Suggs

Suggs Street project.

Wilson Daily Times, 18 January 1961.

In the winter of 1960-’61, the Wilson Housing Authority published a series of notices in the Wilson Daily Times concerning its intent to exercise eminent domain over two parcels of land at Suggs and Moore Streets for Project 20-2A. (Hence, the term “the projects.) The family who owned the land were the heirs of George Washington Suggs, who had died in 1914. (Specifically, they were heirs of his daughters Serena Suggs Moore, Edmonia Suggs Perrington, and Julia Suggs Bryant.)

The development, still occupied, remains the property of the Housing Authority.

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He is devoted to the spread of the connection.

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EDWARD MOORE, PH.D.

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.

From J.W. Hood, One Hundred Years of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; or, The Centennial of African Methodism (1895).

The last will and testament of Calvin Blount.

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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.

 

An ideal location for colored people.

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.)

Sugg property

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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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This plat, dated 1923, and drafted for Lawrence Realty Company, depicts territory east of Stantonsburg Road/Pender Street.

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The former D.C. Suggs property today:

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Suggs siblings.

Wash Suggs children

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.

Farmer v. Vick.

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.

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Vick’s lawyer promptly responded, asserting, among other things, that:

  • Gray Farmer had indeed owned property as tenants in common with Charles Battle, Washington Sugg, William McGowan, and Wilson Barnes, but not at the time of his death.
  • That land, in fact, was east of the railroad, two acres on the northeast side of the alley running from Pettigrew to Pender Streets. (See the 1893 Sanborn map section below. The alley, marked “lane,” is now Church Street.)
  • On 13 February 1886, Gray and Argent Farmer conveyed all their title and interest to the property to J.T. McGraw.
  • On 7 May 1890, J.T. McGraw conveyed his interest to Charles Battle.
  • Pursuant to a judgement in a suit against Battle, Suggs and McGowan, the property was sold at public auction on 7 November 1892. Daniel Vick purchased it.

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Wilson Advance, 13 October 1892.

Farmer gave up on her claim, and the Clerk of Superior Court entered a nonsuit.

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  • Gray Farmer — Possibly, in the 1870 census of Wilson , Wilson County: Clay Farmer, 60, Gray W. Farmer, 13, and Jonas Gay, 14. Young Gray worked in a brickyard. On 15 March 1876, Gray Farmer, no age listed, married Argent Blount, 20, at Smith Knight‘s in Wilson. In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: house carpenter Gray Farmer, 27, wife Argent, and children Ellenor, 3, and Charlie Gray, 2.
  • Argent Blount Farmer
  • Daniel Vick
  • Charles Battle
  • Washington Suggs
  • William McGowan — William McGowan appears with five siblings in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County, in the household of their mother, Anna McGowan, 35 washerwoman. Widower William McCowan, age 86, died 1 September 1940 in Wilson of myocarditis. He resided at 513 Church Street, in the middle of block he and his partners had lost to sheriff’s sale 60 years earlier.
  • Wilson Barnes

North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Lincoln legacy.

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.

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