Thomas Emmette Stancil
Thomas Emmette Stancil 1984
Thomas Emmette Stancil was born Oct. 18, 1903, and died on Nov. 29, 1992.
Emmette's children

With Dessie Frances Morris

Thomas Emmette Stancil Jr.

Dec. 15 1924-May 23, 1980

Rose Marie Stancil
Jan. 19, 1928-Aug. 19, 1998
Eva Lucas Stancil
Sept. 22, 1930-Nov. 21, 1930
Martha Frances Stancil
May 26, 1941-Jan. 3, 1993 at NC
Thomas Emmette Stancil with brothers Ralph Stancil and G.I. Stancil in the 1970s.
Family photo

Thomas Emmette Stancil was born on Oct. 18, 1903, to George Ira and Eva Stancil.


Emmette was at the barn raising at the Jim Place. A Negro, Calvin Sutton, lived there and grew watermelons. Emmette took one of Calvin's melons and put his hat over it. He thought it was hidden, His grandpa saw it and asked about cutting it, saying that the hogs might eat your melon if we don't cut it.

Emmette cut it as soon as Calvin was out of sight. Emmette made Ralph a stick knife and they all ate it.


It was thought that if you slept under a new quilt, you'd dream of the person you were going to marry. Eva finished a quilt. Effie and Delanie were going to sleep under it. Delanie put it on the bed. Emmette took the quilt off Delanie's bed and he and Ralph slept under it first. Neither dreamed of anyone that night and Delanie was very anger she missed her chance to dream of her future husband.


When John Edwards was George's hired hand, about 1917 he slept with Emmette. Emmette didn't like it much but beds were scarce.

George bought Emmette a bike for $10. Emmette somehow broke the pedal off and the bike was sold.

Emmette drove the school bus to high school for two months. Then he quit school and helped his Pa farm. Emmette was smart but wouldn't study. He wanted Effie to do his homework for him, especially written work.

Emmette was farming with his Pa when he started courting Dessie. Cousin Arthur Stancil introduced Emmette and Dessie. Arthur had taken Dessie to Holly Springs Freewill Baptist Church. Dessie was a member of Union Grove Church.
Front: Junior and Rose; Back: Dessie and Emmette in 1934. Family photo

Once Emmette met Dessie and was completely captivated by her. She was the daughter of James J. Morris, Jr. and Martha Ellen Lucas. Her mother grew up in the Crossroads Community of Wilson County. Her father grew up in the Great Swamp Community of Wayne County. James and Martha married on November 18, 1900 in Wilson County. In 1910 they were living in the O'Neal Community of Johnston County. They had 4 children: Frances, James P., Joseph T. and Albert P. Dessie's grandfather was reported to be a preacher.

Dessie and Emmette both completed Grammar school. Emmette encourages his Pa to buy a car which Emmette drove. It was a Model T Ford Touring car. George bought in 1920 from Avis Stancil, father of Erma Lee Stancil. Erma Lee married Alvin Stancil's son Glenn years later.

Emmette continued to court Dessie. Emmette seldom went with anyone else.

In late 1923 or early 1924 Emmette and Raymond Hill went to a Revival at the Niagara Holiness Church. Ralph asked, "Raymond why are you going there." Raymond replied, "Sometime during the meeting they turn out the light and feel for Jesus."

Emmette decided Dessie was the one for him and wanted to get married as soon as possible. They were married on March 20, 1924. George had to sign for Emmette to get married, as he was almost seven months shy of being 21. They were married in the Parlor (located at the S. E. corner) at Eva and George Stancil's home by Rev. Debro Stancil, his brother-in-law. They spent their first night upstairs in the ‘porch' bedroom.

On the marriage license their names were: Dessie Francis Morris and Tommie Emmitt Stancil. Dessie did not like Emmette's name. She changed it to Thomas Emmette because it sounded more grown up.

Mrs. Morris, Dessie's mother, remarked after she found out they were married, "Before marriage you both had a good home and now neither one of you has a home."

George gave Emmette and Dessie a milk cow as a wedding gift. They moved in with Eva and George. Emmette continued to farm for his Pa.

George was pleased because Eva could sure use the help in the kitchen and house. One day George found Dessie sitting on the porch after supper. Eva and the children were cleaning up the table.

George asked Dessie why she wasn't helping out. Dessie said, "She makes me feel like I'm in the way."

Emmette received a letter from a former sweetheart soon after he was married. She wrote, "I've always loved you and love your still."

Emmette silently put the letter away.

Dessie entered nurses training at the hospital in Wilson, NC. Harry Stancil's wife Laura was a nurse and she influenced Dessie. Dessie looked after mothers and babies in their homes but never completed nurses training as her pregnancy kept her from finishing. Dessie was there to assist George Ira when son Harold Lloyd was born May 7, 1924.

Dessie became pregnant soon after marrying Emmette. She was ironing clothes when she went into labor. Eva sent Ralph for Dr. Whitley. Word was sent to Emmette. Thomas Emmette Stancil Jr. was born in an upstairs bedroom on Dec. 15, 1924. Almost immediately Dessie started calling him Junior.

Clyde, Harvey's son who had taken a business course went to work for the Wachovia Bank in Raleigh and encouraged his cousin Emmette to apply there too. He assisted Emmette in getting a job there. Emmette worked at the bank in the money transfer department. Emmette would catch the midnight train in Selma for Raleigh. Emmette didn't earn enough money so he decided to try farming again.

He became a tenant farmer for John Turner Hales at the "Jim Place." Tobacco was his money crop. John Turner was the son of Condary Hales, half brother of John Thomas Stancil. Emmette and Dessie moved into the tenant house that John Thomas Stancil had built.

A year after Emmette and Dessie were married, George gave him the painted Indian pony named "Zeb" that he's purchased for Ralph. Originally George had purchased this painted white and roan Indian stud pony for $55 in 1924 from Raymond Weaver. Ralph was heart broken. It wasn't long before Emmette traded the pony for a mule he could use for farming.

After George got his turntable, he gave his rectangular wooden table to Emmette. Emmette and Dessie used it for many years.

Emmette was always looking for new financial opportunities. He decided to try his hand at selling books. His cousin Leumos, son of Josiah, was selling Raleigh products in Nashville, NC. Emmette worked for the G. E. Hinson Book Company in Nashville, NC. He sold Bibles, religious and educational books and boarded with Leumos and Ethel. Emmette missed Dessie and Junior. He arranged to move them in an upstairs room with Leumos. When Ethel had Harold on June of 1925, Dessie was there to help.

Ralph also decided to sell books and did so for one summer and fall living with Leumos. Ralph did quite well selling. He sold more books than other salesmen. Books were sold on credit and the books were given out on credit. Each salesman returned after the crops were sold to collect the money. Some people gave the books back after the crops failed to bring in enough money.

A chain of stores named Pender opened and the man who rented Emmette's store had a contract with Pender. The man was short some money and Pender quit delivering goods. The store closed and Emmette tried to get the store back and run it, but couldn't. Emmette continued to farm and Ralph moved to California.

The old Tom Stancil's tenant house was located on what later became the Thomas Emmette Stancil Homestead. Emmette and Dessie lived here for a time but eventually tore this house down after building a new house.

Rose Marie was born Jan. 19, 1928, in Goldsboro. Emmette was working at the Kreesi's Ten Cents Store there. They rented a house, then Emmette was laid off.

Eva Lucas was born Sept. 22, 1930, and died Nov. 21, 1930, at 9:45 a.m. She had bronchial pneumonia. Quite a few babies died that year. Bailey Funeral Home in Selma prepared the body. Her funeral was at Holly Springs and she was buried there on Nov. 22.

Dessie and Emmette separated for a short period in 1934. They had a serious disagreement while Mrs. Morris was visiting. Dessie wouldn't give in. Dessie left taking Rose to her parents. George and Eva got wind of the situation. George went over and talked to Emmette.

Albert, Dessie's brother, talked to Dessie and said, "It (this separation) wasn't going to stick, go, the quicker you do it the better."

They were soon reunited.

Emmette sold milk to some of the teachers at Glendale School in 1934. Junior delivered the milk on his bike. Emmette did all the milking.

George Ira Sr. died Oct. 23, 1935. Emmette was in charge of arrangements. Emmette asked his brother-in-law, Edgar Morris, to watch the embalming taking place in George and Eva's bedroom.

After the burial at Holly Springs Clyde Stancil read George's Will and Emmette wasn't pleased with it. The farm was left to Ralph. Ralph signed it over to his mother.

Emmette had a store built across from his house. The store was rented to Dessie's brother Albert Morris. He boarded with Emmette and Dessie and paid Emmette rent for the store and room. After several years Emmette decided to run the store. Albert took an electrical course and then returned to farm with his father.

Emmette, Ralph and G. I. joined the Masons like their Great Uncle Jim.

In 1939 Emmette was going through a stressful time. He was deeply indebted. In a letter to Ralph he wrote, "I am troubled and worried to the extent that sometimes I don't care to live I know I should not be that way. But I feel like I am as near ready to Die as I will ever Be."

Emmette considered going back to dairying. He could turn his tobacco barn into a dairy barn, put in electric milkers and sell milk to Southern Dairy for 30 cents a gallon.

Emmette wrote this about stores, "A Neighbor Hood Store is just a nice thing for you Folks & Friends to have you Donate to them your profit & Hardwork and I am Getting plenty tired of that and have Got to Stop it."

He continued, "The quicker a man gets Started in something Staple that people Have to use He will Be that far ahead of the Game."

Emmette requested advice from Ralph about starting a dairy. He figured out how to get $120 a month in profit. This would pay for his cows.
Rose and sister Martha in 1942. Family photo

Dessie gave birth to her last child, a daughter Martha Frances on May 26, 1941. Martha had dark hair while Rose had light hair. She was named after Dessie's grandmother Martha Lucas and Frances after Dessie.

Emmette wrote to Ralph on July 28, 1942 from Wilmington, N.C. He lived at 7 PineCrest Parkway. Ralph was living at 1757 Government ST % Greystone Lodge, Mobile, Ala.

Emmette mentioned being home July 4 and going to church with Aunt Laura and his Mother. His grandma, Celia Jane Mercer Kennedy was there too for two weeks. Emmette said that his Ma's crop was good and so was Effie and Robert's. Rain was needed for the corn and cotton. Emmette called Robert ‘Bob'. Bob also ran Emmette's store. Emmette voiced concern that Bob could only get 1/8 as much gas and drinks as he could sell.

Emmette was concerned that Bob would take to drinking again writing, "So far Bob has done fine this year and I sure hope he doesn't start drinking even if he don't get drunk & stays full all the time or part time it means mistakes in the store handling money & figures too anyone tanked up is not fit for but one thing in my estimation that is private Bed & Room."

Emmette almost lost his life when he touched a live 110 volt wire that was suppose to be insulated properly. He was so wet with sweat that his leather gloves were wet and leather jacket too and they conducted the electricity. Employees did not use any rubber on the connection but just tar dope. He was very sore and a heating pad helped but he did develop high fever with chills. He forced himself to go to work.

Emmette signed for Jr. to join the Navy on July 21, 1942, but lamented that he might never see him again. Emmette knew he had done all he could for Junior financially and with personal advice.

Dessie was running a boarding house with four boarders. They were all boys and men. She worked hard washing, cooking, keeping house.

Rose spent the weekends and week back in Glendale. Emmette was working 7 days a week, 8 hours a day. He'd rather work 6, 10 hour days. He spoke of the baby Ethel and Ralph were expecting.

Emmette said that his weekly paycheck was $93.98 but he anticipated $108.02 the next week. According to the letter he was paid by the piece. He was also investing $25 weekly in savings bonds and had two bonds.

In a letter to Ralph his brother on Dec. 10, 1942. Ralph was living at the Hotel Russel Erskine in Huntsville, Ala.

Junior came home from Brunswick, Georgia and they all went to visit G.I. Sunday night. G.I. was in Wilson. Emmette made $17.49 in eight hours. His pay for the week was $156.26. Junior joined the Navy on Tuesday, Dec. 8, 1942. He went to Raleigh. Junior was earning $10.70 per day in Brunswick. Junior had wanted the join the Navy for over a year according to Emmette.

Emmette advised Ralph concerning tenants. Basically the owner furnishes the team, tools, ˝ fertilizer, ˝ tobacco twine, pays for ˝ of grading and hauling. Tenant pays for ˝ fertilizer, ˝ tobacco twine, pays for ˝ grading and hauling. When tobacco is sold money is divided into halves.

Emmette mentions how smart and sweet his baby, Martha is.

Dessie's mother Martha Ellen Lucas Morris died. Dessie received money from her estate. This money purchased the boarding house on Chestnut Street, Wilmington, North Carolina in 1944. Emmette worked in the Wilmington shipyards and Dessie took in boarders. Dot and Grace both boarded with them.

Emmette and Dessie's daughter Rose and sister Dot both worked in the Wilmington Shipyards. Emmette taught both of them welding as part of his job. Rose and Dot both dated service men.

The shipyards closed after the war. Emmette and Dessie sold their house on Chestnut and moved back to Glendale where Emmette ran the store for awhile.

In 1946 Emmette and Dessie sold the boarding house and purchased the White Lake property. They built cottages and a motel they rented out. Later they added several trailers. Rooms and beds space were rented inside the main house. Dessie kept up with the daily laundry and worked very hard. Emmette took care of the business end.

About 1948 or 1949 Eva Stancil had a bathroom put in her home. Emmette's hot temper got the best of him. According to Vernard Stancil, Emmette didn't have indoor plumbing at this time and he shook his fist in his mother's face and said that she was crazy and didn't have as much sense as Johnny Rachel who didn't know anything about money or the value of a dollar. (Johnny Rachel was his mama's sister.)

Emmette had a bad tenant farmer for the 1949 season. The man didn't look after the tobacco, corn or cotton properly. Worms about ate up all the tobacco. He left and Emmette had to end up picking the rest of the cotton. He only had 606 pounds on 5 acres, very disappointing.

According to Emmette, "He bought a farm & give mine up, I don't blame him for that but here I am left with it to tend myself it looks like or rent to another bunch of trash & I am feed up with them. I am going to sell it if I can."

Dessie added that Miss Eva was going to spend all her money so when she died there would be no money, just like when Mr. George died.

Emmette had a saying, "If there's no profit in it I'm staying out of it."

Emmette never made whiskey although he occasionally enjoyed drinking it. Emmette had a quick temper when provoked or things didn't seem right. Emmette played the auto harp.

Ralph Stancil and his family were in a terrible auto accident on Jan. 3, 1951, near Allandale, South Carolina. Emmette was the first family member to South Carolina.

Emmette flew his mother to Florida for Ralph's daughter Georgeanne's 1960 Wedding. Over the years he and Junior visited Ralph in Florida.

Emmette loved his family and you could find him at all family gatherings.

Dessie suffered a stroke and was bedridden for several years. Her caregivers were primarily daughter Martha and Emmette. While Dessie was ill Emmette visited folks he knew in Nursing Homes and once returned and told Dessie how pretty Alice Morris looked. Dessie died on May 20, 1981. She was buried at Holly Springs

Family and friends gathered to celebrate Emmette's 85th Birthday in 1988. They celebrated at Parker's Bar B Q. Mamie and Alice Marie brought birthday cakes. Sisters Rachel, Myrtle, Hilda and Mamie attended. His daughter Martha was there and grandson Tommy, wife Marty, daughters Elizabeth and Meghan. Granddaughter Alice, husband Ronnie, great grandchildren Dale and Marenda were there too.

In later years Emmette developed kidney problems. That seemed to run in the family.

Martha lived with Emmette. On one of her bad days she tried to kill Emmette by setting a fire in 1989. Fortunately Emmette recovered from his burns. This prompted authorities to remove Martha from his home. She was convicted and sent to the State Prison.

Several years before Emmette died he loaned a lady at Hickory Cross $60,000. It was never repaid.

In April of 1992, Emmette's breathing problems were increasing. He had skin cancer on his lower jaw that caused problems

Emmette died on Nov. 29, 1992, in the hospital. He had been living in the Britthaven Nursing Home in Wilson. Emmette's funeral was a Holly Springs. He had a Masonic burial. A lady from the State Prison System brought Martha.

Emmette left the property at White Lake to his children and their heirs.

Three of Emmette's grandsons are professional pilots; Chris Sweesy, Dale Benedict and Ike Sweesy. Tommy III has his own airplane. Former son-in-law Jack Benedict was also a professional pilot. All of his children knew how to fly.

Renn Stancil Hinton © 2010
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