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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #35 – Mark Green

Mark Green was my maternal Great-Great-Uncle who was the brother of Classie Green McCall, my Great-Great-Grandmother.

Mark was born around 1844 in Pitt County, North Carolina. However, it appears that he lived most of his life in the Nahunta area which is in Wayne County, North Carolina. He married Ann Roundtree who was the daughter of Thomas and Fannie Roundtree.  I could not find their cohabitation record which is a document that tells how long former slaves had been living together as a married couple. Mark and Ann were probably slaves in one of the surrounding counties where the cohabitation records were destroyed such as Greene County. They were the parents of Sallie (1870-9/8/1938), Joseph (1872-?), Ceasar (1874-3/14/1948), Albert (1876-?), Willie (5/1878-4/29/1948), Fannie (1886-?) and Nelley (8/1887-?).

Throughout the Censuses from 1870-1920, I have never seen any additional family members, besides their children and Mark's brother Joseph, listed in Mark’s house. Therefore I was very surprised when I came across a few listings in the Goldsboro North Carolina Messenger newspaper where Mark paid pauper fees for his brother and his mother, unfortunately, their names were not listed. I assume that the brother was Joseph however, it could had been a fee for another brother.  If not, why was Mark paying a fee for his brother who lived in Mark’s home. I don’t understand how the “poorhouse” fees worked. But apparently, the fee was paid every month. But what about his mother? His mother was ALIVE but she was living in the “poorhouse?” Why wasn’t she living with my ancestor, her daughter Classie or her son Mark. I have no information on Mark and Classie's parents and this is the first "tidbit" that I have on his mother. These news articles leaves me with more questions than answers. 

Excerpt from the Goldsboro Messenger newspaper - Thursday, June 20, 1878

Excerpt from Goldsboro Messenger newspaper - Monday, Nov. 18, 1878

Ann Green died on January 22, 1929 Fremont, North Carolina. She was buried at Daniels Quarter Graveyard aka Cemetery. If Mark and the rest of his family were buried at the same cemetery, then sadly I can't visit their graves because the cemetery no longer exist and the graves were moved and its questionable where the graves have been moved to.

Death certificate for Ann Roundtree Green
I don’t know when Mark died but it was after 1920 and before his wife died in 1929. It’s a mystery why I can’t find his death certificate because on paper, Mark appeared to be well known in the community. For instance, Mark’s is mention in a book as the Justice of Peace for Fremont, North Carolina. On the 1870 and 1880 census, Mark was described as a Farm Laborer but perhaps Mark had multiple jobs because I found a few documents that listed him as the mayor, and if it had not been for these documents and my mom’s recollection; I possibly would had never known about Uncle Mark's standing in the community. To me, that is quite an feat for a former slave.

Excerpt from The Heritage of Wayne County North Carolina, 1982

My mom recalls hearing that Mark’s brother Joseph was handicapped. In fact, on the 1870 census, Joseph was described as “dum” but Joseph was probably mentally disabled. Family history also stated that Mark’s wife, Ann, would beat Joseph. It appears that Joseph had a hard life. Its ironic that the 1870 census looks like the 1920 census with the same four members (Mark, Ann, their daughter Sallie and Joseph) that were living together in 1870 are still living together as a family in 1920… 50 years later. 

1870 Census for Mark Green's family

1920 Census for Mark Green and family

I still have a lot of questions regarding Mark and his brother Joseph such as when did Joseph die and what cause his death? I also would like to know what became of Joseph and Mark’s parents, my great-great-great grandparents. If they were born in Pitt County, exactly how did the family arrive in Wayne County, North Carolina. If anyone, can provide more information about Uncle Mark don’t hesitate to contact me.

Thanks for stopping by!


The Heritage of Wayne County, North Carolina, 1982/the Wayne County Historical Association, Inc. et al;pg. 39. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975, North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.
1870 Census Place: Nahunta, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1165; Page: 159B; Image: 322; Family History Library Film: 552664.
1880 Census Place: Nahunta, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: 986; Family History Film: 1254986; Page: 663A; Enumeration District: 301; Image: 0913.
1920 Census Place: Great Swamp, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: T625_1328; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 118; Image: 899.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #26 – Moses Eddie Pate

This is a part of the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge begun by Amy Johnson Crow, author of the blog No Story to Small.

Picture of Moses Pate (left) and his brother-in-law Leslie Fuller; Date unknown

Moses Eddie Pate was my maternal Great Uncle. He was the youngest son of John and Sarah Pate. “Uncle Mose”, that’s the name his nieces and nephews affectionately called him, was born on July 21st, 1895 in Greene County, North Carolina. He was a tall, robust man with a light carmel complexion and he had that “good hair.” With his good looks I’m positive the young Mose Pate broke a lot of hearts.  For example, my mom once told me that when she was a little girl a lady came to their home looking for “Mose Pate sister” and Grandma Classie told her “that’s me.” The lady ask where could she find him and Grandma said that she had better ask his wife. I don’t know what became of the lady but mom said that she was a beautiful lady from Wilmington, North Carolina. 
In 1917, Uncle Mose enlisted in the army.

1917 Registration Card for Moses Pate

Uncle Mose was married twice.  First to Carrie Barnes on September 28th, 1924 in Wayne County, North Carolina.   They had 2 sons: Charles Ray (1924-1925)  and another son who died in infancy.  After being separate for so long, in 1969, Uncle Mose and Aunt Carrie divorce.  Uncle Mose did not have any surviving children with Aunt Carrie; however, he did have 4 children from two women whom he deeply cared about.  His four children included 3 daughters and one son, Lazarus Spencer (1938-2011).

Marriage Index for Moses and Carrie Barnes Pate

Death Certificate for Charles Pate

Although Aunt Carrie remarried and moved to another town, she remained very close to our family, especially my mom, her “god-daughter.”

On the 1940 Census, Uncle Mose was living next door to my grandparents, Leslie and Classie Pate Fuller in Fremont, North Carolina. In his house, was his brother, Roscoe McCall (Pate) and his sister Hannah Pate Battle and her family.  Aunt Hannah’s husband had just died and so her step-children and grandchildren were living with her. This is another example of how Uncle Mose remained closed to his family and acting as a surrogate male figure to his younger nieces and nephews, biological and adopted. 

1940 Census for Moses Pate

On August 24th, 1942, 43 year old Mose enlisted in WWII. Why would he
re-enlist, I don't know because he was working at the Fremont Oil Mill.  Pehaps, Uncle Mose hadn’t seen enough war and killing nor did he want to stay in the South. He listed my grandmother, Classie Fuller, as the person who will always know his place of residence.
WWII Draft Registration Card for Moses Pate

Later on he met his second wife, Beatrice Jones (“Ms. Bea”). They did not have any children but he became a step-father to Ms. Bea’s children and grandchildren.  On May 18th, 1973, Ms. Bea died. Uncle Mose never married again but he remained in Fremont, living near his family until his death on January 9th, 1984. When he died, he left all his wordly belongings to my mother.  He is buried in August Chapel Cemetery in Dudley, North Carolina. 
I have nothing but fond memories of this man. I just wished that I had asked him about his parents, his sisters and brothers, especially his baby sister who he affectionately called “Sis Classie.” 

Thanks for reading.

Registration State: North Carolina; Registration County: Wayne; Roll: 1766040. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. North Carolina, Marriage Index, 1741-2004 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007.
Year: 1940; Census Place: Fremont, Wayne, North Carolina; Roll: T627_2987; Page: 14B; Enumeration District: 96-36. 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012.
North Carolina World War II Draft Registration Cards; Record Group: RG 147, Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Box: 284. U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: #20 - Fannie Vick Brooks: She was a Chairwoman

This is another article for the 52 Ancestor Challenge which was put on by Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small.

For this week’s Ancestor Challenge, I chose my Great-Great Aunt Fannie Vick Brooks.  Aunt Fannie was born around 1887 to Thomas and Easter Exum Vick in Fremont, North Carolina. There isn't a lot of oral history about Aunt Fannie however, someone once said that Fannie moved to Washington, DC and was able to buy herself a home but she never married.  Well my research discover otherwise. 
1920 Census for Fannie Vick Brooks
In 1920, Fannie was indeed living in Washington, D.C. with her 14 year old Great Niece, Emma Fuller.  Fannie was listed as a 28 year old widow renting a home on 9th Street, NW. Her occupation was described as a “Chairwoman" for the Pullman Station and her pay was based on wage worker scale.  I don't know what a Chairwoman did but perhaps this was a job that a lot of women could fill. In fact, Aunt Fannie lived amongst other Chairwomen and laundresses, chauffeurs, cooks, porters, clerks, teachers and janitors. I believe Aunt Fannie must had been a very confident and a very fearless woman because she was living in the “big city” by herself with a teenager.  

I did not find Aunt Fannie on the 1910 census and she's wasn't living in North Carolina or Washington, D.C. under the Brooks or Vick surname.  She was MIA during that year which leads me to a few questions.  Who and when did she marry and when did her husband die?  I didn't see any other families with the surname Brooks living nearby or I would say that she was living near her "in-laws."  

1930 Census for Fannie Vick Brooks

By 1930, Fannie was still living in Washington and she had done very well for herself. She owned a home valued at $7,000. Fannie was still a Chairwoman but her employer was listed as the U.S. Government. At first I thought that this could not be my “Aunt Fannie” because she was listed as the head of the house with three men described as “lodgers” in her home.  Well, what respectful Southern young lady would be living in a home as the lone female with three men.  But it was Aunt Fannie. How did I know? One of the lodgers was her nephew, Ashton Saunders.  Ashton was Fannie’s youngest sister, Lela’s son. 

1940 Census for Fannie Vick Brooks
1940 Census for Fannie Vick Brooks 
In 1940, Fannie was still a widow and the head of the house.  She had four lodgers including her nephew Russell Saunders. Once again her occupation was described as the Chairwoman and this time her employer was the Senate Office Building.  Aunt Fannie made $800.00 a week. Eight hundred dollars a week! Now that had to be a lot of money during the 1940s. For a single widow female, she was doing fine.  But still we don't know a lot about her such as when did she die and where was she buried?

I can't help but wonder what was Aunt Fannie's duties as a Chairwoman? Did she have to wear a uniform? Was there a Chairwoman association? If so, did the Chairwomen take group pictures?

A side note, in college, I had an assignment where I had to attend a congressional hearing. When I got on the elevator there was this lady who push the buttons for those of us in the elevator.  The lady was sitting in a chair. Could this be the answer to my questions? Were Chairwomen ladies who operated the elevators?

If someone who reads this post knows the answer to my questions, please don't hesitate to respond.  So until this mystery is solved, Aunt Fannie's story is to be continued.

1920 Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T625_211; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 199; Image: 292,
1930 Census Place: Washington, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: 298; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0220; Image: 164.0; FHL microfilm: 2340033,
1940 Census Place: Washington, District of Columbia, District of Columbia; Roll: T627_571; Page: 61B; Enumeration District: 1-518,

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 18: Uncle Walter Williams

Walter Williams

Recently, at my Uncle Walter Williams’ daughter’s birthday celebration, his grandson James said that the family didn’t have much information on Walter. James said Walter's parents were slaves and he asked me to see what I could find. This post was created in response to my cousin James’ request.

Walter Williams married my Great Aunt Lena Powell on June 12, 1921. He was 28 years old and Lena was 19 years old.  Walter and Lena had 9 children: Walter Jr., Ernest, James, Hettie, Ada Gold, Juanita, Sharon, Rudolph and Ernestine.
According to Walter’s death certificate, his parents were Henry and Sarah Williams, and he was buried at St. Delight Cemetery in Green County, North Carolina. His daughter Ada Gold Jones provided the information on the death certificate. Walter probably lived near or with her because his address was listed in Kenly, North Carolina which was where Ada Gold also resided.

Walter's Death Certificate

Walter’s parents were Henry (1851-?) and Sarah (1851-?) Williams and they were the parents of Louise (1874-?), Lula (1869-?), William (1871-1938), John (1875-); Reddick (1877-?) Annie (1881), Sudie (1886-?), Lizzie (1888-?) and Nigat (1890-1965). Walter was the youngest of the family.

In 1870, Henry and Sarah are living in the Speights Bridge area of Snow Hill, North Carolina. Henry was 27, Sarah was 23 and their daughter was 8 months old. In the home was another person, a young man whose first name is illegible but his last name appears to be Thomas.  This little boy was 10 years old. All the occupants of the house stated that they were born in North Carolina.

By 1880, the couple’s personal information seem to drastically change. Henry was 40 years old and Sarah was 28. They family still lived in Greene county in the Speights Bridge area. I’m not sure if all of the children are Sarah’s because the eldest child was 11 years old which would make Sarah 17 when the child was born. This census also stated that Henry and his parents were all born in Virginia, not North Carolina. According to this census, Henry aged by 13 years and Sarah only 5 years.

1880 Census for Henry and Sarah Williams

Walter doesn't appear on the census until 1900. His parents are still residing in the community of Speights Bridge, in Greene County. Sarah stated that she was the mother of 12 children with 11 living. Walter was 6 years old on this census while his father was 63 and his mother was 48. Sister Lousenia (sp) was 24 and the eldest of the children. Seven of the children are living at home. Sarah and Henry had been married for 30 years.
1900 Census
The 1910 census was the last census that we find Sarah. She was listed as a widowed with 10 living. Three of her children were living with her: Louise, Wijat and Walter. Also in her household were her grandsons Sam and Ivy and a granddaughter, Effie. These grandchildren were probably her daughter Louise’s children. Apparently, Louise did not have a husband because the children’s last name was Williams like their mother.

1910 Census for the Williams Family


The birthday lady, her sister and niece.
Photo courtsey of Penny Brown.

Further Research:
It appears that Henry and Sarah live in Green County all their lives which is possibly where they were enslaved or perhaps they wanted to live near their extended family. If the couple were slaves in Greene County, then, their cohabitation records were destroyed in the Greene County Courthouse fire in 1897. The cohabitation records would had given us the names of their parents and possibly where the couple was born.

Between 1910 and 1920, Sarah passed away. It's possible if I traced each of Walter's siblings then I could find additional information on the Sarah and Henry.  For example, I found one of Walter’s brother’s death certificate. It was William M. Williams who died on September 13, 1938 in Greene county. He was 66 years old. His death certificate stated that their father was born in West Virginia and mother in Wilson County, NC. Since William was one of the older children; I believe he would had known where he’s parents were from. So it’s possible that William passed the information on to his wife and children who provided the information for the death certificate. On the other hand, Walter's brother Wijatt or Wyatt or Nigat’s death certificate (He died June 9, 1965 in Greene County, NC.) didn't provide much information because Walter's sister-in-law didn’t know her husband's parents name which is probably why they’re listed as unknown. But this information shows that the family remain in Greene County. 

I did find a tree managed by one of Reddick Williams descendants on This tree stated that Henry Williams died in 1910. It’s possible that Henry was buried in the same cemetery as Walter, St. Delight Cemetery. If any of Henry and Sarah's descendants read this post and has additional information, please contact me so I can pass the information on to my cousins.








Tuesday, April 29, 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 17: Emma Fuller Artis

Emma Fuller Artis and her son, Romie Lee Artis.
This week’s post is about one of my maternal great aunts, Emma Fuller Artis.

I never met Aunt Emma but heard a lot about her through my mother. Emma was my maternal grandfather, Leslie Fuller's sister.  She was born in 1906 in Fremont, North Carolina to Arthur and Hattie Vick Fuller. Arthur was not Emma’s biological father but he raised her and she took the Fuller surname.

Hattie died when Emma was 10 years old. I'm not sure if Emma remained with her step-father and brothers but in 1920 she was living with her Great Aunt Fannie Vick Brooks in Washington, D.C.

1920 Census for Fannie Vick Brooks and Emma Fuller

On December 12, 1922, Emma married Romeo Artis.  She was 16 years old. She gave birth to her only child, Romie Lee on April 26, 1924.  In 1930 Emma and her husband were living in Belleville, New Jersey.

1930 New Jersey Census

Sometime after 1930, Romeo died. My mom said that his death was work related. I could not find a copy of his death certificate but I do know that he worked at the Edison Plant.

By 1940, Emma and 16 year old Romie Lee were still living in Belleville; however, by 1942, Romie Lee enlisted in the Navy but not in New Jersey; he enlisted in Fremont, North Carolina. A Maggie Swinson who was Romie's father first cousin was listed on his registration card as "a person who will always know" his address. 

Draft Registration Card for Romie Artis

Unfortunately for Emma and Romie Lee, they both died of cancer and they both died young. Emma died after 1956 and she was buried in New Jersey. Romie Lee died at the age of 46 of cancer in New Jersey.

One of the unfortunate stories that we do know about Emma was that her husband was abusive. It’s not that her family didn’t come to her rescue but Emma did not want anyone meddling in their affairs. Perhaps, this was a symbol of that time when most women didn't divorce or separate from their husbands even abusive ones.  


1920 Census, Washington, District of Columbia; Roll: T625_211; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 199; Image: 292.
1930 Census, Belleville, Essex, New Jersey; Roll: 1327; Page: 22A; Enumeration District: 0324; Image: 1069.0; FHL microfilm: 2341062.

The National Archives Southeast Region; Atlanta, GA; Records of the Selective Service System, 1926-1975; Record Group: RG 147; Class: RG147, North Carolina World War II Draft Registration Cards; Box Number: 10.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

DNA Don’t Lie; So They Say!

DNA match results from 23andme

Last week, I log onto 23andme and I notice a new batch of relatives. So of course, I contacted some of my new cousins. Mind you, I only contact those relatives who I share at least .20% DNA.  I limit my contacts to .20% because I feel that I have a greater chance in finding our common ancestor.  Not with this match! This match, a female, caught my attention because we shared 1.23% over 5 segments. She even matched my mom with 1.65% and 6 segments.  After we agree to share genomes, I discovered that we share 92cm and my mom shared 121cms.  23andme stated that we should be 2nd – 3rd cousins.  Our hometowns are 12 miles apart; she’s from Goldsboro, NC and I’m from Fremont, NC.  Because of identity theft, I will call my new DNA cousin “Ms. J.”
I asked Ms. J. about her family. I ask for her parents and grandparents names and where they were from.  Ms. J’s parents and grandparents grew up in Snow Hill, NC in Greene County.  My first reaction was perhaps she was related to me via the Taylors, my parental great-grandparents. But since my mom is also related to Ms. J., I said she can’t be a Taylor match. So I concentrated on my mom’s relatives: Bests, Pates and Greens.

I found Ms. J.’s family tree on but there were no surname matches. This marked the beginning of my frustration and confusion, because I notice a few of her relatives were buried at the Taylor Family cemetery in Greene County.  I have a lot of family buried at this cemetery, in fact, I was told that the cemetery started out as my great-great-grandparents family graveyard. 

The only Taylor that Ms. J. has on her tree is a Mary Taylor who would had been one of my great-great-grandparent’s sister.  Later, Ms. J. told me that her great-grandmother lived by herself with her children on the 1910 census. Everyone shared their mother’s surname.  So Ms. J. came to the conclusion that her ancestor didn’t have a husband and noone can tell her who the father was.  I felt that this mystery ancestor may be our common ancestor such as a brother to one of my ancestors. 
I checked some of the children’s death certificates and there is a father and his name is Robert Sheppard.  Well, for me, I needed another document to confirm that Robert was her ancestor’s father because in the past, I’ve found death certificates with incorrect information.

Something else that frustrates me is that my Momma and Daddy were not related!  As my precious old school “Steel African Violet Magnolia” mother likes to say “that’s nasty” or “bad blood.” “Cousins Don’t Marry Cousins.” Ms. J and I are unsure of our connection. 

I posted a query about this on a facebook genealogy page and I got a response that makes me reconsider my analysis.  The response provided two theories. First, just because I share 1.23% and 92cm doesn’t mean that Ms. J is a close match because some 2nd and 3rd cousins share “more cms” and “more segments.” Okay, I didn’t know this.  Her second theory was that we were possibly endogamous people.  I never heard of the term before and was told that it meant that myself and Ms. J. ancestors “inter-marry amongst themselves.” So those matches that I thought would be closely related to on a DNA level may well be DISTANT relatives after all.

Another factor in this matter is our home state, NC.  NC did not start recording birth and date certificates until 1913.  Also, Greene County, NC courthouse burned down in 1876. So we can’t find our mystery ancestor through the usual paper trail if he or she died before 1913, which may be the case. Yet, we both can trace our ancestors back several generations.  I have a few questions. First, this match has taught me to NOT get excited over a “high match.”  Second, if our ancestors were the product of inter-marriage, would we share a high number of “cms?” If anyone reads this post and know the answer would you please contact me? Also, what are some of the avenues that I should explore when dealing with “burned courthouses?” 

They say that “DNA Don’t Lie” but perhaps it gets its cousin prediction wrong with a little help from 23andme.


Monday, April 7, 2014

52 Ancestors #14: She Wanted A Birthday Party!

Mercedes Avatna Artis (April 12, 1948 – August 9, 2013)

Last year around this time, my sister and I was talking and she said that she had wanted to give herself a birthday party because we (the family) didn’t give her a party on her 60th birthday.  Mercy was determined to have that party; she had it all planned but during this time our ex-sister-in-law was in the hospital on life support.  Mercy didn’t feel that it was right for us to be celebrating while our nephew was contemplating life and death decisions about his mother.  She said, “I just can’t do that to him.”
Well the party didn't happen and as fate would have it, we lost Mercy also. So, for her love ones here, we can’t give my sister a party but I feel in my heart that she gets to have a party everyday with her love ones that she’s reunited with in heaven.
Happy Birthday Mercy!
My sister was the second born of my mother and her first husband, Sylvester Artis’ children. Sylvester's parents were Laurina and Absolum Artis.  
She got her name from her god-mother, Mercedes Boggs, who was my mom’s best friend in college.  They both pronounced their name “Mer-cee-deez” not “Mur-say-deez”. I always got a kick out of folks saying “Oh like the car.” and Mercy would sometimes hesitate to correct them but then say “Yeah, like the car.” I always look at her and give her the eye to correct them. But she never did.
After our eldest sister LaVonchia died, Mercy became the oldest child in the family. I came along a few years after LaVonchia’s death. When would we go out together, everyone we meet thought she was my mother and Mercy would ask “Do I look that old?” “No, that’s my little sister.” That was always funny to me but she would roll her eyes.

And just like most siblings, we had our disagreements. Mercy and I were “yin and yang” and we would argue about a lot of "things."  For instance, we both loved men's college basketball, especially the ACC but I only like Duke and N.C. State, while Mercy loved all the teams in the ACC including female college basketball. We also argue about “the Bectons” and “the Artises.”  I miss those arguments because I always won! 

Mercy grew up in a small segregated town in Eastern North Carolina.
That's her in the third row with her hand on her face in high school around 1965.

After graduating from high school, Mercy moved to Washington, DC and later she had her son.

Mercy and our family through the years.

She had a number of health problems but she always bounced back until last year when she passed away from complications from by-pass surgery.  I miss her, the family misses her and our beloved mother misses her very much, especially her phone calls. Mercy would call Mom everyday at 5pm when she got home to say hi and check on Mom but also to let Mom know that she was safely home. Mom would tell Mercy that she didn’t have to call her everyday because Mom knew she was tired when she got home. But Mercy wanted to say hi and let Mom know that she was home. 
Well, Mercy can't call Mom anymore to say hi and let Mom know that she’s home or talk about the day she had at work but now, Mom knows that Mercy’s finally home.

This post was written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Monday, March 31, 2014

52 Ancestors #13: Dafull's Story

Lester Fuller (March 31, 1901 – May 20, 1987)

Monday, March 31st, 2014, marked my maternal grandfather, Lester Fuller’s 113th birthday.  Lester, affectionately called “Dafull” by his grandchildren, died in 1987 at the age of 86 after a battle with prostrate cancer. I like to think that on the day Dafull was born; March went out like a lamb because he was a quite, courteous, mild manner, man.

Dafull ‘s parents (Hattie Vick Fuller and Willie Barnes) were not married when he was born so he got his last name from his step-father, Arthur Fuller.  Dafull did not lack from love because his step-father’s family embraced him as one of their own always calling him “Cuzin Fuller” or “Cuzin Les” and his father’s wife, Cora Darden Barnes, she once told Mom to call her “grandmother.”  I also believe that Willie Barnes loved Hattie because he named his twin daughters who were born in 1926: Hattie Lee and Cora Lee. 

Cora and Willie Barnes and Dafull.
To me, these two pictures show that Dafull and his father look like twins.

Like a lot of families, Dafull’s family was unique; his father and Ms. Cora had 13 children; Hattie and Mr. Arthur had 7 children with 3 dying during infancy.

In 1987, Dafull's four sisters visited with him.
This would be the last time they would all be together.

In 1919, Dafull married Classie Virginia Pate (“Mafull”) and in 1925, their only child was born, my mother.

Dafull and Mafull, on their wedding day in 1919.

Dafull was an auto mechanic for over 60 years. He retired in the late 1970s and stop “fixing” folks cars and trucks in the early 1980s which was around the time that he was diagnosed with cancer.  He loved cars, in fact, whenever my brothers would come home, you would find Dafull sitting in their car and/or looking under the hood. Besides his family and cars, he loved baseball, especially the “Cincinnati Redlegs”.

Dafull in background at the Ford Dealership in Fremont, NC.
The two white men are unknown.
Perhaps, one is his employer, Paul C. Blaylock.

Dafull unfortunately didn’t celebrate his birthdays like most people.  Mom said that birthday parties were off limits because he didn’t want a celebration but he did want an upside down pineapple cake. Mom didn’t find out why he didn’t want a birthday party until a few years before he died.  He told Mom that his mother died on his 15th birthday.  Mom said that Dafull told her that Grandma Hattie bleed to death but he didn’t tell Mom the circumstances.  Dafull said his Mom had been bleeding and he knew it was real bad so he asked his employer, if he could use his car to take Grandma Hattie to the doctor.  His boss said no but that Dafull could use the mule and buggy. Well, Dafull first had to get the mule and buggy which was located about a ½ mile away but when he return home, his mother was dead.  I don’t know why Dafull kept his secret for so long but I’m thankful that he told Mom before he left this earth. 

A few years ago when I was searching for Hattie’s grandmother’s will; I found a petition filed by Hattie’s husband Arthur.  Arthur had filed on behalf of Hattie’s children. The document listed all Hattie’s children including a Wilbur Fuller.  Mom and I were puzzled because we had never heard of Wilbur and Mom said that “Daddy didn’t have a brother name Wilbur.”  Simultaneously, something special happened; it was the year that released more death certificates for North Carolina. I found Hattie’s death certificate which confirmed that she died on Dafull’s birthday.  I also found Wilbur’s death certificate.  He was a baby and he was 4 months old when he died which meant he died 3 months after Hattie.  Hattie had died as a result of childbirth and her death was obviously painful for my grandfather because he lost his mom on his birthday and because he never talked about his baby brother that died.

Dafull, I like to think that in heaven you get to celebrate your birthday with your Mom, Mafull, Wilbur and everyone else you love.

Happy Birthday in Heaven Dafull! 

You and Mafull were a blessing to your family and I hope that we were a blessing to you.  Thank you so much for everything you ever done and sacrificed for us. 

His grandchildren.

Next week, I’ll be wishing another departed love one a happy birthday,
my sister, Mercedes Artis.