William Andrew McGinnis was born on 15 October 1864 in Rutherford County, NC to parents James and Lucinda Padgett McGinnis. The first documented evidence of W.A. is the 1870 census record, where we find him with his mother and six siblings. The fact that James is missing from the census is a story for a later time. This census shows:
- Lucindy McGinnis 34
- Christifer C. 12
- Louisa J. 11
- Madison 10
- Catherine 8
- William A. 5
- James W. 3
- William J. 1
living in the Green Hill township of Rutherford County next to a “Hyder” family, apparently the family of Lucinda’s uncle John Hyder, Jr. and now headed by Louisa Hyder, probably the widow of John.
Without James, the 1870’s were years of hardship and hard decisions for Lucinda. The 1880 census shows that in spite of Lucinda remaining the head-of-household, she had added to her family. This census shows the family still to be in the Green Hill township, and records:
- Lucinda McGuenis 45
- Lula 23
- Matt 22
- Harriet 20
- Andrew 18
- James 13
- Willie 11
- John 10
- Maggie 5
- Pinkney 1
The son who was listed in the prior census as Christifer C. is shown in a 1878 marriage license as Columbus C. and marrying Elizabeth Vest. The death certificate for this individual shows the same name, but with this information, I imagine that he was originally named, Christopher Columbus McGinnis. Another side note, the marriage license lists his father James as being dead.
We know by the census records that Andrew was not able to read or write, so it is not surprising that his marriage license in July, 1884; produced by the register of deeds, lists him as A.T. Meginis. The lower part of the same document, filled out by the Justice of Peace performing the ceremony, lists him as W.A. Meginis, and as having married, Julian Hamrick, at the residence of R.B. Hamrick in the township of Colfax. While Andrew does not list his father by name, he does indicate that he is still living.
Since we don’t have the 1890 census, the next record I have of W.A. is the 1900 census that I mentioned in the blog post profile of his son Auther. Since we know that W.A. and Julia Ann married in Colfax, and the 1900 census shows them still living in Colfax township; I would say there is a very good chance the family lived at that location the whole time, and that all their male children were born there. The 1900 census has several things in it that can’t really be explained: it shows Andrew as having been born in April of 1860, and 40 years of age. This is the same census that showed Auther as having been born in October instead of April.
Sometime between that 1900 census and the next one done in 1910; Auther, Kenneth, and William all married and moved to Lincoln County. William Andrew and Julia Ann, along with their daughter Jessie May, had moved from Rutherford to Gaston County. The 1910 census shows them living in Cherryville, on the Cherryville-Dallas Road. James Columbus “Lum” is missing from the family; he didn’t marry until 1912, and I originally thought it was possible that he was living with one of his brothers in Lincoln County at the time the census was taken, but I researched those and he is not living with any of them. Where he was at the time, I don’t know. The 1910 census for Andrew does appear to be more accurate, it correctly shows him as being 45 years of age, and as having been married to Julia A. for 25 years.
The 1920 census shows W.A., Julia, and Jessie living on the “old narrow gauge railroad” Road in the Ironton area of Lincoln County about four houses down from their son Kenneth and his family. In between the two McGinnis families lived a Helms family that included a Purvey S. Helms who would become Jessie’s husband. The location of this Andrew & Julia McGinnis home-place is found in the corner of the intersection of the currently named Salem Church Road and Keever Dairy Farm Road. The house itself has long been lost to time.
The 1930 census has the family living in the same location, but the road is now called the Goodsonville -High Shoals Road. Jessie May is now married to Purvey Helms and they are living with W.A. and Julia along with their daughter, Ruby Lee, who is listed as 8 years old.
The 1940 census shows no change in residence or make-up except that Ruby has left the family (having married Hillard Keever, once again a neighbor, in 1939); and adding Albert Joseph “Joe” Helms who was born in 1932. All of the census records, beginning with the 1900 census, has Andrew listed as a farmer. I have not yet researched the deed records which might include the Salem Church Road residence; but otherwise any other public records for both Andrew and Julia Ann, are so far non-existent. So between the 1940 census and their death certificates, everything else I know about them comes from family relatives.
I believe Andrew to be a “troubled soul”. He grew up in a household without his father, and I don’t believe he ever forgave James for that. In the end he named his youngest son James, but I think that was more in honoring his brother James than his father; especially since the son was named James Columbus (the names of two of his brothers). I believe Andrew felt betrayed by both his father and mother, tried to leave the memory of both of them behind, and became an angry man. So much so that when his son, William Auton, provided the information about Andrew for his death certificate, he didn’t know the names of either of Andrew’s parents (his own grandparents). I wish that he had left a glowing legacy somewhere along the line for me to write about, but from some of the few people I have talked to that knew him, he has been described as “mean, cantankerous, defiant and hard-headed”. One of his grandsons, Joe Helms, told me about a time when Andrew was living with him and his parents, Andrew pulled a shotgun on his father, Purvey, accusing him of stealing his money. Purvey grabbed the shotgun from Andrew, physically threw him out of the house and off of the porch, telling him to leave and to never come back. Andrew would have been in his 80’s, and I believe this episode was the beginning of his being shuffled back and forth within the family. Unfortunately, my sisters have told me a similar story to Joe’s about a time that Andrew was staying with our family in Gaston County; he got mad at our mother for some reason and threaten her with a knife. My father was called, Grandpa McGinnis was loaded up in the car, driven back to Lincolnton, where he was dropped off and told not to come back to Dallas. I believe all of these things probably took place after Grandma (Julia Ann) had died in 1948; which made things worse for Andrew. He was surely on the edge of, if not fully overcome, by dementia. Everyone I have talked with regarding Andrew have told stories of him walking away from where he was suppose to be, and they would find him back on Salem Church Road, sometimes hiding in one of the out buildings; in his mind all he wanted was to get back to the old home-place.
Some of the information on Andrew’s death certificate has created a mystery that I have yet to solve. The certificate shows that Andrew died in Boone, Watauga County, NC; the space for hospital or institution is left blank, suggesting that he didn’t die in one; the attending physician, a Raymond Harmon, states he has been attending Andrew from January 1954 until the time of his death in June 1954. No one that I have talked to about this has any recollection of how or why Grandpa ended up being in Boone and dying there. What I do know is that “Grandpa” William Andrew McGinnis did finally make it back to Salem Church Road where he was laid to rest beside his wife, Julia Ann, in the Salem Baptist Church cemetery.