Friday, June 29, 2012

North Carolina Family Reunion - Sunday

Sunday morning we were out of Uncle Bill's house by 8am and on the road. It took us 2 hours and 20 minutes to drive up into the Blue Ridge Mountains from Gastonia so that we could attend worship at the church where Daryl's grandmother was raised - Bear Creek Baptist. It was Decoration Sunday, celebrated the last Sunday of every June, when families come back up the mountain to decorate the graves of their loved ones buried in the cemetery and have family reunions.

  Wesley with Courtney. She is Aunt Bobbi's granddaughter and has visited us in Florida the last few years for Thanksgiving. 

 After worship, we spent time in the church's museum/genealogy research rooms.

This is Daryl's great-great-great-grandfather, the Rev. Anderson Franklin Sparks. He was the pastor at Bear Creek from 1915-1917 and is buried out in the cemetery. 

This is a picture of the mine in nearby Spruce Pine that Daryl's great-great-grandfather Jonathan Cebron "Big Daddy" Pitman owned. In the center just to the left of center in the white hat, is Daryl's great-grandfather Carroll Wesley Sparks. He was the waterboy in the mine until he married the owner's daughter Beulah Bell Pitman - then he became the foreman!

Daryl and Daniel with their good friend Sean (Aunt Bobbi's son). 

The "coat twins." We realized that Daryl and Granddaddy had both been shopping recently for sportcoats and ending up buying the exact same one. 

View from the front steps. 

 Where the kids played while we took our time inside the museum.


Family picture on the steps. This is all 11 Allens from Florida, plus Uncle Bill and Aunt Bobbi, Bill's  daughter Carol (her husband Rick took the picture), Bobbi's son Sean, his wife Cindy and their kids CJ and Courtney, as well as two distant family members we met up there, Lorette and Judy (at the end on the right).  

Walking through the cemetery all decorated up. 

Uncle Bill in front of his grandparent's grave - this is the Rev. Anderson Sparks who was pastor here. 

Uncle Bill's daughter Carol and her husband Rick. The last time they visited Florida was the Thanksgiving that Daryl and I got engaged (1997). 

 We went back into Spruce Pine to the Western Sizzlin for lunch and hung out in the back room for as long as we could just talking. 


Then it was time to drive back up the mountain and visit the old homestead of Daryl's great-grandparents Carroll and Beulah Sparks. The whole area now is basically the Penland School of Crafts. This is the first building we came across and the one where Daryl's grandmother attended school as a child. 

This building is where we parked to hike back down to the family homestead. It's part of the Penland school of Crafts as well; Uncle Bill set it was an art school for rich kids even when they lived in the area back in the 1920s and 1930s.

Our family hike (ages 4 to 78!) down into Turby Holler where Daryl's grandma, Uncle Bill and their two brothers were born. 


The first house the family lived in. The property was given to Carroll and Beulah by her father, Big Daddy. This house was where Daryl's grandmother Murriel was born in 1927. Today one of the teachers from the Penland school lives here.

The next house the family built and lived in. Here is where Uncle Bill and his two brothers, JC and Wade were born. Now it's used for storage.

The last house in the holler that the family lived in. They moved away from here in 1939. Some of the tin on the roof is still original. The current owners weren't home but their dog came out to greet us.

CJ protecting Wesley from the dog. 

After our hike was over, we drove into Spruce Pine to look around. When you drive over this bridge into the town you drive right into the mountain and have to make an immediate right or left. 

Downtown Spruce Pine has two levels today. We drove mainly through old historic Spruce Pine on the lower level. 

 After the family moved to Spruce Pine, this was the bridge that Uncle Bill and the other kids would have to walk over to get to school. It carried them over the railroad tracks and the river. 

The family's home in Spruce Pine. Their grocery store, West End Grocery, was on the bottom floor and the family of six lived upstairs. 

And that was the end of our grand tour. We did our two hour plus drive back to Gastonia and got home about 8pm. After some sandwiches for dinner we all pretty much crashed out for the night!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Rev. Anderson Franklin Sparks was my great great uncle,tryig do some family tree stuff,i stumbled on your photo,i have the same photo in color,but would like a copy of youres,can i down load it with your permission?He had brother Named Reverend John Yates Sparks who was a traveling Evangelist by horseback.i have a photo of his bible .His sory is quite Unique,My father was ried in Spruce pine before moving to Virginia,my email is bless you,Stephen Sparks