Wordless Wednesday

Bette Carole and Jennie Wren
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Thankful – 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks

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.

Hudson Wren’s Sunday School Lesson on Christian Maturity, 13 July 1975

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.

Charles Council Bailey talk on Sunday School

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?

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Bearded

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The beards are back.  Well, at least the beards were back.  I suggested to Kathleen that I ought to grow one and she strongly encouraged me to reconsider that idea.  I thought I could do a pretty fair impression of Uncle Si, since I already carry around a big glass of iced tea.

When I saw that the theme for this week was Bearded, I immediately thought of my great-great-grandfather, Dr. Alonzo Dossey Wren.  He could definitely have been at home with the guys of Duck Dynasty.  He even lived near their home for many years.

Alonzo Dossey Wren was born 9 August 1841 in Putnam County, Georgia.  He was the sixth of George Washington Wren and Sarah Bridges Wren’s  children. You may recall George Washington Wren from a previous story about him and a Bible Dictionary he owned.

In 1850, the family appears in the census of Putnam County, but they did not remain there much longer.  By 1851, the family had moved to Bienville Parish, Louisiana.

For many years, there has been confusion over this family.  In the 1850 Census of Putnam County, Georgia, in the household of Geo. W. and Sarah Wren, there is a 9-year-old boy enumerated as Wm. A.D. Wren.  There is also an 8-year-old boy named Monroe.  No other record has been found for Monroe.  And Alonzo Dossey Wren never appears as William Alonzo Dossey Wren.  So, there is a mystery.  Is William A.D. Wren really A.D. Wren?  Maybe.  But W.A.D. Wren has a tombstone (placed much later) that says he died in 1867.  And the IGI lists William Alonzo Dossey Wren.  So, who is whom?  Really don’t know.  I’ve heard lots of theories.  Like William A.D. Wren was somehow handicapped and the family used the name again.  That seems unlikely.  Or that A.D. Wren was born Monroe and took the name A.D. Wren after his brother died.  But, that doesn’t hold water either since by 1867 (William’s reputed death), A.D. Wren had already served in the Civil War and had married and started to make his own records.  The only actual records I have seen that include William and Monroe are the census records for 1850 Putnam County, Georgia.  And I am inclined to lean toward a sloppy census taker.

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In any case, we don’t find the family in the 1860 census.  G.W. Wren (A.D. Wren’s father) had purchased several tracts of land in Bienville Parish and the family was clearly residing there.  And the 1860 census for Bienville Parish is missing.

Minden, in Bienville Parish, is only about an hour and a half drive (at most) from West Monroe, Louisiana, the home of Duck Dynasty.  So, perhaps the seeds of the beard started here.

When the War came, A.D. Wren enlisted in the Claiborne Grays – Company D, 19th Regiment of Louisiana Infantry in December 1861.  He and his unit served under General Joseph Johnson.  They fought at Shiloh, Missionary Ridge, Chattanooga, Chickamauga, Resacca, and Atlanta.  The unit was disbanded in May 1865 in Meridian, Mississippi.

In this picture, you can see A.D. Wren with his “Arkansas Toothpick”, the long, thin knife in his belt.  The original of this photo is owned by my cousin, John Gann, of England, Arkansas.  He has an amazing collection of artifacts not just from the family, but also from his time flying over Europe during WWII.

But, there’s no beard!  As a young man, he’s not wearing is signature whiskers.

After the War, A.D. Wren moved a bit north into southwest Arkansas.  In 1866, he married Frances Georgia “Georgia” Vickers, the daughter of James Jackson Vickers and Savannah Georgia Shehee.  The Vickers family were early settlers in Florida.  Georgia’s mother was born in Leon County, Florida in 1823, more than 20 years prior to statehood.  By 1840, the family had moved north into south Georgia, Thomas County.  And by 1850, they had moved into Bienville Parish.  And by 1860, they had moved into Hempstead County, Arkansas.

Alonzo went to New Orleans to study medicine at the University of Louisiana, receiving a certificate for attending lectures there in 1871 and 1872.  The University of Louisiana ultimately became Tulane University in New Orleans.  This is a picture of him during his studies, taken at the studio of Petty & Quinn at 151 Canal Street in New Orleans.  Very dapper looking, with a nicely trimmed beard this time.

I’ve not been able to find records yet of his time in New Orleans.  By the time of this certificate, at least three children would have been born to the family.  The eldest, a little girl named Savannah, died as an infant.  I wonder if that helped shape Alonzo’s desire to study medicine.

In any case, he worked as a physician, while still working his own farm, for the rest of life, until his death in 1915.  I wish I had asked my grandfather about him.  But that wasn’t even something I thought about as a 10-12 year old boy.

I have a clock that he and Georgia gave to my great-grandparents as a wedding gift in 1899.  My little brother has a pocket watch that Dr. Wren received as payment from a patient at some point.

As it turns out, Dr. Wren came by his beard legitimately.  On the left, below, is is father, George Washington Wren.  That’s one stern looking dude with a serious beard, I would say.

On the right is George Lovich Pierce Wren, Dr. Wren’s older brother.  His is much more neatly trimmed.  But, then, he was in the Louisiana legislature and had to clean up a bit, I suppose.  Maybe we will talk about his experience in a later entry.  His diary that he kept during his time at Emory University and during his service in the Civil War is kept in the Special Collections Room of the Emory University Library.

Here’s another of Dr. Wren as a young man.  The photo on the left is a large format tintype.  I believe it must date from about the time he was studying in New Orleans as well.  The beard is still neat and short.

But, on the right, the beard is starting to take on a life of its own.  This is the look that I have seen in so many photos.  The very full beard shows up in all of the pictures of Dr. Wren until the end of his life.

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This is one of my favorites.  Dr. A.D. Wren and his wife Georgia, taken 26 December 1900 in Prescott, Arkansas, where the family lived for generations.

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On 18 January 1916, Dr. Wren died at his daughter, Carrie Camillia Wren Woodul’s home.  He and Georgia had moved into town to live with their daughter just thta year on account of their health.  Georgia lived until 1941, and Carrie, Mrs. J.C. Woodul, lived until 1977.

The descendants of the beards — the descendants of Dr. A.D. Wren and George Lovich Pierce (GLP) Wren — have held family reunions since at least the 1940s.  So, while neither the men, nor the women, of the Wren family have as extravagant beards as their ancestors, their memory lives on.  Not just the memory of the beards, but the memory of the ancestors and their lives and stories.  And that’s even better.

 

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Sport

Sport?!  Those who know me know that I have not got a single sport gene in my body.  I tried playing baseball, football, and soccer as a kid.  When it came time for basketball season, I figured out that I could score the games and they wouldn’t make me play on the school team. (It was a very small school.)  So, I was a bit at a loss looking at this topic.

I’ve never really thought a lot about my ancestors and sports.  However, I know that my grandfather, Hudson Wren, was a football letterman at the University of Arkansas in the 1920s.  So, let’s meet him and his career there.

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Some of you may recall meeting Hudson Wren in previous posts (here, and here).  He was born in 1906 in Nevada County, Arkansas.  He attended Prescott High School, where he played football for the Prescott Curly Wolves.

After graduation, Hudson went to the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville to study Agriculture, having been raised on a farm.  He arrived in Fayetteville in 1925 as a freshman and joined the freshman football squad.  The Arkansas Razorback annual tracks his career during his years in Fayetteville.  It sounds like his freshman year was successful, since he earned his number for the varsity squad that year.

After his freshman year, Hudson met a cute young transfer student from Southern Methodist University, Mary Higgs (always called Mary Jim by almost everyone).  She was active in athletics, to a degree, herself.  She participated in the Women’s Athletic Association, both at SMU and at Arkansas.  The W.A.A. promoted intramural sports activities among the women at the university.  A whole host of sports were represented, including women’s football.  I have not been able to find out which sports she played, though.  As you might expect, the 1920s were not a time when women’s sports got the same billing as the men’s teams.

I am not sure why Mary Jim (Nannie) transferred from SMU to Arkansas.  Her mother and she lived in Dallas at the time.  Her mother may have moved with her brother around that time (have to check further) so she was going to move somewhere.  Why Arkansas?  Don’t know.  I had heard that she sat out for a time from SMU after a diving accident, but I could have made that up, too.

In the both the 1927-1928 and 1928-1929 seasons, Hudson lettered in football.  He played tackle, predominantly.  Remember this was in the days when the men played both sides of the ball – offense and defense.  The squad wasn’t that large and the starters, especially on the line, just kept playing.  It was also the days of leather helmets and far less protective gear than we see today.  I remember Papaw saying that often by half-time, he would barely know where he was.

In addition to playing football, Hudson was active as a part of both the Arkansas Booster Club and the Varsity Club, promoting interest in athletics and other student activities.  He was in the Press Club, different fraternities both on and off campus, and lead the Agri Days at the University.

After graduation with degrees in agriculture and home economics respectively, Hudson and Mary married and set out on careers.  They started as teachers in the Portland High School in Portland Arkansas.  Take a look at these previous posts  (here, and here) to see more about Hudson’s career in agriculture.  And visit the site of Wilson, Arkansas, to see more about the town birthed by the farm that he helped lead for many years.

For as long as they lived, Hudson and Mary Jim remained staunch supporters of Arkansas football.  They contributed generously to the program and maintained really good season ticket seats at mid-field in War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (one of two homes of the Razorbacks).

I guess I never heard Papaw let go with a hog call, but something tells me he could get a pretty good” Woooooooo Pig Sooiee!  Razorbacks!” going when he wanted to.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Closest to My Birthday

This week has been harder than previous weeks for me.  The theme of the week is “Closest to My Birthday”.  The obvious thing is to look for someone who shares your birthday.  One would think that would be pretty straightforward.

They say that in any group of not so many people (is it 35 or so?) that there are better than 50:50 odds that two people will share a birthday.  In my entire tree, I can only find one ancestor who shares my birthday and I really don’t know a lot about him.  Besides, he’s sort of far from the main trunk.

So, let’s see what else happened on my birthday.  My birthday is July 29.  On July 29, 1884, my great-great-great-grandfather, George Washington Wren, died in Sibley, Webster Parish, Louisiana.  Let’s talk about him.

George Washington Wren was born 7 Feb 1802 in Lancaster County, South Carolina.  The family story always says he was from the Waxhaw settlement, which was also the birthplace of President Andrew Jackson.  This is right on the North Carolina – South Carolina border.  Where it lies has been a point of contention for many years.  But G. W. Wren always claimed to be from Lancaster County, South Carolina.  This is just south of modern-day Charlotte, NC.

His parents were George Wren (b. abt. 1760 in Virginia) and Alletha Dossey (b. in Maryland).  The two of them married in Lancaster County sometime before 1798.  Both remained in Lancaster County until their deaths.  For Alletha, that would come sooner than expected.  She died by 1810, when George Wren married Elizabeth Kimball.  George, himself, died in between 1832 and 1835.  George and Alletha had seven known children, four girls and three boys.  George Washington Wren was the youngest.

Now, we have to get into the fast-forward machine and jump from 1802 in Lancaster County, South Carolina all the way to 1828 in Putnam County, Georgia.  There we find G. W. Wren witnessing a deed between Herod Bridges and Moses Harvey.  Soon afterward, G.W. married Herod Bridges’ daughter Sarah Bridges.

Sarah Bridges was born 19 Apr 1813 in Greene County, Georgia, and was living with her family in Putnam County by 1815.  She was the eldest of Herod Bridges and Margaret “Peggy” Ware’s fourteen children.  On 4 Sep 1828, Sarah Bridges married George Washington Wren in Putnam County.

 

G.W. and Sarah lived in Putnam County for more than twenty years.  I can reliably find them in 1830, 1840, and 1850 census in Putnam County.  Additionally, I find George W. listed in the property tax rolls for 1830, 1832, 1833, 1836, 1839.  And I find him buying and selling land all through this time.

Between 15 September 1850 and 1 Sept 1851, the family picked up and moved from Putnam County, Georgia to Bienville Parish, Louisiana, south of the town of Minden, within the part of the Parish that was to become Webster Parish. Within just a couple of years of arriving in Louisiana, G.W. Wren sets about patenting 560 acres of land around Sibley, Louisiana.  We don’t find the family in the 1860 Census, since it appears to be missing for Bienville Parish.  In fact, there is no Population Schedule or any other Schedule surviving for the Parish.  In 1870, we find George Washington and Sarah living in Sibley.  Even after reading every entry in Bienville and Webster Parish, I am unable to find the family in 1880 in the Census.  I have looked around all of their living children and have not found them there, either.

Ultimately, George Washington Wren died on 29 July 1884 in Sibley, Webster Parish, Louisiana, seventy-nine years before I was born.  His estate was finally closed in probate in 1889.

I feel like I don’t know a lot about George Washington Wren.  I know a little more about his wife Sarah Bridges Wren, who lived another twenty-eight years.  She wrote a wonderful letter telling about her life that I am sure we will get to at some point.

I have a couple of pictures of G.W. Wren and he always looks so stern.  I also have a Bible Dictionary that belonged to him.  The inscriptions are hard to read, but his son, Alonzo Dossey Wren, who inherited the book, has highlighted where G.W. Wren inscribed the dictionary.

G.W. Wren wrote his name opposite the title page.  Later, A.D. Wren noted in 1897 that his father had owned the book and had signed it around 1845.  The book itself was published in 1842.  Inside the front cover, A.D. Wren notes that the book was presented to him in 1867.  This would have been around the time of the birth of A.D. Wren’s first child, who died in infancy.

There’s one last inscription in the book that baffles me.  I have tried adjusting the lighting, contrast, color, etc. here and still cannot read this one. Can you see what the top part of this page says?  The lower part of the page is the handwriting of A.D. Wren commenting on what his father wrote.  But the top party is by G.W. Wren.

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So, G.W. Wren remains somewhat of a mystery to me.  There are plenty of open questions about his life.  Here are the mysteries that I want to solve about George Washington Wren:

  • How did G.W. Wren get from Lancaster County, South Carolina to Putnam County, Georgia?  There is a 25+ year gap between when we first find G.W. in Lancaster until we find him as an adult in Georgia.  Who did he come with?  How did he end up in Putnam County, 300+ miles away from his birthplace?
  • How did he decide to move on to Louisiana and why did he select Bienville?  Again, I’ve not been able to link his FANs (Family, Associates, Neighbors) in Georgia with those in Louisiana.
  • Where was the family in the 1880 census?

If you have ideas on these, I would love to hear about it.  Or if you can read the inscription in the Bible dictionary, please let me know.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Back to School

It’s week 35 and it’s the end of August and time for Back to School.  Of course, here in the Atlanta area they have the crazy practice of starting school super-early.  School started in Fulton County, where we live, the first Monday in August!  So, kids and teachers have been back pretty much a month now and are coming up on their first day off – Labor Day.

When I think about Back to School and my ancestors, there are so many people that I think of.  I come from a long line of teachers in every direction.  Some were young women who taught in country schools for a time until they got married.  Others made a career out of teaching.  Others taught school to supplement their income at different points in their lives.  There were some who helped to establish schools.  And many, many who just went to school.

wren-0025-f-v01But, this week, I want to introduce you to Mildred WrenYou’ve already seen a picture of her and the rest of her family when I talked about her little sister Marion Wren.  Mildred was the eldest of the four children of Sam Scott Wren and Pearl Hudson Wren.  Sam and Pearl were married on 21 February 1900 in Laneburg, Nevada County, Arkansas.  Mildred was born nine months and three days after that on 24 November 1900!  After Mildred came her sisters, Norvelle and Marion, followed up by her little brother Hudson, my grandfather.

The Wren kids all went to school out in the country.  I don’t remember a lot of stories about being in school.  Based on Mildred’s 1912 report card, I get the impression that she made her way through, but wasn’t that excited about it.

wren-docs-0002-f-v01She studied Arithmetic, Grammar, Geography, Reading, Spelling, and Physiology.  She was also graded on Deportment, which, not surprisingly, she excelled.  Her grades overall, however, were nothing to write home about.

In the fall, she had a lot of half-days where she missed school, probably to help out on the farm, since she would have been almost twelve years old.

At the end of the 1914 school year, Mildred had completed what was required to get her Pupil’s Certificate for completing the course of study of the Common Schools of the State of Arkansas.  That would mean that she had completed the 8th grade.  Her 8th grade teacher, who signed her certificate was Glen D. Suttonwren-docs-0345-f-v01Glen, as it turns out, was both a career teacher and a the wife of Mildred’s cousin.  Glen Sutton was born in 1893 in Sutton, Nevada County, Arkansas.  She married James Edgar “Edgar” Wren, Mildred’s cousin, in 1915, just the year after Mildred finished her class.  Glen taught school for thirty years, herself, according to notes that Mildred made.

wren-0574-f-v00-Midred-Henry-1918Before too long, Mildred met a dashing young guy, Henry Whitten.  They fell in love and married.  The two of them were made for each other.  Both always had a twinkle in their eye and some kind of mischief in mind.  They married in 1920 and were together until Henry’s death in 1979.  When they first married, they had a house out in the country.  Later on, after Mildred’s parents and sister had moved closer into the town of Prescott, Henry built a house for them across the highway from her parents.  They were always a close family.

 

I’ve always loved how Mildred worked so hard to record memories.  She has notebooks wren-0192-f-v02and notebooks of the lives of her family – uncles, aunts, cousins, and all of their children.  She kept scrapbooks of all of the cousins’ children, though she and Henry never had any of their own.  She had lists of all of her family’s birthdays, anniversaries, and dates of death, along with the same thing for her friends.

She made notes on her photos to capture the moment as well.  For example, in 1934, she made a note on the picture above that she made the dress she is wearing as well as Henry’s overalls that he’s wearing.  Mildred and Henry never had money to speak of, so the made do – making what they needed, raising a fabulous garden, and raising cattle on their farm.

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In 1965, Mildred and Henry went to Glen & Edgar Wren’s Golden Wedding reception, held at the home of another cousin, Willard Wren.  Yes, that Glen.  Glen Sutton Wren.  Mildred’s 8th grade teacher.   Glen & Edgar even went on to have a daughter named Mildred Wren.

But, back to school.  Early in their marriage, Mildred and Henry, like many young people starting out in their lives and their married lives, took up school teaching in the country.  Mildred and Henry both were licensed teachers for both primary and high school through the late 1920s at least.  They taught school in little country schools – Holly Springs and Thomasville, in particular.  I wish I had the years for these pictures and a list of the students, but all I have is the place.  It looks like one is Thomasville in 1923 – a girl is holding a basketball that says THS 1923.

But, you know, I came a long a long time after Mildred and Henry taught school.  By my time, they were already getting on in years.  But the twinkle and the mischief were still there.  I am sure that we will get to a story about Henry’s magic tree at some point, or about how they named the calves each season, or about all of the amazing vegetables we ate when we visited.  I remember them being so proud of their nieces, my mom and aunt, and being so proud of the next generation – my two cousins, my brother, and me.  I remember Mildred and Norvelle taking the bus from Prescott, Arkansas to Jackson, Tennessee for commencement when my Mom graduated from Lambuth College.  I remember that even when she was in the nursing home, not feeling well at all, she still had a smile and a twinkle and wanted to hear all about how you were doing rather than say how well she was not doing.

So, back to school.  Time to head back.  You never know.  You may find yourself cousin to your 8th grade teacher, find out she named her daughter for you, and end up going to her Golden Wedding reception!  Just keep a smile on your face and a twinkle in your eye and mischief in your heart along the way.

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Youngest

The theme for week 32 in my 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is Youngest.

Let me introduce you to my mother’s father’s youngest sister, Marion Wren.

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In this picture, Marion is the smiling bundle of excitement on the floor in the middle of the picture.  She looks like a happy little child, doesn’t she?

Marion Wren was born 5 Jun 1904 in Sutton, Nevada County, Arkansas.  She was the third child and third daughter of Sam Scott Wren and Pearl Hudson Wren.  Her two older sisters, Mildred and Norvelle Wren, adored her and talked about her often.

Look closely at the picture.  It looks like Pearl is pregnant.  That would be the soon to be born Henry Hudson Wren, my grandfather.  He was born 18 July 1906 in Sutton.

Little Marion’s story is short and sad.  The family lived out in the country and had fires for heat in the house.  One day in November, after her little brother, Hudson, was born, Marion was playing with the baby in his crib.  She was just two years old herself.

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I guess the crib must have been near one of the fires or stoves.  As Norvelle and Mildred told it, little Marion was leaning over the crib and her little skirt brushed through the fire, caught fire, and she was burned to death.  She died 24 Nov 1906 and was buried at Harmony Church Cemetery in Nevada County, Arkansas.

Even though she had a short life, over eighty years later, her sisters still talked about her smile.