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Contents of this page: photographs, her reunion speech, her reminiscences about her family, a reminiscence by her nephew, a letter excerpt, and the paper trail of official records (census, two newspaper mentions from her childhood, her obituary). On another page is the Transcription of a taped 1998 conversation with Mary Lou and others about her family Bible, her grandfather, father, uncles, brothers, etc.  

Mary Lou Cyril Hardison Barnett Foutch

4-5-1904 to 5-13-2002



1893-Sally Hooper Mecklin


18955-William Leland Hardison


1896-Hyman Franklin Hardison (died 1897)


1900-Noah Thomas Hardison


1906-Vinas Rosamon Hardison


1909-Paul Craig Hardison

married 9-30-1926


Herschel Barnett

widowed 1963

 remarried 10-26-1975 to

Alma Foutch




 She had no children, but Alma had children from his previous marriage



Mary Lou was her first name,

Cyril her middle name (pronounced Sigh-rull)


She was for decades the keeper of the Hardison family Bible and photographs, and the star of the Hardison family reunions. She was a telephone pioneer.


G.W. Hardison


Ida Tennessee Avery

spouse's parents:

not sure of Herschel's people,

but Alma was the son of

Lazarus Foutch

maternal grandparents:

William A.G. Avery and Sarah Rosamon


paternal grandparents:

Asa Hardison and Clara Robeson

maternal aunts & uncles:

c.1865-Charles Avery; c.1868-Sam Avery;1870-Laura Avery Warmath; 1878-Tom Avery; Joe Avery


paternal aunts & uncles:

Mary Ann Hardison, Sally Clark, Noah T. Hardison, Sophie Elizabeth, James H. HardisonAsa Biggs Hardison; Jessie Hyman Hardison, Louisa Robertson, John Franklin Hardison, Fannie Harwell, Alonzo Edwin Hardison


Click on image to enlarge. Once enlarged, to zoom, more cursor to right of image, back onto image, and click again.

Sally, Mary Lou, Vinas, Paul behind her parents and Sally's children

arrow points to Mary Lou among "telephone girls" in Miami

Mary Lou and her mother 1917

Mary Lou in Noah's uniform, Noah, Garnett "Mack" McFarland

Mary Lou on right, her brother Noah's wife Nora on left, Archie Carter in ctr (her i.d., though it looks kind of like Noah to me)

Noah's wife Nora and Mary Lou

seated man is Herschel Barnett, her first husband

Mary Lou, Sally, Sally's husband PW "Mack" Mecklin

Leland, Ida T., probably Paul, Mary Lou

Mary Lou on left and Sally on right

Mary Lou and her 2nd husband, Alma Foutch, on right (fuller label in Paul Craig's photos)

Mary Lou and Alma Foutch in 1991 at the Hardison Family Reunion in Jackson, TN

Mary Lou holding a portrait of her mother 1998

1998 photo of the barn her 1st husband put in after he bought the homeplace and put in a road (Barnett Road)

Mary Lou Cyril Hardison Barnett Foutch Born 4-5-1904 according to herself and the Hardison Family Bible (marriage dates also taken from family Bible). Cyril pronounced Sigh-rull. 

Speech at the Hardison Reunion

Copied from the note she read from at the 1991 reunion:

A Short Sketch of My Life Up to Now, Medina TN. I'm Mary Lou Hardison Barnett Foutch, sister of William (Bill) Hardison. I am 87 years old. I am the only one left of this family of 6 children. We moved from Friendship in Crockett Co. to Madison Co. in 1917. My brothers Bill and Noah were in the Service at this time. In 1923 I went to work for South Central Bell tel. Co. I married Herschel Barnett Sept. 1926. I worked in Memphis, in Jackson, in Humboldt, and retired from Trenton, TN in 1965 with 26 years service. I had lost my 1st husband, Herschel Barnett, in 1963. 2 years before I joined the Senior Citizens Club and got involved with Senior Activities and did some traveling with them. In 1975 I married Alma Foutch, a man that I had lived next door to when I moved to Madison Co. in 1917. I was then 16 years old and he was 19 years old, too young to get serious about marriage. Years after we both had lost our spouse. We somehow made a commitment to walk the rest of the way down Life's pathway together. We were married Oct 26, 1975 at First Baptist Church in Medina. And here we are after almost 16 years together. Not much more to tell except you can see here we have survived. I thank the Good Lord for all you. You are a blessing to me. I have no children. I have 4 step children. Alma had 4 children, 2 boys and 2 girls. I thank each one of you for making this meeting possible today, and may God be with you on this trip as in the near future in your life as well. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope we can all meet again in the future."

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Her Reminiscences About Her Family

Notes on a conversation with Mary Lou, Sept. 1998:

Mr. Duffy had a farm on Christmasville Road. He also had a farm 2 miles south of Friendship on the road to Crockett Mills. In the fall of 1917 the GW Hardison family moved to Mr. Duffy's farm on Christmasville Road, having traded their place in Friendship for it, a place they were only renting. Noah was in the service; Leland was in the service. Mr. Foutch lived next door. He made pictures (photos). After Noah came home from the service, he married and lived on the Duffy place.

    GW's sister, Lizzie Clark (Sophia Elizabeth), had a lot of money. She willed him money, according to Mary Lou, "so he bought the farm from Goodrich out here in Medina." But Ida Tennessee talked Herschel Barnett (Mary Lou's husband) into buying a different place, building a new house, on what would come to be called Barnett Road. Herschel Barnett and his father built the new homeplace on Barnett Road on the site of the old homeplace. The house the Barnetts built was occupied by Mary Lou's parents in one half, and by her brother, Paul Craig & his wife Eva Mae in the other half (before Paul Craig built his own place).

    She recalled that her father, GW, had a heart attack when the new homeplace was recently finished. He was walking around, picking up nails and cleaning up, circa 1935, when he had the heart attack. At this point in the conversation, Paul Craig's daughter (who was present both in 1998 as I spoke to Mary Lou and in 1935, since her family lived on the other side of the house) said she remembered it, though she was only four. She was on the porch, crying over him and, "He said, 'she thinks I'm going to die,' and he did die, that night."

    Mary Lou's mother, Ida Tennessee, also died of a heart attack. She was living with Sally, who had cooked fish from the freezer. Ida ate a big supper and got sick in the night. Dr. Morrison gave her something for the pain. That night it sleeted. They phoned the doctor, who told them to take her to the hospital in the morning. Next morning Sally knew she was dying, she was so bad. According to Mary Lou, Sally called the doctor who said, "She's passing away; she won't last an hour." And sure enough, she didn't.

    Mary Lou herself was a telephone operator in the 1920s, a "telephone pioneer" (more on that later, when I add tape transcription). She worked in Miami, and also at one point went up to Chicago for about half a year, coming back in October of 1924 or 25. While in Chicago she stayed in the apartment shared by her brothers Leland and Paul (she said Paul, but it might've been an error. Vinas was known to have lived in Chicago. If Paul did so too, it was only briefly. Whichever brother it was, she said he worked for Sears at that time.) Mary Lou married Herschell Barnett about three months after returning to TN. Not long after (actually it was 1928) William Leland married Lyda Sue Sims without their parents' permission (that's how Mary Lou phrased it, implying that a couple aged 33 and 28 should get parental consent). They stayed overnight with her (she and Herschel were living in Jackson) and she remembers they phoned Friendship (Lyda's parents) from her place to break the news.

    She remembered that her grandfather, Asa, had a brother Dave Hardison who stayed in NC when Asa moved to TN. She said Dave visited them once. Her grandparents, Asa and Clara, she said, came by wagon from NC to TN, camping en route, washing clothes in rivers. A black man, Al Cox (she pronounced his name as "Owl" Cox), accompanied Asa and helped him clear the land.

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Reminiscence by Mary Lou's nephew about her 1st huband, Herschel Barnett

Her nephew remembered going to Herschel's funeral. They were hardshell Baptists, who had no minister because it was not considered right to pay a person for the job. Instead all the elders took turns with the preaching duties. At Herschel's funeral, the preacher got up and said, in praise of Herschel, "He was good to his dogs." Herschel had hunting hounds, bassets or beagles, four or five of them, and there were always puppies around. His nephew, a small boy at the time, and from the city, thought a single dog would be a dream, and asked Herschel how come he had so many dogs. Herschel answered, "Well, we don't have central heating here like you do in the city. Some nights get so cold, this is how many dogs it takes to keep you warm." His nephew also remembered on visits hearing the coon hunts going on out in the woods at night, the hounds baying. He said his Tennessee kin would hunt squirrels and eat them, but they drew the line at eating raccoon. The raccoons, he was told by his 1930s TN kin, were only fit to give to the "coloreds." 

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Letter Excerpt

12-28-1990 from Mary Lou to her nephew:

My husband had a light stroke and fell and we were in and out of the clinic and hospital with him. He is much improved but still not back to normal and has to be very careful in walking...wonder if you got to go when Della (her brother Wm. Leland's 3rd wife) passed away. Ida called and told me but I could not possibly go. I also had a niece in Memphis that passed away, and my brother Paul left us this year. I am the only one of my family left now...

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Paper Trail of Mary Lou in Official Records


1910 census, Lauderdale County TN, Halls:

Geo Hardison, farmer, age 49, born in TN of parents born in NC, married 17 years.

Wife Ida, 34, born in Missouri of parents born in TN.

Son Leland, age 14.

Son Noah, age 10.

Daughter Mary L, age 6.

Son "Minas" (Vinas), age 3.

Son Paul C, age one month.

Dyersburg State Gazette, 2-18-1916: "Mount Pisgah--Mr. and Mrs. Bert Hooper and children of Halls spent Sat. and Sun. with her parents, Mr. & Mrs. George W. Hardison. Little Mary Lou Hardison and brother, Fannis (Vinas), spent Saturday night with Mrs. Jim Clark." (Mrs. Bert Hooper = Mary Lou's sister, Sally Hardison Hooper, later Mecklin. Mrs. Jim Clark is her aunt Sophie Elizabeth "Lizzie" Hardison Clark.)

Dyersburg State Gazette, 6-9-1916: "Mount Pisgah--Little Miss Mary Lou Hardison spent the weekend the guest of Mr. & Mrs. Noah Robertson at Maury City." (Mrs. Noah Robertson = Mary Lou's aunt Louisa Risabell Hardison Robertson.)

1920 census, Madison County, civil district 3, Christmasville Road:

George Hardison, age 59, married, born TN of parents born NC, farmer.

Wife Ida T, age 44, born in MO, rest same as 1910.

Son Noah T, married, age 19.

Daughter Mary L, age 15, single.

Son Vinas, age 13.

Son Paul, age 10.

Neighbors are Sam & Ida Foutch, and then another two houses away:

Laz Foutch (Lazarus) age 54, widower, born in TN of parents born in TN

son Alma L, 18. (becomes Mary Lou's 2nd husband in 1975)

Son Frank C., age 13.

brother-in-law John H. Carter, age 66, born in TN, father born in NC, mother born in TN.

sister Martha Carter, age 56, born in TN, father born in NC, mother born in TN.

The next house down is another Foutch household (John P and wife Sallie both 27, etc) and the next house is William and Birdie McFarlin with daughters Eunice 13 and Laura 6, the last group mentioned because Mary Lou is pictured in one of the photographs above with Garnet "Mack" McFarland

1926 married Herschel Barnett (Herschel Barnett died 5-6-1963 according to Hardison Family Bible as transcribed by Mary Lou).

1930 census, Madison County TN, Jackson City:

"Herchel" Barnett, age 40, married at 37, born in TN of parents born in TN, foreman at oil mill.

Wife Mary L, age 21, married at 18, operator--telephone.


(Based on that I found in Jackson, in 1920,

M. Barnett, head of household, age 47, born in TN of parents born in TN, occupation: labor--streets.

Wife Lula, age 39, born in TN of parents born in TN (children not chronological, usually indicating a previous wife)

Daughter Elizabeth, age 16.

Daughter Carrie, age 14.

Daughter Maggie, age 15.

Son "Hershel," age 26, labor in oil mill.

Mother, Mrs. Jimmie Barnett, age 66, widow, born in TN of parents born in TN.

(NOTE: this may not be the right Barnett family, as this Herschel is 26 in 1920, and Mary Lou's Herschel if 40 in 1930. There is also a social security death index listing for a Herschel Barnett born 3-2-1893 who died in May 1963 in Tennesssee.)

Letter from Vinas' wife Elsie to her nephew, Dec. 1975 in ref. to ML's second husband, Alma Foutch: "Did you know Aunt Mary Lou got married Oct. 26, 75?"

Obituary from the Jackson Sun, 5-16-2002: Medina TN-Funeral services for Mrs. Mary Lou Hardison AM Friday May 17 2002...conducted by Elder Adrian Webb and Elder Jack Leathers. Burial will follow in Highland Memorial Gardens in Jackson. Mrs. Foutch died Monday, May 13, 2002 at Maplewood Healthcare Center in Jackson after a long illness. She was born in Crockett County, TN, the daughter of the late George and Ida Avery Hardison and was educated in the Crockett County schools, graduating from Friendship High School in Friendship, TN. Mrs. Foutch loved traveling and was the star of the Hardison Family Reunion. Loving people, she was active in various civic organizations, holding offices in many such as president of the Bakers Chapel Demonstration Club, where she was also honored as "Woman of the Year." She retired in 1965 with 26 years of service as Chief Night Operator of South Central Bell Telephone Company. She served as secretary, president, reporter and was a life member of the Telephone Pioneers of America, Gibson County Chapter. She was a member of the Robbins Street Primitive Baptist Church in Jackson and was an accomplished pianist. Mrs. Foutch was preceded in death by her first husband, Herschel Barnett, whom she married in 1926, and by her husband, Alma Luther Foutch, whom she married in 1975; a sister, Sally Hardison Mecklin, and four brothers, Leland Hardison, Vinas Hardison, Noah Hardison, and Paul Hardison...

ALMA FOUTCH (Husband 2): Alma Luther Foutch 2-8-1901 to 11-17-1996 (not sure if that's death date or obit date or what). A post on genealogy.com by Virginia Flescher referred to a telephone conversation in 1993 with Alma Foutch. Alma gave the information that he was the son of Lazarus Foutch and Annie of Tennessee and that Lazarus Foutch was the son of John Foutch, who married in IL and then moved to TN. John Foutch was married first to Mahalia, then to Emily Braden.

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