World War II

Randall James’ many hats.

In the early 1940s, Randall Roland James Jr., grandson of Charles H. and Dinah Scarborough Darden, supplemented his duties as an undertaker in the family business with gigs as a federal censustaker and registrar for Local Draft Board 1. (James’ uncle, Arthur N. Darden, had been appointed an enumerator for the 1920 census.)

John G. Thomas’ quasi-gossip column, “Wilsonia,” noted the appointment of Robert E. Vick and James:

Wilson Daily Times, 2 April 1940.

Reverse side of the registration card of Luther Jones, Wilson, N.C., signed by James as registrar on 16 February 1942.

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In the 1920 census of Newark, Essex County, New Jersey: at 188 McWhorter Street, Randall James, 30, born in Texas; wife Elizabeth, 31, born in North Carolina; and sons Charles, 5, born in Alabama, and Randall, 3, born in North Carolina.

In 1940, Randall Roland James registered for the World War II in Wilson County. Per his registration card, he was born 10 June 1916 In Wilson; resided at 111 Pender Street; his contact was wife Ruth Vashti James; and he worked for C.H. Darden & Sons, 608 East Nash.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 111 Pender Street, Elizabeth James, 45, nursery school cook; son Randle James, 23, assistant undertaker at Darden Funeral, his wife Ruth, 22, and their daughter Dianne, 1; son Charles, 26, undertaker at Darden Funeral; cousin Eugene Tennessee, 22, field agent for Darden Funeral; and brother Arthur Darden, 40, [occupation illegible.]

Randall R. James Jr. died 9 June 1981 in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Randall R. James Jr., Wilson Daily Times, 15 August 1952.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

Where did they go?: Arkansas World War II draft registrations, no. 2.

In the 1880s and ’90s, thousands of African-Americans left North Carolina for Arkansas, seeking better fortune. Many settled in the east-central part of the state, including the families of these World War II draft registrants.

  • Edward Adams

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  • Fred Barnes

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In the 1930 census of Johnson township, Saint Francis County, Arkansas: cotton and corn farmer Fred Barnes, 39; wife Rosy, 24; and son Edward, 8.

  • Sidney Watson Cooper

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In the 1900 census of Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas: Smithee Baker, 44, day laborer, and sons George, 22, Sidny, 19, and Bruce Cooper, 9, all born in North Carolina.

In the 1920 census of Melton township, Jefferson County, Arkansas: widower Sidney Cooper, 40, farmer.

  • William Henry Daniels

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In the 1900 census of Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas: at 1013 West 8th Avenue, Henry Daniels, 55; wife Elizabeth, 46; and children William H. 17, Matilda A., 15, Mary J., 13, and Rice B., 4. Only Rice was born in Arkansas.

In the 1940 census of Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas: steam railway laborer Wm. H. Daniel, 56; wife Willie M., 52, laundress; children Dorotha, 19, Wm. Henry Jr., Zereta, 14, Floyd, 13, Eloise, 11, and Robert 9; and father[-in-law] William Floyd, 83.

  • Eli Farmer

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In the 1900 census of Cold Water township, Cross County, Arkansas: farmer Peter Farmer, 73; wife Mariah, 51; children John Farmer, 28, widow Margaret Bunn, 21, and Isaac, 18, Eley, 17, and Louisa Farmer, 15; and grandchildren Sanders, 6, and Theodrick Bunn, 5. All but the grandchildren were born in North Carolina.

In the 1940 census of Wappanocca township, Crittenden County, Arkansas: widower Eli Farmer, 58, farm operator, and widowed sister Maggie Newson, 60, both born in North Carolina.

  • Henry Horn

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In the 1940 census of Dermott township, Chicot County, Arkansas: Nazzie Horn, 43; North Carolina-born husband Henry, 52; and widowed sister Sallie Garman, 64.

  • Hardy William Lassiter

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In the 1930 census of Pine Bluff, Jefferson County, Arkansas: at 910 East 19th Avenue, Hardy Lassiter, 40, sealer of cars for freight office; wife Ruby, 37; and widowed mother-in-law Ella Epperson, 56, washerwoman. Per Find-A-Grave.com, Hardy Lassiter, born 31 January 1887 and died 26 November 1976, was buried in Little Rock National Cemetery, Little Rock, Arkansas.

  • Will Lewis

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In the 1900 census of Spring Creek township, Lee County, Arkansas: farmer Kention Lewis, 50; daughter Cora, 23; and sons John, 22, Bill, 17, and Arthur, 15. The sons were born in Arkansas.

  • Luther Lucas

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In the 1900 census of Searcy township, Cross County, Arkansas: farmer Ephram Lucas, 44; wife Annie, 34; and children Luther, 11, Annie, 5, Rezella, 4, and Etta, 1. Luther and his parents were born in North Carolina, Annie in Mississippi, and the youngest children in Arkansas.

  • Charley McDowell

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In the 1940 census of Pennington, Bradley County, Arkansas: North Carolina-born Charlie McDowell, 46, contract lumber stacker at saw mill; wife Minny, 37; and children Herbert, 21, Floyd C., 18, James L., 16, Edward, 13, and Don A[illegible], 1.

U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947, [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

T/5 Jones killed in New Guinea.

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Rocky Mount Telegraph, 21 March 1944.

Technician Fifth Grade Thomas Jones Jr. died in an automobile accident in New Guinea in March 1944.

Jones registered for the draft in 1942 in Cambridge, Maryland. Per his registration card, he was born 25 December 1923 in Wilson; he lived at various locations in Cambridge and Dorchester, Maryland; his contact was Henrietta Whitlock; and he was employed by E.T. Webb, Jamesville, Virginia.

His body was returned to Wilson for burial. Howard M. Fitts Sr. handled arrangements for a military headstone to mark Jones grave in Rest Haven cemetery.

Though a corrected birth date is penciled in on the application, Jones’ stone was delivered with an incorrect date. This photo is found at www.findagrave.com.

Corporal Tillery racks up.

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Pittsburgh Courier, 23 December 1944.

In the 1930 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 909 Mercer, owned and valued at $1500, farmer John Tillery, 51; wife Conielia, 45; and children Jessie, 20, cook; Ashley L., 18, helper on truck farm; Raymond, 16, helper on truck farm; Adelia, 14; Johny L., 11; Elnora, 7; and Clyde, 5.

In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County: at 911 South Mercer, John H. Tillery, 66, “hires out & plows” in agriculture; wife Cornelia, 56, stemmer at redrying plant; children Nelora, 17, and Clyde, 15, “cleans up yards;” and daughter Jessie Williams, 30, “cooks & cleans,” and her children Alice Raschelle, 4, and Barbara Anna Williams, 2.

Clyde Tillery registered for the World War II draft in 1940 in Wilson County.

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A Christmas invitation for Negro soldiers.

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Wilson Daily Times, 23 December 1942.

Negro ministers recruit colored workers.

To address the acute labor shortage created by World War II, the Wilson Colored Ministerial Association came to the aid of tobacco factories and volunteered to recruit workers. “Three meetings of the colored ministers have already been held at the Darden funeral home, and colored church workers are making a house to house canvass for workers as a result of this meeting.”

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Wilson Daily Times, 22 August 1944.

Jesse Pender, veteran and chef.

In 2011, a Palm Springs, California, news reporter interviewed Wilson native Jesse D. Pender Sr., then 96, about his World War II service, his early work for a brothel keeper, and his years cooking for a president.

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The Desert Sun, 4 December 2011.

In the 1920 census of Goldsboro township, Wayne County: farmer Joseph Pender, 49; wife Ella L., 42; amd children Edward D., 14, Maggie, 9, Ernest, 12, Alonzo, 7, Jesse, 4, Georgiana, 3, and Josephine, 1.

On 29 December 1937, Jesse Pender, 23, of Wilson County, son of Joe and Ella Pender of Wilson County married Erma Dean Hines, 18, daughter of Louis and Martha Hines of Wilson County, in Nashville, Nash County.

In 1940, Jesse David Powell registered for the World War II draft in Wilson. Note his employer.

Betty Powell and Mallie Paul, Depression-era Wilson’s most notorious white madams, ran neighboring brothels on Jones and South Streets. In the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, Georgia native Bettie Powell, 46, is listed without occupation, and her three lodgers, all white women in their early 20s, were occupied as “companion-private home.”

Betty Powell made out her will in March 1945. After disposing of bonds, bank accounts, real property and jewelry, she bequeathed “all the residue of my estate to Jesse Pender and all of the girls including my maids, that may be residing with me at my death, to share and share alike.” She died just over a year later.

Wilson Daily Times, 7 May 1946.

Pender’s workplace before Betty Powell hired him to drive. Advertisement, Facts About Wilson North Carolina, Wilson Chamber of Commerce (1934).

Pender at age 102. Photo courtesy of “A Flowery Tribute in Palm Springs as Warplanes Fly in Formation in Memorial Day Salute,” The Desert Sun, 29 May 2017.

Thanks to my frequent collaborator S.M. Stevens (and her grandmother Willia Jones Turner) for forwarding this clipping. North Carolina Wills and Estates, 1665-1998 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com.

 

Snaps, no. 38: James Battle and friends?

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These are two of 19 images from “[t]wo small souvenir albums from PhC.196, Raines & Cox Studio Photo Collection, State Archives of North Carolina, Raleigh, NC. The negatives were sent to the Raines & Cox Studio in Wilson, NC, to be printed by a James Battle, likely from Wilson, and the resulting little albums were for some reason never delivered to Mr. Battle. The photos in the smaller album depict various scenes and unidentified men and women in unidentified locations in what looks like eastern Europe, and those in the slightly larger one show an unidentified African American woman and various scenes in Atlantic City, NJ. Based on the scant information available in these albums and on the envelope in which they were originally housed, it appears that James Battle was probably a soldier in the US Army and the pictures in both albums were probably shot by him in the mid to late 1940s.

“Please help us identify James Battle and his Army buddies and lady friends depicted in these photos.”

The albums may be found at the Flickr account of the State Archives of North Carolina.

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At least eight James Battles born in Wilson registered for the World War II draft, but only one — James Carter Battle — was still living in Wilson at the time. (The others lived in nearby towns and Norfolk, Virginia.) Was this the James Battle who ordered these albums?

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