Monday, February 22, 2010

Womack / Blanton - Reminiscences of Christenberry Lee

I will do a follow-up post with commentary.


[The following appeared in the Forest City Courier, in installments, from October 6, 1938 to January 19, 1939. No attempt has been made to change unconventional spelling, capitalization – and lack thereof, or grammar. Where it appeared obvious that a transcription error had occurred we have added, or changed, letters and words. These changes are enclosed in parentheses and printed in italics. It is said that the original manuscript for the Lee Reminiscences was discovered in a desk in the Cliffside Mills Office, at some time uncertain.]

REMINISCENCES of CHRISTENBERRY LEE 1823 – 1895 (The Lee reminiscences appeared in part in The Forest City Ledger during 1895. The original manuscript, from which this series is taken, picks up events from a former chapter in which current news and personalities were discussed.)

Chapter 6 (partial)

There are two families in this country, the origin of which, I presume, is known but by few. I refer to the Blanton and Womack families. They were in the country as far back as I can go in my memory. Thomas Womack and Nancy Blanton came from England to America about the year 1760. They had two children before leaving England, but had not been married. Their children’s names were Thomas and Archie. Shortly after coming to America, they decided to marry. Thomas took the name of his father and Archie the name of his mother, and so in process of time there were two families, one headed by Thomas Womack and the other by Archie Blanton. In the year 1779 these two families moved to Rutherford county, N. C. Archie Blanton was the father of our own “Uncle Jerry Blanton,” of such precious memory. This good old man lived right near what is now called Oak Grove church. Fifty-five years ago I think it was called Blanton’s church. Uncle Jerry and Aunt Sallie were noted characters. They were proverbial for piety and exemplary living. Aunt Sallie was the daughter of Thomas Womack. Archie Blanton and Thomas Womack were full brothers, having the same father and mother. A very novel case it was. And so Uncle Jerry and Aunt Sallie were first cousins, lived together for many years and raised a large family of children. I remember being at their house in the year 1842. Churchwell A. Crowell was then the Methodist preacher on the circuit and I had gone with him to Blanton’s church and to Uncle Jerry’s for dinner. This was the only time that I remember to have been at their house, for I left the country the following year and went out west, but I remember to have seen the old people often at church and to have heard Aunt Sallie talk and pray and praise, for she was a great hand to shout about and rejoice in church. She was faithful in obeying the command, “Pray to thy father who is in secret,” and the promise following the command. “Thy Father, who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly” was always fulfilled. She would clasp her hands and bless the Lord. Many a one has been deeply impressed with the earnestness, with which she would engage in the holy exercises of sanctuary. Even the very covering of her hands seemed to be impressive by the way they were used. Just the other day while talking about the old people with the wife of Franklin Blanton, who is a grandson of Aunt Sallie, she told me what a lady once said to her while she held one of the old lady’s half-handed cloth gloves in her hands, which she had chanced to come across and seemed almost to regard as being sacred, “Often,” said she, “Have I seen this old glove slap ‘glory’ to God,” and she was keeping it as a religious relic, something that would bring up pleasant associations in the mind of a religious nature, and nothing would more certainly bring about such associations in the mind of this woman than “Aunt Sallie’s glove.”

The two old people have long since passed away and gone to reap their reward for faithfulness in the Master’s vineyard. They had nine children, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood Riley, Jesse, Josiah, Ransom, Jackson, Steven and Elijah were the names of the sons. Tempa and Sarah Ann were the names of the daughters. I believe that they all had families and raised a good many children.

The other branch of the family was not so prolific. They did not multiply and replenish so numerously. Thomas Womack had a son Lewis. If he had other sons I have not been able to get their names. Mrs. Louisa Smart, who is about sixty-five years old, tells me that when she was a little girl she knew a man by the name of Willis Womack and that his name was Anderson and from the best data I can get I conclude that Anderson Womack was the son of Thomas Womack, who came to North Carolina from Virginia in the year 1779, and that Willis Womack was a brother of Lewis Womack, who married Manima Padgett, or Hollifield. The Hollifields and Padgetts intermarried a good deal along about that time. Uncle John, Uncle Billy and Uncle Edmond Padgett were all brothers, and they married three Hollifield sisters. Uncle Edmond married Louranie. We all called them Uncle Edmond and Aunt Lou. They lived about one mile from my father’s house and I very often saw them. The style of Aunt Lou’s riding was rather novel, and to some, who were a little inclined to fun, amusing, for she rode not as was the manner of women, but otherwise. Lewis Womack lived only a few years after his marriage and died, leaving two children, Isham and Leah. These two persons are the first of the Womack family, of whom I have any recollection. Leah married Samson McDaniel, who was the father of our present honored citizen, Guilford McDaniel, Esq. Isham Womack married Betty Bailey, to whom were born sons and daughters who are yet among us.

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