Taylor

Rest in peace, Roderick Taylor Jr.

My uncle, my father’s half-brother, passed away yesterday at the age of 92. Roderick Taylor Jr., a retired teacher, was well-known for his encouragement and mentorship of generations of students, who called him “Chief,” and his tireless community activism.



A classroom at the Colored Graded School (later Sallie Barbour School), circa 1935. Roderick Taylor Jr. is at center in a dark sweater.

Everyone else called him “Bud.”

Roderick Taylor Jr. was born in April 1928 in Wilson, North Carolina, the youngest of Roderick Taylor Sr. and Mary John Pender Taylor‘s three children. He graduated from C.H. Darden High School in 1947 and graduated from Johnson C. Smith University.


Part of the freshman class at Johnson C. Smith University in 1949. Bud Taylor is kneeling in the front row. Catherine A. Gibson stands over his shoulder in a black peacoat.

J.C. Smith’s Spanish Club, 1949.

Roderick Taylor Jr. and Catherine Augusta Gibson were married 20 June 1954 in Brunswick, Georgia.

Pittsburgh Courier, 10 July 1954.
Wilson Daily Times, 28 December 1998.
Roderick Taylor on his Faison Street porch, 2017.

Top photo in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson (colorized via MyHeritage.com; The Bull (1949), yearbook of Johnson C. Smith University; bottom photo by Lisa Y. Henderson.

Dr. James T. Thomas, briefly of Wilson.

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Madison (Ind.) Daily Herald, 12 August 1922.

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In the 1900 census of Winston, Forsyth County, North Carolina: tobacco roller William Taylor, 31; wife Mary, 27; and children Anna, 8, James T., 6, Geneva, 4, and Charles, 1.

James T. Taylor registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County in 1917. Per his draft card, he was born 27 December 1893 in Danville, Virginia; lived at 653 [later 706] East Green Street, Wilson; and worked as a bellhop at Yarmouth Hotel, Atlantic City, New Jersey (“student” crossed through). [Taylor was a college student at the time. Why was he living in Wilson with the family of John W. and Edmonia Barnes Farmer?]

On 12 August 1922, James T. Taylor, born 27 December 1893 in Danville, Virginia, to William T. Taylor and Mary Thompson, and a resident of Wilson, N.C., married Gertrude E. Tandy, born 15 January 1898 in Bedford, Kentucky, to George Tandy and Josephine Stafford, in Madison, Indiana.

In 1926 James Taylor took a position as professor of psychology at North Carolina College (now North Carolina Central University) and later Dean of Men and Athletic Director and then Director of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Circa 1930, the Taylors bought a house at 2106 Fayetteville Street.

College Heights Historic District, National Register of Historic Places Registration Form.

In the 1930 census of Durham, Durham County, North Carolina: college teacher James Taylor, 36, and wife Gertrude, 32, school supervisor.

In the 1940 census of Durham, Durham County, North Carolina: James T. Taylor, 45, born in Virginia, college teacher; wife Gertrude E., 40, born in Indiana, public school supervisor; and nephew James B. Clarke, 19.

Gertrude Elinor Taylor died 24 January 1954 in Durham, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 15 January 1900 in Marion, Indiana, to George Tandy and Josephine Stafford; was married; and was a school teacher. Prof. James T. Taylor, 2106 Fayetteville Street, was informant.

The Eagle (1954), the yearbook of North Carolina College [now North Carolina Central University.]

On 30 June 1955, James T. Taylor, 57, of Durham, son of William T. and Mary T. Taylor, married Galatia Elizabeth Lynch, 41, of High Point, N.C., daughter of James C. Cunningham and Lillie B. Cunningham, in High Point, Guilford County, North Carolina.

N.C.C.U.’s James T. Taylor Education Building, constructed in 1955.

In November 1968, North Carolina Governor Dan Moore named James T. Taylor as chairman of the state’s Good Neighbor Council, “the official state agency for moderating racial troubles.” Per a 14 November 1960 article in the News and Observer, Taylor retired from N.C.C.U. in 1959 and was a past president of N.C. Teachers Association (where he led a fight for equal pay for African-American teachers) and an organizer of the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs.

James Thomas Taylor died 29 March 1970 in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 27 December 1893 in Danville, Virginia, to William Thomas Taylor and Mary Brown; was a widower; and was a retired professor at N.C. Central University. Mrs. Irma Lash of Brooklyn, N.Y., was informant.

The Women Who Ran the Schools: The Jeanes Teachers and Durham County’s Rural Black Schools, http://www.durhamcountylibrary.org

News and Observer, 30 March 1970.

The Clarks and Taylors: reconnecting an enslaved family.

While researching for the Henry Flowers estate piece, I noticed that John H. Clark was informant on the death certificates of Isabel Taylor and Alex Taylor, children of Annis Taylor and Henry (last name uncertain). What was Clark’s connection to this family?

Detail from death certificate of Isabel Taylor, who died 26 October 1929 in Wilson. 

The crucial clue: Katherine Elks mentioned that Henry Flowers’ youngest daughters married brothers John P. Clark and Sidney P. Clark. Their father, Phineas P. Clark, had brought his family from Connecticut to Nash County to set up as a buggy maker. (His employee Willis N. Hackney went on to found the carriage-making company that became Hackney Brothers Body Company.)

P.P. Clark does not appear to have been a slaveholder. However, John P. Clark is listed in the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson County as the owner of five enslaved people. One was a 19 year-old male, the correct age and sex to have been Harry Clark, John H. Clark’s father. John P. Clark was a 21 year-old newlywed at the time of the census. Where he had obtained five slaves? Had his wife Nancy Flowers brought them into the marriage?

Detail from the 1860 slave schedule of Wilson district, Wilson County.

Recall the distribution of Henry Flowers’ enslaved property. In 1850, the group was divided into three lots. Lot number 3 included a boy named Harry. Though existing estate records do not specify, it’s reasonable to assume that Lot 3 went to Nancy Flowers when she achieved majority some years later. When Nancy married John P. Clark, he assumed legal control over her property, which included Harry. (The 25 year-old woman was likely Peggy, who was also in Lot 3, and the children were probably hers. They were born after the 1850 division of Henry’s property and thus were not named.)

Harry was one of the children of Annis, as were Isabel and Alex. Harry adopted the surname Clark after Emancipation, while his siblings adopted Taylor, the surname of their last owners, William and Charity Flowers Taylor. So, what was John H. Clark’s connection to Isabel and Alex Taylor? He was their nephew.

Many thanks to Katherine Elks.

The estate of Henry Flowers.

Henry Flowers, who lived on the south bank of Toisnot Swamp in what was then Nash County, died in February 1845.

Flowers enslaved fourteen people at the time of his death, and all were hired out on 4 March 1845, pending the settlement of his estate, which would involve a protracted battle between two sets of children. Though their ages are not listed, this schedule suggests that Frank, Toney, Jim, Peter, and Jacob were grown men at the time. Merica and Peggy were likely very young girls. Annis was a grown woman with four children, and Nelly is likely an older or disabled woman. Beyond Annis and her children, the family relationships, if any, among the fourteen are not stated. Whatever they were, and even if they involved parental or marital relationships beyond Flowers’ farm, this mass hire was powerfully disruptive, as the group was dispersed to live on eight different farms.

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Another version of this account reveals that Nelly and Annis and her children were labeled “parishners.” A parishioner ordinarily is a member of a church parish, but here seems to designate persons who were unable to work, as the estate paid Britton Bottoms and Kinchen Taylor to take these six people. This account also identifies Annis’ four youngest children, Elic [Alex], Redmond, Harry, and Rose.

New leases began at the first of the year 1846, and the group was further shuffled around. Only Toney remained with his previous lessor, John W. Williams. William Taylor leased three adults, plus three of Annis’ four children. The fourth, Ellick, was now old enough to be leased on his own, and he went to W. Roe at a discount price. Nelly, alas, had died.

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Another new year, another reshuffling. William Taylor, husband of Flowers’ daughter Charity,  continued to consolidate his leases over Henry Flowers’ slaves, hiring Frank, Peter, and Annis and her children, including Ellick. Annis had had another child during the previous year, a girl she named Isabel.

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Here, an undated roster of “the negros belonging to the Estate of Henry Flowers Decd.”

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Finally, in 1850, after years of squabbling, the estate began to pay out. Henry Flowers’ enslaved property was divided into three lots. No. 1 consisted of James ($700), Elix ($500), Annis ($300), Isabel ($200), and Frank “old” ($100). No. 2 was Peter ($600), Merica ($550), Redmon ($450), and Rose ($300). No. 3 was Toney ($345), Jacob ($650), Pegga ($550), and Harry ($475). Lot No. 1 was distributed to William Taylor and his wife Charity Flowers Taylor. The remaining lots would go to Charity’s half-sisters, Nancy and Judith Flowers, when they reached adulthood.

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  • Frank
  • Toney
  • James/Jim
  • Peter

Possibly: in 1866, Peter Taylor and Clarisy Taylor registered their eleven-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

If so, in the 1870 census of Wilson, Wilson County: farm laborer Peter Taylor, 32 [sic]; wife Clarsey, 37; and children Harrit, 8, Haywood, 10, William, 5, and Susan, 8 months.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Peter Taylor, 50; wife Clarcy, 36; children Harriet, 17, William, 15, Susan, 10, Henry, 8, Moretta, 6, and Charlie, 2; and granddaughter Clarcy, 7 months.

Charissy Taylor died 16 September 1932 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 12 June 1836 in Wilson County to Dempsey Cotton; was the widow of Peter Taylor; and lived at 522 Church Street. Informant was Mark Cotton.

  • Jacob
  • Merica

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer America Flowers, 35, and daughter Anaka, 7.

In the 1880 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farmworker America Flowers, 55.

  • Peggy

On 22 September 1870, Belford Farmer, son of Ben and Ellen Farmer, married Peggy Flowers, daughter of Henry and Annie Flowers, in Wilson County.

In the 1880 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widowed laundress Peggy Farmer, 43, and children Mourning, 23, Alice, 21, Annie, 13, Moses, 16, Ida, 10, Belford, 7, and Mary, 5, and grandsons Willie, 3, and Henry, 1.

  • Annis

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Anniss Taylor, 52; daughter Isabella, 23; and granddaughter Mary J., 4.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Annis Taylor, 70; daughter Isbel, 30; and granddaughter Mary J., 16.

  • Nelly
  • Ellick

In 1866, Alex Taylor and Laney Locus registered their seven-year cohabitation with a Wilson County justice of the peace.

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farm laborer Ellis Taylor, 34, and wife Lainey, 45; plus Nathanel Locust, 33, farm laborer, and Malvina, 11, and Duncan Locust, 4. [Note that Alex Taylor was born about 1835. This means that he was about 11 years old when deemed old enough to be hired out separate from his mother.]

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Alex Taylor, 42, farmer; wife Delany, 50; and grandson Jessee D. Locus, 12.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Alex Taylor, 70, widower, and boarder Frank Johnson, 20.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, widower Ellic Taylor, 75, farmer, and sister Isabel Taylor, 65.

Alexander Taylor died 26 June 1923 in Taylor township, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was 96 years old; was a widower and farmer; and was born in Wilson County to an unknown father and Anicky Taylor. John H. Clark was informant.

  • Isabel

In the 1870 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Anniss Taylor, 52; daughter Isabella, 23; and granddaughter Mary J., 4.

In the 1880 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Annis Taylor, 70; daughter Isbel, 30; and granddaughter Mary J., 16.

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Isbel Taylor, 51, laborer.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Nash Road, widower Ellic Taylor, 75, farmer, and sister Isabel Taylor, 65.

Issabell Taylor, died 26 October 1929 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 84 years old; was single; was born in Wilson County to Harry Taylor and Anicky Taylor; and was a tenant farmer. Informant was John H. Clark. [What was the relationship of John H. Clark to the Taylors?]

  • Redmund
  • Harry
  • Rose

Rose Flowers died 26 January 1919 in Taylors township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, she was 80 years old; was single; was a farmhand; and was born to Henry Williams and Annis Taylor. Informant was Alex Taylor. [It appears that Annis Flowers’ daughters Peggy, Rose, and Isabel had the same father, named Henry, whose surname is variously attributed as Flowers, Taylor and Williams.]

Nancy Flowers Estate File (1848), Nash County, North Carolina Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; Henry Flowers Estate File (1845), Nash County, North Carolina Estate Files, 1663-1979, http://www.familysearch.org.

Many thanks to Katherine Elks for alerting me to this rich trove of documents.

Mortality schedule, no. 5: Taylors 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 previous. Each entry noted the decedent’s 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 a detail from the 1870 mortality schedule for Taylor township, Wilson County:

  • Taylor, Milbry. Age 29, farm laborer, died in November, [illegible] fever.

In the 1870 census of Spring Hill township, Wilson County: farm laborer James Taylor, 56; wife Charity, 61; and Delphia Taylor, 21; Jeremiah, 9, and Cornelious Person, 5; and Wesley, 4, and Henry Taylor, 4 months.

Rev. Taylor sells his house to First Baptist Church.

In January 1923, Halley B. and Marie Taylor of Paterson, New Jersey, sold the trustees of First Baptist Church a large lot “in the southeast corner of Chas. Thomas‘ lot on Green Street and runs with Green Street, Southeasterly 60 feet to the corner of Green and Vick Streets, thence with Vick Street, Northeasterly 60 feet, cornering thence at right angles to Viola Street, Southwesterly 210 feet to Green Street.” Trustees Noah J. Tate, Austin N. Neal, George Roberson, Ed Holden, Harry Brown and Glenn S. McBrayer paid the Taylors $6500 for the property. H.B. Taylor was pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church from 1908 to 1920.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson shows a large one-story house with wrap-around front porch at 721 East Green Street. In the 1988 nomination form for historic register designation for East Wilson, the house is described as “ca. 1913; 1 1/2 stories; H.B. Taylor House; intact Queen Anne cottage with double-pile, hip-roofed form and front-facing wing….” The house has since been demolished.

Deed book, page, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.