dee_burris: (Default)
2012-09-02 21:49

Matrilineal Monday: Julia Ann Callaway McBrayer Herrington

She died nearly 7 years before I was born, so I never knew my paternal great-grandmother.

According to what my dad and his sister have told me, if I had only known her at the end of her life, I really wouldn't have known her at all. At the end of her life, Julia Ann Callaway McBrayer Herrington lived with her daughter, Addie Louise Herrington Burris, in the house at 8th and Crittenden in Arkadelphia. The place my dad called home.
Seen from the eyes of children, as my dad and aunt were when their grandmother died, Grandma Herrington had changed. Now, she had a sharp tongue and shrill disposition.

Not like the grandmother of their memories when they were younger.

And not like the memories of my grandmother, Louise Herrington Burris.

I don't have Julia Ann's death certificate. The State of Arkansas couldn't find it for me. So I don't know her official cause of death.

I do know that she died on Wednesday, 12 Dec 1951, at her daughter Inez's house, while my grandparents were on an errand. I don't know if her death was expected, but I also don't have the impression that she was on death's door when my grandparents took her to stay with Inez that day.

Maybe Julia decided, as I know of many others who have, to take her leave while the person who cared for her was away.

Maybe she didn't want my grandmother to see her die.
I can only speculate about Julia Ann's early life.

She was the daughter of my primo brick wall ancestors, Mary C Dunn, and Allen Mason Lowery "Mace" Callaway.

According to the historic records I've accumulated, Julia Ann was the only living child that Mary and Mace had in the 11 years of their marriage prior to Mace's death. She was only 4 years old when her father died, so I wonder how much of him she remembered. I wonder if surely, she knew where he was buried. (I haven't found his grave.)

Julia Ann couldn't have known her father as the man he was before he served in the Civil War. Neither could her mother have known *that* man, as Mary and Mace didn't marry until 1866.

In the 1880 census, Julia Ann was living with her mother, new step-father, David Andrew Williams, and her step-sister, Mary Etta Williams in Clark County.

I know nothing about how the two girls - 4 years apart in age, with Mary Etta the eldest - got along.

In 1881, the girls got a new brother, Rubin Ned Williams. Almost a year to the day afterward, they got another baby brother, William Andrew Williams.

A few years after Willie's birth, David Andrew Williams fell ill with an unknown disease that caused wasting of muscles and a great deal of pain. He died on 23 Jan 1888, when Julia Ann was 14 years old, and her little brothers were 6 and 5.

Her mother did not marry again.
On 13 Dec 1891, Julia Ann Callaway married for the first time to Robert Bruce McBrayer.

Robert's family would have been well known to Julia Ann and her mother. They lived in the DeGray community of Clark County, and both families attended the same church.

Julia Ann and Robert McBrayer had 8 children together, including a set of twin daughters and a child who was stillborn. Robert McBrayer died of "kidney trouble" on 1 Jun 1905 at the age of 34, leaving 32 year old Julia Ann with 7 children, the oldest of whom was 13.

I think Julia Ann must have mourned him. She did not remarry for over 2 years.

On 19 Oct 1907, Julia Ann McBrayer married a widower with 5 children. He was Jasper Monroe Herrington, and he and Julia Ann had 6 children together, including two sets of twins, one of whom was my grandmother. They lived in DeGray in what has been described to me as a dog-trot house with three bedrooms.

Altogether, Jasper and Julia Ann had 18 living children. That boggles my mind.

And as I listened to my grandmother, it was clear to me that Jasper and Julia Ann did not do "his" and "hers." All the kids were their kids - no favoritism, and no step-this and half-that.

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Julia Ann Callaway and Jasper Monroe Herrington, in one of the only photos I have of her without a child on her lap


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From left: Julia Ann, son Larkin Wellington McBrayer, grandson Robert McBrayer, and mother Mary C Dunn Callaway Williams.
Photo circa 1926/27. Julia's mother, Mary, was probably already blind.

Julia Ann's mother, Mary Dunn Callaway Herrington, died at Julia Ann's home on 9 Apr 1929. According to her obituary, Mary Williams had been blind for 7 years before her death, and unable to leave the house for the previous 2 years.

At least 4 of Julia Ann's children were still living at home at the time of Mary's death, including my grandmother. Jasper died in 1943, 8 years before Julia Ann's death.

Julia Ann learned much about loss from a very early age. Perhaps she was responsible - at least in part - for the attitude about death that I saw in my grandmother.

We live, we love, we lose. We remember and reminisce, and we go on.

It's the cycle of life.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-05-22 08:55

Sunday's Obituary: Mary (Wilson) Buck, 1867-1929

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Mrs. Hardy Buck
The remains of Mrs. Hardy Buck, who died at a Little Rock hospital on Wednesday afternoon of last week, were brought to Arkadelphia that night, and was taken in charge by the McDaniel, Murry and Lee undertaking establishment.

The deceased is survived by five children, Arthur and Ed Buck of this city, Homer Buck of Oklahoma, Carl Buck of Graysonia and Mrs. Ruby Ray of Coleman, Texas, and one brother, Hardy Wilson of Coleman, Texas.

The funeral services were conducted Friday afternoon and the remains were laid to rest in the Golden cemetery.



The obituary was published in the Southern Standard on 11 Apr 1929.

Mary Wilson Buck's son, Homer, was the husband of my grand aunt, Madgie McBrayer.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-03-01 19:31

Madgie McBrayer, 1898-1918

There are only the two photos in my collection of Madgie. In each, she is shown with one or both of her children.


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Madgie had a twin sister, Maggie. They were one of three sets of twins in their extended McBrayer/Herrington family, and older half sisters of my grandmother, Addie Louise Herrington.

I don't know which sister was born first, but they arrived on a hot summer day in late July 1898 in Clark County, daughters of Julia Ann Callaway and Robert Bruce McBrayer.

Maggie died in 1965. Madgie barely made it out of her teens.


Madgie McBrayer married Homer Buck on 10 Jul 1913, just a couple of weeks short of her 15th birthday.

I don't know the names of either of Madgie's children, the youngest of whom died in 1918 also, and whose gravestone in DeGray Cemetery simply says "Baby Buck."

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Madgie's stone was equally simple.

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Her obituary appeared in the Southern Standard on 24 Oct 1918.

Mrs. Homer Buck died at her home in this city on Wednesday night of last week with pneumonia. The deceased was 20 years of age and leaves a husband and two children, besides father, mother, three sisters and three brothers. Funeral services were held Tuesday afternoon and the remains were buried at DeGray Cemetery.

Madgie McBrayer died on 17 Oct 1918.
dee_burris: (Default)
2011-01-01 18:21

Surname Saturday: McBrayer

I imagine the surname McBrayer to have Scottish or Irish origins. I have only traced my McBrayers back to Cumberland Co., PA in 1764. William McBrayer, born in Cumberland County, married in 1788 in Rutherford Co., NC to Elizabeth Martin.

For the next three generations, McBrayers farmed the land of several North Carolina counties until around 1868, when Eli Wellington McBrayer and his younger brother Tilman (sons of Tilman W McBrayer and Elizabeth Amelia Bridges), removed to the fertile farmland of Clark County, AR and began farming there. In 1877, Tilman moved on to neighboring Pike County, AR.

Eli stayed put. On 8 Nov 1870, he married Harriet "Hattie" K Thornton, and the couple had three children with another on the way when brother Tilman moved on.

The first of those three children was a son - Robert Bruce McBrayer, born 10 Oct 1871, in Clark County. Robert was the first husband of my great grandmother, Julia Ann Callaway.

And although Robert is not related to me by blood, he was still family. As far as I know, McBrayer kids were just as much the kids of Jasper Monroe Herrington as Jasper's kids were Julia Ann Callaway's when they blended their families in 1907. And then went on to have six more.

Robert's parents were well-respected in their little Clark County community called DeGray.

Eli Wellington McBrayer and Hattie K Thornton had 11 children that I have been able to document. Eli was a leader in their church, DeGray Baptist (formerly Bethel Union Baptist). At least four of those children died before they reached the age of 20. DeGray Baptist Church Cemetery is the resting place of Eli, Hattie, and many of their descendants.

Among the photos I got on my recent successful visit to see my aunt was this one of Mary C (Dunn) Callaway Williams, and Hattie K (Thornton) McBrayer. According to the writing on the back, it was taken in the late 1800s.

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This would have been a photo cherished by my great-grandmother Julia Ann Callaway McBrayer Herrington.

Her mother and her first mother-in-law, who surely had known each other for years. They were contemporaries and only born two years apart, Hattie being the younger. If the photo is from the late 1800s, then Robert McBrayer was still alive at the time it was taken. (He died in 1905.)

I think there may be a possibility that the names of the women on the photo were reversed. My aunt wrote that Hattie was on the left, and Mary on the right.

My cousin and I zoomed the photo on my laptop and compared it to the 3 known photos of Mary Dunn in my possession. (Took those suckers right off the wall, we did.) We believe Mary is the woman on the left.

And we have no reason to doubt that the women in the photo, regardless of their position, are Mary and Hattie.


I. Love. This.


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Verna McBrayer Feimster


Verna was the daughter of Robert McBrayer and Julia Ann Callaway. Born on 5 Sep 1900, she was sixth of the eight children. She married William A "Bill" Feminster on 21 Jun 1928.

So I figure this was Verna's single gal, flapper look - before she married.


Most of Eli and Harriet's children stayed in and around Clark County all their lives.

So did most of their grandchildren, although two of Robert and Julia's sons moved to Texas (Larkin and Charlie).

That's still a long way from Scotland or Ireland...
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-31 16:50

Who are they?

A mystery photo from yesterday's scanning session.

Completely unlabeled.

I have studied it.


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Most of the photos and documents I got were related to the Herringtons, followed by McBrayers, and last, Burrises.

This one was among the Herrington and McBrayer scans.

It's not Mary Dunn. Most of the Herrington and McBrayer women had dark hair.

The simple dress doesn't really give me a clue about date, nor does the background.

Another mystery photo...I have no idea who these people were, but I know I am related to them somehow.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-30 18:40

It was a good day for portable scanning...

Took my Flip-pal on the road today. All of 15 minutes up the interstate to my aunt's house.

I have lots of aunts. But this is an aunt who has, for 30 years, had physical custody of every family photo, news clipping, obituary, letter, or court document belonging to her parents.

For safe-keeping. From her brother and sisters, it would appear. Kind of a gatekeeper, as it were.

Last summer, I thought it would be a good idea to get all the stuff she had and bring it home to scan. Another aunt let that idea come up in conversation.

It was a wonderful idea! For about 8 hours or so.

Then, it was not a good idea...well, not right now.

Last week, I decided it was time to get serious about getting the stuff copied - and now, I didn't have to move anything out of my aunt's house. Backing up my Flip-pal with two digital cameras, I was completely portable and self-sufficient.

It took a week and five lengthy phone conversations.

My aunt enjoyed herself. We took a lunch break and went into town to eat.

She is now very into the "sharing" of family history, and says she is sure there is other stuff tucked away in closets.

So I will be going back again.

And sharing what I think is a really cool photo I got today. Finally, a photo of Julia Ann (Callaway) McBrayer Herrington, without a kid sitting on her lap. Her husband, Jasper Monroe Herrington, is standing next to her. It's the only photo of him that I have.


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They were my great-grandparents.

And another, different photo of my grandmother, Addie Louise (Herrington) Burris. (Her parents above.)

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Happy dance...
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-12 11:32

Addie Louise (Herrington) Burris

I don't know which one of them was born first on 17 Jul 1908 - my paternal grandmother, Addie Louise, or her twin, Hattie Inez. They were the first children of two sets of twins born to Jasper Monroe Herrington and Julia Ann Callaway. After them came:

Florence Isabelle Herrington, born 13 Feb 1910;
Robert Earl Herrington, born 23 Dec 1911; and
Twin daughters Bernice Josephine and Eunice Catheline Herrington, born 31 Oct 1913.

But Louise and Inez were not the first children born to their parents - not by a long shot.


In order to understand how just how many kids might have been underfoot in the Herrington household, you have to go back through the marriages for both Jasper and Julia.

Grandma's dad was married twice before he married her mother. (Some researcher say three times, but I have not been able to find any evidence of a marriage between Jasper and Emma Willman.)

On 12 May 1895, Jasper married Tabitha Luvenia Bailey in Hot Spring County. They had a daughter, Maude, born that year. Jasper and Tabitha divorced, which was something I didn't know until I started shaking the family tree.

On 15 Sep 1899, Jasper married a widow named Mary Ann (Cothran) Johnson. They had two children, Lillian (born 21 Jan 1902) and Richard (born in 1905). Mary Ann Herrington died in 1907.

So when Jasper Monroe Herrington married Julia Ann Callaway, he already had three children. He and Julia would have six more.

But that did not include Julia's children from her first marriage.


I know without having to be told how Julia Ann Callaway met her first husband, Robert Bruce McBrayer.

Both their families were longstanding members of the little Baptist church in their small Clark County community of DeGray.

They married on 13 Dec 1891 in Clark County, and had eight children:

Charlie H McBrayer, born 13 Oct 1892;
Maude C McBrayer, born 19 Nov 1894;
Larkin Wellington McBrayer, born 1 Mar 1896;
Twin daughters, Maggie Lee and Madgie Buck McBrayer, born 26 Jul 1898;
Verna McBrayer, born 5 Sep 1900;
John Ernest McBrayer, born in 1904; and
A stillborn infant, date of birth unknown.


How many kids were there in your family, Grandma?

Seventeen, including three sets of twins.


I'd dearly love to have a photo of the house that sheltered the Jasper and Julia Herrington family.

At the time of their marriage, they already had nine kids living at home. By the time of the 1910 census, there were eleven.

And we talk about those being "simpler times..."


Grandma became a nurse - an LPN at the hospital in Arkadelphia.

This was Louise Herrington in 1928.

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When my dad handed me that photograph a couple of years ago, he remarked, Didn't I have a pretty mother?

He did, and the pretty little nurse caught the eye of the assistant postmaster at the Arkadelphia Post Office.

On 18 Nov 1929, Addie Louise Herrington married George Washington Burris, Jr. They had three daughters and one son. Eventually, there were thirteen grandchildren.

The George and Louise Burris family grew up in Arkadelphia, in a rock clad house on the corner of 9th and Crittenden Streets. My grandmother loved flowers and had a border that went all the way around the house, with huge hydrangeas on each side of the front door.

My grandparents loved having their family come to visit. Grandma spent hours cooking before and during those visits. She was one of a long line of women who believed most anything that happened to you could be faced much easier with a home cooked meal in your belly.

The noon meal was dinner and the evening meal was supper. You rose and retired with the chickens. (No, they didn't have chickens in town that I recall, but you got up early and went to bed early.)

During visits in the fall, my dad or one of the uncles would climb the pecan tree and shake it so we kids could get the nuts that fell to the ground. Grandma needed those for her famous Karo nut pies.

I loved doing that, but was really glad when I got too big to be the kid who sat on the ice bag (paper, back then) on top of the ice cream freezer in the summer, while a grown up cranked. We had all the Orange Crush ice cream we could eat.


As a child, I was lucky enough to be able to spend several days over a few summers with my grandparents.

The bacon frying fork always amused me, even as a kid. Grandma had one fork that she used for turning bacon in the mornings, and you weren't supposed to set the table with it. It was for frying bacon.

One summer when I was about 7 or 8, I spent a week with my grandparents. There was a sidewalk sale "uptown," and Grandma thought I might like to spend my little bit of mad money there.

We got ready and walked from the house to the sale. She didn't bat an eye when I bought myself a silver lipstick and proceeded to adorn my mouth with it. (I must have looked like a little ghoul.)

I had my eye out for a gift for her. About the third store, I saw them.

Earrings. Patriotic - red, white and blue earrings. They were clip-ons, like she wore. They had multiple dangling chains with red, white and blue balls all the way down the chains, which came half-way down your jaw. Not like what she wore. Ever.

But to my child's eye, they were beautiful. And a bargain, too - only fifty cents.

I waited until she was busy looking at another table, and made my purchase. The clerk wrapped them up in a paper bag under the table, so Grandma couldn't see.

I was going to wait until we got home to give them to her, but the excitement was killing me. I gave them to her on the spot.

She opened them up, and exclaimed over them. Gave me a big hug and a kiss.

And put those gawd-awful earrings on, in the middle of uptown Arkadelphia, and wore them all day.

And every day I was there that week.


Grandma quilted. She wasn't big into sewing per se, but she had a friend who was, and she kept all 10 of her granddaughters' Barbies incredibly fashionable for years.

She made quilts for each of us, starting with the oldest and each year, presenting our parents with the quilt of the year.

Over my childhood and into my young adulthood, Grandma made me two quilts. The first one was given to me when I was quite young, and my mother let me and my sisters take the quilts out to the backyard to make a tent over the clothesline with them. We weighted them down with rocks to keep them from flapping in the breeze.

Needless to say, I no longer have that quilt.

But I do have the last one she made for me before she died.

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It's a Split Rail Fence quilt, and although I do still use it, I use it sparingly. It's hand-pieced and hand-quilted. You don't find that much any more.


Grandma died on 11 Jul 1980, just six days short of her 72nd birthday, and six years after my granddad passed.

I was living in Louisiana then, and didn't get home for the funeral. I also wasn't around to help my dad and one of my aunts in their effort to get a more equitable distribution of my grandparents' personal effects. The three of us are pretty sure there is quite a bit of the Herrington, Callaway and McBrayer family history mouldering away in the attics and storerooms of my two other aunts.

Time is on my side now. And I'm back home.


I make a few trips to Clark County now and again. On a trip last summer, I stopped by the house at 9th and Crittenden.

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The passing of thirty years has not been kind to the house or the flower garden that Grandma loved so much.

Her immaculate flower borders are gone, ripped out and replaced by weeds and overgrown shrubs. The detached garage has almost fallen down.

I did see signs that someone was working on the house, as there were new windows hung on the west side.

Maybe someone will love it as much as she did.


Her memory remains, cherished by so many of us.

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George and Louise Burris, at the side entrance of the house at 9th and Crittenden



See you on the other side, Grandma.
dee_burris: (Default)
2010-11-22 21:41

Tombstone Tuesday: Robert Bruce McBrayer

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R B McBrayer, 1871-1905


He was the first husband of my g-g-grandmother, Julia Ann Callaway. They had 8 children together in the fourteen years they were married, including a set of twins, Madgie and Maggie. (Madgie and Maggie were the first of three sets of twins born to my g-g-grandmother.)

Robert was the son of Eli Wellington McBrayer and Hattie K Thornton. There are still "oldtimers" near the little community of DeGray, AR in Clark County who talk of Robert's reputation as a kind and gentle man, who died too soon of "kidney trouble."