In the late afternoon of Sunday, June 21, 1891, a young man made his way along a dusty country road leading from Bayboro, South Carolina, to Cool Springs, South Carolina. His mission was to ask Jeremiah Mishoe for the hand of his daughter, Penelope, in marriage. He hoped that his mission would be successful for he loved his prospective bride very much. Having first met her at her sister, Ellen's, home in Bayboro, a brief but wonderful courtship blossomed in the environs of her home near Cool Springs and her sister's home in Bayboro where she often visited. Penelope was now only 14 years of age, but on the 16th of January she would be l5. Would Jeremiah think she was too young for marriage? Perhaps not, thought Wilson Daniel Pridgen, for he knew quite a few who had married at such an age. The young man sat upright in his buggy behind the fine red mare as he rode along. He had thick brown hair with soft, blue twinkling eyes. He was a handsome youth with a large nose and ears that seemed to protrude too far from his head. He spoke softly and had a natural dignity and grace about his person. His weight was about l65 pounds and his height 5 feet l0 1/2 inches.
Looking at the deep forest and nodding infrequently at someone working in a nearby field, his mind turned from the forthing decision to thoughts of Betsy and Moses, his mother and father. He had enjoyed such a happy childhood. He remembered how his father had told him of his birth in their small two room home about two miles from the home of old man Daniel Blanton, his mother Elizabeth's, (called Betsy) father. It was also only a short distance from the home of his grandfather, Lawson. Both grandfathers were large landowners. He also reflected on his mother's narration of his birth and the night his father was given the news by wife, Betsy, of his expected birth. On a wintry day in January, 1879 when Mosses was 21 years of age and Betsy was 24 years of age, Betsy had shyly broken the news at the supper table that she was carrying a child. The child was born on July 27th in the late hot summer afternoon with a midwife in attendance. The baby was a fine boy weighing approximately 71/2 pounds and was given the name of Wilson and Daniel after his grandfather, Daniel Blanton and Daniel of old.
As the young lad was in his early childhood, he remembered vividly the cows, horses, hogs, and chickens on his grandfather Blanton's large plantation. He shared fond memories as a boy on his father's farm. He roamed the forest and contributed his part to work around the farm when only a small lad. There was especially etched in his memory one very hot day in the summer when his father was brought into their small cottage unconscious. About eleven or twelve o'clock in the morning someone had found Moses lying in the field. He was brought to the house on a cot as he was a heavy man. He remained unconscious for some time - which seemed like three or four hours to the small boy. The young lad remembered going into the house and seeing his father lying on the floor. The news spread throughout the neighborh6od. Friends came in and worked with him for a good long time. Upon coming to his first words were, "I have found the Christ." Those around him did not know what was the matter with him. Finally, one good old brother said, "He's under conviction." Moses, who was later to become a great one in the proclamation of the Gospel, was converted there in that two room home. Young Wilson remembered how soon after this the Church licensed his father to preach. Moses had only a meager education. He had gone to the 6th grade, but he added to this knowledge and education by studying hard. His son remembered him sitting up during the late hours of the night studying his well marked Bible by the light of an oil lamp.
The farm that young Daniel remembered as a boy was land which was given to Moses Pridgen by his father, Lawson Pridgen. The deed of conveyance was dated May 8, 1872, and described as a tract of land containing 50 acres. Father, Moses, later sold this tract of land and moved into the Bayb6ro neighborhood. It was there that young Daniel went to school and spent the balance of his childhood days. The youth Daniel had a great attraction for the trains as they passed through Gurley. His father urged him to get all the schooling he could. In the cold mornings, as well as in the springtime, the young lad would get up and walk about three miles to school, arriving about eight o'clock and remaining until four in the afternoon. He remembered the stern teachers as they sat with a switch beside their desk. They slapped on the desk many times with it and the children would almost jump out of their seats. Those were wonderful days for the young lad, and he learned something because he really put himself into it.
His thoughts moved away from his boyhood days to the present. He now had a job in the telegraph office in Gurley where he learned telegraphy. The times were still hard for those who lived in the Southland. He had been born in the administration of Ulysses S. Grant who benefited very greatly from black votes in the South. Texas, Virginia, and Mississippi were not re-admitted to the union until one year after his birth and cast no votes in the election for Grant. The South even now was still in the throes of agony from the civil War and had elected Benjamin Harrison, President, in the election of 1888. The young man liked Grover Cleveland whom Harrison had beaten out for the election, but Cleveland was to be elected again in the year 1892 over Benjamin Harrison.
As his horse trotted along young Wilson thought of Jeremiah who he hoped would be his father-in-law. Jeremiah was an unusually handsome man with piercing eyes, dark brown hair parted in the middle, and a fine physique. He was we1l known in the county of Horry where he had been born and was now Magistrate in his area. The office of Magistrate at that time required a person of unusual character as well as some knowledge of the law as they had vast authority in their section and prepared many legal papers. Young Wilson had learned to like him very much. He enjoyed his trips to the home of Jeremiah and Martha. Martha was a wonderful cook and there was always a lot going on in their home. Pennie to the youngest of the five girls born to Jeremiah and Martha. There were also three brothers. Many times the boys, girls, and friends would gather together and make molasses taffy.
Suddenly gray clouds gathered and thunder rumbled in the distance. It was not long before a good shower was pelting the back of his fine mare. In a short while the summer rain passed away. The young man's destination drew close as his horse clopped across a bridge near the Mishoe place. With each beat of the hoofs these words rang in his ears - WHAT WILL JEREMIAH SAY! WHAT WILL JEREMIAH SAY! WHAT WILL JEREMIAH SAY!
As Wilson's mare came to a halt near the front steps of the old Mishoe home, Pennie ran out the door and greeted him. She whispered in his ear, "Wilson, I believe everything will be all right."
The scene is the home of Jeremiah Mishoe. The date is Sunday, July 5, 1891, in the early afternoon. The house, a rambling wood frame, was comfortable for that day and was approximately three miles south of Cool Springs. Many people were gathered under the shade trees in the yard. They were waiting for John Smith, a Baptist minister, who was to perform the marriage ceremony. Ever since Jeremiah had given his consent to the marriage in the early summer, plans had been made for this event. All of Pennie's married sisters were home, and many close friends had enjoyed a delicious family-style dinner prepared by the wife and-girls of Jeremiah Mishoe. Finally John Smith arrived in his buggy drawn by a large sorrel horse. After greetings the marriage ceremony was spoken in the parlor of the Mishoe home - the time being 3:00 P.M. In those days a honeymoon to a distant place was almost unknown. It was either a short train ride to another small town where the night was spent or a short buggy ride to the humble home the groom had prepared for his bride. This young bride and groom spent their first night in a room set aside for them in the Mishoe homestead. Fresh starched linen had been placed on the wooden bed, and the water pitcher filled with fresh water as it sat in the wash bowl. Clean towels were placed on the wash stand and a new bar of Palmolive soap - indeed a treat - was still in its wrapper. The mother of the bride gave her daughter two fine feather pillows and a feather bed as a wedding present. The bride also received some bedclothes, a slop jar, and a few kitchen utensils.
After a blissful night broken only by the sounds of guineas, the lowing of cattle, and barking of dogs they were awakened in the early dawn by a giant red rooster crowing beneath their window. After a bountiful breakfast of yard eggs, hot biscuits, molasses, churned butter, pork sausage, ham, and coffee from fresh ground beans, the happy couple gathered all their belongings they could into the groom's buggy. The Mishoe family gathered on the front porch and many tearful goodbyes were spoken. The bridegroom spoke giddy-up to his red mare. He slapped the reins down on his horse's back and the young couple headed for their home near the small village of Bayboro. The young married couple lived in with father, Moses, and Mother, Betsey. Wilson continued to work with the railroad while father, Moses, made his way throughout the eastern section of Horry County along the North Carolina border raising churches and preaching the Gospel. This Minister was known through that section for many years as a fearless man of God, and his stentorian voice literally could be heard not only within the small wooden churches in which he preached but actually for a long distance away. His revival meetings drew people not only from the neighborhood but for several miles round about. Those who knew him said he was a born leader of people as was his name sake, Moses of old. His preaching was likened to that of John the Baptist as he proclaimed from pulpit after pulpit; "Now is the time to repent, For the Kingdom of Heaven is at Hand." When the Mount Olive Baptist Church was moved to its present location in the year 1880, they called the Rev. Moses Pridgen. He served there as Pastor until he retired about 1904. The father of Moses, Lawson, was instrumental in the founding of the Mount Olive Church around the year 1860.
THE FIRST MOVE
In the early part of the year 1893 Wilson left his native state with his wife, Penelope, and a small amount of household goods. This move carried them to Chadbourn, North Carolina, and began a series of moves for the family that continued throughout their lifetime. He continued his work with the railroad in Chadbourn. On December l5th, in the same year, their first child was born and given the name Gary Gold Pridgen. The railroad had not been organized at this time into a Transportation Union, and the employees worked long, hard hours for small wages. With the added responsibilities of a child and continual harrassment from his overseer, Wilson began to drink. He did not drink to excess, but usually would move stealthily into the woods near the depot for an afternoon drink before going home. One cold winter afternoon he had his whiskey bottle and was taking his customary afternoon drink in the woods looking to see if anyone was watching him. He saw a large black man come down the street, slip cautiously into the woods, and take heavy swigs from his whiskey bottle. As young Wilson watched him he said to himself, "If I have to slip around and drink like that, then something bad must be wrong with it." He threw his whiskey bottle down and went home to his wife and child. That was the end of whiskey for Wilson. Late in life, just prior to his death, he was told by his doctor that a small amount of whiskey taken two or three times a day would accelerate the heart muscle and benefit his health. He tried this and although the whiskey was given as medicine, he decided he did not desire any more.
THE SECOND MOVE
The young railroad man now received his first promotion. This led him to Pembroke, North Carolina. At the early age of 25 it seems he has a bright future before him. His skill with the telegraph key and zeal in his work had already made an impression upon his superiors in the Wilmington office.
Perinie is expecting again. The first child, Gary, can now walk and has begun to form some words. He is a bright little fellow and all of the love of Wilson and Pennie surround him. A second son, Cully Caldwell Pridgen, was born on June 11, 1896.
A LONG STAY
The next year with their infant son, Cully, and small boy, Gary, a move was made to Fair Bluff, a small town of 400 lying in the southeastern corner -of North Carolina approximately five miles from the South Carolina border. It was the largest town between Whiteville, North Carolina, and Marion, South Carolina. Four passenger trains made their way through the village each day on the Wilmington
- Columbia run. In addition there was a large amount of freight passing through each day on freight cars. On Sunday afternoon almost the entire populace turned out to the little railroad station to see the afternoon trains come and go. Automobiles were unheard of and the train was the primary means of travel. Large villages, towns, or cities grew up and flourished along the railroad. One of the best jobs to be had was railroad agent in one of the villages, towns, or cities. This move to this flourishing village was a continuation of the progress the young man was making with his employer.
The village was quite picturesque. - The beautiful Lumber River made its way almost through the heart of the town. A dirt street ran along the banks of the Lumber River and on through the little village to Chadbourn, Whiteville and Wilmington. Most houses were built along this main street and quite a few faced Lumber River. It was not unusual during this time to sit on the river bank and catch a mess of delicious redbreast for breakfast, dinner, or supper. The village had a Baptist and Methodist Church.
On December5, 1898, a third son, Paul Mishoe, was born to the rapidly growing faimly. He was named after the Apostle Paul and his grandfather Mishoe. This son, who gave his parents many heartaches in his early boyhood days was later to become a great minister of the Gospel like his grandfather, Moses. His manner and method of preaching, as well as his appearance in the pulpit was truly similar to that of grandfather Moses. He was also a very strong willed person as was his grandfather.
At the turn of the century Wilson Daniel Pridgen was an important personage in the small village of Fair Bluff. He had become very active in all village affairs. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge and was later to become Worshipful Master. He took an active part in politics in the area and became Mayor, or Intendent as it was then known. In addition to his work as agent he moved into other areas of business in the small community. He traded horses and mules and at one time purchased a merry-go-round that had been left in the community because the parties who owned it were not financially able to move it.
The family continues to grow as one boy child after another come along. Sunday, September l5, 1901, the fourth son was born, Otto Kilgore. Tuesday, October 13, 1903, the fifth son was born and given the name, Parmalee Albert. Soon after the fifth son was born preacher Moses, and wife, Betsey, moved to Fair Bluff, and all the family unit was together. Moses opened a small grocery store. The boys enjoyed doing odd jobs for their grandfather and especially reaching their hands into the candy jar.
The time Wednesday, October 17, 1906. Another crying infant is delivered by wife, Pennie. Oh, No! Not another boy. Yes, the infant is now the sixth son. It seems a baseball team of boys is in the offing. The couple has now run out of names for their children. What will they name this new squirming, red, little bundle of humanity. Up popped the name Robert. "What else will we hang on to him? asked Wilson. "Well Daddy", Pennie answered, "Lets give him part of your name." Thus was this son destined to be the only one to carry part of his father's Christian name, Wilson.
In the late afternoon of a beautiful summer day on Monday, June 21, 1909, Penelope hurriedly called young Cully into the house from his play and said to him, "Cully, run down to the depot and find your father and tell him to come to the house as soon as he can - hurry now, Son." The barefoot lad, then thirteen years of age, ran to the depot and found his father. "Father, Mother said for you to come to the house as soon as possible." Wilson knew what the summons meant for the time for the birth of another child was near at hand. He finished his work in the smal1 depot and hurried home. As he made his way home he thought about the time exactly eighteen years ago when he was on his way to ask for the hand of his beautiful wife, Penelope. Theirs had been such a wonderful marriage together, and they had been blessed with six fine boys since that time. When Wilson arrived home Penelope told him she thought it best for him to contact Dr. Floyd and have him to come by the house that night. It was necessary to alert the doctor for he might be away on another call as he had to travel by horse and buggy to his patients. Dr. Floyd came by the house in the early part of the night and examined Penelope. He told her he would be back by the next morning,. feeling the child would be born at that time.
As the couple lay in their bed that night, both wondered if another boy would come along or if they would be blessed with a baby girl. Pennie confided to Wilson that she really had a feeling they were going to have a girl. Her feeling was correct. On Tuesday, June 22, 1909, Dr. Floyd delivered a fine, chubby baby girl. Happiness reigned supreme in little Pridgen household that day. During the day Penelope let all the gleeful boys visit her room for a peek at their new baby sister.
There were now seven young Pridgens in the couple's humble cottage. Gary was fifteen and being taught telegraphy by his father, Cully thirteen, Paul ten, Otto seven, Lee five, Bob two, and the infant girl, who had been given the name Elma Lois. Tending to all them young boys, caring for the newly born infant, keeping house, and preparing meals was indeed a large chore for this house-wife. At the time of the birth of the baby girl Penelope was helped around the house by a fine black woman. Years later this same black woman informed son, Raymond, in his law office in Mullins, South Carolina, that she pleasantly remembered working for his mother, Pennie, in Fair Bluff. She related to him what a wonderful mother, Pennie, was to her children. Her memory of the youth, Cully, was very good. She commented upon what a fine lad he was.
Father Wilson was very busy in his work as agent at the railroad and also in other varied enterprises of his in the small village. The family lived well indeed for that period of time. The boys enjoyed fishing and wading in the Lumber River in the summer time. Their feet had growing pains and it was hard to fit them with shoes during the winter and fall months when they were in school. They could hardly wait until springtime came when mother Pennie would allow them to take their shoes off and go barefoot. Some of them, picked strawberries in the field and did other odd jobs around the village. They especially liked to walk down to grandfather Moses' small store and be given a piece of candy. This was a wonderful era for the family of Pridgens.
JOY AND SADNESS
Christmas in the year 1909 was one of the happiest the family had spent. They not only celebrated the birth of the baby Jesus but also celebrated the birth of a baby sister born into their midst. Santa brought quite a few toys, and best of all the family was well. Then suddenly, only two days after this joyous Christmas, grief entered the heart of the family. Moses had eaten a hearty dinner of pork and cabbage, a favorite of his. Soon after this meal, while nodding in his rocker, he was suddenly stricken. The organ which had for sixty years pumped blood through his body failed, and God called this great servant of his to his eternal reward. This one who so faithfully proclaimed. the message of his Lord and Master was laid to rest in the cemetery Fair Bluff. Inscribed on his tombstone were these words,
"HE DIED AS HE LIVED - TRUSTING IN GOD."
On a beautifu1 Sunday afternoon on June 17, 1910, a small group of young boys and girls were playing on the railroad tracks in Fair Bluff. The group included Emma Johnson, Grace Powell, Pat Martin, Cully Pridgen and Oliver Rogers, all about the same age. They cane to a boxcar sitting on the side tracks which was filled with strawberries. The car was refrigerated by ice and the agile youth, Cully, climbed the iron ladder leading up to the top of the boxcar. He removed some of the ice and ate quite a bit, of it. During the early part of that same week the youth had also eaten a large amount of ice cream. About the middle of that same week he began to complain of stomach pains. The pains got worse and he became nauseated. The local doctor was summoned and treated him, but he seemed to get worse. Another doctor from Chadbourn was called and he gave him some medicine. However the young lad did not respond to the medicine given him, and his condition became serious. Time after time Mother Pennie, on her knees, in the quietness of her closet, entreated her Heavenly Father to spare the life of her son, Cully, and restore his health. Saturday, as his condition grew worse, she was by his bedside during the day and all that night. Tragedy and heartbreak anew becomes a lot of the family. On Sunday morning, June 24, 1910, an angel hovered over the young lad. Cully, and his spirit winged its way to be with its Creator. Dreaded death again entered the portals of the Pridgen family and the youth's fine physical body was without life. Thus within a period of six months the hearty laughter of father, Moses, and the barefoot steps of the youth, Cully, were no longer heard in the Pridgen househo1d. A pall of gloom spread throughout the family, and there was deep remorse among the people of the village as the word spread quickly that young Cully Pridgen had died. All those who remembered Cully spoke very favorably of him. The Youth was laid by the grave of his grandfather, Moses, and these beautiful words which are now hard to read from his monument speak so eloquently to those now living,
"IN THIS LITTLE GRAVE WORLDWIDE HOPES ARZ BURIED
THE SILVER THREAD OF A BLAMELESS YOUNG LIFE HAS BEEN BROKEN."
Prior to the death of his father, Moses, and his son, Cully, Wilson had been taking an active part in the Church. He began to speak around in various churches in that area. He began studying his Bible more and began to get closer to the God and Lord and Saviour whom his father had proclaimed. The health of mother, Betsey, began to fail. She was a very lovable person and Pennie and father, Wilson, ministered to her. In the spring of 19ll, Betsey, grew seriously ill, and again death entered the close knit family. This one who had so lovingly cared for her husband, Moses, and watched over son, Wilson, was buried under the shade of the oak tree beside her husband. These words were inscribed on her monument,
"THY TRIALS ENDED - THY REST IS WON."
The passing of father, Moses, mother, Betsey, and son, Cully, within a period of less than one and one-half (11/2) years left a profound impression upon Wilson. He read more frequently from the Holy Passages of Scripture and began to speak more often in the small churches from which he received invitations. He continued his daily work, but there seemed to be speaking to him the voice which had spoken to Adam in the garden of Eden, to Moses as he lead His chosen people toward the land of Canaan, to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus, and to his own father.
As he lay in his bed resting at night the Voice seemed to be saying to him more urgently, "You too, must proclaim my message."
In the later part of the year 1911 Wilson was offered a promotion if he would take the agency at Chadbourn, North Carolina. The furniture was loaded and moved a short distance to Chadbourn, which was later to become known as the strawberry capital of the United States. Even then luscious large strawberries were grown in abundance throughout this section of North Carolina. There was a large auction market in the small town of Chadbourn, and the berries were shipped by refrigerated car to different parts of the nation. The railroad office in Chadbourn was a very busy one and during the time that Wilson was agent, his son, Gary, as well as Pennie's brother, Jessie, worked in the office there. Gary became very adept at telegraphy. The family fared well during this period and had some the better things of life. The family home was a nice one in the town of approximately 900 people.
The time - August 9th, 1912, a tremendously hot day for a woman to be in labor with a child. Yet on this hot sultry day, a large red, bawling infant son is born to Wilson and Pennie. This was the seventh son. Pennie gave him the name of Samuel for the Doctor who made the delivery. Brother, Gary, provided him with the name Raymon, taken from a box of Raymon's Liver Regulator. Surely the family was now complete. Soon after the birth of this child, Gary, left Chadbourn taking a job with the railroad in Wilmington, North Carolina. In his spare time Wilson began to tinker with watches and clocks and soon learned the art of repairing them.
The Voice seemed to become more audible, clear, and distinct - - "Proclaim my Message." A man walks through life with the call ringing in his ears, a stirring in his heart. By what right could Wilson with a meager education stand bef6re men, Bible in hand, and Proclaim the- Message. God calls men to Preach! Father Moses had received the call and responded. His education was also meager, as was that of Peter, James, and John. The one who was proficient in his work with the railroad firmly felt that the true minister was in his pulpit not because he chose that as a Profession and a means of livelihood, but because a summons had come that could not be denied. Wilson was 42 years of age with six children, the oldest being 14 years of age. The responsibility of the family weighed heavily upon him. Pennie knew her husband was moved and troubled with the question confronting him. Being a deeply religious person she encompassed her husband with her love and encouragement. Wilson believed very firmly that God had called him into the ministry, and that if he did his part God would do his and the family would be cared for.
Late in the year 1912 or the early part of the year 1913 Wilson Daniel Pridgen was ordained as a Baptist Minister. He was called to Smyrna and China Grove as well as to two other churches. Although, the churches formed a good field of work the pay was meager. However, soon after accepting the Pastorate of these churches he submitted his resignation to the railroad. To supplement the family income he did some repairing of watches and fitting eye glasses. He worked diligently preparing his message for the Sunday services.
On Saturday, the 6th day of June in the year l9I4 Martha Mishoe, the mother of Pennie, died at her home at Cool Springs. Wilson, Pennie and all the children made their way to the home where Pennie had so many fond memories of her childhood days. Martha was buried in the Methodist cemetery in Cool Springs and the following words were engraved on her monument,
"SHE WAS A LOYAL FRIEND
A NOBLE DAUGHTER AND
A DEVOTED WIFE AND MOHER"
In the fall of the year l914 the minister received a call to the church at Fremont, North Carolina. Since this was a small town church, there was included in the call a large church by the name of Eureka and one other church. God spoke softly to His new minister saying "Move On." There was no hesitancy on the part of this new servant. Preparations were made for the journey and the children were all very excited. The distance seemed great as the family had lived in one small area. The move was made by train, stopping to spend the night in Wilmington, with Gary. This was the first time some members of the family had ever seen electric lights. These lights were so bright they actually hurt the childrens eyes. The lights were not available until after 6:00 P.M.
The household goods were shipped by freight and after the family arrived Pennie was busy in arranging the furniture in their place of abode. Wilson immediately set out to become acquainted with the members of his church. He entered upon this new pastorate with great zeal and enthusiasm. The small amount paid of salary paid by the church was supplemented with a check from the Baptist State Board in the amount of $100.00 every quarter. When this check was received it seemed like Christmas even though the month may have been July. After being in Fremont for a while an opportunity was received to operate the Fremont hotel. It was a much better place for the children and the family income was supplemented greatly. The older boys were getting mischievous. Otto and Lee got into a little trouble which embarrassed and upset their father. Paul had already been a problem to Wilson and Pennie, and while there he got into a scrape that almost sent him to jail. There was a youth in town that drove a very fine horse and buggy, dressed to kill, and thought he was the stuff. His father was quite well to do and one of the most prominent men in town. The youth courted a girl near Fremont, and Paul and two other boys waylaid him on a rainy night in his horse and buggy. They tied him back of his horse and buggy, made him turn around and forced him to walk behind the buggy back to town - - about two miles. The young sport got very wet and muddy. When he told his father the story, he exaggerated and said they had threatened his life over the girl he was going with. The boys were only having a joke but the father of the young man took out a warrant for the three boys. Wilson said he would just have to let Paul go to jail as he was not going to pay him out. The matter was finally settled by the fathers of the other two boys paying all three fines to the Justice of the Peace.
The great reaper was again experienced by the family. Jeremiah Mishoe had passed away on February 21, l9l5. Mother Pennie was broken up and cried because of her grief which was really two fold - - her father was dead and she was not able to attend the funeral. Jeremiah was buried by his wife, Martha, in the cemetery at Cool Springs. Inscribed on his monument were the following words,
"FAITHFUL TO EVERY DUTY."
These words were very fitting for Jeremiah. - He, served faithfully for four terms in the South Carolina Legislature being first elected in the year 1892. He served the sixtieth, sixty-first, sixty-second, and sixty-fourth sessions of General Assembly.
Soon after the death of grandfather, Jeremiah Mishoe, mother Pennie began to suffer some with arthritis. The church at Snow Hill called Wilson and the family decided to move to Micro. This would be more in the center of the work for Pastor Wilson. However, a move was temporarily made to Selma as a house could not be secured in Micro. The minister was of great service to the members of his flock. He had made great progress in his ministry. While in Micro he made a purchase of his first automobile - - a Model T Ford. Happiness now seemed to be the lot of the entire family. The larger boys were all working and making some money of their own.
Mother Pennie is expecting again. Surely this will be the last one. She is now 40 years of age and she has been bothered a lot in recent months by arthritis. From time to time there was swelling and pain in her knee joints and her wrist. It was only a short distance from Micro to Fuquay Springs. Situate in this small town near the North Carolina capital was a spring of water. The water was known far and wide for its healing qualities. After prayerful consideration the husband decided to move with the family to Fuquay Springs in order that mother might receive the healing benefit of the spring water.
Thus in the spring of the year 1917 the Pridgens moved again - - this time into another hotel situate just by the spring which Wilson managed to secure some way. The hotel was filled with people and business was good. Here again as HE had in the past God furnished another avenue for the support of the family other than the hotel and small churches. Wilson saw an ad in the Raleigh News and Observer for the sale of a watch makers desk and supplies which was to take place in Clayton, North Carolina. Wilson made the purchase, and his purchase was so much more than he ever expected. There was a large number of watches in the lot which only required a minimum amount of work to put in good condition. He sold over $200.00 worth of watches in the lot that he purchased at Clayton for $15.00.
Many wonderful experiences were encountered by the family in this small town. The hotel was continually filled with guests and in the early morning and late afternoon all would go to the well for the healing water. Large five gallon jugs of water were shipped to other parts of the nation. Raymond, who was still the baby, often sang a little ditty, "Little Jack Homer sat in a corner eating his Christmas pie - He put in his thumb and pulled out a plumb and said what a good boy am I." The guests would tip him with a few pennies or nickel for his performance.
In the early morning hours of Saturday, November 17, 1917, another crying infant was birthed by mother Pennie. He was given the name Harold Durward and was to be the last of nine children. The five year old Knee-baby did not seem to like the new baby. As a prank, an old black woman who worked in the hotel secured an old crocker sack and told the Knee-baby she was going to take the new baby off in it. The Knee-baby bucked for he really did not want little baby brother taken away.
A PATRIOTIC CALL
In August of 1914 World War I exploded. Woodrow Wilson was President of the United States. At the outbreak of the war he was continuously buffeted by the American people to get in or stay out of the war. In l9l5 while Pridgens were at Micro, neutrality of the American nation was severely tested by the heavy loss of American life suffered when a German submarine sank the British vessel Lusitania. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned, deeming Wilson's protest notes to Germany too strong; other Americans considered Wilson too detached and neutral by stating that there was such a thing as being "To Proud to Fight."
With Democrats promoting the slogan, "He kept us out of War," Wilson won re-election in 1916. The race between him and Charles Evans Hughes was a very close one. Wilson was an ardent supporter of Woodrow Wilson and felt that he was an impressive leader. However, unrestricted submarine warfare against American vessels caused President Wilson to go before Congress April 2, 1917, and ask for a Declaration of War. America had entered the war just about the time the Pridgens moved to Fuquay Springs. Gary was now twenty-three, Paul nineteen, Otto sixteen, Lee thirteen, Bob ten, Lois seven, and Raymond four. Gary soon enlisted in the Navy and was sent to Charleston where he had a good time and really did not know the war was on. Paul was to be called and was eating his heart out about it. The transportation of troops and war implements together with some of its worker who volunteered for the war was causing a shortage of man power upon the railroads. Wilson was called back to duty for his country - - not as a soldier - - but as agent of the railroad at Poston, South Carolina. Being a very patriotic American he heeded this call and mother Pennie started packing again.
Wilson and Pennie had been away from their native state for approximately 24 years. The move back was made by train with passes furnished on the Seaboard and the household goods shipped free. The time spent by the family in this small village was an unhappy period for the family. The house the family lived in was very small with not much protection from the outside cold. Warmth came to those inside from a trash burner. The flu bug which had spread throughout the United States causing many deaths struck within the family and all members became ill except brother, Paul. Wilson was right seriously ill and a doctor was finally obtained who ministered to the family group. Through a miracle of the Lord all the family group survived. The family's stay in Poston was for only a short while. Paul got a job as a brakeman on a freight train and moved to Charleston. This job kept him from having to go to war.
BY THE SEA
Soon after the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, a move was made from Poston to Swansboro. The household goods were shipped to Moorehead City and a boat captain in the Church at Swansboro transported them over the water from Moorehead City to Swansboro. Wilson owned an old Chevrolet automobile at the time of the move. The car would not stay in gear and the gear lever had to be propped to keep it from jumping out. Otto, who was 17, and Lee 15, started out to drive the car from Poston to Swansboro. The hardships that these two young Pridgens had on this trip were unbelievable. They finally made it to Wilmington, North Carolina, after having been stuck in the mud several times, fixing many flat tires and tinkering with the car one way or another to keep it going. Upon arriving in Wilmington they were out of money, out of gas, no place to stay, and the car needed some work on it. They contacted the Baptist Minister in the First Baptist Church in Wilmington who turned out to be a good Samaritan. He helped them get the car fixed, got some gas, and even furnished them with pocket money and they were on their way again. In the meantime Wilson and Pennie had arrived in Swansboro and mother Pennie was distraught and extremely worried about what had happened to her sons. The boys finally made their way to Swansboro and the family was happily reunited.
Swansboro was a village of approximately 700 inhabitants. It was situate on the sound near the Atlantic Ocean with access by only one road and water. The parsonage was a very nice two story house and such a wonderful contrast to the hovel the family lived in at Poston. To the rear of the parsonage was a large Unitarian school the leaders of which caused Wilson much concern for this denomination did not believe in Jesus as the Son of God. Soon after the Pridgens arrived the minister noticed that about all his members sat around the street and whittled with their knives and talked during most all of the day. This was mainly a fishing village and he was soon to learn that they went out about daybreak in the morning and came in soon thereafter with great catches of fish. Seafood was abundant. Spots, Mullets, Flounder, Oyster, Clams and Scallops were plentiful. A sporting game for the boys was throwing clam shells at Martins as they left their boxes. There was a town gate which had to be opened in order for cars to pass through. This was necessary along with a fence in order to keep stock out of town as stock ran at large. There were now six children at home. All the children were of school age except "Dubby". The man of God had some good churches nearby as well as Swansboro. The boys were able to find some work at Swansboro and help with the family budget. A better car could now be afforded. WLlson made a trip to New Bern and late in the afternoon drove up in the yard of the parsonage with an almost new Model T Ford. All of the family was very excited with this shiny new car. It sported a horn on the side next to the driver which could be squeezed and then it really let out a honk. The model was a 1919. The car was a necessary tool as the preacher made his way through sandy roads to his churches.
The family spent three happy years at Swansbore. Son, Gary, was agent of the railroad in nearby New Bern. At 27 years of age he was very prominent in the civic affairs of the booming town. He had become very active in church work and was elected President of the BYPU of North Carolina. Son, Otto had reached the age of 18 and was ready to move out of the Pridgen nest. Father Wilson secured him a job with the railroad in Kinston. The son did not remain there long as Gary secured him a job in July of 1920 with the Coastline Railroad in Wilmington.
ANOTHER CALL - - PENNIE SAYS "NO"
In the early part of the year l92l husband, Wilson, confided to wife, Pennie, that he felt it was time to move on. The wife for the first time remonstrated. Wilson, "I'm tired of moving"! "Do you know that ~ have moved ten times since we were married? We have drug our furniture and children all over the country and I am ready to stay here a while. What little bit of household goods we have are now about broken up from moving. This is a good place with a good home and the family is happy here. Are you having trouble with your churches?" The minister replied, "No mother, I am getting along fine in my work but I feel that God has called me to a new field of work." "Where", said Pennie? "We would live in Pembroke as I have been called to the church there and some other fine churches to make up a good field." Pennie knew something about Pembroke for the family had lived there one time. She just did not care for this small town in the heart of Indian land and let her husband know it in no uncertain terms. The father of the children was now thinking too of their education. There was no high school in Swansboro and one was available near Pembroke. As had been the case throughout their married life wife, Pennie, reluctantly consented to the move.
With a heavy heart, Pennie, set about getting the household ready for the shipment. The family of seven was crowded into the Model T Ford and took off for Wilmington where the first night was spent in the journey to their new home. Mother Pennie was very displeased with the house in Pembroke the family moved into. She fussed about it some but it was the best that could be obtained. Two of the children, Lois and Raymond were entered in primary school while Bob and Lee went to Philadelphus, a large consolidated high school near Pembroke. This school was one of the few high schools in Robeson County. The Head Master was Jasper Memory who later became head of the Department of Education of Wake Forest College. The stay in Pembroke was to be a short one. A woman member of the minister's church in Pembroke began to speak in tongues. She caused great dissension in the church and after this episode Wilson veered away from anyone who claimed to have the gift of tongues. A happy move was soon to be in the offing for the preacher received a call to a splendid group of churches in Bladenboro.
A HAPPY ERA
Thus in the early fall of the year 1922 the family moved to Bladenboro. Pennie was ready to move and gave thanks that the move was a short distance of 25 miles. She was now yearning for the family to "put down roots", as she expressed it. The town of approximately l500 was unique in that one family owned and controlled practically everything. Around 1900 two brothers by the name Bridger moved into the area and settled. One of them went into the mercantile business, turpentine business, and farming while the other went into the cotton mill business. They prospered and at the time of the move by the Pridgens to Bladenboro there were three large cotton mills owned by the Bridger family as well as one large General store in the heart of the town, a drug store, and various other enterprises. There were three principal streets known as Main Street, Back Street and Front Street. The family moved into a five room shingle house on Back Street. Only four of the children were home. Robert, sixteen years of age, and in the ninth grade, Lois, thirteen years of age, in the sixth grade, Raymond, ten years of age, in the fourth grade, and Dubby age five. Lee was now a freshman at Wingate, Jr., college.
Soon after moving to the new town father Wilson and mother Pennie again were in the Boarding business. They moved into a large teacherage where the teachers lived. This was a happy situation as the children were of an age when they required quite a bit of food and there was always a plenty at the teacherage. The rooms were heated by individual stoves and Robert and Raymond had to do a lot of cutting and carrying wood for these heaters. The kitchen stove also used wood. In the years 1977 and 1978 two teachers who boarded and roomed with WLlson and Pennie in the teacherage during the year 1923 recalled to the writer that they taught Robert and Lois. These were Ruby Rogers who taught Lois in the sixth grade and Ruth Harrelson Meares who taught Robert in the ninth grade. The minister was thrilled with his new work. He continually ministered to his flocks and his sermons were very good.
In December 1924 Wilson and Pennie purchased a lot on Front Street near the downtown area. The lot was described in the Deed as .385 acres. A Deed of Trust in the amount of $700.00 was given to F. P. Callihan from whom the lot was purchased and who furnished material for the building. The Deed of Trust was payable as follows: $150.00 on January 1, 1926; $150.00 on January 1, 1927; $200. on January 1, 1928, and $200.00 on January 1, 1929. The Deed of Trust was cancelled on August 1, 1929. The house was wood and consisted of six rooms downstaris and two rooms upstairs. There was an outside toilet. Common usuage was made of paper from a discarded Sears & Roebuck catalog to wipe the behind. The boys would at times use corn cobs. Often spider webs had to be swept away before usuage could be made of the seat. The privy at the Pridgen residence was a two seater. Although the intestinal system often made calls on cold wintry nights, possible the call was deferred to daylight.
Pennie did all the washing. Some Times she had the luxury of a black woman's help. Her washing was done outdoors all year round in a large iron washpot. A wood fire was made around the pot to heat the water. Water was drawn from a hand pump and carried by bucket. Lye soap was placed in the pot for cleaning the clothes. After boiling, the clothes were removed on a long stick and placed in a large tin tub filled with water. They were then scrubbed on a scrupboard and put into another tin tub for rinsing. The clothes were then wrung out by hand and hung on the line. Often in winter the clothes froze on the line. In addition to her washing, cooking, cleaning house, and caring for her children, mother Pennie made practically all of daughter, Lois's, dresses and drawers for the boys. Often these drawers were made from flour sacks. She was an excellent seamstress and did quite a bit of sewing for the well-to-do women of the town which brought her in some pocket money.
Father, Wilson, was a good gardener and enjoyed immensely planting seeds in the spring and cultivating the garden. He would often press the boys into service much to their dismay. The garden was enclosed by a fence. One of the neighbors was very contentious. He had a large apple and pear tree almost on the line and if apples or pears fell over the fence into the Pridgen garden they were his - - period - - and not one for the Pridgens.
The meals in the Pridgen homestead were really Wonderful. The children were given a hearty breakfast and sent off to school. Often they would come home for dinner during the recess period and at other times a lunch was prepared. Supper was something to behold! Plenty of hot biscuits, butter, molaasses grits or rice, country fried steak or fried chicken as only mother Pennie could prepare. Delicious teacakes were ever present for an afternoon snack. Lois was very adept at the piano and in the early evening there would be a gathering around the piano as she played Ramano, Carolina Moon, My Blue Heaven, and other favorites. The boys would often join in to sing and there was a melodious ring from the home.
In l925 Bob graduated from Bladenboro High School. In the fall he was off to Wingate Jr. College. He remained for only a short while and was back in his home town working and courting. In April of 1927 father Wilson and mother Pennie were informed by son, Lee, that he was to be married. The wedding was set for April 28th in the First Baptist Church in Star, North Carolina, of which Lee was Pastor. He requested that his father perform the ceremony. The family took off for Star in the old buick owned by Wilson and had an uneventful trip. It was a great occasion. Grace, the bride, was very lovely in her wedding gown and the young minister was very handsome with his soft brown wavy hair.
In 1927 the churches in Bladen County participated in a program initiated by the Baptist State Board to raise a million dollars for Wake Forest College. Wilson was made chairman of the committee in Bladen County and did a very splendid job with the County exceeding its quota. A request was made by the Baptist State Board for him to head the campaign in Montgomery County. Was another move in the offing?
WHO SHALL GO
In the early part of 1928 Wilson requested and received a leave absence from his churches to accept the offer of the Baptist State Board. This he would have to go to Troy for three months during the course of the campaign. Would he go alone or must the family go with him? The minister loved his home and family very much and did not like to be away even for a night. When he broke the news to mother Pennie she was very adamant that the family not go along. "Wilson, Lois is now a senior, Raymond is playing basketball, and Dubby is in the fifth grade, and we just cannot tear them up out of their school and move them to a new school for such a short time." Lois was in tears about the thought of having to move. Raymond said he just could not leave his basketball team. The remonstrations were of no effect. Bob had only recently married and had moved in the upstairs of the Pridgen nest. The family again took off in the old buick heading for Troy. Bob and his bride were left to take care of the Pridgen nest.
In Troy the family was settled into a small apartment. The secretary who had helped Wilson in the Bladen County campaign also went along to help him in the Montgomery, County campaign. In a short while the children were happpily settled in their new school. Lois had a new beau and Raymond was playing basketball for Troy. Wilson again did a splendid job in this association and was requested to take charge of another campaign in the extreme western part of the state. He refused this offer. He was ready to get back to his churches. When the family moved back to Bladenboro, Lois stayed on in Troy and graduated from high school there.
Wilson was again busy with his churches. He also conducted many revival meetings in the spring, and summer. Many of these would last for two weeks and the minister was very effective in proclaiming the message of the Christ. Many hearts were touched and many converts made during the course of these revivals.
One of his favorite messages was the story of the Prodigal Son as told by Dr. Luke in chapter fifteen verses eleven through thirty-two. This most beautiful parable of all times never grew old to him. As he related the story his listeners were spell-bound and could visibly see the young man on the way back to his father. When the father clasped his long lost son in his arms (Christ clasping the long lost sinner in his arms) there was hardly a dry eye in the church. Another one of his great sermons was on Heaven and Hell. He used a drawing to portray these places. So vivid was his message hell became a literal burning fire and heaven a beautiful resting place. The minister, was now a master at using illustrations and the mind the listener never strayed heither and yon as he related an event or some happening was portrayed. Fifty-three converts were baptized in Lumber River, most of them adults, after one of his revival meetings. However, after some Sermons, on his way back home, with his shirt wet, the minister would sit in deep thought. A struggle seemed to be within -- had he really given his best to reach those that where lost? The time was so short and yet some would hold the back of the pew and never make their way to the altar with a repentant heart asking for forgiveness.
Free will offerings were usually taken at the close of the meetings. Many times Wilson did not know exactly how much the offering would be until it was counted at home. The children enjoyed helping count the amount received. Raymond was pressed into service driving as was Bob. For many years the minister had been beset by indigestion and always had on hand a box of Arm and Hammer baking soda together with a bottle of Syrup of Pepsin. It is safe to say that during his lifetime Wilson consumed possibly a large room full of baking soda and Syrup of Pepsin.
THE XNOT IS TIED
After graduation from high school Lois became the third Pridgen enter to Wingate Jr. College. She only stayed for a short while. Three young men were now seeking her affections. She did not return to school after Christmas and on March 17, 1929, was married in Troy. Father Wilson and mother Pennie knew nothing of the marriage until the bride and groom returned home. For a while the mother and father of the bride were heartbroken. They soon accepted the fact that their only daughter, whom both loved so dearly, would no longer be a part of the home.
It seemed all the children were getting married. Paul had married Marie Green on October 30, 1921; Otto married Pauline Burney on December, 1923; Gary married Mary Banister on November 27, 1924; Lee married Grace Sikes on April 28, 1927, and Bob married Isabell Stone on January 7, 1928. With the marriage of Lois to Hemon Sykes, there were only two children left at home, Raymond and Dubby. From time to time the married children would visit with their parents. Grandchi1dren were now on the way. Betty, the daughter of Paul and Marie being the first one.
All in all the years 1928, 1929, and 1930 were happy ones for the Pridgens. The minister and his wife owned their own home, and the married children were doing well. He was happy in his work and his wife enjoyed living in Bladenboro. From time to time there were some disturbing incidents as well as happy ones. Upon examination a doctor informed Wilson that he had some slight heart troub1e and prescribed digitalis. He took this for a short while and was informed by another doctor that it was not needed at all and very harmful to him. Wilson enjoyed trading cars and had a special friend with the Ford place in Lumberton, Mr. Felts, who always gave him good trades. In 1929 their son, Raymond, was a star half-back on the high school football team. The little town was agog over this team for it had won the lover class "B" championship by beating Dunn and only lost to Morrison high in Raleigh by one point for the State championship. A nice restaurant was being operated by Wilson and Pennie on Main Street. Business was very good for a while. Saphronia was the head waitress and was the same as a member of the family. Raymond graduated from high school in 1930 and was given a full football scholarship to Elon College. Just before leaving for Elon, having already packed his trunk, a decision was made to go to Wake Forest College with a working scholarship.
The crash of the stock market in the fall of 1929 was the forerunner of hard times for most all American families. It ended the "new era of prosperity" as proclaimed by Presidents Coolidge and Hoover. Investors lost seventy-four billion dollars in the stock market, three times the cost of the world war. Economic conditions in the nation gradually grew worse. Offerings in churches fell to a trickle. The members did not have the money to pay a preacher's salary. This was also the case with the members of the churches Wilson pastored.
In 1930 really hard times struck the nation. Five thousand banks failed. Farmers received twenty-five cents a bushel for wheat, seven cent a bushel for corn, ten cents for oats and five cents a pound for cotton and wool. Sugar was three cents a pound. Hogs and beer 2-1/2 cents a pound, apples forty cents for a box of 200. Two hundred seventy three thousand families were evicted from their homes. The average week's pay of those who had jobs were $16.21. Wedding rings were sold, furniture pawned, life insurance borrowed upon and many begged from relatives.
On a hill near the center of the beautiful town of Red Springs, North Carolina, a wood rambling hotel with approximately twenty-five rooms was constructed around 1900. A porch ran the full length along the front of the buiding looking out upon a yard filled with large oak trees. To the rear of the hotel and near the bottom of the hill was a spring of water. This spring, as was the spring in Fuquay Springs, was purported to have healing qualities. In the summer of 1931 the hotel was without a proprietor. Some how, some way, Wilson secured a lease on the hotel. So in the late summer of 1931 a move was made to Red Springs. This time mother Pannie was ready to go. She deeply felt that God had opened this avenue of support for them. She had a premonition that some of the other children would need help. This was destined to be the case as the hotel proved to be a refuge for the Pridgens during the great depression. Red Springs was a very good town to live in. A great many of the residents were Presbyterian and of scotch descent. The area also had a large number of Indians. Wilson became Pastor of three strong churches.
Under the management of hard working Wilson and Pennie the hotel began to pay off. A congenial black woman prepared the meals. Her food was delicious. The dining room would seat a tremendous number of people and was almost as large as a ballroom. Traveling men enjoyed their stay there and especially the cordiality and wonderful meals. Flora McDonald College, a Presbyterian girls school, was situate just a stones throw from the hotel and afforded many guests. Miniature Gold courses were in vogue and Raymond operated one in front of the hotel during the summer of 1932. A young man, Malcolm Mclean, operated a small service station near the hotel and ate many meals there. He later became the President and founder McLean Trucking Company. Wilson continued his search for different types of automobiles and changed makes and models quite often.
During the year 1932 the depression not only persisted but deepened.
Unemployment reached a peak of one-fourth of the labor force. In June 1932, some l5,OOO veterans marched on Washington to pressure Congress into passing a bonus law. Opposing the bonus as financially unsound, Hoover used troops to drive veterans out of the capital. The federal government itself was strong financially and had a very small national debt but the people themselves were broke. With the nation still deep in depression, the republicans re-nominated Hoover in 1932. The democrats opposed with Franklin D. Roosevelt who promised a "new deal." Roosevelt defeated Hoover 472 - electoral votes to 59. Franklin Delano Roosevelt assumed the Presidency on March 4, 1933, and immediately declared a "bank holiday." No one was able to even cash a check until the banks re-opened.
The winter of 1933 was a dismal one for father Wilson, mother Pennie, and some of the children. The winter was an unusually cold one. The water pipes in the hotel bursted faster than they could be fixed. It was almost impossible to heat the rooms and business dropped off. Mother Pennie was suffering with asthma and her arthritis had recurred. Durward also had asthma real bad. Bob had been out of work and was staying in the hotel with his family. Gary was out of work. Hemon's business in Bladenboro had gone broke. He made his way to Washington seeking work.
When Wilson left Bladenboro he owed a small amount on his home to a finance company. He rented the house and the renter was to make his monthly payment to the finance company to be credited on the amount owed them. Upon checking with the company he found they did not have any credits and he was far behind in his monthly payments and about to lose his home. Raymond had to drop out of Wake Forest after the fall semester. The hotel was to be closed in the early summer by the owner. The minister started looking for something else. His churches could not support him. He had an opportunity to operate a large hotel in Sanford, North Carolina, but was unable to make the deal. The Christmas Holidays were bleak ones. Wilson traded his big Hudson for a small Model A Ford, 1930, Coupe. F1nally there seemed nothing to do but to move back to Bladenboro. This move was made in the fall of l934. There were no churches available for the Minister and for the first time in his life things really began to look dark for Him. A cafe was opened for a short while. It seemed that God was trying the faith of his servant. Without anything to do, no churches to Pastor, Durward out of school, Raymond out of college, only a few dollars left, and about to lose his home, a decision was made to visit son, Paul, in Charleston for a while. Providentially, mother Pennie suggested going by Mullins to see her brother, Jessie, who lived there. Thus in December of l934 the journey was made to Mullins. The Mishoe family consisted of Jessie, his wife, Lide, three sons, Paul, Norman, Harry and Lee a daughter, Louise. This family received the Pridgens with open arms and a joyous reunion was had between Pennie and brother Jessie. From this visit a deep friendship arose between the two families. Minister Wilson soon learned there were some churches in Marion Association without Pastors. God had again provided an opportunity for the minister to proclaim his message in his church. A decision was made to move to Mullins. A house was rented from C. P. Mayers in North Mullins, who proved to be a true friend, as well as a distant relative of Wilson. During the visit in Mullins Pennie's brother, Kenneth, who lived in Conway, was also visited.
The minister and wife together with son, Durward, returned to Bladenboro to prepare for the move to Mullins. Wilson remembered that it was time to purchase a new car license in North Carolina. The license was high and the minister did not have sufficient funds to make the purchase and also desired to wait and purchase a new car license in South Carolina. While preparing to move he parked his automobile. Durward became ill and Wilson was forced to drive his car seeking a doctor. A patrolman saw him, charged him with driving with an old license, and summoned him to appear before a Justice of Peace the next day. Upon appearing in court the Justice of Peace fined the minister who had given so much of his life in such a good way within the state of North Carolina. As the man of God was leaving the court he said "I am going to shake the dust off my feet", leave this state and never return. That vow he kept. A farmer who had served as a deacon in one of Wilson's churches moved the household goods on a farm truck.
On January 12, l935, a deed was made by W. D. Pridgen and Pennie Pridgen to H. J. White, for their homestead. No consideration was shown in the deed but only a small sum was received over and above the amount the minister purportedly owed on his home. The small family then headed for a new home. On the way to Mullins the radiator in the Ford froze and a can of black pepper, which was purchased for five cents was used for repair.
Forty two years after he left his native state Wilson and wife, Pennie, returned. They were never to leave again. The minister was now almost sixty-five years of age. Pennie was fifty-eight. Son, Raymond, was back in Wake Forest College studying law. Dubby got a good job. The hardships, mental pain and anguish, actual privation, so recently suffered vanished. The man of great faith always felt deep within the recesses of his being that God would roll away the dark clouds which had been upon the horizon and let the sun shine brightly through. The sun began to shine!
Mullins was the largest tobacco market in the state of South Carolina with a population of approximately 3500. Situate in the county of Marion it bordered on the county of Horry the native county of Wilson and Pennie and was only about twenty miles from their birthplace. Anderson Brothers Bank, the only bank in Mullins, as well as tobacco warehouses, were owned by B. B. Anderson and Ernest L. Anderson. These two brothers resided in Fair Bluff when Wilson was agent of the Coastline Railroad there and were close friends of his. Several other acquaintences of his in Fair Bluff were also now living in Mullins.
Within a short while the minister was again proclaining the message of his lord throughout Marion County. Being of retirement age he received a small retirement income of $48.00 per month from the Baptist Annuity Board. Raymond became the first child to graduate from college, receiving his LLB degree from Wake Forest College in 1936. After passing the North Carolina Bar in August fo 1936 and the South Carolina Bar in December of 1936 he began the practice of law in Mullins. Son, Durward, was married to Elizabeth Bell on January 31, 1937. The immediate family had now dwindled to three.
WORlD WAR II
War clouds began gathering over Europe and the Pacific, culminating in Germany's invasion of Polland on September 1, 1939. Throughout history there were those who attempted to bring nation after nation under their control. A fiery zealot named Adolf Hitler felt that Germany was destined to rule the nations of the world. This chancellor of the Third Reich had built up a vast army with modern weapons in Germany. After the invasion of Polland the German machine swept through one European nation after another. The great nation of France surrendered to Germany in June 1940. Roosevelt, as President of the United States undertook bold initiatives to aid the now embattled Brittain. In one of the most inspiring addresses of all times, Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of Great Brittain in an address to the Brittish people, said "We shall defend our Island whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills, we shall never surrender." With America's deepening commitment to the allies, relations with Germany, Italy, and Japan deteriorated rapidly. On December 7, 1941, without warning, Japan attacked the United States fleet at Pearl Harbor. President Roosevelt in a speech to Congress asked for a Declaration of war declaring to the Congress, "yesterday, December 7, 1941, a date which will live infamy - the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan."
In a short while two of the sons of Wiilson and Penine were serving their country. Lee became a Chaplain in the army and was serving in North Africa. He was wounded and received the bronze star. Raymnond, after being inducted, was selected for the Counter-Intelligence Corp. He was sent to the Pacific area and was serving with the 41st Infantry Division in New Guinea. Father Wilson and mother Pennie, as did countless thousands of other fathers and mothers, were praying earnestly for the safey of their sons.
On the Home Front a lot of the essential commodities of life were rationed. Ordinary citizens had a black "A" stanp on the windshield of their car entitling them to three gallons of gas a week. The wheels of the industrial might of the United States shifted into high gear. Thousands upon thousands of war planes, tank, trucks, cargo ships, guns, rounds of ammunition, mortar shells, and jeeps were turned out. This military production as well as the valor of the American soldiers began to turn the tide of battle.
June 6, l944, was D-Day in Normandy. The greatest amphibious assault in history took place as the allied army crossed the English Channel. The allied forces soon were heading into the heart of Hitler land. Roosevelt, who had been elected to an unprecedented fourth term, was beginning to show the strain of the great conflict. Close aides were shocked at his appearance - worn, weary, exhausted. He was losing weight - no appetite and was tiring easily. He made a journey to Warm Springs, Georgia, for some rest and relaxation. At 1:15 P.M. on April 12, 1945, the great Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces and President of the nation died. A profound sadness gripped the nation, the soldiers in the field, and the naval men on their ships. Vice President Truman was immediately sworn in as the new President. On May 8, l945, the German nation unconditionally surrendered and VE DAY was at hand.
On August 6, l945 one bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a thriving city of 344,OOO people. Four square miles of civilization had been vaporized by an awesome force. The basic power of the universe had been harnessed into the Atomic Bomb. This power was also unleased upon the city of Nagasake. On September 2, 1945, aboard the battleship Missouri the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo harbor marked the official end of World War II.
With the end of war American soldiers and sailors streamed back to their home land. Lee returned in l945 and Raymond in December of the same year.
The following decade were tranquil years for the couple. They moved into a home on Dixon Street which was purchased by son, Raymond. It was a good neighborhood and Wilson and Pennie began to enjoy the manifold blessings of life. He was active in the supply of churches throughout the county. During this period quite a few churches in the association had difficulties with their Pastor causing great discontent in these churches. Minister Wilson in many instances helped these churches in the return of their true purpose, "simply telling the story of Jesus." When he was not preaching on Sunday he was teaching the Men's Bible Class of the First Baptist Church. The couple were seen from time to time on their front porch, in rocking chairs, enjoying visits from their neighbors and friends. Mother Pennie greatly enjoyed having her hair fixed by a special friend, Mrs. Edmunds, who operated a beauty parlor.
A happy event during this period of time occured when son, Raymond, was elected Mayor of Mullins. Shortly thereafter, on October 22, 1946, he married Ruth Sanders. The couple had now seen all their children happily married.
Mother Pennie became ill in the year 1951 and was confined to the Martin Hospital in Mullins. Now seventy-four years of age this was her first stay in a hospital. Wilson became the carrier for the newspapers, The Charlotte Observer and The State. The following is a write-up which was carried in The Charlotte Observer:
MEET MUIINS' MR. PRIDGEN
Retired Pastor, 82,
MULLINS, S.C., May 2 - The morning is icy cold. It is pitch dark for dawn is yet to come. The inhabitants of Mullins are still sleeping soundly in their beds. The lights of only one car can be seen upon the streets of this tobacco capital of South Carolina. In the car is an 82-year-old snow white man. This man is the carrier of The Charlotte Observer in Mullins.
Morning after morning, just before day, in rain, sleet, fog and clear weather the Rev. W. D. Pridgen, a retired Baptist minister, may be found heading his car towand the spot where the truck leaves his papers.
It is doubtful there is a carrier anywhere in the United States older than Mr. Pridgen. On July 27 he will be 83 years old. But age means nothing to him. He still says he is a "young man." Speaking recently of a man of his acquaintance, who is about 50, Mr. Pridgen said "he is the oldest man I know." He feels that age does not matter if a man stays young in mind and spirits. And as to the things of the past he cares not at all for them. "I like the new modern thing of today," he says, "for I have lived once in the past and I like things as they are today." That is his philosophy of life.
To Mr. Pridgen the dispatch of the news through what he calls "his paper" is first and foremost. A mild fever or sickness does not deter him. If one of his paper boys misses a customer his pbone will ring and here he will go to deliver same.
The young school boys who deliver the papers for him are as his own children. He is always on hand in the morning to parcel out the papers to them for their respective routes and will handle a bundle of 100 Charlotte Observers like a young man. On Sundays and days when there is a large issue of The Observer he will carry papers to various "stop off" points in the town as the boys cannot carry but so many in their boxes on the bicycles. This saves them time in their delivery and they do not have to go back to the central point to pick up more papers.
When Mr. Pridgen started as carrier for the Carlotte Observer several years ago the subscribers paid for their paper weekly. It was quite a job seeing all his 300 customers every week and he asked them to start paying monthly. He reasoned that a businessman did not care to be bothered every week with such a small collection. Now only a few of his subscribers pay by the week and a great majority mail him checks once a month. He keeps all his own records and books relative to his paper.
To this carrier the transmitting of the news is a vital thing. It is a tragedy for him if one of his customers fails to get their paper for the day. He looks upon the job as did the ones who operated the "pony express" of olden days ... Let nothing deter you from seeing that the news gets to the people. And throughout the several years that he had been carrier in Mullins he had not missed a day seeing about the delivery of "his paper."
One of the happiest of these was the couple's fiftieth Wedding anniversary at their home on Park Street, which had occured in July of 1941, just prior to the outbreak of war. All of the children were present with the exception of son, Lee, who was completing work at Wake Forest Gollege leading to his degree.
On the morning of July 27, l9~O, father Wilson and mother Pennie were informed by their daughter that she and Hemon wanted to take them out to dinner. They had driven from Washington the day before. Lois finally persuaded father Wilson and mother Pennie to dress in their best attire. They then proceeded to the American Legion Hut in Mullins. Gathered there were all the sons of father Wilson and mother Pennie, their wives, and grandchildren. There were also present some newspaper reporters and photographers. The minister and his wife were over-whelmed when they learned their children had prepared this surprise birthday party for their father upon his eightieth birthday. For the first time all the family were together.
In the summer of l95l a family reunion was held at Paul's Ocean Front House in Folly Beach. The family again had a joyous outing in the summer of l952 at Raymond's river cottage on the Little The Pee Dee River, near Mullins. A tape recording was made by Lee of the proceedings. A bountiful table was spread for the group and the man of great faith gave the following blessing:
We thank you again our father today for they good mercies toward us for we do not have special times always of this kind when we come with thankful hearts but we do have days and we thank you every day for your goodness and mercies of our God during everyday - Yea, all the days of our lives which have been many and thy good mercies toward us everyday and some how Father, we thank thee for thy goodness toward this family, this thy servant, and this mother and the blessed children and the blessed daughters-in-law that are here with us today and grandchildren and the great grandchildren and we just thank thee for everyone of them. We thank thee for thou hast been good to them that they have lived and have had health and have had the necessities of life and are making their mark in the world for goodness, and kindness, and mercy to those whom they come in contact. We thank thee for everyone of their lives for they mean so much in the community in which they live and Lord the little grandchildren - those growing up we pray that they too may be great people, servants of God, to honor and glorify thee in their lives. We thank thee that we can come together for this another year and that thou hast spared us that there hast not been a death in our family but that we have been generally well and been blessed with the good things of life another year and we would pray for another year, and another year, and so many years as seemeth good to thee and all of our loved ones shall have health and the necessities of life and be spared to live in this old world in order that they might honor and glorify thy name. We thank thee for the food, we thank thee that thou hast blessed us with jobs in ways to earn a support and that we can have the things that we really need and we thank thee for all the good things of life too numerous to mention. Now may we pray thy mercies to be continued toward us arid bless the food that it may nourish our bodies and keep us all well and happy together until we shall come to thee and there round that great Throne of thine in the presence of our Lord and Christ and all of those who have gone before us we will worship, we will honor, and we will glorify thy name, These things we ask in Jesus Name, Amen. This happy and joyous occasion was to be the last one wherein the total family could gather together. Father Wilson had noted in his prayer "there has not been a death in our family." On April 14, 1955, son-in-law, Hemon, suffered a severe heart attack and passed to his heavenly reward in the capital city of Washington, D.C. He was buried in the cemetery in the shadow of Hickory Grove Church, Bladen County, North Carolina, where he first became a child of God.
In the Sunday, February 19, l956, edition of the Charleston News and Courier minister Wilson at the age of 86 was interviewed as a "Carolina Personality." The article, written by Eldridge Thompson, a reporter for the News and Courier, was as follows:
RETIRED BAPTIST MINISTER
SAYS CHRISTIANITY GROWING
You could never convince the Rev. W. D. Pridgen the world "is going to the dogs."
This man of God should have some reason to say "the world is better today than ever. There is a greater percentage of people who believe in God than ever before. The world is moving toward Christianity."
During his 86 years, the Rev. Mr. Pridgen has had an opportunity to form an opinion of the world and the people that make it up as a railroad ticket agent, a farmer, a Baptist minister and today as a daily newspaper distributor.
"I tell you, son," he said, "it is harder today to find a non-believer than it was when I started preaching in 1905. Back in my days a man had to be able to cuss to get certain jobs. Some people even wrote books declaring there was no God. Others made speeches. You just can't find those kind of people today."
The Rev. Mr. 'Fridgen believes the world will one day see 90 per cent of the people Christians. "They'll all not be good people but they will believe in a Supreme Being," he said.
This spry, hard-working man retired from the active ministry in 1938. For the past eighteen years he had served as a supply pastor and Sunday school teacher. Every day of the week he works at least eight hours. He is a dealer for two daily newspapers and directs the work of seven carrier boys.
It is not unusual for him to teach his Sunday school class at the Mullins Baptist Church and hurry off to fill a pulpit in a nearby church. "I've never found time to sit down and take it easy," he said. "I may have lived a long time but I'm not old. I hear some of these preachers say the world is sinking deeper in sin and headed for sure destruction. They just don't know what they are talking about. Good public schools, gospel preaching and Sunday schools have made the biggest contribution to the world's progress toward a better place in which to live."
The Rev. Mr. Pridgen's father was a Baptist minister and two of his eight boys are following in his footsteps. The Rev. Paul M. Pridgen is pastor of the First Baptist Church in North Charleston, Another son, the Rev. Lee Pridgen, is executive secretary of the Raleigh Baptist Assn. Gary Pridgen is a Charleston insurance man; Robert is a Kingstree business man; Raymond is a Mullins lawyer; H. D. is an Aiken business man; Otto is an Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Executive.
The lone girl in the family, Mrs. Lois Sykes, only recently moved to Mullins from Washington. Another son died at the age of fourteen.
"Really there are three sons following their father's work," the Rev. Mr. Pridgen said. "I started out as a railroader and worked at the job for eighteen years before turning to the ministry. But I've done a little of a lot of a lot of things in my life. Back when I started preaching a fellow had to work on the farm or at a sawmill six days each week and serve as a pastor on Sunday. Churches didn't pay their preachers much back in the days when I started out."
During the years he was active in the ministry, he served more than sixty Baptist Churches in North and South Carolina. This man's simple, "old time" gospel preaching has been heard by thousands of folks from the mountains to the seashore.
Wilson was an ardent believer in the teachings of the Masonic Lodge and became a Mason when a young man. He was indeed proud when on Tuesday, June 1, 1954 a gold emblem signifying fifty years of membership in the Masonic Lodge was presented to him. The gold emblem was a gift of the Grand Lodge of South Carolina. Degrees were conferred to Wilson by Fair Bluff Lodge 190, in 1899. He was also a member of Bladenboro Lodge 660, St. Albens Lodge 114, and Damascus Lodge 161 A.F. & A.M. of Mullins which presented the gold emblem.
As time passed the physical bodies of Wilson and Pennie began to show the service and devotion transmitted through their bodies and minds to others. Mother Pennie suffered severe pain from the ravages of arthritis. Confined almost continually to her home, using a wheel chair to move about, she maintained her cheerful and buoyant manner. Her thoughts were for others rather than herself. She bore her suffering with great patience never seeming to ask the question so often asked when adversity, illness, or death strikes. "Why me?"
Father Wilson was beset by a painful and annoying breakout of the shingles. These took a toll of his strength. His physical body weakened, Wilson continued to faithfully aid and assist his beloved Pennie. He realized a decision needed to be made as to where his body and his beloved Pennie would be interred. This decision had troubled the minister. His father, mother, and son, Culley, were buried in Fair Bluff and he owned a large plot there. Some of the Happiest years of his life had been spent in Mullins. He had strong ties within the community. South Carolina was the native state of the couple. On October 26, 1955, he informed his son, Raymond, that he and Pennie desired to be buried in Mullins and requested his son to secure a plot in Magnolia cemetery from his old friend, Mr. Mayers.
In January of l957 Wilson terminated his service as distributor of The Charlotte Observer and State. This job as carrier of the papers had been a good source of income for him. It was through this method of self-employment he was able to secure Social Security benefits. In February Wilson and Pennie moved from Dixon Street to a small apartment owned by Lois. The building adjoined the home of Lois. Due to the failing health of Wilson, for the first time in sixty-six years of married life, the couple slept in separate beds.
The minister of God grew weaker. The last reserves of his strength seemingly gone. The medical doctor attending him was indeed surprised at his fight for life his diagnosis being, "that the total and complete body of Wilson was worn out." As a minister of the gospel he brought many messages about heaven and hell and the passing from this life to the other life. Personally he never discussed death. Life to him meant service and he desired to serve. He had always enjoyed to the fullest the life God had given him and in his closet, night after night, asked the one whom he served, "if it seemeth good to thee give unto this servant another day." He realized how small a part of the boundless and unfathomable time is assigned to every man. He also realized that the thread of his life was now spinning incredibly fine. Being blessed with a clear mind he enjoyed the visits of his loved ones, and was deeply appreciative of the ministrations of his family. On the afternoon of March 29th, Ruth, his daughter-in-law, sat by his bedside. Suddenly, the face of this man of God, this man of great faith, became radiant and shone as a heavenly light. He tried desperately to tell her something but was unable to get out the words. "Truly, Ruth later said, God gave unto this beloved servant of his a glimpse into heaven before the soul left his body."
The time, just before midnight March 30, l957. Two of his sons were sitting by the bedside of their father. It seemed that each breath might be the last. However, the maker of this venerable servant was not yet ready to command the spirit to be free. The clock ticked on past midnight. The Sabbath came. One twenty-five A.M. the command was given. The maker and creator of the universe and all things therein now decreed that the soul of this beloved servant of his separate from the physical body and the door was opened for Wilson to enter the portals of a new phase of life.
Funeral services for the man of great faith were held four P.M., Monday, April l, in the First Baptist Church of Mallins, South Carolina, with his Pastor, Rev. W. W. Lancaster officiating, assisted by Dr. M. A. Huggins. The active pallbearers were Rev. Paul M. Pridgen, Jr., 0. K. Pridgen, Jr., Lee Pridgen, Jr., Rev. Frank Zedick, Eric Holland, and Jack Harley. Honorary pallbearers were the members of the Men's Bible Class of the church. Burial followed in Magnolia cemetery, Mullins, South Carolina. The grave site was covered with eighty-six floral tributes.
Shortly before the death of her mate Pennie realized Wilson had begun the march, "Onward, to Zion", the beautiful city of God. Tearful at his passing she showed no deep emotion. Her heart hurt - - due to infirmity she was unable to attend the funeral.
Now in her eightieth year it was replanting time for Pennie. A part of her had been taken away. She and Wilson had travelled the road of life together for sixty-eight years. A small apartment was fixed in the rear of Lois's home. Edgie Grice, a fine black woman, was secured to aid and assist Pennie. She came early in the morning and bathed, dressed, and helped Pennie into her wheel-chair. She also prepared breakfast and lunch. Lois was ever near by and the strong love between mother and daughter deepened. Sister Mellie, who lived in Dillon, would visit from time to time. They had some happy conversations - mostly about their children - - as they enjoyed their snuff.
Precious Memories - - How they lingered - - How they ever flooded her soul - - in the stillness of her room Precious sacred scenes unfolded.
In the summer of l959 she spent sometime with Raymond and Ruth. In August she was taken by these two to Kingstree on her way for a visit with Paul and Marie. While in Charleston she became ill. After getting some better she went to Aiken for a visit with Dubby and Lib.
On Friday, September 4, l959, Raymond and Ruth drove to Aiken to bring mother Pennie back to Mullins. She had failed considerably since leaving Mullins but recognized and greeted her son and daughter-in-law.
Durward arose at one forty-five A.M. to check on his mother. During the night God her Father had taken this beloved mother into His arms and moved her over into her room in Heaven - - to again be beside Wilson throughout eternity.
Funeral services were conducted in the Mullins First Baptist Church at eleven A.M. on Monday, September 7, l959, with her Pastor, Rev. Lewis E. McCormick, officiating, assisted by Rev. W. W. Lancaster. Pallbearers were her grandchildren, Paul Pridgen, Jr., 0. K. Pridgen, Jr., William D. Pridgen, Boye Pridgen, Lee Pridgen, Jr. and R. W. Pridgen, Jr. Interment followed in Magnolia cemetery, Mullins, South Carolina. Eighty floral tributes were on her grave site.
Throughout history, from Caesar to Napoleon, to Bismark and Gladstone, Churchill and Roosevelt, the world has had its statesmen and its soldiers, men who rose to power - men of the time - but from the beginning there have been men who unheralded have laid the foundation of great civilizations. We see them, feel them, but we know them not. They came, God's words upon their lips, they did their work, God's mantle upon them, and they were gone. These are truly the great men! Wilson Daniel Pridgen was one of these, one of God's elect, not a creature of circumstance or accident. Chosen by God to fulfill his purpose - he with his simple message and humble manner fed hungry souls.
Of English descent, born in a small country cottage, a descendant of strong and hardy forbears, men who revered God, he was a common man, who was expanded into great proportion. One who never lost touch with the people all around him. He saw them, liked them, loved them, befriended them, and never spoke ill will of them. Wilson Pridgen was a man of clean thoughts - a man of patience. One who truly tried his best to make that portion of the Lords Prayer which says "Thy Kingdom Come, on EARTH as Tis in Heaven", become a reality. His new birth meant a new perspective - banish hate, malice, covetoutness, greed, ever from ones being. In him was the greatness of real goodness and the real goodness of real greatness - the twain were one flesh.
He would talk earnestly with his Maker, in a secret place, about a problem facing him, and then do everything in his own power to solve the problem. He never doubted that God could perform miracles but felt there was an obligation upon man himself to carry out his part.
Wilson Pridgen was a man who loved his wife, family and home deeply. Their support was ever uppermost in his mind. Although a minister of the gospel he never hesitated to perform other task to supplement the family income.
Being one of unusual ability and talent, throughout his lifetime the diversity of things he could do, and actually did, were tapping the telegraph key, repairing watches and clocks, plumbing, carpentry, operating hotels, drumming tobacco, selling cars, distributing newspapers, and gardening. He liked material possessions but these were never his aim and goal. Like the apostles of old he gave these up to follow the Master. His true legacy was that he believed firmly that the best investment was in the life of a person, rather than property, whether real or personal.
An insight into the humorous side of Wilson is revealed by the following story. He was informed of a deacon and Sunday School teacher who was said to be "running around." The man's wife weighed about 250 pounds, neglected her appearance and her clothes hung on her like a barrel. 'Well", Wilson drawled, "if I had a wife like her I might be running around too". His son, Paul, continually fought intoxicating beverages and the liquor traffic. Several times, father remarked to son, "Paul, you are making a good fight but liquor will be here when you are gone so son, just don't kill yourself over this problem."
In every church and congregation there are those women who always like to get close to or caress their pastor. Wilson would often kid Pennie about some vivacious lady who had shook his hand tightly or managed to throw her arm around his shoulder. He never was one to carry a long face, and was born an optimist. Enjoying life was his forte and worry and tension did not seem to bother him. He held steadfastly to his view that the world was getting better and never lived in the past but looked to the future.
Pennie, of French descent, was a member of a family of five girls and three boys. Most of her brothers and sisters never left the county of their birth. Pennie, leaving home at the early age of fourteen, missed the fellow-ship of her family. She often yearned to again be within the family circle, to enjoy the family gatherings. But her life was lived for her husband and children whom God had given her to care for. She was first and foremost a true mother. She shielded her small children from contagious diseases and gathered them under her wings as a mother hen would gather her biddies. As a woman she believed that the fulfillment of her God given function was within the home. There she brought forth delicious home made breads, tea-cakes, and cuisine fit for a king. To her cooking was an art. She had no recipe books. There she taught her children in a simple, forthright manner, how best to face life. Morality, virtue, honesty, and decency was to her attributes which needed to be imparted to her children.
Pennie was a worrier - most-of it coming from concern for her children. She was fearful of thunder and lightning and herded her children into her room until a storm passed. She was horrified when riding in a car upon a barge or fording a creek.
A very thrifty person she often admonished Wilson and her children to cut off lights. Food was not to be wasted but to be used in some manner or method. A master seamstress she could take cloth and turn out something worthwhile.
Pennie was a cheerful person, a great talker and she had a smile for everyone who came her way. One also of Great Faith she told the family gathering in l952 -
"Well, you all said I was very sick but I did not realize I was sick as I was because I was in no pain and when I came to myself they all said I had been mighty sick. I did not think about dying - that did not worry me a bit in the world because I knew if it was the Lor's will for me to go I was ready. I have tried to live that way for quite a while since I was a young mother. I felt like I needed somebody in rearing my children and who did I have to go to but the Lord and so I would go to him and ask his help."
In writing up her funeral services the editor of the Mullins Enterprise wrote the following,
"Her patient forbearance through years of suffering and confinement to her home because of arthritis has been a source of admiration throughout the years. Her devotion to her family and to her church remained constant and her alert interest did not wane with the increasing toll of strength taken by disease."
These two, Wilson and Pennie, were blessed by God with a long life. Wilson never spent a night in a hospital in his entire life. Pennie was there only once for a short while. One hope, aim and desire of these two was that in times of great joy and great sadness for the family to stand by in unity and loyalty. Their greatest hope for their children and descendants was by Wilson, at the reunion held in 1952, "When the Great Judgment shall sound we shall all be on the right hand. Not a one lost. Thats going to take a great struggle - thats going to take the best effort that we have but we cannot afford to lose a one to sin and Satan."
"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he liveth and believeth in me shall never die" - St. John ll.25,26. The physical bodies of Wilson and Pennie, true to scripture, have returned to the dust, but truly they live on in the lives of their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
MAY THEIR CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN, AND ALL THEIR DESCEDANTS
EVER BE WORTHY OF THEIR MEMORY.