Sara Elizabeth McRae
Aunt Sara survived all her siblings (and most of them lived a long time), her husband (by 61 years), and her daughter (by 8 years), living to the ripe old age of 106. (Longevity is this week’s prompt.) Sara married into the Reynolds side of my family (my maternal grandmother’s family). Her husband, Tracy, was my grandmother’s brother. Her sister, Catherine, married Tracy’s brother Earl. Her other sister, Belle, married Earl’s eldest brother’s wife’s brother.
Sara Elizabeth McRae was born on 10 December 1906 in Rockingham, North Carolina, the fifth child (and fifth daughter) of William Henry McRae (1861-1927, age 66) and Sara Jane Dawkins (1870-1966, age 96). There were eight surviving children (two died before 1900, names unknown):
- Annie Lee McRae (1893-1970, age 77)
- Maggie Estelle McRae (1898-1988, age 90)
- Dora N. McRae (1900-1985, age 84)
- Willie Belle McRae (1903-2007, age 103)
- Sara Elizabeth McRae (1906-2013, age 106)
- Mary Catherine McRae (1908-1998, age 89)
- Henry Hunter McRae (1911-2003, age 91)
- Mattie McRae (1915-1916, age 10 months; died of marasmus)
Sara’s father, William, was a farmer, but did not own his own farm. He rented his home in Rockingham and possibly traveled to a local farm for work. Sara graduated from Rockingham High School and went on to attend Woman’s College in Greensboro, North Carolina. She taught school for a short while before working at the local five and dime as a saleslady (1930 census) and later as a bookkeeper at a retail store (1940 census). After William died in 1927, the family moved in with her mother’s nephew, Leonard Yates, and was still living there at the time of the 1940 census. On 7 August 1943 Sara married Tracy Reynolds. Seven years later, their daughter Elizabeth was born. Before Elizabeth’s second birthday, Tracy died suddenly of a coronary thrombosis.
Sara lived most of her life in Rockingham. Later in life she moved to Charlotte to live with her sister Belle. For her 105th birthday, Sara appeared on a local television station. From the pictures, she really enjoyed herself! Sara was my mother’s favorite aunt because she was “so much fun.” The staff of the home where she lived her last years were so fond of her they created a Facebook page and a YouTube video. Sara died on 31 May 2013 in Charlotte, surrounded by those who cared for her.
Sara’s daughter was known to say she was kin to most people in Richmond County, North Carolina, where all these people lived. After Sara died, I decided to look into her ancestry and find out who those people were. Sara’s mother was a Dawkins, my 5th great-grandmother was a Dawkins. It’s the same county. Hmmm. A quick look back through the census records and some family trees told the story—Sara isn’t just my aunt by marriage on my mother’s maternal side of the family, she’s also my 5th cousin twice removed on my mother’s paternal side of the family. Richard Dawkins and Jane Thornton Dawkins are our common greats, 4th for her (she descends from their son Samuel) and 6th for me (I descend from their daughter Sarah, who married Tillotson O’Brien). Besides Dawkins, other names in her tree are very familiar to me: Yates, Ussery, Ethridge, Diggs—surnames of my high school classmates. I haven’t researched all of them, and most of them are not directly kin to me, but there is that connection through Aunt Sara. Genealogy is so much fun!