JOHN CALVIN WATERFIELD
September 30, 2011. By Anne Osborn Cox. Published in the Heritage of Currituck 1670-1985.
John Calvin Waterfield (4-12-1847 to 9-23-1907) and his wife, Sarah White Waterfield (1-3-1847 to 5-3-1927), are buried on the lot of the Methodist Church, Knotts Island, N.C., in the place chosen by John while he was living. This lot is not a burying ground, but the church honored his request, and there John and Sarah sleep, in the soil so sacred to them. John had occupied a seat by a window overlooking this spot, for a lifetime of worshiping and loving the Lord.
Like his grandfather, Caleb Ansell, of old, he was a great public prayer leader of the church. Sarah once said, "God puts the words in John's mouth."
In "The Tales of Knotts Island", Henry Ansell remembers, John had gone to Elizabeth City to obtain his certification for the United States Life Saving Service. He returned to the island, late for a night revival meeting which was in a ‘lagging state'. There were Mourners in the ‘mercy seat' and the preacher called out to John, "Brother John, Brother John Waterfield, come right here and pray for these mourners; come along." There was no backing out at a big meeting on the Island. John prayed . . a more earnest and soul-stirring prayer for the conversion of the mourners assembled there, was seldom heard elsewhere than on Knotts Island. In five minutes, every phase of that meeting was changed; mourners were converted, the church was moved and singing rapturously."
It was on Knotts Island, only 10 miles long and 2% miles wide at its widest point, that John and Sarah were raised, married, and raised their own family of three daughters: Amanda, who died in childhood; Medora Jackson; and L. Betty. Their home was close to their beloved church upon this unique island, 3 miles in Virginia and 7 miles in North Carolina.
The Waterfields of Knotts Island, North Carolina are believed to be the descendants of a William Waterfield, one of three brothers who appeared in America in the early 1700‘s as landowners.
John Calvin was the older of two brothers. His brother, Enoch C. Waterfield (3-27-1855 to 6-23-1935) married Susan Waterman (10-17-1869 to 5-20-1935). Their three daughters and one son were: Effie K. (5-15-1890); Elsie Viola (7-1892); Charlie Lee (2-23-1894); and Orion R. (12-16-1898).
Mary Bethany Waterfield, sister to John and Enoch, married Ezekial Ansel. Their three children were: Molly, Lydia and Cone.
Sarah was the younger daughter of William (1803) and Sarah (1810) White. Her four brothers and one sister were: John (1831); William (1836); Nancy (1840); Ryland C. (1843); and Caleb (1849).
In 1861, when the savage four year Civil War began, every male left his home on the Island to serve the Confederacy. While they were away, the Union soldiers stripped the tiny defenseless island. John, a boy of only 17 years, along with a number of other North Carolinians from Currituck Co., near the Norfolk line, enlisted as a Pvt. in Co. B., 61st Virginia Infantry (Wilson's Regt.) in Petersburg, Va. on Aug. 14, 1864. The Company lost one-third, by death, of the men who left Norfolk Co. with it. John was wounded in the right leg and disabled near Petersburg, 1864. Two of Sarah‘s brothers, William and Ryland C. were with him in Wilson's Regt. and both were captured.
After the war, John returned to Knotts Island, married Sarah, "Miss Sal", and became proficient in boating and fishing. John, a man 6feet tall, with blue eyes, light complexion and 190 lbs., served in the Wash Woods Life Saving Station, No. 5 from Feb. 13, 1880 until July 3, 1902, when complications from his old war injury caused him to fail his physical examination.
He spent his retirement as a United States Mailman, delivering mail to and from the Island, by boat. John was found dead, of a heart attack, in his boat, while carrying out the duties of his job. He was 60 years old.
Sarah remained on Knotts Island until 1914, when she moved with the family of her daughter, L. Betty, and her son-in-law, Little James Henley, to Va. Beach, Va., where Little James, "Lit", had been transferred to the Seatack Life Saving Station, No. 2 from the Wash Woods Station. She lived the remainder of her life there and was a source of spiritual and moral strength to the family.
The two daughters of John and Sarah married men who served in the Wash Woods Life Saving Station, No. 5 and each had ten children.
Medora Jackson (9-25-1868 to 3-3-1907) and Jerome Bonaparte Cason, II (4-1 7-1865 to 10-24-1956) were married 8-28-1884. Their children were: Wilburn Walter (4-1-1889 to 4-25-1956); John Calvin (9-1891 to 1963); Addie Loraine (1-6-1894 to 2-4-1982); Edgar Leroy (3-16-1896 to 7-11-1979); Everett Medora (3-12·1898 to 6-22-1982); Paul Lesley (1900 to 7-29-1974); and Hallett Clyde (1902). Three other children died at birth or in early childhood.
L. Betty (9-8-1878 to 4-29-1947) and Little James Henley (3-20-1875 to 9-2-1932) were married 7-25-1895 by E.D. Bowden, Wash Woods. Their children were: Alma Ester (8-16-1897 to 12-5-1977); Nancy Bernie (11-4-1898 to 10-25-1960); Infant, died; Sallye Darah (11-28-1902); Alton Hope (12-23-1904 to 6-26-1975); Caddye Medora (12-23-1906 to 3-15-1982); John Wray (2-23-1909 to 6-26-1982); Orville James (6-23-1911 to 2-16-1985); Marguerite, died in early childhood; Madge Virginia (2-6-1915 to 6-13-1953).
Sallye Darah Henley Osborn is the oldest living relative of John Calvin and Sarah Waterfield. Like her grandparents, she is a source of strong inner faith to her family. She came to Florida in 1957, where her husband, Joseph Napoleon Osborn (11-27-1898to 4-29-1978), son, Ivan Eugene (5-30-1924 to 8-3-1977) and son-in-law, Frank Woodard Cox, Jr. (10-3-1929) became landowners and developers. She lives with the family of her daughter, Anne Morrow (3-27-1929) in Plantation, Fla.