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Wednesday’s Woman: Beulah Thompson Stanley

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My paternal grandmother, Beulah Thompson Stanley, was born May 30, 1888 in Oxford, Calhoun County, Alabama to Alex Thompson and his wife Martha Able.  While living with her sister, Essie Thompson Wall, Beulah first met her husband, Wesley Birdwell Stanley.  He was in Huffines working in logging and came riding up on a big white horse named Eli.

Beulah and Wes were married November 13, 1908 from this marriage there were six children, two of which died young.  All of her grandchildren referred to her as Granny however Wes most often called her “Miss Hootie”.

Wesley and Buleah Thompson Stanley
Wesley Birdwell Stanley and Beulah Thompson Stanley

Granny was petite, always wore starched ironed dresses, liked her nails done, and always wore her hair short. She loved pretty jewelry and while she didn’t have, she particularly loved diamonds which she referred to as “di-monts”. She was a member of the Purity Chapter Order of the Eastern Star in Ida, Louisiana and enjoyed the social events of the order.

She was a talented musician and she and Wes could play most any instrument. They taught their children well and the group often played at family gatherings or when others came to visit.

Wes worked mainly as an over-seer for many plantations in Caddo Parish and I suppose you could explain Granny’s life as privileged. She had a maid as well as a man who came in daily to build a fire before she got up, put a pan of biscuits in the oven and milk the cow. I don’t recall her cooking too much, but she really knew how to make fried apple or apricot pies!

Wes pampered Granny all of her life, especially in her later years after she suffered a stroke. He did everything for her including adapting a chair with wheels so that she could move around in the house.

Wesley Stanley and Beulah Thompson Stanley
This photo was made when they lived on Annie Burney Means’ plantation.

When we went to visit the silverware would be in the center of the table covered by a table cloth. If you spent the night you could barely turn over for all the handmade quilts piled high on the bed. She dipped snuff and could spit into the fireplace from half way across the room. And of course she had that special snuff brush made from a black gum twig, carefully chewed until it became soft enough to be dipped into the snuff.

One of the favorite things we grandchildren loved most about being at Granny’s was playing with a big brass bowl someone had brought her from Mexico. It was large enough for one child to sit in it with legs crossed. Your brother, sister or cousin would wind you up and spin it around. I suppose maybe the Stanley grandkids invented the Sit and Spin we know today.

Recently while visiting with cousin Neva Stanley Thomas, she gave me a most prized possession of Granny’s….. a collection of shoes from Petty Pottery in Ida, Louisiana. I am told that at one time Granny owned almost every piece of pottery that Petty made.

shoes 1
Petty Pottery Shoes made in the 1930s

Also, a special thanks to Neva for giving me the doily crocheted by her mother, Oneta Tolleson Stanley, for the Petty Pottery shoes to sit on.

Beulah and Wes were married sixty years before her death in 1968. Both she and Wes are buried at Munnerlyn Cemetery in Ida, Louisiana.

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