FIVE BROTHERS WENT TO WAR

Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.

General Stonewall Jackson speaking to Captain John D. Imboden (24 July 1861)

On April 17, 1861, Virginia seceded from the Union; however, it was not until June of that year that Isle of Wight County began to prepare for war.  The campaign on the Peninsula across the James River from Isle of Wight and Yankee gunboats cruising the James shuttling troops to Hampton, prompted its residents to realize that their homes and families were in danger.  On June 23, 1861 three Jones brothers; Abraham, Isaac Newton, and Jacob, along with relatives and friends from the county signed up with the James River Artillery stationed at Fort Boykin, which later became Company I (2nd) of the Third Virginia Infantry.  Their younger brothers Junious and Josiah Benjamin enlisted April 1, 1863 and April 1, 1864 respectively.  All total there were 46 related men who served in units such as the Third Virginia Infantry Company I (Second), Surry Light Artillery, Ninth Virginia Infantry, Smithfield Light Artillery Blues (Nineteenth Virginia), and Thirteenth Virginia Cavalry.

My great-great-grandfather was Abraham Jones, Corporal, CSA.  On May 31, 1862 during the battle of Seven Pines, he came upon his wounded first cousin, Captain James Thomas Gwaltney.  James asked Abraham for a drink of water.  To his dismay, Abraham was unable to satisfy James’ request because both of their canteens had been shot through.  Abraham did drag his cousin under a nearby tree and left him for the medics.  On June 16, 1862, James died as a result of his injuries, thus becoming the first of the Jones related men to die in the War Between the States.

The Third Virginia was engaged in such battles as the Battle of Big Bethel, the Seven Days’ Battle, the Battle of Antietam, the Battle of Fredericksburg, the Battle of Gettysburg, the Battle of Five Forks, and the Battle of Sailor’s Creek. It was at the Battle of Gettysburg where my great-great-grandfather and three of his brothers were part of Kemper’s Brigade.  “Kemper’s Brigade had the misfortune of being assigned the unsupported right flank of Pickett’s charge.  As a result, it was racked by concentrated artillery fire from its front and right and then hit by Standard’s Brigade’s savage flank attack.   Losses were heavy, but the men did as well as could be expected.” according to Bradley M. Gottfried in his book, “BRIGADES OF Gettysburg“.  It was during this battle on July 3, 1863, that Corporal Abraham Jones was shot in the thigh and captured.  His three brothers left the battlefield that day unsure if Abraham was dead or alive.  As Pickett returned to Seminary Ridge, he sadly replied, “General Lee, I have no division now, Armistead is down, Garnett is down, and Kemper is mortally wounded.”  Lee’s fatherly response was, “Come, General Pickett, this has been my fight and upon my shoulders rests the blame.  The men and officers of your command have written the name of Virginia as high today as it has ever been written before.”*  It is amazing to see the exceptional faith the men had in their leader, General Robert E. Lee.  A faith, so strong, that staring in the face of certain death pushed them to fill in the gaps created by their fallen comrades as they made that devastating charge towards the Union soldiers.

On September 25, 1863, Abraham Jones was exchanged at City Point, Virginia, and transferred to Chimborazo Hospital No. 5 in Richmond where he remained until October.  Upon his release, he was given a 20-day furlough to visit his home before joining his regiment.  Abraham and his brothers fought side by side for the duration of the war.  During the final days of the war, Abraham’s brothers, Isaac Newton, Jacob, and Junious were captured and his youngest brother Josiah Benjamin was wounded and captured.

Of those 46 young men, 13 were killed in battle or died as a result of illness and another 13 were wounded or captured.  Even though all five Jones’ brothers were wounded or captured, not a one died.  By the middle of the summer in 1865, all of them were back with their families.  The only explanation I can provide for this miracle is found in General Jackson’s statement, “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. Captain, that is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.

*”BRIGADES OF Gettysburg” – Bradley M. Gottfried

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THE UNMARKED GRAVE

“And who was this person does anyone know?
‘Tis as if his or her life to nothing did amount
As if he or she as a person did not count
Anonymity in life as in death much the same”

Excerpt from An Unmarked Grave –  a poem by Francis Duggan

Jackie’s paternal grandfather affectionately known as Papa, was a quiet, hardworking, North Carolina farmer.  He lived on a small 30-acre farm near Essex in Halifax County with Jackie’s “Granny” and their two sons, Martin and Edward.

According to Granny, Papa’s father moved his family to Petersburg, Virginia when Papa was a young teenager.  No one ever said why he moved, but the move would have very sad consequences for the family.  During their years there, Papa’s mother died and her body laid to rest in Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg.   (Later in my research, I would learn that his brother, Perry, died there as well.).  A couple of years later Papa’s father moved back to North Carolina followed later by Papa.

We never really knew too much about Papa’s family, except that his Grandfather was wounded in the War Between the States, until I had the opportunity to look through and scan copies of pictures and newspaper articles Granny had collected during the years her son, Edward (Jackie’s father) was fighting in World War II.  I came upon an obituary for an Isham King, who it turns out was Papa’s father.  In the article, it stated he was preceded in death by his father, Emealous King, and his first wife.  Her name was Annie.

Now that I had information to pursue, Jackie and I had traveled to Blandford Cemetery in search of Annie’s  grave but came up empty.  For the next year and a half, I searched ancestry.com, find-a-grave, Blandford Cemetery online records, and even reached out to Morrison’s Funeral Home with the hopes of finding her grave.  Nothing turned up to help me in my search.

Finally, I decided to take a different approach in my search.  I knew that Annie was living in North Carolina based on the 1910 Census and I knew that she did not show up in the 1920 Petersburg City Directory with the family.  I started searching for names of people in Petersburg who died during the influenza epidemic.  Low and behold, I came across the name of Annie Belle King and I found her death certificate.  Her certificate stated she died of pneumonia related to influenza.  Still, I was not sure this was Papa’s mother until I saw the name of the informant about her death.  It was Bruce E. King and her address listed as 1123 Hinton Street (which was the same as Papa’s in the city directory).  At last, I knew when she died and from what!  All I needed to do now was go back to the Blandford Cemetery records and I could find her grave.

POP, there went my bubble!  Still, no Annie King or Annie Belle King.  How could this be?  I made a call to the cemetery office and spoke with Iris.  I gave Iris the information I had from the death certificate and in a few minutes she told me, she had an Anna Belle King rather than an Annie.  She told me a B. E. King purchased the plot and a Perry King was buried there as well.  AT LAST, I had found her.  I knew Papa had a brother name Perry and my search was over.  I looked for and found, that Perry died in December of 1919, a year after Annie.

The next day I traveled to Blandford Cemetery to meet Iris and finally see the resting place of Annie and Perry.

Many thanks to Iris! She was very helpful in locating the graves.

Many thanks to Iris! She was very helpful in locating the graves.

I presented death certificates so both Annie’s name and Perry’s place of birth could be properly recorded.  The record book revealed that  Annie had originally been buried in a visitor’s grave and her remains transferred to her present resting spot in March 1920, three months after Perry’s death.  It looks like after Perry died, Papa decided he needed to buy a plot for the family.

Finally, the time had come to see their graves.  I drove under the Confederate Arch,  around the curve past the bandstand, to the corner of A.P. Hill Ave. and Virginia Ave.  I still did not see any markers, so I parked my truck and walked the area searching for the graves.  My heart sank as I stood there thinking I know the location of the five plots, but not the exact spot where Annie and Perry’s remains rested.  Iris gladly met me at the site with a grave locator in hand and showed me the exact locations of both graves.

The Confederate Arch

The Confederate Arch

Jackie and I passed this sign several time the day we went looking for Annie's Grave. Now here we find her grave only feet away!

Jackie and I passed this sign several time the day we went looking for Annie’s Grave. Now here we find her grave only feet away!

Plot purchased by Bruce E. King in 1919.

Plot purchased by Bruce E. King in 1919.

Standing at the grave of Annie Belle King. Wife of Isham King and mother of Bruce, Perry, Foley, and George.

Standing at the grave of Annie Belle King. Wife of Isham King and mother of Bruce, Perry, Foley, and George.

Standing at the grave of Perry King. Brother of Bruce E. King.

Standing at the grave of Perry King. Brother of Bruce E. King.

Sadden that no marker identified the graves, but jubilant that my search had ended and I was actually standing there brought joy and satisfaction that is hard to explain.  To think, Jackie and I had driven by this very  spot on our search for her grave.  How many people had passed this spot not knowing the remains of two people rested there?

The excerpt from “An Unmarked Grave” at the beginning of this blog speaks as if their life amounted to nothing and as a person, they did not count.  But that does not hold true for Annie or Perry.  You see, they had a loving son and brother, who himself still a teenager, saw to their proper burial.  Annie Belle King was the wife of Isham King and when she passed from this life into eternity, she left four young sons – Bruce, Perry, Foley, and George, who ranged from nineteen to three years of age.

Not a very good day for pictures, but on March 19, 2016, Jackie visited her Great-grandmother's grave for the first time. A very sobering experience.

Not a very good day for pictures, but on March 19, 2016, Jackie visited her Great-grandmother’s grave for the first time. A very sobering experience.

Earlier this month (March), Jackie and I traveled to Blandford Cemetery.   As she stood there quietly looking over the site, I sensed her deep reflection, awe, and questions.  With this part of the journey completed, we now embark on another to answer those questions and complete a work that needs to be finished, the proper marking of Annie and Perry’s graves.  That will be another story!

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FINDING MY WAY HOME

FINDING MY WAY HOME

221 Cary Street

221 Cary Street

“It was then that I realized I could never lose my way

In such a place

the thought was absurd

like getting lost in your own house.

Was I losing my way?

or finding my way home?

from “Finding My Way Home” by Shelly Moore

David and Lois Jones moved their family of six to Smithfield, Virginia when I was just a lad of three years.  I really cannot remember much about the event, but we moved from our farmhouse, which was located on a dirt road just outside of Zuni, Virginia all the way to the big town of Smithfield.  The move must have been traumatic for my parents because now they had to be concerned about how they were going to protect their precious little adventurous boy who could easily get distracted and wander out in front of traffic.  You see on the farm we had a large front yard that stretched from the house all the way alongside the lane to the road, and at the end of the yard was a fence with an opening for the lane.  Now we had cars traveling at a much faster pace on Cary Street within 15 feet from our front porch.    Fortunately, we had a small front yard surrounded by an English boxwood hedge and a larger side yard, which offered plenty of room to play.  Dad took a section of the hedge out on each side of our front yard so I could easily pass through without ever going in or near the street.  Mom and Dad set my boundaries to ensure I would not venture near the road.  Of course, I tested those boundaries at times and sure enough, discipline was applied to the “seat of education”.  In addition to setting physical boundaries to protect me, Mom and Dad instilled morals in each of us so we would know the difference between right and wrong to prepare us to be good citizens.  And yes, I tested those boundaries as well and once again there would be that “educational” experience.

As I grew older and showed some evidence that I had learned from our education periods I was allowed to cross the street “with permission” and supervision.  There was a lot to do on the other side of the street.  There was G. K. Nelms and Raymond Hunnicutt to play with, Mrs. Bud “Go Go” Gwaltney to visit, and then there was the “lot”!  You know every neighborhood has one.  A place where the kids on the street can gather for a number of physical activities.  Now, our lot was not just an empty vacant lot, no sir.  Our lot had a tall, reach-to-the-sky water tower on it.  In those days the small white building shown in the

Water Tower - Cary Street

picture was not there and the lot was at least 5 times bigger.  At least that is how I remember it.  We spent hours playing football, kickball, baseball, and other childhood games on that lot.  Little did I realize the significance that lot and water tower would play in my life as my parents expanded my boundaries and I was allowed to move freely throughout the town and across the bridge over into neighborhoods such as Pagan Pines, Red Point Heights, and Pagan Point.  I guess you could say my physical boundaries were replaced with expectations that I would be the type of person that I had been raised to be, knowing right from wrong and behaving accordingly.

During many of my adventures around my beloved childhood town of Smithfield, there were areas that all I had to do was look up and in the distance in front of me, I would see that water tower that stood across the street from my house.  It was in those times I knew I could always find my way home no matter where I was.  All I had to do was look for the water tower and it would lead me back to love and security.

Looking down Lumar Road towards town you can see the water tower between the house and the tree.

Looking down Lumar Road towards town you can see the water tower between the house and the tree.

Looking over the old Little's Supermarket from the intersection of Hwys 10 and 258 you can see the water tower.

Looking over the old Little’s Supermarket from the intersection of Hwys 10 and 258 you can see the water tower.

Looking across field off of Route 10 by-pass you can see the water tower.

Looking across the field off of Route 10 by-pass you can see the water tower.

Though it has been forty plus years since I moved away from Smithfield, every time I drive through or by the town and see the water tower, I know exactly where home was.  I guess you could say the water tower and the “moral compass” my parents instilled in me both serve to help me “FIND MY WAY HOME!”

 

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THE OLD GRIST MILL

The once spinning wheel silent

Red Birds watch an era leave

From “Old Grist Mill”  by Sara Kindrick

Bellamy's Mill is a historic grist mill located near Enfield, Halifax County, North Carolina and Nash County, North Carolina. It was built about 1859, and is a three-story building constructed of cut stone blocks. It is two bays wide by three bays deep and has a gable roof. Associated with the mill are a dam and support structures, also built of stone blocks

Bellamy’s Mill is a historic grist mill located near Enfield, Halifax County, North Carolina and Nash County, North Carolina. It was built about 1859, and is a three-story building constructed of cut stone blocks. It is two bays wide by three bays deep and has a gable roof. Associated with the mill are a dam and support structures, also built of stone blocks

Grist mills have always fascinated me.  From my earliest memories of passing through Isle of Wight Courthouse on Hwy 258, there was the old dilapidated mill that set on the courthouse side of the road and then there was Wrenn’s Mill, located just off Hwy 10 near Shoal’s Bay.  Both mills stood as reminders that our ancestors were industrious individuals who made use of natural resources to make their lives easier.  Through the county and other parts of the state you can walk through woods and come across old millponds where once stood thriving mills.   Just like the country stores, I am sure the mills served the community in ways other than just providing the service of converting corn or grain into flour or meal.  The mills undoubtedly served as a place for socializing, getting the latest news, and gossip as well.

Any chance I get to stop and venture into an old mill is a welcomed opportunity.  There is something nostalgic about the sound of water dripping on the rocks and timbers below when the “sluice gate” is opened, allowing water to flow onto the water wheel.   You will be taken back in time if you close your eyes; take in the smells; and listen to the rumbling of the “pit wheel” as it turns a smaller gear, the “wallower”, on the main driveshaft driving the millstones as they convert corn or grain into meal or flour.

You can imagine my delight when I began researching my wife’s family and found that her maternal grandmother’s father and grandfather were both millers at the Bellamy Mill (pictured above) located on Fishing Creek between Halifax County  and Nash County in NC.

John Henry Clay (Jackie's Great-great-grandfather) Born 1843 Dinwiddie, VA Died 1914 Enfield, NC Buried - Knight's Family Cemetery

John Henry Clay
(Jackie’s Great-great-grandfather)
Born 1843 Dinwiddie, VA
Died 1914 Enfield, NC
Buried – Knight’s Family Cemetery

After I came across this information, it took me about a year to find the location of the mill.  One hot June afternoon in 2014, I was driving in the proximity where I thought the mill should be located, when I came upon a gentleman, Mr. Al Turner, from Raleigh, NC.  He knew exactly where the mill was and gave me the name of the owner.  He told me during the Civil War the mill was used to make uniforms for the Confederate soldiers.  When news that the Union army was approaching Enfield, the locals took the looms from the mill and tossed them into the mill pond so they would not fall into the hands of the Yankees.  Mr. Turner told me that as a young boy he used to swim in the pond and you could still see the looms in the water.  The mill has been renovated and is now used as a getaway by the owner.  So far I have not been able to arrange a tour for my wife and me.  That would be the “icing on the cake” for this chapter of my research.

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“Gone But Not Forgotten”

My visit to Fannie's grave came nearly 88 years after her death.  Fannie died at the age of 87.

My visit to Fannie’s grave came nearly 88 years after her death. Fannie died at the age of 87.

Dear Ancestor

“Your tombstone stands among the rest

Neglected and alone.

The name and date are chiseled out

On Polished marble stone.

It reaches out to all who care

It is too late to morn.

You did not know I exist

You died and I was born.

Yet each of us are cells of you

In flesh and blood and bone.

Our blood contracts and beats a pulse

Entirely not our own.

Dear Ancestor, the place you filled

One hundred years ago.

Spreads out among the ones you left

Who would have loved you so.

I wonder how you lived and loved

I wonder if you knew.

That someday I would find this spot

And come to visit you.”

by  Walter Butler Palmer

 

Back in the early 1990s, Anthony M. (Tony) Lowe, a cousin of mine, had been working on our family history for about a decade.  As a result of this research, he put together a Jones Family reunion for the descendants of the five sons of Wilson and Margaret Elizabeth Delk Jones:  Abraham, Issac Newton, Jacob, Junius Wilson, and Josiah Benjamin.  During the reunion we were introduced to many facts about our family; some of which I knew and many I did not.  Around 1995 Tony documented the findings of his research in a book titled, Three Hundred Years in Eastern Virginia:  DESCENDANTS OF ARTHUR JONES (1630 – 1692).

I am a descendant of Abraham Jones, the eldest of the five brothers.  His wife was Fannie Elizabeth Hunnicutt.  As I sat in the fellowship hall of Smithfield Baptist during the evening dinner, I was amazed as I looked around the room and saw people that I had gone to school with or seen many times in Smithfield that I was not aware of our kinship.  It was also amazing to look at their faces and see the resemblance that many had with one another.  During the reunion, we visited family home places, graves, etc., and given some history about our family.  A ceremony, with a Confederate Honor Guard, held at the grave of Abraham Jones marked his grave as a Confederate Veteran.

A few years before the reunion I had found and visited Abraham’s grave.  There were other graves there marked, but I did not find the grave of his wife, Fannie Elizabeth.  In Tony’s book it stated that she was buried in Surry County Virginia in the Hunnicutt Family Cemetery located on the PG West farm on Route 10.

After years of wanting to find and visit my great-great-grandmother’s grave, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. G. P. West and ask about the graveyard.  He said he knew about the graveyard and would be glad to show it to me, but asked to wait until it got cooler and snakes would not be an issue. Finally, the day arrived!  Last Saturday, February 27, I received a call from Mr. West asking me if I would like to visit the grave.  I contacted my brother, C. David Jones, told him to get ready and I would take him with me. 

Saturday was one of those I can’t believe it’s a “February day!”  It was a sunny day with a very light breeze when we got there.  After some introductions and reminiscing we loaded into Mr. West’s new toy, what looked like a “souped-up” golf cart, and headed around the edge of the fields to the very back.  Adding to the delight of the day, we came across a large flock of wild turkeys.  I’m not sure who was the most surprised!  Finally, we stopped and made our way into the woods.  After stepping over an old rusty wire fence, we crossed what appeared to be an old road or path.

This is the old road that runs along side the cemetery.

This is the old road that runs alongside the cemetery.

Just along the path on the opposite side, we came upon the graveyard.  It sits on a high spot in the woods that gently slopes down to a stream.  Leaves, limbs, and some overgrowth from years of neglect cover the many sunken gravesites.  Located next to a tree with an orange plastic marker attached, we found the grave of Fannie E. Jones.

 

C. David Jones and Mr. P. G. West (with rake in hand) viewing Fannie E Jones's grave site. Mr. West had wisely marked the tree beside the grave with an orange marker.

C. David Jones and Mr. P. G. West (with rake in hand) viewing Fannie E Jones’s gravesite. Mr. West had wisely marked the tree beside the grave with an orange marker.

Fortunately for us, her grave had a headstone and a footstone.  There was evidence by the sunken earth of as many as a dozen or more graves there, but only Fannie’s had a marker.  I’m not saying other graves were not marked, but without disturbing the graves covered with leaves and dead limbs, it was not evident.  It was a very solemn moment as I stood there for the first time.  My mind was reminiscent of the poem “Dear Ancestor” that I read last June at a family reunion.  How appropriate were the words as I stood there looking over her grave.

This is how we found Fannie's grave when we arrived.

This is how we found Fannie’s grave when we arrived.

Fannie's Footstone

My visit to Fannie’s grave came nearly 88 years after her death. Fannie died at the age of 87.

It’s ironic, there is a familiar quote at the bottom of the stone that reads “Gone but not forgotten”.  There are many graveyards that once were in plain view of their loved ones left behind to remember them, but over time, families have moved away, woods have taken over, and they become lost treasures.  Fortunately through the efforts of those keeping family history alive we can truly say; they are “Gone but not forgotten”!

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Starting The Journey

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m the youngest of six children with a boat load of aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and two great grandchildren.  My love for family and friends that have become like family has inspired me to start this blog.  I’m a novice researcher of family history and my research has revealed some jewels of information as well as raised lots of unanswered question.  I hope to share my journey into my family’s past, revealing the joys and frustrations that come with the process.  I will also share my childhood memories of my family and growing up in my beloved hometown of Smithfield, Virginia.  Hopefully this will inspire you to take time to talk with older family members and learn from them what you can about your family.

As children we learn about the “great and famous” people that impacted our world, country, state, etc.  Little is taught about the average, everyday guy, so we don’t give much thought to our ancestors unless there has been someone famous in the family.  We typically go through life not asking questions about our grandparents, great-grandparents, and extended family.  Sure we hear the older people talking about “Uncle Lucian” or “Aunt Susie”, spinning tales that almost seem unbelievable, yet we still don’t really pay attention until one day after almost all of the “old heads” are gone it finally hits us – My grandmother’s grandmother  was born seven years before Thomas Jefferson died.  Then the light comes on and we are filled with questions, only to realize that very few are left living that can answer them.

Fortunately, we have the internet, old county records, and sites like “Ancestry.com” and others that we can research and piece together what their lives must have been like.  Sometimes the information starts flowing like the spigot has been turned all the way opened and other times it’s like a drought and you can’t find a drop of information for days, weeks, and even months.

That’s the purpose of this site, to share not only information that has been found, but also to share insights into the process – the droughts as well as the floods of information.  Along the way I also hope to share memories of my childhood growing up in my beloved hometown, Smithfield, Virginia

I hope you will enjoy this journey!

 

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