888 in Wilson. Reddin S. Wilkins, A.J. Lindsay and James W. Parrington were witnesses to the ceremony. In the 1900 census, Burt L. Bowser is described as a bar tender and in 1910 as the conductor of a pool room. Sarah is described as a dressmaker. Burt Landers Bowser died in 1920; Sarah Bowser, in 1935.
  • John Spells — In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Pender Street, carpenter John E. Spell, 50, wife Martha A., 39, and son John E., Jr., 16. (John’s death certificate lists his middle name as Stephen.) Martha A. Spell, a native of Guilford County, died in Wilson in 1966.
  • Wesley Rogers — Per the city directory, in 1922, John Wesley Rogers lived at 548 East Nash Street and worked as a porter at Oettinger’s department store. His wife,  a native of Johnston County, was Mary Elizabeth Thomas Rogers (1878-1950). Rogers was born in Durham County in 1870 and died in Wilson in 1951.
  • Deby Harper — Deborah Harper Swindell was the daughter of Argent Harper. She was briefly married to Louis Swindell.
  • Dr. DuBissette
  • Dr. and Mrs. J.B. Darden — Pharmacist James Benjamin Darden was a brother of Arthur and Camillus Darden. After a brief partnership with his brother John W. Darden, a doctor in Opelika, Alabama, he settled in Petersburg, Virginia.
  • Mrs. A.B. Bowser — Astor Burt Bowser, born 1896, was a son of Burt L. and Sarah L. Bowser, above. He married Deloris Harvey of Alamance County on 17 August 1921 in Wilson. Rev. B.P. Coward officiated. In the 1930 census, the couple and their children, Astor B., Jr., and Sarah, are listed in Chicago, Illinois. Astor worked as an artist in his own studio and Deloris as a saleslady in a millinery. Astor died in Hennepin County, Minnesota, in 1981.

I wus sold fust time in my mammy’s arms.

An interview with Chaney Spell, 101 years old, Contena Heights, Wilson, North Carolina:

“I really doan know who my first marster wus, case I has been sold an’ hired so much since den. I reckin dat I wus borned in New Hanover er Beaufort County an’ I wus sold fust time in my mammy’s arms. We wus sold ter a man in Carteret County and from dar de speculators took me ter Franklin County. I wus sold ter a Mr. McKee an’ dat’s de fust thing dat I ‘members.

“I doan ‘member anything ’bout maw ‘cept dat dey called her Sal an’ dat she died years an’ years ago. I reckin dat I once had a pappy, but I ain’t neber seed him.

“Marster McKee wus mean to us, an’ we ain’t had nothin’ to eat nor wear half of de time. We wus beat fer ever’ little thing. He owned I reckin two er three hundret slaves an’ he had four overseers. De overseers wus mean an’ dey often beat slaves ter death.

“I worked in de house, sometime ’round de table, but I ain’t got so much to eat.

“When word come dat we wus to be sold I wus glad as I could be. Dey tol’ me dat de marster has gambled away his money an’ lost ever’thing but a few slaves. Later I learned dat he had lost me to a Mr. Hartman in Nash County.

“Marse Sid Hartman wus good as he could be, sometimes his overseers wusn’t but when he foun’ it out he let dem go. Marse Sid ain’t got but one weakness an’ dat am pretty yaller gals. He just can’t desist dem at all. Finally Mis’ Mary found it out an’ it pretty near broke her heart. De ole marster, Marster Sid’s daddy, said dat long as he could ride a hoss he could look out fer de plantation so Marse Sid took Mis’ Mary to de mountains.

“Soon atter dey went away de war broke an’ ole marster wus right busy, not dat de slaves ain’t stuck to him but de Yankees won’t let dem stick. When Marse Sid an’ Mis’ Mary come home de war wus closin’ an’ dey has lost dere slaves. De slaves still loves ’em do’ an’ dey goes over an’ cleans house an’ fixes for de young folks.

“Atter de war I married Lugg Spell an’ we had five chilluns. He’s been dead dese many years an’ I’se worked, worked an’ worked to raise de chilluns. I has been on charity a long time now, a long time.”


Slave Narratives (1936-1939), Works Project Administration [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.