Growing up, I had two aunts that I was particularly close to and with whom I spent a lot of time.
Ella and VK
The two always went hand-in-hand. I hardly ever saw one, without seeing the other. They were two of my father's younger sisters.
Then, when I was 9 years old, Ella died. I remember the day so very well as our whole family was at the hospital when she died - me, my mother, father, younger brother, VK, and my uncle Adolph. It was December 11, 1984. I remember us all in a family waiting room and the doctors coming out to tell us that there was nothing more they could do and she had passed away.
Ella's death left a real impression on me because I spent so much time with her. In a way, I am named after her. Her middle name was Levon. Except, Levon was supposed to be Yvonne. (You can chalk that up to her father and his mistake when going to get the birth certificate). So, my parents gave me a middle name of Yvette as a *tribute* to what her middle name was supposed to be. :-)
So, I am not surprised that her funeral left an equally vivid impression.
My father is from a small town in North Carolina called Fort Barnwell. It is in Craven County. We used to travel there often when I was young. I even spent summers there occassionally with family members.
It was in Ft. Barnwell where we had Ella's funeral.
The funeral was held at St. John AME Zion Church, a church that I now, as an adult, know was the home church of Ella's paternal grandmother Josephine. Ella grew up with Josephine so must have attended the church often.
And, afterwards, we drove over to the cemetery to lay her to rest. It was here that I had what I feel is my first genealogy moment;the moment when I remember wondering about people who came before me.
For, I noticed that all around where we were burying Ella were a whole bunch of other Koonces.
William Koonce Sr., my grandfather.
Josephine Holloway Koonce, my great-grandmother.
Harvey Koonce, my daddy's uncle.
And several others.
Then there was Barfield. "Daddy," I remember asking. "Who is Barfield Koonce?"
That was the first time I'd ever heard of Barfield and from then on, I wanted to know so much more about him.
My 9 year-old self wanted to know all about the Koonce family, and where we came from.
And learning, I have indeed been doing. :-)