Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Photographs, Virginia

Rest in peace, Jasper Maxwell Allen, Jr. (1931-2021).

Jasper M. Allen Jr.

My extended Allen family, which has always been small, recently lost its oldest member, my mother’s first cousin, Jasper Maxwell Allen, Jr. I never met Cousin Mack Jr., but for the last dozen years or so spoke with him once or twice a year by telephone. He was close to his beloved late wife Arnetta’s family, and I am grateful to them for this obituary:

The late Jasper Maxwell Allen, Jr. was born in Charlotte Courthouse, Virginia on February 10th, 1931, to the late Lena P. Allen, a school teacher and Dr. Jasper Maxwell Allen, Sr., a dentist. Jasper, Max, or Allen as most of us called him was a bit rambunctious as a child (by his own admittance), and often joked about his experiences as a kid and getting into mischief every now and then. One of his favorite stories to tell was how his beloved mother Lena was not only his mom, but also his teacher in elementary school. He would snicker about getting into what he called “double trouble” when he would misbehave in school!!

As a young man, Allen went on to Maryland State College, now known as the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He then went on to be drafted into the military and served during the Korean War, in both France and Germany. The military allowed him to utilize his degree and knowledge of technology and computers. During this time, he also acquired a love for the Volkswagen! While in the military, Allen would also go on to meet Merchant Marine Chief Henry Burton, who would later coincidentally, become his uncle in-law. After completing both college and his military tour Allen lived and worked in Washington DC before settling in Harlem, New York. His expertise in the world of technology earned him jobs with IBM, Rudband, and even a covert position that until this day he had never “spilled the beans” on. Which was absolutely within his nature. Allen was a “by the book” kind of guy.

While living in New York and working at Rudband he met who would later become the love of his life, Arnetta Lewis. Arnetta was Allen’s supervisor in the Key Punch Department. Their love blossomed during their carpool rides from work, in which Allen was the driver. At 90 years old, Allen could still describe the exact outfit and hair style Arnetta was wearing the day that they met (a gold and blue checkered jacket, a gold blouse and her hair was in a French roll). To quote him on their early encounters “my heart jumped up and moved around a bit!” Allen and Arnetta dated and later married on September 7th, 1957 and were married for 55 years. They would go on to leave Harlem and move to the Bronx where Allen spent the last 45 years. Allen and Arnetta did everything together! They bickered and fussed, partied, traveled, prayed, and loved their family and each as a unit. Arnetta preceded Allen in death in November of 2012.

As the elder of our family Allen remained the wise, smart, cool, funny, gracious, and slick guy we all loved, and we all had our very own special relationship with him. From the oldest to the youngest, he could hold a conversation with any of us about anything. He also knew how to get us to stop fussing at him by playing possum and faking a nap, he would sometimes peak one eye open to see if we were still there (Classic Allen).

Affectionately known as “Uncle Allen” by his New York family, Allen remained surrounded by loved ones no more than an elevator or a train ride away! Allen leaves behind nephews and nieces, Rodney A. Lewis, Juanita Lewis, Darcel Kennedy, John Harries, Rodney E. Lewis, Jasmine N. Lewis-Peguero, Kayla E.N. Lewis, Jasmine Rucker, Jamek Rucker, Kaiah Irene Lewis, Rodney Trey Lewis, Jason R. Peguero, Raul Peguero and Tracee Bryant. Allen also leaves behind a host of family and friends in his home state of Virginia. We love you and will miss you dearly Uncle Allen.

Cousin Mack, his mother Lena Jeffress Allen, and wife Arnetta Lewis Allen.
J. Maxwell Allen Jr. and his first cousins (my uncles) Charles C. Allen and John C. Allen III, circa 1938.
J. Maxwell Allen, his cousin/my aunt Marion Allen Christian, and his brother Cameron L. Allen.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Military

Pvt. Danzie J. Wynn.

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Danzie J. Wynn (1895-1918), Army, World War I.

Danzie J. Wynn, son of Edward and Susan Henderson Wynn, registered for the World War I draft in Wayne County in 1917. Per his registration card, he was born 12 May 1896 in Dudley; lived in Dudley; was single; and was a tenant farmer working for Edward Wynn. He self-reported his race as Indian, but the registrar wrote on the back of his registration card: “Question #10 answered incorrectly party has always passed for a negro.”

Wynn was inducted and sent to Fort Greene, near Charlotte, North Carolina, for training. At the end of September 1918, he and the rest of Company B, 344 Labor Battalion, shipped out for Europe aboard the Teucer.

Three months later, Danzie Wynn was dead of influenza. He is buried at Brookwood American Cemetery in Surrey, United Kingdom.

Many thanks to cousin George Waters and to Marty Tschetter of Goldsboro-Wayne County Public Library for sharing this wonderful photograph; copies of cousin Danzie’s military records are found at Ancestry.com.

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Business, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, Politics, Virginia

Allen testifies and makes a good witness.

The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 19 April 1911.

In 1909, the churches of Newport News’ East End, known as Bloodfields for its violence, commenced a campaign to curtail liquor licenses in the neighborhood. In April 1911, Zion Baptist Church and the Colored League of East End (represented by J. Thomas Newsome) appeared in court to contest the grant of a license to William Gholsen to open a bar at “the old Sam Hall saloon” near 20th Street on Ivy Avenue. My great-grandfather John C. Allen Sr. spoke on behalf of the church — at some length and to good effect. Gholson was denied.

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Maternal Kin, Virginia

Hiding in plain sight.

I don’t understand how I have missed this:

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Almost exactly four years ago, with help from my late uncle Charles C. Allen and my new DNA cousin A.B., I identified Edward C. Harrison as the biological father of my great-grandfather John C. Allen Sr.

The screenshot above shows a portion of the 1880 census of Harrison township, Charles City County, Virginia. Household number 73: Wm. L. Harrison, 32; his mother C.R., 64; and siblings J.C., 24, and E.C., 31. That’s Edward C. Harrison, his brother William Lambert Harrison, his mother Caroline R. Lambert Harrison, and his sister Jane Cary Harrison. (His father William Mortimer Harrison died in 1865.) Household number 74, right next door: Gram Allen, 26; wife Mary; and children Namie, 5, John, 3, and Emma, 1. That’s my great-grandfather John, his mother Mary Brown Allen, his adoptive father Graham Allen, and his half-sisters Namie (Naomi? Nannie?) and Emma. I repeat: living next door.

Were the Allens tenants on the Harrisons’ farm? Graham Allen and Mary Brown married 22 June 1876, when she was just a few months pregnant by Edward Harrison. Were both of them already living on the farm? Why remain under the gaze (and, presumably, control) of the father of Mary’s oldest son? What relationship, if any, did John have his biological father? With other Harrisons?

Before recognizing this census entry, I had no evidence of how Mary Brown and Edward Harrison met or whether John Allen knew his father’s identity.

William Lambert Harrison (1845-1919), John C. Allen Sr.’s uncle.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina

A birthday party in Rankintown.

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12 10 1937

The Record (Statesville, N.C.), 10 December 1937.

  • For an overview of the Petty family, see here.
  • Jacolia Hall was the daughter of Kermit C.J. Hall and Marjorie Petty Hall.
  • Delia Macheree Walker was the daughter of Gilmer and Eva Petty Walker (and thus Jacolia’s cousin, not niece.)
  • James Edward Walker was Macheree’s brother.
  • Delia Petty was Eva Petty Walker’s mother.
  • Eva Petty Walker was the daughter of Lon W. Colvert and Delia Petty.
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Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Collateral kin: the Pettys.

DNA evidence has firmly established that Eva Petty Walker (1911-1999) was the daughter of Lon W. Colvert and Delia Petty. What do we know about the Pettys?

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.]

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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.

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