Saturday, April 22, 2006

2409 For Family Only

The rest of you won't care about this photo, but I'm just thrilled to have it. So just move along--if you don't like sappy and sentimental.

When I opened the envelope tears came to my eyes. I had seen this photo flash by in a DVD made by my second cousin (we have the same great-grand parents). I contacted her aunt to find out who they were. She wasn't sure, but said she'd find out. And then the photo arrived with a note from my cousin. This is the wedding photo of my grandmother's grandparents of Jefferson County, TN, James and Mary Ann Elizabeth Williford. It looks like it's been through some hard times--that it had been folded, and chipped, and maybe a cup or something placed on it. I don't know its provenance. Only one granddaughter of this couple is still living, the sister of my grandmother--she's 91 and I visited her last year. She probably has a copy of this, or this is a copy of hers. There are so many things I don't know about this couple that I'd like to ask.

So I go into my genealogy software and look them up. I found out quite a bit about this family on the internet some years ago because in Tennessee during the Depression there was an attempt to record family information from old Bibles, and that has since been put on the internet by county. James and Mary Ann Elizabeth had nine children. Leanor, my great-grandmother, was only 10 years old when her father, the handsome young bridegroom of this photo, died. I knew her. Used to run down the street and sit on her front porch swing and listen to her soft Southern drawl and gentle laugh. By then she'd probably buried those hurts of 60 years before. Why would she have even mentioned such a sadness to a little five year old whose own daddy was off in a war? How did such a large family survive with only a woman to head the household? James' father was over 50 years old when he was born, so how much help could they have been if still alive? Even my grandmother, Bessie, born in 1895, didn't know this couple. They had both died before she was born. For many years Grandma Bessie was our family archive--her phenomenal memory could retrieve the stories with ease. After her death, we'd ask my father. When he died it was like the library had been burned, and my paltry software is no match for the stories he heard from his parents and grandparents and at the Tennessee Reunions that were held in northern Illinois for many years.

However, we don't know what we don't know do we? So we don't ask.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Aunt Norma...I really look forward to seeing your blogs on our family! Just want you to know how special I think you are and to offer up a BIG thanks for being our family archive, Grandma Bessie would be proud.....Amy

Jane said...

Norma, I love old family photos. I have two tables full of family photos in my house (one of hubby's relatives and one of mine!!). I think it is important for new generations to know their heritage. We must preserve our past so we will understand the present. Thanks for sharing some of your history.