Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A too brief outline of the life of our uncle, Ira Lee Cochran, Jr.

Ira Lee Cochran, Jr
One of the most interesting characters in my family tree is my mother's uncle, Lee.  Ira and Luella Cochran's youngest child was their only son, Ira Lee, Jr.

Uncle Lee was born November 15, 1920, in Westmoreland County Pennsylvania, just a few months ahead of the passing of the last of his grandparents, Frank Anson Farmer, the following January.

Sometime before 1929 the extended Cochran family - Ira, Luella, their four children, Aline, Jean, Trudy, and Lee; Aline's two young children, and Dr. Cochran's sister, Jessie and her husband James McCorkle - packed up and moved to Kernersville, North Carolina.  They lived in a chicken house for a time, while a home was constructed.

Tragedy struck on May 4, 1929, about six months before Lee's ninth birthday, when his father died of a stroke.

Lee Cochran spent roughly half his life a bachelor.  He married briefly at a young age, but the marriage ended quickly in divorce or annulment.

Lee enlisted in the US Navy sometime in 1942. Correspondence from the period indicates that he may have been stationed in New Orleans for a time, perhaps for training, but by late November he was apparently recuperating in a naval hospital in San Diego.

His injuries were apparently serious enough to merit a medical discharge, upon which Lee re-enlisted in the United States Merchant Marine, serving in both the Atlantic and Mediterranean theaters.

After the war, Lee entered the trucking business. Sometime in the early years of his driving career Lee was injured in an accident in Virginia, where he was hospitalized for a time.

By the late fifties, if not before, Lee was operating his own truck, and remained an independent driver for the rest of his career.

At one point, probably the late fifties or nineteen-sixties, Lee owned a small airplane and undertook training for his pilot's license.  The story is told that a man approached Lee and wanted to buy the airplane. Lee didn't want to part with the plane, but the man offered a very good price, so Lee accepted the offer.  Not long afterward, the new owner overloaded the plane and died attempting to take off.

Lee met Catherine Farrow through a neighbor when she shared a house in the Ardmore neighborhood of Winston-Salem after graduating from college.  The neighbor was one of Lee's best childhood friends.  The friend originally set Lee up to date another woman in the house, Maxine, but soon turned hi attention to Catherine.  They dated for about twenty years before marrying on January 19, 1973, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lee purchased land in Stokes County, North Carolina, in the Quaker Gap community.  Lee and Catherine intended to retire to a house they never built, up on Saddle mountain. Catherine eventually sold the farm and the house on Patria Street, where they lived together until Lee's death on January 22, 1997. As of this writing she is living at the Arbor Acres retirement community in Winston-Salem.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

An incomplete sketch of the family of Trudy Cochran Coltrane

Trudy Cochran Coltrane (1915-2000)
The maternal side of my mom's family were the Cochrans and the Farmers.  Vernon Coltrane met Trudy Cochran while singing in a chorale group while both were students at Guilford College in the 1930s.  Both graduated and by 1940 the pair were married and living in the vicinity of what are now Rehobeth Church Road and Vandalia Road in Greensboro, North Carolina. Back then the area was better known as the Sumner community.

Trudy, as my grandmother preferred to be called, was a native of western Pennsylvania, transplanted to Kernersville, North Carolina  when she was a school aged girl. She was the second youngest of four surviving children of Dr. Ira Lee Cochran and his wife, Luella Coral Farmer, all born five years apart.

In 1929, Trudy's father, Dr. Cochran, a school teacher who had gone back to school and become a dentist earlier in life, died of a stroke at fifty-six years old.  Trudy was fourteen years old. Dr. Cochran left each of his children $1000, a sum equivalent to about $14,000 in 2017.

Trudy appears to have used her inheritance well.  She graduated from Guilford College and taught school in Greensboro Greensboro public schools for decades, touching the lives of hundreds of students over the course of her career.

Luella Farmer Cochran, Trudy's mother, was born September 15, 1878, in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, the third child and eldest daughter of Frank Anson Farmer and Martha Jane Bankert, of North Huntingdon Township.  After Ira died in 1929, Luella and her children carried on by "truck farming"- selling produce and flowers.

In later years, Luella lived with her children, at one time living with Vernon and Trudy, and other times with her daughter Aline or her son, Lee. Luella Farmer Cochran left behind a collection of watercolor paintings made by her hand.  She died just before my first birthday, on July 1, 1967, almost ninety years old.

Luella's father, Frank Farmer, was a mercantilist and a farmer.  Unlike most of my other ancestors who farmed for a living, Frank Farmer was an industrialist, a capitalist.  He owned a farm and people worked for him.  In later life he became treasurer and was among the founders of the Jersey Flakes Food Company.
"The Jersey Cereal Food Co. was organized there in 1903 with $200,000 capital for the manufacture and distribution of a breakfast cereal called "Jersey Flake." A three-story brick building was erected about a mile south of Irwin near Hahntown at what became known as Cereal, Pa., production began the following year. Before the cereal plant was built, the area was farmland and was known as Lindencross.
"The new company was described in a 1904 booklet, published in conjunction with Irwin's 50th anniversary celebration: "All the experience of several years in the business is concentrated here, machinery being the best known and the factory in its entirety a model of its kind; automatic in its operation so that human hands do not touch the flakes from the grain to the packing in cartons. A new departure is that the supply of Jersey Flake is constantly crisp and fresh when it reaches the table, something that consumers appreciate and show it by the big demand."
"The first company president was John Kerr. He was soon followed by Chester D. Sensenich as president with Frank A. Farmer, treasurer, and R.J. Foster, secretary and manager.
"The plant burned down in 1906 and was replaced by a larger one in 1907. It was further expanded in 1908 and 1912 with a power plant added in 1920. Jersey Corn Flakes and Wheat Flakes, along with some related products, were manufactured in the four-story, 400-foot-long facility.
"Frank Farmer also served as Cereal's postmaster. A post office was located in the Jersey Cereal Food Co.'s general office building. It operated from Nov. 13, 1907, to Aug. 31, 1920 when it became a rural branch of the Irwin Post Office until it closed on April 30, 1937.
"The Jersey Cereal Food Co. was a very successful operation. At one time, it was the largest cereal manufacturing company in Pennsylvania. Its products were sold throughout the country. The company, known for being progressive, was one of the first to ban cigarette smoking and the use of alcohol by its employees."

Luella was in her forties, and had been married to Dr. Cochran for many years by the time her father died in the early summer of 1921.  A few years after that, she and Ira migrated south, to Kernersville, North Carolina.

Ira's father, Robert John Cochran, was born in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 27, 1846, and enlisted in the Confederate army during the Civil War.   How he ended up married to Mary Evangeline Fleming, Ira's mother, and living out his days in Pennsylvania is the subject of much speculation.

Luella was born into relative wealth, in the home of Frank and Martha Jane Farmer, and her marriage to Dr. Cochran kept her in relative comfort well into her forties, when the family, consisting of Ira, Luella, Ira's sister and her husband (McCorkle), and all four Cochran children, Ira Lee, Jr, Trudy, Jean, and Aline, who was a young adult with a small family of her own, migrated south.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Militant unionists in the Quaker Belt.

Recent events call into question our true history, with many people, ignorant of their own heritage and enflamed by those who would capitalize on such ignorance and the rage many feel today t their seeming economic helplessness.  At least some of my ancestors were Quakers and militant unionists, as were most people living in what is today Randolph County, North Carolina. Unfortunately, many have forgotten, or never knew.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Thurman James Hubbard, Sr. (March 20, 1917 - March 2, 1987)

Thurman James Hubbard, the eldest surviving child of Willie and Carrie Hubbard, was born on March 20, 1917. The Willie Hubbard family was a fairly typical farming family of the era and region, neither very wealthy nor particularly poor, and it can be safely assumed that Thurman spent many seasons working alongside his father in the fields.

Thurman attended public school up to the ninth grade, but dropped out to pursue farming.  He enlisted in the army at age twenty-one, serving as a cook in the Panama canal zone from May 26, 1938 to August 13, 1940.  Thurman often explained that he was tricked into enlisting with promises of sunny beaches and beautiful native women; "the sunshine was liquid and the natives were black!"

Upon leaving the army, Thurman returned to Stedman, where he courted and married Ms. Lillian Maria Beazley, daughter of Miss Jennie and the late Capt. Harry Beazley, in a ceremony held in Miss Jennie's house, which stood in the woods behind Magnolia Baptist Church. The couple, along with Miss Jennie, settled in Fayetteville, where Thurman found work at the local Veterans Hospital as a cook and meat cutter through WWII and the late 1940's.  Jennie lived with Thurman and Lillian for the rest of her life, dying in 1984 at 94 years old.

During their time in Fayetteville two sons were born to Thurman and Lillian.  My father, Thurman James, Jr., (Jimmy) was born on St. Valentine's Day, 1943.  His younger brother, Robert Leslie (Bobby) arrived in June of the following year. The boys, both now deceased, were born sixteen months apart.

While the boys were still very young, Thurman and Lillian decided their best prospects for the future lay somewhere beyond Fayetteville; the family relocated to Winston-Salem sometime around 1950.  One of Thurman's younger brothers, Lewis, also moved to Winston-Salem around that time, and founded a company called Hubbard Realty.  One of the early commercial properties Lewis bought was a small neighborhood grocery store on Stockton Street, on the south side of town. Thurman and Lillian operated the store for several years, with Thurman cutting meat, and Lillian tending the counter. Granny, as Miss Jennie became known in later life, looked after the boys.

In 1957 Thurman and Lillian produced their last child, Jeffrey Lee Hubbard, and in 1958, purchased a home at 2645 Patria Street, around the corner from the little store on Stockton. Both older boys spent time working in the store, and sometime about 1960, Brenda Sue Coltrane, daughter of Vernon and Trudy Coltrane of Greensboro, found herself in the neighborhood, visiting her aunt Aline Murphy, who lived across the street from the Hubbards, and was sent to that store on an errand for the purpose of introducing her to the young man behind the counter, Jimmy Hubbard. (The set-up must have worked; I am the proof.)

Some time after moving to Winston-Salem, Thurman left running the store to Lillian and began building houses and doing home repair work, and became fairly prosperous for a while, but after several years deteriorating health forced him to slow down. He spent the remainder of his working life performing maintenance on his brother's rental properties.

In his spare time, Thurman liked fishing. He also planted a big garden at Jimmy's home on Hickory Tree Road, in the Arcadia community south of Winston-Salem, where I grew up. 

Thurman was a lifelong, fundamentalist Bible-believing, Southern Baptist Christian.  He was appointed a Deacon of the congregation, one of the proudest moments of his life, a few years before he died.

Sometime in early 1985, Thurman was diagnosed with lung cancer. After undergoing more than nineteen months of radiation, surgery and chemotherapy treatments, the cancer finally won. Thurman died on the evening of March 2, 1987.  I withdrew from Western Carolina University the following morning and headed for home, hoping for a last visit, not knowing it was already too late.

As of this writing there have been four successive generations of first born males in our family named Thurman James Hubbard. I, Jay, am the third and eldest living now. My son, Jayson, is the the fourth and last, so far.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How the Hubbard and Bryant families of Cumberland County, NC are related.

John Edward Hubbard
My branch of the Hubbard family arrived in North Carolina a few years prior to the Civil War.  My grandfather's great-grandfather, John Horace Hubbard, was a Yankee mariner who immigrated to North Carolina from Maine in the early 1850s.  Harry, as he was known, even enlisted and fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War.

After the war Harry returned to Cumberland County, married a local girl named Mary Talbot,  and took up farming.  Harry Hubbard fathered nine children before his life ended on July 7, 1900.

Mary Bunce Hubbard
Harry's eldest surviving son, John Edward Hubbard, was born on October 1, 1867, the first of ten siblings born to Harry and Mary Hubbard.  The family lived at Flea Hill, North Carolina during those years.  When John was fifteen years old his mother died.  He likely took up farming with his father full time then, if he had not done so before.

On October 24, 1889, Coonie, as he was called, married Mary Ellen Bunce.  Mary and Coonie's first child, Walter Lee, was born January 1, 1891, and died a few months later on April 17.  The following year, on May 25, 1892, a second son, Willie James Hubbard, was born, the first of ten children who survived to adulthood.  Then, on May 18, 1914, at forty-five years old, her youngest child still in diapers.

Some among the descendants of John Edward and Mary Bunce Hubbard have suggested that Mary may have suffered from some form of depression.  Mary may also have taken her own life.

Mary and Coonie lived near the family of Leonard and Ellen Bryant, near the town of Stedman,
Willie James Hubbard
1892 - 1979
North Carolina.  It has been alleged by some family members, and cannot be proven one way or another at this point, that Coonie may have been having an affair with Len Bryant's eldest, adult daughter, Ardelia.  Some theorize that Mary killed herself upon discovering Coonie's infidelity with a woman ten years her junior.

Soon after Mary's death, John Edward Hubbard married Ardelia Bryant.  The couple had two sons, only one of which survived to adulthood.  He and his mother both eventually relocated to California where they died and were buried.

John Edward 'Coonie' Hubbard died the day after Christmas, 1926, at fifty-six years old.

Thurman & Lillian Hubbard
Feb.16, 1941
Coonie's neighbor, Len Bryant, had another daughter readers of this space have already met, Jennie Bullock Bryant.

When Jennie's sister Delia married Coonie Hubbard in February of 1915, that made Jennie the last of the Bryant daughters remaining single.

By December of the following year, four days before her twenty-seventh birthday, Jennie had run off to California and married a man eleven years her senior, just returned from many years' service in the Philippines.

By 1920, Jenny had returned home to Stedman, with an infant son and a terminally ill husband in tow.  She became a widow just before the end of 1921, months after giving birth to a daughter she named Lillian Maria.

Lillian grew up and married Coonie Hubbard's son Willie's oldest boy, Thurman James Hubbard.  They moved from Fayetteville to Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 1950, when my father, Thurman, Jr. was about seven years old.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

My earliest memories.

The earliest really distinct memories I have go back to about 1969, or maybe late 1968.  I would have been two and a half to three years old.  My parents lived in a house on Romara Drive, then a few miles outside Winston-Salem off of Jonestown Road.  The house was a little brick ranch with a carport on the left side.

They tell me I watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.  I have no recollection of that event, but I do have a few fragmentary memories of that time:  playing with kittens behind the carport and discovering, from a bad rash I developed that I was allergic to them, and the time we stopped and looked at a large snapping turtle we found in the road one day, or watching Tom & Jerry cartoons one morning - must've been Saturday - with my dad.  He always like Tom & Jerry the best; said it was pure entertainment, whatever that means.

I can remember my mother rocking me in a big, white, probably leather chair, reading to me before bed, and I remember moving day, 1969, when we moved to the Hickory Tree Road place where some combination of us would remain, in one house or the other, until 2015.  I remember getting into the covered back of my grandpa's truck that day, and getting my finger smashed when the door closed.

But my earliest really distinct memory is of lying awake in my crib one night.  I remember hearing the Doc Severinsen Orchestra playing the theme of The Tonight Show, and Ed McMahon's unmistakable voice saying, "Heeeerrrre's, Johnny!"  A little later, I remember hearing my dad literally rolling in the floor with laughter at some hilarity.
Severinsen, Carson, and McMahon

I have a few other memories associated with that time and place.  One in particular having to do with potty training.  Apparently, one night I was asked or expected to sit on the potty chair in the living room.  These were the days before video recording or being able to stop playback of a program on television, so I guess the idea was to have me crap in the front room so as not to miss whatever they were watching.

Well, I was having none of that.  I couldn't tell them then, I guess, but I remember being ashamed having to pull off my pants and sit on the bathroom thing in the living room.  Nobody else did there business in there, so why did I have to. It was embarrassing and humiliating - to a three year old nonetheless - and I balked and resisted.  The first of many loud disputes between two of the hardest heads ever to walk the earth.

Oh, and I remember falling down the basement stairs, and the way the floor looked coming up at me.

Kinda wish I could forget that.