Fire In Kinston

Kinston, N.C., Jan. 5. – Fire in the large brick building owned by Dr. A.R. Miller, located on South Queen Street, about 6 o’clock last evening, caused a loss of from eight to ten thousand dollars.  The flames were just under the metal roof – a very hard place to reach with water.

The fire burned steadily until about 9 o’clock before the firemen had gotten it under control.  The stocks of the several stores under the building were practically ruined by the water.

Source: “Fire In Kinston.” Times-Dispatch [Richmond, VA] 6 Jan. 1904. Chronicling America. Library of Congress. <;.


Tragic Death of 5 Children

While perusing the digital newspaper collection, Old Historical Western New York State newspapers, I located the following mention in the December 20, 1964 issue of a newspaper of Binghamton, NY.

“At Least 28 Perish in Fires Across Country” was the name of the article, and in it was mentioned that “Five children burned to death when fire destroyed their fram home near Kinston, N.C.  Their mother, Mrs. Berda Spence, escaped without injury from the burning tenant house.”

A quick search of the database of NC Death Certificates at quickly revealed the children’s names and ages:

Bobby Charles Spencer, age 9 –  (13 Apr 1955 – 19 Dec 1964)
Brenda Joyce Spencer, age 5 –   (25 Apr 1959 – 19 Dec 1964)
Linda Faye Spencer, age 5  – (25 Apr 1959 – 19 Dec 1964)
Ervin Ray Spencer, age 20 months – (15 Apr 1963 – 19 Dec 1964)
Arline Spencer, age 6 months – (27 Jun 1964 – 19 Dec 1964)

How tragic for the family to lose 5 children in one day.  This story also appears on, though some of the names are slightly different.  Based on the death certificate data, it seems their mother’s name was Verdia, and while Arlene is said to be a cousin on the GenDisasters site, her death certificate has Verdia as her mom.

Death of John Thompson

John Thompson, colored, who was so seriously injured at Hines Bros.’ lumber mills Wednesday, by a piece of lumber flying off from one of the rip saws, died last night from the effects received.  He never regained consciousness at all, and was in such critical condition, which would not allow necessary operation.

Source: The Times [Richmond, VA] 1 Dec. 1900. Chronicling America. Library of Congress. <;.

Negro Killed

Negro Killed: Shot by Policeman at Kinston While Breaking Into a Store
(Special to the Times-Dispatch)

Kinston, N.C., February 11 – This morning about 3 o’clock Night Policeman J.J. Dunn, while making his beat on North Queen Street, saw a negro named Walter Houston, alias Hunter, entering the store of W.W. Triton through the back way.  The officer fired at him seven times, three balls taking effect.  As soon as he started the firing the negro jumped and ran out through an alley, which opened on North Street, where he fell dead and lay until 9 o’clock, when Coroner R.W. Wooten viewed the body.  No inquest was deemed  necessary.  The body was turned over to the sheriff for burial.

When he searched this morning the authorities found only one apple in his pocket, but it is reported that he had already broken in one or two more places before he had gotten to Mr. Triton’s place of business, and had carried clothing, shoes, etc., away to some of his partners.

Source: “Negro Killed.” Times-Dispatch [Richmond, VA] 12 Feb. 1903. Chronicling America. Library of Congress. <;.

Boy Kills His Sister

Shoots Her With Flobert Rifle and Denies Knowledge of Crime

Kinston, N.C.,  April 21. – A twelve year-old son of Gas Sears, colored, who lives twelve miles from Kinston, yesterday shot his little two year-old sister to death with a Flobert rifle.  None of the family was at the house when the shooting took place.  The boy is an epileptic and almost  an idiot, though he had cunning enough to deny shooting the little girl, and tried to place the blame on someone else, but evidence that he did the shooting himself is conclusive.  The family of Sears has had quite a tragic career.  Two years ago the home was burned, and two children lost their lives in the fire.

Source: “Boy Kills His Sister.” Richmond Planet [Richmond, VA] 30 Apr. 1910. Chronicling America. Library of Congress. <;.

Death of T.J. Meacham

From the February 1, 1900 issue of The Times newspaper of Richmond, VA.

Kinston, NC., Jan 31 — Mr. T.J. Meacham died Monday at 12 o’clock, at his home in Kinston, of heart trouble, aged sixty-one years.  He had been in feeble health for months, and had been confined in bed for about four weeks.  The burial took place yesterday afternoon in the Kinston Cemetery.  The funeral services were conducted at his home by Rev. D.H. Tuttle. He had been the agent of the Atlantic Coast Line depot here since the road was built to Kinston.  The sympathy of the people of Kinston goes out to the bereaved family.

Arrested For Murder

From the February 1, 1900 issue of The Times newspaper of Richmond, VA.

Kinston, N.C., Jan 31 – McCoy Waters was arrested in Kinston this morning, charged with murder.  The facts in the case are about as follows:  

A man living in Kinston was during the year 1898 a Pinkerton detective in the State of Georgia.  The crime of murder was committed by one McCoy Waters, at Douglas, Ga.  This Pinkerton detective had known Waters before the crime was committed.  Waters skipped and was not apprehended.  

This Pinkerton detective moved to Kinston about a year ago to engage in business.  A short time ago he saw the man Waters.  He corresponded with the authorities in Georgia, and made sure he was after the right man, and also found that a reward of $50 was offered for his capture.  A warrant was issued this morning, and Waters was arrested by Policeman Brinson and Messrs. H.C. Brewer, J.H. Rouse and Albert Phillips.  Upon his arrest he neither denied or affirmed the charge.  He was lodged in the jail here.  Waters is a man about fifty years of age, and weighs about 160 pounds.  There seems to be no doubt that he is the right man.