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

Aunt Ida May revisited.

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.)

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

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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?]

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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.

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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.

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A horrifying post script:

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Winston-Salem Union Republican, 12 May 1912.

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Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Religion

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 7: Iredell County Public Library.

Iredell County Public Library has a nice local history and genealogy room, and during my sojourn I spent a nice hour or two there, disturbed only by the raucous banter of three students prepping for a nursing assistant exam. Anyway.

A back wall of cabinets contains files from the Homer Keever collection, and I found several of interest. Under “Black Churches,” I found a four-page handwritten document, apparently compiled by Alice Murphy Ramseur in 1973, entitled “Historial [sic] Data of Holy Cross Episcopal Church.” Holy Cross, of course, was the church my grandmother grew up in in Statesville. Its earliest services were held in 1887 in “the old brick storehouse on depot hill” and with success moved to the Good Samaritan Hall at 118 Garfield Street. This was all very interesting, and then: “May 24, 1899 the Bishop conmfirmed twelve Members they was William Pearson, Mrs Laura S. Pearson, Mrs. Lucy Chambers, Henry McKneely, Mrs Marther McKneely, Mr John Reeves, Mr. Will McCulland, Mrs Rebecca S. Allison, Mrs Clara S. Seaborn, Miss Carrie Bidding, Mr Mik Stevenson.”

Henry McNeely? What was this Presbyterian doing joining an Episcopal Church? Had Martha been an Episcopalian all along?

Here’s the entire piece, with thanks and acknowledgement to the library:

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Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Photographs

A terrible thought ….

I ran across this article in the 19 May 1933 edition of the Statesville Landmark detailing the tragic death of a boy playing in the Green Street (then Union Grove) cemetery.

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“… Five pieces of marble — two in the base, two parallel upright pieces, seven inches apart, and a horizontal top piece.”

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I been all through this cemetery. There are relatively few markers there. This, however, still stands. It is the double headstone of my great-great-grandfather John W. Colvert and his wife Adeline Hampton Colvert. Though it is possible that there once were others, it is now the only one of its kind in Green Street. Was this the monument that killed Noisey Stevenson?

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Land, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Roadtrip chronicles, no. 2: Iredell County records.

I was killing time in a way, but I wanted to do so usefully, so I arrived at the Register of Deeds office shortly after it opened at 8 A.M. I side-eyed this —

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— and headed into the search room. I had a few loose questions: did Walker Colvert in fact never file a deed for his acres in Union Grove? Did John W. Colvert file any deeds? Where did Abner and Harriet Nicholson Tomlin live?

I took these notes:

  • Who were the William and Lucy A. Dalton from whom Lon W. Colvert purchased his first property in 1906? What was their relationship, if any, with his first wife Josephine Dalton?
  • No recorded deeds for Walker Colvert.
  • No recorded deeds for John W. Colvert.
  • However, John’s wife Adeline Colvert bought two lots on Harrison Street in Statesville in 1912 for $472. Huh? John and Adeline married in 1905. As far as I know, they remained married until his death in 1921. So why was she purchasing property in her own right in 1912? The house built on the property sheltered John and Addie’s descendants as late as 1959, and probably later. There’s a plat filed at Book 33, page 398, for the section of Statesville in which the lots lay. I forgot to get a copy.
  • Abb Tomlin had one recorded deed — for the $40 purchase of an acre of land from William and Laura Pearson on 19 June 1891. The tract adjoined the AT&O Railroad and is probably the same one that Abb and Harriet Nicholson Tomlin‘s son and heir Harvey Golar Tomlin sold to Lon W. Colvert in 1906.
  • My grandmother believed T. Alonzo “T.L.” Hart to be a real estate lawyer. I haven’t found any evidence that he attended law school or practiced law, but there is no question that he knew his way around a land acquisition. Between 1887 and 1922, he recorded 14 deeds for purchases in or near Statesville totaling well over 200 acres. Three small purchases in 1911 and 1920 were from Andy King (1839-1919) and his heirs. King was a farmer and rock quarry laborer whose near neighbors were Logan and Laura Sherrill.
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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Photographs

Roadtrip Chronicles, no. 1: Statesville cemeteries.

I made it to Statesville in good time Sunday and drove straight to the only place I really know there — South Green Street. My great-aunt, Louise Colvert Renwick, had lived there for decades, across from the street from the Green Street cemetery. As I approached her house, my eye caught a small memorial just off the curb.

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Funny what you see when you’re looking. (And look closely at the plaque. Committee member Natalie Renwick is my first cousin, once removed.)

It seems odd to me that, when we were all gathered at Aunt Louise’s for the first Colvert-McNeely reunion, no one mentioned that Colverts and McNeelys were buried across the street. (Or maybe my 14 year-old self just paid no attention?) I’ve only found three graves — those of John Colvert, his wife Addie Hampton Colvert, and their daughter Selma — but there are certainly many more. Lon W. Colvert, for one. (Or was it? His death certificate indicates “Union Grove,” but why would he have been buried up there?*) And his son John W. Colvert II. And Addie McNeely Smith and Elethea McNeely Weaver and Irving McNeely Weaver, who was brought home from New Jersey for burial.

The cemetery looks like this though:

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And not because it’s empty. Though closed to burials for 50 or more years, it is probably nearly full of graves either unmarked or with lost or destroyed markers. Here’s one that’s nicely marked, however, and that would I recall before 24 hours had passed:

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From Green Street, I headed across town to Belmont, Statesville’s newer black cemetery. I knew Aunt Louise, her husband and son Lewis C. Renwick Sr. and Jr. were buried in Belmont, and I was looking for several McNeelys whose death certificates noted their burials here. I found Ida Mae Colvert Stockton‘s daughter Lillie Stockton Ramseur (1911-1980) and her husband Samuel S. Ramseur (1912-1989). Then Golar Colvert Bradshaw‘s husband William Bradshaw (1894-1955) and son William Colvert Bradshaw (1921-1988). (William was buried with his second wife. Golar, who died in 1937, presumably was interred at Green Street.) No McNeelys though. I expected to find both Lizzie McNeely Long and Edward McNeely, who had a double funeral in 1950, but their graves seem to be unmarked.

I was also looking for my great-grandmother, Carrie McNeely Colvert Taylor. The whole business was turning into a big disappointment. At street’s edge, I turned to head back to my car. And gasped. There, at my feet, wedged at the base of a tree:

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What in the world? This is clearly not a gravesite. And, on the other side of the tree, there’s an identical stamped concrete marker for Lewis C. Renwick Sr., who died almost exactly a year after Carrie. What’s odd, though, is that he has a granite marker a couple hundred feet away in another section of the cemetery with his wife (Carrie’s daughter Louise) and oldest son. Is Grandma Carrie actually buried in the Renwicks’ family plot? Were her and Lewis Renwick’s makeshift stones pulled up to be replaced by better markers? If so, where is Grandma Carrie’s? And why were both dumped at the edge of the cemetery?

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Here’s an overview of Belmont cemetery. (1) is the approximate location of Carrie M.C. Taylor’s broken marker. (2) is the approximate location of the Renwick plot.

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I’ll pose those questions to Statesville’s cemetery department. If Grandma Carrie has no permanent stone, she’ll get one.

* After noticing that Irving Weaver’s obit also mentioned Union Grove cemetery, though the McNeelys had no ties to that township in northern Iredell County, I searched for clues in contemporary newspapers. Mystery cleared. Green Street cemetery is Union Grove cemetery:

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The Evening Mascot (Statesville), 3 April 1909.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina

Ida Colvert Stockton … Stockton.

My great-grandfather, Lon W. Colvert, had four half-sisters — Selma, Ida May, Lillie and Henrietta. Selma died of “exhaustion from severe burns” when my grandmother was 8 years old. Ida May and Lillie remained in Statesville all their long lives. My grandmother of course knew them, but there is a disconnect somewhere in there that I can’t quite pinpoint. Why were there no extended Colvert relatives at our early family reunions (when many were still alive), as there were extended McNeely kin? Why didn’t my mother know her grandfather’s people? It is perhaps as simple as my grandmother and her sisters being closer to their mother’s large family in childhood, especially given their father’s relatively early death. Over the years — my grandmother left Statesville for good in 1932 — these patterns persisted, solidified and were passed down. Perhaps. It seems odd to me though. Lon’s sisters were roughly the same age as his oldest set of children, and Ida May’s oldest children were roughly the same age as Lon’s youngest. The families lived in close proximity in south Statesville. What was up….?

I have blogged quite a bit about Henrietta Colvert — the aunt my grandmother knew best — who was one of North Carolina’s early African-American registered nurses. I have tracked Henrietta across the arc of her career, which happened to unfold in my hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, almost 200 miles east of Statesville. She left Wilson sometime after World War II, and I have intermittent glimpses of her whereabouts prior to her death in Roanoke, Virginia, in 1980. What of the other sisters though? I’ll start with Ida May.

Though John W. Colvert and Myra Hampton began their relationship in the late 1880s, they did not marry until 1905. Ida, their first child, was born about 1887, and three more daughters followed in short order. None of the family, however — not John, not Addie, nor their girls — are found in the 1900 census.

A lot happened in the next decade though. The 1910 census of Statesville, Iredell County, at 214 Garfield Street, shows Ida M. Stockton, a 25 (actually, 23ish) year-old widow with one of three children living sharing a household with her brother-in-law Eugene Stockton, 37 and married, her brother-in-law Jesse Stockton, and her son John, 1.  Ida was a laundress, Eugene a tobacco roller at a tobacco factory, and Jesse, an odd job laborer.  This arrangement would not ordinarily raise eyebrows, but — widow?  Wasn’t Eugene Stockton Ida’s husband??? Why is he listed as her brother-in-law?  The birth certificates of all her children, including John, list Eugene as their father. Had Ida previously been married to one of Eugene’s brothers? (Census and death records identify several, including Arthur (born circa 1875), Fred (1885), Jakey (1887), Jesse Lee (1889), and David (1891).) If so, I have not found evidence of a license. And if not Ida, to whom was Eugene married in 1910?

That last question turns out to be pretty easily answered. On 24 June 1903, Eugene Stockton, son of Henry and Alice Stockton, married Ella Cowan, daughter of Peter and Clementine Cowan in Iredell County. I have found no evidence that the couple had any children. In the spring of 1912, their divorce suit, styled Eugene Stockton vs. Ella Stockton, was listed several times in the court calendar published in the Statesville Sentinel. By 1918, when Eugene registered for the World War I draft, he listed his sister Gertrude Stockton as his next of kin.

Ida’s children were John Walker Stockton (1910), Lillie Mae Stockton (1911), Sarah Eliza Stockton (1912), Alonzo Pinkney Stockton (1917),  Winnifred Josephine Stockton (1919), and Eugene A. Stockton (1924). As noted above, the birth certificates of all list Eugene as their father. (In sooth, though, all the children except Eugene had delayed birth certificates, i.e. certificates registered well after the birth of the child in question.)

Nothing had changed by time the enumerator arrived to record the 1920 census. At 214 Garfield Street in Statesville, Eugene Stockton, 46, is listed as the head of a household that included his sister Flossie Tomlin, 23, grandchild Annie L., 5 months, sister-in-law Ida M. Stockton, 33, and grandchildren Lilly M., Sarah E., Alonzo P., and Winnifred.  Eugene was employed as a tobacco factory laborer, Flossie as a teacher, and Ida as a laundress. Who made this up? The census taker, or a self-conscious Ida May? She is still listed as Eugene’s in-law, despite their apparent decade-long relationship, and Lillie, Sarah, Alonzo and Winnifred are identified as his grandchildren.  Eugene’s sister Florence “Flossie” Stockton Tomlin, was married to Harvey Golar Tomlin, who was the half-brother (on the maternal side) of Ida Mae’s half-brother (on the paternal side) Lon W. Colvert.  Accordingly, Annie L. Tomlin was Eugene’s niece, not his granddaughter. (In a separate listing in 1920, in Statesville’s “suburbs”: Jessie Stockton, 28, sister Flossie Tomlin, 25, niece Anna L. Tomlin, 4 months, and brother-in-law Havey Tomlin.)

Finally, as her mother’s had been, Ida May’s steadfastness was rewarded.  On 8 July 1922, Eugene Stockton, 49, son of Henry and Adley Stockton, and Ida May Stockton, 35, daughter of John and Adeline Colvert, were married by Z.A. Dockery, M.G., at “Eugene’s house” before Bessie Abernathy and E.A. Abernathy.

In the 1930 census, the family at last is listed openly: Eugene Stockton, 57, wife Ida M., 45, and children John, 20, Lily M., 18, Sara, 17, Alonzo, 12, Winifred, 11, and Eugene Jr., 6.

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Eugene and Ida May C. Stockton, probably the early 1940s.

Eugene Stockton died 26 February 1944 in Statesville. Ida May Colvert Stockton Stockton outlived him by more than 20 years. On 23 August 1967, she passed away a week after suffering a stroke.
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Statesville Record & Landmark, 26 August 1967.

Photo courtesy of A. S. Barton.

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