Memento mori, Isaac Spencer London Jr. 1926-1947

The “I” stands for Isaac.

Usually people think that Slaughter is a pen-name. It is not, it’s a family name going back a few hundred years to when one of my relatives Anglicized their German name when they stepped off a boat in Philadelphia. If I’ve cleared that up, and there is a further question, it’s “What does the ‘I’ stand for?”

There are a number of Isaacs in my paternal family line, on both my grandfather and grandmother’s sides.

The father of my grandmother, Isaac Spencer London was a newspaper owner/editor in Richmond County, North Carolina. He was married in 1915 to Lena Payne Everett, the daughter of a man who would be Secretary of State of North Carolina.

Isaac and Lena had 5 children. The fifth, Henry Armand London, died within minutes of being born, and the mother, Isaac’s wife, died the next day, Jan. 9, 1930, from pneumonia.

Isaac Spencer London Jr. was the 4th child of the two, being born August 5th, 1926. His mother passed away when he was only 3.

Isaac Jr. enlisted in the Army, and during the course of kidney stone operations he contracted Hepatitis, eventually killing him on January 20th, 1947 at the age of 20.

During the last days and following the death of his namesake, Ike did what a newspaperman would do – he wrote. These writings were then gathered together with photos and genealogical data on dozens of family members and published in a 44 page booklet titled “Pictures and Sketches of My Son Isaac Spencer London Jr. who died January 20, 1947 of Acute Hepatitis at the Veterans Hospital, Fayetville”.

I found a couple of copies of this booklet when I was sorting through my grandfather’s belongings after he had died. I didn’t know any London family members but my grandmother. A few years ago I’d pulled a significant amount of genealogical information from the booklet into a database, and when I went looking for it again, couldn’t find it. When considering the task of doing it again, it occured to me that these booklets are probably quite rare nowadays (though it seems a few are listed as being in a few NC University libraries), and certainly there were more family members who may be interested.

Rereading last page was what spurned me to take action:

This last page and the two blank pages of the cover are intended to be used as a Family Record. It is my hope that the names and data of additional grandchildren, and the names of their descendants, or of other members of our families, may be written hereon as a PERMANENT Family Record.

I have prepared this 44-page booklet (and 4-page cover) entirely with the idea of INFORMATION for our descendants. Here’s hoping it will be of value and be informative to you all in the many years far hence!

—Isaac S. London, Rockingham, N. C., June, 1947.

The past two days I’ve spent scanning, OCRing, Photoshopping and WordPressing to eventually finish with a website dedicated to this booklet and the information it contains. With the exception of typographical issues (many hyphens are still present that don’t need to be, a few misspellings from misreadings by the OCR program, etc.) the entire booklet is online.

Grave of Isaac Spencer London Jr.

The grave of Isaac S. London Jr.

Though I don’t imagine that most of my readers will have an interest in the site as a whole, I appreciated greatly the following section from near the end of the 44 page booklet, though, and it may be of interest to genral readers. It is a glimpse into the small-town newspapers now gone:

How Carl Goerch Views the
Rockingham Post-Dispatch
In His May 17 1947, Issue

The following story on the writer and his paper was printed in Carl Goerch’s “The State” at Raleigh May 17, 1947, and was written by Robert W. Shaw. The boners or linotype errors Carl lists really never occurred in the Post-Dispatch, but they make up a “good story” and serve to accentuate the individualistic make-up of the Post-Dispatch. And so with no apologies, here is his story, caption and all:

Ike’s Newspaper


ISAAC S. LONDON is proprietor, editor and publisher of the Rockingham Post-Dispatch, a weekly paper ,of seven columns width and twelve pages which he has been running for nearly 30 years—since Dec. 6, 1917 (and The SILER CITY FRIT for nine years before that — April, 1909, to Dec. 1, 1917). Ike has probably the most incomplete make,- up or format of any paper in North Carolina — from a JOURNALISTIC standpoint, that is.

As everyone knows, there are certain set rules which the operator of a newspaper has to follow. In the first place, it is practically mandatory that he be a graduate of the journalism department of some college. He must know newspaper “style” when it comes to writing. Naturally, he must put the most important news stories in the most prominent position, he must classify the news, and there are a number of other regulations to follow in connection with make-up.

All of these rules are cheerfully violated by the Post-Dispatch every week.
As a matter of fact, IKE runs his paper without the slightest regard for rules.


There are no, fancy headlines: just a word or two to give the reader a hint of what is to come. Moying-picture theater ads appear on the front page. If somebody has paid for a classified ad, offering a cow for sale, that’s liable to appear on the front page also. It all depends upon whether the type fits nicely or not. If there are 12 pages in this week’s edition of the Post-Dispatch, society news and sports news are liable to appear on any one of the 12 pages. An account of Mrs. Upjohn’s reception is just as apt as not to be followed by an item announcing that Joe Waterby’s cow gave birth to twin calves last Wednesday. Sometimes it happens that the items get slightly mixed, so that they appear in print as follows:

“Mrs. Upjohn was hostess at a beautiful reception last Monday evening. She gave birth to the twin calves earlyin the morning, and Joe is highly pleased because of this unusual event.”

Scores of persons who have birthdays during the following week are mentioned in the current issue of the Post-Dispatch—that is, if Mr. London can possibly find out about them. The jovial editor—with a keen sense of humor and tremendous vitality—writes every word that appears in his paper. He pecks out the copy on his typewriter and never reads a words of it to check for mistakes. That is why you’ll find items like this occasionally:

“Mrs. Jones had on a punk dress and looked lovely in it.”
“The local P.-T.A. meeting last Wednesday was hell at Mrs. Harrison’s home.”
“Pete Walker, employee of the Carolina Power & Light Company, was badly shocked Tuesday as the result of com-ing in contact with a live wife.”

Exudes Friendliness

The Post-Dispatch exudes the friendiness of its editor. There is no room for high-falutin’ words and phrases, and if a little editorializing and a few personal views get into the news columns occasionally, that is all right, too.
Mr. London sounds off to his heart’s content in his editorial column, entitled: “Glimpses — On the Cuff.” In it he doesn’t try to solve the world’s weighty problems, but leaves that job for the bigger newspapers. So far as the Post-Dispatch is concerned, the proposed installation of a new street-light is of much greater news value that a rowdy session of the United Council.
Then, too, Mr. London has a habit of imparting a little extra information in his news items. For instance, if Louise Culpepper had left town for a visit with relatives, the aver-age paper probably would carry an item like this:

“Miss Louise Culpepper left Rockingham Sunday to spend the summer with her aunt, Cleopatra Hicks, at Tip Top, Virginia.”

How Ike Runs it

But when Ike sets out to report that eyent, it appears in his paper like this:

“Lively and sprightly Louise Culpepper left Rockingham Sunday to spend the summer with her aunt, Cleopatra Hicks, at Tip Top, Virginia, a town that is 2,728 feet above sea leyel. Rockingham is 225 feet above sea level at the Seaboard Depot. But by the way, we have always wondered whether there is any truth to that story about the original Cleopatra committing suicide by letting herself get bitten by an ass. Anyway, we hope that Louise has a good time and that she will have some interesting things to tell us when she gets back home.”

If a man has a nickname and is generally known by that nickname, you may rest assured that it’ll be tacked onto him when his name appears in print. Such as:

“Buck Johnson, from Route 1, was in town Saturday. Buck told us his youngest son, Toadface, had just recovered from a case of measles.”

“Stinky Whittaker, of Ellerbe, was in Rockingham Tuesday on a business visit.”

“Fatty Sanderlin, of Route 4, came to Rockingham Wednesday and had a tooth pulled. When we saw Fatty on Main Street, he was still spitting freely.”

If some professor of journalism wanted a horrible ex-ample of what a newspaper should not be, he probably would latch onto, a cony of the Post-Dispatch immediately and display it before his class. In every issue he un-doubtedly would be able to find at least a score of set rules that had been violated or ignored completely. And he unoubtedly could spend an entire morning session pointing these out to his students.

The thing he probably would overlook, however, is the fact that the Post-Dispatch is one of the friendliest, most cheerful papers in the state; that Mr. London knows practically all of his subscribers, and they know him; that they regard his ‘paper as a weekly visit from him personally, and that they appreciate his interest in their affairs.

When you talk to a friend, you don’t pay attention to all the rules of grammar or rhetoric: you talk to him naturally. That’s what IKE does every week: he talks to his friends through the columns of his paper. The Post-Dispatch is Ike London, and Ike London is the Post-Dispatch. They have been synonymous for 38 years.