top of page

Melvin Crider Torian



Melvin Crider Torian was one of my grandfathers.  Melvin Crider was born on January 9, 1883, possibly in Oak Hill, Granville County, North Carolina, the son of Amelia Blanche Crawley Torian and George Torian.


Melvin Crider married Carey Jenkins, one of my grandmothers, around 1903 in North Carolina.  They had three sons:  Melvin Carter (my father); George E.; and Charles Jenkins.  Where and how Melvin Crider and Carey met is not certain.  According to my father, Melvin Crider and Carey met when Melvin Crider, a salesman at the time, came to Carey’s hometown, possibly Statesville, North Carolina (where Charles A., Carey’s father, may have been serving as a pastor in 1903, and where, or nearby, my father was born), to sell whatever he was selling, possibly insurance products. 


In the 1900 census, Melvin Crider, age 17, was living with his sister, Fannie (George and Amelia’s oldest child), in the Meadville District of Halifax County.  Why he had left his parent’s home is unknown.  Melvin Crider lists his occupation as day laborer in the 1900 census. 


In 1910, Melvin Crider and Carey G. were living in Shelby, North Carolina, where Carey’s father, Charles A. Jenkins, was the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Shelby.     Melvin Crider listed his occupation on the 1910 census as insurance salesman/agent.  Melvin Crider and Carey were renting their house in Shelby, North Carolina.  Melvin was age 26 and Carey 25, and they had been married 6 years.  By this time, Melvin Carter and George were born.  Apparently, Melvin Crider and Carey were living adjacent to Carey’s parents; their 1910 census record being adjacent to Carey’s parent’s census record.   Melvin Crider and Carey would live in North Carolina until at least 1915 (Charles was born around 1915 in North Carolina).    


City directory data at indicates that Melvin was in Kinston, North Carolina in 1908 and in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1911 and 1914, with occupation as an insurance agent.


In the 1920 census, Melvin Crider and Carey were living on Lee Street in Hampton, Virginia.  Melvin gives his birthplace as North Carolina.  Also in the household were:  Melvin C., age 15 (my father); George E., age 11; and Charles J., age 5.  Melvin Crider lists his occupation as merchant – retail groceries.  What took Melvin Crider and Carey to Hampton is not known.  Carey’s brother Carter Ashton Jenkins was, in 1909, minister of Memorial Baptist Church in Hampton.  Perhaps, Carter Ashton had something to do with Carey and Melvin Crider moving to Hampton.  Also, the First World War probably had a positive influence on the economy of the Newport News area, the site of shipbuilding for the US Navy and the merchant marine fleet.  Perhaps economic reasons took Melvin Crider and Carey to Hampton.   Melvin Crider and Carey ran a retail grocery store in Hampton while they lived there. 


According to my father, Melvin Crider was innovative; he came up with a way of selling lunches to the workmen at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company that was very successful.   Apparently, money from this success was used in funding the start-up and running of the grocery retail store in Hampton.  Hampton and Newport News are adjacent cities, sharing a common border.


Melvin Crider and Carey divorced around 1922, while they were living in Hampton.  Sometime after Melvin Crider and Carey were divorced, Melvin Crider returned to North Carolina.  Melvin Crider eventually goes back to selling insurance; his listed occupation on his 1910 census.  Melvin’s death certificate lists his occupation as insurance salesman.  According to my father, Melvin Crider was a very successful insurance salesman in North Carolina, based on the fact that his company, for exceeding standards set by it, recognized him frequently. 


Why did Melvin stop working as an insurance agent, an occupation that he would come back to and apparently he liked and was very successful at?  Did Carey “force” him to give up insurance and could this have created an unhappy Melvin and a cause for resentment and dislike, leading to Melvin and Carey's divorce?


In 1924, Melvin is in Lynchburg, Virginia as an insurance agent for the Life Insurance of Virginia Company.  Melvin’s father, George, who was living close to Lynchburg in Campbell County, had just died in 1923.


Melvin appears in a Wilmington, North Carolina city directory in 1926, approximately four years after he and Carey separate in, or around, 1922.  Melvin is listed as an agent of the Gate City Life Insurance Company of Greensboro.  He is living at 713 Princess.


A marriage certificate shows that Melvin, age 46, and Mayfair Carr, age 27, were married in New Hanover County (Wilmington) on September 25, 1929.  Melvin Crider presumably has been living in Wilmington since at least 1926 (he was in a Wilmington city directory in 1926), and apparently the two met in Wilmington.  A lot of Carr’s were listed in the 1924 Wilmington city directory.


Melvin Crider could not be found in the 1930 Virginia or North Carolina censuses.  It is not known why.


1930, 1932, and 1934 Wilmington city directories show Melvin and Mayfair living in Wilmington.  In 1930, they were living at 211 N. 3rd Street, and he was still with Gate City.  By 1932, Melvin had become the Assistant District Manager at Gate City and they were living at 406 N. 4th Street.  Mayfair was listed as a stenographer for the Davis Moore Paint Company on 21 Moore Street.  The 1934 listing showed the same information.


A 1937 obituary for Melvin’s mother, Amelia Crawley Torian, indicates that Melvin is in Wilmington.


A 1947-48 New Bern city directory shows that Melvin C. Torian and Mayfair were living in New Bern, North Carolina, at 1502 Neuse Blvd.  Melvin was listed as an insurance salesman and Mayfield as a salesperson for Sasser Clothing Co.


Where Melvin and Mayfair are from 1937 to 1947 is not known.


Melvin Crider and Mayfair C. Torian were listed in the New Bern 1951-52 city directory as living at 1502 Neuse Blvd.  His occupation was listed as an agent for Pilot Life Insurance Co.


Melvin and Mayfair do not appear in a 1954 New Bern city directory.  Melvin would be approximately 70 in 1954, and probably retires between 1952 and 1954.   By 1958, Melvin and Mayfair are living in Rocky Point, about 20 miles from Wilmington, and where Mayfair’s father lived when he died in the 1940s.  Perhaps, Melvin and Mayfair return to Rocky Point to live in the house that her father lived in.


Melvin Crider died on April 17, 1970 in Burgaw, Pender County, North Carolina.  His residence at his death was Rocky Point, in Pender County.  He was married to Mayfair Carr at the time of his death.  His lived 87 years.  He was buried in the Hopewell Church Cemetery in Pender County.  Melvin Crider and Mayfair are not known to have had children.  Also, Mayfair is believed to be Melvin Crider’s second wife.   Melvin Crider’s cause of death was coronary problems caused by advanced coronary arteriosclerosis.  Apparently, Melvin had been living in Pender County from at least 1958; the date the certifying physician on his death certificate began attending Melvin.


According to the 1910 Census, Ida Mayfair Carr, age 8, was living with her father, Stephen Madison Carr, and mother, Martha Almira Lewis.  Ida had brothers and sisters, and they lived in Brunswick County, a county that separates Wilmington and South Carolina. 


The 1920 Census shows Ida Mayfield, age 17, living with her father and mother, and with brothers Thomas, Stephen, and Victor and sister Allie.  They were living in Pender County.   Stephen, the father, was a farmer, and two sons worked as farm hands.


Mayfair’s father, Stephen, was born December 13, 1870, in Rose Hill, Duplin County (near Wilmington).  He died on January 7, 1946 in Burgaw, North Carolina, close to Rocky Point, where Melvin and Mayfair would retire to, and where Melvin would die.


Mayfair’s mother, Martha Elmira (also Elvira), is believed to be the daughter of Dr. James Monroe Lewis and Jane Penelope Formy Duval.  Martha is believed to have a birth date of 1864 and a death date of 1946.  Dr.  Lewis apparently was born in Brunswick County, North Carolina, where Stephen and Martha were living in 1910.


Ida Mayfair Carr Torian dies on November 9, 1988, in Wilmington, and is buried next to Melvin Crider Torian, her husband of 41 years (1929 to 1970, when Melvin dies).  The burial site is surrounded by gravesites for Carr’s, Mayfair’s maiden name.  So, obviously, Carr family members used this cemetery to bury their dead.  The grave yard, next to the Hopewell Presbyterian Church, 5 miles north of Burgaw, and presumably associated with the church, suggests that the Carr's (at least some) were Presbyterians.  So, perhaps, Mayfair was also a Presbyterian, and Mayfair and Melvin attended the Presbyterian Church.  Mayfair lived 86 years (1902 to 1988), 18 of which were beyond the death of her husband.


According to an obituary appearing in the Wilmington Morning Star on November 11, 1988, Mayfair died on a Wednesday while at the New Hanover Memorial Hospital in Wilmington.  She was a resident of Rocky Point.  Surviving were one brother, Graham Carr and three nieces, Mrs. Kathy C. Frey, Mrs. Martha Canady, and Mrs. Barbara Parker.


It is interesting that Melvin Crider would live for several years, at least 5 to 6, from 1947 to 1952 or 1953, in New Bern, just a few blocks from the 1st Baptist Church , where Melvin’s first wife’s (Carey, my grandmother) father was the pastor from 1883 to 1886.  And, New Bern was the city where Carey was born.  I wonder whether Melvin or Carey ever realized this or would care.


When Melvin Crider began as an insurance agent, early in the 1900s, the insurance industry consisted of many, many small companies.  This apparently continued up into the 1950s. 


Certainly, the insurance industry is one industry that has seen tremendous consolidation, probably to the great benefit of both the industry, and its operations, and to the customers its serves.


A tracking of this consolidation may be found in following Melvin’s insurance career. During the 1920s, when Melvin was with Gate City of Greensboro, there were dozens of insurance companies listed just in the Wilmington city directories.  By 1952/53, when Melvin retires, Melvin was with the Pilot Insurance Company, also of Greensboro.  Pilot probably acquired, or merged with, Gate City.  Pilot likely acquired other insurance companies by the 1950s. 


Pilot had grown big enough, probably through such consolidation, to be the principle television sponsor of the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball games.  And, as such, Pilot become quite well know,  as this conference and its players and its tournament and its teams during this time, could be described as the beginning of the craze in this county with college basketball and the NCAA “final four”.   In the 1950s, it was the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament that was the craze.  I remember well the passion I, and most of my friends, had for these tournaments.   I never knew that my grandfather worked for the company that sponsored these tournaments on television, which were the source of so much pleasure to me, until just recently.


But, by 1968, Pilot itself has merged to become Jefferson-Pilot, and, then recently (2006), Jefferson-Pilot ceased to exist, as an independent company, being acquired by Lincoln National.  

bottom of page