The Crisis, volume 17, number 5 (March 1919).
Edward Moore was born on the 22d day of June, 1853, near the town known as Little Washington, in eastern North Carolina. He was the second of seven children born to James H. and Peggy A. Moore. The first eight years of his life were spent under the watchful care and protection of both parents, but the call to arms in our late unpleasantness deprived him for a time of a father’s attention, his father having enlisted in the United States army, and served with the prospect of freeing the slaves as well as the preservation of the Union.
These years of his absence, however, were attended with no unfavorable results in the development of young Moore, for he was under the training of a vigorous, energetic Christian mother, who appreciated the advantages made possible by the opening of the Freedmen’s schools, and Edward, with the other children, shared the benefits of the instruction given by those well-educated, painstaking New England young ladies who taught in the neighborhood immediately after the war. These self-denying Christian teachers aided him, as they did many others, in laying the foundation for an early education and a subsequent life of great usefulness.
He early gave proofs of a mind noted for vigor and acquisitiveness; through the training of these schools, by private study, and later by attending the school under the principalship of W. P. Mabson, of Tarboro, N. C., at one time having the honor of being the most distinguished teacher of eastern North Carolina, Mr. Moore was prepared for college.
It was while studying at Tarboro he met and made the acquaintance and became the stanch friend and classmate of J. C. Dancy, the distinguished layman of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, and the two have ever since been very sincere friends.
In the fall of 1874 he entered the freshman class of Lincoln University, Pa.; and ranked deservedly high in scholarship and manly deportment. He was here associated as classmate with the late J. C. Price, D.D.; Dr. N. F. Mossell, of the Philadelphia Medical Fraternity; Dr. Jamison, of York, Pa.; and as his college associates Rev. J. P. Williams, D.D., of the Protestant Episcopal Church; Dr. Goler, of our own Church; Dr. Weaver and Rev. W. C. Brown, of the Presbyterian, and Rev. S. P. Hood.
He graduated in 1879 with high honors. He came South and was employed as principal of the Wilson Academy, where he served successfully for two years, having in the meantime prepared for different colleges a number of young men, among whom are Professor D. C. Suggs, A.M., now vice president of the A. and M. College, Savannah, Ga.; Samuel N. Vick, Postmaster Wilson, N. C., Professor B. R. Winstead, principal of the Wilson graded school. He was also private instructor to S. A. Smith, now one of the most distinguished lawyers of the Wilson bar.
It was at Wilson that he met the accomplished Miss Serena L. Suggs, and after years of wooing succeeded in making her his wife in 1881. The result of this union has been a happy home and four healthy children, two boys and two girls, to cheer and bless his life.
In the establishment of Zion Wesley Institute, which has since become Livingstone College, Professor Moore yielded to the solicitations of his classmate, Dr. J. C. Price, and associated in the educational work of that institution. His services were of incalculable value to Dr. Price.
Professor Moore is a hard student, and possesses the ability of making the result of his study felt upon those he teaches. He is an earnest Christian, especially devoted to all that concerns Zion Church and the spread of the connection. He passed a successful examination and received the degree of Ph.D. from his alma mater in 1893. He is now spending his summer vacation in the study of medicine at San Francisco, Cal. W.H.G.
North Carolina, Wilson County }
I, Calvin Blount of the Town of Wilson, County and State aforesaid, being of sound mind and recognizing the uncertainty of my earthly existence, do hereby make, publish and declare this my last will and testament.
First: My executrix hereinafter named shall at my death give my body a decent burial suitable to the wishes of my friends and pay for said funeral out of my estate.
Second: To my beloved niece by marriage Lillie Edwards — she being the wife of my beloved nephew Willie Edwards — I do hereby give and bequeath to her for the term of her natural life all of my personal property and one half the North Side of my lot of land on which I now reside adjoining the lands of G.W. Sugg and fronting on South Railroad Street in the town of Wilson, County and State aforesaid, and after her death Same to be equally divided between her children begotten upon her by her present husband Willie Edwards.
Third: To my beloved grand-children, who are the children of my beloved son, Willie Blount, whose residence is now Xenia, Ohio, I do hereby give and bequeath to them to share and share alike the Southern half of the lot on which I now reside as described above in section Two.
Fourth: To my beloved sons Wright Blount and Tillman Blount, whom I have not heard from in many years — I do hereby give and bequeath to them to share and share alike my other lot of land on the edge of the Town of Wilson, State and County aforesaid, adjoining the lands of G.W. Sugg, Cater Sugg, and the Colored Cemetery, containing about one acre.
Fifth: I do hereby constitute and appoint my beloved niece “by marriage” Lillie Edwards hereinbefore mentioned as my lawful and sole executrix to all intents and purposes to execute this my last will and testament, to take charge of my estate and administer thereon at my death without any bond whatsoever, hereby revoking all other wills and testaments, by me heretofore made.
In witness whereof, I, the said Calvin Blount, do hereunto set my hand and seal, this the 3rd day of July A.D. 1909. Calvin (X) Blount
Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said Calvin Blount to be his last will and testament in the presence of us, who at his request and in his presence, and in the presence of each other, do subscribe our names as witnesses thereto. W.R. Woods, R.W. McFarland, L.H.Peacock
On 9 August 1866, in Wilson County, Calvin Blount and Mary Atkinson registered their five-year cohabitation with the Clerk of Court, thereby legitimizing a marriage entered into during slavery. Mary Blount died within a few years after.
In the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Calvin Blount, 35; John Bantler, 23, born in South Carolina; and Calvin’s sons Dick, 12, Tillman, 1o, Frank, 6, Wright, 7, and William, 4.
In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Calvin Blount, 44, wife Emily, 48, and sons Wright, 17, William, 14, and Franklin, 16. (Next door: Washington Suggs and family.)
On 9 July 1904, Calvin Blount, 67, of Wilson married Effie Hinnant, 28, of Lucama. Missionary Baptist minister William Baker performed the ceremony at Emma Barnes’ home in the presence of Moses Dupree, Washington Suggs, and Ben Wooten.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 203 Rail Road Street, widower Calvin Blount, 72, and grandson [should be “son”] William Edwards, 47, railroad laborer, daughter-in-law Lillie, 35, and son [should be “grandson”] Kenly, 12. (Washington Suggs and family were two households away.)
Calvin Blount’s will entered probate in May 1917.
As to Calvin’s prodigal children: perhaps, in the 1900 census of Saint Louis, Missouri, at 116 1/2 Leonard, North Carolina-born day laborer Wright Blount, 33, wife Lula, “about 30,” and children Norma[n], 10, Alta, 8, Eldridge, 4, and Josephine, 2. In the 1910 census of Saint Louis, Missouri, at 2915 Lawton, North Carolina-born Wright C. Blount, 46, wife Laden, 38, and children Ettie, 20, Eldrage, 13, Josephine, 11, and Nick, 8, plus a boarder.
North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
Though he never lived in Wilson as an adult, Daniel C. Suggs maintained significant real estate interests there for decades. In the early 1920s, Atlantic Coast Realty handled the division and sale of a chunk of Suggs’ land a mile or so south of Nash Street, east Wilson’s black business block. (This property had originally belonged to his father, Washington Suggs.)
Wilson Daily Times, 27 January 1922.
In 1920 and 1923, Suggs filed four plats for various (and overlapping) subdivisions of the southern most section of his acreage. The land was located down Stantonsburg Road (now Pender) just across from the Colored Graded School. The lots marked off were narrow (25 to 27 feet wide) and deep, and many of the houses eventually built there were shotguns, known locally as endway houses.
The plat below, dated 26 May 1920, and filed in Book 1, page 194, at the Wilson County Register of Deeds office, shows a section of New Street and an unnamed street (now Elvie) capped to the west by Railroad Street. Land owned by S.W. Smith lies to the north, and another Suggs-owned parcel to the east.
This Bing.com map shows the area today. The lot lines drawn by Atlantic Coast Realty did not hold. Blount Street eliminated the 105′ deep lots extending back from New Street and its unnamed parallel (now Elvie Street), and lot widths along all streets (especially Railroad) are wider than the 25′ proposed.
The second plat is dated a day later and essentially a continuation to the east of the plat above. What is labeled Stantonsburg Road is now Pender Street. It’s not clear when the name “Elvie” was inked in for “School” Street. However, in the early 1950s, Wilson built an elementary school for African-Americans in the area shown in the northern half of the plat. (It was called Elvie Street School.) If ever there were one, there is now no perpendicular street mid-block, and Suggs Street runs several blocks north. (Lincoln Avenue, by the way, is now a Street, instead.)
On 13 January 1923, Atlantic Coast Realty commissioned a broader and more detailed survey. Though on this plat New Street that fades to nothing, today it is the street below that survives only in truncated form. (And it is not called Hines, but Blount, apparently after the adjacent landowner. Daniel Blount, 80, a carpenter, is listed in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County, with wife Susan, 45, Susana, 16, Josephine and Joseph, 14, Mary, 12, and George, 3.) The colored cemetery had been abandoned even at that time, and no trace of it now remains. As noted above, Suggs Street is now north the area depicted. Elvie Street is mislabeled “Elmer.” The area then occupied by the Contentnea Guano Company in the space between the neighborhood and the railroad is now home, via mergers and acquisitions, to Crop Production Services.
This plat, dated 1923, and drafted for Lawrence Realty Company, depicts territory east of Stantonsburg Road/Pender Street.
The former D.C. Suggs property today:
A portrait of children of Washington and Esther Best Suggs, taken prior to 1915, when daughter Edmonia died. At top, Daniel C. Suggs (1866-1936) and Dr. James T. Suggs (1876-1934). At bottom, Serena Suggs Moore (1865-1930) at left and Mollie Suggs Watson Lucas (1869-1948), second from right. Julia Suggs Bryant (1878-1929) and Edmonia Suggs Perrington (1870-1915) are also in the bottom row, but it is not yet clear which sister is which.
Photograph courtesy of Ancestry.com user rij1294.
After her husband Gray Farmer’s death in July 1893, Argent Farmer went to court to get what she felt was hers. She filed suit against Daniel Vick, asserting that he had claimed title to a parcel land that had rightfully belonged to Gray and from which she was entitled to dower.
Vick’s lawyer promptly responded, asserting, among other things, that:
Wilson Advance, 13 October 1892.
Farmer gave up on her claim, and the Clerk of Superior Court entered a nonsuit.
North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.
Lincoln University College and Theological Seminary Biographical Catalog 1918 lists nine Wilson-born African-American men among the school’s former students. Nearly half — John H., William H., Augustus S., and Thomas G. Clark — were brothers, sons of Henry and Flora Lathan Clark. (The John H. Clark entry is puzzling as he was only about seven years old in 1871.) Daniel C. and James T. Suggs were also brothers, sons of George W. and Esther Suggs, as were Samuel H. and William H. Vick, sons of Daniel and Fannie Blount Vick.
Wilson Daily Times, 26 May 1911.
One hundred five years today, the Times reported on a dust-up between George Barnes (a tenant on Washington Suggs‘ property near Wilson) and a tenant on adjoining land.
George Washington Suggs.
George Washington Suggs, commonly known to his white friends as “Uncle Washington” died at his home here in the city yesterday at six o’clock. He was one of the oldest, and most highly respected of our colored citizens. By trade he was a brickmason and plasterer and most of the older houses of the city still bear testimony of his superior skill and honest workmanship. To secure his services was a guarantee of a good job. He was honest, industrious and of sober and law-abiding. He enjoyed the confidence and respect of both races. He took care of his money and wisely invested it in the education of his children and property. As a result he reared and educated a family of two sons and four daughters. One of his sons, D.C. Suggs is at the head of the A. and M. College of Georgia and has been for more than twenty years, while his other son, J.T. Suggs, is a practicing physician in Florence, Ala. All of his daughters are married. Two live here in Wilson, one, Lorena [Serena] is the wife of Dr. E. Moore of Livingstone College, Salisbury, the other lives in Chicago.
His funeral takes place from the Trinity A.M.E.Zion church on Sunday afternoon at two o’clock. His many friends, white and colored are cordially invited.
The funeral will be preached by Rev. Wm. Coward, pastor of the church and Elder P.D. Gold who has known the deceased nearly all of his life, and was familiar with his good qualities as a man and a citizen will deliver a short address.
— Wilson Times, 21 February 1914.
George Washington Sugg.
Higher tributes could scarcely be paid any man white or colored than were those paid Uncle George Washington Sugg, a colored man of this city who moving here when the town was an infant has left a shining example of what industry and thrift, generous instincts and motives progressiveness and correct living and a life devoted to the uplift of his people, would bring in the way of heartfelt eulogies at his departure.
The man in the north and west who does not understand the kindly relations existing between the white man and the black man in the south, would probably have been surprised to have seen representative white and colored citizens mingling their tears together with their tributes at the bier of Uncle George Washington Sugg whose memory we all delight to honor, for his life in his sphere of activity has been all that could be asked of any man, and in order to set aside any superficial ideas resting upon the minds of those who are not informed, we regret they could not have witnessed the scene presented yesterday afternoon.
Rev. Cowan, pastor of the A.M.E.Zion church opened the services by asking Elder P.D. Gold to read the 90th Psalm. He did so [illegible] that tradition says that Moses wrote this psalm while Israelites were sojourning in the wilderness and to the vision of Moses there seemed to be nothing tangible and his life work had been thrown away, and yet in the purpose of God all things are known. It is not for us to reason or to question why, it it for us to remain in our places and do our part and the blessing always comes.
Then followed appropriate resolutions from the church read by a member of the committee. Rev. Cowan then read a sketch of the life of the deceased. His worth as a citizen, his activity as a trustee of the colored school, his help to his race generally. It stated that he moved here in 1868 before the county was able to support a school and became personally responsible for the salary of J.C. Price, who conducted a school here for the colored people.
Elder Gold was then asked to speak and state that he was glad to see such an interest manifested in the funeral of a man who in honoring you yourselves honor. I have known him for 50 years and always esteemed him. That he has reared a family of children well raised and properly tutored who have distinguished themselves in the world is a credit to him if he has done nothing else.
“Raise up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart therefrom.”
A man is judged by the company he keeps. A good man likes good men and likes their company. Our deceased brother sought the company of the best white and colored men and in this way he found the best rather than the worst in life. A man fond of evil company shows he likes that sort of living. That it pays to seek good company and that a man is judged by the company he keeps was illustrated by Elder Gold who related a story of a young man who came to one of the Rothschilds for assistance and the Baron said to him, “come with me.” Together they walked up and down the bourse and then the Baron remarked, “They will be pleased to lend you all the assistance you need and you will henceforth be sought after.”
A man joined with Jesus Christ has enough. His conduct will be good, his deportment good and he will be found striving to do right and when he goes hence he will received the reward that remains to those of the redeemed.
Rev. Cowan then delivered an eloquent funeral address and at its close called upon Hon. John E. Woodard who complimented the pastor upon what he had so well said.
Mr. Woodard stated that he deemed this a melancholy pleasure to say a word over the bier of a man who had been his friend and a true friend to his race. He had known him 35 years as a distinct type of a man, a man who easily passed from the state of slavery to that of a citizen with the right ideas in his head and ideals in his mind as to the duties of citizenship. He gave to his people better opportunities than he had enjoyed. It was his pleasure to do so. He invested his wages for their good. He has reaped a noble harvest in the children he gives to his country and in the regard he has left in the hearts of the countrymen.
Prof. J.D. Reid followed in a laudation of the deceased as a promoter and supported of the schools. He visited the schools and encouraged the children.
The exercises were interspersed with hymns and solos, and the large audience viewed the remains which were laid to rest by the Masons, of which he was an honored member.
— Wilson Times, 24 February 1914.
Death certificate of G.W. Suggs.
George W. Suggs, son of Lou and Julia Bess Suggs, was buried in the Masonic cemetery next to his wife, Esther. Their double headstone, now broken, once stood as one of the most impressive in the burial ground.
G.W. Suggs died intestate. (There is confusion about whether his surname carried a terminal “s.”) Letters of Administration issued in his estate named as heirs his children D.C. Sugg, Jas. T. Sugg, Serena Moore, Julia Bryant, Edmonia Purrington and Mollie Watson.
Photo of Suggs courtesy of user JamesKennedy621 at http://www.ancestry.com. Photo of grave taken November 2015 by Lisa Y. Henderson. Administrators Bonds, Wilson County Superior Court, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.