Henry McNeely had two Lizzies.
The first Elizabeth McNeely appears as a 13 year-old in Henry’s household in the 1870 census of Rowan County. In a letter written in 1987, my grandmother explained that the girl was abandoned at her father’s doorstep. (Before Emancipation, or after?) He reared her, but I know nothing further about her.
My grandmother’s earliest memory involved the second Elizabeth McNeely, who was Henry’s oldest daughter with Martha Miller McNeely. My grandmother recalled riding on a train from Statesville to Winston-Salem to visit her mother’s sister.
Me: Which sister was that?
My grandmother: Lizzie.
Me: It was like a day trip, or y’all went for —
My grandmother: I don’t remember. You know, I was kind of young.
Me: Yeah. Yeah. You were what? Like, two?
My grandmother: Yeah. I think two. Somebody said I wouldn’t, I couldn’t possibly remember, but I do. I do because, you know, it looked like the trees were going like that. [Moves her hand across her face quickly.] ‘Round and ’round. And I was sitting up in the window. I know I was looking out the window. And that was one of my first memories.
This Elizabeth McNeely was born in 1877. In 1900, she married William Watt Kilpatrick in Statesville, and I discovered JUST TODAY, via their license, that her full name was Margaret Lougene Elizabeth McNeely. The marriage seems not to have been a happy one:
CUT AT A CHURCH FESTIVAL.
One Negro in Jail and Another Under Bond – Cases in the Local Courts.
Watt Kilpatrick was before Justice Carlton Wednesday for wife-beating and was fined $5 and the cost.
Statesville Landmark, 21 September 1906.
At the time of the 1910 census, around the time my grandmother went by train to visit, the couple were living in Oldtown, Forsyth County. Seven years later, when Watt registered for the World War I draft, he gave his address as 17 Roanoke in Winston-Salem and reported working as a shape puller at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. Lizzie “Patrick” was listed as his next of kin, but resided in Statesville. When the censustaker returned in 1920, Watt was sharing a house with another woman, and Lizzie was not to be found.
On 1 February 1923, the Statesville Landmark posted this notice:
SUPERIOR COURT ADJOURNS.
… Elizabeth Kilpatrick, colored, was granted a divorce from Watt Kilpatrick.
Four months later, she married John Long. She spent the rest of her life in Iredell County.
In 1950, Lizzie Long died in a housefire. Beyond the basic tragedy of her death, there is something unsettling about this account of the “accident.”
Statesville Landmark, 28 September 1950.
(My grandmother would have expressed a tart opinion about what happened, but I didn’t know to ask her.) Whatever the case, the shock of Lizzie’s death sent her youngest brother into cardiac arrest, and the family had to bury two McNeelys that September.