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.
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.
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.
My grandmother worked as a dietician at Dorie Miller Recreation Center in Newport News, Virginia. The organizers of a teen beauty contest were looking for more contestants, and my 13 year-old mother casually entered.
“And the winner is … Beverly Allen!”
Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 15 August 1951.
New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), 25 August 1951.
The summer after high school, to while away the hours until enrollment at Hampton Institute, she entered the Fancy Pants and Sport Shirt Ball at the city of Hampton’s African-American beach resort, the Bay Shore Hotel. In a midriff-baring genie outfit whipped up by my grandmother, she took second. (But really? You be the judge….)
New Journal and Guide (Norfolk, Virginia), 30 June 1956.
Sixty-two years later, she’s still beautiful … inside and out.
Happy 80th birthday to this abiding blessing, my mother, with love.
The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 10 September 1931.
It appears that the Citizens Civic and Welfare League quickly narrowed its focus and morphed into the Colored Citizens Voters League. By 1931, John C. Allen Sr. was president of the organization for several years. (Zion Baptist was Allen’s home church.)
The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 30 March 1936.
The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 2 September 1928.
Among his many civic responsibilities, John C. Allen Sr. served as treasurer of the Citizens Civic and Welfare League.