PRIVATE COLLECTION OF
ISAAC SPENCER "IKE" LONDON
DECEMBER 11, 1885 - JULY 8, 1964
Article submitted by John Ussery
Posted by Myrtle Bridges, NCGenWeb Coordinator for Richmond County.
August 6, 2003
In reading this article, I know many will ask "who is Ike London. Anyone who is doing a genealogy
of their family that has any roots in Richmond County, North Carolina should know of him. This is
not intended to be a Bio of Ike, but rather who and what he was and what he means to genealogy research
in Richmond County.
I first met Ike London in the late 1940's when I went to his office with my father and grandfather.
Ike was always a friend of my ancestors, and my grandfather liked to keep Ike posted on what was going
on with his sons who were all serving in World War ll. Ike London was the owner and editor of the
Rockingham Post-Dispatch, the local newspaper. Ike acquired the Post-Dispatch around 1916 and still
owned the paper at the time of his death in 1964.
Ike was an avid genealogist and was Richmond County Historian for some time. He ran his newspaper
almost as if it were written for the genealogist. He published the birthdates of all he knew, giving
the date of birth on individuals and the year in which they were born and he included the deceased
ancestors in the listing also (I have several elderly aunts that still don't know how I got their date
of birth). This was found in almost every edition. He would write articles on the histories of the
various families of Richmond County. He also included Anson and Montgomery Counties and some information
on South Carolina families. Many of these articles were written in series because there was to much
information to get into one or two parts. During World War ll, Ike included a special section in the
Post-Dispatch the included information on all of the men from Richmond County who were serving in
some branch of the military. The amount of background information that can be gleaned on an individual
from the information is overwhelming. Where were they stationed, when were they transferred, were they
in battle? Have they been wounded, where were they hospitalized and a wealth of other information.
When Ike wrote and obituary he would include a lot of the family history he knew. Ike married Lena
Payne Everett, the granddaughter of William Isaac Everett. William Isaac Everett wrote the "W. I.
Everett Sketches". These sketches included histories on many of the founding families of Richmond
County. Ike would publish these sketches in the Rockingham Post-Dispatch. The amount of genealogy
that appeared in the Post-Dispatch as a result of both the W. I. Everett Sketches and the work of
Isaac London, is incredible.
About 5 years ago I had the opportunity to meet Joe McLaurin. Joe was the director of the "Society
of Richmond County Descendants". A book has been made out of all of the Quarterly Bulletins put out
by the Society. This source is one of the best for the genealogist if seriously researching Richmond
County roots. Information on the book can be found at http://www.rchs-nc.org/books.htm . In my
conversation with Joe, I ask how he accumulated so much information of so many families. He told
me that he learned his genealogy skills from Ike London. He said the he and Ike use to get together
and ride the roads of Richmond County and stop and take family histories from every house they pulled
up to. I told Joe that I had seen some of Ike's work from various sources that used to correspond with
Ike. I ask what had happened to all of the work that Ike did. Joe told me that after Ike's death that
all of his research and papers were taken to his daughter's garage. The files set in the garage for a
number of years and it's my understanding that the garage only had a dirt floor. Ike's daughter decided
to give the files to the North Carolina State Archives and it now has possession of all of the surviving
papers. It's my understanding that there were 42 boxes taken to the State Archives. Within a few weeks
of visiting with Joe McLaurin, I went to the North Carolina State Archives and ask to see the collection.
I was told that before it would be available to genealogist, they would have to archive, catalogue, and
index the collection. Earlier this year I found the Isaac Spencer Collection was available for research
and was in the Private Collection of the North Carolina State Archives. Their web site can be found
at http://www.ah.dcr.state.nc.us/sections/archives/arch/default.htm . Ike's collection is found in
the Private Collection section . I ask for all of the papers in the collection on my Ussery family.
I was sent a number of photocopies of Ike's work that included copies of letters written to other
researchers in the 1940's and 1950's. In 4 of these letter's Ike clearly stated that he had the original of the
Thomas Ussery, Esq. will of April 10, 1811. This Will has been missing from my family for over 60 years.
I wrote back to the Archives and told them of Ike's statement and ask them to look again. About 2 weeks
later, I received a copy of the original of the Thomas Ussery, Esq. Will (it was indexed as coming from
a different box than the other papers had come from). It is my understanding that there are about
15 - 20 other original Wills that were in Ike's papers. Many of these Wills are not recorded in any
County or State record, so they are especially important. Ike's work is invaluable in researching
the earlier families of Richmond County. Like many genealogical works, Ike's work is not without
errors. Many records available to us today were not easily accessed in the 1940's and 1950's. However,
Ike's work contains much history that is not to be found anywhere else.
The archives of all of the editions of the Rockingham Post-Dispatch are available at both the
Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham and at the North Carolina State Archives. The Private Collection
of Isaac Spencer London is available though the North Carolina State Archives. Mail service is available
through the Archives, but be patient. It will take 6 - 8 weeks for them to respond. (budget cuts are
killing them too).
I owe a great debt of gratitude to Isaac Spencer "Ike" London for that amount of detail I have been
able to find on my family due to work done by Ike and others many years before. I strongly recommend
that anyone researching any family having roots in Richmond County, North Carolina, or tracks in
Richmond County, take the time to go through Ike's work. He doesn't have every family and has more
information on some families than others.
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