Cousin B.J., my partner in all things Aldridge, sent me this clipping a few days ago from the 28 June 1952 edition of the Norfolk New Journal and Guide:
1612 Lovitt Avenue was the house in which Tilithia Brewington King Godbold Dabney had lived in her latter years. Who was this Elizabeth Aldridge? And who was in the family plot?
We quickly suspected that this was Lizzie Aldridge, sister of my great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge and B.J.’s great-great-grandmother Amelia Aldridge Brewington, but knew little of Lizzie’s whereabouts as an adult. I’d wondered if our Lizzie was this woman, found in the 1900 census of Norfolk, Norfolk County, Virginia: North Carolina-born dressmaker Lizzie Aldridge, 30, shared a household with a boarder, William Hendricks, 36, a divorced day laborer. So there was some precedent to the speculation that Lizzie had migrated to Norfolk. But why the “Mrs.”? We don’t know for sure, but quickly determined that this death announcement was definitely for Lizzie Aldridge, daughter of Robert and Mary Eliza Balkcum Aldridge, and she seems to have been the longest-lived of their children. In other words, Elizabeth Aldridge was Tilithia Dabney’s aunt.
In the 1870 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: Robt. Aldridge, farmer, with wife Eliza, and children George, 18, John, 17, Amelia, 14, Mathew D., 13, David S., 12, Amanda, 10, Ella, 9 Eliza, Robert and Joseph, 7 months, plus farmhand Isham Gregory.
In the 1880 census of Brogden township, Wayne County: Robt. Aldridge, wife Elizar, and children Matthew, Sloan, Amanda, Louella, Lizzie, Robert, Joseph, and Fannie.
By 1898, Lizzie (and, it appears, her teenaged nephew Zebedee, John’s oldest son, and her sister Louella) had migrated to Norfolk, Virginia. Here are their listings in the city directory:
In the 1900 city directory, Louella remains at 100 Henry, but Zebedee, working as a fireman, is living with his aunt at 17 Nicholson. Nonetheless, as noted above the census taken that year showed Lizzie sharing a household only with a boarder.
On 4 July 1902, Wayne County Superior Court set off a dower and partitioned Robert Aldridge’s land among his wife and heirs. With Lot No. 10, Lizzie Aldridge received 32 acres on the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad and Stoney Run Branch valued at $193. (Louella, referred to as Louetta, received a similar share, but two years later it was divided among her siblings when she died without heirs.)
In the 1904 Norfolk city directory, Lizzie is at 17 Nicholson, but in 1906, she is listed at 100 Henry. As “Elizabeth Aldridge,” she is living at 100 Henry in the 1907 and 1908 directories, too.
In the 1910 census of Norfolk, Virginia: Elizabeth Aldridge is listed as the keeper of a lodging house at 100 Henry Street. She had nine lodgers, all born in North Carolina, and one of whom, 22 year-old Jessie Baker, may have been Jesse Frank Baker, son of Lizzie’s first cousin Mary Ann Aldridge Baker.
Per city directories, as early as 1913, Lizzie Aldridge was living at 852 Henry in Norfolk.
In the 1920 census of Monroe Ward, Norfolk, Virginia: at 852 Henry Street, Elizabeth Aldridge, 49, keeper of a lodging house, headed a household that included her 7 year-old adopted son Elisha Newton and eight lodgers aged 16 to 20, all North Carolina-born and working as longshoremen or, in one instance, a fireman on a boat.
In the 1930 census of Norfolk, Virginia: in rented quarters at 940 1/2 Hanson Avenue, 60 year-old laundress Elizabeth Aldridge, her adopted son Arther E. Newton, 18, and a boarder named Mack Rice, a longshoreman. Elizabeth claimed to be a widow who first married at age 21.
In the 1940 census of Norfolk, Virginia: at 938 1/2, Elizabeth Aldridge, 70, was herself a lodger in a household headed by Lena Forekey.
As for the “family plot,” B.J. discovered the following (probably partial) list of Aldridge family members buried together in Norfolk’s Calvary cemetery: Elizabeth Aldridge, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space SW 0 06/15/1952; John Dabney, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space W CTR 0 12/29/1974; Tilithia Dabney, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space NW 0 11/24/1965; and Arthur Newton, Section 22, Block 22, Lot 182, Space SE 0 09/09/1979.