Volume 11 November - December  2005 Number 11

2005 Society Officers

Jacob Parker, President

Loretta Simmons, Vice President

Betsy Sethman, Recording Secretary

Zelda Pledger, Treasurer

Arnette Parker, Newsletter Editor

About The Society

The Genealogical and Historical Society was founded in August of 1995 to encourage the preservation and historical recording of Tyrrell County and its families. The Society is a non-profit organization.

How To Contact Us

If you would like to contact the Society for any other reason, you may reach us at:

Tyrrell County

Genealogical and Historical Society

Post Office Box 686

Columbia, NC 27925

Send items for the newsletter to:arnettecparker@hotmail.com


Our Society meets on the fourth Sunday in each month (except November and December) at 2:30 p.m. at the Senior Citizens Center in Columbia. Mark your calendar now for our 2006 meetings.
January 22,  February 26, March 26, April 23, May 28, Jun 25,  July 23, August 27, September 24, October 22


Shortly after the first of the year, you will receive a mailing reminding you that membership dues for 2006 should be paid now. If they are not received by February 15, you will be remove from the newsletter mailing list. As we visit with family and friends, remember to ask older members to tell you about stories of their life. Write it down.


There are no right and wrong answers, as long as you're honest with yourself. Let your thoughts guide you toward the future, renewed in body, mind, and soul.

1. If I had an extra hour of free time a day, how would I spend it?

2. Are my personal priorities in order? What am I neglecting?

3. What are my goals for 2006? Have I taken my first step toward achieving it?

4. Have I given up on any dreams or goals I wish I hadn't? Can I pick up where I left off?

5. Am I as healthy as I want to me? Do I treat my body as well as I could?

6. Who are my heroes - and why? Am I anyone's hero?

7. Is there room for more love in my life? What steps am I taking toward that end?

8. Am I having enough fun? Do I find something to laugh at every day?

9. Do I spend too much time worrying about things I can't control?

10. Can I stand on my own two feet, or do I need someone to take care of me?

11. What's the best part of me that no one sees? What can I do to share it?

12. What's my outlook? Do I embrace new experiences, or do I avoid the unfamiliar and stick to what I know?

13. Can I see things from a different perspective? When did I last walk in somebody else's shoes?

14. Are there any apologies I need to make? Is there anyone I've lost touch with and want to call? What's stopping me?

15. Do I feel valued as a parent? A spouse? An employee? A friend?

16. Do I put too much pressure on my loved ones? Do I put too much pressure on myself?

17. Am I happy with my relationships with God? Am I as committed spiritually as I would like to be?

18. How do I feel in my own home? Comfortable and safe, or tense and on guard?

19. Do I hold too much anger in my heart? Are there any grudges I'm willing to let go?

20. Have I ever been held back by fear of failure? What's the worse thing that could happen if I act with more courage from now on? What's the best?

21. If I could live my life over again knowing what I know now, what would I do differently? What would I not change?

22. Do I make the most of every day? Do I celebrate the little things - a ripe orange or a sunny day?

23. Could I push myself harder at home or at work? Could I stand to ease up a little?

24. Am I good about granting myself life's little rewards? Do I stop and celebrate when I achieve a goal?

25. What 25 things do I want to accomplish before I die?
-Woman's Day Magazine


MARY LEVORA WOODLEY SWAIN, 95, died October 10, 2005, at Beaufort County Hospital, Washington, NC. Born in Washington County, she was the daughter of the late Seaton M. and Luncida Hassell Woodley. She was preceded in death by her husband James B. Swain; son Carl D. Swain; sister Bernice Lockwood; brothers Woodrow Woodley, Caswell Woodley, and Everett Woodley. Survivors: daughter Gloria Faye Swain of Columbia, Evelyn J. Wilbur of Burlington, TX, Ethel M. Robertson of Rolla, MO, and Glenda R. Cahoon of Fairfield; sons James E. Swain of Columbia and Gene A. Swain of Creswell; sister Maxine Phelps of Roper; brothers Wallace Woodley of Columbia, William H. Woodley of Roper, and Aubrey Woodley of Chesapeake, VA; sixteen grandchildren; seventeen great grandchildren; nine great great grandchildren. Arrangements by Maitland Funeral Home, Creswell.

WALTER GRAHAM LIVERMAN, SR., 82, died October 17, 2005, at Pitt Memorial Hospital, Greenville. Born in Tyrrell County, he was the son of the late Walter L. and Bernie Dillon Liverman. He was a retired self employed automotive technician and member of Columbia Baptist Church. Survivors: Barbara Hughes Liverman of Columbia; daughter Kay L. Gibbs of Columbia; son W. Graham Liverman, Jr., of Chaptico, MD; four grandchildren; seven great grandchildren. Arrangements by Maitland Funeral Home, Creswell.

KATHY LORRAINE ETHERIDGE, 47, died October 22, 2005, at Pitt Memorial Hospital, Greenville. Born in Tyrrell County, she was the daughter of the late Jessie A. and Margie Ainsley Etheridge and was preceded in death by brother Al Etheridge. She was a home health assistant and member of Sound Side Free Will Baptist church. Survivors: daughter Summer Nicole Etheridge, Columbia; sisters Delene Johnson of Edenton, and Darlene Etheridge of Asheville. Arrangements by Maitland Funeral Home, Creswell.

JAMES MARSHALL "JIMMIE" HOPKINS, SR., 77, died October 26, 2005, at his residence. Born in Tyrrell County, he was the son of the late Chester L. and Vera Bateman Hopkins and was preceded in death by brother Chester L. Hopkins, Jr. He was a retired farmer, U.S. Army veteran of World War II, and member of Creswell Baptist Church. Survivors: wife Frances Peal Hopkins, Creswell; daughters Lynne H. Barnes of Goldsboro; Ann H. Woodley of Edenton; son James M. "Jimmie" Hopkins, Jr., of Nags Head; sister Theda H. Hatfield of Tahlequah, Oklahoma; brother Joseph L. Hopkins of O'Fallon, III; three grandchildren. Arrangements by Maitland Funeral Home, Creswell.

WAYNE STEVEN "STEVE" GIBBS, 52, died November 2005. Survivors: son Danny Gibbs; daughter Leslie Gibbs of Virginia Beach; two grandchildren; father William James Gibbs, Sr., and mother Jacqueline Selby Gibbs of Columbia; brothers Billy and Barry Gibbs of Columbia; and Nick Gibbs of Dover, DE; sister Karen Gibbs James of Virginia Beach. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Linette Gibbs. Arrangements by Kellum Funeral Home, Boney Chapel Road, Virginia Beach, VA.

ALBERT RAY WARD, 68, died November 5, 2005, at Albemarle Hospital. He was born in Chowan County to the late Dorothy Louisa Williams and Marvin Aubrey Ward. He was preceded in death by sister Joyce McCarter. He was a former Jaycee, volunteer with Edenton Fire Department for 21 years, 4-H volunteer, member of First Presbyterian Church where he served as treasurer, an Elder, and a Deacon. Survivors: wife Fran McCaskill Ward; sons Albert B. Ward and wife Ann of Manteo, and Brian Ward and wife Alison of Edenton; sister Evelyn Ward White and husband Charles of Morresville, brother Robert Holton Wiley and wife Sandra of Edenton; five grandchildren: Jennifer Ward, Christopher Ward, Andrew Ward, Scott McLaughlin, Jason McLaughlin; great grandchild Hunter Mason Ward. Evans Funerals and Cremations in charge of arrangements.

MYRNA KAY OWENS SAPONE, 59, died November 7, 2005, at her home in Wanchese. Born in Norfolk, Va, she was the daughter of the late William Anderson Owens and the late Iva Bill Tillett Owens. She retired from Dare County Public Schools. She was a member of Bethany United Methodist Church and attended Wanchese Assembly of God and was "mom to many and sister to all." Survivors: husband Nick F. Sapone; daughters Lorie Fitzgerald and Jill Sapone, both of Wanchese; son Nicholas O. Sapone of Wanchese; two grandchildren. A brother William Conrad "Pug" Owens preceded her in death.

DOROTHY TAYLOR GARDNER, 70, died November 10, 2005, at Chowan Hospital in Edenton. She was born October 31, 1935, in Tyrrell County to the late James and Cora Rhodes Taylor. She was also preceded in death by sister Betty Davenport. She was a homemaker and member of Sound Side Missionary Baptist Church. Survivors: Dan Reynolds of Columbia; son Herbert E. Gardner and wife April of Edenton; daughter Patricia Wheeler of Edenton; and five grandchildren Misty Biggs, Jessica Slades, Channing Gardner, Nathan Gardner, and McKinley Gardner. Smith and Austin-Walker Chapel, Columbia, in charge of arrangements.

IDA GIBBS GWYNN, 83, died November 16, 2005, at her home in Columbia. She was born June 24, 1922, in Tyrrell County to the late Samuel and Indiana Gibbs. She was a retired secretary with Trans Freight Lines and member of Columbia Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She was preceded in death by her husband James Gwyn. Survivors: sister Grace Miller of Nashville, TN; several nieces and nephews. Smith and Austin-Walker Chapel in charge of arrangements.

LEAROLEAN SAWYER BRICKHOUSE, 80, died November 16, 2005, at Washington County Hospital, Plymouth. Born in Chesapeake, VA, she was the daughter of the late Walter and Dessie Overton Sawyer and was preceded in death by husband Kenneth O. Brickhouse; son Gaius O. Brickhouse; sister Lillian Davis and brother Eugene Sawyer. She was a member of Sandy Acres Free Will Baptist Church. Survivors: daughters Wanda Phelps, Mary Ambrose, and Alicia Davenport of Creswell; sons Edward Brickhouse and David Brickhouse of Columbia; sisters Marjorie McPherson of Virginia Beach, VA, and Audrey Hebert of Chesapeake, VA; brothers Leon Sawyer and Lionel Sawyer of Elizabeth City; Bobby Sawyer of Smiths, AL; Gilbert Sawyer of Concord, NC; Everett Sawyer of Shawboro, NC, and Darrell Sawyer of Chesapeake, VA; fourteen grandchildren, ten great-grandchildren. Arrangements by Maitland Funeral Home, Creswell.

LENA MARRIAH HASSELL, 90, died November 23, 2005, at her grandson's resident in Richmond, VA. Born in Washington County, she was the daughter of the late Ernest L. and Maybell Phelps Hassell, and was preceded in death by her husband James McCoy Hassell; sisters Etta Ayers, Ellar Ambrose, and Lucinda Hassell; brothers Andrew Hassell, William Hassell, John Hassell, David Hassell, Carson Hassell, and Thomas Hassell. She was a homemaker and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Survivors: daughters June Stinsman of Richwood , NJ and Vickie VanAntwerp of Brevard, NC; sons Larry D. Hassell of Queenstown, MD and John M. Hassell of Washington; thirteen grandchildren, twenty-one great grandchildren, and one great-great grandchild.

CHRISTEEN CHAPLIN DAVIS died November 25, 2005. She was preceded in death by her husband H. Edward Davis, Sr., and is survived by her children Faye D. Crumpler of Cary, NC; H. Edwards Davis, Jr., of Columbia; Dale D. McDuffie of Gatesville; Ann D. Smith of Kitty Hawk; and Lory Lee Davis of Apex. Arrangements by Maitland Funeral Home, Creswell.

ERVIN CHESLEIGH AMBROSE, SR., 95, Creswell, died November 29, 2005, at Washington County Hospital Plymouth. Born in Washington County, he was the son of the late Milton and Victoria Godwin Ambrose. He was preceded in death by his wife Emma Jane Phelps Ambrose, daughter Iris Jane Biggs; two brothers Daston Ambrose and Phillip Ambrose. He was a retired building contractor and member of Philippi Church of Christ. Survivors: three sons Horace Lee Ambrose and Ervin C. Ambrose, Jr., both of Creswell, and James E. Ambrose of Myrtle Beach, SC; thirteen grandchildren, twelve great grandchildren, four great great grandchild.

ESTHER MAE ALEXANDER MCCOY, 93, died December 6, 2005, at Pitt County Memorial Hospital, Greenville. She was born in Tyrrell County on August 12, 1912, the daughter of the late Matharia and Ellen B. Alexander. Survivors: son John McCoy of Columbia, daughters Betty Murray of Columbia, Janie Cary of Washington; seventeen grandchildren; forty-three great grandchildren; and fourteen great-great-grandchildren.

LINDSEY RESPASS, 88, died December 9, 2005, at Washington County Hospital, Plymouth. Born in Tyrrell County, he was the son of the late Lemuel and Maggie P. Respass. He was a retired auto mechanic. Survivors: brother Austin Respass of Columbia; sisters Dora Thompson of Durham and Florence Hull of NJ; foster son Lindsey McCleese of NY; foster daughters Edith Daughitry of NJ; Vera Sykes of Creswell; Lynnette Melton of Edenton. Arrangements by Rowsom Funeral Home,

LEONA PHELPS DAVENPORT, 88, died December 13, 2005, at Britthaven Nursing Center, Edenton. Born in Washington County, she was the daughter of the late Dewey and Estelle Ambrose Phelps and was preceded in death by her husband, Ernest G. Davenport, Sr.; son Gary Hall Davenport, and brother Reginald Denny Phelps, Sr. Survivors: sons Jimmy S. Davenport of Roper and Ernest G. Davenport, Jr., of Hertford; sisters Mattie Jane Burns of Creswell and Ada P. Moreland of Palm Beach, FL; brother William T. Phelps of Charlotte; five grandchildren; three great-grandchildren. Arrangements by Maitland Funeral Home, Creswell.

(Written for the Christmas Issue of The State Magazine , 1936 )


Thousands of children in all parts of the world will soon realize the day to them as the happiest of the year. The gifts of which they have talked for many months and which they so keenly desire will at last be theirs. Happy memories will remain with them for years to come, because of some particular thing which will rejoice their hearts.

Doubly happy, then, will be the children of Rodanthe. For in this little fishing village on the North Carolina coast, gifts are received twice within two weeks. The 25th of December will be celebrated there as Christmas and on the 5th of January, twelve days later, Old Christmas will be observed. Children and adults alike exchange gifts on both dates.

Old Christmas, sometimes, known as Little Christmas, Twelfth Day, or Epiphany, is a celebration taking place on the twelfth day after Christmas, counting Christmas as the first day, and here, as in old England, marks the end of the Christmas holidays. As far as can be ascertained, Rodanthe is the only place in North Carolina where the custom of celebrating Old Christmas is continued; and this is traditional with the inhabitants there, the custom having been handed down from English ancestors who settled years ago on that lonely strip of shore. At Rodanthe, a tiny village of gleaming white houses on the South Banks of Dare County, with its citzenry of upright, intelligent fisher folk, the old English custom of celebrating the end of the Christmas season on this continues today as it has for generations.

Rodanthe is made up of two neighborhoods, North and South Rodanthe, about a mile apart. In modern days, of course, it is quite easy for the people of one neighborhood to see people from the other neighborhood frequently, but for many years, it was only once in a while that they had an opportunity to get together. Out of this geographical separation grew the custom of celebrating both the Christmases. On Christmas Day, the inhabitants of one neighborhood visited the inhabitants of the other; and on Old Christmas, the program was reversed.

Early in the morning of Christmas day, one would be awakened by the sound of faint, eerie music. One visitor who was once fortunate enough to be there on Old Christmas has said, "When I awoke very early that morning, I heard music like a fairy piper. As it drew nearer, I found it to be serenaders with fife and drum. The early morning atmosphere lent a peculiar sweetness." The serenaders were accompanied by members of the Sunday School, who marched in rows, as they did every Sunday, from one end of the community to the other holding prayers in each house as they went along. By noon, they had reached a central point and at that place, a big table was spread in picnic stye will all the good things that are customary at Christmas time. Everyone from four or five miles around had gathered for the big picnic dinner and afterwards, the homes which had not been visited in the morning were visited for prayers. Before night, every home in the community had had prayers.

Late in the afternoon, the excitement quickened; and the entire population gathered at some one person's home, deriving much fun from masquerading in true old English style. Both children and grown-ups dressed themselves in old clothes, and covering their faces with dark stocking, went about jostling each other in the crowd. The climax of the evening's entertainment came with the appearance of "Old Buck", a comical apparition typical of festive celebrations. "Old Buck" was in reality the bony structure of a cow's head, including the horns, through which a pole was run, with blankets thrown over the pole, and two men underneath providing the walking power for the monster. Another man rode the beast, giving orders which "Old Buck" obeyed, such as "Caper, Buck" upon which order "Buck" would caper from one place to another, the bell around his neck ringing merrily. Hilarity reigned during the evening, the fife and drum being present to furnish music for the occasion.

According to "Uncle Eb" Midgett, one of the old time residents of Radanthe, the fifes in those days were excellent and were made from reeds grown close to their homes. One of the most famous of the fifers was John Thomas Payer, while B. S. Payne was for the years the outstanding drummer. The drums were also made at home, a sheep being killed and hide tanned for use in making the instrument.

In former days, all the men and boys of the community got together for weeks before the Christmas season and played ball, that being one of the favorite sports connected with the seasons. Another favorite sport was shooting the bull's eye, the winner of which contest was rewarded with a chicken, duck, or other similar prize.

These sports were for the men and took place during the day, but the sport in which boys and girls took part and from which they derived immense enjoyment was the neighborhood "candy bilin". A number of people would get together and boil either molasses or sugar candy, and the fun that ensued from the pulling would be hard to describe, to say nothing of the games they played while the candy was cooling.

While many things have changed at Rodanthe in the past few years, Old Christmas will be celebrated this year much as in former years.

-Catherine D. Meekins
The Coastland Times - Thursday, January 8, 2004