William “Bill” Hew Lawhorn 1910-1981

This is a day late, but I want to still post it anyway.

Yesterday was anniversary of the death of my great-grandfather, William Lawhorn. He was born August 12, 1910, one of five children of Samuel Becton Lawhorn and Cora Cox Lawhorn in Craven County, North Carolina. He married my great-grandmother, Pearlie Mae Kilpatrick in 1931 and they had eight children – my grandmother Cora was their second child and eldest daughter. He was a deacon in the church and a member of the local Masonic Lodge.

From what my father and grandmother have told me, I know that he was a very tough-mannered man. My father described him as downright mean. My grandmother told me that he was indeed very strict and she felt quite restricted growing up and not given much freedom. However, to hear Kalonji tell it, he’s going to be just as tough with Kaleya! I also understand though that in his later years he did mellow out and was kind. My mother in fact remembers him as being quite kind.  At my grandmother’s funeral, I learned even more about him and how he interacted with his family. Apparently, he liked to be the man in the area with the “first” of everything – for example, he had the first black man to own a television in their community.

I do not have but a few pictures of him, but this one is how I remember him in my one memory of him. I was only six years old when he died, but I have one memory of going to visit and he took me to the store and bought me one of those really big Peppermint Patties. As I was talking to my grandmother’s brother the day of her funeral, I told him that story and he smiled – he said his father used to do that with all the kids. I am glad I learned that because it provides me another glimpse into his character.

William died from injuries sustained after he fell off of a ladder while at work. I understand that it was a very trying time for the family, as they sued his job because he had no business being on a ladder at his age (71). I actually have some of the court documents that my grandmother gave to me about 10 years ago.

Since sharing some of the family history online, I have come in contact with descendants of his sister Ida, so I hope to be able to in time, learn even more about his family and theirs. This is what is so nice about the internet, those connections to extended family members that are made possible!

Comments (3)

  1. Roblyn Ruffin

    Hi Taneya,

    Haven’t heard from you in awhile. A beautiful tribute to Uncle Bill. Doesn’t seem that lomg ago but I do remember attending the funeral it was the year I graduated from high school.

    I remember Uncle Bill well. I also heard stories from my mother and uncle (William). He was pretty strict but he did love his family. His having so many children and grandchildren he still knew the names of his siblings children and grandchildren. I know Spook was probably one of his favorite grandchild. I remember one time when I was young Spook must have been 5 or and she use to talk A LOT. Uncle Bill promised her a dollar if she didn’i say anything for 2 minutes, Spook lost that bet :). I think I may have been one of the favorite nieces (I would like to think so). Whenever my mother brought us to NC to visit we almost always made a point to stop in to see Uncle Bill. He would tell me the history of our family (I wished I would have listened more now). He would take me to the family cemetery and tell me about our family who was buried there. I especially remember the house he lived in and how you had to use the bathroom behind a curtain (there wasn’t a toilet but a jar). I also remember the picture that hung on the wall of his father and how his eyes would seem to follow you wherever you go.

    I remember one summer we were down for a family reunion I must have been 13 or 14 and it was well known I was really into balck history and Uncle Bill had promised to take me to New Bern, for what I really don’t remember but it had to do with something about our family. Any way my Aunt Bessie and some of her children and my mother, all of us and my Uncle William stayed at the hotel Uncle Bill worked. We were left alone for a little while, so you can imagine the kind of raucous that 12 0r 13 kids can make! Boy I remember coming into the rooms we were in yelling at us and then told our parents!!. He was so upset with us we didn’t make that trip to New Bern.
    I also know he loved your grat grandmother Aunt Julie. I was a very scary child and I was scared of her because of her illness she was always lying in bed and she would call out to me from the other room and Uncle Bill would take my hand so I could go and see her. I remember her funeral right before they closed the casket to put her down he leaned over and kissed her and I thought that was true love.
    To me they all looked alike, my grandmother Ida, Uncle George and Uncle Bill, I didn’t know the other brother Sam. They were all light with hazel colored eyes. You could tell someone was creeping in the slave quarters as I use to say!! Oh I just remebered. The Lawhorn(e)s were always house slaves and not field as I recall Uncle Bill telling me.

    I don’t remember all of Uncle Bill’s children. I do remember Cousin’s Diane (went to her funeral), Hayward, Jean, William (reminded me of a black Col. Sanders! he died a couple days before my sister Giovonna)and Mickey

    My parents and I went to the funeral of Cousin Sam’s wife in upstate New York this past weekend. Cousin Sam is the son of Uncle Sam, the brother of Ida, Bill and George, he was the one that got kicked by a mule. I noticed on the obituary that he spelled is last name with an e. I asked his brother Bobby about it. He said back then some of the Lawhorns added an e at the end to distinguish themselves from the white Lawhorn. While is brother Sam kept the e he didn’t. Seems that when he went into the service he saw that his birth certificate showed his last name without an e and so he just kept it off. So maybe we need to start looking up Lawhorne also.

    I am hoping I can start up the search again with more intensity since my daughter is away I have a lot more time on my hands. I would like to try again to get another reunion underway. Our children are really missing out on their heritage, my children are grown and they have no idea from where they’ve come from.

    It was nice to hear from you again. I hope all is well. Keep in touch.


  2. Conchita

    Hi Taneya,

    I am glad that you heard granddaddy meadowed out. I was also told how strict he was but by the time the grandchildren started coming alone he started getting softer. Roblyn is right about the $1 although the pay actually got up to $5 and know I never got the money. The talking comes from the Kilpatrick side of the family. I remember granddaddy’s accident as if it was yesterday. For a very long time I was mad at myself because I called granddaddy on his b-day which was the day before his accident and told him I wouldn’t be going to work with with in the morning, but to make sure to pick me up when he get off. I guess I felt if I was there I could have done something. As the years went by I realized that I probably would have never gotten over that accident had I been there. When I went to the hospital I was so scared to see him. I don’t know but why but I was. He kept asking for me and I finally went in. He seemed to be okay. He said make sure your mama take you by the house your peanut M&M’s are on the table. They were always there and today I love peanut M&M’s. I also remember when granddaddy leaned into the the casket to kiss grandma. I knew then how painful it was for him to say good bye. I realized then he would need us more than ever.

    I love that pictue of granddaddy. Since I see Poncho in the background I know I was born when this picture was taken.

    You have done a wonderful job with this site and…..

  3. regina fenner

    hi i have family from craven county north harlowe i’m related to the carter’s the (fenners’ )dudley and blackledge my great grandparents are fromthis area i’m trying to find out more history

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