My Blog List

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

52 Ancestors Week 14: My Favorite Photo - Courtesy of Classie Virginia Pate Fuller

Classie Virginina Pate Fuller
Do not use photo without my expressed permission.

This is my latest post for the 2015 edition of the 52 Ancestors Blogging Challenge. If you’re not familiar with Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge, check out her Blog at “No Story to Small.”
Like last year, the blogging challenge was about dedicating a post each week to a specific ancestor but a twist has been added to this year’s challenge: themes.  The theme for this week is “favorite photo” and my favorite photo is a picture of my maternal grandmother, Classie Virginia Pate Fuller (8/21/1901-9/2/1969).  

My grandmother was born to John (1843-1903) and Sarah McCall Pate (1872-1909) in North Carolina. She was the youngest of 12 children.  She lived all her life in Wayne County, North Carolina. On November 16, 1920, she married Leslie Fuller and in 1925 she gave birth to her only child. Mafull (the name she was called by her grandchildren) departed this life in 1969.
Two thoughts comes to mind when I look at this picture. First, I always thought that this picture was taken when she was a teenager but her family doesn’t know what year it was taken or how old she was, nor do we know where it was taken or for what event. What I do know is that Mafull had this serious expression, in fact, an 8 ½ x 10 copy of this photo is kept in my mom’s bedroom and when my little nieces look at the photo; they say “she looks mean.” I told them that she looks serious!  
Because she was not smiling, the second thing that comes to mind is that Mafull was sad or lonely. I believe that this picture was taken after her mother died.  Mafull lost her parents at a very young age. Her father died when she was 3 or 4 and her mother died when she was 9 or 10. Unfortunately, North Carolina did not begin recording death certificates until 1913 so there is no record of when her parents died. I just know when her mother died; she went to live with her brother, Roscoe and his wife.
Someone once told me that people back then didn’t like taking pictures because the camera might take away their soul. Maybe someone told Mafull this same story and she was afraid to smile. But perhaps someone told her that she had to take a picture and because she was young and obedient; she took this unemotional picture.
But the most interesting aspect of this photo is her beauty. Okay, I will admit that I’m biased and she is my grandmother but to me; she is pretty in this picture.  Her complexion appears fair but my family said that she was “reddish” looking. Seriously, I don’t know what that means except that her complexion wasn’t real light nor real dark. My mom, her only child, inherited her tiny noise and her small lips; however no one in the family inherited her green eyes. In the picture, you can’t tell that the color of her eyes are green or as my brothers say they were hazel (sometimes light brown and sometimes green). My brothers once said that Mafull’s eyes would light up the room at night.  Recently we reconnected with a long lost cousin who said that MaFull had the prettiest blue eyes. But if you ask my mom, she will argue that her “momma had grey eyes.”
Mafull once told my mom that she, Mafull, look like her mother, Sarah who was biracial; it’s possible that Sarah passed her eye color to her daughter. Sarah’s father was from County Clare Ireland so I can only assumed that is how Mafull inherited her beautiful eyes.
Her clothing tells me that perhaps its fall or wintertime when she posed for this picture. The black overcoat and white cap that’s pull down her head gives me the impression that it was cold and almost all of her hair is neatly tuck in the cap, except for the wisp of a bang which is why I also think that she’s a preteen in this picture. Mafull appears so innocent.
Recently, I was looking through a family album and I found 4 faded “tintype” photos. Included in this set of photos is another picture of Mafull but younger. In the “tintype”, Mafull is similarly dressed like the picture above. She’s wearing a gray color coat, a white cap and that same sad expression on her face however, this time she’s sitting down in a chair surrounded by 3 shadowy figures who appears to be females. Currently the photo is being restored.  Oh, how I wish these pictures were taken in color!
Well, my favorite picture sits on my mom’s dresser. I guess that’s a cool thing to see when you wake up in the morning; is your mother looking at you.  It’s funny how time changes our perceptions. I don’t know about my mom but when I was growing up; I had celebrities (Prince, R&B music group Switch and NY Yankees baseball legend Reggie Jackson) on my bedroom wall and they were who I wanted to see when I went to sleep and when I woke up in the morning.  But now that I’m older, I don’t mind seeing pictures of Mafull and other departed loves ones who I miss when I wake up in the morning.

Pictures of Mafull through the years.


  1. Very interesting and she was beautiful down through years.

  2. Lovely photo and lovely story about Mafull. Sometimes eyes can appear to be "green" unless you look closely and you might also see blue and grey and touches of brown and the color that stands out depends on what one is wearing. Yes, wouldn't it be lovely to see those photos in color? But then, you are so fortunate to have so many of them of her.

    1. Yes, I am fortunate. I just can't wait to get the tintype restored. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Hi Minnie, Willie Pate was my grandfather. He was the son of Rufus Pate and John was his grandfather. I so enjoyed reading this and wow, she's beautiful!


  4. Thanks Shirley. So you must be Nellie Pate Bryant's first cousin. Nellie and my Mom talk at least every 2 weeks. Thanks for stopping by.

    1. You're welcome! Yes, Nellie is my first cousin. I'm planning the next Pate Family Reunion 2017 in Raleigh (Labor Day weekend)! We would love to have you join us. I've share the information with you in a few weeks.

  5. Thanks. I know about the Pate Family Reunion but we were told that it was for Rufus Pate descendants. LOL... Besides my Sherrod family reunion is that weekend in Stantonsburg, NC. But if I can I might stop by if I'm allowed. LOL...
    BTW, have you taking any DNA tests such as Ancestry or 23andme?

  6. You're more than welcome! I love family...the more the merrier LOL. I grew up in Stantonsburg. I'm going to take the DNA test real soon. I'll circle back soon!

  7. Great, how about getting the oldest member of Rufus' descendants to test. That would be a great presentation at the family reunion and if its "a son of the son of son." Then Yeah.

    What I mean is a direct male descendant such as John Pate, Rufus Pate, Willie Pate (or one of his brothers) and one of Willie's sons.

    So you don't have to take money from your pocket; raise enough funds to cover the test.

    Just a suggestion.