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ROAD TRIP: NEW ORLEANS IN JULY, PART I: WALKING IN THE GARDEN DISTRICT

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Through the years I have been to New Orleans many times and on each trip, the experience has been totally different.  There is always something to do; a new dining experience; old favorites to revisit or new memories to be made.  Recently when my son, Steve, called to ask if I would come for a weeklong visit with his family, my immediate response was “Come and get me!”  Only on this trip my time in New Orleans would be different.  There would be no Bourbon Street bars, no beinets at Café Du Monde, no Audubon Zoo, nor Aquarium, no French Market, no strolls down Royal Street, no Super Dome……. It was to be more, specifically time with Steve and his family, wife Andrea Tanet Hemperley, and children, Emy, Tucker and Max.  And, oh yes, his hairy kids, Cane, an English Lab and that funny, spunky Cairne Terrier named Jax.

Steve lives in the Garden District of New Orleans and while he is just a few blocks off St. Charles Avenue, he had told me of the walking tours that passed on his street visiting the historic district which is a mecca for some of the most beautiful homes in the city.  Originally the wealthier citizens who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creoles lived on  plantations with large tracts for their homes featuring beautiful gardens; thus the name, Garden District. Today the district is known for the beautiful architecturally designed homes which are on much smaller lots with manicured yards, cast iron fences and majestic oak trees.

Sunday morning found most everyone sleeping in; that is everyone but Steve, Jax and I.  The morning was cool (unlike most days which are horribly hot due to humidity) so I decided Jax and I would take a stroll.

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Jax was comfortably resting on the sofa until the leash came out and boy did he know what that meant! Out the door, we began our walk on Prytania Street which is home for celebrities Drew Brees, Anne Rice, Nicholas Cage, and the Mannings, Eli, Peyton and Archie.  While I don’t know the addresses of these people, Sandra Bullock maintains a residence within sight of Steve’s “stoop”.

Sandra Bullock's home

Most of the homes are of Gothic Revival style; many have beautiful gingerbread trim; most have oaks that have endured hurricanes for years.  Homes with iron fences and bright colors are also along our route.  Here are a few photos of homes Jax and I passed on our stroll.

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Although difficult to see in this photo this home has a playhouse built like a castle in the back.

Susie Higginbotham has been researching someone in her family tree that, according to a census, lived on St. Charles Avenue. I was able to locate that home for her.
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Back on Fourth Street I discovered this cornstalk and morning glory designed iron fence and while I failed to notice the first walk by, it actually had corn growing in a small portion of the fence.

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The lot the cornstalk fence surrounds actually has more than one home; one of Gothic Revival and this modern home. Many of the historic homes have placques that displays the original owner’s name, date built, and other pertinent information. Below is a photo of the one by the cornstalk fence.

Col. Short placque

Translated it reads: Colonel Short’s Villa built in 1859 for Colonel Robert H. Short of Kentucky, Commission Merchant. Henry Howard, Architect, Robert Huyghe, Builder. In 1832 this property, which was a part of the Livaudais Plantation, was subdivided into city squares. September 1, 1863 the house was seized by the Federal Forces occupying the city property of an absent Rebel. In March 1864 the house briefly served as the executive mansion of the newly elected Federal Governor of Louisiana, Michael Hahn. It then became the residence of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks, U. S. Commander, Department of the Gulf. On August 15, 1865 the house was returned to Colonel Short by the U. S. Government and he lived in it until his death in 1890. An addition was made in 1906 and the house restored in 1950. The unusual cast iron morning glory and cornstalk fence was furnished by the Philadelphia Foundry of Wood and Miltenberger.

Jax and I also passed one of the Cities of the Dead, Lafayette Cemetery #1 which opened in 1833. Burials here are in wall vaults as is the case in most areas of South Louisiana due to the water table being so high. Anne Rice created a fictional tomb here for one of her books. She also staged a jazz funeral where she rode in a glass enclosed coffin down the aisle of the cemetery to introduce her book, Memnoch the Devil. The movies Double Jeopardy and Dracula 2000 were filmed within the cemetery. Musical videos by LeAnn Rimes and New Kids on the Block were also made at Lafayette Cemetery #1.

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Back home after our long walk, Jax drank lots of water and then curled up on the couch with Steve, who was sleeping, for a nice long nap.

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I got another cup of coffee and reflected on what a beautiful day it was. We had seen tourist snapping photos along the route, joggers, dog walkers, and passed a coffee shop where customers sat outside reading the paper or having breakfast. How nice it had been to see another side of New Orleans. Who knew what tomorrow would bring? Ah, but you will soon know when I post Road Trips: New Orleans in July, Part II.

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MILITARY MONDAY- 5th SGT. ANDREW SIMPSON HEMPERLEY, CONFEDERATE SOLDIER

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A S Hemperley tombstone

Andrew Simpson “Simpy” Hemperley was one of ten children born to Edward P. Hemperley and Malinda Foster in Georgia.  In the 1850 Census the family resided in the Twenty-ninth District of Fayette County, Georgia.  Edward P.  is listed as a farmer with real estate valued at $1,450.

On May 16, 1852 Andrew married Miss Louise Catherine Dodd in Fayette County, Georgia.  The marriage was performed by Louise’s father, John Sample Dodd, a prominent Baptist preacher.

A S Hemperley, Louise Dodd Marriage

Of this marriage there were four children born: Nancy M., Priscilla M., Sarah Levonia and Jefferson Beauregard Hemperley. From A History of Doddridge, Spring Bank, and the Other Communities of Sulphur Township Arkansas by Charles Wesley Bigby much is written about the Hemperley families that lived in the area.  What is known is that:  in 1856, prior to the Civil War Andrew and Louise moved to Bright Star, Arkansas.   In 1859 they had acquired eighty acres of land as proven by the deed below.

Andrew S Hemperley, BLM 1859

 

 

 

The following year they acquired an additional eighty acres.

Andrew S Hemperley, BLM 1860

In a letter written by Andrew’s son Beauregard he tells of how their home was built with logs and penned and keyed with no nails. It had a fireplace which was used not only for heating but also where Louise prepared all of their meals.

On March 3, 1862 Andrew enlisted in the 20th Arkansas Infantry, Company K in Lafayette County. His records show that he was a 5th Sergeant. By October the unit was engaged in fighting around Vicksburg, Mississippi. Records show that on the 4th of October 1862 he had been wounded and taken prisoner at Corinth, Mississippi.

 Page 5, A S Hemperley

In another document he was to be paroled and taken to Columbus, Kentucky from Corinth. However in the paroled section it lists “not stated”.

Page 8, A S Hemperley

From my research I have learned many of the healthier prisoners captured in that area were transported to prisons in other areas of the United States. Some of those infirmed were released to get home any way they could while others remained in hospitals. Since Andrew is buried in Vicksburg, I am lead to believe he was never sent to prison elsewhere.

In July 1862 Congress gave the President of the United States the right to purchase land for cemeteries “for soldiers who shall die in the service of their country.” It was also determined that Confederate soldiers and sailors were fighting in rebellion and would not be allowed to be buried in a Nation Cemetery. Therefore only Union soldiers and sailors are buried in the Vicksburg National Cemetery with the Confederates being buried in nearby Soldier’s Rest, a section of Cedar Hill Cemetery.

Below are some photos from the Vicksburg National Park.

20th AR Infantry at Vicksburg

Soldiers Rest CSA Cemetery, Vicksburg, MS

Arkansas State Memorial at Soldiers Rest

Sign at Soldiers Rest Cemetery

Also in the letter Beauregard wrote he tells of hard times following his father’s death. His mother fed them one winter on sweet potatoes; on Sunday mornings or when they had company she would make biscuits to go with them. She spun, corded and wove the cloth for their clothing, they ate game from the nearby woods, but she never returned to Georgia.

In writing this post I am thinking of our family’s Confederate hero but also of heroes lost in all the wars since Andrew’s death. I am also reminded of the unsung heroes, the wives who have kept families together at all cost, no matter their sacrifices. Perhaps it’s those ladies who deserve recognition, gold stars or a special hug.

 

THROW BACK THURSDAYS: MAMIE’S KIDS

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Mamie's Kids

A rare occasion when all six children are together for Mother’s Day, 1982.

Front row: Kookie Stanley Hemperley, Mamie Martin Stanley, Judy Stanley and Linda “Kitty” Stanley LeBlanc

Back row: Jimmy Clyde Stanley, Tommy Stanley and Charles Stanley

THROW BACK THURSDAYS: SOMETIMES IT’S BETTER NOT TO SHARE!

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Don, Steve and Kelly Hemperley 1969

Don, Steve and Kelly Hemperley, pictured in May 1969, on the day Kelly graduated from kindergarten. Little did we know she had the mumps!!! After her snuggling with Don, he too came down with them. We always taught our children that sharing was a good thing; this time it wasn’t! Kelly made a quick recovery however Don was very sick and we thought he was going to have to go into the hospital!

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WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: SYBOL LILLIAN O’PRY HEMPERLEY

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Sybol O'Pry HemperleyThe 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.

MeMaw's Cookbook

 

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.

Sybol O'Pry Hemperley (MeMaw)

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 Hemperley with great grandsons Brian, David and Greg Stanley

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 O'Pry Hemperley

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.

John Raymond and Sybol O'Pry Hemperley

MONDAY’S MAN: JOHN SAMPLE DODD

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John Sample Dodd, the son of Edward Neddie Dodd and Jane Langston, was born August 3, 1809 in Union, South Carolina. Jan Langston Dodd died and John’s father re- married Jane Word. John Sample Dodd married his step mother’s sister, Elizabeth Harriet Word.

John Sample and Elizabeth Harriet moved to Fayette County, Georgia in 1831 and traded a horse for a small farm. They cleared the land and built their home from logs. They farmed and raised eleven children, namely; James T., Elizabeth Harriet, Thomas E., Francis Marion, George McDuffy, Nancy Jane, Loudusky, Letitia (Lettie), John D., Sarah, and Asa Langston. Letitia married Edward Thomas Hemperley and her sister, Elizabeth Harriet, married Edward Thomas’ brother, Michael Cassell Hemperley.

John Sample’s wife, Elizabeth Harriet became a church member in 1830 and John Sample in 1932. She waited to be baptized at the same as he at the Bethsaida Baptist Church. John Sample’s biography is written in the Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptist of Georgia as shown below:

Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptists-John S. Dodd

 

Another article describing John Sample Dodd and some of his family’s contributions to his church and community is described in The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County below:

The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County, pg. 1

The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County, page 2

From these articles you will see that John Sample Dodd was a Baptist pastor licensed in 1841 who preached at Raman, near Palmetto for twenty-six years; Antioch in Fayette for twenty-one years, Bethlehem in Campbell for thirteen years and Fairburn for fifteen years. At times he served four churches at once having services on Saturdays and Sundays.

His son, Thomas Edward Dodd was not a preacher but was considered a spiritual leader that reared four sons that became pastors of Baptist churches.

Children of John Sample who served during the Civil War were, Asa L., a Sergeant, was killed at Cold Harbor, Virginia on June 1, 1864 serving with Lee’s Army. George M. was a 4th Sergeant who surrendered at Greensboro, North Carolina on April 26, 1865. Thomas Edward served three years in Virginia. John D. joined as a private, was sent to the hospital at Richmond, Virginia; sent home on sick leave and rejoined his unit at Charlotte, North Carolina. He was wounded at Bentonville, North Carolina and was in the hospital until the end of the war.

Following the Civil war, relatives of John Sample Dodd relocated from Georgia to the southwest corner of Arkansas and edge of Texas. In fact, the story goes that Doddridge, Arkansas was named for the Dodd family and because it sat on a ridge near the Sulphur River. Willis Henderson Dodd, John Sample’s half brother, and his wife Rachel Hemperley, moved to Bright Star, Arkansas where he was a successful farmer and physician. Jesse and his wife, Martha, moved a community they were instrumental in settling and named it Atlanta (Texas) for Atlanta, Georgia where she was raised. Loduska married David Evans and they cleared the first farm land and built the second house in Ida, Louisiana. Letitia married Edward Thomas Hemperley, a physician who practiced in both Louisiana and Arkansas. Their farm and home place was at Era, Arkansas. Letitia and Edward Thomas Hemperley are the great grandparents of my husband, Donald Ray Hemperley; John Sample Dodd is his great-great grandfather.

John Sample Dodd died February 2, 1892 and is buried at Bethsaida Cemetery in Forest Park, Georgia.

 

 

 

 

MONDAY’S MAN: REV. JAMES H. HANSON

My how the twigs of a tree do tangle and such is the case of James H. Hanson’s family which winds itself through my Hemperley, Stanley and Martin trees.    James H. Hanson was born in Georgia on October 22, 1853 to Jesse and Matilda Wade Hanson.  On October 10, 1867 he married Mary Jane Leonard in Cherokee County, Georgia.

James H Hanson and Mary Jane Leonard Marriage
In the 1880 Census he lived in Little River, Cherokee, Georgia and listed his profession as a furniture maker. By 1900 he and his family had moved to Cass County, Texas where he was listed as a manufacturer. During the next ten years, he had become a Baptist preacher and in the 1920 Census he was listed as an evangelist.

During an interview in the late 1960s with Beatrice Hemperley Tollison Crane Eason (granddaughter of James H. Hanson), she recanted the following story. “By 1901 James H. Hanson and wanted to be a preacher and so he went into the woods near his home and lived six months by himself. His family would bring food to him and during this time he learned to read, write and studied the Bible. Soon thereafter he became a circuit preacher and would ride his horse from church to church on the weekends where he would preach. He preached at Mt. Gilead Baptist near Vivian, Louisiana, Bethsaida in Ida, Louisiana and was also at Salem Baptist in Bloomburg, Texas.”

She also told me Rev. Hanson attended a Baptist convention with a Rev. Oliver in Washington, D. C. While he was strictly self-taught and had no formal education, he was chosen to be a speaker. He came home with a blue ribbon for the sermon he delivered.

Rev. James Hanson

James and Mary Jane raised twelve children in Cass County, Texas namely: Victoria, Dora, John R., Jim, Laura, Alice, Alfred, Robert Benjamin, Minnie Belle, Henry, Willie and Beulah.

Laura married John Daniel Luther Hemperley, the grandfather of my late husband.

Dora first married Basil Tollison; Beatrice Hemperley, daughter of Laura and John D. L. Hemperley, married Basil Tollison, her mother’s sister’s ex- husband!

Robert Benjamin married Roxie Lee Stanley, my grandfather Wesley Birdwell Stanley’s sister.

Jim Hanson, grandson of James and Mary Jane, married my mother’s sister, Gladys Martin.

Whew! I’m beginning to feel like there’s a monkey’s uncle in the tangled twigs of these trees. James and Mary Jane both lived to eighty-seven years of age and are buried in the Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, Bloomburg, Texas.

WEDNESDAY’S WOMAN: MAMIE LOUISE MARTIN STANLEY

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My mother, Mamie Louise Martin, was born October 21, 1914 in Ida, Louisiana to
Walter Houston and Emma Pearl Bain Martin.

Mamie Martin Stanley

Mamie Louise Martin

She lived in Ida all of her childhood years; attended school there; played basketball on the school team; and along with other siblings, hoed cotton during the depression.

At the age of nineteen she and Clyde Henry Stanley married and remained so for forty-seven years until he passed away.  Of this union there were six children, namely Jimmy Clyde (also known as Coot), Thomas Neil (better known as Winkie), Charles Edwin (referred to as Ed), me (and you know I go by Kookie), Judy Faye (JuJu) and lastly Linda Kaye (who we affectionately call Kitty).  We all knew her as loving and kind but also a strict disciplinarian.  Let one of us act up and we promptly felt a keen peach tree switch across our behinds.  She lived by “spare the rod and spoil the child” so it is safe to say none of us were spoiled!

Mother was a fun loving, quick to laugh person.  She was a great cook and at one time owned the Belcher Café in Belcher, Louisiana.  She loved her family, to fish, and to play games.  Rook was one of her favorites and she took it seriously!  This photo has Jim Stanley, Mamie Martin Stanley, Johnny Hemperley and Steve Hemperley playing Rook with Sybol Hemperley watching.

 

Rook party (2)

On her 75th birthday all six of her children and many of her grandchildren and a great grandchild spent the entire weekend celebrating at Kitty’s house in Lafayette, Louisiana. One of the highlights was playing Pictionary with her. She also liked playing Trivial Pursuit with her grandchildren and often would surprise them with her knowledge of events.

Mamie's 75th Birthday Party

Today, I don’t want to tell you about what records I have located on Mom, but rather another side of that we, the children, knew and loved. You see, Mother had a different way of expressing herself while getting her point across. She could tell you how the cow at the cabbage or to kiss my grits and you would like it. I’m not sure what language it was but I’m sure it was not the Queen’s English. It wasn’t Redneck or Southern style filled with “dawlins’, sugar, or sweetie pies.

At one time, I thought she had made it up but came to the realization that it was the jargon she grew up with and most probably had been handed down from one generation to another and so I dub it Martin-ese. An example would be if any one of us children was wasting time she might tell us we were burning daylight by lolligagin’ around and that we better get it done before quick got ready.

The weather could be hotter than a fox in a forest fire or a depot stove, or colder than a well diggers’ grave. When it rained she would say it was coming down like a cow peeing on a flat rock. And if the roads were icy, they were slicker than goose hockey or snot!

If someone was putting on airs or living beyond their means she would say they were living high on the hog, or that you couldn’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. To her, some were just plain highfalutin’ or howling at the moon. Many looked like they had been rode hard and put up wet. Sometimes she would say a person was older than dirt, crazier than a road lizard or Betsy bug, not worth a hill of beans or they might be a whippersnapper.
When times were hard her remarks would be that something needed was scarcer than hen’s teeth, harder than pulling teeth, higher than a cat’s back or that she felt like a pup sucking hind tit. And of course in a household of two adults and six kids, she never had room to cuss a cat.

She always taught us that anything worth doing was worth doing right or not at all. How many times have I heard can’t never could or that can’t killed himself chasing couldn’t?

That old adage about if Momma ain’t happy nobody’s happy applied in our household because if she got her bowels in an uproar, you had better hide and watch! Of course there were many times she had reason to be unhappy because one of us kids was always having a hissy or conniption fit. We never really knew if one was worse than the other but we always knew the cure was a peach tree switch!

As to her health some days she felt bright eyed and bushy tailed, hush mouthed, nervous as a cat in a room full of rockers or had just run out of gas because she was all stove up. Some nights she would have the big eye and not sleep much. Most days she was happy as a dead pig in the sunshine.

Visitors were always as welcome as the flowers in May and it didn’t make no never mind who dropped in, you were always invited to sit a spell and have supper (you know, the meal that’s served at night). One of her favorite sayings was whatever melts your butter, meaning whatever makes you happy.

Mamie  Martin Stanley 1980

It will be twenty years this October since Mamie Louise Martin Stanley passed away. There is only my brother, two sisters and I left of the six children. Sometimes when talking, one of us will unconsciously use one of her phrases. Realizing what just happened laughter breaks out. She would be proud that we have managed to keep Martin-ese alive. She would be happy to know that we were melting butter.

Military Monday: Donald Ray Hemperley, USAF 18574020

Don, as he preferred, was the second child of Raymond and Sybol O’Pry Hemperley.  He arrived a jaundiced baby born on August 18, 1941 in Vivian, Louisiana.  Growing up on a 60 acre farm near Gilliam, he was a precocious child who often ran away from home to play with his imaginary family that lived just across the levee.  Many were the times his mother, with switch in hand, would cross that levee to retrieve him. When asked where he had been he would speak of visiting his fantasy wife and children who lived across the levee.

Don Hemperley 1st grade

First Grade

Don attended grammar school in Belcher, Louisiana. By high school, a new consolidate school had been built in Vivian and he was among the graduation class of the first four full years of the school. Don could have been an honors student for he was a very intelligent person. Often work on the farm, work after school at a gas station in Gilliam, or his antics got in the way. During his senior year he was suspended for three days for smoking on campus. He was also reprimanded for singing and dancing in the hallways while classes were going on.
Don Hemperley soph

Sophomore Year

Following his graduation he knew he did not want the farm life anymore and enlisted the United States Air Force on July 22, 1959 in Shreveport, Louisiana. His basic training was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. As basic training does for so many young enlistees, he went in a scrawny teen and came out a well chiseled mature adult male!
Don at Boot Camp, San Antonio, Tx Sept. 1959
Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base

From San Antonio he was sent to Indiana University at Bloomington to become a Russian Linguist. His studies included not only the language but also the history and culture of Russia. From the first day of class his professors spoke only in Russian; wrote only in Russian; and expected the soldiers in the class to learn and excel in all things Russian. Not all students graduated (one even committed suicide) as it was an intense degree of studies.

Don Hemperley AF photo at Indiana U
Student I D for Bloomington University

Don Hemperley at Indiana U 1960
On Campus at Indiana University

August 6, 1960 Don returned home and we were married that night at the Belcher Baptist Church. After a short leave we headed to Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas where he was to attend crypto-logic and intelligence training school. Did I ask what all that meant? Heavens no! We were too busy celebrating our recent marriage and starting our married lives. Besides, it didn’t matter to me just as long as we were together.

Don at San Angelo 1960
 Airman 2nd Class, San Angelo, Texas

By New Year’s Day of 1960 I was expecting our first child and Don was boarding a plane for a fifteen month tour of duty at the 6986th Wakkanai Air Station located on the northern most point of Hokkaido, Japan. Being the linguist he was he soon picked up the Japanese language and was able to communicate with the locals. He loved the food as well as the people in Wakkanai. Off time was spent writing letters home, visiting orphanages and at the Club Walk’N I NCO club where he was on the Board of Governors.

Don, Waikini 1961
Wakkanai Japan 1961

In April 1962 Don returned stateside and met our eleven month son Steve for the first time. We packed our little black 1950 Ford and headed to his next assignment at the National Security Agency located at Fort George G. Meade near Laurel, Maryland. I knew Don had a high level security clearance, but NSA?

The Cuban Missile Crisis took place during the time we were in Maryland and I can remember Don working long hours and being very concerned. Of course, I had no idea of what his job entailed, but the reality of the crisis set in when I drove to work and there were few cars on the road. The shopping center, which was usually bustling, was desolate. The air was tense as most everyone was waiting for President Kennedy’s next news conference.

On July 19, 1963 Don’s enlistment was up and we returned to Louisiana. Our daughter Kelly was born in September and we settled into a life far from the fast paced Air Force one Don loved. He soon became a partner in an insurance agency and was a Junior Warden as well as Master of the Belcher Masonic Lodge. He was instrumental in incorporating Gilliam as a Village and served as its first Village Clerk. He was a jokester, a loving father and husband, generous and a good friend to everyone.

Many many years later in life he mentioned his time in the Air Force and I asked, “Now just what was it that you did while wearing those Air Force blues?” He replied with that precocious smile, “I spoke to Russians flying their planes over water near Hokkaido and they didn’t know I was an American. I also decoded and transcribed top secrets while at NSA.” I rolled my eyes and thought, there he goes again; pulling those same tricks much like he did on his mother about his fantasy family. So was he was telling the truth or not? I suppose I will never know for sure.

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Genealogy: Edward Thomas Hemperley and Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd

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Edward Thomas Hemperley

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley

Edward Thomas Hemperley was born into the family of nine children of Edward Martin Hemperley and Rachel Powell on March 20, 1841 in Campbell County, Georgia. His childhood was spent in Georgia where he attended school and upon graduation began his life as a farmer. Edward didn’t particularly like this occupation and in 1860-1861 he attended lectures at Macon, Georgia to become a physician.

On March 3, 1861 in Fayette, Georgia he married Miss Letitia (Lettie) Ann Maranda Dodd, daughter of John Sample Dodd and Elizabeth Harriet Word.

Letitia Dodd Hemperley

Letitia Ann Maranda “Lettie” Dodd

John Sample Dodd was a prominent Baptist Minister in Georgia and has been written about in The Biographical Sketches of Prominent Baptists, The Preaching Dodds of Old Campbell County as well as The Sun newspaper published on April 2, 1881.

On September 9, 1861 Edward Thomas enlisted in the 27th Regiment of the Georgia Volunteer Infantry, Company E as a private. In November 1861 he was serving in Manassas, Virginia and listed as having chronic rheumatism. December 7, 1861 in Richmond, Virginia he was discharged for the disability.

Edward T Hemperley, Discharge 1861

The discharge states that he is 6 feet tall, dark complexioned, grey eyes, black hair and a twenty year old farmer. Physician M. Darnall, surgeon, further states that he has chronic rheumatism of the right knew preventing extension of the limb and that he believes that he will not get well as long as he remains in camp.

On August 1, 1863 Edward re-enlisted in the same Regiment at Fairburn, Georgia and served as a hospital nurse in Lake City, Florida in February 1864. March 11, 1864 he was suffering from neuralgia and was on inactive duty until October 25, 1864. His active duty included the battle at Lake City, and in the last battle fought at Bentonville, North Carolina.

Edward Hemperley parole of 1865

On May 1, 1865 he was paroled at Greensboro, North Carolina. He returned to Georgia where he and Lettie lived and he practiced medicine until 1869 when they moved to Miller County, Arkansas.

Moving from Georgia to Miller County was an arduous task. Four of their thirteen children had been born in Georgia and they, along with Edward and Lettie, road the train from Atlanta, Georgia to New Orleans. In New Orleans they boarded a steamboat going up the Mississippi River until they came to the Red River in Shreveport. Here they took another steamboat through Caddo Lake to Jefferson, Texas. In Jefferson they had to buy a wagon and an ox team for the final leg to Era, Arkansas. The final leg, which is about 50 miles, took two days.

They were greeted by family members who had already moved from Georgia. Edward’s brother, Andrew Simpson Hemperley and his wife Louise Catherine Dodd (aunt to Lettie) had come to Arkansas in 1856. Although Andrew Simpson had been killed at Baker’s Hill in the Battle of Vicksburg, his family was still there. Lettie’s uncle, Willis Henderson Dodd and his wife, Rachel Hemperley (sister of Edward) were in Miller County also.

In this area, Dr. Hemperley’s practice encompassed the states of Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. According to Myrtle Hemperley Lloyd, Dr. Hemperley’s granddaughter whom I interviewed in the late 1960s, they had 760 acres of land, a saw mill, a shingle mill, a grist mill, and two cotton gins.

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley passed away in 1913 in Miller County. Stories are that following his passing, Lettie was often called upon to administer to the sick because of her medical knowledge. She is described as having an outspoken personality, personal magnetism, and high energy. Lettie died in 1926. They attended Evergreen Baptist Church and are both buried there.

Dr. Edward Thomas Hemperley and wife Letitia Ann Maranda Dodd Hemperley

Dr. Edward Thomas and Lettie Hemperley

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Evergreen Baptist Church, April 2013

Evergreen Church

Category: Genealogy | Tags: , , ,
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