Monthly Archives: December 2012

Kookie’s 2012 Recap

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Today, I received a really great email from Kookie Hemperley, my cousin who makes guest posts here on occasion and I would like to share this with you:

Letter from Kookie Hemperley, my 3rd cousin 1x removed:

I really hate to see 2012 come to an end!  It has been such an amazing year in that through genealogy I have made new friends, found new cousins and made a few discoveries about myself.  Allow me to share some of it with you.

In December 2011 I connected with Susie Higginbotham Reynolds, descendent of Sarah Mildred Martin Williams, daughter of my great great-grandfather, Henry Washington Martin.  Early in January, Susie drove from her home in Mt. Vernon, Arkansas to my home on a quest to compare notes and share photos and stories on our Martin relatives.  From the moment she stepped out of her car, I knew she was my type of gal!!!  She was warm, friendly, and looked like a real go-getter.  Not only did she come bearing tons of photos, letters, etc., she also brought along another cousin, Gary Higginbotham and his wife Bessie.  I also invited Cheri Payton Atkins, a relative through Henry Washington Martin’s wife, Sarah Courtney (who remarried George Pill following Henry’s death).  We had a great day and have all become great friends besides being third cousins one time removed!

Kookie, Gary, Bessie, Cheri, and Susie

Kookie Hemperley, Gary and Bessie Higginbotham, Cheri Payton Atkins, and Susie Reynolds

Susie and I have spent countless hours on the computer emailing back and forth, texting, talking on the phone and sharing any hint of information that might lead to more discoveries about our ancestors. Sometimes we pull “all nighters” but together we have located her illusive Francis Hereford Williams and the history of his being the founder of the Highland Baptist Church in Texarkana along with another ancestor, Stephen Boullemet a native of Saint Domingue who settled in New Orleans. She’s also been back to visit several times during 2012.  How would I describe Susie?  She’s like a pugnacious little bulldog that just doesn’t give up!  Cheri and I have tromped around graveyards, visited cousins and made numerous trips to libraries and become “best buds”.

On the Stanley family tree, I was contacted by Michelle McBride during May.  Her great-grandmother and my grandfather were brothers and sisters.  Our Stanley relatives were also related to Pattillo’s and our genealogy searches have resulted in some results that one might not want to include in one’s history.  It seems my great-grandmother (a Pattillo) had a brother who shot and killed his father!  How could that be?  Well, after much research it seems the father had shot first and the son, who was charged with murder, was found not guilty of any charges at the trial.   Michelle and I agreed that it was a part of our family’s story and should be told and included in our trees.  While she and I have not had a face to face meeting, we have talked on the phone and are hoping a visit will be in store for 2013.  Michelle is also planning a visit with some of her older Stanley relatives shortly to gather more information and hopefully photos and family stories.

Then in November 2012 I was contacted by Kenneth Whitehead regarding the Hemperley family tree.  Ken is the curator of the East Point Historical Society. East Point was the area of Georgia many of the Hemperley’s lived during the 1800s.  Some of their ancestors remain in the area today.  In fact, the funeral home, which began in the early 1900s, is still offering service and comfort to those of the community.  More importantly the Hemperley’s left foot prints on the history of the area.

Ken has been most gracious in sharing documents, newspaper clippings, death certificates, etc. with me.  In fact, Lillie Ruth Hemperley has been written about in “Lil, In Celebration of Lillie Ruth Hemperley Stewart’s 99th Birthday on February 16, 2004”.  It was written by Regina Stewart.  One of Lil’s sisters, Ina Hemperley Short also wrote “As I Remember It” in celebration of her 90th birthday in October 1987. Ken has taken the time to scan over 600 documents, put them in a DVD and give it to me and other Hemperley relatives!!!  The DVD arrived a few days after Christmas and I thought, “What a wonderful belated Christmas gift”. How lucky can you be and wouldn’t it be wonderful if just one person in every family tree would save the treasures of their families and share with others.

Ken and I have also been doing a little research, via email, on members of the clan that he had not “fit” into the puzzle. Luckily, I found some information as well as did Ken.  Should you have relatives in that area of Georgia, I’m sure the East Point Historical Society would be willing to share information.  By all appearances, they have a great working society.  You can check them out on Face Book or check them out when you are in the area.

Ken Whitehead, Charles Chambers,  and Lee Barrett at the EPHS

Ken Whitehead, Charles Chambers, and Lee Barrett at the East Point Historical Society

East Point Historical Society

East Point Historical Society at 1685 Norman Berry Avenue, East Point, Georgia

While checking out the East Point Historical Society you might also want to visit Susie’s website at http://ourfamiliesuntoldstories.com.  Not only does she post genealogy there, she also is documenting her family’s day to day lives in the hills of Arkansas.

The persons mentioned here were contacts made through Ancestry.com.  Should you be contacted by someone through Ancestry, please take time to reply as you may never know what you are missing.  Don’t take everything you see on Ancestry as gospel for we all make mistakes.  And finally if you copy a photo or document from someone else’s tree, please give credit to the person who has spent endless hours collecting, proving and sharing with you.

As a reminder to those who search regularly for information on family members, I would urge you to make a New Year’s Resolution to (1) document each person in your family prior to adding them to your tree; (2) to label your photos; (3) to preserve your documents and (4) to share openly.

As sad as I am about 2012 ending, I am also happy for all the new contacts made and look forward to adding more “cousins” in the coming year.  To each of you I wish you a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year with lots of “green leaves”.

Kookie

Thank you Kookie, for sending me this letter and thank you for singing my praises.  I am so glad to have found you and all the other cousins that I found in 2012 and I look forward to 2013 as well so that I might know my family better and continue to share the stories here on this blog.

Susie

Frosty the Snowman came for a visit!

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Today was the first time I got out of the house in a week, and boy did it feel good.  We had the blizzard and then I got sick and today was the first day I even felt half alive.

The kids made a snowman during all this and I took pictures from the comfort of our nice warm dining room.  Which I was very lucky to do considering many people in Arkansas still do not have power and they have told them 7 days until they will.

making snowman 2012

Jonathan, my nephew, started out making the snowman and as soon as Tori, Michael and Skylar figured out what was going on, they hightailed it out there and had to help of course.

snowman 2012

Frosty ended up with gum-drop eyes and mouth, a cinnamon stick for his nose, gum balls for his buttons, my scarf and Razorback straw hat, and Alix’s gloves.  My tree in the back yard had already donated his arms to the cause.

2012 Snowman

I think he turned out really well.  Here is Jonathan with the snowman.

2012 Snowman and Jonathan

Later on in the evening Addie, my sister-in-law who lives across the street, called me and told me there was a really weird mist outside and I needed to go look.  When I went looked, the mist was only around her and John’s house.

Totally weird.  I kept waiting for the big spiders to come out and crawl all over her house.

Thanks Stephen King.

the mist john and addie's houseI did a really cool Christmas present for some folks involving a pinterest project and some of my great-grandmother’s dresses along with my grandmother’s dress and my Aunt Jane’s shirt.  I still have two people to deliver this gift to and after I do that, I will share it with you.  I think it turned out really cool.

Have you been enjoying your snow?

Susie

It’s A Blizzard!

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We are having a white Christmas and us Southern girls just aren’t used to this.

I mean, I just wore flip-flops yesterday!

I opened up the garage and the snow blew in and blew my dress up.

Ok, not really.

I haven’t worn a dress since I wore pigtail’s and that was a looonng time ago.

It did blow through my sweat pants though.

White Christmas

Here is another shot from the garage:

White Christmas

And here is another shot of the yard from the garage in the rare moment that the wind wasn’t blowing the flakes into the garage:

White Christmas

Here is a shot from the back yard:

White Christmas

And I can’t leave the front yard out:

DSC_0086

I think it’s great you can’t see all the weeds in that flower bed.  :)

I can’t see my brother’s house across the street and I sure can’t see Mom and Dad’s next door.  I’ll take better pictures tomorrow when it’s daylight.

Merry White Christmas from Arkansas!

Susie

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Merry Christmas!

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2012 Silent NIght Christmas Card

Merry Christmas from our house to yours. I hope you have all had as great a Christmas as I have had.

Susie

The Magic of Christmas

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Guest post by my 3rd cousin 1x removed, Kookie Hemperley.

One of my fondest memories of the magic of Christmas began when I was a small child while visiting with my grandparents, Wesley and Beulah Thompson Stanley, in the piney woods of East Texas.  My aunt, uncles, cousins and our family always gathered at Granny and Pop Paw’s for Christmas.

Pop Paw worked at the lumber mill and had scouted out trees days in advance.    On that particular day, a cool crisp one, he told us that if we didn’t go get a tree, Santa wouldn’t come.  We eagerly jumped into the back of his old truck and headed out in search of the perfect tree.

Wes Stanley and his Christmas tree hunting truck

Wes Stanley and his Christmas tree hunting truck

 

Being small children, we would have chopped down any tree if that was all it took for Santa to come, but Wes had something special in mind.  We searched and searched.  We looked at pines, which he said weren’t shaped right.   We looked at cedars and he said their limbs were too flimsy and difficult to decorate.  Finally he led us to the perfect tree!

It was a holly, straight, tall and loaded with bright red berries.  Everyone agreed it WAS the perfect tree.  He sawed it down, threw it in the back of the truck with all the kids sitting around the edge of the bed imaging what Santa would place beneath it.

Granny didn’t have much as far as decorations go; a few tangled, wrinkled icicles left over from Christmases past and some glass balls that time had faded and had very little color.  But we decorated it in style!  We made a paste from flour and water for glue and made paper chains for garlands, cut out paper lanterns, and the berries complimented the homemade decorations.  When it was completely decorated, we were all in agreement.  It was magical!  Surely Santa would appreciate our handiwork and bring something special.  We sang Christmas carols as the aroma of Granny’s specialty, fried apple pies, came from the cast iron stove in the kitchen.

I don’t even remember what Santa brought; I think only apples, oranges and nuts.  But that tree and the fellowship we shared instilled in me the love of Christmas and family to share the magic with.

After marriage, Don and I would go to his parents on Christmas Eve to exchange family gifts.  Afterwards, my sister-in-law and I would load the kids into a car and take them to see Christmas lights while Don and his brother were busy at our houses putting bikes together and the toys from Santa under the tree which we had gone to the woods and cut down. To the kids, the ride was magical to see the lights others had decorated their yards and homes with. The children never caught on as to why the dads didn’t go with us.

As years passed we set aside one afternoon a couple of weeks prior Christmas to go to the woods and, as Wes would do, chop down a special  tree.  The kids were almost as excited as I.  Usually we cut down a cedar.

But the one thing that had changed was that I now had fallen for flocked trees.  Don and Steve would flock the tree as Kelly and I covered our ears from the words Don would utter as the flocker stopped up or the vacuum hose would crimp and the flock would either come out in gobs or not at all.  Nevertheless, we had flocked trees.  And the bigger the better!  Most times they had to be tied to the beams of the den to stand erect after being heavily decorated.  Sometimes we made paper chains.  Sometimes we baked gingerbread men for ornaments.  And despite all of Don’s fussing about having to flock the tree, when it was fully decorated, he never failed to say, “It’s the most beautiful tree we’ve ever had.”

Let the Flocking begin

anta always came on Christmas Eve when the kids  were small therefore they only had a gift or two from Mom and Dad.  After they had outgrown that stage, I would wrap and put the gifts under the tree, where they would shake, rattle, smell and make a million guesses.

Kookie's children

Some of the magical moments that are dear to me are granddaughter Rachel’s first
Christmas.

Rachels first Christmas

Emy’s visit with Santa.

Emy's visit with santa

And the happy faces of Christmas.

happy face of christmas 01

happy face of christmas 02

happy face of christmas 03

Surprises always came packaged differently and one never knew if your big gift would be under the tree, in your stocking, or in the form of something warm and fuzzy.

Don and I always had an Open House where a roaring fire on Christmas Eve warmed friends who would stop by for a bowl of gumbo and beverage. Sometimes we had to wait until they left before Santa came.  Sometimes they stayed to see what surprises he would deliver to the Hemperley kids.

I have so many magical memories of Christmas in my lifetime; like the year we were so broke that all Don could afford for me was a pair of house shoes.  I don t think I gave him anything.

Or, our first Christmas after he returned home from Japan and we were stationed in Maryland.  Maryland had a record snow fall that year, so we bundled up Steve, who was about a year and a half, and played in the snow building a snowman and having snowball fights.

Or the year he surprised me with a color TV and I sat up well after the three stations we could receive went off air and watched the test pattern until the wee hours!

Or many Christmases when the house was so full of relatives, home for the holidays, that we would run out of beds and couches for them to sleep on.  Santa must have had a difficult time delivering gifts for  there were pallets or sleeping bags on every inch of floor.

Much has changed in my celebration of Christmas.  Some loved ones are now gone.  I no longer go to the woods for a tree to flock.  In fact, this year I put up a flocked fake tree!!!

My kids now have kids and are now Santa!

We still open gifts on Christmas Eve and have gumbo for supper.  However, Kelly now cooks it and I can sit back and enjoy the night.

I no longer have kids sniffing or sleeping under the tree.  My dog has taken over that job!

Ahso under the tree

The magic of my Christmases began many years ago with my grandfather taking all the grandkids to cut a tree. It’s in my heart.  It’s in my memories.  It’s with my family. It’s who I am and where I came from.

May we all remember the true meaning of Christmas.  May we all remember the past, cherish the present, and look forward to a Christmas that is magical this and every year.

Merry Christmas!!!

Kookie Hemperley

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