Wayne County, North Carolina: Biographies

An Autobiography of 

Sarah Virginia "Jennie" Jones, 
granddaughter of Newman and Susan Marinda Lewis Potts, Sr, 
Wayne Co, NC, 
daughter of
Matthew and Susan Marinda Potts Jones



     Once upon a time - which happened to be February 17, 1887,
an event took place at the home of Matthew Mile and Susan Marinda
Potts Jones, which, though of no particular importance to the
world at large, nonetheless, was the beginning of a new life for

     According to the report of my brother Redic, he was aroused
from sweet dreams and restful slumber in the early hours of the
morning and dispatched with haste to the cabin of old Nancy
Blount, the colored mid-wife, whom he escorted to the bedside of
my mother where this eventful incident was destined to
precipitate my debut into a strange world of past affluence and
present post-war poverty. Yes, I was born on the fringe of the
"Reconstruction" days, and in the very path of Sherman's March to
the Sea, some twenty five years before.

     By the time the sun had risen behind the pine crested
horizon, I had won the marathon, and had arrived at the port of
entry about thirty minutes ahead of my twin sister who never
could keep up with me. Although I won the race, she stole most of
the spotlight by having a more difficult struggle to survive. We
had both been over anxious for less cramped quarters and had made
our appearance seven or eight weeks before the scheduled time of
arrival; however with the help of the mid-wife and the constant
care of grandma and mother we were pulled through the first
hurdle and over the top. After which I asked no odds from anyone,
sucking my sugar tit in contentment while everyone fussed over my
puny twin sister, who, not being satisfied with stealing the
first act, now contrived to get all the attention by breaking out
in a rash, thereby she received double attention, and was carried
around on soft downy pillows for a while.

     I was one of the youngest of twelve sons and daughters. My
parents belonged to that class in the South called the "poor but
proud" or the "genteel poor". If I ever asked myself what we had
to be proud of, I did it in silence, and true to the unwritten
law and unspoken code of the family, proud I was.

     I actually did not know we were poor, I had the things I
desired most, and all I expected. One misses only the things he
has become accustomed to. I was more inclined to pity others than
to envy them, they might have better clothes and finer homes, but
I was sure I had the most wonderful parents in the world, and
that no amount of wealth could compensate for such a blessing.

     Frankly, I was one of the richest little poor girls that
ever dug her bare toes into the deep white sand along the cow
trails around Dudley and Everettsville, in Wayne County, North

     It was sometime before I was able to fathom the meaning of
the familiar phrase "before the mill burned down" or "after the
mill burned down" which seemed to indicate a dividing line of
some kind, and that is what it proved to be, the dividing line
between prosperity and poverty. As this catastrophe happened
before I was born, I was spared the dubious unhappiness of
learning to do without the things I had become accustomed to. No
doubt the older children missed some comforts and small luxuries,
which us younger ones never knew. I must confess I was a woman
and had left childhood home before I fully realized how few were
the years between my birth and the end of the "War Between The
States." I remember one day, a strange young Negro man came to
our house, and when mother recognized him, she was very delighted
to see him, she began questioning him about his mother, where she
lived, what she was doing, etc.  After he had gone, we hurried to
ask her who he was. We were told he was the son of one of
grandfather Potts' slaves. She had not seen him since he was a
little boy. He called her "Miss Susan", as he had when she was a
young woman and he a little slave. I thought nothing of gathering
pieces of rare old china in the fields, which might have dropped
from the sassafras bushes or the cotton and corn stalks, for all
the curiosity to excite in us children as we picked the broken
bits up to play with. And the blackened ruins with their
crumbling chimneys, standing amid old groves of ancient elms and
oaks, where flowering shrubbery was still struggling for survival
in the tangled mass of briers and half grown saplings, was just
as common. Though old Everettsville was completely destroyed
during the war, it is still a mystery to me how that broken china
got scattered so far and wide.

     The home of Matthew and Susan Potts Jones, though modest and
humble, was always clean and well kept and from the manner of my
parents, might have been a mansion, no apology or excuse was ever
made for comforts or luxuries which were lacking. I believe for
such a large family, our home was rather orderly and refined,
this no doubt being due to the fact that pa's and ma's word was
law, and though kindly spoken, was none the less binding. They
would not tolerate loud talking, boisterous playing, or
quarreling and fighting in the house. We learned at an early age
to curb our temper and bridle our tongues, at least when our
parents happened to be near. There is another lesson I am
grateful to my parents for teaching, whether by precept or
example - to love one another, and to respect each other's
rights. "Do unto others as you would have them do also unto you"
was a much quoted proverb in our home. And onethat has had a
lasting effect on my life. Whenever a misunderstanding arises,
though I may act or speak too hastily, I immediately begin to put
myself in the other persons place, and to ask myself if I have
acted as I would want him to act. These thoughts usually lead to
an apology and making amends.

     When I decided to write my story, I didn't know where to
start, I had to face the fact that as far as I knew I had never
done anything of great importance in my entire life. Indeed, I
came from a surrounding that was anything but conducive to the
encouragement and development of daring deeds or spectacular
accomplishments. However, I do share a few things in common with
the greatest and noblest of the earth. I was born to have lived
and shall die; between birth and death is life, filled with vast
and varied experiences, which differ according to time, place,
and the conditions under which we labor, and the capabilities
with which one is endowed. I am reminded of the mountain and the
squirrel - "If I am not as large as you, you are not so small as
I."  It has pleased me to go back as far as my mind can carry me,
and it has been a most pleasant experience for me.

     I have journeyed back to the days of long ago, traversed
again the dimly remembered trails leading up through the many
phases of my existence, I've haunted the musty halls of time,
followed the fleeting images of bygone days, listened to the
echoes of the past, resounding like ghostly footsteps along the
winding corridors of memory, finally penetrating the nebulous
mists surrounding my infancy, and have come at last to the first
thing I remember perhaps it is only the shadow of a memory - my
first step.

     Yes, I think I remember my first step. Sometimes while
watching a baby learning to walk, a vague memory stirs within me,
and I seem to recall letting go of some supporting object,
probably my mother's hands, and plunging forward to grasp another
object, to which I clung in safety and triumph. Again, I seem to
remember standing at the top of a stairway, looking down fearful
of attempting the dangerous descent alone. I cannot remember
calling for help, but it seems that someone carried me down.

     This must have happened at grandpa Potts' old home, where
mother lived as a child, and where I was born, for the place we
moved to from there had no stairway. After my first steps I must
have rested on my laurels, for I can recall nothing else with any
degree of clarity until the day we left the "Potts' place" when I
was about three years of age and moved to the "Giles Place", a
farm owned by Giles Kornegay.

     The reason for this move was because there was no house on
the land mother inherited from her father's estate. Her portion
lay next to land on which the house stood, and she was allowed to
live there for several years, now the owner either wanted to live
there or rent it, and so, the move to the Kornegay farm. This
farm lay west of Goldsboro, in what is known as the "Quaker Neck
District", near the Steven's Mill.

     I cannot remember leaving the old home, it was as if I found
myself suddenly in a strange new world, bound for an unknown
destination. I remember being seated among soft comfortable
bedding on top of a load of household goods. I know now that is
what it was. The wagon was creaking and bumping along a narrow
road that wound through a green forest of pines. I could hear the
tinkle of a bell which seemed to follow us; I learned later that
old Suke, the family cow, had been tied behind the wagon. I was
drowsy and must have fallen asleep as I cannot remember who was
driving the wagon.

     The arrival at the old gray farmhouse was much more clear in
my mind. I was lifted down from my cozy nest and soon found
myself seated on grandpa Jones' knee; I believe my twin sister
was on the other. Remembering my early exuberance, I suspect I
was held to keep me out of mischief while the furniture was being
unloaded. That was the first and last time I have any
recollection of being held on grandpa's lap. He was a rather
stern appearing man and the fact that he had but one eye made him
appear even more forbidding. There were conflicting stories as to
how he lost his eye. Some said he lost it in a duel with swords -
there were rumors that he was quite a sport in his younger days;
others maintained he lost it in a rough and tumble fight with a
ruffian who clawed it our with his fingers. This leads me to
believe that no one ever actually pinned him down to the truth or
details of the story. It doesn't matter except that the highly
colored stories and his somber appearance caused me to look on
him with more awe and morbid speculation than love. No doubt he
was a fine man and I never heard of any irregularities in his
later life. Both he and grandma were staunch Primitive Baptists.
I cannot remember when I first saw grandma nor when I learned to
love her; I imagine it was simultaneously. She was a jolly little
Scotch-Irish woman with twinkling eyes and a cherrie word for
everybody. She was the mother of thirteen children, nearly all of
them seemed to inherit her happy attitude towards life. They all
possessed good voices, as well as musical talent.

     Although I was born at the Potts' Place near Dudley, Wayne
County, I have always felt that my life began at the Giles Place,
for 'twas there I first remember "pa and ma, my brothers and
sisters;" there I seemed to emerge from my cocoon and beheld the
beautiful world around me.  I found it a wonderful and interesting
world. The most wonderful and interesting thing about it was my
family as they began to emerge from some obscure place and take
on flesh and blood as they made their appearance one by one. Nine
brothers and sisters - Julius and Jesse had not been born and
little Mathew died before my birth. What my past relationship
with my family had been, I can only judge by my regard for them
as they entered my life with first memories.

     I regard my father as a great and wonderful man and imagined
him to be a person of importance in the world - had he not been
too hard with perhaps a little assistance from General Robert E.
Lee (whom he resembled) and General Joseph E. Johnston, killed
all the dragons and bad boogy men so that little girls had
nothing to be afraid of. I thought he was as handsome as General
Lee whose picture hung the wall, beside that of General "Joe"

     Mother soon assumed the position of the hub of the family
life, around which we all revolved. She fed us when we were
hungry, comforted us when we were hurt, and nursed us when sick.
I cannot remember clearly having castor oil and epsom salts
forced between my clinched teeth, the very thought of either
makes me shudder, even now.

     I recall standing in the foot-tub in the kitchen while
mother bathed me, I suppose the thing that stamped this on my
memory was the entrance of my brother, Redic, and his teasing
remark about me to mother, like Eve, I beheld that I was naked,
and longed for a fig leaf.

     I knew without the shadow of a doubt that I had the best and
loveliest mother in the world, yet I am afraid I took advantage
of her love, and good nature, as so many children do. I have
forgotten how old a certain despicable little girl was, when
after begging to be allowed to go visiting with her lovely
mother, she decided on her way home, it would be fun to have a
piggy-back ride, so she started lagging behind complaining about
how tired she was and just couldn't take another step. After
trying unsuccessfully to convince the little imposter she was not
that tired, mother squatted down in the road and I climbed on her
neck to have my piggy-back ride. I remember, I felt too guilty to
get much fun out of the ride, and soon slid to the ground and
trotted behind mother, relieved to be an honest child again.

     Perhaps, this is the place to introduce the rest of the
family I became involved with at the Giles Place. I will begin
with my twin sister Julia, who was about the same age as me. She
was a little taller and prettier too. We were always together;
where one went, the other wanted to go, what one had the other
had to have, what one did, the other tried to do. If she was
taller and prettier, I had my advantages, I was healthy, could
run faster, jump higher and skin-the-cat quicker than she could,
although I will have to admit, she was a good sport and tried to
keep up with me. It is a wonder she lived through it! The only
thing I disliked about her was that she cried so easily and I
couldn't, this made me always appear to be the blame in all our
squabbles, when, sometimes, I wasn't.

     William P. was the eldest of my brothers and sisters,
therefore he was esteemed most by his little sisters, to whom he
was always kind and pleasant. He was studious and intelligent and
a general favorite with his family and friends and no doubt
deserving of the admiration they had for him. He was very bashful
and never went steady with the girls for fear they would expect
him to propose to them. He had one love but lost her because he
didn't know how to ask her to marry him. Years later he married a
widow with children - he was then about forty. We always
suspected that she did the proposing.

     Redic Hannon, the second of the Jones' children, was dashing
and handsome and didn't appear to suffer much with bashfulness,
as Willie did. He had a way with the ladies and was popular with
the younger set, but was not as understanding with his brothers
and sisters as Willie was, however, he bought me and Julia the
most beautiful dolls we ever owned. He could ride standing up on
his horse's back, which made me very proud of him.

     Saphronia Ann was the first girl in the family and was
sandwiched in between four boys; she was also the first
granddaughter in both father's and mother's families, so it was
but natural that she was the idolized darling of her grandparents
and her adoring young uncles and aunts. The trial of being one
girl among four brothers probably off-set much of the over
indulgence of the others. She was pretty and petite and had many
admirers as she grew into womanhood. This period of her life, I
witnessed with both agony and ecstasy, as my heart nearly broke
whenever she cast off one of my favorites among her suitors, such
as Dave Porter whose baritone voice singing impassioned love
songs, and the musk cologne that made pa and the boys snorted in
disgust, won me completely.

     I thought Fronia, as she was nick-named, was about as old as
ma and I feared her even more, for she was intolerant of my
tomboyish ways, my scuffed shoes, torn dresses and snagged
stockings and my inability to stand still while she fitted my
dresses on me. She threatened to let mine hang in bags - as they
never seemed to fit as nicely as Julia's, I suspected it was
Fronia's revenge.

     John Livingston and Barney Bryant were the other part of the
sandwich between which poor little Fronia was pressed. Livey
followed Fronia, he was quiet and placid in disposition, but like
father, few people tried to push him around. He was probably the
most talented one of the children; playing both banjo and
harmonica. He had a dry humor that was entertaining and amusing.
I never saw him greatly disturbed about anybody or anything, so
he was a nice kind of brother to have.

     Barney, on the other hand, was impulsive, quick tempered,
talkative and witty. He was very good natured except before
breakfast when he was hungry, he would then fight a buzz-saw. If
you understood this, you could get along with him very well. He
was generous and self sacrificing but had the misfortune to be
less strong than the other boys, having a bronchial condition -
strange to say he was the most stable and dependable of them all.
My first remembrance of Barney and Livey was of them wrapping
themselves in white sheets and pretending to be ghosts, to
frighten us girls; it was a frightful lot of fun!

     Susan Marinda, or Sudie as we called her, was the second
daughter and occupied a position similar to Fronia's when she was
a child being one wee girl among three brothers. I would think
having a twin brother Matthew and then Willie and Redic old
enough to be protective, with Fronia at the age to be attentive,
she would not have quite the same difficulties that little Fronia
had. The event of a baby sister when she was two years old no
doubt, kept her from being too pampered which she probably would
have been, for they say, she was a beautiful little thing. When
she was a young lady her honey-colored hair hung below her knees,
by bending back she could make it touch the floor. One summer,
she went to Wilmington on an excursion, wearing her hair in a
long braid down her back. People followed her asking if it was
her own hair. A man approached Willie who was with her, and
offered to put her in his show at a good salary - he was selling
a famous brand of hair tonic, of course the offer was declined.

     Her twin brother Matthew was fatally burned when he was
about two or three years of age. Ma had left him in the house
with Fronia who was only nine or ten, to watch him and the other
children while she went to the barn to milk the cow. Hearing the
children screaming, she knew something was wrong and ran towards
the house. Before she reached them, there was little Matthew, his
clothing in flames running towards her. Fronia and the other
children were following him trying to blow out the flames. As she
passed the well, ma grabbed a bucket of water that happened to be
sitting there and threw it on him putting out the fire. He had
been burned critically and passed away a day or two later. This
was, I believe the first death among the grand-children of both
the immediate families and was taken very hard by all the family.
Ma kept his little burnt clothing as long as she lived and many
is the time I looked at them with a sad heart and tear-dimmed
eyes. It has been said that Aunt Betsy dreamed she saw a house
burning and knew some of the family was in it. Her dream
depressed her so much, she hired a man to drive her over from
Johnston County, a distance of ten miles and got there in time to
help nurse little Matthew and comfort the others.

     Harriet (Hattie) whose arrival kept Sudie from being a
pampered darling, came at rather an unfortunate time for mother
as it kept her in bed when her father died with pneumonia. She
could not go to his bed-side nor to his funeral. Her mother had
died four months before of the same disease. Though she could not
go to her father's bed, I would think the event of the new baby
should have been instrumental in helping to divert her mind from
her double loss. Hattie, like Barney, was jolly, witty and
talkative, liked to be in the center of whatever was going on and
usually managed to be. She had a real gift of story-telling that
seemed wasted; she should have been an actress. We often laughed
at her glorified versions of common-place happenings.

     At the Giles Place, life seemed to be one adventure after
another. I think the most frightening one was the hurricane that
blew the barn roof off. I still remember how the old house
trembled and rocked on its foundations until even mother became
worried and wrapped us and took us through the awful storm over
the hill and told us to lie flat on the ground between the rows
of corn. When the worst of the storm was over we went on to Mr.
Hollowell's, whose house was larger and more substantially built.
It was a terrible experience but as I look back on it, I think
the excitement stole away most of the fear and I had an abiding
faith in mother's ability to keep me safe from harm. I was
shamelessly thrilled the next morning when we found the barn roof
lying flat upon the ground, and knew we had an unusual play

     I've no doubt that Julia shared this exultation with me. We
romped bare-foot over it for weeks, regardless of nails and
splinters and I don't believe we so much as stumped a toe. Though
I do faintly recall something about dirty and chapped feet.

     There is another unpleasant experience attached to this
place, though it happened so quickly I cannot remember much about
my feelings, unhappy or otherwise. A wagon loaded with cotton ran
over me and miraculously didn't even hurt me, however it taught
me never to climb on a wagon wheel when it was about to be in

     Then there was the time I stepped on my pet chick while I
was in the process of testing the relative power of a tantrum and
killed the little thing; this nearly broke my heart but there was
no great amount of sympathy wasted on me, repentant though I was.
I hope this incident taught me not to throw any more tantrums. I
cannot recall another one.

     Father's two brothers, Jethro and William Green, were
Baptist preachers and sometimes held revival meetings in our
neighborhood. We younger children were never taken to these
revivals but we were sometimes entertained and greatly amused by
brother Willie's skillful ability to imitate uncle Jethro, who it
seems was strong on the "fire and brimstone" doctrine and a firm
believer in "Hell and damnation". I am not casting any
reflections on uncle Jethro's belief or his ability as a preacher
because I never had the pleasure of hearing him. I did enjoy
their visits when they were holding these revivals as they
usually brought cousins David, Felix, and Sammy to lead the
singing and they held their song practice at our house. In my
childish judgement, they were magnificent. I learned later they
were considered so by more experienced judges than me. Sometimes
aunt Sally, Hettie and Nettle came with them. I remember them
more for their pretty dresses than for anything they did.

     Aunt Catherine lived across the Neuse River from us and it
was a pleasant occasion for everyone when she brought Louetta and
Lillian over for a visit. They were Sudie's and Hattie's age but
Julia and I enjoyed tagging along behind them admiring them and
wishing we were big girls and could talk and do the things they
did. When time came for them to go home, someone would row them
across the river, which was closer than driving around by the

     Another frequent visitor in our home at the Giles Place was
Fronia's friend, Matilda Worley; the little girl saw her parents
murdered by old Noah Cherry, a Negro. She was a handsome and
charming young lady at this time - the story of her bravery as a
child made her very interesting to me. I have a paper Fronia gave
me with the account of this tragic story, which I heard talked
about when I was a child.

     It seems to me there was always a group of young people at
our house on Sunday afternoons.  Fronia and Redic were both
popular with young people in that community and would often
combine their groups to meet at different places for the
afternoon, probably getting together at church and going on from
there. The Providence Baptist Church was not far from us. I
believe our family were members and regular attendants there.

     I loved the cherry tree that stood by the west fence
overlooking the land that lay between our house and Mr.
Hollowell's; it was a thing of beauty in the springtime when it
was in bloom and made a real nice place to retire when you wished
to be alone to quietly ponder on the great mysteries of life. By
climbing on the fence you could reach and seat yourself on one of
the higher limbs and from this point of observation, look into
Mr. Hollowell's pasture and barn lot. From this secluded place
one day, I was the horrified spectator at a tragic drama of
bovine life. Mr. Hollowell's bull came across a dead calf and it
seemed to be more than the poor thing could bear. He rolled his
head on the ground, bellowing fearfully, digging the dirt up with
his hooves and throwing it over his back. It was a dreadful sight
and impressed me with the awfulness of death; even dumb beast
felt it's mysterious power. The other cattle drew near and stood
looking on either in solemn awe or placid indifference.

     Another memorable day at the Giles Place was a day Julius
was born. I had become aware that mother was very sick and was
growing steadily worse; father and others, perhaps the midwife or
a neighbor, were in the room with the door closed. When ma's
moans became screams, I was sure she was being tortured, perhaps
even murdered. That father was involved was a thought too
horrible to bear. With Julia to accompany me, I screamed at the
full capacity of my lungs, both of us pounding on the door with
both hands, finally we were gently removed from the scene, by
whom I cannot recall.

     That is all I can remember about July the third, eighteen
ninety, after that, there was a tiny baby brother in the house,
who soon developed into a handsome little boy. Fronia who was a
fine seamstress, took special pride in making him nice clothes,
which I am sure mother appreciated. By this time sister Fronia
was the chief dress-maker in the family. When Julius was three
years old, we moved back to the land of our inheritance, the land
mother received from her father's estate.



     A house having been built on mother's land, we were moving
back again to Dudley. Strange as it may seem, I can remember
nothing about leaving the Kornegay farm, nor the arrival at our
new home but distinctly remember waking up the first morning and
listening to the crowing of the old rooster and it seemed to me
there was a different something to the sound that I had ever
heard before, it was a part of the strange new life I was
entering. It gave me the feeling that I was a lost spirit in
Paradise. With the rising of the sun and after a hearty
breakfast, I was back to normal and ready to start exploring the
immediate surroundings. The Wilmington and Weldon R.R. ran within
a mile and a half of our house, every evening a train called "The
Shoe Fly" (I've no idea why it was called that or if it was a
passenger or freight train) passed and it's whistle gave me the
same weird thrill that the crowing of the rooster did, but that
was quite natural, for there was a story which said, there was a
young engineer killed in a wreck on this train, ever after the
whistle said "Wil-lie Lee, Wil-lie Lee, O Willie, O Willie," and
I could say I heard it.

     A narrow strip of pine woods hid the trains from view of the
house; our farm or most of it, lay between the woods and the
house, so it made a nice walk on a Sunday afternoon, to see the
trains pass. This was looked forward to with eager anticipation,
though I always had to hold onto someone, as I had the sensation
of being drawn toward the train. I was actually afraid of being
sucked under it, though I believe this is the first time I have
confessed as much.

     What a wonderful sight that train was to me, though the
smoke stack was almost as large as the engine. I suppose those
trains gave me my first realization of a world beyond the
boundaries of grand-father Potts' old plantation - peopled by my
uncles, aunts, cousins and a few friends.

     I found our new home to be even more interesting than the
"Giles Place" had been, probably because the house stood at the
edge of a forest - every farm had its portion of wooded land,
which was almost as essential as the farm land, as it furnished
fuel for the "cook stove" and the fire places. We children
thought it a lot of fun to build play houses on the green moss
under the oak trees. Though it was some time before we would
venture too far into the forest, it was a gay and happy place in
the day time, when the birds were singing in the trees, and the
butterflies flitting gaily everywhere, but at night it had many
voices and mysterious sounds. As soon as it was dusk the crickets
and frogs started up their chorus, with the whip-poor-will
sometimes joining in with a lonesome call, then the bull bats
came out in numbers flitting and swooping almost to the ground.
Sometimes it seemed they were aiming straight at me, but would
swerve quickly and up again they would go, the old Carolina moon
smiling down benignly on the scene. The crunching acorn and
hickory nuts by the hogs running loose in the woods sometimes
took on such proportions in my imagination that I could almost
believe wild ferocious beasts were devouring human bones in the
darkness. But the worst time of all was when Julia and I had
lingered a little too long at aunt Cynthia's playing with
Talithia and Lora, and dusk found us hurrying down the "Avenue"
toward home, we would sing to keep from hearing the snapping of
twigs, the slithering rattling of the leaves, and a throaty sound
of some feathered denizen (an inhabitant) of the wood.

     One evening we were playing in the edge of the woods only a
few yards from our back yard, the moon was shinning brightly;
suddenly a man came out of the woods and just stood there. I
thought the figure looked familiar, but Sudie and Battle screamed
and ran to the house, Julia, Julius and I following as fast we
could, frightened near to death. I actually thought my heart
would burst with pain. When we reached the house, Hattie and
Sudie turned, laughing, they knew it was Willie. f was so pale
mother was alarmed. A large family is a lot of fun, if you can
take it, but you certainly have to learn the hard way.

     At the back of the house was a foot path leading to the
"Avenue", a narrow road cut through the scrub-oak woods, by my
father, as the old road had become so sandy it was almost
impassable. The "Avenue" extended from the entrance to the
grounds of grandfather Potts' old home, almost to aunt Cynthia's
land, which lay a mile or two south of mother's, with uncle
Newman's between. Uncle Newman Potts and uncle John Fields were
always feuding, and finally each fenced his own land, which left
a lane between the two farms, this became known as the "Devil
Lane". If I ever heard what started the feud I have forgotten, I
believe they buried the hatchet before uncle John sold his land
and came to Utah, a few years after mother did.

     Looking north from our back porch we could see the "Ports"
family burying ground, just across our garden lot. On bright moon
light nights, the gleaming white stones seemed to sway ever so
slightly like eerie ghosts, and if I was ever outside alone at
night, I was careful not to look in that direction.

     Of course Livey and Barney found fresh stimulus for their
devilry, in this. close proximity to the resting place of their
ancestors, and availed themselves of every opportunity to add
more and better material to ghost stories and pranks. I suppose
mother was helpless in preventing them from carrying on their
playful operations. I still blame them for some morbid ideas and
silly superstitions I secretly harbored for more years than I
like to recall. I was a grown woman before I overcame my fear of
going into a dark room. I imagine Julia felt the same way, for
some of my worse moments came from having to go to bed with her,
because she was afraid to go to bed alone. Years later, she had
chronic appendicitis. As it got worse, she had nightmares and
imagined she saw apparitions in white, floating around the room,
sometimes stopping togive her a friendly smile. Any protection
she had from me was purely imaginary, I made sure I was under the
covers and out of sight, and no one will ever know how near I
came to suffocating. I call this the acme of refined cruelty to a
child. I earned a medal of honor suffering in silence. I recall
once when I was in bed with my head under the covers, or so I
thought - a wisp of hair was hanging out, and when I felt
something pull it, I came out of hiding with a scream that woke
the whole house. When the lamp was lit, my little pet kitten was
found purring softly and blinking in surprise.

     We had not lived in our new home but a few months when, one
day with no preliminaries, we were taken to grandma Jones' to
spend the day, that is the first I recall visiting at the home of
grandpa Jones, which was within a few miles of where we lived. I
cannot remember what was said before we left home, but on the way
I whispered to Julia and told her I thought there would be a new
baby at our house when we returned. She looked at me in wide eyed
wonder. I was somewhat precocious of a few non-essentials, she
listened to my deductions in silence. Mother had been in very
poor health lately, and disposed to discuss her condition only
with Fronia, and that rather furtively. Besides, one day I had
noticed little belly bands like aunt Cynthia put on her babies,
and three cornered cloths hanging on the clothes line.

     During the day aunt Martha, who was a spinster, threw out a
few hints which confirmed my suspicions, so, none of us were
surprised when father came to take us and announced the arrival
of a new baby brother. We could hardly wait to get started. Aunt
Martha said they captured the baby running around in the woods,
we asked her how he could be running around, for tiny babies
could not walk; with only a slight hesitation she came forth with
the astounding disclosure that babies are always lambed during
the capture. We accepted her story in silence, scorning to reply
to such a silly fabrication, though we knew little about the
birds and the bees, we recognized a fairy story when we heard
one, and hers was fantastically ridiculous.

     Little Jesse was the joy of our lives, he was a beautiful
dimpled darling and his adoring family thought he was
exceptionally bright. Julius was now a handsome boy of three, a
little too near my own age to be fully appreciated, the older
members of the family saw that he was given the necessary

     I believe little Jesse was really advanced for his age, he
could walk when Julia and I had started school. After school was
out, when we came in sight of the house, we would have a foot
race to see who could get to him first. He enjoyed the game and
ran to meet us crowing with delight. This always made it more fun
for the victor.

     I shall never forget my first day at school. I trudged
behind Sudie and Hattie, Julia at my side, towards the old Casey
school house where a new world was awaiting me. Drawing nearer
and nearer with every step I took, and with my heart growing
fainter and fainter as I came closer to the school house, I was
thankful that my sisters Sudie and Hattie were experienced and
unafraid. I feel sorry for little girls who never have had older
sisters, as I have always had older sisters to lead the way.

     I hardly know what I expected, but realized it was a very
important step and meant to prepare us for any eventuality. I had
learned my reader backward, forwards - all but upside down and
sideways. I learned to count to a hundred the same way but I was
still doubtful about my ability to comply with all the
requirements. Needless to say, I was surprised that I survived
the first day without any unpleasant incidents. My fears were
groundless, for I soon learned I need have no fear of not being
able to cope with whatever difficulties the first grade primer
might hold.

     Miss Minnie Raiford was my first teacher. It was not long
before I took my place at the head of the class, a position I
never found difficult to maintain; especially in the spelling
class, where I modestly confess, I was a whiz. When one missed a
word the next student in line, if he spelled the word correctly,
would step up ahead of the one that missed. When one reached the
head of the line, he stayed there until he missed a word and then
he went back to the end of the line. I must have missed a few
words, as I seemed to have to step up along with the others. I
tried loyally to keep Julia with me when we happened to be
standing near each other, we slyly tried to prompt one another by
whispering under our breath, behind the hand; this was usually
ignored - I cannot believe it went unnoticed. However, twins were
sort of privileged beings, and granted favors not enjoyed by
those of lesser distinction. I must say, I was not aware of this
until much later.

     There was a day when being a twin got me no favors; my
teacher Miss Ida Moore was standing at the blackboard with her
back to the class, when a general buzz of whispering broke out in
the room, she turned demanding to know who was whispering - mine
was the only guilty looking face in the room. She looked at me
reprovingly and asked me if I had been whispering. I had to
confess that I had been. Much to my humiliation and indignation,
I was told to stand in the corner, however, she soon relented and
told me to take my seat.

     That was the only time I ever knew Miss Moore to be unfair
to anyone, for I could not understand how she could think it
possible for one shy little girl to make such a noise of turning,
shuffling and buzzing as went on behind her back that day.
Perhaps, she did realize it after her hasty action, but could not
admit her error without some loss to her dignity as a teacher.

     Another day we had a visitor at school. This lady was a
student of phrenology, I suppose Miss Moore thought it would be
interesting to see her demonstrate her knowledge, and naturally
the heads of twins would make a study in comparison. I have
forgotten whether she felt the heads of any of the students
besides Julia's and mine, or what she said about Julia's head;
but when she was through feeling around the surface of my
cranium, she announced that I had a big bump of self esteem. Miss
Moore quickly came to my defense, as if she thought it was bad.
She told the lady I was one of her most modest and unselfish
pupils, and acted as if she thought the lady must have made a
mistake. However that may be, I still have that bump on my head,
and if it 16 self-esteem, I am only sorry that it did not give me
the self-confidence to overcome my inferiority complex, instead
of forever lurking behind a foolish facade of extreme modesty.

     It seemed our little brother Jesse was not destined to be
with us long, for when he was about three years of age, it was
discovered that something was wrong with his eye. The pupil had
become dilated and began to change color, finally resembling an
opal. He was taken to a specialist, who diagnosed it as a glioma
(?), and told us his eye would have to be removed as quickly as
possible before it reached the brain. My mother took him to
Goldsboro, where Dr. Hyatt of Raleigh performed the operation.
They stayed at aunt Lizzie Starling's, and remained there for a
week or two so that he could be under the observation of the
doctor. Great was the rejoicing in our home the day they

     We had hardly became used to seeing our baby brother with
only one eye, when complications set in and he had to be taken
back to the doctor. Though his condition was discretely kept from
us children, we sensed the anxiety of the older members of the
family, and waited anxiously for their return from town. We were
told before-hand our little brother could live only a short time,
and that we were to act natural and happy when we saw him. I
imagine this was probably to keep mother from breaking under her
grief. We did not need to be told to act happy for we were really
overjoyed to see him. Little Jesse was just as happy, he looked
so well, we could hardly believe he would soon be taken from us.
He had spent three happy years with us.

     In a few weeks he had become a very sick baby; his suffering
was terrible at the last. It was heart-breaking for those who had
to witness it. Before he died, he called each of the family to
his bed separately, between paroxysms of pain and kissed each of
us, not missing anyone or asking for anybody twice. After that,
he went into a coma and didn't know anyone. I have never
forgotten how his little dimpled hands looked folded on his
breast, as he lay in death. I stole away myself and prayed to God
to restore him to life. When my prayer was not answered, I
realized I had asked the impossible of God. My grief was deep,
and I missed him for a long time, but in time he was just a
precious memory.

     I haven't said much about Julius up to this point, naturally
with the advent of baby Jesse, he had to take second place, but I
cannot remember him seeming very disgruntled over this. I suppose
they probably had a lot of fun together when the rest of us were
at school, in the cotton field or at our play house, for we would
not tolerate any masculine intrusion on the sacred reserve of our
play houses; except on occasions when there was something we
wanted in exchange for such a privilege of some secret we wished
to worm out of the said intruder.

     Julius liked playing in the fields where the men were at
work, or following Newman and David Potts, when they were
supposed to be working in their fields which adjoined our land.
Then, there were times he was Fronia' escort when she went to
Dudley to get the mail, or he was until Julia and I were old
enough to take over this rather enjoyable chore. Sometimes we
would meet strange Negroes on the road, and if they happened to
be black we were a little frightened - remembering the story of
old Noah Cherry. But they invariably gave a broad smile and a
"howdy", they sometimes stopped and asked us if we were Mr.
Mathew Jones' daughters, saying they thought we must be because
we favored him. Sometimes we would meet a strange cow, and we
were always greatly relieved when we had safely passed the poor
harmless animal. If ever a yearling or sizeable male animal came
along, we gave them a wide berth. At the time, livestock was
allowed to graze in the woods.

     No doubt, Julius would have liked to go along with us, but I
cannot recall that he ever did. My dearest memories of him about
this time, is the trouble mother had making him go to school.
sometimes, he would disappear from school, and then join us
somewhere on our way home from school. He had a habit of running
away from home whenever a whipping was in the offing. One day,
there was quite an exciting time when he ran away and hid in the
woods, when it was nearly sunset, mother began to worry for fear
he would not be able to find his way home. Barney, flanked by us
girls, began to beat the brush for our little brother. We knew he
had his dog "Bull" with him and Barney called the dog every now
and then, after a while we heard the dog barking and followed the
sound until we came to the hiding place of his desperate little
master. If I remember correctly, Julius got a sound whipping,
even though we were all happy to find him; and perhaps a little
was added just to pay for the bad time he had given everyone.

     Mother was always as good as her word, when she promised one
a whipping, she never forgot to give it to him; so, when I had a
whipping coming, I preferred to get the inevitable over as soon
as possible. In those days parents believed if you spared the
rod, you spoiled the child, and I can testify that mother had the
courage of her convictions. I thought at the time that she could
have been less severe about some unimportant offenses, such as
forgetting what she told me to do, or not to do.

     However, I remember one whipping she gave me that I thought
was undeserved, and I am inclined to think so still, because it
was given when a good talking to would have been much more
effective, besides it was given in anger; Julia and I got into a
fight, I've forgotten what it was about, or who started it, but I
scratched her. I had discovered something about her that no one
else knew she was stronger than me and to keep her from getting
me down and beating me up, with my last ounce of strength, I
would scratch, pinch or kick her, which never failed to stop her
short and she'd start crying. I cannot recall being asked for an
explanation, just "did you do it?". I never lied to escape my
punishment, I sensed that self-preservation was law of nature,
and regretted that this did not apply to me.

     Well, that day mother thought I should apologize to Julia,
and say that I was sorry. When I refused, she said if I didn't,
she would have to whip me. I still refused, I knew why I did it,
and felt justified. I had been taught that it was a sin to tell a
lie. She got a fair sized switch from a tree, and called me to
her. I stood before her with every nerve tensed, I did not flinch
when he applied the switch, after two of three applications, she
asked me again if I was sorry. I was more defiant and less sorry
than ever and shook my head. Mother was really angry by this
time, and just about wore the whip out on me, but not a sound
came from my lips or a tear to my eyes. I didn't even flinch. It
was more than she could bear, she threw the whip, or switch down
and covered her face with her hands and wept. Without glancing
right or left she walked from the room, with a face as stolid as
that of a little red Indian. I am sure no one caught me crying
though I was very sorry I had made mother cry.

     I believe my dear mother always tried to be fair to all of
her children, and did very well considering the number she had
and the difference in their dispositions and temperaments, and
the fact that most of them were endowed with a generous share of
hot Irish in their blood.

     In 1897, there was some excitement in the family, when it
became known that Newman Jones, the only child of uncle Hen and
aunt Mary, had enlisted in the Army, to fight in the
SpanishAmerican War. He was just twenty one, but they tried to
get him released because they needed him at home to help them run
the farm. They were unsuccessful in their efforts, however, and
he was sent to Jacksonville, Florida for his training.

     He was double cousin, as uncle Hen was father's brother, and
aunt Mary, mother's sister. He visited in our home frequently, he
was almost like a brother, so we felt bad to see him go to war.
There were some in the family who thought the experience might be
good for him, as it was about the first time in his young life
that he 6ad taken the initiative in doing anything on his own.

     I imagine sister Fronia was a great help and comfort to both
aunt Mary and uncle Hen; she stayed with them at this time, more
than she did at home. I can understand now why she was their
favorite. The same might be said of Livey.

     "Newey", as we all called him, had been gone only a few
weeks, or months, when word was received, saying that he was ill
with yellow fever. This news was quickly followed by the message
conveying the sad news of his death.

     I shall never forget the day his body arrived. We lived, as
I have said, within a few hundred yards of the Potts' burying
ground, so the family had gathered at our house to wait for the
arrival of the funeral cortege. When it arrived, it was
accompanied by two soldiers in uniform, who stood guard over the
flag draped casket; this proved to be fortunate, for there were
one or two in the family who thought the casket should be opened,
as aunt Mary, in her deep grief, had expressed her desire to see
her boy. When it looked like the Army would lose the battle, and
was ready to give in to the request, the soldiers told the women
and children to leave the cemetery so that they would not be
exposed to the dreaded plague yellow fever. This seemed to be
more effective than the orders not to open the casket had been,
so it was not opened. Newman Potts Jones was laid to rest to
become a family hero of the SpanishAmerican War.

     The government checks for the next three and a half decades
were but a small compensation for the love of a son, and his
strong arm to lean upon in their last days.

     They thought brother Livey and Newey looked so much alike
that they told Livey, if he would live with them, they would
leave everything they owned to him, at their death. He worked for
them for a year or two, but did not agree to live with them for
the rest of his life. This was another disappointment to them but
again, Fronia was their main comfort. However, they were frequent
visitors at our home and were always received with open arms and
hearts by all the family.

     The next thing of importance to happen in the family was the
marriage of brother Redic, to a distant cousin, Frances Lewis.
This event took place on January 20, 1898, at candlelight
ceremonies, in the home of her father, Major Lewis. We were very
proud of our new sister-in-law. She was nice and kind to us
children. Redic rented a farm from Uncle William Potts, where
they began housekeeping.

     Uncle William raised strawberries on his farm for the
market. Every spring Sudie, Hattie, Julia and I would stay at
Redic's and pick strawberries for uncle William. I will never
forget the spring when a terrible hail storm destroyed the
strawberry crop and cut short our visit. It was the worst hail
storm I can remember. As I recall, that was the last time we went
there to pick strawberries.

     The following year, we left our beloved North Carolina and
moved out "West" to Salt Lake City, Utah.

     On a sweltering day in the summer of 1899, the family of
Mathew Jones had just finished their mid-day meal, and those who
were in the habit of taking an after-dinner nap were about to
retire to their pallets, or pillows on the floor, when two men in
long black prince albert coats were seen approaching the house,
along the path leading from the "Avenue". As I have explained
before, this was a long narrow road running straight through the
scrub oak woods which bordered the eastern edge of mother's farm.

     We watched the two men approach, with varying degrees of
surprise and curiosity, as it was seldom strangers passed that
way on foot. The men introduced themselves as Elders H. O. Hurst
and George Cook, missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter Day Saints. This information did not mean too much to us
at the time, but when they said they were traveling without
purse, and were several miles from the homes of friends and would
appreciate the privilege of stopping a while to rest and partake
of some refreshments, mother understood instantly. She invited
them in and set the left-overs from dinner before them, which if
I remember correctly, was more than ample - our dinner usually
consisted of collards, cooked with ham or pork side, new
potatoes, okra, tomatoes and cucumbers in vinegar, pone bread,
and if we were lucky, huckleberry or apple dumplings.

     While they ate, the missionaries explained briefly some of
the first principles of the Gospel, as taught by the "Mormons",
as they were called. After listening until the conversation
became boring or perhaps over our heads, Julia and I retired to
our play house in the barn loft. This was where we usually spent
our time following diner as it was cool there; but mostly to
escape the monotonous task of fanning the flies off mother while
she took her afterdinner siesta.

     When we returned to the house, the "Mormon" Elders - I'm
afraid my modern and ancient history was somewhat confused, had
gone; after obtaining permission to return a week later when all
the family would be home. Mother had promised to invite her
relatives and friends to this meeting. Some instinct told me this
invitation would not be very graciously received, and my
intuition proved true. I don't know how many mother invited, but
few availed themselves of the opportunity of hearing the peculiar
doctrine of Mormonism, explained. This seemed rather strange, for
attending "Revival" meetings, where someone always fell into a
trance and was saved, was almost as exciting as going to a
circus, and not to be missed.

     It seems there was a certain man, who had to be saved every
year, and he got quite a reputation as an eloquent performer on
the "saw dust ring" and he earned it. As I recall it, he would
cross over that river Jordan and return before he came out of his
trance. To my disappointment, I had to get this second hand.

     Well, these people wanted nothing to do with Mormons, and
those who would not come to the meeting at our house, later came
to warn us against the wicked designs of the Elders of that
church. They meant well, and we were sorry to disappoint some of
them; I remember how sad I felt the day uncle William Green Jones
came to have a talk with mother and Fronia after they had decided
to join the "Mormon Church". Uncle William Green was father's
brother, and a Baptist minister and, for some reason, we had a
special admiration for him. He was more gentle of nature and kind
in his condemnation of sinners than his brother Jethro, whose
fiery sermon Willie liked to imitate.

     In spite of warnings of friends and the prejudice of the
other churches, all the family were impressed with the beauty and
logic of this new religion, and it's close conformity to the
teaching of Christ. The more they heard, the more sure they were
that they had found the right church at last.

     We became aware of the difference between the beliefs of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the other
churches, the greatest of which was latter day revelation. As the
Savior said there should be Prophets, Seers, and Twelve Apostles
at the head of His church, we could not see why a church claiming
all of these should be reviled and persecuted. So that we might
worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience and
with dignity, mother decided to sell her farm and go to Salt Lake
City, Utah, or "Zion", as it was called, where a Temple of the
Lord was built for the Saints to worship, and perform the
ordinances required of them.

     I am not certain how many other factors influenced her
decision, but she sold her land and prepared to leave the land of
her birth, her kindred and friends.

     Fronia wanted to go ahead of the family and being the most
bold and fearless and a born leader, it was decided that she
should go and make preparation for the rest of us. In the late
summer of 1900, she left for Utah.

     I watched these proceedings with mixed feeling, being
probably, the most sentimental of the family, with a deep love
for my home and native land burning inside of me. Poetically
speaking, "I wandered lonely as a cloud", not even sharing all my
secret sorrow with Julia. I wanted to be alone when I bid good-
bye to the crooked old tree, whose friendly limbs had held me
when I needed to escape the cruel realities of an un-friendly
world; when I looked the last time on the sun sinking in a ball
of glory behind the piney woods, the beauty of which I never
expected to see again. I did not know then of the gorgeous
splendor of the western sunsets but that is life. I didn't want
to ever forget any of the inanimate objects of my childish
affection, and tried to impress them all on my mind, so nothing
could erase their memory, and I very nearly did. I can still see
the patch of wire-grass which Julia and I turned into a beauty
salon; something that we had never heard of. Each of us had
bunches of grass so well trained that we could do it up into the
semblance of a very pretty hair-do. Some were even recognizable
as belonging to certain people we knew.

     I have no doubt that the rest of the family felt very much
as I did about leaving the old home and, like myself, tried to
hide their sentiments behind a whistle or song. I can only
imagine how it must have hurt mother to leave her childhood home
and her beloved brothers and sisters.

     Uncle Pen and aunt Mary Jones, who had left wayne County
several years before, sold their home in Greene County, and moved
back. They bought a farm within a few miles of us (bless them),
knowing they were very near and dear to us, they thought they
could influence the family and prevent us from going to Utah.
Even they could not sway mother or any of the family from
following the course they believed to be right. Did not Christ
say we must give up father, mother, brothers and sisters, even
our children, if need be, for His name's sake.

     Our house became a meeting place for the Elders and Saints,
in that part of Wayne County. After the family were baptised,
sacrament meetings and sunday school were held there. Uncle John
Fields and his family were the only relatives who attended the
meetings, occasionally our cousin Jasper Potts attended. One
Elder told us of an amusing encounter with Jasper's mother, aunt
Mary Potts. He asked her if he might leave her some of his
tracts, and she replied that - "he certainly could, but with his
heels toward the house". That was typical of her native humor.

     Poor aunt Mary, her grandson William Percise, joined the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a few years ago. He
is the first close relative in the family that I know of who has
joined since we left there in 1901. We were delighted in the
summer of 1959, to receive a letter from him saying he and his
family were coming out west to go through the Temple. Since then,
other relatives and friends have received the church.

     At the time we left North Carolina in 1901, meetings were
held in any old building that could be secured for the occasion;
sometimes it would be an old unoccupied school house, or an
abandoned church. Now in the city of Goldsboro, a beautiful
Church has been erected at a cost of $318,000. As you drive along
the highways of the state, beautiful chapels are seen everywhere.
Oh yes, great changes have taken place in old Dixie, as in the
rest of the world. It 16 true, the more learning and wisdom one
acquires, the less prejudice he has towards other's beliefs and

     As I have mentioned before, sister Fronia had gone ahead of
the rest of the family. She had borrowed money to pay her way to
Utah, and now she was working in a tailor's shop, at what we then
thought was an attractive salary. Her letters telling of her new
home and friends and experiences were so interesting that they
did a great deal to make our departure from our dear old home
less sor8rowful. We naturally looked forward to our trip west,
and the new home we were going to. It was with great sorrow that
we bid good-bye to our father and brother Redic, who could not
then give up their ties to their homeland. It was also hard to
leave our little dog Bull, whom we loved like a member of the
family; Julius claimed him as such. One day Julius dressed
himself in clothes which dragged and bagged to the ground, and
with a hat so large that it almost hid his face, emerged from the
house; he was such a funny looking figure, his little dog didn't
recognize him, and started barking at him fiercely. Julius had to
then make himself known. He said "Bull, you ought to be ashamed,
barking at your own brother". We used to tease him about his
brother; it became a family joke. You can imagine the sad parting
that last day when little Bull tried to follow us and had to be
sent back.

     There was another sad parting that day. Sudie's boyfriend
drove her to the train, and on the way, tried to persuade her to
elope with him. She may have been tempted, but being a quiet home
girl, she could not bear to let her family leave without her.

     Utah seemed so far away, and she was such a conscientious
person that she would not upset any plans at that late hour. She
met and married a nice young man about a year after we arrived in
Utah. It was love at first sight for both of them and they had a
happy married life.

     We heard that the young man she left behind married a
distant relative of ours, and had a very happy marriage. Who can
deny the old adage "all is well that ends well"?

     It is said that our departure from North Carolina was the
object of a lot of attention, and some adverse comments, when
after we'd left, The Goldsboro news papers came out with the
sensational story that a train load of the fairest daughters of
old North Carolina had left Goldsboro bound for Utah, accompanied
by a half dozen Merman Elders.

     Mother, her four daughters, four sons and Luther Coats,
mother's convert, must have made quite an impression on the
ticket agent.

     The trip to Utah was almost indescribable. We younger
children had never been on a train before, and to me it was
almost too thrilling; every time it rounded a curve, it seemed to
me it nearly left the track. I clung to the arms of my seat to
keep from being flung in the isle. The creaking of the cars was
frightening. After the first day or two, I began to enjoy the
scenery more. I still remember how I admired the hills and cliffs
of Tennessee, and the green fields of Kentucky, with the white
houses in the distance and the white fences everywhere.

     In Corinth, Mississippi, where we had to change trains, we
stopped several hours. Hattie met a young man in uniform who was
so impressed by her that he later went to Utah, and they
corresponded for a while. He even proposed to her. 'Twas my task
to compose the letter of refusal to his offer of marriage. It
seems I could always tell others what to say, though I was always
speechless when I had to speak for myself.

     As the train took us farther and farther west, we began to
watch for the mountains and the first snow capped mountain we saw
were a wonderful sight for all of us. When we got into Wyoming,
miners began to get on the train with their heavy coats and
telescopes and suit cases. The women wore the first fur-trimmed
coats I had ever seen. Finally, we were in Utah and our feelings
were such that it was easy for us to imagine how Brigham Young
felt when he said the famous words, "This is the Place"

     We arrived in Salt Lake City, after our long and extremely
tiresome journey, on a cold slushy day in March 1901. I will
confess, I was slightly disappointed as it was such a grimy
looking place, not at all like my imaginative conception of a
beautiful "Zion". However, seeing the spires of the Temple in the
distance, towering against the majestic snow-capped mountains,
gave me hope there was a more attractive part of the city than
that surrounding the Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot. In my
eagerness to reach our new home, I soon forgot my apprehension
and entered whole heartedly into a new and different way of life.

     Fronia had been out west six months before us and had rented
and furnished a house and was awaiting our arrival. It was with
much curiosity and great anticipation, that we entered the little
gray house of West Third South; to me it was something pretty
wonderful. Imagine new furniture in every room! This was just one
of the many new things that were beginning to enter my life.

     The first evening in our new home, we were given a kind of
house-warming as a welcome to Salt Lake City. It was a surprise
party, by a few of the friends Fronia had made in her new
surroundings. Among them were the Ashton girls, whose mother was
from North Carolina. While I was enjoying the evening and
appreciative of the gesture of friendship, f became aware of the
difference in our manner of speaking. I was charmed by their
quick fluent flow of speech and wondered if I would ever be able
to drop my southern drawl and accent to speak as they did. This
became my aim - but I never attained my goal. After fifty years,
people ask me where I'm from.

     We soon learned that our dialect and accent had nothing to
do with making friends.  Our small, over-crowded house soon
became the meeting place of old and new friends. Some of our
friends from North Carolina had preceded us to Utah, and others
soon followed. With the returning missionaries stopping in to see
how the Jones' family was making it in Zion, as they reported to
the church headquarters, it is no wonder some of the neighbors,
who didn't know this, began to speculate about the coming and
going of 60 many people to the little house across the street.

     About two or three weeks after our arrival, we all broke out
with the measles. A nurse had to be engaged, as the whole family
was in bed, and as I remember, we were very sick too. I am sure I
was notas ill as the rest of the family, for I lay and listened
to the others moaning and groaning and wished they wouldn't make
such a to-do about it. This was another new experience for me, as
it was the first time I had ever had a contagious disease, or a
disease of any kind. It was the first time I had seen a house
quarantined, so the yellow flag tacked on the front of the house
spelled more than measles to me.

     I was so thrilled and happy in my strange new environment
that I never once wished for any cotton to hoe, or tobacco beds
to weed. I simply luxuriated in idleness. That first summer I ran
wild and free enjoying the things I had never seen before - the
street sprinkler being but one of them; with the other girls as
old as we were, Julia and myself ran barefoot behind it, having
the time of our lives, and unashamed. What would fourteen year
old girls of today think of such childish conduct! Today, girls
of that age think they are quite adult. f suppose having older
sisters who were adept at keeping younger ones in their place,
made me rather slower in daring to assert my rights to the
privileges so sacred to the budding adolescence.

     I will confess I was in no hurry to give up the freedom and
fun I was enjoying as a care-free tom-boy, and being somewhat
small and young looking for my age, I could get away with it,
though there were times when I was quite annoyed when I was
referred to as "your little sister" by friends of my brothers and
sisters. This had not bothered me when we were in the South,
where most of the boys in school were relatives, or acquaintances
of such long standing that they had no romantic interest for me.

     Now, young men in our neighborhood began casting exploring
eyes in the direction of our house. As they passed and repassed,
they were probably aware that four damsels lurked behind the lace
curtains at the windows. I imagine Suddie and Hattie were the
chief attractions, being at the approved ages of seventeen and

     Julia and I were beginning to come into our own, as we too
enjoyed being noticed by the opposite sex. Joe, who lived a few
houses down the street, already had his eyes on Julia, and Andy,
from around the corner, though too bashful to look at me when he
passed, was dropping apples over the fence for me. I, though too
bashful to let him know I was picking them up, ate them with far
more enjoyment than I would have enjoyed his company, I am sure.

     Speaking of apples, reminds me of an amusing incident with
the girl next door. At that time, there were many old orchards in
our part of the city, the fruit going to waste, so of course,
everybody helped themselves. This day a friend, Mary Rose, and I
decided to go to a certain old orchard and partake of the fruit
thereof; we took a flour sack (I've often wondered why we didn't
take two), anyway, when it was full I started to lift it. Mary
put her hand out and said, "let me pack it," I stared at her a
second and then said, "I'11 tote it", then the humor of the
situation struck us and we sat down and had a good laugh. We then
took turns carrying the apples home, where they were divided
between us.

     It was about this time that I turned down my first date. The
boy across the back fence sent his sister over to ask me if I
would go to a show with him. I wanted to go to the show, but I
had never been to one, nor on a date with a boy, so not knowing
what would be required of me, I was too timid to take the
venture. I sent word back that I didn't want to go.

     In September of 1901, Julia, Julius and I, started to school
at the Franklin, one of the first schools built in our section of
the city. I felt just about as frightened and curious as I had
been the day I followed Sudie and Hattie to the old Casey school,
long ago. I soon found that it was much the same as in North
Carolina, and I soon felt that everything was going my way. Then
out of clear skies came calamity. I came down with typhoid fever;
as I had never had a real sick day in my life and having nothing
to judge by, I didn't know whether I was ill or just too tired to
live. I decided not to say anything about it, so I just drooped
around the house and sat by the stove with my head in my hands,
wishing everybody would quit asking me what was the matter. I
just didn't have the energy to open my mouth. I had no idea of
the terrible fear which was beginning to take root in my mother's

     At night, I would have nightmares and go to mother's bed and
crawl in by her side, and tell her that I was afraid to be alone.
One day I was trying to stay up, but had reached the limit of my
strength, everything turned black before my eyes. It was then
that I was put to bed and it was the last thing I knew for two or
three weeks. Luck was with me, a friend of the family, who was a
maid at Doctor Mayo's, the county physician, said she would send
the Dr. down to see me and as soon as she reached home, which she
did. He pronounced my ailment typhoid fever, in an advanced
stage. They told me after I was well, that when they put me to
bed, I told mother not to worry, just call in the Elders and I
would not die. This gave her hope when I was at my worst, and
little hope was held for my recovery.

     I faintly remember being put in a bed that was swinging and
swaying not unpleasantly (I always enjoyed swinging). As things
turned out, it was fortunate that there was an Elder, Henry
Sullivan boarding with us, and Andrew Godwin who also held the
Priesthood, and could assist in administering to the sick, for
every night about mid-night my fever would rise, and I would rave
in delirium - the doctor had warned mother that I would have to
be kept very quiet, or the consequences might be fatal. So, when
I would start to rave, someone would go for the Elders, and I
invariably fell asleep under their hands. Dear old Bishop Ek,
formed the habit of stopping every morning and evening, on his
way to and from his work, to pray for me, I became famous as "the
little girl of great faith". So that I might have kept that
title, but I do give thanks and credit to my heavenly Father that
I was allowed'to live, and though I have not lived up to my own
ideals as well as I could have done, and have fallen short of my
goal - f have never lost my faith.

     I didn't go back to school that year, it was after Christmas
before I was strong enough, and by that time my hair was falling
out like feathers from a scalded chicken, and I looked like a
little plucked skeleton for a long time. Mother hadn't the heart
to force me, and yielded to my plea to be allowed to stay home.

     The next spring we, moved to Sugar House, which is a suburb
of Salt Lake City. At one time there had been a sugar mill built
there by Brigham Young, and that is how it came to be called
Sugar House. It was much nicer than the "west side" where the
railroad shops and freight trains kept everything dingy from

     After that, living in sugar House was like being back in the
country. Late that summer me and Julius came down with diptheria,
we were quarantined, only mother and Hattie stayed home to nurse
us. I remember how Julius carried on, every time he got an
antitoxin shot. I learned to take this without flinching, not
because I didn't want to scream, but because I simply couldn't
let Doctor stewart see me acting like a frightened baby, doctors
were new and awesome in my life, I could hardly feel pain in
their presence, I never could tell them where my misery was when
they asked where I hurt.

     Julius and I were among the first to be given anti-toxin,
which took much of the fear out of diptheria. We had not fully
recovered when school started, and much to my chagrin, had to
miss the first month. After being out so long with typhoid, I was
really worried. But after looking over the books Julia brought
home, and doing some of the lessons with her, I decided I would
have no trouble keeping up with her. Skipping a grade, I went
with her into the sixth grade. Miss Fannie Alien was our teacher,
she was followed by Miss Della Pendleton, and Mr. James E. Moss.
Julia had made friends and sort of paved the way for her shy-crop
haired twin sister. There was one boy Julia especially singled
out as her favorite. I am sure she never expected to have any
competition from me, but he must have thought I looked boyish and
funny, and took an instant liking for me, and started passing
notes to me to participate in the fun. The thing that made more
fun, I think, was that Julia got so angry at me, no one knows how
close I came to getting banged over the head with a book. That
boy, who was a a future attorney of some prominence, was my
escort to the school parties for a while.

     Another day I wrote a note in which I made a slithering
remark about a certain boy in the room, the note was to a girl,
but one of those fun loving boys got it and pretended they were
going to the boy, I had nothing against the boy, and knew I
should not have said what I did. I was so desperate to get the
note back I was causing quite a commotion, the more desperate I
became, the more fun it was for those boys. Finally I jumped up
and went after it. Miss Alien, who was a hot-headed teacher who
took no fooling, laughed and made them give it back to me, saying
"next time be careful what you write".

     Aside from the school-day romances with boys who were hardly
old enough to be taken seriously, I had not had much experience
with the opposite sex. I was shy and bashful and avoided the ones
I really liked most, and being so young looking for my age, I am
sure they never suspected the romantic ideas I was harboring.

     My first date with an adult young man came about by
accident. Julia had made a date with Bill Martin, a nice,
handsome young man, but in the mean time had went to spend the
summer with sister Fronia in Idaho. There were few telephones in
those days, so I had to break the bad news to him when he
arrived. As he drove up in a shinning rubber-tired buggy, drawn
by an equally shinning horse, I greeted him at the door and
apologized for her. He asked me if I would go in her stead. I was
afraid he was asking me just to be polite, and hoping I would
refuse. I hesitated, making some lame excuse. He insisted that I
go, saying he had rented the shinning outfit for a few hours, and
wanted to use it, and would be happy if I would go with him, so I
did and enjoyed the summer evening very much. I was surprised
when he asked for another date, and another. We went steady for
sometime, probably a year. While I liked him well enough, we were
both rather bashful. The only thing he could talk about with
fluency was perpetual motion, which he was trying to invent, and
he talked about it perpetually. This became boring but when he
talked I didn't have to - I was always a good listener. I don't
know how long this would have gone on, or where it might have
ended, if fate in the person of Hattie and her friend Elsie
hadn't intervened.

     Elsie's pet sport was collecting the scalps of any young man
she could get her hands on; to hear her tell it she had collected
quite a few. When Hattie had a friend she was terribly loyal, and
I mean terribly. The whole family heaved a sigh of relief when
her friendships had leveled to normal.

     These two started making a big fuss over Bill, pretending
they were falling in love with him. This seemed to worry the poor
fellow. I became so disgusted with him for taking them seriously
and not being able to see that they were pulling his leg, that I
was"getting ready to turn him over to them, with my blessings and
thanks, when his best friend Mitch, a handsome young Irishman
came to my rescue. We had double dated with him on a few
occasions, and I thought he would be fun to go with, so when he
asked me for a date, I gladly accepted. I don't think it was
quite as much fun for Hattie and Elsie after that. I didn't
bother to find out. Mitch and I went together for sometime but
after a misunderstanding, which was brought about by Bill and his
sister-in-law. I was so furious at the time that I would not
listen to Mitch's explanation or forgive him, so our friendship

     I have laughed about it since. It seems that my girlish
efforts to win a little more lover-like display of friendship
such as holding my hand - was misconstrued and confided to his
friend. Then Bill and his sister-in-law passed it on to me
knowing I would do just what I did.

     With the exception of the small pox epidemic, life in sugar
House went on smoothly and happily for all concerned. Fronia had
married before we left the west side, and was living near us.
Livey had married a Sugar House girl, Mary White, daughter of an
English convert to the church, Alfred White. That fall after a
"love at first sight" and whirlwind courtship, Sudie became Mrs.
Frank Bywater. His parents were residents of Sugar House. Frank's
father was Joseph G. Bywater who was an engineer for the DBRGRR
where Frank was also employed as a locomotive fireman. They moved
to the west side where he would be near the Round House. Hattie
was also destined to meet her future husband, Ervon Fairbanks, in
Sugar House.

     About this time, Fronia and her husband moved to Parker,
Idaho, a little town in a farming community. He was working as a
brick mason on the Sugar Factory then under construction in what
is now known as Sugar City, Idaho. Mother went up to visit them
in the summer of 1904. While she was there Barney, who was
twenty-five, had rode to Hehi on his bicycle to see a girl
friend, he came back hot and exhausted and went to bed. He woke
up during the middle of the night with severe chest pains.

     We sent for Dr. Stewart, who pronounced it pneumonia. He
advised us not to send for mother, he thought he could control
the virus, he was very attentive, and made two and three calls
every day, but the treatments seemed to get no results, and
finally we sent for mother because he kept asking when she would
be home. A neighbor, Mrs. Chi? Alston, came in and helped us
nurse him, and other friends did all they could.

     When we told him she would soon be home, he would ask us
every time the street car came up the hill, if mother was on it.
He passed away before she could reach his bedside, as she had
been delayed in making the trip home. It didn't seem fair for him
to die without seeing his mother, as he tried so hard to live
until she got there.

     While Fronia lived in Idaho, I stayed with her one winter
and attended school, I was in the seventh grade. Mr. Johnson
taught the seventh and eight grades, and every few weeks the two
grades faced each other in a spelling match, I was the champ for
the seventh grade, a girl I shall call Mona Mason the eight grade
leader. So far f had stood up with this girl after all the rest
of the students had missed a word and taken their seats, and had
won every time, this had become a rather monotonous event to the
teacher. One day a long list of words were written on the black
board, we were allowed to study them for probably ten or fifteen
minutes', then they were erased and we formed a line for the
spelling match, which proceeded as usual with the usual results,
except for a tense moment when I thought I would lose my
championship; I had mispronounced a word, which nearly threw me.
When that word was called I didn't recognize it as being on the
list. I wondered if a word had been slipped in to trip me, I knew
everybody in the room wanted Mona to win, she being a local girl,
I stood silent until my mind had swept down the list of words
until I reached the word that must be the one just called, and
spelled it, correctly.

     Instead of Mona taking her seat when she missed the next
word, she was allowed to stand until I missed a word, then Mr.
Johnson said it was a tie. Mona was a very nice girl, and
probably a better all-round student than I was, but I have
wondered if Mr. Johnson's dubious decision was justified. It may
have salved her pride, and to a degree upheld the local spirit,
but I never respected him as much again. I'm not completely
honest in everything, but in a contest or game, I have to be, or
I cannot feel that I have won.

     Barney's death brought about drastic changes in the
financial affairs of the family, he had been the main support of
the family, Willie's wages could not suffice. We all had to go to
work. Though I wanted to continue my schooling, I was not
encouraged to do so, mother no doubt thought it would be unfair
to the others to have to support me. It is easy to say where
there is a will there is a way. I was like a babe in the woods,
without encouragement and a helping hand, I was lost, and neither
one was extended.

     I heard of a lady who wanted a girl to live with her as a
sort of combination companion-maid relationship, her husband was
a traveling man, and she didn't like being left alone, she paid
small wages, but the work was very light, and knowing my
limitations, I didn't expect much. Mrs. McQueen was a lovely
lady, and we got along exceedingly well from the start. I lived
with her about a year, but when I heard of an opening at the
Union Paper Box Company, which would pay me twice as I was now
getting, I thought I had better take it. Mrs. McQueen understood
and I left with her best wishes, after promising to go back and
visit her whenever I could. I liked my new work, I was assistant
at one of the machines that pasted paper on shoe boxes.

     Mother had decided to take in boarders, Frank Bywater,
Sudie's husband, who was now an engineer on DBR.G. advised her to
move to the west side near the Round House, (where the engines
are turned) so she could board railroad men, they were a good
risk, and he could send her all she could take care of. She moved
back to the west side near where we had lived when we first came
to Salt Lake City. Julia quit her job and went home to help
mother with her work.

     Mother made it clear that she wanted us girls to keep our
hands off her boarders and we solemnly promised not to touch
them. I had no idea I would ever have more than a passing
interest in any of these men, so promises were easy to make.
Mother believed us, and trusted us, but neither she, nor any of
us, reckoned with the natural attraction, when youth meets youth
of the opposite sex.

     I shall never forget the day I came home from work, and
Julia, who was staying home to help mother, met me and told me
that two boarders had arrived and were upstairs in their room.
The stairway came down through the kitchen, and needless to say,
I stayed where I could see them when they made their appearance,
which they presently did - that was how I met the man I was to

     He was a tall, lanky young man, being the youngest of the
two, and the most unsophisticated. I can't say that I was
particularly impressed by him at the time, but was later
attracted to him because of his obvious efforts to appear
indifferent. It seems he was more drawn to me, as he told me
later that he had said to himself, "This is the girl I am going
to marry". So it was love at first sight with him. The other
boarder was older and more friendly and talkative. Before dinner
was over, he was laughing and talking to everyone. No doubt, he
was the more attractive of the two, at least more sophisticated.

     As time went on, I found myself using what subtle methods I
knew how to employ, to attract the attention of that rather
homely young man from Iowa, whose name was George King. My
bashful efforts were rewarded, but I didn't know how well I had
succeeded until the actions of others, who had no such
intentions, precipitated the matter.

     It was New Years Eve 1905, Hattie and her friend Elsie had
time hanging on their hands, Ervon, who was Hattie's fiancee, was
in Canada, and Elsie, probably thinking they were new conquests
in the Jones' boarding house, was a constant visitor. This day
they were itching for excitement. Frank Bywater had told us if we
wanted to go the Round House and help blow the old year out and
the new year in, he would get permission from the Round House
foreman to let us in. Now Hattie and Elsie wanted to go, but for
some reason, which I think was the lanky young man from Iowa and
another boarder, Chuck Johnson, they didn't want me and Julia to
go with them.

    When they invited Bill Martin and Jud ? to spend the evening;
(these young men were ex-boyfriends of Julia and myself), we
thought there was something rather strange, but it was not made
plain until after the young men arrived and soon afterwards
Hattie and Elsie disappeared. I will say in all modesty that the
young men seemed to be perfectly satisfied to be left behind, but
I was determined that Hattie and Elsie were not going to get away
with any more of their meddling escapades. I knew where they had
gone and pretending a gaiety I was far from feeling, I then
proposed that we all go over to the Round House and join in the
fun. Julia and the young men fell with my plan and away we went,
merrily rushing into the foreman's office, where we found Hattie
and Elsie surrounded by a group of young railroad workers, some
of our boarders included. The girls seemed to be enjoying
themselves immensely, but looked like they had been caught
stealing sheep when they saw us. If Bill and Jud knew they had
been jilted or stood up, and used, they didn't seem to mind, and
apparently had as much fun as any one.

     I was quite surprised when George King, who was the host or
helper that evening, left Elsie's side and practically took
possession of the land-lady's little daughter. I was boosted onto
every engine he moved that night, helped into the engineer's seat
and given the cord to pull the blow whistle. It seemed wonderful
to be a part of all the tremendous noise and fun, welcoming the
fateful year of 1906. That lark broke down the barrier of reserve
between George and I, and from that evening on we, more or less,
went steady.

     George was working nights, so we had to go to the afternoon
shows, on my days off. Some mornings he would walk to the Box
Factory with me before he went to bed, after getting home from
work. one morning, while we were walking to my work, we noticed a
crowd of people gathered in a vacant lot on the other side of the
street, being naturally inquisitive, I wanted to cross the street
to see what had happened. We crossed the street and pushed our
way through the crowd, until we could see what had drawn the
crowd. A dead man was sitting against a tree with a gun in his
hand, sightless eyes staring into space. I thought for a moment I
was destined to share the fate of the curious cat. My senses
reeled, and my stomach almost heaved beyond its bounds, only by
hurrying away was I able to keep my equilibrium and also my
breakfast. It was a very distressing experience and when I
reached the Box Factory, I was so pale the girls wanted to know
what was the matter, I tried to tell them my ghastly story.

     Happily, that was the only time our walks to and from my
work ended with unpleasant consequences.

     In July of 1906, George's brother Jim, came to Salt Lake
City and he also bearded with mother. About that time Hattie
became engaged to Ervon, and I became fiancee of George, having
given my promise to exchange with him "I do", about Christmas.
Julia and Jim had double dated with George and I several times
during the summer, though not engaged, they were going rather

     Hattie and Ervon Fairbanks were married in November of 1906
and in December, George and I took the same step. We were married
in the old City and County Building, with County Clerk David A.
Smith performing the ceremony. Julia and Jim acted as witnesses.
We rode the trolley car, and on the way, it jumped the track, as
it was snowy and slippery. I secretly feared it was a bad omen.
In the evening a family reception was held, and a nice dinner
served. The next day we left for Iowa, where we spent our

     If ours was not an exciting honeymoon, as some honeymoons,
it was our first and only one, and quite wonderful in our simple
and unsophisticated minds, though I would not recommend a trip
back to the old home as the most ideal place to spend a
honeymoon. Especially if one happened to be as shy and self-
conscious as I was. At times, I felt like a specimen on display.
Many of George's family and friends had never seen a Mormon, and
their veiled curiosity and scrutiny gave me the feeling that they
were looking for my horn. A few times some friendly kidding was
cut short by a silent signal, or a hurrah "George's wife is a
Mormon" This was a little embarrassing to me, but didn't bother
George at all, he just laughed it off and seemed to be more proud
than otherwise, of his little Morman wife.

     I fell in love with his father and mother, who were very
nice to me, and made me feel that they accepted me. I liked all
his folks.

Posted with the permission of Kathleen King Weiss, daughter of the author of this autobiography.  Contributed by Guy Potts, Raleigh, North Carolina in April 2000. 

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    Contents copyright ©  2000, 2001 Guy Potts.  Page presentation copyright Diana Holland Faust 1996-2001.
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    Published 10 November 1996  This page added 10 April  2000  Last updated 21 October 2001

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