Stantonsburg township

The Stantonsburg Hawks.

Wilson was not the only county town to field an African-American semi-pro baseball team. From 1945 into the late 1970s, the Stantonsburg Hawks traveled neighboring counties

John Lee Woodard (1917-1995) was the team founder, and players throughout its history included his son Willie Woodard, Ernest D. Hall, Frederick Brown, Johnnie Streeter, Roy Lee Pender, Marvin R. Artis, George Artis, Tommy Rogers, Nathaniel Green Jr., William Sutton, Henry Revelle, Carter Knight, Raymond Mackey, Marvin Sessoms, Levy Daniel Jr., Melvin Hodges, Cleveland Leach, Joseph Green, Julius Green, Theodore Ward, Douglas Artis, Melvin Artis Jr., George Atkinson, and Ronnie Diggs.

I am trying to identify the Hawks’ earliest players, teammates of John L. Woodard. Do you know of anyone who played baseball with them in the 1940s?

I recognize three men in this photo — Ernest D. Hall seated at front left; Willie Lee Woodard (son of John L. Woodard, front row with glove on ground; and George Artis, second in second row. Who do you see?

Thanks to Tiyatti Speight for bringing this team to my attention and for the copy of this wonderful photo.

County schools, no. 19.2: Stantonsburg School.

This “Stantonsburg Negro School History,” found in Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981), offers a detailed account of Stantonsburg Colored School‘s early history. 

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“The first reference to schooling for the Negro children in Stantonsburg Township is found in the County School Board Minutes of September 1887. ‘The colored children living on lands of William Applewhite, William Barnes, Uriah Amerson, W.J. Batts, Edwin Barnes and Frank Barnes be assigned to District Number 29.’ The location of this school is unknown at this time.

“Books and charts used by both the Negro and White schools in 1893 were published by the American Book Company.

“Very little is known about the early Negro school except there was a school for colored children in Stantonsburg prior to 1913 proven by the fact that the county Board of Education appointed H.E. Thompson, J.C. Stanton and C.L. Coon, a committee in the latter year with power to act relative to moving the colored school.

“In December of 1916, the county Board of Education voted to appropriate $75.00 to remodel the colored school. It was located just outside the city limits on Highway #58, approximately one-fourth mile from the corner of Highway #58 and Saratoga Road, on the Johnnie Page corn mill site; now the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Luther Holton.

“On March 3, 1919, the county School Board ‘agreed to sell to the colored Masonic Lodge of Stantonsburg the colored school house of that district for $900.00, provided that the colored people of said district raise $600.00 with which to erect a new colored school building.’ The county agreed to appropriate $250.00 for the new building. At the November 3rd meeting, the chairman and secretary were instructed to ‘make a deed for the Stantonsburg Colored School House and lot upon the payment of purchase money by Lodges of Masons and Knights of Gideon.’

“When the county board convened for the December 1st meeting, it was reported that the colored school house had burned since the last meeting and the following agreement was made:

“1. The Masonic and Gideon Lodges, colored of Stantonsburg, having paid $500.00 on the purchase of the colored school house it is ordered that $300.00 of the amount be returned to the two lodges.

“2. It was agreed that the county board will deed one-quarter acre of the colored school lot to these lodges for a site for a lodge building free of cost.

“After the fire in 1919, school was held in the St. Luke Free Will Baptist Church for the years 1920-1923.

“Land for the new school was acquired from R.M. Whitley. The building was completed in 1924 and is located on Macon Avenue. School was held in the four classrooms, wood framed building until it was closed down in 1951-52 and sold to Elijah Wood. The school was heated by wood and coal heaters.

“In 1951-52, the pupils were transferred to Speight’s School located between Stantonsburg and Saratoga, North Carolina.

“Very little is known about the very early teachers, except in 1916-17 we know that there were two teachers. Other records have been lost or misplaced.

“The following list of teachers and principals was found at the Wilson County Board of Education in Wilson. The earliest known teachers were: W.S. Ward, 1892-1896, District Number 29; E.L. Reide, 1894-1896; E.L. Reide and Clarissa Williams, 1898, District Number 10. [A list of teachers and principals from 1920s through 1952 follows; it will be the subject of another post.]”

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A few observations:

  • The boundaries of earliest rural school districts for African-American children were contiguous with large farms on which large numbers of Black families lived and worked as tenant farmers or farm laborers. This begs the question of where children who did not live on such farms went to school.
  • “Saratoga Road” is now NC Highway 222. I am unable to further pinpoint the location of this school from the info provided. (Does anyone recognize these landmarks: Johnnie Page’s corn mill or the Holton home?)
  • The paragraph about the land purchases involving the Masonic lodge and Knights of Gideon clarifies information set forth in a Rosenwald School report concerning Barnes School, which was located a few miles northwest of Stantonsburg, a bit north of present-day Speight Middle School. I have made notations on the post regarding that school.
  • Does anyone recall the name or location of the Prince Hall lodge in Stantonsburg?
  • The site most closely associated with this school was the Macon Street location purchased in 1924. 
  • I have not identified W.S. Ward, but E.L. Reide was Elijah L. Reid, the Wayne County-born veterinarian who practiced (and apparently taught) in Stantonsburg before relocating to Wilson. Clarissa Williams was also a Wayne County native and moved to Wilson to teach and, eventually, become principal of the Colored Graded School.

Railroad section crew in Stantonsburg.

A Norfolk-Southern railway section crew resting on a handcar, circa 1914-15, Stantonsburg. Foreman Ernest N. Richards (1885-1934) is at right and Hardy Ellis is at left with a pipe. The other men are unidentified.

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In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Riubin Ellis, 70; wife Clarky U., 57; children Kansas, 22, Allen, 16, Henrietta, 15, Gemima, 13, Cherry, 12, Hardy, 10, and Benjamin N., 9; and grandchildren Plumer, 16, and Henrietta, 5 months; and Jane Bynum, 66, widow.

In 1917, John Hardy Ellis registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 10 December 1895 in Wilson County; lived in Stantonsburg; was single; and worked  as a section hand for Norfolk & Southern Railroad Company.

J. Hardy Ellis’ signature on his draft registration card.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: washerwoman Louvenia Applewhite, 49, widow, and lodger Hardy Ellis, 30, railway laborer.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, railroad laborer Hardy Ellis, 54.

John Hardy Ellis died 18 March 1952 at his home at 911 Viola Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 December 1886 in Wilson County to Rubin Ellis and Clark Ann Atkinson; was single; worked as a laborer; and was a World War I veteran. Mamie Sutton, 911 Viola, was informant.

Cherry Ann Ellis applied for a military headstone for her brother John H. Ellis on 7 April 1952. His application noted that he had served in the 304th Service Battalion.

Photo courtesy of Stantonsburg Historical Society’s A History of Stantonsburg Circa 1780 to 1980 (1981).

County schools, no. 20: (the other) Barnes School.

The twentieth 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.

Barnes School

There were two African-American schools called Barnes in early 20th-century Wilson. One was on present-day Airport Road. The other appears to have been in the vicinity of Barnes Church on Old Stantonsburg Road. (Neither church nor school is still standing.)

Other than the map below, the only reference to this Barnes School I’ve found is in 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):

On March 3, 1919, the Wilson County Board of Education agreed, as recorded in its minutes, to expend $100.00 for an acre of land for the school. They also agreed to sell the school’s apparent predecessor to the Colored Masonic Lodge of Stantonsburg for $900.00 (a surprisingly large sum of money), provided that that the ‘colored people of the district’ would raise $600.00 for erecting a new schoolhouse. If these conditions were met, they would appropriate $250.00 for the new building. On October 6 a Charles Knight appeared before the board and requested again that a new building be erected for the Barnes Colored School. The board told him that this was ‘now impossible’ and asked that he look for a house to be temporarily acquired for the winter. On December 1, however, the board reversed course once more and authorize the erection of a two-room Barnes schoolhouse.” In a footnote to this paragraph: “It seems unlikely that the Barnes schoolhouse discussed in the board minutes is the same as the one that the Rosenwald Fund supported during the 1921-1922 budget year [i.e. the Airport Road school]. [School superintendent Charles L.] Coon notes that a five-room school, valued with its land at $9300, was erected in 1920 in the city of Wilson, but the county board references the sale of any [sic] earlier building in the town of Stantonsburg. Further, the school that the fund supported was a three-teacher type that cost $6000, with $700 in Fund support, $1000 in public funds, and a whopping $4300 contribution from the black community [citations omitted].”  [Note, 11/9/2022: it appears this section to refer to Stantonsburg Colored School, not Barnes.] 

Location:  A 1936 state road map of Wilson County shows Barnes School on what is now Old Stantonsburg Road, just north of the town of Stantonsburg.

Known faculty: none.

Snaps, no. 70: Frances L.J.S. Edmundson.

Frances Jones Smith Edmundson and Katie Hill, undated but probably early 1970s. (Are they standing in front of a school?)
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In the 1870 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: Lewis Speight, 34; wife Kezzie, 36; and son Bill, 1.

In the 1880 census of Speights Bridge township, Greene County: Lewis Speight, 34; wife Cuzzie, 30; and children Edward, 10, Violet, 8, Annie, 6, and Mirtie, 2.

Jos. J. Jones, 38, and Violet Speight, 22, were married 17 June 1896 in Wilson County. O.L.W. Smith performed the ceremony in the presence of Burt EllisAnnie E. Speight, and Louisa Washington.

In the 1900 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 40, farmer; wife Violet, 27; and children Agnes, 13, and Anna, 12. [The children’s ages appear to be in error and should be 3 and 2.]

On 23 April 1902, Cuzzy Speight filed a widow’s application #765144 for the pension of Lewis Speight, who had served in an unknown unit of the United States Colored Troops.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph Jones, 55, farmer; wife Violet, 36; and children Agnes, 11, Roscoe, 10, Frances, 6, William H., 4, and Benjamin, 2.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Joseph J. Jones, 58, tenant farmer; wife Violet, 45; and children Rosco, 19, Frances, 15, William H., 14, Benjamin, 12, and Lizzie Beth, 8; and mother-in-law Cuzzie Ward, 65.

On 29 January 1924, Rosco Jones, 22, of Stantonsburg, son of Joe and Violet Jones, married Lavinia Hagins, 20, daughter of Dave and Almena Hagans, at the home of “Mr. J.J. Jones” in Stantonsburg. A.J. Rhoades, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Joe Ward, M.V. Reid and Mena Winstead.

On 3 February 1924, William Jones, 21, of Stantonsburg, son of Joseph and Violet Jones, married Mena Winstead, 18, daughter of Will Hall and Amanda W. Williams, at Mena Winstead’s residence. J.F. Ward, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of Lavenia JonesJoe Ward and Alexander Ellis.

Roscoe Jones died 29 July 1928 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 10 June 1900 in Wilson County to Joseph J. Jones of Wilson County and Violet Speight of Greene County, and was a farmer.

Frances Jones, 25, married Robert Speight, 40, on 9 December 1928 in Stantonsburg. A.M.E. Zion minister J.F. Wardperformed the ceremony at the Missionary Baptist church.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Robert Speight, 48; wife Frances, 26; and son Albert, 4.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Benjamin Speight, 20; father Lewis, 73; mother Violet, 55; sister Elizabeth, 18; and grandmother Cuzzie Ward, 80, widow.

Violet Jones died 25 January 1931 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1876; was married to Joseph Jones; was born in Wilson County to Lewis Speights and Cussey Speights; and farmed.

Agnes Beamans died 23 November 1931 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 35 years old; was born in Wilson County to Joseph Jones and Violet Speights; and was married to Jasper Beaman.

Causey Ward died 13 July 1932 in Saratoga township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 90 years old; was born in Greene County; and was the widow of Lam Ward. [I have not found the marriage license for Cuzzey Speight and Lam Ward.]

On 9 December 1932, Ben Jones, 21, of Saratoga, son of Joseph and Violet Jones, married Irene Speight, 18, of Saratoga, daughter of Marie SpeightC.D. Ward, A.M.E. Zion minister, performed the ceremony at his home in the presence of Ernest Barnes, Elizabeth Jones and Mary Speight.

William Henry Jones died 1 September 1934 in Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 31 January 1905 in Wilson County to Joseph Jones and Violet Speight; was married to Minnie Jones; worked as a truck driver; and his informant was Benjamin Jones.

Frances Speight, 50, daughter of Joe Jones and Violet Speight, married Hadie Edmundson, 54, son of Rufus Edmundson and Eva Rice Edmundson, on 15 July 1956 in Wilson.

Frances Louise Speight Edmundson died 14 June 1976 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Her death certificate lists her birth date as 12 October 1905 [but it was likely 1903]. Her parents were Joseph Jones and Violet Speight Jones of Stantonsburg, Wilson County.

Elizabeth Barnes Turner died 1 June 1992. She was born 1 January 1912 to Joseph Jones and Violet Speight.

Katie Hill was likely Katie Brown Hill, who was born in 1908 to Leroy Brown and Fannie Levester in Greene County and died in Wilson County in 1996.

Many thanks to Tiyatti Speight for sharing this family photograph.

Wiley Simms house, part 2.

We first saw the Wiley Simms house here. Built about 1840 for either his uncle James or Benjamin Simms, the house still stands, empty but in decent shape, on Old Stantonsburg Road.

Exterior modifications include the closure of the right front door and two narrow windows spaced close together in the center bay of the second floor.

The northern elevation, showing one of the large stepped chimneys, now broken.

A glimpse through the left front window into one of the front rooms, showing a large plaster medallion and cornices.

In the same room, the original woodwork of the fireplace surround is intact, if terribly painted. (To say that the house is “empty” is an oversimplification. Rather, it is uninhabited. Otherwise, it appears to be used for storage.)

Paneled wainscoting in the right front room.

Generations of enslaved African-Americans served inside this house and in the Simms family’s surrounding fields.

Photographs by Lisa Y. Henderson, June 2020.

Father and son killed in auto accident.

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Wilson Daily Times, 1 October 1934.

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In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Luke Flemmons, 40; wife Emily, 45; and children James Flavius, 20, Willie, 15, Sarah, 12, Judge Thomas, 10, Henry, 6, Eddie, 4, Harriet, 3, and Mary E., 1.

In the 1900 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: widow Emily Fleming, 60, and children Harriet, 24, Judge, 23, and Sam, 12.

In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Ellis Road, farmer Judge Fleming, 36; wife Mollie, 27; and children Lissie, 7, Sarah J., 3, Lula, 2 months, and Aaron, 6.

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Judge Fleming, 49; wife Molly, 40; and children Lizzie, 18, Arron, 16, Sarah, 12, Lula, 10, Addie, 8, Jordan, 5, and John, 3.

In the 1930 census of Gardners township, Wilson County: farmer Judge Fleming, 57; wife Mollie, 47; and children Arron, 25, Sarah J., 21, Lula, 20, Judge, 15, Johnie, 14, and Mary L., 6.

Judge Fleming died 29 September 1934 in Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 65 years old; married to Mollie Fleming; was a farmer; was born in Wayne County to Luther Fleming and an unknown mother. Informant was Mollie Fleming.

Johnnie Fleming died 29 September 1934 in Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 18 years old, single, and born in Wilson County to Judge Fleming of Wayne County and Mollie Sutton of Greene County. Informant was Mollie Fleming.

 

Mortality, no. 1: Stantonsburg township, 1870.

Each of the United States federal censuses from 1850 to 1880 included a mortality schedule enumerating  individuals who had died in the previous year. Each entry noted family number in the population schedule, name, age, sex, color, marital status, place of birth, month of death, occupation, and cause of death.

Here is the 1870 mortality schedule for Stantonsburg township, Wilson County:

  • Ward, No Name. Age 2 weeks, died in June, cholera infantum.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Nathan Ward, 46; wife Mariah, 26; and children Sarah, 15, Scott, 13, Waltin, 10, Larrence, 5, and Ida, 2; plus Lydia Moye, 58. Cholera infantum was a term for non-specific diarrhea and/or dysentery in children under age five.

  • Barnes, ____. Age 14, farm laborer, died in January, consumption.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Hardy Barnes, 50; wife Mary, 49; and children Alfred, 21, Riley, 24, Jacob, 22, Isaac, 19, Warren, 17, Lilly, 12, Mary, 9, and Wade, 6. Consumption is an archaic term for pulmonary tuberculosis.

  • Speight, Mary S. Age 1 month, died in October, cholera infantum.
  • Speight, Mary E. Age 2 months, died in November, cholera infantum.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Hilliard Speight, 22, and wife Mary, 22; Penny Thomson, 48, and son Noah, 14; and Jane Speight, 2.

  • Donald, Sylvesta. Age 2, died in April, [illegible].

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lawson Donald, 23; wife Mariah, 20; and Ellic, 6, and Rufus, 1; and likely brother Hamilton, 12.

  • Ellis, No Name. Age 1 month, died March, cholera infantum.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County, family number 67 is a Barnes family. Number 68, however, is: farm laborer Littleton Ellis, 30, wife Judah, 21, and children Bryant, 4, and Martha, 3.

  • Barnes, Jackson. Age 19, farm laborer, died in July, inflammation bowels.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Henry Barnes, 22, Nelly, 23, Mary J., 1, Henrietta, 2, Short, 9, Anaka, 50, Sherard, 16, Hilliard, 18, Clara, 40, Jason, 19, and William, 1.

  • Barefoot, No Name. Age 3 hours(?), died in January, asphyxia.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Stephen Moore, 23, wife Rodah, 23, and Lazarus, 8 months.

  • Lindsay, Susan. Age 1 month, died in April, pertussis.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Amos Ellis, 47; wife Mary, 40; children Adeline, 23, Authur, 19, Learh, 17, Mary, 15, Jane, 11, and Lewis, 10; and Authur Barnes, 60, and wife Betsey, 60.

  • Barnes, Mouring. Age 5, died in May, pertussis.
  • Barnes, Austin. Age 4, died in May, pertussis.
  • Barnes, Loyd. Age 2, died in May, pertussis.
  • Barnes, Richard. Age 1, died in May, pertussis.
  • Barnes, Mary. Age 9 months, died in April, pertussis.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Austin Barnes, 45; wife Cintha, 33; and their remaining children Fonser, 12, and Etna, 7. Remarks: “These children in this family (113) all died within a period of five weeks. The Physician attending says their deaths were due to filth as much as to the disease.” Pertussis, or whooping cough, is a highly contagious bacterial respiratory disease.

  • Edmundson, No Name. Age 4 hours(?), died in September, asphyxia.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer John Edmondson, 27; wife Mary, 22; and children Richard, 2, and Kate, 10.

  • Thomson, Ally. Age 38, died in February, worked on farmer, consumption.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Lewis Ellis, 36; wife Milly, 35; and children John, 17, Daniel, 10, Adeline, 5, Mary, 3, and Martha, 1.

  • Peacock, Clara. Age 18, died in July, consumption.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farm laborer Ellic Peacock, 51, and Elizabeth, 22, Soloman, 11, George W., 8, George L., 8, and Jason, 7.

  • Barnes, Redmond. Age 47, married, died in April, farm laborer, scrofula.

In the 1870 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: George, 24, Dempsey, 23, Calvin, 22, Esther, 44, Alice, 18, Anna, 19, Robert, 20, and Jane Barnes, 19, all farm laborers except Esther. Scrofula is tuberculosis of the lymph nodes of the neck.

  • Stanton, Violet. Age 59, farm laborer, died in September, scrofula.

Remarks: “Stanton, Violet of no family. Living alone at time of death.”