Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Walking Among the Ancestors - My 2014 Research Trip

Yes, it's almost been a year since I took the long overdue trip to the ancestral home county and with this post, I'm finally talking about it to someone else besides my family.

You would think that as long as I've been researching and as long as I've lived in North Carolina (most of my life) that I would have made a trip to the ancestral home county eons ago. But through the years I've learned that the ancestors call you back to the research and where you need to be on their time frame, not necessarily yours. And I'm glad I was finally able to heed the call to head to Eastern North Carolina.

In reflecting back on my trip, it was probably best that I waited all these years, because while I didn't really learn a lot of new details on the paternal side of my family, I probably wouldn't have gotten to visit the ancestral cemetery, see land that my great grandfather owned and that still remains in the hands of my Grand Aunt Goldie's descendants. I owe those discoveries to my second cousin Clifford Curtis, Grand Aunt Goldie Everett Johnson Hyman Benton's grandson, who accompanied me on this trip. In turn, I was able to enlighten him about some of our ancestors.

So, let's begin. After work, on Thursday, Sept. 11th, I made the trek to my cousin's house in Raleigh. We would get up early the next morning to begin our journey to Martin County, NC.

We first ventured to the county seat, Williamston, where we went by the courthouse and the Martin County Library.

I didn't find any new information at either place. Most of the records that I was looking for had been sent to the state archives and there were no copies on site. I spent the majority of my time trying to educate cousin Clifford about our heritage and also trying to obtaining clearer copies of documents I had downloaded online.

After leaving Williamston, we stopped in Everetts, the ancestral town.

For me, this was the highlight of the entire trip.

First cousin Clifford took me by the family property, which was owned by our great grandfather and which Cousin Clifford's line of the family still owns.

Clifford said that our old family home was just on the other side of those trees to the left in the second picture. None of the direct descendants of my great grandfather, Peter T. Everett, have lived here in over 40 years, so Clifford and his brothers rent the land out. It is currently planted in soybeans.

It was kind of surreal standing in that grove between the fields of soybeans and feeling the presence of the ancestors all around me.

Clifford then took me a little further down Goldie Road, named after his Grandmother, where we decided to get out and do an up close and personal inspection of the cotton. Note: this land is not our family's land.

After we finished our off road adventure viewing the family land, we stopped by this little cemetery, where Clifford said is grandmother, grandfather, and uncle were buried. Little did I know I was about to discover the final resting place of a few other ancestors, too.

Sadly, I still have no clue as to the name of this cemetery. I thought it was named Everetts but when ever I made a request on Find-a-Grave for photos, I was always told that there wasn't a marker and yet, I found all but one of the requests I've made through the years.

First there is Grand Aunt Goldie, my grandmother's big sister, and Cousin Clifford's grandmother.

Cousin Clifford's grandfather and Aunt Goldie's first husband, Rev J. Henry Johnson.

Right next to Rev. Johnson, was my Great Grandmother. The discovery of my Great Grandmother's grave brought me great joy as I didn't even have a clue where she might be interred as that part of her death certificate wasn't completed. The other weird thing about Grandmomma Edith's death certificate is that the state has a copy of it (I got my copy through Ancestry) but the county doesn't have a copy of it.

And right beside Great Grandmother was Great Granddad's second wife Della, who died 7 years after Great Grandmother. I imagine that had to be hard on Great Granddad, losing not one but 2 wives in less than 10 years, all while raising your grandchildren and working your own business. Great Granddad was a merchant (he owned a store) at this point in his life.

Other relatives buried in this cemetery were Cousin James Henry "Buddy" Johnson, who was cousin Clifford's uncle.

Rev. William Alonzo Everett, Clifford's and my 1st cousin 2x removed.

But there was one grave missing that would have made this journey complete, that of my Great Grandfather. Cousin Clifford and I scoured every inch of that cemetery looking for him and we had these stickies all over our clothes to prove it.

But Peter T. Everett is either not interred in this cemetery or if he is there he doesn't have a stone. There is one other possibility, too, the grave might be damaged.

There was this grave, beside Aunt Goldie's that for some reason my gut tells me it's my great grandfathers but it's cracked and caving in and there's very little left of the inscription on it to be able to make out anything.

All in all though, it was a wonderful trip, and I thank Cousin Clifford for going along with me and being my guide.

All of the pictures in this post are a part of the personal collection of the owner of this blog.

1 comment:

  1. I need to go do this in Lowndes Cty Alabama soon. Although I don't know of any cousins left there, I could find the property and go look at it. and the cemeteries too. I have names. Just need to look and find locations.

    Thanks for inspiring me with your post!


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