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
I wanted to curate a separate collection of the letters to/from my grandmother. She was my pen-pal for my whole childhood and early adult life. Some of the letters I wrote her when I was younger are really embarrassing to read today, but I put them in the collection nonetheless. She gave them all to me a few years before she passed away. She wanted to scrapbook them, but she never really got that into scrapbooking. (I did, for a while there, but I never wanted to use glue on these letters!)
I made a virtual album. I finished it in early February, just in time for her birthday (February 9th). And today, March 7, is the fourth anniversary of her passing. Time flies. I still have a hard time believing she’s gone, sometimes…
Today’s post is (hesitantly) a link to the letter album:
This indenture made and ordered into this twenty sixth day of January one thouand eight hundred and seventy two between Glover Avent and wife Cornelia of the County of Chatham and State of North Carolina of the one part and A.M. Yarbrough of said County and State of the other part witnesseth that the said Avent and wife for and in consideration of the sum of three thousand dollars to them in hand paid by said Yarbrough at the time of executing these presents, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged hath granted bargained and sold and by these presents doth grant bargain sell alien convey and confirm unto said Yarbrough his heirs and assigns one certain tract
of or parcel of land situate in said county and state on the waters of Cape Fear River adjoining the lands of JW + N McKay, Thomas C Rosser, Joseph B Thomas and others bounded as follows (viz) Beginning on the bank of Cape Fear River and running south 65* west one hundred and sixty one poles to a stake McKays corner thence west sixty two poles to a stake and pointers another of McKays corners thence south one hundred and twenty two poles to another of said McKays corners thence east fifty poles to a pine and pointers another of said McKays corners thence
south seventy poles to a pine and pointers another of said McKays corners thence south 87* east with said McKays line and Joseph B Thomas line crossing the ferry road to a stake in Joseph B Thomas line one hundred and fifty nine poles thence North two hundred and six poles crossing said road to a lightwood stump and corner of the […] aloted to Alvis Avent Jur thence east thirty nine poles to a pine and pointers close to Henrys Branch and Thomas C Rossers corner as said Rossers line to an with said Branch to a stake and pointers said Rossers other corner thence east sixty two poles crossing said ferry road to a stake and pointers on said Rossers line thence North nineteen poles to a white oak on said Road thence north 54* east along said road seventy four poles to the bank of said river thence up said river to the beginning containing five hundred and nineteen acres more or less to have and to hold the said lands and premises and all and singular the tenements hereditaments woods ways waters mines improvements privileges and appurtenances thereunto belonging as in any wise appertaining to him said Yarbrough his heirs executors administrators and assigns to his and their own proper use and the said Avent and wife aforesaid their heirs executors administrators and assigns the premises hereby conveyed shall and will
warrant and forever defend against the lawful claim or claims of any and all persons whatsoever except the grave yard on the road at the church and one acre around said church.
In testimony whereof the said Avent and wife doth hereunto set their hands and seals the day and date first above written
Glover Avent [seal]
Cornelia Avent [seal]
In the Probate Court
On this the 26th day of January AD 1872
Before me ST Petty Judge of Probate for said county personally appeared Glover Avent and Cornelia A Avent his wife the persons described in and who signed the annexed conveyance and severally acknowledged the due execution thereof, for the purpose therein expressed and thereupon the said Cornelia A Avent being by me privately examined apart from her said husband touching her assent thereto acknowledged that she had executed the same freely and without any fear or compulsion of her said husband and do now assent thereto and hereby relinquishes right of dower in said lands
Thereupon let said deed and this certificate be registered
ST Petty Probate Judge
[Three dollars and fifty cents in stamps]
Outer envelope – Deed from JH Farrar + Wife to GW Avent Stamp fee paid to Regr
Know all men by these presents that J.H. Farrar + wife Elizabeth for + in consideration of the sale, conveyance + exchange to + with the said J.H. Farrar for the use of his said wife, a certain tract or parcel of land known as part of No 3 in the division of lands belonging to Joseph Avent, dec’d among his heirs at-law, as will more fully appear by reference said division made January 9th 1863 and duly recorded, have given granted bargained and sold + by these presents do give grant bargain + sell + exchange to + with the said G.W. Avent a certain tract or parcel of land in Chatham County on the south side of Cape Fear River and bounded as follows (viz) Beginning at a stake Wickers corner in J.W. McKays line + running east with said line 68 poles to a stake, thence south 196 poles to a blackjack in Thomas line thence with said line west 24 poles to a stake, thence north with his other line 70 poles to a small blackjack- thence west his other line 50 poles to a pine at Wickers corner thence south with his line 122 poles to the first station containing 61 acres more or less.
Also all the rights, titles interest + claims in land and equity in revision in to the land included in the dower land allotted to Judith Avent the widow of said Joseph Avent as will more fully appear by reference to said allottment made and […] at February Sessions 1863
of the County Court of Chatham.
To Have and To Hold said lands and reversionary interests with all the appurtenances + privileges thereunto appertaining unto him the said George W Avent his heirs and assigns forever.
And the title of said lands + reversionary interests unto him the said George W Avent his heirs and assigns we will by these presents forever warrant + defend against the claim or claims of any and all persons claiming by through or under us or either of us.
In testimony whereof we have hereunto affixed our hands and seals the 11th day of May 1868
[50 cents in stamps for tax]
JH Farrar + his wife Elizabeth appear in Open Court + personally acknowledge the due execution by them of a deed for land in this county to George W. Avent dated May 11th 1868. And there upon William Griffin a member of the Court is appointed to take the private examination of the Elizabeth Farrar and the said William Griffin after privately examining the said Elizabeth separate and apart from her said husband touching her free consent in the execution of the said deed, reports to Court that she acknowledged before him when so examined, that she had executed the said deed freely of her own will and acknowledged without any force, fear or undue influence of her said husband or any other person and did still voluntarily apart thereto, all of which on motion is ordered to be recorded. It is also ordered that deed and the record of the above proceeding be registered.
William P Griffin
State of North Carolina
December 31st 1868
The forgoing deed was duly registered in Book AN pages 159-160
W.H. Hatch, Register of Deeds