My Grandmother's Home

    This information is contributed by Jackie Purdy

    By Mary Shelton McArthur English
         I had driven about three hundred miles from my annual visit with my elder 
    sister Lillian; and both of us knew that, at my age, I probably wouldn’t be 
    driving that long distance many more times.  For that reason, I wanted us to visit 
    places dear to our hearts while we had this opportunity.
         “Sister, while I’m here, “ I said, “I’d like very much for us to ride down to 
    Magnolia to see Grandmother’s old home where we were born.” The house had
    been built about 1850, shortly after the Atlantic Coastline Railroad was completed
    in that area.  And like all the other new homes in town it was built facing the
    railroad track, the front porch of which served as a ringside seat for anyone who
    wanted to watch the trains go by; and how we did enjoy watching those trains,
    particularly the excursions headed for Wilmington and Wrightsville Beach, North
    Carolina, during the summer months.
         “Shell, that’s a wonderful idea!” Sister replied. “I can’t remember the last time
    I was there, but I know if has been many years. What about going tomorrow?”
    And we set out early the next morning for Magnolia. About nine miles east of 
    Clinton we passed “The Old Place” - where our father was born.
         “Do you remember, “Sister asked, “how we used to come out here with Dad and
    go huckleberrying while he attended to matters at the farm?”  She’d relate one
    story about the Old Place, and I’d remember another - like the time I went to the
    farm with Dad, and Lucy, the tenant’s daughter, and I stood on the picket fence
    surrounding the graveyard in the middle of the cotton field and ate fox grapes, 
    the vines of which had climbed the trees just inside the fence.  The graves and 
    their markers had been moved to the cemetery back of the church nearby several
    years earlier;  but the fence and trees and the wild grapes were still there, plus a lot
    lot of thick underbrush.  While we were having fun eating the wild grapes. All
    of a sudden we heard what sounded like a loud groan coming from beneath the
    bushes below.  Had one deceased member been left behind by mistake, and was he
    begging to be moved also?  We jumped off the fence in a hurry and dashed like a 
    streak of lightning across those cotton rows to tell my father about the ghost in
    the graveyard. With an amused smile, my father said to the tenant, “You mentioned
    earlier that one of your pigs is missing. We might take a look in the graveyard.
        Sister and I entered Magnolia on what used to be the main street of town before
    the railroad was built; and we spotted a few landmarks as we slowly moved along -
    The Methodist church on the right, and the Croom home on the left. At the first
    intersection we saw the Gaylor home on the right - where Sister and I, as teenagers,
    had spent a weekend with Ruth Mary and Laura Beth after our family moved to Clinton.
    On the left corner was the home of our great- uncle, Jimmie Carroll.  An old-fashioned
    flower garden containing English boxwoods was in the area at the corner, a beautiful
    sight to behold when we were small children.
         “Shell, do you remember that the very first automobile we ever saw and road in
    belonged to Uncle Jimmie’s son, Cousin Hezzie Carroll - who drove from his home in
    Bennettsville, South Carolina, to Magnolia to visit his widowed mother?”
         “Yes”, I replied: “Cousin Charles Carroll of Raleigh said that on the very same 
    trip, when Cousin Hezzie stopped in Warsaw, he - Charles - rode to the edge of town
    with Cousin Hezzie in order to open and close the town gate for him. Few people 
    remember the days of the town gate.”
         We turned to the left at Uncle Jimmie’s home onto the dirt road leading to
    Carlton’s Crossing - which road ran back of Grandmother’s home, about a quarter
    mile away.
         “Somewhere along here, “ one of us said, :there used to be a schoolhouse in
    which Mother and Aunt Lillie taught when they were  young ladies.” That brought
    to mind their experiences in Kenansville, the day they passed the examination and
    received their teacher’s certificates. The Superintendent of the Duplin County
    Schools, Richard Millard, happened to be their uncle, and he was the man who gave
    them the examination.  An excellent biography of him is found in McGowan’s 
    Flashes of Duplin’s History and Government.  The biography also mentions the fact
    that he had a stroke in 1896. That wasn’t too long after Mother and Aunt Lillie took
    the examination; and I don’t think Uncle Dick Mallard was feeling very well that day.
    I’m sure his blood pressure went up while Mother was translating a Latin paragraph.
    Her translation might have been alright, but she couldn’t pronounce “Helvetians”;
    and the Latin translation at that point went something like this:
         “Hel --, Hel --, Hel --”, stammered Mother.
         Uncle Dick - very impatient - could stand it no longer, and with his voice a bit
    louder that usual he exclaimed, “Say ’HELL FIRE’. Mamie, and continue on!”
         “Sister, I guess it was all right for Uncle Dick to talk that way to Mother since
    she was a member of his family; but such an episode wouldn’t have looked very 
    good in the McGowan history, would it?”
         With the advent of automobile, buses, and airplanes, there was a period  of
    railroad abandonment, which was becoming very evident in Magnolia at that time.
    The dirt road which had run parallel to the railroad track down in front of 
    Grandmother’s home, no longer existed - we discovered that day. There had been a
    railroad crossing in front of Grandmother’s home, and a baseball park on the other
    side of the crossing. Trains used to make special stops for those attending the ball
         The house had been built on a hill - on ten acres of ground, extending all the 
    way back to the Carleton’s Crossing road;  a narrow lane had connected the two
    main roads - about one hundred feet away from the house. There had been fields
    behind and on the north side of the two-story home. Sister and I approached the
    property from the rear. We were shocked to discover that the fields were now 
    overgrown with small trees and underbrush; in fact, we could hardly spot the
    narrow lane which ran beside the field up to Grandmother’s home. It was very
    evident that no one had traveled over that side road for many years - since the 
    road itself was overgrown with tall bushes.
         “Shell,” Sister said a bit nervously, :maybe we should turn around and go back
    home. That road doesn’t look safe.“
         “We’ve come this far,” I replied, “and I don’t think we should turn back now.
    It may be our last chance to revisit the place where we were born. Cross you fingers
    and hold on to your hat,” I said; and I put my foot down slowly on the accelerator.
    The tall bushes started lashing at the car from both sides, from the front, and even from
    underneath the car. My husband would never have put up with such imprudent 
         After we had gone a short distance, Sister spoke up: “Seems as though we should be
    able to see the top of Grandmother’s home by this time. Don’t you think so?” I was 
    too busy trying to steer my car thorough that thicket to answer her. Suddenly I came
    to a sort of clearing - and saw the railroad tracks straight ahead. I stopped the car
    Suddenly, and both of us looked to the left. There - where Grandmother’s home once
    proudly stood - were two tall chimneys standing alone like two sentinels guarding the
    Sacred place!
         “It can’t be ! It just can’t be !” I cried as I got out in a hurry and started toward the
    ruins of the old home.
         “Wait, Shell! We shouldn’t walk through that thick underbrush. Remember 
    that there is an old well somewhere near those chimneys, and since the well 
    sweep is no longer there to identify the spot, we could trip and fall into the well.
    No one knows that we came on this trip; and it would take a Sherlock Holmes to 
    discover the missing sisters.”
         “Yes,” I said as I stopped suddenly, “ and the bottom of that deep well is so 
    close to Beelzebub’s kingdom that we might be ushered right down to perdition
    in a hurry to pay for the times we failed to walk a chalk line in life.”
         We later learned that there had been an electrical storm. Lighting had struck
    the large oak tree beside the house, burning the tree and the frame house.  On the
    way  home we reminisced: “I remember the large old - fashioned parlor,” Sister
    remarked. “All the rooms had high ceilings, with four windows in each room -
    two on the side and two on the front or back.”
         “Sister, do you remember Grandmother’s Packing Room upstairs? I wrote a little
    poem about it many years ago, Let’s see if I remember it.”
                                   GRANDMA’S PACKING ROOM
    My favorite hideaway
    Was Grandma’s packing room upstairs;
    I’d slip off there to play
    Among the old discarded wares.
    There in the corner, ‘gainst the wall
    An old spool watnot hung, 
    And there and old sidesaddle-
    ‘Twas Grandma’s  when she was young
    They say my grandma rode the best
    Of any, miles around;
    The wildest horses she would test
    And with them hold her ground.
    A horsehair trunk - I would abhor
    To have to use today -
    ‘Twas Uncle Rice’s ’fore the war -
    A fine one then, they say! 
    “Of all the things I’d find when I’d
    Explore each little nook,
    My greatest interest would abide
    In Grandma’s drawing book;
    She studied art long years ago -
    We have her paintings yet.
    The Civil War soon broke out, tho, 
    And art aside she set!”
         With a bit of sadness in her voice, Sister responded, “The old home is gone, 
    Shell, but we still have our pleasant memories - as you have shown in your
    little poem.”
    This is the note at the end of the story.
    September 15, 1985
         This was Lesson Two in Yarns of Yesteryear Home Study Course in Reminiscence 
    Writing which I am taking from the University of Wisconsin. The instructor liked the 
    story very much, so I’m sending a copy to each of my sisters - who can make 
    additional copies for their children if they so desire. In many of these lessons I shall
    be bringing out facts about the early life of our ancestors - which might be of interest
    to younger generations.            
                                   September 15, 1895
    Mary Shelton McArthur English - 1904-1990
    Martha Lillian McArthur Williams -1902-1991    
    They were the children of Mary Thomas “Mamie” Fryar and James Albert McArthur.
    Mary Thomas “Mamie” Fryar was the daughter of Martha Jane “Mattie” Carroll who 
    married Thomas Fryar. 
    She was the Great Grand-daughter of Jesse Carroll and Mary Rachel Gavin
    Granddaughter of John Carroll and Ann Nancy Hollingsworth
    Daughter of John Durham Carroll and Zilpha Chesnutt
    It is their home Shell and Lillian are telling about.
    Martha Jane Carroll & Thomas Fryar also had 2 other daughters.
    Molsey Lillian “Lilly” Fryar who married Dr. Charles S. Boyette, dentist in Clinton
    Mattie Carroll Fryar who married Thomas Absalom Dutton of Egypt, Effingham Co.GA 
    Others mentioned in the story:
    Uncle Rice in the poem was Rev. Luther Rice Carroll, CSA who married Jemima
    Ann Carlton, 
    Aunt Lillie, Molsey Lillian Fryar,  the lady mentioned above, wife of Dr. Charles Boyette.
    Uncle Jimmie was James Thomas Carroll and married to Lavina Jane Dobson/
    Cousin Hessie was Hezekiah Wendol Carroll and married Alexa McColl and lived in 
    Bennettsville, S.C. and was the son of James Thomas Carroll and Lavina Jane Dobson.
    Charles Fisher Carroll was later the Supentendent of Public Instruction for North Carolina.
    Richard W. Millard was the husband of Julia Fryar sister of Thomas Fryar.
    This story is submitted by:
    Jackie Purdy of California,  Martha Jane Carroll Fryar was my Great Grandmother
    Jackie Dotson of North Carolina, Martha Jane Carroll Fryar was her Great, Great Grandmother 

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