10/19/14

The 2014 Wilson, Greer and Associated Families Forum 3

by Glenn N. Holliman

More Photographs and History....

One of our cousins who attended the Wilson-Greer-Osborne-Forrester Family Forum in Boone, North Carolina this past July was Kathryn Wilson, daughter of Clyde (1912-2006) and Maude (Tincy) Williams Wilson (1917 - 2010).  In the 2005 photograph below, Kathryn sits between her father and aunt, Jean Wilson, wife of Ernest Wilson, Clyde's brother.  On the far left is Tincy, her mother.  (Tincy picked up her life long nickname because of her size as a toddler.)
 

The story of Clyde and Tincy is one that was repeated millions of times in their generation.  They grew up in a rural part of America, Watauga and Ashe Counties, North Carolina.  In the 1930s occurred the Great Depression and in the 40s, World War II.  After the war, they married, eventually left the mountains and moved to a larger city, working in education and industry.  They helped create and enjoy the affluence most Americans enjoy in this generation.

Born in Watauga County, Maude took advantage of what is now Appalachian State University to become a first grade teacher, first in Kingsport, Tennessee and later in Mabel, near Zionville, and High Point, North Carolina.  
Clyde grew up Ashe County in the mountains and went to Asia during World War II.  

On the Fourth of July 2005, The Mountain Times of Boone, North Carolina ran the following front page article on Clyde's service during that World War. 
   
"On a warm, July 4th day in the Silverstone community of western Watauga County, Clyde Wilson almost wasn’t born.  Today, the Boone resident plans to celebrate his 93rd birthday on Monday.

“It was a special day, the day I was born because I just weighed a pound and a half,” he said, recalling that he almost didn’t make it. Nevertheless, his family celebrated his birth in 1912 along with the birth of a nation.

Upon meeting Clyde, it’s obvious he’s built to last and he still commands a razor-sharp memory. His hearing’s not so good and he has trouble with his eyesight. But, ask Clyde about his past and he can recall just about any event with details that would prove astonishing for someone half his age.  He moves about slowly, using an intricately inlaid cane, but his eyes brighten when he talks about his past.

The middle child of Arlie and Bessie Wilson, Clyde and his brothers, Boyd and Ernest, grew up in a county rife with economic downturns even before the Great Depression.  'I’ve worked for fifty cents a day,' he said. 'Lots of times, after you worked a week, they couldn’t pay you.'

While making money for his family as a gardener and doing other odd jobs, Clyde found time to attend Cove Creek School where he would later meet the girl he was to marry, Maude Williams.

“We worked young----we had to work,” he said.

Helping his father, who served as Watauga County’s treasurer, make a weekly commute ranked as one of his top household chores.  'I’d ride a horse (and bring another horse) from Silverstone to Boone to pick my Daddy up.'  Arlie would stay in town during the week and make the 15-mile journey with his son on Fridays back home.

Although Clyde had at least ten years on most World War II soldiers, he still answered the call to duty at the age of 30 while working at a naval facility in Norfolk, Va. 'I felt like I ought to go so I let the draft catch me.' he said.

As a member of the Army’s 429th Engineers unit, he landed in North Africa in 1942.  The U.S. commissioned the unit for a few specialized tasks—most notably the construction of a road from Iran to an uneasy wartime ally, Russia.  As a motor sergeant, Clyde ensured every vehicle stayed in top shape and remained within the convoy.  That job became a life-threatening hardship when the unit crossed the Himalayan Mountains on its eastern trip.

'We had airplane wreckers (flatbed trucks with large boom-cranes for hauling aircraft) that were 60-feet long' he said. 'We took 50,000 five-gallon cans of gas.'  The trucks couldn’t navigate some of the hairpin mountain passes so Clyde and his comrades had to maneuver a bulldozer under the trucks’ rear axles to move them around.  In the Himalayas, the unit took some heavy but faraway fire from entrenched Japanese units – mostly snipers and artillery troops hidden in caves.

But the unit’s biggest threat came not from Asian gun barrels but from the mountain climate. Growing up in the High Country may have prepared Clyde for cold winters – but not the 40-below zero temperatures his outfit faced. 'The weather got bad for three days and three nights in the Himalayans. We had to wait for a thaw.'

But rather than surrender to the elements, Clyde devised a plan to survive.  'What I did – I shoveled snow up around a truck, sealed it off and left a little place to get under it.'

After weathering the frigid attacks and finishing the road to Russia, the engineering unit unloaded those 50,000 cans of gasoline and built an airport in China. By 1945, the war wound down and Clyde could almost taste his homecoming.

The Army offered soldiers a chance to go stateside if they agreed to sign on as a second lieutenant for two more years. Clyde remembers telling one of his friends, 'I don’t want to be a lieutenant. They get all the slack from the top up and the bottom down'”

Finally, he agreed to a 45-day leave, with the understanding that he would reenlist for another year. 
'But I remember saying, If I ever get out of here, I’m not coming back,’ he said.

And he never did.

On his return trip home, his transport plane caught fire in India. Clyde’s previous orders to return for 45 days and return for one year were on the plane with him. 'Those papers were on me when the fire started. That’s a good time to lose them', he said with an enigmatic grin.

Arriving stateside at Fort McPherson, Clyde 'told my captain what I’d done and he said, ‘Don’t you worry – you won’t have to go back.'

Clyde surprised his parents, who by then had moved to Ashe County, with an abrupt homecoming in October of 1945. 'I was at home before they knew I was around. I just walked in the door,”'he said.

Clyde married Maude and they began what will be a 60-year marriage this month. While Maude worked as a teacher in several places, including Mabel School, Clyde worked as a service technician and salesman for Ivy Wilson’s Boone dairy equipment business.

'I covered 21 counties, seven in North Carolina, several in Tennessee and seven in Virginia.' Later, he would work as a mechanic in High Point and a shop foreman in Greensboro before retiring to Boone in 1991.

He looks forward to celebrating his 93rd birthday and has long enjoyed sharing it with Independence Day. For his 90th birthday, more than 70 visited his Forest Hills home including well-known community leader, the late Alfred Adams.  And it’s pretty obvious he’s looking forward to his 60th wedding anniversary.

'Those wives – they really keep you going, don’t they?' "  

Kathryn writes: "During my lifetime, my father worked in High Point, North Carolina for Olympic Chemical Company - a Division of Cone Mills. It is now called Olympic Products, and is owned privately. Daddy managed the industrial maintenance department. OCC manufactured polyurethane foam for mattresses, pillows, cushions etc. Prior to the move to High Point in 1956, he worked for Ivy Wilson's Boone dairy equipment business as a salesman and technician.


I don't know the details well enough to describe them but there was a lot of politics involved back in the day (in the mountains) in terms of who got jobs and who didn't. Just for the record and it made for interesting family dynamics - Daddy was a conservative Republican and my mother was just about as far to the left as one could get.

 My mother's father Edd S. Williams was very involved in local/state politics but never ran for public office.  I have heard plenty of "talk" about stuffing ballot boxes and buying votes - suppose that stuff happened back in the day!


Three of his 5 daughters (including my mother) married Republicans. The family joke was that someone asked him how many sons-in-law he had and he responded with: "I have 2 - the other 3 are Republicans."


 
1945 ca Clyde and Tincy (on the right) and Becky Wilson Ignelz, daughter of William and Cal Wilson, a grand daughter of Wilson family historian, The Rev. William A. Wilson (1861-1950), the Methodist missionary to Japan.  Clyde would marry Maude in 1945, and they enjoyed a 61 year union.



"And I have heard my father say many times, there were just not many ways to get ahead or make a good living in Watauga/Ashe. He always laughed about the concept of the good old days as they were not nearly as good in terms of making a living and having money to buy things with as they were once he left the area. 

With that said, he thought the mountains of North Carolina were heaven on earth. He and my mother were able to return to Boone when he was approaching 80 years of age and still in great health and live out his remaining years in the place he loved most." - Kathryn Wilson




Next posting, more lineages of cousins who attended the July 2014 Family Forum in North Carolina....


9/18/14

The 2014 Wilson, Greer and Associated Families Forum 2

by Glenn N. Holliman

We continue our reporting of the Wilson-Greer-Osborne and Associated Families Forum in July 2014 in Boone, North Carolina. What follows are informal pictures taken the night of July 18, 2014 at a get together dinner.  Those around the table shared their lineages with me, and over the next postings, we will looking into our shared ancestry.

Below, left to right, are Betty Ankers, Linda Donnelly, Jackie Farrington, Kathryn Wilson, Gloria Heinburger and her husband, Wilbur, (partially obscured), Wendy Hodges and her father, Gary Hodges, our John Wilcoxson impersonator.


At the head of the table in light purple is Gloria Heimburger, the daughter of Boyd (1911-1972) and Lexie Lawrence Wilson (1912-1982).  Gloria is a grand daughter of Arlie (1885-1956) and Bessie Wilson (1882-1976), who is a daughter of John (1855-1928) and Rebecca Wilson (1862-1954).  John is one of the sons of Isaac (1822-1864) and Caroline Greer Wilson (1828-1911). 

 Below Becky Wilson in her later years. Courtesy of Shirley Sorrell.

As we look at the group photograph, Kathryn Wilson, is to the left of Gloria.  Kathryn is the daughter of Clyde (1912-2006) and Maude (Tincy) Wilson (1917-2010).  Her grandparents are also Bessie and Arlie Wilson who took care of Rebecca (Becky) Wilson in her old age.  Kathryn has inherited a chair owned by Becky and John Wilson. 

The photograph below of Kathryn's and Gloria's grandmother courtesy of Dale Wilson.
 





Above, Arlie and Bessie Wilson in 1913 ca with two of their children - Boyd, the oldest, with Clyde; below left to right in 1950 are Ernest, Clyde (Kathryn's father), Boyd (Gloria's father), Bessie and Arley Wilson.


 
Next posting more photographs, lineages and family snapshots from the past and the forum....

8/29/14

The Osborne Family Reunion, Washington State, Part 2

by Glenn N. Holliman

This is part 2 of Jeanie Bond's pictures and copy of the Osborne-Drever family reunion in Skagit County, Washington.  In our last blog, Jeanie shared pictures and history of how William I. Osborne migrated to Sedro-Woolley and built a family. - GNH

The July 2014 reunion by Jeanie Bond, great, great grandaughter of Isaac and Caroline Greer Wilson


 On the far left is Derward H. Osborne, who sadly died about a week after this picture was taken.  Next  is C. Mark Osborne, b. 1919 in Skagit County.  He, along with his wife Juanita Brown-Bass Osborne, beside him, have a home in Texarkana, Texas.  

Note the pictures on the wall behind them.  These are the parents of the above - William I. Osborne (1869-1953) and Waneta T. Drever Osborne (1979-1923) whose children were born in Skagit County.



Above, the next generation, some of the grandchildren, are represented left to right in order of the birth of their parents: Pat Mosher, Bill Osborne, Shirley O'Neill, Dee Grenville, Wayne Osborne and his wife, Tokiko, in front; Peggy Van Allen, Steve Doran and wife Sonja and last, Jeanie Bond, an Osborne family genealogist. 

Sedro-Woolley, which is in Skagit County, Washington lies along I-5 between Seattle and the Canadian border.  Victoria and Vancouver, British Columbia lie just to the  north of Bellingham.



Below, several of the great grandchildren of William and Waneta Osborne, left to right, are Kevin Osborne, Darla Crookshank, Gary Osborne, Gail Wilson, Tadashi Osborne, Cindi Osborne, Steve Vav Allen and Lynn Salter.
 

Below, are a few of the great, great grandchildren of William and Waneta Osborne: Aidan, Sarah, Torrin, Ava, Jarret, Teagan, Jimmy, Jason, Brent, Elizabeth. Missing from the photo, but present was Jason's wife, Abra.





Below Right, left to right, the latest generation, are the great, great, great grandchildren of William and Waneta Osborne: Laura, Hailey, Hannah who is holding Madeline. As a matter of policy, this blog does not publish the last names of adolescents and children.




The Osborne plot at Union Cemetery, Sedro Woolley, Washington - Every year on the day of the family picnic, Kevin Osborne installs (and later takes up) these flags at the site of each Osborne or Drever grave.  Each flag has several photos and a little history of the individual.  Kevin is another Osborne family history expert.  Way in the background, just barely visible, is the 'pink flag' marking the final resting places for Kevin's father, Jerry Osborne, and his grand parents Lawrence and Eunice Osborne. - Jeanie Bond


Next more on the descendants of the kinfolk who stayed in the mountains of western North Carolina and East Tennessee....

All are invited to join in building the family tree at Wilson-Greer-Osborne-Forrester-Donnelly and Associated Families of Western NC at Ancestry.com.  Just write to glennhistory@gmail.com for an invitation.