World War II

Studio shots, no. 33: Dempsey L. Henderson.

A veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, Dempsey Lee Henderson received a three-star Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, Victory Medal, Purple Heart, and one-star Philippine Liberation Ribbon.


Dempsey L. Henderson was born on or about 31 December 1927 in Wilson to Lena B. McNair and Jesse “Jack” Henderson.

In the 1940 census of Washington, District of Columbia: at 335 Elm Street, Lena Henderson, maid, 30; son Dempsey Henderson, 12; mother Mary McNary, 53; and lodger John Pendleton, 29, transfer merchant truck driver.

In 1943, Henderson registered for the World War II draft in Washington, D.C.

This 1944 muster roll shows that Henderson was aboard the U.S.S. Abner Read, a Fletcher-class destroyer, in September of that year.

Dempsey L. Henderson died 2003, and was buried at Quantico National Cemetery.

Photo of Dempsey Henderson in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson; Draft Registration Cards for District of Columbia, 1940-1947, digitized at; Muster rolls of U.S. Navy ships, stations, and other naval activities, 1939-1949, digitized at

Where did they go?: Out-of-state World War II draft registrations, no. 1.


Elton Henry Thomas was the son of Charles Thomas and Sarah Best Thomas. He returned to North Carolina; he died in Goldsboro in 1970.

  • Clarence Charles Dawson

Clarence Charles Dawson was the son of Clarence C. Dawson (see below) and Elizabeth Thomas Dawson.

  • Clarence Connor Dawson

Clarence Connor Dawson was the son of Alexander D. Dawson and Lucy Hill Dawson.

  • Leroy Armstrong

  • Walter Armstrong

  • Van Armstrong

Van Armstrong was the son of Guston and Drucilla Armstrong of Toisnot township, Wilson County. He first appears in the federal census of Petersburg, Virginia, in 1930.

Charles S. Alston was the son of James H. and Martha Dew Alston of Wilson township, Wilson County. On 3 November 1920, Charles S. Alston, 24, married Lessie Barbrey, 22, daughter of Hulis and Lola Barbrey, in Elm City. A.M.E. Zion minister B.P. Coward performed the ceremony in the presence of James O. Bunn, William H. Woods and Charles S. Thomas, all of Wilson.

  • David Alston

David Daniel Alston was the son of Henry and Mary Taylor Alston. He died 8 November 1974 in Norfolk, Virginia.

  • James Henry Adams

  • Edward Adams

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line],

The greatest generation, pt. 3.

Each year the Wilson Daily Times publishes an advertising supplement that honors local veterans on Veterans Day. The insert features photographs submitted to the paper by its readership. This post is the third highlighting African-American soldiers and sailors included in the supplement.

  • Nathaniel Jones, Army, World War II


  • Roma Jones, S.Sgt., Army, World War II


  • Eddie L. Joyner, Army, World War I


  • James Calvin Lewis, Army, 1944-46


  • James Reid, Army, 1942-46

  • Aaron Swinson, Army, 1943

  • William R. White, Sgt., Army, 1941-45

  • Arthur Winstead, Army, World War II

  • Jacelle Winstead, Corp., Army, World War II

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line],

The greatest generation, pt. 2.

Each year the Wilson Daily Times publishes an advertising supplement that honors local veterans on Veterans Day. The insert features photographs submitted to the paper by its readership. This post is the second highlighting African-American soldiers and sailors included in the supplement.

  • Lossie Batts, Corp., Army, 1945-46


  • Colonious Junius Best, Army, World War II


  • Roosevelt W. Best, Army, 1941-44


  • Charles W. Christian, Sgt., Navy, 1940-44

Charles Wesley Christian’s wife Ada Odelle Harris Christian (1913-1992) was a Wilson native.


  • Louis Hall Sr., Army Air Corps, 1945-47


  • Joseph Harris, PFC, Army, 1946


  • William H. Harris, FPC, Army, 1943-46


  • Damp Haskins Jr., Army, 1945-47

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1200 Wainright Street, Coca-Cola plant laborer Damp Haskins, 24; wife Susie B., 21; son Damp Jr., 2, and daughter Hellen, 6 months; mother Hester, 72; brother Joseph, 18; Martha Pitt, 52; and nephew Jim Haskins, 10.

  • Willis Edward Hyman, Navy, World War II


  • Johnnie A. Lucas, T-5, Army, World War II


  • Reuben O’Neal Sr., Steward Mate, Navy, 1944-46


U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, database on-line,

The greatest generation, pt. 1.

Each year the Wilson Daily Times publishes an advertising supplement that honors local veterans on Veterans Day. The insert features photographs submitted to the paper by its readership. This post is the first of several highlighting African-American soldiers and sailors included in the supplement.

  • Paul Garfield Arrington, Army, World War II


  • George E. Atkinson, PFC, Army, 1941-1945

  • Willie M. Atkinson, PFC, Army, 1945-46


  • Curley Bagley, Army, 1942-46

In the 1910 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Lenora Bagley, 55; daughter Etta, 27; and her children Earnest, 16, Perry, 11, Presley, 6, Ida V., 3, and Curley, 1.

In the 1920 census of Old Fields township, Wilson County: Etta Bagley, 35, and children Ida W., 13, Curlie, 11, William H., 9, Cornelia, 6, and James R., 3.


  • Earnest Barnes, PFC, Army, 1942-45

At least three men named Earnest or Ernest Barnes registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County.

  • Matthew Lee Barnes, S.Sgt., Army, 1942-46


  • Robert Barnes, T4, Army, 1946-47

Several men named Robert Barnes registered for the World War II draft in Wilson County.

U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, database on-line,

On this Veteran’s Day…

Family lore has it that Lucian Jacob Henderson attempted to join the Army at 15 or 16 as World War II was in full rage.  He was finally able to enlist on 28 October 1944, his 18th birthday. Though his home address was 1109 Queen Street, Wilson, he was working as a deckhand for the Norfolk & Washington Steamboat Company at the time and signed up at a draft office in Washington, D.C.

The following year, Henderson qualified as an infantry rifleman after spending four months in basic and advanced training at the Infantry Replacement Training Center in Fort McClellan, Alabama.

Lucian J. Henderson, probably 1945-46. His shoulder patch bears the insignia of the Sixth United States Army, with whom he served occupation duty in Japan at the end of 1945.

Lucian J. Henderson, at left.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line],; photographs from the collection of Hattie Henderson Ricks.

Cadet Nurse Cannady.

Lunia Mae Cannady was admitted to the United States Cadet Nurse Corps on 18 September 1945. She received her nursing training at the nursing school affiliated with Kate Bitting Reynolds Memorial Hospital, a facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, serving African-Americans.


In the 1940 census of Sand Hill, Moore County, North Carolina: Albert Cannady, 35, public labor; wife Sylvan, 30; and children Lunia, 12, Harold, 9, Albert Jr., 6; Graddick, 4, and Betty Jean, 3 months. The family reported having lived in Morris County, New Jersey, in 1935; Graddick was born in New Jersey.  [The Cannadys moved to Wilson between 1940 and 1945, when Lunia graduated from C.H. Darden High School.]

On 12 March 1949, Freeman Farmer, 22, son of Tom and Anne Bynum Farmer, married Lunia Cannady, 21, daughter of Albert and Sylvan Andrews Cannady, on Lepton [Lipscomb] Road in Wilson. Original Free Will Baptist minister George W. Little performed the ceremony in the presence of Jeraline Edwards, E.N.C. San. C.D.; Hattie Henderson, 1109 Queen Street; and Bessie Simmons, 211 Stantonsburg Street. [Each of these women worked at Eastern North Carolina Sanatorium and, presumably, so did Lunia Cannady Farmer.]

Lunia Cannady Amy died 26 May 1992 in Wilson.


Bell hops at the Hotel Cherry.

In 1991, front desk clerk turned newspaper man Roy G. Taylor (1918-1995) self-published a memoir of his years working in Wilson. Though tinged with the casual racism of the time, My City, My Home offers fascinating glimpses of Wilson in the World War II era.

Here are excerpts:

“Anyway, [hotel owner J.T. Barnes] had a suite on the mezzanine floor, 221 and 223. And Jesse Knight was his personal servant and also a bell hop. Lessie, Jesse’s wife, had worked for the Barnes family.” p. 9

“The roster of bell hops at the Cherry in the 1940s included Jesse Knight, whom I mentioned earlier; Ruel Bullock; Henry Potter, Robert Haskins, Clarence Holly, Fred Artis, Peacock (the only name he was called by), Louis Hines and “Rent” Gay, Uncle Charlie’s son. Uncle Charlie was old and had a stiff leg and he went around with a feather mop, dusting off things, and he loved whisky better than most men love women.

“… Henry was a large man and rather lazy acting. When he wasn’t busy he would sit in the lobby in a rather slouchy position, but jumped up hurriedly when the bell sounded. And he was the best one about going for the mail. But I’d have to say Henry was the ‘densest’ one of the crowd.

“Ruel was of light skin, and a rather handsome man. He was a family man and had 10 children. He worked during the day, as did Henry.

“Robert was dark-skinned and a rather tall, large man and he was a little more serious than most of the men. Robert worked mostly the day shift also but would work at night if it became necessary.

“Clarence was a night man. And talk about sly! He was something else. Of course, all the boys were sly, although all of them were always courteous to the desk people and all were ready to do whatever was asked of them. I never remember any of the bell hops being disrespectfuil while I was there.

“Fred Artis was a tall, thin man and he could swing from day to night duty. And Fred is still around. He is employed by the Arts Council of Wilson.

“Peacock always worked nights. He was the head night man. Peacock was nice too, and he looked after the guests. But he was a sly one too.

“Louis was a tall, well-built man that had a lot of charisma. ‘Rent’ was also thin and tall and very neat in appearance and as I recall, he worked mostly at night also.” pp. 29-30


  • Jesse Knight — Jessie Knight was an Edgecombe County native. When he registered for the World War II draft, he listed his employer as J.T. Barnes.


  • Lessie Knight — Lessie Locus Knight.
  • Ruel Bullock — Ruel Bulluck was an Edgecombe County native. He married Louise Missouri Jones, daughter of Charles T. and Gertrude Johnson Jones, on 10 December 1930 in Wilson. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 412 Viola, owned and valued at $2000; Charles Jones, 61, janitor at Vick School; wife Gertrude, 59, a tobacco factory stemmer; daughter Ruth Plater, 35, divorced, teacher; grandsons Torrey S., 12, and Charles S. Plater, 11; son-in-law Ruel Bullock, 35, a hotel bellboy; daughter Louise, 30; grandsons Jacobia, 7, Robert, 6, Harold, 4, and Rudolph, 7 months; and granddaughter Barbara Jones, 6.


  • Henry Potter — John Henry Potter was a native of Aurora, Beaufort County. In the 1925 city directory, Henry Potter, bellman, is listed at 719 East Green. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 1210 Atlanta [Atlantic] Street, hotel bellboy John Potter, 40; wife Ruth, 28; and daughter Ruth, 9 months.
  • Robert Haskins — Robert Douglas Haskins was the son of Robert and Gertrude Haskins. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: Robert Haskins, 55, drug company salesman; wife Gertrude, 48; and children Mandy, 36; Elizabeth, 33, cook; Estelle, 29, beauty shop cleaner; Robert D. Jr., 29, hotel kitchen worker; Lossie, 24, N.Y.A. stenographer; and Thomas, 20, barbershop shoeblack; plus granddaughter Delores, 15, and lodger Henry Whitehead, 21.
  • Clarence Holly — Clarence Virgo Holley was a Bertie County native. He registered for the World War II in 1940 in Wilson. Clarence Holley died 4 May 1964 at Mercy Hospital. Per his death certificate, he was born 23 May 1919 in Bertie County to William Holley and Molly Smallwood; operated a shoeshine parlor; and lived at 300 North East Street. Informant was Elma Holley.


  • Fred Artis — Probably Fred Artis Jr., who was the son of Fred and Mattie Lewis Artis.
  • “Peacock” — Levi Harry Peacock was the son of Levi H. and Hannah Polk Peacock. In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 204 Vick Street, hotel bellboy Levi Peacock, 30; wife Elouise, 28, a public school teacher; children Jewel D., 4, and Thomas L., 14; and mother-in-law Etta Reaves, 50, post office maid.


  • Louis Hines — Probably Louis Hines Jr. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 303 Elba Street, Eva Hines, 50, household servant; son Charlie, 21, yard boy; and daughter Henrietta, 13, shared a household with Louis Hines Jr., 21, whiskey storage loader; wife Dolly M., 19, tobacco stemmer; and daughter Martha L., 6 months.
  • “Rent” Gay — Edgar Reynold Gay was the son of Charles B. and Ella Tate Gay.



[Sidenote: perhaps someone can clarify what “sly” meant in the usage of the day? — LYH]

Herbert Reid, Harvard Law, Class of ’45.

More on Herbert O. Reid, Wilson-born scholar and civil rights attorney.


IN THE FIELD of constitutional law and in the protection of civil rights, Herbert O. Reid, who died on Friday at the age of 75, stood out. Because of Dr. Reid, a brilliant professor and former acting dean of the Howard University Law School, thousands of men and women across the country share a common vision of the majesty of the Constitution and the workability of America.

Except for his first year as a Howard Law School professor in 1947, when he said he learned more from his students than he taught them, Herb Reid had a major hand in producing a host of this country’s most distinguished lawyers, public officials and judges. Many served with him during the decades of the 1950s and 1960s as legal guardians of the civil rights movement. But unlike many legal scholars, Dr. Reid was as comfortable in the courtroom and in the backroom of politics as he was in the classroom. Everywhere he landed, he became a pivotal figure. He took on the exclusion of New York Rep. Adam Clayton Powell from the House of Representatives in 1967 and won a U.S. Supreme Court victory two years later. School segregation in America fell before him and a handful of lawyers from the Howard Law School faculty and the NAACP who participated in the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education and the companion desegregation cases for the District of Columbia. They carried the day in court, in part, because of the preparation and the dry runs that took place under Herb Reid’s drilling in the basement of the law school.

Dr. Reid was always on call for rescue operations. Sixteen years ago, when the board of education was mired down in the firing of yet another school superintendent, it was he who took on the excruciatingly difficult role of hearing officer and, with a degree of incisiveness and dignity, helped end that long ordeal for the city. It was that sense of duty to the city and his friends from the movement that led Dr. Reid to serve as former mayor Marion Barry’s personal counsel and then as a member of that administration. Without Herb Reid’s being there, friends say, it could have been even worse.

A graduate of Harvard law school himself, Dr. Reid frequently spoke lovingly and longingly about the “golden age” of the Howard Law School — the period in the 1940s and early 1950s, when distinguished faculty worked with students and other lawyers on the major civil rights issues of the time. Herbert Reid was a central part of it all.

Washington Post, 17 June 1991.


On 16 October 1940, Reid registered for the World War II draft at the Harvard University precinct in Cambridge, Massachusetts.


New York Age, 8 December 1945.


New York Age, 12 July 1947.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line],