top of page

Create Your First Project

Start adding your projects to your portfolio. Click on "Manage Projects" to get started

Spivey Family

Johnston County native Calvin Ruatlas Spivey and his wife L. Nettie (ne' Webb) raised 6 children on his farm located on Old Beulah Road in the early 1900's. His children were Cal Dora, William Arthur “Bud”, Emma Lee, Alberta Lessie Moses, and Burley Gurney. The family farmed the land until the mother died in 1937. At the wishes of most of her children, the farmland was sold and the proceeds divided up among the children. Bud Spivey, the oldest son, did not feel that the farm should be sold, but that the land should have gone entirely to his father until his death. As a result of this thinking, Bud chose to give his share of the farmland to his father. On this property, they grew cotton, corn, and tobacco.

Bud Spivey moved away from the farm seeking other work, and for a time, worked at a dairy farm and for the railroad located at the Virginia- North Carolina state line.

In time, Bud returned to Johnston County where he married Lula Mae Whitley in 1925 and raised nine children: (oldest to youngest: Addie Alleene, Arthur Calvin, William Ray, Betty Lee, Paul Gurney, Bertha Mae, Robert Glenn, Genieve Yvonne, and Shirley Juanita).

Bud became a tenant farmer in and around Kenly including farmland owned by Elmer Holland and James Bunn. The family grew everything that they ate including peanuts, popping corn and sugar cane. The also produced their own corn meal for cornbread. The family always had a milk cow along with a heifer cow. If they had a bull calf, it would be raised and butchered for meat. Hogs were also raised on the farm. Once the weather turned cold, the family would then do its own butchering on the farm.

Once a year, after selling the tobacco crop, the family would go into the town of Wilson to the Belk Tyler store. Bud would take the boys and Lula would take the girls to buy all their clothes for the coming school year. When it came time to go to downtown Kenly, Paul Spivey, the middle son, fondly remembers traveling by mule wagon on these special occasions. He also remembers that on Saturday nights, free movies would be shown on the side of one of the merchant buildings in the town. You could sit on a wooden crate or have a seat on the dirt 'pavement' and enjoy the movie for free.

When the family worked the Bunn farm, Mr. Bunn, the property owner, would furnish the family with all the wood needed to heat the house and cook the meals and cure the tobacco. With nine children to feed, Lula did a lot of cooking and went through a lot of firewood which was pine wood harvested from the surrounding farmland. One year, Mr. Bunn came to the house and told Bud Spivey to take Lula to the Blue Flame Gas Company and let her pick out a gas stove. In addition, Mr. Bunn offered to keep the propane tank full of fuel. He said it was cheaper to furnish the gas than to go through his virgin pine. Needless to say, Lula loved her new gas stove.

In addition to farming, Bud could play a banjo and once fashioned a banjo out of a wooden cigar box. He also, at one time, owned a pet monkey.
Bud also did odd jobs and built houses and barns in the area. When he quit farming, he moved on to working in the road construction business, helping to build roads throughout Johnston County.

Bud Spivey lived to the age of 66 and is buried in the Kenly Cemetery where he had purchased 12 plots many years before. Lula died at the age of 90 is buried next to him. Up until her passing, Lula Mae Spivey was famous in the Kenly and Selma communities for her homemade apple jacks. She was often called the “Apple Jack Queen”. Her fame spread and WRAL-TV did a special feature on Lula; filming her in the kitchen making her special apple jacks for the TV crew.

All nine of Bud and Lula Mae's children went on to have families of their own and carry on the legacy of hard work and a deep appreciation of family.

bottom of page