I set out to explore this area, the land where my grandfather, James Sellers, was born. Although my Adair and Holland research has been a long and ongoing undertaking, I am just starting to research my mysterious Sellers line. I met my grandfather only a handful of times, when I was very young. We lived in the Chicago area, he lived in Baltimore. I have vague recollections of a couple of visits. My main goals for this trip included visiting my grandfather’s grave site, and exploring the local countryside.
The church where my grandfather is buried is listed in Find-A-Grave as Mary’s Grove Methodist Church. My sometimes bestie and often nemesis, Google Maps, took me to the wrong church. Backing out, I pulled too far into a small depression, and got stuck. My front tire wouldn’t catch, and one of my back tires was, shall we say, not exactly on the road. It was about six or seven inches up in the air. I walked to a neighboring house, where a gentleman was washing his windows, and asked for help. He was super nice, as was everyone I encountered on this trip, and helped direct me to actually be able to drive out of my predicament…without taking my rear bumper off, or requiring AAA. He also gave me a great dinner suggestion (Cheddars – made from scratch, see details in a prior post here), and even directions to where I was actually trying to go.
Turns out Mary’s Grove Methodist is no longer Methodist, but a Community Church. Apparently, there is an exodus of Methodist churches leaving, some over LGBT issues, some using the LGBT issues to get out with their property and local control intact. There are a lot of conflicts and issues that don’t pertain here, so I won’t go into it. For the purposes of this story, that’s how I ended up in the wrong place the first time. I visited the right place twice over the weekend, once after my Crowder’s Mountain hike, and once shortly after services on Sunday. I chatted at length with two kind church members, who let me go inside the building and take a few pictures as we discussed a local who’s who’s of cousins, and the history of the church. The best part of my travels are the wonderful people I meet along the way!
I can honestly say I got a little weepy at the cemetery. All these aunts and uncles and cousins, none of which I ever got to meet or know, all because of some family dramas that took place long before I was born.
My great grandparents, Jacob and Julia, had 14 children. My grandparents, James and Mildred, were married in Shelby, NC in 1939. My Aunt Joanne was born six months later. My mother Ruth was born in 1941, her sister Patricia was born in 1943.
James and Mildred were divorced in 1946 in Florida. By the 1950 census, the three girls were in an orphanage in Tennessee, my grandfather was in Baltimore, and my grandmother was in the Army. The girls eventually were reunited with their mother after she remarried, and moved to Chicago, where my parents met. Adding to all the drama, when my grandfather passed away in 1975, he left everything in his will to my mother, shutting out my aunts, from what little I have been able to gather, he did not consider my Aunts his daughters.
Doing the math, it is clear that Joanne was born a little too soon after the wedding. My grandmother was 17 years old at the time. Just about anyone who might have known what all actually transpired have passed. My mom is still with us, but these topics upset her and I try not to pry. I know Mom lived with my Grandfather for a time, both in Baltimore/Silver Springs, and in Florida when she was in high school. I never knew any of my Sellers relatives besides my grandfather, and only met him briefly. I truly felt the enormity of the loss, looking at everyone’s names at the cemetery.
Much to my delight, the next road on down past Mary’s Grove Church was – Sellerstown Road. From the limited information from census records, showing Jacob and Julia’s farm in Warlick Township 5, Cleveland County. Mary’s Grove Church is marked with the blue X below, near the center of the historical township boundaries. My guess is the farm was on Sellerstown Road. I explored a little, and may have even seen some old barns that once belonged to the family farm. Also of note was Sellars Road. The fellow who helped me out of the ditch had mentioned this fish pond, saying that it had gotten bought, and the new purchaser renamed it, but that it would always be Sellers Pond locally.
Sorry for the dark picture, but look closely. One end of Sellerstown Rd. and the other – spelled differently! Sellartown Rd, with an A vs an E.
Cherryville Historical Museum
A beautiful old building, on a pretty little Main Street.
If you are local, or visiting the area – plan a visit. The museum has limited Saturday hours, but arrangements can be made in advance if needed. The folks at the museum were kind and helpful. The place is clearly loved, and the air was full of friendly spirits.
Apparently the location is under some threat, I cannot stress what would be lost if developed. This is an important place, and needs to be protected from development. As far as housing the museum, I don’t think it could be replaced. The building retains pieces of all the many things it was in the past, from a firehouse to a bank. I loved being able to spend time exploring the three floors, using the walking tour guide and tips from the two nice ladies, and the gentleman who turned the lights on for me upstairs.
I only took a couple of photos, because I was so immersed in the exhibits I forgot to take more. There were two medical exhibits, a old time doctor’s office and an old time dentist…I sadly realized I recognized all the equipment from when I was little,..here in a museum. Yikes!
Mary’s Grove Community Church
Mary’s Grove Cemetery page at Find-A-Grave
Cherryville Historical Museum