World War II

Sugar registration.

To prevent hoarding and to tamp down prices, the United States government mandated registration for sugar rations in the spring of 1942. Wilson established seven registration sites at schools around Wilson township — three white and four “colored.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 2 May 1942.

Registration at Vick School and Sallie Barbour School essentially divided East Wilson into two zones, north and south of Vick Street.

I do not know the precise locations of Barnes School, west of the city (and not the present-day B.O. Barnes Elementary), or Lane School, east of the city.

1944 sugar ration coupon.

Studio shots, no. 152: Albert F. Hinnant.

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Albert Franklin Hinnant (1909-1988).

In the 1930 census of Springhill township, Wilson County: farmer Atlas Hinnant, 47; wife Hattie, 43; children Albert, 18, Cleo, 15, Mary, 13, and Paul, 9; plus mother Haley Lane, 62, widow.

In 1940, Albert Franklin Hinnant registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 23 March 1909 in Wilson; lived at R.F.D. #1, Lucama, Wilson County; his contact was mother Hattie Hinnant, R.F.D. #3, Kenly, Wilson County; and he worked for Walter Kirby, Lucama. He was described as 6’5″, 205 pounds.

On 28 December 1972, Albert Franklin Hinnant, single, born 23 March 1911, married Lillie Mae Brown, divorced, born 23 June 1915, in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Albert F. Hinnant died 5 May 1988 in Hampton, Virginia. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 March 1911 in Wilson, N.C., to Atlas Hinnant and Hattie Pierce; was married to Lillie M. Hinnant; lived in Portsmouth, Virginia, and was a retired merchant seaman. He was buried in Hampton National Cemetery, Hampton, Virginia.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry user jmt1946808.

Anatomy of a photograph: Buy War Bonds.

Charles Raines shot this photograph of a crowd gathered in front of the Wilson County Courthouse. The event appears to be the official welcoming ceremony in late March 1945 for Major E.D. Winstead, who had recently been released from three years’ imprisonment by the Japanese in the Philippines.

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Though Wilson was about 42% African-American at the time, no African-Americans stand in the crowd facing the dais. Rather, as even patriotism required segregation, black citizens who showed up to greet Major Winstead were relegated to the sides and rear of the dignitaries.

Thanks to Mark Raines for sharing his father’s work.

The first line of defense is on the home front.

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Wilson Daily Times, 27 December 1941.

Negro Home Agent Jane Amos Boyd highlighted the efforts of homemaker Henrietta Ruffin to insure an ample food supply for her family and community. Ruffin canned 674 quarts of fruits, vegetables, and meats; bought 460 baby chicks; and sold more than eighty dollars worth of surplus eggs and chickens at a curb market.

Though Ruffin had a Pitt County address, she lived between Saratoga and the Wilson-Pitt County line.

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In the 1910 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Howards Path, farmer Jesse Ward, 26; wife Arey, 32; and children William, 14, Walton, 10, Henrietta, 10, Susan, 6, Kizie, 5, and Juanita, 1 month.

Charlie Ruffin, 21, of Saratoga, son of Ida Ruffin, married Henretta Moore, 18, of Saratoga, daughter of Ara Moore, on 25 January 1920 in Saratoga township. Washington Littles, a Disciples minister, performed the ceremony in the presence of William Dupree, Henry Stewart, and Arluster McNair, all of Saratoga.

In the 1920 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: on Fountain Road, farmer Charles Ruffin, 19; wife Henrietta, 19; mother Ida, 50, widow; sister Daisy, 13; and niece Mary, 12.

In the 1930 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farm laborer Charles Ruffin, 30; wife Henritta, 28; and children Bertha, 9, Charles Jr., 8, James R., 6, Juntia, 2, and Gladis L., 10 months.

In the 1940 census of Saratoga township, Wilson County: farmer Charles Ruffin, 39; wife Henretta, 38; and children Bertha, 19, Charles, 17, James R., 16, Juanita, 12, Gladys Lee, 10, Christine, 8, Bruce, 7, Bertie Mae, 4, and Curtis, 10 months.

Henrietta Moore Ruffin died 29 November 2004.

Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church.

I happened unexpectedly upon Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church a few miles east of Lucama. 

The style of the building suggests that it was built circa the turn of the 20th century. The original block of the church consisted of a rectangular, gable-front section with a square tower on the gable end facing the road. Five peaked windows grace each side. The cinder-block wings on each side of the double front door are relatively recent modifications, built to house restrooms. There are also newer additions at rear.

The church is decorated with a large cross fitted with lightbulbs and a cast-iron bell in the yard. Thelma B. Forbes states the bell was rung to announce church services.

When I sought information about this church, my childhood friend Dawn Forbes Murphy informed me her maternal grandfather Kennell Braswell and family had belonged to Macedonia. (Her grandmother Marie Cannady Braswell was a member of Mary Grove Missionary Baptist Church.) Dawn has wonderful memories of attending Macedonia as a child, sitting on wooden benches in summer heat, singing hymns without piano or organ accompaniment, delicious food served at church functions, and lots of love. Dawn’s mother Thelma Braswell Forbes recalls there was once two-room school on the grounds of the church. The school was moved down the road from the church, but may still be standing. Though Mrs. Forbes is not sure when the church was founded, she knows her father Kennell Braswell joined as a child, and eventually his mother Minnie Cox Braswell was mother of the church. The church met only twice a month, so the Braswells attended Mary Grove on alternate Sundays.

Kennell and Marie Cannady Braswell.

In the 1920 census of Nahunta township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Braswell, 30; wife Minnie, 26; and children Sadie, 10, Missie, 9, Aira, 7, Sallie, 1, Mary, newborn, Ira, 6, Kennon, 5, and Roland, 3.

In the 1930 census of Cross Roads township, Wilson County: farmer Thomas Braswell, 39; wife Minne, 37; and children Ira, 16, Kennen, 15, Roland, 14, Sallie, 12, Pennie, 10, Irene, 9, Hessie C., 7, Allen, 6, Hazel, 5, Bessie, 3, Leslie, 2, and William T., 10 months.

On 28 November 1936, Kennell Braswell, 22, of Lucama, son of Thomas and Minnie Braswell, married Marie Cannaday, 20, of Lucama, daughter of Charlie and Mary Cannaday, in Smithfield, Johnston County. Ossie M. Cannady and Curtis L. Cannady of Lucama were witnesses.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: South Carolina-born farmer Charlie Cannady, 60; wife Mary, 50; daughter Marie Braswell, 23; son-in-law Kennel Braswell, 24; and grandchildren Minnie M., 2, and Charlie T., 1. Mary and Marie were also born in South Carolina.

In 1940, Kennel Braswell registered for the World War II draft. Per his registration card, he was born 15 September 1916 in Wayne County; his contact was mother Minnie Braswell; and he worked for Ceney Boyex, R.F.D. #2, Wilson.

Kennell Braswell (1914-1992) as a World War II soldier.

Photo of church by Lisa Y. Henderson, December 2019; family photos courtesy of Dawn F. Murphy.

The obituary of Fletcher F. Pierce.

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Philadelphia Daily News, 22 February 2002.

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Fletcher Forest Pierce was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson to Nazareth Pierce and Ella Armstrong Pierce.

In the 1920 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 806 Vance Street, Export Tobacco laborer Nazareth Pierce, 42; wife Ella, 43; children Eugene S., 18, Almira, 16, Leroy J., 14, Louie, 10, and Fletcher, 7; and mother-in-law Luvicy Armstrong, 65.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, insurance agent Nazareth Pierce, 54; wife Ada, seamstress; son Fletcher, 17, and daughter Elmira, 25.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 905 Vance Street, Milton Fisher, 32, teacher; wife Elmira, 28, teacher; and brother-in-law Fletcher Pierce, 26, insurance salesman.

In 1940, Fletcher Forest Pierce registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County. Per his draft registration card, he was born 5 May 1912 in Wilson; lived at 905 East Vance; his contact was father Nazerth Pierce, 415 East Green; and he worked for Winston Mutual Life Insurance, 656 East Nash Street, Wilson.

On 12 June 1943, Fletcher Forest Pierce, 31, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of N.A. and Ella Pierce, married Lucile Helen Russell, 30, of Charlotte, daughter of L.M. and Irene Russell, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

In 1950, Fletcher F. Pierce filed for World War II compensation.

Pennsylvania, WWI Veterans Service and Compensation Files, 1917-1919, 1934-1948 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

The Singing Engineers.

“Billy Rowe’s Note Book” was a regular music column published in the Pittsburgh Courier. In late summer 1943, Edgar T. Rouseau filled in for the vacationing Rowe. Rouseau, with the American Allied Forces “somewhere in the Mediterranean,” shined a spotlight on “sepia bands” whose members were soldiers, including that of the famous Singing Engineers of the all-black 41st Engineer Regiment.

 

Pittsburgh Courier, 11 September 1943.

William Coleman, of Wilson, N.C., plays the alto sax. He is an experienced player who was formerly with Snookum Russell’s Min[illegible], the Frank H. Young Shows and the Carolina Stompers.”

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.

Studio shots, no. 115: Charles Eugene Freeman.

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Charles Eugene Freeman (1926-1960), probably in the 1940s. 

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In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1113 Washington Street, owned and valued at $3000, brickmason Julious F. Freman, 42; wife Hattie [Pattie], 31; and children Julious, 10, Doloris, 9, Robert P. and Richard P., 8, John C., 6, Charles E., 4, Patricia E., 3, Mary E., 1, and Rubey, 2.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1114 Washington Street, owned and valued at $3000, brick mason Julius Freeman, 52; wife Pattie, 40; and children Julius L., 20, Doris, 19, Robert and Richard, 18, John, 16, Charles, 14, Eunice, 12, Mary, 11, Ruby, 10, Tom, 9, Dan, 8, Lillian, 6, and Henry, 2.

Charles Eugene Freeman registered for the World War II draft in 1944:

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On 20 April 1944, Charles Freeman, 18, son of Julius and Pattie Hagans Freeman, married Carrie Lee Hardy, 15, daughter of Cornelius and Carrie Hardy, in Wilson.

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Wilson Daily Times, 21 March 1960.

As a World War II veteran, Charles E. Freeman received a military headstone. His mother, Pattie H. Freeman, submitted the application for the marker.

Photo courtesy of Ancestry user Delwyn Eugene Caniglia; Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963 [database on-line], Ancestry.com.