Tag Archives: starks

Travel Tuesday – Trip Down Home

Where is Down Home you say?  Well, down (south) in Texarkana, and while I have never actually lived in Texarkana, I consider it down home because your home is where your heart is, or family is right? Considering this is where all the family is for both my maternal and paternal side, I just call it down home.

As soon as Knucklehead got off the bus on Friday afternoon, a week or so ago, we headed down home.

Knucklehead's Bus

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Treasure Chest Thursday – Memaw’s Victrola

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One of the things I remember the most about going to my Memaw’s (Edna Harris Higginbotham) house was how still and quiet it always was.  We would sit in the living room and you could hear the tick tock.. tick tock.. tick tock .. of her clocks.  She would have a lamp on, but no over head lights and it always seemed kind of sad to me.

Dad would turn the TV on and she would become annoyed.  She was hard of hearing and I think all the noise that we brought with us, plus the TV must have been sounded like a jumbled mess to her and I imagine it felt overwhelming to her compared to the tick tock.. tick tock.. tick tock .. of her clocks.

I never heard her play music, or see her watch TV.  So, when my Uncle Charlie Starks called and told me to come by and get my Memaw’s Victrola, I was very excited.  I didn’t remember her having one and she certainly never played it for me.  Then I saw it, and remembered the cabinet, I just never knew what was in it.

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Just an Old Dress…

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I hope you have all had a wonderful New Years and that your Christmas was merry and bright.  Mine sure was.

I would love to post pictures, but guess what?

I did not take a single picture of our big family gathering.

I know, right?  Completely an epic fail!!

After everyone left and I realized we didn’t take our usual pictures, I was devastated.  How could I, the family genealogy freak, forget to take pictures?  Well, for once I just enjoyed myself and didn’t worry about the stuff I was supposed to do, I just did what I wanted to.  It was great in a way, on the other hand, I sure wish I had some pictures from the night.

Other than that it was a lovely time and now since I have delivered my last gift, I would like to share with you what I made for my siblings and some cousins.

A while back while I was in Texarkana, my cousin Nedra gave each cousin at a cousin’s party a dress that had belonged to my great-grandmother, Mollie Davis Harris.  Which meant she gave my Dad the dress and then I talked him into giving it to me.  Thanks Dad!

Then on another trip, she had found an old suitcase of my grandfather’s and inside was my grandmother’s square dancing dress.  She gave it to me.

When my Aunt Jane passed away I asked my Uncle Charlie to save me one of her shirts and he did, so I got her shirt.

Then on yet another trip, Nedra found another box of Mollie’s dresses while cleaning and she graciously gave me them to me.

I had great plans to make a quilt but the fabrics were so old and stained, I mean my great-grandmother Mollie, she worked in these dresses, so I had to come up with something different.

I took all the dresses to my mother-in-laws house and we had great fun putting them on a form and I took a picture of each dress.  I wanted a good picture before I cut them up.

Here are the dresses and shirts:

My Ancestors Dresses

Then I saw an idea on Pinterest where a girl had made a flower on canvas out of scrapbook paper.  I decided to do this with the fabric from the dresses.

For four weeks I would get the dresses ready to cut, and I just couldn’t do it.

Finally, the weekend before Christmas I decided I had better suck it up and get busy or these gifts would not get done.  Cutting those dresses was one of the hardest things I have ever done and I don’t even know why.

Then I spent two complete days and nights sitting at the kitchen counter cutting and pasting these flowers together.

Making the Flower

This my friends is the finished product of my Ancestor’s clothing.  These will always be near and dear to my heart!

All the Canvas'

I had originally wanted to make the ones that I made for my brothers a fish, but I thought that ended up looking too childish, so my son Michael ended up with that, he loves it, and it is proudly hung in his bedroom.  Everyone just ended up with a flower, boy or girl.

Here is a close up of the fish.

The Fish

And here is a close up of one of the flowers.

Dress Flower

I fully intend to make more for some of my other cousins, I still have plenty of material left.

So, when you look at your ancestors old clothing and think there is nothing else to be done with them, think again people!!!

These flowers will go a long way and now all of us can share in the dresses.

Booyah!

Susie

The Cost of Voting

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This is my great-grandfather, Rufus Francis Higginbotham, Jr.  I’m not sure when this photo was taken, it was not dated.  Rufus was born in 1876 and died in 1923.

Rufus F Higginbotham Jr.

On my last trip to Texarkana, my Uncle Charlie Starks gave me a leather pouch that had a ton of personal papers in it that belonged to Rufus and his wife Dona.

This is Dona.  Also known as Eudonia A. Williams, wife of Rufus and daughter of my ever elusive Rev. Francis Hereford Williams.  I hope to finish my posts on him one day soon.  Anyway, here she is.  Not sure of the date on this photo either.  Dona was born in 1881 and died in 1927.

Dona Higginbotham

I pretty much figured out while researching that my Higginbotham family has always been involved in politics.  I’m not going to go into all of that, it makes my head spin, but what I wanted to show you today was the cost of voting for them.

In the leather pouch my Uncle Charlie Starks gave me, I found Poll Tax receipts.  Every time Rufus and Dona voted it cost them a $1.

Poll Tax 1897 Rufus Higginbotham

This is the earliest receipt that I found for Rufus.  His vote in 1897 cost him $1.00 and today it would have cost him $27.78.  I found poll receipts for him for the years of 1897, 1899, 1900, 1901, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1910, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922, and even 1923 the year he died.  That means over the course of those years in today’s money, he would have spent $524.41.  Just to vote!  Wow!

Poll Tax 1916 Dona Higginbotham

The earliest receipt I found for Dona was 1916.  In 1916, it cost her $1.00 and in today’s money it would have cost her $20.83.  I found poll tax receipts for her for the years of 1916, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, and 1926.  Over the course of those years, that means it would have cost her $93.34 in today’s money.  Wow again!

If you are wondering how I figured that up, there is a nifty little tool HERE that will calculate the value of the dollar back then verses now.  I use this all the time, it is a great tool.

In 1964 they did away with the poll tax.  Before that my Dad (also named Rufus) can remember his parents Earl and Edna Higginbotham (Earl is the son of the above mentioned Rufus and Dona) loading up people who couldn’t pay the poll tax and taking them to the polls to vote and paying the tax for them.  That’s how important it was to them for people to vote.   There is no telling how much money they spent getting people to vote.

So, in honor of them, and because it’s important to me too, I will be casting my  vote next week.  I hope you will do the same.

I mean, why not?

It’s free now.

Boosh!

Osa Alexander Sloan

Two years ago when I started working on my father’s side of my family history, the first thing I did was write my Aunt Jane (Lou Jane Higginbotham Starks) a letter and ask her what she knew about the family.  She wrote me back that she had Big Mama’s (Mollie Davis Harris) bible and I could come and get it the next time I came to town.

I did, and took the bible over to Nedra (Harris) Turney’s where we went through the bible and found a letter that was from Osa to Big Mama (Mollie).

Osa Alexander Sloan Letter

Osa Alexander Sloan Letter

I didn’t know who Osa was, and neither did Nedra, but her letter tore us apart.  I was shocked to hear of the troubles that she suffered and wrote about.  Before I share the letter with you, I would like to tell you a little about Osa and what I have discovered about her since finding the letter.

This is Osa and her husband Walter J. Sloan.

Walter and Osa Alexander Sloan

Walter and Osa Alexander Sloan

Her parents, James Arthur Alexander and Maggie Isabell Davis Alexander, are seen here holding Osa’s oldest brother Willie.  Osa also had another brother, Arthur Douglas “Doug” Alexander.

Maggie James A and Willie Alexander

Maggie Davis Alexander was the oldest daughter of William Lynn Davis and Sarah Robertson Davis.  She died on 25 Jul 1900, just four days after giving birth to an infant that was born and died on 21 Jul 1900.  Osa was only two years old at this time when her mother died.

Osa (standing), is pictured with her mother Maggie’s youngest sister Nora Davis Bull.

Osa Alexander Sloan standing and Nora Davis Bull sitting

This family photo shows Osa with her brother Doug Alexander, her Aunt Nora Davis Bull, her grandparents, Lynn and Sallie Davis and her Aunt Mittie Davis Grigson McBride.

Doug Alexander Osa Alexander Nora Sarah Lynn Mittie Davis

I would much imagine that with Osa’s mother gone, her Aunt’s and grandparent’s stepped in and did what they could for her.  I suppose this is why her letter to her Aunt Mollie was so frank about her situation.

The letter was not dated but I think the letter was written between the time of the 1930 census and 1932.

On the 1930 census, she and husband Walter are living in Waco, Texas with their children, and her father.

1930 Census Sloan and Alexander Waco Texas

In 1932, I found Walter and Osa listed in the Waco, Texas – City Directory. I did NOT find a listing for James A Alexander in the directory.

1932 Waco City Directory Walter and Osa Sloan

I realize this doesn’t mean that her father wasn’t living with them, but it’s possible.  From the way this letter reads, Osa had no family with her during this crisis, and she was in a bad way without them.

Read for yourself:

Osa Letter Cover and Page 1

Osa Letter Cover and Page 1

Hello Aunt Mollie

I sure was proud to hear from you.  You all can’t possibly get as lonesome as I do because you have one another  you have sisters and brothers and a phone you can talk to your own blood kin, that is lots of difference to strangers.  Walter got out of work and stayed out about 6 months and you know any boddy in town like we are has to pay rent, watter, buy wood or gass and when you haven got        over

Osa Letter Pages 2 and 3

Osa Letter Pages 2 and 3

any money to pay with the rent man say get out, the gass man cuts off gass the watter is cut off so there you are and no money to get food with if you go to your next door nabor they will hand you 1 cup of beans for a family of 7 to eat on all day long if you go some where for something to eat for super they ask you 1 thousand questions before they hand you 2 or 3 potatoes they ask if I had any kin folks and Grandma taught me not to tell a story

I tried to tell the truth while she lived and now she has passed on but that don’t mean I half to start lying so when people I was forced to ask food from ask me if I had any kin folks I said yes I have 2 bros. and some aunts & uncles and a father well they got where they would tell me they was sorry they didn’t have anything and ask why I didn’t write to my people and have them send for me                    Over

Osa Letters Pages 4 and 5

Osa Letters Pages 4 and 5

Well I knew my kin folks was just like me hard up try to get by and I knew Walter would find work some time and at least we had a better chance finding work here than any where else so we just suffered a long and when some one would bring us something to eat or we would get some our selves it would be so so little they baby marrie would look at me and say mama I’m hungry can I have your beans or potatoes which ever it was and something in my heart ached oh! you will never know how I felt eather I had to eat to care for the children you know attend to them and

Watch over them or I would get sick my self but my heart hurt to think that my child was so hungry that it was forced to ask for its mothers food because what people were handing us was so little until we had to cook it and divide it out and then tell them that was all they could have. Well the out come was after 6 months of this (not day or weeks but months) I got weaker and weaker and every day the sherrif would come and say I am sorry

Osa Letter Pages 6 & 7

Osa Letter Pages 6 & 7

Mrs. Sloan but the man that owns this house is pushing us and we are going to half to sit you all out in the street well I am human like every body else and I could not help worring over all that if I had of had plenty for my children to eat that would not have worried me so bad but all of it to gether was more I guess than I could stand I was so weak until I went back wards every time I would start to walk and I call a Doc and he would not come made some excuse of corse it was because we had no money

And every day walter would say sure to goodness I ‘ll run into something to do to morrow, so one day I told Maggie to call me when diner time come I told her I believe I would lay down 3 or 4 hours and see if I would not feel better well I layed down and the next thing I knew was I was crying loud and hard and what made me mad at my self was I couldn’t stop I cryed and cryed some one sent for the city doc – and he said I had a nervious break down well Walter or any of the children did not know how to handle a case of that kind all you need is to be real

Osa letter pages 8 & 9

Osa Letter Pages 8 and 9

Quite not ask questions to make me talk so I could not get up for 4 weeks but I tryed to and I would take spells laughing if some of them said something funnie instead of me laughing a little bit if it was not much to laugh about well I would laugh as much over nothing as would over a whole lot because my nerves had broke you see and I could not control them I did not want to laugh hard but I was ignorant of how to hand a case like this my self so when the children would say something that would make any boddy else smile it

would make me shake the bed laughing and then I was all ways worse after that but I could not help it unless I had of had money to get a nurce and doc. And the nurce could have avoded lots of these laughs and crying spells and I would have been better but as you see it takes money to make things run smooth and we didn’t have one piny so that called for suffering on my part well not long after I got up Walter found the job he has now just enough to pay rent by food and pay gass and watter not a

Osa Letter Pages 10 and 11

Osa Letter Pages 10 and 11

Piny for cloths or any thing else but you don’t know how thankful we are to know that we can do that and not have to ask it of some one else you see Waco is a small town to what new York is or other places but in any town where there are so many people and no work you see we was not the only ones at that time or now that was out of work people next door to us out of work across the streets or 3 blocks away well by the time you cover the whole town like New York there were thousands of people out of work and they had to eat so it is in a city worse than

In the country where it is 9 or 10 mabe you here of so when thousands of people in one place are saying the same thing it get to where to other people is sounds like a song we got out of work because hauling was scarce no boddy wanting anything hauled and when we could not meet payments on the trucks so one day while Walter was out of them right in broad day light the company had there man to get them  Walter had a lot of tools in them and we couldn’t

Osa Letter Pages 12 and 13

Osa Letter Pages 12 and 13

get them back of course if we had of had some money to fight with but what was we by the side of a big truck company so Walter was out and so many people were out before that and at that time, so it was just hunt and hope and I am geting stronger every day I can see fine better than I ever could wash Irion sew scrub and any thing that needs to be done have not had any medician to take for 2 years no money to buy any so if God is not watching over us and helps us who does?  those that are

able wont because they love the dollar more that human and those that would cant so from the very fact that I am living to day after what I have just experienced teaches me that God lives also so there is my hope and trust is in God I sure would like to have been down there to Dougs and Grandpas birthday but you see how it was tell every boddy to please write to me and you write as often as you can so by and be sweet from your niece Osa.

The first time I read this letter, I was reading it out loud to Nedra (Harris) Turney, and we had to stop.  We couldn’t even finish it.  We came back to it later and finished it, but our hearts were broken for Walter and Osa.

It certainly put my whining into perspective. I’ve never even come close to having to make the choices they had to make.

When I look at this picture of Osa holding her oldest daughter, Maggie Sloan all I can think about is her heartache on trying to decide whether she should feed herself or her children.

maggie sloan and osa alexander sloan

Osa Alexander Sloan holding daughter Maggie Sloan

It really saddens me to know that Osa probably never got over this.  Her letter states how sick she was and had no medicine for two years.   It was very upsetting when I found her headstone in Sylverino Cemetery, directly behind that of her parents.

She died in 1933, only 34 years old.  I haven’t found a death certificate to know what she died of for sure, but I imagine it had everything to do with what she described in her letter.  Doing without food for long periods of time can do great damage to your body and maybe she just never recovered.

Osa Lee Alexander Sloan Headstone

Osa Lee Alexander Sloan Headstone

I haven’t found her father on the 1940 Census, but his headstone says he died in 1951.  I found Walter, Osa’s husband on the 1940 Census living in Houston, remarried to Ruby Mae Williams and living with a mix of his and Osa’s children and Ruby’s children from her previous marriage.  I believe they later had two children together.

I’m so sad for Osa.  Sad for her children that they lost their mother, just as she had.  Sad for Walter that he had to handle all this and pick up the pieces for his children.  It seems he did and I hope and pray their lives got better after this.  I imagine that would change a man forever so I was glad to see he had remarried.

This is how I relate to Osa. Relationship Chart Susie to Osa

Thank you to Nedra for always being there with me when we discover our families’ stories.  It’s never to late to tell them!!

Thank you to Marilyn Metcalf Huber, for sharing these pictures of Osa and her family with me.

While my Aunt Jane is no longer with us, I thank her too for sharing what she had with me!  We wouldn’t know at all about Osa’s struggles without her.

Most importantly though, thank you to Osa for sharing this story with Big Mama (Mollie).  It must have been very dear to her to have put it in her bible and saved it.  I can only imagine how she must have felt upon reading this letter.

Did Big Mama want to go get Osa?

Was it too late??

Will we ever find out???

If you are a descendant of Walter and Osa, I would love so much to hear from you.

~Susie~

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