December 27, 2013

Why I love the NC Archives

I love libraries. There, I said it. I'm officially a Class A geek. I worked my way through college in a library and my first job out of college was with a library on a military base. I considered a Master's degree in library science but my mother talked me out of it. She thought of libraries as places where you could get the latest trashy novel.

Aside from the usual reasons to love a library...the books, the learning, blah, blah, blab...I just find something reverent about a library. Something about the atmosphere, the smell. It's almost like a wonderland. I'd rather be lost in a library than Willie Wonka's chocolate factory. Truly.

I use the term "library" loosely to cover everything from your standard public library to a document repository to an archive facility. 

But my very favorite library of all time is the North Carolina ArchivesI'm in complete awe. Always have been since I first visited the Archives when I was about 14 years old for a school project.  I'm sure it has a lot to do with my fascination with history and genealogy, but it's more than just that.

I live only about 10 miles from the NC Archives. How many genealogists would love to be able to say they lived within shouting distance of their state archives? WooHoo for me! 

Here's a few of the things I particularly appreciate about the NC Archives:

  • I love their blog, A History for all People. It's real and down to earth. Not a bunch of jargon or posts that are irrelevant. 
  • The You Tube channel is very cool.
  • The digital collection truly is "history at your fingertips".
  • They are open on Saturdays so I can geek out on my day off. 
  • Their staff answers my email inquiries. That makes me very happy.
  • Their copy charges are reasonable. Still just $.10 a page.
  • They are within spitting distance of my favorite museums. When the archives closes for the day on Saturday, I can just mosey on over the NC Museum of History to continue my geek-fest.
  • They are in the same building as the State Library. Another whole opportunity to wallow in my library fetish. 
  • I donated my daddy's war time letters to the NC Archives. Another reason to feel I belong there. 
There was a time I felt a little intimidated by the NC Archives. Now I feel right at home.

One last thing...anyone who thinks libraries are obsolete should be imprisoned. Just sayin'. After all, even prisons have libraries. Ha!  The joke's on them!

December 23, 2013

Christmas Past

Well, it's the eve of Christmas eve. Gifts are wrapped, cookies baked, and house is clean. I'm in good shape.

Christmas these days is a lot different from my childhood. Not only am I about 100 years old, but I'm a parent and that really makes me miss being someone's little girl. It makes me appreciate all the many things my parents did for me, especially at Christmas.

We always spent Christmas in Raleigh at my Aunt Lib's house. Here's a pic of the usual Christmas crowd. My mom must have taken the picture since she isn't in it.

Top left to right:  Carl STANCIL, Elizabeth (Lib) ALLEN LEE, Donnie GLOVER, Brenda GLOVER, Deborah LUCAS COOPER, Earnie LUCAS, Joyce ALLEN LUCAS. 

Middle:Ellen GLOVER and Poodle GLOVER

Bottom left to right:  John Henry LEE, Carla STANCIL,  Peanuts STANCIL, Teresa LUCAS COVINGTON.

Food galore. Gifts galore. Laughter galore.

I always had a stocking stuffed with little goodies. And a shoe box with candies and fruit. We opened one gift on Christmas Eve just before bed and the rest the following morning. Mama made her famous fudge and sausage balls. Daddy smiled. A lot. He loved Christmas.

I'm getting teary just remembering. Or maybe it's Bing Crosby singing O Holy Night on Pandora. Either way my Christmas memories are true treasures. 

Merry Christmas to you and your memories of family. 

December 21, 2013


I've been blessed - or cursed - with a family of common surnames. Like Jones, Smith, Davis....and JOHNSON. JOHNSON is the 2nd most common surname in the US. Just my luck.

My Johnsons go waaayyy back. And they almost exclusively resided in Johnston County, NC. I descend from a couple of different lines of Johnsons. Early on, they spelled it Johnston (as in the county) and Johnstone. 

Origin of the name is largely English or Scottish, but family lore has it that the Scots are the major culprits. Which makes sense because the county was named for Gabriel Johnston, a Scotsman who gave his fellow countrymen a tax break for settling in NC during the Colonial period. Nice guy.

My grandmother was a Johnson. Ada Lou JOHNSON. And her mother-in-law was a JOHNSON. Whose mother was also a JOHNSON. JOHNSONS abound.

I know quite a lot about my JOHNSON kin, but as always, there is plenty more to know!

December 15, 2013


I am related to the most interesting people. Seriously. For example, take Deborah ASTINE SUTTON, my 7th great grandmother. 

She married my 7th great grandfather, Nathaniel SUTTON, in August 1668. That's some 345 years ago. It's been a while now. 

They married in Nasemond County, Virginia and them moved into Perquimans County, NC. Once here, they became Quakers. They helped organize the very first church in North Carolina and Quakers remained the Carolina Colony's only organized religion until 1701. 

I'm delighted to have Quakers in my family history. I've always admired "Friends" from afar, but never delved much into the faith. History shows they were a peace loving community.

In 1684, two years after Nat died, Deborah received land grants  on the east side of the Perquimans River. I don't know if it was common for women to receive land grants at that time, but she is the very first woman I've happened across who was granted land by the Lords Proprietors.  I'm sure there were others, but probably not many.
Sutton, Deborah, (widow) grt 280a “on E. side of Piquemons River” being the Westermost bounds of another tract to sd Deborah, 1684. And 294a on E side of Perq River, “to ye mouth of Little Creek.” 1684.
In February of 1729, she executed a will at a time when few women had wills. She mentions only her son Richard Whedbee in the will, leaving us to assume she outlived her 7 other children. Can you imagine having to bury SEVEN children before you die? 

She had 4 children from her marriage to Mr. Sutton and 4 children from her marriage to Mr. Whedbee. She lived to the ripe old age of 84, which is remarkable at a time when the average female lifespan was about 45.

It has been said that a woman marries first for love. The second time, she marries for money and position. And the third time, she marries for companionship. This seems to be exactly what Deborah did.  Good for her!

December 9, 2013

Will of Jacob FLOWERS, 1776 - 1856

The Will of Jacob FLOWERS
My 5th great grandfather, Jacob FLOWERS Sr., left a will rich in family information. It contains the names of children, their spouses, and grandchildren. It shows Jacob to be a man of means who cared a great deal about his family. He must have been ill when he wrote the will as it was proven in court barely a year after it was written.

Will of Jacob FLOWERS, Sr.: [punctuation inserted for clarity] 

I, Jacob FLOWERS of the County of Johnston and State of North Carolina being of sound mind and memory but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence do make and declare this my last will and testament in manner and form following that is to say:

First - That my executor herein after named shall provide for my body a decent burial suitable to the wishes of my relatives and friends and pay all funeral expenses together with my just debts, howsoever and to whomsoever owing out of the monies that may come into his hands as a part or parcel of my estate.

Item - I give and bequeath to my beloved wife Pherebee three beds & furniture, all the household and kitchen furniture not otherwise disposed of in my will, fourteen shoats, two sows and pigs, seven head of cattle if said hogs and cattle be in my posession (sic) at the time of my death all the domestic fowls and poultry, one bay mare, one pair of cart wheels, all my crop of my description and all the provisions on hand at the time of my death, and my working tools except enough of this item to pay all expenses named or herein after named in my will.

Item - I give and bequeath to my oldest daughter Mary, wife of Reddick HARPER, one dollar to be paid by my executor within two years from the time of my death out of my belongings to my estate.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Winny, wife of John HARPER, one dollar to be paid out by my executor as the above bequesth. (sic throughout)

Item - I give to my granddaughter Sally, wife of William ROBERTS, one dollar to be paid by my executor as in the former bequesths.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Sally, wife of Laban GRIFFIS (sic) one dollar to be paid by my executor as in the former bequesth.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Pherebee, wife of Elijah GODWIN, one dollar to be paid by my executors as in the former bequesth.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth, wife of Stephen GODWIN, one dollar to be paid by my executor as in former bequesths.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Emily, wife of Matthew DODD, one dollar to be paid by my executor as in former bequesth.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Harriet, wife of Wesley (sic) GODWIN, one dollar to be paid by my executors as in former bequesths.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Tempy, wife of John FLOWERS, one dollar to be paid by my executors as in former bequesths.

Item - I give and bequeath to my daughter Martha, wife of Robert MASSINGILL, one dollar to be paid by my executors as in former bequesth.

Item - I give and bequeath to my son Jacob one dollar to be paid by my executors as in former bequesth.

And I lastly do hereby constitute and appoint my friend Robert MASSINGILL as my lawful executor to all intents and purposes to execute this my last will and testament according to the true intent and meaning of the same and every part and clause thereof hereby revoking & declaring utterly void all the other wills and testaments by me heretofore made. 

In witness whereof I the said Jacob FLOWERS Sr. do hereunto set my hand and seal the 28th day of July A.D. 1853. 

Signed, sealed, published and declared by Jacob FLOWERS Sr., to be his last will and testament in the presence of us who at his request and in his presence to subscribe our names thereto.

Jacob FLOWERS (seal)


Proven at August Term 1854.

December 8, 2013

The Stancil Boys in World War II

On this day in 1941, the United States officially entered the fray of World War II following the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor. Several of the STANCIL brothers served in the war. One lost his life. 

I try to imagine how their mother, Ada Lou JOHNSON STANCIL, must have felt with three of her sons off at war. I'm not sure I wouldn't handled it well. My son, Cameron STANCIL HONOUR, spent last summer in Wyoming and California and you'd have thought he was gone forever, the way I carried on. But to have a son away at war and in constant danger...that's a burden no mother wants to carry. Imagine having THREE sons away at war at the same time. My heart breaks for her.

Jesse Roland Stancil
Roland enlisted in the US Army (1943 - 1944). He completed basic training at Fort Bragg, NC and landed in the Anzio Invasion. He fought up the "boot" of Italy with Co. I, 157th Reg. of the 45th Division. Jesse Roland was killed in southern France on October 21, 1944. He was awarded the Purple Heart and is buried in Montlawn Cemetery in Raleigh, NC next to his parents. 

Eric Ray STANCIL served in the US Navy (1944 - 1946) and completed boot camp at Camp Perry, VA. He served aboard the USS Shamrock Bay. He is buried in Montlawn Cemetery in Raleigh, NC next to his parents.

Cecil Braxton STANCIL served in the US Navy (1945 - 1946).He served aboard the USS Corregidor and in Trididad, British West Indies. 

Back to front and L to R:
Ada Lou Johnson Stancil, Roland, Eric,
Macon (Joe), Carl, Edith, and
Cecil Stancil
Ada Lou's sons joined the military in 1943, 1944, and 1945. I've often wondered if Roland's death prompted Eric and Cecil to join. Can you imagine Ada's horror at having her two younger sons enlist after her eldest son was killed in France?

I'm sure the family was extremely proud of their sons who served, although I can't help but think of it from a mother's perspective. 

As proud as I am of my family's military history, I hope my son never has to witness the tragedy of war.

December 7, 2013

Papers of Carl Donald STANCIL

March 5, 1951
North of Wonju, South Korea
One of my (many) projects that have been on the list a long time involves letters written by my father during the 1940s and 1950s. Daddy was a prolific letter writer. Eudora Welty had nothing on daddy. 

I inherited a large series of letters my father wrote to his mother, siblings, and my mother in about a 15 year span. This collection is very important to me and one of my most treasured possessions. I donated the originals to the NC Archives because they are better equipped to preserve the letters and can make the material available to all researchers. 

It pleased me greatly this week to receive an email from an archivist at the NC Archives with the catalog description they are using for daddy's letters. The letters are part of the their Military Collection, Miscellaneous Papers. The description reads:
Carl D. Stancil Papers. Papers reflecting the service of M.Sgt. Carl Donald Stancil of Raleigh (Wake County) in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1947-1973, including personal correspondence with his parents and siblings while stationed at Parris Island, S.C., Camp Pendleton, California, Guam, Camp Lejeune, and Korea, 1947-1951; official correspondence and certificates, 1948-1987, including certificate of  retirement, 1973, and certificate of appreciation, 1987; photographs (includes portrait of his brother, Pvt. Jesse Roland Stancil, who was killed in action in France, October 21, 1944, and photograph of Platoon 75, 2nd Recruit Battalion, Parris Island, 1947); bulletin, Christmas service aboard the U.S.S. George Clymer, 1947; program, Christmas dinner, 1st Provisional Marine Brigade, 1948; issue of Guam News, March 16, 1948; and issue of The Cavalier (newsletter), April 9, 1951. Also includes postcard and letter to Carl Stancil from his brother, Seaman 2/c Eric R. Stancil, U.S. Navy, 1944, 1945.
I can't tell you how much it delights me to know that the story these letters tell is protected and available for many generations to come. The military archivist tells me this finding aid should be available on their web site within the next few months. I hope they will also digitize the papers so they too are available online. 

I envision daddy's great, great grandchildren reading these letters with awe and pride. My intention is to digitize and transcribe all these letters. I have a (very) loose outline for a book in my head around these letters and my father's service records. I'd find that fascinating...even if no one else did!  

December 3, 2013

Eugene Narron ALLEN Gravestone

Eugene N. Allen, 1880 - 1938
In Loving Memory
Eugene Narron ALLEN - my great grandfather - was born, lived, and died in Wake County, North Carolina.  He must have been a real rough and tumble fellow. 

His official occupation was farmer, but his unofficial occupation (and likely the real source of his income) was moonshiner. His son, Atlas, "ran" his father's moonshine, which means he sold and delivered from the trunk of his Buick. My mother was also pressed into service from time to time making deliveries - way before she was really old enough to drive. 

In May of 1927, Eugene was sentenced to 6 months on a road crew (better known as a chain gang) as a result of his illegal activities. Atlas also did a little jail time around 1934 for his part in the family business. 

Eugene lost his wife, Lizzy RAY ALLEN, when she gave birth to their 8th child, Marvin Eugene ALLEN. He was left to raise and support 8 children on his own. 

Eugene died at age 58 from heart disease, likely brought on by a lifetime of smoking and hard drinking. If you've ever tasted real moonshine, you know what I mean by HARD drinking! The stuff is truly nasty and burns like the dickens going down. The reason I know this is because my aunt always kept a mason jar - complete with rusty lid -  of it under her kitchen sink, and us kids would get a little taste at Christmastime. Family values in the south can be a little twisted, huh?

Eugene is buried at New Light Baptist Church in the northernmost part of Wake County. His wife Lizzy is buried next to him. 

December 2, 2013

Introducing Ms. Avasilla Fluellen, 1776 - 1835

I just love that name...Avasilla FLUELLEN. Pretty cool that she's my 4th great grandmother. And double God bless her...she had a whopping 14 children (though some of these may have been her husband's children from his first marriage)! She was quite a woman. And her husband, Justice PARRISH, musta been quite a guy!

I don't have very much information on Granny Ava yet, except her marriage bond (May 30, 1797) to the prolific Justice, who had a total of 3 wives and 16 children. Good thing he owned a lot of land in Johnston County, NC. According to his will abstract, he provided very nicely for Ava leaving her 380 acres of land and his plantation, although he owned a total of 1200 acres acquired via land grants and purchases. This land is in the Coats and McGee's Crossroads area that sits near the line of Johnston and Harnett County, very near where I now live.

She was born in 1776 in Johnston County, making her a good bit younger than Justice, born in 1745 in Goochland County, Virginia. There was over 30 years difference in their ages.

Avasilla passed in 1835 living another 27 years after Justice passed away.  She was only 32 when she became a widow, so it's possible she remarried. 

Their daughter Parazadia (another great name!) is my 3rd great grandmother. 

November 28, 2013

Thursday Thankful Family

I've always thought it was too bad that we wait until Thanksgiving to voice our gratitude. But on the other hand, perhaps I should be grateful there is one day in the year when we become very aware of our blessings. 

I am amazingly blessed - every single day. I have a healthy beautiful son about to graduate from college. I live in a comfortable home and get to love on an old but incredibly sweet cocker spaniel every day. I survived breast cancer and divorce and came out the other side a better person. I have friends who love me just as I am. What more can a gal ask?

I'm also grateful for my genealogy. It has opened doors for me, given me new friends and family members, and allowed me a peek inside a family I've sometimes struggled to understand. It's a rewarding hobby and not just in the usual sense.

Bless you all. 

November 27, 2013

Will of Jonathan F. Davis, Jan. 27, 1896, Granville County, NC

State of North Carolina
Granville County

I, Jon. F. DAVIS of the County and State aforesaid, bring of feeble health but of sound mind and memory, do make and declare this my last will and testament I the manner and form following.

First, that my executor hereafter named shall provide for my body a decent burial and pay all of my just debts howsoever and to whomever owing out of the first money that shall come into his hands.

I give my beloved wife Cornelia DAVIS all of my real and personal property and ? of what nature or kind and wheresoever the same shall be at the time of my death living her natural life or widowhood. After her death or marriage it is my will that the aforesaid property be divided between my seven children as follows.

I give and devise to my daughter Genetta WILSON Ninety Dollars less than a full share. 

I give and devise to my daughter Augusta HASWELL Fifty Five Dollars less than a full share.

I give and devise to my daughter Aramenta PLEASANTS Fifty Dollars less than a full share. 

Owing to advances made to the three above named with the above deductions. It is my will that the aforesaid property be equally divided between my seven children: Genetta WILSON, Augusta HASWELL, Aramenta PLEASANTS, Cordelia DAVIS, Seraftner INSCORE, Larrance DAVIS, Cora DAVIS. 

And lastly, I do hereby appoint my friend J.L. DAVIS my lawful Executor to all intents and purposes to execute this my last will and testament according to the true intent of the same. I hereby revoke and declare utterly invalid all other wills and testaments by me heretofore made.

In witness whereof the said Jonathan F. DAVIS do hereunto set my hand and seal this 27th day of January, 1896.

Jonathan F. DAVIS (seal)

Signed, sealed, and delivered by the said Jonathan F. DAVIS to be his last will and testament in the presence of us, who at his request and in his presence do declare our names as witnesses thereto. 


Handwritten note

J. D. Davis Executor of Johnathan F. DAVIS Dec'd.
1 track of land and home track - 146 acres
1 track of land Good Hope track 50 acres
1 track of land Bragg track 56 acres
1 mule, 1 cow, 9 hogs
1 wagon, 3 plows, 2 ho?, 2 wheat cradles
2 feather beds, 1 desk, 1 workstand, 1 clock, 6 chairs
1 folding table, 1 cook stove, 2 tables, small lot of table ware,
1 old buggy

J. D. DAVIS, Executor
Sworn to and subscribed before me this Sept. 18, 1900. J. G. ?? (CREECH?), C.S.C

November 22, 2013

My dad and JFK

I don't recall my parents, Carl STANCIL and Gladys ALLEN, being particularly interested in politics except they were completely enamored with John F. Kennedy. 

In the summer of 1961, we were transferred to the naval base at Newport, Rhode Island. I often heard my mother say we'd been transferred there for daddy to train for the Presidential color guard, though I can find no reference to that in his military records. Still, it was indicative of how proud she was of my father and how much respect she held for JFK.

A year later, still at Newport Naval Base, daddy reenlisted for another 4 years of service. He was rewarded with a year long tour of duty to Okinawa and mom and I shipped home to wait for him. Fast forward a few years and the family is reunited and stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC.

November 22, 1963. Although I was not quite 5 years old at the time, I clearly recall the evening news the day of the assignation. I remember my father standing in the middle of our living room watching the evening news in shock. Then, he sat down and cried. 

It was only occasion I ever witnessed my father in tears. My father, a tough Marine who had lived through the hell of war, cried when his President died. 

How many of us would cry today if our President died? Probably not many. Not because our current President is a controversial figure, but because we are indifferent. Whether its due to history or the media, we have a thicker skin about such things. We no longer live in the hopeful atmosphere of Kennedy's Camelot. A world where a young Catholic Irish-American could be revered, respected, and  even spite of being President of the United States.

Rest in peace, JFK. The world is a better place because of you. 

November 19, 2013

Gettysburg Address was 150 Years Ago

Today is the 150th anniversary of Abraham's Lincoln Gettysburg Address. I was required to memorize the entire address for my 7th grade history class. I can still remember bits and pieces...

Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers brought forth on this continent a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

That's all I can remember, but I am touched by that first sentence of the address. I get it.  All men are created equal. I cannot explain why we were still debating that little fact in 1863. The address was approximately 272 words long and took about 3 minutes. It's been called "a short speech long remembered". 

As far as I know, none of my civil war ancestors were at Gettysburg. I have toured the battlefield on a very cold and windy day. You can FEEL the reverence of the place. It reminds me of when I visited Ground Zero in New York City nearly a year after 9/11. Although the later was caused by evil and the former by something very different, the emotions were similar.

Filmmaker Ken Burns is encouraging Americans to memorize the address.  My 7th grade history teacher was one step ahead of him.

November 18, 2013

Update: Salem Primitive Baptist Church

So I've griped for years that I couldn't find anyone who knew a single thing about Salem Primitive Baptist Church in Wendell, NC (actually, for those who know a tad about Johnston County, it's in Archer Lodge.) It was like it didn't exist. No phone number or web site. No one I asked had heard of them - and I asked a lot of people over the years!

My great great grandparents are buried in the cemetery next to the church. I've long wanted to know more about my family's involvement with this church. I suspect the roots run deep. 

Last week, at long last, I made contact with a church leader. And yesterday, I attended services at Salem. 

It was beautiful to sit in a church where I am sure William STANCIL and his wife and Mary MASSENGILL worshiped. I thought about them a lot while I sat there. I could picture them sitting together on a wooden pew with their seven children. Odd that only one of their children are buried with them at Salem, Joseph Henry STANCIL. But then there are a number of unmarked graves, so who knows?

There is something special about this church. I've always loved simple old country churches, but for some reason this one calls to me. 

The church is being gracious enough to open their records to me. I may find nothing about my particular family, but I am very honored and excited to be able to flip through the history of this extremely peaceful place.

November 16, 2013

Marriage Bond for George B Allen and Mary Thompson, Wake County, NC 1832

            Wake County }

KNOW ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS That we George B. Allen, Benjamin Allen are held and firmly bound unto Montfort Stokes Esquire, Governor &c. his Successors in Office, in the full sum of Five Hundred Pounds, current Money, to be paid to the said Governor, his Successors or Assigns, for which payment well and truly to be made and done, we bind ourselves, our Heirs, Executors and Administrators, jointly and severally, firmly by these presents, sealed with our Seals, and dated the 20th day of November Anno Domini 1832.

THE condition of the above Obligation is such, that whereas the above bounden George B. Allen hath made application for a License for Marriage to be celebrated between him and Mary Thompson of the County aforesaid; Now, in Case it shall not appear hereafter, that there is any lawful Cause or Impediment to obstruct the said Marriage, then the above obligation to be void otherwise to remain in full force and virtue.

Signed, Sealed and Delivered
in Presence of                           For George B. Allen (seal) 
Todd Kingdele
Hand                                     Benjamin Allen {seal}

November 12, 2013

Will of Matthew Moore, Cumberland County, NC, 1824

This will can be found online here and was originally submitted by Betty Moore. 

Will dated:  October 1824
Will probated: September 1825

From Cumberland County, North Carolina, Will Book B, p. 138 (in NC State Archives in Raleigh, NC). 

"In the name of God, Amen. I, Matthew Moore, on being weak in body, but of sound and perfect mind and memory, or you may say this consideration of the uncertainty of this mortal life, and being of sound and perfect mind and memory, blessed be Almighty God for the same, do make and publish this my last will and testament in manner and form following, vis: I give and bequeath to my beloved wife, Prudence Moore, the plantation and house that I formerly occupied, with all the household furniture, stock, hogs, sheep and cattle. When at her decease, what remains over and above shall be equally divided among her children. I do hereby appoint Prudence sole Executrix of this my last will and testament, hereby revoking all former wills made by me. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 6th day of October in the year of our Lord, 1824. 

Matthew Moore (mark) (Seal) James Hodges John Moore"

Will was probated September 1825. Will Book B, p 138 - 139, North Carolina Archives. Wife Prudence received the house and plantation. Note:  Heirs (her children) were not named. Executrix was Prudence Moore, witnesses James Hodges and John Moore. There was a paper in the box at the archives dated 15 Feb 1838 and two copies of a petition filed in the courts by Neall Shaw et al vs. Daniel B. Cameron et al, one to be delivered to Malcom Buie and wife Annabella of the county. Not sure if this is related to the probate.

November 10, 2013

Happy Birthday, USMC!

Ok, so I'm feeling very sappy this weekend. It's Veteran's Day AND the 238th birthday of the United States Marine Corps!

As I've mentioned (probably too many times), my daddy was a very proud Marine. I was born and raised at Camp Lejeune, NC. 

COUNTLESS times I accompanied my parents to various events on base, not to mention taking swimming lessons at Montford Point, bowling on base, family vacations in military owned beach cabanas in Onslow County, NC, shopping at the commissaries, holiday meals in the mess halls, sick calls at the Naval Hospital, and on and on. I even worked at the base library my first year out of college. As part of a military family, your life tends to revolve around it. 

So it's no surprise that all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the Marine Corp birthday/ball is a big part of my childhood. My mother would spend all day getting her hair done and primping for the ball. She was surely the belle of the ball - so beautiful and proud. Daddy struck an uber handsome pose in his dress blues. 

For a highly conservative couple, they certainly loved to party the night away at the ball. It was one of the few occasions they would seriously let their hair down! The ball was a BIG deal.

Each year, I so enjoy watching A Capitol Fourth on PBS. My favorite part is when the Marine Corps band plays or when I spot the Marines in the Armed Forces Color Guard. It brings tears to my eyes. Yes, yes, I'm a sap. I know.

So Happy Birthday, my dear Marines. I love you dearly. 

November 9, 2013

Veteran's Day Remembrances

Carl Donald Stancil's platoon at Parris Island, SC 
Veteran's Day reminds us to honor those who served and sacrificed for their country. We should also honor the families, as they sacrificed in their own way to love and support their loved ones in the military. I am acutely aware of these sacrifices, as I am the child of a career Marine. I was born and largely raised on a military base.

I come from a long line of men who served their country.  I have direct ancestors who served in Vietnam, Korea, World War I, World War II, Civil War, and the Revolutionary War. I am proud of each of them.

Carl Donald Stancil
The smiling fellow to the left is my father, Carl Donald STANCIL. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps in 1947 at age 17. At age 21, he was seriously wounded in Korea during the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. He retired with disability in 1973 due to Marie-Strumpell Disease and near total deafness. He went on to serve another 20 years with civil service, thereby proudly serving his country for over 45 years. 

Jesse Roland Stancil 
This is PFC Jesse Roland STANCIL, my father's oldest brother. He enlisted in the Army at Fort Bragg, NC on April 8, 1943 and served with the 157 Inf. 45 Inf. Div. He landed in the Anzio Invasion and fought up the "boot" of Italy with Co. I. Jesse was killed in southern France on October 21, 1944. He was initially buried in France, but the family brought him home after the war and he is now buried at Montlawn Cemetery in Raleigh, NC near his parents. 

Jesse Bernard Stancil

This is my grandfather, Jesse Bernard STANCIL. He served in the Army for a little less than a year enlisting July 22, 1918 until his honorable discharge May 15, 1919. Like his son (above), he fought in LeHarve, France. He was with Company B, Conv. Cr. Tr. Cr. at Camp Lee, Virginia. 

He was likely drafted as his draft registration card was signed June 5, 1917, about a year prior to his enlistment. 

All four of my paternal great great grandfathers served in the US Civil war in the Confederate Army. All of them survived the war. 

  1. William STANCIL
  2. Walter JOHNSON, served with Company C of the NC 53rd Infantry. He mustered in at age 18 on May 15, 1862. He was accounted for at the Battle of Gettysburg. 
  3. Jarrott JOHNSON enlisted as a Private on February 1, 1863 in Lynchburg, VA. He served with Company I of the 24th Infantry Regiment NC. 
  4. Absolom BARBER served with the NC 5th.

James Johnson, KIA

My 3rd great grandfather, James JOHNSON, served with Company I of the 24th Infantry Regiment NC. Sadly, he was killed at Sharpsburg, Maryland on September 17, 1862. The ultimate sacrifice. 

I am also proud to claim a number of Patriot ancestors:
  1. Joel JOHNSON, my 5th great grandfather
  2. Frederick JOHNSON, my 5th great grandfather
  3. Cyrus DAVIS, my 4th great grandfather
All of these gentlemen deserve our gratitude for their service. Remember to honor all who served.

November 5, 2013

Happy Birthday, Vivian!

Today is Vivian Leigh's 100th birthday. I've seen most of her films, but my favorite is A Streetcar Named Desire. Of course she'll always be most remembered for Gone With the Wind. 

In both films, she played a Southern lady meeting difficult life circumstances. Odd, since she was British and had probably never been in a position to experience or understand southern culture. Clearly, however, she "got it" to some extent because she won Oscars for both performances. 

Indeed, us southern girls have a certain strength of character. 

My mother Gladys ALLEN certainly did. She grew up poor, but her family fought their way from the depression to middle class status to owning a home of their own. In spite of being raised as a moonshiner, which netted him a lil' prison time, my grandfather Atlas ALLEN found himself in hot demand during World War II as a helicopter mechanic. A skill he picked up in prison, no less. Good for him!

On the other side of the family, Grandpa STANCIL moved his family from rural Johnston County, NC to the big city of Raleigh, NC where jobs and opportunities were more plentiful. His wife, Lou Ada JOHNSON, must have been one heck of a good woman, just based on the letters my father wrote to her from Marine Corps boot camp and later from Korea. He sure loved his mama. 

Then there's me. I'm no traditional southern belle, but I was raised in the whole southern culture thing where we wore patent leather shoes to church on Sundays and had fried chicken and biscuits for dinner. That's when we weren't having fried pork chops or BBQ straight off the pig.

So while Vivian wasn't exactly a GRITS (Girl Raised in The South) kind of gal, she sure had us pegged with the attitude. My favorite Scarlett O'Hara quote is "Tomorrow is another day".

I say that often. Like, daily. 

November 4, 2013

Salem Primitive Baptist Church

I have this insatiable curiosity about many things and one of them is Salem Primitive Baptist Church in Archers Lodge, NC. The church is located on SR 1742 also known as Salem Church Road. The sign in front of the church says it was founded in 1784.

It's a beautiful classic white wooden structure set far out in the countryside. It has a cemetery to the right of the church where several members of my family are buried:


William STANCIL and his wife Mary Ann Rebecca MASSENGILL STANCIL are my great great grandparents. They are buried right next to their son, Joseph Henry STANCIL, my great grandfather. 

I've been searching for more information about this church for nearly 10 years. I'm curious to know how my great great grandparents connect to this church. Did they live nearby? Were they lifelong members? Does the church have any records of interest?

The church is obviously well cared for and it appears services are still held there. The curious thing is no one seems to know a thing about this church. I've checked with the archivist for the Primitive Baptist Association, but they have no record of this church. There is no telephone listing or web site. I've checked with local businesses close by...most didn't even know there was a church up the road. I've checked with other area Primitive Baptist churches...but they've never heard of Salem. It's like this church dropped from the heavens!  

I resorted to leaving a note on the front door of the church asking them to contact me. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

SO...if you know anything at all about Salem PBC, I sure would appreciate a clue about who to contact to ask a few questions. I'm just dying to know a little more about William and Mary! 

November 2, 2013

Allen Surname

My Allen "people" (as country folks call family) are largely from the New Light area in extreme northern Wake County, NC. While I haven't identified the Allen immigrant ancestor yet, let's just say those Allen people have been in Wake County a long long time. At least since 1774, just prior to the start of the revolution.

Collet's Map of 1770
I do know the early Allens in Wake County were bona fide plantation and slave owners.  My instinct, though unproven at this point - but highly likely - is that the Allen family wandered on down Green's Path from the tidewater area of Virginia into Wake County after a brief pit stop in Warren County. NC. Green's Path followed roughly the same route at today's I-95 and was a highly used trading path through North Carolina in spite of running straight through Tuscarora indian territory. 

The question here is how and when did they find their way to Virginia? Still working on figuring that out.

The real point of this post is supposed to be about the origin of the Allen surname. But truth be told...I don't really know the true origin of our particular Allen line.  Yet. I've read that we are of English, Scottish and Irish origin. Which would surely explain my lily white skin tone and freckles. Not to mention my mother's red hair!

The problem here is that our Allens have been in the America so long it will be very hard to trace their origin, though probably not impossible. We're not like many families who found their way here via Ellis Island and so are heavily documented. 

Oh no, we've been here a very very long time. Which is pretty cool in a transient world where everyone is from somewhere else. We're from right here

November 1, 2013

Allan RAY and Martha Hawkings PEARCE

Allan RAY and Martha Hawkings PEARCE are my great great grandparents. They lived most of their lives right where their ancestors and descendants lived in New Light, Wake County, NC. Just up the road from me. In fact, Ray Road is just two stoplights away. 

Isn't that a great name?  Hawkings. I'm told her nickname was "Hawk Pearce". You know how some folks are called by their first AND last name as though it were their first name? Hawk Pearce. I have to wonder about that name. Hawkings must have been a family name somewhere along the way, but I haven't figured that out yet.  

A family member commented that she wore a lot of rouge. Most of our family has lily white skin, so I can just imagine what that must have looked like!

Grandma Hawk was just 18 years old when she married Grandpa Allan in December of 1885. At 29 years old, he was an "older man". I've wondered if he was married before her, but I can't find any record of such. 

They raised 5 children including my great grandmother, Elizabeth (Sissy) RAY ALLEN. They had been married for 51 years when Grandpa Allan died in 1936. She died 17 years later in 1953. 

Both passed away from heart issues. Maybe it was all that fatback, fried chicken, and lard biscuits. The standard country southern diet.

October 31, 2013

Joseph Henry STANCIL and Fannie A. JOHNSON

My great grandparents, Joe and Fannie, married on September 14, 1892 in Johnston County, NC. 

It is documented in the Marriage Register of Johnston County, NC Vol II, 1881-1900, Ross. RNC 929.3756. The Justice of the Peace who married them was an AM SANDERS. 

Joseph Henry STANCIL was the son of William STANCIL and his wife Mary Ann Rebecca MASSENGILL. Fannie was the daughter of Walter JOHNSON and Parazadia (Zadie) JOHNSON. 

Both families were long time residents of Johnston County going back generations. 

In March of 1904 when Fannie was just 26 years old, she died at her father's home after becoming ill while visiting. She'd been hit by a falling tree a few years earlier and her obituary insinuates her death was related. She left behind three small children. Joseph and Fannie had been married 12 years when she died.

From family stories, Fannie was a very kind and gentle woman. Those Stancil women tend to be that way.

Six years after Fannie's death, Joe remarried Nellie PLEASANTS, a widow with one child of her own. He died 19 years later.

I think it's sweet that Fannie and Joe are buried side by side at Salem Primitive Baptist Church in Johnston County. 

Nellie lived another 40 years after Joe's death. She had a debilitating stroke and was in Howard's Rest Home in Morrisville, NC when she died in 1965. Her death certificate does not list either parent or her husband.

October 28, 2013

My Aunt Mamie

I will never forget her. My Aunt Mamie was my grandfather's sister. She was born on December 11, 1907. My birthday is December 12. She thought it was perfectly wonderful our birthdays were just a day apart. 

Mamie cared for and helped raise her six younger siblings after her mother, Elizabeth RAY ALLEN (Sissy), died in childbirth. I'm sure she did a lot more than "help" raise them - her father was a moonshiner and spent more than a few nights in jail. Mamie was 21 years old when her mother died giving birth to Marvin Eugene ALLEN. 

The family lived in the New Light area of Wake County, NC. That's just north of Raleigh and just south of the Granville County line. 

At some point, probably in the early 1940s, Mamie moved to Raleigh where she took a job in the laundry of Dorthea Dix State Mental Hospital. She and her sister Henrietta walked from Neuse (near the intersection of present day I-540 and US 401) to Dix - approximately 11 miles following the railroad track to work each way. 

Later, she became a very accomplished seamstress working for Caudle's Tailor Shop in downtown Raleigh by day and moonlighting by night to make ends meet. She lived in a small house on Bloodworth Street and then in a two story house on Pace Street, both near downtown Raleigh.

Her father Eugene was living with her in the house on Pace Street when he died. Her brother Bill - who was diabetic and was suffered from mild mental retardation- also lived with her. I never heard him speak but he always had a smile a mile wide.

Aunt Mamie was the hardest working woman I've known. She cared for her father and her siblings all her life. She had a 6th grade education and never married.  She extremely humble and devoted herself to caring for her family. 

Somewhere along the way she learned how to make the MOST FABULOUS 8-layer chocolate cake I've ever tasted. I was not allowed many sweets as a child (perhaps that explains a lot!), but Aunt Mamie would always sit me down at her little kitchen table and put a piece of cake and a big glass of orange juice in front of me as though she thought the juice would negate the cake.

Aunt Mamie died in 1982. She is buried in New Light Baptist Church Cemetery just a few miles from where she was born.

October 27, 2013

Send in the Marines...

Carl Donald Stancil sitting on the
front porch of the family home
 in Raleigh, NC. 1952
Carl Donald STANCIL devoted his life to three things:  God, Country, Family. He loved us in that order. 

In his devotion to his country, Daddy served in the United States Marine Corps for 20 years. He enlisted June 30, 1947, just one day after his 17th birthday. He retired from the Marines 20 years later on May 29, 1967.

In his 20 years, daddy served all over the world including Guam, Cuba, Japan, Puerto Rico, Korea, Lebanon, and Vietnam.   

On April 25, 1951, he was seriously wounded in Korea at the Battle of Pork Chop Hill. He took a piece of shrapnel to his head leaving a scar which ran from his eye brow to his ear. He participated in campaigns in Wonson, Hungnam, and Choisin. He told us stories of the bitter cold and the hellish heat of Korea. 

When asked about the necessary killing of other men in war, his
response was “It was kill or be killed. If I didn’t kill them, I’d never see my family again and I wasn’t about to let anyone stand in the way of that.” Such was his devotion to his family.  

Some of Daddy’s favorite sayings included “Once a Marine, Always a Marine”, “Send in the Marines”, and “Tell that to the Marines”.  He also used to say “nobody ever drowned in sweat” and “Marines go where others fear to tread”.  His favorite saying when watching the evening news was “The Marines invade and then go home. The Army has to do the occupying."

To the very end, Daddy maintained a “high and tight” haircut and “spit-shined” his shoes. When I went away to college, instead of living in a dorm and eating in a cafeteria, he thought I lived in a “barracks” and ate in the “mess hall”. Truly, once a Marine, always a Marine.  

After retiring from the Marines, Daddy continued to serve his country for another 20 years as a civil servant. He was willing to give his life for freedom and democracy. He proved his loyalty to his country every single day he served  – whether he was proudly wearing the uniform of the USMC or serving via civil service.  

For a man born in the depths of the depression to a poor working class family, Daddy distinguished himself in many ways having little to do with money or social prestige. He served his country proudly and fiercely for over 40 years. His belief in God was firm and unwavering. Mama used to say that every time the doors opened to First Christian Church in Jacksonville, NC, Daddy would be there. His love of family is clearly evidenced not only by the letters he wrote to his beloved mother, wife, brothers and sister, but by the legacy of love and pride he left behind.

The story goes…that Daddy so wanted to be a Marine that he fibbed about his age and joined the Marine Corps in 1946 at age 16. The Corps discovered his “secret” while still in boot camp and not so politely invited him to return to civilian life. On June 30, 1947, just one day after turning the (then) legal age of 17, he was able to enlist in the Marine Corps with his parent’s permission.

The story also goes…that Daddy was very touched by the many Korean war orphans he encountered during the war. He returned from the war and convinced Mama to adopt two Korean boys. At the time, they were stationed in Hawaii, not yet a state. The adoption was nearly complete and Daddy was prepared to travel to Seoul to pick up the boys when suddenly the adoption plans were halted. Mama had discovered that she was pregnant with me, and at that time adoption rules prevented expectant parents from adopting. Were it not for poor timing, I could have had two brothers! 

In Macedonia where Paul preached.
Daddy is the Marine to the right.