Updated January 22, 2012.
by Melinda Lukei
The first thing I remember is our home where Sidney White lives today on Knotts Island. My mother Anne Virginia Spratt was the daughter of Frances Anne Williams and Andrew Jackson Spratt. When France died my mother was raised by her grandfather, Gideon Williams and Margaret. When Gideon died, he left my mother with enough gold to use as a down payment on that house.
My Grandfather, Jackson Spratt owned the old Jones store and the house where Margaret Matthews now lives. John Malachi Jones bought the store from Jackson Spratt.
Emily Spratt, daughter of Andrew Jackson Spratt and Frances Anne Williams was the first person to be buried in the Knotts Island Cemetary. This land was owned by the Spratt family. Emily developed stomach tumors. When she got read bad, Jackson Spratt sent after my mother to come over and take care of her.
The White House was a frame house with a hall, sitting room with a fireplace and a kitchen downstairs. I remember baking potatoes in that fireplace. Mr Hickman built an L addition to that house.
I remember an old woodpile out back. Emmett and I would search the woodpile for the right kind of thick bark to make boats. We sailed our boats in an old tub out back. We used feathers for sails.
One time daddy, William Henry Bonney White found an egg on the marsh road and he brought it home. My mother Anne Virginia Spratt put the egg under an old hen. When the egg hatched it was the prettiest little duck you ever saw. It was my duck. Mama put up a little pen by the water pump in the back yard. Emmett, who wasn't big enough to talk good yet squeezed that duck to death. He killed my duck. I kicked and screamed causing a coal to fall out of the stove and burn me. Mama said it was plenty good for me.
Daddy worked on Churches Island at Pierce Hampton's Lodge during the week. He would come home with a swan. We made rings out of the windpipe.
We all had the whooping cough when we were little. Emmitt, my brother would whoop and whoop. I would try to mock him. Bennett died from it when he was 18 months old. I remember Mama sending Emmett and myself out in the field to find daddy, to tell him that Bennett had died. Can you imagine sending children to tell their daddy that their brother had died? I was six years at the time and Emmett was two.
There was a bad Hurricane that brought the ocean over the dunes. The Currituck Hunt Club had a clubhouse opposite from Knotts Island. When the ocean came over, they got scared and decided to buy my father's back farm. They built the present clubhouse there. John (Sprig) Beasley was the caretaker of the old clubhouse.
Daddy, William Henry Bonney White was superintendent of the new clubhouse. I was nine years old when we moved down there. During the winter time, we lived at the Rommie Cason's place. Rommie sold the house to my father after Madora die. Dr Maynard boarded with us after his home in Blackfoot burned. He had an office there in the house. The Gatlings also lived there with us. I remember daddy bringing home ducks and swans. Mama would make the best gravy to go with those ducks.
I remember when Miss Alma Whitson came to stay with Mama, when Edith was born. Mama sent Emmett and I down to Uncle Ed's (Edmond Lee White) and Aunt Julie's to spend the day. I can still see that old pie cabinet that she kept biscuits in. She would get biscuits out of it, split them and put a spoonful of sugar on each half.
There were no schools as we know them. Farmers like Ferdinand Bonney would hire school teachers to come teach their children. Your folks would pay him so you could go. Herbert Bonney and Harold Capps went to Elizabeth City to boarding school. Most of us went to pay school. Mary Mosley, a teacher was hired by Mr. Bonney and we went to school in a bedroom with an old feather-tick bed in it. We propped our slates on that old feather bed and wrote with our slate pencils. I still have a slate.
Morrison Williams had a school. It was near the present store and was on his property. Eddie (John Edmond Munden) went to school there. They studied the same books over and over again and he became bored. Lessie Williams, daughter of Richard, Charlie Waterfield Jones and Sallie Fentress Ferrell went to the three room school near the middle of the island.
I remember Lessie Brumley hitting me in the eye with a pencil. We sat on long benches and I turned around just in time to get a pencil, flipped by Lessie, in my eye. I had to go home. Mama took me into Norfolk to the eye doctor. The eye changed color and I have different color eyes today.
I bought a notebook from Ellie Bowden's that I still have. Miss Oldham taught us songs and I wrote them down in that book. I learned more bible verses from her than I learned in Sunday School. We had to answer the roll with a bible verse, passage or a poem. She taught us math, language and French. We were above our class in everything except science and higher math.
I went to high school at Popular Branch. I stayed with a family there. I graduated in 1917. The superintendent, Mr Isley, came over to the island and asked my daddy if I could go to Duck and teach in a one room school there. Daddy was very proud of me and insisted that I go. Mr Leary came over and picked me up in a shad boat and took me over to board with him. I taught kids bigger that I was. That was a cold winter. We had to build sleds to go get food across the iced sound.
There was a war between the Leary's and the Tolar's but I taught both their children. I learned a lot from Mr Isley that year. He had books on how to teach. I couldn't control the behavior of the children. I only taught that one year, then I went to Key's Business College in Norfolk, VA. I got a job with an insurance company writing burial policies for people. They would pay a few cents a week for the policies. I got appendicitis, so I had to quit my job. I went back to Knotts Island and after I got better, I taught at the three room school at Knotts Island for one year.
Mr J. E. Munden bought the store in the middle of the Island and put Eddie there to operate it. Mr Munden was in the Coast Guard. There was a store at the north end opposite where Casey Munden lives today. They had a five and ten cent section where you could buy lace, buttons and yard goods.
In 1918 Eddie and I got married. First we lived at Linnie Bowden's place. We built our house in 1923 and the store two or three years later. Margaret born 1921, was just a toddler when we moved to our new house. I had to block off the stairs so she wouldn't get hurt on the.steps. Joye was born 5 years after Margaret and John was born 6 years after Joye.
I remember the first time bread came in slices. Mrs Mamie Ansell sent Annie, her husband to get bread and when she found it sliced she sent it back. We kept bread in a glass case to keep it fresh. Rounds of pork were put in a pork barrell and you just cut off what people wanted. We used to get chicken feed in printed bags and all the ladies would come in to reserve the bags they wanted to make a dress out of. It took three bags to make a dress.
Eddie and I decided to go to Norfolk and go into business with Ferdinand Munden at Hampton Roads Cigar Company. We sold the house and store to Herman and Charlie Jones but the deal didn't work out and two years later we bought the house and store back.
We operated the store until the late sixties. We had many pleasant memories there. When Eddie became ill, we leased the store to other people. Chippy Cooper Henry Coopers' son leased the store first, then Royal Hutchinson and his wife Cassie, Mr. Harrison then leased the store. It was finally closed about ten years ago.
John had a gray horse called Charlie K. We had a buggy robe. I still have that robe. Upton had a surrey and he would take us to Virginia Beach to get the train at Eulid and then we transferred to an old steam engine and to an old electric engine. We parked the horse at Munden's Point at the stables there. We had a full day.
January 22, 2012. From Junior Historian Assoc. The Beacon, May 22, 1964.
May 20, 2010.. From the newspaper collection of John Munden. This article probably appeared in a NC newspaper about September 1960.