World War II

Ministers turn labor recruiters.

When tobacco processing plants could not convince or coerce or otherwise attract sufficient workers, Wilson’s office of the U.S. Employment Service of the War Manpower Commission turned to the Negro Ministerial Alliance. With a hiring center set up at Saint John A.M.E.Z. — the article says First Baptist, but that photo is Saint John — African-American ministers fanned out across Wilson with a basic message: “the harvest is ready and the workers are few.” (Delivered occasionally with a little of the Good Word.) In a week, they spoke with about 1500 people and signed up 700. [For perspective — Wilson’s total population in 1944 was about 20,000, of whom about 40%, or 8000, were Black.]

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Wilson Daily Times, 8 September 1944.

A letter from Pvt. Simmons.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 July 1942.

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In the 1920 census of Plowden Mills township, Clarendon County, South Carolina: Junious Simmons, 24; wife Clara, 19; and son David L., 1.

In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Junius Simmons, 33; wife Clara, 29; and children Levi, 11, Joseph, 9, Frank, 4, and Julia May, 5 months.

In the 1940 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: farmer Junius Simmons, 44; wife Clara, 39; and children Levi, 21, Joseph, 20, Frank, 15, Julia, 10, Lettie, 5, Thomas, 1, and Edward, 9.

In 1940, David Levi Simmons registered for the World War II draft in Wayne County. Per his registration card, he was born 15 May 1918 in Manning, South Carolina; lived at Route 1, Fremont, Wayne County; his contact was father Junious Simmons; and he was a student at A.&T. College, Greensboro, N.C.

Clipping courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

News of Seaman Christian.

Wilson Daily Times, 20 August 1945.

Seaman 1st Class Charles Christian was stationed in the Southwest Pacific in 1945.

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In the 1930 census of South Union township, Fayette County, Pennsylvania: on Leith Road, Geraldine Christian, 28, born in Virginia, housework; son Charles, 13, born in West Virginia; sister-in-law Carrie, 21, born in West Virginia; and parents Alan Sowers, 43, coal miner, born in West Virginia, and Helen Sowers, 42, born in Virginia.

Charles Christian, 24, married Ada Odell Harris, 26, on 6 March 1940 in Wilson.

In October 1940, Charles Wesley Christian registered for the World War II draft in Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 15 July 1915 in Grant Town, West Virginia; lived at 816 East 4th Street, Winston-Salem; his contact was wife Ada Odelle Christian; and he worked for R.J. Reynolds.

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 304 Reid Street, city school janitor Charles Christian, 34; wife Ada O., 36; and children Jacqueline A., 5, Vernon W., 3, and Charles H., 2.

Ack-Ack.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 July 1944.

Wilson Daily Times, 23 June 1944.

We first met Willie Roscoe Barnes in this story about his years operating a dry-cleaning business after his return from distinguished service in an anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion.

Clippings courtesy of J. Robert Boykin III.

Decorated soldier Fred Perry returns to work.

Wilson Daily Times, 3 June 1946.

Fred D. Perry was not a boy. In June of 1946, when he returned to Wilson after serving in Europe and North Africa, he was 28 years old.

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In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: widow Mahailey Harris, 75; her sister Manda Perry, 73, widow; and grandson Fred Perry, 22, tobacco factory laborer.

In 1940, Fred Douglas Perry registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Per his registration card, he was born 17 October 1917 in Kenly, N.C.; lived at 107 South East Street, Wilson; his contact was grandmother Mandy Perry; and he worked for Heilig & Meyers Furniture Company, Barnes Street, Wilson.

On January 1947, Fred D. Perry, 29, of Wilson, son of George Perry and Victoria Edwards Barnes, married Louise Marshall, 30, in Wilson. Missionary Baptist minister Fred M. Davis performed the ceremony in the presence of Fred Davis Jr., Minnie J. Davis, and Marie Davis. 

In the 1950 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 702 East Nash Street, Fred Perry, 33, furniture repairman at local furniture store, and wife Louise, 36.

 

Cpl. Johnson drowned in the sinking of the Rohna.

Wilson Daily Times, 22 February 1944.

For more about the sinking of H.M.T. Rohna by a German glide bomb, see here.

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In the 1930 census of Black Creek township, Wilson County: widow Hattie Johnson, 36, and children Willie, 23, John W., 20, Herbert, 16, Clement, 11, and James, 10.

 

 

Cpl. John J. Braswell is stationed in the Pacific.

Wilson Daily Times, 15 May 1945.

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In the 1930 census of Nahunta, Wayne County, North Carolina: Arthur Braswell, 38; wife Julia, 31; and children John, 10, Mary J., 11, and Charles L., 7.

In 1940, John Junior Braswell registered for the World War II draft in Wayne County, North Carolina. Per his registration card, he was born 6 November 1917 in Wayne County; lived in Fremont, N.C.; his contact was father Arthur Braswell; and he worked for his father.

News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), 21 April 1988.