Maude Gladys Hemperley, daughter of Jefferson Beauregard Hemperley and Louvenia Virginia Sheppard, was born in Miller County, Arkansas on January 5, 1896. There were thirteen children in the family. As you can see by this Ripley’s Believe It Or Not article, which appeared in the Shreveport Times on October 3, 1953, she was a little different than her siblings! It makes me wonder what color her parents’ eyes were.
When I was a small child World War II was a full-blown conflict, therefore, we, like many families of that era, had little extra money for anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. Daddy worked six days a week from “can to can’t” to feed my three older brothers, myself and Mom. Whenever there was a breakdown at the saw mill, it wasn’t unusual for him to work on Sundays.
Usually we would go to my grandparents for Sunday dinner. Sometimes we would go on Saturday and spend the night in beds heavily laden with lots of quilts; so many that it was difficult to turn over.
My grandmother, Beulah Thompson Stanley, was a “kept” woman even though they had little money. PawPaw, Wesley Stanley, did a lot of the cooking as well as helping her with house work. I remember Granny’s dining table having a container of the utensils in the middle covered by a table-cloth. And could she make good fried apple pies!!!
Regardless if it were Saturday or Sunday, Daddy’s brothers and sister would also come and there would be “picking and grinning”, usually around the fireplace. Each of them played an instrument and most of them sang while the grandkids gathered nearby and on occasion joined in.
Following the War things must have gotten better economically for us. Gasoline was eighteen cents a gallon which meant it was the cheapest form of entertainment for a family of six and day trips became our Sunday routine. Sometimes we had a destination; other times Mom would pack a picnic lunch and we would be off to parts unknown . If we were lucky, somewhere along the way, we would stop and get a Coke, which if I remember correctly, was about six cents.
We stopped at every state park in East Texas and rarely when Daddy would get Saturday and Sunday off and we would head to Arkansas where we usually camped. We must have been a sight with four kids hanging out the windows since the car had no air conditioning plus it was exciting to see what was around the next curve in those hills and each of us wanted a bird’s eye view.
On one particular Sunday morning in Hot Springs, we decided to drive up the mountain for a view of the city before heading home. From that look-out point, we were able to recognize some of the local landmarks from a different perspective. My brothers wanted to climb the tower but Mother nixed that idea.
Now I have to tell you Mother was not always the best traveling companion and on that particular day, she was in fine form. As we descended the mountain she thought Daddy was driving too close to the edge of the road and she was sure we would go over the edge, land in the dense growth of trees and underbrush never to be found. He was driving too fast. He wasn’t listening. What if the brakes failed? In fact, according to her, he wasn’t doing anything right! It was then she reached over, turned off the switch and removed the car key!! I suppose she didn’t think, or perhaps know, her actions caused us to have NO brakes at all!!!
Down the hill we flew! As we descended, she is now screaming while Daddy has shifted to a lower gear in order to slow the car down since we had no brakes. My brothers and I looked at each other, scared and wondering if Mother was right in that we would never make it down the mountain alive. In panic we huddled closely and had the most exciting, yet frightening ride in our lives, screaming all the way.
At the bottom of the mountain Mother and Daddy had a big confrontation while my brothers and I, thankful to be alive, hurriedly found a restroom.
When we got back in the car each kid was still struggling for a window seat while secretly whispering about what a wild fun Sunday it had been. We couldn’t wait to tell our cousins how we almost died! Mother and Daddy weren’t speaking; in fact it was quiet most of the way home. Then from the back seat comes a meek little voice asking, “When are we going somewhere again?” Both parents’ heads spun around quickly. Their eyes glared menacing looks before breaking out in laughter and replied, “Soon. Sunday will come again soon.”
Over the past month or so I have attended two meetings regarding the importance of writing our family stories. The first was hosted by GENCOM Genealogical Society at the Broadmoor Branch Library in Shreveport. Gary Calligas, publisher of The Best of Times magazine as well as being the host of a radio program by the same name, was the guest spokesman. Mr. Calligas stressed the importance of interviewing older relatives and writing their stories as well as your own.
A few days later I met with another group of ladies interested in writing at the home of Karen Logan of Gilliam. Our inspiration came from Harriet Daggert, a retired school teacher, who has begun a number of these groups in our area. After reading stories written by a group she had initiated at a retirement home she then challenged our group, of about twelve people, to meet again in two weeks with a story of our high school years. Below is my submission regarding years at North Caddo High School in Vivian, Louisiana.
The big yellow school bus pulled up in front of me, the door opened and there sat Mr. Self, the driver, inviting me to climb aboard. Never in my life had I ridden a school bus! I thought this to be so degrading but soon came to the realization that many of the giggling kids aboard had never known another way of getting to school. They had never known having their parent drop them off or being able to walk next door to high school. Perhaps riding the bus might not be as bad as when, at a different school, our yard abutted the school’s. That was where my younger sisters set up a booth, much like a lemonade stand, where they tried to sell castoff dried locust shells to passing students. Talk about being embarrassed!
I was truly on my own that January morning as Mother was twenty-five miles away enrolling those two bug selling brat sisters in their school. I found most of the riders on the bus were friendly and began asking where I was from, what grade I was in and my name. My name!!! Did I have to tell them??? Okay, so it’s Raby but I go by my nickname, Kookie, so please call me that. There were the usual snickers as the boys promptly called me Rabies! No, it’s not Roby, Ruby, Robbie, nor Rabby. It’s Raby (Ray-B) but just call me Kookie.
Arriving at the campus of North Caddo High I was speechless! It was huge! There were rows and rows of the big yellow buses backed up in the drop off zone waiting to off load kids. I had never seen that many teenagers hurriedly scampering off to the different “wings” trying to beat the bell before first class. After all, in my three previous high schools, the total enrollment was smaller than the freshman class here.
I think it was Mr. Self that directed me to the Principal’s office to enroll. My curriculum would change that day as North Caddo didn’t teach Spanish but did Latin. No way! I was only taking Spanish because Mother wanted me to and I wanted no part of Latin. Home Economics had already finished sewing so I would learn to cook; but wait; I had already done that in my last school but I had never sewn. North Caddo didn’t have a girls’ basketball team therefore basketball would only be played in Phys Ed. I was so disappointed. Algebra was beyond the point that I had studied and I felt sure I would never catch up much less make a passing grade.
My biggest fear that day was learning where A, B, and C wings were located. I didn’t even care where the cafeteria was as my stomach was in turmoil. And lockers with combinations? I just knew I would never master that in time to get the appropriate book or make it all the way to a class in a totally different wing before the tardy bell rang. I had nightmares about wings, lockers and bells the remainder of the year however I managed to finish the year without too many glitches or a trip to the Principal’s office.
By my junior and seniors years, things were much better. I had made friends and could find my way around campus, beat the bell, and open my locker. My Phys Ed teacher sponsored a girls’ basketball team at the YWCA in Shreveport and invited me to play. Luckily I made the Shreveport Y’s All Star Team. I didn’t place in calendar girl tryouts as I had what mother referred to as “knocked knees”. It was about that time that an association with Mrs. Amy Gleason began. She was beautiful inside and out as well as a true Southern lady. Mrs. Amy taught journalism and English which were my two favorite subjects. In class we wrote the school’s newspaper, the Southern Accent, as well as a skit we preformed at the talent contest about a group of riders on a bus. My friend and I played the parts of two young girls desperately needing to get off the bus in order to find a restroom. While we didn’t win a prize for our performance, we did get lots of laughs.
During my last year at North Caddo I got a roll in the senior play playing the part of a newlywed. In the anxiety and excitement of performing on stage before a live audience I skipped two pages of the dialogue! Luckily my “husband” picked it up from that point and the audience never knew.
By this time riding the bus was no longer denigrating but something I looked forward to. You see, there was this tall skinny boy with dark hair and beautiful blue eyes who got on in Gilliam. Now when Mr. Self opened the door, I hurriedly entered and found him seated at the rear of the bus. He and I became best friends first, dated and following high school, married.
Would you believe my trip to our first home was made on a big Greyhound bus? Only this time Mr. Self wasn’t the driver. This time upon arriving at my destination there was that same handsome young man, dressed in Air Force blues, waiting to guide me through the bells, wings and the combinations of our lives.
One never knows when the bus door opens and you step in just what lies ahead.
The Henry Noil Stanley Family
Back row: Harold, James, Lillie, Henry, Rudolph, Jimmy and Travis
Front Row: Maxine, Jerry and Oneal
My first recollection of James Richard Stanley was when I met him at a Stanley family reunion in 2000 in White Oak, Texas. James’ father and my grandfather were half brothers, and while I do remember his father, Henry Noil, visiting my grandfather, I do not remember having met him, nor his siblings, until much later in life. My brother Tommy Stanley, had known most of Uncle Henry’s children, and invited them to our reunion. How glad I am that he introduced me to them!
Henry Noil was born to Thomas Jefferson Stanley and Mary Frances Whittington, Thomas’ second wife. James was one of eight children born to Henry Noil Stanley and wife, Lillie B. Law. He was born on July 8, 1935 in Kilgore, Texas. Most of life, he and his siblings, namely Ennis Harold, Rudolph Eugene, Jimmy Wayne, Travis Edward, Thelma Maxine, Jerry Lee and Noil Oneal, lived in East Texas where Henry worked in the oil fields.
James Richard was born July 8, 1935 in Kilgore, Texas. He entered the United States Air Force on July 1, 1954 where he worked in the operations work center. After twenty-one years, he retired with the rank of Master Sargent.
When he married Erma Maxine Sproles in Gregg County, Texas on December 24, 1977 he also gained a family of three children Maxine had from a former marriage. They are Tommy, Ruby and Barbara.
Following his retirement in the Air Force and returning to East Texas he was involved in the oil field business but always had time for memberships in charitable organizations such as being a 33rd degree Mason. He was a member in the Danville Lodge 101 AF & AM, the Valley-Hi Lodge 1407, was a Shriner, the East Texas Governor of Demolay, a member of the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign War.
Through our getting acquainted at that reunion in 2000 he and his brothers shared that they didn’t know who their father’s mother was. Luckily I had gathered information on the Whittingtons, had located her tombstone in Ida and as only too happy to share it with them. My problem was that while I had located Mary Frances’ tombstone, I had been unable to locate Thomas Jefferson’s. James Richard had been to Munnerlyn Chapel Cemetery (as a child) and knew where it was! The tombstone search was on!!
I met James Richard and wife Maxine, his brothers Harold and Travis and his wife, Tricia in Gilliam in April 2012 where we had lunch before setting off to Ida to revisit the Munnerlyn Chapel Cemetery and Bethsaida Baptist Church Cemetery. Richard remembered there had been a cedar tree by our ancestory, Thomas Jefferson’s marker at Munnerlyn Chapel. Needless to say, we were all disappointed in not finding a single cedar tree in the cemetery! Nor a tombstone.
A few miles north on Highway 71 we stopped off at Bethsaida and located Mary Francis’ tombstone, made a few photos and then stopped in Ida at the gazebo for refreshments and me to read excerpts from the book Ida 2000 by James Allison that spoke about the Whittington history in that community. They bought a copy of that book for their family history while visiting at the Ida Library.
James Richard Stanley and wife Erma Maxine Sproles Stanley
James Richard, Tricia (wife of Travis), Harold, Maxine and Travis Stanley
James Richard passed away November 28, 2013 but not before he knew about his grandmother. He is buried at Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Longview, Texas.
Genealogy is researching, documentation of your ancestors, and hopefully finding some interesting stories of their life experiences to record in your family tree. Most of the time, we cannot fathom the hardships they faced or the reasoning as to why they would set off for uncharted territories knowing not what the next day would bring. Often their destinations carried them far from home, with little mail or contact with relatives left behind as they searched for a new and better life.
As the historians of our families, we often overlook those among the living, who also are blazing new trails such as my ginger haired grand niece, Amanda Leigh Roberts and her husband Thomas Tyson Mather V. While Amanda is sharing their story on her blog, Train of Thought, (located at http:/allaboardthetrain.blogspot.com) I would like to give you a little more information about Amanda and Thomas.
Amanda is the first born of James Arthur Roberts and Martha Joan Stanley Maxwell. She grew up in Tyler, Texas and attended Texas A & M University. She and Thomas were married on May 22, 1999 at the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception in Tyler. Both Amanda and Thomas are employed by Texas A & M University; she as Senior Academic Advisor and Thomas as IT.
These two love to travel and have visited a number of countries abroad including Russia, Denmark, Germany, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Poland and the Dominican Republic. They have also traveled extensively in the United States. Just mention “Road Trip!” and their bags are packed.
Late last February or March, job opportunities with Texas A & M opened in to Doha, Qatar where Texas A & M has a campus. As they had dreamed of living abroad, they applied for the positions and in June made a quick trip to explore the campus in Doha and look further into the relocation.
Needless to say, our families were fearful of their leaving the United States and moving to a country most of us knew nothing about. I am sure it was a heavy decision for Thomas and Amanda to make but as Amanda would say, it would allow them to “step outside their bubble”.
On January 15, 2015 they boarded a plane in College Station, flew to Houston then to Frankfurt, Germany for the final leg of the flight to Doha. There were no dry eyes as they left College Station! And as Amanda enlightens us in her blog, the tears flowed most of the journey. Leaving behind family, friends that are family, along with her two fur babies, Pudge and Casey was not easy! (Due to the long flight, the dogs’ ages, quarantine and not knowing how they would be accepted in a foreign country, Pudge and Casey remain at home with a friend who lives in Amanda and Thomas’ home and showers them with love allowing them to sleep any where they please!)
In the few days they have been in Doha they have been exploring the area and were delighted to find a Starbucks and Chili’s. The grocery store has comfort foods such as Old El Paso Mexican food and Blue Bell Ice Cream!!!! Yes!!! Texas food! Their two bedroom apartment has a great view of the city’s skyline. However, traffic is a nightmare in this city of over 1,300,000 people. Thomas has the wi-fi up and running where they can Skype, chat on Face Book and receive email. And, they have already met some ex-patriot Aggies and others from the United States.
While the challenges they face is different from their ancestors’ pioneering travels and life, it is breaking ground in a new frontier for them; brave souls if you ask me. Today is their first day on the job and I, for one, can’t wait for Amanda’s next blog.
In the words of Sofia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) as she was about to tell a story on the Golden Girls, “Picture this: Sicily 1925”. I am re-phrasing it to say: “Picture this: Brooklyn, New York, Christmas Day 1925 with Albert Walden Eason.”
Albert was dedicated to writing a journal daily giving a full accounting of almost every moment of his duties in the U. S. Naval, any mail he received or sent, and other activities of the day. The diaries, loaned to me by Lane and Winston Eason, his nephews, covered the years from 1924 through 1926. Prior to Christmas Day 1925 Pharmacy Mate First Class Albert Walden, who worked in the cantina, had already been aboard the U. S. S. Bridgeport in Kingston, Jamaica, San Juan, Porto Rico, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Guantanamo Bay, Portsmouth, Hampton Roads, and Portsmouth, Virginia. The account of his activities on Christmas Day 1925 is as follows:
As you can see Albert had a wonderful dinner, saw a Vaudeville show, visited a lady friend and went to New York City before returning to base.
I have been told by family members that he continued journaling until his death. Unfortunately I do not know what those books revealed about his later life. On the bright side there are other stories from the diaries loaned to me and more to share regarding his civilian life, marriages and children. They will be forth coming.
At this point I feel grateful for his service as well as those men and women who serve today. Picture this: wouldn’t it be wonderful if all of our military personnel could return home safely to be with family and friends and enjoy a good meal on this Christmas Day?
I will never cease to be amazed by the research information, documents, and contacts to be found through internet! It is truly mindboggling that after extensive research in libraries and courthouses, traipsing through graveyards, genealogy websites, searching high and low, sometimes the “rest of the story” is just a click away. Such was the case when on October 1st I posted “Road Trip: Henry Fincher Eason”, which is also shared on Facebook. A long time friend shared that blog with a friend of hers, Lyndal Lane Eason.
Through email, Lane contacted me on Our Families Untold Stories, and told me his grandfather was the brother of Fincher! He also told me his family held the diary of another uncle, Albert Eason, which would enlighten me as to what lead up to Fincher taking his life. After several emails and phone calls it was time for another road trip!
It wasn’t long before my genealogy side-kick, Cheri Payton Atkins, and I were in the road to Three States, near Atlanta, Texas, to visit with Lane and his brother, William Winston Eason. My mind was racing as I drove along wondering of the secrets about to be unveiled; how I would be greeted by the Eason brothers; and would it be possible to copy parts of the diary. All I can say is how incredibly warm and sharing these two men are!
As we sat getting to know each other and chatting about my husband’s connection to the Easons, three diaries written by Uncle Albert were lying before me on Lane’s desk.
I could hardly wait until I had them in my hands. The diaries, all written in books issued by the U. S. Navy, contained daily entries about Albert’s naval career, letters from home, and relationships he had with family members. Scattered among the diaries were faded newspaper articles as well as memories recorded by Albert. I couldn’t possibly read it all within the timeframe I had that day. Graciously, Lane and Albert generously loaned them to me to take home to read and copy.
Almost as soon as I arrived home it began raining and so I settled in for the weekend as it would take a while to read all the books. Two contained close to 200 pages and the larger one 400. It was fascinating and like a good novel, I could not put them down!
The newspaper clippings below do not tell which newspapers they appeared nor some of the dates published. Some were entered into Albert’s diary with the dates of when he received them.
In this article you learn that he took his life by ingesting carbolic acid in his Court House office. It also states that he wrote letters grammatically correct, in his perfect penmanship and punctuation precisely accentuated, on the backs of prints of himself that he had planned on using to run for a state office. (Lane and Winston tell me he aspired to become Governor of Arkansas.) Letters addressed to his children and former wife were sealed. He left his wishes for the distribution of his property and speaks of his failing health, as well as accusations against certain individuals.
In this article it addresses those in attendance at his funeral, namely the Knights of Templar who conducted the grave services and about seventy-five (75) robed and masked Ku Klux Klansmen! It further states his was said to have been one of the high officials of the Klan. It seems as if he was so highly esteemed that despite his short comings, was regarded as a man with charitable heart and mind who was betrayed by some within his circles.
Before long Sheriff Barber filed claims against Fincher’s estate:
Walter S. Harris, administrator of the Estate brings suit to collect tax:
And finally, the Bondsmen pay taxes to Arkansas:
While there is much family speculation as to whom Fincher’s wife had an affair with, there is no name mentioned in Albert’s diary, therefore, I cannot document it. What I do know is that his children were taken from his wife at the time of divorce, remained in his custody until his suicide and then were awarded to his sister to rear.
Fincher wrote of his health in the letters he wrote during his last moments, however those letters are sealed and I have been unable to locate a death certificate. I suppose I will never know of his physical condition.
As I have stated in the previous post Fincher was a leader in his community having been a teacher, principal and superintendent. He was Chairmen of the Registration Board in Miller County during WWI; enlisted as a private and became a Captain. He served as Tax Collector and Clerk of Court of Miller County; held memberships in the Mystic Shrine, Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythias, Woodmen of the World and was a Baptist. Fincher was a high profile man in Miller County.
Perhaps he was overly ambitious; perhaps politics were his downfall. Perhaps there are things better off unknown. However what is known is that he was admired and forgiven for any wrong doings by the citizens of Miller County, Arkansas as demonstrated by the thousands in attendance at his funeral.
Almost a year ago I posted a story regarding a visit with first cousin Myrtle Virginia, better known as “Sissy”, Hanson Burge at her home in Doyline, Louisiana on the banks of Lake Bistineau. You will find that story, Road Trips: After the Estate Sale with Sissy Hanson Burge archived under the month of November 2013 on this website.
Yesterday I paid my final visit and respects to her at her funeral at the West Lake Baptist Church located in Doyline.
It was a chilly windy day however everyone in attendance was warmed by the memories of having known her, been related to her, having her in their lives or special places she held in their hearts.
Her obituary, which appeared in the Minden Press Herald on November 11, was written by her daughter, Barbara Burge and a friend, and pretty well sums up Sissy’s life story. It is listed below.
Her casket piece was one that incorporated things she used daily and reflected things she enjoyed; like tea bags; an ice cream container with scoop; a fishing rod complete with cork and a dangling fish; and her rolling pin that had made so many pies. Intermingled among the cattails and sunflowers were a jelly jar filled with kitchen utensils; plates; and a spatula. They represented the things she loved and told a lot about her life’s story.
After the funeral family and friends gathered in the fellowship hall of the church for lunch prepared by members of the congregation. There was a lot of catching up to do with the cousins and remembering when our families visited almost every weekend. No one called ahead to say they were stopping by; you just dropped in. We once had large dinners and annual reunions with families coming from near and far. And it was a time that we were together often enough that you recognized every one there without some parent having to re-introduce you to a cousin you had not seen in ages. It was a time of laugher, good food, funny stories, remembering those who have passed on and wonderful fellowship. This year we have gathered twice; yesterday for Sissy’s funeral; and in April when her brother, Claude Gingles, passed away.
I think Sissy would have loved seeing us all there yesterday. I think she would have had a warm sweet smile and invited us in for lunch. I also think she would say that we should take time to stay in touch, to send a card, to call, to share photos and anecdotes of our loved ones, after all the name of this website is Our Families and Their Untold Stories.
Rest in Peace Myrtle Virginia “Sissy” Hanson Burge.
Born June 9, 1930 in Ida, Caddo Parish, Louisiana
Died November 8, 2014 in Minden, Webster Parish, Louisiana