When Dr. Frank S. Hargrave and Samuel H. Vick envisioned the healthcare facility they would found to treat African-American patients in Wilson, it had two parts — a hospital and a “tubercular home,” i.e. sanatorium, outside town limits.
Wilson Hospital opened on East Green Street in 1913. Later that year, Sam Vick sold a forty-acre parcel south of downtown to The Wilson Tubercular Home, Inc., for $5000. Vick had bought the parcel in 1902 from S.W. and Jean S. Venable.
Deed book 97, page 313, Register of Deeds Office, Wilson.
Despite reports that a building on the site was near completion, the Tubercular Home apparently never opened.
With the help of Wilson County’s GIS Coordinator Will Corbett, I have identified the rough location of “high sandy knoll self-drained and one-third of which is covered with native pines” upon which a sanatorium and patient cottages were to be built., Pinpointing the area will require additional research in the Register of Deeds office.
J.D. Reid, principal of the Colored Graded School, was also secretary/treasurer of Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home (later known as Mercy Hospital) and its chief fundraiser. The institution was meant to encompass two sites — an intown hospital and a “tubercular home” on a farm just outside of Wilson. More about the latter in a future post.
The Daily Times lauded the efforts of African-Americans to raise money to build a hospital and sanatorium, noting the potential benefit to white people, too. “When … it is considered that colored servants, nursemaids, laundresses, gardeners and cooks do the bulk of the menial tasks for the whites of the South, the danger of so large a floating population of ignorant, dangerous consumptives is intensified.”
Sometime in 1914, the Wilson Times published a three-page insert highlighting the achievements of the town’s African-American community. “Wilson is fortunate in having a large proportion of sensible negroes,” the writer opined, and counted among the laudable such well-known citizens and institutions as Samuel H. Vick; J.D. Reid; Dr. Frank S. Hargrave; Charles, CamillusandArthur Darden; Levi Jones; William Hines; Henry Tart; and H.G. Barnes; Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home for Colored People; the Colored Graded School; First Baptist Church; Saint John A.M.E. Zion Church; C.H. Darden & Sons Undertakers; and Lincoln Benefit Society.
On page one, the main text of digitized version of the insert is difficult to read, but the advertisements and photographs are clear. Surrounding an image of the just-opened Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home are ads placed by Henry Tart, “The Transfer Man”; York Pressing Shop; and C.H. Darden Undertakers. In addition to their funeral business, the Dardens touted their bicycle and firearm dealerships and their status as agents for Victor talking machines and records. The proprietors of the pressing club are listed only as Reed and Whitty. I have not been able to identify Whitty, but Reed seems to have been Lonnie Reid (a cousin of J.D. Reid), who is listed in the 1912 Hill’s city directory of Wilson operating a clothes cleaning shop at 603 East Nash Street. York was short-lived, as in the 1916 directory Reid was in business with Dunn, North Carolina, resident William Bates. Their tailor shop, Bates & Reid, also operated from 603 East Nash.
Original document in the collection of the Freeman Round House Museum, Wilson, and digitized at www.digitalnc.org.
Yenser, Thomas, ed., Who’s Who in Colored America, 6th ed. (1942).
Dr. Frank Settle Hargrave, a native of Lexington, North Carolina, was a founder of Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home (later known as Mercy Hospital) and its medical director from 1913 to 1923. He was president of the National Medical Association (the African-American equivalent of the American Medical Association) 1914-15.