Venters

619 East Green Street.

The fifty-first 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: “ca. 1913; 2 stories; Charlie Thomas house; triple-A I house with bracketed porch posts; Thomas was a printer.”

Robert C. Bainbridge and Kate Ohno’s Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Survey, originally published by the City of Wilson in 1980 and updated and republished in 2010 under the auspices of the Wilson County Genealogical Society, provides additional details about the house: “Charlie Thomas House. This handsome turn of the century house, a classic of a type, boasts a central cross gable with a diamond-shaped louver typical of this period of construction. The three bay facade is enriched by the porch which boasts sawnwork brackets and turned columns.”

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Charlie Thomas, 49, laborer for printing office; wife Sarah, 44; and children Elton, 20, Lizzie, 18, Louis, 15, Hattie M., 11, Mary, 5, and Sarah, 1 month. [Though no address is listed in the census, by the identity of the Thomases’ neighbor, it is reasonably clear that the family was living at what is then 616 East Green and now 619 East Green.]

In the 1912 Wilson, N.C., city directory, all residing at 616 East Green: Thomas Charles pressman P D Gold Publishing Co Inc; Thomas Elton lab; Thomas Lizzie laundress; and Thomas Louis carp.

In the 1916 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Thomas Charles pressman P D Gold Publishing Co Inc h 616 E Green.

In 1917, Clarence C. Dawson, husband of Elizabeth Thomas Dawson (and son of A.D. and Lucy Hill Dawson), registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. He listed his home address as 616 East Green Street and noted that he worked as a cashier for William Hines (who owned a barber shop and was his nearby neighbor.)

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Clarence Dawson, 23, barber; wife Elizabeth, 22; and daughter Eris, 2; widower father-in-law Charley Thomas, 59; brother-in-law Clifton Venters, 24, his wife Hattie, 20; and in-laws Elton, 29, Marie, 15, Sarah, 10, and Beatrice Thomas, 8.

The 1922 Sanborn fire insurance map of Wilson, N.C., shows that 619 was originally 616B East Green Street. (The house that had been numbered 619 was renumbered 618.)

In the 1928 Wilson, N.C., city directory: Thomas Chas (c) prsmn P D Gold Pub Co h 619 E Green

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 East Green Street, printing office laborer Charlie Thomas, 65; daughter Elizabeth Dawson, 32; son-in-law Clarence Dawson, 31; and grandchildren Eris Dawson, 11, Naomi, 9, Clarence, 7, and Thomas V. Dawson, 3; and daughters Sarah, 19, theatre ticket seller, and Beatrice Thomas, 17.

Lizzie Dawson died 16 Janaury 1937 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born 10 July 1894 in Wilson to Charly Thomas of Nash County and Sarah Best of Wilson, and was married to Clarence Dawson. Informant was Charly Thomas.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 619 Green Street, Charlie Thomas, 74; daughter Sarah Bryant,29, movie theatre cashier; her husband Willie, 29, bicycle shop repairman; and children Jean, 6, and Fay G., 5; daughter Beatrice Neal, 29; her husband Willie, 28, retail grocery delivery boy; and grandsons Clarence Dawson, 17, and Thomas Dawson, 13.

In 1940, Willie Baby Bryant registered for the World War II draft in Ward 4, Wilson. Per his registration card, he lived at 619 East Green Street; was born 4 August 1910 in Tarboro, North Carolina; his contact was wife Sarah Virginia Bryant of 619 East Green; and he was employed by S.H. Moss of Moss Bicycle Shop. Also, that year Willie Neal registered in Ward 4. Per his registration card, he lived at 619 East Green; was born 2 May 1911, his contact was wife Beatrice Neal of 619 East Green; and he worked for Moss and Co., 134 South Tarboro Street, Wilson.

In 1942, Elton Henry Thomas registered for the World War II draft in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. Per his registration card, he was born 15 August 1894 in Wilson, North Carolina; resided at 109 Sherman Avenue, Newark; his contact was Charles Thomas, 619 East Green Street, Wilson; and he worked for Julius Rose, 327 Amherst Street, Orange, New Jersey.

Charles Thomas died 22 August 1945 at his home at 619 East Green Street, Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was a widower; was 86 years old; was born in Wilson County to Sarah Thomas; was a retired printer; and was buried in Rountree cemetery. Lewis Thomas, 715 East Green Street, was informant.

Photograph of 619 East Green Street published in Bainsbridge and Ohno’s Wilson, North Carolina: Historic Buildings Survey. The small stucco attachment at right housed Beatrice Thomas Neal’s Bea’s Flower Shop. It has been demolished.

Photograph at top by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2017.

Studaway injured in big Hackney fire.

Hackney Brothers Suffer Another Big Fire Loss – Within Two Months – Paint Shop Burned Yesterday Afternoon With Loss of $50,000 Covered By Insurance. Fire Quick and Hot. Four Workmen Were Injured. Two In Hospital

One of the fastest and hottest fires ever seen in this city occurred yesterday afternoon about five o’clock when the paint shop of Hackney Bros. in this city burned, and four workmen came near losing their lives before they were able to escape from the building. This is the second fire suffered by the Hackney buggy and automobile plant located on Green street and running back to an alley between this property and their store property which fronts on Nash street since Christmas. This was the fifth fire yesterday.

The fire at Christmas caused a loss of around $400,000. That fire burned two building fronting on Green street and stopped at a double wall, leaving the rear ends of the buildings adjoining the alley. The Hackneys moved their garage equipment and were getting ready to replace the old buildings with a modern garage building, with a service and filling station in front and offices on Green street, when this second fire changed their plans and now they are uncertain what to do.

After the first fire they located their paint shop in the building on the north side, here they painted buggy bodies, automobile bodies and cars for customers. In the other building just across the alley they had their workshop for repairing cars.

The front of both buildings were burned in the Christman fire. The fire yeasterday burned the paint shop, but the repair shop across the way was not injured.

The burning of this shop has completely changed the plans of the proprietors and therefore they are uncertain at present as to what they will do.

After the Christmas fire, as explained above, the company decided to erect a factory on their property on Herring avenue located on the Atlantic Coast railroad in the eastern part of the city, and just across the railroad from the Hackney Wagon Company. Here commercial automobile bodies, and buggy bodies will be built. They will not change their plans as to this, but will go ahead with their work here. The fire has for the moment caused them to be undecided as to what they will do with their property fronting on Green street which has been destroyed.

The fire yesterday afternoon was caused by the breaking of an electric light bulb, attached to an extension cord which was being used by Mr. Albert Flowers underneath a car on which he was engaged in cleaning the chassis. He had a bucket of water and gasoline, as is usual in such cases. When the bulb broke fire began to run around the floor on which was water and gasoline. Mr. Flowers got from under the car, and others around the car secured fire extinguishers and began to fight the flames.

Mr. Robert Smith who is in a local hospital, and one most badly burned, except a colored man named Lucien Studaway, who is confined in the Negro hospital, tells the following story of the accident.

“When the bulb broke, and the fire began to run around on the floor, Jim Wallace ran for a fire extinguisher, and Mr. Ben Owens, foreman of the paint shop, also came back there. All of us fought the flames but we did not think it was so bad. I then ran to get a fire extinguisher, and it seemed in a second the whole floor was in a blaze, and I said to Ed Winstead, we can’t put it out, lets get our clothes and get out. I ran to the place where my clothes were hanging, and the smoke blinded me so, I could not get to the door. I was near a window and started to break the glass with my hands. I then noticed there was a nail holding down the window and I pulled this out and escaped.”

Four altogether suffered burns and had a narrow escape. These were Mr. Bob Smith who is burned on the face and hands and arms to his elbows. He is in the hospital. Mr. John Whitehead is burned on the face, and hands, and one eye is closed. He was taken to the hospital at first, but was later taken home. He is able to sit up. Mr. Ed Winstead is burned on the face and back of the head. He is also able to be up. Lucien Sturdaway, Colored, is still in the hospital. His injuries are about as those of Mr. Smith. He is also not seriously burned.

Within a few moments after the alarm sounded the flames and smoke were pouring from the building, a three story structure containing much paint, a barrel of turpentine and linseed oil. Just where the fire started there were two automobiles, customers’ cars, newly covered with a coat of varnish, and these burned like a tinder. There were probably a dozen customers’ cars in the building and these are a total loss. Some of them carried insurance while others did not.

The firemen did heroic work, and deserve special commendation for their efforts. Notwithstanding the terrific heat and the danger from falling walls, they stayed on the roofs of the adjoining buildings and from both engines four streams of water played on the fire, two from the north side and two from the south side. By playing streams on the corners of the building they held these intact, and through the walls in the center on the north side fell in, the corners kept them from falling directly, and thus adjoining buildings were not endangered. The walls came down in sections beginning at the top. About half of the north wall fell in.

At one time it was thought the Municipal building would go, and Mr. Hinnant, city clerk, prepared to remove furniture and valuable papers, but the fine work of the fire department kept the flames confined to its origin in the Hackney building. This is the proud record of our firemen for several years. They have managed to keep the flames confined in the building where it had started. The Times believe that we have the best fire company in the country, and they should be commended by our people.

On account of the number of fires occurring yesterday, there was not sufficient time to wash and prepare the hose. Mr. Murray says he needs a place to wash the hose, and that this would save hundreds of dollars worth of fabric. The alkali in the dirt being very injurious to the fabric. The city fathers should provide a place for this purpose.

Wilson Times, 24 February 1922.

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Site of Hackney Wagon Company, Sanborn insurance map, 1922.

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Location of former Hackney Wagon plant today.

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In the 1900 county, Wilson, Wilson County: carriage painter Wyatt Studaway, 53, wife Jancy, 43, and son Lucian, 23, tobacco factory day laborer.

In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Manchester Street, Wyatt Studaway, 56, wife Gincy, 48, and children Lucian, 22, Palmar, 4, and Margarett, 1.

Jensy Studaway died 23 January 1915 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was married and was born 20 September 1862 in Greene County to Lewis Bess and an unknown mother. Wyatt Studaway was informant.

Lucian Studaway registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 4 September 1874, resided at 114 Manchester Street, worked as a painter for Hackney Brothers, and was of medium height and stout build. His next-of-kin was Wyatt Studaway.

Wyatt Studaway died 2 October 1926 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he resided at 112 Manchester Street; was a widower; was engaged as a minister and merchant; was 75 years old; and had been born in Wake County to Isaac and Mary Studaway. Lucian Studaway was informant.

Lucian Studaway outlived his father by less than a year, dying 13 June 1927 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 42 years old, single, lived at 112 Manchester Street, worked as a day laborer, and was the son of Wyatt Studaway of Wake County and Jency Studaway of Wilson. Hattie Mae Vinters was informant.

Studaway executed a will three months before his death. He had been the sole heir of his parents’ property, and he passed all that he owned to his cousin Hattie May Venters, “who had been kind to me and who has visited me in my illness and shown me consideration and been attentive to my health and welfare.” Venters was the daughter of Charles and Sarah Best Thomas.

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North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.