Vick

Lane Street Project: the funeral of young Irma Vick.

A contributor who wishes to remain anonymous has made these incredible images available to Black Wide-Awake. They depict the funeral of Samuel and Annie Washington Vick‘s daughter Irma Vick, who died in October 1921 while a 16 year-old student in Asheville, North Carolina. Until recently, her large concrete headstone was the only marker visible in the Vick family plot. These two photographs are the only photographs we have to date that show Odd Fellows as an active cemetery or capture an early 20th-century funeral. (Per her death certificate, Irma’s body was prepared by Murrough’s, a Black Asheville funeral home, but Darden & Sons likely handled her burial.)

The first image depicts mounds of flowers heaped upon the grave, including a standing wreath arrangement (topped by a flying dove?), two baskets, and a sash whose visible lettering spells CL MBERS CLUB. Though her headstone had not yet been placed, the wreath marks the top of the grave. However, it is difficult to orient the angle of the photograph precisely. In the background, at least six grave markers are visible, none of which correlate immediately with known markers in Odd Fellows or adjacent Rountree Cemetery. (The tall, narrow shape suggests the white marble stones found in such abundance in Odd Fellows that were likely provided to members and their families as death benefits.)

The second image shows mourners standing at Irma Vick’s graveside: family friend Camillus L. Darden, an unidentified woman, Irma’s parents Samuel and Annie Vick, perhaps her brother Daniel L. Vick (though this man seems to be middle-aged), and an unidentified young woman. The obelisk visible over Darden’s shoulder is Wiley Oates‘ beautiful sandstone marker. It is difficult to be absolutely certain, but this detail suggests that the photographer was standing with his or her back to Rountree Cemetery, facing roughly south-southwest. (This assumes that the photograph is not image-reversed. The present orientation of Irma’s headstone suggests that this may, in fact, be a mirror image. Her marker faces southwest, as do all others in the cemetery. In the photo, however, the head of the grave (if the photo were rotated to the align with the cemetery’s axis, faces northeast.) In any case, we have not found the large headstone at the right side of the photo, nor what appears to be a flat marble vault slab just beside it.

I am honored to have been entrusted to share these photographs. Thank you.

The Emancipation Celebration.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 January 1917.

As we have seen here and here, for more than 50 years after the Civil War, January 1 (rather than Juneteenth) was the date Wilson’s African-American community celebrated Emancipation.

In 1917 (not ’18, per the headline), the Negro Business League sponsored the observation of the 54th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church. Master of ceremony Samuel H. Vick delivered remarks that appear calculated to soothe white attendees, as jarring as they may seem now. Mamie Faithful, a local teacher, recited two of her own patriotic poems, which, in the writer’s opinion, compared favorably to those of Paul Laurence Dunbar. And Presbyterian minister Halley B. Taylor delivered the keynote address on the progress and shortcomings of the Negro.

——

  • Mamie Faithful

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: retail merchant Sulley Rodgers, 35; wife Earley, 33; and school teacher Mamie Faithful, 50, boarder.

Mamie Faithful is listed in the 1922, 1925, and 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directories.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 114 Fourth Street, owned and valued at $1000, widow Mary Woodard, 34, laundress, and roomer Mamie Faithful, 61.

Mamie Faithful died at Mercy Hospital in Wilson on 15 January 1938. Per her death certificate, she was 63 years old; was single; worked as a laborer; and was born in Tarboro, N.C., to Irvin Thigpen and Beedie Faithful. Informant was James L. Faithful, Tarboro.

Leaving for college.

Wilson Daily Times, 19 October 1892.

  • Henry Vick — William Henry Vick graduated from Lincoln in 1894, passed his pharmacy boards in 1897, and settled in New Jersey.
  • S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick.
  • Oscar Vick — James Oscar F. Vick was the youngest Vick brother. Presumably, he attended Biddle University (later Johnson C. Smith University) in Charlotte. He became an A.M.E. minister.

Young Mary Vick drowned?

Wilson Daily Times, 1 June 1940.

The brief news report about Mary N. Vick stated that the ten year-old drowned after falling into a wash tub. Her death certificate, however, declared hers a natural death, with “no signs of foul play.”

An article in the 2 June 1940 News and Observer helps explain:

Closing exercises of the Colored Graded School.

Wilson Mirror, 9 May 1888.

Twenty-five year-old Samuel H. Vick had been teacher and principal at the Colored Graded School since shortly after his graduation from Lincoln University. A year after this graduation, he was appointed by President William H. Harrison to his first stint as Wilson postmaster, a highly sought-after political patronage position. Vick hired his old friend Braswell R. Winstead, with whom he had attended high school and college and taught at the Graded School, as assistant postmaster. Teacher A. Wilson Jones was married to Vick’s sister Nettie Vick Jones — and murdered her in 1897. Annie Washington was about 18 years old when this article was published. She and Samuel Vick married almost exactly four years later.

622 East Green Street, revisited.

Courtesy of the Freeman Round House and Museum, a clear photo of the Samuel and Annie Vick house at 622 East Green Street in its spindled and turned-post prime. The Vicks and two of their children are shown left of the porch steps.

The house has been considerably altered in the 110 or so years since this photo was taken. The entire wooden porch structure, including gazebo, is gone, and the wide siding has been covered in ashlar. The street was then unpaved, but it appears that curbing was being laid. The low ashlar wall at the sidewalk still stands, though it has been patched and modified. Recalled Hattie Henderson Ricks, who grew up just around the corner on Elba Street and was a playmate of Doris Vick Walker

“We used to come back on the wagon from out there at Five Points, and the old mule ran away from me and Mama [Sarah Henderson Jacobs Silver]. It went over the fence. Me and Mama was on the wagon. It had one of those spring seats up there, we was sitting up there, and a paper flew up before the mule, it was a little gray mule, and it was half-blind in one eye. It didn’t have a name. And we went right over the top of Sam Vick’s fence. 

” … We swept up out there to Five Points, and we come back and we come down Green Street. That’s when the trees, a row of trees was from Pender Street all the way up to Vick Street, and there were trees, a row of trees right in there, and you come on one side and the other side, and we was on the side coming home and a piece of paper or something blew up and scared the mule. And, honey, he took right off over there in Sam Vick’s yard. And that stone … thing up there, well, the wheels got up there, the wagon when she turned?  The wheels were over in the yard on the flowers, and Mama had her foot up on the dashboard, holding him back. Just pulling back. She said, “Well, you got over there, now get up and get back!” And she backed up, and sho ‘nough … but it scarred his legs all in the back where was on that place trying to get back. But I jumped off, I jumped off the wagon. Was standing there looking at ‘em. And we home. I said, we’re right there, home.”

Oral interview of Hattie H. Ricks by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

Getting milk from the Vicks.

Excerpt from my interview with my grandmother, Hattie Henderson Ricks, about where her family bought food during her childhood on Elba Street:

“But when I was a little girl, the only place you could get milk was from the Vicks. It was a quarter.  That was the only place we had to get the milk, if you got any. Unless you used canned milk. She had a back porch. Closed-in back porch. Screened in. Anyway, glass in it all around, there on the back porch, and tables out there. One of them things you churn, what I mean, a great, old big urn out there where the milk get too old, and then she’d have buttermilk. And she had a ‘frigerator sitting out there, where she’d taken the shelves out, look like where she’d made a big thing to put it in there. But she would get fresh milk everyday. The cows was somewhere out there, I don’t know where, I didn’t see ‘em in the yard. They wont nowhere up there. But somebody was working for them would go out and get the milk and bring it in these cans where you have, where got the churn in the top of it. And she would put them out there on the porch. Miz Annie seemed to be pretty clean, and the house was clean. Didn’t nobody get sick. Yeah, and they had the two daughters, and I don’t know how many boys it was. Robert was the youngest boy, and I went to school with him, and Doris and I was in the same class in school. And — I didn’t know whether she was a sister to the man, or whether she was sister to the lady, I never did find out which way — but that house, they built that two-story house right next to the Vicks, and they didn’t stay in it, they went to Washington or somewhere. And they rented the house out. And I think somebody else bought it.”

My grandmother, right, and her sister Mamie Henderson Holt, around the time their family was buying milk from the Vicks.

All rights reserved.