McCollum Family Holds 40th Reunion
Family History Spans 200 Years
By Chenita Johnson
The McCollum Family Reunion is unique among family reunions. It is a reunion of cousins and not necessarily siblings’ aunts or uncles with a history in North Carolina that spans 200 years.
While cousins met throughout the previous decades, the contemporary reunion began as the McCollum/Kiser Reunion on the Old Town, N.C. farm of Mary Minerva McCollum Kiser and her husband Tandy Kiser during the summer of 1976. As the reunion grew to include more descendants, it was renamed the McCollum Family Reunion. Throughout the years, our family held fast to our faith in God and the belief that through Him all things were possible.
The reunion consists of descendants of Charles and Minerva McCollum, who were enslaved persons in Rockingham County, N.C. It is said that they were the parents of 17 children. Many of their 16 known children migrated to Salem, Old Town, and Winston, North Carolina, between 1896-1920, for the various professions afforded to African-Americans at the time, such as working in the factories, local laundry, drivers for warehouses, keeping children for wealthy families, nurses, barbers and shoe cobblers. Others migrated to other states. They never forgot to thank God for his blessings, and they became active members of various churches wherever they settled.
The 16 known children of Charles and Minerva McCollum are: Eliza McCollum Neal McCauley; Phyllis McCollum; Flora McCollum Johnson; Sarah Ann McCollum Glenn Williams; Mary McCollum Ferrel; Moses McCollum; George McCollum; Will McCollum; Henrietta McCollum Stanfield; Massey McCollum Williamson Cowans/Coins; David McCollum; John McCollum; Charles McCollum; Walter McCollum; James McCollum and Lucinda (Cindy) McCollum Johnson.
Many of them moved into the historical area of Happy Hills and onto Cromartie Street near Slater Normal School, but they also owned land in the area known as Silver Hill, the small community of African-American farmers located up from Wiley Avenue, Carolina Avenue, and Holiday Street, near Reynolds High School. They also owned the land where large homes and Whitaker Elementary School now rest, in the west side of town known as Buena Vista.
Many of the descendants of these known 16 McCollum children with the names Kiser, Wright, Barber, Conrad, Sumler, Friday, McCollum, Johnson, Livingston, Thomas, Walker, Noble and Fielder still reside in Forsyth County and have become productive and respected citizens of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County community for over 100 years.
Some descendants have also been staples in the Rockingham County, Rowan County and Guilford County communities such as the Wright’s, Reid’s, Browns, Walls, Johnson’s, as well as communities in Maryland; Georgia and New York.
Through forced bondage, a civil war and later through Jim Crow and voter suppression laws, Charles and Minerva were able to create a foundation of faith and hope in all of their children which carried to their grandchildren, who passed it on through the generations. This has allowed our family to not just survive but thrive. And even today through our various vocations in life, as well as our participation in our local assemblies (churches), we pass on that faith and that audacity of hope.
The McCollum Family Reunion recently held its 40th Family Reunion in Winston-Salem. If you believe you are a descendant of Charles and Minerva McCollum or are a McCollum and are interested in learning more about this family and future reunions, please contact Robert Nobel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chenita Johnson is the genealogist for the McCollum Family Reunion. For more information, contact her at email@example.com.