When your ancestors were common people from a small, rural area, you learn to set modest record expectations. I have few wills, few church records, few family bibles, and few family graveyards to walk through. Record scarcity can be discouraging but it is a normal part of genealogy and it encourages creativity and relationship building with other researchers. Your chances of finding obscure records are much better as part of an active research community than as an individual.
For this reason, joining the Family Research Society of Northeastern North Carolina (FRSNNC) has been one of the smartest decisions I ever made as a researcher. The FRSNNC contains a vast collection of resources including many publications I never would have thought to search on my own. Recently a member of the FRSNNC found an interview of one of my ancestors who lived to be 105 years old. The article is likely the closest I will ever come to being able to talk to her and it provides invaluable insight about her life.
Blanche “Blannie” Price, born June 3, 1906, was the daughter of James E. Price and Emma L. Garrett who married in South Mills on December 22, 1892. James was the son of Samuel and Delsey Price and Emma was the daughter of Lycurgus and Mary Garrett. Blannie was raised near North Carolina Highway 343 and Lake Road and, like many others of her day, was contributing to her family’s livelihood at an early age.
According to the article, Blannie’s parents separated when she was eight or nine years old and she (along with her mother and three siblings) went to live with her mother’s parents. Blannie noted that her grandfather—Lycurgus—had a small store (frequented by both whites and blacks) where he sold general goods on the first floor and built caskets on the second floor. The family also farmed and grew a variety of crops.
Outside of doing what she could to support her family, Blannie’s life revolved around church and it was both the social and spiritual center for many members of the community. In the late 1850s and early 1860s, many families in the area were members of McBride United Methodist Church (established in 1792). An 1858-1860 McBride Church Roll contains the names of numerous “Whites” and “Blacks” who attended together; however, at some point a number of “Blacks” in the area began to hold prayer meetings in their homes.
These meetings started at Sammy Price’s house on Lake Road (Blannie’s paternal grandfather) and moved around to a few other homes. There are no records to document what happened around this time but one can speculate that Reconstruction Era social changes may have led people of color to want their own place of worship. These in-home gatherings went on to become the foundation of the present Antioch Missionary Baptist Church.
On Groundhog’s Day in 1927, Blannie married Herman Hunt, a neighbor and fellow farmer on Lake Road. Herman bought the Hinton farm (also on Lake Road) and the couple went on to have two sons—Leroy and Bernard Hunt. They raised a number of crops and livestock and filled their days with long labor. Blannie attributed her longevity to her love of vegetables and active lifestyle.
Due to her long life and community relationships, Blannie was well recognized in South Mills. Her story is representative of many other farmers of her generation. She was raised riding in a horse and buggy and lived through the transition to automobiles. Despite the freedom that came with newer transportation, Blannie remained on Lake Road for most of her life, married a man who was born and raised on Lake road, and also raised her own children on Lake Road.
This may seem rare by today’s standards but it is quite common to see neighbors who married neighbors for generations in small, rural areas. Likewise, endogamy between free people of color was evident throughout the region and South Mills was no exception. As I continue to study Blannie’s ancestors, here is some information on her grandparents and some community relationships of interest:
|Birth Year||Parents||Spouse(s)||Community Relationships|
|Samuel Price||Pasquotank, NC (?)||1830-1833||Willoughby Price & Lucy ____||Dilcey Lindsay,
|Dilcey Lindsay may have died before 1885. Anna Hunt was the daughter of Henry Newsom and Eliza Trafton.|
|Dilcey Lindsay||Camden, NC (?)||1836-1840||Unknown||Samuel Price||Andrew Newsom, brother of Henry Newsom, married an Eliza Lindsay.|
|Lycurgus Garrett||Currituck, NC||1841||William Ferebee & Clarky Garrett||Mary Cartwright||Mary Cartwright was the daughter of Theophilus Cartwright, who was the son-in-law of Henry Newsom and Eliza Trafton.|
|Mary Cartwright||Camden, NC||1855||Theophilus Cartwright & Ailsey Overton (?)||Lycurgus Garrett
Within this table one can see a number of relationships between a small cluster of families—the Hunts, Lindsays, Newsoms, and Prices were closely connected through land, lifestyle, church affiliation, and intermarriage. Although these families of color were free long before emancipation, they emerged later than the earliest South Mills families of color (e.g. the Basses and Halls) who were established in the area by the 1700s. This post is a brief introduction to the Lake Road legacy and I look forward to sharing many more stories about these families.