As far as I am able to tell, Charles Montgomery Epps never lived in Wilson, but he had a whole lot to say about Black Wilson’s education affairs. A former school principal in Tarboro and Greenville, North Carolina, Epps was the first outsider on the scene in the wake of school superintendent Charles L. Coon’s slap of African-American teacher Mary C. Euell. Black Wilsonians promptly sent him packing.
Here, Epps lambastes Fletcher F. Pierce, a “young man of Wilson,” for criticizing the Executive Secretary of the North Carolina Negro Teachers Association in a letter published in the Greensboro Daily News. I have not been able to find Pierce’s letter. Epps’ admonishment is par for his course, though — lots of cautions to African-Americans not to stir up anything or risk disturbing “the beautiful relations existing between both races.”
Georgia Burke was not, of course, a “girl.” She was close to 50 years old in 1944. Burke was one of eleven African-American teachers who resigned to protest the slapping of teacher Mary C. Euell by school superintendent Charles L. Coon and the disrespect shown them by Colored Graded School principalJ.D. Reid. With the others, Burke resumed teaching at the privately funded Wilson Normal and Industrial Institute, the institution referred to above as Wilson Training School for Negroes. For more about Burke, see here and here, and about the Normal and Industrial school, see here. For more about the talented Hartford C. Bess, see here.
Earnestine Ford died 10 November 1916 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was five months old; was born in Wilson to Curtis Ford of Dillon County, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, N.C. Curtis Ford, 605 East Green Street, was informant.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Clarcy Williams, 50; roomer Curtis Ford, 37, house carpenter; nephew [sic] Mamie Ford, 24; and roomer Lias L., 4, and Quincey B. Ford, 2. [Mamie Battle Ford was the daughter of Clarissa Williams’ half-brother Richard Battle.]
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 407 Carroll, rented for $12/month, Curtis Ford, 52; sons Quincey, 20, and Harvey G., 19; wife Mayme, 42; son-in-law Liston Sellers, 22; daughter Leah, 22; and granddaughter Yvette Sellers, 2.
In 1940, Quincey Ford registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 23 October 1918 in Wilson; lived at 910 East Green Street; his contact was mother Mamye Ford; and he was employed by E.B. Pittman, 509 East Nash Street.
In 1942, Harvey Gray Ford registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 8 January 1921 in Wilson; lived at 910 East Green Street; his contact was mother Mamie Ford; and he was unemployed. His card is marked: “Dead Cancelled Feb. 19, 1943.”
Harvey Gray Ford died 4 June 1942 in Falling Creek township, Lenoir County, North Carolina, “drowned no boat involved.” He was born 8 January 1921 in Wilson, N.C., to Curtis Ford of Dillon, S.C., and Mamie Battle of Wayne County, N.C.; was a student; and was single. Mamie Ford, 910 East Green Street, was informant.
Mamie Battle Ford died 14 November 1946 at Mercy Hospital, Wilson. Per his death certificate, she was born 29 November 1892 in Wayne County to Richard Battle and Leah [Coley] Battle; was married to Curtis Ford; was engaged in teaching; and was buried in Rest Haven Cemetery.
Quincy Ford died 2 December 1965 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 October 1918 in North Carolina to Curtis Ford and Mamie Battle Ford; lived at 2037 Master Street, Philadelphia; was a machine operator; and was married to Helen Ford.
School calendars aligned with the rhythms of the agricultural calendar. Even so, children picking cotton missed the beginning of school in October. (Just as children at my high school who worked in tobacco nearly one hundred years later sometimes did not report until after Labor Day.)
In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer Enos Thompson, 41; wife Hillon, 41; and children John, 17, Margaret, 16, Lucy, 6, Pet, 4, and Ennis, 3.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: garden laborer Ennis Thompson, 72; wife Helen, 65; and daughter Lucy, 35, laundress.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 144 East, Lucy Thompson, 40, and father Ennice Thompson, 81, widower.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 200 Pender, renting [likely a room] at $2/month, Lucy Thompson, 65.
Lucy A. Thompson died 24 July 1946 at her home at 310 Singletary Street, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was 71 years old; was born in Wilson County to Ennis Thompson of Greene County, N.C., and Hellen A. Ruffin of Louisburg, N.C.; worked as a teacher; and was buried in Rountree cemetery.
Sixth-grade teacher Alice H. Jones (1892-1957). The Trojan yearbook, C.H Darden High School, 1949.
Lucy Frances Jones died 18 February 1930 at Guilford College, Greensboro, North Carolina. Per her death certificate, she was born 19 October 1914 in Wilson, N.C., to J. Robert Jones of Virginia and Alice H. Albright of Davidson County, N.C.; was a school girl; and was buried in Raleigh’s Cross Roads, Guilford County.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 808 East Vance, owned and valued at $2000, widow Rosa Foster, 42, public school teacher; her children Carter, 16, Daily Times newsboy, and Naomi, 14; and roomers Alice Jones, 36, and Mamie Key, 20, public school teachers.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Alice H. Jones, 46, public school teacher, and son James R. Jones, Jr., 23, office building janitor.
In 1940, James Robert Jones Jr. registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 2 January 1917 in Wilson; lived at 808 East Vance Street; his contact was his mother Alice Helena Jones; and he worked for Ernest C. Lucas, Lucama, N.C.
Alice Jones died 29 October 1957 at Duke Hospital, Durham, N.C. Per her death certificate, she was 65 years old; was born in Lexington, N.C., to John Albright and Alice Adams; was the widow of James R. Jones; lived at 122 Pender Street; and was a retired schoolteacher. Robert Jones was informant.
From the chapter concerning Wilson County in the 1890 edition of Branson’s North Carolina Business Directory:
Bass, Joseph — in the 1880 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Ruffus Bass, 48; wife Caroline, 35; and children Joseph, 16, Annie W., 14, Rufus, 12, Francis, 10, Simon, 7, Isadora, 5, James H., 3, and John W., 1.
In the 1900 census of Cokey township, Edgecombe County: farmer Ben Tillery, 60; wife Charity, 55; and children James, 26, Jacob, 23, Prissilla, 18, William, 16, George, 14, and Claud, 12.
In the 1910 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: on Wilbanks and Elm City Road, odd jobs laborer Benjamin Tilery, 70; wife Chary, 68; and children Pricilla, 33, and Claudius, 21, farm laborer.
Pricilla Tillery died 13 March 1929 in Toisnot township, Wilson County. Per her death certificate, he was 52 years old; single; born in Edgecombe County to Ben Tillery of Halifax County and Cherry Williams of Wilson County; buried in Elm City. Jane Ruffin, Elm City was informant.
I have not identified the school at which Priscilla Tillery worked.