The biblical verse from Matthew 5:5 says the meek shall inherit the earth and when I read this verse, I feel it perfectly applies my late mother-in-law, Sybol Lillian O’Pry Hemperley. She was meek in nature, small in stature, unassuming, and not one to enjoy the lime light. She was also a devoted wife, mother and Christian; today she is remembered as Wednesday’s Woman.
Sybol was born January 16, 1909 in Provencal, Louisiana to William Henry O’Pry and Amanda Salena Jones. The O’Pry family consisted of Sybol and brothers, William Carl, Marshall Henry, Joseph Dowden (J. D.) and Leo Curtis. In the 1910 census the family is located in Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana where William Henry worked as a lumber grader at a planer mill, however, by 1920 they were located in Lafayette County, Arkansas where he was listed as a farmer. The family later moved to Caddo Parish, Louisiana in an area known as Pine Island, where William Henry sold Watkins products.
Sybol married John Raymond Hemperley on August 9, 1930. Raymond had bought the marriage license in Arkansas however, at the time, they were living in Louisiana and Sybol wanted to be married in Louisiana. How to resolve this problem? They were married in the middle of the road where the two states join with one foot in each state!
While living in Gilliam, Louisiana they first lived on the “Ward Place” and later bought sixty acres just below there known as the “Cody Place” outside of Gilliam, Louisiana. Raymond’s parents, John Daniel Luther Hemperley and Laura Sara Jane Josephine Matilda Ann Hanson (thank goodness she went by Laura!) lived with them. They had a shotgun house with Raymond and Sybol’s family on one side and John and Laura on the other. The family grew to include Sybol and Raymond’s three children, Jesse Raymond, Donald Ray and Mona Rose.
When the children were small, Laura kept the children while Sybol, Raymond and John worked the farm. They raised cotton, hay for the cattle and a large garden. They had chickens and hogs and when it was “hog killing weather”, the neighbors would come to help so the smoke house could be filled. The pantry was always filled with beautiful canned foods that line the walls and extra sugar, flour, etc. in the kitchen cabinets. Since she had lived through the Great Depression, I believe she wanted to rest assured she could feed the family. Sybol wasn’t a fancy cook but liked cook books and was always clipping recipes from the newspaper or magazines. I inherited one of her cookbooks, The Watkins Cook Book, pictured below. You will note the copy write was in 1938 and that it cost $1.50. I have no doubt she got it when her father was selling Watkins products. It is filled with some of her clippings which often have her hand written notes.
Typically Sybol wore fresh starched and ironed cotton dresses unless she was working in the garden where she wore long sleeves (no matter how hot the weather), a bonnet she had made, and gloves.
She loved flowers and her yard was full beautiful ones, particularly her favorites, daliahs and cleomes, also known as pens and needles. She is pictured below with great grandsons, Brian, David and Greg Stanley by an iris bed.
Sybol never gossiped, talk ill-will of anyone nor did I ever hear a profane word come from her mouth all the years I knew and loved her.
Sybol Lillian O’Pry Hemperley at wedding of Kelly Hemperley Brown
Sybol never learned to drive and after Raymond’s death in 1970 the farm was sold and she moved to Gilliam. She continued her gardening, attended church regularly at Linda Lay Baptist, and enjoyed her children and grandchildren. She never had much, nor needed much. She never asked for much; never wanted much other than visits with her family. She was a simple, loving, giving, meek Christian woman. I have no doubt she “inherited the earth” but also a place in Heaven.
Sybol (who was lovingly called “Babe” by Raymond) passed away on January 10, 1986 in Vivian, Louisiana. She is buried beside Raymond at Bathsaida Baptist Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.