Family surnames: Alston, Bobbitt (Halifax County, North Carolina); Myrick, Vann (Hertford County, North Carolina); Bottoms, Stancil, Wood (Northampton County, North Carolina); Bynum, Ridley (Southampton County, Virginia); Wright (Suffolk/Nansemond County, Virginia)
“R. L. Bobbitt, husband”. That’s the phrase that graces one of the older headstones in Oak Lawn Cemetery. I first photographed the gravestone of R. L. Bobbitt way back in 2012, on a chilly day just before Christmas. At that point, my family were residents of Chesapeake, Virginia, and I’d squeeze in time whenever possible to study historic Oak Lawn, Bobbitt’s vital statistics indicate that he was born after the technical end of slavery, part of freedom’s “first generation.” For the past eight years, R. L. Bobbitt largely remained a mystery to me. Staying home to avoid COVID has provided a bit more time to investigate some of my genealogy cold cases. I figured it was time to solve the mystery, or at the very least, make a solid attempt, and take a look into Mr. Bobbit’s background.
After a little digging, I found that his given name was Robert L. Bobbitt, and he was born about 1868. Little is known about his ancestry, but I suspect he may have had ties to Halifax County, North Carolina. In 1870, a Robert Bobbitt, born about 1867, was documented in the household of Jordan Alston (b. ca. 1795), in Halifax County. Their home included Mahala, forty, Hyman, sixteen, Matilda, twelve, Jeff, aged eight, and Peter, aged six.1 In the 1880 Census, a Robert Bobbitt, born about 1867, was documented in Faucetts Township, in the household of Jacob Bobbitt (b. ca. 1815), a farmer. This household also included mother Martha Jane “Pattie” Faulcon Bobbitt, and children Mary, fourteen, Susanna, aged eleven, Edward, seven, Jacob, five, and Martha Jane, aged two.2
Robert first appears in Suffolk, Virginia vital records upon his marriage to Miss Hattie Bell Bottoms, on December 28, 1898. Hattie Bell was the daughter of Albert Bottoms and Georgianna Wood, and grew up in the rural communities of Margarettsville and Seaboard, Northampton County, located in North Carolina’s Coastal Plain and Piedmont region.3 Northampton County, settled by the Meherrin Indian Nation in the eleventh century, was formally incorporated in 1741. Seaboard (formerly the Village of Concord) was established in the 1840s as a railroad town, named after the Seaboard and Roanoke Railroad Company. Margarettsville was established about 1836-1837, and was named for Mrs. Margaret Ann Bynum Jordan Ridley, wife of Col. Thomas Ridley, a wealthy planter and slaveholder of Southampton County, Virginia.4 We often pass through Seaboard and Margarettsville on our frequent family history roadtrips to Franklin and Warren counties in North Carolina.
Sadly, Robert and Hattie’s marriage was short-lived, as Robert passed away sometime between the Fall of 1899, and Spring of 1900. Two daughters were born to the couple, little Flossie Bobbitt, born in 1899, and Theodora “Dora” Bobbitt, who was born close to, or after her father’s decease, on June 19, 1900. Hattie later married Mr. Edward Myrick, son of William Myrick and Pennie Vann, on December 18, 1900, Suffolk, Virginia.5 Edward’s ancestry was tied to the Como district of Hertford County, to which I’ve traced my own paternal ancestry. By 1910, Edward and Hattie were documented in a home on Lee Street, Suffolk. Their household included Edward (as “Edgar”), a fireman at a local sawmill, Hattie, a seamstress, Dora (Theodora), aged ten, Eva May Myrick, three, and Hattie B. Myrick, five months old. The latter two siblings were the daughters of Edward and Hattie, making them Theodora’s half sisters. The census record notes that Hattie was the mother of six children, with three surviving by 1910. It is possible that little Flossie, Theodora’s elder sister, and daughter of Robert Bobbitt, passed away sometime between 1900 and 1910, and may be interred in Oak Lawn Cemetery near her father, Robert.6 Edward Myrick passed away in 1948, and was buried in Murfreesboro, Hertford County, North Carolina.7
Hattie Bell Bottoms Bobbitt Myrick remained a resident of Suffolk, until her death on January 4, 1966. She was interred in Carver Memorial Cemetery, Suffolk, on January 6th, by Peebles Funeral Home.8 Daughter Theodora Bobbitt married Mr. Fred Douglas Wright, Sr., of Suffolk, Virginia. Theodora, a member of St. Marks Episcopal Church, the Swans Club, and the Golden Gate Temple, Daughters of Elk 90, passed away on April 23 1981, and was buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery.9 Her husband, Fred Douglas, Sr., passed away on March 3, 1992, and was also interred in Oak Lawn Cemetery.10
- “1870 U. S. Census,” database online, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 October 2020), North Carolina, Halifax, dist. Etrusia, p. 53, citing, “Year: 1870; Census Place: Etrusia, Halifax, North Carolina; Roll: M593_1141; Page: 446A; Family History Library Film: 552640.”
- “1880 U. S. Census,” database online, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 October 2020), North Carolina, Halifax, Faucetts, dist. 137, p. 22, citing, “Year: 1880; Census Place: Faucetts, Halifax, North Carolina; Roll: 966; Page: 628B; Enumeration District: 137.”
- Per vital records, Albert Bottoms (ca. 1853-1926), son of Walter Bottoms and Laura Stancil, married Miss Georgianna Wood, daughter of Mason Wood, on October 8, 1874, Northampton County, North Carolina. “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1975” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 October 2020), certificate image, A. B. Bottoms, 12 October 1926, no. 227, citing, “North Carolina State Archives; Raleigh, North Carolina; North Carolina Death Certificates“; “Northampton, Marriage Licenses (1865-1961),” Albert Bottoms-Georgianna Wood, 8 October 1874, image, “North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011,” Ancestry (https://ancestry.com: accessed 5 October 2020).
- In 1860, over one hundred and seventy enslaved African Americans, and twenty slave houses, were attributed to Col. Ridley’s Estate. “1860 U. S. Federal Census – Slave Schedules,” database online, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed October 4, 2020), Virginia, Southampton County, dist. West Side Nottoway River, p. 33, citing, “The National Archives in Washington DC; Washington DC, USA; Eighth Census of the United States 1860; Series Number: M653; Record Group: Records of the Bureau of the Census; Record Group Number: 29.”
- Per his death certificate, William Myrick, son of Sam Stephens, passed away in Murfreesboro, Hertford County, North Carolina, on September 7, 1919, and was interred in Murfreesboro. His wife, Pennie Vann Myrick, passed away on March 20, 1939, and was also interred in Murfreesboro, North Carolina. “North Carolina, Death Certificates, 1909-1976, ” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 October 2020), certificate images, William Myrick, 7 September 1919, no. 238, and Pennie Myrick, 20 March 1939, no. 205, citing, “North Carolina State Archives; Raleigh, North Carolina; North Carolina Death Certificates.”
- “1910 U. S. Census,” database online, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 8 October 2020), Virginia, Suffolk (Independent City), Suffolk, dist. 0015, p. 22, citing, “Year: 1910; Census Place: Suffolk, Suffolk (Independent City), Virginia; Roll: T624_1636; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0015; FHL microfilm: 1375649.”
- “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 October 2020), certificate image, Edward Myrick, 5 May 1947, no. 10983, citing, “Virginia Department of Health; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Deaths, 1912-2014.”
- “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 October 2020), certificate image, Hattie B. Myrick, 4 January 1955, no. 3, citing, “Virginia Department of Health; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Deaths, 1912-2014.”
- “Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2014” database with images, Ancestry (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 October 2020), certificate image, Theodora B. Wright, 23 April 1981, no. 141, citing, “Virginia Department of Health; Richmond, Virginia; Virginia Deaths, 1912-2014”; The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 25 April 1981, image copy, Newspapers (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 12 October 2020).
- The Daily Press (Newport News, Virginia), 6 March 1992, image copy, Newspapers (https://www.newspapers.com : accessed 12 October 2020).