The Rasberry family of West Durham

by Kenny Rasberry

My great Granddaddy, born Alexander Warren Rasberry February 12, 1858, came to Durham in 1910, with his wife, born Cornelia Alice Brice September 3, 1872. They married in November 1883; he was a few months short of 26, she was in her twelfth year. She gave birth to their first child in September 1884.

Great Granddaddy was a foreman at Erwin Mills. Great Grandma took him lunch every day, to the gate, and got a kiss. Everybody at the Mill knew that.

One of their sons, William Ervin Rasberry, my Granddaddy, was also a foreman at Erwin Mills. They all lived in West Durham, on 16th Street and Carolina Avenue, at least. At one point, Alex and Alice had two adjacent houses to contain all the family; boys in one, girls in the other.

in West Durham, ca. 1940
Alex and Alice Rasberry
in West Durham, ca. 1940

Here is a picture of my great grandparents ca. 1940. He died October 25, 1946, on my father’s 20th birthday anniversary. She died September 6, 1961, three days after her 89th birthday anniversary.

My Daddy, was born Donald Ray Rasberry October 25, 1926 into 816 Carolina Avenue. As a teen he used to swipe a few cigarettes out of a big brown paper bag on the back porch that Granddaddy had out there and then go up to E.K. Powe School to meet with other guys and smoke ‘em on the school yard.

Years later, he and W.J. Wilson had a little store on Hillsborough Road, in the curve there on the right, before Grey Stone Baptist Church. Dub was going with a girl, Corinna, fresh from the country out by Kinston. She had a sister, Addie Marie, whom she had brought to town to live with her. They were only sharecropper’s girls, the last of 11 children that Mother Cole delivered before leaving life at age 38.

Before Daddy got shipped out to the Pacific Theater, he and Addie got hitched towards the end of July 1944. Dub and Corinna attached empty cans to the underside of their wedding bed in Old West Durham.

More years later, Addie opened a beauty shop on Hillsborough Road, where Locopops is now; always next to Don Hill’s Lock Shop. She heard everybody’s story at least once, before closing the doors in 1978. Addie was glad to do it, just to be rid of all the gossiping.

We were officially out of West Durham with that, but many of the Rasberry family continued to populate that part of town –- Jap, Luther, and all the rest.

The Rasberry's in West Durham

West Durham Mill House, ca 1945
West Durham mill house, ca 1944.
Ervin and Addie Rasberry
Ervin & Addie Rasberry, ca 1945 816 Carolina Ave
Donald & Teddy Rasberry
Donald and Teddy Rasberry, ca 1930.
Donald Rasberry in Duke Gardens
Donald Ray Rasberry in Duke Gardens, ca 1945
Donald Ray Rasberry at 816 Carolina Ave.
Donald Ray Rasberry at Hillsboro Road grocery store, ca 1942
Don & Addie Rasberry, shipping out to war
Addie, Annie & Donald Rasberry, ca 1945, 816 Carolina. Shipping out to WWII
Addie Rasberry in Duke Gardens, ca 1945
Addie Rasberry in Duke
Gardens, ca. 1945.
Teddy Rasberry at Scarborough Rd.
Teddy Rasberry at Scarborough
Grocery, ca 1940. (Now Monuts.).
Teddy Rasberry on the EK Powe baseball field
Teddy Rasberry on EK Powe
baseball field in 1938. He was
killed in action on Mindanao
on March 20, 1945.
Vogue Beauty Shoppe is now Locopops
This old beauty salon is now Locopops.
Greystone Baptist Nursery School in 1953
Greystone nursery school in 1953.
Vogue Beauty Shoppe, ca 1959
Vogue Beauty, ca 1959.
Addie Rasberry in the Vogue Beauty Shoppe, ca 1959
Addie Rasberry at work in the Vogue Beauty Shop, ca 1959.