We read here of Cockrell’s Grocery, which stood at the corner of Green and Pettigrew Streets one block east of the railroad and served a largely African-American clientele. Above, a clearer view of the photograph accompanying an article about the store, with William White, at center, and Billy Strayhorn, at far right.
The one hundred sixty-seventh 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 building is: “ca. 1913; 1-story; L-plan cottage.” The original address was 619 Viola.
In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harrison Reginald (c; Bessie) driver Hackney Oil Co h 608 Viola
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Reddit Jos (c; Mary) lab h 608 Viola
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 608 Viola, rented for $14/month, Joseph Redditt, 34, oil mill laborer; wife Mary, 26; niece Eva Branch, 16; and roomer Lucy Barnes, 29, cook.
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 608 Viola, paying $11/month, Josh White, 48, factory deliveryman, born in Georgia, and wife Pecorria, 41, chambermaid at girls college; paying $4/month, Florine Jones, 24, servant, born in Georgia; husband Preston, 29, service station attendant, born in South Carolina; and daughters Hattie Pearl, 7, and Doris E., 4. [By October 1940, the Joneses had relocated to Richmond, Virginia, where Preston Jones registered for the World War II draft.]
In the 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Woodard Flossie (c) cook h 608 Viola
The one hundred-fifty-seventh 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 building is: “ca. 1908; 1 story; two-room, central-hall house with turned post porch.”
In the 1908 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Jackson William H Rev h 613 Viola
The 1913 Sanborn fire insurance map shows that the original house number was 613.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: White James (c) hostler h 613 Viola
In 1918, George Lane registered for the World War I draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 1 June 1879; lived at 613 Viola Street; worked as a brick laborer for John M. Barnes, Green Street, Wilson; and his nearest relative was Mamie Lane, 613 Viola. He signed his card with an X.
In the 1920 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Lane George (c) col h 613 Viola
In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: renting at 613 Viola, George Lane, 43, tobacco factory laborer; wife Mamie, 30, washing and ironing; and children John, 11, Clyde, 7, George Jr., 6, and Louise, 1.
On 21 November 1920, an unnamed infant girl was born dead at 613 Viola to George Lane and Mamie Washington Lane. Her mother was informant for her death certificate.
In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 602 Viola Street, Samuel Sweny, 53, painter, and children Neoma, 17, Laney, 15, Easter, 13, Gracy, 12, John H., 10, and George P., 7.
In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Swinney Saml (c) pntr h 602 Viola; also, Swinney Naomi (c) student h 602 Viola
In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 602 Viola Street, Samuel Swinney, 76, painter, daughters Ester, 22, a tobacco stemmer, and Gracie, 22, superintendent at NYA project, and sons Johnnie R., 18, “in CCC camp,” and George, 17.
Samuel W. Swinney died 24 December 1940 in Wilson. Per his death certificate, he was 59 years old; born in Roberson County to Richard Swinney and Fannie Manning, both of Dillon, South Carolina; and a widower. Grace Swinney of 602 Viola Street was informant.
The 1941 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory lists Elizabeth Swinney, maid; George Swinney, tobacco worker; Grace Swinney, teacher; and John Swinney, grocer, at 602 Viola. John Swinney’s grocery store was at 612 Viola.
In 1942, Johnnie Richard Swinney registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 13 May 1921 in Wilson; lived at 602 East Viola Street, Wilson; his contact was Lonnie Thompson, 602 East Viola, Wilson; and he worked in “business (store).”
In 1942, George Cleo Swinney registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 15 April 1923 in Wilson; lived at 602 East Viola Street, Wilson; his contact was Naomi Hunter, 11 1/2 North Pender Street, Wilson; and he worked for Thurston Motor Line, Wilson.
In the 1947 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Swinney Geo (c) student h 602 Viola; also, Thompson Lanie S (c) cook ACC h 602 Viola
Lucinda Wife of Geo. W. White Oct. 15, 1880 Nov. 30, 1915 Age 35
George White, 34, of Craven County, son of Louisa Dew, married Lucinda Parker, 20, of Craven County, on 27 December 1898 at Jackson Dew‘s residence in Wilson township, Wilson County. Alfred Dew applied for the license, and Baptist minister J.T. Deans performed the ceremony in the presence of James T. Alston, L.A. Allen, and Jackson Dew.
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: George White, 25, day laborer fireman, and wife Lucinda, 23.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: on Suggs Street, George White, 35, box factory laborer, and wife Lucindia, 30.
Lucinda White died 13 November 1915 in Wilson. Per her death certificate, she was born in 1883 in North Carolina to Henretta Richardson; was married; and was buried in Wilson. George Wilson was informant.
In the Probate Court Before A. Barnes, Probate Judge, May 8th, A.D. 1871.
George Morris an apprentice by indenture to Thomas White, colored, complaining says:
1st That he was bound by articles of indenture to Thomas White, colored, on the ___ day of _____ 18 ___ by
2nd That the said Thomas White has treated with great cruelty, inflicting upon him severe whippings for trifling faults, especially on the evening of Friday May 5th A.D. 1871 , when he was beaten by the said Thomas White in a most cruel and inhumane manner
Wherefore petitioner humbly asks your Honor that you will by order command the said Thomas White to appear before you at some early day to be named by your Honor to show cause why the articles of indenture above specified should not be cancelled.
George Morris, by Kenan & Durham, his Attorneys
George Morris — in the 1870 census of Oldfields township, Wilson County, George Morriss, 10, is listed in the household of his mother Eliza Morriss. The family is described as white. [Eliza Morris was the widow of Warren Morris, with whom she appears in the 1850 Johnston County census.] The absence of a color designation behind Morris’ name in this petition can be interpreted as as an indication that he was white, which accords with this census entry.
Thomas White — in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: farm laborer Thomas White, 56; wife Charlotte, 56; and Lucy, 14, Reuben, 15, George, 10, and Lucy White, 3. [The apprenticeship of white children by African-American masters was exceedingly rare, and White was surely taking his life in his hands abusing one.]
Kenan & Durham — Col. Thomas S. Kenan (1838-1911) settled in Wilson in 1869 and opened a law practice that flourished and lead to a long and influential legal career.
Apprentice Records-1871, Miscellaneous Records, Wilson County Records, North Carolina State Archives.
In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel porter Dave Barnes, 40; wife Della, 40; and children Walter, 24; William, 15; Lucy, 13; Dave, 5; and Viola, 11. [Though all the children were listed as Barneses, the oldest three were in fact Della’s children and were named Hines. Viola was Dave’s child with his first wife, Pattie Battle.]
In the 1900 census of Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts: carpenter William White, 53; wife Mary R., 53; children John L., 15, Edgar, 10, and Sadie, 23; granddaughter Beatrice, 2; plus mother-in-law Frances D. Hogan. William was born in New York to a New York-born father and English mother. Mary was born in Massachusetts to a native Massachusetts father and New Hampshire-born mother. Frances was born in New Hampshire.
In the 1910 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel servant Dave Barnes, 50; wife Della, 50; and children William, 25, barber, Lucy, 23, Dave, 15, Bosey, 8, Mary, 7, John, 5, Sam, 3, and Carry, 1 month.
In 1918, John Leonard White registered for the World War I draft in Nashville, Tennessee. Per his registration card, he was born 26 May 1885; worked as the director of the Department of Agriculture of A.&I. State Normal School [now Tennessee State University]; and Lucile P. White was his nearest relative.
In the 1920 census of Nashville, Davidson County, Tennessee: at 1710 Jefferson Street, John L. White, 32, teacher at State Normal; wife Lucille, 31; and daughter Charmian, 6.
Lucile Pearl White died 19 February 1920 at Hubbard Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, of a bowel obstruction following an operation. Per her death certificate, she was born 7 December 1885 in North Carolina. J.L. White, 1710 Jefferson Street, was informant, and she was removed to Wilson, N.C., for burial.
Charmian T. White, 30, born in Nashville, daughter of John L. White and Lucille P. Hines, married Lawrence C. Jammer on 3 August 1946 in Monroe, Michigan.
Charmian T. White died 1 November 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.
Cockrell’s Grocery, at the corner of Green and Pettigrew Streets one block east of the railroad, served a largely African-American clientele. The building at 404 East Green now houses Saint Mary’s Love and Faith church, a Holiness congregation. Billy Strayhorn and Swindell McDonald, despite their length of service, were teenagers at the time this article was printed. I cannot identify William White with certainty.
On Monday, 16 January 1899, Marion Greely Ward shot Turner Battle inside D.G. Liles’ bar in downtown Wilson. Ward, who was white, ran a little restaurant at the rear of Liles’ saloon, and Battle cooked for him. The News & Observer of Raleigh ran the story first. The angle taken by Josephus Daniels’ paper is not surprising. Battle is “large,” “powerful” and “impudent,” and Ward was a “weak, small man” who had fired him for “bad conduct.”
News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 17 January 1899.
The Wilson Advance ran coverage in its early edition the next day. The recited facts are choppy, but seem to indicate that Ward owed Battle money and, when Battle asked for it, Ward accused him of an overnight theft of whiskey. When Battle denied it, Ward called him a damned lie and, when Battle returned the insult, Ward pulled a pistol and shot three times. Two bullets hit Battle in the chest.
Wilson Advance, 19 January 1899.
By the evening post, Battle, who “seemed to be a quiet kind of negro,” was dead.
Wilson Advance, 19 January 1899.
Contrary to the News & Observer, Ward initially fled, but after a brief turn as a fugitive, he turned himself in. The trial was held quickly, and more facts (or, in any case, testimony) emerged. In summary: on Friday, 13 January, Ward opened his restaurant in Liles’ bar and on Saturday hired Battle to cook. Over the weekend, Ward complained to Liles that Battle had stolen from him, and he intended to discharge him on Monday. When Battle arrived Monday morning, Ward fired him. Kinchen Liles testified that he heard someone say “goddamn” and, before he could hustle out of the refrigerator and around the bar, three shots rang out. John White, “a negro of unsavory reputation,” testified that Ward told Battle that before he could pay him for Saturday’s work, Battle needed to bring back the stolen goods. Battle: “I did not steal your stuff.” Ward: “You’re a damned lie.” Battle: “You’re another.” Ward then ran behind the counter, grabbed his gun and shot three times, with White knocking up the pistol on the last shot. Battle staggered out, sat down and was taken home. He was either a “fussy, disagreeable negro, impudent and mouthy” or a “quiet, good one.” Ward, of course, was described as quiet and possessed of an excellent reputation.
Wilson Daily Times, 17 February 1899.
To date, I have found no record of the verdict in this trial.
Possibly, in the 1870 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: Hardy Bell, 65, farm laborer, wife Lucinda, 48, and children Wilson, 17, Isabella, 13, and Ellen Bell, 7; plus Turner, 4, Julia, 10, William, 8, Lucinda, 6, Anna, 3, and infant Battle, 10 months.
Also, Turner Battle, 26, of the Town of Wilson, son of Isaac and Lovinia Battle, married Sarah Taylor, 18, of the Town of Wilson, daughter of Nellie Taylor, on 18 February 1894. Missionary Baptist minister W.T.H. Woodardperformed the ceremony in the presence of C.C. Gaffney, Henry Moore and George McCown. [Note that if this is the same Turner Battle, his killer’s trial was held the week of his first wedding anniversary.]
Probably, in the 1900 census of Wilson township, Wilson County: teamster John White, 26, and wife Jane, 20.