Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Family History

My Family circa the turn of the century....

One of my favorite things to do is to research my family history.  I find it absolutely fascinating to put a face and a name to those who lived decades, even centuries, before us and to know that from them I am descended.  Though it seems a little morbid, my ideal Sunday (when the weather is nice) is to go to Mount Olivet Cemetery with my mom and walk through the family plots.  We walk, write down birth dates and dates of death to fill in some of the gaps in our large and ever growing family tree.  She tells me the stories of Uncle Ike, Aunt Nellie, Aunt Sis, Mom and Big Daddy, and so many more characters in my mind who are in fact my relatives.  She tells me of those who died too young and those who outlived them all.  I hear tales of incredible journeys, fateful meetings, insane business dealings, seemingly impossible adversities that were overcome, mothers who lost their child, mothers who saved their child, fathers who supported 3 generations under one roof, and some stories that are just too unbelievable to even comprehend.  

Walking through the ornate headstones, some small and some large, the past comes alive and it is as though, for a brief moment, I can imagine what it must have been like to live through the Civil War, Reconstruction, the turn of the century, the discovery of electricity and the invention of indoor plumbing, the development of the first car, Women Suffrage, World Wars, and so many more events I have studied in the classroom and on my own for years.  As the wind blows high up on the hill at Mount Olivet I image what life was like when Nashville was founded, before the brights lights of Lower Broad, the hustle and bustle of Green Hills, and the warehouse districts along the river.  For a moment, the world is quiet and peaceful. 

What brought me to this most recent dive into our family tree was a search for one small picture of house that once stood at 704 North 12th Street in East Nashville.  I have been working on a needlepoint brick cover for my mom from this house in which she grew up.  I thought I would find a family picture of the house and present them together to my mom.  As mothers typically do, she found out about the surprise and so as most children do, I enlisted her help in my search for this picture.  As we went through some of my maternal grandparents' things we came across albums that my grandmother (and namesake), Ruth Litton Gordon Allen, had put together many years ago.  There were pictures of my grandfather as a toddler, my aunt's first birthday, the very first picture ever taken of my mom (which she always reminds me wasn't taken until she was 3 months old), Easter Sundays, Thanksgiving Dinners, weddings, graduations, etc.  It was a gold mine for me! 

Edgar and Katherine Allen
March 1956
Edgar Allen, Grace Gregory, Claude Allen and Mother, Josie Allen
Albert Sidney Allen (Born Feb. 23, 1867 - Died March 3, 1935)
Josie Hall Allen (Born Sept. 11, 1869 - Died March 4, 1957)

Both lived at Brush Creek Tenn when married April 6, 1890 at the home of the bride

This is a picture of my grandfather's family.  He is the little boy on the front row, third from the right

Katherine Mayer, Albert Mayer and Ernestine Worley

Albert Mayer

Claude Allen
Billy and Edgar Allen (Billy died at age 6 from tetanus)
Margie, Edgar, Billy, Doug at Gartland

August 1, 1946
"Edgar with a weeks growth of beard after spending vacation at Kavalier Camp 1947"
June 19, 1953

Dad Allen, Edgar (Pa), Ruth (Gramma), Margery, Shirley, "Gran" Allen, Jean and Jimmy
Easter '47

Katherine Marie Allen
First birthday, June 14, 1949
Big Daddy and Ruth
Spring 1953

Ruth and Eddie, Edgar and Katie, taken in the living room at 906 Burchwood
December 1949
Ruth, Eddie, Katie and Edgar in the back yard at Nebraska

Ruth and Susan taken at 704
(My mom is 3 months old in this picture - this is the infamous "first picture" ever taken of my mom)

Family picture taken in the living room on Nebraska Avenue, December 1952

Mom Gordon's birthday
Mom, Ruth, Louise and Lee
Ruth Gordon Allen

Easter, April 1, 1956

Edgar and his "admirers"

Front steps at camp
Pat, Katie, Susan, Eddie and Riley

My grandfather, Pa, took a picture of every house he had ever lived in.....

They included 811 Chestnut (1924), 10th & Halcyon (1924-1926), Due West (1926), Manchester (1927-1929), 4208 Murphy Road (1929), 44th Avenue (1930)....

On to East Nashville, Gartland (1930), North 12th and Calvin (1931-1932), 1507 Forest Avenue (1932-1936), 1408 Eastland (1936-1938), 801 North 12th (1938-1946), 1200 Edgewood (1946-1949)....

....906 Burchwood (1949-1950), 3803 Nebraska (1950-1953), 1200 Eastland (1953-1955), 704 North 12th (1955-1959), 225 Cumberland Circle......

Ruth Allen, Ruth Griffith, Dr. John, Gran and Miss Dee
Susan and Becky Griffith, 1960

The Allens, the Griffiths, and the McCalls

Thanksgiving Dinner 1958

The Nativity Scene infront of the Parthenon

"The Master"

My family has long gathered in the kitchen to cook together

St.Ann's Episcopal Church

My grandfather, Edgar Allen, worked as the Sports Editor at the Nashville Banner for 38 years during the time in newspaper journalism when there was a graphic designer who would script all the byline names that would appear in the paper.  Pa took a copy of that and had a friend paint his mailbox to match.

Pa recovering from the flu working from bed
The blanket presented to Pa for his 20 years of dedication to the Nashville Banner

Gypsy Rose Lee (1965-1979)
Dogs are just as much a part of the family as the children

Gypsy with one of her litters of puppies

Susan with one of Gypsy's puppies

This picure was taken at Gramma and Pa's surprise 25th wedding anniversary party
Sue Norvell Gordon was my great-great aunt and my mother's namesake

Then came the grandchildren.......

Their first grandchild, Jessica Marie Allen

Jana and Jess
William Edgar Allen

Aunt Katie with Billy

Then came William Allen Huggins
Four Generations (Ruth Allen, Allen being held by Mom Gordon and Susan)

"What did your mom put in that bottle"

Ruth meets Ruth

The whole gang

Of course finding these pictures only led me on a search for photos and memorabilia from my dad's side of the family.  On a snowy day in February, I called my grandmother, Nannie, to see if I could come over and go through some of her old pictures.  Together, we sat on the floor in her bedroom going through large Tupperware containers in which she had collected a plethora of pictures...some dating back to the days of slavery.  It was fascinating. 
Louise Winder, Granddaddy Campbell's mother
Two Family Portraits of Captain Phillips

Caption reads:
"Born 1818 - Slave Emma Bereson bought by Capt Phillips (Granny's father) from farm of Martha Custis - Baby is Granny Huggins"
(Laura Phillips Huggins - my great-great-grandmother)

My paternal great-grandfather as a child in a silver frame

Knox Campbell, age 5

George Knox and Frances Dustin Campbell

My great-grandmother, Frances Dustin, as a baby

Geneva ("Mama Neva") and George R. Knox
Grandmother Campbell's family

 David, Allen, Hooper and William Huggins
David Huggins is my great-grandfather.  Two of his brothers returned from WWI with permanent respiratory damage caused by mustard gas.  They both died from pneumonia shortly after their return to the States.

Helen Knox Campbell ("Grandmother Campbell")

Knox Campbell, age 5

Frances Dustin as a young girl

My great-grandmother, Marguerite Virginia Batten Huggins

Then they all grew up.....
Frances Dustin Campbell, Josephine Harwell and Thelma Waterfield
Josephine Harwell's husband, Sam Harwell, was the best man in the wedding of my great-grandparents
Nannie's stepfather, John W. Murphree
Frances Dustin Campbell
Fannie, Helen and Pat

George Knox Campbell with Frances, Pat and Helen

My grandmother, Nannie, and her sisters at Christmas

William Hooper Sr. in a sketch that appeared in the Nashville Banner about him breeding cocker spaniels

Granddaddy in Air Force, stationed in Colorado Springs, CO
This is a picture of my grandmother, Frances Campbell Huggins, with her friends in the snow.  This picture was picked up by the Associated Press and was printed in newspapers around the country.

Nannie's lifelong friends, Laura Lea Knox and Liz King

My Nannie and Granddaddy

March 5, 1949

A dear friend to the Allen/Huggins clan since long before I joined the party

400 Leake Avenue
This was the house in which my father was raised and 30 years later it was in this driveway that I learned to ride a two-wheel bike

In these pictures depicting over 100 years of my family history, you find the reason for the smile on this little girl's face:

The Family Bibles
Both sides of my family have kept years worth of records in the family Bibles 

Grandmother Campbell's Bible
A list of marriages, births and deaths

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1 comment:

  1. AMAZING!!!! This is inspiring! Love your sweet family :)