Arthur Bunyan Caldwell.

History of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) online

. (page 45 of 48)
Online LibraryArthur Bunyan CaldwellHistory of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) → online text (page 45 of 48)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Wilmington. Among these must be mentioned W;
Parsley Evans, a successful merchant and business ma >.'
Laurinburg, who was born at Wilmington in the midsl
the war between the States, on January 19, 1863.
parents were Allen and Charlotte (Mackey) Evans, i
lotte Evans was a daughter of Charity Mackey.

Mr. Evans attended the local public schools and the
Gregory Institute, which was then under the direction of
Northern teachers who stood for thoroughness in their
work above all things. After he had completed his coi rse
in Gregory, he was for two years deputy clerk in the o
of the registrar of deeds of New Hanover Co. At the end
of that time he was appointed to a position in the postoffics
and served for four years as general delivery clerk <>t
Wilmington postoffice. In 1884 he moved from Wilmington
to Laurinburg and engaged in the mercantile business. On
October 14th of the same year he was married to Miss
Josephine Meares of Wilmington. She entered heartily into
the plans of her husband and together they built up a busi-
ness which is a credit to their skill and ability, and a I - -
ness institution of which the race may be proud.

Mr. Evans runs a general store, known as the White
Front Department Store, on the main street of Laurinl g
in the midst of the best houses and offices of the town,
years he has done an extensive shoe business and ha- - -
cently put on a mail order department in that line. [1 is
significant of the man and of his business methods that a
large portion of his trade comes from the white people of
the city.



Mr. and Mrs. Evans had six children, W. P., Jr., Annie J.
(now Mrs. Berry), Wm. A., Josie M., Ruth Ashmore, and
W Augustus Evans. Mrs. Evans passed to her reward De-
cember 24, 1919. The manner of her going was most tragic.
A fire originating from an explosion in the store cut off her
way of escape and she was suffocated in the smoke and
flames. She was held in high esteem by the best people
of both races, who mourned her loss at the Christmastide.
Mr. Evans frankly and gratefully admits the large part
which she played in the establishment and building of his
successful' business. She labored lovingly, constantly and
faithfully in serving and conserving her husband's best busi-
ness interests, and during all their married life she never
caused her husband an unhappy moment.

He is a Republican in politics and was at one time ap-
pointed postmaster, but conditions were such that he could
not accept the appointment. He is an active and prominent
member of the Presbyterian church, of which he is an elder.
He was for a number of years superintendent of the Sunday

Among the secret orders he is identified with the Ma-
sons and Odd Fellows. His principal investments are in and
around Laurinburg. During the war he took an active part
in the various campaigns. He believes the next great for-
ward step for his people is the organization and develop-
ment of business enterprises, believing they will provide
a high grade employment for the educated boys and girls.

Henry Hall Falkner

Whoever is familiar with conditions in North Carolina
knows that the educational life of the State has been prac-
tically reorganized in the last two or three decades. This
favorable change in educational affairs has been due to
some faithful men of both races who have committed them-
selves to a progressive policy in matters of education, placed



their lives upon the altar and regardless of the demands
which that policy has made upon them, have devoted them-
selves to the work of training the youth of the State.
Among the colored teachers who found a place among this
loyal number of leaders is Prof. Henry Hall Falkner now
(1919) principal of the Logan Colored Graded and Indus-
trial School at Concord.

Professor Falkener is a native of Warren Co. His par-
ents were Buckner and Elizabeth (Boyd) Falkener. Prof.
"Falkner was married on October 7, 1891, to Miss Mar-
garet C. Mitchell, a daughter of George W. and Almira
(Jones) Mitchell. They have five children, Ralph C. S.,
-George H., Herschel H., Waldo C. and John Q. Falkner.

When of school age, young Falkener went to the local
public schools of Warren Co. and to the Peabody School.
"For his college work he attended Shaw University, gradu-
ating from that institution in 1886 with the A. M. degree.

He began teaching as early as 1877 in the schools of
"Warren Co., and frankly confesses that he learned more by
•teaching than in any other way. He was a close observer
and was glad to profit by the experience and leadership of
-the devoted people about him. It was necessary for him to
-make his own way in college, where, by his attention to his
-work and steady progress, he attracted the notice of his
•professors so that he was appointed a student-teacher,
which was of great assistance to him financially. Since
youth Prof. Falkener has been in the school room in some
•capacity or other.

He served as principal of the State Normal School for
two years and was for five years a professor of English at
what is now known as the A. & T. College, Greensboro.
Tor more than 20 years he has been principal of graded
schools in various parts of the country and is recognized as
-one of the educational leaders of his race. Looking back
over his life, he regards his association with the best people
as the greatest factor in shaping his career.

Apart from his professional work, his favorite reding
consists of history, biography, current magazines and the


Bible. In politics he is classed as an independent now but
at one time represented his senatorial district in the State
senate. He was also postmaster at Macon, N. C. He is a
member of the Misisonary Baptist Church and is identified
with the Masons. Speaking of racial conditions and how
the best interests of the race may be promoted, he says:
"By becoming educated along industrial as well as profes-
sional lines, economizing and living simple, plain and frugal
lives, each one mastering as nearly as possible some art and
living within his means, abstaining wholly from the use of
alcoholic liquor and tobacco, obeying the civil laws of the
State and early uniting with some Protestant church. The
laws of the State should give equal justice to my race and
provide them with every advantage that is given to any
other race."

John Arthur Fountain

Dr. John Arthur Fountain, one of the successful young
physicians of Rocky Mount, has risen steadily from a place
of obscurity on the farm as a boy to the position of a
competent and popular physician and surgeon. He was
born near Roxboro in Person Co., N. C, on August 16, 1886.
His father, Griffin Fountain, was a farmer and his mother,
before her marriage, was Miss Jane Wooding.

Growing up on his father's farm, young Fountain
availed himself of such opportunity as was afforded by the
public schools and passed from there to Kittrell College,
where he finished the normal course in 1909. From Kit-
trell he went to Leonard Medical College at Raleigh, where
he won his M. D. degree in 1913. Looking back over the
days of his boyhood he recognizes that the influence of his
father was the deciding factor in shaping his life. He was
an intelligent man who believed in education and was the
first colored man of his county to send his children away
to school.



After completing his course at Leonard, Dr. Fountain
located at Rocky Mount, where he has since resided and
where he does a large general practice. He looks forward
later to specializing in diseases of the eye, ear, nose and

On December 26, 1917, Dr. Fountain was married to
Miss Esther V. Bryan, of Tarboro. She is an accomplished
woman, having been educated at St. Augustine and at the
West Virginia State Normal School. She taught school for
a number of years before her marriage and at the time of
her marriage was supervisor of the Edgecombe Co. schools
for the Colored people. They have two sons, John Arthur
Fountain, Jr., and Thaddeus Griffin Fountain.

Dr. Fountain is a member of the A. M. E. church and is
identified with numerous orders, among them being the Ma-
sons, Odd Fellows, Pythians. Elks and Eastern Star. He
belongs to the State and National Medical Associations.

Dr. Fountain believes that the great need of the race
today is education — not education in the narrow, teachnical
sense, but something which has to do with a better under-
standing of the fundamentals of the home life, church life,
citizenship and the other important relations of society. His
property interests are at Rocky Mount and in Person Co.

William Henry Hayes

Perhaps no part of the Union has contributed more men
to the religious and educational leadership of both races
than has the Old Dominion. Among the successful, capa-
ble men of Virginia, now are now (1920) doing good work
in North Carolina, must be mentioned Rev. Wm. Henry
Hayes, of Warren Co. He was born at the old town of Boyd-
ton in Mecklenburg Co., during the war, October 20, 1862.
His father, William Hayes, was a wagoner who owned his
own team. His mother, before her marriage, was Miss
Elizabeth Burnett. Mr. Hayes inherits a strain of Indian



blood through his paternal grandfather and a strain of
white blood on the maternal side. The family enjoys the
distinction of holding property in Virginia which has never
been owned by white people.

Prof. Hayes was married on May 27, 1885, to Miss Mary
Elizabeth Smith, a daughter of John W. Dagger and Amy
Smith. Of the eleven children born to them, the following
are living: Viola E., Mamie M., Alexander A., Susis B.,
Charles C, Emma J., Beatrice L., Ross S., Washington H.
and Marie E. Hayes, all of whom are married except the
last three.

Growing up at Boydton, young Hayes attended that
deservedly famous school for colored youth, the Boydton
Institute, where he finished the course in 1882. His father
having died when the boy was young, it was necessary for
him to make his own way at school, which he did by working
on the farm and at such other tasks as offered an oppor-
tunity to make a little money. The religious training
which he received at the Boydton Institute from its con-
secrated teachers gave direction and tone to his whole life.

He began teaching in his home town in 1880 and has
for forty years been engaged in educational work. Later
he organized and conducted the Keysville Mission and Indus-
trial School, over which he presided for ten years. In 1917
he came to Warren Co., North Carolina, and has since been
head of the school at Wise. Here he has organized the first
colored training school in his part of the State. During
all these years Prof. Hayes has been more or less inter-
ested in farming, and when not engaged in teaching leads
an active outdoor life.

In politics, he is a Republican and was for a number of
years prominent in the work of the party. While living
in Virginia, he served as magistrate in Mecklenburg Co.
for two years and as postmaster at Boydton during Presi-
dent Harrison's administration. He was for a long time
Secretary of the Fourth Congressional District Committee
of Virginia.

He is a member of the Baptist church, in which he


has been active practically all his life, as he was converted
at the age of fifteen while in school at Boydton. He be-
lieves that the progress of the race depends largely upon
a real spirit of co-operation on the part of the white people
which will convince the Negro that the white man is the
Negro's friend, both in word and deed.

Having been born just before Emancipation, Prof.
Hayes represents, in a striking way, what has been accom-
plished during one generation of freedom.

Speaking in more detail of his work through the years,
he says: "I entered the profession of teaching at the age
of eighteen and taught for eight terms at home. I served
for several years as secretary of the Fourth Congressional
District Committee, and was secretary when Prof. John M.
Langston was elected to Congress from that District. He
secured my appointment as postmaster at Boydton under
Postmaster General Wannamaker, which position I held for
nearly four years. After that I conducted a heel and tap
factory for two years at Jeffress, in Virginia. I was then
asked by the members of the Bluestone Baptist Association
to commence and to organize what is now known as the
Bluestone and Keysville Mission Industrial School at Keys-
ville, Va. I started the work without the appropriation of
a single dollar and at the end of ten years' active service
had purchased 100 acres of land, erected six buildings and
had turned out more than thirty teachers who have been
successful in various localities. For two years I have
served as a demonstration agent teaching colored farmers."

James Edward James

Rev. James Edward James of Henderson, though for
years identified with the Old North State, is a native of
Virginia. He was born at Norfolk, soon after the war on
June 2, 1868. His father, J. J. James, was a slave before
emancipation, and was brought direct from Africa to the


States. On the Gold Coast of Africa he was a young chief-
tain. After being brought to Virginia he married Eliza
J. McClellan, whose ancestors had been in Virginia almost
from the beginning of slavery in America in 1619. Rev.
James great grandfather was in Virginia before and during
the Revolution, and remembered General Washington.

As a boy young James went to the Norfolk public
schools. He also did his high school work at Norfolk.
Fortunately for the young man, in an environment which
did not make for temperance, he was influenced by a young
lady of Christian character, Miss Adella Ruffin, to sign the
pledge and commit himself to a life of sobriety.

The young man now aspired to a college education and
matriculated at Knoxville College, where he won his A. B.
degree in 1897. Prior to going to college, he was converted,
in 1884, and joined the Methodist church. Six months later
he transferred his membership to the United Presbyterian
church and entered the ministry of that denomination.
After completing his college course, he took up the Theologi-
cal course at Knoxville, which he completed with the B. D.
degree in 1900. He had from youth been impressed with
the importance of trained leadership among his people in
both intellectual and spiritual matters. It is not strange,
therefore, that he should dedicate his life to the two kin-
dred professions of teaching and preaching. He had se-
cured his own education practically without assistance and
was thus in position to sympathize with all struggling
youth who came under his tuition. On the completion of
his Theological course, he accepted work at Prairie, Wilcox
Co., Ala., where he taught and preached for six years.
From there he went to the secretaryship of the Y. M. C. A.
at Portsmouth, Va., for three years, when he was called
back to Alabama, and again took up educational and minis-
terial work at Arlington for three years. The character
of his work had been recognized and he was in 1912 called
to the Henderson Normal and Industrial Institute, where
he teaches Latin, Civics and History. He also pastors the
Presbyterian Church at Townsville. Dr. James' voice has


been heard North and South in the interest of his work.
Always and everywhere he speaks plainly and unequivocally
and makes his plea for more intelligent leadership. He has
been married twice. The first marriage was on June 6,
1889, to Miss Susie Wilson of Ft. Worth, Texas. She passed
to her reward Feb. 19, 1910. On Oct. 12, 1911, he was mar-
ried to Miss Isa Marshall of Selma, Ala.

Dr. James has represented his church at four general
assemblies. He has not affiliated with the secret orders.

Fisher Robert Mason

The story of the life arid work of Rev. Fisher Robert
Mason, pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist church of Salisbury,
is more like romance than biography. He was one of a
large family of small children. Losing his father when only
a child, and brought up in poverty and obscurity, his early
years could have given but little promise of the important
work he was to do in life. Fortunately for the lad, his
mother was spared to him. She was a godly woman and
her prayers and the words of encouragement which she.
gave him in early life started him in the right direction
and held him steady during the years. Another fortui-
tous circumstance in his life was his marriage to a capable
and willing Christian woman who has entered heartily and
cheerfully into all his plans.

He was born at Fork in Davie Co. on Sept. 9, 1878. His
father, Spencer Mason, was a farmer. His mother's name
was LuL-inda, and her father Burleson Mason was brought
from Virginia to North Carolina in the sixties.

Mr. Mason was married on May 18, 1904, to Miss
Fannie M. Bryant, a daughter of Rev. William and Eliza-
beth Bryant. Two children have been born to them. One
survives. Her name is Lillie May Mason.

Speaking of his education, Dr. Mason says, "I left home
to enter the State School at Salisbury in 1898. I had eighty



cents with which to begin my studies. My mother gave me
the last five cents she had and said I might use it for ferry
money, and save the amount I had, instead of using it. I
forded the river and saved my five cents. I boarded in
the city. After getting a boarding place and enrolling in
the school, I began looking for a job. Work was scarce
then, so I got a ob cutting wood after school at twenty-
five cents a cord at the wood pile of residences. So I kept
myself in school, bought my books and board, and at the
close of the term I had paid all my expenses and purchased
my mother some little articles and carried her six dollars in
money. That was an opening for me. So I continued year
in and year out until 1900, when I went North and worked.
I kept in touch with my mother's needs and returned and
resumed my studies. I began preaching in the country in
1898. Through the summer months I worked on the farm
during the week and went to my church on Sunday. My
mother permitted me to go to my church on Friday and re-
turn to work on Tuesday, since it was forty miles to my
church and had to be made on foot."

Dr. Mason's mother survived until 1915 and had the
sweet satisfaction of seeing her son firmly established in
his work. In February of that year while he was engaged
in evangelistic work at Greenwood, S. C, he was called to
her bedside, but she passed to her reward before he could
reach her.

"Then in 1902 at the close of the year while I was in
school, the church of which I am pastor called me for its
pastor and for sixteen years I have served it bringing it
from a membership of about fifty to more than six hun-
dred; property valued at that time at about $700.00 is now
worth more than $30,000.00 During my pastorate here, I
served as principal of the city graded school for four years,
from 1908 to 1912."

In 1917 Dr. Mason's report showed that since the begin-
ning of the Salisbury pastorate he had married more than
two hundred couples, baptized five hundred candidates and
conducted one hundred and eighty funerals.


Dr. Mason experienced the new birth at the early age
of ten, was called to preach at eighteen, and ordained to
the full work of the ministry in 1902. His has been a
fruitful ministry not only in. his own church, but in his
evangelistic work at well. The meetings which he has held
have resulted in the conversion of more than three thou-
sand. He stands high in denominational circles. He is vice
president of the State Sunday School Convention and presi-
dent of the Western North Carolina Sunday School Conven-
tion. He belongs to Odd Fellows. Dr. Mason advocates a
closer association of his people with the churches and educa-
tional institutions.

The story of such a life should be a source of helpful
inspiration to all struggling youth.

Joseph Nathan McKnight

It is a wonderful thing when certain men reach the
mid-noon of life. Back of them lie the well-worked fields
of noble endeavor wherein the golden harvest stands as
credit to their labors. Before them yet lie many years of
fruitfulness in the way of opportunity, together with that
intelligent, experienced grasp which brings sureness and
efficiency to each task. On October 7, 1920, the Rev. Jos-
eph Nathan McKnight will celebrate his fiftieth birthday
and honor again in memory the Christian parents to whom
he was born, and who taught him, first of all, to be honest.
They were Julius and Milbria (Perry) McKnight, and were
renters on the McKnight plantation near Louisburg, Frank-
lin Co. Before emancipation his father went by the name
of Ruffin, being the son of Bias and Dinah Ruffin. His
mother was a daughter of Willis and Rhoda Perry.

Naturally, the war having closed but a comparatively
short time, Mr. McKnight's parents were very poor, so it
took hard manual labor, rigid economy, and patient effort
for him to attain the higher education he now possesses,



being a graduate of Yale, having been a student at Morris
Brown University, and having a D. D. degree from both the
faculties of Shaw University and of Yale.

He does not go into details of his student life, for he
was converted in 1886, called and licensed to preach in 1888
and had entered upon the duties of the ministry years be-
fore 1906, the date of his graduation from Yale. Like
others who confront the big difficulties — and not only one,
but several varieties, it was simply necessary for him to
work like a Trojan and take his school courses at such in-
tervals as he could manage.

Immediately after his ordination he pastored Elizabeth
Baptist church, at Long Station, Fla., for two years, where
he built and organized a church of thirty-one members.
The Baptist churches at Baxter, Fla., and Dayton, Ga., he
served two years each and built two other churches in
Florida, Piney Grove at Espinola, and Infant Baptist church
at Ina, Fla.

After this, he returned to his native State, where he
served Ebenezer, at Wilmington, three years, added over
three hundred members to its congregation and paid off the
mortgage. He built Hall's Chapel, at Burgaw, and pastored
it for seventeen years. He had charge of Friendship, at
Rocky Point, for ten years. This church was remodeled
during his administration. He served Willard's Chapel
eight years and bought ground for the church, moved the
old church to the new site and rebuilt the same in thirty
days. He served many other churches while pastoring .the
main one of which he was in charge; and being an able
evangelist, has added many hundreds to the membership of
the Missionary Baptist denomination, having baptized 689
personally until the present (1920).

He has given some time to political matters, being a
Republican, and stands high as a secret order man. He is
District Grand Deputy of the 2nd Masonic District of
North Carolina, and belongs to the Pythians, Odd Fellows,
Eastern Star, Household of Ruth and Knights of Gideon,
in all of which he holds, or has held, important positions, as


he does in the associations growing out of the denomina-
tional activities, such as the Sunday School Convention, of
which he has been president since 1909.

A life, such as described, is so occupied with either
the poorly' paid, or unpaid, work of civilization, that the
individual literally has no time in which to accumulate
money for himself, yet incidentally there has been slowly
acquired a competence which disproves the shallow theory
that success is the reward of selfishness and greed.

Dr. McKnight has had an unusually large family to
support. On October 26, 1904, he was married to Miss
Queen Victoria Marshburn, a daughter of Jack and Eliza-
beth Marshburn. Of nine children born to them, seven are
living: Cora L. Stephen, James Edward, Jessie Harvey,
Ruth Evelina, Bessie May Elizabeth, Joseph Nathan, Jr.,
and Luberta David McKnight.

Mr. McKnight believes, of course, in education, and
that each person should get all he can of it. He believes in
going as high as possible, since he knows well that this nec-
essarily implies not only getting the foundations of educa-

Online LibraryArthur Bunyan CaldwellHistory of the American Negro and his institutions; (Volume 4) → online text (page 45 of 48)