Strange Arts & Visual Delights
Marriage certificate of Yancey Simpson and Mary Petrie, married 21 July 1888 by the Rev. E. P. Mayo. Witnesses were Walter Tuttle, Susan Bynum (soon to be Walter’s wife), and Gid Petrie, father of Mary and of Ellis Matthews.
Up to 300 participated in the effort to protect Arthur Tuttle; we know the names only of those men who were arrested, plus Arthur Tuttle’s sister (no women were arrested). Though those men are hardly a random sample of the participants, I am hoping that studying them will provide insight into their personal connections and social networks, in some cases their political and religious affiliations and their visibility to the white community. The primary motivation to participate must have been protecting a member of the community from torture and murder, but the situation threatened the entire community. In these networks and connections we may perhaps see evidence of the community at work.
In her dissertation, Miller suggests several reasons for the timing of the riot. First, the Black community had unrealized expectations of political participation and of patronage proportional to the size of their contribution to Republican electoral success. Second, the lynching of five men in Alabama in April had set the African American community in NC on edge; Miller’s evidence is an article in the AMEZ Star of Zion published in Charlotte and a resolution passed in June at an indignation meeting in Winfall, NC. In this tense context, Arthur Tuttle killed Michael Vickers, and the rumors of a lynching immediately spread through Winston-Salem (35-41).
Aside from the accounts of the killing of Officer Vickers and the murder trial, the newspapers have little information about Arthur Tuttle’s connections and social networks. To place him in a social context, his older brother, Walter, provides a good starting point. It is likely that Arthur knew many if not all of Walter’s connections, though that is only a surmise.
Walter Tuttle and Yance Simpson
One of the men arrested in the aftermath of the 1895 riot was Yance or Yancey Simpson (1861/1862 – 1930). He seems to have been a close associate of Walter. When he married Mary Petrie in July 1888, the witnesses included Walter Tuttle and Susan Bynum. When Walter and Susan were married the following month, witnesses included Simpson and his new bride.
The Rev. Elijah P. Mayo of the American Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church officiated at both weddings. He appears to have left Winston-Salem before the riot. He was appointed to a congregation in Hickory at the end of that year (Press and Carolinian, 12 Dec 1895), but had disappeared from the Winston-Salem newspapers two years earlier. He may have been a significant influence, however. Before his departure, he was politically active. In 1892 he was particularly outspoken in meetings of the Republican Party. Later posts will take up the political situation.
The year after their marriages, Tuttle and Simpson were neighbors on Mack Town Street. In 1891, Tuttle and Simpson were still neighbors, now on Blum Row. In December they were both arrested and fined $7; the newspaper did not report the charge (Western Sentinel, 10 Dec 1891).
Simpson and Tuttle had fewer documented interactions from 1892 to Tuttle’s death in 1894. As I described in an earlier post, Tuttle became increasingly violent and developed a bad reputation. Simpson may have joined Arthur Tuttle’s protectors because he knew Arthur, or perhaps because of his close association with Arthur’s slain brother, Walter.
Yance Simpson and Ellis Matthews
Yance Simpson’s wife, Mary Petrie, was the daughter of Gid Petrie (a witness at Yance’s wedding) and half-sister of Ellis Matthews, a son of Gid Petrie and one of the men arrested after the riot.
Yance Simpson and Henry Foster
In 1894/95, a man named Henry Foster (1355 N Main) lived near Yance Simpson (1366 N Main) and worked as a driver. This may well be the man of that name arrested after the riot.
Yance Simpson and Green Scales
Another man arrested after the riot was Green Scales. There appear to have been three men with that name in Winston-Salem, the first born in 1838 (died 1924, buried in the Odd Fellows’ cemetery), the next born 1845-1850, and the youngest born 1867/1868. Yance Simpson knew at least one of them. In the 1880 census, the youngest Green Scales was working in a tobacco factory and boarding nearby at 198 Chestnut. Other boarders included Yancey Simpson, then 19 years old. Yancey’s and Green’s boarding together suggests, if only weakly, that this was the man of that name who participated in the riot. Like Simpson and Walter Tuttle, this Green Scales was married in July 1888, but by a justice of the peace and with no overlap in witnesses with the marriages of Simpson and Walter Tuttle. (Surprisingly, perhaps, one of the witnesses was J. W. Bradford, then serving as deputy sheriff and jailer; he became Winston’s Chief of Police a few years later.)
In the 1891 city directory, one Green Scales owned a grocery at 1105 Old Town. By 1895, a Green Scales still lived at that address, while presumably another Green Scales lived and ran a restaurant at 205 E. Fifth Street. I do not know the connection between these men. They may have been the same man; people who moved in the course of the year could be listed in the directory at both addresses. In the winter of 1882, Green Scale’s “string band serenaded at several places in town on Monday night” (People's Press, 9 Feb 1882).
The restaurant owner lived and worked quite near three other men arrested after the 1895 riot—Peter Owens, who lived a few doors down at 122 E. Fifth, and Walter Searcy, a tobacco worker who lived at 120 E. Fifth. Owens was also a restaurant owner; his restaurant was located just around the corner, at 445 Church St, next door to the restaurant of another arrested man, Sam Toliver, at 447.
Familial connections and neighborhood proximity suggest that overlapping social networks of men participating the effort to protect Arthur Tuttle from the lynch mob. As we proceed, we will find more connections, and we will find men who, given the available evidence, cannot be placed in networks—indeed, who cannot be placed in the community beyond the fact of their arrest.
The men in the group described here worked as laborers. Like Walter Tuttle, in 1880 Yancey Simpson worked in a tobacco factory, as did the young Green Scales who lived in the same boarding house. Ellis Matthews’ work is not listed in the 1894/95 city directory, but most of his neighbors in Blumtown were laborers. Henry Foster worked as a driver. By 1895, a man or men named Green Scales owned a restaurant and had been a grocer.
Next post: Sam Toliver, Peter Owens, John Mack Johnson (or John McJohnson), and Henry Neal.
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