This past Sunday, September 24, 2017, I was the speaker at the monthly meeting of the Tyrrell County Genealogical and Historical Society. This was my second time addressing this group, this year, and I was excited to be there, and honored to have been asked back.
After my presentation, I spent quite a bit of time conversing and fellowshipping with members of the audience. Of course, the subject of my HILL and BRYANT ancestors and family came up, given that I'd shared examples from my research during my talk. While talking with one gentleman, it was confirmed that many of the Hills live in the Albemarle Church Rd. area of the county, which is something I'd been previously told by another Tyrrell County resident, who is a minister at the church many of my family members (still) attend. This is the same road on which I'd located the Hill Family Cemetery, using Google Earth, shortly after my last visit to the county. At that time, I wrote this heartfelt blog post about my discovery. (You'll want to read that first post to get the full meaning of this one.) I decided that, despite the fact that I had a long drive to Raleigh ahead of me, I just had to visit Albemarle Church Rd., with hopes of finding the cemetery, and, perhaps some family, too.
Once I'd said my goodbyes, I headed out to my car, put the street name into my GPS, and started out on what was about a 7 minute drive from the Columbia Senior Center, where the meeting had taken place, to my destination. In no time at all, there I was, taking the Travis Rd. exit (which I know well), and turning into an area that I immediately recognized, because on each of my (now 3) visits to Tyrrell County, something has made me turn down this street in my explorations. I followed the directions down the barely-inhabited county road, and, very shortly, found myself on Albemarle Church Rd. As I took in my surroundings - mostly flat fields with the occasional house - I could sense that I was getting closer and closer to my people. (But, the only thing about it was that there were no people in sight.) Eventually, I came upon the intersection of Albemarle Church Rd. and Albemarle Shore Rd., which is where (I remembered) the cemetery was supposed to be. But, there was no cemetery in site. I turned around and looked again, on both sides of the road, but still saw nothing of a burial ground. However, as I backtracked a bit, I couldn't help but notice the oddity of four moss-covered structures - three side-by-side, and the other spaced a little apart - to my left, sitting strangely alone in an overgrown field. I stopped right in the middle of the road, and just stared for at least a minute, trying to contemplate how these (what looked like homes) had come to be left to just give way to Mother Nature like this. I sat there, immovable for a time, wondering if anyone in the homestead to my right was watching me, but not worried about cars because I was absolutely the only car on this road. And then I did it - I snapped two pictures of these overgrown buildings, partly because of how sad and bothersome it was, but also because something kept nudging me. Something kept saying..."Your ancestors lived here." I kid you not.
|I was much farther from the structures than this photo indicates. I cropped the pictures when I got home, so that I could get closer look.|
Okay, so now, I can tell this isn't going to be short. So much for that.
Well, at this point I was really baffled and confused. I decided to turn right onto Albemarle Shore Rd., still looking for the cemetery, and also really wishing that someone, anyone would happen to come out of one of the sparsely scattered homes or at least drive by, so I could flag them down. I knew, for sure, that I was near my people. I just knew it.
I continued down the lonely road, still hopeful, when suddenly, I saw the most fabulous site - water! Omg, Albemarle Shore Rd. was showing me how it got its name! It runs right into (and along) the shore of the beautiful Albemarle Sound! I couldn't believe my eyes! It was so beautiful, and I was ready to pick up and move onto one of the vacant lots (For Sale!), right then and there. (But, I digress.) I rode down the short waterfront lane, wondering if the owners of these more modern, waterfront homes might also be my people. Again, there were no signs of life, so I just made my way back out to Albemarle Church Rd., back past the four houses (pausing, again, to look), and away from the little section of Scuppernong, Tyrrell County, where I was now sure my ancestors once lived.
|Can't you just see ME living on this plot of land, right on the Albemarle Sound? :)|
Fast forward to tonight... September 28th (going into 29th), 2017.
I got a private message from another Tyrrell County descendant, Deborah Fries, asking how my talk had gone on Sunday, and if I'd met any of my relatives. After responding that the talk went very well, but, no, I hadn't met any Hills or Bryants (sigh), our conversation turned to my failed attempt to the find the Hill Family Cemetery. I made reference to the blog post I'd written after my last talk, where I'd shared the Google Earth view of the cemetery, and I decided to put a link to it in our conversation, so she could refer to it. And.that's.when.it.happened....
As soon as I opened the March 23, 2017 blog post (which, coincidentally would have been my mother's birthday, and this is her family line...hmmm), I saw it.... and I knew, right away why I'd felt so connected when I sat in the middle of Albemarle Church Rd. on Sunday. You see, there in the Google Earth image were the four structures, as perfectly lined up as there were in my photos, right where they should be - almost exactly across from the turn on to Albemarle Shore Rd., just to the left and forward of where I'd sat in the middle of the road. And, that space between the three houses and the one that sat apart? Well, that space is where the HILL FAMILY CEMETERY is.
Take a look.