Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dark Salvation: Methodism Comes to America

As I spoke to my mother on the telephone this week, I shared with her some of the history of the Methodist circuit riders. She told me of a time when I was just a small child when Stroudsburg United Methodist Church had celebrated an anniversary of the denomination with an historical visit by a circuit rider.
What made you want to research the church's history, she asked.
Being raised in the United Methodist Church, I had never been taught the history of Methodism . . . not even in Confirmation classes. So, what would make me want to search for its formation in America when my research is focused on African American family and local history?

On our last visit with my husband's cousins following the 2009 George Family Reunion, Cousin Hattie said,
We were always Methodists. . . .

 Hattie is gone now. . . and I honor her memory by keeping my promise to tell the story.

CHAPTER III: Methodism Comes to America


When early local church histories are sketchy due to a lack of documents and living witnesses, we must go back further, to the origins in America. From this we can gain insight from well-documented narratives and diaries of ministers and lay leaders, and imagine how it might have played out in our particular locality.

The time frame is approximately one hundred years prior to the founding of the African American Episcopal Zion Church South of the County.

In 1760 a group of persons from Ireland arrived in New York City. They were of German descent, their ancestors having fled Germany a century before to escape religious persecution . . . . In the group . . . were two persons who were to play a large part in planting Methodism in America. One was Philip Embury, who had been a Methodist class leader and local preacher in Ireland, and the other was Barabara Heck, Embury's cousin . . . . Embury's home soon became too small for the numbers that attended. A room was rented, but after a year they undertook to build a "meeting house." Contributions were solicited. In the list of contributors there are the names of several Negro slaves . . . . The Society started in Embury's house eventually became the John Street Church in New York City, known as the mother church of Methodism. By 1795 there were 155 black members . . . . it was from this group of blacks that some members withdrew in 1801 to organize the African Chapel which eventually became the African Methodist Episcopal Church Zion denomination (Richardson, pp. 36-37).
When missionary Francis Asbury arrived in America there were 600 Methodists in the colonies. Two years later there were 1,600. Three years after this in 1776, at the outbreak of the American Revolution, there were 4,921; in 1786, 20,689; and in 1800 there were 63,958. In 1771 there were ten traveling preachers; in 1800 there were nearly two hundred. The growth was neither automatic nor easy. It was due to tireless, sacrificial labors of the preachers . . . . These men at first were ordinary laymen, some of them poorly educated . . . . They preached in homes and churches, "meeting houses" or open fields. They preached on crowded streets or by country lanes; on jailhouse steps or, as in the case of Asbury, from a hangman's gallows after a public hanging. They preached to receptive crowds or in spite of attacks by brutal, violent mobs. They did this with little thought of personal safety or reward (pp. 37-38).
The chapter borrows freely from Abel Stevens' histories of the MEC, and the dramatic first-hand accounts of inter-racial worship illustrate the true spirit of Galatians 3:28: 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, 
there is neither bond nor free, 
there is neither male nor female: 
for ye are all one in Christ Jesus (KJV).

It was not until nearly a century later, following the invention of the cotton gin at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, when the severe Negro Codes began to deepen and broaden the racial dividing line in places of worship. The discontent which arose in the souls of blacks was largely what caused them to desire an end to segregation in the House of God, and to establish separate places of worship.

For additional reading:
Abel Stevens, History of the Religious Movement of the 18th Century (1858).
Abel Stevens, History of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America (1866).
W. J. Walls, The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (1974).




Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Dark Salvation: Faith in Chains

While the Carter and George families were free people of color since the 1730s, living in a community made up of a majority of free people of color, I have at times wondered how they must have felt--beyond the obvious--about their enslaved brethren.

As we learned in the series entitled, Ministers & Preachers of Township 5, black preachers recorded in the Census did not show up until 1880. This was mainly due to laws of segregation which made it necessary for ordained white ministers to oversee unordained black preachers. In addition, following Emancipation, many illiterate preachers joining organized denominations were required to seek education at a theological seminary which would prepare them for ordination.

The following chapter in Dark Salvation examines how the origins of enslaved people affected their spiritual identity in the New World.

Dr. Neil A. Frankel's,
The Atlantic Slave Trade and
Slavery in America

Part I: Background
Chapter II: The Slave and His Religion: Faith in Chains


Richardson states that:
Most of the Negroes who were brought into the Western Hemisphere came from the west coastal regions of central or sub-Saharan Africa, roughly the section that extends from Senegal (Dakar) in the north to Angola in the south. . . . The people of West Africa had well-developed religions (p. 14).
 Professor Gayraud Wilmore stated
. . . that the African religions. . . . are mature, enlightened beliefs and practices common to many religions and similar in many ways to contemporary Christian faith. . . . It is a continent comprising many nations and multiplicity of tribes large and small, each with its own language or dialect, its own culture and its own history. . . .  Even today in the city of Accra, a five-minute radio news broadcast takes thirty minutes. It must be given in five tribal languages in addition to English. Only in the broadest sense can one speak of anything as commonly or uniformly "African" (p. 15).
As a multi-culturalist, this has been my understanding for years; although, to some is is taken as an offense. The French professor and African scholar, Roger Bastide, warns that
care must be taken not to write ideas and phenomena of our own time into the history of three centuries ago, and not to arrange such knowledge as we do have to suit contemporary interests and biases (p. 15-16).
With this concept in mind, we must understand that from the African perspective, there was no separation between the secular and the sacred. Life was viewed as a whole...in unity. Their religions included elaborate moral and ethical systems, just as we find of the Hebrews in the book of Leviticus; and they understood that a creative God gave life and order to the natural world. Some accounts bore striking similarities or at least were compatible with the Genesis account.

I have heard it said many times that some feel that just as Africans' family identity, language, culture and religion were stripped from them in a repressive society, that Christianity--"the religion of white Europeans"--was forced upon them. Throughout my research I have seen a dichotomy in this respect. The planters were afraid that if a slave became baptized and given a Christian name that he would learn to read, giving him more power than they desired him to obtain.
It was in this system that black people, some originally from Africa, but many more born in America, tried to find meaning and purpose in existence. It was in this system that some slaves tried to find God (p. 23).
For this reason, Methodist ministers had to teach orally. Upon conversion, blacks participated in segregated white churches, sitting in the balcony or in the back, and taking communion after the whites.
It was this faith in the ultimate righteousness of God that enabled the slave to bridge the contradiction between the good god as taught by the missionaries and the god who would let His black children suffer. They believed in heaven and hell. Heaven let them look to a good end to this painful life, if not here, then at least hereafter. Hell let them believe in the ultimate righting of wrongs (p. 28).

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dark Salvation: The Story of Methodism as It Developed Among Blacks in America, by Harry V. Richardson (1976)

This is the first post in a new series about the development of post-Emancipation African-American Methodist Churches. When the direct approach toward research yields small fruits, than a broader, more generalized approach must be taken.

This is the most recent book I've read on the subject, and since it has offered much, I now share with you my gleanings.  There may be many points that I do not address which might interest you; but, I will be focusing on those aspects which will help me to recreate how things might have been for my husband's ancestors in their small, timber and farming community in coastal North Carolina.

PART I: Background
Chapter I: The Beginnings of Methodism


Since the most basic origins of the Methodist Church are commonly known, i.e. its founders, the beginnings of  The Holy Club at Christ Church College, and the derisive nickname attributed toward them, I will gloss over these. What I found interesting was that their initial missions proved unsuccessful. Both John and Charles Wesley came to the colony of Georgia in 1735,
John to serve as a missionary to the Indians and chaplain to the settlement at Savannah, and Charles to serve as secretary to General Oglethorpe and chaplain to the settlers at Frederica (p. 5).

Because Georgia had been settled as a debtors' colony, it was thought that the introduction of slaves would prove counterproductive. Those newly settled in the colony had been largely city-dwellers, inexperienced as farmers, and unaccustomed to working the types of crops that could grow in that soil and climate. The only "Negroes" found within the colony were runaways from neighboring colonies; and for this reason, the Wesleys had little contact with them. Yet John Wesley wrote his opinion of them in his antislavery pamphlet, Thoughts Upon Slavery.

Following the Wesleys' conversion experience,
They preached with such vigor, and aroused such "excessive" emotional response in the hearers, that they were soon excluded from the churches. Undaunted, they took to the open fields, and to the streets, anywhere a crowd could come together. Great numbers flocked to hear them, expressing their feelings with cries, tears, prostrations, and "fits." Many were converted (p.11).
In order to understand the episcopacy of the African-American offshoots of the Methodist Episcopal Church, we must first understand the method John Wesley used to organize the body of converts. First they were divided into Societies, and those were divided into classes headed by leaders. Unordained lay preachers were appointed to instruct and inspire the Societies. As the groups spread out across a region, itinerant preachers, or circuit riders who were ordained ministers, traveled between churches within a district and oversaw the preaching and instruction of Society members. Even today, it is common for most UMC ministers to remain in one location for no more than 3-4 years.
In a letter to Francis Asbury of September 30, 1785, he said: "Were I to preach three years together in one place, both the people and myself would grow as dead as stones (p. 12). 
Because the lay preachers were unordained, they were unable to serve communion, and thus the need arose to have ordained preachers within each church.

One item of notes gave clarity to the phrase, "annual conference."
Note: "The term 'annual conference' has three meanings as it is used within Methodism. In the first sense it refers to the administrative body which has jurisdiction over two or more district conferences. In the second sense it refers to the geographical territory administered by the conference. In the third sense, the term is used to refer to the meeting itself which is held once a year by this body for the purpose of regulating the affairs of all the churches located within the territory."  From an unpublished manuscript by Yorke S. Allen, Jr. (p. 13).
For additional reading:
John Wesley, Thoughts Upon Slavery, 1774, a pamphlet, printed in The Works of the Rev. John Wesley, A.M., John Emory, ed., (1835).

Sunday, November 20, 2011

THE THIRD ANNUAL GREAT GENEALOGY POETRY CHALLENGE: "The OD Pill"

Today I take a parenthetical pause in my stream of posts on family church history to participate in Bill West's Third Annual Great Genealogy Poetry Challenge, formerly known as The Great Genealogy Poetry & Song Challenge.

This year my offering comes from a letter written by my grandfather, Francis Allyn Newton, Co. H., 107th U.S. Infantry, Camp Wadsworth, Spartanburg, S.C., to his mother on November 3, 1917. He closes the seven page letter with,
I had better close now as I am getting sleepy. With love to all, I remain Your Loving and Obedient Son, F.A. Newton
P.S. You will find a little poem in here that will possibly interest you. It was written by Pvt. Van Zandt in my tent. He is somewhat of a comedian. It was written about a certain Cathartic pill which is given to soldiers for nearly all ailments and is the cause of much comment in the Army. It is known as the O.D. pill.
The O.D. Pill, by Van Zandt, Co. H., 107th U.S. Inf.

You've heard of Doctor Reynolds
That wonder working man
With his cure for Barbers itch
And all the troubles of the Land
Who with a root and berrie
And a bit of bark, you see
Not to mention sand, imported
Upon a camels misplace knee
From the Himilayan Mountains
In far off Heathen Chinee
Concocted him a potion
Which has been my notion
Of a medicine perfect
For suffering humanitee
No doubt Doctor Reynolds
Would be the wonder still
But for the discovery 
Of the O.D. Pill.

Long and grand was his reign
And his renown was wide
But when the O.D. came
Old Doc began his slide
No pain nor sprain, nor ache nor break
Can long hold out if a pill you take
If the Army surgeon had his way
The Soldier would live 'til Judgement Day
For a headache or a toothache
For a backache or an earache
Take a pill
A fallen arch arises
With a speed that surprises
Take a pill.
If while jumping over hurdles
Brooks and tree stumps, even turtles
You sprain your ank. and yelp with pain
You had best quit your clatter
For there's really naught the matter
Take a pill.
If you're feeling rather blue 
Cuz she hasn't written you
Take a pill.
If work drills fatigue you
Don't lay down, the cooks will need you
Take a pill.

When on the trip across 
Your stomach you have lost
O're the starboard railing
Midships in the sea
While the others are whaling
You'll be no longer ailing
Take a pill.

When the Hun has run you thru
With a long short point or two
And made things worse
With gas and bombs andsuch
Tho' he's belted you and flayed you
By the living God that made you
You'll be a better man than he'll be
Take a pill.

My grandfather continues...
Written on the pill given by the Army surgeons for nearly all ailments...it's name is taken from the color of the uniform, Olive Drab, although the pill is white.


 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The next step in church history

I have come to a close on the research of ministers and preachers in Township 5 through Census documentation. A friend who is interested in matters of church history and development asked me recently about the books I have been reading in this area.

For the next several posts, I will devote attention to these. You will also find them grouped together on the Relevant Books & Authors page.

I hope you'll stop by, and I encourage discussion on this...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In Search of Frances M. Bell: second wife of the Presiding Elder, the Rev. Jacob S. Bell

In search of Jacob S. Bell's second wife, I decided to take what information I had and try to work around it.

"Frances M." was born abt. 1877 in North Carolina. She had been married previously at the age of 30, abt. 1900. So I searched the 1900 Census for Carteret County for a woman named Frances, b. abt. 1877. There were eighteen results.

The closest match was a 22-year-old, single, black woman named Frances Wilson, born April 1878, and residing in Beaufort, Carteret, NC on June 21st. She was the mother of four children, ranging in ages from 8 to 3/12. There was no male head of house recorded. I then decided to search for a Frances Wilson in 1910. On April 20, 1910, Frances Wilson, age 37 and still single, resided with her nine children in Beaufort. In 1920, she is still recorded as single, and living in Beaufort with five children. In 1930, I was unable to find a Frances Wilson who fit our description; so, I began searching for her children: Levi, William and Alexander, the oldest living in her household in 1920. However, a search for Alex Wilson in 1930 led me to an enumeration for Francis Wilson, his mother, and his brother Steve and sister Minzette.

Although this search proved unfruitful in that it led me to yet another brick wall, at least I have been able to discern that this was NOT Jacob S. Bell's second wife, and that there must be a "Frances M." out there, somewhere. . . .

My next guess would be that perhaps she did not come from Carteret County. . . .

The Parentage of Presiding Elder, the Rev. Jacob S. Bell

Rev. Jacob S. Bell's death certificate had recorded his parents' names as Ander Bell* and Orlas Fisher*. The informant had been his second wife, Frances M. Bell. Unable to locate any records for an Ander Bell nor Orlas Fisher, I tried other avenues. . . .

In order to prove the parentage of Jacob S. Bell, I searched the 1880 Census for Jacob Bell. I located him (20) in the household of C. F. James (35), a farmer in Morehead, Carteret, NC. Also living in household was Frank Pigott (25), a servant. They were all single black men.

In 1870 I found him (10) in the household of Violet Bell (40). His siblings were George W. (17), Hubard (14), Charles (8), and James (4). I could find no record of marriage for Violet; however, when looking for information on Jacob's siblings, I located the Freedman's Bank Records for his brother, George Washington Bell.
Ancestry.com.
Freedman's Bank Records, 1865-1871.
The record list George Washington's family as:
Father: Charles Bell
Mother: Violet Bell
Brothers and Sisters: Hubbard, Jacob and Charles
According to the record, George Washington Bell was born in Hull SwampCarteret County, NC, and was employed as a laborer for the railroad.

Since I could find no record of a household for Charles Bell in 1860, I believe that his family were enslaved at that time; so, I began looking for clues for white Bell families in Carteret County who owned slaves.

There were 190 Bells in Carteret County in 1860. . . so I decided to go directly to the 1860 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedules. There were 178 slaves held by Bell families in Carteret County that year. Slaves were indexed first by descending ages. Five were recorded as one year old. The enumeration took place in June 1, 1860 and Jacob was born on April 2nd. He would be 2 months old.

Jaby W. Bell owned two slaves age one, but they were both females.
Josiah F. Bell owned one slave age one. . . also a female.
M. R. Bell also owned one female slave age one.

That leaves only one, a slave owned by W. B. Bell, a male age 1. The household was enumerated on the 26th day of June, 1860. He owned a total of 15 slaves. If Jacob's mother, Violet, were living in this household, she would be 30 years old. The female slaves in this household were ages 41 (2), 22 and 14.

Supposing that Jacob was not enumerated because he was less than one year old, I decided to look for his mother in another household as a female slave, age 30. Only three existed in the county, found in the following households: Rufus Bell, W. F. Bell, and Polly Bell Minn. Since I could not find the marriage bond for Charles Bell and Violet, and because death certificates were not issued prior to 1914, I am unable to locate a record for Charles based on age, since he is presumed dead before 1870.

In the 1870 Census the household of Jane Bell (w) was enumerated immediately following Violet's.
In the 1900 Census there were two white Bell households next to Jacob & Annie's:
William S. Bell, Sr. (71): Harriet (sister, 69), Charlotte (sister, 67), and
Thomas C. Bell (41): Lena (wife).
Perhaps an enumeration for these Bells existed in 1860. It turned out that W.S. Bell was a farm inspector in the household of Hannah Oglesby, and lived there with his wife Louisa and son Thomas, and owned real estate valued at $200 and personal property valued at $200.

In 1850, William Bell was found in his father's household along with his sisters, Harriet and Charlotte. Amariah Bell (34) lived with his wife, Ann (41), and their seven children: Nelson (23), William (21), Eliza (20), Harriette (17), Charlotte (15), Naomi (5), and Mary H. (0); and presumably his mother, Ann Bell (57).
However, Amariah Bell did NOT own slaves.

Perhaps I may never discover who the white masters of Charles and Violet Bell and their children were. . . .

Ministers & Preachers of Township 5: 1930: Presiding Elder Jacob S. Bell

Photos by: Mojo Warren
Courtesy of Find A Grave
Bayview Cemetery,
Morehead City, NC
It has taken some time to gather the supporting evidence for Jacob Shepard Bell, whom I first discovered through the 1920 U.S. Federal Census for Township 5, Craven, North Carolina. I was aware of the BELL connection to our CARTER and GEORGE family lines, and had heard the name before, but never realized that he had attained the influence he must have carried. I am certain that more relevant information regarding this man of God is out there, yet untapped. I will continue with my search, but feel it is time to present that which I have gathered to date.

1910: Township 5, Craven, NC;
Roll: T624_1104; Pages 5B, 6A;
Enumeration District: 0018; Images 786, 787;
FHL Number: 1375117.
 On April 21, 1910, Jacob S. Bell was enumerated as the head of a household of eleven residing on Mitchell's Creek. He was recorded as a black man, age 51, married for 28 years to Annie. Together they had 14 children, but in 1910, only 13 survived. Their marriage was recorded in the Carteret County Register of Deeds in Book 1882: Page 4: Jacob S. Bell (22) md. Ann Wallace (19) on 11 May 1882 in Morehead, NC. His occupation in 1910 was Clergyman/Teacher.

Progressing to the 1920 Census, I had anticipated finding Jacob S. Bell as a minister in the same location, perhaps a minister at Piney Grove AME Zion, the family church of the Carters and Georges, located on Temple's Point Road. By 1920, however, his family had relocated to Beaufort, Carteret, NC, which would possibly place him as a minister at Purvis Chapel, where the descendants of Peter James Hyman attend services.

On January 21, 1920 Jacob S. Bell was enumerated as a mulatto male, age 60, who owned a mortgaged house on Broad Street, Beaufort, NC. . . a preacher. His household consisted of himself, his wife Annie, and ten children: 3 daughters and 7 sons.




Ann (Wallace) Bell
Born: 1868 in Wildwood, NC
Father: Hasty Wallace.
Mother: Hanah Ward.
Informant: J.H. Bell (sic)
Died: February 25, 1923 at 2:55 a.m. in Morehead City, Carteret, NC of a cerebral hemorrhage due to hypertension at age 55.




In 1930 Jacob S. Bell was found in Morehead City, which is located 18.6 miles south of Township 5 (North Harlowe) along Highway 101, 3.89 miles west of Beaufort. By this time, his first wife Ann had died, and he was remarried to Frances M., a 53-year-old negro woman, residing on North 12th Street. His age at first marriage was recorded as 21 (to Ann Wallace), and hers as 30 (md. 1900 to ?). I was unable to locate any marriage record for them in Carteret County, nor was I able to find her death certificate nor burial record at Find A Grave.

There, in 1930, the then 71-year-old owned a home worth $2000, and his occupation was enumerated as Presiding Elder, Methodist Church. None of his children were present in the household at that time.

The following is a composite of his household from 1900-1930:
Jacob S. and Ann (Wallace) Bell: CH:

  1. Crisous "CAC", (son) b.  Feb. 1883 in Wildwood, NC; d. Nov 24, 1915 in Morehead City, NC of Tuburculosis.
  2. Daisy V[iolet?], (dau.) b. Aug. 1884;
  3. Philip, (son) b. May 1889;
  4. Jesse H., (son) b. June 1890;
  5. Ervin H., (son) b. abt. 1890;
  6. James F., (son) b. Sept 22, 1891 in Wildwood, NC; d. Nov 8, 1948 in New Bern, NC of cerebral hemorrhage. 
  7. Sarah H., (dau.) b. Jan 1893;
  8. Fannie A., (dau.) b. Oct. 1894;
  9. Iredell H., (son/dau.) b. July 1896;
  10. Carl, (son) b. May 1899 in Wildwood, NC; d. April 13, 1921 in Morehead City, NC of Tuberculosis.
  11. Theodore R., (son) b. Sept 20, 1900 in Wildwood, NC;
  12. Charley Malachy, (son) b. abt. 1904;
  13. Jacob H., (son) b. abt. 1906;
  14. John S., (son) b. abt. Nov. 1909.
In 1900, 9 children had been born to Jacob & Annie, with 9 children surviving. 
In 1910 it was recorded that they had 14 children, but only 13 surviving. So, between 1900 and 1910, one child died; and, since additional vital records have not been located, it narrows down to either Daisy, Philip, Jesse or Fannie.


Rev. Jacob Shepard Bell
Born: April 2, 1860
Father: Ander Bell*, b. Wildwood, NC
Mother: Orlas Fisher*, b. Wildwood, NC
Informant: F. M. Bell
Died: August 3, 1932 in Morehead City, Carteret, NC








Friday, November 11, 2011

An Armistice Day Tribute to my Grandfather, Pvt. Francis Allyn Newton, Part III

It seems strange to lay in bed all day and have some one make up your bed and bring the food around. I would much rather be able to get about and wait on myself. I feel so strong in my arms and back; feel like I'd like to cut wood or something like that. But it is far different with my poor legs. I used to have such a strong pair of legs; never failed me on a hike, no matter how heavy the load. This morning when the sister made up my bed, I got up and sat on the edge of the next bed. I found that I couldn't support a pound of weight on them. It will be quite a while before I'm able to carry an eighty pound load around. 

I lost all of my equipment and clothes on the battlefield. I managed to save most of my personal articles which I had in my pockets and in a leather pouch on my belt. I will have to get a complete new outfit before going into the field again. Oh! such a lot of equipment strewn on that field of battle. Thousands of rifles, packs, ammunition, canteens and even food that the men carried. Everything is picked up and put in a salvage dump. Anything that is serviceable is cleaned up and issued again.

No civilian, no matter how much he reads about it can begin to picture the terrible sights on a modern battlefield. It is enough to make a strong man turn sick to see the awful sights. I won't try to describe them for it might make you shudder. It is sight I will never forget if I live to be a hundred. People at home read about the great advances and even the casualties but they can't realize the real state of affairs. You see many men blown to bits and limbs town off by the explosion of shells.


It is all very nice for a big General to get credit for winning a victory, but it is the rank and file that has to face the enemy and suffer. 

When going into a battle you don't have any real fear of getting hit but you do not know which breath will possibly be your last.

I can hardly be called a soldier of fortune. Many men happen to pull through the scrap without getting a scratch. I have talked with many Englishmen who have been over the top several times without getting hit, but sooner or later they get their issue. I've heard many Englishmen talk that they would like to get wounded so they could have a few week's rest in Blighty. Myself, I would much rather not be wounded on account of the pain and discomfort caused by it. A fellow can't always have his choice though.

Do I like England as well as France? What little I've seen of Eng. I like better than France. Over "there" the language and manners are foreign and nothing seems homelike. France is a good place to die in, being the greatest burying place in the world. It is a good country to keep away from. There are many beautiful places to see but they don't begin to compare with good old U.S. I'll never be at home in any other country. You hear so much about the beautiful French ladies, but they are not half as nice as the English or American lassies. 

As to my mail: It will be safe to send two or three letters here but I don't know how long I'll stay. They have a convalescent ward here and I will probably be here around three months. I'll let you know how I'm getting on and you can tell about how long I'll be, by my letters. It takes only eight to twelve days for mail to get here. You will be able to sent parcels too. I'm quite sure you can send packets to England; best see the Postmaster though. We could get stuff sent thru the Paris branch of Wanamakers while in France.  Chocolate and cigarettes are the most important things to send. Possibly a fruit cake or some figs or dates could be sent. I'd awfully like to get something from home again, so try your best. You might send a few Gillette razor blades. Maybe sometime I will be able to repay you. Wish you'd take about $20 out of the bank and sent it by mail. I will have considerable time to run around before going back to the company, and I'd like to see England a little. Don't know when I'll get any money, probably not until I get back to H. Co.

This is Monday evening and still the letter isn't finished yet but I'll sure get it off before going to sleep. I am feeling find today and my legs don't cause me much pain. I can roll over and lay on either side with ease. I can sit up a little and brace myself with my left arm but it makes me feel quite dizzy to sit up long, so my letter hasn't progressed very fast. The little cuts on my thumb are nearly healed and do not bother me any. My right leg pains me quite a lot just now and I don't feel much like writing but maybe I'll be able to forget it until the pain eases. 

The Red Cross man came around today and gave us a razor, brush, soap, tooth-brush and powder and a piece of chocolate.

I'm using a great assortment of writing paper but it's all I have. I managed to save my fountain pen so I'm all right. 

I rec'd the pictures you sent and carried them in my pocket book so I still have them. The camera does not work just right does it? The pictures look as tho a little light leaks in. But they were pretty good and I enjoyed them much.

Didn't Ralph have a mischievous look on his face. Looked as though he was trying to steal away without being seen.

Ask Betsy where her smile was. Isn't she getting tall through, but she doesn't widen out much. Helen looks much the same; a little more slender if anything.

You and daddy look about the same, not much older. It is a shame that Helen snapped the shutter so quick, but you'll have to try it again sometime.

The pictures of the house were fine. I really think I'd like to live in a house like that. Everything looks so attractive. The garden and fruit trees surely look good in the picture. 

Perhaps you would like to know how we eat in the hospital. For Breakfast we have cereal, bread, potatoes, bacon and coffee. Dinner we have mashed potatoes, some kind of beef, vegetables, bread, pudding and tea. Supper we have fried potatoes, meat, bread, sauce and tea. We have a cup of cocoa before going to bed. The bread is whole wheat but is very good as is all the food. So much better than the British rations we had been getting that one can't begin to compare them.

Pvt. Francis Allyn Newton,
© 2011 Newton Family Collection
When we left the trenches to go over the top none of us had a drop of water. That is a grave mistake as none can tell how long it will be before we get more water. And if a man is wounded and bleeds a lot he gets very thirsty. I did not have much trouble for the stretcher bearers had plenty of good water. Water is extremely difficult to get in the trenches, and it was not the officers' fault. 

Well, I must stop someplace or I'll never get finished. Will write again in a very few days. Don't worry 'cause I'm all right.

                                                            Lots of Love to All,

                                                                         Allyn.

An Armistice Day Tribute to my Grandfather, Pvt. Francis Allyn Newton, Part II

11:30 A.M. The nurse has just finished dressing my wounds. They are coming along fine. I ought to be able to hobble around in two or three weeks. I have so many little scratches that I can't begin to count them; must be at least twenty. The doctor picked out four or five little pieces of steel. The largest one was only about 1/4 of an inch square. The cuts look very much as if a trench mortar shell had broken just behind me for most of the wounds are on the back of the legs. I was almost positive that it was machine-gun bullets that hit me, and so many things flying about that one could not tell what hit them.


I consider myself very lucky for I have no permanent wounds. So many poor chaps have a leg or arm off. There are several in the ward as I'm in.


I heard the Division got help up near their objective and lost very heavily. We were out to break the Hindenburg line and did it although Fritz put up a very stubborn fight. He was very naughty with his machine guns and snipers. He had plenty of his best men and lots of ammo. We took a lot of prisoners but there were many more that we didn't take.


Here's one of Fritz's tricks. He fires his machine-gun until all ammunition is gone or he sees there is no chance to get away. Then when our men approach he throws his hands and cries, "Komerad." Perhaps he had killed as many as forty of our men with his gun. Do you suppose that a red-blooded soldier will listen to his pleas. No! He either gets shot or pricked with the point of a bayonet. The Australians and Americans take a very small percentage of the prisoners they might. But we have no comrades in the German army; and as the only good Dutchman is a dead one, we do the safest thing and put him out of his misery. There are a quite a number of prisoners taken though and they are receive good treatment. Some of us boys even give them bread, water and cigarettes, tho they really don't deserve it. But I suppose you can't really blame every individual soldier. Some of them can speak a little English and seem to be fairly descent chaps. When a bunch are taken prisoner they are compelled to carry our wounded to the rear. Sometimes an officer will object. What do they do to him then? They draw a pistol on him and if he still refuses he is shot. Every officer is reduced to a private the minute he is captured. But they get a hundred times better treatment than our men do in their hands. Very few Americans will ever be captured, for they will fight to the last rather than surrender. . . . [to be continued]



Thursday, November 10, 2011

An Armistice Day Tribute to my Grandfather, Pvt. Francis Allyn Newton

On September 3, 1918, my grandfather, Private Francis Allyn Newton, wrote a letter to his sister Elizabeth and his mother, Gertrude Ellen (Walter) Newton, from "Somewhere in France." The following is a transcription of that letter. The original letters which form a sort of diary of a WWI infantryman are in the possession of my uncle, David F. Newton. When I was in college in the early 1980s, I wrote my uncle and requested information on my grandfather's service in the war. He sent me a copy of the typed manuscript he had tried to publish, and a copy of the September 24, 1978 edition of Susquehanna, which included his article, "Glory at the End".

Dear Elizabeth:

Well, I guess you are next on the list. I'll have just about time to write this morning. It is quite a job to write so many letters. I have five more after this one that I should write, so you can see I have a task ahead of me. No, I don't like to write much better than I used to and it takes a long time for me to get started sometimes.

This is a bright, fair morning. I'm sitting in my shelter on a bed of wheat straw. The field is level and the grain has just been removed. The road runs along about fifty feet in front of the row of tents. There is a beet patch on the other side of the road and two large grain stacks to the left of that. A little farther to the left is a farm house and an English camp. Yes, there are lots of things to look at, but one gets used to the same kind of scenery.

The crops over here are just fine. Grain is much better than I ever saw in New York State. Potatoes are fair and the beans are quite good. Sugar beets thrive in this country, some of them near as large as a cabbage head. They grow a queer kind of peas over here. They look a great deal like milkweed when growing only they have a stouter stalk. They blossom up along the stalk which grows about 3-1/2 feet. The peas look much like garden peas only about four times larger. They leave them until they are ripe and tie them up in bundles. I don't know the name of them or their use, but they are here just the same. I suppose harvesting must be nearly over back in the "States" by now.

How is the garden getting on? Suppose you have plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit. The only kind of vegetables we have are potatoes. I'd give a lot for a big juicy ear of sweet corn.

School begins today, doesn't it? Before long, you will be graduating from high school. What do you think you will do then; be a School Ma'am? Say, have you got any more patience than you used to have; or are you as spunky as ever.

Did you have a good time this vacation? I suppose it went pretty fast. Do you ever miss me, or can Ralph pester you enought without having any more brothers around. This is the bottom of the page so I'll have to close.

Your Brother, Allyn

P.S. Did you take regents in spelling this year? If you did, I don't think you passed. In your letter you said you (past) your exams. Cant you spell better than that?

Dearest Mother:

I am lying on my back and I have two holes through my right thumb so it is quite difficult to write, but I'll feel better when I get word off to you. You'll have to pardon my poor penmanship.

They punctured both of my tires and I was compelled to put up by the road side and abandon the attack. Two of the boche bullets went through my right leg and one through my left as well as about a dozen minor scratches and abrasions that don't bother me in the least.

But "Shanks Hourses" were disabled and as both ankles were hit and helpless it was impossible to go further. (My arm gets tired so I have to stop and rest it every minute or so.) Ot was about six o'clock on that bright Sunday morning when I got my issue as the "Austies" call it.

I could not walk or craw or move mysel to a safe place so I had to lay where I was. I happened to fall in a small shell hole which possibly saved me from getting hit with more bullets for they were spattering about for a long time. There were two or three other lads in my squad that were hit. I have not seen a man from H. Co. since I was carried in, tho I know there are dozens in the same shape as me; as all the outfits suffered heavy losses.

About 9 A.M. I got 1st Aid treatment and an hour afterward I was carried into the trench I spoke of before. I'm going a bit too fast for I forgot one small item. While laying out in the open my right ankle was hit by a piece of shell. It was red-hot and caused me considerable pain, but I just had to grin and bear it; tho it was hard work. I thought it had blown my foot off but it really is not very bad. Just a piece of flesh off the outside of my ankle. It is a rather tender place to get hit.

Oct. 6. Bet you can't guess where I am now. Why, I'm in dear Old England in an American Hospital. I came here after a day's train ride and another day on a Hospital ship. I had to stop writing and get dressed and I could not very well write on the train so I had to wair til today to finish this letter. I know you'll be anxious to hear from me.

It will probably be a long time before I get any letters from you, but I'm going to write to H. Co. and have the mail forwarded to the hospital.

I'll go on with my story. I laid out in that trench all day and that night or about 28 hours in all. It rained all night and was very cold. I had a slicker on and one spread over my legs which was all that prevented me from freezing. There were about six of us wounded in the trench. The stretcher bearers were awfully busy and the trench was straffed with machine-gun fire so it took a long time to get us out. We spent a miserable night. I think I would have died if I hadn't had some cigarettes to smoke to keep me quiet. I really think they are some benefit in a case like that and they really do not harm anyone in the outdoor life. I'm going to quite the when I leave the army sure.

They carried me to an Ambulance about a half mile away. Then a long hard ride to a 1st Aid station where I was given an injection for blood poisoning. Didn't stay there long; they took me by Ambulance to a Casualty clearance station. I stayed there about 30 hours when they loaded me on the hospital train and took me to Rouen to an Australian Hospital. I stayed there a day and one half when they put me on the train again and sent me on my way to England. There were a lot of Americans as well as Australians in the Aust. hospital. We had four day nurses and one night nurse. They are different from the American nurses: they are so Jolly. They always have a smile for you and something cheerful to say. We got excellent treatment there too and plenty of good things to eat and a good soft bed to sleep in.

In this hospital we are getting the best of treatment; even better than at the Australian hosp.  We have three or four Red Cross nurses to care for us and one Red (headed) Cross Nurse. They are not as jolly as the Australian sisters, neither are there any very beautiful ones but they are all good looking to us. Wish I had you or Helen to take care of me but I can't very well complain with what I have. . . . [to be continued]

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1920: A.R. Anderson

The Rev. A.R. Anderson (60), a Methodist minister, lived with his wife Arma (25), on Blades Road . . . the same road as most of my husband's Carter ancestors. . . and next door to the household of James & Lucinda Culley. The nearest church was the family church, Piney Grove AME Zion on Temple's Point Road. I was unable to find any record of Rev. Anderson nor his wife prior to nor following 1920.

1920; Township 5, Craven, NC; Roll: T625_1293;
Page 2B; Enumeration District 18;  Image 210.

As my search for historical records of ministers and preachers in Township 5 nears a close, I received a reply from several repositories and contacts regarding conference and church records. Ms Cynthia Keever of Hood Theological Seminary found two sources with only brief mentions of this minister,  the Rev. A.R. Anderson:
  1. A History of the AME Zion Church, Vol. II, by David Henry Bradley, Sr., pp. 155-156.
  2. The African American Episcopal Zion Church: Reality of the Black Church, by William J. Walls, p. 208.
In addition, Jennifer Thompson of Duke University's John Hope Franklin Research Center for African American History and Culture found two collections that may be of interest:
  1. United Methodist Church Records, 1784-1984; Boxes HS 2 and 3;
  2. William George Melton papers, 1859-1887.
While it may be some time before I am able to make a research trip to Durham, it is good to know in advance of some records which are available for perusal. 


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Ministers and preachers of Township 5: 1910: Issac Hyman

1910 revealed only one, but one very interesting "Clergyman" in Township 5, Craven County, NC. . . . .
my husband's great grandfather,
Isaac Hyman.


Isaac Hyman married Malinda Jane Weston on August 15, 1881 in Craven County.  In 1900 Isaac was enumerated as a Farmer (b. abt. 1855), and lived with his wife (b. abt. 1866) and two daughters, Hannah Jane (b. Feb. 1882) and Thanie [Othenia] (b. 1885). 

1910; Township 5, Craven, NC;
Roll: T624_1104; Page 3B; Enumeration District: 18;
Image 782; FHL #: 1375117.
In 1910, Isaac was recorded as a widower; so, Malinda Jane must have died before April 18, 1910, the date the Census was taken in Cahooque. Death Certificates in North Carolina didn't come along until 1914, and no obituary is recorded in the New Bern-Craven County Obituary Index



The oldest daughter, my husband's grandmother, Hannah Jane, married 2. Hezekiah Carter in 1905, and was living with him, her three step-children, her son from her first marriage, and their first two children on Mitchells's Creek at the time of the 1910 Census. She was expecting their third child, Chester (my father-in-law), who was born that December. Thaney could not be found in 1910.

The church affiliation was most likely Hyman Chapel AME Zion, which was started by his father (William) and uncles (Abraham, Peter, Stephen and Adam).



Isaac remarried to Priscilla Fisher on April 9, 1913, and died on October 28, 1930. On his death certificate he was recorded as being a laborer.