Sometimes, the early death certificates of the 20th Century told the saddest of stories. One of those was that of the death of Daisy Simpson Aldridge, the wife of "Uncle Filmore", my Great Grandfathers oldest (and biologically half), brother.
Daisy Lee Simpson was born on January 23, 1882, presumably in the area of Cottonville, in the southern part of Stanly County, North Carolina. She was the second child of a notorious woman named Laura Simpson. Her father, by vitue of a bastardy bond, had been named as George Washington Andrews, a married man who had also had an illicit relationship with Laura's mother, Nancy, and had fathered her youngest son.
In 1900, Daisy is found as a young woman, working across the Rocky River in Burnsville Township, as Farm Labor for Charles Blalock and wife. Her age is given as 21, but she was actually 18 at this time. Mr. Blalock was the brother of Richmond Blalock, who was the father of Daisy's older sister, Mamie Simpson. Also living in the home as a boarder was John Wesley Davis. J. W. Davis had a first cousin named, H. H. Davis, who had a stepson who fell in the same category, socially, as Daisy Simpson. He, too, was a 'child of the dust'. His mother, Julina Aldridge, was a Civil War orphan, who had fell pregnant as a young teen by the son of the family she had been bound to as a small child, after the death of her father. He oldest son, Jesse Filmore Aldridge, was a child of this relationship. It may have been J. W. Davis who introduced them.
Daisy and Filmore were married on April 10, 1901, he was 22 and she was 20.
As farm families were prone to do in those days, the young couple wasted no time in starting a large family.
Their first daughter, Beulah Lee, was born the very next year, the oldest of ten. She would be followed by Horace Augustus, Marvin Lotto, Geroge Nissan, Lillian, Joe Claude, Edna Naomi, Jesse Filmore Jr, Thomas Victor and ending in 1922 with Mildred Louise, when Daisy was 40 years old.
The community in which the family lived became to be known as Davis, it was close to the Rocky River, west of Aquadale and Cottonville and contained the roads now called Aldridge and Old Davis Roads. Daisy and Filmore's family would dominate the news sent to the county newspaper by the local correspondents.
There have been rumours, passed down through the decades, of Filmore being a rough man, a fighting man, and even an abusive husband and father. These are at this point mere stories, I've found no actual facts to corroborate them, however, that doesn't mean they were not true.
In October of 1934, Daisy was 52 years old. Most of her children were grown and on their own, a few of the younger ones still lived at home, and some of the married ones still lived on the family farm and helped Filmore run it. The family story was that one of the young sons of J. F. Jr. saw the flames first, as the family was out in the fields picking cotton and Filmore had rode into town for supplies.
Daisy's death certificate gave her age as 53 years, 8 months and 23 days. She was a married housewife and her birthplace was given as Albemarle, which probably was not correct, post office wise, maybe, but not physical location. Her father was named as George Andrews and her mother as Laura Simpson. The informant was her husband, J. F. Aldridge. Her principal cause of death was 'Severe burns from hips up. Practically all skin off from hips up." The injury occurred at home as her house burned up. She was buried at Rehobeth Methodist Church.
But why did Daisy enter a burning house that had no one trapped inside? The family story was that she was attempting to save family legal paperwork, deeds and the like, because she knew Filmore would be infuriated if these were destroyed. In trying to save a few legal documents, she lost her life. I found a newspaper account of Daisy's tragic death only on microfilm, and only the first part of the article. This was from The Stanly News and Press.
"Burns Proved Fatal to Mrs Aldridge Tuesday.
Aquadale Woman Enters Burning House on Monday.
Carried Out by Son Who Saw her Enter.
Received Terrible Burns and She Passed in Local Hospital - Funeral Wednesday.
Funeral services in charge of the Pastor Rev. J. A.Howell, assisted by Rev. J.S. Tyson, were held at Rehobeth Methodist Church Wednesday afternoon at 4 o'clock for Mrs. J. F. Aldridge, wife of a prominent farmer of the Aldridge settlement near Aquadale. Mrs Aldridge died in a local hospital Tuesday night from burns sustained the day before when the Aldridge home burned.
The fire that destroyed the dwelling occured Monday morning about 9 o'clock, presumably from a defective flue, while members of the Aldridge family were away from home. Mrs. Aldridge was in nearby field picking cotton when her attention was called to smoke coming from the house by a grandchild. She rushed to the home and entered the door in an effort to."
That is as much of the article as I was able to photograph. Still, her suffering can be imagined. Her husband would live another twelve years, and remarry 5 years after her death to Mary Jane Hudson Huneycutt, a widow. Jesse Filmore Aldridge joined Daisy in the Rehobeth Cemetery on September 18, 1946.
After all of my research on Laura Simpson and Bob Krider, I wondered exactly where the three acres were, that the newspapers had reported was owned by Krider, but was occupied by Laura and her illicit business called the Blind Tiger.
I knew from newspaper articles that it was located between Rocky River Springs and Cottonville. That gives us a good idea of the general vicinity, but doesn't nail it down too precisely, so I decided to give things a closer look. The likelihood of the original building still standing is pretty slim, since it was the turn of the century that we are talking about, but perhaps there exists some marker or border that can give us a more specific locale.
The newspapers said Bob Krider owned the property, and he was from another county, Rowan, so I went in search of a deed. I didn't find a single deed where he had bought the property, but I did find the one where he sold it, five years after the death of Laura, and just a year before his own demise. Fortunately, this deed also told of when he bought not one, but two parcels, that encompassed the three acres, and who he bought it from.
My guess is that in this excerpt from the 1910 census of Tyson, that the listing for Mamie Simpson and her children, and Bud Simpson and his young family, show them living on this exact three acre location. Laura was in jail at this time. Only one week later, Bud will be enumerated in Rowan County, living with Bob Krider and his family, and his wife, Pearl and their son John, living with her parents, whose property connected that of the Kriders in Providence Township, close to the old Trading Ford area. Ten years earlier, Mamie and Bud were both living with the Kriders in Rowan County, and neither had become parents yet.
Notice in the list, the family names are Wright, then Biles, then the Simpsons, then an Elijah Crump, then Jack Lilly, and lastly, Hampton Aldridge, who happens to be my Second Great Grandmother's older brother, and I know pretty much exactly where he lived.
I wonder how Krider met Laura in the first place, but it appears he may have bought the property just for her. The clipping below stated that the place was near Cottonville, and was not cultivated.
The below Clipping from the same article reveals what the place was used for, a Brothel and blind tiger, or bootleg joint. It also names some citizens of the area who were not happy about that.
The deed itself gives us more names to look into. Bob Krider bought the property in two sections, over the course of 10 years, the first parcel in 1899, of one and a third acres and the second part in 1909, of about 2 acres. It's a mystery as to why the two original deeds are not to be found. They may have not ever been filed with the Register of Deeds office.
W R Krider and wife, Georgia Ann Krider of Rowan County, NC to J M West of Stanly County, NC
for $300 located in Tyson Township, Stanly County, NC. Book 67 Page 87.
Adjoining the lands of J M West and Neal Duke, beginning at a stake in the East Bank of the Winfield Road and runs N. E. 4.20 chains to a planted stone, in W. R. Kriders line, there with his line. Reversed N. 87 degrees v 5.40 chains to a stake on the bank of said Road S. 54E 2 chains there with said road S. 47 E 4.90 chains to the beginning, containing one and one third acres, and being the same land conveyed by A. A. Thompson and wife D. M. Thompson to W. R. Krider by dee dated 23rd September 1899, and being one & one third acres more or less.
Adjoining the above lands & beginnning at a pine stump on the southside of Winfield Road and following A. D. Deese's old original line east 140 yards to cornering on a stake, thence south with Biles line 72 yards back to the beginning, bounded on the north and east by July Colson, on the west by C.B. Duke and wife and on the South by W. R. Krider, containing 2 acres more or less, and being the same land conveyed by John W. Howard and Hattie Howard to W. R. Krider by deed dated April 27, 1909.
So, we know have a number of names and a few places to go by that could give some direction. In 1921, the property bounded J. M. West and Neal Duke, and it was being sold to J. M. West.
We also have the location of the Winfield Rd., which I have been studying for years. The deed refers to the East Bank and the Southside of the Winfield Rd.
One and one third acre had belonged to A. A. Thompson and his wife D. M. Thompson in 1899, when W. R. Krider had purchased it from them.
A. D.Deese's old,original line is mentioned. Neighbors to this second portion of the property are named as July Colson, Biles, and C. B. Duke. This two acre portion had been sold to W. R. Krider in by John W. and Hattie Howard in 1909.
The above portion of the old C. M. Miller, of Salisbury, NC, map is supposedly dated between 1904 and 1910. Notice Rehobeth Church in the top left corner. Above that is a collection of Simpsons, and a triangle of roads. Just off screen, on the top left to the northeast was the town of Rocky River Springs, which was a resort, and is shown on the map as a grid of roads, a town.
Near the bottom right corner of this excerpt of the map is a cluster of churches, schools and houses, with the letters, C, O, T, T, running off the page to the right. This was the location of the town of Cottonville. We know from the newspaper articles, that Laura's Place was located between Rocky River Springs and Cottonville. We know from the deed that it was on the South and East side of the Winfield Road. Above, we see a 'Mrs. Simpson ' and the black square chosen to designate a home was on the southwest side of the road between Rocky River Springs and Cottonville. Could this have been Laura? The neighbors are an A. F. Deese and below that, a David Deese, to the south and to the north, a P. A. Howard and a J. T. Thompson above that, with an M. F. Biles off to the side.
So I am now posed with several questions to answer. Who were John W. and Hattie Howard who sold the property to Bob Krider in 1909, and how were they connected to P. A. Howard, if indeed they were and who was J. T. Thompson and was this Thompson related to the A. A. and D. M. Thompson family who sold a piece of property to Bob Krider in 1899? Was M. F. Biles related to the Biles family listed in the 1910 census living near Mamie and Bud Simpson ?
And of the triangle of roads in the top right corner, which was Winfield Road, which once went all the way to Albemarle and crossed over into Anson, heading down through Burnsville, but now has been greatly reduced, on both sides of the river.
And who were July Colson and the two Dukes mentioned? No Dukes are shown closeby in this section of the map between Rocky River Springs and Cottonville. There were Dukes to the east of Cottonville, going toward Cedar Grove Church, which still stands, on the way towards Norwood and Porter, near the Hudson Hive on Ugly Creek, along with a bunch of Lees, Mortons, Blalocks and Thompsons.
So, first things first, who was A. A. Thompson and wife, D. M. Thompson, who sold the lot in 1899?
A quick search for an A. A. Thompson in Tyson Township, Stanly County, NC around the turn of the century returned just one likely candidate who fit the bill perfectly, and that was Adolphus Addison Thompson and his wife, Dora M. Deese Thompson. A. A., who also went by 'Dolph' or 'Dolphus', was born in 1874, and would have been a young man of around 26 upon the sale of the property in 1899. His wife Dora aka 'Dollie', was born a Deese, and the deed had also mention that the second portion of property, which also adjoined this first acre and a half Krider had bought, adjoined 'A. D. Deese's old original line'. As Dollie was the daughter of one Atlas Durgin Deese, it appears the property was that of Dollie's, recieved or inherited from her father.
The above clipping, though not very legible, is an excerpt from the 1900 census, the closest one after the sale of the small, acre and a half sale, from A. A. Thompson to W.R. Krider. It shows 'Doffes' Thompson, Archie Deese, David Deese and Maston Thompson. On the below section of map, near the center, one can see these two, A. F. (Archibald Filmore) Deese, and David Deese, both brothers of Adolphus's wife, Dora Deese Thompson. Near them, just west of Cottonville, is R. W. Thompson, the father of A. A. Thompson.
The next names I looked for was Neal Duke and C. B. Duke, who turns out to be the same individual, Cornelius "Neal" B. Duke. He does not appear on this map, and I think that is because he didn't live in this exact area, but not far away. Like in the case of A. A. Thompson, it appears C. B. Duke came into this piece of land from his wife's inheritance. Duke was married to Flora Biles. She was the daughter of John Wesley Biles and had married George Genes before C. B. Duke. Her brother, M. F. (Millard Filmore) Biles, is shown on the map, as well as John Biles, which could be her brother John, or father, John.
In Stanly County Deeds, Book 39, Page 307, I found a transaction between L. A. Biles (Lafayette), another brother, and Flora Duke. This tract was adjoining those of F. A. Duke, A. P (or A. F.) Deese, and M. F. Biles and was located at the forks of Davis and Cottonville Roads, and ran with the Cottonville Road and A. Deese's line.
By gazing at the section of the map below, I can only gather that the Cottonville Road is the one that ran straight out of Rocky River Springs into Cottonville. So the trick is now to determine which road was the Winfield Road and which one was the Davis Road.
Knowing that Rehobeth Church was located on the Winfield Road, which is now reduced to a short span east of Aquadale, and has a drive that reaches the Plank Road, or 'Cottonville' Road and knowing Old Davis Road currently angles off of this road with Aldridge Road angling off further down and intersecting with Old Davis, it seems the road that M. F. Biles property on the map is at the beginning of Davis Road, and the one on down Where C. H. Aldridge (my Great GrandUncle Caleb Hampton Aldridge) and W.F. Crump lived, would be Aldridge Road. Now, I am not so sure. These current roads are based upon the location of Aquadale and Aqualdale was not on this map, it was yet to be born. These roads came out of Rocky River Springs and Albemarle to the north.
Some other deeds show A. A. Thompson selling small lots in nearby, but different locations, as if he held several small landing holdings around Cottonville. On July 9,1902, A. A. Thompson sold to Henry and Hattie Kendall, a vacant lot, 'orginally part of the Cottonville Mill lots, better known as the Bill Watkins barn lot, " from the corner of the mill lot to the Winfield Road., of a quarter of an acre.
So, the map shows A. A. Thompson living on the southside of Cottonville near G. W. Davis, an Uncle of mine, but via his wife, he had inherited property to the west of Cottonville, towards Rocky River Springs, and that is the property sold to W. R. Krider.
Another neighbor mentioned as having lived to the northeast of the property was "July Colson'. I believe this was Julius C. :"Jule" Colson, shown below with his wife Francis and their two boys, Paul and Grover (Raven) and Etrie, Jule's daughter by a previous relationship.
Jule is listed as being a Cottonmill Fireman, perhaps the Cottonville Cotton Mill that was mentioned in the Thompson deed. He was born in Anson County, the son of Abram and Delilah Colson and had married Francis Allen, daughter of Frank Staton and Laura Allen. They would have one more daughter, May Belle, and move to Albemalre and later, back to the Norwood area. Daughter Etrie would marry Wallace Cochran Stacy, son of Frank Stacy.
Then, there is that last portion of land, of two acres, sold to W. R. Krider by John and Hattie Howard in April of 1909. Who were the Howards and where were they on the map?
I found John and Hattie as newleyweds in 1900, at the top of the same page I had found "Doffe" Thompson. By 1909, they were well on their way to creating a large farm family.
John Wesley Howard, or Harward, as the spellings were interchangible at the time, was the son of Peter A. Harward, of the P. A. on the map, who lived near the Deese and Biles. He had married Hattie Kimrey.
The two acres section that joined the small section of property that W. R Krider had already purchased from the Thompsons, was probably a piece of the land got from his father, Peter A Harward in Book 30, Page 612, in 1904, that was located on the Winfield Road and contained 57 and 3/4 acres.
After digging through many deeds, and the individuals named in this one deed involving W. R. Krider, I am now convinced that the Winfield Road is the one that shows P. A. Howard, Mrs. Simpson and A. D. Deese, living along it and that Mrs. Simpson must have been no other than Laura Simpson herself, on the southeast side of the road, between Rocky River Springs and Cottonville.