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My aunt Babe told me that my great grandfather Nonie drowned but no one knew when. She showed me this photo of him (seated) and his uncle Davy taken shortly before he died.

Finally I tracked down an article that filled in this hole.

I have yet to find any death or burial records.

When my grandfather Ernest was six and a half, on a Monday afternoon, September 27, 1908, his father Nonie drowned. He was 28 years old. The newspaper article says he and some friends were crossing the river in a boat to get some watermelons when it capsized. He went under and never came back up. He had been drinking. They later recovered his body.

The river is usually fairly shallow, but I’m told it has a lot of “holes” that just drop off, and it has claimed many lives (including, 29 years later, Nonie’s brother Robert’s son Isaac drowned on his 21st birthday when he and his friends were partying at the river). His son, my grandfather, Ernest was 7, Emmett was 4 and Marvin was about a year old.

New River near Radford

Nonie’s widow Agnes and the three boys lived in a rented a house near his parents George and Hattie Thornton in East Radford. She worked as a washer woman out of her home.

Agnes died about 10 years later, probably in the Spanish Flu epidemic in 1918.

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