Northeast North Carolina Family History – Happy 2018 and hello to new discoveries… -- by Irene Hampton

We have had a lot of changes in our lives in 2017. We left Elizabeth City after 30 years and bought a new house, which actually returned my husband to Currituck where his family has lived for hundreds of years. I worked over the summer at a new job at the waterpark and learned new things as well as making new friends. And as the year ended I had the opportunity to start working at the Whalehead in historic Corolla as an historic interpreter. For me, there probably could not be a job I would enjoy more!

We have always been aware of my husband’s ties to Corolla. His great-grandfather, Solomon Baum Sanderlin was a surfman with the Life Saving Service from October of 1882 until it became part of the United States Coast Guard, finally retiring in June of 1919. He worked at Paul Gamiel’s Hill and Jones Hill/Whale’s Head/Currituck Beach and oral family history passed down by his widow, indicates that at times he would substitute for the lighthouse keeper at the Currituck Beach Lighthouse.

His Coast Guard records indicate he was No. 2 Surfman at the U.S. Coast Guard Station, Seventh District, Currituck Beach, Corolla. He was 51 and a half years old, 5 feet 8 and a half inches tall and a whole 140 pounds in 1915. The enlistments ran for about a year and he was rated in four categories: Proficiency in Rating, Sobriety, Obedience and Conduct. In 1915 and 1916 he rated “5” for excellent in all four, but in 1917-1918 his “Proficiency” dropped to “4” or very good. His February 1918 contract indicates he had gained 10 pounds to a more robust 150 pounds and had signed on “for the period of the war not to exceed three years” which wording also appeared on his final contract in October of 1918. He was retired on June 10, 1919 for over 30 years of service with permanent disability. Total service was listed as 32 years and 10 months with the Life-Saving Service and 3 years and 7 months with the Coast Guard.
He was not finished working for the government though, as he became Corolla’s third postmaster in August of 1924, a position he held until John W. Austin took over that post in October of 1935. “The Whalehead Club, Reflections of Currituck Heritage” by Susan Joy Davis on page 54, credits Sol Sanderlin and Val Twiford for building “Whales Head Baptist Church and a schoolhouse…” We have a couple of original photographs with his daughters Lillie and Della in front of the school with their classmates. Their brothers, Ernest and Roy must also be in the pictures but we have not identified them. (Random piece of Sanderlin Currituck history, Solomon’s father, Jackson Sanderlin was a captain in North Carolina’s 1st Regiment, Currituck County, 1st Brigade for the North Banks District.)

Now (finally) the tie to Whalehead in historic Corolla… After I started working there it occurred to me that Solomon was the postmaster for most of the time period the Knights were in Corolla, 1922-1934. We know that the Knights made sure that every villager in Corolla received a goose at Christmas time which therefore would have included Solomon and his wife, Fannie Tillett Hill Sanderlin. Who knew that almost 100 years later his great-grandson’s wife would have the opportunity to work in the amazing home of the Corolla Island owners they were acquainted with.

And the co-incidence becomes even more amazing from a totally unexpected family perspective – mine! It is fairly well known that Mr. Knight’s second wife, Marie Louise Lebel Knight was French-Canadian. When I interviewed at Whalehead, we discussed her background and the fact that Marie-Louise’s mother was a Roy. Well I have Roy’s on both my mother’s and father’s sides. After some serious hours of French-Canadian research it turns out that Marie Louise Knight and I are 6th cousins­, once, twice and three times removed over Roy, Lebel, Pelletier and Belanger lines. There were only a few hundred French-Canadian families that originally settled Quebec so being tied to one will usually tie to many others. I am still working on the connections on our Ouellet and Michaud ancestors as well as a few others. If I hadn’t started working at the Whalehead I would never have known this quirky connection I have to a corner of coastal North Carolina!

Your new year’s challenge is to review old information with new eyes. Who knows what totally unexpected connections are hiding there as I have just ­discovered for my husband and myself.
Northeast North Carolina Family History – Happy 2018 and hello to new discoveries… -- by Irene Hampton Northeast North Carolina Family History – Happy 2018 and hello to new discoveries… -- by Irene Hampton Reviewed by kensunm on 7:00:00 PM Rating: 5

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