Category Archives: Stories

THE STORM CELLAR

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Since yesterday was Mother’s Day, I had had my mom on my mind most of the day.  That’s not to say that Mother’s Day is the only time I think of her; heavens no!  However holidays and Mother’s Day evokes memories from years past.  Other occasions do as well, such as last night when I climbed into bed glued to the TV to keep abreast of the tornado in Texas headed straight to Louisiana. It brought back memories of another bad storm when my mom was terrified.

I must have been ten or twelve years old and we lived just a few miles south of Atlanta, Texas on a farm Mom (Mamie Martin) and Dad (Clyde Stanley) had rented.  It was on that acreage that my Dad had my three older brothers growing peas and cucumbers to sell to a cannery in a nearby town.  It was the same farm where I fell from the magnolia tree in the front yard and landed upon a metal curtain pleater which pierced my foot.  The same place where we raised chickens and while gathering eggs, I almost put my hand on a snake coiled up around eggs in the chicken house.  It was also the same house where my brothers, my two-year old sister and I welcomed the newest member, another girl, to our family.

You know how animals can sense a storm brewing long before it arrives?  Well Mom was the same way.  She was always terrified of storms and by the time she got through telling us how bad it could be, we were all shaking in our boots!

That particular night the storm grew more intense; the rain more torrential.  We had no gadgets like today to track bad weather.  No TV, iphones or internet with radar images and of course the radio was filled with static and so it was all but useless.  It was then Mom decided we had to make a run for it if we were to survive.

Luckily the Balcoms down the road had a storm cellar.  I had passed the Balcoms’ house many times and seen their cellar which was located in their front yard but never dreamed one night we would all seek shelter there.  The door was almost flat to the ground and the top was covered with grass but I had never been inside.  Daddy knew Mother would never calm down if we didn’t visit the Balcoms that night.  We made a mad dash to the car, got soaking wet and headed to safety.

Once there, the Balcoms heard our desperate screams, opened the door and let us in.  The steps went straight down; the only light was from a coal oil lamp and the door was secured on the inside by a heavy weighted chain attached to a post.  The cellar wasn’t very large and by the time we all got in with the Balcoms, all you could do was find a spot on the bench inside and wait it out.

The glow from the lamp glistened on the walls where shelves of canned goods that Mrs. Balcom had put up from her garden were stored.  And there was a jug of water if you got thirsty.  At least if we had to stay a while, we would have something to eat I thought.

Then my imagination turned to what else could be hiding in the darkness…… Snakes?  Spiders?  Other creepy crawlers?  I pulled my feet from the earthen floor up to the bench and sat very quietly and close to Mom.

The storm raged for what seemed like hours with thunder claps breaking the silence inside the cellar unless someone said, “that was close”, while rain seeped through the crack at the doorway.  Finally it passed.  There was no more thunder or howling wind; just the sound of a gentle rain. And, as by some act of God, Mom turned back into her normal happy self.

While lying in my bed last night there was lightning all around.  It was then the cable went out for a short time.  Before it came back on I had tried both my cell phone and tablet only to find the radar map wasn’t loading properly!  Suddenly I felt just like Mamie!!!  But if worse came to worse, I wouldn’t spend the night in a cellar but would retreat to the closet which was supplied with water, a few snacks, a flashlight and sleeping bag.   Plus the only creepy crawling things inside would be me and my two Shih Tzu dogs!

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Sunday Will Come Again Soon

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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.”

 

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The Bus

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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 Bus

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.

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PIONEERING A NEW FRONTIER: AMANDA LEIGH ROBERTS MATHER

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Amanda and Thomas

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.

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ROAD TRIP: HENRY FINCHER EASON, SR: THE REST OF THE STORY

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Henry Fincher Eason

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.

Alberts diaries stacked

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.

Fincher Eason Tax Collector Ends His Life 11-20-1924

Fincher Eason Tax Collector Ends His Life 11-20-1924 continued

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.

Fincher Eason Thousands Attend Funeral 12-8-1924

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:

Sheriff files Claims Agains Eason Estate 6-13-1925

Walter S. Harris, administrator of the Estate brings suit to collect tax:

Administrator of Eason Estate Sue to Collect Tax 2-9-1925

And finally, the Bondsmen pay taxes to Arkansas:

 

Bondsmen for Fincher to Pay Arkansas 10-10-1925

Bondsmen for Fincher Pay State 43,000 1-10-1925

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.

 

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REMEMBERING MOM, HER BIRTHDAY AND THE CHANGES SINCE HER BIRTH

Mamie L MartinOne hundred years ago on this date the world was quite different. It is amazing how things have changed; what has been invented; what changed our lives; and one particular person that molded me and made me and my siblings who and what we are.  You see, on October 21, 1914, my mother, Mamie Louise Martin Stanley was born.  She was the third child born to Walter Houston Martin and Emma Pearl Bain in Ida, Louisiana.

World War I had broken out in the summer of 1914, which meant hard times, not only for Mother’s family, but the entire world. That was followed by World War II, the Korean War, Viet Nam and the Gulf War.  The Atomic Bomb was also developed.

During some of those war years, if you owned an automobile, gas was rationed and tires were extremely difficult to come by. Later designs of the cars changed as well as options.  Radio tuners, radios, cassette tapes, CDs, automatic transmissions, car phones and air conditioning became standard options and no longer a luxury. Roads were paved and interstate highways covered the entire United States.  You could even attend a drive-in movie with your sweetie, if you made it through the newly installed traffic light in time. Wonder what she would think about today’s GPS systems that tell you when/where to turn?

The medical front changed when penicillin was developed. The iron lung was invented, artificial hearts and heart transplants became the norm, TB hospitals closed, polio was cured, “the pill” was developed and so were contact lenses.  These are but a few of the miracle cures developed during Mom’s lifetime.

Mom was a great cook (once owning a café in Belcher, Louisiana) so you can imagine how Pyrex, pop-up toasters, slow cookers, microwave ovens, electric coffee pots and skillets, frozen food, and Tupper Ware, improved her life. And how exciting it must have been to dine at an Oriental restaurant and have your fortune told by a cookie!  Or eat your first McDonald’s burger!

Photos were amazing when the Polaroid camera came along! Now we have digital cameras, phone cameras, drones, and you can either, upload and share on the Cloud, or project directly to the TV screen.  Your family can even ride down the road and watch a movie! TVs transformed from little round screens in black and white with lots of static to color; from small to spanning the whole wall; from analog to HD.

Toys once made from bottles (or anything else you could salvage) that represented a car or truck evolved into the invention of the Slinky, Silly Putty, Mr. Potato Head, Hula Hoop, Barbie and the adorable Cabbage Patch Kids! Video games soon had her grandchildren hooked!

Telephones were few and far between in her younger years and I remember our first one actually had a telephone operator who would connect you to anyone who also had a phone. Sometimes you didn’t get the operator but instead could listen in to a neighbor’s call because you had a “party line.”

Mother’s generation were hard-working adaptable people. Her family was not of means therefore during the years of her youth she hoed and picked cotton. I suppose some would say that following her marriage to Clyde Stanley and the birth of the children, things didn’t get a whole lot better. Looking back I know we were poor but I never realized it at the time.  Wherever Daddy’s work took us we packed up and moved, sometimes more than once in a year.  Her duty was not only the move but putting all six of us in new schools (she often said she had children in school for thirty years straight).  She made sure we had three meals a day; clean clothes scrubbed on a washboard; were mannerly and polite; taught us how to work and take nothing for granted; and instilled a strong love of family. She was quick to laugh, generous with her hugs, and loved each of us individually.

During the twenty years since her death the world has changed even more. Even our family has changed a great deal.  Not only did she loose her husband but some of her children have passed on as well.  We have new additions which, if she were alive, would make her a great great-grandmother, a title she would eagerly embrace and cherish every moment.  Our strong family ties have endured because she was adaptable and did her job well!

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

 

Mamie Martin Stanley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ROAD TRIP: HENRY FINCHER EASON

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It was a beautiful late September day last Thursday when friend Cheri Atkins and I drove to Texarkana, Arkansas on a quick road trip to do some research at the Miller County Court House. Her goal was for Dial and Collins documents, and I would be searching for Martins and Hemperleys.

As we drove we talked about late blooming summer flowers and how it was difficult it was to recognize some parts of Highway 71 since I-49 construction had changed the scenery. We passed round bales of hay in fields, a pasture filled with a herd of buffalo, churches and graveyards. There was some construction and we even passed a group of prisoners picking up trash along the roadway.  Cheri, who has a vivid imagination, commented on how she thought it would be easy for one of those convicts to escape.  A short time later we passed a police vehicle heading South flying down the road with lights flashing soon to be followed by five more patrol cars.

Arriving at our destination of 400 Laurel Street, there it stood…… the Court House. My imagination ran rampant about the discoveries we were about to make. I could already smell the old books filled with Our Families Untold Stories.

The Court House is located in older section of town filled with homes of the same era and nearby beautiful churches. This was not the original Court House which initially served both Texas and Arkansas, but the one finished in the late 1930s to serve only Miller County, Arkansas.

Miller County Court House

Once inside we must have looked as if we were strangers to its halls as a man I recognized from the Court House’s website as County Judge Larry E. Burgess offered assistance by directing us to the Clerk of Court’s office. I can only sing the praises of those who work there as they were friendly, courteous and only too eager to answer our questions or offer assistance.

The search was on! Cheri and I both were able to obtain documents pertaining to marriage licenses, preacher certificates, deeds and other priceless pieces of our families’ history.  Then it dawned on me that I was standing not only among history of Miller County but the history of one Henry Fincher Eason, former Clerk of Court and Tax Collector of Miller County AND his mother was a Hemperley!

Henry Fletcher Eason-1

(Photo owned by Susie Higginbotham Reynolds)

Fincher Eason (son of Seaborn Sidney) was one of fifteen children born to his father and mother, Luella Hemperley (daughter of Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley, great grandfather of my husband). His family lived in Sulphur Township on his father’s farm.

He attended college at Louisiana State Normal School and at the age of twenty-two began a career in education. He served as teacher, principal and superintendent. Below is a photo of College Hill Ward School in Texarkana where he was a principal.

Fincher Eason, College Hill School

On December 23, 1908 he married Miss Ollie Minnie Walton and from this union there were six children born, two of which died in infancy.

In 1916 he became Miller County Clerk of Court and served for two terms before becoming Tax Collector in 1920. The 1920 Census shows him living at 414 Hickory Street with his wife and four children: Fincher, Jr. age 9, Sidney S. age 6, William Boyd, age 5 and Evelyn who is 1 year of age. On November 20, 1923 Fincher and Ollie divorced and he retained sole custody of the children.

During WWI he served as Chairman of the registration board; enlisted as a private and reached the rank of Captain.

 

 

Recently while looking over notes I had made while interviewing a Hemperley relative thirty years ago, I had jotted down “committed suicide” by his name. It was time to revisit Fincher and locate any information I could find regarding how he died. Below are a couple of articles I found on www.genealogybank.com relating to his death.

Fincher Eason found deadFincher Eason FuneralFincher Eason , Tax office closed

Why, I thought? Why would a man who was a pillar in the community commit suicide?  He had to be well thought of as there were 2,000 people that attended his funeral and 4,000-5,000 at the gravesite!  This man was a 32nd degree Mason, a member of the Mystic Shrine, served as senior deacon of the lodge, Member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Knights of Pythia, Woodmen of the World and Baptist Church. I had to know more and so I enlisted the help of one of the clerks to locate the probate records from his estate. Surely his will, one of the letters he had written, or the “To The People of Miller County” mentioned in the newspaper article about him being found dead would give me some insight.

His will was not in the Probate Records. None of the letters were.  Nor was the “To the People of Miller County”.  Nothing to give me a hint or understanding of his taking his life.  However, what I did locate was a list of his debts, which amounted to $83,000.  In 1923 that had to be comparable to millions today!

Fincher Eason, Total Debts

As you can see from this document, the administrator of his estate asks the Court to allow 35% payment of his debts or $29,050.

Did he commit suicide because of his divorce; his being the sole parent raising four children; ill health; or the amount of debt he owed? I suppose I will never know!

What I did learn was that the two ounces of poison he took changed the lives of his children forever. Fincher’s sister, Ida Hughes, petitioned the Court for custody of the children as set out by Fincher in his will.

Fincher Eason's Children Guardianship

The children’s mother sued for custody of two of the four children and according to the article below, the judge in the case awarded them to Fincher’s sister, Mrs. Ida Hughes of Bright Star, per his handwritten wishes.

Custody of Henry Fincher Eason's Children

 

 

 

 

One week later Arkansas State Police and other law enforcement officers are still looking for the escapee.

One week later I am still looking for more information on another escaped man, namely  Henry Fincher Eason!

 

 

 

 

VIRGOS: HERE’S OUR SIGN!

According to astrology, Virgo, the sixth sign of the Zodiac, runs from August 23 through September 22 (although some say the cusp day is the 23).  It is the only sign represented by a woman.  Virgos typically are reliable, practical, meticulous and do well in vocations of service, such as doctors, nurses, teachers, bookkeepers.  They are also creative and sensitive.  Do I, as a Virgo, believe all of this?  I don’t put a lot of credence in it however I do read my horoscope daily!

In my family tree of most recent relatives, I have sixteen Virgos not counting myself.  My grandmother was one.  One aunt, one uncle, one daughter, one daughter-in-law, two granddaughters, one grandson, one great grandson, one niece and her husband, one nephew, one nephew’s wife, two great nephews, and one great niece are all Virgos. Whew!  Not to worry only four are the subjects of this post.

Granddaughter Emerson Avery Hemperley (Emy) was born September 3, 1992 in New Orleans, Louisiana to Steve and Andrea Tanet Hemperley.  As a child she took ballet but soon diverted her competitive spirit to sports playing tee ball and soccer.

Emy Hemperley

 

Emy, 1996

The photo above shows her determination while playing at an arcade in Celebration Station in New Orleans in 1996.

Emy began school in Mandeville, Louisiana; graduated from Sacred Heart Academy in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Following graduation she traveled to Paris, France and has visited other large cities including New York City.   She attended Ole Miss, missed New Orleans, returned and is currently enrolled at the University of New Orleans.  She and her family enjoy spending time at their camp in Monterey, Louisiana however Emy is truly a New Orleans girl to the core!  She loves the city and all it has to offer; Mardi Gras, clubs, good food, family and friends.

Emy at Mardi Gras

Zachery Tucker Hemperley, Emy’s brother, was born September 6, 1994 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Tucker first attended school in Mandeville, Louisiana and graduated from Jesuit High School in New Orleans.  While living in Mandeville, he played tee ball and loved skate boarding.

Tucker Hemperley

Tucker likes to hunt and fish and can often be found at the family retreat entertaining friends.

Tucker's First Deer

Tucker’s first deer was taken in Monterey, Concordia Parish, Louisiana.  The following photo was made while fishing in Mexico.

Tucker fishing in Mexico

Tucker is in his second year at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge where he pledged K A.  Below is a photo of Tucker and Southern Belle, Gabby Ray at the fraternity’s celebration of the Old South.

 

Tucker and Gabby

Nine days following Emy’s birth, granddaughter Lauren Elise Brown was born in Hobbs, New Mexico on September 12, 1992 to Scott and Kelly Hemperley Brown.

Lauren was active in scouting beginning at the age of four.  Too young for the Daisys, she attended meetings where he mother was scout leader.

Lauren's first apron

She went on to become a Brownie, Girl Scout, and earned the Silver Star award which is the equivalent to the BSA Eagle Scout.

Lauren Elise Brown

She attended Herndon Magnet School in Gilliam, Louisiana and graduated from Caddo Magnet High School in Shreveport. Lauren enjoys Renaissance Festivals, Dr. Who, fly fishing and camping with family. They have traveled as far West as Colorado, North to South Dakota, and East to Florida and Washington, D. C. Lauren attended University of Louisiana Monroe and Louisiana Technical College in Shreveport where she studied the culinary arts. She is currently employed at a law firm in Shreveport.

the Dawsons

Lauren married Christopher Wayne Dawson and on August 23, 2014 gave birth to another Virgo, a son, Benjamin Rhys Dawson in Shreveport, Louisiana. Ben enjoys being fed, napping, and being spoiled by everyone.

Benjamin Rhys Dawson

And the final featured Virgo is my daughter, Kelly Anne Hemperley Brown. Kelly was born on September 21, 1963 in Texarkana, Arkansas. She was a mischievous child who was always into something. The joke in our family was that had she been born prior her brother, he would never have been born! There was always impishness in her eyes as she was about to get into something. However, to this day when she hears me call out “Kelly Anna”, she knows she’s in deep trouble! Give her a challenge and she will eagerly accept it.

Kelly Anne Hemperley

Kelly was educated in public schools in Vivian, Louisiana graduating from North Caddo High where she was a member of the Louisiana All Star Marching Band and the winner of the I Dare You award at graduation. She attended Louisiana State University-Shreveport for a short while before enrolling in business school. Prior to her graduation she was hired by the Caddo Parish Police Jury as personal secretary to the administrator; a position she held for seven years before moving to Hobbs, New Mexico. While employed at the Police Jury it changed to a Commission and a resolution was written into the Commission’s minutes, which was entered into Caddo Parish’s history, for her dedication and work during the transition.

Resolution of Appreciation for Kelly Hemperley Brown in Caddo Parish

 

In New Mexico she was employed by the City of Hobbs where she received special recognition as employee of the month.

Kelly Hemperley Brown, Hobbs, New Mexico

In 1993 her family moved back to Caddo Parish and she returned to work for Caddo Parish; this time in the District Attorney’s office in the drug division. Since then she has been responsible for the training of all secretaries in the District Attorney’s office and most recently moved to the position of secretary for the Appellate Court.

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Kelly’s dedication to helping others, lead her to become a Girl Scout leader for many years; church secretary; church youth leader; and exercise instructor. However I think she would say her most important job today is that of being wife, mother and grandmother. A job she does well!

Now that you have allowed me to give you a little insight to my favorite Virgos, I would also like to wish the others who share the sign a Happy Birthday. They are Andrea Tanet Hemperley, Marty Stanley Roberts and husband Jimmy, Damon Goodwin, Melissa Slaughter Goodwin, David Stanley, Greg Stanley, and Amanda Roberts Mather!

 

 

ROAD TRIP: NEW ORLEANS IN JULY, PART III, DAT’S DA PLACE!

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Tourists visit New Orleans to eat, drink and be merry.  On every corner there’s a place to “do dat”.  While tourists flock to the world famous restaurants of New Orleans, locals have their favorite neighborhood haunts. That is not to say they don’t frequent the more renowned ones, they do; however New Orleans is about neighborhoods and a sense of belonging.  Mostly we ate in the Garden District area.   Some restaurants there are expensive; some are funky and fun but all are loud!  Since I love to eat, the subject of Part III of New Orleans in July will be a few places my son Steve Hemperley’s family and I ate on my recent visit.

Early Saturday afternoon when we arrived, everyone else had already eaten or were running errands so Steve took me to GG’s Dine-O-Rama located at 3100 Magazine Street.  GG’s specializes in homemade, fresh and unique recipes made from scratch.  They offer fine dining or a casual menu with your choice of seating; inside or out.  He and I opted to dine on the sidewalk cooled by a mister fan and watch the activity along Magazine Street.  I ordered the St. Patty’s Day Massacre which was shaved corned beef, Swiss cheese, French fries, ancho-honey slaw, 1000 Island Dressing, Creole mustard on pumpernickle rye bread.  It was huge!! And I would have never thought of placing the home-made fries IN the sandwich.  I cannot remember what Steve ordered (probably something health!) but I was on holiday and not counting calories. Mine was delicious and since I wasn’t able to eat it all, the rest came home in a doggie bag to be savored at another time.

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That night Steve had marinated duck breasts to grill. Tucker made duck poppers by placing cream cheese and a bit of jalapeno pepper inside before wrapping the breast in bacon. Steve grilled them and talk about good!

I taught Max how to make a coconut cake. The cake was drenched in coconut milk and condensed milk and topped with Cool Whip and fresh coconut.

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I would give the Hemperley’s kitchen a five star rating!

For lunch the next day, Steve, Andrea and I went to Tracey’s Bar and Restaurant on the corner of Magazine and Third Street. It specializes in Po-boys, sandwiches, and fried seafood, and sides such as cheese fries, boudin balls, and fried okra, etc. It has been in business since 1949 and is dubbed The Original Irish Channel Bar.

Tracey's
From Tracey’s website

The ceiling is covered in New Orleans decorated umbrellas.  The World Cup Soccer final game was drawing a huge crowd who had come to watch on one of the 20 TVs that show nothing but sporting events.  We opted to finishing watching the game at home.

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On Monday, Tucker, Max and I had lunch at The American Sector Restaurant of the World War II Museum where Chef John Besh puts his twist on American cooking.

That night the family went out to Pascal’s Manale, a restaurant known as the “Home of the Original BBQ Shrimp”.  Located at 1838 Napoleon Avenue, it specializes in seafood, Italian dishes and steaks.

Pascal's Manale

From Pascal’s Manale Restaurant & Bar website

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Andrea and Max at Pascal’s Manale

Dinner began with an appetizer of oysters on the half-shell.  Some in the group ate steak, veal, or BBQ shrimp.  I opted for Chicken Bordelaise.  Max and I finished off dinner with a scrumptious bread pudding.

Andrea invited the boys and me to meet her for lunch at the Weston Hotel in Canal Place on Tuesday.  The River 127 located on the 11th floor has a spectacular view of the river with barges, paddle wheels, and other river traffic.  I had intended to make lots of pictures however as soon as we were seated a squall came through and the magic of the moment was gone!  Following a delicious lunch, Tucker, Max and I headed for the nearby Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium where we learned about the most ferocious diner in New Orleans…… the almighty Termite!!!

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Before heading home, we stopped on St. Charles Avenue for pralines.

That night we ate at Dat Dog on Foret where Emy works.  It is such a fun place, bright and colorful with any type of hotdog you can imagine.  None of which you would find in North Louisiana!

Freret-Dat-Dog

From Feret-Dat Dog website

Their menu is imaginative with vegan, spicy chipotle, turducken, duck, crawfish and alligator among other specialties.  The night we were there was Trivia night and the place was jumping!

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Max’s Alligator Dog

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Cheese Fries, anyone?

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Or something from the bar?

By Wednesday I was pooped and opted to stay home and rest.   Emy and Tucker told me that some of their fondest memories had been that of eating chicken and dumplings at my house when I lived in Covington.  I rested most of the day and then prepared a huge pot of chicken and dumplings with a salad for dinner.  It must have been good since there was none left.

The next night, Steve grilled venison burgers for a couple of Emy and Tucker’s friends and the rest of the family.  Needless to say it was another gastronomic delight.

Wow!  What a food binge I had been on!  If you would like an and epicurean experience such as this, then try New Orleans ‘cause dat’s the place to do it!

 

(For more information on any of these restaurants, check out their websites or Face Book page.)

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JIMMY CLYDE STANLEY: JULY 30, 1933-MARCH 1, 2009

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Jimmy Clyde Stanley

Jimmy Clyde Stanley was born July 30, 1933 in Ida, Louisiana to Clyde Henry and Mamie Martin Stanley.  He was the first of six children and easily accepted the role of big brother to the rest of us.  He was a mover and a shaker before his time; meaning he was often the instigator of the antics of his two brothers and me (our two other sisters came along much later).  Mostly he was the one that was the most daring of the group, such as the time he wanted to be Captain Marvel.  He draped himself in one of Mother’s tablecloths to use as a cape, climbed the roof of our garage and bailed off thinking he could fly! Luckily the only thing broken was his pride and he lived to dream up some other new adventure.

Jim (also nicknamed Coot or Pete) attended school in Bivins, Texas prior to our moving to Atlanta, Texas.  In Bivins he was in a school play and in Atlanta he was an Atlanta Rabbit (football team) member.

Jim, High School

He first worked as a life guard at the Atlanta public swimming pool and later at Meyers’ Department Store.   His outgoing personality, smile, and the ability to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge was well suited for his occupation of sales or public relations with the exception of a few years he spent working in the oilfields in Odessa and Ganado, Texas.  While working in Odessa he received a good samaritan award from the Texas Highway Department for assisting someone in need.  Following that he served as district manager for American Built Homes in Texarkana, and Baton Rouge. Later in the Houston area he owned his own construction and remodeling business.

Jim’s first marriage was to Mildred Eva Howard of Texarkana.  They were married on November 21, 1952.  Prior to their divorce in January 1980 they became parents of Brenda Jane, Jimmy Lanier, Eva Carol and Scott Howard.  Eva Carol died at birth.

While he and Mildred, who had now changed her name to Toni, were living in the Nassau Bay, Texas area he learned to love boating.  Below are photos of a couple of his boats appropriately named the Phoni-Toni.

Jim's BoatPhoniToniII

In March of 1980 Jim remarried Patsy Jean Miller.  Jim’s new brother-in-law was an owner of Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, Louisiana and also owned an oil refinery in Venezuela.  He soon became general manager of the track and Commissioned Deputy Sheriff for Acadia Parish form 1988-1992.  He often traveled to Venezuela on business.

Jim Stanley's Acadia Parish Deputy Sheriff Commission

Jim Stanley's Passport

Jim married a third time to Denise Milsap and lived in Mobile, Mississippi for a while. No children were born of the second or third marriages.

He was a true Leo with a zest for life, warm spirit, confident, generous and loyal. He loved the finer things in life such as clothes, cars, boats and beautiful women. However a good joke or a heated game of Rook with his mother against other family members, were also indulgences he enjoyed. He was most generous with his parents and loved to take them out to dine or for a day on the bay in one of his boats.

The two greatest pleasures in his life were his children and grandchildren. He was giving, loving, and always there for them.

Jim passed away on March 1, 2009 of complications from Myasthenia Gravis and is buried in Vivian, Louisiana along- side his parents.

Happy Birthday, Brother! We still miss you!

Category: Genealogy, Stories | Tags:
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