Wilson in the Early 1960’s


Someone recently asked me if I had a picture of Ray’s Drive-in and I said no. But now I do and unfortunately I didn’t write down the person’s name.


Seat belts extra.


Awesome picture of an integrated business during the early 1960’s.


Not sure what is going on here Fike High School, but they look like they’re enjoying it.

I am almost finished re-cataloging the entire local history and genealogical collection which has been a big task but I have had some good help.

However, it might have taken less time if  I wasn’t eternally distracted when I have a book in my hands because I am always reading them and or looking at the pictures.

Above are some images from Wilson’s past that I gleaned from high school yearbooks.

Harry S. Truman in Wilson


I’m not sure when this photo was taken but I want to say the early to mid 1960’s because I believe that is Gov. Terry Sanford is in the foreground and he was governor from 1961-1965.

Now that I think about it, it might be the campaign trail for Sanford in 1960.

And that is Governor Luther H. Hodges beside him.

New Cataloging Rules for the Local History Room


Where the magic happens.


New spine labels. 397 is the designate for NC, A095 means all of the state in general and the lower case letter at the end stands for what type of record. On this example the ‘m’ stands for marriage records and the ‘v’ stands for vital records.

Local history and genealogical collections generally don’t do well with the normal Dewey decimal system.  Dewey just isn’t detailed enough to be able to handle the specificity of these unique collections.  And our poor local history collection has suffered because of it.

So finally after years of threatening to to re-catalog the room to a more user friendly system, me and my trusty intern, Johnny, are re-cataloging the local history and genealogy room.  We have high hopes that the new system will be more intuitive than the old system and less of a laboratory for experiments in chaos theory.  I had a choice between a non-Dewey based system that is used in Wayne and Rowan Counties and another modified, more detailed Dewey based system.  I chose the latter because it integrates better with our existing system and  the State Archives county code classification.   The system is also in use at Braswell Memorial Library and the Tarboro Public Library where many of our patrons also frequent.

Wilson County Deeds


A partial page out of a Wilson County Deed book reel. Note the encircled words enfeofe(e)d. This means to (under the feudal system) give (someone) freehold property or land in exchange for their pledged service. Wilson was a bit feudal back then.

Most North Carolina counties in our local history collection have a collection of deeds that some dedicated (or crazy) citizen abstracted or transcribed into book form.    But no one in Wilson County ever took on that daunting task, that is until now.

I have decided to transcribe all the Wilson County deeds that we have on microfilm for eventual publishing in book form.  But, in order for me to not lose my marbles from doing something this tedious and mind numbing, I have rounded up some help, Johnny the intern and Elizabeth the super transcriber.  There are 34 reels of microfilm for these deeds so we may already have a successful colony on Mars by the time it is finished.

Lt.Robert Anderson: letters from the front in WW1

unknowns_robert_paul_andersonIn 2014 the 100th anniversary of the First World War arrived. It has become a war that feels nearly as distant as the Civil War or the American Revolution. It is a war that was known for its high death toll as modern technology introduced machine guns, airplanes, and tanks to the battlefield. It is important to remember the men of that war as individuals, not merely numbers on a tally.
Among those men was First Lieutenant Robert B. Anderson of Wilson, North Carolina. Robert was mortally wounded at the Battle of Cantigny on May 29th, 1918, dying at an aid station a short time later. For his bravery he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (US) and the Croix DeGuerre (France).

. RBA_medals


The Anderson family has preserved keepsakes of Lt. Anderson’s service. Most cherished among these are three written before his death.
The first was to his father written on New Year’s Day, 1918. In it Robert speaks about his deep respect for his father, and the influence his father left on his life. While not dramatic in its words you can nonetheless feel certain intensity as Robert reflected on his father while looking at the war he was to fight. With his father he shares his pride in being a soldier, as well as being proud of his father.Anderson_1918_3rd_letter_1

New Years letter to Father

New Years letter to Father

The other two letters were written the same month he died. The first is a Mother’s day letter. Among other things, he describes how everyone in his unit felt how important it was to send a letter for Mother’s day. He goes on to speak of how well written some of his men’s letters were. Robert himself had enough duties that he apparently had to squeeze in the letter throughout the day just finishing in time for lights out. It has a warm and hope filled tone.



Mother's Day letter

Mother’s Day letter

The last letter was written to his mother on the 27th, just two days before his death. He was suffering from the Spanish Flu, and preparing himself for the upcoming battle. It was almost as if he knew ahead of time that he was not going to survive the fight. The letter talks about his life insurance policy ($11,000 which is a goodly sum for those days). He goes into detail that he hadn’t received all his pay so there should be back pay coming to his family should he fall in battle. Robert tells his parents to “do what they like with the money”. He then follows this practical advice with spiritual words. He says that if he dies for them to remember, “I will be in safe keeping, waiting for when God calls you and Dad and we will…be together.” Apparently, he must have felt bad for having sounded so serious and then tries to say how everything will be alright and the place he is going to be will be in the papers; a place called Cantigny.



Last Letter of Robert Anderson, two days before his death

Last Letter of Robert Anderson, two days before his death

Death Notification of  Lt. Anderson

Death Notification of
Lt. Anderson

Johnnie Zolman
Guest Blogger/Library Intern
Wilson Public Library