Photograph & history of Josephine Mackey Chance

Josephine Chance

1864 - January 18, 1936

Josephine, daughter of Benjamin and Mary Jane Barber Mackie, was born in 1864. On June 18, 1879 she was married to James Ratie [Riley] Chance at her father's home in Fairfield by John Graham Harris, Justice of the Peace. Witnesses were W. J. Harris, Mary Chance and Emanuel Morris, with family and friends attending.

Josephine and James had the following children: Garland (the oldest was accidentally drowned when the tug boat, on which he worked, sank in the Chesapeake Bay), Clara, Mary, Lydie, Josephine, Sinkie, William Corbett, James and Edward.

"Aunt Joe" as she was affectionately known to all children - black and white - managed her household and family, helping with the outside farm family work of her husband, James. As the children reached school age they attended the "Cove School" near their home in Carmur. Later, when the school was moved to Strudwick, "schooling" was important enough for the children to walk more than a mile for the late summer and midwinter school sessions. Josephine, the fourth daughter, later became one of the teachers.

In her busy life "Aunt Joe" found time to be an active midwife as well as the "standby" ready to go into a home when illness occurred, take over the necessary nursing care and manage the household. In the kitchen her skills were unlimited - her "hot gingerbread and molasses cakes" have never been matched.

The one outstanding thing we all remember was her knowledge of the woods and fields, no plant or tree but she could name, and about the use of herbs and plants her knowledge was uncanny.

"Aunt Joe" was a direct descendant of the Mattamuskeet Indians through the Mackie (Mackey) and Barber families, (her husband, James, through the Chance and Collins families) and in appearance and grace these traits were outstanding.

She remained an active member of the Star of Zion Church all her life. Several of her children continue their responsibility to this church at present. On Jan. 18, 1936 she died very quietly and is buried in the Fairfield Cemetery on Road No. 94 with other members of her family.

(Photo and information from Hyde County History published by the Hyde County Historical Society in 1976.)

Copyright 1999

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