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I've been putting off writing this entry for years.


For so many reasons, not the least of which is that I don't know if I can be fair.

Or charitable. So I'll say up front that this narrative will be a combination of facts and my perspective having lived through these facts.

This one is about my mother.
Judith Ann Williams was born on 20 Oct 1937 in Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR to Joe Duffie Williams and Doris Geneva Balding. She had an older brother, Joe Carlton Williams, known to everyone as Buddy.

By all accounts, Mom led a fairly privileged childhood. She lived her early childhood years with her parents and brother at 213 Dennison, and had extended family very close by.
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She told me of happy memories of her childhood - visiting with her Mema, Hattie Chapin Balding, who lived next door at 217 Dennison. Mom said Mema let her play in her china cabinet, taking things out carefully, having her tea party, and putting them back just as carefully.
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Mom, about 4 years old

Mom spoke of her memories of sharing ice cream cones with her dog, and of the lovely clothes her own mother made her. Clothes that were envied by her girlfriends.

But Mom positively beamed when she talked about her dad. She was his princess, and in my memories, she was never happier than when she was with him.
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Mom, third from right, with her arm around her Daddy. Photo August 1967

My mother would freely admit she was a Daddy's girl.

It was her relationship with her own mother that first cast a shadow in her life. The relationship was competitive and hurtful - on both sides.

Mom was about 4 or 5 when my grandmother was diagnosed with tuberculosis and admitted to the TB sanitarium in Booneville, Logan Co., AR. Booneville is just under a two hour drive one way these days. I imagine it took longer in the early 1940s.

For as long as I knew my mother, she said her own mother abandoned her - that the black maid employed by my grandfather during my grandmother's confinement raised her - not her own mother. I can see how a young child might feel that way - TB was highly contagious, and children weren't allowed to visit patients at Booneville.

But mom repeated the story her whole life. Even as an adult, she didn't seem to be able to reconcile the facts with the childhood perspective. She also felt that her mother favored her brother, Buddy.

But still, she had her Daddy.
When I was 11 years old, my Papa Joe died -suddenly, unexpectedly as he was going down the stairs in his home on Lombardy Lane. He had an aortic aneurysm that ruptured and was dead before he hit the floor.

My mother sank into a deep, profound depression. Even I as a child could see that.

She self-medicated with alcohol. But she had been doing that already for several years. The fact of my life since I had been in the fourth grade had been to look after my younger sisters when my mother had a hangover. She called it a "swollen brain," and it meant that she pretty much did nothing for the day following her alcoholic binge.

Those binges took place at night at first, and were accompanied by Mom screaming at Dad, slamming doors and throwing things into the wee small hours of the morning. Later on, she would rise mid-morning and start her day with her first drink (vodka was the preferred beverage), continue drinking all day, and rage all night. Lather, rinse, repeat. She meted out physical, emotional and psychological abuse to me and my sisters fairly even-handedly. As we got old enough to date, she'd hit on our boyfriends. I decided by the time I was 12 or 13 that it wasn't safe to bring friends home with me after school. For my 13th birthday - and each year after that, when my Dad asked me what I wanted, I told him I wanted him to divorce Mom and get custody of all three of us.

Mom hit me for the last time when I was 17 years old. It was unprovoked. She slapped me with an open hand against one side of my head and tried to get her fingers into my hair. (One of her favorite tactics was to grab my long hair, and kick me with her knee into my coccyx.)

She tried to get my hair and missed. I decked her. She fell flat on her butt. She ran to go tell my Dad, who was in their bedroom. He stepped out into the hall, sized up the situation, looked at Mom and said, "I guess you better not hit her again."

But the violence against my sisters continued. I left home on May 18, 1977 - the night I graduated from high school. I'd like to say I never looked back, but that would be a lie. I felt incredibly guilty about leaving my sisters with Mom.
I saw the film Ordinary People for the first time in 1981, about a year after it was released, when I was living in Lake Charles, LA during my first marriage.

Mary Tyler Moore's depiction of Beth Jarrett took my breath away. There was my mother, but sober.

I have no idea how many times I've watched the movie, but I cry every time.

So much pain. Such an awful waste.
I split with my first husband shortly after that, and in 1981, moved back to Little Rock.

Things were different, and if it were possible, they were worse. Mom detoxed and sobered up for a few years, before unceremoniously announcing to me one day that she wasn't an alcoholic, she just had problems with alcohol. She could still drink now and then.

And by now, there were grandkids...
Mom liked being a grandmother from a distance. She was clear that she did not want to be called Grandma, or any similar moniker. She was Nanny.

Nanny competed with her grandkids to be the center of attention at their birthday parties. She would agree to babysit, and call the parent before the agreed upon departure time because she just couldn't take it any more.

I took a four day, three night business trip when my son was six years old. When I got back, Mom had a litany of complaints about him - he was noisy, too active, and he put his feet on the bed with his shoes still on. I asked her if she told him to take them off.


Did he mind you?


Then, what's the problem? He's 6 years old.

As we were driving away from her house, my son begged me to never again leave him with his Nanny. I didn't.
As the years went on, things got worse. Mom had a drink in her hand almost all the time, even when she was diagnosed with end stage renal disease and had to start dialysis.

She would try to start problems between my sisters and me by telling each of us something about the other designed to be hurtful. She became cruel and cutting with her best - and probably only - friend from childhood, another woman named Judy. Judy in particular mourned the loss of the friend she had always known, and told me repeatedly how my mother used to be. Back in the day when she was the envy of all their girlfriends.

We stopped having alcohol at family gatherings when we knew she would be there. She brought her own. I never drank when I knew I was responsible for a child, yet she would follow me from room to room, insisting I drink with her.

My grandmother died in 1998. My mother's performance immediately following her own mother's death killed any remaining love I had for her.

I gave myself permission to divorce my mother.
During the last five years of my mother's life, I can probably count on both hands the number of times I had contact with my mother - either by telephone or in person.

Judith Ann Williams Neumann took herself off dialysis and went home to die in hospice care. She crossed over on 22 May 2004. The memorial service was on 5 Jun 2004.

I felt no sense of loss or grief. To this day, I do not grieve my mother's passing. I would like to be able to unravel the tangled web that was my mother's life, and get some understanding of what it was that made her so desperately unhappy - and in the process made her want to create misery for those closest to her.

Perhaps I'll get to ask her. On the other side.
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Because of the letters and telegrams from Minnie Shinn to her brother, Jo Desha Williams, I am able to reliably track my great grandparents' movements, and the places they lived.

The 1915 letters place them at their home in Russellville, where they began their married life.
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The latest of those two letters was postmarked 4 Feb 1915.

The 1930 telegrams announcing the death of Minnie's son, Joseph Roy Longworth Shinn, were dated 13 and 14 Feb 1930, and sent to my great grandfather in Little Rock, at 2310 Ringo Street.

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With the letters and telegrams alone, I knew that Desha and Maxie moved from Russellville between 4 Feb 1915 and 14 Feb 1930.

However, from the 1920 census - taken on 10 Jan 1920 - I learned they were already in Little Rock, living at 709 East 14th Street.
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Now, I'd like to narrow it further.

I think I'll spend some time at the library, looking through old Little Rock City Directories on Ancestry.
Image from Google Earth, taken July 2015
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Not horse drawn conveyances this Saturday, but the automated kind.

Walter Nathan Brandon, Sr., Ruth Balding Brandon (my grand aunt) and Walter's son, Walter Nathan Brandon, Jr. Photo circa 1932/35.
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The tour bus "at Glen Cove on Pike's Peak" Co. My grand aunt Marion "Murnie" Balding seated back seat, closest to camera. Photo taken 12 Aug 1929.
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The Williams Grocer Co., owned by my great grandfather, Jo Desha Williams, made home deliveries. Photo taken before the business went belly-up prior to 1920.
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This is a Sepia Saturday post. Head over there for other old photos and postcards.
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I have occasionally mentioned frequently whined about my great grandmother Maxie Leah Meek's failure to label so many of the wonderful photos in her photo album.

As I initially paged through it after my mother's death in 2004, I wondered why we had so many photos of Teddy Roosevelt in our album. I can imagine that my Williams great grandparents were supportive of their President, but still, it was a mystery to me.

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And lo and of them was labeled, like this one in the Williams family photo album.

It was that last one. It said Desha on the back of it.

That was Maxie's husband, Jo Desha Williams.

Here's a photo of the real Teddy Roosevelt.

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As far as I know, I have no kinship to the Roosevelts.

But I believe my great grandfather was a dead ringer for one of them...
This is a Sepia Saturday post.

Head over there to look at more wonderful old photos and postcards.
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My mother and father married on 19 May 1956.

These photos were taken in the home of my maternal grandparents, Joe Duffie Williams and Doris Geneva Balding.



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Judith Ann Williams, 1937-2004

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I cropped this one. It shows a happy young couple, envisioning a wonderful life together.
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Sadly, that wonderful life did not materialize in the 23 years of their marriage, although there certainly were happy moments.

That, however, as well as my complex relationship with my parents - both highly complex people - is a subject for future posts.
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Jo Desha and Maxie Leah Williams family, Christmas Day 1900
photo by McLeod, the Wild West photographer

Every time I see this one, I just dissolve into gales of laughter.

Can't you just imagine the dinner table discussion a couple of weeks before the holiday?

"Honey, what shall we do this year for Christmas? After all, it's the first Christmas of the new century."

Oh, I don't know. . .hey, why don't we get that McLeod guy to take a picture? We could dress up and go sit outside on some rocks."

"Marvelous idea, darling! And we could put Paul and Cedric on a couple of asses. They've been acting like asses for a few days now. It would serve them right. . ."

The back of the photo has an extensive ad for "McLeod, the Wild West Photographer. . . the man who made Happy Hollow famous the world over."
I don't know how you celebrate this holiday season in your home. However you do it, do it with gusto. Laugh and love and enjoy.

You could do it in Williams family style. Dress up in all your finery and go sit on some rocks. Take a photo. Take lots of photos.

From me and the petting zoo at the cottage, happy holidays.
This is a recycled post for Sepia Saturday 199.

Head over there for other great old images.
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Love. This.

It's a 1905 ad - I wish I knew the exact date - for my family's Williams Grocer Co. in Russellville, Pope Co., AR.

And if you're not keeping up, you haven't realized that both my parents' families of origin came from Pope County...

But, I digress.

1905 Williams Grocer Co Ad

Isn't it a hoot?

Still in the Lead! it proclaims.

And at the end, this cutie...

When Hungry C Us

And here I thought chat-ese and text language was a new-fangled thing...
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Josiah H Shinn Dies in Washington
Former Arkansan Had produced Many Historical Volumes

(From the Gazette's Correspondent)
Washington, Sept. 3 - Josiah H Shinn, aged 68, an employee at the capitol and known throughout the country as a writer of history, died yesterday at his home, 624 Rock Creek Church road.

He was born in Russellville, Ark., March 29, 1849. He wrote for the Arkansas Gazette and Southern School Journal. He established the first chautauquas in Arkansas.

Among his books and pamphlets were, "The South in Public Education," "Illustrated Arkansas," "History of American People," "Education in Arkansas," "Russia at the World's Fair," "English and Russian."

He was registrar for the Arkansas S A R from 1892 to 1894. He was a member of the American Institute in 1894, and an honorary member of the Pennsylvania and West Virginia historical societies. His history on "Education in Arkansas" was published by the government.

He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mildred C Shinn, and a son, Joe L Shinn. The body was sent to Russellville tonight.

Published on Tuesday, 4 Sep 1917, in the Arkansas Gazette
Mrs. J H Shinn Dies at Home in Washington, D C
Mrs. Minnie C Shinn, aged 78, widow of Josiah H Shinn, formerly of Little Rock, died at her home in Washington, D C early Thursday. The late Mr. Shinn was superintendent of public instruction in Arkansas from 1890 to 1894. He and Mrs. Shinn moved to Washington about 1902 when he accepted a government position.

He was the author of many historical works. He was a native of Russellville, Pope county, and met Mrs. Shinn at her home in Kentucky after he studied law in Cincinnati, O.

Their home was at Russellville and Magnolia, where he was the principal of schools in those cities and they moved to Little Rock when he was appointed to a position in the state Department of Education before his election as superintendent.

Mrs. Shinn was born at Bridgeport, Ky. Mr. Shinn died in 1917. Their son made his home with his mother until his death two years ago. Mrs. Shinn visited in Little Rock last spring. She is survived by one brother, J D Williams, 2310 Ringo street. Funeral arrangements will be announced by P H Ruebel & Co.

Published on Wednesday, 17 Feb 1932, in the Arkansas Gazette

Mrs. J H Shinn
Funeral services for Mrs. Minnie C Shinn, widow of Josiah H Shinn, who died at her home in Washington, D C, Tuesday, will be held at 10:30 Saturday morning at the chapel of P H Ruebel & Co. The body will arrive in Little Rock early today. Funeral services will be in charge of the Rev. J H Fuller. Pallbearers will be: Active - C H Williams, P M Williams, J D Williams, Jr., and Vernon Shinn, of Little Rock, and Eugene Shinn of Russellville, all nephews of Mrs. Shinn; honorary - Henry Martin, G DeMatt Henderson, Tom Howland, Clio Harper, H A Bowman, S J Beauchamp, Arthur E Lee, Martin Critz and D R Fones. Burial will be in Roselawn Memorial Park.
Published on Saturday, 20 Feb 1932, in the Arkansas Gazette
Josiah Shinn, wife Minnie, and son Joseph R L.
Photo circa 1886.
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The video below is not old. It's the contents of the video that represents the treasures.

One of my Williams cousins and his wife traveled to Franklin County, KY last summer to photograph the graves of his great grandmother (who was my great-great grandmother), Catherine (Mueller) Williams. He videotaped all the graves in the Williams' family plot and included some wonderful bonus material.

The family plot is in Frankfort Cemetery.

Click here to view the video.
My thanks and gratitude go to cousin Cedric, who generously shared the video with me...
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A Bright Little Spirit Called

It is not often such a sad and unpleasant duty falls to the average newspaperman as confronts the writer of these lines, announcing the death of Little Miss Catherine Leah Williams, the pretty, vivacious and beloved daughter of Mr and Mrs JD Williams, which took place at their home Thursday December 8th, 1904, as the result of croup. To the bereaved father, mother and brothers, of whose life she was the pride and joy; to her little playmates and friends to whom she was so true our heart's sympathy is full to overflowing. Catherine will not pass this way again, her sweet voice is stilled; the busy little hands are folded, but she was of this life so sweet a part that her memory will remain.

The funeral service took place from the Christian church at 3 o'clock pm, Elder C C Cline of Little Rock and Dr Geo. W Harkey of this city officiating. The church had been most beautifully decorated with evergreens and potted plants, while the floral offerings were far more expressive of the tenderness felt for the departed one, her father, mother and brothers than we have words to portray. The attendance was limited only by the capacity of the house to accommodate those seeking admission. Followed by a long procession those precious remains were borne to the city cemetery and laid in the silent tomb, mid the glorious loveliness of a December day.

This lock of hair was attached with a straight pin to the page in the Bible where the obituary was glued.


Katherine Leah Williams
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In the back of my mind, I knew they were there.

It just took being inspired to find the little plaster of Paris Santas my son decorated the first year I toughed it out as a single mother to find them.

Oh, I found the Santas, all right...and remembered how one rainy fall day I got him to sit with me at the kitchen table, spread some newspaper out, and use our little brushes and acrylic paints to make them our own.

It started us on a homemade ornament tradition. Each year, we added the ornaments he made at school to the tree.

Now, he wanted those little Santas for his own daughters.

I didn't find them in the shed.

But as I was fighting off spiders startled from slumber, and opening one huge Rubbermaid container after another, I found something just as precious.

More ancient family memorabilia...
I packed the stuff well. No cooties, and the envelopes were all still intact, photos separated by family surname.

Not even the spiders outran me as I hustled my finds back from the shed to the cottage.

And I have been going through this stuff for hours ever since.
I have three of the keepsake books given to families by funeral homes.

I had forgotten about the one for my great grandfather, Jo Desha Williams. And I didn't recall the telegrams.

Maxie followed the directions in the book to the letter.

First his obit...


Arkansas Gazette, Sunday, Dec. 24, 1950
Jo Desha Williams, Salesman, Dies
Jo Desha Williams, aged 84, 2310 Ringo Street, died at his home Saturday. Mr. Williams was a traveling salesman for the U O Colson Co. of Paris, Ill. He was a member of the First Christian Church, a charter member of the Sons of the American Revolution, a member of the United Commercial Travelers, the WOW and the Modern WOW. He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Maxine Meek Williams of Little Rock; three sons, C H Williams of Texarkana, and P M and J D Williams, Jr., both of Little Rock; and five grandchildren. Funeral arrangements will be announced by Griffin-Leggett.

Then, there was the genealogy page, in my great grandmother's handwriting.

And the telegrams of condolence...(Cousins, if you want scans of them not in collage form, let me know and I will send them along...)

According to this little book, my great-grandfather was buried at 3 p.m. the day after Christmas. The clergyman who conducted the service was Lauren West.

The irony of my find as I was looking for holiday decorations does not escape me.

I don't believe in coincidence.
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Posted for the Monday meme on a rainy Sunday that just cries out for a scanfest...
In the interest of complete honesty and full disclosure, I probably shouldn't say unlabeled.

Because when I picked this one up to scan and flipped it over, there was pencil writing on the back.

~Eureka~ She labeled one!


Yep, she wrote on the back of it...for sure.

This is all of the class. Aren't they cute?
Yes, Granny, they are very cute.


Adorable, in fact.

Anyone feel free to give me another superlative for photos of kids...seriously, jump right in.

But which one or ones of those precious lasses is *ours*? And what was her name?

My guess is one or both of the ones with the big honking hair bows.

Williamses seemed to go in for big honking hair bows and splashy bow ties...
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I finally took my camera and went in search of four homes where my Baldings, Chapins, and Williamses lived in Little Rock.

The first one - the address listed on the World War I draft registration card of my great grandfather, Victor Claude Balding - was at 223 Rice Street. He signed his draft registration card on 12 Sep 1918.

The house is still there - although I'm sure it looks a bit different today than it did 93 years ago.

Next, I went in search of the houses at 213 and 217 Dennison.

They are next door to each other.

My maternal grandparents, Joe Duffie Williams and Doris Geneva Balding, lived at 213. I found them at that address in city directories from 1940 to 1949.


A whole bunch of people lived at 217 for many years - including my grandmother's parents and siblings, as well as her maternal grandmother, Eada Belle (Parrish) Chapin after the death of Fred Chapin right after Christmas in 1938.

According to Polk's Little Rock/North Little Rock City Directories, Fred and Eada lived at 913 North Valmar, and Eada was listed at that address in the 1939 City Directory. (I'll have to make another photo journaling trip to see if that one is still standing.)

But by 1940, Eada made her home with her daughter, Hattie Belle and son-in-law, Victor, at 217 Dennison.


In 1940, the house at 217 Dennison must have been full to overflowing, with Victor and Hattie Balding, Hattie's mother, Eada Chapin, and adult children, Ellington (Linky), daughter Marion (Murney), Marvin and Vera. All the children were employed except Linky, who was the youngest.
Across town, my grandfather's parents, Jo Desha Williams and Maxie Leah Meek, lived at 2310 South Ringo Street.


That was the home to which my grandfather, Joe Duffie Williams, took his bride Doris after they married on Halloween in 1926. They were still there when the census was taken in 1930.
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My maternal grandparents lived for at least 9 years in this tiny little rent house, still standing on Denison Street.


Image from Google Maps

1940 Polk's Little Rock City Directory

They were still there in 1949, which was the year they moved into the home they had saved for many years to build.

For cash.

Their "new" home never had a mortgage on it until it was sold to a new family after my grandmother's death in 1998.
Granddaddy's parents are shown in the left-hand column of the City Directory.

I couldn't find a decent Google Maps image of that address (or the one that I hope is still standing at 217 Denison), so my handy-dandy GPS and I are going to do some driving, cameras in tow.

The house at 217 Denison was a multi-generational home and will have its own entry, whether I can get a photo or not.

**It will be interesting to see how the GPS spells the street name - with one N or two...I find it both ways all over old documents...
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I think my great grandparents, Jo Desha Williams and Maxie Leah Meek, were very proud and very happy with their home in Russellville, AR. They took quite a few photos of it.

The home was on East Main Street, although I do not have a house number.

Thanksgiving Day, 1899

Later, they added to it.

And again.


Unfortunately, through a combination of being underinsured after the 1906 Russellville fire, and extending credit to too many folks, after nearly 30 years in business, the Williams Grocer Co. folded.

By 1920, the Williams family sold their beloved home, and moved to Little Rock.

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
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Jo Desha Williams, with his sons Cedric and Paul, Thanksgiving 1899

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
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Funeral Notice
The funeral service of
Cathrine Leah,
the beloved 5-year-old daughter
of Mr. and Mrs. J D Williams,
will take place at the Christian
Church at 2 o'clock this after-
noon, services to be conducted by
Eld. C C Cline and Dr G W
Friends of the family invited
to attend.

Russellville, Ark.., December 9, 1904


*I don't know who wrote the text for the card, but from the mis-spelling of her name, I am guessing probably it was someone at church or a family friend.
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It was probably what I deserved for saving a pile of stuff to go through at night.

At the end of a work day.

The photo album and loose papers I inherited when my grandmother died stayed well-packed in a climate controlled closet in my home for probably a year after her death in 1998 - maybe a little more.

After I saw how the massive stacks of family group sheets, three rings binders and spiral notebooks in which I was keeping typewritten pages documenting my ever-growing ancestral lines were threatening my living space, I figured there had to be another way.

So I found and downloaded family tree software to my computer and off I went.

But I knew the boxes in the closet held the keys to more complete knowledge about Williamses, Meeks, Baldings, and Parrishes, so I went in and pulled them out.

I spent about two weeks categorizing things into piles, and extracting the information from them to input into the database. The Williams family photo album was (and still is) a monstrous undertaking.

I set the yellowed newspaper clippings aside, because they were undated and unattributed. They had been (mostly) very neatly snipped out of the newspapers in which they appeared, and I knew I'd probably have to study each one to match it up with a person, place, or event.

So that pile was last.

The *very* last clipping.

He had to be related. His surname was Williams.

But I had never heard anyone talk about him.


Frankfort KY is in Franklin County, where my Williamses lived for several generations after emigrating there from Virginia, and prior to the move to Arkansas around 1885.

But that name... U V Williams?

Ulysses? Surely I'd have heard if we had a Ulysses...

And the V...all I could think of was Victor, but the Victors in the family were Baldings.

I set it aside.

But I didn't put it away.

It was weeks before my Eureka! moment.

I was looking for Jacob Williams, father of Mildred Carleton Williams after his wife died in 1876. I was having a devil of a time.

But wait...could it be Jacob? He was not the head of the household. What's up with this?


Urban? A doctor and - apparently - a younger brother of Jacob.

What kind of name is Urban?

One that starts with a where have I seen that before?

And that was how I met Urban Valentine Williams, M.D. Google turns up tons of information on him.

I think I'd have gone by "U V" too...
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Jo Desha and Maxie Leah Williams family, Christmas Day 1900
photo by McLeod, the Wild West photographer

Every time I see this one, I just dissolve into gales of laughter.

Can't you just imagine the dinner table discussion a couple of weeks before the holiday?

"Honey, what shall we do this year for Christmas? After all, it's the first Christmas of the new century."

Oh, I don't know. . .hey, why don't we get that McLeod guy to take a picture? We could dress up and go sit outside on some rocks."

"Marvelous idea, darling! And we could put Paul and Cedric on a couple of asses. They've been acting like asses for a few days now. It would serve them right. . ."

The back of the photo has an extensive ad for "McLeod, the Wild West Photographer. . . the man who made Happy Hollow famous the world over."

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
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As a child growing up, there were occasions at my maternal grandparents' house when the talk turned to family members.

If there was discussion of members of the Williams family, it was inevitable to hear Cedric's name.

Cedric was the Williams family's black sheep - a ne'er do-well, an embarrassment. He drank too much, couldn't keep a job for long, had toasted two marriages.

Even in death, Cedric just couldn't get it right.

Cedric Hazen Williams was born on 29 Jun 1892 in Russellville, Pope Co., AR to Jo Desha Williams and Maxie Leah Meek. He was the second child of five, and until the birth of his younger brother Paul in 1894, was an only child.

Paul and Cedric Williams, about 1899

He never knew his older sister, Mildred Imogene, as she died on 28 Jan 1890, well over a year before his birth.

I've always mused that Desha Williams must have had some say in his first two children's names. After the death of his own mother in 1876, Desha was raised by his older sister, Mildred (called Minnie) and her husband, Josiah Hazen Shinn. I wonder if he chose those names for his children to honor his sister and brother-in-law.

If Desha and Maxie hoped that Cedric would follow in Josiah Hazen Shinn's footsteps, they were sorely disappointed.

I have to consider the time in which they all lived, and in which the tragic accident befell young Cedric.

A wagon rolled over his head when he was 10 or 11 years old. Imagine the terror of a parent to have such a horrible thing happen to a child.

But the child recovered. The physical wounds healed.

They must all have breathed a sigh of relief, and given thanks.

They just didn't realize that a traumatic brain injury was for life, and things would never be normal again.

And neither would Cedric.

Cedric married for the first time in 1915, and he and his wife had a daughter, Charlotte.

Cedric, Kathleen and Charlotte Williams, 1918

Things did not go well at home, and apparently not at work either, because Cedric asked his younger brother, Joe, for a large sum of money. His brother refused to give the money, and the brothers grew apart.

Cedric married again. He and his second wife had two sons.

But things had not been right since that day long ago when the wagon rolled over his head. The alcohol he consumed to take away the pain wasn't working.

Cedric attempted to take his own life, and failed.

On Thursday morning, 23 Aug 1951, Cedric was alone in Crosbyton, TX, at the Lawson Hotel, where he swallowed sodium cyanide, one of the most rapidly acting of known poisons.

It took the Williams family less than 24 hours to regain enough composure to keep Cedric from embarrassing them again.

Arkansas Gazette, 24 Aug 1951

Cedric Hazen Williams, Traveling Salesman, Dies
Prescott, Aug. 23 - Cedric Hazen Williams, aged 59, former traveling salesman for Grunden Martin Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, died unexpectedly of a heart attack Thursday morning at Crosbyton, Tex.

He was a native of Russellville and a lifelong Arkansan, having also lived at Little Rock, Prescott and Texarkana.

Survivors include his mother, Mrs. J D Williams of 2310 Ringo Street, Little Rock; two brothers, J D Williams, Jr. and P M Williams of Little Rock; his wife, Mrs. C H Williams of Prescott; two sons of the home, and a daughter of Oklahoma City.

Sometimes things just aren't as they seem.

See you on the other side, Cedric.


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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Shakin' the Family Tree on Facebook


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