May 29, 2011.

HERMAN WATERFIELD family by Joel Waterfield Sr.

Herman Alton, Thelma May Etherdige

My Father Herman Alton Waterfield, (the 8th generation of Waterfields, starting with Generation #1 John Waterfield (who d. 1748), was born on Knotts Island at the end of Ward Road, next to the Great marsh (now a part of the National Wildlife Refuge).

He was better known as Jack Waterfield, due to his ability to become efficient at many trades. He laid brick, was a carpenter/boat builder. And also could fix most anything mechanical. Thus, known as a “Jack–of all-Trades, thus was known as “Jack” to all the islanders of his day.”

He was the second son (b. Sept. 13, 1886), to Colonie, (b. 1862) the (7th Generation), and Lydia Lyza Litchfield, (b. July 1,1878). Other Siblings were brother, Milton Wright Waterfield, (b. May 22, 1894). Then, fraternal twin Sisters (b. June 23, 1899), Minnie Waterfield, (Jones), and Hettie Waterfield, (White).

Jack went to elementary school to the sixth grade at the K.I. Elementary school behind the Methodist Church.

He told many stories of growing up, living next to the the “Great Marsh.” He said as a boy he and his brother Milton had to trap marsh animals, along with his father, to make ends meet.

He told me, he nor Milton, ever owned a gun, until up into their early teenage years. They both would carve root and limb knots. They would leave a part of the root or limb to grab to and as time went on they came proficient enough at throwing these knots to kill birds sitting on a fence or limb. Once in a great while they could kill a squirrel. He said many times, what they killed was their next meal.

I also remember when he told me about a bike that was thrown out by someone on the island. He asked the person if he could have it, they agreed, so he dragged it home and scrounged up enough parts to repair it. It was a called a “Straight – Runner,” due to the fact it did not have brakes. The pedals tuned continuously. In other words, the pedals never stopped turning, and to stop it, you had to put both feet down. My dad said, he left miles of skin on the island from the bottoms of his bare feet. Also the ankles of his feet were always covered with the children’s disease, “Carolina Measles.” Yes, his feet needed a scrubbing every night.

He never told me much about his school years, nor about joining the Army during World War I.

I do not remember when he met Thelma May Etheridge, (b. March 18, 1904), or when he began courting her, I wasn’t born. She was the daughter of William Billy Etheridge and Maggie Bowden, Waterfield, Etheridge, Waterman.

Prior to him joining the Army and traveling to France they met and fell in love, Mom a 14yr. old and Dad a 19yr. old. Their love grew, knowing someday they would be getting married.

Herman Waterfield, Cal Williams, Dr. Thatcher, wife and son, unknown, Gilmer Williams.

Dads life was same as most of the men on the island. He worked as a hunting guide, many times he and Cal Williams would work together.

He would also during the summer work on Mackay Island, as the worker to keep Mrs. Knapp happy. That he wasn’t always happy about. She would have him lay brick walks, then go off on a trip and see another brick walk with a design she liked better. On her return home to Mackay Island, she would have Dad remove the walk he had just completed, and in its place, lay the new design. Mr. Knapp would walk by and say to my Dad, “I see the misses has you changing the walk again. Dad would just answer “Yes sir. Mr. Knapp then would answer, “great, keep her happy,” and with a smile on his face, would walked away. Mrs. Knapp would have him ever so often wipe the dust from each and every leaf of ivy that rambled along the walks at the big house. She took him to two Worlds Fairs. I can not remember the first one he named, (could have been an exposition), but drawing from my old memory, I remember she took him, with others, to the Chicago Worlds fair. There she would look at walks, gardening and other topics of interest and have some of them duplicated by the workers on Mackay Island.

My Father entered the First World War for a very short time. He enlisted Aug. 26, 1918 and was discharged Dec. 3, 1918. During that short period, he traveled to Brest France and was preparing to go to the front on Nov. 10. When on November 11 at the 11th hour 1918 WWI ended. He was returned to Camp Jackson, South Carolina, and Honorably Discharged from military service.

On his return to Knotts Island he continued his courting of Thelma Etheridge and on April 20, 1920 they were married by the, “Justice of the Peace”, David Jones with A. E. Jones, and A. E. Litchfield as witnesses. They moved in with her Mother Maggi Bowden, Father William Thomas Etheridge.

On June 19, 1922 Herman (Jack) and Thelma had their first child Herman Alton Waterfield, Jr. The infant passed away the very same day and was buried in the Family cemetery across from the KI elementary school. The markers were moved by Holloman Funeral Home for the family to the Knotts Island Cemetery in the middle 80s. The original graves are located under edge of the road across from the elementary school. Approximately fifty feet east of the front corner of the green house that sits there this date at roads edge.

On July 1926 born to them, was a baby boy by the name of Alverta Harrel, (b. July 21,1926), (d. 2010). Then five years later they had a girl by the name of Thelma Page, (b. September 17, 1931), later known as Page. Five years later, Oct 9, 1936, Joel Landon was born.

Once again my Mother and Father had a scare, I was born with an air passage defect, which at the age of 8 months old I was rushed to Saint Vincents Hospital on Wood Street in Norfolk, Va, so close to death was given “last rights,” where Dr. Clairborn Wilcox, diagnosed and repaired my problem and saved my life.

Life within the Etheridge household began to become dysfunctional. My grandmother (Mothers, Mother) Maggie, began to run around with Ed Waterman and soon divorced Billy Etheridge and moved to Portsmouth in, spring of 1937. This put my grandfather, Billy (known as Papa to me) Etheridge in a sense of despair. I must say at this time I was less than a year old, so I don’t remember these times, but my Mother told me about them later. Anyway, Papa Etheridge soon began to fail from heartbreak and September 19, 1937 passed away.

The very next year Colonie Waterfield, Daddy’s Father, passed away, January 28, 1938. I do not remember either of my grandfathers. I did get to see a picture of Papa Etheridge, but as far as I know, there is no known picture of papa Colonie.

 Life went on, Al and Thelma Page, began going to elementary school. Neither has ever talked to me about their time on the island. I do remember that Al and our first cousins Alston and Melva White use to play together and Thelma Page and Jean White did the same.

 When I became old enough, I use to visit my Aunt Hettie, spending a week most summers, playing with my first cousins, Marvin White and June Fay White. Marvin and I, were not only 1st. Cousins, we also became life long friends. I look back quite often and think of the fun times we had and some of the troubles we got in, driving his Dad, Fred White, crazy. He taught me how to pole a boat, which was of no help in the muddy bottom of the Elizabeth River, back home in Portsmouth. But, it would be nice to know, if I ever was in an area with a sandy bottom, like Knotts Island Bay.

In 1939 my Father moved us to Portsmouth, because he was too old to fight in WWII. Congress, asked those in his category to do their part for the war effort, by working at a company manufacturing war materials or at a government installation, like a shipyard, so we moved to Portsmouth, Va. ,where the Norfolk Naval Shipyard was located. The good side, this job allowed the family to have more income. The bad, there was no housing available, so we had to move in with Eddie and Moms Mother Maggie Waterman. My Father hated the situation, but tolerated it.

It wasn’t long after that, the War in Europe and the South Pacific was drawing in the armed forces of the United States, due to England needing help with aid and military reinforcements and the attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor.

At the age of 17 Alverta Joined the U.S. Navy, and became a Mineman specialist

Grandma Maggie
Grandpa Billy (Papa)
Thelma Mae
Grandma Lydia with Granddaughter Thelma
Mom on their 1925 Model T
Dad age 19
Alverta, Thelma at Easter
Dad, Thelma Page
Joel at 2
Joel. Brother Al had just joined the Navy 1943
Sterling Silver Cup given to Joel at birth by J. P. Knapp.
Cousin Marvin White