The NC Cultural Heritage center has digitized a three page sections from a ca. 1914 edition of the Wilson Times on the progress African Americans in East Wilson have made in the past fifty years. These pages document the African American entrepreneurs, doctors, teachers, businesses and churches that have flourished during the period as well as giving us an insight into the thriving economy, schools and society that then existed in East Wilson. A large part of the article speaks with pride of the Wilson Hospital and Tubercular Home for African Americans that is being constructed with funds from all over NC. The term ‘White Plague’ is used in the pages and after Google-ing the term I found out that it is another phrase used for tuberculosis that refers to the sufferer becoming pale.
The article mentions the Lincoln Benefit Society, a fraternal and insurance organization for African Americans in Wilson that is led by Sam Vick. I had never heard of this society, but I had certainly heard of Sam Vick, the former postmaster and Wilson luminary. There are also some interesting ads sprinkled throughout the pages.
The word progressive is used a lot in this article and I wish people weren’t so scared of the concept these days; it is a great word that means tolerant, dynamic and growing.
I was rummaging through storage and found about two hundred and fifty slides that were produced by the Wilson County Chamber of Commerce in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. It is a wonderful depiction of feathered hair, cash registers the size of refrigerators, women getting arrested and stores named Just Pants that clearly also sell shirts and vests (you can see the evidence in the picture and in this un-ironic commercial from 1978). UNC Chapel Hill has digitized fifty-five of these little slices of Wilson heaven and they are now online.
Last week when Lisa Henderson was in town to give her presentation, she also brought by a collection of family deeds for me to digitize. My focus at graduate school was in the digitization of historic, archival records so anytime someone brings me musty old documents, I am very happy. These deeds are records that may not be in the state archives and if they are they are not easy to access. Very few of North Carolina’s historical records have been digitized so anyone that wants access has to plop down at the archives and sort through them. Hopefully, in the not too distant future, all of their holdings will be digitized, but I am not holding my breath because it is expensive and requires a lot of man (or woman) hours. This also calls for a state government that wants to invest in the future. So read into that what you will.
The deeds involve many of the families that Lisa talks about so eloquently on her Scuffalong blog, especially the families allied to Napoleon Hagans in and around Wayne County, NC. I believe that the earliest date of the deeds are 1847, which makes these gems genealogical gold for African Americans researching this period where very few records exist. After I am finished digitizing and creating metadata for them (hopefully soon) I will put the images up on the Wilson County Local History and Genealogy Library Flickr page for all to enjoy!