Martin & Nessie
lived in several rented houses in Iredell County, including the
Henry Setzer house. Willie only remembers seeing/meeting her
grandfather, Jacob Goble, one time. She and Helen saw a very
dark skinned man coming down the road and Helen hollered,
“Daddy, here comes a black man!” It was actually Martin’s
father, Jacob. Martin, himself, was extremely dark skinned from
all the time he spent outdoors.
the family visiting her Uncle Henry Pinkney Johnson Jr., her
mother’s brother, and his wife, Beulah, as well as her Uncle Ode
and Aunt Becky, Martin’s brother and sister. Uncle Hen only had
Willie recounted to her son, Curtis, how as children they would
mix chocolate and sugar together to make "play" snuff and use a
stick as a tooth brush for dipping their fake snuff.
Willie's father, Martin, dipped snuff and chewed tobacco.
Once when Willie & Helen asked to try some snuff, he decided to
give them a "dip". Helen got sick and when Willie laughed
her her, Martin encouraged Willie to get a little bit more - and
to swallow a little of the juice. Well, that was enough to
make Willie sick, too. She never dipped snuff after that.
From an Interview on Sunday, 17 May
by Curtis Loftin
Willie said that since the family
were share croppers, they had to buy some of what they
needed from the local store on credit. She said
that once the crop came in (usually cotton), the first
bill Martin would pay was the fertilizer bill - then the
grocery bill. The family would sell eggs to the store
for extra money. Willie said that breakfast usually
consisted of ham (or sausage), eggs and grits. She
said Martin would buy a big sack of pinto beans and that
they usually ate beans and "taters" (sweet and regular)
at lunch (called "dinner") and then cornbread and milk
for supper. The Goble family raised hogs and thus
they had ham, sausage and bacon. They also raised
chickens but those were used mostly for eggs.
Martin supplemented the family meals by hunting and
trapping - rabbit, squirrel, cooter (a North American
river turtle) and possum. There were no refrigerators in
those days and the Goble family didn't even have an ice
box. They did have a smoke house where they would
hang meats to cure.
The younger girls all slept in the same bed - as did the
The children only had two sets of clothes - field
clothes and school clothes. Just as soon as they
would come home from school, they'd take off the school
clothes and put on the field clothes. Dresses were
made from colorful flour sacks. When baby sister
Doris died at the age of 9 months in 1934, the family
had to borrow appropriate clothes for the children for
When the family lived in Iredell County, they went to Sharon
Lutheran Church. That's where baby brother Lewis was
buried, as well as Estellene, Doris and the other Goble children
who died in infancy. Most only had a rock to mark their
graves. Eventually Willie's parents, Martin & Nessie,
would be burried at Sharon Lutheran Church, too.
Willie's early memories of moving from
Iredell to Catawba County and death of sister Doris
(Recorded 10 Dec 2008)
(Duration 3:07; Size 3.58 MB)
to move his family from Iredell County to Catawba County. They
loaded their meager belongings into a horse-drawn buggy, crossed
the Catawba River, and moved into Pump Alley’s old house on
(Pump) Alley Rd. (about 0.1 mile on the right), just off of
Sherrills Ford Rd. near Catawba, NC. It was a small 3 room
house. The kids all slept in one bedroom - in two beds. They
didn’t have mattresses for the bed and slept on straw ticks.
When the straw became flattened, it could be replaced. Lib,
Helen and Willie & Elgevia slept in one bed, while Legs, Harlee
& J.C. slept in another one.
Willie's early memories of Martin and the family when they
lived at Murphy Jones' house
(Recorded 10 Dec 2008)
(Duration 1:05; Size 1.24 MB)
J.C. Goble at the
old Murphy Jones home on Alley Rd. in Catawba County
Willie at the remains of the old Pump Alley house
Willie was the
next to the youngest child and thus had different
responsibilities at home. While J.C. (age16), Harlee (age 14),
Lib (age 11) and Helen (age 8) were working in the cotton
fields, Willie (who was 7 at the time) was helping her mother
at home, and also helping to look after Elgevia, who was 4 at
the time, as well as baby, Doris. James/Legs was 20 and married
at the time.
Willie’s siblings always thought Nessie “petted” her. Willie
used to laugh and tell Lib, Helen & Gevia, "Mom always said I
was the best kid she had. This would make the others a little
Willie didn't work in the field when they lived in Iredell
County because she was too young. She helped her mother
look after Gevia and Doris. Once they moved to Catawba
County, she did spend time working in the fields, too.
Their major crop was cotton.
North Carolina cotton fields
Willie said that
as a little girl, she and her cousin Fannie Bunton, daughter of
Marvin & Becky Goble Bunton, were the favorite nieces of her
Uncle Otis Goble, Martin’s brother. Once he gave her a little
rocking chair and didn’t give the other nieces or nephews
anything - maybe because there were so many of them.
When asked what type of games they played, Willie said they
would make hats with leaves and sticks. They'd take an old
tire and roll one of the kids in it. She said they also
make playhouses in the wood. They'd rake the leaves to
make rooms and hallways.
Willie's memories of food, credit and
(Recorded 10 Dec 2008)
(Duration 1:39; Size 1.90 MB)
Willie and Helen both played basketball in the 7th and 8th grade
at Balls Creek Elementary School. In the 7th grade, Willie won
some socks for being the best on the team.
sister, Doris, was born 31 October 1933 and died 04 August 1934.
The photo at left shows Lib (age 13), Willie (age 8), Elgevia
(age 5) and Helen (age 10) at the church for Doris’ funeral.
They were a poor family and had to borrow clothes for the girls
to wear to the funeral.
Willie was in
third grade when the family moved to Catawba County.
Willie and Elgevia both played guard and Helen forward. Willie
and Helen eventually quit school in 8th grade to go to work.
Helen could get by with anything with Daddy. We were
sliding on the ice when we were kids, and Daddy asked me,
"Willie, were you sliding on the ice?"
I told him, "No!"
Then he asked Helen, "Helen, were you sliding on the ice?"
She said, "Yep!" He whipped me and didn't whip Helen.
When I asked him "Why'd you whip me and not her?"
He said, "You lied to me!"
“Helen and Lib fed me ‘rabbit pills’ (feces) when I was a
kid, too. They told me it was candy. They got a whipping for
Willie said the
children would sometimes go to Ebenezer Lutheran Church with
Mrs. Pump Alley, a neighbor. She also said that she, Helen and
Lib would walk to Center Methodist during revivals. Their
brothers didn’t go with them and usually the Rudisill boys would
walk the girls back home.
The Martin Goble family when they lived at the old Murphy Jones
house in Catawba County
Willie, Elgevia holding Bud (Leg's son), Helen
After a short
while, Martin moved his family into the old Murphy Jones house
because it was a little larger. Murphy Jones was Edna Jones
Loftin’s brother. Edna became Charlie Loftin’s wife. This
house was also located on Pump Alley Rd. (about 0.8 mile on the
right). Willie lived here when she dated and married Sam. This
was the only two-story house in Catawba County that the Goble
family ever lived in.
Willie said they could not sit or lean on the beds in the house.
She said most of their clothes were made from flour sacks.
When they came home from school, they had to pull off their good
clothes and shoes. They usually wore the same set of
clothes all week and only had one pair of shoes. The
children went barefoot almost everywhere except to church.
Living on a farm and feeding so many kids was sometimes
challenging. Willie said they lived on what they raised on
the farm and bought on credit, then paid the debt after the
cotton was sold. She said they ate chicken, ham and
fat-back. Corn meal mush was a regular staple and since
they lived in a rural area, they frequently ate squirrel,
rabbit, possum and cooter (terrapin). They would also buy
big sacks of pinto beans when.
Willie said that if they were seriously ill, they call on Dr.
Fred Long. He as the cheapest doctor around and refused to
raise his prices when encouraged to do so by other doctors.
Dr. Fred bought possums from her Dad and was probably a usual
barter for Dr. Fred's services.
Willie during her
Most of the kids
Willie was called “Bill”,
Lib was “Can”,
Helen was “Min”,
JC was “Tud”,
Harlee was “Doc”,
and James was “Legs”.
Harlee & James carried
their nicknames with them
for the rest of his life.
Elgevia, being the baby,
didn’t have a nickname.
On one occasion
while Willie and Helen had been working in the field hoeing rows
of cotton, they ate too many green apples and got sick. “Daddy
let me quit working, but he made Helen keep on hoeing”.
was in charge of the kids when they worked in the garden and he
was "tough". On one occasion, he told them that he had weighed
the cotton from the day before and that if they didn’t pick as
much the next day, he’d “beat their butts!”
Willie, unmarried, with Bud Goble (James/Leg's son) at the
Murphy Jones property
Willie and Helen
both went to work at Betterware Hosiery Mill in Catawba when
Willie was 15 and Helen was 16, boarding socks. You had to be
16 to work, so Willie lied about her age so she could get the
job. Willie and Helen were hard workers.
Willie's early memories of basketball and her sister Helen
(Recorded 10 Dec 2008)
(Duration 1:38; Size 1.87 MB)
Willie said she
dated several boys as a girl but never single-dated - she
always double-dated - usually with Helen. Willie said they
never really went to movies or dances, but usually just rode
around in the car. Some of her early boyfriends (but
nothing serious) were Sam Tuddero and brothers Heman & Harry
Sullivan. Willie said she liked both brothers who were
from a prominent family in the community.
Willie's early memories of Sam
(Recorded 10 Dec 2008)
(Duration 2:21; Size 2.70 MB)
When asked how
she first met
Willie said she had gone to Speedo’s store, just down the road
from where the Martin Goble family lived, to buy some candy and
Sam was working there. This was Speed’s 1st store,
and was located in the corner close to the road going down to
Mathis Chapel Church. She said, “He gave me a LOT of candy for
the money. He told a neighbor, Ms. Trimm, that he was “gonna
date that girl, Willie" … that "she was pretty". Willie always
said Sam was the best looking man she had ever met. Willie said
she was a “good girl” and never single-dated Sam before they
interested in seeing Sam and Willie get together.
sister, asked Sam, "Why do you want to marry her? She can't
He said, "That’s OK! I can teach her how. I can cook!"
Willie said that
one evening her Daddy, Martin, came home drunk. He found Sam’s
flashlight, that he had left at the house and said he was gonna
break it. Helen said, “Daddy, don’t break that flashlight.
That’s not Sam’s flashlight; it’s mine.” Martin favored Helen,
and thinking the flashlight was hers, didn’t break it.
asked Martin, if he could marry Willie. Martin told him, “Yes,
but if you’re mean to her, I’ll get you!”
Willie and Sam
were married on March 21, 1942. They eloped to York Co, South
Carolina. Willie was 16 and Sam was 23 at the time. They lied
about their age in South Carolina in order to get married.
Willie said she was 18 years & 4 months - she was actually 16
years and 3 months. Sam said he was 24 years & 2 months - he
was actually 23 years & 10 months. Floyd Sigmon and Helen,
Willie’s sister, went with them.
Willie & Sam's Marriage License
Article About the Home of Judge E. Gettys
Willie & Helen Goble
After they were
married, Sam & Willie moved into the small 2-room house on the
corner between East Bandy’s Rd & Sherrill’s Ford Rd.
that belonged to the Loftin family - beside of
Ida Loftin (Sam's mother). The house only had a kitchen and a bedroom, but Sam
did buy Willie a new bedroom suit when they moved in. Sam built
their kitchen table and bought a second-hand wood stove and
cabinet for their dishes. There was no water in the house and
no bathroom. They had an outhouse nearby but had to pump
water and carried it from Mrs. Loftin’s house to use in the kitchen. They didn’t have
electricity or a refrigerator. They used a horse and buggy to
go from place to place, visit parents, siblings, etc.
Children of Sam William Loftin and
Willie Aleen Goble
half later, Willie became pregnant with Billy Ray. She and Sam had
been visiting with her Mom & Dad on Christmas Day 1943 when it
started to snow. While there, Willie went into labor and Sam
had to go get his brother Mike’s car in order to drive her to
the hospital in Newton.
Because of the
snow, others in the family had to push the car, including Floyd
& Helen. Willie’s mother, Nessie, joined her as Sam attempted
to drive her through the snow to the hospital. From her parents
home (Murphy Jones place) they drove toward the old Gold Mine on
Mathis Chapel Rd. in order to stop by their little 2-room house
and pick up some clothes for Willie. From there, they turned
back on E. Bandys Rd. heading toward Charlie Loftin’s Home, as
well as the home of Floyd & Helen Sigmon. When they got to the
bottom of the hill, the snow was so heavy & high, the car
couldn’t make it up the hill. Eventually Sam went and got
horses from Roy Setzer to pull the car up the hill, as they
continued to the hospital in Newton. They had left
home about midnight but didn’t get to the hospital in Newton
till 7 a.m. the next morning. Billy Ray was born over 12
hours later on December 26, 1943 around 10 P.M.
Willie's memories about Billy Ray's birth
(Recorded 10 Dec 2008)
(Duration 1:48; Size 2.07 MB)
bought 40 acres of property on Dexter Path, just off of Shiloh
Church Rd. from Fred Gibson’s father. Sam purchased the
property, then cut and sold the timber there to pay for the
property. Sam worked at Russ Campbell’s sawmill at the time.
He used Russ’ horses to pull the logs that he had cut off of the
property. He also used some of the timber to build a house for
him & Willie.
Willie at the first
house Sam built on Dexter Path, off of Shiloh Church Rd.
Billy Ray was just a couple of week old when they moved into
their first new home.
In the beginning, there was no water in the house. Willie had
to walk to a nearby stream to wash their clothes, and also had
to carry water to the house for drinking and cooking. In time,
Sam would dig a well close to the house. They had no indoor
toilet facilities, so Sam built an outhouse on the property.
There was no electricity to the house, so they had to use
candles and oil lamps in the evening.
Willie, Sam & Billy
Sam and Willie got their first car while they were living in
this home - although Willie didn't learn to drive until she was
53 years old.
there, Willie started boarding socks 2nd Shift (3:00
to 11:00). Sam also planted a large cotton crop. Willie would
hoe cotton and work in the garden during the day and board socks
in the evening. When Sam wanted to put in another cotton crop
the second year, Willie told him “No”. She told him she’d hoe
cotton or work in the boarding room…either one…but not both.
At one time, Sam
& Willie hired a Ms. Setzer to keep Billy Ray during the day
while they worked. She would come to their house during the
day, but go home at night. She would also do some cooking while
she was there, and Sam would come home for lunch at times. One
evening when Willie came home, he threw one of Ms. Setzer’s
“hard” biscuits against the wall and said to Willie, “Look at
what I have to eat!”
Elgevia, also lived with them for a short period of time.
Occasionally Sam, Willie & Elgevia would go to dances at Genevia
& Lester Gibson’s. Genevia kept Billy Ray for a short time when
he was a baby.
Helen Head Matthews, Willie and Sue Kale at Betterware Hosiery
variety of Campmeeting photos of Willie
Sam and Willie
still used their horse-and-buggy while living on Dexter Path,
but Sam eventually bought a 1935 model used car.
family had deep roots in the Balls Creek Campground. When the
large Loftin family would get together for the Autumn event,
they’d have to use two tents because of all the kids and
grandkids. Alonzo & Ida Loftin’s tents were 69 and 70. Sam’s
sister, Frances Cook, inherited 69 from her parents.
Sam built a tent
for Willie and himself down close to the spring and “Shack” area
- around 116.
sold this house on Dexter Path and purchased some property on E.
Bandy’s Rd where he built their second house. Sam built a
bathroom in this house and even installed a shower in the
Sam and Willie
started off with about 30 acres, but eventually bought 30 more,
and even more after that. He also built another building on the
property that became a beer joint.
In a conversation I had with Willie in June 2011, she recalled
how on one occasion Sam had gone to Charlotte with Charlie on
business. He had promised to bring her back a new dress.
When he got back home, he didn't have the dress, but instead had
bought some liquor - and he himself was drunk. Willie
helped Sam onto the bed, but nosey neighbor Ms. Trim had seen
the commotion and came down to see what was going on. She
kept Ms. Trim on the porch and tried to convince her that
everything was OK - embarrassed that Sam was drunk and afraid
that Ms. Trim would hear him. After Ms. Trim left, Willie
asked Sam why he hadn't bought her the dress like he had
promised. He said he didn't have time. She told him,
"You had enough time to buy that liquor" and in a moment of
anger, Sam slapped her. Willie packed her bags, took Billy
Ray, and went home to her mama and daddy. When Willie's
dad, Martin Goble, heard what Sam had done, he talked to
Sherriff Ray Pitts. The Pitts had provided the illegal
slot-machines in Sam's beer-join, but Sherriff Pitts told Sam's
he'd better never slap Willie again - that if he did, he had a
mule whose reigns would fit Sam's hand (In other words, he was
threatening him with "hard time" on the chain-gang).
Willie said Sam never ever slapped her again.
The second house &
beer-joint Sam built on E. Bandys Rd.
Willie, Sam was making a lot of money from selling beer and
bought them a new electric stove, new refrigerator and even a
new deep-freezer. They also purchased their first living-room
suit while living at E. Bandys.
living there, Sam & Willie got “saved” and turned the beer joint
into a grocery store. Sam had gone to William Guins’ to buy
some chickens and William invited Sam & Willie to a revival at
Mathis Chapel Baptist Church. Willie got saved first, then
Sam. The Loftin family had been Methodist for many generations,
but after their salvation experience, Sam & Willie joined the
Willie, she & Sam owned the first TV of anyone in the area.
Every Saturday night, Fred & Emmer Mathis (who donated the land
for Mathis Chapel Baptist Church, where Sam & Willie attended)
would come over to the grocery store to watch TV.
Many of Sam and
Willie’s family lived in the surrounding Bandy’s community,
including Willie’s parents (Martin & Nessie Goble) and Sam’s
mother (Ida Loftin). Sam’s brothers Charlie, Oscar and sisters
Sadie Lee, Alley Lee and Frances Cook all lived nearby.
Willie’s sisters Helen Sigmon and Lib Isenhour, as well as
brothers James and Harlee all lived within a few miles of Sam
and Willie’s home on E. Bandys. Elgevia and Bill even lived in
the former beer-joint and grocery store at one time.
Campground photos of Sam, Willie and Billy Ray
Willie and Billy Ray
in 1944 - 1945
On one wintry
evening while living on E. Bandy Rd., Willie discovered that
Billy Ray was missing in the middle of the night. He was 3 or 4
years old at the time. Willie remembers crying and saying,
“it’s so cold outside - he’ll freeze to death.” Eventually,
however, he was found in the spare bedroom under a stack of
clothes. He told them he had been cold in his room and climbed
under the clothes to keep warm.
It was also
during this time that Sam purchased about 40 acres, that he
eventually sold to Lloyal Deal that would become Sugar Farm.
Sam’s brother, Oscar, built a home and lived in the Sugar Farm
Sam, Willie & Billy Ray at
Mathis Chapel Church in 1952
Willie became pregnant again when they were living on East
Bandy’s Rd. She was helping to push a car during the snowy
winter, fell, and miscarried as a result.
Curtis was born in 1953
Eventually she would become pregnant the third time. Sam &
Willie were living in this house when
Curtis was born in May of
to build a house on Hwy. 10, just out of Catawba, for his cousin
Glenn Loftin’s oldest son. When the house was completed, the
boy wasn’t able to get his loan to pay for the house, so Sam
decided to sell the house on E. Bandy’s Rd. to Carson & Velma
Pool and move his family to Hwy. 10. The year was 1954.
The Hwy. 10
house had two bedrooms, a kitchen, an inside bathroom, a living
room and a den.
built an inside back porch for a washing machine. Willie had
used a scrub board for washing clothes when she was first
married, but now she had a electric washing machine, and it had
a “ringer”. She’d hand-feed the sopping-wet clothes through the
“ringer” and all the excess water was pressed out. The family
had no clothes dryer, and all clothes were hung up outside on a
clothes line to dry.
locked the doors to their homes when they went off - or even at
night. Cars were never locked.
Curtis at age 3
her school class reunion at Balls Creek in 1960
Willie, Curtis, Billy Ray & Sam (Middle)
Floyd & Helen Sigmon (Right)
Sam & Willie would
live in this house on Hwy. 10 in Catawba for the rest of their
(Left) Willie & Sam with Bevery & Billy Loftin, their first two
grandchildren, in 1966
(Right) Sam & Willie with Curtis, Bill & Diane, Beverly, Billy,
Eric and Crystal at Mathis Chapel in 1971
Willie and Sam had two children, six grandchildren and ten
Willie with Curtis & Carolyn and their children
Philip & Leslie Loftin, Beth & Brad Seese (Middle Row)
Alexandria & Savanna in 2006
Willie was 80-years-old
most of her life boarding socks. In the 1970s, Willie stayed at
home with Sam because of his declining health. After his death,
she went to work at Catawba Middle School in Catawba as a
custodian. She was 55 at the time. She stayed at Catawba
Middle School until she retired at the age of 63, but she didn’t
stay retired for long. She eventually went back to work at
K-Mart in Conover as a Greeter. She stayed at K-Mart for 7
years, until she was 70. When Willie told her Doctor that she
was going to retire from K-Mart, he told her he thought she
should continue working. She told him, “I’m 70! How old do you
have to be before you can retire?!” He agreed with her and
dropped the subject.
School photos of Willie when she worked at Catawba Middle School
December 1991 - Christmas Video
Willie "sneaked" and opened up one of the Christmas presents she
was suppose to get from Curtis & Carolyn. When they found
out they decided to play a joke on her and recorded this video.
This video of Willie will make you smile as you remember her
sweet and pleasant personality.
Willie tells about meeting her husband, Sam
Loftin, their early homes & furniture,
Sam's cafe & beer joint, her first job and farm life in the
(Recorded 10 Jun 2010)
(Duration 8:41; Size 562 MB)