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This is a transcription of a tape recording made in 1998 while visiting Mary Lou Hardison Barnett Foutch in her home near Medina, TN. Photos and papers were being sorted and discussed. Sections where the phone and doorbell rang, and digressions on topics like cars, planes, and the Chicago Tribune, have been edited out. Anything in parentheses added for clarity, and not part of the original conversation.
ML=Mary Lou Hardison Barnett Foutch
Kim=wife of Joyce’s brother
LCH (speaking of Lyda Sue Sims): She said that she had a son or her son would’ve been 21 or something like that, on that day, and she didn’t say more about it, never brought it up again, and I wouldn’t have known that she had been married (before William Leland Hardison) if it hadn’t been for that one time…
ML: I don’t know how long it lasted, I don’t know how long they lived together, I don’t know anything about that relationship.
LCH: We have a couple of pictures of my mother with a man that looks like he has some proprietary interest but we don’t know who he was or know anything about him
JH to LCH: Your sister said he might’ve been a music teacher.
LCH: We couldn’t figure out how my father met my mother if she grew up in Friendship and I thought he grew up up here near Medina. That’s quite a distance if you’re walking or riding a horse. I didn’t know until this evening that they lived there.
ML: They were a little bit sweethearts, and then Leland, my brother, left and went off and I don’t know if they ever saw each other, but they was kind of sweethearts and he left and he married and it didn’t last and she married and it didn’t work out and finally they just got together.
LCH: It’s still a little bit of a mystery to us because he was working in Chicago over a period of time for several years before they got married and she apparently was living down here at home, so they didn’t bump into each other on the street.
ML: And you know what they did? They got married and come to my house and called her mother (Effie Ann Amos) and told.
LCH: So they got married down here?
ML: Yes. I lived in Jackson when they got married.
LCH (looking at photo with his Lena Amos in it): Well, anyway, my Aunt Lena and Uncle Dick Grier, we went to visit them several times, and I never found out what relationship they were. They lived on a far off farm, miles of dirt road to get there, and they didn’t really live in the house, as I recall—they were out in the fields doing something or they were sitting in the front yard in rocking chairs—but not in the house, kind of ramshackle, run down, didn’t look like much at all. But I was given to understand that Uncle Dick was a relatively well-to-do farmer, and in that area people didn’t pay that much attention to the house—what you had to do was work in the fields—and he had this big farm and he had hogs and all kinds of things. Sure got the impression that he was related but never had a clue as to how. Anyway, I’m sure that’s Aunt Lena and that’s my grandmother I think. I have no idea who this is. Lyda Sue, her mother Effie Ann with a baby on her lap. We don’t know who the baby is…
ML: Well, Les, your Granddaddy Sims, was he a doctor? (John P. Sims)
(Conversation interrupted by doorbell, visitors arrive, etc etc)
LCH (looking at photograph of himself as a baby, naked): That was published in the Memphis Commercial Appeal in the rotogravure section.
Kim: Friendhsip’s not a very big place. Dr. Nash, that was the doctor a long long time ago, my sister is married to his grandson…
LCH: My Uncle Leslie (Leslie Sims) and my grandmother and …his wife Aunt Lucille, lived in Friendship and he ran the newspaper, the Crockett Times. There were three newspapers at the times, the Tri-county News, the Crockett Times…
ML to Kim: Les’ granddaddy was a doctor.
LC: John Peagreen—
Kim: Dr. Sims? In Crockett County?
LC: But he died the year I was born or the year before I was born or something like that… My grandfather was supposedly cleaning a fish and cut himself on a fish, got blood poisoning and died. That doesn’t seem reasonable for a doctor… They moved from Friendship to Alamo when I was four or five years old, so my memories are kind of disjointed. I could find what seemed to be the right street but I couldn’t find the right house. (about trying to find the Hockaday House while driving around Friendship earlier in the day)… I think my Uncle Leslie’s wife Lucille was a Parks. (She wasn’t—she was Lucille Bell. He probably made the association because he recalled his mother’s friend Nina Bell Parks)… I think Nora, Nina Bell and Beatrice (pronounced Be-At-riss) were her siblings. (The girls named are Parks sisters.)
ML: Well the Parks rings a bell with me.
LCH: I remember being in a train wreck on the Illinois Central Railroad with my mother (Lyda Sue Sims). It had to be when I was real young. I have pretty clear memories when I was five years old but this was… I don’t remember where we were going or anything else except that we were in a train wreck. I see pictures of the wreck and I remember my mother talking about it. I said it had to be somewhere near Centralia, Vandalia, Effingham those were the names that came to mind. The train doesn’t go through Effingham and DuQuoin. It goes through Vandalia and Centralia. And the Chicago Tribune, we looked through back issues in the library on microfilm for several years—no records whatsoever of a train wreck in Southern Illinois. They had stories about train wrecks in France and Spain...
LCH: So we went to the Effingham library and there was nothing in the Effingham papers, so we went yesterday to Centralia, and by golly, we found the train wreck. It was Sept. 28, 1932, and I was not quite four years old yet. I’m sure it was the same train wreck though there are a few details not quite right. I said, “I’ll bet my version’s right.” I didn’t count the cars because I was little—I’m not even sure I could count—but my mother said there were 13 cars and we were in the 11th car in the train, or the 12th. The first 11 jumped the track and turned over. The 12th car jumped the track but didn’t turn over—that’s the one we were on. And the last one didn’t jump the track, it stayed on. My toe was supposedly broken and my mother said her spleen was damaged, but the newspaper article said there was just nine people hurt and nobody fatally, and it said there were fourteen cars in the train and three of them didn’t turn over. I think my mother was probably right.
ML (looking at photo): That’s my brother Noey (Noah Thomas Hardison) and his wife Nora and Frances. They just had the one child.
ML: Nora. She was Nora Stegall (pronounced like some people say cigar as see-gar, accent on first syllable Stee-gol). He married after he come home from the service. They lived up there close to us when we moved up here, and they got to going together and they married, and they just had the one child, Frances, and she lives in Memphis, and her son that’s been married for several years, came up with cancer a few months ago; it’s all got in the lymph nodes. He really doesn’t know how bad it is. They operated on him. And he and his wife got one child.
JH (reading from photo) This says Ethel Biggs Robeson.
ML: Would you write it on there?
JH Would it be Roberson?
JH: You said there was a photo of your brothers in uniform. I found you in uniform (laughs) but I didn’t find the brothers, Vinas and Leland and Noah.
ML: Well, I don’t know where nothin’ is honey… The three boys, Vinas and the two that was in the service—Wilford and Harold and they’re all in uniform, the three of them. (She has switched from talking about ‘the boys’ as her brothers, to ‘the boys’ as her brother Vinas Rosamon Hardison and his sons)
LCH: Except Harold was called Jim.
ML: Yeah. Well, tell me what’s happened to him.
LCH: He’s still living in Las Vegas. I haven’t seen him in a long time. I think not since that reunion we had a couple of years ago…
ML: (laughing) I don’t guess I’d know ‘em… I guess the last time that I seen them was when they come down here when your daddy died. That’s the last time I seen any of them. Ain’t any of them been back… I think they cremated Elsie’s body, didn’t they? She and Vinas had made a—they decided and agreed that they’d both be cremated. And I didn’t believe that it would hurt me so bad, it just hurt me so bad.
JH: You don’t like cremation?
ML: No, it just seems to me like, no, I don’t know. They turned the body over to the crematory and they don’t know what they did with them, they don’t know what they did with the ashes and now that’s just bad. Your own brother.
(LCH comes across a copy of a deed that belonged to Asa Hardison. ML has JH read it aloud.)
JH (finishing): …containing 316 acres and 73 and a third poles more or less.
ML: I knew it was a terrible lot. And he gave every one of his children 25 acres when they married. And I guess the two that didn’t get married got 25 acres… I remember when he died. I was little. This is Asa Hardison’s deed… See, I got two copies, somebody give me two copies if it’s the same thing. Billie Hardison sent all this stuff.
Joyce: I guess back then $700 was a lot of money.
ML: Back then 300 acres of land… (sorts more papers)…This is the five generations. Uncle Bud (James H. Hardison), they called him Uncle Bud, he was the oldest one—in my Daddy’s family—he was the oldest boy and this is… his wife (Missouri Miller) lived to be 102 years old. This is his wife, five generations. I don’t know how old Uncle Bud was when he died. I don’t think I remember when he died.
LCH: You just had his death certificate.
ML: Of Uncle Bud? He was …that’s granddaddy’s isn’t it? (LCH apparently hands her the death certificate for Alonzo Edwin Hardison ) Oh, that’s the baby boy, Alonzo Edwin. He was the baby one. The very last one. My daddy was second (to last), he was the last one. But this is Uncle Bud. There was Uncle Bud and Uncle Buddy—
JH & LCH: (with comprehension) Ohhh.
ML: Uncle Buddy was the baby and Uncle Bud was the oldest. I know their names somewhere. Alonzo Edwin was the youngest.
LCH: But he was Buddy?
ML: And the one they called Uncle Bud I believe his name was Jim. I tell you there was 12 of those children and I don’t have all of it down.
LCH: That’s why I don’t have any recollection of Uncle Buddy, because he died just as I was born.
ML: See, I was born nineteen and four and he (referring to Asa) died 1911… I would’ve been seven years old but I do remember when Granddaddy died, just barely. I don’t know, there’s so much stuff I can’t keep it all in my head. But now you see (coming across more papers) this is the condition… Papa (G.W. Hardison) had a Bible, and it had everything in it, but now this is the condition it was in and you know you and me (to Joyce) took it out to have a copy made for Sue Hall. And see, it’s so dim and all, and I took a pen and figured it out and got it in my Bible cause I said this is all leaving here; you can’t hardly make it out. But that’s my daddy’s record in his Bible.
LCH: That his handwriting?
ML: It sure is. He wrote a good hand. There’s another sheet or two that’s in here somewhere that’s in my Bible that come out of his. We was looking at last night. It’s got so dim you can’t read it. I think it was a sheet in my Bible. I put it in here to keep it. This is his, from out of his, right here, that’s his writing. This is another one that came out of his; this is all his writing. I copied it off because I thought it was getting where you couldn’t see it and I was afraid we was going to lose it.
Joyce: It’s not faded as much as you might think.
ML: Papa’s Bible had gotten tore up, it was such a shame but he wrote a good hand.
LCH: What does that say, “Mary Lou...C-Y-R-I-L?”
ML: Cyril (pronounces it Sigh-rull). I have a Cyril on my name. Mary Lou Cyril. I never did use the Cyril ‘cause I didn’t like it (laughs). He had it in there.
Joyce: Was that a family name or something?
ML: I don’t know where they got that Cyril; I just never did use it…This is the marriages. That was in his Bible… Now see, this is where I copied it off cause I was afraid it was going to get where we couldn’t read it. And I added this and this down there. This is the deaths over on this other side.
LCH: That’s what you copied over here. It’s obviously a list of deaths because it’s twice as long as the list of marriages.
ML: I’ve got the whole family on there but me and somebody’ll have to put that on there. Paul Craig, April 9, 1909…
LCH: Artemesia Frances...
ML: That was, uh, Papa’s sister (Fannie Harwell). I think they called her Fanny. She married a Harwell (pronounced HAR-wull, accent on the first syllable, like horrible, so the name almost sounds like Harl). Aunt Fanny. She married Uncle Lewis Harwell. (To Joyce) Do you remember seeing Cousin Cottie? … That (Fanny) was Papa’s sister. Cottie was his niece. And she (Fanny) married Lewis Harwell. I just barely can remember anything, just barely. Wasn’t that a family? Ooh, twelve children. No wonder grandmother died. Her death is somewhere and it tells when she died.
LCH: Let’s see, he had three hundred acres of land. 25 acres per child, he had to have 12 children. Did he give the girls 25 acres? (Apparently reading) My father’s Uncle Bud was James Henry; he died in 1937.
ML: Does it say when Grandmother Hardison died?
LCH: Clara Hardison Dec 4, 1875. (Clara Robeson)
ML: See? She died early.
LCH: He (Asa) was 36 years later.
ML: He lived a long time after she died. I said, “No wonder, 12 children.” Joyce you gonna keep up with all this?
Joyce: I can try.
ML: Did you run across a Hardison book? We got a book.
LCH: I didn’t get a chance to look at it.
ML: I found some of the Hardisons in there that’s still living I think.
ML (taking photo from her own box): Now this is your Dad and Cora (Koepke, his first wife). This is…Maybe I wrote on the back who it is. (This photo and the next two discussed are on the William Leland Hardison page)
JH: You wrote it was Leland and two friends.
LCH: Girlfriends, you said. What’s that big metal thing they’re standing by? It’s riveted, like an airplane…
JH: Ends in AUL. Isn’t that water? Is it a boat?
LCH: Yeah, it might be a light boat on a ship or something. It does look like my father. Even though he’s only nineteen years old his hairline was receding already.
ML: This is Cora.
JH: That’s the one that says Davenport Iowa on the back.
LCH: My father spent some time in Davenport. Rock Island Arsenal.
ML: And this is him and somebody. This is your Dad right here. I don’t know who that other one is. I don’t believe it’s anybody in the family.
LCH: I wouldn’t have recognized that as my father… Rock Island Arsenal, Davenport Iowa. Maybe he was stationed there.
JH: He’s wearing army… socks—whatever you’d call them—in the winter pictures, he’s wearing army knickers or whatever you call them.
LCH: Those are puttees; you wrap them around your legs.
JH: Well, that’s what he’s wearing.
LCH: Rock Island is an island in the Mississippi River, and the town on the Island is Rock Island and there’s an arsenal there. And Davenport is closest—
ML (taking out another photo): Now you see, this is somebody’s baby picture and I can’t… it’s been written on and I can’t even tell what this is.
JH: It says “Frances Elizabeth Barnett 842 Campbell St. Just Molly and me and baby makes three, we’re happy in my blue heaven.”
ML: Oh, well then that’s my husband’s family, Herschel, if it says Barnett. He was just out of the service. He wasn’t out of the service a year when we married. He was in the navy.
LCH: You have a picture in your collection that was labeled “Vinas and his family” and the man had a white sailor hat on. That wasn’t Vinas; that was Harold.
JH: You were showing a scrapbook yesterday, a photo album that was put together, and I didn’t get to see that. Do you …
ML: Was it not in with everything? I’m telling you, I don’t know where nothin’ is. I could’ve seen it thirty minutes ago and I still couldn’t find it. There’s so much.
JH: This is the birthday book. Maybe this one?
LCH: That’s the empty one.
ML: There’s a box of cards on the counter right up there behind you. It could’ve been in there. I don’t know where nothin’ is. Maybe in this box.
JH: This is it.
ML: You find it?
JH: It’s this one. Oh my. (Looking at photo of Asa Hardison and some of his grown children at the home place c. 1910. The photo is on the Asa Hardison page and several others.)
ML: Joyce, did you ever see that one? That’s granddaddy sitting in the middle. Now, his… the youngest one—that’s him—Uncle Buddy (Alonzo Edwin), standing on the right—they lived with Granddaddy, and my Daddy (GW Hardison) is the one standing on the end over here, and he just happened along when that picture was made. And Aunt Molly (Mary Ann Hardison), I believe, on the right… she never did marry and she took care of Granddaddy.
JH to ML (showing a different photo): Is this your Dad?
ML: That’s my Daddy. Just before he died.