Washington Co. (NC)

Rufus McNair Cemetery

Thanks to the generosity of another researcher with family ties to Washington County, NC, I now have pictures of one of the most important cemeteries in my family research.  The cemetery is the Rufus McNair Cemetery of Plymouth, North Carolina.  I first learned of this cemetery in 2006 and was thrilled then to know of it.   Rufus Tannahill McNair is my 3rd great-grandfather and I’ve posted about him several times.

I received the pictures this evening after getting home and I cried.  I cried because I’ve been looking at the names of those buried here on a piece of paper for 4 years (the local gen society county cemetery transcription book).  From that record, I knew that almost everyone in the cemetery is related to me.  But, it was a moving experience to now see their headstones.

Rufus McNair & Mariah Wimberly McNair monument

While I was happy to see the headstone for my ancestor, Rufus & Mariah,  the one that made me cry the most was that of John Lee Boone.  He is a cousin of mine who passed away in January and I do regret that I was not able to meet him before he passed.  I did have an at-length phone conversation with him once about the McNair family history.  He was the last of the five McNair family members who started the annual McNair Family Reunion that is held during Memorial Day Weekend.

This year is the 40th year of the reunion, dedicated to John Lee’s memory,  and I am planning to attend.  I’ve been to Plymouth one time, I was 9 months old, and a visit to my grandmother’s hometown is long overdue.  Especially after getting these photos; I need to physically visit these grounds.  And, I’m eager to meet my extended McNair Family.

You can view all the cemetery photos in the NCGenWeb Cemetery Gallery.

Great Finding!

This is why I stay up until 1 in the morning! Tonight while doing some newspaper transcription, I had a great discovery.

For the past couple of years, I have been transcribing old issues of  The Roanoke Beacon. This is the newspaper of Plymouth (Washington County), North Carolina.  My maternal grandmother and practically all of her family and ancestors are from Plymouth and neighboring Tarboro, so I’d always hoped that I’d find something relevant for my family.   I didn’t expect to find much until early to mid 1900s, but tonight I found the death notice of one of my 3rd great-grandfathers, Prince Walker.

The notice from the February 24th, 1899 issue states that he died near his home and was about 90 years old. This is fairly close to what I’d estimated his birth to be from census records.  He is also described as a ” ‘fore the war darky,” which I take to mean he went along with social norms of the day on how blacks were to behave with whites.  According to the article, Prince died Febrary 22nd, 1899.

Prince was born in North Carolina and was married to Lovie Boston.  They had at least 8 children, their son Anthony W. Walker being my ancestor.  Anthony and wife Martha Jane Baker were the parents of Martha Jane Walker.  Martha Jane Walker was the mother of my maternal grandmother, Alice.  This Walker line is one that I know I have several gaps to fill, but I’ve not made concerted effort to get in contact with many Walker relatives.  There are a few that I know I can share this with, but maybe this will inspire me to work harder.  I am too thrilled!

Last night I had another discovery that I think may be relevant to my husband’s aunt, but I’ll save that for another blogging day.

Flickr is Great

I’ve been spending some time the past few days searching images in Flickr. There are so many great pictures that people are sharing and I’ve enjoyed looking through them.  I am searching Flickr for pictures relevant to my genealogical interest and I’ve been surprised to find as much as I have. 

Back in April of 2007, I blogged about learning of Somerset Place, a plantation owned by Josiah Collins who had more than 300 slaves. While in Flickr, I discovered someone who had a set of pictures from a visit she made to the plantation. 

You can see the rest of her Flickr set here.

I Came So Close

To being able to be the North Carolina GenWeb Site Coordinator for one of my main counties of interest, Edgecombe County, North Carolina! Turns out someone beat me to the punch to request it when a notice was sent out that the county was adoptable. I have roots there and just submitted a profile to be included in the upcoming Heritage of Edgecombe County book. That would have been perfect!

But, I was able to take on a different county instead, Martin County, and I think I can do well by it. Martin County lies between Edgecombe County & Washington County (another one where I have roots), so I will at least be familiar with some family names I think I’ll see there.  I’ve also come across several mentions of the county in the Roanoke Beacon newspaper (of Washington County), that I’m transcribing. 

I won’t be able to start any official site maintenance duties until my class this month is over, but I’m already to develop some ideas for site organization.  It’s been one year since I became site coordinator for Blount County, TN and I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to help contribute to the genealogical needs of researchers interested in that county. I hope to continue helping for this new one!

Show & Tell

The call for submissions to the 55th Carnival of Genealogy has been announced and the topic is Show & Tell! Participants are charged with sharing an “…heirloom, a special photo, a valuable document, or a significant person that is a very special part of your family history.”

To this end, I’d like to share this picture of my grandmother, Alice Elizabeth McNair as part of her high school graduating class.  To accompany the picture, I also have her original commencement program as well! These two are part of my treasures because of the fact that I have a photo and the program.

My grandmother is pictured 2nd from the left in the front row of girls; as the picture shows, there were 13 graduating members.  Last year, I made contact with a distant cousin of my grandmother’s who is also related to one of the other girls graduating that year.  I’m not sure which one she is, but the cousin informed me that the girl had passed only a few months prior to us talking. I was able to send her copies of this photo and the commencement program for her to share with my grandmother’s deceased classmate’s children.

The high school my grandmother graduated from was Plymouth Colored High School in Plymouth, Washington County, North Carolina.  I am pretty sure that somewhere, I have her diploma as well (or, my mother has it).

New Acquisition

Genealogy work for me has been varied for me these past couple of days. We recently went on vacation to Florida and had a wonderful trip. I’ve got more info on my main blog and some pictures as well.

As for genealogy – while I was away, I did get a goody in the mail. I’ve posted before about Somerset Place – a large plantation in Washington County, North Carolina. I was so curious that I ordered a copy of the book from a bookseller online. Only cost $3. I am glad that I ordered it too. While I doubt I’ll find any connection in my family to this plantation, it does provide some insight into plantation life at that time. If you’d like to know more about it – it is in Google Books.

Somerset Place

I have just learned some very interesting history of Washington County, North Carolina (a county where I am focusing part of my genealogy research).

I was looking at the 1860 slave schedules and found an entry for a Josiah Collins who owned 328 slaves and had 37 slave houses! This immediately piqued my interest and a quick search revealed that Collins owned Somerset Place, apparently, the third largest plantation in the state of North Carolina during the antebellum period.

Apparently, the site manager has done extensive research and written a couple of books about it. There is also an organization for slave descendants. I will have to keep my eye on this just in case I come across any slaves that may have been part of that plantation. The Official Website is at http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/hs/somerset/somerset.htm.

A few resources for extra reading…
1. Generations of Somerset Place by Dorothy Spruill Redford
2. Somerset Homecoming: Recovering a Lost Heritage – by Dorothy Spruill Redford
3. “Re-interpreting America’s History – African American History” by Kendra Hamilton
4. “Somerset Place – A Colossal Slave-Built Plantation” – by Bridgette A. Lacy