Vance Street

813 East Vance Street.

The eightieth in a series of posts highlighting buildings in East Wilson Historic District, a national historic district located in Wilson, North Carolina. As originally approved, the district encompasses 858 contributing buildings and two contributing structures in a historically African-American section of Wilson. (A significant number have since been lost.) The district was developed between about 1890 to 1940 and includes notable examples of Queen Anne, Bungalow/American Craftsman, and Shotgun-style architecture. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988.


As described in the nomination form for the East Wilson Historic District, this house is: “ca. 1913; 1 story; saddle-bag house with hip-roofed porch.”

In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Johnson Alberta (c; cook) h 813 Vance

In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Johnson Alberta (c; wid Clif) dom h 813 Vance

Photograph by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2017.

The last will and testament of Walter M. Foster.

I, Walter M. Foster, of the town of Wilson, State of North Carolina, being of sound mind and memory, declare this to be my last will and testament, in manner and form following, that is to say:

  1. It is my will that all my just debts be paid.
  2. I will and devise to my wife, Rose P. Foster, my house and lot where we now live No. 808 E. Vance St.
  3. I will and bequeath to my wife Rose P. Foster, my household and kitchen furniture.
  4. I will and bequeath to my daughter Henretta Foster, Five Dollars.
  5. I will and bequeath to my son Walter H. Foster, Five Dollars.
  6. I will and bequeath to my son Carter Foster, my Automobile, Viz, Reo Six.
  7. I will and bequeath to my daughter, Naomi Foster, Five Dollars.

I appoint as my executor Atty. Glenn S. McBrayer.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I Walter M. Foster, have hereunto set my hand and seal thi the 9th day of March, 1922.             Walter M. Foster

Subscribed by the testator in the presents of each of us at the same time declared by him to us to be his last will and testatement.

Witness our hands this 9th day of March, A.D. 1922     A.N. Neal, A. Batts, Glenn S. McBrayer


On 14 August 1896, Walter Foster, 23, son of Peter and Phillis Foster, married Nettie Young, 28, daughter of Henry and Annie Young. Rev. Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony at Lou Ellis‘ house in Wilson in the presence of William Coley, Cora Ellis, and Minnie Coley.

In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Walter Foster, 26, day laborer; wife Nettie, 29; daughter Mollie, 6 months.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Walter Foster, 34, fireman at wagon factory; wife Nettie, 39; and children Henry E., 8, and Walter A., 5; plus boarder Arthur Broady, 22, laborer.

Nettie Young Foster died 7 July 1912.

On 17 April 1913, Walter Foster, 38, married Rosa Parker, 23, in Wilson. Rev. M.A. Talley performed the rites in the presence of L.A. Moore, A.F. Broadie, and E.H. Thomas.

In 1918, Walter Macklin Foster registered for the World War I draft. He reported that he was born 13 May 1874, that he resided on East Vance Street, worked as a fireman for Hackney Wagon, and his nearest relative was wife Rosa Foster.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 707 Vance Street, Walter Foster, 46, fireman at wagon company; wife Rosa, 34; children Heneretta, 18, Carl, 6, and Naomi, 4; and sister-in-law Etta Parker, 32, a school teacher.

Walter’s will does not indicate the model year of his REO Six, but this 1922 ad offers a possible glimpse of his apparent pride and joy:


Walter Foster died 24 November 1928 in Wilson. His death certificate reports his place of birth as Franklinton, North Carolina. He had been working as a fireman at Hackney Wagon Company more than 20 years. (It is not clear to me whether he was a fireman in the traditional fire-fighting sense or in the maritime sense of “stoker.”)


His and his first wife Nettie’s gravestones are among the few that remain standing in Rountree cemetery.



Walter Foster’s home at 808 East Vance Street today:


North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line],; cemetery photos taken by Lisa Y. Henderson, February 2016; photo of house courtesy of Google Maps.