Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Beginning

I began my search for my ancestors almost two years ago as a summer project with my children. We stumbled around the internet and had almost immediate success. I was hooked and I've never looked back. (My children have wandered on to other pursuits.) I am quite happy to spend hours in the state archives, walking through old cemeteries and studying pictures of unidentified relatives. Of course, the best part is renewing relationships with cousins, as well as meeting new cousins.

This blog is my attempt to share what I've learned. While many of my family have the family trees that I've put together, I feel a simple family tree does tell the story of the individuals. So... I hope to use this forum to introduce to my/our family ancestors. While I've done the most research on my maternal Howard (actually Harward) line, I have lots to share on many lines.

James Lester Howard

Lester Howard was my grandfather and the first child of Mattie Maddox and Connie Maise Howard of Lee County, NC. He was born in a two room tenant house his grandfather's (Grandpa Suggy's) farm. He and his three siblings, (Walter, Jewel, and Clayton) were raised by their parents until their mother's death in 1927. Lester was 12 years old. At that time, he, Walter and Jewel went to live at Elon Orphanage while their brother Clayton went to live with their Grandpa Suggy Howard and Aunt Ammie (Connie's sister). Once his father remarried to Lily Gordon, Lester made the decision for the three siblings to leave the orphange so they could live as a family. In 1930, a sister Joy was born. When Lily (and Joy) left the family, Grandaddy reports that the Depression had begun. Work for his father was sporadic and Grandaddy sold newspapers to help support the family. Grandaddy reports in his journal, that eventually the children were split up to live with relatives. Grandaddy went to live with his mother's brother Uncle Curly Maddox. Living with Uncle Curly appears to be when Grandaddy learned to grow crops. He tells in his journal:

Uncle Curley would give me a field of cotton which would amount to one Bale. Then Lawton (my cousin) and I would have about the same amount divided between us. The last year I farmed he also gave me a field of corn in the Creek low ground a very rich soil no fertilizer when planting but at hill up time the last plowing I put 200 lbs of nitrate soda around it costing $4.95 cents. I left for the CCC Camp (Nov 1933) before the corn was gathered I sold it to my Aunt Cornie who was a widow and lived on this farm with three children a son Robert, Florence and Betty for $5.00.

As many of us remember, Grandaddy always planted a large garden providing not only for his family, but freely sharing with others.
Grandaddy joined the CCC Camp in Nov 1933. I'll let him tell the story in his own words:
A Mr Cashier [? Name] who came down to fish and hunt told us about the CC Camps. I had never heard about. Had just started about six months before paying thirty dollars a month. We would send 25 dollars to our family and we got 5 dollars. I sent mine to Aunt Ammie. She a widow living on the farm with Grandfather Howard and helping to care for Jewel and Clayton. The five dollars took care my cigarettes. ( I smoked at that time.) Hair cut and maybe a date or two. A movie cost 10 maybe fifteen cents popcorn-five cents. Drinks five cents. Any sandwich ten cents hot dog five cents.
After signing we were sent to Fort Bragg for physicals about 3 weeks. This was Nov. 1933. I chose to go to Old Fort from there. So did Robert. I had never been to the mountains. Icles hanging off those cliffs six feet long. I began to wonder if I was in the right place. At this camp we did five [or fire] trails, built roads. I worked in the Forest about a week then on Sunday I did KP duty. Monday morning I did not get out of bed. When I did not report the CO and company Dr A Captain Kerr came to check. After examining me I was sent to the hospital with phneumonia for five weeks. I was very sick. High fever and packed in ice for several days. The doctors did not give much chance. After the hospital I did not have any duties for some time. About April a crew was discharged. I then was made a second cook on three meals and off three. The following spring we were transferred to High Point after a few months there, Twenty-five of us were transferred to Yanceyville. There I was made first cook $45.00 per month. We cooked in a tent on field ranges until the kitchen and mess hall was ready. When all Buildings were ready about two hundred plus men came. I was there two years. While there I sold Belt Buckles and fancy pillow covers making extra money. Some of the men had cars (parked off base) and some local guys worked at the Camp. Also a company truck would drive to Danville Va-about 15 miles for a movie or other entertainment.

On June 10, 1939, Grandaddy married Cecile Clara White (of Surry County, NC) in Danville VA. They were married for 43 years.

Cecile and Lester Howard

Lester, Walter, Jewel and Clayton Howard

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