Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Photographs

MY grandmother.

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 Allen newspaper

Margaret Colvert Allen (2 August 1908-11 February 2010)

Missing my grandmother on her birthday.

Education, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Football squad.

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:

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 1.14.14 PM

On the top row, my mother’s first cousin, No. 20, Hayden Bently “Benny” Renwick, son of Lewis C. and Louise Colvert Renwick.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Virginia

Great-great-aunt Henrietta’s passing.

Another treasure from’s new Virginia vital records. The death certificate of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert‘s half-sister, Henrietta Colvert: 43006_162028006071_0260-00049

  • Henrietta Rebecca Colvert! I’ve never seen a middle name for Henrietta before, and it’s nice to see that she was named for her father’s step-mother.
  • Date of birth — 4 March 1911? More like 1893.
  • I’m still not sure how Henrietta wound up in Roanoke, though I assume she ended her nursing career there.
  • The Colvert “home house” in Statesville was on Harrison Street. The nursing home in which Henrietta spent her final years was on Harrison Avenue.
  • E.S., my grandmother’s first cousin and son of Henrietta’s sister Ida Colvert Stockton, lives in suburban D.C., and he told me that he and his wife visited Henrietta in her declining years. Did my grandmother know that her aunt was living in Roanoke? Did she know when she died?
  • Is her grave marked? There’s no listing for it in Williams Memorial Park at
Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Photographs

Aunt Golar makes fashion history.

I’m not sure how it is that I didn’t write this months ago. When I went home for Christmas, there was a manila envelope on my dresser, postmarked U.K. I was puzzled. Who would be sending something from England to my parents’ house? I ripped it open, and a slender paperback slid into my hand, a scholarly journal — Fashion, Style & Popular Culture, volume 2, number 1.


I scanned the contents and suddenly remembered. Some years ago, I contributed photographs of my people to Min-Ha T. Pham’s Tumblr, Of Another Fashion. In the journal article, “Archival intimacies: Participatory media and the fashion histories of US women of colour,” Pham discusses “the critical and curatorial aims, materials and methods that underpin a digital fashion archive devoted to the histories of US women of colour ….” arguing for “the utility of participatory media in efforts to create not only new historical records of minoritized fashion histories but also new systems of record-keeping.” Among the photos illustrating the piece is one of my grandmother’s aunt, Golar Colvert Bradshaw.


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

Aunt Ida May revisited.’s North Carolina Marriages data collection is not through demystifying my kin. A previously unknown marriage license clarified a question I had my great-great-aunt Ida’s life. If Eugene Stockton were her husband, I wondered here, why was she a Stockton in the 1910 and 1920 censuses, but referred to as his sister-in-law? In gaining an answer, I also uncovered a terrible tragedy.

Ida May Colvert‘s first marriage license was so hard to find because she married under her mother’s maiden name, as Ida May Hampton. The license lists her parents as John and Adline Colvert, but they did not marry until 1905, just over a month after Ida married Dillard Stockton on 27 December 1904. (Ida’s age is listed as 21 on the license, which is almost surely too high. Her birth year as recorded in various documents varies widely, but averages about 1885.) Dillard’s parents were listed as Henry and Frances Stockton, which seems to indicate that Dillard and Ida’s second husband Eugene shared a father and were half-brothers. (Eugene’s mother was Alice Allison [or maybe McKee] Stockton.)


Ida was a Stockton Stockton then. But what happened to her first husband, Dillard? A quick search turned up the awful story:


Statesville Record & Landmark, 12 March 1907.

A little over two years after they married, Dillard Stockton and five other African-American men were crushed by a cascade of soil and scaffolding in a Statesville ditch. [Surely my grandmother knew this story?]

Race STreet

The stretch of Race Street in which the cave-in occurred.

For all the breathless detail of the initial report of the tragedy, greater Statesville soon moved on. As reported in the local paper, within two months, the city had settled four of the deaths with payments of $750 (roughly $19,000 today) and were close to settling with the remaining survivors, including Ida May Colvert.


Dillard Stockton is buried in Statesville’s Green Street/Union Grove cemetery. I snagged this photo from I don’t recall seeing it during my recent visit and don’t know if it’s near the Colvert graves.


A horrifying post script:


Winston-Salem Union Republican, 12 May 1912.

Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents


I knew Rebecca Colvert was my great-great-grandfather John W. Colvert‘s stepmother. Until now, though, I’d seen his mother Elvira Gray‘s name listed only on his death certificate.

On 30 January 1905, six days before his father Walker‘s death, John married Adeline Hampton, mother of his four daughters. I’d seen the marriage register entry for their union, but not the actual license. Here it is, and there is the second reference to Walker’s first wife.