Durham, NC

photo circa 1919... could be a courtship photo

photo circa 1919… could be a courtship photo


Henry Ward Pickett Sr. was born in 1895, the third child of Henry Saunders and Betty Ward Pickett. Looking at the family tree, you figure out very quickly that Henry was a very popular name. Their ninth and last child died in 1919 at the age of 6. Growing up we saw his gravestone, but only recently realized he probably died in the Spanish Flu Epidemic.

Birdie Johnson was born in 1896, with four sisters and one brother Thurman. Both Thurman and her niece Sue Pickard would play an important part of our childhood.


19191230_BirdieLTR_envelope_001.tif 19191230_BirdieLTR_pg1_002.tif 19191230_BirdieLTR_pg2_003.tif 19191230_BirdieLTR_pg3_004.tif


Birdie wrote a long letter to her betrothed about love and marriage. It’s dated December 30, 1919, but they aren’t planning to get married until 1922. She is filled with plans for establishing a home, and filling it with beautiful things they will cherish.

Birdie writes:

Envelope addressed to Mr. Henry Pickett, Calloway Street, City

December 30, 1919

Dearest Henry,

I have bought me a diary today and am filling in the year with red ink, and I wrote in the back that you and I were join to marry in 1922 and it made me want to marry you, I mean it made me want to write you. I wrote ‘merry’ and wasn’t even aware of it until after I ha written it. Isn’t that strange? I will be so happy when we are married, won’t you? I am just simply crazy for a beautiful house all my own with you all the time with me, and with some on that is always going to be nice and refined and wants everything to be precious. I will show you the diary when you come Friday. It peer cost two dollars and a half and will last five years. I wonder if we will be living then? I hope so anyway.

I want to make a whole bushel of new resolutions tomorrow and if you don’t know any to make I will tell you some when you one.

Miss Rogers is sitting in front of me reading with that blue edge dress that will not wear out and her pearls out.

I haven’t mailed Marshall a letter yet. I guess he thinks I have stopped writing to him.

I am getting home tonight and put up the silver toilet set that you gave me and some more little things, so that when we have a house of our very own we can use them.

I love you all I can and always will as you know. I do hope I won’t have to fuss with you anymore.

Lovingly, Yours

I will give you your other gift Friday night. Please start out by being on time and I shall too. B.


They started out living with her family, in a house that has since been demolished. They scrimped and saved to build their house on Glendale Avenue in 1925 in what is now called Old North Durham. The front porch is classic southern – a swing, an umbrella stand, white wicker furniture, and a statue out front of a boy holding a lantern.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: