Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jesse Gordon Pennington

Jesse Gordon Pennington was the oldest child of William Hugh and Ethel Dee (Sloan) Pennington, born on March 2, 1907 in Itawamba County. He married Grace Cornelia Brasfield, of the Pearce Chapel community near Smithville, on December 12, 1925. Grace was the daughter of Benjamin and Selener Kennedy Brasfield. The couple is pictured above with their son Bobby Gene Pennington in a photo taken about 1945 in front of the Fessie Pennington home. Another child, Loraine, died of pneumonia when she was six months old.

After their marriage, Jesse and Grace farmed near his parents and grandparents in the Peaceful Valley, but according to Bobby Gene, Jesse wasn't a very good farmer and so the young family moved to Smithville where Jesse helped his father-in-law build houses. Eventually, Jesse's skill as a carpenter became well-known and he was approached by Gilmore-Puckett Lumber Company. Jesse provided the crew while the lumber company provided the materials. Soon, people were demanding homes built by Jesse Pennington even though they were priced higher. Bobby said that Jesse's houses cost more because Jesse insisted that each sawed joint look as if it grew together.

For recreation, Jesse loved to fox hunt. He said that the barking of his hounds as they chased their prey was music to his ears. He had a dog pen full of fox hounds and a trailer that he used to carry the hounds behind his car. The hunt usually began before dark when Jesse would take his dogs and meet up with fellow hunters. A fire would be built, and the hounds let loose. It wouldn't be long before the dogs caught the scent of a fox and the "music" would begin. Often, the men would leave their dogs as the night wore on and return in the morning to find them waiting by the trailers.

After one such Saturday evening in August 1961, Jessie went back to the woods to pick up his dogs and trailer. Coming home, he had a head-on collision with another vehicle on the road north of Pearce Chapel in Monroe County, and was instantly killed. Although it was a tragic death, Jesse died doing what he loved, with the music of his dogs not long in his memory.


Ken Dulaney said...

Wow Mona! I knew some Pennington's growing up and I think I know which road Mr. Pennington died on. We lived near Pierce Chapel when I was a teen.

As usual, excellent work! Thanks for sharing this.

Kirk Robinson said...

Another great story,Mona.Keep'em coming.

Rita Thompson said...

Mona, Grace was my uncle Travis Brasfield's sister. We are kin by marriage!

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Rita, well fancy that! Isn't that a truly Southern connection! I bet if we keep looking, there will be more kinship. Most of my folks came from Lamar and Marion counties into Itawamba, some just got here earlier than others.