Friday, May 15, 2009

Aunt Agnes

Bettye - this one is for you!

This photo was among the collection of photos found in Thusie's trunk at her death in 1952, Thusie being Arthusa Parneshia Evans, my great-grandmother. Written on the back of the old photograph, in the handwriting of Thusie's son Lawson, is "Aunt Agnes Robinson before 1900, Mama Robinson's cousin married Poppa Robinson's cousin."

The 'cousin' in the picture is Theodoria Agnes Jane Bishop, actually Mama Robinson's (aka Thusie) half-aunt, who was married to Lucian Gaines Robinson. Lucian was the son of Henry Johnson Robinson and Susan Florence Evans and was first cousin to Poppa Robinson (aka Gideon) who was the son of George Emerson Robinson, Henry's brother. Agnes was the daughter of William T. Bishop and his second wife, Sarah Adeline Johnson.

Aunt Agnes was over thirty years old when she married for the first time, to Lucian whose first wife Ophelia Lawhon died in 1897 after three years of marriage. Lucian and Ophelia had one daughter, Gertrude, while Lucian and Agnes had no children together.

Agnes and Lucian lived in Bexar where Lucian owned and operated a "dry goods store" according to early censuses.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Mona. Where have I seen this photo before? I can't say that I ever remember "Aunt Aggie" so finely dressed! No, she must have kept that apron next to her shoes and stockings! because I can't remember seeing her without the apron. The following things that I remember in her oversized apron pocket: a handkerchief, her little tumbler of snuff and a small pocket knife for cutting a small twig - I suppose that small twig served as her "snuff dipper"! Lastly, her front door key. . . .she always locked her door even if she was out in the "side yard" where those sweet smelling roses of my memory were huge bushes. Think about this for a moment! This was in the late 1930's and into the early '40's when even "city folks" never locked their houses. It was a lovely location just off the highway in Bexar, and it also was an elegant "gingerbread trimmed" two story house, no it was a home. . .

I remember my mother telling of resorting to locking our front door when I was less than 4 years old and we lived on a street that was U. S. 78 entering Hamilton, AL because of the "tramps" of the depression era seeking "a bite to eat" and promising to "work it off". Those were the times when she finally gave her chickens away because of the scare at walking into the chicken house and spotting a sleeping stranger laying on the little pile of hay she kept for restoring the hen nests. bettye

Oh, to learn where those little wind up toys that occupied the mantle in her bedroom went to! Mona, she said they had belonged to Uncle Gaines, but as times and minds mellow, I wonder if they had been bought for his only child, Gertrude Robinson Ford.

Anonymous said... write really well! Your little note about the tramp in the chicken house is a gem.

Mona Robinson Mills said...

Bettye, I knew that I could count on you to bring this photograph to life, and you did just that. It is recollections like yours that turn a simple photo into a real person. Thank you for sharing. -- Mona

p.s. I've heard stories about "tramps" (as they were called) during the depression. These stories were exactly like yours, except a bit further west on Highway 78.

Anonymous said...

Let's linger a moment or two about the times of the late '20's and into the early '30's. No, no! I wasn't around in the late '20's - but I loved to sit and listen to Kate, Agnes, Sophie (Brown) Shotts, and my mother enjoying a leisure afternoon of fanning themselves (no electricity in those days!)on the front porch, but if there was a breeze stirring the tree leaves, then they moved their little "straight" chairs off the porch and into the yard to take advantage of that breeze.

There were some interesting tales about the era of the tramps and the same men, be they young or old, who walked U. S. 78 through Hamilton ended up along 78 in Tremont and more than likely Fulton. We hear tales of "riding the rails", but we must remember the railroad passed through the southern part of Marion County (Winfield and Guin), but the former towns I mentioned were not on the railroad which was the way for the hobo life - another version of a tramp in those days.

The tales that really brought excitement about passing tramps involved wash day blues! The women had to keep watch on their laundry when they hung their husband and son's garments to dry because these tramps would sneak into the yard and size up the pants and shirts and if there were such items that they could fit into, they removed them from the line and headed for the nearest out building where they would change and leave their smelly clothes behind. It kept the ladies of the house on their toes!

Folks, the problems over food was another story. . . . I think both my mother and grandmother spoke of these less fortunate men who carried a sorghum bucket attached to their belt (if they had one or tied through the loop by a piece of rope) by the handle. With this bucket they could make coffee in "hobo" camp if someone gave them coffee to boil, or boil vegetables they pilfered from gardens. They were careful of what they cooked on these fires because the odors could attract the police when someone spotted the cooking odors coming from nearby woods. Where did they get the "stuff" for cooking? Oh, they would sneak into the open kitchen doors at night and take what they could find in the "moonlight"

The one person that I recall causing the most excitement was a Seminole Indian that they believe as walking from Florida out to the Indian reservations in Oklahoma. No one spoke to this man, and for all they knew he could have been from the Cherokee Nation! The county newspaper published in Hamilton had an article about the spottings for 3 or 4 days before he disappeared. I do remember the talk of his walking along old 78 through Bexar at almost a snail speed. His feet and legs may have been so sore and tired that he couldn't move any faster. I think this was about 1941/42 so let's see if anyone in Tremont remembers the Indian walking along the highway there! Anyone spotted along the highway in Bexar would automatically pass through Tremont because there wasn't any place to go in between!

I would like to add one more tale bout the Aunt Agnes Bishop Robinson that Mona has been told about and that I actually knew. I've told you that her big old house was off the highway - by maybe almost 2 football lengths - and the barn was about 1/2 way between the house and the highway. I was never near this barn, but I can visualize seeing Uncle Gaines old ca 1927/28 model car parked in the barn - help me somebody! - is the center of a barn the same as the "dog trot" in the old log houses? The lane off the highway led past Aunt Agnes', the general store that Mona mentioned that Lucian Gaines Robinson ran prior to his death and the Belvin Shotts and ended in front of my grandparents house which I remind you was the former home of the late Dr. Achilles L. and Ophelia Stone Moorman.

I hope that I haven't bored your regulars, and maybe it will stir some interesting recollections that leaves me to wonder why they called this time in life as "the good old days." bettye

Anonymous said...

OOOps!, the distance from the highway to Aunt Agnes' house was two football field lengths, not the length of a football! bettye