Another of Life's Mysteries
(By Thelma Credle Fulford)

I was born in 1912 and grew up in the small Hyde County community of Rose Bay, North Carolina. It didn't occur to me ever to wonder or ask questions as to why our family and the family of my uncle, Nathaniel Credle, "Bud Nat" never came for visits or gathered with groups who would put the two families in direct contact with the others.

I knew that I had an uncle "Bud Nat," and that fact seemed good to me, for I always loved kinfolks. I lived with Grandmama (Martha Etta Mae Cartwright Credle) and Granddaddy (George Tilson Credle) for much of my childhood. Granddaddy owned the country store at the crossroads at Rose Bay, and for years, the men of the neighborhood would gather at the store to visit, play checkers, and "gab" when they had the time, but "Bud Nat" never joined with them, and I wondered why. He and his family lived right in the neighborhood, down the road aways.

One day, I got bold enough to ask Grandmama Martha Credle to tell me about things, if she would. The best that I can remember her saying is:

Great-Granddaddy Credle (George Veale Credle) owned a lot of land on Rose Bay Fork and lived with his son, "Bud Nat," in the place that was known as the Credle estate at that time. It is located on the left-hand side of the road to Swan Quarter, just before you get to the turn-off to the Bell Island Game Refuge. My grandfather, George Tilson Credle, was also his son and was only tolerated, not treated as family.

This must have caused years of hurt for my granddaddy. Yet time went on and finally, Great-Granddaddy, George Veal Credle, died in 1914 and was buried in the Credle Cemetery behind the house at Rose Bay Fork. I must have been about two years old when this event happened, for I did not remember it until I heard about it years later as I grew older.

It seems that during Great-Granddaddy's life, he had been fed a diet of things that were untrue about his son, my grandfather, George Tilson Credle, and he grew almost to despise him--enough that very little contact was made between father and son for several years. No one seems to know or can remember what the problems were to cause this split.

When Great-Granddaddy's time came to prepare to "go," (die), he was going to make sure and certain that my grandfather, George Tilson, would not get any large amount of money or his property as inheritance, so Great-Granddaddy went to Swan Quarter and filed a change to his will. He came back to Rose Bay with a satisfied mind. And not long afterward, Great-Granddaddy died.

Evidently, an early fall turned the weather very cold and icy after Great-Granddaddy died. Enough so that you could hear footsteps at night of people in the yard, walking toward the house.

One particularly cold night, slow footsteps were heard crunching through the frost and ice in the back yard. Footsteps were heard coming up the concrete steps to the back porch, and footsteps were then heard entering the parlor of the house, although no doors were unlocked and opened. Footsteps then progressed toward the bedroom where Grandmama Martha and Granddaddy, George Tilson, were in bed. Both had been asleep before the slow, measured steps awoke them, and both Grandmama and Granddaddy knew who those steps belonged to.

Grandmama Credle told me that although she could not see Great-Grandaddy, George Veal, she could plainly hear what was being said between the deceased father and his son, who was on the bed next to her.

Great-grandfather George Veal Credle had taken a seat on a chair by the bed and began to talk to Granddaddy, George Tilson. He started by telling Granddaddy that he owed him an apology that he could never repay for the hurt and that he could not rest until he explained what was going to happen to his sons.

He took a paper out of his clothes and held it for Granddaddy to see. It was a copy of Great-Granddaddy's will, with a codicil on the front of it that was written in a curved manner and to the "curved head" was pinned a dollar bill to make certain that Granddaddy would not get any other inheritance. The will could not be contested.

Great-Granddaddy (George Veal Credle) said to his son, George Tilson, that he wished that he could have known then what he knew now (after death), but he could not change was was past, and he asked his son again for forgiveness.

He then told Granddaddy that "Hard Times" (a depression) were coming soon and that "Bud Nat" would not be able to pay the taxes due on the family property because several years of poor farm crops would happen, and money would be tight to come by.

Great-Granddaddy (George Veal) said that he wanted Granddaddy (George Tilson) to promise him that when the time came--and it would--that he would wait for time to elapse and let "Bud Nat" try until the last two days to find another source for the tax money. "Bud Nat" would have to come to Granddaddy and ask him for the $2,500 to save the home place for him and his family.

After telling Granddaddy (Tilson) this and making his apology, Great-Granddaddy (Veal) left the room and the house.

Granddaddy (Tilson) got out of bed, walked out of that bedroom, and when he died at age seventy-three, he had never stepped foot into that bedroom again. Also, when the will was probated, the curved codicil and the dollar bill pinned to it was also shown to be just like what Great-Granddaddy had said. It was the first of its kind to be filed at the Hyde County Courthouse many years ago.

"Bud Nat" did get into financial problems because of poor farming years as his deceased father had foretold; he did have to come to George Tilson Credle to get the loan, and the land was able to remain with the Credle family, thanks to him.

This tale really happened. I was about nine or ten years old at the time, and this is exactly the way that Grandmama Martha Credle told me about it.

[As told by Thelma Credle Fulford to her daughter, Florence Fulford "Mary Jane" Moore, who transcribed it for her mother to share with her friends, relatives, and others who are interested in family stories...ghosts, or otherwise. Thelma is the daughter of Albert Cartwright and Sally Gibbs Credle, granddaughter of George Tilson Credle, great-granddaughter of George Veal Credle.]

Copyright 2002

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