Thomas Ruffin Stancil
Thomas Ruffin Stancil 1902
Thomas Ruffin Stancil 1902
Thomas Ruffin Stancil was born May 29, 1884 and died May 14, 1907.

Thomas Ruffin Stancil was born May 29, 1884.

There were two ways his name was spelled; Tommie and Tommy. He was named Thomas for his father John Thomas and Uncle Thomas Sasser. Delaney may have selected his middle name because of Thomas Ruffin, the Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court from 1829 to 1852 and from 1858 to 1859. He died in 1870 at age 83. Thomas had black hair and favored his sister Catherine, two years older.

Delaney was cleaning up the kitchen while Tommie was sitting in his high chair, wearing overalls his mother had sewed.

Harvey came in from milking the cow and started making faces at Tommie.

Tommie was not amused, he yelled, "Ma, make Harvey stop mocking me!"

Delaney sternly admonished Harvey, "Leave Tommie alone!"

Harvey turned so Delaney couldn't see him and made one last face before leaving.

When Tommie was a toddler in 1886, he rode in the very old log kitchen as it was moved down from the field on skid poles. It had been part of the original John Thomas Stancil Homestead prior to the Civil War. It was probably built by Henry Sasser, Delaney's Pa. The kitchen was going to be a home for Henry and Frances.

Tommy went through grammar school at Woodard School. School was during the months of November, December, January and February. The short school year allowed students to be home to help with the planting, growing and harvesting.

Baseball was popular and played in schools. Tommie played on the baseball team. Tom purchased him a pair of baseball pants. Tommie was proud of having his own baseball pants.

Lonza Stancil, son of Reddick Stancil, taught Tommie at the Woodard school and said that he was very smart, often making 99 percent out of 100 percent. It was customary for teachers to board around the neighborhood with families, including Tom Stancil's. According to legend Lonza Stancil said this, "At Tom's the wind will blow your hat off while you're sitting in the house!"

Reddick was a cooper, a barrel maker. He was also a first cousin of Tom's. Reddick's pa John, was an older brother of Tom's pa Samuel.

Tommie probably learned to spin thread on the spinning wheel like his other siblings. Delaney was an expert weaver too, as evidence by the beautiful tapestry she wove when only 16 years old. This tapestry was used as a backdrop for the 1902 Reunion Photo, covering the wall of the kitchen that was on the north side of the log House where they slept.

Delaney's tapestry

Tommie went with his pa and brothers; Alvin, Harvey and George to see the Atlantic Ocean in Wilmington, NC. The trip was made by mule and wagon. Seeing the ocean was a thrill. Tom watched as the boys enjoyed the waves. Alvin ventured so far out that the undertow almost got him. They were use to swimming in the ole swimming hole. Crushing waves and undertow was foreign to them.

In the late 1890s, Tom took Alvin, George, Harvey and Tommie to the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh. The electric lights attracted their attention as did the midway rides.

According to Johnston County Marriage Records, Tommie Stancil, age 22 and Mamie Pittman, age 16 were issued a marriage license on July 4, 1906. They were married by Minister L. T. Phillips on July 15, 1906, at M. (Monroe) Pittman's. Witnesses were: J. L. Jones, G. I. (George Ira) Stancil and J. L. Brannan.

Mamie was the sister of Fannie Pittman who married Alvin Stancil in 1904. Tommie and Mamie moved in with Tommie's parents. Tommie farmed with "Daisy," a mule raised and given to him as a wedding gift by his pa. His pa also gave him $50 in cash. Tommie, as the youngest son, was tapped to inherit the John Thomas homestead.

Tommie would often say to his Pa, "If I live, I want to do this, I'll never live to be as old as you, Pa." His pa was 68 at the time.

Shortly before his death Tommie had a bull calf that disappeared. He had a conversation with his sister-in-law Eva and told her that he believe he'd never see that bull calf again. Was this prediction, a prophetic statement or was it just a coincidence? This is certainly a thought to ponder.

Tommie's nephew Emmette, George Ira's son, remembers his Uncle Tommie giving him a bell for his bicycle.

Tommie and his older brother Harvey decided to kill the crows eating the corn early in the morning on Tuesday, May 14, 1907. The crow blind was made of dried grape vines. It was about six foot square inside and two feet high in the edge. It was located at the edge of the woods. Tommie and Harvey crawled inside on their hands and knees, moving the shotguns along with them. Tommie had a twelve gauge double barrel breech loader shot gun.

Tommie and Harvey heard the crows coming in and they took aim and shot a number of crows. After a time crows stopped flying over.

According to Harvey's account, he and Tommie began crawling out. Harvey was in the front. Tommie was crawling out pushing the gun by the barrel in front of him. He did not unload the gun before crawling out of the crow blind. A vine caught on the hammer partially cocking the gun and causing it to fire. Tommy was hit in the chest and killed. If the vine had fully cocked the gun, it would not have fired.

Two black men working in the fields heard the commotion and came running. They were Jim Batey and Cab Atkinson. Harvey sent them to get Tom. Tom left at a trot immediately. Delaney insisted on going to the accident scene. Jim hitched up the buggy for her.

Tommie was dead. The sheriff of Johnston County was notified. Ralph Smith, brother-in-law of Harvey, was sent to tell George Ira about Tommy's death. George was living on Tom's Micro farm. He had three children; Effie, Emmette and Delanie.

A coffin was built from seasoned wide pine boards kept for this purpose. Some of the neighborhood men prepared and dressed the body.

Family and friends gathered to bury Thomas Ruffin Stancil in the Stancil Family Cemetery on May 15, 1907.

The accident was investigated by the Johnston County Sheriff because Harvey was the only witness. Harvey was placed under a bond until Tommie's death was investigated. Harvey was cleared.

As with any tragedy there is more than one story. Tommie's brother, John Archer said that Tommy was on the other side of a log when a shot hit him.

A few days after Tommy's death his missing bull calf was found.

Tommy's mule "Daisy" was given to George Ira. Tommy had left crops in the field and Tom harvested them in the fall with the help of Jim Batey and Cab Atkinson.

Tommy's widow, Mamie, returned home. Eventually Mamie married Charlie Eason. They had one son, Bernard Eason, who worked for the North Carolina State Road Department.

George Ira, as the youngest living son, would now inherit the Homestead. George stayed at the farm in Micro until after the crops were harvested in the fall. George moved his family into his pa's tenant house.

Tom preserved the crow blind for many years. Ralph and Emmette went inside the crow blind in 1914. Finally George Ira removed the grapevine crow blind as memories of the tragic accident were fading.

Tommie's baseball pants were sold at Tom's sale in 1922. Emmette urged George to purchase them and he did. The shotgun that killed Tommie was also sold. Harvey bought it. Carl and Garland used it for hunting. One of them decided to saw off the barrels and afterwards it was useless for hunting.

Tom's estate had enough money to purchase permanent monuments.

Marble markers were ordered from a man in Kenly for Tommie's grave as well as Tom's, Delaney's and Arnettie's. Original wooden markers were decaying and returning to the earth.


Based on oral history and public information and memories of Ralph Stancil.
Renn Stancil Hinton, daughter of George Ralph Stancil, Granddaughter of George Ira Stancil, Great-Granddaughter of John Thomas Stancil

www.stancilreunion.com 2014
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| Modified Feb. 17, 2014