Monday, February 28, 2011

Macy's Children: Clara and Obie

Obie Palmer Hall (1906-1971) and Clara Belle Hall Stephens (1902-1982) pictured above were probably the most reserved of Macy Williams' children. Click here to see more photos of them as children.
(Obie and Georgia, his sister)
Obie was a Pentecostal preacher who came to St. Louis for revivals at least once a year. Although he and his brother Ray were both preachers about the best I can say about my grandfather (below) and Georgia (above) is that they attended church. They laughed that they were the "black sheep" in the family, but we all loved them despite their flaws.(Obie Hall with his brother Wes Wicker in St. Louis)
At Christmas, my sister and I recall Obie always giving us "books" of Lifesaver candies. Even today, I see them and think of Obie. He was so calm and warm---I loved when he visited and wanted to go to his revivals, but Mother never took me. My sister Jane remembers,"Uncle Obie was my favorite. He would write me letters all the time. He would send me a dollar or so for my birthday. He was such a small man. I love his smile. He always seemed happy"
(Obie with Mother, Louise Wicker Long)
Many years later Mother told me she wouldn't take me to Obie's revivals because she thought a revival would frighten me who was more accustomed to a serene Methodist worship experience. Obie lived in Rock Island or Moline, Illinois just up the Mississippi from St. Louis (at the border of Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin). Although he and his wife Wanda Morgan Hall had 7 children, only three lived to maturity: Joseph Clenno Hall, Alice Hall Washburn and Titus Obie Hall.(L-R: Louise Wicker Long, James Wesley Wicker, Naomi Ruth Hall, me, Obie Palmer Hall)
Here is a photo of myself as a baby with Naomi who died at about 16 years old of kidney disease if I am not mistaken. Alice and I corresponded with genealogy for many years before her death. Titus, in his later years, was a frequent visitor at Mother and Dad's after his military retirement. But, I never met Joe.
Clara and Obie in late 1940's or early 1950's
The two eldest in the family: Clara and James Wesley Wicker, my grandfather.

Clara lived in Michigan, so we didn't see her often. I can recall only meeting her one time. She never talked much about her family and when I asked her for information, she said, "I never knew much about my family tree and I have forgotten all I ever knew. And I don't know why you. . .want to trace it, but you may find out a lot of things you had rather not know. Hope all are well and enjoying your life. God Bless you."
Her niece Alice wrote, "She told me when she was a little girl she could not walk.  It wasn't that she didn't know how to walk, she had a rare blood disease that would not allow her to stand on her feet without terrific pain.  She used to use a high back chair to rest a knee and hop the chair around the house. . .The family farmed a few years then moved to Detroit, Michigan.  They bought their home and Aunt Clara's backyard was fence to fence flowers.  She had roses of every hue.  Her bird bath was a whit porcelain bathtub sunk in the ground. . .Aunt Clara worked as a seamstress in a local laundry and dry cleaning business. .."

Clara had 4 sons (Fred P. Stephens, Charles H. Stephens, Jimmie F. Stephens, Billy Ray Stephens) and one daughter---Bertie Lee pictured above with her aunts Georgia and Vennie and below at Clara's 80th birthday party (Bingo)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Macy's Children: Georgia and Ray

Although Macy Williams Wicker Hall Ezell looks a little stout in this photo, her granddaughter Alice Hall Washburn told me she was probably pregnant with Ray. Her father Obie said his mother was not actually big.
Ray Ezell was Macy's youngest child born in 1919 when she was 39 years old. My mother (Macy's granddaughter) was born in 1920 so she was very close in age to her two youngest aunts and uncles.
Although I met Ray and Nelda at least once, their story was legendary in our family. Ray was one of Grandpa's two brothers who were preachers. My sister says she remembers them visiting and Mom requesting that Dad not have a beer while they were there with Dad responding, "I don't care if the Queen of England comes to visit, I'm having a beer." I believe Ray had another job (insurance?) but his love was preaching at a Baptist church (photo above was in front of their church) in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. Nelda had previously been married to Grandpa's first cousin Peck Wicker by whom she had had two sons: Curtis and Woody.
Her third child (Ray's only child) was Michelle Rae Ezell pictured here with her husband Robert Weesner.The letter above is from Georgia about Ray, Nelda, Michelle and her children Joshua and Simon. (Double click to enlarge it) Georgia was a wonderful letter writer who seemed to keep in touch with most of her siblings and their families---at least those who were more Southern.
Ray, Michelle and their families were very precious to Georgia as evidence by the many times she visited with them and talked about them in her letters.
Everyone has an aunt (or great-aunt) who is bigger than life---that was Georgia. She was beautiful, vivacious, but as a child often "in trouble" with her mother. Because Georgia and Mother were very close in age, Georgia was a little resentful of how strict Macy was with her and not with Mother, Macy's granddaughter.
The first time I met Georgia she was visiting from Arizona and had the most gorgeous turquoise jewelry---I think that's why I love turquoise today over almost any precious gem. Later she lived in the Los Angeles area near Long Beach.
I think my love of cruises is from the stories I heard about her cruises. This Alaskan cruise (above) in the 1960's was aboard the Royal Viking Star (Neptune Lounge) where she met up with Jack Lemmon, a popular movie star, at the time. But, she had taken other cruises as a passenger of a freighter where she dined with the captain.
The photo above is Georgia with her first husband John Homer Vencil whom she married in 1941. She was married at least one other time to Emory John Endicott. Georgia always seemed happy to me and yet I know her life had it's downs. She was born the same year her father died. Mother thought Macy was pregnant with Georgia when their house caught on fire and Mr. Hall was killed in the fire. So, from the beginning, her life was difficult.
I love this family portrait of Georgia with her daughter Barbara, grandson (Keith whom she adored) and great grandson Justin Hill. I am not sure about Barbara's early years---I know she was raised by someone else---having been born to Georgia when she was a teenager. But as adults they were close with a typical Mother-Daughter relationship loving with the occasional disagreement.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Unknown Photos--SE Mo or Arkansas

I found these photos in a box at Mom's I do know 3 of these people: my aunt Billie Wicker Curran is the child on the left, my mother Louise Wicker Long is in the middle and their mother Vennie Watson Wicker is behind them standing sideways. I believe the boy next to Mom is J.H.Cates (John Henry Cates) with his mother Dolly Cates behind him. but I don't know who that little child is or the woman in the middle. Based on my mother's size, I'm guessing this photo was made in 1929.
I am not even sure if this photo is around Hornersville Missouri or if it is in Arkansas where my family lived. I do know the man with the cane is my grandfather James Wesley Wicker or "Wes". He had a lifetime of leg problems stemming from a bad leg break while riding horses. We may even have one of his canes that we got from Mom's house after she died.
Although this one is labeled on the back, I'm still not sure who Sam and Hene are. Could it be Sam Williams and J.H.Cates' father whose name was also John Henry?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The "Williams" Kids

Macy Alice Williams is pictured above with her second husband George Henry Hall and four of her children: Clara Belle Hall , Ruth Agnes Hall, Obie Palmer Hall and James Wesley Wicker, my grandfather. Macy had a hard life bearing two children after the deaths of her husbands (John B. Wicker and George H. Hall), and yet she is remembered as a good Christian woman. Her granddaughter Kay said, "Dad (Macy's step-son and son-in-law) said he never knew a woman as good as she was." I think her children are evidence to character.
Here are the children here, too. As you can see, Clara and Obie were more serious even as children and Ruth is almost always smiling just as she was an adult. Grandpa. . . .looks like he's not really fond of having his photo made. These photos were probably made in and around Hornersville, Missouri.
I love this photo of them---Grandpa is maybe 10 years old but driving a car. He later became a car mechanic and drove earth-movers during the Depression, so it is fitting that he's driving a car.
This next grouping of photos were made around 1948 in Memphis, based on the little girl Michelle. L-R: Clara Hall Stephens, Wesley Wicker, Ruth Hall Ezell and Ray Ezell with his daughter Michelle. Ray was actually Clara, Wes and Ruth's half brother. Macy's third marriage was to James Ezell who had a son Everette by another marriage. Ruth Hall married Everette Ezell. . . I will try to connect the dots---Ray's half-brother and half-sister were married.
Here are: Dot (Ruth and Everette's daughter), Clara, Ruth; in the front row is Georgia Hall Endicott (another sister) and my grandmother Vennie Watson Wicker, Wes's wife.
This is the only photo I have with all six siblings: Wes Wicker, Ray Ezell, Obie Hall, (they all had different fathers); Ruth Hall Ezell, Georgia Hall Endicott, Clara Hall Stephens
After my grandfather died some of them still managed to get together with my mother who was one year younger than uncle Ray, and 3 years younger than her aunt Georgia. Here are Georgia, Ray and Ruth in the Smoky Mountains near where Ray lived.
This was probably in the late 1970's. L-R Nelda Hayes Wicker Ezell, Georgia Hall Endicott, Ruth Hall Ezell, Louise Wicker Long (my mom) with my dad and Ray in the background.
They also met at my Mother and Dad's house in 1983: Ruth, Ray, Nelda and Georgia
Beginning in the left corner and going clockwise: Rachel Morgan Twenter, Ray Ezell, Georgia Hall Endicott, Ruth Hall Ezell, Nelda Hays Wicker Ezell, me, Louise Wicker Long with Leah Morgan Warren and then Rebecca Morgan Lewis. The little girls are my daughters.

Nelda, Ray's wife, was first married to my grandfather's cousin Peck Wicker, of barbecue fame. Click here for more about Peck and his barbecue stand. So, Nelda was related to my mother and grandfather twice through marriage!

Although it's hard to tell, Georgia, Wes and Ray were the giants in the family---5'4" ,and at 5'1.5" I am a true Williams!