Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Merry Christmas! You're Going to North Carolina

On Christmas Eve I surprised my brother with his semi-annual nostalgic gift. It was a framed photo of the farmhouse my Castle great-grandparents rented from Dr. Fred S. Clinton when they first moved to Red Fork sometime in the 1910's. Dr. Clinton was a physician and co-owner of the Sue Bland, the first well to strike oil in Tulsa County. Clinton Middle School, where my brother and I attended 7th, 8th, and 9th grades, still sits on the site of the original farmhouse. When we attended Clinton Junior High School, it was in the original school building, built in 1925.

Clinton Junior High School in 1925
From the Beryl Ford Collection/Tulsa Historical Society

I had never seen a photograph of the Clinton farmhouse, but I attended a meeting with my grandmother when a painting of the old house was presented to the school. I wasn't even sure that a photograph of the house existed. A little research uncovered the fact that a photograph of the house was available from the Tulsa Historical Society. Voila!

Clinton Farmhouse
From the Beryl Ford Collection/Tulsa Historical Society

Tim really liked the photo, and he had a surprise of his own. During the gift opening portion of the evening, he leaned over to me and said, "Your gift from us is that we are going to North Carolina this summer." On our previous trips to Kentucky and Tennessee we had talked about how so much of our family had come from North Carolina and how neither of us had ever been there. As usual, we'll try to combine the genealogical and the historical. So where are we planning to go?

1. I'm thinking that our first stop in North Carolina will be Asheville, right on I-40, which will be our route out of Oklahoma, straight through Tennessee, and on to North Carolina. We can't visit North Carolina without seeing Biltmore and exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains.

2. Our Powell ancestors came predominantly from Wake Co., NC. The narrative written by our great-great-aunt Lydia from information given to her by her father Benjamin (See "The Powells") says that the Powell ancestors came from Virginia to Halifax Co., NC, then to Wake Co. before the Revolutionary War. Dempsey Powell was the patriarch of this family, and his name can be found on the 1790 and 1800 censuses in Wake Co. Fortunately, the county seat of Wake Co. is Raleigh, which is also the capital and location of the State Archives. It's also right on I-40.

I hope that some pre-trip research will help me determine if there are any Powell-related sites to see in Wake Co. The home of Dempsey Powell (or of his son Dempsey Jr.--sources vary) still was standing in Wake Co. in the 1960's. I found references to the home of Dempsey Powell's son Jesse that is on the National Register of Historic Places in Wake Forest. I'm hoping to convince my brother to let me have half a day at the Archives. According to the catalog of the Archive holdings, there is a box that contains information about Dempsey Powell's military service in the Revolution and a folder that contains the bounty land warrant awarding Dempsey Powell his land on the Duck River in Tennessee for his service. Surely Tim will want to see that.

3. It's only 3 hours from Raleigh to Roanoke Island. I can't be that close and not visit the site of the Lost Colony that has fascinated me since I first read about it 50 years ago. We can't see North Carolina without visiting the coast.

4. Doubling back to meet up again with I-40, we can follow it to its end in Wilmington. It's only a short drive from there to the border of Brunswick and Columbus counties where our Simmons, Soles, and Mansell relatives lived before they moved to Alabama. I think the best we can hope for there is to get a flavor of the area that our ancestors left in the 1830's.

My cousins and I speculate that the family's efforts to prove Cherokee membership were fruitless because we weren't Cherokee, but Waccamaw. According to the Waccamaw Siouan Tribe website, the Waccamaw tribal homeland lies partially in Columbus County, about 35 miles from Wilmington. Hopefully, we'll have time to visit the area, particularly Lake Waccamaw and the Green Swamp Nature Preserve.

5. Traveling north to meet back up with I-40 will take us to Charlotte. We have no family connection there, but I hear it's a fun city. Maybe we can stop for lunch or dinner on our way back home.

As usual, we'll push it to make the trip in a week, but I think we can do it. If you read this and have suggestions for our trip or more information about sites connected to our ancestors, especially the Powell and Simmons families, please let us know.

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