Oral Histories

This page contains oral histories of the Crenshaw, Bolinger, Kiser, Roberts et al Families. Where possible, audio recordings, encoded as mp3 files, have been included for download. Otherwise, the stories have been transcribed for this page.

Articles on this page include:

Links to other relevant oral history sites include:

  • Poems, Jokes, Grandmother
    Recordings of Ilese Kiser Bolinger
    by Robert W. Bolinger

Ilese Bolinger Photo Stories by Grandma Bolinger were always the highlight of a visit to the grandparents home in Reepsville, NC. The mellifluous drawl and cadence of her stories always captivated her grandchildren, especially at bedtime. Fortunately, one of these grandchildren, Robert W. Bolinger, - with some encouragement from his father - recorded a cassette tape of Ilese Kiser Bolinger telling jokes and reading poems. According to Robert, the original cassette tape was recorded between 1971 & 1974 (Robert would have been between the ages of 6 and 9). The child's voice on the fourth track "End of Poems, Next is Jokes" is that of Robert.

The poem "Red Shoes" was one of Ilese Bolinger's favorites. As a tribute to Ilese Bolinger, her daughter, Emily Bolinger Crenshaw, has memorialized this poem by counted cross stitch placards, which are in the possession of Emily's children.

A copy of the cassette tape provided by Robert was digitized by E. Bryan Crenshaw III on 06/07/2001. To facilitate transferring the audio signal to an audio CD, the recording was broken into six "tracks" that can be downloaded as individual mp3 files. The name of the audio, "Poems, Jokes, Grandmother," is derived from the inscription that Ilese Bolinger wrote on the cassette tape. The original inscription can be viewed as a jpeg file by clicking here. Individual mp3 files of each track can be downloaded from hyperlinks below:

"Poems, Jokes Grandmother"
Track Title Time File Size Genre Quality Complete?
1 Six Cows in a Poker Game 00:13 216K Poem Poor Fragmentary
2 Git up and git! 01:04 1,004K Poem OK Incomplete
3 Red Shoes 00:43 684K Poem Good Complete
4 End of Poems, Next is Jokes 00:06 112K Narrative OK Complete
5 50 Years Ago 01:01 998K Joke Good Complete
6 I Wish I Was A Rock 00:16 268K Poem Noisy Complete

Sue Roberts Stokes Remembers

Sue Roberts Stokes has been an important contributor to the "vital statistics" of this site; much of the information on the Roberts family was compiled by Sue. Here, she brings life to some of those statistics by contributing her memories of various members of the Roberts family:
William A. Roberts Photo My memories of:
Pa Roberts [William A. Roberts] - A kind Christian man. During his last illness he was in bed. I was on one side of his bed. Ma Roberts [Isabelle Spann Roberts] on the other. He looked at me and asked if I would pray for him. As a six year old, I really didn't know what to say. Ma Roberts nodded at me, so I told him that I would. He enjoyed watching spiders weaving their webs. Once mother (Aunt Eula [Wheeler Roberts]) was cleaning the porch and swept one of the webs away. Pa Roberts got upset with her for destroying the web.
Isabelle Spann Roberts Photo Ma Roberts [Isabelle Spann Roberts] was a quiet, easy going person - a model Christian lady. Never spoke an unkind word - loved everybody. She worked hard. In her latter days, she took a low stool to the garden on which she sat & weeded - picked vegetables, etc. She dipped sweet snuff - put it behind her lip. (Virginia [Roberts Trimm] said Ma Roberts also picked cotton from a chair in her latter years). She always had baked sweet potatoes for us to eat - occasionally had tea cakes with black walnut filling.)
Isabelle Spann Roberts Photo Aunt Zue [Missouria Spann] was one kind of a kind character! She dipped a snuff different from Ma Roberts and used a sassafras root tooth brush with it. She would take Frances & me with her to dig the roots which she would dry for the brushes. I remember helping her thrash dried peas. She and Daddy (Uncle Dewey [William Dewey Roberts]) watched storm clouds carefully. They signaled one another from her porch to his - then we took off on foot to Ma Roberts on stormy nights. The cellar was underground (you went down a small ladder). Aunt Zue always went first - Then got out to watch the clouds. She had ax, water etc in cellar. On one occasion she stayed in the cellar - very still - when the cloud was over, she had everyone else get out of the cellar. She had found a snake in the cellar & had put her foot on its head & stayed that way throughout the storm. On those nights, I slept with Aunt Zue on her feather mattress - Frances slept with Ma Roberts. We think that Aunt Zue had a disappointed love in her early life. She enjoyed reading "True Romance" magazines.

Virginia remembers that Aunt Zue did all the churning and making of butter. Virginia has a dough tray (or bowl) that Aunt Zue carved out of wood and gave to Aunt Willie [Aston Roberts].

After Pa Robert's death, I remember all the children & families usually met at Ma Roberts on Sunday afternoon - children played, ate peaches, & parched peanuts etc - men discussed politics (sometimes very heatedly).

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