Unidentified suicide.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 March 1932.

The decedent was Jesse Strickland, a cafe proprietor who lived on South Lodge Street. (The man who shot Leroy Lucas was, in fact, Roger Shelley.)

“Suicide Shot self in head with revolver”

This close-up of a section of an 1940 aerial image of Wilson shows the location of the Park Avenue bridge over Hominy Swamp.

Studio shots, no. 118: Milly Ann Lassiter Strickland.

Milly Ann Lassiter Strickland (1861-1921).


In the 1860 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Lassiter, 38; wife Orpie, 34; children Sallie, 12, Mary, 11, James, 9, John, 7, Elizabeth, 5, Penina, 4, Hardy, 3, Silas, 1, and George, 2 months; and Delpha Simpson, 14.

In the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Silas Lassiter, 47, and children Ophelia, 25, Mary, 20, Elizabeth, 16, Handy, 14, Penninah, 15, Silas W., 12, Milly, 8, and Jerusha, 4.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Silas Lassiter, 56; wife Orpa, 50; and children Pennina, 24, Pharaoh, 20, Milly Ann, 19, and Gerusha Ann Lassiter, 14; plus daughter Sally Barefoot, 32, and her children Mary, 9, George, 6, and Warren Barefoot, 5.

On 11 February 1891, Henry Strickland, 42, son of Miles and Mourning Strickland, married Milly Laster, 28, daughter of Silas and Orphie Laster, in Taylor township.

In the 1900 census of Wilson  township, Wilson County: Henry Strickland, 54; wife Millie A., 36; and son Jessie, 11. [This was Millie Ann’s son, Jesse C. Lassiter.]

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Henry Strickland, 57, farmer; wife Millie, 40; and son Jessie, 21.

In the 1920 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: on Raleigh Road, farmer Henry Strickland, 70, and wife Anna, 55.

Millie And Streckley [sic] died 25 June 1921 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 57 years old; and was born in Wilson County to Silas Lassiter and Sarah Lassiter. J.C. Lassiter was informant, and Batts Brothers & Artis handled her burial.

Many thanks to Bernard Lassiter for the photograph.

504 South Lodge Street.

This house is not within the bounds of East Wilson Historic District. However, South Lodge Street — below the warehouse district — has been an African-American residential area since the turn of the twentieth century.


In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 506 [sic] Lodge Street, cafe proprietor Jessie Strickland, 28, and wife Viola, 27, and roomers Mack Strickland, 18, transfer truck driver, and James Johnson, 20, guano company laborer.

In the 1922 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) propr Strickland Cafe h 504 S Lodge

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 504 Lodge Street, owned and valued at $4000, Jesse Strickland, 46, and wife Viola, 37. Their occupations are listed as farm laborer and “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant.” However, it appears that entries are off by a line, and should read “manufacturing [illegible]/own plant” and cook for private family.

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Strickland Jesse (c; Viola) 504 S Lodge

In a familiar tale of woe, the Stricklands defaulted on their mortgage, and Wilson Home & Loan Association advertised the property for auction.

Wilson Daily Times, 10 November 1930.

Jessie Strickland died 18 March 1932 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 40 years old; was born in Wilson to Mose Farmer and Hannah Strickland; was a clerk in a store; and lived at Spring Street. Informant was Viola Strickland, 504 South Lodge.

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) maid h 504 S Lodge

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Mable Annie (c) h 504 S Lodge

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2017.

Studio shots, no. 74: Dora Taylor Davis Strickland.

Dora Taylor Davis Strickland (1876-1949).

In the 1880 census of Taylors township, Wilson County: Elithia Driver, 60, “staying with niece”; Harriett Taylor, 35, and her children Margrett, 12, Ellen, 9, John H., 6, and Dora, 4. Elithia and Harriett were white; Harriett’s children were mulatto. Next door: farmer Ivory Evans, 50, and wife Sally, 45, both mulatto.

Ivy Evans, 56, of Taylors township, son of Betsy Evans, married Harriett Taylor, 47, of Taylors township, daughter of Sally Taylor, on 10 May 1890 in Wilson County.

On 7 April 1900, John Davis, 50, of Wilson County, married Dora Taylor, 21, of Wilson, daughter of Ira [Ivy] Evans and Harriette Taylor. A justice of the peace performed the ceremony in Old Fields township in the presence of John A. Jones, James E. Jones and Deal Howard.

In the 1900 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: farmer John Davis, 63; wife Dora, 25; and children John D., 21, Joseph H., 19, James I., 17, Minsey J., 14, Richard E., 12, Gale A., 10, Sidney A., 7, and Iva, age illegible.

In the 1910 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmer Ellen [sic] Evans, 39; wife Eliza, 25; son Thomas, 18; mother Harriet, 68, cook; widowed sister Dora Davis, 28; and nieces and nephews Levi, 14, Ivy, 12, Lillie, 10, Mamie, 5, and Margaret Davis, 2.

Levi Evans, 23, of Taylors township, son of Dora Evans, married Nancy Coleman, 18, of Taylors township, daughter of Tom and Mollie Coleman, on 8 September 1916 in Taylors township.

On 4 February 1919, Dora Davis, 45, of Nash County, married Isiah Strickland, 35, of Nash County in Wilson County. S.B. Davis, minister of the Church of God, performed the ceremony at Bryant Lucas’ house in the presence of Jack Smith of Wilson and Bryant Lucas and Tomas Eatman of Nash County.

In the 1920 census of Jackson township, Nash County: Isac Strickland, 36; wife Dora, 46; and daughters Lillie, 19, Margrett, 12, and Henretta, 6.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Isaac Strickland, 40; wife Dora, 50; mother-in-law [sic] Margret Strickland, 23, and her son Elgin, 2; and daughters Henrietta, 18, and Mamie Davis, 24.

Leroy Taylor, 33, of Wilson County, son of Herbert and Bertha Taylor, married Margaret Davis, 26, of Wilson County, daughter of John and Dora Davis, on 26 May 1934 in Nashville, Nash County.

Levy Evans died 6 November 1970 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was born 18 July 1898 to Dora Evans and an unknown father; was married to  Lottie Joyner; and had worked as a farmer.

In 1945, Elgin Alton Davis registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 25 August 1927 in Wilson County; resided at Route 1 Box 265, Wilson; his contact was Dora Strickland, same address; and he worked for Floyd Williamson, Route 1.

Mamie Davis Pulley died 16 May 1971 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 September 1905 to John Davis and Dora Evans; was a widow; and resided at Route 1, Wilson.

Dora Strickland died 6 August 1949 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was born 22 July 1899 in Wilson County to Ivory Evans and Harriet Taylor and was married to Isaac Strickland.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry user RoslynRivers.


Road duty.

State of North Carolina, Wilson County Justice Court

State & Isaac Williamson overseer of public Road vs. Peter Strickland (Col)      }

Warrant for failure to Work public Road Before J.E. Eatman Justice of the Peace

The State of North Carolina

To any lawful officer of said County Greetings. Whereas the said Isaac Williamson overseer of public Road known as section beginning at Horns Bridge and ending at the great swamp Bridge has complained in oath to me a Justice of the peace in and for Wilson County, that the said Peter Strickland (Col) after being lawfully ordered on the 2nd day of March 1883 to work on said secion of Public Road and the kind of tool to carry did wilfully and unlawfully fail to meet and work as ordered against the peace and dignity of the state.

These are therefore to command you forthwith to apprehend the said Peter Strickland and have him before me or some other Justice of the peace of Wilson County.


In the 1880 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Sarah Strickland, about 35; with children Peter, 21, Alice, 9, Martha, 5, and Sallie, 1 month.

On 27 December 1883, Peter Strickland, 23, married Nancy Farmer, 19, at Wash Farmer‘s.

Road Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.

The 28th arrest.

23 May 1887. A man and a woman, both African-American, argue near the railroad crossing at Vance Street in Wilson. Shots ring out. The woman, Mittie Strickland, falls to the ground, fatally struck. The man, said to be Caesar Wooten, flees.

Within weeks, the governor of North Carolina offers a $200 reward for Wooten’s capture.

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Raleigh News & Observer, 2 June 1887.

In response, toothy dark-skinned men all across North Carolina and Virginia are hauled into police stations.

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Greensboro Morning News, 10 June 1887.

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Wilson Advance, 30 June 1887.

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Wilmington Morning Star, 26 July 1887.

By August, at least eight men have been falsely identified and arrested as Wooten.


Raleigh Weekly State Chronicle, 4 August 1887.

And then … nothing. For four years. Until:

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Wilson Advance, 30 April 1891.

The final tally: 27 false arrests before Wooten was captured in Atlanta.

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Wilson Advance, 21 May 1891.

And, finally, a conviction:

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Raleigh State Chronicle, 8 November 1891.


Wooten Strickland

Map of Wilson, 1882. The tiny red X at the railroad marks the approximate spot of Mittie Strickland’s murder.

[Sidenote: Wooten was appointed top-notch legal defense in that time and place. Frederick A. Woodard (1854-1915) was elected to the United States Congress two years after Wooten’s trial. Sidney A. Woodard was his brother and law partner. Avowed white supremacist Charles B. Aycock was appointed United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina in 1893 and elected governor in 1901.]