Wednesday, November 4, 2015

My Two Peacock Aunts

I was away from Jay for over 40 years with only a few visits in between but in 2011 I went home to visit and stayed for 6 months. During that time I went to visit My Aunt Thelma and I was amazed at her energy for someone 102 years old. I complain to myself about how much pain I am in, yet I never heard her say a word about how much she must feel at her age. We sat on her couch and she told me stories of our family. The one I was most intrigued with was of her Great Grandfather Michael Creamer. She told me that he had to sneak from his country of Germany because he killed someone or more than one someone. I had never heard this story and I am the genealogist of my family.
There is sometimes a grain of truth in the stories our families tell us, but maybe not all of it is true. The facts of my 2nd Great Grandfather elude me but I know that he was born around 1815. I found him in the 1840 Census living in Butler County, Alabama with 2 males under 5, one male between 30 and 40, one female under 5, one female under 10 and one female between 20 and 30. He had 2 boys and 2 girls and a wife in the 25 years since his birth. He was married to Mary sometimes called "Polly" in records. Some have her last name as Odom but I have not seen documentation to that effect. She was born in North Carolina and so were her parents.
We find them still in Butler County in 1850 and his number of children have increased to 10. He is going by the name of Mitchel and named a son Mitchel so it is possible that his name is Mitchel instead of Michael that is on the other Census. He and Mary had 6 children in 10 years and they already had 4 children to keep them busy. I can't imagine at this time of civil unrest and the War right around the corner having 10 children to feed and shelter.
Michael died sometime between 1860 and 1870 which is the next time I find Mary. She is listed as Polly J and is living in Conecuh county Beat 1 Sepulga. Right next door is her first born son William and his wife Mahala Pinkerton. The next time we see her and her family is 1880 and she is listed as Widowed and living with my Great Grandfather Josiah and his young family enumerated in The Mixons, Conecuh County, Alabama. She is listed as 62 which means that she was just on the shy side of 20 when she had 4 children. People married young in those days or at least they did in my family. He may have died in the Civil War or of some other malady from those days.
I may never find out the whole story about this family but Aunt Thelma told me her grandfather "Sy" played a mean fiddle and would not allow his picture to be taken. If someone had a camera and was taking pictures of the family, she said he would hide. I don't know what that means but there are no known pictures of him nor his wife, Mary Jane Gilmore.
Their Granddaughter my Aunt Thelma was the epitamy of "Southern Hospitality". This is what it means to me and how I grew up. NO one would ever eat a bite unless you had something to eat too. When anyone visits, even if is unexpected, a huge spread will be put on for them. The whole time, the hostess will say, if I had known I could have made something special.. Mean while you are sitting down to southern Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh vegetables straight from the garden, home made biscuits, several homemade preserves including watermelon and fig, to put in that hot biscuit with real butter, and just when you think you can't eat another bite, she would bring out a tiny 7 layer homemade yellow cake with chocolate frosting that melts in your mouth and the hostess will keep saying , did you get enough to eat Sugar, cause I can fix something else for you in a heartbeat... Then you go sit outside on the front porch with a glass of iced tea and watch the kids play in the yard. That is what I know to be southern hospitality and how I grew up. That was my Aunt Thelma and I miss her.
Now her little sister Mary Elma was my favorite Aunt. I spent a lot of time with her when I was little and she was the one that told me stories. I was a quiet child and I sat at her feet while she talked and I listened. So many of my stories came from sitting at her feet and listening. I named my daughter after her and my favorite Morris Aunt. That is how much they meant to me.
Aunt Elma was the baby of the family and she was coddled and taken care of as the baby. When she married, she married someone that was going to coddle her too and Uncle Johnny did. They married after knowing each other two weeks. She said, "when you know it, you know it" and they had 5 children. Aunt Elma was beautiful and I can see why Uncle Johnny fell hard and wanted to seal that deal quickly. You can see them in the photograph with their first son, Alton. 

One of the stories that Aunt Elma told me was about my Mothers great Grandfather. When Aunt Elma married Uncle Johnny, she did not know that he was kin to my mother but I finally convinced her that he was. Every time it was brought up when I was growing up, I heard, "oh, those are different Morris'" But they weren't.
Her husbands Grandfather and my Mama's Great Grandfather was William M. "Bud" Morris. He and his wife Matilda Jane Spears are buried at Cora along with some of their children. The story concerned Matilda. According to my Aunt she was full blood Cherokee Indian and her parents had been killed by a raiding party of white settlers at Mims Island Santa Rosa County, Fl. The white party of community members included her husband William. 


When Aunt Elma told me this, she seemed sad and whispered a lot of the story to me. I got the notion that this was not talked about.
The genealogist in me started to explore the story and I found Matilda with her Mom at age 5 without a father and living with her mothers brother James Spears. Some have said that Matilda's mother, Mary Spears had married a Spears and then he was killed by the Indians, a different story than Aunt Elma told me. I was never able to figure this story out completely but with the help of Sherry "footprintseeker" Schindler Bloodsworth, we were able to conclude that Mary Spears was not killed by the Indians and went onto marry James Waller.
Sherry found her buried in Milton and also found her husband James Waller buried there. Mary Spears Waller died in 1880 and so she did not die at the hands of the Indians but her first husband might and his name may have been Spears. It is a mystery to this day but it is always on the back burner so that I can prove the lineage of being Native.
A couple of years ago, I had my DNA done and they classified me as a North American Native American so some of the story is true.
Aunt Thelma, who gave herself her middle name, because her parents would not lived to be 102 years and 4 months old. They died 2 months apart with Aunt Thelma Going first.
She smiled every day even though she faced such hardships. She lost a husband, she lost children, she lived through the Great Depression of 29. Yet look at that smile on her face.
Aunt Elma died right after her 90th birthday. Look at that smile on her face. She lost her husband, and one of her children and was sick at the end, but her face lit up last year when I came home, and my sister and I sang for her! These two were gems in my life, and I want to go out of mine, smiling, being thankful for my abundance......

Written by: Gloria Ann Peacock Kimmel on Nov. 4, 2015

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