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.