Mama & Papa
Lovingly written by Fentress Thompson Morris
George B. Taylor was born on December 25, 1882 in Camden County, North Carolina. George spent most of his early life doing farm related work and attending the public schools of Camden County.
At the age of 35, George met Ophelia Belle Hunt in Camden County. Ophelia was approimately 15 years old when she married George. George and Belle were blessed with 15 children: Johnnie, Julia, Augustus, Minnie, Samuel, Elizabeth, Pearl, Ruby, Shelby, Lois, Garland, Dubois, Gareth, Carole, and Joe. Ophelia and George (later called "Mama and Papa") were dedicated, loving and hard working parents.
Much of Papa and Mama's early years were spent rearing the children and providing the best education possible. Papa's hard work paid off when he was given the opportunity to work as a part-time mail carrier in Camden County. Also, during this time, Papa became very interested in the Bible and became very active in church. For many years, he taught Sunday School and was later appointed to the Steward Board at the McBride Church in South Mills, NC.
At the age 39, Papa and Mama became owners of the G.B. Taylor Shoe Repair Shop, located in South Mills, NC. Also, they were able to purchase their home on the Canal Bank in South Mills, NC, a farm in Camden County and later a home in Elizabeth City, NC. Papa's main reason for moving to Elizabeth City, NC was for better educational opportunities for their children. Papa, however, commuted back and forth to South Mills, NC daily to attend their shoe repair business and his farm. Papa was known to have the only black business in South Mills at that time and was also known to have one of the most productive farms in the county. The G. B. Taylor shoe shop and farm was the focus of the entire Taylor family. All of the children and later the grandchildren were given the opportunity to work on the farm. Mama was the so called foreman, who directed each of the children in the right direction on the farm for maximum possible production.
The day began with a hot breakfast of sausage, molasses, rice, sweet potatoes, and biscuits. The drive from Elizabeth City to South Mills took approximately forty-five minutes in Papa’s old T-model Ford. Upon arriving at the field, the family prepared for the day by sharpening the hoes, feeding the pigs, and doing other farm chores prior to going into the fields. Once in the fields, the family worked until lunch time. Many meals were prepared and eaten under the old cherry tree on the north end of the farm. The old hand-pump provided the coldest and best water one could imagine. After lunch it was back to work until about 6 o’clock, and then the long trip back home to Elizabeth City.
The story about Papa and Mama continues to unfold. The evidence of their belief in hard work, education and the commitment to strong family values can be seen on the faces of all their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. It is hoped that these values will continue to spread from generation to generation, and that the G. B. Taylor Family will continue to grow and prosper.