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Kirby, Walter and Lennie

Walter Clifton Kirby
Lennie Simpson Kirby

Their families lived all their lives within a five mile area of Wilson County. Their parents, the Henry Kirby and Oscar Simpson families, had businesses at Boyette's, once a town built around the railroad crossing near Kirby's Crossing (located at intersection of Highways 301 and 581, St. Mary's Community, and Springhill Township).

Walter and Lennie married January 21, 1928, and moved into the house built at Kirby's Crossing around 1918, for the family of Walter's half brother, Nathaniel Kirby. All six children of Walter and Lennie were born at the family homeplace. They were tobacco farmers and also ran a country store until the mid-30's. They survived the many hardships of the depression. Including, having the store completely burn, destroying all records. Only those honest enough to volunteer paid their accounts. Yet they rebuilt their business, and for years the store was used as the township's voting place. Both Walter and Lennie and their families were members of the Upper Black Creek Primitive Baptist Church.

Walter raised and sold black Poland China, Grand Champion hogs, requiring his traveling around the southeast and as far north as Indiana. Being a good businessman, he helped people in the community with their taxes and other business needs; including appraising estate properties for widows and helping many receive pensions, Social Security, and other benefits. He was interested and active in local, state and national politics and established the NC Civil War Widow's pension, awarded to his mother on behalf of his father's Civil War service. Walter served on the Wilson County School Board for 34 years and as an Advisory Council member until his death in April of 1975. He also served as a Justice of the Peace, Notary Public and Fire Warden.

Lennie was hardworking, and was known to have a genuine concern for anyone in need. She would come in from working long hours in the fields and cook a meal for a hobo traveling along highway 301. She would often care for stray animals, and help family and friends. She sewed for the family, creating beautiful handmade items from patterns she made up. Including, two large quilts from the top place ribbons Walter won showing hogs at the Wilson County and NC State fairs.

The family homeplace was always busy with people in and out to visit or for business. Fond childhood memories include: -Daddy marrying couple in the "parlor" (where the children were expected to do their courtin), mother was often asked to be the witness. -Daddy having trials to settle family disputes, working with local constables, the county Sheriff or the Highway Patrol officers (to fine speeders along 301). -Family hog killings at the homeplace where all the neighbors came and helped -Community corn shuckings with the corn piled high around the barn. The lucky ones that found red ears were rewarded with a glass of wine. -Family gatherings at thanksgiving, Christmas, and Sundays. Mother made special treats such as fudge and toasted pecans.

Many happy memories continue to surround the family homeplace. Although all six children grew up and established their own homes, the strong family ties are lasting reminders of the love and loyalty that Walter and Lennie Kirby instilled in their family.

Memorial placed by Rudy and June Kirby Jones

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