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

Archie Weaver departs this life.

statesville_record_6_2_1933_archie_weaver

Statesville Record, 2 June 1933.

My grandmother, for one, would not have agreed with this glowing assessment of Archie Weaver as hail-fellow-well-met and certainly would have put the lie to “loved by all who knew him.”

I’ll repeat it: Jay’s daddy had TB, and he just gave it to them. To my aunt and Jay. But he lived years and years and years after both of them died. But he give them all this stuff. Oh, I could not stand him. She was my special aunt because she had boys, and she didn’t have any girls. And she just took me over her house, you know, and let me do things that girls did, you know. 

In other words, for her money, Arch Weaver killed her beloved aunt Elethea and favorite cousin, Irving “Jay” McNeely Weaver. Though she was right that Arch survived “years and years and years” — eleven, to be exact — after Elethea, Jay, in fact, outlived his father by five months. No matter. They died, and much too soon for her.

Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Paternal Kin

The TB.

My grandmother:   Jay’s daddy had TB, and he just gave it to them.  To my aunt and Jay.  But he lived years and years and years after both of them died.

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Tuberculosis, once also called phthisis, is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria. Tuberculosis typically attacks the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body. It is spread through the air when people with an active TB infection cough, sneeze, or otherwise transmit respiratory fluids through the air. The classic symptoms of active infection are a chronic cough with blood-tinged sputum, fever, night sweats, and weight loss (the latter giving rise to the old term “consumption.“)  Tuberculosis has been present in humans since antiquity.  Tuberculosis caused the most widespread public concern in the 19th and early 20th centuries as an endemic disease of the urban poor and was the leading cause of death in many cities in the early 1900s. By mid-century, the development of the antibiotic streptomycin made effective treatment and cure of TB a reality.

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In memory of members of my extended family who succumbed to this disease:

Annie Locust Artis, age 28. Wayne County NC, 19 April 1915.

Minnie Clyde Sauls, age 25. Snow Hill NC, 12 May 1915.

Frances Artis Newsome, age 21. Wayne County NC, 9 May 1916.

Appie Artis, age 37. Wilson County NC, 28 May 1916.

Cain Artis, age 66. Wilson County NC, 23 March 1917.

Nettie Barnes, age 22. Wilson NC, 9 May 1917.

Toltie Forbes, age 21. Greene County NC, 18 June 1917.

Jesse Swinson Jr., age 28. Goldsboro NC, 1 July 1917.

William Barnes, age 28. Wilson NC, 6 August 1917.

Harriet Artis Brown, age 44. Wayne County NC, 6 November 1918.

Pelia N. Artis, age 11. Wayne County NC, 24 July 1919.

Charlie Barnes, age ____. Asheville NC, 28 July 1919.

Walter Clinton Artis, age 23. Wayne County NC, 15 November 1921.

Jarod C. Miller, age 21. Rowan County NC, 4 December 1921.

Elethea McNeely Weaver, age 33. Statesville NC, 10 October 1922.

Johnnie Swinson, age 32. Goldsboro NC, 25 December 1922.

Estell Artis, age 15. Wayne County NC, 20 February 1924.

John Henderson, age 63. Goldsboro NC, 8 August 1924.

Warland Barnes, age 19. Wilson NC, 4 Dec 1926.

William Coley, age 61. Near Wilson NC, 26 January 1928.

Jerrell R. Barnes, age 19. Wilson NC, 14 May 1928.

Napoleon Artis, age 21. Wayne County NC, 9 September 1928.

Sadie Holt Farrar, age 35. Greensboro NC, 13 October 1929.

T. Alonzo Hart, age 63. Quewhiffle NC, 17 December 1929.

Alberta Artis, age 23. Near Eureka NC, 9 June 1931.

Blonnie Barnes Zachary, age 24. Wilson NC, 10 January 1932.

James A. Aldridge, age 42. Near Wilson NC, 3 July 1932.

Ora Artis, age 62. Wayne County NC, 8 August 1933.

Irving McNeely Weaver, age 22.  Bayonne NJ, November 1933.

Malinda Applewhite Artis, age 40. Wilson County NC, 5 March 1936.

Joe Artis, age 62. Wayne County NC, 29 November 1939.

Viola Barnes, age 48. Wilson NC, 3 July 1943.

Liberty P. Artis, age 11. Stantonsburg NC, 10 July 1945.

Alphonso Artis, age 38. Goldsboro NC, 2 May 1946.

Paul Aldridge, age 34. Dudley NC, 8 June 1947.

Annie Marie Artis Sampson, age 27. Fremont NC, 12 June 1949.

Minnie Belle Artis, age 20. Stantonsburg NC, 4 April 1950.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Oral History, Photographs

Mildred Wardenur Houser Jones.

Wardenur was a pianist, and played an organ for WOR radio station in Jersey City.  In Jersey somewhere.  Honey, she was — girl, she could play the piano.  And she played this organ, you know, they would have plays and have organ music, and she did that for them.  She could play.  And when I was up there one time, I went with her to take her piano lessons, and the lady said, ah, “What – you do play the piano or organ?”  I said, “No, ma’am, I don’t….”  Look like she looked at me like she thought I was about the worst she had ever seen.  [Laughs.] And her father made her take piano lessons. And the teacher graded her, and if she got anything below a B, her father would punish her severely.  But, honey, she could play a piano and organ.  She was good.

But she took TB and died.

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She was lovely — Wardenur. She was about 15 here, palling about with my grandmother, her older cousin, vying for the attention of the college boys mooning about them that summer in Bayonne.

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New York Age, 21 June 1930.

Wardenur graduated from the Lee Music School a couple of summers later and in February 1931 finished Bayonne High School.  A few years after that, her elopement was reported in the Age.

ImageNew York Age, 16 March 1935. 

Happy times did not last long. Wardenur contracted tuberculosis, the disease that had killed her aunt Elethea and beloved cousin Jay, and spent her last months in a sanatorium.  A short notice appeared in the 20 September 1941 issue of the Bayonne Times:

JONES – Mildred (nee Houser), of 421 Avenue C, on September 18, 1941, devoted wife of Willard Jones and beloved daughter of Irving and Emma Houser and sister of Henry and Irving Houser Jr.  Reposing at Wallace Temple A.M.E. Zion Church from 9 p.m. Sunday until funeral services at 2 p.m. Monday, September 22.  “Murray’s Service.”

She was 28.

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P.S. The taskmaster piano teacher was probably the inimitable Miss L.A. Lee of 100 Kearney Avenue, Jersey City, who, according to the Age, opened her well-regarded music school in 1907.

Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson, all rights reserved. Photographs in collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Migration, Newspaper Articles, North Carolina, Oral History, Photographs

Finding J.T.

My grandmother’s favorite cousin was her Aunt Lethea’s son, “Jay” or “J.T.”:

My grandmother:  I had a cousin named Jay.  Aunt Lethea’s son.  She died and left three sons.  James –

Me:  Charles.

My grandmother:  Charles.  And Jay.

Me:  Okay.  J.T.

My grandmother:  Mm-hmm.  And Jay stayed with Aunt Min ‘cause Aunt Min reared him after Aunt Lethea died.  And he was at this same house with Aunt Minnie and Grandma.  Let’s see.  It was Aunt Min and Grandma and Uncle Luther and Jay and I.  We were all in the same house during the summer that I worked up there.  And Jay and I used to have a good time.  Oh, he was so nice.  He would, the first time I rode on a rollercoaster, he took me.  And we used to have a good time.  He was really nice.  He was a nice person.

McNEELY -- Jay McNeely in doorway

Jay had two brothers, William and Charles. In the 1910 census of Statesville, Iredell County, I found three boys, William, 5, James, 3, and Charlie McNeeley, 2, living in the household of Sam and Mary Steelman and described as their grandsons. I identified these children, correctly I believe, as Elethea McNeely‘s children.  I also guessed that Charlie Steelman, listed in the household, was their father.  If he was, he and Lethea never married. Instead, in 1920, she wed Archie Weaver, a man my grandmother spoke of with vitriol.

My grandmother: Jay’s daddy had TB, and he just gave it to them.  And his mother and Jay.  But he lived years and years and years after both of them died.

Me: The father did?  

My grandmother: [Inaudible] give them all this stuff.  Oh, I could not stand him. She was my special aunt because she had boys, and she didn’t have any girls.  And she just took me over her house, you know, and let me do things that girls did, you know. 

I was unable to find James McNeely, whom I believed to be “Jay,” in any other record. I knew Jay was reared by his aunt, Minnie McNeely, and died young of the same dread illness that killed his mother, but I was never able to find a trace of him. That changed last night, when I stumbled upon his death announcement in the 15 December 1933 issue of the Statesville Record & Landmark:

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As Grandma Carrie so memorably said, “Well, I’ll be damn.”  Here was J.T., as last. Not James McNeely — much younger, in fact — but Irvin McNeely Weaver. (The same “mysterious” Irving McNeely listed in the 1930 census in Martha McNeely‘s Bayonne household. He was described as her nephew, rather than her grandson, and I jotted in my notes: “Who is this???”) My grandmother was married and living in Newport News, Virginia, at the time of his death, and is not among his named survivors. Ardeanur Smith was his cousin, not his aunt, and Charles McNeely was his brother. Mrs. John Long was his aunt Lizzie McNeely Long, and Mrs. Lewis Renwick was his cousin Louise Colvert Renwick.

McNEELY -- McNeely Cousins

The first photo is Jay as a boy, perhaps around the time he moved to Bayonne. The second, taken in Bayonne circa 1928, shows Jay with his first cousins Ardeanur Smith, Margaret Colvert and Wardenur Houser, and an unknown girl seated in front. The last is Jay, alone, perhaps not long before he died.

McNEELY -- Jay McNeely near pole

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This is just one of many, many times that I’ve found something that one or the other of my grandmothers would have been “tickled” to see. They both lived good, long lives — to 90 and 101 — but I would have kept them with me always if I could.

Interview of Margaret C. Allen by Lisa Y. Henderson; all rights reserved. Photos in the collection of Lisa Y. Henderson.

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