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1916 – 1964
Bertie and Halifax County, NC

Prepared by:
Molly Urquhart

In reading old letters that belonged to my aunt Katie - Kate Fenner Urquhart, (1916-1999) - I discovered a loving and enduring relationship that she and her two brothers (Richard, now 86, and Bill, my father) experienced with a very remarkable woman, Mary Person. Their lives were entwined for a half-century with this Halifax County black woman with little education, but much dignity and grace. I realized that the letters would mean little to most people reading them without some background into the lives of the Urquharts in the early 1900s, and the life of this extraordinary woman who became an integral, vital, and much loved member of the family. Since most of the history begins at the Urquhart homeplace in Lewiston-Woodville, I begin with some basic genealogy. The genealogy is followed by a description of their lives in Lewiston-Woodville in the early 1900s. Finally, there are the letters that Katie and Mary Person exchanged, revealing the bonds that connected them. The last child born to Mary and Burges Urquhart , in 1889, was Richard Alexander Urquhart, who married Kate Nelson Fenner ** (“Mammy”) of Halifax, in 1915. They had three children: my aunt Kate Fenner Urquhart (Katie), my uncle, Richard Alexander Urquhart, Jr., and my father, William Eaton Urquhart (Bill).

The Fenner family lived in Halifax,NC. Mary Person lived in nearby Tillery. The Urquharts lived in Lewiston-Woodville Bertie Co. The Roanoke River connects each of these communities.

This is a 1992 photograph of the Thompson-Urquhart homeplace in Lewiston-Woodville, N.C. where Mary Person lived and worked from 1916 –1938. The homeplace was built in 1840 for Lewis and Mary Clark Thompson and is now on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Woodville Rural Historic District.

This is a map of the outbuildings on either side and behind the Thompson-Urquhart house referenced in this document. The pink shaded buildings no longer exist.

Burges Urquhart of Southampton Co., Va. married Mary Bond Thompson of Woodville, Bertie Co., NC in 1871 – they lived at her home in Woodville, NC, raising 8 children. Their youngest son, Alex, married Kate Nelson Fenner in 1915. They, with Mary Person, raised their three children – Katie, Richard, and Bill.

Mary Bond Thompson Urquhart at age 85, with all her grandchildren in 1925 in the front grove of the homeplace.

The top left picture is of Kate Nelson Fenner Urquhart (Mammy) with her husband Alex and her mother, Lillie Lee Nelson (Big Mammy) circa 1947. The middle picture is of Kate, taken just before her 1915 marriage; the top right is of her and her first child, Katie in 1916. The bottom picture is Kate Fenner Urquhart, and her two sisters, taken in Winston-Salem circa 1955.

The letters, for the most part, are written by Mary Person (Mamie) to Katie in New York City, long after she’d raised Katie and her two brothers, Richard and Bill, from cradle to adulthood, 1916 – 1938, in Woodville (now Lewiston-Woodville), NC. The family, soon after Mary’s arrival there in 1916, started calling her MAMIE – perhaps after MAMIE URQUHART, Alex’ sister who died of tuberculosis in 1917 at the age of 39. These letters- written between 1949 and 1964, when Mary Person (Mamie) died - demonstrate the love and affection between a successful New York City businesswoman and a poor black woman raised in hardscrabble Halifax County. They also reveal the reciprocal attachment she had to her ‘other two babies’ , Richard and Bill . Mamie by the time of these letters, had left the Urquhart house (1938), moved to Harlem (1940s), and was now, at age 52, back in Tillery (1949-1964). Katie, who moved to NYC in 1942 to begin her career in advertising, was still living there. Much of this background information was given to me by Richard A. Urquhart, Jr., a primary beneficiary of Mary Person’s lifelong love for and devotion to the Urquhart family.

Mamie was born March 14, 1897 in the tiny community of Spring Hill, near Tillery. NC in Halifax Co. Kate Nelson Fenner was born and raised in nearby Halifax only seven years earlier, in 1890. Probably Kate Nelson Fenner had known her before moving from Halifax to Woodville after her marriage in 1915 – perhaps Mamie had worked at her Halifax home at some point. Kate and Alex (Alec) Urquhart’s first child, Katie, was born in 1916. Kate asked Mamie to come live with the family in Woodville to help her with cleaning/raising children. Mamie left Tillery for Woodville in 1916 when she was 19 years old to help Kate with her many responsibilities. In addition to the new baby to care for, and Mammy and Alex, the household also included:

• Grandma Urquhart (Mary Bond Thompson Urquhart), who was 66 years old when Mamie came and was soon to develop dementia. “Uncle Buck” (Burges Urquhart), Alex’ older brother, lived there until 1920 when he married Emily Mizell.

• Alex’ sister, Margaret McKenzie Urquhart, (Sittie & Tommy’s mother), also lived in the house until she married Tom Griffin in 1917.

• Another of Alex’ sisters, Mary Norfleet Urquhart (also called Mamie) lived in the house until she died in 1917 of tuberculosis.

• The second child of Alex and Kate, Richard, was born in 1918; then Bill was born in 1921.

• In 1922, Kate’s mother, Lillie Nelson Fenner (Big Mammy), came to live with the family after her husband died in Halifax.

• At various times, Urquhart cousins from Virginia and Fenner cousins from Halifax,NC came for extended visits.

So, much of the time , there were as many as 10 living in the house after Mamie came to work. As big as the house was, there were many times that some of the ‘overflow’ slept in the ‘old office’ (see map). Not only was there a houseful of family to care for, but the neighborhood first cousins – twelve in all - were constantly in and out of the house. The family home was the center of incessant activity involving family and friends. The house is still referred to by the families in Woodville as the “old home place”. When Richard and Katie and Bill were growing up, all their dozen cousins in the neighborhood gathered there to play, often honing their skills at countless baseball games in the front grove. Mary Person never lacked for people to look after, household chores to complete, or people to tend.

If Mamie didn’t have enough on her hands caring for children and grandmothers, she often had to take care of Alex, who was prone to bouts with the bottle. He was a loving, brilliant, witty, and extremely generous husband, father and friend. But he was not especially given to practical matters of commerce. Financial quests often took a back seat to more pleasurable pursuits - hunting and the sharing of a drink in the company of his many friends.

Mamie was a slender woman, always full of energy, always smiling, never complaining about anything. Richard recalls that she always moved quickly – maybe because there were not enough hours in the day to complete the care for 10+ people – and that she always had a most agreeable demeanor. She stayed with the family for 22 years, until 1938. No one can imagine how different life would have been without her daily presence there.

Mary Person lived in the servant’s quarters, sometimes called the “cook’s house” on the property, a two room house with a chimney between the rooms that was built in 1840 for servants on the plantation. This structure still is standing – architectural historians have marveled at how solid the house still is, with a sound foundation of heart pine and cypress – one remarked that no termite would ever go near that house! There were three other blacks that lived on the property, men that helped Mamie with her chores – York, Roland Thompson, and Roland’s nephew, Charlie. Roland and Charlie lived in “Roland’s House”, a one room overseer’s house that still remains on the far right corner on the back of the property. All these men died or moved away, and chores they had performed then fell to Mamie. By this time, Mamie did all the cooking – cooking was in the “old Kitchen” which faced the back porch. Kitchens were built separate from houses in the 1800s to protect the house in case of a kitchen fire. There was no electricity then, nor any running water, so she cooked in a big iron stove in the “old kitchen” – see map. The water used for cooking, bathing, and washing came from a well between the house and the “old office”. As children, Billy, my brother, and I used to play in the old kitchen, climbing on the old stove. Sadly, the kitchen was torn down in the early 1960s. Mamie learned to cook from Mammy (Kate Nelson Fenner Urquhart). Mamie would cook all the food in the “old kitchen” and bring it in the house to be served or stored in the pantry ( now, the kitchen in the house) or the “ice box” , the precursors to refrigerators. There is an old pie safe (named Mrs. Wooten’s pie safe – a lady in the neighborhood named Mrs. Wooten often brought baked goods to the family) at home that kept all the pies and breads, kept in the pantry. It had a screen on the doors to allow air in, but to keep flies out (it kept the pies ‘safe’ from flies).

Alex was a consummate vegetable gardener, but left the cooking to Mamie. “If Daddy ever knew where the kitchen was, he stayed clear of it” recalls Richard of his father. His garden was to the left of Roland’s house, and his vegetables found their way onto all the neighborhood tables.

Not only did Mamie cook 3 meals a day for – at times – ten or more people, she split the firewood everyday for cooking and for heating the house. She kept the house as clean as she could, considering the three children were all running wild, in and out of the house all day long with all their dozen cousins. Richard recalls that she was an indulgent and loving caretaker, always catering to their whims. She always knew where everything was that each child had misplaced. “Mamie, where’s my beanshooter?” “Mamie, where’s my 4-10 shotgun?” “Where’s my baseball bat”, Richard would often ask… somehow she always knew where everything was. Mammy often repeated “If you don’t have anything to give your children, give them their way”. Both Mammy and Alex - and Mamie -shamelessly indulged all three of their children. The family never had much money for extras, and were struck quite hard during the Depression, but the children never lacked food, warmth, or love. You’d think that all the indulgences heaped on those children – with absolutely NO physical discipline ever – would have generated spoiled and ungrateful children. You only have to examine the lives of Katie, Richard and Bill to know that the adults’ “spare the rod – spoil the child” philosophy yielded extraordinary children and adults.

Another of Mamie’s responsibilities was to raise the chickens - feed them, and gather the eggs from the henhouse. After the hens aged and quit laying eggs, they became an evening meal. Then she had to catch the chickens, kill them (wringing their necks was the way they killed chickens then), pluck them, and cook them for dinner. The chicken house was directly behind the big house, to the left of Alex’ garden, parallel to Roland’s house.

While Mamie raised the chickens, Big Mammy raised turkeys and sold them to augment the household’s meager income. She also picked pecans for family use and for sale. She was determined to help the family, and contributed the annual $1,000 rent from the Halifax County Fenner Farms. Having been the postmistress in Halifax before moving to the Urquhart household, and having raised three children of her own, she was not about to sit around the house and do nothing.

When Big Mammy moved to the house in 1922, she and Katie shared a bedroom and became inseparable. Every Christmas until she died in 1999, Katie put a wreath on her grandmother’s grave in the Methodist Cemetery in Halifax.

In the early 1930s, Grandma Urquhart (Mary Bond Thompson) started losing her memory and the family had to hire another black lady, Lizzie Watson to stay with her constantly. It was a full time job, and just too much for Mamie alone, with all her other responsibilities at the house. Grandma Urquhart was a slight, but very physically spry woman, and needed to be watched at all times for fear she would hurt herself or wander away. She died in 1936 at the age of 89. There are many stories associated with her declining mental faculties –one that stands out is her constantly ‘losing’ her glasses - invariably tucked under her dress sleeve!

Another of Mamie’s chores included taking care of all dogs at the house. There was always at least one dog there. A particularly memorable one was a female red Irish Setter named “Kate Dog” – adding another “Kate” to the family! Kate Dog had a bobbed tail – for no apparent reason – an unusual characteristic of an Irish Setter. Kate Dog was the only dog that could hunt both turkeys and quail, two jobs requiring two vastly different skills – a good quail dog has the job to locate the quail on the ground, and “set” them to indicate to her hunter(s) just where they were located. Kate Dog’s duties as a turkey hunter were to range far and wide – as large as a mile in circumference – and then flush them, causing the turkeys to scatter and fly away.

Dogs aren’t used for turkey hunting now, but then they were. As a young boy, Richard hunted often with Billy Thompson, his father’s first cousin. They’d leave in the morning with a soda and a sandwich Mammy had made them of sliced cornbread, a slab of butter, and ham, along with some homemade fruitcake. While Kate Dog was roaming the fields/woods on the Roanoke River, searching for the scent of turkeys, Richard and Billy would tread very, very softly so as not to alert the turkeys’ keen sense of hearing. A step on a twig that snapped would evoke a serious rebuke from Billy. After a while, Kate Dog would sniff out and flush the turkeys, and the turkeys would fly in all different directions. But they would inevitably come back to the point where they were flushed. It would take hours, but they always came back. The hunters would hide in a blind they’d build near there. It would take about an hour to build a blind from nearby branches/limbs. They’d fashion a seat from the most comfortable nearby log. The blind would be about waist high and Richard and Billy and Kate Dog would then eat their gourmet lunch, sharing with Kate Dog. Then they, including Kate Dog, would settle back in the blind and wait and wait and wait very silently for hours – no talking, not even a muscle twitch - for the turkeys’ return. There was nothing they could do those hours of waiting but observe deer, owls, hawks, and rabbits, and to relish the opportunity they had. They would use a turkey caller once every 15 minutes to hasten their preys’ return. When, after hours of waiting, the turkeys finally got close enough, the hunter would shoot them in the head (if he were a good shot!) and the hapless turkey would be on the dinner table that night. Richard killed 3 turkeys one year when he was 12 years old, earning him the accolades of the neighborhood and the entire county.

Mamie’s responsibilities were not only for Kate Dog, but for raising all their puppies. Kate Dog was a notorious breeder, having many and large litters of pups. Predictably, all the men and boys did was hunt them!

The family also had a cow on the property and Mamie was responsible for her feeding and milking . It was a daily chore for her to provide milk for this large Urquhart household. Mammy declared that the only reason that Richard was still alive was the large amount of milk he drank growing up – he, to this day, drinks three glasses daily.

Mamie was also involved in the annual hog killings at home – always held between the end of November and early January – the temperature had to be cold enough to keep the meat from spoiling. It was a neighborhood ritual, a rite of winter that was much anticipated by the whole community. The hog killing was gruesome, involving the gutting and dismemberment of the hog – the meat was divided and provided the most succulent food in anyone’s memory there. There was always a vast supply of fresh pork, and Mamie had various recipes that included pork – for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Mamie was responsible for curing the hams and shoulders in the smokehouse. Curing a ham involved salting it heavily to preserve it, then hanging it up on hooks in the smokehouse (no longer standing, it was between “Roland’s house” and the chicken house). They used hickory to smoke the hams – the hickory fire was prepared in a hole in the smoke house and hickory smoke would infuse the hams, and escape through the vents of the smokehouse. For days, the sweet aroma of hickory smoke permeated the neighborhood.

The hogs were raised across the road at Uncle Buck’s (Burges Urquhart, brother to Alex) house. Tom Griffin once gave Richard and Bill each a pig to raise, promising a $5.00 reward for their efforts. Their only responsibility to keep the pig well fed and watered. Bill, preferring play to $5.00, cajoled Richard into taking care of his pig!

Uncle Buck was the blacksmith of the family and had a workbench under a huge oak tree between the old office and Roland’s house. Even after he married Emily Mizell in 1920 and moved out of the house (across the road to the W.W. Pugh house), he continued to work at the home place. He had his forge, bellows, hammer and anvil there and supplied the horseshoes and whatever tools might be needed for the family.

Adding to all her other responsibilities, Mamie washed all of the clothes in the house at the washhouse, located between the cellar and the icehouse. Though the cellar and icehouse still stand, the washhouse does not. She’d wash all the clothes in a huge iron pot with boiling water - gathered from the pump – and clean them with homemade soap, and dry them on the clothesline. At some point, Mamie was relieved of this chore, and a lady “uptown” (Lewiston) would wash clothes once a week, and deliver them the next week to pick up a fresh batch of dirty clothes.

Considering all of her jobs – laundry, picking up after children; cooking and feeding family, friends, guests, cousins 3 meals/day; taking care of the chickens, the cow, cleaning, splitting firewood, taking care of dogs - Mamie was paid a ‘princely’ $5.00/month. Today’s equivalent would be around $70/mo. Keep in mind, though, that she had all her medical, housing, clothing, and food needs met by the family. Mamie was considered very fortunate – it was an enviable position to be provided all these amenities. Jobs were scarce for all, especially the uneducated poor. When Mamie left the household in 1938 after 22 years with the family, the family continued to care for her for the remainder of her life. Richard sent her $5.00/month for the rest of her life, and Katie and Bill also gave her money and visited her from time to time – Tillery was about a 30 minute drive from Woodville and a 1.5 hour drive from Raleigh. They all lent her money when she needed it, which she promptly repaid. Katie, in particular, would often send her packages of clothes, house wares, and treats for her family.

Mamie never drank or smoked, never said an unkind word towards or about anyone, had no bad habits at all, except for one – she had a snuff addiction. Tuberose Snuff was Mamie’s brand, and when she ran out of her snuff, it was mandatory that someone go ‘uptown’ to replenish her supply. Not tomorrow, but NOW! Snuff was considered a ‘medical necessity’, and so was considered one of Mamie’s perks.

Mammy taught Mamie to read and write. The letters will demonstrate Mamie’s rudimentary skills, yet she never fails to communicate her basic goodness and kindness, and her gratitude and love for all in her life.

Considering all of Mamie’s responsibilities, it is hard to imagine that she had any time at all for a social life. Yet she did find time outside of the Urquhart family for her other two passions: 1) her church work and 2) her husband.

Mamie was as devoted to her husband Peter Horton as she was to the Urquhart household. She’d met Peter soon after moving to Woodville in 1916. Though no one ever saw him on the property, he lived in the servant’s house with Mamie. Richard speculated that he came to the house after dark and left before dawn. Peter Horton was a big, strapping man. He was a ‘man about town’, a ladies’ man who caused Mamie much sadness with his other girlfriends. When he left Mamie, he broke her heart. None of the family ever forgave him for this.

Richard remembers Peter’s mother, Riney Horton, who was the ‘roots and herb’ lady of the community. Richard had a wart once and Riney put a pin in the wart, drew a drop of blood and put the blood on a corn kernel. She planted the kernel, and when it came up, the wart dropped off Richard’s hand. This is the sworn testimony of Richard Urquhart, Jr!

Mamie’s devotion to her church, Weeping Mary Church, about a mile down the river road ( today, it still has a large congregation at the same location), was well known. She was very active in the church and never missed a service. When the church had its ‘protracted meetings’ in August, the household had to do without her. These protracted meetings didn’t last a few hours – they lasted all week - they were much like revivals today, except they were all day long! It is difficult to imagine anything but discomfort in that church - down an unpaved dusty road, without fans or air conditioning - in the hottest days of the year, all day, every day, for a week every August.

In 1938, after her 22 years of serving the many family members of the Urquhart household, Mamie’s indispensable work came to an end. She made a decision to leave. She felt she had to move far away from any memories of Peter Horton; when Bill, the last child, left home, she left, too. All the family of the house had left – either by death or having moved away - except Big Mammy and Kate and Alex. Though the family still needed her and wanted her to stay on, Mamie’s work was done there, and she embarked on a new chapter in her life. No one knows exactly when she moved to NYC, but it was likely she moved shortly after leaving Woodville. We do know that she moved to 123rd Street in Harlem, New York City sometime before WWII. Many poor Southerns during this time migrated north In search of factory work, often in deplorable sweat -shop work conditions.

Mamie had proven as instrumental in the upbringing of Katie, Richard, and Bill as were Mammy and Alec. The children’s lives were a testament to a coordinated effort of Mammy and Alec and Mamie to raise responsible, caring, and loving children. None of them could imagine life without Mamie, and all were heartbroken when she died in 1964. Katie, Richard, and Bill, “her babies”, all loved her as much as she loved them. As she often repeated in her letters to Katie, “no child of mine could ever treat me as good as you do”. She lived 67 years and never had children. Bill went to her funeral at the church in Spring Hill, and was among those who gave ‘testimonials’

Katie had moved from Winston Salem to New York City in 1942, and saw Mamie frequently there. Mamie would clean for her – as well as Katie’s friends - and would always make her prized cornbread. Much to everyone’s chagrin, Katie would often venture into Harlem to see Mamie. Mr. Schroff , Richard’s father-in-law, often admonished her for being so reckless – Harlem was just not a proper place a young white woman should travel alone - it just wasn’t safe. But a headstrong Katie ignored his and others’ pleas and persisted in her visits. Nothing could stop her from seeing her Mamie!

Richard was the captain of a ship being built in New York during WWII, and recalls that the winter of 1944/45 was the most bitterly cold in history. Mamie lived in an apartment that had barely adequate heat. Worried about her welfare, he asked the welders, electricians, and sheet metal workers on the ship to fashion a proper heater for Mamie. Eager to please their captain, these men got to work. Soon, Mamie had quite an elaborate iron stove that was the envy of her neighbors.

hen Richard and Barbara married in NYC at St. Patrick’s in 1945, they invited Mamie to their wedding. She was so worried she wouldn’t have the ‘proper clothes’ and fretted endlessly about that. Probably Katie bought her a pretty dress that she’d feel comfortable in. She was so proud to be at her ‘son’s wedding’ and Richard was no less proud to have her there.

From Mamie’s letters to Kate, we know that she was in Harlem until 1949, as that is the first letter she writes to Katie from Tillery, NC. In that letter, she indicates she will probably stay in Tillery and not return to NYC. She was 52 years old then, and came back home to work in the fields chopping cotton, picking cotton, or stacking peanuts (for 2 pennies a stack), and working in tobacco.

She lived on very little income, and what little she had she gave to her church there in Spring Hill. She was happy and content with what little she had and was so grateful for any kindness shown to her by letters, cards, gifts, or visits. In her letters, he addressed Katie often as “My own dear daughter”, and never failed to let her know how much she loved her and how grateful she was for her small gifts she’d send her. Her simple, but full, life of working in the fields, tending her flower and vegetable gardens, and going to church was quite enough to sustain Mamie. She did have her faith in God and her love of the church and her friends and family – black and white.

She married again – a man named Frank Hill - soon after moving back to Spring Hill. He, according to her letters, was a good husband. Her life from 1949 until her death is 1964 was very difficult by today’s standards, yet there is not one shred of complaint in her letters she writes to Katie. Towards the end of her life, she had a number of health problems, diabetes and blindness among them. She’d continue to write to Katie, though she couldn’t see what she was writing. Her scratchy and almost illegible handwriting over the years mirror her failing eyesight.

There are several amusing references in her letters regarding her hope that Katie would marry. In these letters, Mamie was apparently gravely concerned that Katie was still single, and suggested more than once that Katie should find a nice man and marry him! Mamie would have had to live 20 more years for that to happen - Katie married Irving Herschbein in 1985. In one letter dated 1951, 34 years prior to their marriage, Mamie very aptly portrays Irving in a letter to Katie: “I think of him so often and I allway like him for your friend, for he was all way so nice and all way was ready to help you out at all time”. In this observation, and in many other affairs, Mary Person expressed a wisdom that no amount of education could ever have provided her. Irving Herschbein was a gentleman’s gentleman. And Mary Person was a lady without equal.

MOST LETTERS ARE FROM MAMIE (MARY PERSON HORTON HILL), postmarked Tillery, NC TO KATE FENNER URQUHART, 38 West 10th Street, NYC from 1949 – 1964. One is to Bill Urquhart just after his and Richard’s and Katie’s mother, Kate Nelson Fenner Urquhart, died in 1956. Bill now lived at the homeplace with his wife and children, and farmed in Halifax County where he would see Mamie. There are a few letters from Kate Urquhart to Mamie, showing her successful efforts in helping Mamie get a reimbursement from a life insurance policy she could no longer afford. Most of Mamie’s spelling is left just as she wrote it. She used no punctuation, so I’ve added that for clarity. Bold words are my comments.

Tillery, NC postmark
Return address on envelope: 221 W. 123 St., NYC (her address when she lived in Harlem)
She’d just recently moved back to Tillery from NYC

My Dearest Daughter,
Just a few lines to let you no I am still think of you and I am just think and wondering how you is make out with out me these day. Well, I was over to your mother house last Thursday and I had a nice time there with my 2 baby (Molly & Billy) the boy is my pick. He is so fat and pretty I just love to sit and hold him and look at him. Miss Kate had got a way to Chapel Hill so I didn’t see her again, so take care . I will see you next week if I can. One of my boy friend is beg me to marry him and he is about to win me over. But I am trying all I can to outtalk him but he is driving me mad. Tell me if I go back ( NYC) to please come back (Tillery) . And my sister and brother don’t want me to go back either. They say I have lost too much weight. I need to stay in the country so I have to deside if I do come back I will have to get me a steady job some job for 5 day a week, but I will always help you when I can. I am ask you to do me this favor. Explain to Mrs. Charles and Mrs. Kays that I am very sorry but I wont be back unless my mind changes. Thank you, so long, Mary

February 13, 1950
Tillery , NC

My dear, just to say I got your letter last Wednesday and I sent it off and today is Tuesday and it is back and I am send you the letter I have to sign. Send them back soon as you check them over because I really need some money now as this year was a short crop with everybody so if I can get anything it will be a help to me. And I do thank you for everything you have done and what you are still doing for me. I hope some day I can help you some. I had just came in from a funeral. We kill 4 pigs last week. So take care yourself and let me hear from you soon. My best regards to all. Mary

December 5, 1950
Tillery NC
With love to Miss Kate U.
My dearest Kate,
Just a few lines to let you hear from me again. This leave me well but not well in mind, but I hope you are well and is getting along well. I am glad you have someone to help you out. Bill told me - I saw him 2 week ago I believed. It was he gave me and Jennie (Jennie , Sarah, and Mary are sisters, Tom is their brother) a soda. I enjoyed and I was very glad to see him. He was very busily work for Mr. Ed Martin (had a general store in Tillery) weighting peanut- everybody was well . it is very sad around home, so many people dieing. My sister Sarah lost her husband a week last Monday. Had a stroke and did never speak again, then last Saturday AM the freight train kill another friend of us. Have not buried him yet. So this leave me very sad. Jennie daughter came home from Phila. To the funeral. So listen,dear, have you spoke to anyone about the insurance policy of mind? Well, if you have not I am go send them for this month and after this I want to drop it or sell it because I wont be able to keep it up any long. I am send them now for Dec. I no you wont have time to drive over to NJ to the office on Saturday and see if you could sell it for me – you and your friend in the car (IRVING). Please let me hear from you at once and let me no what you can do about it. I sure will appreciate any thing you can do for me. My best regard to all the girl and to everyone. I remain your mother, Mary Hill

January 11, 1951
Tillery, NC
My dear daughter,
Just to say I received your letter and was very glad to hear from you and to no you was well and got home all right. I got the registered return receipt I will keep it. I am wait for the policy so I can send it to you. But it have not come back, not yet. But soon as it come I will registered it to you. So this leave me and Frank well and happy in the new year. I hope you much success In the New Year. My regard to all the girl and to your boyfriend. I hope you and him are still happy in the new year. I smile at that. Listen dear, I hope you will forgive me for not write you sooner but I was wait to see if I could get the policies, so when I write I could sent it with my letter. So listen, the dishes came in good condition, only one of the small dish was broke and it must was broke when they pack them because I look in all the paper I and Jennie, but we couldnt find the piece that was broke off. So it is 8 pieces of everything. Sugar Dish didnt have any top I guess it dont have one and listen dear, I cannot ever tell you how much I do appreciate you for your wonderful thinking and for your thinking of give me to help me set up my housekeeping. Everywhere I look it is something you have give me or something that Ada or somebody from NY. Everybody come to my house say I look like I have been keeping house for years.. I am so proud of you because you have made me feel great. So take care yourself and look for the policies (life insurance policies she needs to quit paying on). Just as soon as I get them. This leave me very happy tonight.
Close with love,


January 25, 1951
Tillery, NC

My dear Miss Urquhart,
Just to say I am well only I have been had a very bad sore throat and cold. But I am better, but is still sit around in the house, but not in bed. Otherwise I am all right. Frank had the bad cold first.. soon as he got better I got it, so the x ray people was to Tillery so I took the Xray test Saturday. I hope I will get a card that I am all right like I did in New York.. so I hope you are well and is all right. Listen, dear, I have at last got the policy back Thursday pm. But I didn’t get it off yet. Today is the 25th and I am trying to get them off today if I can – it is rain and I cant go out. Frank is upset over one of his hog that he was go kill. He can’t find, t hink someone kill him so he is look for him day by day, so I don’t no when he will come back. Left before I got up. Thank again for the beautiful dishes.. they are so lovely. So I hope you can see the insurence man soon as you can so I wont have to pay for Feb. By

March 22, 1951 Tillery NC
Mary P. Hill

My dearest Miss Urquhart,

Just a few lines to let you hear from me. I am well and I hope you and all the girls are all well. I have been want to write you for along time but I was wait to hear from Mr. Gorman and I got it Tuesday 20. And it was wrote March 14 on my birthday so it was made out in 2 check, one for each policy and one was made out for 22.33 and the other one for 44.65. For both of the policy I got $66.98 about 3 dollars less than you had figure it out o be the last time. I believe it was $69.00 dollar. No I am not dispointed I am so glad to get it. I am very happy and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, and I want to ask you want to accept something from me because if it had not been for you I would never got a penny because I did not no how to started about it. So I cannot thank you enough for get it for me. Again I want to thank you and your friend Ervin (Irv) and his friend for help me out to. You wrote me that they was go help you out. So I just can thank you like I want to. I only wish I could fly to NYC and help you in your apartment and smile again. But that is what I would like to do. This is the first day of spring. It is cloudy here. Listen, baby, I was looking for a card from you or some of my children on the 14th (Mary’s birthday). This is the first time I believe I can remmber not get something from my family. It was very sad. I got a few things – 2 birthday card that all. I hope you are well so keep well and dont work to hard. I hope you will have a pleasant Easter. From Mother Mary P. Hill to my daughter, Miss Kate F. Urquhart.

Ps. Give my best regard to all

May 18, 1951
Mary P. Hill
Tillery, NC

My dearest daughter.

Just a few line to let you hear from me. I am well and my husband all so is well and I hope you are well and is doing fine. I have been working in my garden, flower garden, and in my vege garden. My husband is go starting chopping cotton today. I don’t no how I will make out, but I will try to help him some morning and late evening because I have not been on the farm in over 35 year or more, so I don’t know how it is going to be with me. But I am here now so I will have to make the best of it. Now are you coming home for 30 of May. Do, I hope to see you. I haven’t been over home not yet. I just don’t seem to go anywhere much. I guess you heard that they brought Eddie Powell home about 3 weeks ago and buried him. So much for that. How is you get along with your work and ever thing. I have been look to hear from you. Please write me and let me hear from you and let me no how you is get along. I took a long walk Sunday and I use my mother day present from you for the first time. It was so pretty. So close with much love to you. God bless you and thank for everything you did for me… by now. Love from Mary.

November 1, 1951
Tillery, NC

To my sweet baby
My dearest daughter,

I received the 2 wonderful box today Thursday. They came Tuesday ,that what the notice was mark on it. They came in good shape. Everything was nice, I can use everything I am so proud of you. Just like my own very own daughter. I cannot thank you like my heart desire. But thanks a million time for everthing. I will never forget you and maybe someday I can do something in return for you. Bless your heart. I hope you are well and doing find …. Leave me well and is ok, I an Frank finish pick cotton Wed. He is well , send his regard. I was over home in September. Had a nice time, got a card from M___ Horton last week. She invite me to come and stay a week with her at Waverly, Va. She don’t know I am married again. Someone told her I was at Spring Hill that why she no I am at Tillery. Now how is everything with y ou. How is your job. Fine I hope. Tell me, do Miss Maggie work with you. Now if she do, give her my best regard and if you see Miss J Camball give her my best regard. I work in Green tobacco and in dry tobacco , and I shake peanut for my brother Tom . I an Jennie, we shake by the stack, 2 cent a stack. I am make out pretty good. But when you keep house it all way need something. I need some sheets now. My niece, Jennies girl from Phila., send me a nice heavy bed spread for my wedding gift. Better late than never. So take care yourself, best regard to your friend. You no who I am talk about (Irv). I just cannot ever spell his name but I think of him so often and I allway like him for your friend, for he was all way so nice and all way was ready to help you out at all time. So I must close now. I must say again thank you a million. I have just stop look at my things and try on some of them and my slipper. I am so proud of them. Good night and be sweet. God bless you. From Mary.

March 21, 1952
Tillery, NC

My dear daughter,
Just a few line to let you hear from me in 1952. This leave me very well and I hope you and all is well. I have not seen Bill this year. How are ever body and how are you doing and how is thing with you and is you coming home for the 30th of May. I want to see you now. It been a long time now since I seen my baby. I did want to come up this spring if I can. Frank say if he have the money to spare on a trip for me he will give it to me. How is your mother and aunts and all. I am get along fine and is still happy as ever. I have light electric now. I don’t mind iron now. I have just come from the garden set out cabbage and onion. I don’t have much new now it is very hot here now so take care until we see each other.
From mother to daughter, bye now

May 15, 1952
Tillery NC

My dear sweet daughter

Just to say I received your lovely letter and was very glad to hear from you once more in life. Yes I was real worried I didn’t hear from you this year so Bill came by a few week ago and I ask him where was you. He told me you was home February and you had been very busily all year so I hope you wont be busily all your life. I hope you will find you a nice husband and settle down. But be sure he is a millionaire so he can take care of I and you both. . So I hope you are real well - this leave us both very well. Both of my sister have been sick but thank the Lord I have been up and going so far as I can. I cannot tell you how much I do appreciate. I call it my mother day gift from you and it come in good time. All way need something for a house. Frank baby boy sent me 10 dollar for a Mother day gift. I thought it was so nice of him. He is work in Portsmouth, Va. In a hospital. He is doing fine. He didn’t like New York. If you do come home the 29 and if you come in your car if you have any old low heel slippers put in a box, and some old stocking. Bring along and leave them at Mr. Jones store with Mr. Marks when you pass by. Bill brought Mattie Grant Watson over about 2 week ago. She spent the day with me and we had a good time. You are planning some big trip September 5. I will be praying for you - that must be the honeymoon trip. Please tell me. All way glad to hear from you. Regard to the girls if you see any of them. So long. Now see you if you come. Don’t forget my box number is PO Box 145. You had 114 and a man had my letter. He could have keep it if he had want to. But he went to Frank and ask him wont that his wife name. I like to lost my money you no, just by luck.

January 4, 1952
Tillery , NC

My dearest daughter,
Just a few lines to let you hear from me. This leave me well and still happy and enjoying fine and I hope these few lines will find you very well and get along fine. I have been want to write you ever since I got your letter Dec. 17. It was such a supprize to get such a big box and I no it cost a lot of money because I had bought me some on that Saturday. Each sheet cost me $2.77. Two sheets cost me $5.54 cent. And pillow cases 1.34. I had forgot I had mention to you about I need some sheet and Frank had gave me some money to my surpprize, about 30 some dollar to do my shop for Xmas, to get me some everyday slippers or some boots. But I got to buy and I didn’t think about shoes. I bought me some nise kitchen curtains and some lace curtains for my room and a lot a little thing I need. I was in town Saturday before Xmas and I ask Mr. Ed Martin did you come home and he said he did not no, said Bill said Miss Kate had gone to Raleigh and I didn’t no Rich address so I didn’t know where you was. I thought if you come home you would come to Tillery or I would go to Woodville and we could see each other and I could see you and thank you face to face. But I no you are home by now. I had a nice Xmas and a Happy New Year and I hope you had nice Happy New Year and Merry Xmas. How is everything with you? As this is Leap year, how about pose (propose) to some nice guy.. How is all the girl. Had a card from Miss Dent, said she no I wouldnt see you be cause you was gone home and said she had been sick and was gone a way on the weekend. I hope she is back and is real well again. Sorry I mist seen you this Xmas. You know Kate I haven’t got any kids but I don’t think my own kid could treat me any nice than you do and I will always appreciate you as my sweet daughter. I just cannot thank you enough. So long.

August 12, 1952

My dearest daughter,

Just to say hello and how are you today. I received the box Monday am. It was there Friday and my husband got the card out and he didnt no it was a card to get out a box so he just bring the card home so the warehouse agent don’t work on Saturday .. that why I had to wait until Monday. So this leave us both very well at present and I hope you are well and are not work to hard in this heat. It is very hot here today and we have had a lots of rain down here. Well I don’t know how to thank you for all the nice thing you sent me. Everything I can use - but 2 red saucer broke. Everything else came in good condition. Jennie is still suffering. She is here to my house sleeping now. I am trying to rest a little today. Expecting company from NY – Frank son and his daughter from Portsmouth, Va. And I will have my hand full . My crop is very nice this year. Your time is now near for the 5th of September. I do hope you will have a grand time and please do take care yourself. Let me hear from you whenever you have time. I have seen Bill since I was over there. I guess he is at the beach now. My best regard to Miss M and all that ask of me. So take care yourself. God Bless you and thanks again, Mary.

February 25, 1954
Tillery, NC

My dear Miss Urquhart
Just a few line to let you hear from me. For the first time this year, this leave me up and going but not so well. I have not seen Bill this year or heard from anyone over there and have not heard from you. I think I wrote you and thank you for everything so I hope you are well and doing fine. I am grow old and very for gettful but I still remember you as the oldest one of my children and the sweetest child in the world to me. I have been wont to write you for a long while. But I have not had any mind for doing nothing. When I saw you Thanksgiving I had just went to the Health Clinic at Halifax. I just fealt bad and I didn’t want to go to any doctor so when I was in New York last May I took a free test , so they sent me a slip to come to the office. So I went to 223 West 123 Street where I use to stay. So one day I did feel good and I took it to Halifax and show it to them and they said yes since I was living here and they would take my case up and would send a card back to NY that they was taken care of me. So they say have a seat so when they called me they say we go give you a blood test so they did.. After thank giving they give me another one and the next time they give me and examination. I don’t know what it was called, but they called the examination a smear so I like to took a fit when they told me they was looking for a cancer somewhere in my body and was calling me a cancer patient. I am tell you dear I didn’t no what to do, what to say. So the 19th January they sent me a letter to come back the smear was not sastisfactory for the labtory. So I went back and another doctor exam, only this time I past the lab test they put right in the post office for me to go to Rocky Mount on the 3 day of Feb to go there to the cancer clinic on the 2 floor for further more exam there. A woman doctor exam me. So last Wednesday Febrary 17, the chart was to have been back to Dr. White so I went to Halifax. It was not back so he didn’t give me any treatment. So Wednesday I got a letter from Rocky Mount tell me to go to Dr. White at my early date and that they had sent them a letter to give me such treatment as he see that I need and that they found that I have - good as I could make the word that they sent me is this findings - and this is other name Lesion Vulva. I can just cannot pronounce them at all. But I am so glad tonight that they have not found a cancer , not yet so far. I want to tell somebody about my trouble that would be interested in my health. I started to write your mother but I did not want to up set her and that family. Xmas I was not feeling good at all but I fell much better to night since I got that letter from Rocky Mount and they did not find the cancer. I got to go to Dr. White and will let you no what he say about me. So be good, God Bless You. So I will close. Jennie have been so upset over me and all of my family. But I pray that they wouldnt find one so they did not. Yet I don’t know if I have to go away or not. I am live in hope to see the Sunday in March 14 which I will be if I live to see it, 57 year old. Your mother is get old now. So pray for me. So long until we meet again. Love to all the girl , From Mary P. Hill

March 11, 1954
Tillery, NC

My dearest oldest and my sweet daughter,

Just to let you no that I received your most sweets letter I have ever got in my life. Well I was just take of my feet for a while. I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw what you had sent me on the order (money order). I was no more good all day. Seem as I got excited for I sure need money to go to Dr. White. He charge me 9 dollar the first time and I don’t know how long I will have to go to him. He told me to come back in 2 weeks which will be the 18 ,so I don’t know what he will tell me. I am finish the medicine to day and I am feeling fine to day. I got over my fright I guess and I am staying on my diet. I had my club Tuesday and I did not touch no cake at all. I am eat plenty of corn bread and meat and salad, so I think I will live. I mist my tea but I want to get well Miss Kate. Bill was over Sunday. They was looking well. I hope I will be well Easter if you come. So sorry I mist you the 22. I hope you are well and get along fine. This leave me feeling fine. I just don’t know how to thank you dear. You are just like a real daughter to me. I don’t think if I had one she would do for me like you do…. I have not cash the order yet but I will soon as I go down town so thanks again for the order. I just cant not thank you so I just say thank you, thank you. From Mary.

August 11, 1955
Tillery, NC

My dear daughter,
Just to say hello and how are you. I hope you are well and is going fine. This leave me and my family all well. Hope you are the same. I received your nice box Monday and was very glad to get it. Came in good shape and everything I can use. I am so glad to get everything you sent me. Those piece of cloth you sent me would make me some nice skirt if I had ½ yard or one yard more. But you don’t have any more like it, I no. So I thank you so much for everything. I am so proud of the things for my table, and for my table cloth. They are very nice. I am go fix up for August. I am expect Frank daughter from Portsmouth , Va. with six children so I will be busily for a week. They will be here for a week. Last week Frank baby boy was here. He and his wife and baby, when I got back from your mother. He is station in California. He is Service. Will go back the 15 of Aug. His wife work in Portsmouth, Va. I was sorry they came and I wont home. They had to fix for them self until I got there Sunday. She had cookd a plenty to eat. I was so glad I could go over you all home is so nice. Now everything is so ____. Now you don’t have to work hard any more. Bill baby (Liz) is so pretty and Rich baby (Barbara) is more like you than any of the family when you were a baby girl – white hair just like you look. Likes boys just like you did. Mother and Bill have a very nice girl now (Eliza Savage had come from Tillery to help them ). She is from my home. She told me she like over there fine. Little Billy is so cute I think. I like to look at him. But all them got high temper you no, but they are all right by me. Look here, we are look for a Hazel (Hazel was a devastating 1954 hurricane) or some thing or storm. It is cloudy and the wind is blowing strong. My heart is beat very fast but I no God is able to take care of me. You no how I am afraid of storm all my life. So I hope and pray that it don’t be like the other one. (Hazel) It is windy here now. So take care until I see you. Hope you can come September. I hope to see you then. Thank again for everything. I can always use everthing you sent me. And Little Marg (Molly, seven years old) is so cute. She grow now and she look beautiful last Sunday when she was dress up for Sunday School. She was wearing a dress you had sent her. So by now. I hope to see you soon. Mother was very well. God bless you. From Mary

August 23, 1955
Tillery, NC

My dear daughter,

Just to say hello to you and to say that I am real well and I hope you are well and is have good time and I am look to see you in September I hope. I got the box it was fine. The revival is at my church this week and I am have a wonderful time and I hope to continue to keep on have a good time. My best regard to Mr. – I cant call his name but you no who I am speak about. I am listen to the radio now so good night. I don’t have much news at this time. How is the storm up there. The winds and the rain blow down the cotton and corn very bad. Good night, from Mary to her daughter, Kate.

November 11, 1955

My dear Miss Urquhart,

I received your lovely box and was I excite. It came in good condition. I had been to club meeting. I stop by the post office and there was the box. Thank you many time more than I can say to you. But I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will put the spread on for Thanksgiving. Did you sent the kit to dyed them. I will used it after a while. I saw Billy last week. He was look find and said everything was find and he had ad another one to the family. Another girl (Kate) name after your mother. I think that is nice to name her after your mother. How are you get along. I no you is running around every where shop for Xmas all ready. And is you come home for Thanksgiving Day? I have all most finish my farming all but get off my peanut and a little crop of cotton. Got up my corn too. I made some corn. But my cotton crop was short. The wind storm took off the boll. But I thank God for what I have. So be good until I see you. Regard to all that no me. So long and take care yourself and thanks again, from Mary.

PS All the notebook will come in good at all time. Thanks for all the blouses – came in good time - all so the forks, spoon and dishes. So take care.

April 6, 1956
Tillery, NC

My dearest daughter,

Just a few line to let you hear from me. I received your card and dollar Saturday and was so glad to hear form you and to get gift that was the only one I got. Keep send them to me and they will be appreciate. I haven’t seen any of the family this year I don’t believe. I don’t ever got to Tillery anytime hardly ever. And I have been sick for ever since the first of January and all of February and some time. But I never did go to the doctor. I didn’t think I was that sick so I keep put it off and never did go. I stay conopation (constipated) most all the time. I no I didn’t spell that word right. But you no what I meant. Nothing I take regulate me. I just have to take something to started me if I don’t they just don’t move. I was in bed Monday most all day. I took a big dose of Epsom Salt and I guess I took to much and it work me to much. Well I am year oldor since I seen you. I past my 59 birthday on 14 of March. I am an old Lady now. Have you got any low heel shoe I could wear? So long now. From mother to daughter, Mary P. Hill

May 7, 1956
Tillery, NC

My dear daughter,

Just a few line to let you hear from me. I and Frank both is well and hope you are well and is get along ok. I haven’t heard from you in a long time. I hope you are all right. This leave me well. As usual get along fair. Listen, I am ask you something I have not ever ask you before. But I have to ask you because I believe you will help me. I need a little money and Frank don’t have it and cant get it right now so I am asking you to please led me 10 dollar for about 3 or 4 month. I will pay you back. Please trust me. I don’t even have any money to pay in my church or in my club. I hate to ask you but I don’t know anyone else to ask that wont mind me ask for favor. Thank you so much. Write me. We are have some much rain. We cant plant our crop down. But it is God will. Are you come home for mother day or for the 30th. Love to all of the girl I no and How is E, your friend. So take care yourself , from mother to Miss Kate.

Tillery, NC

My dear sweet daughter.
I receive the letter and money Saturday and I was so happy to received it. I was walk on the air. I need a lot a little thing in grocery line. So I hope you are well. I am well and get along all right. Only need some money. Frank did make a loan. I told him his boy was married now, the one that was in the service. He say may be he will be able to send me a few dollar. So he got 25 dollar from him in March that was a help. His boy told him if he need a few dollar to write him. But he hate to write him because he had him - when he was in service - send him ever month. I heard Mrs. Kate was in Raleigh. I wrote Billy and him for some money. So Rich came home Friday so they over Friday to see what it all was about, to see how I was. It was so sweet of them. I was at school picnic so they came there and got me and carry me home. They lent me 25 dollar. It was so nice. Frank son and daughter from Portsmouth sent me 5 dollar each, so I got 25 dollar on Monday. So I am thank the Lord with all my heart. Love to Miss Kate. My slipper is all fine so take good care of your self.

September 25 1956

To Bill Urquhart, after his mother’s - Kate Nelson Fenner Urquhart (MAMMY) - death on August 21, 1956

My dear son and all the family,

Just a few line to let you all hear from me. I am well and I hope you all is well and is get along all right. I have been want to write you for a long while but I just couldn’t seem to get up to it. You no how I am and how I feel about everything that happen. I wont home, I was called to Phila. Jennie girl had to be operation on. So I and Jennie went. I stay 2 week. Jennie is there now. I just want to say I join you and all your family in deep simphy so be good and don’t forget me. I am still your color mother and I love all 3 of you. So anything I can do for you all I will be glad to do if I can. Is Kate gone back to work yet? How are you. I am gon pay you soon as I can. I have out over a bale of cotton. I and Frank pick it out by our self. So take care your self. So long from Mary.

October 31, 1956

My dear Miss Urquhart,

Just a few line to let you hear from me. I am well, Hope you are fealing much better by now. This leave I and Frank very well. I hope you are done all right so far is get along all right. To day is Hollyoween day. Hope you will have a good time toonight. Hope you have a date. Haven’t had time to go home, not yet. Bill told me he would carry me over to see Mattie and all when ever I get ready to go. But I have been very busily until it started to rain. And I was just about half through get my peanut up and it just rained. When it stop rain it is to wet to shake up peanut or to pick cotton. I have never seen it rain like this before. This time of year I would have been through pick my cotton off if it had not have rain. Who do you think will be our next president, the same one or who will it be. (Eisenhower or Stevenson) Please write me when you have time and tell Rich to write me sometime. And let me hear from you and let me no how you are and what is you plan on doing for Thanksgiving. Let me no how you are and how are your friends get on. May God bless you from Mother Mary to Miss Kate F. Urquhart

PS. Send me Rich address. Please love to your wife and to the children.

April 25, 1957

My dear daughter,

Just a few line to let you hear from me. I am much better than I was when I wrote you last. Hope you are well and is ok. Hope you had a nice Easter. I didn’t go any where. I was not well so I didn’t fix anything for Easter at all. Thank you so much for the card and the gift. You are so nice and thoughtfull. You is the only one that thinks of me. I was to the doctor Tuesday & Wednesday. I had 30 day off and was take needle with insulin and went back to check it. So he told me to come back. But he did tell me not to take breakfast. I didn’t go until 2 oclock with the mail man. That was all the way I had to go. Everybody is work now and if I go on the 8 I have to stay until 4 unless you catch a ride. So if I go on the 2 oclock mail, I can come back on the 4. So I still got to take the needle. So be good. I will write you soon. So good bye. In a hurry now. Love to all from Mary.

November 3, 1957
Tillery NC

My dear daughter,

I received your beautiful card and I was so glad to hear from you and to no you was well and had made your trip back in the USA again. And this leave me well. So Frank and me have finish all our crop cotton. Only a little corn to pull. Didn’t have any peanut at all. Saw Bill in October. He was well. I hope you are well and had a wonderfull time. I want to see you so bad. I am so glad you are back. I am so sorry I haven’t wrote you before now. But as I told you before, my eyesight is very bad. I just have never bother to wear my glass very much and I tell you the truth, I have never bother to have them change since I had them. I don’t even no how long I have had them. I am write Addie to see if she no. I think we bought glass about the same time. Oh here is another thing slip my mind. That box you sent me with one pair of slipper and some more thing. I can not even see how to read at night and you see how I write all over the lines. And I have to read at day when it is light. Please escuse my bad write and my missstakes. I hope my eyes will get better. I am fealing much better than I have been. All my slipper wear good, fit nice. Tell me if you and Mr. Irvin get married. I mean your Jewish friend I no. I didnt spell his name right. I thought a lot of him. Give my love to your girl friend that I no. I am fealing very well. My trouble is conipation with my bowel. Don’t anything do me any good. It just don’t move unless I take some kind of pill you no. So long from Mary to Miss Kate.

November 15, 1958

My dear daughter,
Just to say hello and how are you today. I hope you are well and is get along find. This leave me well as I could expect to be after all that I have been through with my eye. Well it was not a success. It is very weak. I tell you the truth, I think it is almost gone. I just can see a little out of it, very little, and there is nothing to be done about it. I havent even told Bill about it yet. and the reason I have wrote you I did want to tell you I can’t see how to write and my eyes hurt if I even try to write. I got a card from your aunt Florence (Florence Fenner Conrad, Mammy’s sister). Please escuse bad write. But I am much better in health. I was to the doctor Thursday for a sugar blood test and the doctor was very please. He said I was better off then I had been since I been come to him. He said I look better and the nurse weight 143 pound, more then I have weight since I fell off. I feal very good. Now take care yourself, May God bless you and your family. Are you come home for Thanksgiving? From Mary Person Hill

December 16, 1958
Tillery NC

My dear child,
Just a few line to let you hear from me. I am well and I hope you are well and is get along find. I received your letter. Glad to hear from you. It found me doing fine. I was sorry you didn’t come down to Woodville so I could see you. I saw Bill. He said you was looking fine. I was glad you came to Rich. I no you all had a fine dinner together. I wish I was with you all. Glad Miss Florence and family came and Miss Lizzie and her family. I love to see Miss Florence. She have such a big heart, all way did. Well you seen those 3 nice dress and that nice winter coat and hat. I went to church Sunday . I dress up coat and hat and the dress with the trim with the red. Take care yourself, God bless you. Please thank Miss Florence for me. I don’t have her number.

My dear daughter,
I received your letter and card and all the box. Everything came in good condition. Only one bowl was broke, that all. Sorry haven’t wrote but had some much sickness in the family. Allso death. Jennie husband have ben sick and Bill was sick. When I heard he was in the hospital I was so worried until I went to town. Mr. Martin told me he was out but I have not seen him yet. I thank you for ever thing you sent me. Injoy ever thing. Did you come home. I havent seen Bill so I don’t know. II get alone fine so far. I want to go over home this year some time if nothing happen. Give my love to your girl friend and boy friend that I no. I do want to see you and talk with you soon. So be good until I see you. Write me when you have time. So long. Love, Mary

January 14, 1960
Tillery, NC

**Almost illegible writing scrawled largely over two pages (copy of letter on next page)

My dear daughter,

Just a few line to let you hear from me. I am well. Hope you . The reason you havnt heard from me, I cant read or write. I got your present. I was glad to get it. Them they nice all of. I can’t even see how how to write or read this. I mean I cant see how to write or read much so don’t think, please escuse me for not writ. My umbrella is pretty. I like everything you sent me. Rich is very nice to me. He send me 5 dollar a month. I sure do thank him. I t hank you for all. I am sorry I can’t not see. I did my best. With love , Mary Hill

THE FOLLOWING FOUR ARE POST CARDS that Kate had given Mary with an address sticker on them. All cards are scrawled – Mary is obviously going blind.

August 6, 1962
Tillery NC

Dear Miss Kate

How are you today. This leaves me well but cannot see any yet. I hope to hear from you this summer. I hasen seen Bill in a long time. I still hear from Rich. I hope you is fine. With love from Mary Hill

December 8, 1962

I received your very nice letter and I was sick at that time.. that why I am late. Please send me the skirt and large sweater. Hope you will have a nice and see me. Love, Mary P. Hill

December 19, 1962

I received your nice letter and I was verry glad to hear from you. I am late and please bring them when you come home and I will thank you. My waistline is 40, 30 long…. Please I am looking for Xmas. I am want see you. With love, Mary

February 1, 1963
Tillery, NC

My dear friend,
I reseeved the package.. were fine and I like them. And I thank you so much for them. I has been sick. I am feeling better. I has appointment to Dr. White the 7 of Feb. for a check like you told me.
Love from your friend, Mary

January 15, 1964
Tillery NC

Dear Miss Kate,

Many thanks to you for my presnt and I like them all very nice. I received them on the 18 and my coat and dress both fits me fine. I received 6 boxes from you and they all was nice and I realy enjoy them. Frank say many thanks for his candy also, his sock. Jennie say thank you for her candy. 2 of my plate was broken. A card was found with Jennie name on it but did not say what it was, can you remember what it.

From, Mary Hill

April 11, 1964

Dear Miss Kate

My birthday I received the present and many thank to you and I enjoyed Easter verry. I was well as ever I cannot see to well yet I am so proud of you. I thank you so much for all you has doing . You no I cannot ask you for no new shoes, just want some of your 7 ½ - that my number - you ben wearing for years. Please send me some of your old one to wear around the house. I don’t want you to buy no new this time so many thanks to you from Mary to her best friend, Miss Kate.


This was the last correspondence Mary Person had before her death in 1964

© Copyright Molly URQUHART 2004