dee_burris: (Default)
2010-12-12 11:32 am

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.


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.


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.


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.


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)
2010-12-12 10:11 pm

George Washington Burris, Jr.

It was a really big name for a man of such short stature.

My dad says his father was the "runt" of his family.

There was a reason for that.
Granddaddy Burris was born on 5 Oct 1890 on Isabell Creek in rural Pope County, Arkansas. He was the seventh of twelve children born to George Washington Burris, Sr. and Mary Mathilda Wharton.
The G W Burrises were farmers, like their parents before them. Education was important, but school was held in rural Pope County around planting and harvesting season. Children had to help with the crops.

Church was also important, and was much more than just a place you went to on Sunday. Granddaddy's father, George Sr., organized a Sunday School at what would later be the site of St. Joe Baptist Freewill Baptist Church.

From a newspaper article published on October 4, 2007, noting the 120th anniversary of the St Joe Freewill Baptist Church:
In the year of 1885, George W. Burris organized a Sunday school under a bunchy top Gum Tree at St. Joe on Pea Ridge 10 miles north of Atkins. They had logs for seats and took School Readers to Sunday school. . . The Freewill Baptist Church was organized there in 1886. . . George W. Burris was the principal leader during his entire life.

The stories have varied over the years, but when Granddaddy was still a child, disease swept through the community. Whether it was scarlet or typhoid fever, it was highly contagious, and everyone who had it had to be quarantined from those who did not.

Granddaddy stayed in either the barn or a shed during the time he was ill. Meals were brought as far as the door, and he retrieved them from there. He recovered from the illness, but it left one leg shorter than the other, and I suspect, stunted his growth. He was the shortest man in his family, and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

George W Burris, Jr. about 1910

Family ties have always been important to my Burrises.

I cannot imagine how Granddaddy must have felt to lose his youngest sister, Ocie, in 1910. Then, three years later, he lost another little sister, Arkie, in a horrible accident that also burned his brother, Ernest and his baby niece.

You expect your parents to die before you do - it's the natural order of things.

But not your little sisters.

Around the turn of the century, George Burris, Sr. became the Postmaster in Russellville. Granddaddy joined the Burris crew, and began work at the Russellville Post Office in 1910.

George Burris, Jr., William Homer Burris, Lee Jones, and
George W Burris, Sr., seated

By May 1920, Granddaddy was in Cristobal in the Panama Canal Zone as a postal clerk for services there. For a short time, he worked for an oil company in Columbia.

He re-entered the United States on 26 Mar 1922, docking at the Port of New Orleans. The man from Isabelle Creek was coming home.

Granddaddy continued to work for the Post Office. He transferred to Clark County, where he became the Assistant Postmaster at Arkadelphia in April 1923. His father, George W Burris, Sr., died on 10 Mar 1929. Although he stuck with the Post Office for 34 years until his retirement, he never got the coveted Postmaster appointment, because he would not change his political party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Some things just couldn't be compromised.

On 18 Nov 1929, Granddaddy married Louise Herrington, and they started their own family in Clark County. His first child was born when he was 40 years old. He lived to see his first great-grandchild.

Sometimes, I am amazed at the changes my grandfather witnessed during his life. He grew up in an era where it took all day to take the crop to market in a wagon. Having a telephone in your home became commonplace during his lifetime. He witnessed the first automobiles, and commercial airplanes.

Maybe that was why he had such a hard time believing we had actually put a man on the moon. Were they really walking on the moon, or was all that television footage just an incredible hoax of underwater shots instead?

Granddaddy always seemed to me to be happy with simple things. He enjoyed puttering around the yard, and going uptown to the pool hall to shoot the breeze with his buddies and catch up on news.

Grandma wasn't happy about the "pool hall" thing, and you could tell by the way she spat the answer to you when you asked, Grandma, where's Granddaddy?

I think simple things had been fine with him all his life, even during the Great Depression, which followed so closely on the heels of his father's death. That's what he told his mother in his New Year's Eve letter to her in 1931, as he tried to assure her that the next year would surely be better than the last.


I never picture Granddaddy without his pipe.


That photo was taken at the celebration of his 80th birthday. We didn't know then that we'd only get three more birthdays with him. He died on 7 May 1974, in Arkadelphia.

And oh, the secrets he could have told us...secrets that I am only discovering now.

See you on the other side, Granddaddy.