Craven Co. (NC)

He Was A Hero At Havelock

I received a most incredible email yesterday! Mr. Eddie Ellis Jr., A historian of Havelock, NC in Craven County, NC shared with me incredible details about a family member of mine. That family member is Rev. Wright L. Lawhorn and he was a brother of my 2nd great-grandfather, Samuel Becton Lawhorn.

We are fortunate to have in the family still, Samuel’s Family Bible. When I first started researching my family history, I received a photocopy of the bible pages that lasted names and dates of family members. The longest entry in the bible reads: “Rev. Wright Lawhorn the son of V Lawhorn born February 4, 1877 started preaching in 1902 at Havelock Mission now pastoring at Lancaster as of September 15, 1950,”

Excerpt from Lawhorn Family Bible

Excerpt from Lawhorn Family Bible

That was my first time “meeting” Wright and over the years, I’ve continued to research him and his family. Just last year, I wrote here on my blog about Wright’s second wife, Birdell, and how she had a yearbook annual dedicated to her. Shortly after posting that, I had a conversation with a family member who told me a bit more about Wright.

Wright apparently saved a train from crashing at some point in his life and as a reward, the train company gave him a job as a porter and gave him a pass to ride the train whenever he wanted, for free. The email I received yesterday from Mr. Ellis confirmed it!  Mr. Ellis had known about the story for several years, but until a couple of days ago, had only known the name of the man who saved the train as “McLawhorn” for that was the name printed in the paper. By happenstance, Mr. Ellis saw the name “Lawhorn” in a census records, started searching for Lawhorn, and found Wright and found my aforementioned blog post. So, Ellis sent me the newspaper articles describing what happened.

In July 1916 a hurricane came through the state and caused flooding in many areas. It seems Wright and his first wife, Vera, saw a train crossing that was washed away and so decided to try and warn any oncoming trains. The first train they saw was headed to Goldsboro returning from the beach and carried about 400-500 people. The train conductor saw Lawhorn waving him down, stopped, and was able to walk to nearby town and get assistance. The papers report that had Wright not been able to warn the conductor, the “loss of life would have been appalling.” Wright was lauded as a hero for his actions. The passengers of the train collected a purse for him of $25 or $31 dollars (depending on the newspaper account) which is equivalent to about $700 today. However, a later editorial chided the passengers for putting such little value on their lives and suggested the railroad company, Norfolk Southern Railroad, needed to give Wright a big check. Mr. Ellis thinks that may have been why they ended up giving Wright the job and subsequently, the free rides for life pass – a pass he noted was usually reserved for politicians and other important people.

Kinston Free Press newspaper, July 26, 1916

Kinston Free Press newspaper, July 26, 1916

Franklin Times Newspaper, July 28, 1916

Franklin Times Newspaper, July 28, 1916

I’m amazed to have these sources now to share with the family. What a treasure to have and learn more about the selfless act that  Wright and Vera did and the impact it had for those hundreds of people on the train. A “Hero at Havelock” indeed!

Recording the Church History

My father’s family is from Craven County, North Carolina, and one of the churches his family worships in is Alum Springs Church. Today, the church held a celebration and my great-aunt, who is a member there and heavily involved in church activities, asked if I could contribute to the program and research the history of the church graveyard. I was also interested in finding out if I might be able to uncover more information about the history of the church than what they knew.

Alum Springs Church

I was pleased to work on it and during my research, I learned that the Alum Springs Church had been given to local African American families after the civil war.

Robert Cox headstone

Originally a meeting house that belonged to Lane’s Chapel Methodist Church. Originally called Cox’s Meeting House, their church was burned during the Civil War and they built a structure to replace it but gave it to the local African American families once they decided to rebuild again.

As I researched the burials, the oldest one I could find documented was that of my 5th great-grandfather, Robert Cox. His headstone still stands and is still legible, showing he was born in 1823 and died in 1908. Robert’s daughter Cora, was the grandmother of my grandmother Cora. My cousin Cora is also named after the same daughter Cora, and many Cox descendants still worship in the church.

I was so delighted to have a chance to put together a short historical overview for the church! I contributed the write-up to the Craven County NCGenWeb site, so if you are interested, you can read it there.

 

Seeing Josephine

Thanks to my cousin Marissa, I have my first pictures of my father’s paternal grandmother, Josephine Holloway Koonce.  We believe the pictures to be from around 1940s. Here is one of them:

My great-grandmother, Josephine (Holloway) Koonce

Josephine passed away before I was born but I know that she had many of her grandchildren living her, including my aunts, as her own children moved to New York in search of better job opportunities. 

Until now, I had only seen one picture of Josephine and it is a casket picture. So, I am extremely grateful to Marissa for taking the time to send me these pictures. I am overjoyed!!! 

Attending the Kilpatrick Family Reunion

Over the July 4th weekend, one of the activities I did during my vacation was attend part of the 2nd Annual Kilpatrick Family Reunion in Ft. Barnwell, NC. My paternal grandmother, Cora, was the daughter of William Lawhorn and Pearlie Mae “Julie” Kilpatrick. So, the reunion is for Pearlie’s family. 

When I was much younger, we used to go to the Kilpatrick reunions. In fact, I have a few pictures of me as a very young baby at some of them.

Daddy holds me at a 1975 Kilpatrick Family Reunion.

Then, the reunions stopped, but they were started back up again two years ago. I was not able to attend the 1st one, but I was glad to be able to at least go to one event of this 2nd reunion. 

The earliest back we are able to go is to Silas and Mimi (Gooding) Kilpatrick. Silas and Mimi were born around the 1830s and had at least 12 children that we know of: Mary, Caroline, Edward, Susan, Ann, Patsey, Alexander, Abner, Nancy, Lucy, Ada, and Handy. Their son Edward is my direct ancestor – he is my 3rd great-grandfather.

1870 Census – Silas & Mimi and kids in Craven County, NC

Not only did I get to go, but I was asked to share some information about the family history research I’ve been doing on the Kilpatrick Family! So, I put together a short presentation and spoke about how I became interested in genealogy, some of the discoveries I’ve made, and shared my website where I have been documenting the family tree. 

presenting family history

While preparing for the presentation, I made a new discovery too! I was able to find the marriage certificate for my direct ancestor Edward Kilpatrick and his wife Violetta. From census records, I knew they were married around 1880, but the marriage record find reveals they were married November 29, 1882.  Fabulous!

1882 marriage certificate of Edward & Violetta Kilpatrick

The couple were married in neighboring Lenoir County with L.J. Jackson, Lewis Grady, and Adam Singleton were witnesses.  I also learned from the record that Edward’s father, Silas, was still alive. I don’t have a death date for Silas, but knowing that information could potentially help focus searches for his death information in the future. The fact that Violetta’s parents (Stephen & Susan Donald) are still living may also help me with them as well. 

It was also great to have the opportunity to see family members I had not seen in awhile, and to meet family members I’ve not met before. I created a Facebook group to help keep the family connected as we do have another reunion planned in 2017. Many thanks to the Kilpatrick Family Reunion committee for allowing me to share some of this with family and I look forward to seeing you all again next time!

Photos with the Ancestors

During the July 4th weekend, I was so fortunate to be able to visit eastern NC again to visit my father’s hometown, Fort Barnwell and my maternal grandmother’s hometown, Plymouth, NC.

My visit to Fort Barnwell was my first time back since my paternal grandmother, Cora Lawhorn Koonce, passed away in 2006. So, I visited the Mitchell Family Cemetery where my Koonce family is buried and visited her graveside for the first time. Since Kaleya was with me, she had to take the requisite pictures with her family. She may not appreciate it now, but it is my hope that when she is older, she will be able to cherish the fact that she has visited the town where her grandfather grew up.

panorama view of Mitchell Cemetery

Kaleya with her 2nd great-grandparents, Josephine Holloway & Barfield Koonce

I also went to the Alum Springs Church cemetery so that I could take pictures of Cora’s side of the family – namely, my 4th great-grandmother’s headstone, Mima Gooding Kilpatrick.

My cemetery visits were short – I had only 30 minutes and then needed to head to the Kilpatrick Family Reunion, but I am so very glad that I had a chance to do this.

Just a couple of days prior, while driving on my way to the Outer Banks, I stopped in Plymouth, the hometown of my grandmother Alice McNair Robinson.  Her parents’ home, the home of Abraham & Mattie (Walker) McNair. The house, at 502 Wilson Street, is in very poor condition, but because it is there, I took Kaleya by and told her that her 2nd great-grandparents lived there.

in front of Abraham & Mattie’s home

I also took her around to the back porch b/c I have a photo of myself as a youngster on the back porch.

at the back porch

We then went over to the McNair Family Cemetery where Abraham & Mattie are buried, as well as our McNair ancestral couple, Rufus Tannahill & Mariah (Wimberly) McNair.

at Abraham & Mattie’s graveside

at the grave of Rufus & Mariah McNair

I told her there would be a quiz later – let’s see how long she remembers the details 🙂

New Photo of 3rd Great-Grandmother’s Sister

I just love making connections! Earlier this week, I received an email from another newly-found cousin.  Her great-grandmother, Mary Donald Allen (1858-1916) was a sister to my 3rd great-grandmother, Violetta Donald Kilpatrick (1860-1933).  My cousin Rose and I have had a chance to speak and learn more about each others families and I am so thrilled to start learning more about her branch of my family. As we exchanged information, Rose shared with me a picture her family has and I am so thrilled! This is understood to be a photo of Mary Donald Allen  – my ancestor’s sister!

There is no inscription on the back to document it is Mary, but Mary’s daughter Florence has always told the family it was a picture of her own mother. How beautiful!

Mary and Violetta’s parents – Stephen Donald and Susan Bryant Donald, are suspected to have Native-American heritage. So far, I’ve not fully-researched this potential, but it certainly is an area that could be further investigated. I am just tickled to have a copy of this picture! My own ancestor, Violetta, also had long hair like Mary and Mary’s family. So, to see this picture is just mind-blowing. 

How did Rose find me? Internet searching. Again, another testament to the importance of sharing your family trees online and for researching collateral families. 

Thank you so much Rose for this outstanding picture. 

Wordless Wednesday: Jesse Kilpatrick Sr.

This is one of my great-great-uncles – Jesse Kilpatrick Sr (October 23, 1931- September 25, 1995).  He was a brother of my great-grandmother, Pearlie Mae Kilpatrick Lawhorn. I never met him, but he shares a birthday with my sister.

Wordless Wednesday: Old Country Store

Love this picture! A colorized photo by Dinamichrome. circa 1939. Makes me think about what it could have been like for my family who knew the family of a work colleague of mine. That work colleague’s family member owned the local country store that my family frequented. I blogged about their connection as I learned of it from my first find in the 1940 census. 

My First 1940 Census Find

Yesterday I posted about my experiences with the first day of the census and I mentioned that I had no plans to seek out my family members while the images are still unindexed.  Yeah – that didn’t hold out very long. 

Last night I downloaded a few ED sets from the NARA website around the Craven & Lenoir counties in North Carolina.  My father’s family is from there so I was curious to see who I would see.  I didn’t plan to search for anyone specifically, but rather to browse.

To my delight, I quickly found my paternal grandmother, Cora Mae (Lawhorn) Koonce!

She is living in ED 25-10, Craven County, sheet 8A.  She is 7 years old, and thus, this is the first time she appears in the census.  Her father William is 28, her mom Pearlie Mae is 27.  Interestingly enough the family is enumerated as McLawhorn instead of their true name, Lawhorn.  Cora is accompanied by brother William (age 9), brother John Wright (age 5) and brother Randolph (age 1).  This is the first census for all the children, as William & Pearlie were married  in 1931. 

Enumerated below William & Pearlie are Randolph & Mary Kilpatrick. These are Pearlie Mae’s parents.

Enumerated above William & Pearlie is another interesting family.  George & Roberta Tew.  George was the brother of a man named Oscar Spears Tew.  Oscar was the great-grandfather of someone I work with here at Vanderbilt.  Last year, while doing some research on his family tree, I discovered this connection to my ancestral home area and based on other records had speculated that my family must have known the Tews.  I had no idea they lived next to each other!  

 

23andMe: Another Cousin Connection

I am elated to share another cousin match story from my 23andMe results!  This time it’s even more interesting because said cousin (i”ll call her DK) has been following my blog for several months, saw my posts about the free 23andMe testing, and ordered her kit because of it.  But, while she knew she was related to me, I had no idea who she was prior to tonight!  I just knew that there was a mystery match in my Relative Finder that shared .80% of her DNA with me and 23andMe predicted us to be 3rd-4th cousins.

DK matches my sister and I at several segments.  Here is our shared DNA (she matches me where it is blue; matches my sister where it is green).

DK matches to me (blue) and my sister (green)

After speaking on the phone tonight and learning who her father was, I was able to tell her that they graduated high school together and share pictures from the class yearbook (since I *stole* it from my father a few years ago).  🙂

Newbold High School - Craven County, NC

DK and I actually are double cousins though – both of her grandparents are related to me – her father is related to me on my father’s maternal side and her grandmother is related to me on my father’s paternal side.  I wonder if we’ll be able to tease out which DNA is from which couple?  Theoretically, DK should also match another of my known cousins who also did the 23andMe test but I’ll need to check.  23andMe does not have a way to establish more than one known relationship but they should add it.  Not only are DK and I 2nd cousins once removed, but we are also 3rd cousins.

I am so pleased that the testing has brought us together!