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Well done.


My uncle Charles C. Allen passed peacefully last night, surrounded by love. I am grateful to have been able to say goodbye last week and to receive one last lesson — on living and dying with grace — from his bottomless well of wisdom.

His eldest son’s words speak loudest:

“Last night, we lost the rock of the family, my father Charles C. Allen. His illness was brief, and he died on his own terms surrounded by the people he loved. He was married to my mother for 57 years (they’d known each other for over 60 years) and leaves three children, three grandchildren, and three surviving siblings. Dad possessed a tremendous sense of dignity, integrity, and inner fortitude. He was a friend to many. If you needed advice, he’d offer it (sometimes you didn’t need to ask), if you needed a shoulder to lean on, he was there. If you had done him wrong, he turned the other cheek and looked for ways to meet in the middle. Over the course of his 81 years, he mentored literally dozens of people of all races and creeds. Dad lived a full and productive life, and he did it his way. We will miss him, but will also live our lives as a direct reflection of his values and work ethic.”


My heroes — my father, my mother, my uncle.


 Charles Claybourne Allen

21 September 1935-20 January 2017

North Carolina

Who was Lawyer Henderson?


This is a snippet of the 1940 census of Wilson, Wilson County, North Carolina. It’s difficult to read, but there, on the third line, living in a house on South Mercer is 28 year-old Lawyer Henderson. When asked where he had been living five years earlier, Lawyer responded, “Dudley, Wayne County.”


There was but a single rooted family of Hendersons in the Dudley area, all descended from my great-great-great-great-grandfather James Henderson. I have no knowledge of anyone named Lawyer, born about 1912, in the family. There is, however, a Lawyer Henderson, born about 1912, listed in the 1920 census of White Oak township, Onslow County, North Carolina. His parents were Cal and Rose Henderson. I do not recognize the family and suspect they are descended from people formerly enslaved by white Hendersons in Onslow.

For now then, it seems a coincidence that Lawyer Henderson lived briefly in Dudley and then in Wilson.