Northampton Library salutes Flythe family

Published 8:48 am Tuesday, June 8, 2010

JACKSON – Good deeds should never go unnoticed.

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, the Northampton County Memorial Library in Jackson will stage a ceremony to honor the memory of the late Jesse Abner Flythe and his wife, Ruby Flythe.

The event will also include the unveiling of the Ellen Ann Flythe Cross portrait. Cross, who passed away in November 2008, was the daughter of Jesse Abner and Ruby Flythe. In her will, Cross left a generous donation to the Northampton Library in honor of her parents.

The public is invited to attend the ceremony.

According to Nancy Flythe, who serves as secretary of the Northampton Memorial Library Board of Trustees, a portion of the Cross donation has been used to purchase a microfilm reader and printer.

“We have numerous requests for resources to conduct research from old newspaper files, especially those looking to conduct genealogy research,” Flythe said. “Our new microfilm reader and printer will help fill those requests.”

As part of Saturday’s ceremony, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald will transfer its reels of Northampton News microfilm (1955-1995) to the Northampton County Library. Those reels will be on permanent loan to the library.

The Northampton News (Jackson) and News-Herald (Ahoskie) merged in 1995 to form the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, a tri-weekly publication serving Hertford, Northampton, Bertie and Gates counties.

But the main spotlight on this day will shine on the memory of the Flythe/Cross families. Family members of Mrs. Cross are expected to attend, as will Gary Hoyle, Director of the Albemarle Regional Library system.

The Flythe family has been entrenched in Northampton County since the late 1700’s. Before that time, Abner Flythe’s mother’s side of the family – the Lassiters – were living in the area by 1710, before there was the town of Jackson.

Ruby Flythe (born Ruby Ellen Fagg) grew up in Leaksville, NC (now known as Eden). She graduated from Oxford College and moved to Seaboard to teach. While in Seaboard, she met Abner Flythe and they married in 1918. Ellen Ann was born in 1921.

Like most in the late 1920’s, the Flythe family nearly lost everything in the Great Depression. When the economy did recover, Abner was able to buy back his cotton gin from the bank and operated it until he died in the 1940’s.

Ruby Flythe helped the family financially by securing a job (women of that era generally did not work outside the home) with the Emergency Relief Administration. She traveled to different counties teaching farm women various methods of canning.

After the death of her husband, Ruby Flythe returned to school – renewing her teaching certificate at Wake Forest College. She then taught English for more than 20 years at Jackson High School. She died in the 1980’s.

Ellen Ann Flythe went on to graduate from Meredith College. She taught briefly before moving to New York City to work for Delta Airlines.

During World War II, she moved back to Jackson and was the Editor of the Jackson News (the predecessor of the Northampton News). She also worked in the Clerk of Court office.

After the war, Ellen Ann moved to Winston-Salem, working there for a radio station and for the Bowman Gray School of Medicine. She later moved to Greensboro where she worked in public relations for the Children’s Home Society and was a freelance book designer.

Ellen Ann was married twice – to Steve Frontis, who died in the 1990’s, and then to Bill Cross, who survives her.