Category Archives: Richardson

Victim of a Pandemic

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grave stone of Neill Abner Curtis Hicks, 1897-1918

There is an old Scottish cemetery in the Sandhills of North Carolina, where the oldest grave is dated 1796. Many people buried there were from the Western Isles of Scotland, including Jura and Skye. They spoke Gaelic.  Most of the graves have the names Ferguson and McDonald on them. The last monument was a tribute to a soldier who fell in World War I, not from an enemy bullet, but from a virus, during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.

My aunt, Willie Alexander Carr, told me of walking to the cemetery with her mother, Loula Richardson Alexander, when Willie was seven years old. They went down a lane and through the woods near the Alexanders’ farm, balancing on a log to cross the creek. They were visiting the grave of Loula’s first cousin, Curtis Hicks.

The Hicks family lived in the township of Greenwood, in Moore County, North Carolina. Abner Hicks and Margaret McDonald married in 1890, and by 1902, they had five children. Then they lost their sixth child as an infant, and two years later, after the birth of twins, Margaret died. Her babies, a boy and a girl, died soon after. Their graves were all placed beside Margaret’s parents in the old cemetery.

In 1911, Abner remarried, to Flora Ann Yow, a neighbor. My father remembered her as “Aunt Flora Ann,” beloved by the family for her kindness to her step-children.

The fourth child of Abner and Margaret, Curtis, was twenty-one when young men were drafted for the Great War. His draft card described him as dark haired and blue eyed. He worked for a local farmer, Angus Cameron, who owned a saw mill. Curtis registered in June of 1918 and left his home for Fort Jackson in August.

Curtis was assigned to Camp Sevier, built in 1917 near Greenville, S. C., to train soldiers for the war. By the Armistice in November 1918, 80,000 soldiers had passed through the large camp. In September of 1918, the first influenza case appeared in the camp hospital, and it opened a floodgate.

The epidemic developed so rapidly that facilities and staff were expanded and taxed to the limit. When the hospital filled up, the Red Cross and Y. M. C. A. buildings, the schoolhouse, a theater, mess halls, and tents became hospital wards. Medical officers were joined by civilian, professional, and practical nurses in tending to a total of 6,000 patients.

Personnel used many precautions, isolating patients with hanging sheets and screens. Doctors, nurses, and attendants wore masks and gowns. Patients with pneumonia were placed in separate wards. Disposable cups and plates were used and burned afterward.

Curtis Hicks was one of the unfortunate soldiers who developed pneumonia, which caused his lungs to hemorrhage and quickly caused his death. Three hundred and forty soldiers died, a death rate over 5% in the camp. He died on October 4, only a few months after his induction into the Army. By November 11, the epidemic, as well as the war, was effectively over.

Curtis was buried near his mother and his grandfather, John Finlayson McDonald. Willie and Loula visited the grave when fresh soil was still mounded over it. Woods now cover the acre of old family graves, and real estate development has slowly surrounded it.

Copyright 2020 by Glenda Alexander. All rights reserved.

Sources:

wwI_soldier

Willie D. Richardson, cousin of Curtis Hicks, WWI

1900 U. S. Census, McNeill’s Tshp., Moore County, N. C., p. 169; NARA Microfilm T623-1207; 1910 U. S. Census, McNeill’s Tshp., Moore County, N. C., p. 193; NARA Microfilm T624-1119; 1920 U. S. Census, Vass, Moore County, N. C., E. D. 92, p. 21B; NARA Microfilm T625-1300; accessed on Ancestry.com.

North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015. Original data: North Carolina County Registers of Deeds. Microfilm. Record Group 048. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005.;

South Carolina Death Records, 1821-1955 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original data: South Carolina. South Carolina death records. Columbia, SC, USA: South Carolina Department of Archives and History.

Influenza Outbreak of 1918-1919, by Steve Case, revised by Lisa Gregory, 2010, NC Government and Heritage Library, NCPedia.com. Accessed 7 March 2020.

U.S., Lists of Men Ordered to Report to Local Board for Military Duty, 1917–1918 [database on-line]. Original data: War Department, Office of the Provost Marshal General, Selective Service System, 1917– 07/15/1919. National Archives at College Park. College Park, Maryland.

Office of Medical History: Office of the Surgeon General, “Extracts from Reports Relative to Influenza, Pneumonia, and Respiratory Diseases,” April 4, 2003, http://history.amedd.army.mil/booksdocs/wwi/1918flu/ARSG1919/ARSG1919Extractsflu.htm#U1. (continued)%20CAMP%20SEVIER%20BASE%20HOSPITAL%20REPORT, accessed March 9, 2020.

Grave monument in McDonald-Ferguson family cemetery, off County Road 1825, approx. .4 mile from Highway 1, just north of Crains Creek, Moore County. Visit to cemetery and photographs taken March 29, 2002.

Interviews with Willie Alexander Carr and Lewey G. Alexander, Sr., by the author, April 1, 2002.

If my great-grandmothers were alive today…

Post Script to my post on great grandmothers–

I love what KristenLynn Writes on her blog:

“If our Great-Grandmothers would’ve had Facebook and Twitter when they were young mothers…”

This is hilarious…mostly.  “#roughtimes”

https://kristenlynnwrites.wordpress.com/2014/03/04/if-our-great-grandmothers-wouldve-had-facebook-and-twitter-when-they-were-young-mothers/

My grandmother Loula & her sister, Pearl, when they were young mothers.

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All rights reserved.

International Women’s Day: Honoring My Great-Grandmothers

This is a quilt honoring my four great-grandmothers.

Left:  Martha Frances White Johnson (1862-1933) claimed Native American ancestry, and her maternal grandmother was said to have come from the Powhatan Reservation.

Right:  Margaret Matilda Stillwell Alexander (1847-1931) was an identical twin. She startled the neighbors at her sister’s funeral. Her husband was also a twin.

Top:  Mary Arabella McDonald Richardson (1867-1935) was the grand-daughter of immigrants from the Western Isles of Scotland. She loved to walk on her land in the Sandhills.

Bottom:  Margaret Jane Willey Oakley (1858-1934) gathered wild herbs for a living and ran the farm after her husband’s death. Her six children were all boys.

 

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All rights reserved.

Valentine’s Day

How did your grandparents meet?  You might find clues in the census.

William Franklin Alexander married Loula Isabella Richardson on July 13, 1910, in Moore County, N. C.  (On the left is their wedding portrait.)  In May of that year, the census said he operated a shingle mill and was a boarder in the John D. Richardson household.  John Richardson was a farmer, and other records indicate that he  owned a saw mill.  His daughter Loula and her sisters were employed on the farm at the occupation of “chopping,” while their brothers did plowing.  Adjacent to the Richardson household on the census page was George Morgan, who was a laborer in the shingle mill.  In the same year, Loula’s sister Pearl would elope with George.  Two of her nieces told me that she slipped out of the house at night, with the help of some female cousins of the McDonald family.  George drove his buggy to Virginia, where they married across the state line.

Like many contemporary couples, these people met at work.  The shingle mill was located on the farm, and Frank actually lived in the household of his future wife.

Last fall, at the North Carolina State Fair, I saw a steam-powered saw mill in operation, which was probably similar to the one used by Frank and George for cutting wooden shingles for roofs and siding for buildings.

Source:  1910 U. S. Census, Greenwood Township, Moore County, N. C., E. D. 7, p. 9A; Family Bible records of the Alexander family in possession of Glenda Alexander.

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All rights reserved.

Of Astronomy

When Jeremiah Mobley (1744-1826, Edgefield, S. C.) and his family read his copy of the Self-Instructor, they might have been led to believe that there was life on Mars and other planets. In the section on Astronomy, the “most sublime of all the sciences,” they would have read that Mars “has a considerable, but moderate atmosphere, so that its inhabitants probably enjoy a situation, in many respects, similar to ours.”

The sun was described as a “large and lucid planet,” solid, with an atmosphere and with mountains and valleys on its surface. Therefore, it was deducted that “it is most probably inhabited, like the rest of the planets, by beings whose organs are adapted to the peculiar circumstances of that vaster globe.” The Instructor explained how, by logic, the sun must have areas, like mountain tops, which would have cooler temperatures that would not “scorch up” everything on them. His knowledge of the approximate diameter of the sun and its size relative to the Earth’s size were pretty accurate, even though he underestimated its heat.

Astronomy was defined as the science concerning the motions of planets and stars. The Instructor explained how observation and logic determined that the earth was a sphere, and how scholars had debated whether the earth or the sun was the center of the universe.

The Mobleys may have consulted the book when they experienced the Great Comet of 1811, which presumably they and the rest of the world could see in the sky for the better part of a year, without a telescope. The Self-Instructor told them that comets remain in the sky for hundreds of years, and after fading out of sight, they will reappear to future generations. The Astronomy chapter also covered the topics of tides, eclipses, and stars, describing constellations and the Milky Way.

Astrology, however, was called a “malady of weak minds,” as the stars were considered to be too far away to influence human lives. Also, to know the future would destroy human confidence and motivation. Furthermore, the Instructor asserted that only “the light of science…can free us from the gross impositions of these wretched empiricks.” (An empiric being someone who believes in only what they can observe for themselves, as opposed, perhaps, to someone who believes, based on theory, that people live on the sun.)

On the other hand, farming according to the sun signs was a useful thing, as was telling time and navigating by the stars. Also important was the spiritual value of contemplating the vastness of the universe, enhanced by the elegant planetarium illustrated.

Sources: E. MacKenzie, The Self-Instructor; or Young Man’s Best Companion: Being a New, Sure, and Easy Guide to Knowledge, Virtue, and Happiness (Newcastle Upon Tyne: MacKenzie and Dent, 1827) pp. 263-290; “Great Comet of 1811,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Comet_of_1811, accessed 9 Feb. 2018, last edited on 6 February 2018.

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All rights reserved.

 

The Self-Instructor

SelfInstructor001 copyThis book was listed in the estate inventory of Jeremiah Mobley, who died in 1826 in Edgefield County, S. C. Jeremiah’s assets also included a wagon, livestock, furniture, and shoemakers’ tools. Estate inventories can have great clues as to the occupation and prosperity of an individual.

Young Man’s Companion was first published in England in 1731 and published in New York for the American colonies in 1770. It is a book of general, practical knowledge and instruction in everything from reading and writing to medicine and business, a sort of encyclopedia. This edition, published a year after Jeremiah’s death, contains over 600 pages of information and a few very fine illustrations.

secret writing002

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This page deals with secret writing, in case a person wanted to write a message for the eyes of a select audience. The owner of this copy obviously tried one of the methods on the page itself. I’m guessing it was the lemon juice trick, having tried that myself in Girl Scouts.

Literacy and education were not available free to the public in Jeremiah Mobley’s time, so a book of self-instruction would have been valuable enough to leave in a will, had he made one.

Jeremiah’s son James Mobley lived in Siler City, N. C. and was a shoemaker. Among his descendants are Pyrena Mobley, who married William H. H. Richardson in Chatham County in 1866. They were the parents of John Dolphus Richardson who settled in Moore County.

Copyright 2018 by Glenda Alexander.  All Rights Reserved.