Even though I haven’t scanned anything in a while, I have taken on a few other family history projects. My mom recently sold the house that Big Mama (Irene Strickland Smith) and Big Daddy (Kenneth Judson Smith, Sr) built on Stafford Avenue. It had fallen into disrepair over the past 5+ years without anyone living there or maintaining it, so it was sold as a tear-down. Even so, there was a lot of cleanup and sorting to do. Mom took most of it on herself, which was really an enormous feat. I helped where I could, but it was certainly not as much as I would have liked.
I did bring home with me a few things from the attic at Stafford: Grandpa’s and Big Daddy’s military uniforms, a bunch of old books belonging to various Strickland family members from Franklin County (Including Gideon Wilkes Strickland, Arthur Parris Strickland, Homer, Mabel, and Simpson Strickland), and Big Daddy’s used stamp collection.
The stamp collection was all jumbled together in a large plastic bag in the attic. When I saw envelopes and postage, I assumed it was a bag of letters and correspondence, but when I got it home, I realized it was a collection of thousands and thousands of stamps. Big Daddy was a postman, so it’s not surprising that he would take up a hobby like that, but it was still amazing to see how many he collected. I sorted through them and made a list of all the different kinds and year, and I have updated the Smith-Strickland “finding aid” with that list. I have yet to count the individual stamps, but since there are hundreds of many of those listed, I’m not too pressed to start that count.
In the same bag, there was also a big pack of letters from the Conn family of Raleigh (and Louisburg before that). This is the same Conn family as Conn Elementary in Raleigh, and some of the letters were written by Emma Conn (namesake of the school) to her brother Edward. The rest were love letters from a certain Ralph to Mamie Conn, her sister. I will likely scan those to share with any Conn researchers out there, but for now, they just get a mention. They also appear on the updated aid.
In 2008 or 2009, I made a large family history album for Christmas for Grandmerry and Granddaddy Jack (James Berdine Pittman and Merry Louise Thomas Pittman). This album made its way back to me after their deaths, and it is stored in my little family archive.
The next year, I made another album for the Smith side of my family, for Granny and Grandpa (Kenneth Judson Smith and Dorothy Margaret Ratcliffe Smith).
Grandpa studied it, noticed a few typos (ie, Malissa Webb Thompson was born in 1853, not 1953 as my typing fingers erred). But he also came up with questions, comments, stories, and wrote them all down and hand delivered them to me when he came to visit in Boone. We talked about many of the stories, and I answered a lot of questions (at least, the ones that I could) that he had after viewing the album. I will answer those questions here another day, but for now am sharing his note.
[WFS left school in the 6th grade.]
Walter Fletcher Smith:
Made 3 “fortunes” in his lifetime:
1. First, a Livery Co. (taxi) serving in part local + state politicians. His stables burned down, killing all horses, etc. He had no insurance! This was probably in the 1920’s.
2. Second, he built a trucking company, hauling construction material (mostly), for roads, bldg. Etc. K.J. Smith, Sn. Often drove the trucks in the early 1930’s. As the depression tightened construction decreased and he (WFS) was forced to consider bankruptcy, which he avoided by giving all assets to Cecil Kelly (Rhyllis’ husband)- his son-in-law. Cecil agreed to transfer all assets back when the situation improved. However, when that time came Cecil refused to do so, leaving WFS broke once again, or so it was thought. But WFS had a small amount of liquid assets that gained buying-power as real estate prices tumbled.
3. He bought land, farms, and eventually 2 hotels (small ones) on Fayetteville St. (Raleigh). I think he might have owned a third, but later sold it to obtain cash. (I don’t know)
I (KJS, Jr) worked as night clerk at one – New Central Hotel – a short time in 1949-50. The other hotel was the Richmond, a block away right beside the police station, catercornered [sic] from the Sir Walter Hotel. World War II pulled the economy up during the early 40’s, and after 1945 prices + salaries rose, benefiting everyone, especially those who bought property at the low point, as WFS did. When he died in 1966 his estate was divided three ways: Wife (Alma Herndon), Rhyllis, and KJS, Sn. After taxes and costs were paid, each received about one third. KJS, Sn got also an additional amount via a life insurance policy. As Alma + Rhyllis wanted money, KJS, Sn. Took his share in property (land, farm, etc). But he died a few months later of heart failure, almost exactly one year after his father’s death. Irene received his estate, preserved most of it, which then grew until the time of her death in 1993.
The estate then was equally divided between KJS, Jr. and Betty Brannan. Over the past 17 years the estate’s value has accelerated rapidly mainly because of high increases in real estate prices.
Malissa W. Thompson born in 1853, not 1953. [correcting a typo from the album]
Wesley Owen Smith died in 1863. Was he killed in the Civil War? Apparently he was a Capt. With 40 men. A Jacob Sorrell was the estate administrator. Is this man either of those two on your pedigree chart?
Where exactly is Edenwood on Old Stage Rd? Was the house ever church property; i.e. did Sihon Smith actually own it?
Lillie Strickland’s complete name is Clara Lillian Strickland
Crump J. Strickland was a child of Lillie + A.P.
Lt. Swan Thompson served on the staff of Col. Joel Lane and Col. John Hinton in the N.C. Militia. Joel Lane sold some of his land for the capitol of NC, to the State. He is generally regarded to be an important + major figure in the foundation of Raleigh as the Capitol City. I know nothing about John Hinton, do you?
After Pearl died, W.F. Smith married Alma Herndon (a nurse). No children.
Lewis Patrick Sorrell had two brothers- Judson and Adolphus. Judson had a son named Victor who became the head coach (football) at N.C. State.
Pear Sorrell had 3 brothers and 3 sisters:
Luther Alma – never married
Earnest Lydia – never married
Horace Effie – married Robert Nichols
After Pearl died LPS married Mary Ragsdale (of Durham, NC). They had 6 children:
L.P. Sorrell, Jr. By phone conversation (4/1988), LPS, Jr provided all of the above information. I wrote it down as he talked. He knew of me by name, but he is very likely dead now. So… LPS, Sn. Had 13 children. Some of these are buried at Leesville Baptist Church. He was pleased I called. I have a picture of LPS, Sn’s house (2nd one), but I don’t think it’s still around (Leesville).
Kenneth J. Smith (KJS son of WFS):
KJS was 11 years old when his mother Pearl died. After that he was shuffled about to various aunts and a boarding school in Cary. At 18 years he entered NC State Univ. for a short stay in engineering. As the depression grew more severe he worked for his father as a truck driver and doing other jobs that came along. In 1926 he joined the Raleigh Fire Dept. and rose rapidly to captain’s rank, all the while building his own house. Perhaps because of the depression he became interested in labor problems and union activity. He became president of the Raleigh Central Labor Union. In 1940 he was elected president of the State Council of Fire Fighters and Board Member of the North Carolina State Federation of Labor, and an officer in the State Federation of Labor. Also, with this came a position of Associate Editor of the N.C. Federationist (Labor publication).
Then came World War II and the draft. He served his country when called, even with failing health. Strenuous activity, á la military, revealed angina that worsened as time moved on. Returning home he joined the post office, as a less physical occupation. Even so his condition advanced, further restricting his activities, and pushing retirement in 1966 and death in 1967. He was 60 years old and semi-invalid.
Irene went to work for the State in Revenue Dept. about 1943 and stayed until retirement about 1968. She had 5 brothers and 3 sisters:
*Staley – farmer, 2 children (I think)
Homer – bootlegger, alcoholic. Committed suicide while young over a woman.
Crump – best of the lot. Wrote a book The Storage Battery. Formed his own company – Strickland Electric Co. in Columbus, Ohio. Learned to fly. Early proponent of auto seat belts. Fought with the Federal Gov: IRS. Fought with Society about SIN (he was against it), particularly in Charlotte, NC.
Brad – industrial tobacco buyer. Drinker
Simpson – salesman: beer, crackers, autos. Married 5 times, died young, 60 years old. No children. Drinker, woman chaser.
Mable – Farmers wife, two children. Cancer early.
Alice – Went to Charlotte, never saw her again.
Julie – One child. Died of cancer. She drank too much when young. She had a hard life. So too did her child, Jean Ray (a girl).
*All grew up as very poor farm children with Irene
Kenneth Judson Ken Smith, Jr., 86, passed away on January 27, 2017 at Van Duyn Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Syracuse, N.Y. Ken was born in Raleigh, N.C. to the late Kenneth Judson Smith and Irene Strickland Smith. In 1951 Ken joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Following his Honorable Discharge he began his studies at East Carolina University, then went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D. in chemistry from Duke University. After several years in private industry Ken served as the Department of Chemistry Chairman and Professor at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (CESF) in Syracuse, N.Y., retiring in 1975. During his tenure, he also served as Acting Director of the Polymer Research Institute (CESF) and spent a year in 1979 as Visiting Professor at Istituto di Chimica Industriale, Università, Genova, Italy. Throughout his life Ken set mental and physical challenges for himself, always raising the bar, while encouraging others to strive for their own personal best.
Ken is survived by his daughters, Patricia Smith Pittman, Pamela Smith and his grandchildren, Jay and Jon Pittman; Joy Jones; Jessica, Dale, Whitney and Daniel Ross.
He is predeceased by his parents, his sister Elizabeth Betty Brannon, and his wife of 59 years, Dorothy Ratcliffe Smith. In keeping with his wishes, service will be private.
In his honor, donations may be made to the organization of one’s choice.
March 7, 2012 Dorothy Ratcliffe Smith passed away on March 7, 2012, in her home in Syracuse, NY, with her husband and both daughters at her side. She had struggled against cancer since learning of her condition on August 11, 2011, but her fight was of little avail since the inevitable end descended rapidly. She succumbed to it with the same dignity and composure that had carried her through life as a quiet, calm, thoughtful and gracious lady. She was 79. She was born in Pittsburgh, PA, on February 9, 1933. Her parents were Vera Ratcliffe (nee Benfield of North Carolina) and John Ratcliffe. Dorothy was number 7 in a flock of 10 children (5 of each). Because of the Great Depression, the family soon moved to Merrimack Valley, settling in Methuen, MA. Dorothy was schooled ultimately at Searles High School (and voted Senior Class president by her classmates in 1950). Upon graduation she took whatever work was available. Soon (1952) she moved to Raleigh, NC, to live with her sister, Vera Harrison (who had ventured away earlier), and her husband Ray. Promptly she obtained employment in the Raleigh Police Department, remaining until she met and married Kenneth Judson Smith Jr. of Raleigh. In 1954, they moved to Greenville, NC, where her spouse entered East Carolina College. Three years later, with a degree, they moved to Durham, NC, where four more years led to another degree (Duke University). During this time Dorothy worked at the Duke University Graduate School as secretary to the associate dean, with the responsibility for student records, files, reports, etc. After graduation they remained in Research Triangle Park region rearing two daughters, Patricia and Pamela. Several years later, in 1968, the family moved to Syracuse, NY, where Dorothy secured several positions at Syracuse University, for example, office manager and secretary to the director of the Metropolitan Studies program. Eventually, she successfully rose to become senior secretary to the dean and office manager of the famed Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. In 1987, she left the university to spend more time at home doing the things that she liked best: arts and crafts, not for business but for pleasure. She enrolled in non-degree courses at University College and at BOCES. Her interests were wide: wall papering and painting, floor tiling, glazing (bricks, slate and ceramics), leaded glass (clear or colored design), decoupage, gardening and walkways, and not missing a day at the gym. Sewing and fashion designs were particularly special to her: handbags, vests, jackets, coats, etc. Another craft close to her heart was upholstery. She took it up on her own and became very proficient so she applied for a job at Stickley’s in Manlius to polish her techniques and eliminate her weak spots. When Dorothy explained this, Mr. Audi himself was so surprised and pleased he immediately hired her. Once her needs were satisfied, she moved on with high regard and appreciation for Mr. Audi. Dorothy was predeceased by her parents and four siblings, Jack, Fred, Alice Pricer and Joan Savard. Surviving are her husband, Kenneth; daughters, Patricia Pittman (Raleigh) and Pamela Smith (Syracuse, NY); five siblings, Robert-Ann (Pinehurst, NC), Edward- Evelyn (Methuen, MA), Vera Harrison (Gardner, NC), Jean Robillard (Pelham, NH), and Richard-Gail (Pelham, MA); seven grandchildren, Jay, Jon (Pittman), Joy Jones, and Jessica, Whitney, Dale, Daniel (Ross all). All others– aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, in-laws–are too numerous to name here. Dorothy had great love and respect for all. She made her part of this world a better place. Services will be private, at a later date, at the convenience of the family.
Merry Thomas Pittman of 1611 Carbonton Road died at her residence on Feb. 14, 2011, after a lengthy illness. She was the daughter of the late J. Clyde Thomas and Mary Emma Yarborough Thomas, and was born July 8, 1926, in Broadway, NC.
She was preceded in death by her husband, James B. Pittman; a son, T. Scott Pittman; a brother, Lawrence K. Thomas; and a sister, Jewel Thomas Adcock.
She is survived by a brother, Harry C. Thomas of Sanford, a son, Jack Pittman of Raleigh, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
Mrs. Pittman was a graduate of Sanford High School and attended Sanford Business College and Central Carolina Community College. She retired from CCCC as a secretary. She enjoyed salt water fishing, travel, and bowling, but most of all her life was exemplified by her compassionate nature and generous spirit of volunteer service. Friends and relatives alike bear testimony to the love and joy she spread which reflected her name “Merry.”
She was a longtime member of East Sanford Baptist Church where she served as a Sunday School teacher, department director, and on various committees.
The funeral was held at East Sanford Baptist Church on Wednesday, Feb. 16, at 11 a.m. with the Reverends Bob Yandle and Robbie Gibson officiating. Moving eulogies were delivered by longtime friends Jesse Collins and Jackie Parker. Merry’s and Jack’s favorite song, “Tennessee Waltz,” was played by their nephew Barry Cashion on trumpet, accompanied by his daughter Kimberly C. Davidson on piano. William Ellis led the congregation in Mrs. Pittman’s favorite hymns, “Amazing Grace” and “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”
Burial service was held at Buffalo Cemetery.
Memorial donations may be made to the East Sanford Baptist Church Building Fund.
James (Jack) Pittman, age 88 of Sanford passed away on Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010 at Parkview Retirement Home in Sanford after a lengthy illness.
He was born on March 26, 1922 in Lee County, NC, son of the late Morris F. Pittman and Lilla B. Pittman. He was also preceded in death by a son, T. Scott Pittman. Mr. Pittman was a retired teacher of Fayetteville Technical Community College and was a member of East Sanford Baptist Church where he had served as trustee, deacon, and Sunday school teacher. He was a veteran of WWII serving the European Theater with the 8th Air Force.
He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Merry Thomas Pittman, and a son, Jack Pittman of Raleigh; five grandchildren: Bryan Scott Pittman and wife Leigh of Four Oaks, NC; Meredith Pittman Calton and husband Paul of Clayton, NC; Jay and Jon Pittman of Raleigh, NC and Joy Pittman Jones and husband Lindel of Boone, NC. One great-granddaughter, Morgan Kate Calton and great-grandson, Asher Calton.
A funeral service will be held on Friday, December 24, 2010 at 11:00 a.m. at East Sanford Baptist Church with the Rev.Bob Yandle and Rev. Robbie Gibson officiating. The family will receive friends from 10:30-11:00 at the church prior to the funeral.