From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Wilson, James Hembray, Sr. (musician/band director)

(born: December 19, 1880  -  died: October 2, 1961) 

Born in Nicholasville, KY, James Hembray Wilson was a noted band director and musician, he played the cornet. He was a faculty member at Alabama A&M College [now Alabama A & M University] 1903-1904, he took over the school band, succeeding W. C. Handy, the former band director who was married to Kentuckian Elizabeth V. Price. Wilson left the school to tour with Billy Kersands and the Georgia Minstrels. Wilson returned to the school in 1907 to remain there until his retirement in 1951. He had been a musician in Jacob Litt's 'In Old Kentucky' Company in 1896, bandmaster in Al Martin's Uncle Tom's Cabin from 1897-1899, cornetist in Mahara's Minstrels in 1899, and worked with many other groups. He became the first African American treasurer at Alabama A&M in 1947 and served as the first African American postmaster at the school from 1919-1942. The James Hembray Wilson Building, located on the Alabama A&M campus, houses the James Hembray Wilson State Black Archives Research Center and Museum. James Hembray Wilson was the son of Hester and Jacob Wilson, and the husband of Eveline Wilson. He graduated from high school in Cincinnati, OH, and from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He died in Normal, Alabama on October 2, 1961 [source: Alabama, Deaths and Burials Index]. He is buried in Huntsville, AL. 

For more see Who's Who in Colored America, 1950; "New Acquisitions" on p.3 in the Newsletter of the Yale University Collection of Musical Instruments, Fall 2006, no.29 [online .pdf]; Alabama A&M Wilson Building under the headline "Why is it named that" by D. Nilsson on p.6 in Pen & Brush, February 2003, vol.43, issue 4 (newsletter of the Huntsville/North Alabama Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication and others); and With Trumpet and Bible: the illustrated life of James Hembray Wilson by Frank Tirro.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Jessamine County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Nicholasville, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Kersands, William "Billy"
NKAA Entry: In Old Kentucky
NKAA Source: Who's who in colored America: an illustrated biographical directory of notable living persons of African descent in the United States (1950)
NKAA Source: With trumpet and Bible: the illustrated life of James Hembray Wilson

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Kentucky African American Musicians in Illinois (Chicago)

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Wilson, James Hembray, Sr. (musician/band director),” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed July 27, 2021, https://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/984.

Last modified: 2021-05-17 20:06:15