SUBMITTED BY: Michael Stroupe (written by Cheri Todd Molter)
Minnie Evaline Cobb Dellinger, affectionately known as “Granny” during her later years, had many stories to tell and was interviewed for articles that were published in several local newspapers, such as Gastonia Gazette and Lincoln Times.
Minnie was born on August 18, 1883 to John Cobb, a tenant farmer, and his wife, Littie [or Lillie] Howe Cobb, who lived five miles south of Kings Mountain, in Cleveland County, North Carolina. A 1962 article in the Gastonia Gazette states that Minnie was “a farm girl with almost no schooling,” but she could read. Presumably after her mother died, her father moved to Alabama and remarried, but Minnie stayed behind in North Carolina. According to the family’s stories, Minnie was seventeen years old when she married Frederick Washington “Wash” Dellinger, a sixty-five-year-old Confederate veteran. Despite his age, Wash and Minnie had about thirty years together and the couple had five children, their last being born in 1919 when Wash was almost eighty years old. They had three sons and two daughters: Charlie Frederick, Ora Eliza, Mary Magdalene, Edward Woodrow, and David Sylvester Dellinger.
As a young man, Wash Dellinger had been a Confederate soldier; he served in Company I of the 11th Infantry (North Carolina) for most of the war, then was transferred to Company E, N.C. 34th Infantry in February 1865. According to those who knew him, Wash often told stories about his war experiences, especially when he attended Old Soldiers’ Conventions. Minnie said she didn’t pay much attention to any of his stories except the one about his being in the theater when John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln on April 14, 1865. According to Minnie, while Wash was confined at the Old Capitol Prison in Washington D.C., he and fellow prisoner Jonas Hoyle were allowed to take jobs outside the prison and come and go with some freedom. They were employed at a cemetery nearby, and on the afternoon of April 14, 1865, as they arrived at the prison after their day’s work, Wash claimed that he was approached by a Union guard who had two tickets for a play that night but was unable to attend, so he gave those tickets to Wash. Minnie said that Wash told her that he and Jonas decided to use the tickets, so they went to Ford’s Theatre to see “Our American Cousin.” The two men had arrived but had not yet taken their seats when, according to what Minnie said during her interview with Del Lazenry of the Gastonia Gazette, “this fellow jumped out, took three steps, and shot [President Abraham Lincoln], and Mr. Lincoln fell with his head in his wife’s lap. My husband and Jonas were scared. They were Confederate soldiers and they were afraid they might get shot, too, so they slipped quietly out the front door and went back across the river to their compound. Mr. Lincoln died the next day in the up¬stairs room of a house across the street.”
After they married, Wash and Minnie Dellinger had both worked twelve-hour shifts at the mill at Kings Mountain, walking the four miles each way to and from work. However, two years after Wash died, in 1934, Minnie’s health worsened, so she had to quit working there. As a result, she and the two children who were still living at home then had some bleak times. She stated that they ate what they could get. They had a cow, so they had milk and butter. Minnie said that she made cornbread and knew how to cook the poke plant, to dry apples, and to prepare the dried green beans that they called “leather stockings.” (Click images to enlarge.)
By 1962, when the article in the Gastonia Gazette was published, Minnie had lived about fifty-one years at that same place on Route 3 between Cherryville and Kings Mountain—thirty of them as a widow. Minnie described her husband “as a stout man” and said that “he was not past going to town the week before he died at nearly a hundred years old.” Wash Dellinger died in 1932. According to Lazenry, Minnie still attended her household chores “like a young’un,” and she liked to read her newspaper every afternoon; plus, she had read the Bible completely through three times. At that time, Minnie was one of only four Confederate widows in North Carolina who were living on a widow’s pension. Minnie received $75.00 a month.
Minnie Evaline Cobb Dellinger died on Tuesday, June 25, 1968. During her lifetime, she had been a Charter member of Long Creek Presbyterian Church, located about a mile from her home, and she was buried at its cemetery, the Long Creek Church Cemetery. At the time of her death, Minnie had three living children: Edward Woodrow Dellinger of Cherryville, Mrs. Ora Eliza Dellinger Collins of Kings Mountain, and David Sylvester Dellinger of Kings Mountain.