Behind the scenes of the article titled, “A 150-Year history of the Contee-Gibson Family School.”
Myron Contee had no idea about the history of his ancestors in Alexandria, Washington, DC and Maryland. His Contee and Gibson families were early property owners in Alexandria. The Contee family migrated from Prince Georges, Maryland around the beginning of the Civil War to Washington, DC. They stayed in Washington, DC until after the Civil War. Myron’s second great-grandfather and his children migrated to Alexandria after the civil war leaving other relatives in DC. They became property owners of not just one house but several homes in Alexandria.
Behind the scenes of the Alexandria Gazette Packet’s article on, “The Other History of Fishtown – Dogan Family”
Mrs. Betty Dogan Roberts Nicholas’ father, William S. Dogan II’s family has been in Alexandria since the 1700s. The Dogan were born free prior to the Civil War. They had businesses in Alexandria down at the wharf. They lived for many years in an African American neighborhood called Fishtown in Alexandria.
One of the Dogans had a restaurant and bar business down at the fish wharf before the civil war. With that type of business, he brought real estate in Alexandria. The properties with houses on it were rented out. This was a source of income for the family.
Unknown to the present generation, they were unaware that their family had been in the area for over 300 plus years. They contributed a lot to the history of Alexandria and they saw a lot of history made in Alexandria.
Backstory of the article that was in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper on September 2, 2020, gives insight into Wilmer Benjamin Henry and his grandchildren.
Wilmer Benjamin Henry was born on February 22, 1898 in Accotink, which is located in Fairfax, Virginia near Fort Belvoir. His father was from Bedford, Virginia and his mother was from Fairfax, Virginia.
Wilmer had several careers including janitor, barber, waiter, and a mail carrier for his community. He loved his family and especially his grandchildren. Two of his grandchildren shared their memories of their grandfather with me.
Rita Murphy Harris was one of his grandchildren. She is the
daughter of Elrich Murphy and Marie Elizabeth Henry Murphy. She grew up in her grandfather’s house. Toniette Henry Duncan is the daughter or Corrine Idella Henry and John Sydney Holland, Jr. She also grew up in her grandfather’s house. Both women talked about the adventures they experienced in their grandfather’s house
Also in their grandfather’s house on Johnson Lane prior to urban renewal, they experienced life in the rural area of Seminary. The women enjoyed the closeness of family members and friends in their community.
“Our friends were like family,” stated Toniette. “We all were very close like family.”
Life in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s in the Seminary area include extended families and friends who looked out for each other and enjoyed the simply life.
Rita is the only child of Elrich Murphy. Her mother Marie Elizabeth Murphy-Spinner remarried and had two sons, Blair Spinner and Albert Spinner, Jr. Toniette is her mother’s youngest child, but she has an older sister, Sylvia Delores Henry. In addition, Toniette and Sylvia have other siblings through their father and they are Ceyonne, Deborah, Leslie, Lisa and Lynne.
Grandparents are special human beings. For Rita and Toniette, their grandfather found his youth again through his grandchildren raising them and providing for them.
Wilmer Benjamin Henry died at the age of 83 on December 16, 1981. Up until he died, he was employed at the Virginia Episcopal High School as a janitor and he was the neighborhood barber.
Backstory of the article that was published in the Alexandria Gazette Newspaper on July 15, 2020, gives insight into Betty Garrett Scott’s Roy family history.
Betty Garrett Scott is the oldest child of Lucille T. Roy Garrett and Isaac Garrett. Betty’s parents met in Manhattan, New York. They were married on September 14, 1935. Shortly after Lucille and Isaac’s marriage, Lucille received word from her father, Norman that her mother, Elnora Lewis Roy had died. Elnora died in 1936. Lucille immediately left New York and went home to Seminary to help her father raise her siblings. Lucille’s daughter, Betty grew up with her extended family. The family consisted of her mother, siblings, grandfather and her aunts and uncles. Lucille’s siblings were Earnest, Estelle, Sylvester, Stanley, Beatrice, Norman Jr., Mary Ella, Harold, Carol (Carroll), Elnora, Phyllis and Ann Delores.
After the divorce of Betty’s parents, her mother Lucille married Wilbert Ocie Morgan on
August 25, 1948. Lucille and Wilbert had two daughters, Carolyn and Linda.
Betty was extremely close to her grandfather, Norman Roy. Norman was the son of James P. Roy and Harriett Wanzer. Norman’s father, James was born in Rappahannock County, Virginia. Norman’s mother, Harriett was a Wanzer. Harriett’s father, Wallace Wanzer had been in the Seminary area since the Civil War.
Betty’s grandfather, Norman died seven days after his birthday at the age of 95 in Arlington, Virginia.
Betty’s grandmother, Elnora Lewis Roy died before Betty was born. What Betty knew about her grandmother, she learnt from her mother and her grandfather but thanks to research, additional information was added to her grandmother’s family history.
Elnora Lewis Roy’s parents were Mack Lewis and Maria Foley. Mack and Maria married on December 29, 1869. Mack’s parents were William and Lucinda Lewis. Maria only listed her mother, Lucinda Foley on her marriage certificate. Mack owned land in Prince Williams, Virginia. Maria died after 1900. Mack remarried in 1909 to Mary Anderson. On August 7, 1925, Mack died at the age of 81.
The Roy, Lewis and Foley’s families have a rich history in Alexandria, Arlington, Falls Church, Fauquier, Prince Williams, Virginia.