Tuesday, April 21, 2009

King - Pinnix Wedding Anniversary

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Walter Luther Neal (1888-1964)

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Thomas Slade (1883-1929)

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Edward Willis Carter (1866-1951)

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Daniel Coleman Burton (1883-1957)

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Yanceyville Notes 6 May 1922

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Caswell County to Receive Aid (1931)

The Bee (Danville, Virginia) 24 January 1931 (Page 2)

Caswell County to Receive Aid

Reidsvillle, N. C. Jan 24 (1931) - County Agent H.L. Seagrove says the efforts of Governor Gardner's unemployment relief council has been instrumental in having Caswell county included in the area that is to be aided by the appropriation made by the federal government. Mr. Seagrove had been in conference with Dean Shaub, of State College, on the subject, but neither of these gentlemen know exactly how much money will be allotted to Caswell. There are those who say the number of white and colored farmers in Caswell county unable to secure seed, fertilizer, and supplies for this year will total above two thousand.


Monday, April 20, 2009

Nelly Strowd Strayhorn (1850-1950)

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Aunt Nellie Strowd Strayhorn (1850-1950) and Dr. Braxton Bynum (Brack) Lloyd

Aunt Nelly (Strowd) Strayhorn was a slave. She and her husband, Toney Strayhorn, a preacher, are buried in the black section of the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery. Her father belonged to Bruce Strowd's great grandfather, Bryant Strowd. Nelly and her Mother worked for Wesley and Julia Atwater. Wesley was a brother of Matthew Atwater, but Nelly must have worked Bryant Strowd's land as well because she mentions plowing with Wilson Strowd behind a mule named "Duck."

Wilson Strowd (aka Wilse) was named for his grandfather, John Wilson, founder of Damascus Congregational Christian Church on Jones Ferry Road. Wilse was a frugal bachelor, school teacher, and surveyor. He was the elder brother of Congressman W. F. Strowd.

Nelly Strowd Strayhorn died in 1950 and is buried in the black section of the Old Chapel Hill Cemetery.

Chapel Hill Cemetery
Section A
Nellie Strowd Strayhorn, 1850-1950. Died at the age of 100. Toney Strayhorn.

Toney Strayhorn was a former slave who became a brick mason as well as one of the founders and and associate ministers of the Rock Hill Baptist Church. This was the first African American church in Orange County. He also owned land, and built a two story farmhouse which is still located on Jones Ferry Road, Carrboro. Toney Strayhorn shares the same grave marker as Nellie Strowd Srayhorn, who was his wife. This family plot is surrounded by brick masonry and is quite visible in Section A.

Reminiscences of Slavery Days

"Yes'um, I was a slave," said Aunt Nellie Strayhorn of Carrboro, who will be 95 next June 30. "My Missus and Master is both dead now. I'm here yet but I'm getting mighty old and can't hardly get about. I wants to work but I can't."

Until she was fourteen Aunt Nellie belonged to Wesley Atwater and his wife, Miss Julie, who lived about six miles from Chapel Hill on the Hillsboro Road.

"Back in slavery times it was something," said Aunt Nellie from her seat in the sunshine in the house she and her husband bought in Carrboro after they were given their freedom. "When I was a gal I had to tote water from a spring - they didn't have wells like dey do now-and wait on Missus in her room.

"I ploughed same as a man too. I used to plough with a mule named Duck, side by side with Mr. Wilson Strowd. He owned my Daddy. And bind wheat—I can do everything in the field except split rails for a fence. I love to work out.

"We lived in a log house down in a field. Mother would get up early in the morning and go to the house to build a fire and get breakfast. I was the oldest, so I got the other children up and to the kitchen.

"If the colored people could just come back and tell you how it was. Dey was human too. Some of us seen hard time. Dey give me plenty to eat. We got locust beer sometimes. It's nice. Missus had it made by the barrel. I used to tote vittles to the house from the old kitchen. Made time when it rained. When dey left biscuit scraps on their plates, I'd eat em all up before I got back to the kitchen.

"Missus give us good clothes. We wore yarn dresses until May. Every Sunday we changed our dresses. In May Missus let us take them off and put on streaked cotton dresses. Master made our shoes, but we didn't get them until Christmas. We went barefooted most of the time, even to church. When we went to church we sat outside the house on slab benches. We went to Antioch church. Mr. Sam Baldwin was the preacher there. He was the finest to be sure. He was a great old man to shout, I never will forget them songs. One of them was: "Turn sinner, turn sinner, when you die God your maker will ask you why.'"

She used to go to Cedar Grove occasionally too.

While her great-granddaughter, four-year-old Ann Barbee, played beside her, Aunt Nellie reminisced about her own childhood. "I never had nary doll but what I made. We played with them on a Sunday."

"My master had a fine orchard." she went on, "but we won't allowed to pick any fruit lo eat. Master let us nirk un what was on the ground, and ne cs iooK at it w'hpn we got back to the house to sci. .1 ,,.>- stem was fresh. One time an apple fell just as we got to the tree. I ate three mouth-fuls of it before Master looked at it and saw the stem was fresh. He made me stop because he said I picked it. Several days later when i'. had dried oiii be mai-le me eat up and then gave me three lick. That was the only whipping I ever got."

Aunt Nellie's father belonged to Mr. Bryant Strowd. The family wasn't together until after the surrender of the Confederate forces in 1865. Her mother's first husband had been sold to a new owner a long way off. After the surrender he came back to see his children, Aunt Nellie's half brothers and sisters. By that time both he and Aunt Nellie's mother had been married again.

"If folks had any slaves to sell," said Aunt Nellie, "dey carried them to Hillsboro and put them on a block just like cattle. My husband's mother was sold from him when he was just a little fellow."

During the Civil War Aunt Nellie, her mother, and her brothers stayed with Miss Julie while their Master went to the army. Aunt Nellie's mother stayed busy cooking barrels of food to send to the Confederate soldiers. "When the Yankees come the first time, all the hands was in the field, just like Master was there," Aunt Nellie said.

"Dey asked Mother if she knew we was free. She said 'No, Sir,' and I was standin' beside her when she said it. 'We fought to free you,' dey told her. Dey was nice but we was 'fraid, cause we weren't used to those blue suits and shiny buttons, and the guns at their sides. When Wheeler's cavalry come, my brothers took the horses and hid them in the pine field. Missus wasn't there but she knew my brothers would look after things."

After the surrender Aunt Nellie worked four years for lawyer Mason at $5 a month. "My Daddy got the money," she added cryptically.

After a while Aunt Nellie met and married Tony Strayhorn, who formerly belonged to the Strayhorns of University Station. He learned his ABC's by himself in the moonlight after he was freed. "Yes'um, he taught himself," said Aunt Nellie, obviously proud of her husband, who is still remembered and respected in Carrboro, where he died with pneumonia ten years ago. "I had a good husband and a smart one too. He taught himself. Missus could have learned me too, but in dem days they didn't learn colored people anything except work. Tony was a preacher. One text he used to use was 'Wash and be clean.' He could read good too."

Aunt Nellie has eleven grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. One of the most charming and interesting conversationalists around these parts, she likes a toddy now and then, and likes to sit in the kitchen talking to whoever is working there. Referring to life in slavery she grins and says. "We thought we was having [a good] time; we just didn't know any better."

The foregoing was published in a Chapel Hill newspaper c.1940 and was the result of an interview conducted at the time by a female reporter. The newspaper may have been The Chapel Hill News, which was launched in 1923.

Note that she also has been referred to as Nellie Atwater Strowd Strayhorn:
On September 1, [2009] we celebrate and complicate this shared history. Join us for sweet potato pie, a chance to dance, and more than one good story as local residents of our traditionally Black neighborhoods share their memories with UNC students and the extended Chapel Hill-Carrboro community.
“My great-grandmother told me the stories . . . she was born in 1850. She lived 100 years and 30 days. . . she would tell me stories about when she was growing up. How when she was a little girl and the day they were freed. She said the soldiers came in their navy blue suits and their shiny brass buttons and they were in the field working. And asked them if they knew they were freed?” Dolores Hogan Clark, great-granddaughter of Nellie Atwater Strowd Strayhorn


Monday, April 06, 2009

John Hosea Kerr (1844-1924)

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The Bee (Danville, Virginia) 20 August 1924 (Page 2)

Judge J. H. Kerr Is Dead at Age of 80

A long distance telephone message from Yanceyville, N. C., yesterday evening announced the death at his home there of ex-Judge John H. Kerr, subsequently clerk of the curt there and one of the oldest and most honored men of North Carolina. Judge Kerr sustained a stroke of paralysis last Thursday, since then little hope of recovery at his age had been entertained. His end came peacefully at 3 P. M., with his loved ones around him.

Judge Kerr has spend [sic] practically all of his long and useful life in Caswell county, save the period he followed the Stars and Bars in the war of the ‘60’s. Entering the Confederate Service at the age of 17 or 18, he served as a soldier throughout that long struggle until wounded seriously and had a fine record. He lost a leg in the service.

Illness Was Brief

Returning to this native county after the war, he prepared for the bar and later was made probate judge, a position in which he served for many years. His health had continued unusually good as the years advanced until the fatal seizure last week. A gentleman of the old school, he exemplified in his life and character the lost traditions of the times in which he was raised. Probably no man was so universally known in Caswell and adjoining counties and few so widely esteemed.

Judge Kerr is survived by his wife and __ children, these being Hon. John H. Kerr of Warrenton, N.C., representative in Congress; A. Yancey Kerr, of Yanceyville, and Graves Kerr of Lynchburg, Va., Mrs. W. O. Spencer of Winston-Salem, N. C.; Mrs. F. [S.] A. Malloy of Yanceyville; and Mrs. A. H. Motz of Milton, N. C.

Funeral services will be held at the Yanceyville Baptist church this Wednesday afternoon at 5 o’clock.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Dr. James Edward Shepard (1875-1947)

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Photographs: (1) historical marker in Durham, North Carolina; (2) Dr. James Edward Shepard; (3) Durham home of Dr. James Edward Shepard and wife Annie Day Shepard; funeral program for Dr. James Edward Shepard.

James Edward Shepard (1875-1947) was the founder of the National Religious Teaching School and Chatauqua in Durham, North Carolina, and for many years served as its president. Today the school is known as North Carolina Central University, part of the greater University of North Carolina. The North Carolina Central University main library is named for Shepard, and a full-body statue stands on the campus. The James E. Shepard Foundation, named in his honor, continues to provide scholarships to worthy black students at the school.

Shepard also was one of the initial investors in the black-owned North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company (Durham, North Carolina). He served as head of the North Carolina Colored Teachers Association, director of the Farmers and Mechanics Bank of North Carolina, and was a member of the North Carolina Agricultural Society. He received honorary degrees from Muskingum College, Selma University, Howard University, and Shaw University. Shepard served as the only black speaker at the World Sunday School Conference held in Rome in 1910.

His home in Durham is on the National Register of Historic Places.

While Shepard accomplished much and deserves recognition in his own right, it is his connection to a Caswell County family that makes his story relevant for this website:

Thomas Day (1801 - c.1861), well-known Caswell County artisan lived in Milton and was married to Aquilla Wilson. The couple had four known children, including Thomas Day, Jr., who was born in Milton around 1837.

This Thomas Day, Jr., married Mary Virginia Washington (born c.1837). Two daughters resulted: M. Day (born c.1859); and Annie Day (born c.1879).

It appears that Annie Day first married a Robinson, but this has not been confirmed. What has been confirmed is that she was the only wife of Dr. James Edward Shepard (1875-1947).

For more on Dr. James Edward Shepard (1875-1947) see the Caswell County Family Tree.


Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Roger David Nelson (1946-2009)

Roger David Nelson (1946-2009)

Yanceyville, N.C. - Roger David Nelson, 62, of 95 Gatewood Road, Yanceyville, NC died Thursday, March 26, 2009 in Roxboro, NC. Roger was born August 3, 1946 in Mebane, NC, the son of Rufus V. Nelson and Louise Brooks Nelson. He was a member of Yanceyville United Methodist Church, retired from Caswell County School System, and served in the United States Army from 1968 - 1970 in the Vietnam War. He was predeceased by his parents, Rufus V. and Louise Nelson.

He is survived by his wife, Debbie Webster Nelson of the home. Other survivors include step children: Carlton Marc Pollard and wife, Kimberly Lewis Pollard, Lanier Pollard Cassada and husband, and Michael Cassada; grandchildren: Hunter Cassada, Holden Cassada, and Halle Rae Cassada; J. Sharwn Scruggs and wife Connie Scruggs and grandchildren Carrie and Rusty.

In addition to his parents, Roger was predeceased by a brother, Rufus Brooks Nelson (died as an infant in 1940), and a sister, Patricia Ann Nelson Davis (1942-1968).

The funeral will be conducted Saturday at 1:00 pm with Rev. George Johnson officiating at Yanceyville United Methodist Church. Interment will be in the Church cemetery. The family will receive friends and family Friday night at the residence.

In lieu of flowers the family requests memorial donations be made to Hospice of Alamance - Caswell Palliative Care, 914 Chapel Hill Road, Burlington, NC 27215 or Yanceyville Fire Dept., c/o Billy Hodges, 145 West Wood Drive, Yanceyville, NC 27379. Marley Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.