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.
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.
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.
“the cows was somewhere out there” — the Vicks maintained a farm on property they owned east of Wilson’s town limits.
Until recently, Irma’s gravestone at the edge of the cleared section of Odd Fellows was the sole clue to the burial plot of the Vick family. However, her grandparents Daniel and Fannie Vick and sister Viola were found in February 2020, and her parents in December of the same year.
In the 1900 census of Toisnot township, Wilson County: farm laborer Wade Vick, 15, boarder, in the household of white farmer James M. Morgan.
Wade Vick, 20, of Wilson township, son of Payton Vick and Ellen Vick, married William Ann “Willie” Plummer, 19, of Wilson township, daughter of William Plummer and Etta Plummer, on 8 January 1903 in Black Creek. Smith Mercer applied for the license.
In the 1910 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Wade Vick, 28; wife William Ann, 25, farm laborer; and widowed mother Martha, 60, farm laborer.
In 1918, Wade Vick registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 2 April 1881; lived at 819 Robeson Street, Wilson; was a laborer for Farmers Cotton Oil Company; and his nearest relative was wife Willie Vick.
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 818 Robeson, Austin Branch, 59, oil mill laborer, and wife Cindy, 48, tobacco factory worker, and Wade Vick, 35, oil mill laborer, and wife Anne, 32, tobacco factory worker.
Wade Vick died 12 October 1929 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 46 years old; was married to Willie Vick; lived at 1018 Robeson Street; was a day laborer at Farmers Cotton Oil Mill; and was born in Wilson County to Patten Vick. He died of a “fractured scull, sudden; caught in belt at cotton oil mill — killed instantly.”
In 1919, Samuel H. Vick drafted a lengthy letter to the Daily Times to protest treatment of African-American patrons of the John Robinson Circus.
The exact nature of the “raw deal” is not clear, but appears to involve forcing Black customers to buy premium-priced reserve seating rather than general admission tickets. Also, refusing to honor purchased tickets. And humiliating patrons by directing them to “the N*gger Wagon” and “the N*gger Hole” when they tried to enter the show. Vick’s anger is clear, but measured. He notes the general good relations between Black and white Wilsonians, but laments the potential for disruption of that goodwill by a rude stranger. Who could blame a Black man for losing his cool?