I was surprised that a blog post on winter was as hard to come by as it ended up being. I am certain that I remember a set of photos from the late 1940s when my father and his family traveled to Niagara Falls. The pictures show the falls frozen and lots of snow. But, I can’t find them anywhere. Maybe Dad will know where they are.
But I found some pictures that were just as interesting and tell a story of a “big snow”, at least for Fort Smith, Arkansas. I have talked about my granddad, Robert H. Dickson, Jr., previously. Granddad took a lot of photos with his old camera (I think Dad still has that camera). And Granddad did his own developing back in the day. I guess he didn’t have an enlarger, or maybe only had a small one, because so many of his photos are 2″ x 2″ and maybe a bit grainy. But, they are great fun to see, since so many of them are really candid and completely unstaged.
So, I found a few pictures that Grandmother (Susan Louise Bailey Dickson) had captioned “Robert H. Dickson Jr. in that big snow of 1940” Digging around in climatology history web sites, it looks like there was a snowstorm that dropped 9.4 inches of snow on Fort Smith, Arkansas in January of 1940. Looks like Granddad and, I guess, Grandmother took the opportunity to go out in the snow. I am betting that Grandmother took these photos.
It doesn’t look like 9.4 inches in this picture, but it does look like Granddad needs a jacket! I am only guessing that Grandmother took these photos. Robert and Susan met in June 1938 and been dating for a year and a half by this point. They got married just a month later on 23 Feb 1940. It’s fun to see Granddad so young. He looks so skinny. And the paralysis on his face sort of gives him a scowl. Kathleen thought that he looked mean in these pictures.
But, how could you think of him as mean when you see him out in the snow in his bare feet! His pants are up around his knees and he’s barefoot in the snow here.
The last of the pictures that I found was a fun one of the house that Granddad grew up in. I find my great-grandparents, Robert H. Dickson, Sr., and Ethel Garner Dickson, in their house at 2230 N. 14th St., Fort Smith, Arkansas by 1925. They lived there until Robert Sr’s death. After that Grandmother Dickson lived there for at least a couple of years before moving. I have never heard the reason that Fort Smith decided to renumber their streets. North 14th St. became North 29th St., but the family didn’t move. Grandmother notes that that’s her future father-in-law, Robert Sr., on the front porch.
So, even back in the day, wintertime could be a good time for our ancestors. They could be excited by unusual snows. They could go out to play in the snow. And they could do goofy things in the cold, just because. That’s the kind of thing that makes sure we remember that our ancestors were all real people just like we are.
I am glad to find that I am not alone in having a hard time figuring out what or who to write about for this week with the prompt “Next to Last”. Jamie Gates over at Applegate Genealogy talked about having a little bit of a writer’s block with this topic as well.
“Next to Last” is a funny thing. Often, you don’t know until considerably after something has happened that it even was the Next to Last. You don’t know that a child is the next to last until it’s completely clear that there are no more children coming to the family. You often don’t know that something is the next to last time that you do something or that you see someone until much later. And usually that means that it wasn’t planned as the next to last.
On the other hand, next to last can be wrapped in anticipation or at least a sense of waiting for something. Remember the next to last final exam at college. Or the next to last day before you were married. We use this as a marker to move toward something.
None of that has anything to do with my topic this week. I was looking at a pedigree chart and wondered how far back my maternal line went. Well, I didn’t have to click far to get that answer. I have only found my maternal ancestors (my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother, and so forth) back about six generations. So, I decided to introduce you to my next to last ancestor on my maternal line. Hopefully I will be able to make this post incorrect before too long and take things back another generation.
Sarah Vincent, often called Sallie, was my great-great-great grandmother on my maternal line. I can only get one more generation beyond her on the maternal line. Seems to me that that’s not terribly far back. Tracking the women is unfortunately difficult, and doing it in the frontier country of western North Carolina and east and middle Tennessee is an added difficulty. But, here’s my line as I know it:
- My grandmother – Mary “Mary Jim” Higgs, b. 1906, DeQueen, Arkansas, d. 1988, Memphis, Tennessee
- My great-grandmother – Eliza Johnson “Lida” Cason, b. 1868, Carrollton, Pickens County, Alabama, d. 1941, Dallas, Texas
- My great-great-grandmother – Elizabeth “Bettie” Cooper, b. 1834, Bedford County, Tennessee, d. 1901, Van Buren, Crawford County, Arkansas
- My great-grandmother – Eliza Johnson “Lida” Cason, b. 1868, Carrollton, Pickens County, Alabama, d. 1941, Dallas, Texas
It seems so strange to me that some folks get so caught up in their name line – their paternal line. The family tree is a huge thing with many ancestors. To focus so pointedly on the left edge of the tree ignores so much. If you have found your paternal line eight generations back , to your 6th-great-grandfather, you have 510 ancestors in your tree. Of those, 502 of them are not your paternal grandfathers. (By the way, the same thing holds for following the strictly maternal line, too.) There’s so much in the middle of the tree that’s exciting to research.
But, that’s a bit off-topic. Sallie Vincent was born in 1809 in Tennessee. While I have not found a record of exactly where she was born, her father had purchased land in Rutherford County, Tennessee by 1820 and appeared in the 1810 Rutherford County census. So, I think she was probably born in Rutherford County, or nearby.
Her parents were Henry Vincent (b. 1781, Granville County, North Carolina, d. 1841, Rutherford County, Tennessee) and Elizabeth Adcock (b. abt 1789, Granville County, North Carolina, d. before 1837, Rutherford County, Tennessee). Henry and Elizabeth married 30 Sep 1805 in Granville County. So, they moved to Tennessee as a young family. Admittedly, I have not researched this family very thoroughly, but they appear to have had at least five children and at least one was already born before the move to Tennessee. While Granville County, North Carolina was not a big city, they moved into the Tennessee frontier, barely ten years after statehood.
It does not appear that Sallie grew up on a “plantation” by any means. Her father purchased land in Rutherford County and appears to have been a farmer. In the 1820 census, he appears to have one slave. In the 1830 census he is enumerated as having two slaves. I need to search the tax lists to get a better idea of how much land they had.
When she was twenty years old, Sallie married Micajah Thomas Cooper in Rutherford County on 31 March 1829. Micajah was from Rowan County, North Carolina, born there in 1806. He was the son of Henry L. Cooper and Rebecca Hollis. It appears that the family moved to Tennessee somewhere around 1808-1815. Micajah’s grandfather, John Hollis, was already in Rutherford County in time to be enumerated in the 1810 Rutherford County census.
Through the years, Sallie & Micajah moved around Middle Tennessee, from Rutherford County to Coffee County to Bedford County. They ultimately settled around Wartrace in Bedford County by 1834. There, 10 of their 12 children were born (including Bettie, who went to Africa as a missionary in 1856.)
While Sallie was still in her thirties, she lost her mother and her father remarried. She lost her father not many years after that. She saw several of her children die young.
Ultimately, Sallie, herself, died on 22 May 1864 in Wartrace. She was buried at the New Hope Baptist Church in Fairfield, Tennessee. She shares a grave plot with Micajah and some of her children. It’s located immediately in front of the church, right on the driveway, so it’s hard to miss.
So, there you have it. At least for now, Sarah Vincent is the next-to-last in my known maternal line. Hopefully, this won’t be the case forever. I hope to find out more about her and her ancestors. I encourage all of my fellow researchers to take the extra effort to meet and get to know their female ancestor as well as their ancestors from difficult places (like the Carolinas).
Until next time,
As I write this, tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2018 here in the United States and Amy Johnson Crow has suggested Thankful as our them for 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.
When I started thinking about this, I found so many different directions that I wanted to go. At first, I thought about one of my very favorite Thanksgiving Dinners that I celebrated with my grandfather Robert H. Dickson, Jr. I talked about that some time back and you can see it here.
Then, I thought about pointing out that My ancestors were actually here for the First Thanksgiving in the Colonies, while Kathleen’s Mayflower ancestors were Johnny-Come-Latelys for the second one, even though they get all the credit. Folks forget that the first commemoration of Thanksgiving took place in the Virginia Colony took place at the Berkeley Plantation in 1619. My ancestor, Cicely Reynolds, was living very near to the plantation at that time and may well have been at that celebration of thanksgiving. Kathleen, on the other hand, has a number of Mayflower ancestors (John, Elinor, and Francis Billington, John Howland, Francis Eaton, Henry Samson, Degory Priest), so of course there is a Thanksgiving connection there, too.
But this last Sunday, I was preparing my Sunday School lesson and hit on what I really wanted to talk about. I am not the sort of genealogist who believes that my identity is defined or my future determined specifically by the lives of my ancestors or by my DNA. But, I do know that important values are passed down from generation to generation. I know that the experiences for good or for bad of one generation affect several to come. And for the lessons and experience of those before me, I am thankful.
One of my favorite things is to teach adult Sunday School. I am a guest speaker in a number of different classes at our church. This past Sunday and this coming Sunday, I am visiting with one of my favorite groups. This is a class where there may be members still in their seventies, but the vast majority are members of the Greatest Generation and are firmly in their mid- to late-eighties and nineties. What could I possibly have to teach them? But they are always gracious and welcome me and invite me back.
When I thought about it, I realized that I have a number of ancestors who were pastors and preachers. But I also have a lot of members of my family who have taken the more informal route of teaching and leading adult Sunday School. Mom is currently the president of her class. My brother and his wife lead classes at their church. My step-mother teaches Sunday School at her church as well as leading worship from time to time at the local county jail with my Dad. (He helps; he isn’t a resident.)
And back through the generations, many of my ancestors shared their faith and their understanding by teaching Sunday School. My maternal grandfather, Hudson Wren, led his Sunday School at the Wilson United Methodist Church in Wilson, Arkansas class for nearly 40 years. I remember every Saturday evening, when we were at his house, he would retreat into his den, close the door, and work on his lesson. We all knew not to disturb Papaw while he was working on his lesson because it was important to him. Even though he saved his notes for years, not long before his death, he cleaned out his files and destroyed years of lessons. I am thrilled to have some of the the ones that escaped. I still refer to them for my own lessons. Of course, they are often tied to the Adult Bible Study quarterlies from years and years ago and I don’t have those. But I can still guess at the direction from the notes. It’s fun to see his way of taking notes and writing and to hear his voice in them.
We recently met my great-grandfather, Charles Council Bailey. He also was called on to lead Sunday School from time to time. I’ve got a few of the talks that he gave at different times, including one done for Sunday School. I suspect that this is from the 1890s, though I don’t find a date on it. That means it was probably when they lived in Milton or Stigler in the Indian Territory. I have to say that I can identify with his comments as I lead classes full of folks who have all had long and full lives. This is part of a talk he gave to and about the Sunday School and why it is important.
In this he says “… if I should attempt to offer a word of advice or define for older and better [men] the interest we should take in this work, that they will deal lightly with me when passing upon my presumption, and with careful hands winnow the chaff from the grain, if any grain there be in what I may offer.” Sounds about right when standing in front of a group of folks who have seen far more of life than I have.
My maternal grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, often led the devotions for the Women’s society in her church. I have a few of these and love them, too. She’s quick and to the point in what she has to say. That’s the point of these devotions that open the meetings. Here’s one of hers. I don’t know the date, but it was from late in her life.
Hey! Do You Know Who You Are?
Matthew 12:50 – Whoever does what my Father in Heaven wants him to do is my brother, my sister, and my mother.
Kirk Douglas: “Once, while I was driving to Palm Springs, CA, I picked up a hitchhiking sailor. He got into the car, took a look at me and said “Hey! Do you know who you are?” That’s a very good question. A question we all have to ask our selves.” (From The Ragman’s Son: An Autobiography)
We live in a day when it is fashionable to lament that we need to find out who we are. This was never a problem to me. As the youngest of a large family and almost the only girl, I knew I was Somebody’s Little Sister or I was Charlie & Viola’s little girl. I’ve known people who resented this identification with their family members. I never did. I do not resent one of my brothers introducing me as his “baby Sister”. The knowledge that I was an integral, indeed an important, part of this closely knit family was a security that many people have not known.
If a brother caught me misbehaving, he would draw me aside and tell me to stop it. If I argued that the other kids were doing it, they would reply “Yes, but you now better.”
Our meals were an unhurried time of sharing. We told our small triumphs or defeats, as the case may be.
It was in [Sunday School] that I learned “Jesus Loves Me”. Also God is the loving Father of us all. This did not seem strange to me for I had not yet learned that not all fathers are loving. Later in [Sunday School], Mrs Clark taught me that I was a part of the church family and that expanded to the Family of God.
As I grew up my family kept expanding. There was school and later I went to college. Then I married and we were another family unit within the larger family of mankind. I was a wife. Then a mother. many years later I became a grandmother. Then I was a teacher.
I am many things. I am still a wearer of many hats. Most important, I am a child of God – a sister of Jesus and of all who are children of the Father. This, I think is the foremost “who” that I am.
As some of you may know, I sang in one choir or another most of my life. One of my favorite anthems is an old one that is an adaptation of the 23rd Psalm, My Shepherd Will Supply My Need and ends with “Not as a stranger or a guest but as a child at home.”
I do not always do all the things that the Father would have me to do and, like Paul, I sometimes do what He would not have me do. With much prayer and effort, I strive to live so that I can say I am a true child of the Father.
Hey! Do you know who you are?Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, “Hey! Do You Know Who You Are?”
So, back to Thankful. I am so thankful that in my family, I can find examples of people that I have known and loved and that I can discover and admire who help me to see who I am. Not that they determine me, but that their influence and experience on and in each successive generation is undeniable – both for good and for bad. I am thankful that by finding my family and reflecting on who they were and are, I am able to answer Grandmother’s question more each day. Hey! Do you know who you are?