Looking back to late summer, early fall of 1990

Posted 8/5/22

The Ennis family has a long history in the Grove Township of Harnett County. Their ownership of land in the Black River area preceded the formation of Harnett County in 1855. It is a name that is …

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Looking back to late summer, early fall of 1990


The Ennis family has a long history in the Grove Township of Harnett County. Their ownership of land in the Black River area preceded the formation of Harnett County in 1855. It is a name that is spoken of with respect and rightfully so. The number of descendants continues to grow as was evidenced by the large number who recently attended the 100th Ennis family reunion in Benson. The number attending was estimated to be around 300.

In the Aug. 31, 1990, edition of The Daily Record, it was shared that Thomas E. Ennis had died on Wednesday. He was the son of John Festus Ennis and Bertie I Ennis. He was survived by his wife, Hettie Mae Clifton Ennis, and two daughters, Miriam E. Byrd and Charlotte Parks. His siblings were Ernest, Jack Ennis and Bill Ennis, Josephine Rose, Olene Ennis, Nellie Moore and Edna E. Gray. Services were held at the Rose & Graham Chapel by the Rev. Jack Page and burial was in Lakeside Memorial Gardens.

In our museum, we have a pair of knee pads that Miriam Ennis Byrd loaned to the Cotton Museum for display. These knee pads were a gift from her dad, Tom Ennis, to her mother, Hettie. You might question why she would have even wanted or needed such a gift. As a young girl, I remember that my dad hired pickers in the fall to pick many acres of cotton. A memory that continues to be fresh in my mind is the sight of the cotton pickers having their knees wrapped in pieces of fabric as they crawled down the long rows, stuffing the picked cotton into a bag that was attached to a strip of fabric that went over the picker’s shoulder so the picker’s hands were free to retrieve the cotton from the stalks. This picking continued from sunrise to sunset in the fall months. Dropping to the knees to pick the cotton rested the back and hence the kneepads made the crawling much more comfortable.

Another person with Ennis roots was Juanita Hudson. Mack R. Hudson and his wife, Juanita, had enjoyed an interesting vacation in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado and Nevada. Their son, Kent Hudson, and his wife, Phyllis, and their children, Kent Jr. and Heather, joined them.

Back in the Coats area, death had taken Hassell Lewis, 71, on Thursday. His survivors were his wife, Lottie Gregory, and one son, Ray Lewis. His brothers were Edward and Lester Lewis, and sisters were Irene Henderson and Virginia Jessup (The Daily Record, Aug. 31, 1990).

Labors of love were the reason that Christine Akerman was recognized as a recipient of the Governor’s Award for her outstanding volunteer services (The Daily Record, Sept. 11, 1990).

It was a sad day when Christine was no longer able to do what she loved most — serving others. The museum volunteers spent thousands of hours working with her on open houses in the early days of collecting materials and artifacts for the Coats Museum and then later we spent years at The Daily Record reading archived papers of the Dunn Dispatch, Harnett County News and The Daily Record so we could publish the 1,200 page centennial book, “The Heritage of Coats, N.C.” in 2005. She was truly a gift to the Coats community.

Dr. Mark White preached his farewell service at Coats Baptist Church. He had accepted a position at the Southern Baptist Convention in Raleigh (The Daily Record, Sept. 13, 1990). Who remembers the pastor who followed Dr. White at the church?

Who recalls when Coats had a putting course called miniature golf? The Junior Order announced one in the Sept. 19, 1990, edition of The Daily Record. Also in that same paper it was printed that Ashton Dare Ennis of Coats had celebrated her first birthday. She was the daughter of Terry and Michelle Ennis. Other news of that same date was that the Coats Area Chamber of Commerce named the Coats Party Beverage and Grill as the Business Focus of the Week. The business was owned by C.J. Johnson.

Craig Matthews put his campaign in high gear for the Harnett County Board of Education seat. He had hot dogs, clowns, cake auction, and other activities at the old Coats Train Depot (The Daily Record, Sept. 26, 1990).

Cellon C. Stephenson, 69, of Coats had died on Monday. His wife was Lucille Ennis Stephenson; three sons, Charles, Ray and Tony Stephenson; two daughters, Becky Stewart and Sandy Turlington. His siblings were Walter and Clarence Stephenson, Hazel Parker and Maude Faircloth (The Daily Record, Sept. 26, 1990) Do you recognize some of those names? I know you saw that they were a part of the Ennis clan.

Death had taken the life of Clara Holliday Liles, 81, of Coats who had died on Wednesday. Surviving her were her husband, James Liles, and her children, Gennive Walden, Clara McLean, Rena Bell, Brenda Eason, Euminez, James and Rex Liles. She was buried in the Westhaven Cemetery (The Daily Record, Sept. 28, 1990). Do you recognize the names in that obituary? The Johnson family on Johnson Road near Coats surely does remember her because Clara and Gennive, along with Chris, were some of our favorite folks to barn tobacco with before mechanical devices took on the task of harvesting tobacco.

Thursday was busy at the museum. Peggy Robinson, Lynda Butler, Becky Adams and I proofread the second edition of “The Defenders of the Red, White and Blue.” We have added many new entries from the armed forces and some new stories to this book. Thanks goes to all who contributed new material.

We enjoyed a visit from Ralph Denning who always lifts our spirits and makes us want to do more to preserve the history of our Coats area. Thank you, Ralph.

A big shout out goes to Karen Ennis Parrish who showers us with sweets and is so modest in not wanting others to know about her generosity. Thank you, Karen. Readers, you did notice that she is an Ennis by birth, right?


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