World War I

The “colored” who gave all.

The walls of the narrow entryway into the Wilson County Court House are lined with large bronze plaques commemorating the county’s war dead. Look carefully at the World War I and World War II/Korean Conflict plaques. The areas containing veterans’ names are lighter than the surrounding surfaces; the names are picked out in a shinier paint. Why?

The names are embossed on plates secured to the plaques at each corner by small rosettes disguising bolts. These plates are replacements. The originals contained segregated lists. In other words, “colored” men “who gave the last full measure of devotion” were listed separately from their white counterparts.

A 10 April 1976 Wilson Daily Times article about the installation of a Vietnam vets plaque reveals photographs of the original plaques for the earlier wars:

The colored: Henry Ellis, killed 6 October 1918 (Wilson’s African-American post of the American Legion was named for Ellis); Benjamin Horne, died 10 October 1918; Pharaoh Coleman, died 17 October 1918; Luther Harris, died 17 October 1918; Strat Barnes, died 5 December 1918; West Vick, died 11 March 1919; Charles Barnes, died 28 July 1919; and Charles Samuel Clay, died 17 August 1919.

The colored: Levi Adger, Robert E. Ashford, Norman Gilliam, Victor Emanuel Hayes, Less Hinnant, Bobby H. Hyman, James Johnson, Thomas Jones Jr., Claude Kenan Jr., Willie J. Lassiter, Charles Leak, William R. Robinson, Thomas J. Rutland, Herbert L. Simms, Bekay Thompson and Mayo Ward.

Photos by Lisa Y. Henderson, August 2019.

On the occasion of his historical marker dedication, another account of Dr. Ward’s appointment.

This weekend, with his granddaughter and great-grandchildren in attendance, the Indiana Historical Bureau, the American Legion, and the Association for the Study of African American Life and History will dedicate a historical marker commemorating the lifetime achievements of Wilson native Dr. Joseph H. Ward. Though I’ve blogged about him here and here and here and here, this seemed an appropriate time to feature yet another long newspaper article detailing Dr. Ward’s accomplishments.

 

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“The appointment of Dr. [Joseph H.] Ward to this position marks a decided step forward for the race. In many respects this may be regarded as the highest office to which a Negro has ever been appointed, certainly the most responsible.”

Topeka Plaindealer, 25 July 1924.

Photos courtesy of L. Bates.

He is a Wilson negro and a bad one at that.

One hundred years ago today:

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The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 16 March 1919.

  • Kit Shaw
  • Luther Barbour — in the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 809 East Nash, John Barber, 27; wife Ethel, 26; mother Sallie, 59, teacher; and brother Luther, 32. Luther is described as single.

Over there!, no. 3.

The following men departed Hoboken, New Jersey, on 8 May 1919 aboard the George Washington with 5th Company Camp Grant Reenforcement Draft Labor Battalion (Colored).

  • Jonah Artis, whose next of kin was his wife Mary Artis of Stantonsburg.

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  • Aaron Barnes, whose next of kin was wife Lucy Barnes of Elm City.

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  • William Davis, whose next of kin was wife Ida Davis of Wilson.

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  • Van Edwards, whose next of kin was mother Martha Edwards of Wilson.

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  • Willie Hockaday, whose next of kin was sister Vallie Ward of Elm City.

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Lists of Incoming Passengers, 1917-1938 and Lists of Outgoing Passengers, 1917-1938; U.S. Army Transport Service, Passenger Lists, 1910-1939, database on-line, http://www.ancestry.com.

Studio shots, no. 97: Albert Howard, soldier.

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Albert Howard (1892-1956).

In the 1900 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: farmer Deal Howard, 39; wife Nancy, 39; and children John, 16, Christian, 14, Oscar, 11, Ettie, 10, Albert, 7, Thomas, 5, Alvin, 3, Herman, 1, and Tiner, 0.

In the 1910 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: on Horne’s Road, farmer Zelius Howard Jr., 49; wife Nancy, 49; and children Albert, 17, Thomas, 15, Alvin, 13, Herman, 11, Tina, 9, Florence, 7, and Ella, 5.

In 1917, Albert Howard registered for the World War I draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born in 1892 in Wilson; was single; and farmed for himself.

In the 1920 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Deal Howard, 58; wife Nancy, 60; and Albert, 28, Herman, 22, Tiner, 19, and Florence, 17.

In the 1930 census of Taylor township, Wilson County: Albert Howard, 35, farmer; mother Nancy, 75; and James, 11, and Tommie Howard, 9.

Albert Howard died 3 August 1956 in Taylors township. Per his death certificate, he was born 2 February 1890 in Wilson County to Dill Howard and Nancy Black; was married to Ida Howard; was a farm laborer; was a World War I veteran; and was buried in Howard cemetery, Wilson County.

Photograph courtesy of Europe A. Farmer.

 

Barnes wounded at war.

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Wilson Daily Times, 18 February 1919.

Though this injury may have been slight, David Barnes Jr. returned from World War I a disabled veteran.

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In the 1900 census of Wilson, Wilson County: hotel porter Dave Barnes, 40; wife Della; and children Walter, 20, William, 15, Lucy, 13, Dave, 5, and Viola, 11. [Walter, William, and Lucy were, in fact, Hineses — Della Hines Barnes’ children, and Viola Barnes was Dave Barnes by a previous marriage.]

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.

David Barnes registered for the World War I draft in 1917 in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 3 March 1895 in Wilson; was a barber for Tate & Hines; lived at 612 East Green; and was short, of medium build, with blue eyes and black hair.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 612 East Green, widow Della Barnes, 50; Cleveland Chick, 25, barber, and Dasy Chick, 23, both of South Carolina; and Della’s sons Dave, 24, and Otha, 17.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 613 East Green, valued at $8000, widow Della Barnes, 71, and sons Boysie, 26, and Dav., 35, barber.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 610 East Green, Minnie Nelson, 54, tobacco factory stemmer, and sons Marion, 23, odd jobs house cleaner, Styles, 23, waiter at the English Tavern, and James Edward, 22, dress shop delivery boy, all natives of Fayetteville, North Carolina; and roomer David Barnes, 40, a war veteran.

David Barnes registered for the World War II draft in 1942. Per his registration card, he was born 3 March 1898 in Wilson; was a disabled veteran; and lived at 610 East Green.

David Barnes died 12 May 1966 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 19 March 1897 in Wilson County to David Barnes and Della Hines; never married; had worked as a barber; and was a World War I veteran.

 

Studio shots, no. 70: Sgt. Benjamin A. Harris Sr.

Sgt. Benjamin A. Harris, World War I.

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In the 1900 census of Fremont township, Wayne County: day laborer Ed Harries, 27; wife Bettie, 25; and children Benjamin A., 5, Roday, 4, and John H., 5 months.

In the 1910 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: farmer Ed Harriss, 37; wife Bettie, 34; and children Benjamin, 15, Rhoda, 14, Johney, 10, Nannie, 9, Nicie and Vicie, 7, Edgar, 4, and Oscar and Roscar, 1.

Benjamin Amos Harris registered for the World War I draft in Eureka precinct, Wayne County, in 1917.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wayne County: on Stantonsburg Road, farmer Benjamin Harris, 25, and siblings Rhodie, 22, John, 20, Nanie, 18, Vicie and Nicie, 16, Edgar, 14, Oscar and Rosca, 11, Leland, 9, and Hamilton B., 7.

On 14 March 1922, Benjaman A. Harris, 25, of Nahunta, son of Ed and Bettie Harris, married Pauline Artis, 20, of Nahunta, daughter of Wash [sic; Noah] and Patience Artis, in Eureka, Nahunta township, Wayne County.

In the mid-1920s, Benjamin and Pauline Artis Harris moved ten miles north to Wilson.

In the 1925 Wilson city directory: Harris Benj bricklyr h 407 Viola.

Harris, in partnership with George Best, opened a grocery store near the city limits on East Nash Street. In the 1928 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harris Benj A (c; Pauline) (Harris & Best) r Finch; Harris & Best (c) (B A Harris and Geo Best) gros 1316 E Nash

In the 1930 Hill’s Wilson, N.C., city directory: Harris Benj (c; Pauline) brklyr h 312 Finch

The family was missed in the 1930 and 1940 censuses of Wilson, Wilson County.

In 1940, when Harry Bryant Harris registered for the World War II draft in Wilson, he listed his eldest brother Ben Amos Harris as his contact and employer.

Benjamin Amos Harris died 15 May 1955 at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Per his death certificate, he was born 16 October 1894 to Edward Harris and Betty Daniel; lived at 312 Finch Street, Wilson; worked as a bricklayer; and was a World War I veteran. Six days later, his widow applied for a military grave marker:

Photo of Benjamin A. Harris Sr. courtesy of Adventures in Faith: The Church at Prayer, Study and Service, a booklet commemorating the 100th anniversary of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Wilson; image of draft card at U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.