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138 Years of Surviving

Updated: Sep 18, 2018

Pear Tree at the Bellamy House
100+ year old Pear Tree at the Bellamy House

This pear tree is over 100 years old. How do I know that? Well, when George H. Bellamy, Jr. and his wife Iona, bought this house in 1919, the tree was full-grown. Some years it produces a lot of fruit, some years, not so much. This year has been a year for it to thrive. I was curious to see how this tree would fare during Hurricane Florence. Would it still be standing on Monday morning? Would all the pears still be on tree? I snapped this picture this morning, and there they are. The pears that have thrived this year, still hanging on. The tree is right outside my office windows. I can watch birds and squirrels snatching a pear during the day. I even get to watch folks that live in Kernersville stop and grab a pear. I enjoy seeing the tree feed so many, even after all these years.

Checking out the tree, as well as all of the Bellamy House, this morning I got to thinking about how amazing it is that the tree and house survived yet another storm. The Bellamy House is 138 years old. She has seen MANY storms. In 1893 much of the town south of present-day Mountain Street was destroyed by a tornado that was spun off by a major hurricane (sometimes called the Great Sea Island Hurricane of 1893, this was before hurricanes were given names). At that time, a Baptist church sat beside the Bellamy house on the corner of what is now Cherry Street and West Mountain Street. The church was a recently completed brick structure that was "demolished down to the foundation" by the tornado.* But this house withstood the storm that demolished its neighbor.

I was relieved, to say the least, this morning as I walked around The Bellamy House. No obvious signs of damage from the weekend's storm. Another major storm weathered by the Bellamy House. I also found it rather poignant that the house continues its tradition of still standing. On Friday, September 14, 2018, Mrs. Kathryn Bellamy Keys passed away just 2 weeks shy of 101 birthday. Kathryn grew up in this house. She is the daughter of George and Iona Bellamy, who purchased this house in 1919 (which I mentioned above). Her family moved into this house when she around 2 years old.

For those of you who don't know, the Bellamy family is steeped in tradition. George H. Bellamy, Jr. was the son of George Bellamy, Sr., who was born to William James Harris Bellamy, MD and Mary Elizabeth Bellamy in Wilmington, NC. The family's home in Wilmington is now known as the Bellamy Mansion and is a beautiful house museum located on Market Street in the historic district of downtown Wilmington, NC. To find out more about the Bellamy's, please follow this link.

As if that wasn't enough, Katheryn was the fourth great granddaughter of Joseph Kerner, the founder of Kernersville! She was truly a link to great local history and we are proud to house the Museum in her family home here in Kernersville.

We are very fortunate that Katheryn's daughter, Kay Pinnix, serves on the Kernersville Museum Board of Directors. On behalf of the Board of Directors and the staff here at the Kernersville Museum, we extend our heartfelt sympathy to Kay on the passing of her mother. Just like Mrs. Katheryn Bellamy Key, who lived 100 years, this house (and the pear tree) is a survivor. We hope she was pleased with how her family home is now used to house the history of the town of Kernersville.

*To find out more information about the effects of the Great Sea Island Hurricane of 1893, as well as much more information about the history of Kernersville, please check out Kernersville: The First 125 Years, 1778-1903 by Michael Marshall & Jerry Taylor. The information in this blog that is specifically about the 1893 storm came from this book, pages 143-146. You can check out this book at the Kernersville Library.

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