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)

Research here I come…

Today, I officially started researching my family tree again. Thanks to They sent me the upgrade to my FTM 2008 for free. So now I have FTM 2009 on my laptop. This makes researching my family tree much easier.

Today, I’m researching Buena Spence. Buena is an ancestor that has an interesting story to tell. She did something that caused her mom to be called as a witness to her trial. Not only that, there is a possibility that she had children that did not belong to her husband. I know, I know. You’re saying that these family secrets should be left buried. Well, I DISAGREE!!! Everyone wants to know the true story, but few will ask those question.

Before my family reunion last year, an aunt of mine sent me obituaries for various family members. She sent me one for I. Joseph Williams. While researching him, I found no connection to my family. I called my aunt and she told me that he was her first cousin on her dad’s side. He was his sisters son. I had his birth certificate in hand and I told her that it didn’t make sense. His mother is listed as a non-Spence. She couldn’t tell me which sister because she didn’t know. I just thought that she was mistaken and put the obituary to the side.

Well, a few weeks before the reunion, I got a ‘wild hair’ and it was bugging me to find out who this person was. I talked to several other family members and they led me in the direction of I. Joseph’s daughter. I tracked her down and just asked her “How are you related to the Spence family?”.

She told me the most interesting story.

She said that the woman on his birth certificate was not his real mother but she was his step mother. She said that his real mother was married when he was conceived but the man she was married to wasn’t his father. As a matter of fact, he has another brother from this union. When his real mother died, the ‘government’ came in to take the boys (she had 2 sons with this outside man) and put them in orphanages, I think. At that point, the real father stepped up and claimed them to be his children. From that point on, he and his wife at the time raised the boys.

WOW…my aunt wasn’t crazy! It seems that Buena was the bit of a wild child and has a good story to tell.

So, next week when I go to Elizabeth City, I will be spending the day at the courthouse to find the court records from 1922. I’m extremely excited!!!


My family reunion was this past weekend (22-24) and we had a great time!

Friday night was the Meet & Greet. I got to see family I hadn’t seen in many years. BUT, I met my 2nd cousin 2 times removed (see the bottom of blog for figuring that out). His grandfather, Preston Banks, and my 3rd Great Grandmother, Harriet Banks, were siblings.

I had previously researched his grandfather’s family. So, when my uncle introduced us and explained who he was, I did what most genealogists would do. I started rattling off who he’s the son, grandson, great grandson of..on both sides of his tree. I think he was pretty impressed by the fact that not only did I know about his Banks side, but I knew about his mother’s Williams side as well.

On Saturday, my fiancé and I went around town. I got some things marked off my list. I visited the FRSNNC which I am a member of and met the President, Sharon Gable. It was a pleasure meeting her b/c I have e-mailed her often for assistance with my family research. Then we went by the library to pick up a copy of an article that the genalogist made for me. It cost me a whole $.10 to get. Then we went exploring.

I wanted to see if I could find my great grandmothers house. I was going off of memory and we just started driving. After a couple of wrong turns, we found it.

The beautiful thing about this is, alot of my family stays on this one road. So all we had to do is park the car and visit with more family.

Saturday night was amazing. Going to our banquets is like going to church. My uncles, The Spence Brothers, are gospel singers in Elizabeth City and they sing at many of the churches there. Every reunion, they sing and it makes you want to get out of your seat. We also had another gospel group come and sing. I don’t have the name of them but they were outstanding. When I get their name, I’ll update the post. When I say that the guy singing “Never would have made it” sounded EXACTLY like Marvin Sapp…that is no exaggeration.

My presentation of the family tree and our history went over well. I think it sparked a lot of interest in the rest of the family by seeing how much work I’ve done over the past year. My only regret is that more of Enoch and Rosa descendents weren’t in attendance. However, I employed my daughter to collect everyone’s address, phone # and e-mail address and she did an amazing job!

Sunday was our farewell cookout. I spent most of the time visiting with family, collecting more addresses for my database and taking pictures.

This weekend I took over 150 pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take a group photo. There was so much to do and so little time. Hopefully next year, that will be accomplished.

But I can say that I can’t wait to go back on a research trip! Especially since I’ve learned the city!

Wordless Wednesdays – Follow up

I don’t know who these people are. For some reason they were in the ‘family book’ my grand aunt made for the elders.

O.k. the picture of the 2 people are top are William Henry McPherson (B: 1872) and Hattie E. (Bouges) McPherson (B: 1877, D: 23 May 1923). They married in 1895 in Pasquotank County, NC. They had 9 possibly 10 children.

  • Tem McPherson (B: 1897) – He possibly married Penelope Griffin in 1915 in Pasquotank.
  • William Ernest McPherson (B: 1899). He married Georgia Temple in 1919 in Pasquotank.
  • Lillie M. McPherson (B: 1901)
  • Mabel L. McPherson (B: 1903)
  • Flossie Luciele McPherson (B: 1923). Possibly married Mavin or Malvin Griffin in 1923 in Pasquotank.
  • Carrie McPherson (B: 1909). Possibly married Joseph T. Williams in 1926.
  • Zelna (Zelda) McPherson (B: 1914). Married Rufus Hinton
  • Naomi M. McPherson (B: 1916).
  • Ruth McPherson (B: 1919)
  • David McPherson –Possibly married Emma Griffin in 1924. This is the one I’m not sure about.

Now, in the family book we have a picture of Annie Hinton. It states she is the daughter of Henry and Hattie McPherson. I believe that Ruth and Annie maybe the same person. I don’t know who these people are and in my research, I haven’t been able to connect them to the tree. So, maybe they were close friends of the family but no one really knows.

Now the article is about 5 generations of Negro farmers. I don’t know this family either. Based on the age of Margaret L. Hinton (90) in the article, I estimate it was written around 1937. According to the 1930 & 1920, census she was born 1851. The 1910 Census states she was born 1855. 1900 Census states she was born about 1848. 1870 she was born about 1846. She died on 11 Sept 1938.

I’ve contacted the Pasquotank Library for assistance on getting a better copy of the article.

Why are these people in the family book?

Maybe someone in cyberspace is looking for this tidbit of info.

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.

More cousins?!?!

Every time I talk to my family, they give me more and more information.

On a conversation with my grandmother about a month ago, she was telling me about a funeral home in Elizabeth City. It was owned by Dennis Stallings. She said that he was a cousin of ours. But, of course, she didn’t know how. She knew that Dennis’s mother was Betty Spence and she married Dennis Sr. The current owner of the funeral home is the son. She also mentioned another name, Oscar Spence and he was related to Betty some kind of way.

So, as a genealogy freak, I was searching as I was holding the phone w/my grandmother.

After about 20 minutes of searching, this is what I was able to find:

  • Betty Spence’s real name is Dorothy Elizabeth Spence.
  • She married Dennis Stallings in 1950.
  • Dennis was the son of Cader Stallings B: 1885 and Ella Bright B: 1892.
  • Betty was the daughter of James A. Spence B: 1891 and Bettie Temple B: 1896.
  • James and Betty also had a son named Oscar.

DING DING DING. There is my Oscar and Betty Spence connection. They’re siblings. But, how are they related to me? *happy dance subsided*

Well, I don’t know. I do know that James and Betty married in 1912. So, in 1910, James would be listed either alone or living with his parents. He would only be 19 at that time. DAGNABIT, there is no James Spence in 1910. Maybe he’s off working somewhere. But, in 1900, I did locate him. Living with his parents Moses Spence B: 1846 and Louisa Turner B: 1855.

This takes me back to the possible slave owner, Thomas B. Williams. He owned a male slave in 1860 that was age 12. Maybe Moses is a sibling of my ancestor Aaron Edward Spence.

But, what I will be doing to verify this is.

  • Order a copy of Betty Spence’s birth, marriage & death certificates
  • Order a copy of Moses Spence death certificate
  • Order a copy of Moses and Louisa’s marriage certificate
  • Order a copy of Oscar Spence’s birth, marriage & death certificates

Luckily Moses died after 1913, how morbid but we genealogy freaks love when ancestors die AFTER records are kept. Which in Pasquotank, it was after 1913.

Am I the only one that wished family kept records knowing we’re going to research this later?!?

Family Profile: Aaron Edward Spence

Today’s family profile is of Aaron Edward Spence. Based on his death certificate, he was born 29 September 1853 in Pasquotank County, NC. I suspect he was born into slavery considering that his parents, Enoch Spence and Susan Williams are not listed on the 1860 census. Nor is he or his parents listed on the 1870 census. Black folk shied away from government people in those days.

I believe that Aaron and his parents were owned by slave owner named Thomas B. Williams. Now this is a guess based on the fact that Susan’s last name was Williams and Thomas’s wife, Ellen, was the neighboring white family in 1880 when Enoch and Susan finally showed up on the census. It’s possible that the family remained serving the Williams family even after emancipation. I know that Thomas owned slaves in 1860. Enoch would have been abt 53 in 1860 and Susan would have been abt 47. I’m ordering the estate records from NC state archives to verify this.

In 1877, Aaron had married Hester Riddick of Pasquotank County, NC (B: 1856), daughter of Edward and Sophia Riddick. Neither Aaron nor Hester shows up on the 1880 census. It’s possible that Hester died in childbirth because by 1888, Aaron had remarried. Dineppa (Dinah) Bogues/Boague of Pasquotank County, NC was his 2nd wife. They both were on their 2nd marriage. Dineppa was previously married to Oliver Foreman. I suspect that Oliver passed away and she remarried. However, she too also passed away. I haven’t been able to find record of that, but divorce was not something that was very common. In 1892, Aaron married for a 3rd time to Cora McCoy of Camden County, NC (B: 1871, D: 07 Oct 1922). That union yielded 9 children. Berna B: 1893, Enoch B: 1894, Herbert B: 1896, Clyde Lee B: 1898, Blariche/Blanche B: 1900, Pearl B: 1902, Mabel B: 1904, Aaron Edward B: 1906 and Charlie Mack B: 1909.

I believe Aaron to have been the youngest of his siblings or the youngest living. By 1900 census, his mother Susan was living with him. She’s listed as 86 years old at the time. She’s also listed on the census as having 6 children and 4 living.

These are possible siblings that I have to research further. Excuse the roughness of this, these are my notes.

  • Enoch Spence born abt 1825. Only shows on 1870 census married to Prissy. By 1880, Prissey is a widow.
  • Joseph Spence born abt 1830. Living near Enoch Spence on 1870. Married to Tilley.
  • John Spence born abt 1832. Living in Pasquotank 1870 married to Winney–oldest son Anderson. Living nearby is a Williams (white) family by 1880, John died and Winney/Vinney is a widow.
  • Jennie Spence. Married Edmund Sawyer 1873. Possible sister.
  • Martha Ann Spence married Jacob Moore 1880. Possible sister. There’s a Martha L. Moore living with Hardy Measels in 1880 listed as widow and sister in law. Meaning she’s Hardy’s wife (Fanney) sister. Fanny maiden name was Temple. Married Hardy in 1871. May not be the same.
  • Martha J Spence married Daniel Godfrey 1894.
  • Nancy Spence married Alfred Ferebee jr. 1902. Possible sister. –Side Note, this is also the same Alfred Ferebee that could be a possible half brother to William Lowry. CORRECTION 08/04/08-Her maiden name is Griffin. She married Moses Spence then married Alfred. Not a true Spence.
  • Sarah E. Spence married Henry Murden 1894. 1910 Henry Murden living in Pasquotank w/wife Anna. Then moved to PA.

Aaron died in 1920 and Cora died 2 years later in 1922 in Pasquotank, NC. Their death certificates state that they were buried at Hinton BG. However, I haven’t been able to locate that. My grandmother said that it’s located further down on Mill Pond Road. The same road my grandmother and great grandmother has lived for years.

Off to do more research.

Happy Sleuthing….

Naming Patterns

One thing I learned researching my family tree is names carry on from generation to generation. Knowing these family names helps make connections.

For example: My Great Grandfather is Aaron Edward Spence (B: 1906). His brother was Enoch Spence (B: 1894). Their father was Aaron Edward Spence (B: 1853). His father was Enoch Spence (B: 1807, D: 1880-1900).

I found this on Ireland naming patterns. My family is far from Irish, but some of these patterns seem to ring true with African-American ancestry.

I was able to make these connections by names alone. But to prove it, I ordered marriage and death certificates. But it proved, at least in my family, the names of your ancestors can help you make family connections.