Monday, January 12, 2009
Happy Birthday Vennie Watson Wicker!
Today is my grandmother's birthday. Since I lived next door to her for my first 8 years (and she was only 43 years old when I was born), she was always like a second mother. I first started my genealogical hobby 32 years ago on her birthday because I wanted to know who she was. She is pictured above with her mother Martha Silas Watson Tuttleton in 1928.
She had a very difficult childhood---her brother died before she was born, her father died when she was a baby, her step-father was abusive, her mother was committed to an insane asylum and she lived with at least two families. First, she lived with the Cates family (photo above is Dollie Cates and my grandmother who I estimate to be 13 years old) whose farm she'd lived on when her mother was committed. Then, she lived with Luther Williams family where she met her husband James Wesley Wicker (Luther was his uncle). Vennie and Wes are pictured below with Jersey their cow---probably in 1930's.
I regret to say that 32 years later, I still don't know who my grandmother was. I've learned that her name was probably Louvenia (Vennie being more of a nickname). Since her parents were migrant workers, they had no family around that I know of. Mother recalled seeing photos of Vennie as a young child and photos of her brother when her grandmother Martha was still living, but they were buried with Martha when she died. My grandmother tried to find her father's family from "the Alton, Illinois area," but never located them.
I even got a court order to see Vennie's mother's mental health records, but that didn't help much at all. I may have made some progress on her father's family in Jersey County Illinois, but it's too soon to be sure. So, 32 years later, I still don't know who she was, but I'll never forget what she was---a beautiful, resilient woman whom I loved very much.