Passed Down

The family stories passed down from generation to generation tends to change. No one wrote it down; it’s always by word of mouth. I have 2 main stories in my family that are either inconsistent or just not true!

My great grandmother, Bessie Lowry, had an older brother named Shelton Lowry (B: 1908, D: 10 Sep 1947). The story from my great aunt was he died in a drowning. He was out on a boat and someone started rocking the boat. Shelton told them ‘don’t rock the boat, I can’t swim’ and he and a friend fell in the water and drowned. The story from another great aunt is everyone in the boat died.

Hopefully some info from the FRSNNC will help clear this up.

Now for the complete untruth.

Leroy McCoy, possibly the son of Ernest McCoy who is the son of William Everett McCoy (my 3rd great uncle), was researching the family tree until his death in 2005. He told several elder Spence family members a story. I remember when I first heard this story, before I began researching the tree, I said it didn’t make sense. So, here we go.

Back in the late 1800’s, 3 Spence brothers came over on slave ships and were separated thru sale. They landed in various counties in NC; Pasquotank and Camden being 2 of them. Our real name was SPENCER however was changed to SPENCE when we were sold into slavery. Remember, this is the late 1800’s. at we came over on slave ships in the late 1800’s. The Spence brothers that were sold into slavery was either my great grandfather, Aaron, and his siblings or my 2nd great grandfather Aaron (to be know as Aaron Sr.) and his siblings (have no clue who his siblings are).

Well, for the truth.

The truth being that none of the above happened. Aaron Sr was probably born into slavery. His parents are Enoch Spence and Susan Williams who were also slaves. They officially married in 1866. I’m certain they had other children; however, I haven’t been able to locate them. In 1900, Susan was living with, Aaron Sr. On the 1900 Census, it states she had 6 children and 4 living.

I’ll be discounting the ‘SPENCERS on a slave ship’ theory that the elders have included in family history. Hopefully they don’t throw stones.


If you are researching family in northeast North Carolina and haven’t joined Family Research Society of Northeastern NC (FRSNNC), you’re doing it all wrong!

I came upon FRSNNC early in 2007 when I was really getting into my family tree. I sent them an e-mail seeing if they could help me…and they did! They sent me documents helping with my search and guided me in the right direction to go forward.

The counties that they cover are Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Pasquotank and Perquimans. They know the ins and outs of those counties. They can tell you about traditions and records. They are a non profit organization and everyone that works there is a volunteer.

Membership is only $20.00 and with that, you get a quarterly newsletter (more like a book), member directory, surname lists and endless help. The newsletter is full of useful information. It has stories, obituaries and plenty of information to help you with your genealogy research. Even if you’re only researching one of the counties listed above, I suggest you join the organization.