Town of Stantonsburg

Artis’ Cafe padlocked.

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Wilson Daily Times, 13 February 1939.

  • June Scott Artis — A history of Stantonsburg gave the date of the cafe’s opening as 1947, which apparently was off by at least a decade. It remained in business into the 1960s.
  • Edgar Artis, June S. Artis’ son.
  • Walter Ward — The 6 February 1939 edition of the Wilson Daily Times reported that Ward pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 15 to 18-year sentence.
  • H.B. Swenson — H.B. Swinson died 28 January 1939. Per his death certificate, he was “murdered, knife wound of breast”; was born 18 April 1913 in Greene County to Allen Swinson and Henrietta Applewhite of Greene County; lived i Stantonsburg; and worked in farming.

Delinquent taxes.

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Wilson Daily Times, 7 November 1932.

The five columns at right show delinquent taxes for property in the town of Stantonsburg for years 1928, 1929, 1930 and 1931, and the total owed. As in everyday life, tax notices were segregated by race.

  • Wm. & Hannah Artis — [This, presumably, is an error. Hannah Forte Artis was the wife of Walter S. Artis, not his brother William M. Artis. (Both were brothers of Cain ArtisJune S. Artis, Columbus E. Artis, Josephine Artis Sherrod and Alberta Artis Cooper, and their primary residence was across the county line in the Eureka area of Wayne County.)] In the 1930 census of Eureka township, Wayne County: Walter S. Artis, 56, farmer; wife Hannah E., 47; and children Adam T., 18, and Elmer H., 5.
  • Sare J. Artis — in the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Yelverton Street, widow Sarah J. Artis, 65; son-in-law Clinton Artis, 30, a sawmill laborer; daughter Mattie, 26, a washerwoman; and grandchildren Ruby, 5, Clinton Jr., 4, and Hazel Artis, 1.
  • Nealy Barnes
  • Wiley Barnes
  • Walter Bynum
  • Adeline Donald — in the 1930 census of Fork township, Wayne County, Adeline Donald, widow, 54, is listed as an inmate of the Eastern North Carolina Insane Asylum (Colored). Donald died 1 January 1931 at the state hospital in Wayne County. Per her death certificate, her regular residence was Wilson County.
  • John E. Ellis
  • Dallas Finnell — Dallas Fennell died 21 April 1935 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 41 years old and married to Sarah Fennell. Informant was Elijah Ward, Stantonsburg.
  • Louis Lewis Est.
  • George Powell Est. — in the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Wilson Road, valued at $1000, truck farmer George Powell, 60; wife Fannie, 60, washerwoman; and children Bruce, 21, and Fannie, 16, odd jobs laborers. George Powell died 18 August 1930 in Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township. Per his death certificate, he was 60 years; a farmer; married to Fannie Powell; and was born in Nash County to Lawson Powell and Lannie Taylor. Robert L. Powell of Stantonsburg was informant.
  • Mrs. Tom Tyson — in the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, valued at $700, Tom Tyson, 50; wife Arneta, 36; and children Ordella, 18, Celesta, 13, Ethel L., 11, Hubert, 9, Larry L., 2, and Clementon, 1; plus mother-in-law Ordella Barnes, 58.
  • Dave Ward
  • Tom Whitted — in the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Delaware Line, Tom Whitted, 50; wife Kitsey, 35; and children J.B., 25, Bertie, 20, Ada, 18, Claude, 15, Henry, 14, Irene, 13, Aaron, 11, Minnie, 10, and Emma, 8.
  • Titus Whitley — in the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Delaware Line, valued at $600, farm laborer Titus Whitley, 75; wife Ida, 71; grandson Leslie, 10; and lodger Allen Edmondson, 68.
  • John Whitley — in the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Delaware Line, valued at $600, blacksmith John Whitley, 49; wife Mollie, 25; and children Artillia, 18, Irene, 15, D.H., 13, John W., 10, Mary F., 8, Marjorie, 3, and Clavon, 1 month; plus father-in-law Wiley Locus, 70.
  • James Woodard

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Like Wilson, railroad tracks (marked with an arrow) divided Stantonsburg into black and white sections.  

Killed in sawmill.

Fayville Obs 10 26 1921

Fayetteville Observer, 26 October 1921.

Probably, in the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Moyetown Road, tenant farmer Elijah Ward, 34; his sister Florance, 26; farm laborer Hillery Wootten, 26, servant; farm laborer Robert Speight, 35, servant; his brother James Ward, 19, and sister Sarah Ward, 16.

Stantonsburg firsts.

“The first cafe owned by a black in Stantonsburg was opened in 1947 and was owned by June Scott Artis and his wife, Ethel. They were assisted in the business by their son Edgar Artis. The white frame building was located at the corner of Macon and Greenwood Avenues. The inside was highlighted by the pot belly stove that was located in the middle of the floor. Soft drinks, hot dogs (5¢), peanuts and other snacks were sold. 1965 marked the closing of the business.

James and Mary Ham owned the first black beauty shop in Stantonsburg and it was located on North Main Street. Hettie M. Forbes was the first licensed black beautician to operate in Stantonsburg. The shop operated from 1946 to 1956.

“In 1940 Toney Woodard opened the first black-owned grocery store in Stantonsburg. The business operated until Mr. Woodard’s death in 1959.

Oscar Ellis, Jr., opened a combination barber shop, pool room and cafe on Greenwood Avenue in 1960. The business is still in partial operation with the cafe being operated by Annie Mae Barnes and the barber shop operated by Ran Thompson.

“The first black-ownwed and operated business in Stantonsburg was probably the blacksmith shop that was owned by John Whitley. The business was opened in 1918 and operated until 1950. It was located in the building owned by William and Walter Artis, which was situated on the south side of Yelverton Street about twenty yards from the railroad track.”

Stantonsburg Historical Society, A History of Stantonsburg (1981).

——

  • June Scott and Ethel Becton Artis

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County:  Adam Artice, 68, a widowed farmer,  with children Louetta, 18, Robert, 16, Columbus, 14, Josephfene, 13, Jun S., 10, Lillie B., 9, Henry B., 6, Annie, 3, Walter, 26, and William Artis, 24.

In the 1910 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Columbus Artis, 24, grocery storekeeper, with brothers June Scott, 20, and Henry J., 16, box factory laborers,plus two lodgers, John Newsome, 30, and Eliza Diggs, 24 (who were relatives of their brother William’s wife Etta Diggs Artis.) [Clearly, there was an African-American grocer in Stantonsburg well before 1940.]

J.S. Artis married Ethel Becton on 29 January 1912 in Wayne County.

June Scott registered for the World War I draft in Wayne County. He reported that he had been born 23 November 1889 near Eureka, Wayne County and resided on RFD 1, Fremont.  He farmed for himself near Eureka and was described as being tall and slender with dark brown eyes and black hair.  He signed his name “June Cott Artis” on 5 June 1917.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg & Wilson Road, farm manager June S. Artis, 30, wife Ethel, 26, and children James, 7, Edgar, 7, Manda Bell, 3, and farm laborer Edgar Exum.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer June S. Artis, 40, wife Ethel P., 34, and children James B., 17, Edgar J., 15, Amanda B., 14, and Gladys L. Artis, 5.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: farmer June S. Artis, 50, wife Ethel, 46, and children James Brodie, 25, Edger, 23, and Gladys, 16.

June Scott Artis died 2 June 1973 in Stantonsburg of chronic myocarditis, secondary to chronic nephritis.  His death certificate reports that he was married to Ethel Becton and was born 23 November 1895 to Adam Artis and Mandy Aldridge.  He was buried 7 June 1973 at Artis Cemetery in Wayne County.

Ethel Becton Artis died 14 October 1994, days after her 102nd birthday.

  • James and Mary Frances Hamm, Hettie Hamm Forbes

In the 1910 census of Shine township, Greene County: farmer William Ham, 38; wife Jennie, 34; and children Jacob E., 13, Lucy J., 11, Pearl A., 10, William H., 7, Manor, 6, Lindsey, 4, and James L., 1; and mother-in-law Lucy Best, 70.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: farmer William H. Ham, 54; wife Janie, 51; and children Manor, 23, Linsey, 21, James L., 19, Hettie B., 17, and Mary E., 4.

  • Frank Toney Woodard

In the 1880 census of Stantonsburg township, Wilson County: Isaac Woodard, 32; wife Arner, 26; and children Fannie, 12, Nellie, 10, James, 9, Frank, 6, Isaac, 3, and Sis, 1.

In the 1900 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Tony Woodard, 25, wife Eliza, 24; son Marcelous, 5; and mother-in-law Easter Davis, 64.

On 12 September 1918, Toney Woodard registered for the World War I draft. Per his registration card, he was born 1 February 1874; resided on R.F.D. 1, Stantonsburg, Greene County; works a tenant farmer; and his nearest relative was Eliza Woodard.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Tonie Woodard, 45; wife Eliza, 42; sons Johnie, 14, and Frank, 7.

In the 1930 census of Eureka, Nahunta township, Wayne County: Tony Woodard, 60; wife Liza, 45; and sons Johnnie, 21, and Frank, 18.

In the 1940 census of Bull Head township, Greene County: farmer Toney Woodard, 65, and wife Liza, 60.

Toney Woodard, 75, married Hattie Belle Lane, 41, both of Stantonsburg, on 13 October 1954 in Wilson County. Witnesses were James Ham, Mary F. Ham, and James Isler.

Tony Woodard died 17 May 1959 in Stantonsburg, Wilson County. Per his death certificate, he was born 7 February 1879 in Wilson County to Isaac and Arner Woodard; worked as a merchant; and was married to Nettie Woodard. Mr. Heattie Woodard was informant.

  • Oscar Mathew Ellis Jr.


Per A History of Stantonsburg, Oscar M. Ellis Jr. was born on the J.L. Yelverton farm on 2 May 1913. A truck driver and farmer, Ellis was active in Bethel A.M.E. Zion, the Masonic Lodge, the Elk’s Club, Future Farmers of America, 4-H, the local school board, the county Farm Bureau, and the Agricultural Conservation and Stabilization Service. He worked to “upgrade the black section of town” and as a volunteer with the Stantonsburg Fire Department.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Stantonsburg and Black Creek Road, tenant farmer Oscar Ellis, 34; wife Mammie, 29; and children Oscar M., 6, William H., 4, Estell, 3, A.J., 1, and Charlie, 4 months; plus John, 16, and Mathew Robinson, 14.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: Oscar Ellis, 39; wife Mamie, 39; and children Oscar Jr., 16, William, 14, Estelle, 12, Ejay, 11, Colen, 10, James, 9, Bessie M., 8, Hubert L., 6, Leroy, 2, and Dorothy, 1 month.

On 12 January 1934, Oscar Ellis, 20, of Black Creek, son of Oscar and Mamie Ellis, married Lucille Barnes, 19, of Stantonsburg, daughter of Andrew and Stella Barnes, in Wilson. C.E. [Columbus E.] Artis and Stella Barnes applied for the license.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Railroad Street, laborer Oscar Ellis, 26, and wife Lucille, 25.

Oscar M. Ellis Jr. died 5 December 1984.

  • Ran Thompson
  • Annie Mae Barnes
  • John Whitley

On 26 December 1910, John Whitley, 30, of Wilson County, son of Titus and Ida Whitley, married Mollie Locust, 18, of Wayne County, daughter of Wiley and Amy Locust, near Eureka, Nahunta township, Wayne County.

In the 1920 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Delaware Street, tenant farmer John Whitley, 37; wife Mollie, 23; and children Artillie, 8, Irene, 5, Madison D., 3, and John W., 7 months.

In the 1930 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Delaware Line, blacksmith John Whitley, 49; wife Mollie, 25; and children Artillia, 18, Irene, 15, D.H., 13, John W., 10, Mary F., 8, Marjorie, 3, and Clavon, 1 month; and father-in-law Wiley Locus, 70.

In the 1940 census of Stantonsburg, Wilson County: on Delaware Street, odd jobs worker John Whitley, 59; wife Molly, 39; and children Artelia, 22, Irene, 20, Maddison D.H., 19; John Wiley, 17; Mary Frances, 14; and Marjorie, 12. Artelia and Irene were teachers.

[William and Walter Artis, who owned the building in which John Whitley operated a smithy, were brothers of June Scott Artis and Columbus E. Artis. They lived a few miles west of Stantonsburg, across the county line near Eureka, Wayne County.]

Stantonsburg’s black community is centered on a few blocks on the eastern side of the railroad tracks bisecting the town.

Photo of the Artises courtesy of Adam S. Artis.

Coartney runs away.

Halifax Free Press 5 4 1833

Halifax Free Press, 4 May 1833.

$25 Reward.

RAN AWAY from the Subscriber, about six months since, a negro woman named COARTNEY — she is about 5 feet 6 inched in height, very black, and about 30 years old. I have no doubt she is lurking about Sparta and Mrs. Hunter’s, near Tarborough. I will give $35, is she is delivered to me in Stantonsburg, or confined in any jail in the State. All persons are forbid harboring or employing her under penalty of the law. WM. STEWART.

Stantonsburg, April 26th, 1833.

Charles Battle.

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Wilson Daily Times, 16 September 1910.

Charles Battle, son of Benja Sorsby and Edith Battle, married Lear Hargrove, daughter of Alfred Parker and Venice Hargrove, on 20 June 1869 in Wilson County.

In the 1870 census, Rocky Mount, Edgecombe County: blacksmith Charles Battle, 27, wife Leah, 29, and daughter Susan, 9 months.

In the 1880 census, Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith Charles Battle, 35, wife Leah, 30, and children Adelia, 5, Geneva, 2, Virgil, 1 month, and Nicholas, 18.

In 1900 census, Wilson, Wilson County: blacksmith Charley Battle, 50, a widower; son Charley, 10; and Menerver Edwards, 58, a hired washwoman.

In the 1910 census, Stantonsburg, Wilson County: blacksmith Charlie Battle, 60, and son Charlie Jr., 21, also a blacksmith, were lodgers in the household of widowed farmer Sarah Artis, 48, and her children Willie, 22, Lillie G., 16, and Nora, 10, grandsons Marcellous, 14, and Alexander Artis, 10, and son-in-law Paul Harris, 22.

As detailed here, Charles Battle’s son Charles Tecumseh Battle became a prominent teacher of manual trades in Oklahoma, Mississippi and Alabama. However, his presence in Stantonsburg in the 1910 census and his biography suggest that his father was visiting a different son in Alabama when he passed away. Was it the Nicholas R. Battle, 56, farmer, born in North Carolina, listed in the 1920 census of Chandler township, Lincoln County, Oklahoma, with Mississippi-born wife Dora J., 58, and Oklahoma-born son Henry N. Battle, 12?

Charles Battle was buried in the Masonic cemetery on Lane Street, Wilson, beside his wife Leah and mother Edith.

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Charles Battle, 30 August 1841-12 September 1910.

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Leah Battle, 1 March 1851-8 March 1898.

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Grandmother Edith Battle, 4 April 1818-3 March 1899.

He will attempt to pass for a free man.

The Star and North Carolina State Gazette 5 4 1833

The Star and North Carolina State Gazette, 4 May 1833

$25 Reward.

Eloped from my plantation on Tosnot, Edgecomb county, on the 19th instant, a negro man named BRYANT, 22 or 23 years old, five feet 9 or 10 inches high, stout built, quite yellow for the appearance of his hair, which is as knotty as the negroes usually is, long lips, large feet and long toes, has a down look when spoken to; had on when he went off dark clothes and a black forward hat. It is probable that he will procure papers and attempt to pass for a free man, as he has done the like before, and will probably skulk about Doct. Hall’s plantation near Tarborough until he is prepared to make his escape, as his father and mother live there. I will give the above reward to ay person who will confine him in jail so that I get him again, or deliver him to me at Stantonsburg.  WILLIE BROWNRIGG.

Stantonsburg, April 22, 1833

He has a free wife living near Stantonsburg.

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Newbern Sentinel, 4 September 1824.

N.B.: Wilson County was formed in 1855 from parts of Edgecombe, Johnston, Nash and Wayne Counties. At the time this ad was published, the town of Stantonsburg was in extreme southern Edgecombe County, very close to Wayne.

Reid’s Wart Cure.

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Wilson Advance, 12 June 1895.

Elijah L. Reid (1864-1948) was the first (and perhaps only ever) African-American veterinarian in Wilson County. His father, Washington Reid (1822-1889), was a prosperous farmer in northeast Wayne County, near modern Eureka. The Reids were a free family of color whose matriarch, Rhoda Reid, was born about 1795.