teacher

Women are best.

While director of the University of North Carolina Press, W. T. Couch also worked as a part-time official of the Federal Writers’ Project of the Works Progress Administration, serving as assistant and associate director for North Carolina (1936-1937) and as director for the southern region (1938-1939). The Federal Writers’ Project Papers are housed at U.N.C.’s Southern Historical Collection and include Couch’s correspondence and life histories of about 1,200 individuals collected by F.W.P. members. At least two African-American residents of Wilson, Georgia Crockett Aiken and William Batts, were memorialized in this way. 

Folder 324 contains the transcript of the interview with Georgia Crockett Aiken, titled “Women are best.”

The first page is a key to the pseudonyms used in the transcript.

Georgia Aiken is mistakenly described as white. She lived at 120 Pender Street in Wilson. When her interview began, she was in her kitchen directing the work of two children who were cleaning the house. She was born in 1872 into a family of ten children, all of whom were dead except her. [The family had lived in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and Georgia’s brothers included Alexander and James Crockett.]

Georgia Aiken grew up near a school and, because both her parents were wage-earners, was able to attend through the ninth grade. She obtained a teaching certificate and started teaching in 1889 a one-room school “out in the country.” She made $25 a month for teaching seven grades and reminisced on the hardships — and reward — of serving the children of the community.

In 1908, Georgia Aiken arrived in Wilson. She started high school coursework [where? the Colored High School did not open until 1924] and received a big raise when she completed it. She taught for 48 years, all told.

She dated John Aiken for two years before they married. Aiken owned a prosperous livery stable, and the couple saved their money to build a house. When they bought the Pender Street lot, a widow lived with her children in a small house there. [A 1905 plat map shows John Aiken already owned a lot on Pender Street. Was it a different one?] John Aiken died before the house was completed [in 1914] and Georgia Aiken took over the business.

Though worried about finances, Georgia Aiken went ahead with plans to build. The livery business did well until “automobiles came in.” She sold the business at a loss and turned her attention to teaching and caring for her house.

The writer described Aiken’s kitchen in deep detail.

Her “cook stove … finished in blue porcelain” was probably much like this one, found in an on-line ad:

Aiken continued, speaking of training her helper, her standards for housekeeping and food preparation, and her preference for paying cash.

And then: “I might as well say that I voted in the last city elections and have voted ever since woman’s suffrage has come in, and I expect to as long as I can get to the polls. I would like to see some women run for some of the town offices. I think they’re just as capable as the men who set themselves up so high and mighty. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if women didn’t get more and more of the high positions in the near future. …”

And: churches and government are run by rings, and “if you don’t stand in well with these, you don’t stand a chance.”

“I believe the women do more in church work than men.”

Georgia Aiken took in boarders at her home on Pender Street and always tried to make her “guests feel at home.” “When times are good and business is stirring” — likely, she meant during tobacco market season — “I always have my house full.” In slow times, though, it was hard to meet expenses. Taxes were due and though she knew she would make the money to pay them in the fall, she hated to incur fees.

Aiken paid her helper in board and clothes only, though she wished she could pay wages. If she stayed long enough, Aiken would consider leaving her some interest in the property after her death, though her niece in New York might object. She lamented a long delay in repainting the exterior of the house, but had plans to do so.

The writer described the house’s rooms and furnishings, mentioning their wear and age. Aiken indicated her preference for “clean decent folks” as tenants. She had two baths in the house and hot water from the stove for both. She could not afford to install steam heat when the house was being built and rued the dustiness of coal.

“Helping anyone in need is being nice to anyone, and the one that helps me most during the few years that I’ve left in this life is the one I hope to remember with the most of what I leave when I’m called to the life to come.”

A summary:

Georgia Crockett Aikens died 17 August 1939 in Wilson, apparently just a few months after giving this interview. Per her death certificate, she was 67 years old, born in Wayne County to William Crockett and Rachel Powell, resided at 120 Pender Street in Wilson, and was married to John Aikens.

“Federal Writers’ Project Papers, 1936-1940, Collection No. 03709.” The Southern Historical Collection, Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Fundraiser for Darden’s band.

Prior to serving as principal of Adams and B.O. Barnes Elementary Schools, Carl W. Hines was a mathematics and band teacher at Darden High School. In 1939, via a notice in the local paper, he invited the public to the newly opened Reid Street Community Center to a bingo fundraiser for Darden’s new band.

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Wilson Daily Times, 20 April 1939.

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In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 40, wife Sara, 37, Elizabeth, 11, Walter Jr., 10, and Carl, 5.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: barber Walter Hines, 50, wife Sarah, 48, and children Elizabeth, 21, Walter, 20, Carl W., 16, and Clifton R., 7.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Walter S. Hines, 60; wife Sarah E., 58; son Carl W., 24, teacher; son’s wife Ruth, 23, teacher; and son Ray W., 17.

In 1940, Carl Wendell Hines registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 7 April 1914 in Wilson; resided at 409 North Reid Street; his contact was wife Ruth Johnson Hines; and he worked for the Wilson, N.C., Board of Education at Darden High School.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 December 1960.

 

 

Dorothy H. Ellis celebrates her 100th birthday.

From the 7 July 2019 edition of Wilson Times:

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Dorothy Hammond Ellis of Wilson was honored at her 100th birthday July 3 in the fellowship hall of Calvary Presbyterian Church by her daughter, Cynthia Ellis, goddaughters and church family.

“Dorothy H. Ellis is a beloved retired schoolteacher who taught eighth grade at Darden High School starting in 1942. She and her husband, Coach [James C.] “Shank” Ellis went on to teach at Coon Junior High School until they retired early in 1979. While teaching at Darden, she was asked to use her basketball skills to coach the boys basketball team while the men went off to fight in World War II.

“Dorothy Ellis was born July 3, 1919 in Cheraw, South Carolina.”

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Dorothy H. Ellis and James C. Ellis in the 1949 edition of the Trojan, the yearbook of C.H. Darden High School.

I will not ask for much this year, because you can’t afford it.

At the dawn of the Great Depression, these children wrote letters to Santa Claus making modest requests for themselves and asking Saint Nick to remember their parents, siblings and teachers.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 December 1930.

I hope my white friends will remember me.

I do not know the context of this puzzling letter Rev. Jeremiah Scarborough wrote to the editor of Wilson Times.

Wilson Times, 15 September 1899.

Twenty years later, Scarborough was still preaching the gospel of accommodationism.

Wilson Times, 2 June 1919.

——

Scarborough is elusive in records, too. He appears in the 1877 edition of Shaw University’s catalog as a Wake Forest native and graduate of its Normal School division. He is also listed in Claude Trotter’s History of the Wake Baptist Association, Its Auxiliaries and Churches, 1866-1966 (1876) as a pastor in 1878 at Wake County’s Friendship Chapel, near Wake Forest.

Pioneer passes.

Wilson Daily Times, 14 January 1942.

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In the 1870 census of Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina: Chaney Crenshaw, 40, and daughters Jinnie, 15, Ida, 7, and Ella, 6.

In the 1880 census of Raleigh township, Wake County: at Saint Augustine School, Jinnie, 19. Ida, 18, and Ella Crenshaw, 14.

In the 1887 Raleigh, N.C., city directory: Crenshaw Ida (col) houseservant at 522 Fayetteville, r outside

On 28 March 1888, John H. Clark, 24, of Wilson County, son of Harry and Flora Clark of Beaufort County, North Carolina, married Ida R. Crenshaw, 21, of Wake County, daughter of John and Chaney Crenshaw. Robert B. Sutton, Doctor of Divinity, Presbyter of the Protestant Episcopalian Church, performed the ceremony at the Chapel of Saint Augustine Normal School, Raleigh.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: school teacher John H. Clark, 36; wife Ida R., 34; and children Chaney V., 8, and Flora R., 2.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg Street, letter carrier John H. Clark, 46; wife Ida, 46, school teacher; and daughter Floyd [sic], 12.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 635 Manchester Street, mail carrier John Clark, 56; wife Ida, 48; and daughter Flora, 12.

On 18 June 1930, Flora Ruth Clark, 21, of Wilson, daughter of John H. and Ida R. Clark, married Wilton Maxwell Bethel, 21, son of Ernest and Phillis Bethel, at Saint Mark’s Presbyterian Episcopal Church in Wilson. Presbyterian Episcopal minister Eugene Leon Henderson performed the ceremony in the presence of John H. Clark and Ida R. Clark.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 706 East Nash Street, John Clark, 76; wife Ida, 65; son-in-law Wilton Bethel, 33, insurance agent for N.C. Mutual Insurance; and daughter Flora, 30, school teacher at Darden High School.

Ida R. Clark died 13 June 1942 at her home at 706 East Nash, Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 25 May 1873 in Franklin County to Prince and Chaney Crenshaw of Franklin County; was married; was a teacher and homemaker; and was buried in the Masonic cemetery. John H. Clark was informant.

The (heroic) teachers of Principal Reid’s school.

This astounding photograph depicts the teachers on staff at the Colored Graded School around 1918, when school superintendent Charles L. Coon slapped Mary C. Euell after principal J.D. Reid complained that she was insubordinate. Euell, who pressed charges against Coon and led a boycott of the public school, is seated second from left.

Information about the teachers is elusive. Only one, S. Roberta Battle, was a native of Wilson. Georgia native Georgia Burke spent about a decade in Wilson, and Virginia native Mary Jennings at least four years. The remaining women are not found in local census records or directories.

  • G.M. Burks — Georgia Mae Burke. Georgia Burke boarded with Roberta Battle’s family during her time in Wilson. In 1921, she and Mary Euell were nearly involved in a second slapping incident in Wilson. In 1928, she moved to New York City to commence an acting career.
  • L.B. Wayland
  • M.L. Garrett
  • S.R. Battle — Sallie Roberta Battle Johnson.
  • S.D. Wiseman
  • M.A. Davis
  • M.C. Euell
  • M.M. Jennings — Mary M. Jennings. Virginia-born Mary Jennings, 28, private school teacher boarded with the family of Hardy Tate at 208 Pender at the time of the 1920 census. In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C. city directory, she was described as the principal of Wilson Normal School, which was probably the independent school founded by black parents and businessmen in the wake of the boycott. In the 1922 city directory, she is listed as a teacher at the Wilson Normal School and resided at 307 [formerly 208] Pender.
  • J.B. Pride

Photograph courtesy of Congressman G.K. Butterfield Jr., D-NC, a Wilson native. Thank you!

Studio shots, no. 57: Elizabeth Courtney Plummer Fitts.

Elizabeth Courtney Plummer Fitts (ca.1890-1976).

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In the 1900 census of  Warrenton, Warren County, North Carolina: on Waddell Street, liveryman John O. Plummer, 46, a widower; and children Robert, 25, John O., 20, James B., 18, Richard P., 16, Della M., 14, Bula, 12, Courtney, 10, and Archer, 8; and mother-in-law Della Owen, 71.

On 30 June 1920, Howard M. Fitts, 30, of Warren County, son of Bennie and Jane Fitts, married Elizabeth C. Plummer, 28, of Warrenton, son of John S. and Mariah Plummer, in Greenville, Pitt County.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1007 Washington Street, Howdard Fitts, 37, and wife Courtney, 36, both teachers, with children Howdard Jr., 8, and Rosemary, 6.

In the 1930 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Fitts E Courtney (c), tchr Stantonsburg St Graded School h 1007 Washington; Fitts Howard M (c) (E Courtney) commander American Legion, Henry Ellis Post, h 1007 Washington.

Elizabeth Courtney Plummer died on 22 November 1976, in Durham, North Carolina.

Photograph courtesy of Adventures in Faith: The Church at Prayer, Study and Service, the 100th anniversary commemorative booklet of Calvary Presbyterian Church.

The Pope-Morisey wedding.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 8 January 1938.

This blurb appears in the “Rocky Mount, N.C.” column of the Courier‘s 8 January 1938 society page. Per their marriage license, the wedding took place in Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina. Juanita Marion Pope was the daughter of O.R. and Myrtle Pope of Rocky Mount, and Alfred Alexander Morisey was the son of Rev. A.A. and Mamie Morisey of Raleigh. The couple did not live in Wilson very long — had they met there? — and it is not clear whether they taught at Darden or the Sallie Barbour school (or in the county). Though they are not found in the 1940 census, the 1942 Raleigh city directory lists: Morisey A Alex (c; Juanita) news reporter h S Davie ter CH. By 1946, the couple is listed in the Greensboro city directory with Alex working in public relations for Bennett College (his wife’s alma mater) and Juanita for the Colored Division of the United States Employment Service. 

Morisey’s obituary, published 26 July 1979 in the Washington Post, sheds light on his accomplishments after his time in Wilson:

“A. Alexander Morisey, 65, a former director of public relations at Howard University who was one of the first black reporters to work for a white owned southern newspaper, died of cancer Monday in New York City hospital.

“Mr. Morisey worked for the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal from 1949 to 1955 where he covered the black community and did general assignment reporting.

“Journal reporter Roy Thompson said, “Not a handful of people here remember after all these years, but blacks and whites in this town know a great deal more about one another than they did when Alex came to town, and he had a hand in this.”

“After working for the American Friends Service Committee, Mr. Morisey came to Washington and was public relations director at Howard University from 1967 to 1969.

“He left Howard to become public relations director of the Philadelphia Committee on Human Relations. Mr. Morisey joined the public relations staff of The New York Times in 1969, and was named public relations director two years later.

“Since 1973, he had been assistant for community relations to the president of Manhattan Community College in New York.

“Mr. Morisey was a native of Smithfield, N.C., and a graduate of Shaw University in Raleigh, N.C. He also did graduate work at American University.

“He is survived by his wife, Dr. Patricia Morisey, of the home in New York City; a son, A. Alexander Jr., of Philadelphia; two daughters Jean Alexander and Muriel Morisey, both of Washington; a stepson, Paul Garland, of New York City; a brother, John, of Philadelphia; a sister, Grace Jones, of Burlington, N.C., and three grandchildren.”