Mary Yeula Wescott

In this 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge, Close to Home, I decided to write about Mary Yeula Wescott, my great grandaunt. She was born 27 December 1889 at Poyner’s Hill in Currituck, North Carolina, where her father, John Thomas Wescott, was the keeper of the Poyner’s Hill Life-Saving station. She was the third of six children born to John and a year younger than my great-grandfather, Albert.  

Laura Wescott, Martha Ann Chadwick Wescott, Mary Yeula Wescott

At a very young age, Mary loved to read and write. She was first published at the age of 12 when she decided to enter a writing contest for the St. Nicholas Magazine: An Illustrated Book For Young Folks by Mary Mapes Dodge. The following was published in January of 1903:  

Poplar Branch, N.C.

    Dear St. Nicholas: I am a little girl twelve years old, and I live on one of the sand-bars of North Carolina, five miles from the mainland. The nearest store and post-office is five miles away. My papa is the captain of the Poyners Hill Life-saving Station. We are bounded on the north and south by sand-hills, on the east by the ocean, and on the west by the Currituck Sound. The land near and on which the station is situated belongs to the Currituck Shooting Club, the club-house is the nearest one to us except the station. The club does not allow any of the station men except papa to build on the beach. We live only a few steps from the station and a little further from the sea, while the club-house is on the other side of the beach. So you see, we have it lonely here sometimes. Inclosed [sic] find my contribution which I hope is worthy of a prize.

Yours truly,

    Mary Yeula Wescott

               (age 12)

The poem she enclosed won her a silver badge.

FORGIVING

BY MARY YEULA WESCOTT  

(Silver Badge)

My little friend Annie 

Came over to play. 

We stayed in the house, 

As ‘t was stormy that day. 

She had her doll, Susan, 

And mine was named Jane ; 

We dressed and undressed them 

Again and again. 

We made them fine bonnets 

For each little head. 

They wore them to parties, 

Then came home to bed. 

Ann stepped on my finger, 

And said she was glad. 

I got up and slapped her, 

She ‘d made me so mad. 

Then I knocked Susan’s head off, 

And Annie broke Jane. 

We cried, and we quarreled 

Again and again. 

Then I said I was sorry, 

As much as could be; 

So I forgave Annie, 

And she forgave me. 

Mary continued to send in poems and articles as did her brother, Albert, and her sister, Laura. However, it was Mary who continued to write to them until at least the age of 17.  

My Dear St. Nicholas League: I am sending to you today my verses for the September competition and I am so sorry to remember that I have but three more. Does everyone get old so dreadfully fast? 

Your subject appealed to me this month, for I have several relatives including my father, who are members of the Life Saving Service to which I have a reference in the poem. This small band extends along the coast of the United States and guards its coast from the ravages of the storm. They maintain a constant watch along the shore and at the appearance of a distressed vessel launch their frail boats and, pitting their strength against the force of the waves, give aid to the distressed seamen. When the sea is so high that launching a boat from the shore is impossible, the beach apparatus is used and the sailors are brought from the vessel by means of a ” breeches-buoy,” which is drawn shoreward over a cable that has been shot across the vessel from the shore and fastened to the mast of the distressed vessel. 

On our part of the coast, storms are numerous, and a rescue of this kind is a frequent occurrence. 

I thank you so much for the encouragement you have given me in my endeavors to win that coveted cash prize. 

But whether I succeed or not, I shall ever remember with gratitude the pleasure and benefit I have derived from your interesting work. Long life to you, my dear St. Nicholas League, and best wishes from your devoted League member, Mary Yeula Wescott (age 17).

It must have been this magazine that sparked her love of books.  

Mary went to school in Durham and graduated from Trinity College (now Duke University) in 1914 with a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Magna cum laude. She taught Latin in local schools and went back to Trinity. In 1920, she took a leave of absence to attend and then graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree from the Simmons College of Library Science in Boston, Massachusetts in 1924, where she also worked in a government position while attending school. Mary returned to Trinity College, her alma mater, to work at Trinity College Library (now Duke University Library).  

About 1932, Professor William K. Boyd organized the work of the Newspaper Department and placed Miss Allene Ramage in charge of it. Miss Ramage, aided by Miss Mary Wescott and Miss Eva E. Malone, prepared a checklist of these papers under the title Bibliographical Contributions of the Duke University Libraries: a Checklist of United States Newspapers. This publication has been of value to many librarians and scholars throughout the United States.  

Part I: Alabama––Georgia

Part II: Idaho––Massachusetts

Part III: Michigan––New York

Part IV: North Carolina

Part V: North Dakota––Vermont

Part VI: Virginia––Wyoming

~LIBRARY NOTES -A BULLETIN ISSUED FOR 

The Friends of Duke University Library April 1953; Number 27 

She worked there until she retired in December of 1954 as Head of the Catalogue Department. A dinner was given in her honor on 14 December 1954. Among the special guests was Lawrence Quincy Mumford, Librarian of Congress. Mr. Mumford, who had known Miss Wescott since his student days, summarized well her contribution to both college and university when he spoke of her retirement as the termination of “a valuable career in librarianship.” 

~LIBRARY NOTES -A BULLETIN ISSUED FOR 

The Friends of Duke University Library April 1953; Number 27 

“Pride in her profession, friendliness, compassion, and a delightful sense of humor — these were the characteristics that made Mary Wescott deeply loved as well as highly respected. Exactly what her personal philosophy was, one would not presume to say. One feels though that possibly she expressed it in the last stanza of a poem she wrote long ago — “The Dream of the Sea.” 

O my Heart keep young, we would cross that main 

With its raging tide; 

We would enter those fields of glad abode 

On the other side — 

And we, how we long for the mighty strife 

And the waves’ wild sweep — 

To battle our way to the rich reward 

And then to sleep! “

Seven months after Mary retired, she died in her sleep. She never married.

By the way, I have never been able to determine where the name Yeula came from. The closest I found was that it could be an Indian word meaning Upward slope. Fitting for a woman who never stopped climbing.

Long Line Of…

I have taken the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge by Amy Johnson Crow. Amy is a certified genealogist that I follow and have learned a lot from her via her podcasts, webpage, and social media accounts. I started the challenge last year, but life got in the way and I never really got a good start. I am trying again, albeit a bit late. 

This week’s challenge is “Long Line.” That could be interpreted in many different ways, but what popped into my head was, “I come from a long line of water-loving ancestors.” After all, the Wescott’s, Chadwick’s, Midgett’s, and Tillet’s were all in the LifeSaving Service (now called the US Coast Guard).  

The Logan’s, Bean’s, Royce’s, and Root’s also grew up on the coast with a mix of Scotland to New Hampshire and England to Massachusetts. So did the Kunkle’s, Younkin’s, Hawk’s, Rittenhouse, Nice, and Morrison’s coming from Germany and the Netherlands to Pennsylvania.  

Then we have the Wescott’s, Chaddick’s, Midgett’s, Chadwick’s, Pugh’s, Woodhouse’s, and Jennett’s from up and down the East Coast coming from England and France. The Cofer’s, Moody’s, Ward’s, Barham’s, Argall’s, Davis’, Harrison’s, and many more came from England to Virginia.  

Even my trans-Appalachian pioneer trailblazed from Virginia to Tennessee only to find himself on Boone’s Creek and the Watauga River. My German, Slovenia, Croatian, and Polish ancestors also grew up on the coast. Even my connection to Jamestown is on the coast!   

The Logan’s of today are still in Michigan and Pennsylvania, the Wescott’s and Chadwick’s are in North Carolina, Jacksonville Beach, and the Gulf.  

I live in Florida. I love the water, the ocean, rivers, and lakes. Now I know why. Could we all have the gene for seafaringness? Researchers at Mystic University in Connecticut have identified a gene associated with the love of the sea, according to an article published in the journal Genetic Determinism Today.

My “Long Line” is the long line of the coast, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.