Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Oral History, Photographs

Mildred Wardenur Houser Jones.

Wardenur was a pianist, and played an organ for WOR radio station in Jersey City.  In Jersey somewhere.  Honey, she was — girl, she could play the piano.  And she played this organ, you know, they would have plays and have organ music, and she did that for them.  She could play.  And when I was up there one time, I went with her to take her piano lessons, and the lady said, ah, “What – you do play the piano or organ?”  I said, “No, ma’am, I don’t….”  Look like she looked at me like she thought I was about the worst she had ever seen.  [Laughs.] And her father made her take piano lessons. And the teacher graded her, and if she got anything below a B, her father would punish her severely.  But, honey, she could play a piano and organ.  She was good.

But she took TB and died.


She was lovely — Wardenur. She was about 15 here, palling about with my grandmother, her older cousin, vying for the attention of the college boys mooning about them that summer in Bayonne.


New York Age, 21 June 1930.

Wardenur graduated from the Lee Music School a couple of summers later and in February 1931 finished Bayonne High School.  A few years after that, her elopement was reported in the Age.

ImageNew York Age, 16 March 1935. 

Happy times did not last long. Wardenur contracted tuberculosis, the disease that had killed her aunt Elethea and beloved cousin Jay, and spent her last months in a sanatorium.  A short notice appeared in the 20 September 1941 issue of the Bayonne Times:

JONES – Mildred (nee Houser), of 421 Avenue C, on September 18, 1941, devoted wife of Willard Jones and beloved daughter of Irving and Emma Houser and sister of Henry and Irving Houser Jr.  Reposing at Wallace Temple A.M.E. Zion Church from 9 p.m. Sunday until funeral services at 2 p.m. Monday, September 22.  “Murray’s Service.”

She was 28.



P.S. The taskmaster piano teacher was probably the inimitable Miss L.A. Lee of 100 Kearney Avenue, Jersey City, who, according to the Age, opened her well-regarded music school in 1907.

Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. Photographs in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History, Photographs

She was smart, and she was musical.



Statesville Colored Graded School Closed Tuesday Night with a Very Creditable Performance.

The closing exercises of the Statesville graded school were held Tuesday night in the new building. Before the exercises began at 8.30, a representative of this paper had the pleasure of looking thru the building and inspecting the most creditable exhibits of the work accomplished by the pupils of the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh grades. The exhibit showed surprising skill in drawing, sewing, fancy needle work and other forms of handiwork.

When the exercises began, the auditorium and two adjoining school rooms were filled, and the good order maintained was a noticeable feature.  The opening chorus and duet by members of the graduating class were much appreciated by the audience.

“Resolved: That girls are more expensive to raise than boys,” was the subject of the debate discussed in an interesting manner by Eugene Harris and Harry Chambers, on the affirmative, and Guy B.Golden and Jettie M. Davidson, on the negative.


Class History.      Buster B. Leach

Class Prophecy.   Annie B. Headen

Class Poem.      Willie D. Spann

Solo — ‘Be Still, O Heart.’   Thomas R. Hampton

Class Will.   Maurie Dobbins

Valedictory.    Louise Colvert

Class Song – ‘Fealty’


Mary Louise Colvert, Maurie Catherine Dobbins, Lillian Gennetta Moore, Willie DeEtte Spann, Buster Brown Leach, Annie Bell Headen, Thomas Richard Hampton, Eloise Earnestine Bailey.  

Class Motto – We Learn Not for School, But for Life.

The colored people of Statesville take great pride in their school.  They have a modern school building, steam heated and supplied with the latest equipment, something which very few towns and cities of the State have provided for its colored population.  C.W. Foushee, the principal, has proven himself to be a good school man.  He is assisted by eight teachers.

— Statesville The Landmark, 7 June 1923.


Louise went up to New Jersey and finished high school.  They didn’t have a black high school in Statesville.  They just had tenth grade.  And she went to Jersey and finished high school in Jersey and then took a course in teacher’s education somewhere.  I don’t know whether it was Winston-Salem or Salisbury.  And then she taught at – Louise played an organ, I mean, she could play the piano. Yeah, she was just as smart as she could be.  And she not only could teach, but she was musical. And she had heard she could get a job anywhere because she could do that.  And I know Golar used to teach school, but Louise would do her commencement exercise for her.  She would, Louise would do that, and they would have concerts.  Not concerts, but the whole county would compete.  And Golar’s thing would always bring a group of children, ‘cause Louise would teach them, you know. I don’t know, I can’t remember the name of that place.  But she had a school out there.  Williams Grove. And Louise used to do all the playing for that school, and they would ask her to prepare them for the thing. They had these county somethings.  But it involved the whole county.  The schools were all over Iredell County.  And they would come together, and they would, it would be a big march, and then they would meet somewhere in particular, and then they would compete with the groups of singers and everything like that.  And, child, when Louise started that stuff, when she started teaching, she had groups singing – young people and the older people, and then Golar would take her to her school and get her to teach her children.

Happy birthday, Aunt Louise.
Mary Louise Colvert Renwick (6 October 1906-15 September 1989)

Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved. Photographs in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.