Our Family Reunion

A continuation of the Wordless Wednesday.

If I had to guess, this was our 1979 family reunion. In this picture is my uncle when he was probably about 20 or so. Also, the thick little boy sitting on the end, that’s my cousin Jo-Jo (I think…lol) This picture has my aunts (red shirt and the blue shirt) and a uncle (see guy with come over?)
The blurry person is my Grand Uncle Clement! He’s the one that was born about 3 months before my dad. That means my grandmother and great grandmother were pregnant at the same time.
And..the cute one in this picture is ME of course. That’s my cousin Michelle holding me.

Saga Continues

Another interesting thing I found about Alfred Ferebee is he and Nancy Spence had one child (that I know of) name Charlott Ferebee. I wasn’t even looking for her death certificate when I found it. But, here it is, Charlielottie Ferbee.

The interesting thing about the death certificate is the informant is W.M. Lowrey. This had to be my William Lowry! Not only was he the informant for Alfred Ferebee but for the daughter also?!?!

The puzzling thing is Alfred married Nancy Spence. However, she’s listed by the informant as Nancy Griffin. I will have to order the marriage certificate to be certain about the names. I found a death certificate for a Nancy Frisbee (common misspelling of Ferebee) that died in 1924. Her father is listed as C W Griffin and mother is Sarah Bouges. Everything seems to match, however, I’m not sure about the name.
Searching the marriage certificates for Nancy Griffin yielded a marriage for Nancy Griffin and Moses Spence. Perhaps, Moses died and Nancy remarried Alfred by 1902.

I found a Nancy Spence listed in the 1900 census, living alone and a widow. She’s listed as having given birth to 8 children but only 2 were living. Living next door was Caleb Griffin and his wife Sarah. Possibly the same C W Griffin listed on her death certificate. In their home is their grandson Ernest Spence. Maybe Nancy’s son.

By 1910, Nancy is married to Alfred and they have a 4 year old daughter named Charlott.

The next blog will be ‘AS PASQUOTANK TURNS’. You’ll see how we’re related to almost everyone (black person) in that county thru marriage or blood!.

Could it be true???

I’ve had a hunch that this William and Ann Lowery on the 1880 census are related to me. I’ve said it before that I thought that William Barker listed in this census as a grandson is my 2nd great grandfather William Lowry. In addition, the 2 other grandsons, Issaac Boykin and Alfred Ferebee were half brothers to William Barker. I do know that William and Ann Lowery had a daughter named Martha Lowery. She later married James Howell. My thoughts were that she had 3 other children out of wedlock and left them with her parents when she married.

Thanks to Ancestry.com and their new upgrade of North Carolina Death Certificates, 1909-1975 that contains images of the actual death certificate, I’ve been able to connect some dots. I stumbled upon the death certificate for Alfred Ferebee. This is possibly the same Alfred Ferebee that was living with William and Ann Lowery in 1880. When I reviewed the death certificate, 3 things stood out to me as shocking.

  • The mothers name is listed as Martha Laury.
  • The informant is W.M. Laury. (Possibly my William Lowry)
  • He was murdered!!!

    My next step is to find out if there is an article in the newspaper for 23 Dec 1923 that may list Alfred in it and what could have happened. Also, I’ll be ordering the marriage certificate for Alfred Ferebee and Nancy Spence from 1902. Hopefully, it will show who their parents are. What if Nancy Spence is also in my family?!?!?!?!

    I’m just so excited that I could have found a half brother for my ancestor. Also, confirmed my suspicions about Martha Lowry and her children prior to marriage.

    We is Cousins….

    Hello Cousin! I’m searching for info on Rosa Spence/ Cora McCoy/ the Lowry’s too. I’m in Baltimore; email me so that we can work together.”

    That’s how I met my cousin, Tina, in November 2007. See, her grandmother, Rosa Lowry, is my great grandmothers, Bessie Lowry, sister and her grandfather, Enoch Spence, is my great grandfathers, Aaron Edward Spence, brother.

    Our family story has always been 2 sisters’s married 2 brothers we’re all double related. I always heard the story but never really knew it. I didn’t know Rosa’s side of the family, although we have the same side. But, I never knew her children, grandchildren etc….til now.

    When Tina contacted me, I was skeptical. She found me thru Ancestry.com. I thought no one else was researching my family tree. I would look at message boards and websites and everyone was researching other counties in NC. The rare post I would find researching African-American ancestry in Pasquotank would be for a different surname.

    Although our family has been in Pasquotank and Camden counties since at least 1870, I haven’t been able to find much, in my opinion, on our family. I’ve interviewed family members and none of them could ever tell me

    Her: Hey Cuz! Girl, tell me who you are (who’s your mom)… I didn’t know I had family in Florida! Did you go to the family reunion this year? I was there. My Mom is one of Rosa Spence’s daughters her name was Matlene (but she goes by Madeline) How do I see your family tree? Maybe you can help me, I’m looking for my father’s grandmother’s family and I’m hitting a brick wall — how do I get around that?

    Me: Hey. My dad is Spence. His mom is Spence. Her mom is Bessie Lowry. Her parents are William Lowry and Harriet Banks. Harriet’s parents are Caleb Banks and Henrietta. What’s your dads name and DOB? Also where was he born? Maybe I can find something. I missed the reunion. My grandma told me that the Spence family from South Mills came. I’m trying to compile a family tree for the next on. That’s how it all started. Now, we don’t do our research without each other. We’re always sharing ideas, theories and finds with each other.

    Shelton Lowry

    Well, this goes to show you that family stories are helpful, but not always accurate. My aunt said they didn’t find water in his lungs and he probably died of a heart attack. However, as you can see from the death certificate, they didn’t do an autopsy and it states he died of an accidental drowning.

    However, she did remember that they had 3 funerals in her church and John Adams was sent back home. According to his death certificate, he was sent back to Fayetteville for the funeral.

    The other 3 men were buried in Elizabeth City, NC at Stokely Burial Ground. The funerals were handled by Walson Funeral Home in Elizabeth City. The sad part, besides 4 men losing their loves, is my great uncle Johnny drove them to the river that day. Johnny is Shelton’s nephew. I wish Linton was still alive, I would love to talk to him about this and get his story.

    Four Newland Negroes Drowned

    **Scanners working now**

    The library in Elizabeth City, more specifically, the genealogist at the library is awesome! She only works 1 day a week (Thursday). I called on Monday and she called me back Thursday morning. She said she found the article and I had a copy in my possession by that Saturday. All that for a mere $.10!

    My hopes were correct and there was an article about the drowning of my uncle, Shelton Lowry. The 4 people that I found on Ancestry that died on the same name were the 4 men in the boat that day. The article also gives me the name of the one survivor. What a great find!

    “Four men, all Negroes, were drowned late Wednesday afternoon in Dismal Swamp canal in Camden County when, with five on bard a small skiff, on man decided to rock the boat. He rocked it and the boat sank: drowning four of the five occupants, according to a report brought back to the city by Assistant Fire Chief George Koch, who answered an SOS call from the scene of the drowning at six o’clock. With fireman A. W. Pool, Koch arrived on the scene in a few minutes and with a length of barbed wire curt from a nearby fence had all four bodies fished out; he estimates, in a matter of 15 minutes. With inhalator brought along in the car he and Pool worked over the bodies for an hour or such a matter, but to no avail.

    The downed men according to the fire department records are Shelton Lowry, 40; William K. Barnard, 25, John Wilfred Adams, 26, and Milford Moore, 34 all of Newland.

    According to the story told Koch by Linton Burnham, survivor Burnham and his brother were swimming in the canal at the point where the old toll bridge used to cross back of the site of the old John Louis Hinton home about 10 miles from Elizabeth City. They live in the old house once occupied by the bridge keeper when the bridge, abandoned when the river was bridged above the cut with paving of U.S. 17 to South Mills, was in use.

    The four who were drowned appeared on the opposite bank of the swamp and asked to be brought across the river, Burnham said. Burnham in a small boat went to get them. They all got aboard and one of them wanted to use the paddle. Burnham told him to be careful but he said he knew all the tricks of handling a boat and began to rock it. The boat sand and all five men went overboard. They began struggling with one another in the water; but Burnham extricated himself and swam to safety.

    Sheriff M.D. Stevens and Coroner Carroll Godfrey were summoned and the coroner viewed the bodies and held no inquest necessary as the men evidently came to their death by accidental drowning.

    Three of the bodies of the drowned men were turned over to the Walson Funeral Home and the other to the Davis Funeral Home in Elizabeth City.”

    Genealogy Addict

    Genealogy is a genuine obsession of mine. My family nor friends quite understand it; however, they all think I should do it professionally. I don’t think I’m there yet. I love sharing my recent ‘finds’ with my family. More than likely, they have no clue whom I’m talking about and constantly get confused about which Aaron Edward Spence I’m referring too or who exactly was William Lowry, etc. But for me, explaining it is easy. I have these ancestors, my family, memorized. I can tell you who had a half sister, how the Ferebee surname got into our tree, what year my 3rd great grandfather passed away, etc. These are my family.

    One of the most interesting facts that I found is a relative shared the same birthday as I. He’s the son of Shelton Lowry (Brother to Bessie Lowry-my great grandmother). He was born 11 Mar 1928. Sure there is 50 years difference between our births, but I think it’s awesome that a relative and I share the same b-day and I don’t even know him.

    I intend on writing the library in Elizabeth City, NC (which covers several counties in northeastern NC) to see if they can pull an article about Shelton’s drowning. Another great aunt of mine told me that all in the boat died and even gave me the name of the person that rocked the boat. However, the problem that I have is, if everyone died, how did they get the story about rocking the boat and Shelton saying ‘Don’t rock the boat because I can’t swim’? Another tidbit she gave me was that Shelton may have died of a heart attack because he was so frightened about drowning. She said her sister told her that there was no water in his lungs. She didn’t know how true that was but I told her I’d order his death certificate and see what it says.

    The facts I got from her were:

    • 5 people were on the boat.
    • John Adams rocked the boat.
    • John said ‘All y’all who can’t swim, shame on you.”
    • More than 2 died.
    • They begged him not to rock the boat.

    I found record for 4 people that died on 10 Sept 1947 in Camden County, NC. I will be ordering these death certificates.

    • John Adams
    • William K. Barnard
    • Shelton Lowry
    • Milford Moore

    I would think that if so many people died in a drowning in a little city like South Mills, it may be in the papers.

    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.

    Great Grandparents

    I went to my dad’s house last week and we were looking thru the book my aunt made and I asked him, who is these people?

    He looked at the picture and said this is a picture of your great grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence, and your great grandma, Bessie Lowry when they were younger. I would have never known that.

    This is my great grandparents when they were older. I never got a chance to know my great grandfather. He died 6 years before I was born. However, I did come to know and love my great grandmother dearly!

    She raised my father like a son. When ever I would see her she would tell me the same story. “I was the first one to hold you when you came home from the hospital.” Recently my dad told me the whole story.
    My great grandmother (Bessie) worked for a white woman in Elizabeth City, NC cleaning her house. The woman would often travel and Bessie would travel with her. I suppose they had a pretty good working/friend relationship. This one trip, the woman happened to be coming down to FL and of course Bessie went along. She took it as an opportunity to see her grandson and his family. The day they arrived in our city, my mother was just discharged from the hospital from having me. When we arrived home, Bessie was waiting at the door for us. That’s when she scooped me up and the first one to hold me when I came home from the hospital. It was a matter of pure coincidence or divine intervention. My mother told me that it was a blessing having her there for almost a week because she took care of almost everything. Gave her time to rest and recover.
    I miss hearing that from Bessie.

    Questions for the dead

    I saw this on Jennifer’s blog, But Now I’m Found, and I thought it was a great idea. So, I borrowed it.

    I would love to ask my great great grand father Aaron Edward Spence what his brothers and sisters’ name’s are. I know he had siblings, but I haven’t been able to locate them.

    I wish I could as my great great grandfather William Lowry if that was really him living with his grandfather in 1880 and did he change his name from Barker to Lowry. Also, is he part Indian? Does he have any siblings? Who is Issaac Boykin and Alfred Ferebee that was living with him in 1880? How did he feel when his mom married and left him with his grandparents?

    I wish I could ask my grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence, who George Washington Bolden is? What is the real story behind my dad living with them as a kid? How much land did he own?

    Lastly, I would love to ask all the ancestors…….WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE?!?!?!?!?