The Touch Of A Friend by Christine C. Lawson

Florence Home Front-001.2John 5: 6-8 When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in

this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?’

“Sir”, the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when

the water is stirred. While I am trying to get in, someone else goes down ahead

of me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” At once

the man was cured: he picked up his mat and walked.

Calvin came into my life in 2003. Perhaps it was even before. He came to my

front door and rang the doorbell. I remember opening the door and feeling a bit

fearful. It was the first time a black man had ever been to my house. He was

very tall and thin. He spoke with a soft voice that I almost couldn’t hear. I also

couldn’t quite make out what he was asking for. Then he pointed to the front

flowerbed and I could tell he was asking if he could weed it for pay. This was the

beginning of many such encounters.

We live on Palmetto Street in Florence, S.C It is a very busy street

because it not only leads to downtown; it also leads to Myrtle Beach, SC. It is

Highway 76, so not suprisingly it has heavy traffic except on Sundays. There are

many people who walk by every day going to and from town. Our house is a big

old 78-year-old house. It was built in the mid-twenties when the street was still a

dirt road. The walkway to our entrance was broken and unsightly when we

moved in 8 years ago. I took it apart and used all of the pieces to form a freeform

circular walkway and edging for a flowerbed. My vision was to give those

walking by a reason to “stop and smell the roses”. This view was useless to the

cars that would speed past. I hoped it would reach out to those who were in hard


I enjoyed working in the flowerbed and I also enjoyed looking out my

front window to see if anyone passing by would notice. After a while, it was

clear that they not only noticed, sometimes they would stop and turn and drink in

the beauty of God’s creation. There were many times when people would even

stop and encourage me in my work. It gave me as much joy as it did those who

would stop to gaze. The bed has gone through many changes over the years, but

it has some form of flowers blooming all year round.

This brings me back to Calvin. He had walked past my garden many

times. There were times when I would see him working in several of my

neighbors’ yards when I would pass by on my walks. I prided myself in doing

my own yard work. I was healthy and was able to keep up with the needs of my

plants by myself. The years went by and I found that the flowerbed became a

burden to me when I went to work 30 hours a week. The weeds began to take

over the flowers and I began to look at the bed with disdain. I didn’t see Calvin

for quite a while because I wasn’t out in my yard very much anymore. As a

matter of fact, when I was out in the yard, I was usually playing catch up on my

weeding and I would work myself into a frenzy whenever I would try to get all of

the weeds out. Finally, I think Calvin took pity on me and stopped to ask if he

could help me with my weeding for pay. He had asked me this several times

before and I always said that I enjoyed doing the work myself. Now it would

have been a lie if I had said that. I really didn’t have time to enjoy the work that I

had once been only too happy to do.

I must tell you that at this time I didn’t know Calvin’s’ name. He was just

a tall skinny man that walked by my house. We only had a passing acquaintance.

The years had been kinder to my flowerbed than they had been to Calvin. In the

span of time that I first observed him until this day, he had grown even thinner.

And his gait had slowed down considerably. There was more of an expression of

urgency when he asked me on this particular day if I could give him some work

so that he could make a few dollars. I dreaded his asking me to let him help me.

I had the awful feeling that he was going to use the money for liquor. As a matter

of fact I could smell it on his breath. I felt he needed help but I didn’t want to

enable his drinking habit. I turned him down then and several times after that.

Then one day I decided to give him a job of raking the leaves in the yard.

Frankly, he did a pretty poor job, and hurried through the job and left quickly

after I paid him.

As another year sped by I didn’t see much of Calvin. My father and

mother had moved in with us and my dad had taken over most of the extra yard

work that needed to be done and that had lifted some of the responsibility off of

me. My flowerbed in the front began to thrive again. Calvin came by maybe

once or twice that year and I began to suggest that he go to the church and work

raking leaves there. He never took me up on it. This only further convinced me

that he really didn’t want to improve his situation. He might as well have never

come to me for work. It never occurred to me that he was more than a person

looking for a handout. I didn’t feel any responsibility to help him.

After returning from my mission trip to Nicaragua last year, I began to see

Calvin through different eyes. I no longer saw his need as being the most

important thing. I began to see that I needed to look more closely at him and

begin to see him as a person. I had quit my job by this time and I was staying

home most of the time now. When Calvin would come and ring the bell, I began

to go out on the porch and greet him and I began to ask him how he was doing.

He began to share with me and I began to give him food to eat instead of money.

This new relationship replaced any feelings of guilt that I had experienced.

Before, I would pay him to do a job and then I would imagine him going straight

to the liquor store. Now I felt I was supplying more of what he needed.

There came a time during the summer when I felt comfortable about

going out on the porch to join him while he was eating. I no longer felt

uncomfortable about not being able to understand him when he would talk to

me. I told him that I was having a hard time understanding him and that he would

have to speak more clearly and louder since I was hard of hearing. He was kind

to me and tried to communicate better with me. He also began making more eye

contact with me.

After a while he began to come by every few days. I would sit with him

while he ate and ask him what was going on in his life. I told him how I had

begun to pray for him and I asked him if there was anything in particular that I

could pray for him. He asked me to pray for God to stay close to him and help

him. I shared with him that I needed prayer for the same thing. I also told him

that it was a big adjustment trying to blend two households under one roof. I

asked him if he would pray for God to give me patience and help me to be kind to

my parents. He was more than happy to do this for me.

Toward the end of the summer, weeks would go by and I wouldn’t see

Calvin. I began to be concerned about whether he was hungry somewhere. I

wondered if he was finding enough work to survive. I also wondered if he was

working different neighborhoods and that perhaps he just didn’t get as much work

in my neighborhood anymore. Finally in October, he again began to stop by

every few days. It was beginning to get very cold outside. It was clear that this

was going to be a severe winter. I had some raking for him to do and several

times he actually went by the church and Starr gave him some work. As the

weather became more frigid, Calvin came by more often. I asked him if he would

like to come in and sit on the back porch where it was warm. He accepted the

invitation. He began to relax a little more in my presence. Or maybe, I began to

relax a little more in his presence. Never the less, a change began to occur in our

relationship. I think we both began to trust each other more. One day he shared

with me that he had become homeless. He told me that he was sleeping in the

park. I still felt that he was not doing all that he could to direct his life in the right

path. I continued to pray for him. He knew that I was doing the best I could for

him. I would have liked nothing more than to have given him a room in my

home, but I knew that he needed me to let him figure out how to get his life

straightened out on his own. It reminded me of the story of the lame man who

Jesus asked, “Do you want to be well?” I knew that I couldn’t make him well.

He needed to want to be healed before he could turn to the Healer.

In January of this year, I was going away on a mission trip to Nicaragua

again. I told Calvin that I would be away for a couple of weeks and I asked him

to pray for me. He was more than happy to be involved with me in this mission

trip. When I returned, it was very cold and Calvin was one of the first persons I

had an opportunity to see. He was so glad to see me when I opened the door. He

smiled broadly at me and I went to him and hugged him. I thanked him for all of

his prayers and he told me that he had prayed for my safety. He told me he had

been praying for my safe return. I invited him to the back porch and fixed him a

sandwich and proceeded to share with him the amazing things that had happened

while on my trip. He was so receptive to hear all of the stories. It was a joyful

time for both of us. I enjoyed hearing his comments. He said, “ I can understand

why these people were so thankful to have you come. You smile so beautifully

and you make a person feel that you really care for them.” I told him that I would

love for him to get to go on such a trip. He said that he would love to have the

opportunity some time. It was interesting to me that while I was there in

Nicaragua, I had thought of the great benefit it would be to Calvin if he could go

on such a trip. I tried to explain the circumstances and the living conditions that

these people live in. He was so interested and when I gave him a piece of printed

paper money they use in Nicaragua, he told me, “ I will keep this for a long, long

time.” I told him that I had brought it back as a souvenir for him.

While I was gone, my parents had taken up the job of fixing Calvin food

to eat. They wanted to be supportive of me in my local mission project. Calvin

really loved the homemade food that my mother would prepare. He especially

loved the sweet goodies. He would even ask for my mothers’ homemade bread.

I think he was partial to her French bread with peanut butter and jelly.

I tried to keep our relationship on an equal basis. I didn’t want him to

think of me as the giver and him as the taker. It took very little effort on my part

to give him some food. It took more effort on my part to think of him during the

day and to continue to pray for him. My prayers were always the same. I would

ask God to keep him safe and to bring him to the realization that he needed to

make a life change. It became evident that he was getting worse as the winter got

more intense. There were days when he would need to come in to warm himself

more than he needed food. His eyes took on a more desperate look and I felt like

he was getting farther away from hope of getting well. My prayers took on a

greater sense of urgency. I began to feel like I was losing Calvin. His gaze was

more distant and he had a far away look in his eyes. I think his pain had become

so great that he couldn’t even focus on what his greatest need was. When he

didn’t show up for several days, I began to visualize him on a cold park bench in

the cold of night. I asked God to keep him warm. I knew he had a good coat and

we had given him some gloves. I wondered if there would ever come a time

when things would change for the better for Calvin.

Then one day at the end of February, he came to the back porch again, but

this time after the feeding and prayer time, he asked for another piece of cake. I

went into the kitchen and returned with a piece wrapped in a paper towel. As I

handed it to him I said, “This is my piece of cake. You are doing me a favor by

taking it. I do not need this piece of cake as you can see.” As I handed it to him I

laughed and he smiled and received the cake. I then told him, “Calvin, I really do

care about you. When you do not come I worry that maybe you are not well. If

something were to happen to you, I would be very sad. I do care about you and

love you.” ”He thanked me profusely. As he backed out the door and closed it, he

was still saying thank you.

The next day, I was preparing to go to a meeting for a mission project,

when mother said Calvin was downstairs. I needed to finish getting ready but

I stopped and went downstairs. My hair was still wet, but I went to the porch

and greeted Calvin. He stood up and showed me a black plastic bag that he had

brought with him. He asked me if I would fix him a second sandwich. After

he ate his second sandwich, he opened his bag and showed me that he had some

fresh clothes and some deodorant inside. He asked, “Would you give me a pail of

warm water so I can clean myself? Then I can go out to the garage and wash up

and put on these clean clothes”.

I remember hesitating for an instant and then I told him, “ Come in and

follow me.” He followed me into the house and I led him to the downstairs

bedroom. I entered and turned on the light in the bathroom. I told him, “Use

this bathroom to bathe.” He turned and went back to the porch to get his clean

clothing. I returned downstairs with a fresh towel and placed it next to the sink. I

waited outside the door and he passed by me and entered the room. I closed the

door behind him.

When he came out, he was smiling and I asked him if he wanted to ride

over to the church with me. My meeting was at the church and I had called ahead

to ask Starr if he had any work for Calvin. He said that he did and that he would

be expecting us. While on the way to the church Calvin talked about turning his

life around. He said that he had been thinking after he left me the day before.

He said, “I felt a difference after you prayed for me yesterday. I felt that my day

was going to go better because it had begun with talking to God. I know that I

can’t keep going on the way that I have. I know that I have to take better care of

myself. I am going to start today to try to get well.”

I told him that I knew Starr would help him any way he could. He just

had to talk to him and tell him what he needed.

When I got out of my meeting, Calvin was raking and Starr told me that

he had tried to make arrangements for Calvin to get into a shelter that would help

him rehabilitate. I know this is not the first time that Calvin has started down this

road. I know that he has a long way to go, but I also know that he has two friends

who are praying for him.

When I finally let Calvin into my life, it was a conscious decision to treat

him, as I would want Jesus to treat me. I would prepare his food as though I was

going to give it to Jesus. When he asked for the pail of water, I thought, “I would

give Jesus my best.”

This has been process that God is using to help to teach Calvin and me

more about Himself. I truly want to be well. I see now that I have been in

spiritual poverty where the poor are concerned. It was not until I truly understood

how equal Calvin and I are that I was able to look at him and myself through

God’s eyes. It is interesting to me that I had to go to the poor of another country

to see how to serve the poor in my own country. I didn’t even know how poor I

was. Now that I see, I can look to see whom God will bring to my well of living

water that He provides for me. I had taken myself to Nicaragua to let God pour

out His love through me. I brought that same love home with me to pour out to

all that are thirsty.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Enduring Inheritance

An Enduring Inheritance
Ancestry of Rudisill/Dellinger/Link/Sides/Connelly
Frumsen Sax St. Gallen Switzerland


Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of those who do wrong; for like the grass they will soon wither, like green plants they will soon die away. Psalms 37: 1-2


Thomman Rudisuli was born about 1605 and died in 1653 in the village of Frumsen, located along the Rhine River as it flows north and within eye-view of the principality of Lichtenstein and it’s capital Valduz. Today, all the principal groups of this family can be shown to have their roots in this town. Furmsen is part of the church parish of Sax, a nearby town, and within the Kanton St. Gallen. Sax and Frumsen were in Kanton Zurich in the 1600’s because the rulers of Zurich took over the principality of Sax-Forstegg from 1615 until 1798.

Frumsen, St. Gallen Switzerland
Census records of 1650 indicate that Thomman Rudisuli (b. about 1605) and Anna Torklerin (b. about 1610 and died 1679) had the following children: Andres-born 1633; Matheus-b. 1635; Thrina-B. 1638; Ursel-b. 1639; Anna-b.1641; Hans-b.1643; Thomman-b. 1644; and Barbel- b. 1649.  The death register at the Sax Evangelical Reformed Church lists the death of Thomman on 16 October, 1653, and of Anna Torgklerin in Frumsen on 24 March, 1679.  No records have been found which names the parents of either Thomman or Anna, or either of their birth or marriage dates.  It is estimated that they were married about 1630 or 1632.
The name Rudisuli came from “Rudi’s Ulrich”, where Ulrich may have been a resident of the village of Ruthi, located about 5 kilometers from Frumsen, or he may have been related to a Rudi (Rudy or Rudolph) as a member of his family or employed in some other capacity.  We have no knowledge of when this name originated, as the existing records as we now know them start in the early seventeenth century.  However, since there were quite a good number of people having derivatives of this name when our records began, it is possible that the name had been in use for several centuries.  The spelling of the name is almost always “Rudis-Uli” in the early 17th century and later simplified to “Rudisuli”.  
After extensive research into the family of Anna Torklerin, it was determined that she was born to Jacob Torggler and Verena Nollin, baptized 25 December, 1606 and had Balthazar Zellweben and Anna Engsterin as her sponsors.  There does not appear to be any marriage or burial records for this area until 1658 and it is doubtful if they exist today.  Anna’s siblings were Johannes-b. 1604, Jocob- b. 1605 (probably died at birth) and Jacob-b. 1608.
The family name “Torgkler” comes from the word “torkel”, a wine or cider press.  The people who operated them were called torklers.  There are vineyards in Berneck where Anna Torkler was born, so the name Torkler has a relationship to this area.  The surname was spelled “Torggler” in the 1600’s.

           The Frumsen-Sax area in Switzerland is still a quiet rural community today, and will undoubtedly remain so because there are no large cities nearby to cause the growth of bustling suburbs or industrial plants.  With the exception of the neat little Evangelical Reformed Church of Sax and the Gastof Schlossi, one is hard pressed to find any other activity except farming.  
It is hard to imagine the hardships the Rudisuli family suffered at the hands of the French King. To think that things were so desperate that they would leave their fair country is heartbreaking. Lord McCautley has written in detail the conditions suffered by our family and their countrymen. In his detailed history he tells of the movement of many Swiss people into what is now Southern Germany. The move was due to a lack of sufficient nourishment in Switzerland caused by the Thirty Year War, plus the potential opportunities that would be available to them in Germany. 
The list of emigrants from Frumsen which Pastor Freytag submitted in 1657 contained the following; “Thomman Rudisuli’s children serving in Swabia, going to the Brunnsbach church, moved there 24 November, 1651. The list was dated 1657 and would have given the ages being 6 years older than when they left Frumsen Sax. Andreas-24; Matheur-22; Thrina-19; Ursel-19; and Hans-14.” The ages of the children agree with those listed for the family of Thomman and Anna. If Pastor Freytag’s chronology is correct, then Hans actually departed Switzerland at the age of eight years. At first glance this seems confusing but it must have been a long hard journey for the family because their arrival at their destination took them 6 years after leaving Frumsen, Switzerland to show up in the new location of Michelsfeld, Germany.
If you have ever moved it is understandable to know it takes a while to get established, to find a new house, a church and livelihood. Also, news did not travel fast in those days. It certainly validates that people were leaving Switzerland and many did not return. It is hard for us to realize that communication took months and years.

Palatine Country / Germany History
We know that the Hans Rudisuli family stayed in Michelsfeld Germany, marrying and having children of their own until some of the their grandchildren and their families moved to the New World. Special thanks to Edward L. Rudisill for his tireless genealogical work to obtain the dates included in this compilation of our ancestry.


The second generation after Hans Rudisill and his family moved to Michelsfeld, Queen Anne who was a Protestant, came to the English throne in 1702. As many of the refugees from Germany arrived in England, she was most lovely to them. She not only took care of them, but had lists made of them as they arrived and these lists are still preserved in the British Museum.


Queen Anne offered these refugees,at first, free transportation to America and the privilege of taking up land at a shilling an acre. There may have been some selfishness in Queen Anne’s goodness, for she said,  “I want as colonists in my American lands these sober, thrifty, industrious, honest, honorable, intelligent, land loving, God-fearing German people.” Of course we know now that ‘our German people’ were originally from Switzerland.



For clarity I will list the ancestors by name beginning with eldest: Thomman Rudisuli had a son Hans Rudisuli who had a son Hans Jacob Rudisuli who had a son Weyrich Norrente Rudisill who had a son Michael Rudisill.
Hans Jacob’s father Hans Rudisuli , was the relative documented as leaving Frumsen Sax in 1651. They left Switzerland 3 years after the end of the Thirty Years war (1618-1648). They settled in Michelsfeld, Germany and lived there for many years and descendants of the Rudisuli family still live there today. All of Hans Rudisuli’s children and grandchildren were born in Michelsfeld. Hans son, Hans Jacob and his wife Cleophe Neff both died in Michelsfeld. The dates of their deaths have been documented by Pastor Weiser.
For many years it was believed that our first known relative who came to the New World was Michael Rudisill. Since beginning my search to find all I could about him, it is clear that many others have searched before me. Thanks to the internet which connects us all, I have found that Thomman Rudisuli was the great, great grandfather of Michael Rudisill. Michael settled in Lincoln County, North Carolina with his father Weyrich Norrente (Terrick) Rudisill (b.August 7, 1695- d. June 1764)) and Anna Barbara Seigfried. They came from Michelsfeld, Germany which is Palatine Country in the Upper Rhine Valley, now known as Bavaria. Michael was the third child of Weyrich Norrente who was the son of Hans Jacob Rudisuli (b. Oct. 4, 1666- d. Sept. 16, 1748) and Cleophe Neff (b. Sept 9, 1671- d. Feb. 6, 1758) who were originally from Frumsen Sax, Switzerland.

The New World


Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Psalms 37: 3-6


Three brothers of the Rudisuli family immigrated from Germany through England and the Netherlands to Philadelphia and settled near York, Pennsylvania. Later they moved southward to Virginia and North Carolina.  One of the brothers Weyrich Rudisill came from Pennsylvania, leaving his children there except a son, Michael Rudisill who married Eva Dellinger and a daughter Anna Marie, who married Henry Dellinger. Michael and Eva Rudisill left a legacy of many Rudisill’s in the NC area of Lincolnton.
The common Rudisill ancestor was Hans Jacob Rudisuli married to Cleophe Neff. Their children were : Anna Catharina (b. August 3, 1689), Hans Michel ( b. March 11, 1691), Weyrich Norrente (b. August 7, 1695- d. June 1748) Phillipps Heinrich (b. Sept. 24, 1697), Rudisill Rudisill ( b. 1700), Hans George (b. May 7, 1701), Maria Catharina (b. November 29, 1703), Johann Jacob (b. April 10, 1706), Catharina (b. August 2, 1708), Johann Phillipps (March 27, 1711, Anna Catharina (b. July 27, 1713), Matthaus (b. April 19, 1718). Thirteen! That is 13 children in 19 years. It is clear this family prospered in the village of Michelsfeld. In our family we call this “being blessed”. They proved to be a blessing to the New World and specifically to our family.

Since the book Our Kin was written documenting the ancestry of people in the Lincolnton areas, the Rudisill Foundation has verified that there were three brothers. Phillipps Heinrich, Weyrich (Terrick) Norrente, and Johann Jacob. Also a nephew Andreas Rudisile came in 1749 to join them. Weyrich (Terrick) brought 10 children and his wife with him when they came to the New World. Johann Michael, our forefather was one of his sons.The following information came from the Rudisill Foundation. It is with great gratitude that I can give you the story they generously shared with our family.
Philip Henrich Rudisill was 30 years old when he brought his son George with him to Philadelphia. His wife’s parents came with him to care for their grandson since his wife, Maria Barbara Miller had died two years before they came to the New World. They arrived in Philadelphia on Sept 21, 1727 on the ship “William and Sara”. (see The Rudisill Foundation Papers).
The second brother, Johann Jacob Rudisill (age 23) came over from Rotterdam, Netherlands on the ship” Morton House” on August 17, 1729 two years after Phillips. Johann married Elizabeth Hansbacher the daughter of George Hansbacher in 1733 in Trinity Lutheran Church in Pennsylvania. They settled there on 162 acres of land purchased from George Hansbacher. They had 15 children, 4 of which served in the Revolutionary War. John Henry was his youngest son and was born in 1759. There is an account in the Rudisill Foundation papers describing his service in the military.
 Eight years later Weyrich (Terrick) Rudisill and his wife Barbara Seigfried came over on the ship “Samuel”. The account of their journey is told later. Terrick and Anna Barbara Seigfreid brought their 10 children with them when they came in 1737.Johann Michael Rudisill was one of these children. They had married in Michelsfeld in 1718. It is not known where they departed from but they arrived in Philadelphia as the other brothers, Phillipps and Johann Jacob had.
Andreas Rudisile (believed to be a nephew, since we know his grandparents were Hans Jacob and Cleophe) arrived in the New World on Sept. 15, 1749 with his wife Charlotte and their first born child. They traveled on the “Phoenix”. He was 32 years old when they arrived. This would have been 12 years after his Uncle Weyrich(Terrick) and his family.
It is stated in the foundation papers that there were 12 living children born to Hans Jacob Rudisuli and Cleophe Neff ranging from 1695 to 1717.  All their children were born in Michelsfeld, Germany. 


Our German fathers all came to this country from the upper Rhine section of Germany.  That means the Palatine country and the neighboring sections near Switzerland.  (Dr. W.J. Hinke in his “Pennsylvania German Pioneers” says that in order to procure settlers for his land grant from King Charles II of England, Penn visited the Rhine provinces, whose once peaceful valleys had become the hunting ground of political and religious fanatics. Personally, and through agents , Penn invited the Rhinelanders, the suffering Palatines, to help him found a State in which religious and civil liberty would prevail.)The Rudisill brothers and others belonging to families springing from ancestors coming to America arrived from from Germany through England and the Netherlands, from upper or Southern Germany, along the Rhine river.  They were sent in English ships to this country to settle the English province of Pennsylvania. Many fell in with the stream of immigration from York County, where they had settled, and following the general range of the mountains, they settled among the Indians and other German immigrants on the western side of the Catawba river in, at the time, Mecklenburg County.



I would like to thank the Rudisill Family Foundation Papers for the accounts of the Rudisill brothers journey to America. This  account was given by Weyrich (Terrick) Rudisill, one of the brothers who traveled over on “The Samuel” on May 13th, 1737. The ship’s log bears his name.
 “ Having been hit heavily in the wars of the previous century, our family was looking forward to the possibility of a new life! We left with our 10 children and boarded the Samuel on May 13, 1737 to Philadelphia, when I was 40 years old.  We arrived on August 30th, three months after leaving England!”


“Our journey to the New World was unpleasant at best.  A child died on the 25th and was buried at sea.  On June 7th, a child was born, died within an hour, and was also buried at sea.  A storm on the 17th created high seas, lasting one and one half days, and caused much dizziness and vomiting among the passengers.  On July 23rd another child died.  By now we had consumed all of our provisions, having expected that our voyage would last only four weeks.  We had to live on the meager ship’s fare.  On August 20th a young married woman died.  A heavy rain accompanied by a strong wind made great waves.  Many of the beds that were near the portholes were filled with water, and the next morning the Captain ordered a kettle of rice be boiled so we could eat something warm.  On the 22nd the ship lay still and we dried our clothes.  The next day a sounding showed that we were close to the Delaware River, though no land could be seen.  Finally, land was sighted on the 24th.”  


“The last baby born on board died and was buried in the Delaware River.  In the afternoon of August 30th, we landed at Philadelphia.  By then we had been on board for more than three months.  In Philadelphia I signed the oath of renunciation to European authorities as Weyrich (Terrick) Rutsieli (later his name was changed to Rudisill) Fortunately for all of you, your ancestors who arrived in Philadelphia were registered so thoroughly that passenger lists exist for the most of the ships that arrived in Philadelphia from 1727 to 1775.  That is not the case for those who arrived in Boston.  We resided in York, Pennsylvania until about 1754. Sadly, my beloved wife Barbara passed away in York before the children and I moved to North Carolina. On May 20th 1754, I received a land grant for 200 acres of land in Lincoln County, North Carolina near Hoyles Creek.  What a joy that was!! I spent the rest of my days there.  In my will I deeded my land to my oldest child John.  I have heard that he deeded the land to Henry Dellinger, his son-in-law. “


“You’ll find my graveside beside my youngest daughter Anna and her husband Henry Dellinger at the Smith..Dellinger Cemetery which is about 7 miles from Lincolnton, NC.  Unfortunately our stones are unmarked.”  


I have included this narrative of Weyrich Terrick Rudisill because I wanted you to know the hardships endured by our ancestors who came over on the ships of Queen Bess. Also because of the connection between Terrick and Michael through land-grants in North Carolina and the fact that Michael was married to Henry Dellinger’s sister Eva Dellinger . All of these documents validate that Weyrich Rudisill was the father of Johann Michael.   






This Good Land


Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret– it leads only to evil.  For evil men will be cut off, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. A little while and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy great peace.  Psalms 37: 8-11


Michael was married to Eva Dellinger, the daughter of Johannes Phillip Dellinger and Anna Mary Tankersley. 
According to tradition, when Michael Rudisill and Eva and their family were on their way south, their youngest child died and they stopped by the wayside, made a  casket from the bark of a tree and buried the infant in a neighboring field.  Stop for a moment and think about this.  This was just one of the hardships they had to endure.

We know that Michael sustained an eye injury when he was a boy and lost the sight in one of his eyes.  Nevertheless he was a worthy and successful citizen-pioneer.

Magnolia Grove Henry Dellinger House



        In 1750 Michael and Eva lived in Tryon County, North Carolina and then they traveled to live with Eva’s brother, Henry Dellinger, in the old mansion a few miles from Lincolnton, NC known as “Magnolia” or the “John B Smith Brick House”.  This lovely old home is still standing and the bricks and mortar look as if freshly made in spite of the fact the bricks were tramped out in a nearby field by slave labor.  The fields have grown nothing since, having been packed so hard over 200 years.  The house has the original door-wide hand wrought iron hinges and hand carved walnut staircase.  In its hey-day, it was used to “hold ordinary” by special permission granted by Queen Bess.  To “hold ordinary” meant to keep guest and transients and it was a popular stopping place for the livestock herders on their way to and from Pennsylvania. There is another mention of Henry later and it is known he married Michael’s sister Anna Rudisill. How much earlier Henry came south is not known but it is believed he leased the house and land and ran the tavern. It is even recorded that he drove cattle to Pennsylvania to sell for the purpose of buying libations for his tavern.



In 1754, Michael Rudisill bought a tract of land near Lincolnton and the deed is registered in book 13 pages 2,3,and 4 in Raleigh North Carolina.  This is where they settled after moving south.  


Mr. Rudisill acquired a very large body of land on both sides of the creek, portions which were later acquired by his son in law, Jacob Link, and by other members of the family.  Portions of his plantation are still occupied by his great grandson, John and Luther Rudisill.  As heretofore stated, he and his brothers Philip and Terrick Rudisill, spelled then by mistake I suppose “Rudisealy”, bought and entered land from the State on May 20, 1754.  This was about as early as any entry of land in this section.  These three patents or notes thereof are registered together in the office of the Secretary of State in Book 13, pages 2,3 and 4.  Terrick’s entry was described as 200 acres, beginning “at a black oak about two miles from his brother Philip’s land.  This must have been somewhere in the neighborhood of Iron Station.( This entry is from another relatives notes.) This was written years before the Rudisill Foundation and the internet which has many sites about the Rudisills.

Leeper’s Creek


Michael Rudisill’s entry was dated May 17th,1754. His land was on Leeper’s Creek.  I think it probable that the entry of Terrick Rudisill was the leased part of the Dellinger Tavern land, or as known in later days, the Brick House Jno. B. Smith place or “Magnolia”.Henry Dellinger was later deeded the property by John Rudisill, Anna’s brother who inherited the land from their father.

Sometime around 1750,when Eva Catherine Dellinger and Michael Rudisill came to North Carolina from their temporary home in Pennsylvania. They settled on Leeper’s Creek about four miles from Iron Station just below the old Hamerschold’s iron furnace.  The country was then an unbroken wilderness. It was  occupied by the native Indians with whom he and his family lived in peace and friendship.  So much so that, having business back in Pennsylvania, he left his wife and children in their midst and made a visit north.  He brought back some seed which was propagated and kept on the farm and in the neighborhood for two succeeding centuries.
Drawing of an Iron Making Furnace

Keep in mind that the territory they were in was uncleared land. Michael’s and his father Weyrich’s purchase of acreage was some of the first in now Lincoln County. That equates to many hard back-breaking years of work.. They were able to purchase this land due to a treaty with the Indians who had lived on this land for centuries. This treaty opened up and made it possible for the immigrants to settle and literally clear the land for homes, crops and animals. They also had the freedom to worship as they chose. Most of these Germans were from the Reformed Protestant churches in Germany and Switzerland. In fact, this is one of the most passionate motivating factors they traveled so far. They had been shut out of the opportunity to serve and own land in their homeland. Perhaps this is one of the reasons they were able to live peacefully with their neighbors the Indians. They had endured hardships and did not have an attitude of entitlement.  

For the most part, Michael and Jacob Link (Michael’s daughter Catherine’s husband) depended on farming for their livelihood but there is a strong indication that they also worked now and then at the famous Old Hammerschold Iron Foundry near Iron Station.  This may have been only to make things for their own use, such as the old iron pot which sat in Aunt Lil’s front yard, and the old hand wrought irons (flat irons) handed down for 200 years.  Not too many members of the family seemed to be interested in the fact that the old iron fire dogs in her fireplace were the figures of Hessian soldiers who aided us in the Revolution.  (This from Pearl G. Connelly’s research.)

These were the children of Michael and Eva Rudisill : Henry (m. Saloma Seitz), Phillip (m. Elizabeth Johnson), Susanna (m. John Derr), Jacob (m. Susanna Hoyle), Elizabeth (m. Mattias Davault), Dorothy (m. John Early), Barbara (m. Conrad Casler), John ( m. Mary Ramsaur), Catherine (m. Jacob Link) and Hannah. 
After a long and useful life of service to God and mankind , these pioneers Michael and his wife Eva Catherine ended their task in opening up and working this goodly section of the New World.  The time of Michael’s death has not been definitely learned.  It was sometime between November 1755 listed as the death of Michael’s uncle, Phillip (by now with the “ps” dropped) and the last of 1793, when partition was made of some of his land between sons, Henry, Phillip and Jacob, and his grandson Henry, the son of John Rudisill, deceased. In his will Phillip wrote, “Wherein I make  legatee to Michael, I  give all my wearing clothes.”  Phillip and his wife are buried in a private graveyard on his home farm in York Pennsylvania.  His son Henry and his family are also buried there.  It is a shame no marble or stone commemorate the life of Michael and Eva Rudisill, this noble old couple of our ancestral family. Queen Anne was right about this Rudisill family. “They were sober, thrifty, industrious, honest, honorable, intelligent, land-loving and a God-fearing family.”








  The Land Comes With A Price
If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand. Psalms 37:23-24
The daughter of Eva Dellinger and Johann Michael Rudisill was Catherine Rudisill and she married Jacob Link. Jacob’s father, Jacob Link came to America on the ship “Robert & Alice”, landing in Philadelphia, Sept. 11, 1730 and his signature is on the ships log registered at the courthouse in Harrisburg.  .
Jacob Link and Catherine Rudisill bore 9 children. They lived on property adjacent to her father Michael’s land on Leeper’s Creek. Ann Link their only daughter married John Seitz/Sides. It is during this generation that the Rudisill name disappears from our family line. To clarify this I will list the names of our ancestors.  
Johann Michael had a daughter Catherine Rudisill (married Jacob Link) who had a daughter Ann Link (b. May 10, 1812, d. May 24, 1890) who married John Seitz/Sides (b. Nov. 29, 1806, d. May 10, 1874) who had a son John Morehead Sides(b. June 19, 1842, d. Nov. 23, 1917). Note that the Seitz name spelling was changed to Sides during this generation.
Katherine and Jacob lived a full life surrounded by family and neighbors. There is a Henry Link Cemetery that has the headstone of Katherine Rudisill Link. Jacob’s headstone has been replaced with a more recent one since his deteriorated with time and the elements. The Link family is to be commended for the care they have given our beloved ancestors. 

Headstone for Katherine Rudisill Link

Commemorative Headstone for Jacob Link

John Seitz’s father was Jacob Seitz and he married Rebecca Garner on June 3, 1800.  Their son John and Ann had seven sons and two daughters. Three of their five sons who were in the Civil War fighting for the Confederacy were killed.  It is likely that in this family their sons fought against their relatives who remained in Pennsylvania and traveled to Virginia to fight for the Union Army.  It is hard to imagine the cost this war took on everyone, but especially for Ann and John. They had two remaining son who survived the war.. One of these sons took seriously the responsibility of keeping the family growing.  His name was John Mortimore Morehead Sides.  His story is rich with drama but that is a whole generation later in our story.
Before we move forward it is good to note that Jacob Seitz/Sides{Rebecca Garner) came from Switzerland. He and several brothers were known as “coopers” by trade; that is, they were builders of barrels, menders of ships and literally, coop builders, (ref. History of Catawba County)
The John Sides family owned 700 acres of land in Burke County around Connelly Springs, NC. 500 acres of land were bought for Ann Link by her father Jacob Link when she was 10 years old, about 1822. (perhaps her dowry) A log house and 2 log barns were on the property. This is the house where Ann Link and John Sides lived and all of their children were born there. It was located in Burke Co. north of Hildebran on the Rhodhiss Road. The house was remodeled and stood until 1969 when it was torn down for a housing development. Great-great grandchildren lived on the property in 1978. (This information from a lover of family history, Addie Elizabeth Sides (1881-1978) daughter of Robert Franklin Sides and Anna Houck.)

John Morehead Sides grew up on his parents large farm in Burke County, N.C. with eight siblings. He enlisted into the Confederate Army at the age of 20 , May 10th 1861, and mustered in as a Private. Present and accounted for until wounded in the right leg at the second battle of Manassas, Virginia, Aug. 29, 1863. The following information is from a hand written document signed by the commanding officer, W.A. Stancue stating that John M. Sides was promoted to 1st Lt. on Jan. 27th 1864.  Present and accounted for until paroled at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, April 9, 1865. He was in company E. 16th N.C. Troops and it was known as “Burke Tigers”.
On Feb. 21, 1865, he and Elizabeth Connelly of Connelly Springs NC were married. He must have been on furlough at this time and soon returned to the 16th Regiment since he was there at the time of the end of the war, April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant.  Lee’s letter has great significance to our family because this was a battle that would only be ended in horrible bloodshed and remember our relative John had already sustained a wound to his leg.  I am thankful to the powers that be….that Lee surrendered with these words to the troupes of Virginia:

“ I need not tell the survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to the result from no distrust of them.

But feeling that valour and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I have determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from the consciousness of duty faithfully performed, and I earnestly pray that a merciful God will extend to you his blessing and protection.” General Robert E. Lee  




Civil War
All served with the C.S.A. unless otherwise noted
Unknown Co.
George M. Sides- Private; Enlisted 10 May 1862, Co. A, McRae’s Co., 4th Cavalry
William F. Sides- Private; Enlisted 1 May 1864, Co. F, 22nd Infantry
Burke Co.
George W. Sides- Private; Enlisted 15 October 1861, Co. K, 35th Infantry- age 24      
J. Calvin Sides- Private; Enlisted 7 July 1863, Co. K, 35th Infantry- age 27
John M. Sides- Private; Enlisted 10 May 1861, Co. E, 16th Infantry- age 20   
Levi Seitz- Private; Enlisted 1 March, 1863, Co. K, 35th Infantry- age 39
 (resident of Catawba Co.)
Pink SJG Sides- Private; Enlisted 1 February 1864, Co. K, 35th Infantry
W.H. Sides- Private; Enlisted 1 May 1862, Co. K, 35th Infantry- age 18    


Ulysses S. Grant

April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant.  


General Robert E. Lee

It is important to know that Elizabeth’s mother and father,  Elizabeth S. and William Lewis Connelly, were prominent citizens and were the founders of the town of Connelly Springs, North Carolina.   Her father died in 1855 when he was struck by lightning.  Her mother “discovered” the mineral waters in a spring and this later lead to the construction of the large 2-story Connelly Springs Hotel built in 1867. Note that the springs were found around the time of Elizabeth and John Side’s marriage.   


Five children were born to Elizabeth (Lizzy) Connelly and John Sides, before her untimely death in 1883.  The youngest was Elizabeth Loraine Sides.  She was 5 years old when her mother died.  


John was a widower with five children and he married Elizabeth McGalliard just before Christmas of 1883.  He was 40 at the time and she was 43.  They were married for two years before their only child a daughter Willie Lois Sides was born.  Elizabeth McGalliard Sides died in June of 1888.  Again John is left a widower, but this time with 6 children.  
The children of John and Elizabeth Agnes Connelly (b. July 26, 1837, d. April 3, 1883) were: Eddie L. ( b. June 29, 1867), Artie T. ( b. May 19, 1870, d. March 26, 1939), Ada E. (Nov. 1, 1872- ), Charles M (May 10, 1876, d. ), Emma Elizabeth (Lizzy) Lorraine (b. Jan. 18, 1878, d. Jan. 26, 1666)


There is little known about Elizabeth McGalliard Sides except information from a copy of a will sent to Emily Andrews, Elizabeth’s granddaughter.  This is all she knew: Samuel Wilson of Lincoln Co. NC. bequeathed land and slaves to his son Thomas’ heirs, his daughter Mary, wife of Andrew Love and daughter, Jane, wife of William McGalliard.  So Elizabeth Jane must be the daughter of Jane and William.  William McGalliard died in 1884 and John M. Sides was named administrator of his estate.


For a third time John remarried.  This time to Ida Ellen Childs (b. abt. 1862, d. Mar. 22, 1932). They married on December 20, 1888, at the brides home in Rutherford College.  She was 26 and he was 46 when they wed.  There is a newspaper clipping about this wedding in Ida’s scrapbook, “….This is Mr. Sides’ third wife and he is comparatively a young man yet.  The Star extends hearty congratulations and best wishes to the happy couple.”


Ida and John had two sons and three daughters in the next 15 years.They were :Alburtus Childs (b. Oct. 28, 1889, d. Dec. 31, 1925) Nannie Mabel (b. August 28, 1893), Claude Moritmore (b.Nov. 22, 1896, d. Jan. 25, 1965).  John and Ida’s last children, twin girls, Lena and Linda (b. Feb. 6, 1903) were born in Connelly Springs when he was 60 years old!

 Ida and John lived all their married life in Connelly Springs except for a few years in the late 1890’s they lived in Ingalls, in Mitchell County, NC.  An abstract, dated June 1896 shows he owned 600 acres of land with 30 head of cattle in Toe River Township, Mitchell County. One son, Claude Mortimore was born (b. 1896) while they lived in Ingall. 
 It was recalled by a story from one of our relatives that John’s daughter Lizzy met her husband Joseph Connelly ( who lived in the Ingall area when he was driving cattle during the time frame when this family lived in Ingalls, NC). What an amazing thought that they were from different areas and came together because of a cattle drive! Pioneers and cattle drives conjure up romantic thoughts, but the reality is that these were very hard working people who God brought together to carry on our ancestry.



At the age of 75 (the twins would have been 15 years old), John M. Sides, hard of hearing, was struck by a train as he was crossing the tracks near his home. This was 1916. According to the minister, Rev. B. Wilson, “The town of Connelly Springs and indeed the whole surrounding community was thrown in deep mourning by his death.”  In concluding the eulogy, Rev. Wilson stated, “Brother Sides was indeed a good neighbor, a loyal citizen and a congenial friend, always sweet spirited and cheerful.  He was a kind father, ever interested in the welfare of his children; a loving considerate husband, devoted to his wife with a devotion that was no less than beautiful.”  


(These words were passed down by relatives who told her about her Grandfather Sides by Lena Giles Jennings. He died before she was born. )

The Best of Times ….The Worst of Times 

I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.  They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.   Psalms 37: 27-28

Emma Elizabeth (Lizzy) Lorraine Sides  was born on January 18, 1878, the 5th child of John and Elizabeth (Lizzy)Connelly. Though her mother died when she was only 5 years old she was always surrounded by family.  She had a wonderful father in John M. Sides and she was blessed that he always provided a good home for her.  He made sure that she was never long without a mother in the home.  I remember that she stayed in touch with her siblings long into the later years of her life.  Our family in Greensboro, NC lived near her sister Ada (m. Tom Hinton) who would have been the closest sister in age to her. Ada was a dear person and always was kind to us.  I think it would be correct to say that family values were instilled early in each of John Sides children.  They all married and prospered.  
Lizzy married Joseph Claywell Connelly on December 24, 1900.  His wedding gift to her were two brass candelabra and a matching brass bowl with stand.  The candelabra are in the home of her granddaughter Christine Lawson and the bowl is in the home of Karyn Elizabeth Warner her great granddaughter.  

Dragon Etched Brass Bowl with Stand                   


      Two Lion Brass Candelabra

It is unknown if these were passed down from Joseph’s family.  


Lizzy and Joseph Connelly lived in a beautiful two story house in North Cove NC where Joseph grew up.( His father was Sidney Connelly and his mother was Martha Mary Brown) .  They had many acres of land and were the proprietors of a Grist Mill that ground grains for the community.  This business was a good source of income for their family. They had 4 children before World War I began in 1914. Charles Bert was born in September of 1915, during the war which ended in 1918.  


Old Grist Mill

In 1917 the family moved to Swannanoa, NC. They established a grist mill there and enjoyed the opportunities the larger town of Swanannoa offered. Charles, the youngest was 2 years old and the older brothers were in their teens.
The Beacon Blanket Company made blankets for the soldiers during World War I and it is believed that Lester and Dick took jobs there to help with the war effort. they ended up making careers at the blanket factory.
Ten years later the Great Crash of the stock market occurred and this was the beginning of the Great Depression.  The people in large cities were hurt the most, but the farmers and business men in the small communities were affected also.

The event of Joseph’s death was devastating for the whole family. The country was in a depressed state but this family lost not only their father and loved one, but they also lost their hopes and dreams of the life they had enjoyed. Like his father, they had a Grist Mill on their property that helped give support for family.  When the Great Depression hit, the community people still needed their grains ground, but it is likely that the barter system was used, and this family did not suffer starvation as many families did. Neighbors pulled together and helped each other.

It is important to note that  Joseph’s father and mother were deceased and Lizzy’s father had died also by this time. Even though Lizzy’s brothers and sisters were all married with families of their own, they did not live in the same area that Lizzy and her children lived. Few people had cars and trains were used for traveling distances.  Most of Lizzy’s remaining family still lived miles away down the mountains in Connelly Springs and Joseph’s family lived in North Cove. After the country recovered from the Depression, the two story hotel was built in Connelly Springs and trains brought people from Asheville and the surrounding areas to the hot springs. This helped bring life back into this rural town.  
          President Roosevelt put into effect The New Deal which created jobs. Our  family was fortunate to have land and could grow crops to feed themselves.

Later, when the older brothers and sisters married, the house was probably sold and Charles and his mother moved to a garage apartment behind the house of his brother Dick and wife Angeline in the *Grovemont Community. Lizzy lived there until around 1960.

Dick and Angeline’s home

Charles and Lizzy’s home
The event of Joseph’s death was devastating for the whole family. The country was in a depressed state but this family lost not only their father and loved one, but they also lost their hopes and dreams of the life they had enjoyed. Like his father, they had a Grist Mill on their property that helped give support for family.  When the Great Depression hit, the community people still needed their grains ground, but it is likely that the barter system was used, and this family did not suffer starvation as many families did. Neighbors pulled together and helped each other.

It is important to note that  Joseph’s father and mother were deceased and Lizzy’s father had died also by this time. Even though Lizzy’s brothers and sisters were all married with families of their own, they did not live in the same area that Lizzy and her children lived. Few people had cars and trains were used for traveling distances.  Most of Lizzy’s remaining family still lived miles away down the mountains in Connelly Springs and Joseph’s family lived in North Cove. After the country recovered from the Depression, the two story hotel was built in Connelly Springs and trains brought people from Asheville and the surrounding areas to the hot springs. This helped bring life back into this rural town.  
          President Roosevelt put into effect The New Deal which created jobs. Our  family was fortunate to have land and could grow crops to feed themselves. Also, as The older brothers reached their 20’s, Dick and Lester went to work in the Beacon Blanket Company in Swanannoa. They both ended up making careers there.
*Around 1900 ( the time of Lizzy and Joseph’s marriage), while building his famous Grove Park Inn in nearby Asheville, Dr. E. W. Grove became interested in the Swannanoa area. He developed the Grove Stone and Sand Company to obtain material for his hotel. He purchased land and developed a summer resort at Lake Eden. He also purchased land in Swannanoa and developed “Grovemont,” the first planned community in the United States. Grovemont remains a thriving community today.
Lester married Pearl Gaston. They had a son and daughter in the Grovemont Community.

Sidney married Pauline Lance (Polly) and they settled in the Asheville area. He eventually became a state trouper. They had two sons. 
Maurice married Ray Harrison and had two daughters. He owned and operated a funeral home in West Asheville.
Margorie married Hugh Greene and had 2 sons. They resided on a farm in Candler, NC, just west of Asheville.
Charles married Hazel Connelly and they had 2 daughters and a son. They lived in Greensboro, NC.  

Restored home of Pearl and Lester Connelly

Pearl and Lester lived in Swanannoa until their deaths.  Dick and Angeline built a new home in the Warren Wilson College community and Lizzy went to live with Margorie and Hugh Greene on their farm (in Candler NC to the west of Asheville) until about a year before her death. She enjoyed the nursing home the last year of her life and was popular for her quick wit and sweet smile.  Much like her father John Morehead Sides, she always had a cheerful disposition and was very much loved by her family and  friends.

She survived her husband for 36 years and enjoyed sharing in the lives of her children and grandchildren and even got to see and enjoy several of her great grandchildren before her death at the age of 84. She is remembered with great love and affection.

History Of The Times

**The Beacon Blanket Manufacturing Company relocated to Swannanoa from New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1925. Homes were built to house company employees; streets, water lines, and sewers were part of the plan. The Beacon mill provided fire protection and police protection for the village. A thriving business district with grocery, drug store, clothing stores, a movie house and variety stores served the whole Valley.

***Roosevelt’s New Deal started the CCC or the Civilian Conservation Corp. This program was intended to put young men to work and keep them occupied so they would not start any trouble. Young single men age 18-25 worked in the CCC. This program was run like the military and used strict discipline the men received $25.00 dollars a month. $20 dollars of their pay went to their families. $5.00 went to the men. The CCC  built the Blue Ridge Parkway. The impact on the region was jobs, exposure to the rest of the country, and the legacy of the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Appalachian Mountains were isolated and therefore backwards in development compared to the rest of the country.

Roosevelt’s New Deal also started the TVA or Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA was a massive public works program formed in 1933. This program had a major role in the development of Western North Carolina and Eastern Tennessee. The TVA dammed up the rivers and  experimented in regional planning. The TVA dammed up most of the Tennessee River which was prone to flooding. Damming the rivers not only solve the problem of flooding but made electricity available. Fontana Dam was a project of TVA during the 30’s. The French Broad runs through Asheville and joins with the Tennessee River at Knoxville TN. The impact on the region was fertilizer, erosion control, tons of jobs, and industry. All this was possible because of the electricity.

Rural Electrification Program was another New Deal project. This was an attempt to put electricity in every home. It was a subsidy program. Rural areas are often spread out where houses are quite a distance from other houses. This makes it expensive to have electricity. Since the area has always been isolated due to the rugged terrain, people living in the Appalachian Mountains were poor. The Appalachian Region benefited from the Rural Electrification most. The subsidy program made it possible for most everyone in the Appalachian mountains to have electricity. However, I knew people in Western North Carolina who grew up in the 40’s who did not have electricity, running water, or inside plumbing.

History of the Thirty Year War and Other Points of Interest

Her accounts include history of Martin Luther, from 1512, when he began his great Reformation, till his death in 1546. He made a wonderfully great impression on the Germans and Swiss as well as other peoples of Europe. Our family became Protestants. They were people of strong faith in God.
Henry IV of Navarre who became King of France was a Protestant and married Margaret (a Catholic) the daughter of Catherine de Medici– *referenced here is the horrible massacre of St. Bartholomew’s Day. Henry IV appointed two cities, Rochelle and Nantes, to which the Protestants left France and went into the Protestant Palatinate. It is believed that our family went to this area from their home in Germany.  For this reason Louis XIII of France fought the Prince of the Palatinate, intermittently for thirty years from 1618-1648 in The Thirty Year War, doing much harm and driving some of the people away, but not devastating the country.
Not till 1807 when Napoleon defeated the King of Prussia and took this territory and held it till William I and Bismarck went all the way to Paris and took it back in 1871 and Paris crowned William I, King of Prussia — Emperor of German Empire. After the World War in 1918 in order to cripple Germany it was given to France. All newspapers are printed in French and German. German is the language. Of course by this time our relatives were long gone from this area, having traveled across the Atlantic to settle first in Pennsylvania and then moved on to settle in what is now Lincolnton, North Carolina. 
 About the late 1600’s and thereafter,  when our ancestors were forced out of their homes and had to flee the starvation caused by the Thirty Year War and the decline of the feudal system in Germany, many of the wandering exiles went to the Thames River in London and stayed in tents provided by Queen Bess whose cousin was a Count of the Palatinate.  Queen Bess gave the Palatine people refuge from the tyranny and torture inflicted by Louis XIV and she chartered boats to send these ‘well-bred industrious Germans’ and Swiss to America to settle her own lands in what is now Lincoln County, North Carolina.

  Know therefore that the lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.  Deutoronomy 7:9


   It is interesting to note that the area that the Rudisuli family moved to in the New World is also still much the same as when the family arrived in 1754 to purchase land and settle down to farm and raise their families.  Today Lincolnton, Connelly Springs, North Cove and Swananoa are still small hamlets, but they are near larger towns with shopping areas and factories.  Most of the mountains surrounding homes are still the same.  They are beautiful and covered with forests. Most of the mountains, the Blue Ridge and Pisgah National Forests are protected.


The Last Shall Be First

The Last Shall be First
                                                                                        by Christine Lawson
         But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. Matthew 19:30
      She was the first person that I saw in the square, when we arrived to bathe the babies of the ‘street people’ of Cochabamba, Bolivia. She walked alone with her baby. She was dressed in jean’s overalls, a  T-shirt and tennis shoes. Her beautiful dark hair was pulled back in the traditional single braid. Her face was youthful and clean but it lacked the glow of good health. Her eyes invited me to linger on her face. They gave an unspoken gentle plea, “I need help.” For only a moment, we exchanged smiles, and then she passed on by.
     I am in the same square where we bathed babies a year ago when we were here on a mission trip. This square is called The Plaza Principal. It is a tree lined park with wooden benches strategically placed.This has been a lovely clear day with a beautiful deep blue sky as if umbrella overhead. The police station is the most prominent structure across the street from this square. It covers a whole block. Small novelty shops line the sidewalk on the other three blocks that enclose the square.
     Our team from First Presbyterian Church of Florence, South Carolina, is here again to help with Mickey’s Mission, a mission to feed and care for the children of the ‘street people’ who come down from the mountains surrounding Cochabamba, Bolivia.
Some of these people make a temporary home by the river that flows through the city. They live in makeshift shelters, built from scrap boards, and cardboard boxes. These people are rotating groups. They care for the small mountain children by bringing them into the city to beg.
The mountain people are primarily Quechuan. They are the Native Indians of Bolivia who cling to the old way of life in the mountains. Because of the close proximity to the city, they have learned to depend on the people in the city who will shared some of their food and clothing and water. Mickey and his family and friends, the Mends are here every Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
     We have become friends of Mickey and his family and friends through our missionary leaders Wick and Cindy Jackson.
     He is a jovial fellow with a broad smile.  He greets us, “I’m so happy to see you again! Are you here to help us?” We each shake his hand and give him the customary kiss on each cheek and then the ending hand shake which is the way in Bolivia.
     I smile back and answer, “Yes, we are here to join you again and it’s so good to see you! It is reassuring to know you have been able to continue here in this place.”
He replies, “By the grace of God,. Yes, we are still here! It”s almost time. As soon as the hot water arrives, we will begin.”
     There are several new members of our team, and they stand around observing all that is going on. The tent has been assembled and we are told we will wash the babies inside the tent, so the children will stay warm from the outside cool air since the sun has gone down behind the police station.
     Kitty has already taken her position (same as last year). She is busy making sandwiches with several of Mickey’s friends. Starr stands by with the towels that we have brought. He begins helping Frances and Ronnie, Linda and Diane. They are busy washing the hair of women who are anxious to use the cold water coming out of the spigot next to the curb.
Bill and Dave hold several sets of fingernail clippers and they begin mingling in the crowd that is beginning to form a line to wait for the “baby bathing”.
I move inside the large white tent with Lizzy, Wick and Cindy Jackson’s youngest daughter. I turned to her to offer, “Now, Lizzy, it would really help me if you would pour the shampoo into my hand as I bathe the baby.” She said, “I can do that!” She held the tub as I poured the hot water into our tub that already was half filled with cold water. We began our job with another friend, named Christie. She had her own tub and washing supplies. Ronnie was also busy already.
Our friends were at the other end of the tent giving out towels and clean clothes to dress the babies once they were dried and powdered. Lizzy quickly changed jobs and became the “powder girl”. She also doubled later with the job of hair combing. It was amazing to see this 8 year old girl work with such boldness and self-assurance. We all worked steadily at our designated jobs. After about 45 minutes, I stood up and took a deep breath and realized that I was sweating and exhausted! I turned around and exited out the opening in the tent.
The cool air brought me immediately to my senses. I hadn’t realized that I was deprived of oxygen. Someone mentioned that my face was the color of roses. Since I had practically been standing on my head, bending over the whole time I was bathing the babies, I was not surprised to hear this news.
      I notice that those serving with hair washing, feeding of sandwiches and milk, and putting on of lotion and nail clipping was still going strong outside the tent. The line beside the tent was becoming quite a bit shorter.It has begun with about 30 people, but was a static line since more arrived as others entered the tent.
     The young woman that I had seen first when I arrived, was halfway down the line of those still waiting with their babies. I thought, “What is she doing so far down the line? She was here first.” Before I left the tent, I had overheard someone say, “We are out of hot water. It is time to wrap it up.” A panic thought occurred to me, “What if she doesn’t get to have her baby washed?”
I walked over to her and looked at the dirty clothing on her tiny baby. I motioned for her to come with me. I was determined to see that she got her baby washed. The others in the line became uneasy when they saw her get ahead of them. At the opening of the tent, I was met head on by a worker who was in charge of the people in the line. She said, “Everyone has to wait their turn!” With boldness I didn’t know I had in me, I said, “She was here first! I saw her here when I first got here and she is going to get her baby washed!” The line-captain looked at me and gave one blink of her eyes and said, “Well, o.k. then, go ahead.” She then turned to those standing in line and told them in Spanish that this woman had been here first.
     We entered the tent together and I took the clothes off of her child and then Ronnie took the baby and began to wash her. We noticed she had what looked like dark bruises well below her waist to inside her buttocks. Frances, who is a nurse, became concerned and got an interpreter to come and ask the woman, “What has happened to her back?” The woman explained, “She had a fall.” It didn’t appear serious so we cautioned her to be careful with her baby and try to protect her. She said, “I will.” Later, we found out that it is a characteristic of most Quechuan babies to have this mark on their backs. It is a birth mark that signifies that they are of the Quechuan race.
     It occurred to me that this woman was lighter in color than most of the women that were in line. She also was not dressed in the traditional full gathered skirt. Perhaps this is why she had waited until the end to get in line. She was the last person to be served this day. There was no more water to bathe any more babies.
     When it came time to dress her baby, the group choosing the clothing could not find any clothes small enough for this baby. My eyes dropped down to beside the huge box they were looking in. On the concrete next to the box, lay the clothes that I had brought from my own attic at home. I said, “If you look beside the box in that bag, I think you will find something just the right size. They reached down and grasped one of the outfits that my grandchild Hadley had once worn. It fit the baby perfectly. She looked so beautiful.
     Later, when I was about to go away with the rest of the team, Frances said, “Isn’t that the woman and her baby that you brought into the tent at the end?” I said, “Yes.”
     She was sitting by herself with her baby on a bench under a huge tree. I walked over to her and reached out to caress her baby. Our eyes met and she thanked me with her smile. I was acutely aware that this was what I had come to see, when I had been called by God to “Come”. As I parted from her I said, “Dios, te Bendigo”. God, go with you.
     I wonder why she had been the last one to be seen? I wonder if she felt unworthy to be in line and decided to hang back and wait until near the end? I wonder if she felt worthy after being singled out and served?
   I continue walking to our van thinking about the Parable Jesus had told about the worker in the vineyard who had come last and was paid the same amount that the workers who had come first. As the van pulls away from the curb and I look one last time at the scene in the square, I wish I had asked the baby’s name. Then I realized I know her name and whispered it, “Grace”.


Sentimental Journey 2012

Sentimental Journey Part I  2012  by Christine C. Lawson 

Every journey begins with a vision and an expectation.  This one involved looking for the house where my father had been born.  He was born in North Cove, N.C. in 1915 to Joseph and Elizabeth Connelly.  He was the baby of the family.  

  Our father, Charles Bert Connelly never took us back to see his ‘old home place’.  He is gone now. He died January 19, 2005 and the stories he told were all of his mother Lizzy, since his father, Joseph died when he was a young boy of 15  years of age.  His family moved away from the big white house when he was about 2 years old.  He and his father, mother, and three brothers and two sisters moved to Swannanoa, NC.  Literally it was straight up the mountain on highway 70,  to a small town outside Asheville, NC.  They lived in this large house until my grandfather died of lead poisoning from moonshine in 1930. Dixon the oldest would have been 26, Sidney 23, and Lester 21.  Maurice, 29 was married to Robert Ray Harrison by this time.

      Our father never spoke of his father and it was not until a few years before he died that he shared the information about his untimely death.  The family was devasted by his death. The story I am writing would have been so different if he had not been an alcoholic.  For future generations his legacy will be a reminder of what could have been.


     After moving to Swannanoa the family owned and operated a grist mill on their farm.  When the Great Depression hit in 1929….times were very tough and Joseph’s drinking increased and this was the beginning of even harder times for the whole family when he died.

Marjorie and Charles and Lizzy took a small apartment in Asheville after the sale of the Grist Mill and family land.  After Marjorie married Hugh Greene and Charles married Hazel Sockwell, Lizzy went to live in a garage apartment in back of Uncle Dick and Aunt Angeline’s home.  Lester and Pearl lived a few doors away on an adjacent street in Grovemont.

        My dad’s only story told of my uncles was of them taking him on a train ride down the mountain to Old Fort where they found a girlie show and made my dad sit outside and drink a coke while they had a good time.  This of course was before they had wives. I suppose both sisters were busy working at that time and so the ‘watch’ of my dad fell to the three brothers.  The other story he told was of his mother, Lizzy taking a train trip down the mountain.  She was swapping stories with another woman and Lizzy told of a baby that was born into the family that was so small they could have bottled her up in a quart jar.  Wide eyed the woman anxiously asked, “Did she live?”   My grandmother answered, “Yes, they say, and did well!”I would beg our dad to tell me this story over and over.  I loved for him to imitate my grandmothers voice when he got to the end of the story.


                                                      Pearl and Lester Connelly’s home in Grovemont development in Swannanoa, NC.

     Our family spent every Christmas in Swananoa with Pearl and Lester when we were growing up.  We have so many wonderful memories of their house and how Pearl would make every effort to make it special for my sister, Linda and my brother Chuck and me.  She had a special name for Linda.  She called her ‘Miss Kern’.  We never knew why she called her that but it always made Linda feel special.  Pearl would also bake a special Lord Baltimore Cake. It had multiple layers with icing in between and took rosewater as part of the icing recipe.  She made a huge production of it and I always wanted so much to like it…..but I never did.  Each year I would taste it hoping it would become good(like I wanted the ending of Gone With The Wind to be different)……but it never changed.

                                                                                                              Lord Baltimore Cake

Pearl and Lester had a huge stone two story house with a beautiful stone fireplace and across from the fireplace against the wall to the dining room was a wooden settee with a plush red velvet cushion.  It perched atop a huge vent where heat came pouring out into the room.  It was such a cozy seat!  Since our house was a tiny five room mill house, Pearl and Lester’s house seemed like a palace to us.

Uncle Lester would have to get up at 5 every morning and go down to ‘stoke’ the old furnace in the basement with coal so it would warm the house in time for us to  arise. The hot water would run through the radiator pipes and start banging. It was a happy noise!

                                                                                                                 Radiator Heat

                                                                                                                         Old Victrola

They also owned a beautiful wooden Victrola Record Player.  It sat just inside the large dining room.  What a joy to have the house filled with music!  The table on Christmas day would be set with fine china and crystal, candlesticks lit and decorations of fresh pine.  Of course the children didn’t get to sit in the dining room. We were placed a few feet away (separated by a swinging door) in the breakfast area of the kitchen.  We felt we were treated special to not have to sit with all the finery!  It was fun to have our own place.

My cousins Jane and Joe, Lester and Pearl’s children were almost grown when we came along for our Christmas get-togethers.  Of course now I know that the reason we would go there every year was because Nannie (Lizzy Connelly) our grandmother was still alive and my dad only got a couple of weeks vacation each year so we would go to spend time with her.  She lived until a little over a year after my firstborn, Karyn came along in 1964.  The family never went up for Christmas’ after she died.

When Karyn was six months old I took her to meet her Great Grandmother. By this time she was living in a nursing home because she had experienced a mini-stroke. She looked so tiny sitting in her bed. She only had enough energy to hold Karyn for a few minutes.  But she thought she was beautiful and loved her immediately. It was very sweet to be able to share my daughter with her.  It was the last time I saw her.  She still had her sweet spirit and I loved her very much. I was very blessed to have had her in my life.  

                                                                            Lizzy’s apartment behind Dick and Angeline’s home

Lizzy Connelly lived in the little garage apartment behind Dick and Angeline’s house until they bought property and built a home in the Warren Wilson College area. This would have been around 1960. She died in 1965 and was buried in the Piney Grove Cemetery in Swannanoa, North Carolina.

While on vacation in the mountains this summer we met and shared stories of our parents with my cousin Dick Greene (his mother Margie is my dad’s sister, born 1912 and died 2003).  He told me he and his wife Connie had taken Margie to North Cove before she died.  They found the old home place and it was in the process of being restored.  They gave me the directions:  Go to North Cove until you go over the bridge and look up to the right and it is up on a hill.  Sounded simple enough……

We went across the bridge and looked right… house…..then left… house.  So we turned around and went back to a a small restaurant/flea market store and asked the proprietor if she knew where the house might be.  She pondered a moment and said, “Well, Freddie Brown would probably know. But, I will send you to Mrs. Hollifield, she lives nearby and just say I sent you. Go to the next road and turn right and she lives in a log house on the hill.  You will know when you get there because there will be animals in the yard.”

I expected to see small ceramic animals in the yard, but to our surprise there were emus, and ducks and donkeys in the yard.  The donkey brayed like a watch dog over and over as we came up the driveway.  Starr got out and went up the path through an archway covered with vines.  He crossed the deck and knocked on the storm door.

A lady with thick grey hair answered the door and by this time I had gotten out of the car and joined him.  Four or five dogs rushed out and greeted us after barking as Mrs. Hollifield opened her door. I stepped in front of Starr and extended my hand.

“I am Chris Lawson, and Shannon from the restaurant sent us to meet you.  I am looking for my father’s old home place. She thought you might be able to direct us to it.”

I told her my maiden name was Connelly and I was trying to find the house Elizabeth and Joseph Connelly had lived in around 1900.  I shared the directions my cousin had given me.  She told us her history of coming back to the area from Florida to care for her aging parents.  They had lived in the house she was living in and she had added on to it and turned it into a place that she now shared with animals that she rescued.  She pointed to all the animals and said, “These are all rescued animals.”

After sharing her story she said she was sorry she didn’t know where the house would be because she had moved away from the area after marrying and since her parents were no longer alive she thought it would be best if she sent us to Mrs. Huggins down the road. “She is the oldest person in the community and if anyone will know, she will.”

We thanked her and repeated over and over the directions to her house as we returned to the car. “Go down the road a ways and after you go over a small bridge after the turn in the road, her house is on the right.”   Sounded simple.        

On the way, we came upon a lovely old church up on the hill at the curve in the road.  It had a nice paved driveway and a large graveyard on the sloping hill to the left.  There was a narrow paved driveway on the far side of the hill and I headed for the shade of the trees that banked it.  After getting out of the car, we started looking for headstones that had the name Connelly on them.  It didn’t take us long, for in the forefront middle were the headstones of Sidney, Martha Mary, and Minnie Connelly. I took some photos and we moved on.

  Piney Grove Cemetery 2 Collage

            So we traveled on to Mrs. Huggins house and she greeted us warmly and said, “I think I remember Elizabeth Connelly.  Her grave may be in the cemetery.”  I knew this was not true, since I knew Lizzy was buried in the cemetery in Swananoa at Piney Grove Presbyterian Church.  She really wanted to remember and said she thought she remembered the Connellys and sent us down the road and told us to go to the Baxter Mill and go over the bridge and the house should be nearby.  I didn’t have much hope, but she was so sweet and I connected immediately to her because she reminded me of my Aunt Margie.  I could imagine them being playmates as children.  Mrs. Huggins was a small woman with a zest for life.  She only had a few teeth left, but her brown hair was nicely trimmed and she had on a pretty blue dress.  Her eyes sparkled as she envisioned in her mind what Lizzy Connelly would have looked like.  At the end of our conversation a neighbor drove up to take her to a volunteer opportunity.  She would be serving meals.  So we bid goodbye to her and set off down the road toward the Baxter Plant.

    It was a pretty drive.  The road we traveled was the old Linville Rd.  It had only two lanes and we were the only car on the road.  The sun was shining brightly and it was high in the sky.  The day was warming up.  I looked at the clock in the car and was astonished to see it was well after noon.  For the first time I realized I was hungry.  I had packed a nice picnic for us since I determined we would be out in the middle of nowhere in North Cove.  We didn’t find the house along the way, but we did see the Baxter Plant.  It was a pharmaceutical plant.   The plant was in full swing with many cars in the parking lot.

   We decided to eat lunch and stopped at a big white house where a man was busy mowing the yard.  We asked if there was a picnic area anywhere nearby.  He directed us to the only place.

Mrs. Anderson’s husband had built a memorial ball park in the area near the plant.  It was a nice fenced area and there were several picnic tables in the shade of large oak trees.  It was a beautifully maintained park and even had a small concession stand.  I could imagine many ball games on cool nights in the summer.  It was miles away from a town and schools.  But I think for North Cove it would have been a destination for families to gather and enjoy catching up on news from neighbors.

       I had promised Starr that if we hadn’t found the house by three o’clock we would leave and return up the mountain to Black Mountain and Swananoa and finally to Fairview and Gerton. After lunch it was getting near two o’clock.  As I drove back toward the houses that began our adventure, it was looking really doubtful we would find the house, but we were encouraged by the fact that we had met so many nice people.  If we didn’t find the house, we were satisfied to have just enjoyed being in the lovely area and I kept remembering Mrs. Huggins and Mrs. Hollifield.. We drove by Mrs. Huggins house and then by the church again and waved to the ducks in the pond at Mrs. Hollifields’.

   After entering highway 221 going away from Linville Gorge and the falls, we kept looking for a bridge and a house and truthfully we saw many old restored houses along the way.  They were set so far back off the road, that there was no hope they were the right house.  Starr had already given up, but the car screeched to a near stop as I swerved into the driveway of a beautiful old home.  Starr said, “No, Chris, let’s just go home.” But I was determined to give it one more try.

     Starr surrendered and I bounded up the steps and knocked on the dark wood front door.  It took a few minutes but Mrs. Brown answered the door and invited us in out of the heat.  We had happened upon the house of Freddie Brown!! This was the first person mentioned by Shannon at the restaurant.  She had said, “If anyone will know, it will be Freddie Brown.”

  We shared our story with Mrs. Brown and she shook her head and invited us into their living room.  Freddie was in the recliner and his son and grandson were on the sofa.  They introduced themselves and we shook hands.  Mrs. Brown told Freddie what we were looking for.  The younger men left the room and we took their seats and then began a long visit with Freddie.

                                                             View from Freddie Brown’s house looking back toward the old homeplace

Freddie was a retired state employee.  He was in his 70’s but looked more like 60.  He had such a friendly manner and shared stories about his years working as an inspector for the State Transportation Department.  We told him where we were staying in Gerton and when we mentioned Bat Cave, he went off on a memory of traveling all the counties and he told us about a road near Gerton.  He said, “there was a road up there that was only three tenths of a mile long …..gravel and very hard to navigate.  I called my boss and described where the road was and said, ‘We need you to get this road paved!’ .  Freddie was so adamant he asked,’Freddie, why do we need to pave that particular road?’   He said, “Because we don’t ever want to go on that road again unless it is paved!”

        We could tell he fully understood what getting up to our cabin was like each day! I looked like a drunk person driving, shifting from one side of the gravel to the other, to try and not scrape the bottom of our Toyota Camry. I could only imagine what the road would have been like for Freddie in a four wheel drive truck, that he would never want to travel it again unpaved!

     He was convinced he was going to be able to send us to the right house this time.  What he and we didn’t know was that he was sending us to the old home place of the Conleys.  Who knows if they were distant relatives that just got tired of adding an L and N to the spelling! I didn’t know there were Conleys also in the area.

    I shared with him the story that Dick had told me about the Connelly Springs, N. C  relatives.  He said he had heard about the hot springs and I told him we had heard that one of our relatives had discovered it and that a hotel had been built and people would travel by train from Asheville to go to the springs.  He knew that the hotel had been turned into a furniture store.  I had just seen the furniture store a week before when I had traveled to Connelly Springs for the first time and found nothing but a train track and a furniture store!  We were piecing things together.

At the visitors center in Morganton, the nice lady told me the hot springs were not there anymore but the ovens were still located in Valdese.

    I also shared about my great grandfather being a stone mason and building the ovens for the  Valdesians Bakery of Valdese, N.C . For years when we would come through Valdese at Christmas time, I would smell the bread baking in those ovens! At that age I would not have been impressed to hear of my grandfather’s talents, but now I understand why I am such a rock collector, and only river rocks will do! He undoubtedly is in the river with me in spirit, helping me choose just the right rocks, flat and smooth.    Freddie was suprised to hear all of this and I am sure he will follow up and share the information with any Connellys left in the North Cove area.  We said a fond farewell to Freddie and his sweet wife who brought out laminated pages of photos and history of their home and all the renovations they had made.  They had probably put close to $50,000 into the sturdy old home.  The floors had all been refinished and it was a really nice home for them

to pass on to their grandson after they grew old.

   We traveled down the road he gave us directions to and the view was spectacular of the mountain range of the Appalachians.  The renovated house on that road looked more like a home in the Little Switzerland area.  I knew it was not our old home place.  By this time, we had run out of time, but more importantly we had run out of energy.  We stopped at the cemetery of the Conleys and took a photo.


     When I took the photos of the cemetery where the headstones of Sidney, Martha and Minnie were, I did not know for sure that it was anyone related to me.  My only clue was that I had an uncle Sid.  When I returned home I looked on the Family Tree Linda had cross-stitched as a gift to me.  Joseph Connelly’s mother’s name was Martha Brown Connelly and his father was Sidney Connelly.  Minnie was probably a spinster daughter who had seen them through their aging years.  The part that amazed me the most was that there is a good chance I am indeed related to Freddie Brown!  Shannon had said, “There are still Browns all over these mountains.”

The Connellys had moved on to higher ground, but it was certain that when I was in that cemetery, Martha and Sidney, my great grandparents would have been looking down over my shoulder and saying, “Look there!  She found our markers!”

Posted 20th August 2012 by Chris Lawson


                                                                                    Sentimental Journey Part II 2013

                                                                                            by Christine Lawson

        My grandparents Joseph and Elizabeth Connelly once had a farm in North Cove.  It’s rightful name is Conasoga, ‘valley of the beautiful rocks’, so named by  the American Indians long before the pioneers and mountaineers arrived.

     I had gone in search of their homestead in the summer of 2012 and knocked on many doors and asked, “Do you know where the homeplace of Joseph and Elizabeth Connelly is located?  I have heard the house has been restored by new owners.”  We had been sent down many ‘rabbit trails’ with the assurance that “Yes, it is just down the road and near the old factory.”  We found out many houses later we were being sent to the wrong family’s home.  It was the  Conely homeplace we were directed to.  I knew when I saw the house it was not my father and aunt’s and uncle’s birthplace.  It was painted a bright blue and looked like something that we would see in Switzerland.  The family cemetery we were directed to confirmed that we had been sent to the wrong place. Each grave marker had the inscription Conley. It had not occurred to me that there would be other people in the area with the same sounding name.

    Now it was a year later and Richard “Dick” Greene, my cousin was taking us to see the house he had discovered was the birthplace of both our parents, Marjorie and Charles Connelly.

     Words cannot describe my excitement in finally getting to see the house. This trip, as we entered the area Dick said, “It is only a little farther.”

   I was recounting our journey last year and telling him about the old stone church and graveyard we had found. “ We found the gravemarkers for Sidney and Martha Brown Connelly last year. They are our grandfather Joseph’s parents.


                                                                      Old Homeplace in North Cove North Carolina

 I discovered when returning home that their names were on a cross-stitch Linda had done of our family ancestry. This experience was the beginning of my one year search for all of our ancestors that led me all the way to Switzerland!

       At almost the exact time pointing out the window to the right, I exclaimed, “There is the church!” Dick said, “There is the house!”

       As he passed the road that led to the church and traveled about 500 feet, the house came into view.  I started to laugh.  This was just too hilarious.  I had come so close!  The pine trees at the edge of the front yard of the house obscured the view of the house from the


                                                   View from the graveyard….The house is located below the deepest dip in the mountain

      We turned right  onto the long gravel curved driveway and approached the beautiful house.  A woman came out on the front porch and Dick told her about meeting her once years ago.  She finally recalled their conversation. A few minutes later her husband came onto the porch and introduced himself, “Hello, I am Dewey Phillips.”   Doris Phillips told her husband that our parents had both been born in their house.

      To say these were hospitable people would be an understatement.  They invited us into the kitchen and then led us into the spacious living room, foyer area at the front of the house.

      We had determined standing on the porch that the house was built in the early 1900’s and the original property belonged to Sidney and Martha.  Joseph, their son had built the house and Sidney died while it was being constructed. The original owner of the land was John Seawell Brown.  The property was probably land given to Martha as a dowry.  It was a huge amount of land.  It covered about one quarter of the area of the whole valley and even included a mountain to the right of the house looking out across the landscape all the way to just beyond the church and to the railroad tracks.

                                           Upstairs porch view looking to the right.  The original property included this mountain also.

     We discovered later when we visited the graveyard again, Sidney Connelly had died in 1905.  It was believed the house was completed in 1906.  Martha his wife lived another 18 years.  She died in 1924.

       I knew from my ancestry search that Joseph and Lizzy had married in December of 1900.  I had seen the records of their marriage certificate. In November 1901, their first daughter was born, Ada Maurice.  September 26, 1904 Dixon Mortimore was born and Bernard Sidney was born in 1907, a year after Sidney his grandfather had died.

There were many good years spent in the house. On Oct. 3, 1909 Joseph Lester was born, followed 3 years later by Martha Marjorie (Dick Greene’s mother)on December 13, 1912. September 13, 1915 Charles Bert Connelly our father) was born.


                                                                                Linville Mountain Range in the distance

The valley was a fertile place to grow crops and raise cattle and other farm animals.  The Connelly family probably enjoyed a busy, wonderful life. Sidney and Joseph were both experienced cattlemen.  Sidney Connelly had land adjacent to Lizzy’s father John Mortimore Morehead Sides in Ingalls N.C.  It was told to Dick that Lizzy met Joseph while he was on a cattle drive. It was the custom in that day for many farmers to have their cattle driven to a common market where they would be sold. We are led to believe from this story that Lizzy and Joseph met in Ingalls the short 3 years her family lived there before moving back to Connelly Springs, NC to live.

 Little did they know at the end of 1915 when Joseph and Lizzy celebrated their 15th anniversary in December that their lives were about to change forever.

     In the summer of 1916, Conasoga,now known as North Cove was about to be changed for all time.  Here is an account of what happened on July 16, 17, and 18th of that year. Bill Smith told this account.

    It happened suddenly. The wind blew; the clouds divided and poured torrents ; earth and boulders that had been resting on the mountain sides for hundreds of years went tearing down, carrying death and destruction in their wake; branches. creeks and rivers became roaring torrents sweeping down the valleys taking everything before them. It was all over in three days but in that time a damage of millions of dollars had been done to farms, railroads and industrial plants and a hundred and more men, women and children had been sent to eternity, some of them swept away and never being heard from. Railroads and factories were rebuilt but many of the farms, ruined and washed, will remain as marks of the great flood for time to come.


Early in the week of July 10th, the Government Weather Bureau at Washington, issued warnings stating a tropical storm was forming along the South Atlantic coast. It was expected that Charleston, S. C., would be the center of the catastrophe. It did strike Charleston but only small damage was done to that city and section. Instead of keeping to the coast the storm turned inland and Piedmont and Western North Carolina was in its direct path.

                                                                         View of the Asheville Train Station District

  It is believed that all the livestock was lost in this storm. The road that was in front of the house was no longer there and even the lazy creek on the property changed it’s path. The side of the mountain came down into the valley. The railroad was washed out completely and had to be redirected.  It is said that the Connelly family lost no family members, but the love of farming went out of our relative, Joseph Connelly and he moved his family away from this valley in 1917 to a more promising area called Swannanoa, North Carolina. He must have believed that making a move all the way up the mountains to a higher elevation would promise a better life for the family.

     So Joseph built another house for the family and also built a Grist Mill and had a new means of income.  By the time the boys, Dick and Lester had grown, in 1926 Beacon Blankets had moved their manufacturing plant to Swannanoa and they both found eventual lifetime careers there.

    As we drove away from the North Cove area that day, Dick took me to see the property where the family settled in Swannanoa. We were both struck by the fact that Joseph had property adjacent to the Swannanoa River where the Great Flood of 1916 had caused devastation when the Swannanoa and The French Broad Rivers came together and wiped out the busy railroad district of Asheville.

Why would Joseph build his home so close to the river?  He had over a hundred acres and a healthy creek on the property to have his Grist Mill.

    Today the house no longer exists.  In it’s place is a large factory and beautiful park donated to the area by the owner of the plant.  There are bike and running trails that enjoy the proximity of the river. After the abundant summer rains the area this year everything  is very lush and inviting. The day we visited, it was a very active place!  I looked out over the factory building and noticed the beautiful mountains in the distance.  It was easy to see how this area would suffice in place of the picturesque Linville Mountain Range of North Cove.  It probably felt a lot like home to them, much as it had to their pioneer ancestors.  It was a good decision to move the family.  It changed the course of the family from farmers to factory workers to blue collar jobs.

    I couldn’t help feeling that something was lost though, when something is gained.  All of Joseph and Lizzy’s children went on to do well for themselves.  They owned homes and had good jobs and raised their children in healthy environments.  Their children’s children did much the same.  But no one had the abundance of land Lizzy and Joseph had enjoyed.  As our country and families have grown, the land comes now at a premium price.

Dewey and Doris Phillips are the beneficiaries of the good land.  Dewey inherited it from his father who purchased it in the mid fifties when Dewey was just a young boy.  Dewey is retired now and he says, “I spend my time taking care of my cows to pass my days.”  Doris has recently retired as a nurse and she shared, “I planned to get this house in order and get rid of a lot of stuff that you see crowding the hallway and rooms upstairs, but I nursed my mother until she died last year and now Dewey’s sister has moved in with us because of bad health……so who knows when I will get it done.”

     She also shared, “Our 3 children and their children come home every Christmas and the wood strip you see tied across the mantel holds all the Christmas stockings.”

     Since we never know where our family will be spending Christmas with the busy lives of our children, I said, “ Can we come and have Christmas with you?”  She laughed and said, “You wouldn’t believe how noisy and crazy it is when they are all here!”

   I just smiled remembering all the Christmas’ when we did the same thing in Florence, South Carolina, when our children had very young children.  We also had a ‘big old house’ then and enjoyed having the family get-togethers. I couldn’t envy Doris and Dewey because I have been there ….done that…..and I know the energy it takes to keep that going.  She was surprised to hear we had 9 grandchildren and when we are all together it would take 17 nails on the mantel!

    As I looked from the upstairs porch across the expansive front yard, I saw all the mowing Dewey has to do.  He said his dad regretted not buying the land to the left of the house (it is now a golf course!) “Dad said he just didn’t see how he could spend the extra money to buy the land that goes up to the mountain.  But the fella who bought it sold all the timber on it the year after he purchased it and had the money to develop it.”  I don’t think Dewey envied that man at all, because he had all the land he could handle.

    They shared that Sidney and Martha donated the land where the church was built and also the cemetery land.  A few years ago the church approached Dewey and Doris and asked if they would donate the property behind the church to enable them to build a fellowship hall.  They said, “We were happy to let them have it.”

     So you see why I am pleased that such fine people bought and maintain the house?  It is in excellent condition.  They have always given attention to keeping the integrity of the original house in mind. I love the antique glass that sparkles in a special way as I looked through each windows.

      The north side of the house has to be repainted every few years and the columns show many coats of paint.  He ‘shored up’ the columns to give them a better foundation and they are amazing to look at.  Dewey’s career had been in a metal fabrication shop and his fellow workers helped him design the new base supports for the columns.

     The columns were handhewn by freed slaves with timber from the property.  Their impressive 20 ft. height gives a beautiful appearance to the front of the house.  I imagine the banisters and newels for the staircase were also done by these men.

 I commented on the rocks at the edge of the original fireplace to Doris, “I am a rock collector too.”  

                                                                                          Original Handmade Fireplace

 From that moment on we were kindred spirits.  She shared how she would bring home rocks from California where one of her daughters lived.  I said, “I do that too!”  I told how an airline security person once asked me, “What is in here….Rocks?”  When I answered “Yes,”  He gave me a strange glance and I explained, “ We don’t have any rocks in the area I live in South Carolina.  So I have to move rocks around on the earth.”

    Living in ‘the beautiful valley of the rocks” there is no doubt Doris has plenty of rocks around her…..but she understood completely my affinity for rocks. I told her of our grandfather building the stone ovens in Valdese, North Carolina and how I had figured out that his profession must have carried over into my spirit and I ‘have to get down in mountain streams’ and choose just the perfect smooth rocks to take home with me.  

                                                                                           Handmade banister and newels

       As I climbed the stairs behind Doris, I could almost hear the voices of the children of Joseph and Lizzy resounding on the landing from the upstairs spacious four bedrooms.  There was a huge hallway at the top of the stairs and in front of me were windows and a doorway that led out onto the porch that was over the entry porch downstairs.  As I walked out the door the breeze invited me to enjoy the view.  And what a beautiful expansive view it was!  I could have easily moved in and occupied just this lovely porch!  We chatted for a long while exchanging stories of our lives and then it was time to go back downstairs and join the guys.

       Before we parted Doris and I exchanged phone numbers, emails and addresses.  It is my hope that I can take my cousin Tom Greene Dick’s brother  to the house and area when we go to a wedding in the area in October.  I also hope to arrange a meeting with Freddie Brown who we met a year ago while knocking on doors in North Cove and believe he is a distant cousin from my great grandmother Martha’s side of the family.  Freddie and his wife have renovated a beautiful old home down the road from the Phillips home.  It would be so exciting to find out this home is indeed the home that my great grandmother grew up in or perhaps belonged to a brother or sister.

     While I was in the graveyard with Dick and Starr taking photos of Sidney and Martha’s gravemarkers, I felt a sudden peace come over me and mentioned it to Starr.  We had been trying to sell our home in Mt. Pleasant. S.C. for 2 months and I realized the peace I felt was as if the message was, “It is accomplished.”  Two days later we received word that not just one offer but 2 had been received as bids on the house.

       It was exciting to feel a close connection to my ancestors and how appropriate to feel it on the property that had been donated to the church by them.  It truly makes me happy and thankful to know these people from a distant past  belong to me and they loved God also.

       The area of North Cove has not changed noticeably in many years.  There are no housing developments and the golf course must attract golfers from neighboring towns Marion and Linville Falls .  I doubt many people from North Cove have enough time after mowing their large lawns and caring for their animals to pick up a golf club. The community shares it’s fire department with a nearby community.  There are no street stop lights or sidewalks.  This is still a rural farming community still.  I think that is what I loved the most about it.  When you knock on doors, people welcome you in.  There is a definite feeling of community when you drive through.  It is not something you can see, it is something you feel.  The beauty of the mountains is still intact.

“There is nothing so constant as change.” This is a statement Starr makes often. It was true of the last part of our journey up the hill to visit the church and graveside of our grandparents Joseph and Lizzy Connelly.  The name of the church had been changed from Piney Grove Presbyterian church to First Presbyterian Church of Swannanoa.  The graveyard had retained it’s name of Piney Grove Cemetery though.  I can only imagine what it took for the young people in the church to accomplish this change. I did notice a rise in the grass on some of the graves as though someone had ‘rolled over’ due to change.

How appropriate to end our journey with the contrast of a place like North Cove to Swannanoa.  We could feel the pace of life change as we drove up Highway 40.  Change is ever present in the area.  A development is being cut into the mountains viewed from the Pine Grove Cemetery.  The famous golfer Tiger Woods will have his name on a golf course planned for a huge development on the mountain.  A pipeline down to Old Fort was voted out and Dick said to a friend who helped accomplish that, “It is good you were able to get it voted down, but you know, trees would have grown back after the pipeline was in, but trees will not grow back after the mountain is developed with houses  and a golf course. “

“When something is lost something is gained”.  I am grateful I was able to find the house and connect with my grandparents and great grandparents and make new friends.  I am also thankful for the relationships that are still close with my cousins.  Family is the one thing that remains constant.  It is always growing and changing but the constant is the love we have  for each other and our God. Because of His Story our spirits are eternal.  Though my grandparents and great grandparents are dead, they were faithful in leaving a legacy of love for us to continue.

             Collage of Piney Grove Cemetery with Dick and Chris at the top

Chapter 3

Chapter 3   Perfecting the Art of Moving

       When their lives started revolving around a new baby, life took on not only a new focus but also a new lifestyle.  It is impossible to spend 24 hours a day with a baby and not ‘stay in the moment’.  Any plans for the future have to be put on the back burner.  This is always a good time for a move!

   When Brad was still an infant they moved to Summit Avenue.  A new life ….a new home #7 (8 for Chris since her first move was into Starr’s home on Cypress St. after they were married).

  This move gave them an opportunity to be closer to Chris’s relatives in the country and also her mother and dad.  The operations threw them into a new mode of need.  Karyn needed care during the week long ordeal of surgery but also it was time for her to attend Kindergarten.  So the life of choosing a place to live based on where their children would get the best education began.  

   Their apartment complex offered a safe play area for the children since it was designed in the shape of a U with the inside of the U being the playground.  That term is used loosely since it consisted of a couple of scraggly pines and a swing set.  Perfect!  Little patches of grass with expansive areas of dirt gave ample entertainment areas.  A sidewalk went around the U and a parking area laid the boundary of where the kids could go and not go.  

   This was the first time Karyn had been able to walk out her back door and play with friends her age.  Terri Scarbourough and her three children, plus Diane Murphy’s 2 and Rose Craddock’s son gave plenty of playmates.  This was also the first time Chris had time to make friends her own age.  Brad in time became the ‘tag-along’ for all the children.  He had to be in a hurry to catch up!  And he did!  

   A new time of meeting in the home of friends Pete and Sally McCoy became the happy weekend time.  There were cookouts and lawnchair parties.  Life took on a much needed lighter atmosphere.  Laughter became the best medicine for all the workweek after hours.  Starr sometimes would arrive late and have to catch up since his weekend would begin when he left Sears Roebuck after closing up the store at 9. The best part of this situation was that a babysitter was not necessary since they were in their backyard and would take turns ‘checking on the kids’ after they  were asleep.  There were no baby monitors then!

    Pete and Sally’s children came from previous marriages and so there children come sporadically to visit.  Pete also worked for Sears so he and Starr had plenty to discuss.  They became good friends of Chris and Starr.

   After Terri had her 4th child, Chris caught the ‘baby fever’ and immediately got pregnant.  When Brad was 2 ½ years old, Lauren Michelle Lawson was born.  

   Unlike Brad’s birth, there was no drama involved with Laurens’.  She arrived after 5 hours of labor and was the perfect baby.  She completed their family and brought so much happiness along with her.  Their 3 bedroom apartment was bursting at the seams with people and toys, so they found a house on the outskirts of Greensboro and moved to McKelvey Dr.

  With the addition of the third child, Chris had her hands full and there was no more partying and spending leisure time chatting with friends.  Starr was knee-deep in his new job as Installation Manager for Sears.  He had long hours and was learning the trade.  

  Their home at the end of a dead end street only lasted for 9 months and they had to move because the owner decided to move back into their home.  Yikes!  Another move!

   They quickly found a house in a nearby neighborhood and moved into their home on Olympia Drive.  Unfortunately, Sears decided it was time to kick Starr out of the nest in Greensboro and he was promoted to Customer Service Manager in the Sears Burlington store after only living on Olympia less than a year.  

    When they moved into the Colony Apartments in Burlington NC, Karyn was 9 years old, Brad 4 ½ and Lauren 2.  These were modern apartments with a clubhouse, pool, playground and endless possibilities for new friendships and lots of fun for this family of 5.      They left Greensboro behind with all their family, friends and memories and never looked back.  Starr hit the ground running in his new job and with the fellowship of planned parties at the clubhouse and crafts supervised for the kids weekly, life took on a whole new bubble.  They shopped within a 2 mile radius and the schools were within walking distance.  All they had to do was walk out the door of their apartment and they had not only plenty to do but plenty of people to do it with.  There was no worry about the children because the apartments were built surrounding a circle shaped forest. All the parking and traffic was on the outside of the circle.  For the first time, Chris could relax and not even have to worry about even her youngest daughter since by this time Brad had taken Lauren as his own and they were inseparable.  The playground was at the other end of the building next to them.  In those days, people looked out for other people’s children.  If a child was within your eye range, you cared about that child and even knew their name if you needed to correct them for doing something wrong.  

    While they were in this idyllic world, the world outside this circle was less than idyllic.  The war in Vietnam was winding down and the president of Sears had to travel to Washington DC to meet with President Nixon to discuss controlling prices of merchandise.  He was trying to control inflation.  A gas embargo was implemented.  People had to go and get gas for their cars on designated days only.  

    This family of 5 was living the American Dream.  All of their needs were being met.  Though they had no extra money for vacations and other luxuries, they had money for food and clothing and doctors.  Brad was finishing up his last phase of correcting his challenges from his birth and had begun orthodontic procedures.  Sears insurance paid for most of his needs.  Life was full and good.  These were the party days for Chris and Starr and they enjoyed life as though living from weekend to weekend.  

    Actually the party would begin on Thursday night to practice drinking and having fun…..Sundays were spent resting up from all the partying.  Pete and Sally had joined this group and would travel over from Greensboro to partake in the good times.

   This went on for two years, much as a frog being placed in a frying pan of cool water and the heat was turned up little by little until when he was cooking…..he didn’t even notice.  The first red flag should have been one couple started having marital problems.  The other should have been when Jim Money said he was singing in a small club in Madison NC and would they we like to go and pick up Sally in Greensboro along the way.  Pete was out of town on a business trip.  This put Jim and Sally in the back seat together.

    By the time Chris and Starr realized what was going on between two of their best friend couples, it was too late.  Pete and Sally separated and Jim and Libby separated.  This shook Starr and Chris to the very core of their marriage.  The saying “But for the Grace of God….go I”, became real for Chris and Starr.  Up until this time, they had not ‘needed’ God in their lives.  They were doing a pretty good job of living weren’t they? Life was good, wasn’t it?  

    Their hearts were broken for their friends.  How could something like this have happened?  

     Interestingly, a couple who only attended the parties on special occasions had asked Chris and Starr to join them at their church, which was in the neighborhood.  They had meant to go, but it was easy to just take Sunday off to rest up and Starr needed the rest.  A thousand excused, but the real reason was up until this circumstance, they hadn’t had time to invest in anything other than themselves.  Why did they need church?

       So one day while Chris sat in her living room listening to Barbra Streisand sing “People”, tears began to flow and she began to have a vision of what it would take to turn their lives around.  She remembered the invitations and when Starr came home that night she said, “I think it is time for us to go and visit that church.”  Of course she said much more because she is not a woman of few words!  But the end result was they all got up the next Sunday morning and dressed the smaller children and all 5 headed out walking to St. Paul’s Methodist Church.  

     Just as in most areas of their lives, they never looked back and began to attend church every Sunday.  They joined St. Paul’s church and became a member of the largest young couples class of their lives.  They began to party in a whole new way.  They had projects to raise money together to help the church.  

    Within a few months Starr’s grandmother blessed them by loaning them enough money to buy their first house and they moved to Delaney Drive into a beautiful home of their own.  Brad and Karyn could walk to school.  Starr coached Brad’s little league baseball team.  Chris joined the neighborhood Bridge club that met once a month.  She also joined Newcomers Club which was a bit strange since they had been in Burlington for over two years but it gave her a whole new life with new friends.  Karyn made fast friends with a neighbor and Brad and Lauren continued their games of adventure with each other.  

     Word travels among family members and Starr’s grandmother Beulah Mazzie sent them a large Family Bible and with it included two other books.  The Old Testament with Commentary and New Testament with Commentary.  These were not used extensively for a few years, but they became a part of this family’s life.  

  They had lived in Burlington for 5 years and had settled into this lifestyle.  Sears offered Starr the position of Personnel Manager in Greensboro and he accepted.

   If you are keeping count, this is 5 homes in 8 years, but wait!  They changed to a front, sunnier upstairs apartment within the first year of living in the Colony Apartments, so 6 homes plus the other 6 brings a total of 12 homes in 14 years of marriage, but who is counting?


Chapter 2

O Love That Will Not Let Me Go

O Light that follows all my way,I yield my flickering torch to Thee.

My heart restores its borrowed ray,That in Thy sunshine’s blaze it’s day

May brighter, fairer be.


Chapter 2   Street Lights, Foot Lights, and Campfires


      Starr’s mom, Marie spent most of her year in Greensboro pouring her energies into renovating the two story house they lived in.  With 4 boys to care for on her own she did the usual cleaning, cooking and shopping.  The laundry room was in the basement so she trudged up and down many stairs.  Her life was filled with workmen and boys running through the house. But at Christmas time, Dad was coming home and he had big news to share with the family.  He was going to complete his training for the 747 airplanes and he was offered a job piloting for PanAm in San Francisco, California. The family would be on the move again.

     Chris and Starr had become inseparable by December.  Starr spent many hours in the basement crafting a jewelry box to place a sterling silver bracelet in for Chris for Christmas.  

    Chris was busy working on the lead part in the play Down In The Valley at school.  Starr was working on designing the set.  They would steal meetings backstage among the huge curtains.  Life was good and extremely busy for both of them.  This was,after all, their senior year in high school.

      News that Starr’s family was going to be moving at the end of the school year definitely through a glitch in the plans Starr and Chris had.  They had been just living one day at a time and all of a sudden their time together was threatened.                      


Chris had auditioned for and won a $200. scholarship in music and had been taking voice lessons for a year from a prominent teacher. It was expected that she would pursue a career in music.  She had thought about the prospect many times and truly did not have a desire to go to college.  From the time she had been very young she thought the most important thing she wanted to do was be a wife and mother.  After meeting Starr she knew he was the man she wanted to be her husband and father of their children.  Where do thoughts like this come from!?! Looking back,again after 50 years, it is clear this thought came straight from God.  Why would any ‘footloose and fancy free’ girl or boy want such a thing at such a young age?  And now, why did there have to be such a short time-line on getting this accomplished? These circumstances were out of their hands.

       Never fear!  These two were up to the task.  Granted 50 years later we KNOW that the brain of a teenager is not fully developed to make sound decisions.  That will certainly not stop two  teenagers who are hopelessly in love.  Hopelessly because how in the world can a 17 year old girl marry an 18 year old boy?  

     This is a good time to bring up the subject of ‘the times’.  It was 1964.  A little more than a year after President Kennedy was assassinated.  The country had lived through the ‘Camelot’ years and they had ended in disaster.  Truly the whole country was in a state of needed repair.  The Vietnam War was starting and as always in war times people feel a sense of time being of the essence.  Being a senior also presents these feelings.  Everything they had held dear was about to evaporate.  Certainly everything they held dear, each other, was about to evaporate in 6 months.  

       I might also mention that A Summer Place the blockbuster movie was out.  Who knows what subliminal  thoughts creep into the minds of youth.  Never the less, the idea came to this pair that if Chris were to get pregnant, this would make it possible for her to move to California with the Lawson family.  What an outlandish idea! But that was exactly what happened on January 19th, 1964.  Impossible?  No.  A precious baby was conceived.


     On April 12th, 1964,  Chris and Starr were united in holy matrimony in Meadowside Presbyterian Church (it later became Presbyterian Church of the Cross).  

    That is getting a little ahead of the story though.  

     On the night of March 2nd, after Chris had been to the doctor to verify that she was pregnant, Starr came to the Connelly house to tell her parents that Chris was pregnant.  Well, actually he came to ask for her hand in marriage.

    This particular night Chris’ parents had invited an insurance man over to give them figures on how much a life insurance policy was.  Chris and Starr waited  nervously in the kitchen anxious to give them news that would make insurance policies look like fun reading material!

    The meeting dragged on endlessly and it is pretty sure that Starr would have liked to run out the back door!  But, the reality of a baby on the way puts a feeling of reality into the hearts of even the faint-hearted.  Not to mention that Chris was already feeling a little queasy!  This is no laughing matter, but it would have been really nice if they hadn’t had to endure the long wait.  

    When the time came and Chris and Starr sat facing her parents on the sofa, Starr began, “ Chris and I have been dating for several months now and we are in love.  I am here tonight to ask for her hand in marriage.”

   They both looked at us as though we had lost our minds.  As nicely as he could my dad said, “ Well, it is good that you two love each other but you are both too young to get married.”  

   Without missing a beat Starr took a deep breathe and added, “We know we are young but Chris is pregnant and we want to get married.”  

   There was a long pause as her parents picked themselves figuratively off the floor.  Truly, Chris doesn’t remember much after this until Starr kissed her goodnight as he left to go home.

   THEN IT  HIT HER, he left her to go home!  Now she was left alone to deal with the plans her parents might have for her.  Before Starr left, they had managed to right the situation by giving their permission for them to get married.  Her mother even agreed that she and Starr’s mother needed to get together to plan the wedding.  

     I think it fair to say that they all were in shock at this moment.  Starr and Chris just wanted a marriage and it really didn’t matter to them about a wedding.  (this is the part about the brain that is not fully developed!)

   Chris’s mother went into survival mode and began talking about what people would think and how a church wedding would not be possible.  This was probably just a defense to the imagined things people would think and say.  Never the less, before Chris went to sleep, her dad come into her room and sat on her bed and took her hand and said, “Chris, I know you did not do this to hurt us.  I want you to know that I love you very much.”

     At that moment, she knew everything was going to be all right.  No matter what would happen, her daddy would always love her and somehow find the words to say the things that really mattered. She had always been a daddy’s girl and this was his way of facing the reality that this was bigger than him.  He knew this was not about him but her and her future.   

   Chris in the lead part of Down In The Valley

      So the wedding happened with all their relatives and Mr. and Mrs. Wilbur their drama teacher and husband as witnesses to what would be a long and happy union.  No one can know these things at the time though.  Starr’s father did not get to be at the wedding.  His Uncle Paul stood in as best man.  Chris had a good friend sing The Song of Ruth which is all about ‘Your people will be my people and your God my God.’ She thought this would be her story of her life but as things turned out, this became Starr’s story too.

     Starr’s father purchased a large house in Los Altos, California with a mother-in- law cottage in the back for Starr and Chris.  Chris temporarily moved into Starr’s home on Cypress Street until they moved to California 6 weeks later.  

    After the graduation, Chris and Starr went on a trip with Chris’s parents and their friends to the mountains of NC.  Cataloochee was a fun camping trip.  This trip had been planned long before the impending wedding.  This was as close to a honeymoon this couple would have.  They got their own tent!   And because Chris was still in the ‘sleepy stage’ of pregnancy, they would head out to their tent long before the others around the campfire.  

     When they boarded the airplane that would take them to California, they were not able to sit in seats next to each other.  The man sitting next to Starr spoke a foreign language and refused to change seats.  So they held hands across the aisle.  It was not until Chris looked out the window of the airplane and saw all her family standing waving on the deck over the airport, that she realized she was leaving her family!  Tears streamed down her cheeks and Starr squeezed her hand and handed her his handkerchief.

chapter 2     No Time For Roots

   Their new home, 190 Angela Drive was a tiny one room cottage in the backyard  of  Starr’s parents house.  The huge picture window that looked out onto the rose garden was the highlight of the apartment.  It had a kitchen the size of a walk-in closet and the storage closet off the living room was converted into a ‘baby room’.  It was exactly the size of a crib with just enough room to walk beside it to lay the baby down.  They took the door off the hinges because it would have been impossible to close it anyway.  

    They only had 5 pieces of furniture.  A rocking chair, bed, end table, chest of drawers and kitchen dinette table with 2 chairs. Later, they were given a small maple bench that Starr’s mom couldn’t find a place for.  This was the bench they had sat on when Chris told Starr she was pregnant with Karyn.  Of course his mom never knew that.  

    Karyn’s arrival was exactly to the day 9 months after she was conceived.  Chris went into labor on Oct. 20,1964.  Marie thought Chris was just dreaming that she was in labor since it seemed impossible that this baby would be born so perfectly on her due date.  Never the less, her labor started while watching the TV show Man From Uncle.  Starr and Chris went to the hospital alone and spent the entire night together while she labored.  Nine hours later, after being given a ‘saddle block’ as they called it then, their baby was born.  At that time they didn’t let men into the delivery room so Starr paced impatiently as Chris was delivered of a beautiful 7 lb. baby girl.  They named her Karyn Elizabeth Lawson.  Starr got to meet his daughter after they had bathed her and put a tiny gown on her and a pink bow in her full head of dark hair.  

    There were no trumpets or excitement with the birth.  It was a perfectly normal birth and Karyn took to nursing naturally and Chris enjoyed the new adventure. They required Chris to spend 5 days in the hospital which was the custom of the times.  Fortunately her parents had cashed in an insurance policy and sent the money to Chris and Starr to use for the hospital and doctor.  There were no extraordinary  procedures used then; no drops in the baby’s eyes and no fancy machines.  The bill came to $500. which was the amount of the insurance policy.

     Everything was simpler back then.  There was no car seat for the baby.  She rode in the arms of her mother as Starr drove them home from the hospital.  

      Starr had three jobs the two years they were in California.  He worked for almost a month walking the streets of neighborhoods trying to get people to let him in to tell them about the Encyclopedias he was selling.  He actually got into a few homes but never was able to close a sale.  Since he was on commission he never earned a penny and he wore a hole in his wedding shoes!

           Poor Starr was pretty discouraged but then he got a job working part time in a Chevron Service Station.  This allowed him to have enough flexibility to go to classes at Foothill College early in the day and work afternoons and evenings and weekends. Since the evenings were pretty slow he was able to do some of his homework while there.

       There was really no need for another chair in their home because he was only there to sleep!  The first months of school were pretty rough because Karyn cried a lot at night and it was not until Chris finally started to feed her a bottle that she was satisfied and didn’t keep them awake all night.  Unfortunately most women at that time did not nurse their babies and Chris did not have a support group to help her.  Karyn’s pediatrician started her on baby food at the end of two months and this in essence set the stage for Chris’s milk diminishing and she had no choice but to start bottle feeding Karyn.  It was a big disappointment to her because she had learned from reading every book in the library at the end of their street that nursing was the better way to help a baby be healthy.  

     Starr’s last job, the year before they left California was driving a school bus for children with disabilities.  He loved the job and found it much more adaptable to being a student, husband and father.  It freed him up for some fun times on the weekends. By this time they had moved into a small two bedroom apartment in Mountain View.  Chris took in a 2 year old playmate for Karyn and earned some money to help them make ends meet.

        The couple went to Disneyland when Karyn was 9 months old.  They left her in the care of Marie and Robin and George Wayne.  Moir was away flying around the world flights with PanAm and Gary was now in college  at San Jose State College.  

        This was the first holiday Chris and Starr had since the infamous camping trip after their wedding.  They stayed in Glendale, California with his Aunt Lucy and Uncle Jean Pierre Bovet.  They lived close to Disneyland, had a pool and it was a wonderful time with them.  Chris got to know them and their daughter Ann Marie.  Aunt Lucy was a true Southerner and showed them every hospitality.  Jean Pierre was his debonair Swiss self and served them wine and shared jokes.  It was just what the couple needed!  They returned home refreshed and found that Karyn was well taken care of, although she was really happy to see her mommy and daddy.  

        Their other fun outing was to go to the drive-in movies.  They would throw Karyn’s crib mattress in the backseat of the Volkswagen and off they would go!  One time when a car cut in front of them unexpectedly Starr braked too suddenly and the car came to a screeching halt.  They looked in the back seat to see if Karyn was all right and there was no Karyn!  Then she peeped her head up from the cargo area at the back of the car as she pulled up holding to the seats……her eyes were as big as saucers!  That was the end of her joy rides in the back seat!  She was unharmed thankfully due to the many guardian angels children used to have before carseats!  

There were many reasons for making the decision to  move back to North Carolina.  The ‘real reason’ though was because during the whole two years they had lived in Los Altos, Marie was losing touch with reality.   It would have been wonderful if Chris and Starr could have been at a different time in their lives and perhaps they could have been more help to the family but the truth was they were so very young and just starting out with their lives.  In 1966 they did not know very much about depression and mental illness.  They would place Marie in a hospital for a few weeks and try to help her, but ultimately it was a cycle that continued.  

     With Moir away for at least two weeks of every month this caused a huge gap in attention for Robin and George Wayne.  Gary was pretty much ‘out on his own’ by this time since he was living on campus at San Jose State College.  While Chris was still pregnant she would sit for hours while Marie would talk to her about stories of her life.  It all sounded true until Chris would get back to her small apartment and then she would realize that the stories were a fabrication of Marie’s imagination.  It is a very difficult thing to live with someone who is not living in the real world.  This became the norm more than not for Marie.  She was getting farther and farther into a dream world. Plus, she was drinking more when Moir was away.

     By the time the decision was made to make the move, Moir agreed that it was best for them to move.  It probably was a relief in a way, he would not be responsible for this little family anymore.  He had his hands full with a wife who wasn’t well and to finish raising George Wayne and Robin. He had given Starr and Chris a good start in life by helping them financially. It turned out to be a good investment. He loved Karyn and enjoyed being a grandfather. He and Chris had come to love each other too.  It had been quite an adventure.  Chris and George Wayne and Gary and Robin established firm relationships that would last a lifetime.  It had been a good experience.

    So in May of 1966 Chris flew back to NC with Karyn and awaited the arrival of Starr when he would graduate from Foothill College in June.  It was a long 6 weeks and they wrote to each other several times a week.  Starr sold their Volkswagen and shipped Karyn’s Crib and the bench and several boxes on a Greyhound bus.  They used the money from the sale of the car to buy a bed, dresser and Chris’s dad helped them get a good used car from North State Chevrolet.  

   They moved in with Hazel and Bus and Chuck.  There were 3 bedrooms in their new home on Wayside Dr.  Chuck shared his room with Karyn.  Linda had graduated from college and was working in McLeansville as a teacher and living in a trailer behind their grandparents home.

    After establishing a 6 month residency in North Carolina, Starr applied for a scholarship at UNC-G (two years prior it was Women’s College).  He got the Spencer Love Theater Scholarship.  It paid for all his school expenses and he got a part- time job working with the theater technician building sets.  

    The months after they arrived in Greensboro, Starr was hired by Sears Roebuck and Co and worked there until he went back to school.  Chris took a job working full time in the audit department after Starr quit Sears.  It was a good omen that a high school friend, Janie Morrison worked for the personnel director and she put in good references for Starr and then for Chris.

       Chris would take Karyn who was 3 years old then,  to Hester’s Nursery School every morning and pick her up at lunch time and bring her home to be with her dad all afternoon as he worked his part time job.  He would buy Karyn 2 packs of crackers and a coke and she would sit and watch him work.  She learned the theater and never gave her daddy any trouble.  She was a quick study.  

     They moved again ……this is 4 moves in a little over 2 years. Talk about adjusting to changes, but this is not such an unusual thing for young adults.  The move to the outskirts of the campus of UNC-G was into a two story house on Springdale Ct.  They occupied the upstairs and a widow lived downstairs.  There was one bedroom and Karyn slept on the pullout sofa in the livingroom.  Their bedroom was just large enough for a bed and dresser with 12 inches leeway to walk.  The landing had a drop leaf table Aunt Sue and Uncle Bill had given them.  The biggest room in the apartment was the bathroom and it had a clawfoot tub.  The kitchen was the size of a large closet with a tiny stove and refrigerator and the table was a built in that only accommodated 3 people…..which was perfect! Starr prepared most of their meals since Chris worked full time and chauffeured Karyn to school.

     A year later they moved again!  This time to the other side of the campus into what seemed like a luxury apartment.  It had 2 large bedrooms a nice size living room with a small fireplace and a tiny dining room and kitchen at the back of the upstairs apartment.  There was a nice clothes line in the spacious back yard and Chris and Starr purchased their first washing machine.  It barely fit into the kitchen next to the sink which was convenient because the drain hose would empty into the sink after each wash. Unfortunately…..if the water went down the drain too fast, it would back up in the sink of Mrs. Parker who lived downstairs under them!  She was pretty patient with Chris though because they had become friends. Mrs. Parker was a widow and shared her apartment with her daughter.  Her favorite thing to do was to put little notes under the windshield wipers of the cars of students who would park in the side yard of their apartment complex.

    Karyn made friends with all the students that would walk by on the sidewalk. Though Chris was their age…..none of the students knew her name.  But everyone knew Karyn.  She would talk their ears off until they ran out of sidewalk two houses away and she would have to return home. This sidewalk led to the famous Yum Yum Ice Cream Parlor so it was a very busy street.

    So after going to college for the first 5 years of their marriage, Starr had to give up his dream of graduating from college. It would have only taken him one more year to complete his studies.  Chris became pregnant and Starr went back to work at Sears and Chris quit because they had a policy at Sears back then that women could only work until they were 5 months pregnant and a husband and wife couldn’t work together at Sears.  

    At the time, it seemed like the most natural thing in the world to happen.  Karyn was almost 5 and the shine had worn off Starr’s dream of being a stage director. Unlike his mother, Starr had a full grip on reality since he had learned the art of being a husband, father, and worker of many jobs. He was 23 and Chris was 22 years old. The idea of bringing a new life into the world was bigger than any dream or job.  Sears saw potential in Starr and promoted him as he worked his way up the corporate ladder.  


His Story Begins

O Love That Will Not Let Me GoImage

                                                                              By Christine Lawson

    There is a hymn that states, “O love that wilt not let me go.  I rest my weary soul in Thee; I give Thee back the life I owe, that in Thine ocean depths its flow may richer fuller be.” by George Matheson, Albert Peace (1882, 1884)

   Chapter 1  His Story-The Plan


     I remember the moment and exactly where I was.  I was in my bedroom sitting in front of my full-length mirror.  I thought, “I am lonely.”  That was the first time I had ever felt that way.  I was 16 years old and it was the beginning of the summer of my youth.  With the thought came the realization that I needed someone.  Not just any someone…..someone I could love and spend my life with.  Where in the world do thoughts like that come from?!  Looking back 50 years I now know where that thought came from, but at the time I was clueless.

    Starr Lawson and his family ‘came to town’ in Greensboro in the summer of his 17th year.  They arrived unannounced because no one in town knew them.  His father flew off to New York not long after getting them into their home on Cypress Street across from Aycock Elementary School.  It was the perfect place for them.  Two of the boys, Robbin and George Wayne could walk across the street to school and Gary and Starr could catch the bus to Walter Hines Page High School.  But, this is not the reason it was Perfect.  None of the family knew at the time why it was perfect.  They had just returned from 3 years of living in Europe; two years in Austria, and Gary and Starr commuted to Munich, Germany the second year to go to school and later the whole family moved to Munich.  At the end of that time, Starr’s father took flight training in New York for the 747 airplanes with PanAm.  He moved his family to Greensboro, North Carolina so they could be near his family in Kernersville, North Carolina…….or so he thought.

   This is a good time for you to ask, “Why didn’t he move them to Winston Salem?  It would have been closer.” The airport was only a few miles from Kernersville.  It would have made sense.  BUT, if they had, it would have changed the whole story of the lives of Christine Connelly and Starr Lawson.  This was not going to be just a story.  God meant it to be His-story.  This is the stage He set for the word “lonely” in each of their lives to meet. So we see not only the stage, but who the Author is.

    It was just another year at Page High School for Chris.  For Starr, this was going to be the year he was going to shine, because he was now a world traveler and had just come to the states with his pointy toed shoes and genuine wool shirts and tight european cut pants.  He definitely entered with a swagger.  After all, he was just off the plane, so to speak.  Unfortunately, that was the year Page High School had their first foreign exchange student from Germany!  He came with a whole entourage of students aligned to help him fit in.

    Meanwhile Chris had set her sights on a ‘cute’ football player named Mickey Dean who was in her English class.  But not far from her desk was the new student Starr Lawson.  Truly, Starr spotted her first.  It was not until she was walking toward him in the hallway to go to Drama class that Chris saw Starr.  He remembers her as being a “blond, blue-eyed girl with a top-knot hairdo.”  Chris remembers him as being a “cute dark-haired boy with strange clothes on.”  It didn’t take long for the plot to thicken.  During the drama class that week, Mrs. Frances Wilber assigned pairs to join and prepare a performance of a Shakespearean Play.  Chris had been trying to figure out how she could get her phone number in the hands of Mickey Dean and instead she handed Starr Lawson her home phone number so they could plan a meeting to practice “Kiss Me Kate.”  

      Starr had been boyfriend to many a girl in Germany.  He even left one who had long- term sights on him.  Her name was Olga Fleischman and he had kept up a correspondence with her that summer and no doubt missed all the good times they had shared with all their buddies in Germany.

   Chris had spent her summer connecting with Eddie Candler, her cousin Tommy Greene’s best friend.  She spent several weeks with them in the mountains of NC.  They had traveled to Lake Nantahalia and it was there that he offered her a life of living in a trailer and enjoying wedded bliss.  This for certain was not the way Chris had envisioned her future……so …..that was the end of romance with Eddie Candler.

    Starr did not waste time in setting up their first date.  He called Chris and said, “Would you like to go to the football game with me this Friday night?”

   Chris answered, “Let me go ask my mom and dad.”  They were surprised because Chris had not been interested in dating and had always gone in groups to school activities.  They answered yes and Chris returned to the phone (remember this is long before cell phones!) and told Starr she could go.

    He then said, “Could you please drive?”

    Wait a minute!  He asks for a date and THEN springs that he does not have his drivers license yet!  So Chris goes back into the den and asks her parents, “Can I have the car to go on this date?”  Well, if they had been surprised before, they masked their shock and said, “Yes.”

   Back to the phone, and with trepidation Chris answers, “They said yes.”  So it was set.  They would go to the game together.

  After hanging up the phone, Chris went into “daters remorse”.  She couldn’t drive them on a date where EVERYONE would see them get out of the car!  So what in the world was she going to do?

   She called her best friend, Bill Ray.  Now is a good time to mention that Bill Ray had a crush on Chris.  I won’t go into how she knew this but to Bill’s credit, he said she and Starr could ride to the game with him.  What he failed to tell her was that there were going to be three other guys who he would invite and stuff into the car with them!

    The big night arrived and Bill picked up Chris after picking up the three guys.  So with two of them in the back-seat with her, they head out for Starr’s house.  This was not so bad since Chris had to sit on Starr’s lap to make room for 4 of them.  As they piled out of the car, Starr felt comfortable in putting his arm around her as they walked to the stadium.

   Starr had been on the football team for practice, but since this was his 4th year of high school since he had been in Germany and the school system made him have his senior year again…they DIDN’T  allow him to actually play on the football team.  The coach offered for him to practice with the team but he would not be allowed to play. He decided to focus more on drama and give up the idea of playing football.  He is #75 in the photo below. Mickey Dean is #84, notice how Starr is kneeling behind Mickey…..hmmmm.


  Page Pirates 1963-64 Season

    After the game, Chris and Starr met up with Bill and ‘the gang’ and rode the distance home.  Because Starr’s house was farthest from the others homes they let him off first.  Chris climbed off his lap onto the pavement and while all ‘the gang’ gawked, Starr gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.  And so began their courtship.

  A few weeks later, Starr had his license and they went on a date to the Hot Shoppe community dating restaurant.  It was a drive-in affair with microphone boxes at the bottom of a large photo menu where you placed your order.  There was an endless procession of cars driving around in circles with friends waving to each other.  Those in convertibles were the luckiest of all.  They could perch on the back of the rear seats and process as in a parade.  Starr and Chris were not paying much attention to all of this though.  On this particular date they were discussing “just being friends.”  There was no commitment yet, since they had not kissed yet.  It took two more dates to throw that plan out the window.  From that moment of that first kiss, there was no returning.