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.