ELIZA (LILA) EVANS WILLIAMS   1888-1984
By Tom Roberts

Posted August 09, 2005 by Myrtle Bridges



EARLY LIFE
My grandmother, nicknamed Lila, the second of four children, was born in Cumberland Co, NC on 
October 28, 1888 to Peter McKellar and Eliza (Lila) Faison Evans Williams. My grandmother's brother 
and sisters were all born in Clinch Co, GA, but for some reason her mother returned to Cumberland 
County for her birth. My great grandparents had moved from North Carolina to Clinch County in southern 
Georgia in 1884 to work in the turpentine business; therefore, they raised their children in the 
swamps close to the Florida border. Young Lila must have been quite a tomboy from comments she made 
about her life in southern Georgia. She loved living in this beautiful part of the country and grew 
up playing with frogs and running through the swamp with no fear of snakes, alligators or other swamp 
animals. 
Sisters Annebel, Sarah & Lila about 1892.
Since they lived far from any school, the children were home-
schooled by a live-in teacher until they were old enough for high 
school. One of the teachers, named Mrs. Gedding, came from Indiana. 
She spent eight months in the winters of 1898 to 1901 teaching young 
Lila and her sisters and brother the three R's. The family, except 
for her father P. Mc K. Williams, moved north to Blackshear, Pierce 
Co, GA in Oct. or Nov. of 1902 so the children could attend High 
School. My grandmother attended The Presbyterial Institute school. 
Her father continued to work and live in Clinch Co, GA, but often 
visited his family on the weekend. During the summer vacation the 
family returned to Clinch County. Peter Williams decided to move to 
Blackshear in 1907. The Presbytery of Savannah founded the school in 
1901 to give southern Georgia children a good educational, moral and 
spiritual basis for college and life. Some of the schools students 
came from Blackshear, but others lived in the dorms and came from 
other parts of Georgia. The cost of going to the school in 1905 was 
$130 per year or only about $3,000 in 2006 dollars. The fee included the nine-month term, board and tuition. 
My grandmother graduated in May 1905 along with eleven other students equally divided between males and 
females. During her time at the school Lila Williams studied math, English, history, science as well as music. 
In February 1905 she sang "Melody in F" by Rubenstein and "Pilgrim's Chorus" by Wagner at a recital at the
Institute Hall. The recital included other students enrolled in the school. The Blackshear Times Newspaper 
claimed the hall was filled to capacity.
AGNES SCOTT COLLEGE
In the fall of 1905, my grandmother left home to attend Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA and graduated 
in May 1910 with twelve other young women all from the southeast. While at Agnes Scott, she took a well-
rounded series of courses in English, literature, math, history, foreign languages German and French, science 
and music. She even took a course in chemistry and one in physics as well as ones in biology and geology. 
Lila, Sarah & Annabel about 1905
Her music courses included voice, piano and 
harmony. Each course lasted for one year rather than one semester. 
At the end of four years she accumulated 57 B.A. hours and needed 
60 hours to graduate. She, therefore, attended the school for one 
more year and graduated with 70 hours. During her first two years, 
she received numeral grades. The grades ranged from 81 to 95 with 
the highest ones being math and harmony. During the last three 
years she received letter grades and made mostly B's and C's. A 
grade of C back before 1910 is most likely equivalent to a grade 
of B or higher today.  When I was growing up she told me many 
times to get a well rounded education. She certainly did. During 
her college years she often returned to Blackshear for visits and
summer vacations. While at home, she attended parties at her friends 
home which were reported in the Blackshear Times. At Agnes Scott she served as president of the 
Mnemosynean Literary Society in the second term of her senior year, sang second soprano in the glee club, 
played guard on the college scrub team (I guess the back up basketball team), and managed the senior 
basketball team [1910 Agnes Scott school annual]. The following unedited poem is below her senior picture 
in the 1910 school annual.
The three sisters taken around 1960
"Lila Williams is another of the Seniors fair Who besides being 
fair are extremely rare.She can play and she can sing and easily carry 
the tune. She sits in the Decatur chair and never comes in too soon
In the library she becomes Miss Bucher's mainstay, And is always so 
happy day after day."
AFTER COLLEGE
In 1907 Dr. Mary Martin became the resistant physician at Agnes Scott 
College. She held this position for only a short time for on July 2, 1908 
she married Dr. Eustace Sloop in Blowing Rock, NC, and they settled in 
the mountain town of Plumtree, NC to practice medicine. In December 1911 
Dr. and Dr. Sloop moved from Plumtree to the mountain town of Crossnore, 
NC where they both practiced medicine and became involved in the education of the children of the area. The old, 
dark one room school building had no electricity, and; therefore, it was difficult for the children to learn to 
read. Around 1912 the Sloops were instrumental in expanding the school with the addition of a new more modern 
building and adding another teacher to make a total of two. In the early 1900's most of the mountain children 
dropped out of school by the fourth grade. Through the efforts of the Sloops, many of these children stayed in 
school past the fourth grade. Sometimes later the Crossnore School began to cater to homeless and disadvantaged 
children from Western North Carolina and the school still plays a vital role in educating many homeless and 
problem children from the state of North Carolina.
Three Elizas
After my grandmother graduated in 1910, she moved to Cumberland Co, NC, where her 
parents had relocated in 1909. Sometimes later my grandmother, most likely in 1912 
and at the invitation of Mary Sloop, decided to work as a teacher at the Crossnore 
School. Lila Williams may have been hired as the second teacher mentioned in the 
paragraph above. My grandmother took the train by herself to a mountain town close 
to the school. Nobody met her at the train station, but some nice gentleman gave 
her a buggy ride to the school. After teaching for a few months or maybe up to a 
year at the school and living under very primitive conditions, my grandmother moved 
back to Cumberland Co, NC. She moved in with her Aunt Augusta and Uncle Neil Curie 
to teach at a one room school in the Clarkton, Bladen Co, NC. The Curie children 
attended this school. After a period of time she decided teaching was not for her. 
I do not know for sure which teaching job came first. She may have taught at Clarkton 
before she helped Dr. Sloop in Crossnore.
MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Sometimes after graduating from college and moving to Cumberland County my grandmother 
fell in love with an older man, Crawford MacKethan, from a very wealthy family. Something 
happen and they broke up. Mr. 
Lila Rose around 1910
MacKethan died a few years later. My grandfather later said in jest "you 
should have married him first andthen married me, and we would be rich." My 
grandmother first met my grandfather Tom Rose, her fourth cousin, in 1905/6 dressed 
in his Horner Military uniform. She told some of her grandchildren that she fell in 
love with him right then for he was so handsome in his uniform. In the Fayetteville 
area, young Lila again met my grandfather most likely through her Aunt Jean (her 
mother's sister) who had previously married my grandfather's brother Augustus Rose. 
After a suitable court ship, my grandparents married on October 27, 1914, just one 
day before her twenty-sixth birthday so she would not be older than him. The marriage 
took place at Woodland, the home of her parents and the ancestral home of her mother's 
family the Evans. This was the ninth family wedding at Woodland over two generations. 
Her parents had the home decorated with chrysanthemums, ferns, southern smilax and galax 
leaves. Numerous candles lit the home. She wore a plain and brocaded satin skirt with a 
long pointed train. After the wedding the family served a dinner to the guests in the 
dining room. Someone took my grandparents to a train station, and they left for Baltimore, 
MD by a northbound train. My grandmother later told my mother, that she left her beloved 
south to go north with a man she hardly knew.	

My grandparents lived for a for a few years in Baltimore, MD but in late 1919 they moved 
back to North Carolina and spent most of the rest of their lives in either Fayetteville or Chapel Hill, NC. In the 
early to mid 1920's, they lived in the home shown below on Hillside Avenue in Fayetteville near the homes of many 
of their relatives.
Lila Rose with daughter Eliza taken in 1916
During the depression in the 1930's they lost their home because my grandfather 
could not pay the mortgage. The house would have been paid for within a year 
or so. He would not purchase another house until he could pay cash for it; 
therefore, they lived in rented homes over the next 20 years. In 1955, they 
built a small home on about one-half acre of land on top of a hill at 102 
Howell Lane in Chapel Hill. The gray framed home with white trim had two 
bedrooms, two baths, a living room across the front, a kitchen, a small den 
and a large screened porch on the west side. My grandparents later converted 
the single car garage in the back of the house into a larger den, which was 
air conditioned.  They spent most of their time at home on the porch. 

My grandmother filled the yard around the house with flowers and rose bushes. 
They called their home Rose Cottage. My grandmother raised four children, one 
born in Baltimore and the other three born in Fayetteville. My mother, Eliza, 
was the first born in 1915. Lila Rose did not want her oldest child born in 
the north so she returned to Fayetteville for my mother's birth. Annie Lea, 
the second child, was born in Baltimore in 1919. She was named for ancestors 
of her father. I do not know why grandmother did not return to Fayetteville 
for her birth. My grandmother developed phlebitis during this pregnancy and 
may have been unable to return south. Tommy named for his father was born in 
1921 in Fayetteville, NC, as was Sara, named for her mother's sister, eleven 
years later in 1932.
OUTSIDE INTEREST AND CHARACTER
My grandparents on their 60th wedding anniversary in 1974
 Lila Rose was a loving mother and grandmother who very much enjoyed 
her family, especially her twelvegrandchildren. When I was in my late 
teens she told me how fortunate she was to have so many grandchildren 
because she could worry about them and not her own health. She was a 
loyal member of the Presbyterian Church for all of her 96 years and 
involved in many of the churches activities. She loved to garden and 
very much liked to tend to her yard with great emphasis on her flowers 
and rose bushes. She planted, pruned and did all the necessary things 
to make her yard look beautiful. My grandmother like many women of her 
times did not drive; therefore, her husband, children and sometimes her 
grandchildren took her places she needed to go. I can remember driving 
grandmother on errands such as to the grocery store. In those days if 
no one was available to take her it was easy for my grandmother to call 
in an order to the grocery store and have the groceries delivered.
She grew to an average size woman of about five feet four inches 
tall with long brown hair that she kept rolled up on the top of her 
head. In fact, even as she aged her hair remained brown with only a 
little gray appearing. As a young lady she was quite beautiful, and 
I imagine many a young men came a calling. Her youthful tomboy nature 
gave way to a very refined soft-spoken southern lady, as she grew older. She was a very strong 
resilient woman. For example, my grandmother broke her hip due to a fall down a step when she
Hillside Avenue home in Fayetteville (picture taken 2004)
was in her 80's. This accident would have killed most older women of the time, 
but she was determined to recover. She did everything the rehab nurse told her 
to do; therefore, with in few months she was out in the yard tending to her 
garden with a walker instead of sitting in a wheel chair. A short time later 
she threw the walker away for she had made a complete recovery. She enjoyed 
good health during her life. She was an active woman and only slowed down 
after a series of mini strokes beginning in her mid to late eighties. She 
died on September 3, 1984 in Chapel Hill, NC just two months prior to her 
ninth-sixth birthday.  She is buried beside her husband in the University 
Cemetery in Chapel Hill, NC.

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