My mother’s brother went to World War I. Not Uncle John and Uncle Luther. Oh, they were old. Old men. They went to the Spanish-American War. Edward went to World War I —
Yeah. If he went. ‘Cause he was the laziest man, dodged everything. Running all the time. The ladies were just crazy about him. He had to leave Statesville. He went to Asheville and, too …. They were just about to lynch him because of, you know, these women running after him. He went to New York. I think he married two or three women up there. [I laugh.] Honey, he was sharp as a tack. Lord, Lisa, that was one good-looking man. Tall. Like Carey. And he was sharp. I remember when I went to New York from Hampton to work, went to Jersey from Hampton to work. He carried me to New York. First time I had ever been to New York, and he carried me to New York to this Elks Club. He was a big-time Elk, you know. And those men swore that I was not his niece, that I was somebody else. And they said, “Man, you know that’s….” And I liked to dance with them, you know, and all. And I would just go with him – I mean, I didn’t go there a lot of times, but I might have went two, three times, but he would take me to that Elks Club. And he would never let me have anything to drink. He would drink some wine or something like that. But he would take me, and one time when I was in New York — Wardenur and I, he used to take us.
Edward Murray McNeely, born 15 June 1894, was the youngest of Henry and Martha McNeely’s sons. He married Lucille Tomlin in 1910 in Statesville and worked as a bellhop in a local hotel. He and Lucille had a son, Quincy Edward McNeely, in late 1910. When the marriage broke up, the boy and his mother moved to Asheville and were lost to the rest of the family. (Or to my grandmother, his first cousin, in any case.) Ed McNeely was in fact inducted into the Army in 1917, but I have no details of his service. By the late 1920s, he had migrated north to join his mother and several siblings in and around Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1942, he registered for the “Old Man’s Draft” and reported his address as 344 Grand Avenue, Brooklyn. (A two-story brownstone in Clinton Hill worth $1 million today. He also gave his height as 5’11, some considerable inches shorter than my cousin Carey.) When he died on 28 September 1950, Edward was living at 454 Avenue C in Bayonne and was married to Delphine Peterson McNeely. Two days later, the Statesville Daily Record published this tragic report:
“Double Funeral Service Planned”
Double funeral services will be conducted for brother and sister here Monday.
Lizzie Long, who burned to death when her home on Bingham Street was almost completely destroyed by fire Thursday morning, will be buried with her brother who died that night in New York. The brother, Edward McNeeley, a veteran of World War I, died in Veterans hospital, Staton [sic] Island, upon hearing the news of his sister’s death. His body will be returned here Monday morning and services will be conducted jointly for them at 2:30 p.m. Monday. Burial will be in Belmont cemetery.
The funeral will be conducted by Rev. Spurgeon Frost at Rankintown Congregational church.