Thursday, January 17, 2013

Maternal Grandfather Avery Lee Abernathy

My maternal grandfather Avery Lee Abernathy was was born in Newton, NC, on June 15, 1909, to Bertis Abernathy and Prudie Elliott. According to his birth certificate, he was delivered at home by midwife Lucy Ramseur. The family eventually moved to Rowan County, where they all worked at Cannon Mills.

Prudie Elliott Abernathy

Bert Abernathy

Avery and his wife Vera Belk Abernathy worked at Cannon Mills in China Grove their whole lives. I remember visiting as a child, waiting for the midnight whistle to go off so we could run to meet Grandpa at the gate. He'd be carrying his large metal lunch pail, and when we got back to the house we'd sit on the front porch and play with his tools. I still have a scar on my finger from the time he told me to stop playing with that pocket knife or I was going to cut myself!

Grandpa liked swinging in his porch swing, reading comic books and watching Days Of Our Lives. He was also known for his "Red Eye Gravy" and we had a little tune for it, "Want some red eye gravy? Get the recipe from Avery!" One of the funniest stories about him was told to me recently by his youngest living son, Clinton Abernathy. Uncle Clinton told me that when they were boys Grandpa would come home from the mill everyday and sit in his swing reading his comic books. I guess this was his way to unwind when working 1st shift. One day his two oldest sons, Buddy and Charles, took a string and tied it to the swing, ran it across the street and tied it to the screen door of a cranky neighbor. Everyone remembers how those old wooden screen doors bang? Every time Grandpa would swing forward that door would open and slam shut. The boys were hiding under the porch watching, and surely laughing their stinking little heads off. Cranky neighbor man came out to investigate, grabbed the string, and followed it all the way to Grandpa's swing.  I fell certain he knew it was those rotten Abernathy boys (there were FOUR of them and one sweet daughter, my mom) and not my Grandpa.

Harold "Buddy" Abernathy
Charles Abernathy

Grandpa's parents Bert and Prudie are buried at West Lawn Cemetery in China Grove, Bert is marked but Prudie isn't. Two of their daughters are also buried there and not marked. Sad. Grandpa had five brothers and three sisters. One of his brothers, Baby Ervin, died as an infant and is buried at Chestnut Hill Cemetery in Salisbury. Grandpa, a soft heart, would always tear up when he spoke of his baby brother. The other brothers are Fred Monroe, Ernest Edward, Everett Lewis and Carl Hampton. The sisters were Jessie, Annie Belle and Margaret "Odessa". The only sibling I knew was Odessa, and she was loved by all of us.

Fred Monroe Abernathy
Odessa on right with sister-in-law Vera

I have not been able to locate Bert's parents or a death date on them. Their names are Mitchell Abernathy and Nancy Jane Talbert or Tolbert. She went by Nancy or Jane and has been hard to trace. They lived in Gastonia and Mitchell disappears off the census after 1900. In 1913 there is a Jane Abernathy, widow of Mitchell A. living in Salisbury (according to the US City Directory). That is the last record I have found on who I believe to be my 2nd great grandmother Nancy Jane Abernathy. My guess is after Mitchell died she moved to Salisbury to be close to her daughter Fanny, who is also in the city directory. I hope to visit the city cemetery in Salisbury soon to see if they have records. I do know that neither of them is buried where their son Manuel Alvin Abernathy in Gastonia was buried.

Here is Avery, a very sweet man, wonderful father, member of South China Grove Baptist Church where he sang in the choir, lifetime cotton mill worker, surf fisher, lover of animals and children, and a horrendous snorer.

Avery Lee Abernathy loved the beach

One of my favorites - how I remember him

A young Avery with wife Vera Belk Abernathy

Avery and Vera

South China Grove Baptist Church Choir - Avery back row left

Charles, Buddy, Avery, Vera, David, Ann, Clinton

The author on right with little sister, Mimi the dog and my grandparents

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