17. Moses Heafner

Moses Heafner was born 29 May 1860 in the White Pines community of Gaston County, NC (now part of the Gaston County town of Cherryville) to parents Daniel Heafner and Frances Eaker. He joined his sister, Sarah Paulina, as the first born son to a small, but growing family. He was apparently named after both his uncle, Moses Eaker, and his great-grandfather Moses Moore. The 1860 census enumerator recorded that Moses was “2 days old” when he visited the family at that time. Both the 1870 and 1880 census show Moses and his family living in Cherryville and farming; I’m not sure if the family had moved, or whether the White Pines area where they had been living in 1860 had been incorporated into the town of Cherryville.

We don’t have another census record until 1900, but we do know that a lot happened with Moses during those twenty years. We find a Lincoln County marriage license for a Moses Heavner that details his marriage to Amanda Huffstetler on 10 April 1884. It’s not surprising that Moses found his wife in Lincoln County since the Cherryville area of Gaston County is actually closer to Lincolnton than it is to the Gaston County seat of Dallas. I don’t know if the young couple ever moved to Gaston County near Moses’ parents, but it seems more likely that they remained in Lincoln County near Amanda’s parent, since that is where we find them living at the time of the 1900 census. That census, as I mentioned in my blog profile for Effie Heafner, shows that Moses was working on the railroad; and that during the sixteen years between their marriage and the taking of the 1900 census, Amanda had given birth to seven children. At the time of the census, there were only six children living; I haven’t identified the missing child, but it appears that the child had been born and died within the year prior to the census being taken. Examining the birth order and birth dates of the children listed, the only gap where a child could have probably been born was between the birth of William Edgar in July of 1897 and 1900, and there was ultimately another gap between 1900 and the birth of Margaret Lea “Maggie” in 1903.

The 1910 census shows the family living on Laboratory Road which would put them in the Laboratory Methodist Church community, and most probably in the Rhodes-Rhyne Mill village, which surrounded the church. The family had increased by three children, but it showed that both Effie and Luther had moved on and created families of their own. While Amanda kept house, the rest of the working age family is shown working in the mill; with Moses (49) listed as “baling yarn”, Guiness (19) as a “spooler”, Robert (17) as a “twister”, Rosa Belle (15) as a “reeler”, and Edgar (13) as a “doffer”. The census once again confirms the loss of one child, showing Amanda as having bore a total of ten children, but only nine were living. It also shows that Amanda’s mother, Louisa, and sister, Frances, were living next door to her own family; and that her sister was also working in the mill.

In 1920 it appears that Moses had left employment in the mill and had returned to his farming roots, and was listed as a farmer on the census. Amanda was listed as “Mandy” and was still keeping house and raising her children. The two youngest daughters, Lorie (14) and Sallie [Sarah] (11) had avoided having to work and were listed as in school, with both able to read and write. Luther Heafner (32), the eldest son, was back living with the family and listed as a “foreman” at the cotton mill. Luther’s first wife, Bessie Hovis, had died a little over a year earlier, leaving her five children motherless. It’s not evident where the children were in 1920, possibly with Bessie’s parents, but they were not listed with Luther in the Moses Heafner household. Edgar (22) was also back with the family having just returned less than a year earlier from fighting in France during World War I. He along with his sister, Maggie Lee (16) were also listed as working in the cotton mill. Also listed as a boarder with the family and working in the mill was Frances Huffstetler (51 and single); sister to Amanda.

1930 finds Moses and Amanda as total “empty-nesters”; having moved to Gastonia in Gaston County and living in the Groves Cotton Mill village. Moses at the age of 69 was listed as once again working in the mill. Their son, William Edgar (Uncle Ed) was also working there and living in village with his own family; wife, Addie, and children William E., Jr. and Ronald. I remember Uncle Ed still living in the vicinity of the mill in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when I would tag-along with my parents for a family visit.

Neither Moses nor Amanda lived to be included in the 1940 census. Moses died at home in the Groves Mill village on 12 June 1939; Amanda died there just a little over three months later. Moses was buried in the Long Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Dallas; he was buried alone, without any family, of which I”m aware, surrounding him. This raises another one of those question that may be answered with some further research. I had questioned in my prior blog post on our grandmother Effie Heafner, why her maiden name on her grave stone had been spelled as “Hefner”; it does not answer the question to my satisfaction, but I noticed on Moses’ death certificate that his surname had been entered as “Hefner”, as well. I knew that Moses’ son, Edgar “Ed”, had used the “Hefner” spelling for his own name; so it was not surprising to see that “Uncle Ed” had been the informant for the information on Moses’ death certificate. So as one can see, the surname spelling changed from individual to individual, even within the same nuclear family you might see: Heafner, Hefner, Heffner, Heavner, etc.