9th Shirley Convention June 1991 VA

Meetings Prince William Co, Harpers Ferry, Virginia,  Laurens Co. South Carolina, Lavonia and Clarkesville, Georgia

By Betty Shirley

Our trip began on Tuesday, June 11 at 11:15 PM (night flight) from San Jose California to Rawleigh North Carolina where we arrived at 9:35 AM on Wed.

My niece, Barbara Shirley, accompanied me on this trip as she has on many of my trips. She likes to drive, so she does the driving and I read the maps. She also helps by taking care of the registration table, and many other duties such as helping me set up for the meeting and carry in heavy boxes of books etc. She has great handwriting and I hand her the things I need hand copied when we are at the Court Houses or Libraries while I am looking for more info. She is a real helper and a good friend.

As soon as we arrived in Rawleigh, we went directly to the State Archives and spent most of the day researching Shirleys in North Carolina. By mid afternoon, we left for New Bern NC. so we could get to bed early as we had been up all night on the airplane.

The next morning, Thursday, we visited TRYON PALACE. The original was built by Royal Governor William Tryon (1767-1770), who was the grandson of the FIRST EARL FERRERS. It was interesting to learn about this family and to get additional info. [New Bern was the first permanent Capitol of North Carolina]. Tryon Palace was restored in the 1950s. The tour of the house was most enjoyable and we met Governor William Tryon and Mrs. Tryon who told us about things of their day. We met their Negro slave, George, who also told us stories. He told us about the move from NC to New York when William Tryon became Governor of New York. This was one of the better tours I have taken and would recommend it. We did not have time to see the town or visit other historical sites.

We hurried on to visit Green Co. NC where we hoped to find an old cemetery "way back in a field" according to Shirley info in our files. Buried in this cemetery was Byrd Shirley born Oct 8, 1795 died Sept 12, 1870, and other later Shirleys. Well, with a lot of luck, we found the lady who owned it and she invited us to her house. She said she lived right across the road from it. We went to her house and sure enough, she did. We enjoyed out visit with her and her lovely family. Her husband was so kind to take us thru the field by car to where we could walk to the cluster of bushes etc. to see the grave stones. 

Our next stop was in Lenoir Co. NC. We researched the usual places and visited the sites of the former Shirley farm, but found very little we can report as the sites are built over by factories and country clubs etc. We found no one living there who descends from this family. I am sure there must be, but we were unable to make the contact.

The next day, Friday, we researched in Richmond Virginia at the State Library and then on to Annapolis Maryland where we stayed with Captain John & Evelyn Shirley. (They have accompanied me to England twice and to Australia and New Zealand and said to count them in if we go back to England in 1992).

On Sunday, Fathers Day, we had brunch with John & Evelyn and then we were off for Virginia where we planned to spend the next several days researching. We spent Sunday afternoon with Jane Norman who has been active in Shirley research as well as many other lines and local history. We had a nice visit, talked about the Shirleys and she copied material for us to add to our files.

Monday, June 17th, we spent this day at the Court Houses and Libraries in Fauquier and Prince William Counties. We tried to find the grave of Richard O. and Susan Shirley and gave it up. Later a gal sent the photo's of the graves seen here.

About 5 PM we took off for Charlottesville Virginia where we planned to spend the night and to drive on to Staunton Virginia the next morning to research Augusta County VA. We stopped to find a motel as soon as we approached Charlottesville, and the price was high. I suggested we go to the other side of town and the prices may be more reasonable. When we got to the other side, we were out of town just like that! We didn't turn around but decided to keep going, we'd find something on down the road. Shortly, we found we were climbing a mountain and suddenly there we were in thick fog! We gasped! It was now after 11PM. We crept for a couple of miles, and then we started down hill and fog was gone. We did find a room for much less but it was midnight when we checked in.

Tuesday, June 18th we researched in Augusta County. By evening we had driven to Winchester Virginia and stayed with another Evelyn Shirley. She let us stay with her for a few nights.

Wednesday and Thursday we spent researching Frederick Co. Maryland, Frederick Co. Virginia, and Jefferson Co. West Virginia. We had planned on Berkeley and Morgan Co. WV but the day we were there was a Holiday and these Court Houses and Libraries were closed. But, we found quite abit of material for these places from other Libraries and from Evelyn who had done research there etc.

Friday, June 21st was our Walter Shirley reunion at Harpers Ferry, a guided tour by Julia Creamer to the cemetery and former land the early Shirleys owned in that area. We enjoyed meeting everyone.

Sat & Sunday was the National Shirley Convention. We had a nice group and everyone seemed to have a great time visiting and learning about the Shirleys. We had a guest speaker, a tour of the former jail in Warrenton (Fauquier Co.) Virginia where J.W. "Pete" Shirley was the jailer for many years. He died in 1945 and had been a town officer for over 60 years.

Mon. Tues. & Wed. we spent researching in Caswell, Guilford, Wilkes, Burke, Rutherford, Mecklenburg, Anson Counties in North Carolina, and Darlington Co. South Carolina.

Thursday, we researched in Camden Co. SC and at the State Library & Archives in Columbia SC. We arrived in Honea Path South Carolina late afternoon in time to go to dinner with Lydie Thomas & Jim Austin. We stayed with our good friends, Dot & Julian Ricketts for a couple of nights. Dot had open heart surgery a few weeks before we arrived but insisted we had a bed and continue with our plans to stay there. We always enjoy our visit with these good people.

Friday was the Shirley gathering in Laurens County South Carolina. We had a real nice group. Several families came from Texas. People came from Georgia, Alabama, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Virginia, and South Carolina.

Saturday was the Lavonia Georgia gathering and a good lunch, good company, and a visit to another very old Shirley home. Our thanks to Steve Shirley and his wife for organizing this gathering. It was great to meet those who were at this meeting.

By evening, we had arrived at the home of Conny and Beverly Shirley. They fixed us some dinner, (Beverly is a great cook), and we sat on the porch talking and relaxing. We stayed overnight with them for two nights.

Sunday was the Shirley meeting at North Georgia Tech where Conny is Vice Principle. People came from all over Georgia and from Florida, Texas, Alabama, Virginia, & Tennessee. And... again, great food!

On Monday, we relaxed. This day was OUR DAY! We visited the area sight seeing, visiting antique shops, etc. We also visited BABYLAND, home of the Cabbage Patch doll! Quite a place to visit! Great for kids too! By evening we arrived at my mothers in Statesboro Georgia. The next day, July 2, was her 75th birthday.

We flew home Wednesday or at least we intended to be home on Wednesday. We ended up staying in Dallas TX overnight and going home the next day... July 4th. They had had bad weather on Wed and the flights were behind etc. and our Georgia flight missed the connecting flight in Dallas to California. Well, the end results was, Barbara and I got a $100 voucher each towards a future flight. So...we are going to use them by going back to Dallas in Oct. for Shirley meetings.

Hope you enjoyed hearing a little about our trip. I have always received so many letters saying how much they enjoyed hearing about our trips that I hope everyone enjoys them and won't mind our taking the space to share this adventure with you. Of course there are many stories we could tell, but space doesn't allow us to go into some of the individual stories learned from the various people we meet along the way. Especially when we have met so many people in a three week period of time.

We thank each of you who came to the meetings and hope you found them to be worth the trip and the time to be there!