Ten years ago today, my family gathered to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday. We were blessed beyond measure to have been loved so long by Margaret Colvert Allen.
Ten years ago today, my family gathered to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday. We were blessed beyond measure to have been loved so long by Margaret Colvert Allen.
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.]
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.
Charlotte Observer, 21 July 1915.
“Good Samaritan Hospital was the first private hospital in North Carolina built exclusively for the treatment of Charlotte’s black citizens, and is one of the oldest of its kind in the United States. Located in Charlotte’s Third Ward neighborhood between Mint and Graham streets, it was built in 1891 with funds raised by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church and its parishioners. … In 1903, a School of Nursing was established in the hospital to train black women, and graduated hundreds of young nurses over the next fifty years.”
My great-grandfather’s sister, Henrietta R. Colvert, began her nursing education at Saint Agnes Hospital in Raleigh, but finished closer to home at Good Samaritan.
[Sidenote: the hospital’s site now lies under Bank of America Stadium, home of the Carolina Panthers.]
DNAnigma, no. 20 — SOLVED!
When my maternal second cousins’ DNA results posted last year at Ancestry.com, I immediately noticed we shared a close cousin in common.
K.J. and G.W. are my second cousins. A.R. is a match we share.
Who was A.R.? Per Ancestry’s centimorgan (cM) totals (which run low), A.R. shared 99 cM with me, 98 cM with K.J., and 111 cm with G.W. That’s roughly the third cousin range. As K.J. and G.W. are the grandchildren of one of my maternal grandmother’s full sisters, I could be reasonably sure that A.R. was with us in the Colvert or McNeely line. (A.R. also matches E.J., great-grandson of my grandmother’s other full sister.)
In trying to contact A.R., I found his sister A.P. She was quite excited about our genetic link and expressed interest in DNA testing. I mailed her an Ancestry.com kit, and her results came in last week. As expected, A.P. matched K.J., G.M. and I in the same range as her brother does. What was our connection though?
A.P. told me that three of her four grandparents were from the Caribbean, so it was highly unlikely that I matched her in those lines. However, her fourth grandparent, her mother’s father J.W., was an enigmatic figure who had disappeared from the family. Was he the link?
J.W.’s name is a common one, and we had only a general idea of his birthplace. I examined my tree carefully, focusing on my maternal grandmother’s family. Given the information we had, nothing seemed to match up. A.P. probed her close relatives for more information and late last week learned that J.W. was born in 1933 and his mother was named Eva. A quick search turned up J.W. and his mother (and father and siblings) in the 1940 federal census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina.
My heart leaped. Statesville??? That’s where my grandmother was born! Suddenly, connecting A.P. and her grandfather J.W. to my family seemed not just possible, but likely. I searched for more records of J.W.’s mother and found her marriage license. I scanned the document quickly, then stopped short. On 14 June 1930, when Gilmer Walker applied for a marriage license for himself and Eva Petty, 18, he had named her parents as Delia Petty and … Lon Colbert!
Colbert was a common misspelling of my grandmother’s maiden name, which in fact was COLVERT. I paused. The handwriting was ambiguous, was the first name LON or LOU? Lon W. Colvert, son of John W. Colvert and Harriet Nicholson, was my grandmother’s father. Lewis “Lou” Colvert was his uncle — brother (or half-brother or maybe even step-brother) of John W. Colvert. If Eva’s father were Lou (and Lou were a biological rather than step-brother to John Colvert), then A.P. and my most recent common ancestor (MRCA) would be my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert, and she and I would be estimated half-fourth cousins. The average shared cM range for this relationship is in the single digits, and there’s a 50% that cousins at this distance show no DNA match at all. But A.P. and I share 96 cM, so Lewis Colvert is extremely unlikely to be our MRCA.
If, instead, Eva Petty Walker’s father were Lon, A.P. and I would be half-second cousins once removed. The cM range for that relationship would be the mid to high double digits. This range not only captures our cM, it also encompasses the cM totals that A.P. shares with my sister, K.J. and G.W., who would all have the same relationship distance with A.P. If Lon is our MRCA, A.P. and my mother and late uncle Charles would be half first cousins twice removed. As the chart below shows, their 182.4 and 173.8 cM shares with A.P. are on the high end of the 1C2R range.
Gedmatch matrix comparing autosomal cM shares among Colvert descendants — me, my mother, my sister, my maternal uncle, two second cousins, and A.P.
Thus, the evidence points to A.P.’s great-grandmother Eva Petty Walker as the daughter of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert. Eva was born 3 October 1911, ten months after Lon’s wife Carrie McNeely Colvert’s youngest daughter was born. Eva was his seventh known child, all but one of whom were girls.
[UPDATE: 5/1/2017 — I just got a match in Ancestry.com to T.C., who is the grandson of Eva Petty Walker’s daughter. Further confirmation.]
[UPDATE: 9/14/2017 — A.P. and my mother (and the other Colvert testees) also shared matches with S.X. S.X. and A.P., in fact, shared a cM total in the 1100 range, which is exceedingly high. I just confirmed that S.X. is another child of J.W., further cementing the conclusion that J.W.’s mother Eva was Lon W. Colvert’s daughter.]
[UPDATE: 4/13/2018 — A couple of days ago, I saw that T.R. is an estimated second cousin match to my mother, and an estimated first cousin match to S.X. It didn’t take too long to figure it out this time — T.R.’s paternal grandmother was another of Eva Petty Walker’s children.]
The tests I had two maternal second cousins (first cousins to each other) take may be bearing fruit.
My maternal grandmother, Margaret Colvert Allen, had two full sisters, Louise Colvert Renwick and Launie Mae Colvert Jones. K.J. and G.W. are Aunt Launie’s grandchildren by a son and daughter. Per Gedmatch, K.J. and I match 394.4 cMs (46.2 on the X), which is a whopping match for second cousins. G.W. and I match 151.5 (45.6 on the X), which is on the low side of the second cousin range.
Here is matrix showing the matches between K.J. and G.W. and my grandmother’s descendants, me (L.Y.H.), my mother B.A.H., my uncle C.C.A., and my sister K.H.J.
I have ZERO identified matches to my grandmother’s African-American lines. I was startled then to get a new match last week that matched me at 40 cM (per Ancestry, which lowballs estimates), K.J. at 91 and G.W. at 137. It didn’t take long to get a response from him that identified him as E.J., the great-grandson of my Aunt Louise. In other words, a second cousin-once removed to me, K.J. and G.W. My cM total with E.J. is lower than might be expected, but K.J.’s and G.W.’s are right in line with the estimated range. (I’m hoping he’ll upload to Gedmatch so we can get better cM estimates and wider comparisons.) So, finally, descendants of all three Colvert-McNeely sisters have done DNA testing and all match appropriately.
Several months ago, K.J., G.W. and I had a match to an unknown person who hit us all in the estimated 3rd-4th range. I have communicated with his sister, who indicated that three of their four grandparents were Caribbean-born, making her maternal grandfather the most likely connection. Unfortunately, A.P. knows very little about her grandfather. Comparing A.P.’s brother A.R. to me, K.J., G.W. and E.J. yields cM totals of 99, 98, 111 and 27.7. That’s in the half-second cousin or second cousin once removed range for me, K.J. and G.W. and half-third/third once-removed for E.J., indicating that we likely share at least one great-grandparent/great-great-grandparent.
Let’s work with that assumption. Though it’s possible that Caroline McNeely Colvert had a child other than my grandmother and her sisters, presumably older, I’m doubtful. She would not have been the first McNeely sister to bear a child out of wedlock, and there’s no reason to think she would have given up such a child. (Especially to anyone outside her large immediate family.) So, of the two, the more likely shared ancestor is Lon W. Colvert. Another possibility is Lon’s son, John Walker Colvert II. He had only one known child, a son who died in childhood in a car accident, but there could have been others and the cM numbers could work in that scenario. Right now, we just don’t have enough information, but Lon and Walker are the starting point of my working hypothesis.
[Update: 4/4/2017 — Mystery solved. As suspected, Lon W. Colvert is our most recent common ancestor.]
An Easter card for my grandmother Margaret Colvert Allen from her aunt, Minnie McNeely Hargrove, circa 1970.
Statesville Record & Landmark, 17 April 1944.
John Walker Stockton was the oldest son of Eugene and Ida May Colvert Stockton, who named him for his grandfather, John Walker Colvert. Born in February 1910, he was just over a year younger than my grandmother and just ten months older than her sister Launie Mae — his first cousins. However, though they lived blocks apart, the families were not close. My grandmother never mentioned him in her recollections and, if he or any of the Stocktons were invited to reunions, they did not come. I was stunned to learn, then, that John Stockton lived until 2000. And he was in Statesville that whole time.
In the 1930 census of Statesville, Iredell County, at 214 Garfield Street (owned and valued at $4000), the census taker found brick mason Eugene Stockton, 57, wife Ida M., 45, and children John, Lili M., Sara, Alonzo, Winifred, and Eugene Jr. Ten years later, John was working as a hospital orderly and living at 429 Harrison Street with “Lilly” Colvert, 48, and her son George, 23. Though John was described as Lillie Mae’s cousin, he was in fact her nephew. (Ida May named her daughter Lillie Mae Stockton after her sister Lillie Mae Colvert.) Lillie, who worked as a maid, indicated that she had had two years of high school, and George, a hotel bellhop, four. John, to my surprise, had had a year of college. (Where? Johnson C. Smith — where his younger brothers Alonzo and Eugene matriculated? Nearby Livingston? Why did he leave?)
Later that year, John registered for the World War II draft. He was 30 years old; I don’t believe he ever served.
The back of the card noted that he had brown eyes and black hair and a mole on his nose, that he had a dark brown complexion, and that he stood 5’8 1/2″, 157 lbs. (Slighter than I thought. The Colverts were not big people, but I somehow envisioned him taller.) Davis, the hospital at which he worked, is still in operation, but in a different location. The original building, now a moldering wreck, attracts urban explorers and mystery seekers who believe it haunted.
On 1 April 1945, almost exactly a year after “Hero or Heel” was anthologized, John Stockton married Nera Clemons Sharpe, daughter of Hobart and Mary James Sharpe. The couple had no children, but were married 54 years before John’s death and are buried together at Iredell Memorial Gardens.
John Walker Stockton. (I love everything about this photograph.)
Every time I see you as a little girl, I think of one time you came, and I was going Overtown and you said you were going with me. You wanted to go with me. So I carried you with me, and I saw a lady I had been working with, and she had a granddaughter named Lisa, too. And so she said, “Oh, hello, Grandmother, you have your Lisa, too!” And I said, “I have my Lisa, too.” And you said, “Don’t call her Grandmother ‘cause she is not your grandmother.” That lady just laughed about that thing. You said, “Don’t call her Grandmother. She is not your grandmother. She is my grandmother.” Yes, sir. But you were ‘sleep before I got to Orcutt Avenue.
Margaret Colvert Allen (2 August 1908-11 February 2010)
Missing my grandmother on her birthday.
From the 1949 yearbook of Johnson C. Smith University, the Bull:
At the end of the sixth row, my grandmother’s first cousin Army-veteran-turned-scholar Eugene Stockton Jr., son of Eugene and Ida Mae Colvert Stockton.
From the university’s 1956 yearbook, another gridiron star:
On the top row, my mother’s first cousin, No. 20, Hayden Bently “Benny” Renwick, son of Lewis C. and Louise Colvert Renwick.
Another treasure from Ancestry.com’s new Virginia vital records. The death certificate of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert‘s half-sister, Henrietta Colvert: