dee_burris: (Default)
Sunday, September 2nd, 2012 09:49 pm
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)
Tuesday, March 1st, 2011 07:31 pm
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)
Saturday, January 1st, 2011 06:21 pm
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...