4/3/14

Louise Stansbery's Great Adventure, Part 2

by Glenn N. Holliman

Our series on my late Aunt Louise Stansbery Sherwood (1915-2006) continues.  She is one of the great grand daughters of Isaac (1822-1864) and Caroline Greer Wilson (1828-1911) of Sutherland, North Carolina. Her grandmother, Frances Wilson Osborne (1851-1940), was one of the children assisting her father in the Ashe County cornfield when he was shot from ambush during the American Civil War in June 1864.

Louise Stansbery, age 20, left Bristol, Tennessee in early December 1935, en route to Miami, Florida and then by ship to Havana, Cuba.  The International Radio Club was sponsoring a beauty contest, and Louise -  Miss Bristol that year - was tapped by WOPI radio to represent the station.  WOPI owner  W. A. Wilson and others accompanied Louise on this adventure.


They took the bus!  Of course commercial flying was in its infancy and expensive.  Why not the train?  One suspects the bus was cheaper, and Wilson must have been counting his pennies and dimes in those early days of radio.


Left, a model 1932 Greyhound bus.

Heading south, one of the first stops was Statesville, North Carolina and Gray's Restaurant.  Louise saved the menu, an elegant publication for its time.   

What is remarkable to 21st Century bank accounts is how inexpensive the food was. Steak only 50 cents and sandwiches for a dime.  Of course the average annual income for American families in the middle 1930s was approximately $1,500 per year and during those Depression years, many such as my Osborne and Stansbery ancestors, made do with much less.  




It is a bit unusual posting a menu, but it captures the cost of an up-scale restaurant of its time...a cup of coffee for 5 cents!




In a quick post card home from Georgia, Louise complained they were running late. That probably explains the railroad timetable contained in her memorabilia. Remarkably, she was assigned a private room for the overnight run from Jacksonville to Miami, Florida. One suspects Mr. Wilson wanted Louise rested and looking refreshed when they arrived in Miami for the first phase of the conference.

After two days travel, the party arrived in Miami, and quickly, Louise sent a second post card home to her mother, Mayme Osborne StansberyBelow is Flagler Street, Miami in 1935.





Next Posting, two nights in Miami....one of the belles of Radio in 1935! 

 We invite you to rediscover your heritage at a Wilson, Greer, Wilcoxson, Osborne, Forrester, Adams and other families Forum, Saturday, 9 :30 am, July 19, 2014 in the community room of the Boone, North Carolina public library.  Sunday, July 20th is also the annual Wilson Homecoming at Sutherland United Methodist Church in Ashe County.  In addition, a detailed family tree of the above families is growing at a MyFamily.com site. For details and schedule on the above event and web site, watch this space and/or contact glennhistory@gmail.com.  Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson are great, great grandparents of this writer.


3/17/14

Louise Stansbery's Great Adventure, Part 1

by Glenn N. Holliman

Recently my cousin, Donna Sherwood, passed along to me a large box of memorabilia of my late Aunt Louise Stansbery Sherwood.  Donna's husband, Vance R. Sherwood, Jr. is my first cousin.  In a container inside the larger box, I found envelopes of photographs and souvenirs from a special period in my aunt's life.  It is a delight to share this bit of Americana with the larger family and world.

Frances Louise Stansbery Sherwood (1915-2006) lived a long and gentle life as a housewife in Knoxville, Tennessee.  She is a maternal aunt of mine,  the grand daughter of G.W. (1847 - 1927) and Frances Wilson Osborne (1851-1940). Although known as Louise throughout her life, the Frances comes from her grandmother and her great, great grandmother, Frances Brown Greer, the Civil War heroine who stood off the Union patrol that were stealing her honey pot.  There was even Franklin Brown, the father of Frances Brown.

In 1918, she attended as a child of three the Wilson Reunion held on the Ashe County, North Carolina farm where her great grandfather, Isaac Wilson (1822-1864), had been killed just 55 years earlier near the North Fork of the New River in Sutherland.  Again a debt to Shirley Sorrell who identified the children in this picture.


Louise is on the front row, far right while an older cousin, behind her, Agnes Wilson, holds Louise's new born brother, Charles Stansbery, Jr.

Left, front row, left to right - Ernest, Clyde and Boyd Wilson, sons of Bessie and Arlie Gaither Wilson; Earl Wilson, son of Conley who is a son of John W. Wilson; Louise and Charles Stansbery, children of Mayme Osborne, the daughter of G.W. and Frances Wilson Osborne.


Back row, left to right - Thomas Earl Donnelly, who died at age 5.  He is the son of Mayme and Thomas Earl Donnelly.  Marie and Argus Wilson, children of Conley Wilson who is a son of John W. Wilson;  Robert Wilson, a son of John W. Wilson (Robert is the only grandchild of Issac and Caroline Greer Wilson in this picture); Dorothy and Agnes Wilson, the daughters of The Rev. William A. Wilson and Mary A. McClellan, who were Methodist missionaries to Japan.  Notice that almost all the children are bare footed!

Louise, the daughter of Charles S. and Mayme Torrence Osborne Stansbery (1896-1947), although born in Afton, Tennessee, grew up in Bristol, Tennessee, a mountain or two west of her mother's roots in Sutherland, Ashe County, North Carolina.  Louise's parents separated in 1930, and she went to work immediately after high school graduation in 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression.  Her jobs were retail clerk at Kress's and later waitress at King's Department Store.  Times were very hard for the family, and her small pay check kept her disabled mother, younger sister and brother in groceries.  Below, the beauty pageant announcement.


Then in January 1935, her life took a turn that led to  a larger world.  She had been blessed with good looks and a winning personality.  She was encouraged to participate in the Miss Bristol, Tennessee beauty pageant, and she won!  There was a preliminary contest on January 23, 1935 and then the finals on January 29.  The picture below appeared in the Bristol newspaper.



The newspaper clipping of the time states she would vie for Miss United States at Atlantic City.  The family has no oral history or memorabilia of such as contest, but she did attract the attention of the local radio station, WOPI that was looking for a beauty contestant for the annual International Radio Club conference.  The business gathering in 1935 was to be held in Miami, Florida and Havana, Cuba. 

Founded by W. A. Wilson (no relation to our Ashe County family), the station went on the air in 1929, the first air castle between Roanoke, Virginia and Knoxville, Tennessee.   Wilson was a good promoter; WOPI stood for 'Watch Our Popularity Grow' according the web site, http://www.wopi.com/history.html.  The original format was popular and mountain music.  Today WOPI, many owners later, is largely a sports station.

  Below, a post card Louise saved of the Cuban trip showing the early WOPI.

Below, one of the early announcers for WOPI was Tennessee Ernie Ford who was a Stansbery neighbor and fellow member of Bristol's Anderson Street Methodist Church in the 1930s. Ernest sang in the church choir and was a classmate with Louise's brother, Charles.  With the popular entertainer from the 1950s and 60s is W.A. Wilson in a photograph from the WOPI web site.  Mr. Wilson (1896-1967) and others would accompany Louise to Cuba and back.


With radio in its infancy, local station owners branded together in the International Radio Club, a trade organization run by one Jack Rice, an entrepreneur of his day.  The purpose of the 'club' was to promote radio and the sharing of ideas. 

There was an annual convention and in December 1935, that convention was held in both Miami, Florida and Havana, Cuba.   Below in Havana in December 1937 is Jack Rice, an aggressive promoter, who dreamed up the idea of a beauty pageant for the IRC as a way to attract attention and capture some publicity. 

When all said and done, 24 local broadcasters (there were about 65 members that year) tapped 'pageant queens' and paid their expenses to Havana.  For Bristol, Tennessee, the participant was the small town dime store clerk, my Aunt Louise, and she embarked on the great adventure of your young and to that date, sheltered life!



Next on to Florida and Cuba!

We invite you to rediscover your heritage at a Wilson, Greer, Wilcoxson, Osborne, Forrester, Adams and other families Forum, Saturday, 9 :30 am, July 19, 2014 in the community room of the Boone, North Carolina public library.  Sunday, July 20th is also the annual Wilson Homecoming at Sutherland United Methodist Church in Ashe County.  In addition, a detailed family tree of the above families is growing at a MyFamily.com site. For details and schedule on the above event and web site, watch this space and/or contact glennhistory@gmail.com.  Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson are great, great grandparents of this writer.










2/28/14

From the Scrapbook of Shirley Sorrell 5

by Glenn N. Holliman


Continuing our Series of Wilson Photographs....

 Several cousins, Shirley Sorrell, Dale Wilson and Kathryn Wilson have made this article possible with their photographs and knowledge of ancestors who were born and for many, lived their lives in the North Fork of the New River in Ashe County, North Carolina.    We continue the series with more on John Wilburn Wilson (1855-1928), a son of Isaac (1822-1864) and Caroline Greer Wilson's (1828-1911).

John and Rebecca Wilson Wilson (1862 - 1954) had ten children who lived to maturity,  and while some descendants still reside in the Western North Carolina mountains, many have dispersed across the United States. 


One son of John and Rebecca's was Thomas Conley Wilson, born Feb 18, 1882 and died Dec 9, 1957. He married Verde M. Barlow, (1880 - 1969). Their children are Marie Wilson (1908-2001), Conley Argus Wilson (October 3, 1909 - January 3, 1994) and Thomas Earl Wilson (October 22, 1913 - July 23, 1977).  Earl married Neva Howard ( b. Aug 12, 1912).


Conley lived all his life on a farm that was part of the Issac Wilson home place. The house still stands on the right just before Wilson cemetery on Oscar Wilson Road, Sutherland, North Carolina.  John and Rebecca, his parents, lived a little further up the road from him. He died of what appeared to be a heart failure in his barn, where his son Argus found him.

 
Robert Wilson was the last child of John and Rebecca, born June 4, 1906 and died May 18, 1987 and is buried in Guildford Memorial Park in Greensboro, NC. As a young man, he went out west with his nephew, Earl Wilson (son of his brother Conley). Robert was a bachelor for a long time, but later married Imogene (last name unknown) from Galax, Virginia.  There were no children from the marriage. The coupled lived in High Point, North Carolina where Robert worked at Sears in Greensboro for years. Imogene worked at Pilot Life Insurance.

He loved horses but Imogene did not want him spending money on them. So he would buy one, and say it was his nephew's, Clyde Wilson. Clyde was the oldest son of Robert's sister, Bessie Wilson.  They did have dogs and cats at home.  Clyde Wilson, his wife Tincy and their daughter Kathryn lived in High Point also. Robert ‘s youngest sister, Ruth Wilson Hurt, lived in Greensboro within miles of Robert. Reportedly Imogene and Ruth had their differences and 'fought like cats and dogs'!

 
Above, recently in my sister's attic I found my mother's (Geraldine Stansbery Holliman Feick, b 1923) baby book kept by her mother, Mayme Osborne Stansbery (1896-1943).  They lived in Bristol, Tennessee, and visited John W. Wilson and families in Sutherland in July 1924.  According to the above entry my mother first crawled at her great Uncle John's home.  The photograph to the right, appears to be my great grandmother, Frances Wilson Oborne (1851-1924) holding my mother while her two siblings, Frances Louise Stansbery Sherwood (1915-2006) and Charles Stansbery (1981-2006) mount a horse in Wilson Cove. 
Below are the obituaries concerning John Wilburn Wilson and his death in 1928.  This is has become a comprehensive treasure chest of family names and relations. Notice the reference to the bushwhacking in 1864 of Isaac Wilson by Leonard Columbus Wilson, a cousin by marriage. Click on the pages twice and they should enlarge.


More on our ancestors in the next post....

We invite you to rediscover your heritage at a Wilson, Greer, Wilcoxson, Osborne, Forrester, Adams and other families Forum, Saturday, 9 :30 am, July 19, 2014 in the community room of the Boone, North Carolina public library.  Sunday, July 20th is also the annual Wilson Homecoming at Sutherland United Methodist Church in Ashe County.  In addition, a detailed family tree of the above families is growing at a MyFamily.com site. For details and schedule on the above event and web site, watch this space and/or contact glennhistory@gmail.com.  Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson are great, great grandparents of this writer.