Gallery #1
Life in Wilson

The Wilson Cleaners

As was typical of company towns across America, most anything a worker might need could be found in Wilson. From the cleaners here to the garage below, there was no shortage of goods or services. Unlike other company towns, however, the standard of living in Wilson was high, far higher than that of not only most Delta citizens, but most southern farm workers as well.

The Fluoroscope

While almost all of the residents of Wilson worked for Lee Wilson & Company, not all were farm laborers. The cleaners above, like the doctors in this photograph, were employees of the company. Here Doctors Mobley and Ellis and Nurse Kirkpatrick examine a patient with equipment unavailable to most southern farm laborers. Though the company did charge a small insurance fee, medical treatment was there for those who needed it, even for those who could not afford it. The company established a fund to help the poorest of Wilson's families pay for these services.

Inside the Wilson Motor Company

This photograph of the early 1930s depicts the garage at the Wilson Motor Company. Even with the slump in sales caused by the Depression, America's "car culture" was quickly becoming an important part of larger American culture. By 1936, over half of all American families owned automobiles.

The Wilson Tavern

This photograph of the dining area inside the Wilson Tavern is striking for what is not visible. Jim Crow laws in southern states erected a rigid color line for access to and conduct in public places. The 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision by the United States Supreme Court upheld such laws as constitutional. Blacks and whites, in most places, were barred from dining together in public places.

The Meat Packing Plant

One of the many examples of the company's philosophy of diversification was its investment in a meat packing plant. Here workers process pork into food products. During these years, there was a high demand for cooking lard as well. Swine raised between 1880 and the end of the Second World War tended to be fatter than today's hogs. Pork was also a staple of "C" and "K" rations used in both world wars, while lard was used in making nitroglycerine for explosives.

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Text Resources
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Gallery of Images
Life in Wilson County Schools Agriculture Town of Wilson Tenant Farmers R.E.L. Wilson, III Directory of Images