LETTERS FROM AUNT MIL (Continued) Page 2
October 12, 2000
When Mary Kay called a few days ago to ask if I had ever heard of a Rueben Dancy, she gave Betty the address of your web site. Since then we have enjoyed reading about our ancestors and Dancyville.
I'm sorry I could not be of more help in answering your questions. When I was young, I stayed so busy that my mind was always occupied with the present. Now I wish that I had asked my mother and father more questions about their early lives and families.
I can share with you a few memories that I have of your dad when we were young. When James was about 4, he and I were left in the care of Malone while Mama and Papa went to Brownsville. When they returned, no one could find James. Finally, he was spotted sitting on top of the house with his feet in the gutter.
Papa always had several dogs. One night when James was about 7 or 8, there was a terrific dog fight out close to the well. Papa grabbed his gun and rushed out to see what was going on. James followed. When Papa stepped off the last step, a dog lunged at him. Papa hit the dog with the butt of his gun and hurried back onto the porch. A little later, we learned that the dog had rabies. For several years after that, James was afraid to step out of the house after dark.
Soon after the mad dog episode, one cold winter night Mama asked James to bring in her chamber pot. Finding the pot full of water with a thin sheet of ice on top, James did not want to linger to empty it. So he grabbed the pot, took it inside and put it by Mama's bed. Later that night, we heard a terrible scream. You can imagine why.
When he was a little older, James and a friend of his built a play house in a cedar tree in the front yard and put a sign on it stating, "No Girls Allowed." One day I decided to investigate, and while I was in it, I changed a few things around. When James found me in it, he was determined to get even with me. He did. I had a cherished doll that my Aunt Lou had made me. One day, I heard my daddy's dogs barking and barking. Going outside, I saw my doll sitting on a low limb with James sicking the dogs on it. Only Mama's intervention saved the doll and, maybe, James or me.
Another activity that James enjoyed was "cooking out" when he was about 12 or 13. In the side of a gully in the lot in front of the barn, James and a friend carved out a large niche. Into this niche they installed an oven rack. Over fires that they built they baked potatoes, etc. They even caught, defeathered, and baked one of Mama's frying chickens.
I can understand your frustration about dropping the bucket in the well. When I was about 15, I did the same thing and, to Mama's horror, I said "Damn it!" for the first time in my life.
It was so good to hear from you, Jimmy. Reading the web site brought back a lot of memories.
October 15, 2000
We are looking forward to reading about the Yum-Yum School
╣FOR THE INFORMATION OF OUR READERS, THAT DO NOT GO BACK TO WORLD WAR II, EVERYTHING WAS RATIONED OR RESTRICTED. YES, EVEN WHITE STOCKINGS.
GRANDPA and MISS MARY
November 7, 2000
Because my grandfather, John Henry Dancy, had become blind, my father, Isaac Bradley Dancy, brought him into Dancyville to live in the little house beside D.C. Crawford's store. Grandpa was an undertaker. When he sold a coffin, he would drop the earnings into a huge pickle jar that he kept in a compartment in his desk. When the jar was full of money, he would take a trip to the closest bank, which was in Somerville, about 12
miles away, over poor roads. I've always thought that this was where he met his second wife, Mary Jane Harrison, or "Miss Mary" as he always called her.
After Grandpa and Miss Mary were married, they lived in Grandpa's little house in Dancyville where I occasionally visited them. I remember eating lunch with them one day when Miss Mary had killed and cooked one of her chickens. After the first bite, Grandpa said, "Miss Mary, why did you kill that old Dominique hen?" Since they raised more than one kind of chicken, I was astonished that, by taste alone, he could name the type
chicken he was eating.
Dancyville had no high school when I was ready for the 11th and 12th grades so I attended a boarding school in Somerville during those years. When Grandpa died in 1924, I returned to Dancyville for his funeral. It was the custom at the time to always have someone sitting with the body. Since Papa and other adult relatives were exhausted after staying with Grandpa during his final illness, some of the young people in town and I, were recruited to spend the night with Grandpa's body the night before the funeral. I am now ashamed to say that, with all the good food that had been provided by neighbors, we partied and had a grand time that night.
Although I did not attend Miss Mary's funeral and may be wrong, I believe that Miss Mary and Grandpa died within a week or two of each other. Since I have no memory of Miss Mary being at any of the funeral activities, I am thinking that maybe, Miss Mary died first. Miss Mary is buried in the Dancyville Cemetery on one side of Grandpa, and Grandpa's first wife, Louisa Kerr Dancy, is buried on the other side of him.
Editors Note: Miss Mary and John Henry Dancy did, indeed, die within a few days of
each other. Miss Mary died on Christmas Day, December 25, 1923 and
John Henry Dancy died 22 days later on January 16, 1924.(from tombstone inscriptions, Dancyville Methodist Cemetery)
November 8, 2000
THE CHILDREN OF THOMAS NEWTON & MARY PRISCILLA GILLIAM HUGHES
Mother knows only the bare facts about the siblings of her mother, Maggie Ethlene (Lena) Hughes Dancy. It seems, however, that Lena's father, Thomas Newton Hughes, had the same philosophy that many men did in those days. Educate your sons and hope that your daughters marry well.
Mother's mother, Maggie Ethlene (Lena) Hughes, born in 1869, married Isaac Dancy and, supposedly, had ten children. I say "supposedly" because ten is what we have always been told, but your research shows that she may have had one or two more babies who were either born dead or died soon after birth. Lena and Isaac lived in Dancyville, Tennessee.
Thomas Allen Hughes, born in 1870, was a lawyer in Memphis and had twin sons, James and John, who became doctors. On a family outline that I have, his date of death is listed as Feb. 24, 1939.
Viola Kate Hughes, born in 1872, was determined that she would get an education. She taught school for many years and saved a lot of money. According to Mother, she did not marry until she was nearly 40. Her husband, Dewitt Boswell, was 12 years younger than she. They lived in Macon, Tennessee. At one point, when Uncle Dewitt was struggling to start a business, Aunt Ola loaned him some of her teaching savings. Uncle Dewitt's business endeavors were very successful, and he later paid Aunt Ola back every penny, plus interest. She put the money in the bank, called it her "mad money" and spent it as she liked. When Aunt Ola was in her 80's, a train hit the car in which she was the driver and Uncle Dewitt was a passenger. Uncle Dewitt recovered, but Aunt Ola eventually died from her injuries.
Emma Clarke Hughes, born in 1874, married Wiley Edwards and moved out west somewhere. They had two children, Gordon and Mary Neil. Mary Neil married Tom Curry (or Currie) and they lived in Brownsville.
William Wightman Hughes, born in 1876, was a lawyer. At one time in his life he taught at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida, but he lived most of his life in Memphis with his wife, Kate. They had a daughter, Lina, who married and moved onto a big plantation below La Grange, Tennessee, where Mother visited them.
William Maddux Hughes, born in 1881, was also a lawyer. Mother says that he became an alcoholic and lost his job and wife and son because of it. He lived with Mama and Papa (Lena and Bradley Dancy) for a period of time until Mama caught him drinking again and told him that he could not remain at her house. So Uncle Maddux accepted an invitation from Aunt Ola Hughes Boswell to live with her and Uncle Dewitt Boswell in Macon, Tennessee. Uncle Maddux quit drinking, worked for Uncle Dewitt in his general store, and lived with them until he died.
Betty Byrd (for Aunt Mil)
Updated November 1, 2000