A long time ago, like, maybe, in the late 1990s, I took a ride with my cousin L.H. over to LaGrange, Lenoir County, to visit Mackie Bee Elliott Williams. The daughter of Roland and Georgetta “Etta” Henderson Elliott, Cousin Mackie Bee was then a little more than 80 years old. Today, as I began writing this piece, I discovered that she passed away just this past March at the age of 97.
Cousin Mackie Bee as a young woman, early 1930s.
In that era before phone cameras and portable scanners, I’d arrived at Cousin Mackie Bee’s armed with my trusty old Canon AE-1 and several micro-filters. Fortune rewards the prepared. Cousin Mackie, whose grandfather was James Henry Henderson, had lined the walls of home with photographic portraits of her mother Etta and, to my astonishment, two of her aunts, Mary Ella and Amelia Henderson.
Of Mary Ella Henderson, I have found only one reference — the 1880 census of Brogden, Wayne County, which lists mulatto farmer James Henderson, his wife Frank, and children Mary, 12, Nancy, 10, and Lizzie, 6. Amelia was born in 1880, but too late to be counted by the census taker. I have been able to fill out some details of her short life, however.
On 31 1898, 18 year-old Amelia Henderson married Manuel Braswell in Bullhead township, Greene County, North Carolina. Their license noted that she was a Wayne County resident, and, assuming she was still living in her father’s household in the far south of the county, I’m not sure how she would have met Braswell.
By the time of the 1900 census, “Man” and Amelia Braswell were living in Nahunta, Wayne County, which bordered Greene County. Man worked as a farm laborer; the couple had no children. Ten years later, they remained in the same area, still with no children.
Four years after that, Amelia Henderson Braswell was dead.
The death certificate for Amelia “Brazzell” records her death on 26 March 1914 in Goldsboro of uremic convulsions following an operation for pyosalpinx. It was a slow and agonizing demise. Uremic convulsions are involuntary muscle spasms or seizures resulting from the toxic effects of kidney failure. Pyosalpinx is pus-filled infection of a fallopian tube. Amelia was 37. Her brother Elias L. Henderson provided the information for her death certificate, and the family buried her in Jason, Greene County, the day after she died.
Amelia Henderson Braswell (1880-1917)