I celebrated my fifth birthday with a dinner of mashed potatoes and peas, shared with my friend Lewis B, from Virginia Heights Baptist Church. A grand occasion to celebrate the full five fingers I could wave whenever someone asked how old I was.
George R. Strickland celebrated the five finger salute in September of 1896, and five months later he was an orphan. At five years eight months he said good-bye to siblings Norman (10), Polly (9), and Maude (7) as they left for Oxford Orphan Asylum. Luther (12) went to live with a relative, James and Amarita F Bowden, of Cedar Rock, Franklin County, NC. Cleo (16), Eugene (3) and George moved with Grandma Coppedge and her son, Oliver J. (16) into the home of her eldest son, William J. Coppedge, Cypress Creek, Franklin County, NC.
When George was 6 years old later in 1897, Grandma Coppedge worked with her brother, William F May, to get George placed at Oxford Orphan Asylum, too. December 12, 1898 little boy George reunited with Norman, Polly and Maude at the Oxford institution.
George had the comfort of this family for a brief time before his siblings began to find new “homes”, beginning with Polly’s placement in Mr. WJ Whitehurst’s home in Bethel, NC in April of 1899. “Polly was an obedient, well disposed little girl.”
Older brother Norman left in September of that year to live in Hillsboro, NC with Mr. James H. Parrish. “He was always a dutiful boy. He had a sweet disposition and, we believe, had within him the elements of a man.”
Laurah Maud left Oxford a month later in October 1899, to live with the family of Albert Earnhardt, “who was much pleased with her and adopted her.”
George lived at the Orphan Asylum for another two years, when he was taken to the “home of E.G. Dodson, Oak View, Va. He was a bright little fellow and will do well.”
It seems so sad today, seeing how close they lived in this era of Google maps and interstate highways. But for them these short distances proved to be impermeable barriers, taking much time and energy to remove.