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