Museum draws descendants of Coats families

By GAYLE SORRELL
For the Record
Posted 5/21/21

The date displayed on The Daily Record was May 27, 1987 and the news was my neighbor, Will Pope, was awarded the Cape Fear Christian Academy Headmaster Award for his high academic average and Bryan …

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Museum draws descendants of Coats families

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The date displayed on The Daily Record was May 27, 1987 and the news was my neighbor, Will Pope, was awarded the Cape Fear Christian Academy Headmaster Award for his high academic average and Bryan McLamb and Kim Adcock for being outstanding athletes. Serious studying must have paid off since Will is currently one of the most popular lawyers in Harnett County.

Other news was Alzula Johnson mourned the loss of her brother, John Palmon Stephenson, a retired farmer of Route One, Angier. He was survived by his wife, Alice Coats Stephenson; daughter, Barbara Walton; and son, John Eugene Stephenson. His siblings were Alzula Stewart Johnson, Ione Dixon, Juanita Mills, Isabelle Rogers, Imogene Stephenson, Joyce Cotton, Onslow Stephenson and Rudolph Stephenson.

Many years before we built the Cotton Museum in 2005 and the Kress and Nell Penny Williams Exhibit Hall in 2013, we had over 20 various open houses in our two room museum to discover what was available in the Coats community for exhibits should we build an addition and to create an interest in preserving personal family history and heirlooms.

One of our more memorable and beautiful museum open houses was the one on arts and crafts when we displayed items made by dozens of locals. Just a few areas that come to mind are the woodworking of the late Lindsey Tart, Bobby Byrd, and Mack Hudson; intricate needlework by Patsy Avery, Jutta Turlington, Wynona Ennis, Alzula Johnson, Edna Collier and Thessie Daniel; crocheting by Alice Johnson, Ruby Creech and ribbon crocheting by Lib Nordan; needlepoint or embroidery by Mary Jo Mann, Juanita Hudson and Dona Ennis Turlington; quilting or tatting by Isabella Coats, Juanita Hudson, Thessie Daniel, and sisters, Maude Penny Sorrell and Nell Penny Williams,who also displayed china painting; plus the work of dozens of other talented artists and craftsmen.

From the arts and crafts open house, we were able to acquire enough items to have a beautiful display cabinet in our exhibit hall in 2021. The Coats Museum was not the only beneficiary of local talent. The proof is found in The Daily Record that over $800 was raised on raffle tickets from a chance to win a wedding ring quilt made by Mrs. Cornelia Johnson for the Coats Swinging Elders. President Virginia Pollard presided over the meeting and Mrs. Owen Bennett and Clyde Johnson gave the devotion. Ruth Parrish, secretary, and Mrs. Johnny Barnes, each read reports. Belle Williams introduced the speaker, Mrs. Vernall Whittington.

Linda Matthews Turlington, former Coats teacher, was appointed as the principal of Lafayette School to replace Cecil Fuquay. Linda had taught at Coats School for 15 years before going to the central office as the career development program coordinator for the Harnett County Schools (The Daily Record, June 1, 1987).

According to “Notes from Coats,” Weldon Beasley was glad to have his wife, Evelyn Beasley, back home after her surgery at Raleigh Community Hospital. James Ray Langdon and his wife, Rachel Stewart Langdon, celebrated their 48th wedding anniversary. They were also confined to their home due to poor health so they were pleased to have dropped by visitors.

Magdalene Pleasant was home from Good Hope Hospital. David Stevens was a patient at Wake Med in Raleigh. Clyde Ennis was home after his surgery at Good Hope Hospital. Donald Ennis, son of Mr. and Mrs. Warren Ennis, was married to Tammy Barefoot of Dunn. Mrs. Rex Godwin suffered a freak accident while walking her daily exercise route. She had surgery and was in intensive care unit for a period of time.

Fifth-graders, Brandon Smith and Joey Barnes, were part of the Academically Gifted Class taught by Beverly McLean who participated in a national computer project called Project Dial. They linked with a fifth grade class in Wilsail, Montana. According to Mrs. McLean, the students benefited from the experience in the areas of lifestyle, history sharing, writing skills and technology.

Wonder if any of those students kept in contact over the years. I do know that Beverly and Marie Salmon worked together to make many projects successful for the students. It was a sad day when Beverly died. She touched so many lives during her teaching career at Coats and Coats-Erwin Middle School.

Laura Collier, granddaughter of Mrs. Nathan Collier, had just graduated from South Johnston High School and was making plans to attend North Carolina State University in the fall. Lottie Surles Lamm was visited by her sister, Zenobia Rhodes, and new great-nephew, Peter Gerheart. Accompanying the baby and his grandmother was the new mom, Malanie Gerheart, of Colonial Heights, Virginia.

Mr. and Mrs. Julian Danenburg visited his sister, Dorothy B. Lashley, in Ohio. Ricky Ennis was honored with special recognition as a Rescue Squad Award recipient in 1986. He was a 1979 graduate from Coats High. Anniversary greetings went to Mr. and Mrs. Tony Beasley, Mr. and Mrs. Forrest Fleming, Mr. and Mrs. Hal Penny, Mr. and Mrs. Kent D. Langdon and Mr. and Mrs. Tim Brown.

Birthday wishes went out to Julian Byrd, Betsy Pollard, Twins-Dale and Gale Ennis, Jesse McLamb, Martha T. Parrish, Mrs. Walter Franklin, Edwin Gurkins, Randy Caudle, Michael Allan Beasley and Paul Pollard (The Daily Record, June 4, 1987).

Does the Coats Lions Club continue to sell a calendar upon which birthdays and anniversaries are printed? Surely this was the source that Wanda Pollard used to share her birthday and anniversary notes. The Lions have and continue to add so much to the Coats area through the park, school and the community. The work of that club touches those who need glasses and recognizes the outstanding students through the Lions Pride shirts.  Husband and wife teams are welcomed into the membership of the organization to help the organization do even more.

Death returned to Coats and took Mattie Scott Holliday of Coats. Mrs. Holliday had four daughters, Vera Gilbert, Clara Liles, Myrtie Holliday and Doshie Evans. I barned tobacco beside Clara Liles for many summers and was able later to teach her daughter, Brenda Liles (Eason) who became a pastor and who died much too young. How did Chris Holliday fit into this family?

Coats Museum notes

We had a fantastic week at the museum. Benny Harmon dropped by to donate some items for display. Among them was a square metal cracker box — yes, metal. Bennie always brings sunshine into the museum as he shares so many items from the Millie Harmon Wiggins and Harmon family.

We were so excited to spend two days with Dennis and Myra Sacco from Pennsylvania. Dennis is a descendant of the William Weaver family whose plantation was on the Old Stage Road in the area where the McKoy’s Chapel Church is located. Dennis’ mom, Lois Weaver, graduated from Coats High School in 1941, married a handsome soldier and lived in New York where Lois worked at the United Nations.

We hope to share more about this family later as other descendants have planned trips here to visit the land that their ancestors walked upon.

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