Fire of Home Church

Today, a fire destroyed a 147 year old church in Elizabeth City.  This church was the home church of my family for many years and possibly had records related to my family research.  It’s sad to know that information and history may have been lost thru this fire.  Many ancestors were baptized, married and laid to rest in this church.

No one was injured in this early morning fire.  However, the church building appears to be a total loss.

Fire destroyed a 147-year-old church in the Newland community of Pasquotank County early Sunday morning.
Fire officials weren’t sure what sparked the blaze that completely gutted Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church on U.S. Highway 158. The Elizabeth City Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.
Robbie Whitehead, chief of the Newland Volunteer Fire Department, said passers-by notified emergency dispatchers about the blaze about 4 a.m. Sunday.
By the time firefighters arrived a short time later, the church was fully engulfed in flames, Whitehead said.
The Newland VFD, joined by firefighters from the South Mills Volunteer Fire Department and the city of Elizabeth City, battled the flames for more than an hour, bringing the fire under control about 5:30 a.m. Approximately 50 firefighters responded, Whitehead said.
By noon Sunday, all that remained of the brick church was a smoking hulk. The church’s menu-board sign announcing Sunday services and a gold-painted bell, both of which sit in front of the church, were not damaged.
Right now, fire officials don’t have any idea how the fire started or where in the church the blaze began.
“When (a fire) becomes fully involved, it’s hard to tell that at this point, Whitehead said.
Whitehead said firefighters had spoken to several of the church’s deacons, and none had any idea how the fire might have started. Church officials told Whitehead that parts of the church were at least 147 years old.
There is nothing right now to suggest the fire had suspicious origins, Whitehead said.
“Right now the investigation is going on,” he said.
Fire investigators from the Elizabeth City Fire Marshal’s Office visited the fire scene earlier Sunday and are expected to continue their investigation today, Whitehead said.


No joint researchers

I have been crazy busy lately at work which has left me not time to blog, let alone think about genealogy. I know sad!

But, since starting my search 2 years ago, I have come across ZERO fellow researchers.  Granted, I’m researching 2 specific counties in NC (Pasquotank and Camden) and 4 surnames: Banks, McCoy, Lowry & Spence.  Still no one.  Not one descendant from these other lines are researching the tree…that I know of.  

Why is that? Why aren’t more people, mainly African Americans, researching their roots? Is this not important??

Tale of 2 Counties: Pasquotank & Camden County, NC

*The little red dot in the ‘Newland’ part of town is where my ancestors lived.  The black line is the main road going from Pasquotank to Camden County. Pretty close, huh?

The vast majority of my Spence ancestors come from Pasquotank County, NC. I can trace my Spence line to dang near the same road they currently live on today to 1870. But, my [living] family has told me that anyone with the last name of Spence in Camden and Pasquotank County is our cousins. They know this because this is what was told to them by their parents and/or grandparents.

Camden and Pasquotank County is close. Close doesn’t even describe how close they are. They lifestyle of the counties seem to overlap. My uncle works with one of the Camden County Spence’s and another relative works with a different Camden County Spence. Somewhere in this closeness is relation. But, I have yet to figure out how they’re related to the Pasquotank Spence’ Spences.

A recent contact on Facebook has me researching this side again.  She is from the Camden County Spence side and she said they go over the family tree every year.  I gave her some information and my theory on how the Pasquotank and Camden County Spence’s are related.  She think that her 2nd great grand and my 2nd great grand, Aaron are brothers.  But her 2nd great grandfather, isn’t old enough [in my opinion] to be his brother.  He wasn’t born until 1889.  Aaron was born 1853.  Somewhere between 1880 & 1900, Aaron’s father passed away and in 1900 his widow, Susan, was living with her son Aaron.

My Theory?

My theory is that one or a few of the Camden County Spence’s born prior than 1853 are the siblings of my 2nd great grandfather Aaron Edward Spence. According to the 1900 census, his mother Susan Williams Spence stated she had 6 children and 4 were living. I assumed that Aaron Edward Spence was the youngest child because parents tend to go live with the youngest child.

But, I do think that her 3rd great grandfather, Moses Spence and Aaron could possibly be siblings.  He was born 1846. Moses married Louisa Turner in 1875. I know I have the marriage certificate around here in my papers.  I remember either seeing no parents listed or N/A listed for Moses parents.  Which is odd for me.  If he is infact Aarons brother, why doesn’t he list his parents when they were alive when he got married??

Then another confusing thing, on the 1880 census for Moses and Louisa (Lewissie), there are 4 children listed.  The wierd part is that their last name isn’t Spence and they were all born after the marriage in 1875.  The oldest child being 4 born 1876.  Not only that, but that child is listed as illegitimate also.  The listing of illegitimate would make me think that they’re her children that she had with someone else, but still came home to her husband. WHOA.

Now, I know what you’re saying..why are you sharing? This is WAAAAYYYY personal, right? Well, the ancestors made me do it.  I was researching Moses, minding my own business and these children distracted me.  There’s a reason. I can’t stop thinking about them. Tomorrow, I will be requesting a copy of the marriage record for the oldest child.

My inspiration for Genealogy

Some years ago, my dad showed me this book that my aunt made. It was in essence, a picture book. But, it also had names of family members I never knew of or heard much of. She didn’t have dates or history in the book. It was simply pictures and names. She made this book for all the children of Ed & Bessie Spence. I’m guessing, they all know the people in the book. She is the wife of my uncle, one of the children of Ed & Bessie.

The book she made bit me. That book is what started me on my path to figure out who my ancestors are and find out how I’m related to people in Elizabeth City. It hurt deeply to find out she passed away on Thursday. If it wasn’t for her and the book, I wouldn’t have started researching my family tree. She knew alot about our family. She remembers my father as a child and was there for the first reunion. She would quickly correct you when you were wrong about family history. But, she was also guarded when it came to it. Outside of that book, I didn’t get much information from her. She never understood why a ‘young person would be interested in dead people’. I would always tell her that I just want to know who my cousins are. She would just smile.

Rest in Peace Auntie. You are deeply missed and loved. I know you’re better now.

Not so Wordless Wednesday: I wish I knew my Grandfather

This is a repost of sorts about my grandfather, George Washington Bolden/Bowden/Baldwin.

When I think about this, my heart really breaks. Although, it doesn’t affect me as much because never having a grandfather, I don’t know what a relationship with one is like. But, for my dad, to not have a father, I can imagine the hurt he must have had growing up.

My dad joined the military to find him. All he knew was his dad was in the military. And all he had was this torn picture of a man he didn’t know. His step-father tore this picture into 4 pieces. Ripped it up out of rage. For what reason, I’m not sure. But, from that point forward, my dad was not to have that man raise him. My dad was raised by his grandparents. Raised as a sibling to his Uncles and Aunts. Cousins may be mad at me for what I have to say, but that’s what it is.

I smile when I look at this picture because to be honest, my dad looks a lot like this man…in his younger years. I see the features that make up my dad’s face…my face.

I often wonder about my possible Aunts, Uncles, Cousins and what not from this side of the family. My last name would have been something other than Spence. My life may have been different with knowing who my grandfather was. I imagine cousins that I could have known and/or grown up with. I wonder if I’ve dated any of those cousins…eewww.

The fact that the story behind this man has varied over the years and the fact that I have such little information is poignant. I wish I had more to go on. I wish I had more information. Hell, I wish I knew where he was from! But, I don’t even know that. There is a paper trail for him. There is documentation. He was obviously in the Navy. He had a career. People knew him somewhere. I just want to find him. Maybe one day someone will come across the original post. Recognize some of the details. Compare notes and contact me.

Maybe The Locator will be able to locate him. I’ll continue to dream my little dream and wish my little wish and hope that one day I will know who he his.

Side note – George Geder did restore this photo for me. But, I think it’s more appropriate to see the picture in it’s semi original form.

I Genealogy People.

I know what you’re thinking, what does “I Genealogy People” mean. The order of words is confusing. But let me explain.

I recently started watching True Blood. All my co-workers, friends, facebookers, twitterers, etc. is in love with this show. So, I decided to start seeing what the hubbub is all about. Well, I instantly fell in love with the grandmother on the show. Why? Because, she isn’t at all shocked that Bill is a Vampire or worried that her granddaughter is fascinated with him. Her main concern is, his knowledge on Civil War facts. SHE WANTS TO PICK HIS BRAIN. I love that!!! She is interested in him for his genealogy facts. When he comes over for dinner, she starts asking him about ancestors and people that lived in the area WAY before her time. Lol. I would love to do that!!!

Second – The day my ancestors spoke to me.

On lunch the other day, I decided to kill some time by going to the health food store. Not really wanting anything, but really had nothing else to do. While wondering the store, I passed by a FINE man…and I mean FINE! Well, I didn’t break, stop or slow. But I did make eye contact, smile and say hello. Ladies, you know that feeling you get when you KNOW someone is watching you walk away. I had that feeling.

Sure enough, I rounded the corner and started looking at essential oils and he came sortly after. Mind you have a have a Mr. Man, so there was no entertaining this one. But it was flattering when he asked me my name and if I was single. Once I gave him my status, we chatted for a quick minute and then he said “Nice to meet you”. I don’t know why I asked, but I thought about it ‘He didn’t even give me his I technically didn’t meet him like he says’. I asked him his name. ENOCH. At that moment, I genealogy’d him. I repeated it back to him “Enoch, really? E-N-O-C-H? Wow, that’s a family name.” See that?? I have a I have never met a Enoch. Not even the Enoch’s in my family. There are only a few. I was shocked that I ran into one.

Enoch Spence is my great grandfather’s brother. He is also the other half of the 2 brothers that married 2 sisters in my family lore. I think the ancestors were speaking to me with this one… What do you think? Were they speaking to me? lol

Who are you?

This picture was in a box of things that belonged to my great grandparents, Ed & Bessie Spence. While I was in NC in May 2009, I asked my grand uncle to go by the house and see if there was anything left that belonged to my great grands.

My great grandparents had alot of things, but most of everything went missing after my great grandma, Bessie, passed away in 1998. One of her children took the items from the home and somehow lost them. This includes a picture of Bessie’s mother that had been in the house for years. That’s part of a bitter family issue that’s always a murmur thru the family, but never a loud noise.

Well, apparently the ancestors were working and knew I was coming eventually. In an old decreped box of papers, there were only 2 pictures. This picture above and this one.

The picture above is the one I’m curious of. I have no idea who he is. He looks like a Spence and closely resembles my grand uncle. I thought at first it may have been my great grandfather, but when I look at the pictures, they don’t seem to look much alike.

The top picture was printed on a postcard. There is nothing written on the back and the picture, as you can see, is quite old. Does anyone know how I can identify the year this picture was taken?? Maybe that will help me identify who this is a picture of.


While writing an article on my 2nd great grandfather, Aaron Edward Spence, for the family newsletter, I noticed something I didn’t pay much attention to before.

While looking at his death certificate to determine the cause of death, it say ‘dropsy’. I dismissed this before mostly due to amateur research and not being able to understand the chicken scratch written on the death certificate. Well, tonight I decided to do a google search for what I believed to be the word the doctor was trying to say.

I get a correction from Google saying “do you mean dropsy”. Thinking..’uh..yeah’. The first link that pops up is a medical link for Dropsy.

Dropsy: An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water.

In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy. Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.

Edema is often more prominent in the lower legs and feet toward the end of the day as a result of pooling of fluid from the upright position usually maintained during the day. Upon awakening from sleeping, people can have swelling around the eyes referred to as periorbital edema.

What I thought was amazing is, I see this same medical condition in many of my family living today. Many of them suffer from the same swelling in their lower legs and feet that my 2nd great grandfather suffered from. Although I know genealogy can unlock doors about yourself, it’s always amazing when you see the door open.

It makes me wonder what other medical conditions runs in the family….

Surnames I’m Researching

I know I’m late but I’m trying to catch up. But, a few weeks ago, other blogger began posting the surnames their researching. I believe Geneablogie was the first one (I got a Note from him on Facebook).

For those of you who don’t know, the surnames that I’m researching are listed on the right side. I try and tag my blogs with the surnames I’m writing about.

Pasquotank County, North Carolina

  • Spence
  • Lowry/Laurie/Lowery/Laury/Lowrey
  • Banks
  • Williams
  • Ferebee/Ferbee
  • Howell
  • McPherson

Camden County, North Carolina

  • McCoy
  • Spence (Want to see if the African-American Spence’s of Camden are related to the Pasquotank Spence’s)

I’m back…

…hopefully for good.

It’s been almost a month since I’ve posted anything. But, I haven’t abandoned the blog. I’ve been busy trying to manage a lot of tasks.

Anywho…last month on the 20th, I went to the Black Family History Day in Morrow GA. That was a 5 hour drive for me, but it was my first genealogy related trip since starting my research in 2007. I can’t even begin to describe how much I enjoyed it! There were so many African American people that were knee deep into their research. Me, on the other hand, I’m only about toenail deep in comparison. It was at the NARA in Morrow, GA and they gave excellent presentations regarding resources to use when researching your ancestors. Many resources I didn’t know about. Especially since I’m just getting started with my hands on research and doing less internet research. Also, I was able to meet Melvin J. Collier. Melvin is one of my friends on Facebook and I was extremely delighted when he instantly recognized me. He’s the author of Mississippi to Africa, A Journey of Discovery and I got a copy of my book signed. One day, I could be worth some money 😉

I highly recommend this book researching their African American ancestors. Melvin shows you in his book how he traced his ancestors and the tools he used specifically to get the information. I’m half way thru the book and I’m jealous of the pictures he has of his ancestors!!! I’m only 2 years in, but I haven’t turned up treasures that he has.

The following weekend, Feb 27th, I went to Elizabeth City, NC. My father, daughter and myself left Thursday morning for our 9 hour drive. I was excited on the way up. My plan was to spend all day Friday at the county clerks office researching my ancestor, Buenna Spence. Friday came and my dad dropped me off at the county clerks office. However, I made a rookie mistake. I didn’t make sure they had the book I needed before I left. I did call and made sure that I could access their records and hours of operations. But, when I got there, the book I needed, 1922 court records, was sent out to archives. DARNIT!!! I didn’t let myself get upset. I just got to know the other dusty records they had on hand. And they have a lot!!! This was my first time doing research in a courthouse and I just wanted to look at everything. I viewed wills from 1800. I was loving every bit of it. I didn’t find anything about my ancestors because I was just ‘looking’. I didn’t know what I was looking for since my original mission was squashed. But, I made a decision that I’ll go back for an entire week. That way, I’ll have more time to do what I need to do.

The most important part of the trip was sitting and taking to my grandmother and grand uncle about stories they heard and people they know from around town. My grand uncle has a lot of stories because he would sit and listen to his mother when she told them about family. Not many of the other siblings, my grandmother included, listened to their mom when she talked about ‘olden days’. But my uncle did. I need to get back there and sit with him and pick his brain.

Last but not least, I think I know exactly where the Millpond Burial Ground is. This is a picture of a spooky old house that I would need to past in order to get to the field where the cemetery allegedly is located..(that was a long sentence). I got was so excited to be able to see the house that’s on the map in person! We also went to Gallop Cemetery on Blindman Road. Thursday and Friday in Elizabeth City were cold but dry days. However, Saturday, the day we went to look at cemeteries, it rained!! It was freezing! But, I had my tail outside taking pictures of headstones…in the cold and wet. Nothing but adrenaline was pushing me at that point. I’ve never been in a cemetery before, so I don’t know proper cemetery etiquette when it comes to the dead. So, I just said, ‘Sorry’, if I stepped on any graves.

I didn’t recognize any names on the headstones in my family tree. But I took pictures of all of them. My cuz, Tina, is researching her dad’s side of the family and several of these names are in her tree. I plan on posting the pictures to Find A Grave once I get some time.