Before the Curtain Opens – Program Notes

So, here are our Newly Discovered kindred.  A glimpse of them was caught in the post about Alethia DICKERSON HOLDER highlighted Feb 26 on ‘My Kindred Tree’.

James DICKERSONSarah HOBBS, and Clara McCOY are Alethia DICKERSON’s parents.  Two wives for one man without bigamy or polygamy?  Well, yes.  James married Sarah in 1845 when they were 21 and 19 respectively.  About a year later they had their first and only child, Alethia.  Just six years later Sarah would die at age 25 in young adulthood like many of her siblings (a story for another day).

Six more years pass and James marries Clara McCoy in 1857 during a time of great economic turmoil for the United States.  They both are about 32 years old on their wedding day in January.   Sometime in 1859 they have a son,  little George Monroe. The 1860 census reveals that James was working as a day laborer.  No extra people were listed in the household indicating that he did not have servants or own slaves. Continue reading

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Alethia ‘Letha’ DICKERSON HOLDER

Alethia Jane DICKERSON lived her life within a 30 mile radius in middle Georgia. She was born in an area called ‘Crowders’ in Monroe County. If you’ve ever eaten or heard of the Crowder pea, it was developed by John Crowder  of the same county. When ‘peas’ are on the menu of a family reunion of southerners, they aren’t talking about the green, English variety.  They’re talking about a field pea, such as ‘Crowder’ or ‘Purple Hull’ that make their own gravy color.

Alethia had almost as many versions of her name as there are field peas.  Her various names appear on documents throughout her life, ‘Letha’, ‘Leitha’,  ‘Lethy’ and ‘Aletha’.  They are all the same person.  She was so named by her parents Continue reading

Woodworker – Thomas Jefferson HOLDER

Waist up formal portrait of Thomas Jefferson HOLDER

Thomas Jefferson HOLDER 1839-1883

Here is a handsome man who worked with his hands. He had his own woodworking shop near Wynn’s (later LeGuin’s) mill on the Tussahaw creek in Henry County GA near Locust Grove.  The county was created in 1821 and “. . . began as the land of pioneering people who invested their labor and time in exchange for land” according to The New GA Encyclopedia. Much of the area is now being developed for home construction although woods and farms are still plentiful (see pictures of a current farm development – tempting purchase).

Thomas Jefferson HOLDER married Aletha ‘Letha’ DICKERSON in 1857 and had 9 children together according to current research.  Coming from a family of 11 children, his own abundant quiver of children probably felt like home for Thomas. The oldest son was James Solomon HOLDER (see previous post) the father of Eula Mae HOLDER LINN.

Thomas was born on the 2nd of March, 1839 in Forsyth, GA.  The move from Monroe, the county of his birth to nearby Henry county occurred before 1880.  Below is a page from the HOLDER family bible where births were recorded.  T. J. HOLDER is the 11th down on the left side.  His parents are listed first.

HOLDER family Bible of births

Thomas died at the age of 44.  By word of mouth it is known that he must have anticipated his death because he made his own casket, carving roses on the top.

A further description of living at Wynn’s Mill, Tussahaw Creek can be discovered by reading A Home-Concealed Woman. The diary of Magnolia Wynn LeGuin 1901-1913 published by the University of GA press.  Excerpts from the book will be published in a future post about Thomas’ wife Letha DICKERSON as she probably had similar experiences and feelings as Magnolia (don’t you love the name?).

James Solomon HOLDER

James Solomon was the 2nd child of Thomas Jefferson HOLDER and Alethia ‘Letha’ DICKERSON, born on March 6th, 1871 probably in Henry County, GA.  Sometime in his 14th year, his father died at the age of 44, leaving him the oldest male in the family.

Yes, he’s the one who eloped with his bride Alma Josephine JACKSON in 1897.  The 1900 census reveals that he was farming next door to his brother John where his mother and two younger siblings lived.

He had been married three years by 1900, had 2 children and a house boarder by the name of Madison P. HOLDER age 53.  There is probably a familial relationship with the boarder but it has yet to be determined. Any educated guesses?

Like his father, J.S. found a career working with his hands.  He was a Blacksmith with his own shop by 1910, a career path he would follow the rest of his life.  He had suffered the death of Alma just 4 years earlier.  His daughter Eula recalled that he employed a black ‘Mammie’ to help care for and raise his 3 little daughters until he remarried in 1909.

Delia or ‘Della’ Odessa HARKNESS would be his 2nd wife.  They lived in McDonough, Henry county, GA.  Della began her married life by becoming an instant mother to James’ girls.  That first year of marriage she also shared her home with with a niece, Sallie McDaniel, age 71 (old niece, huh?) and 4 lodgers.

At age 48, James and Della were living in a rented home in Griffin, Spalding county, still working as a blacksmith.  They resided in Griffin until James’ death in 1939. He is buried at New Hope Methodist Church Cemetery in Locust Grove, Henry county GA.

What Did They Do? Kindred Occupations of Early 1900’s

Farmer, Electrician, Railroad Inspector, Attendant at VA Hospital, Retail Sales, Barber, Dress Maker, Homemaker, are representative of occupations that were prevalent in the years around the great depression of 1929 in Georgia.  Our Kindred Ancestors made a living in all of the above professions.

woman washing with wringer washing machine

James Elmer HOPKINS b 1886 d 1950 lived in Atlanta GA area. He was reported to be a farm laborer when he was just 13 years old and he eventually settled into the occupation of a barber for at least 10 years.

Myrtle Faye DENTON HOPKINS b 1890 d 1985 was a homemaker and raised 5 children.  Originally from TN and settled in Atlanta with her husband James Elmer.

William Washington BARKER b 1898 d 1977 was an electrician after he came back from World War I.  At age 32 he worked for the railroad as a car inspector and  finally ended his career as an attendant at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital. Lived in Augusta GA.

Essie Lee INGLETT BARKER b 1893 d 1980 worked in the 5 & 10 (nickel & dime variety) store and as a sales woman at a florist before she married William Washington in Augusta.  She was a homemaker throughout her married life and raised their daughter.

Max Augustus LINN b 1896 d 1952 was also reported on the census records to be a farm laborer when he was a young lad of 13.  He like, James Elmer HOPKINS, also eventually became a barber in Atlanta. Keeping a trim look must have been quite popular in those days.

Eula Mae HOLDER LINN b 1900 d 1993 was a young wife to Max Augustus and homemaker raising her children in Atlanta.  By the 1940 census, she was working as a dressmaker.  She was quite an active seamstress on the side and did a lot of sewing for her sister.

John Wesley DEAN b 1885 d 1965 was a farmer throughout his entire life in rural south Georgia in a place called Waycross (the railroads converged in this town and “crossed”), near the Willacoochee River and the Withlacoochee River in Atkinson County.

Bessie BURKHALTER DEAN b 1896 d 1971 married John Wesley as a young woman like Eula Mae HOLDER, and was a homemaker raising 9 children on the farm.  Hard working gal.

Alma Josephine JACKSON HOLDER

 

She was only 15 when she married.  Without her father’s knowledge or approval, she climbed out the window to elope with James, age 26.  He was waiting outside her window.  That was September 30th, 1897. . .

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It appears that Alma Josephine’s mother died when she was 9 years old leaving her father Elsberry JACKSON a widow at age 46.

About 9 months after Alma and James married, their first child Bertha Lane was born on July 1st 1898.

The following year in 1899, a son, Lindon C. was born. She was 17 years old and Bertha was 14 months old.

Another 14 months later, in Dec of 1900, Alma Josephine JACKSON delivered her 3rd baby, Eula Mae when she was 18 years old.  Eula was 8 days old when little Lindon died.

Three years later Mamie Lee was born in 1903.

It’s not hard to imagine how Alma filled her days with 3 little children to care for.

Alma’s father, Elsberry JACKSON never forgave James Solomon HOLDER for taking and marrying his young daughter.  He threatened to kill him if he ever saw him and would sit on his porch with a shotgun in his lap.  Apparently James wasn’t fond of his father-in-law either because it was remembered that Alma would sneak out with her girls to visit their dad and grandfather.

Alma died in 1906 at the age of 24.  The cause of death has not been discovered.

It all happened in Henry County, Georgia.  Mostly in Locust Grove, a town named after a grove of locust trees seen from the town.  The railroad was key to the town and its economy, carrying cotton, peaches and other produce  from the farming area.  In 1900, the town itself had a population of 254.  Alma, James and the children all lived there.  Alma and James were eventually buried there.

Sisters, Sisters . . .

Sisters.  There were three of them.  Eula Mae HOLDER was the middle sister of three little girls who lived in Locust Grove, Henry County, GA with their parents Alma Josephine JACKSON and James Solomon HOLDER.

Bertha Lane HOLDER

Bertha Lane HOLDER

Bertha Lane HOLDER born 1 July 1898 was the firstborn .  She married John H SPEIR and they had one child.  It’s believed that Bertha had some higher education beyond elementary school.  It may seem a funny thing to note, but higher education was not an expected privilege for most girls in the early 1900’s.  Bertha could also play the piano.  This beautiful young woman’s life was shorter than her sisters.  She died a few weeks after her 21st birthday on the 20th of Aug 1919.  It would be of interest to find out the cause of death.

Cemetary Marker with Little LambAlthough not a sister,  Lindon C. HOLDER, the only son of James and Alma was born on the 24th of Sept in 1899. He died at 15 months of age on 18 Dec 1900.

Eula Mae HOLDER

Eula Mae HOLDER

Eula Mae HOLDER was the 2nd sister born on the grand date of December 10th, 1900.  She would have been 8 days old when her brother died.  It can only be imagined what a difficult time Alma, the mother would have suffered. Eula married Max Augustus LINN. They had 4 children, 2 of whom reached adulthood. Eula had an elementary school education up to the 8th grade. She worked as a dressmaker until her retirement.  She loved to read, sew, crochet and tat. She died at her son’s house in Covington, GA at the age of 92.

Mamie Lee HOLDER as a Young Woman

Mamie Lee HOLDER

Mamie Lee HOLDER was the last sister born 4 March 1903 in Locust Grove like the other girls.  She would have been 3 years old when her mother Alma died in 1906 and was 6 years old when her father married Della HARKNESS.  Mamie married William Albert EVANS on Dec 2, 1919 and lived most of her life in Griffin, Spalding County, GA.  She and her husband owned and worked a general store that serviced the local community which included both blacks and whites.  Mamie and Bill never had children but hosted their niece many summers.  She was known to like cake.  Through the years, especially during hard economic times she employed her sister Eula to sew dresses for her which was mutually beneficial to each.  She lived to be 100 years old.

Scrap Quilt by Eula Mae HOLDER LINN

This quilt is estimated to be made in the 1940’s by Eula.  There are clues that help identify the time period:

  • the fabrics used, their colors and patterns
  • the wear, tear, and aging of the quilt
  • the type of batting or filling in between the top and bottom (some now exposed, see detail photo)

Eula Mae HOLDER LINN sewed strips of fabrics onto 7 x 8 newspaper rectangles for each square in the quilt top.  This method is called ‘paper piecing’ or ‘foundation piecing’.  After sewing the fabric onto the paper pattern, the edges would be trimmed and the newspaper torn away.  The backing fabric of the quilt appears to be off white muslin.  Batting is the middle layer between the top and back and then ‘quilted’ or stitched to hold it all together.

Many of the fabrics have the tell – tale signs of having been manufactured in the 1930’s;  the smallish patterns with a ‘halo’ of white background surrounding it.  It was around this time that the fugitive (fading) properties of colors were being overcome.

Scraps are often collected by sewers over a number of years to use in quilts. Since Eula made dresses and other clothing, she had many left overs fabrics from those projects.  Some of those scraps, if not all, made their way into this quilt.

The growing charm of this quilt includes it’s imperfections.  It’s filled with cotton batting that is spilling out in areas of extreme wear.  It’s the type of cotton that behaves as though it just came from the gin, lumping and bunching together, hence the closeness of the quilt stitches in the ‘shell’ pattern.

The odd size of the blocks, the unevenness of the quilting stitches and now, the stains and gaps seem to give hope for our own lives in the face of imperfections.

As can be seen, this was a utilitarian quilt and it got plenty of use.

1940's Scrap Quilt made by Eula Mae HOLDER LINN

Scrap Quilt probably made in the 1940’s by Eula. Size is 58″ x 78″ .

Close up of 1940's scrap quilt made by Eula Mae.
Close up of Eula’s Mae’s quilt. Notice the exposed cotton batting.

The Bedspreads Crocheted by Eula Mae HOLDER LINN

Eula Mae HOLDER LINN was gifted in many ways.  One of those was with a crochet hook and thread in her hands.  It seemed like she was always crocheting something.  When she visited family away from home, one of the first things she requested was a trip to the store to buy some thread.

The pictures below show the basic design of the bedspreads she made.  Each square measures approximately 6″ x 6″ and is made of a fine cotton thread commonly known as “knit cro-sheen”  She would make one square at a time and then sew them together for the finished bedspread.  The bedspread covers a double/queen bed and require 12 squares across and 14 squares down for a grand total of 168 squares.  There are 3 known bedspreads of this exact same pattern and size.  That’s 504 squares.  She really was always crocheting something.

Crochet Bedspread made by Eula Mae HOLDER LINN

Bedspread made by Eula Mae with cotton thread called knit-crosheen.

Crochet Bedspread by Eula Mae HOLDER LINN close up of pattern

A close up of the crochet pattern Eula used.

Eula Mae HOLDER LINN

Portrait of Eula Mae HOLDER

Eula Mae HOLDER was the 3rd child of Alma Josephine JACKSON and James Solomon HOLDER the 10th of December 1900.  Locust Grove, Henry County, GA was where her family resided and she was born.

On the 2nd of Sept 1917 she married Max Augustus LINN in Griffin, Spalding County, GA.

She and Max had 4 children together; 2 that grew to adulthood and 2 that died as babies.

Eula Mae worked at a dress making factory in the finishing department.  She would add belts and sashes to finished dresses among other things.

She was an avid seamstress at home making her own clothes as well as dresses for her sister Mamie, quilts, and doll clothes for her grandchildren.  If she wasn’t sewing she was crocheting.  She could crochet anything.  She had the ability to look at a finished crocheted article and duplicate it.  Some items she crocheted were bedspreads, turtle bags to cover Ivory soap bars, and lots of laced edges on women’s dime store handkerchiefs.

Reading was a great hobby of hers with romance novels being the genre of choice.  She had a jewelry box of costume jewelry brooches (as seen in the picture) and on a shallow, little shelf were displayed her collection of miniature ceramic pitchers.

She and her son bought a victorian house in the Little Five Points area of Atlanta in the 40″s – 50’s and lived in the upper apartment until the last few years of her full life.

She died at home in Covington GA, 1993.