On this Mother’s Day, remembering my grandmother Margaret Colvert Allen and her sisters Launie Colvert Jones and Louise Colvert Renwick.
Thankful for the love, past and present, of my mother and all the other mothers in my life.
Cousin Onra and her brother, Johnnie D. Henderson, 1940s.
Wishing my first cousin twice removed, Onra Henderson Camp Dillard, the happiest 98th birthday!
Cousin Onra and I at her home in Washington, D.C., 2016.
Eighty-four years ago today, The Daily Press announced the failure of the failure of a fundraising drive for Whittaker Memorial Hospital in Newport News, Virginia. My great-grandfather John C. Allen Sr. was on the hospital’s board.
The Daily Press, 2 May 1934.
The Record (Statesville, N.C.), 10 December 1937.
Louise Holt Tisdale (27 April 1925-5 April 2018)
My great-aunt Mamie‘s eldest daughter, Louise Holt Tisdale, passed peacefully earlier this month after a short illness. Her memorial was held yesterday, on what would have been her 93rd birthday. The family’s great beauty, “Sister” was as lovely within as without, always ready with a warm smile, a hearty laugh and an open door.
High school graduation, circa 1943.
My favorite photo of Sister.
Unless it’s this one.
Sister with her mother, left, and aunt, my grandmother.
As detailed here, Edmond Petty was Eva Petty Walker‘s grandfather. Petty was born enslaved in the 1830s, probably in Wilkes County, North Carolina (Iredell County’s northwestern neighbor). On 26 April 1865, he enlisted in Company H, 40th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, in Greeneville, Tennessee. Intentionally or accidentally, his name was recorded as “Edward Pedy.” (Greeneville is about 120 miles from Wilkes County over the Blue Ridge Mountains through what is now Cherokee National Forest. This is tough terrain even today.)
After mustering out in February 1866 at Chattanooga, Edmond Petty returned to Wilkes County, married and reared a family. In poor health and finally straitened, in 1883, Petty applied to the United States government for an invalid’s pension. He claimed disability as a result of suffering a sunstroke while drilling with his regiment.
Petty’s disability affidavit provides rich details of his life. Prior to enlistment in the Army, he had lived “with B.F. Petty to whom I belonged in Wilkes County, State of North Carolina. I was there a slave.” (Benjamin F. Petty, who reported owning 23 enslaved persons in 1850, was one of the largest slaveholders in Wilkes County.) Since the war, he had lived in the Fishing Creek area of Wilkes County and had worked as a farmer when he was able. Petty claimed that his diminished eyesight and rheumatism were the result of sunstroke suffered while on duty at Greeneville and that, because of his condition, he was barely able to work.
Edmond Petty’s file comprises 84 pages of testimony by his fellow veterans, neighbors and doctors about Petty’s medical condition and its causes, as well as his ability to support himself. Said H.M. Wilder, for example, “I found him hauling wood in a small one horse wagon to the town of Statesville earning a meagre living.” In the end, he was awarded eight dollars a month for three-quarters disability due to rheumatism and one-quarter to heart trouble.
The Record & Landmark published a sarcastic piece about Petty’s appeal of his initial pension award in an article that reprinted across North Carolina’s Piedmont. The piece insinuates that Petty had done nothing to warrant his stipend, but more importantly reveals that Petty was the agent of his own emancipation. When Stoneman’s Raid passed through Wilkes County in late March 1865, capturing Wilkesboro, Petty escaped the Petty plantation and fell in with Union troops as contraband, following them all the way to Tennessee, where he enlisted to fight the Confederacy.
Record & Landmark (Statesville, N.C.), 18 March 1898.
U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; File #471,881, Application of Edmond Petty for Pension, National Archives and Records Administration.
Edmond Petty of Wilkes County, North Carolina, served in the Union Army. More details about that later.
In the 1870 census of Fishing Creek township, Wilkes County, North Carolina: farmer E. Petty, 28; wife Easter, 25; and children Linsey, 7, Lilah, 4, and Laura, 6.
In the 1880 census of Fishing Creek township, Wilkes County, North Carolina: farmer Edmond Pettey, 49; wife Ester, 47; and children Linsey, 21, Lilly 14, Deliar, 3, and Clary, 1.
On 6 April 1898, Edmond Petty, 68, married Lillia Barber, 19, at the bride’s house in Wilkes County in the presence of John Barber and Bill Jones.
In the 1900 census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina: farmer Edman Petty, 70, widow, and daughter Delia, 26, a tobacco factory worker.
On 22 August 1901, Edmond Petty dictated his last will and testament. To his daughter Delia Petty, he left all his real and personal property, including his household and kitchen furniture, a horse, a wagon, a buggy, a house and four acres adjacent to the James Mitchell’s land at Rankintown, north of Statesville, and an additional four-acre lot. Delia was also named executor. Edmond noted specifically that his wife Lillie Petty, formerly Lillie Barber, was to inherit nothing from his estate, having abandoned him in October 1898 [six months after they were married] and taken up with Vance Gentry, with whom she had had a child. “Resist any claim [by her] to the fullest.” The will entered probate in Iredell County on 24 June 1907.
Per findagrave.com, Edmond Petty is buried in Green Street cemetery in Statesville, and his gravestone shows birth and death dates of 23 July 1830 and 16 May 1907.
In the 1910 census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina: in Rankinville suburb, Adelia Petty, 31, and children John E., 4, and Irene M. Petty, 2. Adelia reported that she owned her home. [Rankinville, more commonly called Rankintown, was a community just north of what were then Statesville’s town limits. Current landmarks include Statesville High School and the Westwood neighborhood.]
John Eddie Petty died 23 August 1916 in Statesville. Per his death certificate, he was born June 1905 in Iredell County to L.W. Colbert and Delia Pettie. He died of epilepsy. L.W. Colvert is listed as informant. [I discovered this death certificate — and the existence of an additional child of Lon W. Colvert and Delia Petty — while researching this post. John’s birth more than a year before Lon married my great-grandmother, and Eva’s birth a year after my great-grandmother’s youngest child was born, certainly begs the question of Irene M. Petty’s paternity.]
In the 1920 census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina: in Rankinville suburb, Delia Petty, 42, and children Rene M., 12, Eva, 8, and Margaree, 5.
Rena May Petty died 6 May 1924 in Statesville. Per her death certificate, she was 16 years old; was born “illegitimate” to Delia Petty in Statesville; and was buried in the colored cemetery.
In the 1930 census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina: cook Delia Pettie, 50, and daughters Eva, 17, and Margie, 14.
On 14 June 1930, Gilmer Walker, 26, son of Robert and Minnie Walker, married Eva Petty, 18, daughter of Lon Colbert and Delia Petty, in Iredell County. Delia Petty, Marjorie Petty and Sula Stewart were witnesses.
On 22 December 1934, Marjorie Petty, 19, married Kermit C.J. Hall, 24, in Iredell County. Gilmer Walker, Eva Walker and Gertrude Frost witnessed.
In the 1940 census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina: in Rankintown suburb, rayon mill sweeper Gilmer Walker, 38; wife Eva, 26; children James E., 7, Delia M., 4, and Eva J., 5 months; and mother-in-law Delia Petty, age illegible. [Per a 6 August 1945 Record & Landmark article, Walker worked for the Duchess Throwing Company, a division of Burlington Industries.] Also in Rankintown: Kermit J. Hall, 30, odd jobs laborer; wife Marjorie, 24; and children Jacolia, 4, and Katie L., 1, with two lodgers.
Gilmer Walker Jr., age 10 weeks, died of head injuries suffered in an automobile accident involving Gilmer Walker Sr. and another driver, who was charged.
Delia Petty died 28 June 1949 in Statesville, Iredell County. Per her death certificate, she was born March 1876 in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, to Edmond Petty and an unknown mother; was a widow; resided on North Brevard extension [North Brevard and Hartness Streets]; and was buried in Belmont cemetery. Informant was Eva Walker.
Most of Delia Petty’s descendants moved to the greater New York City area after World War II.