As detailed here, Edmond Petty was Eva Petty Walker‘s grandfather. Petty was born enslaved in the 1830s, probably in Wilkes County, North Carolina (Iredell County’s northwestern neighbor). On 26 April 1865, he enlisted in Company H, 40th Regiment, United States Colored Infantry, in Greeneville, Tennessee. Intentionally or accidentally, his name was recorded as “Edward Pedy.” (Greeneville is about 120 miles from Wilkes County over the Blue Ridge Mountains through what is now Cherokee National Forest. This is tough terrain even today.)After mustering out in February 1866 at Chattanooga, Edmond Petty returned to Wilkes County, married and reared a family. In poor health and finally straitened, in 1883, Petty applied to the United States government for an invalid’s pension. He claimed disability as a result of suffering a sunstroke while drilling with his regiment.Petty’s disability affidavit provides rich details of his life. Prior to enlistment in the Army, he had lived “with B.F. Petty to whom I belonged in Wilkes County, State of North Carolina. I was there a slave.” (Benjamin F. Petty, who reported owning 23 enslaved persons in 1850, was one of the largest slaveholders in Wilkes County.) Since the war, he had lived in the Fishing Creek area of Wilkes County and had worked as a farmer when he was able. Petty claimed that his diminished eyesight and rheumatism were the result of sunstroke suffered while on duty at Greeneville and that, because of his condition, he was barely able to work.Edmond Petty’s file comprises 84 pages of testimony by his fellow veterans, neighbors and doctors about Petty’s medical condition and its causes, as well as his ability to support himself. Said H.M. Wilder, for example, “I found him hauling wood in a small one horse wagon to the town of Statesville earning a meagre living.” In the end, he was awarded eight dollars a month for three-quarters disability due to rheumatism and one-quarter to heart trouble.The Record & Landmark published a sarcastic piece about Petty’s appeal of his initial pension award in an article that was reprinted across North Carolina’s Piedmont. The piece insinuates that Petty had done nothing to warrant his stipend, but more importantly reveals that Petty was the agent of his own emancipation. When Stoneman’s Raid passed through Wilkes County in late March 1865, capturing Wilkesboro, Petty escaped the Petty plantation and fell in with Union troops as contraband, following them all the way to Tennessee, where he enlisted to fight the Confederacy.Record & Landmark (Statesville, N.C.), 18 March 1898.U.S. Colored Troops Military Service Records, 1863-1865 [database on-line], http://www.ancestry.com; File #471,881, Application of Edmond Petty for Pension, National Archives and Records Administration.
I had a hunch, so I Googled for an obituary. Sure enough.
I wrote of Pat York Painter in February 2015. We had made chance acquaintance online when she commented on one of my blog posts on the basis of our mutual descent from Thomas and Rebecca Nicholson Nicholson. “If you’re ever in Iredell County,” she said, “I’ll show you around.” I made it a point. And on a gray and rainy winter afternoon, I rounded the hills and crossed the creeks of Eagle Mills township, ancestral home to my Colverts and Nicholsons and related Daltons, as Pat narrated. She spun a web of stories that introduced me to the lands on which Walker and Rebecca Parks Colvert and Harriet Nicholson lived and identified the enslavers of Josephine Dalton Colvert’s forebears.
“Mrs. Pat York Painter, 80, of Harmony, died Saturday, May 20, 2017 at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem. Born in Iredell County on December 4, 1936, she was a daughter of the late Richard Barnard and Mabel Arlene York Hayes.
“Pat was retired from the Iredell County EMS, where she was the first female Paramedic in Iredell County. She spearheaded the startup of the First Responder Program and was honored with a Lifetime Membership in the Iredell County Rescue Squad. She graduated from Harmony High School and dearly loved her horses, gardening, driving her tractor and being outdoors. She was a hardworking and determined person. She also helped maintain the old Liberty School House.
“Survivors include her children: Linda D. Bronson (Kevin), Susan D. Smyth (Rick), John Duchinski (Julie), Trish D. Velzy (Steve) and David L. Painter (Emily). Also surviving is her brother, Tony Barnard (Lisa) and grandchildren: Dylan Smyth, David A. Painter, Kinsley Jo Duchinski and Jayce Johnson and a special cousin, Joe Mullis.
“Services celebrating Pat’s life will be conducted at 3:00 P.M. Tuesday, May 23, 2017 at Macedonia United Methodist Church with Rev. Mack Warren officiating. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. The family will receive friends at the church from 1:00 to 3:00 prior to the service. Members of the Iredell County Emergency Services will serve as active and honorary pallbearers.
“Condolences may be sent online to the family to www.nicholsonfunerals.com. Memorials may be given in lieu of flowers to the North Iredell Rescue Squad, 1538 Tabor Rd., Harmony, N.C. 28634. Nicholson Funeral Home is entrusted with the arrangements.”
Many thanks, Pat Painter. Rest in peace.
Two more Nicholson matches at Ancestry DNA.
The first is with T.L. His ancestor Moses P. Nicholson migrated to Indiana in the 1830s, long before my great-great-grandmother Harriet Nicholson was born. T.L. has no other Iredell County lines, underscoring the unlikelihood that our match is through some other line.
The second is R.H., who also matches T.L. R.H. is descended from a first-cousin marriage between grandchildren of both of John S. Nicholson‘s wives, as am I.
Unfortunately, Ancestry has a hard time interpreting matching trees that involve multiple spouses and fathers and sons with the same names, and these charts are not quite right.
Okay, now I am genuinely perplexed. A couple of months ago, I wrote about finding my great-great-uncle John McNeely’s first wife, whom he married in 1899. I had just found a marriage license for John Alexander McNeely, colored, son of Henry and Martha McNeely of Iredell County, and Carry Armstrong. Prior to this, I had only known wife Laura Nesbit, whom he married in Statesville in 1912.
I have not found John and Laura McNeely in the 1920 census, but in 1930 they and Laura’s daughter Marie shared a house with John’s sister and brother-in-law, Emma and Irving Houser, in Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1940, John and Laura and Marie and her husband James Watkins were living on West 19th Street in Bayonne. And when John died in 1947, his obituary noted that he was the beloved husband of Laura (Nesbitt.)
So yesterday when I found yet another marriage for John A. McNeely, son of Henry and Martha McNeely of Iredell County, I was flummoxed.
Did John marry Laura, divorce (or otherwise leave) her, marry Jane Nichols, divorce her, then remarry Laura Nesbit? If so, where is the second marriage license for Laura? If not, who is this John McNeely? And who are the other Henry and Martha McNeely?
The only Henry and Martha McNeely in the 1900 census of North Carolina are my John’s parents, living in Statesville township. In 1880, they’re in Rowan County, and still the only couple with those names in the state. Henry died in 1906, before death certificates were kept, and Martha died in New Jersey. I have not found death certificates for any other Henry or Martha McNeely in Iredell.
As for John: John and Jane McNeely appear in the 1900 census of Statesville, my John McNeely does not. In the first decade of the century, a John McNeely pops up in the pages of the local paper for various misdeeds — shooting at a rival, having smallpox, fighting, slicing a man with a knife, shooting at a dog. I’d like to think that this is not my John, but there’s no clear way to know. And there’s no John McNeely at all in Iredell County in the 1910 census.
I’ll have to leave it here for now. I don’t have enough to know for certain whether John McNeely and John Alexander McNeely were the same man.
UPDATE, 19 June 2015: Is this a clue to the identity of John A. McNeely?
This Henry McNeely is not my great-great-grandfather Henry McNeely. He’s his nephew. Henry’s father John Rufus McNeely was, I believe, the half-brother of my Henry. Unfortunately, this Henry was born about 1863, and John A. McNeely was born about 1870. I don’t believe this Henry and Martha were the couple named on John A. McNeely’s marriage licenses.
UPDATE, 21 June 2015: Then there’s this.
This is from the marriage license of my John McNeely’s brother, William Luther McNeely, who married Mary Belle Woods in 1906 at Statesville’s Associate Reform Presbyterian Church. My great-grandparents Lon and Carrie McNeely Colvert wed there the same year. Is it just coincidence that John Alexander McNeely was also married by Rev. J.H. Pressly in this church?
Photographs from the Welch-Nicholson House and Mill Site National Register nomination file held at the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Raleigh. Many thanks to File Room Manager Chandrea Burch and National Register Coordinator Ann Swallow.
My great-great-grandmother Harriet Nicholson Tomlin Hart walked these rooms.
This, of course, is all gone now. Burned to the ground one night in the 1980s.
Ancestry.com’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 Newspapers.com 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?]
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 findagrave.com. 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.
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.
I am clearly getting my whole life in these marriage records, but I have to wonder. What in the world have I been doing? Why have I missed so many of these records? Have I just assumed that what was on the shelf or on-line was all that was available? Fie.
Lots about this license says it relates to a previously unknown first marriage for my grandmother’s uncle, John McNeely. First, the parents are named correctly, and they were the only Henry and Martha McNeely in Iredell County at the time. Second, the church is right, as the McNeelys were Presbyterians. (Except when they were being Episcopalians.) Third, that middle name, Alexander — the first I’ve heard of one for John! — is a family name, borne first by Alexander “Sandy” McNeely, son of Henry McNeely’s sister Alice. In fact, the only thing that throws me is John’s age. Uncle John was 27 in 1899, not 21. That’s a curious error, but not critical enough to trump the other details. I’ll update my tree to include John’s middle name and his first wife.
John A. McNeely as a young man. (I think. Even as I post this, something is worrying me about the timeframe of this photo….)
A coroner’s inquest is an official inquiry into the manner and cause of an individual’s death. Conducted by a county coroner when a cause of death is unknown, violent or otherwise suspicious, this legal inquiry is performed in public and often before a jury. The coroner does not establish why a death occurred, but rather determines who the deceased was and how, when and where death occurred. Here’s a link to a post about coroner’s reports in the North Carolina State Archives, where I obtained the documents below.
I searched Iredell County’s reports looking, in particular, for the inquest into the death of my great-grandmother’s sister, Elizabeth McNeely Kilpatrick Long, who burned to death in a suspicious fire. I was disappointed not to find one. However, I did find these for two men who died unexpected, but ultimately natural, deaths:
My grandmother’s half-brother, John Walker Colvert II. (One would expect an inquest to get the spelling of a surname right. Or at least consistently wrong.) Here’s his obituary in the 16 April 1937 edition of the Statesville Record & Landmark.
(“Schoolmate”??? Simonton Sanitary Shop? This obituary sets forth some interesting facts that I intend to explore elsewhere.)
And then there was the notorious William “Bill Bailey” Murdock, husband of my grandmother’s aunt Bertha Hart Murdock. He died just over a year after her conviction for shooting a white man in the leg in their restaurant.
Me: And you said he looked just like your dad. Your dad looked just like his father.
My grandmother: Papa looked just like him. And one thing, with all that white in him, he was brown like Grandpa.
Grandma: And I don’t know who Mat and Golar and Walker’s mother was, but Walker was real dark. But handsome. Honey, he was one beautiful child and had this pretty hair. Curly. And it wouldn’t even keep a part or nothing in it. And he came home one time, and he had cut this part, cut this place through his hair. And he said his friends had parts in their hair, but his was so curly it wouldn’t stay. So he had to cut this part. Another time, that was just after Mama had married Papa. And she was just so crazy ‘bout him, he was such a pretty little boy. And she made him this velvet suit.
My aunt L.: Who, Walker?
Grandma: Walker. Fauntleroy. You know what a Fauntleroy suit is?
Grandma: She made him this Fauntleroy suit for commencement. And she said it had this little collar, you know [inaudible] collar. And said when Walker came out on the stage to do his part, he had stuffed all that collar on the inside of his coat and pulled them sleeves down. [Laughing.] Mama said, “See. Will you look at this young’un.” [Laughing.]
Me: ‘Cause they were fairly young, right, when —
Grandma: Yeah, they were six — something like six, eight and ten. And they may have been younger than that.
Me: And their mother died?
Grandma: Yeah. I don’t know how she died. But her sisters were really nice to Mama. Oh, they were really nice to her. Mama loved them like her own sisters. They were so nice to her. And, see, they were sort of taking care of the children while Papa was in between two marriages you know.
J. Walker Colvert II, perhaps in his early twenties.
So, who was Lon Colvert’s first wife? I know her name — Josephine Dalton — but little else.
In the 1880 census of Eagle Mills, Iredell County, one year-old Josapene Dalton is listed in the household of her parents, Anderson and Vincey Dalton, along with brother Andrew, 17; sister Mary B., 3; her great-grandmother, Mary Houston, 85; and a boarder named Joe Blackburn, 28. The family lived among a little cluster of Dalton households, the first headed by 67 year-old John H. Dalton, a white farmer. Dalton, born in Rockingham County, North Carolina, arrived in Iredell County in 1840’s. He married the daughter of Placebo Houston, a prominent planter, and is credited with introducing tobacco cultivation in Iredell County. According to a 8 April 1974 article in the Statesville Record and Landmark, by 1850 Dalton had established a tobacco plug factory that employed 17, but had to haul bright leaf tobacco from counties along the Virginia line. This scarcity drove his efforts to jumpstart local tobacco production. In 1858, John Hunter Dalton built Daltonia, described as “an imposing Greek Revival house whose richness and diversity of detail make it one of the most architecturally outstanding houses” in the county. The 1860 census counted among Dalton’s possessions 57 slaves living in eight houses. Josephine Dalton’s father, and maybe her mother, were likely among them.
Josephine was born well after the Civil War — after Reconstruction even — but her family seems to have remained tethered to Daltonia for decades after Emancipation. [After I started this blog post, I traveled to Iredell County, met P.P., and visited Daltonia. That story, and more about Josephine’s family, is here.] Sometime around 1894 — I have not located a license — Josephine married Lon W. Colvert, an ambitious 19 year-old Eagle Mills native set to make his mark in the town of Statesville. [Update, 4/6/2015: license found.] The young family appears in the 1900 census of Statesville, Iredell County — Lon Colvert, 25, wife “Joseph,” 23, and children Gola, 5, Mattie, 4, and Walker, 2. No more than five years later, Josephine was dead.