Bessie Lee Stancil Godwin
Bessie Stancil 1902
Bessie Stancil was born Dec. 26, 1897 and died Dec. 18, 1974.
Bessie's children

With James Marvin Godwin

James Cleon Godwin Sr.

March 31, 1919 NC-July 6, 1960

Emma Lee Godwin Cayton
June 3, 1921 Johnston County, NC-July 20, 2009 Wilson, NC
Elmer Leon Godwin
March 11, 1924-
Feb. 9, 1998 Wilson, NC
Billie Horace Godwin
Aug. 15, 1930-
Esther Marie Godwin Narron
May 7, 1934-

Nona Creech Godwin, James Cleon Godwin Sr., James Jr., Linda and Sandra Godwin
Family photo

Bessie Lee Stancil was born Dec. 26, 1897. She was the sixth child born to Henry and Frances.

In 1918, she married James Marvin Godwin. The couple had five children, James, Emma, Elmer, Billie and Esther.

James Marvin Godwin was born July 18, 1898, and died April 27, 1978.

Bessie Lee was the daughter most like her mother. She was quiet, delicate and dainty with a sweet disposition. She had known James Marvin Godwin her entire life. He was a neighborhood boy.

Marvin was the son of Charles R. and Emily Godwin, a tenant farmer. Charles and Emily married in 1896. Marvin was born on July 18, 1898. It was in 1905 when Marvin's mother died in childbirth.

She was only 24. Charley married Birtie in 1908. They had a son Bennie raised a family. Charles, like so many men, registered to vote in Johnston County on Oct. 16, 1902, when he was 29 years old. Charles could read and write. Emily could not write.

Marvin's grandparents were Berry and Bethana Godwin. Berry could read. Bethana could not read or write according to the 1880 Census. Charles was the oldest child.

Marvin's great grandparents were E. and Nancy Godwin of St. Charles near the Neuse River in Johnston County.

Marvin grew up in a family of farmers and he carried on that tradition. Center Ridge Presbyterian Church began on Feb. 8, 1917. Among the charter members were Mr. and Mrs. Walter Stancil, Henry Stancil, Bessie Stancil and Marvin Godwin.

Bessie married James Marvin Godwin in on March 17, 1917. Frances was not entirely in favor of their relationship.

While Frances was out of town tending a sick relative in Newport News, Va., Bessie took the opportunity to elope with Marvin. She snuck out of the house with sister's Ila's help. At first, Uncle Leonard hid her gloves in an attempt to delay the marriage. Agnes came to Bessie's rescue and in the end, Leonard gave Bessie her gloves. Bessie secretly dressed away from the house.

Bessie and Marvin walked down to the home of W. Gray Pittman, Justice of the Peace and were married in his house. Lizzie Cockrell, another charter member of Center Ridge Church, was a witness. Bessie wore a white blouse and a navy blue suit over her nightgown.

Like all men of draft age filled, Marvin filled out a World War I Draft Registration Card on Sept. 12, 1918. At this time he was farming for his Pa, C.R. Godwin and married to Bessie Lee. He was of medium height and build. He had gray eyes and black hair.

Bessie and Marvin moved into a small wooden frame house on his Pa's farm. At this time his Pa, Charley, owned a cotton gin and saw mill at Moore School House. Marvin ran the gin and mill.

While living on Charley's farm, Bessie and Marvin had five children: James Cleon born March 31, 1919, Emma Lee born June 3, 1921, Elmer Leon born March 11, 1924, Billy Horace born Aug. 15, 1930, and Esther Marie born May 7, 1934.

Times were tough. Charley signed a bank note with a fella. When the man did not repay the note, Charlie had to sell his gin and sawmill to settle the debt. Newsom Narron bought the gin and mill. Marvin went to work for him. Billie recalled his grandpa, Charley Godwin riding him piggy back around the farm and then backing up to the porch and letting him off. When he was younger Charley gave him a ride in the wagon while carrying younger sister Esther in his arms. When Billie was 5, he accompanied Uncle Harvey when he made veterinarian calls. Harvey let Billie stand up in the back seat of the car.

Marvin continued working at the saw mill and cotton gin. He moved from his Pa's tenant house into a house on Jimmy Boyette's farm. He was a tenant farmer for Jimmy and continued working for Newson.

Sunday was family day, they attended Center Ridge Presbyterian Church and often Bessie, Marvin and their children were invited to eat Sunday Dinner with Agnes and Raymond.

Bessie grew a large garden and canned jars of vegetables, fruits and meats. She made clothes for her daughters and quilts.

In the early 1940s Bessie and Marvin rented a farm in Wilson County. They continued attending Center Ridge as often as they could. Marvin was very much in love with Bessie and delighted in sending her flowers on their anniversary.

Bessie and Marvin moved in with Emma and Earney when their health would not allow them to live alone.

Bessie suffered from arteriosclerosis heart disease. She had a stroke about a year before her death. Bessie was at the Medic Home Health Center in Wilson, NC, when she died on Dec. 18, 1974. She was buried on Dec. 20 in Center Ridge Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Johnston County, NC.

Marvin died of a heart attack on April 27, 1978. He was buried in Center Ridge Cemetery.

Renn Stancil Hinton 2010
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| Modified Oct. 26, 2010