This is my great-grandmother Viola Tennison Bailey‘s butter paddle. Rather than use a churn, she made butter in a big, wooden bowl. I’m not sure where the bowl is. I never had it. Perhaps Dad does. In any case, using this, Great-grandmother would turn and turn and turn and whip and whip and whip the cream until the butter came together and rose to the top. Sounds like a lot of work to me!
My grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, told me that there were some approved alternate uses for the butter paddle as well and that it got pretty regular use across the family.
Susan was the youngest of ten children born to Viola and Charles Council Bailey. Viola and Charles were married in 1895 and lived most of their lives in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas. They had their first son, Carl Everett Bailey, in 1896. I’ll talk more about them and him in later blogs; there’s lots to tell there. By the time Susan was born in 1919, Viola had been raising children for twenty-five years – eight boys and two girls. Her oldest had already gone off to war, come back, and died. Two more sons had died as children or infants. Not too long after Susan was born, her older sister started having kids of her own. Some of those kids where quite the characters and I am sure got into all kinds of trouble.
That’s where the butter paddle comes in.
Grandmother told me that her mom used it not only to make the family butter but also used it on some family butts! She said that this was one of her preferred discipline tools. Now, seeing this angelic child, can you ever imagine her being in any sort of mischief or needing to be disciplined in any way at all? Hard to imagine!
This is one of the classic pictures of my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey Dickson, along with her cow, Blossom. It’s not often that you see a dirtier child than this. But out of that dirt grew one of the finest women I have ever met. She and Granddad were married for sixty-six years and every bit as smitten with each other when they died as when they met. But, that’s a story for another day.
Sometimes the things you inherit from your ancestors are not only photos and letters and documents. Sometimes you get pieces of them!
Charles Council Bailey, my great-grandfather, was born in 1868 in Hackett, Sebastian County, Arkansas, on a farm his grandparents had purchased in 1840 (more about that another time).
Charlie Bailey worked the farm, worked as a carpenter framing houses, and in his spare time wrote and collected songs by the dozens. I have stacks and stacks of songs that he wrote out on notebook paper. I’m still working to figure out which ones he copied and which ones he wrote.
In September, 1895, he married Viola Tennison in Le Flore County, Indian Territories (now Oklahoma). Charlie and Viola had ten children, starting with Carl Everett Bailey in 1896 and ending my with my grandmother, Susan Louise Bailey in 1919.
Along the way, Charlie must have had some dental issues and got a tooth fitted. After he died, and after Viola died, his small trunk with many of his prized possessions ended up with my cousin, Michael Bailey, who gave it to me. In addition to photos, songs, and the like, in it were several pairs of glasses and this – the tooth. I can only assume that it belonged to him and not someone else.
Charles died in 1935 and was buried in the Vinita Cemetery in Hackett, on land that his family had donated may years before for that purpose.
So now, on my shelf with my grandparents watches and great-grandparents clock and photos and the like is a tooth. But, without this story, who would know that it was an ancestor’s story and not just some weird collection on my shelf!
A lot of this blog will consist of pictures and stories about the people in the picture. Sometimes I know a lot, sometimes it’s just a cool picture.
Zenas Ignacious Tennison was born in 1851 in Ponototoc County, Mississippi. He’s found in his father’s house in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 in Pontotoc and Choctaw counties in Mississippi. In November of 1875, he married Nancy Elizabeth “Nan” Deshazo in Webster Co., Mississippi.
By 1880, the family had moved to Clark County, Arkansas. They lived for a period in Yell County, Arkansas. And in 1900 they were in Antlers in the Choctaw Nation of the Indian Territories (Oklahoma), where they stayed until their deaths in 1936 and 1950.
I don’t know much about Zenas. I know that he and Nan had five children, and I know a lot of their descendants. I know that Zenas and his brother, John William Biggers “Bill” Tennyson married sisters. Zenas married Nan and Bill married Mary Susan Druscilla Deshazo. I know that Zenas and Bill ran a sawmill in Yell County, at least until Bill was killed in an accident there.
Mostly, I love this picture. I think that it just grabs you and takes you straight back to The Grapes of Wrath in Oklahoma in the Great Depression.