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Debby Summey: ‘Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming In’

  • Friday, May 17, 2013

  • Updated Monday, September 23, 2013 11:12 am

“Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming In” was the title of a song performed by Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn in 1965.  Dean Martin also used this phrase on his television variety show in the 60s. Before that, early radio used the phrase to solicit support from listeners.

To me, it’s a heartfelt plea to my readers. Every time I get an email, phone call, or card from someone who has read my column, I learn something that makes the subject material more personal, something that hours of research could not reveal.

If you’ve been reading my columns for the past several years, you know that one of my passions is to memorialize and honor the dead buried in Potter’s Field, the cemetery bounded by Highmarket, Dozier, Duke, and Fraser streets in the heart of the city of Georgetown.

Jimmy Elliott, friend and fellow historian, has uncovered information indicating that Edward Capers Rainey was buried at Potter’s Field in 1889. There is also speculation, but no proof, that Edward’s brother, Joseph H. Rainey, and their father, Edward L. Rainey, are buried there. As you know, Joseph H. Rainey, in 1870, was the first Black ever elected to the U.S. Congress.  

There is proof that hundreds of other souls are buried at Potter’s Field – men, women, and children. Their remains were never moved before the entire block became commercialized and, eventually, paved over.

I’ve received some interesting inquiries from readers, including this most recent one via email from Christa Johnson. She is affiliated with Garth’s Auctions in Ohio and sent me a photo of a 19th century sampler being auctioned off this month. As was the practice with early samplers, the maker, Sarah Ann Lipscomb, stitched her name at the bottom and her location, Georgetown.  I can’t find any record of a Lipscomb family residing in Georgetown in the 19th century, but if you know of one, please let me know.

I love my talks with reader Evelyn Swails of Andrews. We talk of old times, and Evelyn is someone I’d like to interview for a column, but she keeps saying that she’s never done anything interesting.  Lots of people say that when, in reality, they’re full of the most interesting memories of times past.

When I did a story on the “Hangman’s Tree,” I received phone calls from a few readers who were lucky enough to own a painting of the tree rendered by the late artist Ernest R. Williams (1908-1984).  Johnny Thomas of Dexter Road in Georgetown owns one and I’m trying to find time to drive out and take a photo of it.

The three-part series on the McFeely, Sullivan, Crowley family plot at Prince George cemetery has afforded me the great pleasure of a “pen pal” relationship with Margaret O’Sullivan, who lives in Ireland.  Margaret’s grandfather, John O’Sullivan, came to Georgetown in 1934 to settle the estate of his aunt, Sarah Sullivan.  Margaret has done a lot of research on her relatives buried here in Georgetown, and she keeps furnishing me with information she has discovered.  

If I hadn’t heard from Margaret, I might have missed out on the opportunity to interview Ruth Blair of Gilbert Street in Georgetown.  Sarah Sullivan left money to Ruth’s grandfather, Titus Johnson, who spent many years working for D.J. Crowley at Crowley’s store on Front Street in Georgetown in the early 1900s.  Also, I would have never had the opportunity to meet Ruth’s five-year old granddaughter, Rebekah, who is super smart and super cute.

One of my favorite responses from a reader came in the form of an email from native Georgetonian, Libby Doggette Bernadin.  After reading a column about the annual May Day festivities that used to take place in Georgetown, Libby sent me a photo of herself when she was crowned May Queen at the Winyah Auditorium in 1946. She wrote, “My mother said that she reached over my Dad’s chest to grasp his arm, and she could feel his heart pounding away watching his oldest daughter walk down the aisle and onto the stage. My Dad worked at International Paper Company, and he was so proud that a paper maker’s daughter won the May Queen contest.”

To everyone who reads the Georgetown Times ... thanks for the memories.

I may be reached at (843) 446-4777 or email at djsummey@gmail.com.

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