BANKS Winter—Spring 2009 Bertie Volina Banks & William Rodolph Dixon Aunt Bertie & Uncle Willard Bertie Volina Banks was born September 20, 1905, in Stephens County, Georgia. She was the youngest of eleven children and the only child of Thomas Marion and Sarah Thomason Aderholdt Banks. She grew up in Stephens County in the area where the family had lived since the early 1800s. Bertie attended Cannon’s Academy and graduated from the State Normal School—former name of the University of Georgia in Athens. Job opportunities led Bertie, her parents and other family members, to Charlotte, NC., where John, an older brother, had already relocated. Bertie taught in the Charlotte school system and, in time, met Willard Dixon. Willard was employed by the Southeastern Railroad Company and later, by the Railway Express Agency. Following a courtship, Willard and Bertie were married August 8, 1929 and remained in Charlotte. Shortly after the birth of their first child, Willard was transferred to Spartanburg, SC. Later, another transfer took him to Greenville, SC, where their daughters were born. Willard continued with the Railway Express Agency, eventually moving his young family to the country, and Bertie returned to the life she so dearly loved: farming. She loved the soil and would spend long hours in the fields tending the crops and caring for the livestock. During this time their fourth child was born and her family was complete. Sensing a need to be closer to the city, Bertie and Willard purchased land on Augusta Road and proceeded to build their dream More . . . P.2 house. During the construcAuntInside Bertie & Uncle Willard this issue: tion stage, Bertie performed the duties of building superin2009 Banks Reunion in Virginia P.3 tendent and devoting time to her garden. As the children Pearl Street P.4 grew older, demanding less of Charles Banks her time, she began working at Belk’s and later at Ivey’s,. She always wanted to return to Family News & Announcements P.5 teaching, but South Carolina had an archaic law that prohibThe Dress—Jeri Stapleton P.5 ited married women from teaching. Later, as the law was amended she returned to teaching full time and taught at East Gantt until her retirement.
A Salute to our Banks Historians Diane (Banks) Leonard
Married 8 August 1929, the newlyweds pose for a picture Bertie in her wedding dress, and Willard wearing his dapper three piece suit. At Bertie & Willard’s 50th anniversary Willard Rodolph Dixon was born November 17, 1901, in Johnson celebration, granddaughter, Patricia Roper wore the dress, County, Georgia. Willard grew up in the small community of Tom, and it fit perfectly! Continued page 2
continued from page 1 Georgia, near Kite, Georgia. His father and mother farmed a 100-acres his mother, Martha Johnson Dixon, had inherited from her parents. After high school, Willard went to Newnan, Georgia, and attended Southern Telegraph and Railway Accounting Institute, graduating in telegraphy and typewriting. Returning to Tom, his parents drove him by horse and buggy to Barto where he boarded a train for Charlotte, NC—he had previously spent time in Charlotte, and had met Bertie. In fact, prior to returning to Kite, and school, Willard had asked Bertie to write him. And just in case she forgot the name of the community, he had told her to think of the sky, which she would associate with Kite. Bertie did write, but she addressed the letter to Sky, Ga. But thanks to the alertness of the U.S. Post Office, they made the connection and Willard got his letter from Bertie, who would become his future bride. Willard’s first job was with Southeastern Railway Company. The depression took its toll, however, and Southeastern went the way of many companies of that era: bankruptcy. He then went to work for Southern Railway, which led him to Railway Express Agency where he remained for 43 years, until his retirement in 1965. Bertie died October 11, 1981, and Willard died February 2, 1986. They are buried in Greenville Memorial Gardens, Augusta Road, in the community of Moonville. Thomas Dixon, Lavonia, GA and Charles Banks, Charlotte, NC
We Remember . . . Submitted by Jennifer Davis Aunt Bertie & Uncle Willard kept us while Mother and Daddy were visiting Bill, Odessa, Diane and Donna in Puerto Rico. No one would take the 3 of us (Sharon, Jennifer and Jimmy Davis) for a week - but Aunt Bertie! What I remember most was picking blackberries in her yard. She had vines that were staked and taller than I was. She would send us out with buckets and ask when we got back what she should make with those berries. I always suggested pies, and got jelly and jam instead! She and Uncle Willard were so good to us, as they always were. I remember, too, when Mother and Daddy would stop by, she would insist we all stay for dinner. After stretching whatever
she had to feed the crew, she would say flippantly when Mother would start to help with the dishes "Don't worry, the girls will get it" and poor Martha Jane and Volina would be left with the mess. Submitted by Donna (Banks) Dodd It was the late 50’s, and pretty much common knowledge among us cousins that the Dixon kids were ―spared the rod‖. Mind you, this was unusual for that time. Well, Diane and I were impressed with the idea, and fought tirelessly to incorporate ―Dixon Discipline‖ into our own family. That was around the time we had tricked a little seven year old playmate of ours
into eating some of Daddy’s red hot peppers by telling her they were a new kind of cherry Daddy was growing. She fell for it! And, as soon as her mouth burst into flames, she started crying and began rubbing her eyes. Well, THAT wasn’t in the plans. Her daddy called our daddy, and Diane and I were made to eat our own fair share of the cherries as our neighbors looked on. We pretty much lost any chance at Dixon Discipline after that! It was all Diane’s fault!
Fast forward to August 31, 1963 . . . All our relatives were gathered at Momma & Daddy Banks’ house after our Mother’s funeral. It was our 12th birthday, and Daddy handed each of us a beautiful little box holding our very own white, leather-bound bible with soft, onion-skin pages. Even the dedication pages were already filled out with our family’s information. A few years later, Daddy told us that it was Aunt Bertie who bought the bibles, and had insisted that Daddy say they were from him. Diane and I both still treasure our special bibles from a very special lady.
Mid 50’s - Uncle Willard, Odessa Banks (our mother), Aunt Bertie, little Stan Godshall, Bill Banks (our daddy), Jimmy Davis. Front row: Jennifer Davis, Diane and Donna Banks
Previously, during his senior year at UNC-Charlotte, he spent a year in Japan as an exchange student in their International Studies program. Matthew is the son of Jim and Susan Banks Banbury and grandson of Charles and Dolores.
Uncle John Matthew Banbury (Charlotte), has accepted a position in Pusan, South Korea, where he will teach English in one of the area high schools. He has settled into his new apartment in Pusan, within walking distance to the school where he will be teaching.
Uncle Groves Courtney Leigh Cook, was married to Thomas Wilson Jenkins III on September 27, 2008 in Williamsburg, VA. The couple live in Richmond. Courtney is the youngest daughter of Tom and Sharon Cook, granddaughter of Irene & JC Davis.
Aunt Viola Banks Glenn Byrum, born 28 January 2009 in Corpus Christi, Texas - 8lbs 4oz Parents - Seth and Brandi Byrum - Proud Grandparents Bruce and Jane Byrum - GreatGreat grandson of Viola (Grano) Banks Byrum.
The Dress made by Gertrude Banks Prince in 1947 By Jeri Stapleton Mother always made me a new dress for my birthday.. Sometimes I wanted so much to have one that was storebought. This is a picture of the one she made me for my second birthday in 1947. Of all the dresses, she saved this one, so I decided to have both of my girls wear it for a picture on their second birthdays... Beth in 1972 and Allison in 1981. When my granddaughters, Lauren and Lainie celebrated their second birthdays in 2003 and 2007 respectively, I asked that pictures also be made of them.
A Salute to our Banks Historians This past year, we heard that it is all but certain that our family does not descend from Sir John Bankes of Corfe Castle. I think we would all agree that it was quite a surprise, even though our family historians have always openly recognized the possibility since we had no solid evidence to substantiate our connection, nor any solid evidence to the contrary. Personally, I was a little sad when I heard the news. And, I’m not sure why, exactly, but maybe because it came across to me as very matter-of-fact, with no build-up to even prepare me. Reminds me of that story about the little boy coming home from school: His daddy stops him at the door and blurts out that his dog is dead. The little boy is so taken by surprise, and said that the least he could have done was prepare him a little before actually telling him the horrible news – that it would have been so much easier for him if he had said something like the dog had been acting funny all day, had no energy, wouldn’t eat anything, and finally crawled up under the house, etc. So, the daddy apologizes, and a few weeks later the little boy gets off the bus, walks up to the front door, and his daddy is standing there to greet him. The little boy asked what was wrong, and the daddy said, “your grandmother came to visit us today, and suddenly out of the clear blue, she ran outside and started crawling up under the house…” Anyway, all I could think about was how much time, money, and energy so many family members had spent exploring from that vantage point, what we believed to be our heritage. So, Donna and I had a talk about how this new information, personally and emotionally, affected us - and she also talked to other family members about their initial thoughts. The responses she received were pretty much full spectrum. One person’s view was kind of tongue-incheek, saying that she never felt like royalty anyway, and was certain she was not on a list to inherit any of their fortunes. And then there were those who thought…‖who really cares? William is William; we just got his daddy wrong! Well, I was still feeling down, and needed to talk to someone who might also have felt betrayed. So, I asked cousin Elaine her thoughts. First of all, she said that it was Lanny’s fault for digging deeper and figuring it all out – and that’s who I should be mad at! But, how could I possibly be mad at anyone who was able to find out the truth? After all, I, too, had done so much research up to that point, that I was certain I was about to stumble upon our direct link to Adam & Eve. Nevertheless, Elaine made the most profound statement after that. She said it really didn’t matter to her one way or the other because her heritage is, and always will be, right here in Carnesville –that nothing could ever change that. And she was right…each of us has our own branch on the Banks family Tree of Life, but if it weren’t for the trunk being so healthy and sound, our tree would have stopped growing long ago. I thank our cousins who’ve invested so much time, money and energy exploring our roots – and using every avenue available to do so. They are the ones who gave so much of themselves to provide the information needed for the rest of us to feel a wonderful sense of belonging and pride. It was a quest, and it still is. So, no matter what the outcome of our blood connection with Sir John Bankes, he will always be a part of our Tree. Wouldn’t Sir John and Lady Mary be flattered to know that their legacy has lived on through our family – and all because we were STUMPED! (Get it—stumped?) So, speaking for all the members of the Banks family, we salute you for your never ending contributions to our past, present and future. Diane Banks Leonard 3/1/09
Special Request: The Ralph Banks cemetery needs about 20 ft. of chain-linked fence replaced. If you would like to make a small donation toward this project, you may send your contribution to treasurer, Rusty Terrell at 1982 North Fairview Rd., Lavonia, GA 30553. We appreciate your support! Do you have something to share for the next newsletter . . . births, graduations, weddings, engagements, great family recipes, thoughts, stories, memories . . . Let me hear from you!! Email email@example.com, or send directly to my home address : Donna Dodd, 3425 Spinnaker Way, Acworth, GA 30102. Next newsletter is targeted for August 2009.
2008 Banks Reunion Trip To Virginia Susan and I just returned from a very interesting and enjoyable Banks family reunion in Virginia. I am writing a rather detailed description of it in hopes that you will someday take the time to investigate your Banks roots as we did. Our host was Cousin John Sheftall, a lawyer from Columbus, Georgia, who has been very active in promoting the Banks Family Association and in documenting our genealogy. He is descended from John, the brother of Ralph Banks of Elbert County, who went West prior to the War of Northern Aggression, settled in Columbus, and built the beautiful ―Cedars‖ plantation. John Sheftall now owns the Cedars and has hosted two Banks reunions there. John has restored the Cedars to its original grandeur, and it is spectacular. He did a great job planning and organizing this reunion. Our headquarters for the reunion was the magnificent Stratford Hall, the 10,800 sq. ft. ancestral home and birthplace of Robert E. Lee, located on the Potomac River. Our connection to the Lee family is that their immigrant ancestor, Richard Lee, was a contemporary and neighbor of our immigrant ancestor William Banks, who built Mantapike plantation on the Mattaponi River in 1660. There were about fifty Banks descendents in attendance, and we enjoyed seeing several of our Thomas Marion Banks descendent cousins as well as meeting cousins from as far away as Colorado, Chicago and Sarasota.. In 1660, William Banks received from the British Crown a grant of 700 acres plus 50 additional acres for each person for whom he paid transportation to the Colonies. The plantation eventually consisted of some 1200 acres. It is located on a bluff above the beautiful Mattaponi River (pronounced Mat a po ni’ with long i). Richard Lee’s original plantation was also on the Mattaponi not far away, as were plantations owned by the Lumpkin and Braxton families [Carter Braxton was a signer of the Declaration of Independence]. Banks family tradition was that William was a son of Sir John Banks of Corfe Castle, but recent studies, including DNA studies indicate that he was related but not a son. The Banks family owned this land for about a hundred years. William died in 1709, and ownership passed to Ralph Banks, who died in 1735. Ralph’s younger son, Thomas, our progenitor, was born at Mantapike in 1709. He relocated as a young man to Caroline County, VA, then to Granville County, NC, and finally to Coldwater Plantation in Elbert County, where he was buried in 1789. Mantapike was sold to the Brooke family in 1760. The site of the plantation house has recently been subdivided into a residential development called Mantapike Landings. At the original landing, there was a wharf where goods were brought in and the output of surrounding plantations was shipped out. Within the last hundred years, a vegetable canning plant was located there, and there is an artesian well, still functional, at the site on the river bank. I have ordered a historical map showing the location of homes of the Colonial period. Interestingly, there is a Mattoponi Indian reservation across and down-river from Mantapike. Mantapike is in King and Queen County, which is a very
by Bob King rural county in the ―Northern Neck‖ of Virginia, 65 miles long and about 10 miles wide. It contains many beautiful, very productive farms, growing primarily corn and soybeans. The residents are proud that there is not a traffic light or an incorporated city in their county. It has lost population every census for over a hundred years, apparently because there is no manufacturing or other jobs for the young folks, so they leave.. We visited the King and Queen County Court House site where our ancestors conducted their business. There is an original ―tavern‖ at the site where people stayed when they came to conduct business at the courthouse, and it is now home for a lovely little museum. The original courthouse was destroyed during the ―Civil‖ War because a Yankee colonel and his men came through this area on the way to Richmond when they were trying to conquer it. The attack was repulsed, and when the Yankees came back through there in retreat, the local guard killed them. The father of the colonel was an admiral on a ship out in the Chesapeake, and to punish the locals for killing his son, he destroyed the court house and all its records. A replacement court house stands on the site. Also, we visited Mattaponi Baptist Church, where the ladies of the church provided a magnificent smorgasbord dinner for us. This is a beautiful brick church with walls three feet thick, built in 1732 by David Minitree, renowned builder of many important homes of Tidewater Virginia. In Colonial times, beginning in 1682 as wooden churches, this was the Lower Church of St. Stephens Parish of the Established Church of England where our forbears worshiped, were baptized and buried. After the Revolutionary War, the church was disestablished and abandoned. It remained unoccupied until 1803 when the Baptists took it over, refurbished it and have occupied it since. In the winter of 1923, some parishioners came early on a Sunday morning and built a fire so it would be warm for the worshipers. When the congregation showed up, the roof was on fire. They immediately set to work carrying the altar, pews, endowments including the pew Bible with the date 1733, furnishings, etc. out into the yard to save them. The pages of that Bible have been laminated, but are still in use. The church burned completely except for the walls, but within a year the Baptists rebuilt it beautifully. One of the architectural features that I particularly liked was that the transepts can be separated from the main part of the sanctuary by retractable walls similar to the top of a roll top desk, that retract into the ceiling. Thus there can be separate Sunday School rooms in each of the transepts, in the balcony and in the main sanctuary. At one time, the membership was over three hundred, but now there are only 18-25 in attendance on a given Sunday. It was a special weekend of being reminded of the vision, courage and sacrifice of all those who stepped ashore on this continent to begin a new life. Little did they know what a grand country they were helping to establish. It was especially poignant to be there on a 21st century weekend of great political debate and financial crisis. May we always remember our roots – our families’ and our country’s. God bless us -- one and all. Bob & Susan King
Considering the current economic condition of our country, I wanted to re-run the following piece written by Charles Banks a number of years ago. You’ll see why.
Whatever happened to Pearl Street, the street where, in the shadow of the depression, I grew to adolescence? While we empathize with our neighbors and fellow citizens whose days begin and end searching for a job, imagine being born at a time when one in four Americans were out of a job. That’s a depression. My earliest recollections of the ―great depression‖ begin about 1937, at about the age of six. I had an older brother, who was ten at the time, and a younger brother just beginning to walk. Pearl Street, where we lived, was a treelined street of neat, white frame houses and home to a mixture of white collar, blue collar, and our share of the unemployed. It was a friendly street, where gentlemen tipped their hats to ladies, and ―yes ma’am and yes sir‖ were integral parts of a child’s vocabulary. Our family was among the fortunate. Our father, a fireman for Southern Railway at the time, worked the third shift and kept a roof over our heads and food on the table. And mother had the ability to take a few spices, add a measure of TLC, and turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. The depression years were tough on adults, but the birth- right of resilience belongs to the kids of the 1930s. Few were hardly aware of the depression or what it meant. After all, how could you miss something you never had? There was always a ball and bat and an empty street that doubled as a baseball diamond; the school playground was a good place to shoot a game of marbles, and on a hot summer evening an empty tin can became the centerpiece of a kick game.
porches, to order a dime’s worth. Meanwhile, all the neighborhood kids gathered at his wagon waiting to receive a sliver of ice, and waiting to hitch a ride behind Charlie. The depression brought about a lot of change in people’s lives. They learned to live with less, and being creative became a necessary ingredient for survival. Our next door neighbors were creative. They turned upstairs rooms into an apartment and rented it to a nice old couple, Mr. and Mrs. Gentry. ―Mr. Fred,‖ as we youngsters addressed him, had a rich baritone voice as well as being an accomplished organist. He worked part-time at a local radio station, and rather than spend a dime for bus fare, walked to the studio each day. And if you tuned your radio to 910 each day at noon, you could hear Mr. Fred singing and playing the organ. He preceded the reading of daily obituaries with his repertoire of hymns. As I think back to the depression years, I can never escape the memory of Mr. Fred, nor can I forget the melodious voice of a kind old gentleman singing ―…Precious memories, how they linger…‖ Pearl Street was but a short walk to the Goody Shoppe, home of the world’s best hot-dogs and hamburgers. Mother saved her extra change, and every few weeks Sunday night became ―treat night.‖ Hot-dogs were a nickel and hamburgers a dime, and ―all the way‖ meant chopped onions, mustard and chili. And I can attest, the walk home was absolutely tantalizing as the aroma wafted from a bag of hot-dogs and ham- burgers, wrapped in wax paper, oozing with onions and chili. If it was summertime, the walk home even provided entertainment. With radios tuned to favorites such as Jack Benny or Amos and Andy, it was easy to follow the comedies as you walked along.
The depression brought an outpouring of compassion— neighbor helping neighbor, going door-to-door if necessary, to collect food for a friend out of work. And it wasn’t unusual to answer a knock at the door and find someone in search of work, just to earn a hot meal. There were times when our Mother would warm some leftovers. A large platter of food and a cool glass of milk or tea went a long way toward filling an empty stomach.
Pearl Street was a neighborhood where kids had their ears glued to the radio about 3:30 each afternoon. That signaled the beginning of a series of 15-minute radio shows featuring favorite comic book characters like Terry and the Pirates, Green Hornet, and Don Winslow of the Navy. Then there was Saturday night, when a squeaking door introduced Inner Sanctum Mysteries or drama like Lux Presents Hollywood.
One of the joys of summer, and it was free, was to hitch a ride on the ice wagon. Our neighbor, Mr. Lanford, worked for the local ice company and delivered throughout the neighborhood in a wagon drawn by a horse named Charlie. Refrigerators were a luxury appliance in the 1930s and the icebox was a mainstay for refrigeration. As the horsedrawn wagon made its way through the streets, Mr. Lanford’s booming voice brought the womenfolk to their
So whatever happened to the tree-lined street of neat, frame houses? Or the savory eatery with the nickel hotdogs? Or the 15-minute radio thrillers that stirred the imagination? Time may have caused me to surrender my youth, but at the risk of romanticizing the past, time shall never cause me to surrender my memories. Charles W. Banks, Charlotte, NC
Family News & Announcements P.5 Aunt Bertie & Uncle Willard Pearl Street Charles Banks P.4 Inside this issue: More . . . Aunt Bertie...