I find the world of cyber research fascinating, and would like to keep this blog as a way of commenting on documents, rather than merely transcribing them. So here is my first attempt to footnoting my posts
I celebrated my fifth birthday with a dinner of mashed potatoes and peas, shared with my friend Lewis B, from Virginia Heights Baptist Church. A grand occasion to celebrate the full five fingers I could wave whenever someone asked how old I was.
George R. Strickland celebrated the five finger salute in September of 1896, and five months later he was an orphan. At five years eight months he said good-bye to siblings Norman (10), Polly (9), and Maude (7) as they left for Oxford Orphan Asylum. Luther (12) went to live with a relative, James and Amarita F Bowden, of Cedar Rock, Franklin County, NC. Cleo (16), Eugene (3) and George moved with Grandma Coppedge and her son, Oliver J. (16) into the home of her eldest son, William J. Coppedge, Cypress Creek, Franklin County, NC.
When George was 6 years old later in 1897, Grandma Coppedge worked with her brother, William F May, to get George placed at Oxford Orphan Asylum, too. December 12, 1898 little boy George reunited with Norman, Polly and Maude at the Oxford institution.
George had the comfort of this family for a brief time before his siblings began to find new “homes”, beginning with Polly’s placement in Mr. WJ Whitehurst’s home in Bethel, NC in April of 1899. “Polly was an obedient, well disposed little girl.”
Older brother Norman left in September of that year to live in Hillsboro, NC with Mr. James H. Parrish. “He was always a dutiful boy. He had a sweet disposition and, we believe, had within him the elements of a man.”
Laurah Maud left Oxford a month later in October 1899, to live with the family of Albert Earnhardt, “who was much pleased with her and adopted her.”
George lived at the Orphan Asylum for another two years, when he was taken to the “home of E.G. Dodson, Oak View, Va. He was a bright little fellow and will do well.”
It seems so sad today, seeing how close they lived in this era of Google maps and interstate highways. But for them these short distances proved to be impermeable barriers, taking much time and energy to remove.
We had always understood that Granddaddy Strickland had been admitted to the Masonic Oxford Orphanage because his daddy was a Mason. As I reread the Oxford documents and surfed the ‘net I could find no reason to believe that was accurate. In fact the Mason signing the letter of recommendation was a William F. May, Secretary of the Central Cross Lodge, No. 187, Franklin County, North Carolina. Said W. F. May turns out to be Laura May Coppedge’s brother. Laura Coppedge was Virginia Ann Elizabeth Coppedge Strickland’s mom, and was the individual who orchestrated the children’s living arrangements after Sidney and Virginia (Bettie)’s deaths just 3 weeks apart in February of 1897. The application to the orphanage was started in November of 1897, witnessed by William May, and approved by the Master Of the Lodge, W. A. Moose, who stated that the “child, with proper training, its future is bright.”
In June 1898 William F. May, Secretary, wrote this letter from Spring Hope, NC to the Superintendent of Oxford Orphan Asylum, Oxford, NC.
Dear Sir and Bro, Enclose you find application for James Ricks Strickland its contents you can see.
The children has a small farm unincombered rents for about $90.00 per year. Those that have to look after and care for the children are willing that the income of said place should go eqully apportioned to the several children but the administrator of said estate has no power he claims to thus distribute the income if this is not the information your count wants please inform us and we will give all at once if in our power.
We deem this a worthy application and trust you give it your careful attention.
They have no relatives that are able to care for them. Done in open Lodge, by order of the WM The day and date above written.
Witness my hand and seal
WF May Sec of Central Cross Lodge No. 187
From the contact I have had with Strickland descendants, there is a bit of mystery as to why no Strickland relatives came forward to help with the children. But that is another story……