Historical Record—The Carter: Charles S. Carter, Black Tailor in Twentieth Century Virginia

A certain gentleman tailor by the name of Charles Samuel Carter has interested me for a number of years. I happened across Mr. Carter while researching my several times great-uncles, Alton and Robert Harrison, who worked with him.

Charles S. Carter was born about 1876 in Grahamville, South Carolina. His parents were Jack and Nancy Carter.

Precious little is currently available online about how Mr. Carter’s life and how became such a successful tailor and businessman. However, the fact is that somehow Charles S. Carter did just that.

What I know, I share here.

As early as 1899, Charles S. Carter’s tailoring business was listed in the Norfolk City Directory.

In 1902, he married Carrie Wingfield and they had two daughters, Florence and Charlotte, before divorcing.

In 1922, Charles S. Carter secondly married Grace Law and they had son, Charles S. Carter, Jr., in 1923.

Charles S. Carter passed away in late September 1933 in Norfolk, Virginia and he was buried in Calvary Cemetery.

Here is how Mr. Carter presents in the historical record:

Charles S. Carter was operating a tailoring business by 1899 in Norfolk, according to the 1899 Norfolk City Directory

Richmond Planet
Richmond, Virginia

15 Mar 1902, Sat • Page 8
Negro Year Book: An Annual Encyclopedia of the Negro … 1947,1952
The Southern Workman
In Their Own Interests: Race, Class and Power in Twentieth-Century Norfolk …
By Earl Lewis
The Norfolk Landmark
Norfolk, Virginia
06 Jan 1901, Sun • Page 2

The Post
Big Stone Gap, Virginia
28 Sep 1905, Thu • Page 3
Charles S. Carter made a presentation about tailoring at the 1906 National Negro Business League 7th Annual Convention in Atlanta, Georgia

Alton T. Harrison’s brother, Robert H. Harrison, also worked with Charles S. Carter | Oct 6, 1917 Norfolk Journal and Guide
Chas. S. Carter, Profiled in 1923
29 Dec 1923
Norfolk Journal and Guide
Charles S. Carter joins the Excel Shoppe as designer and cutter May 5, 1928 Norfolk Journal and Guide
Tailors Were They.

Norfolk, Virginia, USA
In the early 1900s, both Robert H. Harrison and Alton T. Harrison (my 2nd great-granduncles) were successful tailors. They were each associated with the high-profile tailor Charles S. Carter. Carter catered to customers from all races, according to writings of the day.

On May 13, 1933 a sad news item appeared in the Norfolk Journal and Guide concerning Charles S. Carter. Because the article contains potentially triggering information, I will not share it here. One can access the article by searching the aforementioned publication date wherever you read the Journal and Guide archives, if interested.

After much suffering, Charles S. Carter passed away of natural causes months later, in September 1933.

The late Alton T. Harrison’s association with the late Charles S. Carter is noted April 1936 Norfolk Journal and Guide

Charles S. Carter’s daughter, Charlotte (1906-1989), married Albert Gourdine (1905-1972). Their eldest son was Meredith Charles Gourdine (1929-1998), an important engineer, physicist, athlete and inventor.

“Dr. Meredith C. Gourdine…He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Gourdine of Pasadena, Calif., and the grandson of Mrs. Carrie Wingfield Carter of New York and the late Charles S. Carter, formerly of Norfolk.” 27 May 1965

What an impressive life and important legacy! Looking forward to learning even more about businessman and tailor extraordinaire Charles S. Carter. May his memory be a blessing.

This is our situation.

The Genealogy Situation Room

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