Sunday, April 19, 2015

Take Him Down 15th Street

I was stuck in Wilmington, North Carolina last month for two days during an unusual Spring snow. My flight home was cancelled because of ice in Charlotte and I couldn't find another flight. I decided to check out some local family connections. I met with a distant relative of my wife's who I've corresponded with for over ten years and then decided to visit some dead relatives.

My great grandfather's brother lived in Wilmington and I had wondered if he had any children. One problem doing genealogy research on long deceased distant relatives is you often have to depend on the census and other public records to recreate their family.

Samuel Harker Fulford was born on the Straits of Carteret County North Carolina on May 31, 1875 to David and Mary Catherine Fulford. He was one of the youngest in the family and his older brothers and sisters moved to Manatee County Florida in the mid 1880s. He was too young to join them so he stayed home and eventually moved to Wilmington where he became a policeman.

Samuel Fulford House
He was married twice. The first time on July 17, 1907 to Virginia Piner, a local girl from Carteret County. She died less than four months later from Typhoid fever.

He moved to Wilmington after this and met Louise Stedman King and they were married within a couple years. I found them on the census records but none listed any children. One relative of Louise told me she had at least one miscarriage but didn't think they had a child survive.

Being a policeman, I found a number of newspaper articles that mention Samuel Fulford in the local papers but only his obituary mentioned his family. It said he left wife, nieces and nephews but no mention of children. The local historical society has recognized two of his houses in their historic district.

The last house he owned was at 209 South 15th Street. It is listed as The Fulford House in the historic district and was shown as his residence in his obituary. He died on September 25, 1962 at age 87, eight months after his brother Marvin, so he was the last of the 10 Fulford children.Both he and Marvin made it past 85, more than 10 year older than any of their siblings.

Samuel and Louise Fulford
Samuel was buried in the Oakdale Cemetery at 520 North 15th Street in Wilmington. There are two old cemeteries in Wilmington, almost next door to each other.

I drove downtown to visit his grave the first day I was in Wilmington and arrived at 5:10 pm only to find the cemetery office had closed at 5. Normally this is not a problem and since I had a map and the plot number I figured I could go to the grave anyway. No, for this cemetery, they close and padlock all the gates at 5 pm! I don't think I've ever seen a cemetery you couldn't visit after hours. It was interesting that the cemetery next door, which is almost as old didn't have any gates.

Since I couldn't find his grave, I drove to his house and then realized it was only a few blocks down 15th Street from the cemetery. The old neighborhood has mostly small frame houses and his is one of the largest and only brick houses.

William King plot

The next day I was still in town with nothing to do, so I went back on my way to the airport and found his grave. It was literally in sight of the locked gates that had stopped me the day before.

The cemetery plot was owned by his wife's father William King. It has her parents and several other King relatives but no sign of any children for Samuel and Louise.

Louise died in 1967 and I'm pretty sure I was the only Fulford relative who has been to their grave in 50 years.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Longline Fishing Boats

If you were watching the news this week you saw Nik Wallenda walk blindfolded on a highwire between two Chicago skyscrapers.

Seventy three years ago, in 1941, his great grandfather Karl Wallenda, walked a highwire over Longboat Pass near Cortez, Florida. It was part of the celebration to announce a new concrete bridge was being built between Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key.

Karl Wallenda was born in 1905 and died when he fell off a wire between two towers of a 10 story hotel in Puerto Rico in 1978.

The original Longboat Key bridge was built in 1926 and made of wood. It was washed away during a storm in April 1932. Although they had the party in 1941 the new bridge wasn't completed for another 17 years. They were delayed initially by WWII and then I guess it was effected by the normal efficiencies of local and State government.

This second photo of Nik Wallenda walking across the wire is interesting because it shows he enlisted fishermen from Cortez to help keep it from blowing in the wind. You can see boats anchored on both sides of the wire with cables going up to keep the wire tight. The boats on the right are fishermen from Cortez. The one in the front is my grandfather Tink Fulford's boat.  The third one from the front is his cousin, John Luther McDonald's boat. I can't identify the others.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Family Circle

I enjoy reading books but almost always they are non-fiction, historical choices. I've tried to read all the new books that come out about early presidents and events in the US before 1900.

One of the major topics of course in those books was what happened in the 1860s. I've tried to read books on both sides and about the men who led both armies. I recently read a new one about Ulysses S. Grant and just finished one on William Sherman. In reading about Grant I remembered a story about his early romances and then came across a newspaper article that tied it to the Fulford family.

Grant was born in Point Pleasant, Ohio but the next year his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio. As a teenager there he met and fell in love with Mary Ann King. She had been born on February 4, 1824 in Georgetown to Victor and Mary Ann Mickle King.

Grant left home at age 17 to enroll in the U.S. Military Academy but kept up a correspondence with Mary King for many years. He continued to write her even after he became romantically involved with his future wife Julia Dent, who he became engaged in 1844.

While he was serving in the Mexican War in 1846 he drew a painting and sent it to Mary Ann King. The painting is mentioned in the newspaper article below from the January 9, 1890 edition of the Asheville Democrat.

The article said Mary King married a man named Fulford and moved to California. I decided to track her down and was able to locate her in Louisiana. At this point I haven't figured out how her husband is related to my Fulford family but would assume he is, considering where he was from.

John Davidson Fulford was born in Norfolk, Virginia on January 28, 1818. He married Mary King while she was still in Ohio and they moved to Louisiana in the 1850s.

John Fulford became a Carriage Maker and they had at least five children. John died on October 13, 1870 and is buried in the St. John's Cemetery in Thibodaux, Louisiana. I found him on census records but haven't been able to identify his parents.

I did locate his brother, James W. Fulford, who was living with John and Mary on the 1860 census in Louisiana but moved to North Carolina when the war broke out and enlisted in the Confederate Army. James W. Fulford was born in 1830 in Norfolk, Virginia and died on July 25, 1881 in Columbia, North Carolina. This article from the July 26, 1881 Weekly Economist tells of his death.

Mary Ann King Fulford died in 1903, still living in Thibodaux, Louisiana and is buried next to her husband in the St. John's Cemetery. Although she was well known in the area, I can't find any newspaper articles that mentioned her relationship to Grant, who was not very popular in Louisiana, so I guess she chose to take that secret with her to St. John's.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Ancient Relics

I've written a couple times about my great great uncle Stephen F. Fulford who lived in New Bern, North Carolina. He had an interesting life, having owned a general store near the waterfront for almost 50 years.

He also worked for a while as a Boat builder. This was a common occupation in Carteret County where he was born. I have several family members who did this for a living and the Florida Maritime Museum in Cortez, Florida has some of the fishing boats they built on display.

I'm sure Stephen Fulford built many fishing boats but the only record I've found of his skill in boat building was his contribution to the CSS Neuse, a Confederate Navy ironclad. It was built starting in October 1862 and launched in November 1863 but wasn't equipped for service for another six months.

This 100 year old newspaper article from the New Bern Daily Journal was published on January 11, 1914. two years after Stephen died. It tells about a local man who had on display a large section of the armor plate used in the hull of the ship. It mentions Stephen F. Fulford as one of the builders.

The CSS Neuse never really saw any action as it was pinned down by Union troops and adverse conditions, literally stuck in the mud for over a month. It remained at the dock in Kinston, North Carolina until March 17, 1865 when it was scuttled and burned by it's crew to keep it from being captured.

In 1963 the remains of the ship were located near the Kinston harbor and raised. It was kept in a local museum until 2012 when it was moved to the CSS Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center in downtown Kinston.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fifty less one

Today is the 49th anniversary of my Grandpa Fulford's death. It is one of those monumental days for me that made such an impact I will always remember where and when I the heard the news.

I was just coming home from elementary school on my bike with a neighborhood friend riding on the front handlebars, which I had been told several times not to do. As we pulled into our driveway I saw my Dad in the carport and thought I was in big trouble. He didn't say anything about our daredevil bike tricks but only waited for me to pull up so he could give me the news that Papa Tink was dead.
Unloading fish with Tink 1959

Walton "Tink" Fulford was only 62 years old, younger than two of my siblings are today. He was born March 8, 1903 and died September 22, 1965 in Cortez, Florida

He looked much older than 62, but that is because he spent 50 years as a commercial fisherman, in the sun most days and working harder than anyone else. I've heard several older cousins say he always outworked younger men and was always either fishing or thinking about fishing. He was regarded as the most successful fisherman of his generation. He had three sons but at least another three that I know of who considered him a father. Some were related some weren't. There are few men who grew up in Cortez who didn't fish for him or claim that they had. I met one recently who told me he fished with Tink during the 1950s but my mother's cousin Blue shook his head and said "there are a lot of folks around today who say they fished with Tink but I never saw em on the boat."

He fished without benefit of GPS, electronic fish finders, mechanical rollers or spotter planes. Most of his years he fished with cotton nets which required constant repair and maintenance. I've found many newspaper articles telling about the tens of thousands of fish he brought to the dock.

I can remember being miles out in the Gulf of Mexico at night and he told us to put the nets out because he smelled Bluefish. None of the rest of us saw or smelled anything, but Tink seldom came home without a load of fish.

I was fortunate to be the youngest grandson, who was old enough to fish with him. Those who were younger never got the chance and those who were older thought it was work, not fun. For me, it was the best thing I could think of doing. He would take me out fishing but since I was the youngest, I got to sit up front and help him steer the boat. He sat up on the left side of the cabin, using his right foot to reach the steering wheel. I would sit on the other side of the cabin, with my left foot stretching to reach the wheel too. The other members of the crew slept in the cabin or hung out in the back.

When he died, after a summer of treatment for cancer, the day after his funeral, I distinctly remember a group of fishermen, headed up by my mother's cousin Gene Fulford, meeting on the dock of Fulford Fish and collecting money for his grave marker. My grandmother could have bought the marker, but this was something the men of the community wanted and needed to do.

The marker was engraved, "In loving memory by friends of Tink."

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ten to Life

Two years ago I wrote about the murder of a distant relative that happened in New Bern, North Carolina back in 1914. I found a newspaper article recently that tells what happened to the man who killed him.

This is from the Concord North Carolina Times, dated February 15, 1915.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Buried under a Cannon

Otway Burns was one of the most well known North Carolina veterans of the War of 1812. He wasn't a Soldier but a Pirate. Back then the US Navy only had a few ships so they enlisted anyone who had something that would float to harass the British Navy.

Otway Burns captained a merchant ship called the Snap Dragon that the owner had enlisted to be a Privateer, a legal Pirate flying the US Flag. He was credited with capturing and plundering several dozen British merchant ships.

The British Navy decided he had caused too many problems and sent a Man of War after him in 1814. While Otway was sick at home, the Snap Dragon was captured, most of the crew killed and the ship sent off to England.

One of my mother's cousins is a distant relative. He even has Ottway as a middle name. His great great great grandfather was Francis Burns, the brother of Otway. Somewhere along the way on his side of the family they misspelled the name and it stuck.

Otway Burns Grave
Otway Burns was born in 1775 in Swansboro, North Carolina and died on October 25, 1850 on Portsmouth Island. He is buried in the Old Burying Ground in Beaufort, North Carolina just across the street from The Langdon House Bed and Breakfast where we have stayed several times. They put a cannon, supposedly from his old ship on top of his grave  in 1901.

The story is that the ship sunk 70 years earlier and somehow, someone who was not identified, found it and salvaged a cannon. I doubt the story is true, but it sounds good.

When the grave marker was dedicated in 1901 one of my distant relatives, Romulus Armistead Nunn gave the speech. He was the County Judge in New Bern, North Carolina and a local historian. He apparently wasn't convinced of the Cannon's provenance either as he said it was only purported to be from the Snap Dragon. Folks quickly forgot his comment and grave marker has become a popular tourist attraction in Beaufort.

I researched his family several years ago when someone told me my mother's cousin was a grandson of Otway Burns. I decided to check out the story and figure out if Otway had any descendants. I found the cousin descended from his brother, not Otway.

Otway became a very popular name for boys in North Carolina in the late 1800s and has carried on even today. There are also several towns and at least two US Navy ships named after him.

In the early 1900s there were several men who came forward claiming to be his grandsons. He had been married at least three times but on census records it was difficult to document the males who were in his household. There were two young males on the 1820 census but in 1830 there was only one. From the age on the 1830 and 1840 census, if this male was a son he would have to be from the first marriage.

Otway's first wife was Joanna Grant who he married in 1809 and divorced in 1814. I found this newspaper AD he took out, saying he was no longer responsible for her debts.

The story is that she had a son named Owen Burns, but because there were no census records with names at this time, it is difficult to prove this true. Joanna Burns died in 1837. Owen Burns was apparently born about 1810 and died in 1869 in Maryland. He served in the US Navy for about 20 years.

Otway Burns also had a daughter Harriett, who was born in 1827 to his 2nd wife Jane Hall. There were no males born to this marriage. Harriett Burns married Richard Cornelius Canaday who's father was my first cousin, several time removed. His father Richard Canaday was the gg uncle of my great grandmother Sallie Adams Fulford.