Wednesday, June 15, 2005

The Sellars Family in Alamance County, N.C.

The following article about the Sellars Family was written by Dorothy Sellars Young Brawley. One of my best friends for over twenty years has been Claiborne Sellars Young, a celebrated travel writer who writes “Cruising Guides” for boaters on most of the southern waters of the U.S.A. Claiborne is the only son of Claiborne Clark Young and Dorothy Sellars Young (now Brawley).The only correction I have made is concerning the husband of Eliza Sellars daughter of Thomas Sellars Sr., who was mistakenly listed as John Harden in the article (probably a typo by the publisher). In actuality Elizabeth Sellars married Joseph Harder November 18th 1796 in Orange County, North Carolina which is substantiated by the record of the marriage bond and by a family chart done by a Sellars relative many years ago. Joseph Harder and Elizabeth Sellars were my 5th Great-Grandparents and Thomas Sellars Sr. was my 6th Great-Grandfather. I am currently in collaboration with two of my newly discovered 4th cousins, Claiborne Sellars Young and Elizabeth (Betsy) Bailey Farmer on a project to write a complete history of the Sellars Family which should be most interesting as they have left quite a legacy from Colonial times to present day. Any text that appears in "green" hereafter are notes from my own research.

Latham Mark Phelps- May 1st 2004

Alamance County Heritage Book

Page 386—Story Number 244


Little is known where or when Thomas Sellars, Sr. was born. It is thought he was born in England between 1740 and 1745. The first information available is that he came to Philadelphia, Pa. and later moved to North Carolina. He was residing in Orange County in that part which is now Alamance County on the Haw River. In 1765‑68 he signed two petitions to Governor Tryon, one against taxes, and one against discharging of magistrates.

He married sometime previous to 1782, but it is uncertain whom he married as he referred to her as "my wife" in a deed dated April 5, 1816. It is possible he married a Nellie Holt as there is an entry in the old Sellars Bible with her name and birth date February 18, 1756. That is the only explanation why the name would be in the Sellars Bible.

I have since discovered who the wife of Thomas Sellars Sr. actually was. She was Bathsheba Brinkley, daughter of Peter Brinkley Sr.

See the below document:

North Carolina, Orange County Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions November Court 1817 We the Undersigned Commissioners being appointed by the County Court of Orange County, to make partition of the lands which Peter Brinkley dec'd., died seized, and it being necessary that the said lands should be marked out by a dividing line, to designate what part each of the heirs at law, (Wit) Peter Brinkley and Thomas Sellars with Barsheba his wife, Should have and in Obedience to said order, We have this day proceeded to divide said lands as equally in quantity and quality as within our power lies and we find: Beginning on the middle of the Eastern boundary line at a Red Oak, running West Sixteen Chains & Seventy Five Links to a Post Oak, thence West to John Isley's corner on Broad Cap Branch, near where the Jacob Holt road crosses said branch. Thence up said branch to the Western boundary line. And we have concluded and agreed that the land lying South of Dividing Line, We allot to Thomas Sellars and Barsheba his wife, and that on the North of said Dividing line, We allot to Peter Brinkley, and as Thomas Sellars gets the most of the Improvements, We allot that he pay to Peter Brinkley, Twenty Dollars. Which report being made out by us, we have hereunto Set our Hands & Seals this 15th day of November, 1817 . William Holt James Gant John Brown Mason Tarpley John Holt

Thomas Sellars, Sr. had two sons, Thomas Sellars, Jr. (1782‑1865) and Willis Sellars (1788‑1843). It is thought there were two daughters, one named Eliza who married Joseph Harder and the other Polly who married Martin Loy. These daughters probably moved to Sumner County, Tennessee as records appear of Sellars in Tennessee and no records of them in Alamance County.

Thomas Sellars, Jr. (1782 ‑ October 23, 1865) married Nancy Rainey (June 6, 1795 ‑ July 22, 1881). Nancy Rainey was the daughter of Nancy Sullinger Rainey and Benjamin Rainey (October 8, 1758 ‑ May 5, 1811). Benjamin Rainey was a large landowner and also a minister at Providence Church, Graham, North Carolina. Ile and his wife are buried in the family cemetery, which is near Burlington Mills plant off of Anthony Street. Tombstones still stand. In his will Benjamin Rainey leaves to his beloved wife, Nancy, certain cows, horses, furniture, farm equipment and slaves. One of the slaves was named Kizzie. This unusual name appears in the book "Roots" written by Alex Haley. It is indefinite what relationship this might be, if any. Nancy Sullinger and Benjamin Rainey had eleven children.

1. Rachel Rainey (March 6, 1778 October 30, 1839) married Michael Holt (July 11, 1778 ‑ April 21, 1842).

2. Rebecca Rainey (April 10, 1780 March 1876) married first Richard Mabin (1762‑1804) ‑ Second marriage John King (1780‑1834)

3. William Rainey (February 25, 1782‑1838) married Sarah "Sally" (last name unknown) 1834 ‑ Buried in Rutherford County, Tennessee.

4. Mary "Polly" Rainey (1784 May 10, 1829) married Neal Buchanan Rose (died February 28, 1835).

5. Isaac Rainey ‑ No information probably died as an infant.

6. Benjamin Abel Rainey (June 13, 1788‑1862) married Nancy Cannon (died about 1852 in Savannah, Mo.).

7. Elizabeth "Betsy" Rainey (May 10, 1791 ‑ November 6, 1821) married William Holt (August 7, 1785 August 5, 1866).

8. Nancy Rainey (June 16, 1795 August 22, 1881) married Thomas Sellars, Jr. (1782 ‑ October 23, 1865).

9. John Sullinger Rainey (June 20, 1797 ‑ June 10, 1883) married Helen Warren (died January 2, 1825) ‑ Second marriage Elizabeth Swinney (April 7, 1815 ‑May 1, 1903).

10. Sarah "Sally" Rainey (February 8, 1799 ‑ July 6, 1884) married Nashville Malone (January 2, 1800 July 1, 1875).

11. Emily Mildred "Milly" Rainey (February 4, 1800 ‑ September 11, 1829) married George Jordan (July 26, 1796 ‑ August 21, 1855).

Thomas Sellars, Jr. was a wealthy landowner who raised cotton in Orange, later Alamance County, and owned 100 slaves. He gave land to help get the railroad through here and his slaves helped to grade the roadbed from Company Shops to what is now Glen Raven. Many slaves took the Sellars name and there are still descendants in this country.

Thomas Sellars, Jr. and Nancy (Rainey) Sellars had eleven children listed as follows:

1. William Sellars (1813‑1857) married Nancy Swift.

2. Willis Rainey Sellars (1815‑1887) married Mary Ellen Ray (1833‑1888).

3. Benjamin Abel Sellars (1816-1896) married Frusannah Elizabeth Kime (1833‑1922).

4. Thomas Sellars (1818‑ ) married first Adeline Cummins ‑ Second marriage Margaret Ann Faucette.

5. Mary "Polly" Sellars married Rev. George Garrison Walker (1816‑1865)

6. Lemuel Sellars (1821‑1885) married Sarah D. Huffman (1824‑1897).

7. Griffin R. Sellars (1823‑1888) married Phebe Stanford (1830‑1906).

8. Rebecca Jane Sellars (1827‑1905) married James V. Moore (1828

9. Elizabeth Sellars (1825‑1826) died as an infant.

10. Logan Sellars, Dr. G.L. (1830-1892) Though he had a fine education at the University of Philadelphia School of Medicine, he never practiced and never amounted to too much.

11. Nancy Elizabeth "Bettie" Sellars (1832‑1917) married John A. Moore, M.D. (1833‑1882).

One of their sons, Benjamin Abel (November 16, 1816 ‑ 1896), who was born at the Sellars homeplace between Burlington and Hopedale, wanted to be a physician, so Thomas Sellars, Jr. sent him to medical school at Pennsylvania University in Philadelphia. He received his diploma on the fourth day of March 1844. He went to Randolph County to practice and at the age of 34, he met and married Frusannah Elizabeth Kime (August 3, 1833 ‑ October 29, 1922) who was not quite seventeen at the time of her marriage. Dr. Sellars practiced medicine in Randolph and Guilford counties where he was often paid with a chicken, eggs, vegetables and, with luck, a ham.

Benjamin Abel and Elizabeth (Kime) Sellars also had eleven children. All were born in Randolph County except Walter, the youngest son, who was born in Company Shops.

1. Mary Augusta (May 18, 1853- April 1, 1945) married Isaac Newton Walker (April 23, 1852 ‑ November 24, 1909).

2. Benjamin Rainey (March 28, 1855 ‑ June 20, 1916) married Fannie Oldham Cheek (September 18, 1874 February 4, 1956).

3. Thomas Leonides (January 25, 1857 ‑ April 5, 1940) married Lila Graves (June 20, 1871 ‑ September 29, 1955).

4. Liza Ann (July 2, 1859 ‑ 1937) married William W. White; died 1887 ‑ Second marriage James R. White; died 1926.

5. Anne Elizabeth (June 6, 1861- 1937) married Dr. Henry Harrison Jordan (1862‑1931).

6. David Ernest (June 20, 1863- September 2, 1944) married Juanita "Nita" Hall (October 2, 1874 ‑ June 21,1963).

7. Charles Victor (July 21, 1865- September 20, 1941) married Annie Morrow (February 13, 1870 ‑ October 27, 1943).

8. Flora Lucina (April 25, 1867- 1935) married Dr. John H. Brooks (1865‑1932).

9. Frederick William (April 13, 1870 ‑ August 25, 1954) married Lula Planz (November 1, 1872 ‑ May 31, , 1960).

10. John Earl (March 14, 1872 August 25, 1940) never married.

11. Walter Raleigh (November 29, 1873 ‑September 11, 1954) married Lila Harden Bailey (October 6, 1879- December 26, 1968)/

Between 1872 and 1873 Dr. and Mrs. Sellars moved to Burlington and built a home on the corner of Church and Front Streets. The children attended school at what was later called Union Church on Union Avenue. Most of the boys went to Rutherforton College, except Walter who went to Poughkeepsie, New York, and the girls went to Greensboro Normal School for Girls, which is now Greensboro College.

Dr. Sellars built a large wooden store on Front Street in 1871. It was approximately where Pollard Insurance Company is today. It later burned and was rebuilt. From this store Dr. Sellars dispensed mostly drugs, but later expanded into piece goods, groceries, seeds, nails and other hardware. He was one of the men who helped to choose the name Burlington to replace the name Company Shops.

His eldest son, Benjamin Rainey, was the first to return home from school and took over management of the store. He bought the property on Main Street and moved the store to that location. Groceries and hardware were dropped and it became a department store, as it still is today. After 113 years of business, it is carried on by the fourth generation of Sellars.

Willis Sellars, was the son of Thomas Sellars, Sr. and a brother of Thomas Sellars, Jr. Willis Sellars lived in the Crossroads neighborhood of Alamance County on the homeplace called "Quaker Ridge Farm." He is buried in the yard of the homestead. His widow remarried a Faucette.

Willis Sellars (1788‑1843) married Virginia Crawford (died 1877).

His children:

1. Eliza Ann Sellars married Dr. John Walker.

a. Katherine Walker married George Long of Graham.

b. Frank Walker

2. Samuel Sellars (moved to Mineral Wells, Texas after war).

a. Arthur

b. Lucian

c. Anna married Mr. England

d. Lula married Mr. England (they were brothers).

e. Laura married Mr. Russell

3. Mary C. Sellars (1823‑1891) married Dr. Bedford B. Walker (brother of John).

a. Laura Walker married Mr. Long.

b. Willis Walker married.

c. Jim Walker never married.

d. Lenora Walker never married.

e. Robert Lee Walker

f. Child unnamed

4. Constantine Sellars (1824‑1906) married Maria Bason (1823‑1907).

a. William Baxter Sellars married 1 ‑ Emma Virginia Murray. 2 - Emma Elizabeth Crisp.

b. Barbara Rose Sellars married Rudolph G. Lea.

c. Mary Etta Sellars married Joseph A. Tate.

d. Charles Perry Sellars married Vivian Shaber.

e. Joseph Bason Sellars married Adeline Berlin (or Burling).

Written by: Dorothy (Sellars) Brawley Sources: Personal knowledge & family Bible.

The following articles covers two other families from Alamance County, N.C. These articles also appeared in the Heritage Book of Alamance County. The families of, William Baxter Sellars, and William Ernest Sellars. Ironically although the Sellars line is on my father’s side of the family, William Baxter Sellars’ wife Emma Virginia Murray’s mother, Nancy Lea Oliver Murray is my 3rd great-grandmother on my mother’s side of the family. After her husband was killed by lightning in Caswell County she remarried Eli Murray and lived in Alamance County. Nancy was born a member of the prominent Lea family from Caswell County who settled there in the mid-1700’s and for who the town of Leasburg, N.C. was named.

Latham Mark Phelps

Alamance County Heritage Book

Page 388 Story Number 245A


First Four Generations

Being the oldest living member of the Sellars‑Murray family who was born and reared through college in the still standing home, I have been asked to write a brief history of our family. I shall divide the history into three parts ‑ history via my parents, grandparents plus research of the first four generations, the fifth and sixth generations, and my own memories and impressions of growing up in Alamance County.

My paternal grandfather, William Baxter Sellars (born 11‑5‑1850 ‑ died 11‑7‑1925), was perhaps the greatest influence in my early youth. We lived with him and his second wife Emma Elizabeth Crisp (born 1855 ‑ died 1939) whom he married 4‑11‑1900. She was a teacher who graduated from what is now Elon College. She was a great help with my schoolwork until I entered Duke University in 1929.


My grandfather's first wife was E. Virginia Murray (born 10‑3‑1846 who was the mother of his eight children They were married 2‑2~4872 and lived with her father, James Eli(ah) Murray (born 4‑17‑1794 ‑ died 6‑13‑1870), and mother, Nancy Shutal (Lea) Oliver (born 4‑23‑1804 ‑ died 10‑11‑1874), until their deaths when they inherited the farm of 335 acres which had originally been much larger before being divided among the seven children of his father, William Lawrence Murray (born 1750 ‑ died 1‑6‑1805), who had inherited it from his father, William Murray (born 1690 ‑ died 7‑27‑1773), who came to America in 1721 with about 25 families from Scotland via Ireland and settled on Quaker Creek north of Cross Roads Presbyterian Church in 1740.

My paternal grandmother, Virginia Murray, was the only child of her father's second marriage to Mrs. Oliver whose first husband (Reuben Oliver) was killed by lightning, leaving her with seven children.

Eli Murray's first wife was Elizabeth Hutchinson (born 1803 ‑ died 10‑271845). They had seven children. Their first child, William James (born 10‑221822 died 2‑1‑1895), was sheriff of Alamance County. Their second child was Aveline (born 1‑17‑1825 ‑ died 23‑1895), who married John C. Vincent. She was the grandmother of Maude Long Few, Bertha Long, Claude Long and Blanche Long Vincent, who all live at Friends Home in Greensboro.

Their sixth child, Margaret "Maggie" Jane (born 1835 ‑ died ?), was living with her father and step‑mother when my grandmother, Virginia, was born. Maggie was only eleven years older than Virginia. They kept in close contact after Maggie married Samuel Wellwood Hughes and lived in Cedar Grove, N.C. She was the grandmother of Governor Kerr Scott, Henry and Ralph Scott of Hawfields, N.C.

I never knew my grandmother Virginia, but from what I learned from family, as well as people in the community, her 52 years were given unstintingly in service to her family, church and community. She was so interested in medicine that she often accompanied Dr. McCauley, who practiced in the northern part of Alamance County, on his rounds. She died of pneumonia after having been out in winter weather caring for the sick black tenants on their farm.

My paternal great‑grandparents, Constantine Sellars (born 7‑28‑1824 died 8‑27‑1906) and Maria (Bason) Sellars (born 3‑22‑1823 ‑ died 3‑7‑1907), had three sons and two daughters my grandfather, Baxter, being the oldest. They were very active in church and community life. Constantine served on the Board of Education of Alamance County. He and his wife Maria, donated the chandelier for the new building of Cross Roads Presbyterian Church. On of my father's fondest memories was going to Mebane with his father in a two‑horse wagon to bring the crated oil‑lighted chandelier over muddy roads to the church. We grew up hearing him relate this story many times.

This red and pipe clay mud that made travel so difficult was so good for brick making that grandfather Baxter ran a brick making project on the southeast corner of his farm, All through my youth whatever crop grew on the field near a boggy, wooded area diagonally across the road from the parsonage was known as the "brickyard" field. Not until recent years did my Uncle Henry Roney tell me that the brick for the present Cross Roads Presbyterian Church was made there.

Constantine was a farmer like his father, Willis Sellars (born 1788 ‑ died 1843), and was interested in business as well. He was one of the original stockholders in the Fidelity Bank of Durham, N.C. (now a part of Wachovia Bank and Trust Co) He and Maria (she, of Quaker background) saw that all their children were educated in spite of the hardships following the Civil War. The three sons, Baxter, Charles and Joseph, attended Bingham Academy east of Mebane. Charles was a jeweler in Henderson, Henderson' N.C. Joseph, a hardware merchant in White Plains, N.Y,, loved his old home so much that he built a summer home that he named "Quaker Ridge Farm." The original home was burned after the death of Constantine and Maria while a caretaker lived there. The farm was located on Quaker Creek only a few miles northeast before it joins Haw River.

My grandfather, Baxter, studied law at Bingham Academy and moved to the Cross Roads Community when he married Virginia Murray February 22, 1872. He did not have a law degree, but was known as "Squire" Sellars. He was a Justice of the Peace, wrote wills, performed marriages (had me play the piano for those who wanted a "fancy" ceremony), and gave free advice to many who asked. His obituary said "He was a life‑long member of Cross Roads Presbyterian Church and a leader in all things for the uplift of his community." He served on the Board of Commissioners of Alamance County, gave the land for the Community School (Sidney) when it was moved from near the church. He also gave the land for the first Cross Roads parsonage and for the Negro church (Snow Hill) on the northeast corner of his farm. He operated a grist mill and a molasses mill.

He, like his father, was interested in education. Teachers from Sidney School lived in his home and the Mason Roney, and S. E. Tate homes. His eldest son, Carl DeWitt Sellars (born 4‑4‑1873 ‑ died 4‑6‑1919), was a member of the first graduating class of N.C. State College. His son, Lacy Hughes Sellars (born 1‑31‑1875 ‑ died 10‑29‑1943), graduated from Business School at Poughkeepsie; N.Y. and became Secretary and a Director of Cone Mills Corp. In 1941 he was elected Vice President of the company. William Phillip Sellars (born 9‑21‑1881 ‑ died 10‑20‑1949) followed his Uncle Joseph to New York and worked in his hardware store. Elmo Murray Sellars (born 1‑21‑1877 ‑ died 10‑23‑1943) attended Guilford College and later worked for Cone Mills. Oscar Samuel Sellars (born 11‑9‑1883 ‑ died 5‑161961) graduated with the class of 1905 of Guilford College and worked for Southern Bell in Charlotte. Baxter Scales Sellars (born 4‑21‑1888 ‑ died 12‑12‑1959) graduated from Guilford College in 1912. He was on the varsity baseball team and went directly into the U.S. Navy in World War 1, and then worked for Cone Mills. My father, Julian Eugene Sellars, started at Guilford College but became ill and they all decided granddaddy needed him to help run the farm.

Written By: Louise (Sellars) Gillespie

‑Sources: Family Bible, tombstones, census records, Alamance County School Minutes, personal knowledge and oral tradition.


Alamance County Heritage Book

Page 389 Story Number 245B


Fifth and Sixth Generations

I was born September 15, 1912 in the ancestral home of my grandmother, Virginia (Murray) Sellars. Until 1978, it had been occupied continuously by direct Murray descendants, at which time my mother, at the age of 94, came to live with us. We aren't certain when the original six rooms (two upstairs, two ground level and two basement level) were built. My grandfather Sellars, who died in 1925, said many times, "This place is over 150 years old," which indicates that it must have been built around 1775. Originally, it had a free‑standing log kitchen.

Additions were made to the home several times. While my father Julian Eugene Sellars (born 12‑15‑1885 died 8‑30‑1964) was growing up, a wing containing a dining room (which had previously been in the basement) was added to the north side. A kitchen, pantry and two open porches were added on either side with a hallway connecting the porches. Later, two bedrooms were added above, reached by a separate stairway off the hall. This was done to take care of grandpa's growing family of seven sons and one daughter.

During my youth a large front porch and "sleeping porch" were added to give room for the expanded family of grandparents, parents and seven chil­dren, including a foster son, William Edward Compton (born 5‑4‑1914), whose mother, Ada (born 5‑7‑1879 ‑died 10‑6‑1914), was the only sister of Daddy and his six brothers.

Our neighborhood was a very close knit one, most of whom were related. The social life revolved around the church and school. My mother, Minnie (Roney) Sellars (born 3‑2‑1885 ‑ died 11‑9‑1981), related the good times in her youth of square dances held in the Sellars tobacco pack‑barn, basket suppers at school (sold to the highest bidder who had often been tipped off as to which belonged to the girl he wanted to date for the evening). Another source of entertainment was the arrival of my Uncle Carl Sellars, who lived in Greensboro, with a group of friends to "put‑on" a minstrel show.

Other examples of neighborliness were wheat threshings in the summer and corn shuckings in the fall. I remember helping cook for 30 or more workers at a time. The next day they would all gather to help the next neighbor.

In the late summer and fall during tobacco curing time, there were always watermelon feasts and brunswick stews. And no one could ever forget the "Fourth Sunday" in May, which was homecoming for our church, Cross Roads Presbyterian. Friends, relatives, former members and some who just wanted some of the good Cross Roads cooking came from far and wide. We renewed old friendships.

The family events we looked forward to were Thanksgiving and Christmas, when Dad's five brothers always came with their families to visit. The men would hunt for quail, turkeys, and rabbits, while the women and children visited and helped Mama with the last minute preparations to feed 35 to 40 family members. Of course, Mama had spent days ahead cooking hams, tur­keys, pies and cakes. This tradition was continued long after my brothers and sisters were married.

My father, Julian, followed his father and grandfather in his interest in bet­ter schools. He served on the Alamance County Board of Education for many years before he became Chairman of the Board. One of the goals of my mother and father was to see that all of their chil­dren went to college. The older of us children attended Sidney Elementary School located at the entrance to the road of our home, then attended the consolidated Pleasant Grove through high school. I graduated from Duke University in 1933 with a major in accounting (one of only two girls in that field at the time).

William Roney Sellars (born 7‑11‑1915 ‑ died 3‑29‑1974) attended N.C. State College and served in the Pacific Theatre in World War 11. Edward Compton also attended N.C. State College and became purchasing agent for Newman Machine Company in Greensboro. My sister, Virginia (Sellars) Bowland (born 4‑25‑1917), attended Flora McDonald College. My next sister, Doris (Sellars) Sorrell (born 2‑6‑1921) studied music three years at Greensboro College and then received a degree from New York School of Interior Design. She is now the Interior Designer for UNC at Chapel Hill. My youngest sister, Catherine Sellars Green (born 3‑31‑1927) attended Queens College, Charlotte, N.C. and Greensboro College. She then went to New York Fashion Academy. My youngest brother, Dr. Carl Murray Sellars (born 7‑28‑1923), attended Louisburg College, then graduated from Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama in Veterinary Medicine. He practices in Burlington, N.C., was elected to the Board of Education of Alamance County from 1960‑1975, the last six years serving as Chairman.

Written By: Louise Sellars Gillespie

‑ Sources: Family Bible, tombstones, Ala­mance County School Minutes.


Alamance County Heritage Book

Page 389 Story Number 245C


Family Memories

(Including 7th & 8th Generations)

Some of the values, which I learned from my family were the importance of religion, education and civic participa­tion in one's life. The work ethic was taken for granted. One of my mother's frequent admonitions was "anything worth doing is worth doing well."

To many readers, memories of growing up in the Cross Roads section of Alamance County will be nostalgic, to others they will seem like ancient history. Even to me it seems unbelievable that so much change has occurred during my 71 years.

Emancipation from the Saturday morning chore of washing and shining oil lamp chimneys came the day dad brought home the first Coleman lantern. It lighted an entire room. No longer did we have to vie with each other to get the best place to study. Then came the miracle of miracles: we were the proud owners of a carbide system for the entire house. The danger of this system was brought forcefully to our attention on Christmas morning in 1929. Bill, my brother who was always the family clown, decided to be the first to view the Christmas tree (really, the presents). Not quite tall enough to reach the light, he pulled one arm off the chandelier. Fortunately he had a lighted match, which ignited the gas into a flame rather than asphyxiating us. Cool‑headed mama raced to the kitchen, came back with an iron skillet and held it over the pipe until dad rushed outside in his "longies" and closed the valve in the buried tank leading to the house.

That was one Christmas no one suggested lighting the candles on the tree. Fortunately, in the excitement no one had opened the French doors between the den and "the parlor." Our gifts were unharmed but the wrappings were covered with greasy black smoke. Christmas dinner was not as bountiful as usual. We spent the entire day washing walls and furniture so we'd have a clean place to sit. That year I remember so vividly, because I was home from college for my first Christmas, had a new green dress and a date with a sophomore from N.C. State College that night. and wouldn't you know that dress had to find a spot of soot we'd missed!

As I reflect, it was amazing how few fires occurred since everyone cooked with wood stoves and had open fireplaces for heating. The only fire loss in the neighborhood was that of the S. E. Tate home in 1914. Occasionally, someone would lose a tobacco barn from overheating. Imagine having real lighted candles on our Christmas tree! Of course the trees had been freshly cut and decorated on Christmas Eve. Though this may sound as if we lived in the "boon docks," we had a telephone (when it worked) as far back as I can remember. I grew up reading the Greensboro Daily News, The Progressive Farmer, The Alamance Gleaner and The Christian Observer. But what really changed our lives was electricity, hard surfaced roads and indoor plumbing.

One of the greatest compensations for the lack of amenities of life was the love and encouragement of growing up in a three‑generation family. I feel certain that my choice of accounting in college came from the faith my grandfather had in me. It now seems incredible that he took me with him to list taxes in our township (Pleasant Grove). My job was to obtain the information for the farm survey. I wonder how those farmers felt about being questioned by a twelve‑year‑old. Then when we had finished listing at the various neighborhood stores, etc., the tax returns had to be alphabetized and computed. Granddaddy may have doublechecked my figures, but he never let me know it.

Upon graduation from Duke in 1933, 1 went to Greensboro to live with my Uncle Lacy Sellars and was lucky enough to get a job with the Federal Joint Stock Land Bank until they were all liquidated. I then worked for the Security National Bank (later to become NCNB) until I married Lt. John McIver Gillespie (born 1‑5‑1910) July 29, 1943 after his tour of duty in England and Iceland with the Navy.

We had several months together in San Francisco before he was ordered to duty in the Pacific until the end of World War II. We now live in Greensboro, N.C. where he is retired Vice President of Newman Machine Co. and retired Naval Reserve Lt. Commander. We have one son, John McIver Gillespie, Jr. (born 8‑25‑1944) who works for Shell Oil Co. in Atlanta, Ga. He and Ann (Hopping) Gillespie (born 11‑31945) have given us three grandchildren: John McIver III (born 1‑17‑1967), Martha BL11‑11S (born 5‑16‑1968) and Charles Daniel (born 1‑28‑1970).

We regret that families now so seldom have the opportunity to grow up in three- generation families as I did, or even live in the same cities. This thought was recently reinforced when a niece, Jane (Sorrell) Walden (a 7th generation member) said that she wished all grandchildren could have memories that were as vivid as hers of smelling her grandmother Sellar's freshly churned butter as it was molded into pretty shapes for the table. Hopefully some of the memories, values and traditions carried down through generations, will help bring to fruition the dreams our ancestors had of a more meaningful life when they came to America.


Written By: Louise (Sellars) Gillespie

‑ Sources: Personal knowledge and family tradition


Alamance County Heritage Book

Page 390 Story Number 246


David Ernest Sellers, sixth child of Benjamin Abel and Elizabeth (Kime) Sellers, was born in Randolph County in 1863. He moved to Company Shops at an early age and attended the county schools, and later, Rutherford College. He once told his granddaughter, June (Sellers) Strader, that the winters at Rutherford College were so cold the flames froze on the candles.

When he completed his schooling, Ernest Sellers became a railroad telegraph operator at Company Shops and was soon promoted to the position of Freight Agent for the Southern Railway. After four years of service in this position, he was transferred to Oxford and thereafter served successive periods as Freight Agent in Goldsboro, Chapel Hill and Raleigh, and as telegraph operator in a number of different locations.

On October 2, 1897, Ernest Sellers married Eleanor Juanita Hall, daughter of a former mayor of Company Shops. In 1906, Mr. Sellers left the railroad to become associated with the old Burlington Hosiery Mill operated by G.W. Fogleman. In 1907 he established with his brother, Charles V. Sellers, the firm of Sellers Hosiery Mill.

During his lifetime, Ernest Sellers aided in the organization of many other corporations, among which were he Sellers Manufacturing Company, he National Dye Works, which later became May‑McEwen‑Kaiser, later to become a part of Burlington Industries, Full Knit Hosiery, Long Finishing Mills, Rufus D. Wilson, Inc. and the Morris Plan Bank. He was serving as President of the Board of Directors of the bank at the time of his death. He vas also active in many civic organizations, and was a deacon and loyal member of the First Congregational Christian Church.

Mr. and Mrs. Sellers had three children two of whom, Clifford and Mary Elizabeth, died in childhood of complications resulting from the measles. A son, William Watson Sellers, survived. He was born in Goldsboro but moved with his parents to Burlington n 1906.

He was educated in the Burlington schools, attended Elon College, the University of North Carolina and the 4,'astman School of Business in Poughkeepsie, New York.

In 1924, he married Hazel Elizabeth Crowson from Winnsboro, South Carolina. They had two children, June Elizabeth and William Ernest.

William Sellers was President of Sellers Hosiery Mill, Inc., President of Foremost Yarn Mill, President of Sanders Hosiery Mill, and treasurer of Long's Finishing Mill and was chairman of The Burlington Board of Wachovia Bank and Trust Company.

He was also Vice‑President of Sellers Department Store and was a director of Seven Point Hosiery Mill, Copland Fabrics and Chadbourne, Inc.

He was very interested in Elon College and served on its board of trustees for many years. Mr. Sellers served as an active member of the Board of Directors of the Community YMCA and was moved to an honorary board status before his death from cancer on February 4, 1970. He and Mrs. Sellers were active members of the First Congregational Christian Church.

His wife, Hazel (Crowson) Sellers, and his children are living in Burlington at this time. His daughter, June, widow of Jerry Dalton Strader, Jr. and three daughters, Elizabeth (Strader) McAllister of Washington, D.C., Carol (Strader) Cochran of Statesville, N.C. and Laura (Strader) Riley of Mount Pleasant, S.C. Carol Cochran has two children, Marcellus Frances Cochran IV and Brinkley Sellers Cochran.

Mrs. Sellers is presently a popular artist of the area and has published two books which, are found in libraries in North and South Carolina. They are "Faith of Our Fathers" and "Old South Carolina Churches". Both books contain histories and pen and ink drawings of churches, which are over one hundred years old in the two states. Mrs. Sellers is listed in Who's Who in American Women and remains active and involved in charitable concerns, her special interest being the American Cancer Society.

Her daughter, June (Sellers) Strader, is author of several published short stories and a novel, "Tide's Rise."

William Ernest Sellers is married to the former Mary Leighton Nisbet of Jacksonville, Alabama. They have three children, William David Sellers, married to Colleen Fleitz, and an architect, presently living in Richmond, Virginia, Kendall Ernest Sellers of Burlington, and Elizabeth Mills Sellers.

William E. Sellers is president of Sellers Hosiery Mills, Inc., Vice President of Seven Point Hosiery, Inc., Vice President of Full Knit Hosiery Mills, Inc. and Vice President of The Treasure House, Inc. He received a BS in business administration at the University of N.C.

He is presently a director of Burlington‑Wachovia Bank, Copland Fabrics, Inc., Copland, Inc., Tower Mills, Inc., and a former Director of the YWCA and former member of the Burlington Kiwanis Club.


Written By: William E. Sellers

‑ Sources: Family Bible, newspaper obituaries, and personal knowledge

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