Of all the children, he was known as the kindest, and here at the depot 11-year-old Eddie sat on the bench next to his mother and held her hand as they waited. She was stoic, but weary; the family had been through a lot. The biggest blow, of course, was that Pa had died last year. The sadness had been almost unbearable, but worse, without him, there weren’t enough left of them to maintain the farm that even with Pa alive they had only been able to afford to sharecrop.
Now, at the depot, they were waiting on the train to Portsmouth — Eddie, Ma, Beulah, Surrey, and Katie. Eddie didn’t know much about Portsmouth, just that it was somewhere near Norfolk, and he’d only heard about Norfolk because Ma’s brother, Joseph, had gone up there several years ago and gotten himself a job with the railroad. When Joseph had come home for Pa’s funeral, he’d told Ma they’d be better off in Virginia. The boys could find work there, easy, he said. Still Ma had fretted. It didn’t seem right to leave Pa behind, in the ground, alone. And she had only ever known these parts. Her family and Pa’s family, why, they’d lived in Gates County or thereabouts for as long as anyone could remember.
So Sidney said he’d go up first. He’d find a job, and a place for all of them to live, and they could come later. He’d only known farming, so it felt like a good sign that he had found work so quickly, just like Uncle Joe said would happen, and Sidney had sent a letter home urging the rest to follow as soon as they could. And so here they were at the train depot at Drum Hill. The family had sold nearly everything they owned to be able to afford the tickets and to start their new life.
A sudden memory came to Eddie: a couple of years ago, a man they’d never seen before came to church. Eddie heard him tell a neighbor he was from Raleigh, and Eddie rose on his tiptoes high enough to whisper to Pa, “Where’s Raleigh?” and Pa had laughed and answered, “Pay no mind, you can’t get there from here.” Eddie didn’t understand the joke at the time, but now it was beginning to dawn on him. The family was moving to Virginia because there was opportunity there and the train would take them there. Raleigh, the capital of the state they actually lived in, was very difficult to travel to — not even the train had a direct route there.
Gates County was one of the counties in North Carolina that folks in the state sometimes called the “lost provinces.” It was one of six counties in an area in northeast North Carolina that look on the map like a bobcat’s pawprint, its claws pressing into the swampy Carolina coastal zones. In fact, the biggest swamp of them all, the Great Dismal, took up a good share of eastern Gates County. The Albemarle Sound and Chowan River bounded the south and southwest preventing easy access to Raleigh. On the other hand, the difference between Virginia and North Carolina was just a matter of steps from Drum Hill. On a given day, it was possible to wander back and forth over the border lots of times without even knowing.
Eddie stood up to stretch his legs. He saw Surrey glance at him and then lift his jaw in the direction where the train would come from. Eddie turned that way, and, like his brother, could hear the steam engine before they could see it. Eddie understood his mother’s apprehension, but at that moment when the black beast came into view, all he felt was excitement. His first train ride. And his first trip to a real city.
Following (for search purposes) are names of essential persons mentioned in the PDF, as they appear in the PDF. Birth and death information is provided when available in the PDF or was otherwise discovered during the research. Maiden names of women are underlined. Also included at the bottom is a list of terms, other than names, that interested parties may search.
- James Edward Small, Sr. – b. 1895, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. April 29, 1981, Ashland, Virginia
- Ruth B. Ashworth Small – b. March 1, 1896, Crewe, Virginia; d. December 3, 1976, Richmond, Virginia
- Thomas Claude Small – b. 1848, likely North Carolina; d. 1905
- Mary Francis (Fannie) Hill Small – b. 1853, Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. March 12, 1929, Portsmouth
- Sidney Small – b. circa 1886, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. 1952
- Beulah Estelle Small – b. 1886, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. 1968
- William Arthur Small – b. 188, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. 1928
- Surrey Thomas Small – b. 1890, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. 1962
- Fannie K. (Katie) Small – b. 1893, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. 1969
- Annie Small Clark – b. circa 1878, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. 1907
- Whitmel F. Clark
- Francis E. Small – b. circa 1874, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. ?
- Theodore R. Small – b. 1880, likely in Drum Hill, Gates County, North Carolina; d. ? (but before 1907)
- James Small – b. circa 1820, possibly Gates County, North Carolina; d. ?
- Henrietta Jones Small – b. 1820, possibly Gates County, North Carolina; d. ?
- William Hill – b. circa 1820s, North Carolina; d. ?
- Margaret Liles Hill, b. 1826, likely North Carolina; d. ?
- Joseph Hill, b. circa 1870s, likely North Carolina; d. ?
- Ruth Ashworth Small, b. 1894, Lunenburg County, Virginia; d. December 3, 1976, Richmond, Virginia
- Lee Davis Ashworth, b. 1866, Lunenburg County, Virginia; d. 1949, Richmond, Virginia
- Alona Jordan Ashworth, b. 1869, probably Lunenburg County, Virginia; d. 1950, Lunenburg County, Virginia
- Augustus (aka Augustine) Washington Ashworth, b. 1834, Lunenburg County, Virginia; d. 1921, Richmond, Virginia
- Ann Eliza Bailey Ashworth, b. 1834, Lunenburg County, Virginia, or nearby; d. 1923
- Alona M. Jordan Ashworth, b. 1869, Lunenburg County, Virginia, or nearby; d. 1950
- W. L. Jordan; b. 1820, probably Lunenburg County, Virginia, or nearby; d. 1904
- M. F. Tunstill; b. 1844, probably Lunenburg County, Virginia, or nearby; d. ?
- Mabel Ashworth, b. 1891; d. 1981
- Anna F. Ashworth, b. 1893; d. 1970
- Samuel L. Ashworth, b. 1894; d. 1982
- Robert Emmet Ashworth, b. 1898; d. 1995
- Sarah Ladybug Ashworth, b. 1988; d. 1988
- Jesse B. Taylor, b. 1880
- James Edward Small, Jr., b. 1918, Portsmouth
- Katherine Ammons Small, b. circa 1918, Virginia
- Jacqueline Ruth Small, b. October 12, 1927, Portsmouth, Virginia; d. February 14, 1981, Ashland, Virginia
- Wirt Crawford, b. March 17, 1874, Charlotte County, Virginia; died March 31, 1956, Richmond, Virginia
- Andrew B. Crawford, b. circa 1870s
- Martha Crawford, b. circa 18702
- Eudora F. Crawford, b. 1868, Charlotte County, Virginia
- John F. Crawford, b. 1870, Charlotte County, Virginia
- Willie, b. 1866, Charlotte County, Virginia
- Blanche G. Russell Crawford, b. circa 1870s, Lunenburg County, Virginia
- John F. Crawford, b. circa 1870s, Charlotte County, Virginia; died June 1923, Richmond, Virginia
- Alpha Elizabeth Crawford, b. circa 1870s, Charlotte County, Virginia
- Russell Crawford, b. 1904, Richmond, Virginia
Other search terms: Drum Hill, Gates County, Gatesville, Perquimans County, Hertman, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Crewe, Norfolk and Western Railroad, Confederacy, Civil War, 23rd Virginia Regiment, Service Machine and Welding, Confederate Soldiers’ Home, Mecklinburg County, 2020 East Franklin, Shockoe Bottom, Great Depression, Richmond Area Community Chest, Richmond Citizens’ Association, Keysville Railroad Station, Seaboard Air Line Railroad, 422 North 10th Street, West Main Street, Stuart Avenue, South Mulberry, Grove Avenue, South Sycamore, Ladies Auxiliary of the Ancient Order of Valiant Knights, Sterling Realty Company, 3211 Cutshaw, Granite Avenue, Housewives League, 23rd Virginia Infantry, Keysville, address number changes, street name changes, Richmond Planning Commission, Henrico County, jalousie windows, slavery, Westwood Settlement, Monument Avenue Crest
Other names listed (associated with the property at 5705 Franklin property): Dean M. Nichols, Lorna Walthall Nichols, Martha BB. Chisholm, Albert L. Germanis, Rose Marie Germanis, Gail C. Rogers, Theron W. Ward, Darlene L. Ward, Nathan S. Ward, Loftin (or Lofton) N. Ellett