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Monday, January 27, 2014

52 Ancestor Challenge #2 Sarah McCall Wood(s) Pate

For my second challenge, I’m sticking with my Pate Family. My maternal great-grandmother Sarah McCall Pate was born around 1872 to Classie Green and Mike Wood(s).  Her parents weren’t married which was probably because her father was Irish and a well known storekeeper in the Goldsboro area. But sometime after Sarah was born, her mother married a McCall. 

The Green family was from Pitt County, North Carolina but Sarah and her brothers were raised in Greene and Wayne counties.  In 1880, 8 year old Sarah and her brothers, Alexander, John and David, are living with their mother in the Nahunta section of Wayne County, North Carolina.  Their mother, Classie was described as a cook but there is no husband listed.


John Pate was Sarah’s second husband; all that is known about her first husband is that a child, Roscoe was born from that union.  On Sarah’s marriage license to John Pate, her last name isn’t McCall or Woods. In fact, her last name is illegible because it appears to be “Best” or “Burt.” Discovering her last name and her first husband may never happen but we do know that Sarah’s family lived in Greene County which records were destroyed in the late 1890s and this is the period where Sarah married and had her son.

Surprisingly on the 1900 Census, Sarah and John Pate are living in Nahunta and their neighbors are two Becton brothers one of which was my paternal great-grandfather Will Becton. 

We don’t have any pictures of Sarah and her daughter, my grandmother, Classie Pate Fuller aka “Mafull,” was about 8 years old when her mother died, so Mafull could not provide us with a lot of stories about Sarah. 

This is a picture that we have of Mafull as a young pre-teen girl. Photo courtesy of Mary Becton; all rights reserved.

There’s not much documentation on Sarah but there are a few stories about her, such as when she was born her father wanted to raise her by himself; however, her mother Classie said no and that’s when Classie and Mike’s relationship ended. I’ve never heard of stories where single, white men took their black babies and raised them as their own.

Sarah was described as a short, fat, very light skin woman who pressed her hair with an iron.  I don’t know if Sarah had green or hazel color eyes like my grandmother but Mafull once said, “my mother was short and fat and I’m going to be short and fat.” Poor Mafull, she just didn’t want to stop eating. LOL!

For many years, my mom had one item belonging to Sarah, a piece of hair.  We kept that piece of hair until the 1990s and for some reason, it was thrown out.  Ironically, my mom kept 3 family members hair: Sarah, Mafull and LaVonchia (my oldest sister) and all three pieces of hair resembled: straight and auburn that curled liked an “S”.  I don’t know why the hair was kept.

I’ve never found Sarah’s death certificate but Mafull said that Sarah was sick and she once ask Mafull to empty the slop bucket.  The slop bucket was full of blood.  Sarah died soon after this incident. It’s possible that Sarah died of ovarian cancer; she was buried at the Fremont Cemetery in Wayne County, North Carolina.  Sarah was 37 years old. 

Her descendants included Roscoe who married 3 times but never became a father. Roscoe  lived to be 78 years old.  Johnnie died at 44; he and his wife had 5 children.  Moses Eddie who married twice and had 6 children, lived to be 90 years old.  Her only daughter, Classie Pate Fuller who died in 1969, had one child, Mary Verneace Becton. I have many questions regarding Sarah but my immediate goal is to find out who was her first husband; where did she grow up; why did she marry John Pate, a man who was old enough to be her father; and what cause her death. 


  1. I hope you find out more about Sarah and if she married John Pate. nice research. Mafull is really pretty, an ususual name and pretty also..I wonder where that name comes from? Great job on the post.

  2. Thank you.

    Mafull (short for Ma Fuller) is the nickname that we, her grandchildren, gave her. LOL.

  3. It's good to come across another NC researcher. I have ties to Greene County through my Ellison branch. They lived in an area called Snow Hill. It would be interesting if we had a common connection. Love the picture!

  4. Yes, we have a lot of relatives in Greene county. Yeah, I have another version of the picture where she is sitting in a chair which makes me think that Mafull was between 8-12 years old when the picture was taken. Unfortunately the picture is a tin type.

  5. The picture of Mafull is beautiful. You are really doing a great job with your posts. Her hair must have been pretty long for her to press it with an iron. This was a wonderful story.

  6. Thank you. Gurl, I need all the encouragement I can get. Yes, Sarah was biracial so she probably did have very long hair.