For reasons I shan’t get into now, I’ve become fairly obsessed figuring out the history of Raymond Cornelius Cone. He was likely born on 16 November 1888 in Wilson, Wilson County, North Carolina. I found references of him born as early as 1884 (unlikely) and as late as 1890.
His father was Willis C Cone, born in August 1837 in Nash, NC. Willis was the son of people identified only as Jacob and Charlotte. Raymond’s mother was the former Sarah Eatman, born in November 1850 in North Carolina. Willis and Sarah were married either in 1865 or, more likely, 26 October 1869 in Nash, NC. Willis died on 20 November 1918, Sarah on 5 February 1935, both in Wilson, NC.
Raymond has several siblings listed, although I don’t entirely trust the spellings. Kindred Cone(1871), Kincaid Cone(1873), Junius Cone (1875), William Cone (1877), female Joseph I. G. Cone(1880), Gertrude Lillie Cone (1885–1976), Jimerson Cone (1886–1963), male Avon Cone(1892), Willie M Cone (1893–1960), daughter Armincie (Amancy?) Cone (1897–1974), and male Rader (1899?).
Raymond Cone married Alina Hagans (b. 1891) on 1 Feb 1908 in Wilson, NC. The variations on the spelling both her first and last names is enormous: Allena Haggens, e.g. They had four children: Lessie (often shown as Leslie, b 1909 or 1910), Mary, Albert and Carl Lorenzo (b. 1915).
Allena Haggens died in 1918. In the 1920 Census, the kids were living with their maternal grandparents, Lawrence and Mary Haggens. The house also had other adult children, a son-in-law, and at least five other grandchildren. The house was in Gardner, Wilson County, North Carolina.
Off to Virginia
Where was the widowed Raymond Cornelius Cone, now 31 years old? In Norfolk Jefferson Ward, Norfolk (Independent City), Virginia on Chartworth Street. He was a lodger. His occupation: Solicitor in the photography industry. Household Members were Sarah J Quetrell, 60, Helen J Quetrell, 29, William James, 21 and Elsie L James, 21.
The 1930 U.S. Federal Population Census shows a surprising twist. Raymond Cone is shown to be married. His wife was Anna Petters, 33, her first trip down the aisle. They were married 26 August 1929 in the District of Columbia. They had a son, Billie Cone, who was 10 years old. Except for this Census, I can’t find Anna or Billie again.
They are living at 136 Washington in Delaware, Delaware County, Ohio. The record shows he was 29 at the age of his first marriage, which makes no sense. He would have been 20 or 21 when he married Allena. Raymond could read and write. He and his parent were born in North Carolina. He was now a minister in the A M E Church.
Skyscrapers and everything
The U.S. World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 for Raymond Cornelius Cone shows his residence as 163 Morningside Ave, New York, NY. Age 52. Born: Wilson, NC, Nov 18, 1888. Employer: Heard Memorial A.M.E. Church, 163 Morningside Ave. Person who knows where he is: Lessie McCain, 79 W 141st St NYC. That would be his oldest child, now also living in Manhattan.
The Manhattan, New York, City Directory, 1946 confirms the pastor’s information. Rev. Raymond C Cone. Street address: 163 Morningside Ave. It even had his phone number: MOnument 2-4533.
The front page of The New York Age, a black weekly, had a startling headline on its 13 December 1947″ Minister Found Dead In Church.” “Arriving for services Wednesday night, members of Heard Memorial Church… were nonplussed to find the doors locked.”
“However, knowing their pastor, the Rev. Raymond Cornelius Cone, 60, had been recently on a lecture trip in the South, they decided that he must have gone away again.
Call the cops
“Returning Sunday for the 11 o’clock services, the communicants found the doors still locked. They began thinking that something was wrong and summoned the police from the West 152nd Street station. A side door was forced and the minister was found dead in the rear of the church. “police said his death was due to a heart attack and that he had been dead several days. He was last seen alive by a parishioner on Monday.”
The piece notes that he was an AME minister and noted the four children that he had in North Carolina. At least three of them, including his two sons, made it to New York City as well. Carl Lorenzo Cone married Aurthetta Marie Baldwin in 1944 in NYC. He died in 1992 in Bronx, NY.
Would Raymond Cornelius Cone have ever left Wilson County had Allena Haggens lived longer? No way to know. Information gleaned from Ancestry.com, Archives.com, and Newspapers.com. And I’m not finished looking.