Friday, July 10, 2009

Eastern North Carolina 24.7.91: Field Peas and Barbecue, Coats of Arms on Snopesian Carriages

Up early and took a walk after breakfast. Almost immediately behind the motel was a little old Primitive Baptist church, Skewarkey. We walked round it and lo and behold a cemetery with the graves of Cushing Biggs Hassell, Eli Cherry, et al. We had spent the night next to graves of some relatives. Is that why I slept so badly—that, the full moon, and my usual dyspepsia?

After a bit of time in the library (unfriendly librarian, or perhaps shy to a fault), we drove to Windsor, where we’re now ensconced in the pedestrian but perhaps clean and unique (in the etymological sense of that word) town hostelry, the Windsor Motel.

After arriving here, I called a Mr. Mack B., whose name had been given me by the town information center, and Mr. James L.T., who teaches history at the community college. T. not in, but left a message. Long talk with Mr. B., who assures me my people are of the finest (glad to hear it, Mr. B.), but he wouldn’t play up their connection to the lady by whom Nottingham Monk had an illegitimate child. Between you and me, he says, that family (the mother’s) have risen but were never of the best—Snopes story, don’t you know, overseers that rose up and bought the old Watson plantation and drove around in the Watson carriage with its coat of arms and enraged the Watson family . . . .

I’m sure after talking to Mr. Bell and consulting a number of records that the Strachans and Monks lived on Cashie Neck (accent on the last syllable and a long I, and Bertie is a distinct t with accent on final syllable) next to the James Castellow family and the Mizles. Castellaw was a state legislator who founded the oringal and now defunct and disparu county seat of Cashy. All that remains of it is an old Wolfenden or Hoggard house and mill known known as Hoggard’s Mill, to which we drove this evening.

Nice supper—barbecue, fried okra, field peas, slaw—at De Jon restaurant in Windsor, then a drive down to Batchelor Bay in a fierce lightning storm. How strange it feels to reverse the ancestral migration pattern and creep per aspera but in a well-sealed car back East. If only I could follow the pattern up the bloodstream to ancestral memories, ancestral sight.

No comments: