My People

My People
My matched set of grandchildren - Oliver and Cosette

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Grandma's Birthday and... part one of her autobiography

My Steel Magnolias holding hands.
So... about three weeks ago my sister-in-law, Angie called and asked if I had thought about what to do for Grandma's birthday. I had not. Angie suggested I make a photo book. I'm made many throughout the years and like the blog, the words just sort of come to me when I put my mind to it. I thought, "why not?". I certainly don't have much keeping me busy these days and I knew we had enough old photos to put together a decent biography.

The thing is, once I started putting my own words to someone else's history, it just have the right sound to it. My Grandmother is a prolific writer (I come by it honestly) and in the items that we moved from her house to ours, is an extensive archive, if you will, of her life. She had painstakingly handwritten volumes of pages on family history and her own personal experiences. I knew that I needed to write her story using her words.

After that, it was just a matter of getting a new scanner, searching through a couple dozen photo albums and putting all those little essays of hers in chronological order. It wasn't easy. I've tried to calculate the hours involved and I will just say that if I was earning a salary for the task, that week I would have earned overtime pay. However, some time not long after I sent the book off to be printed, she asked my dad if there was a way to make a book of family history. It turned out that what Angie had suggested and I had compiled was, without our knowing it, exactly what she wanted.

I didn't want to share any of the book before we gave it to her because I didn't want word to get back to her and ruin the surprise. I've tried to share the finished product via facebook and unfortunately it is impossible to read. The old photos are fabulous. You've seen them all. But the words are the true history and I'd like to share those with you. It make take a few days to put it out all out here. If you're interested, I'd love for you to read it. Since you've seen the old photos already I'm going to use the photos from today with the words from the book.

We celebrated her 90th birthday today. It was everything it should have been,  down to her spontaneous rendition of "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" that she struggled through tears to voice and so, of course, we joined in. The food was wonderful, the company even better. My photos are not great because it was hard to navigate the room but my skinny little nieces helped out by slipping into tight spaces and taking pictures for me when I couldn't.

Here's Leta, in her own words.

Leta Mae Ward was born November 6, 1923 to Sarah Jane Bullock Baldwin Ward and Dr. Charles Pelham Ward. Their home was 1208 North Avenue in Northeast Atlanta. When Leta was six weeks old they moved to 1001 Oakdale Road.

In a remembrance written for Druid Hills Presbyterian Church Leta writes, "Our father, Dr. Charles Pelham Ward, was a physician. He grew up in Lincolnton, Georgia. His parents, my grandparents William Cleveland Ward and Bertha Rosa Hawes Ward who had eleven children, evidently couldn't afford to send him to college. Daddy worked and attended college at Emory at Oxford, Georgia using borrowed books. He became a successful surgeon and physician. He had offices in the Flatiron Building in Atlanta and was on the staff of Crawford Long Hospital.

 Marquee and Cody
Sarah Jane Bullock descends from the Bullock family of Buena Vista, Georgia.  Her ancestor, Hardeman Bullock settled there after immigrating from England. Cordy Bullock was Hardie's son. He was a merchant, farmer and stockdealer. Cordy, who was married to Jane Richardson Combs was killed in his own store by carpetbaggers. Cordy and Jane were the parents of George W., James E., and Osborne Cordy Bullock. Leta's grandfather was George Washington Bullock. Estell Mae Maddox became his wife. George was a farmer, postal worker and politician. George and Estell had six children, five lived to adulthood: Eva Mae, Sarah, Lillian, William David and Kate Lou.

Sarah was a school teacher in Americus, Georgia and surrounding areas. She married R. P. Baldwin, Editor of the Columbus newspaper. Mr. Baldwin died of Brites disease after sixteen months of marriage. 

 Dr. Ward's first wife, Leta Dallas Ward, died during childbirth, leaving behind two children: Charles Parmalee and Cynthia.  Sarah met Dr. Ward through a patient of his, Lola Honiker. In the above picture Sarah is on the far left with her mother, Estell, behind her. Lola is on the far right surround by her mother, father and child. 

Pelham and Sarah were married on November 6, 1917 in Atlanta, Georgia.

A letter dated November 6, 1942 written by Cynthia to her step-mother, Sarah, gives a few details from the wedding of Leta's parents. It says, in part, "This day,  twenty-odd years ago, was a memorable one for four people. Of brother's and my preparation I can remember nothing but I am sure we must have dressed excitedly and been admonished to sit still and remain clean. The remembrance of the ride in the taxi is very vivid - Brother sat in front with the driver. Daddy wore bright yellow gloves,  you had on a lovely dove-grey suit. It was late afternoon and we drove to a little house on King's Highway in Decatur. Somehow the actual ceremony has faded from memory but the reception which followed remains bright - it was our first introduction to green olives - remember? ... And 19 years ago, Leta's birth. I remember the day and remember wanting to name her. "

The Ward family continued to expand and soon Cynthia and Charles were joined by three little sisters: Jane, Leta and Bette. Leta describes their home at 1001 Oakdale Road in Atlanta, "it was a beautiful, big house made of white clapboard, with green shutters and a rust tile roof. There was a screened in porch on one side of the house. The house was located on about an acre of land in the Druid Hills section of Atlanta.

In a letter to a cousin written in January 1988 Leta says, "Brother attended Emory School of Medicine. He helped Daddy with the chores out of doors. So did Sis. She loved to milk the cow and would sing a tune as she pulled on the cow's udder. Daddy provided well for his family although he was never a well person. He suffered appendicitis peritonitis as a young man. This hampered his digestive tract so that he could only eat certain foods, especially oatmeal - now you know why we served oatmeal every day for breakfast! It is my understanding he was a successful surgeon but in a freak accident - pulling a nail out of  a board - he lost an eye."

She continues, "Daddy had offices in the Flat Iron Building. He specialized in family practice, as they would call it today. He made many house calls and mother stayed at the house, ready to accept phone calls and suggesting little remedies to give relief until Daddy could see the patient or call. The Depression affected our lives considerably. His patients - some of them - could not afford to pay their bills. Daddy also suffered physically from an automobile accident. In addition, he had a slight heart problem. He finally had to give up his practice. 

Mother was the benefactor of several farms in Alabama that R. P. Baldwin, her first husband had left her. Mother used proceeds from these rental properties to aid Brother in completing his education at Emory and assisting with family members."

The home at 1001 Oakdale Rd was a gathering place for relatives before any of them moved to Atlanta. Leta tells us that "Mother and Daddy were good Christian people. They ministered to so many through the years, inside and outside the family. They brought us up in a loving and caring family. They lived their Christianity in service to others." She also says, "There was always someone coming or going at our house on Oakdale. At one time Grandmother Dallas, Cynthia and Charles' grandmother lived with us. She had the apartment on the main floor." 

Cordy Bullock was married to Jane Richardson Combs. They were the parents of George W, James, and Osborne Cordy Bullock. 

Grandma with her three children
George and Estell Bullock had six children: five lived to full age: Eva Mae, Sarah Jane, Lillian, William David and Kate Lou.  Grandfather died rather young. His brother Jimmy, died during a war. Uncle Osborne Cordy became a millionaire through business ventures - President of the Farmers & Merchants Bank at Columbus, Georgia. He also operated a hardware stores. Uncle Oz, as he was called, handled Grandmother Estell Bullock's business affairs after Grandfather George Bullock died. 

During my childhood I vaguely remember Grandmother Estelle Mae Maddox Bullock. I can, however, see a tiny woman in a black dress. She must have been in her eighties. She was visiting our family on Oakdale Road. Shortly thereafter she died - must have been around 1930.

As a family we visited Buena Vista where Uncle David and Aunt Relia resided with their children: David Jr., George, O.C., Barbara and Frank. We had many fun times visiting Aunt Relia and Uncle David. Barbara, Bette and I helped Aunt Relia shell peas one Summer. For a reward she made each of us a pretty dress with a white collar. Mine was blue, Bette and Barbara's pink. 

There were the days we visited Juniper, Georgia. Aunt Mae and Uncle Will Posey lived there, where Uncle Will had a casket factory. Later on he worked for the Post Office. 

Myra, George, Leon and Virginia are Aunt Mae and Uncle Will's children. Cynthia and Charles loved to go to Juniper (they were near the ages of these children). I only remember the big house and yard, the lake, the bridge over the lake. 

Aunt Relia and Uncle David moved to Atlanta in the 30's. Uncle David and a Mr. Fuller opened a fried pork skins business. This became a very profitable operation. Unfortunately, David Jr lost his life in a plane crash at a young age. George joined the Army. He was killed while on R & R - plane crashed into the side of a mountain somehwere in Italy. O.C. joined the Army during World War II. Barbara went off to Virginia Intermont College. Frank was still in school. After O.C.'s tour of duty he married Vivian Calloway. They have two daughters, Cordy and Karen. 

Barbara married John Harris, a Georgia Tech graduate. They have one son, John III and two daughters, Susan and Kathi.

Frank, Aunt Relia and Uncle David's youngest son was very active in the family business. He and his wife Rita, have two daughters Jan and Pam. 

Grandma with my brother Jim and his family
Aunt Mae and Uncle Will moved to Atlanta in the 30's. Aunt Lillian and Uncle Oscar Garner lived in the Stone Mountain, Georgia area where Uncle Oscar's family lived. Uncle Oscar was a WWI survivor. Aunt Lillian and Uncle Oscar have two sons, Charles and Robert. The family eventually settled in East Atlanta on Portland Avenue. Uncle Oscar worked with his sister Rena's husband who had a large lumber yard, Williams Brothers. Charles Garner was killed in a plane crash when he and his wife, Betty's only son was five months old. It was a very sad time for all of us. The Lord, however, sustains us in our trials of life. Somehow He gives us strength through the love and comfort of family and friends and behold, we can now face the future with hope. Robert Garner married Grace early in life. They have 2 children, Robert Jr and Carole Ann. They live in Birmingham, Alabama.

Aunt Kate, mother's youngest sister, lived with Uncle Edd Hendrix, her husband, in the Grant Park area. Uncle Edd had a Barber Shop and also dabbled in Real Estate. They have two sons, Edd Jr and Harry Bird.  She died of breast cancer at age 39. Edd Hendrix Jr served in WWII. I can remember his homecoming - and how Bette, Mary Rogers, Edd, myself and others went horseback riding. Edd married Elaine, they have two children, Cathy and Eddie. Harry Bird Hendrix married young. He and Flora have 3 children: Debra, Doug and Beth.  Uncle Edd was always attentive to Mother and her sisters and interested in Uncle David's welfare. He was especially kind to me while I was experience a divorce and trying times - he came to the house on Alder Court one day with a big bag of oranges!

Aunt Mae loved to eat, as most of we Bullocks do. When she prepared a meal it was a delicious spread, with all those homemade preserves and relishes. We learned many lessons in family life from Aunt Mae after she came to live with us. Mother was working, Daddy deceased. She saw that meals were prepared and chores done.  Aunt Mae wanted the children to display good manners, especially at the dinner table. 

Uncle David - Mother's only living brother, was a successful businessman. How we admired  Uncle David! After he and Aunt Relia moved to Atlanta we saw them more. Bette, Barbara and I spent many happy times together, playing and going places with one another in the Little Five Points vicinity. 

Kate Green Hall, Mother's cousin moved to our home on Oakdale shortly after her husband, W. H. Hall had died. Cousin Kate was a businesswoman in Columbus with her own millinery shop. She and Mr. Hall ran a boarding house on Piedmont Avenue, beautiful old home with a large front porch. Usually she served us homemade ice cream. 

Kathryn Holmes, Mother's cousin... closely associated with Cousin Kate Hall, spent time at our house, visiting as a young woman, then living several months with us after suffering a stroke. When I was working in Arlington, Virginia as a Government employee, she showed me the Washington D. C. attractions. She was employed by the Navy Department. I believe her grandmother and our grandmother were sister-in-laws. 

The Depression affected so many people... our father, for one. He had invested in Real Estate . Then he was involved in an automobile accident  and left in poor health. After  making a trip to Florida hoping to improve his health, he came home, developed a cerebral hemorrhage and died July 30, 1939.

Through the years Mother and Daddy took in boarders. Carrol and Tillie Brown, their daughter Carolyn, Stella and Charles Rhodes. Then Myra, our dear cousin and her husband Paul Brooks Bosworth. George Britt chauffered Daddy since he had only one eye and hleped with all the chores at the house. There was Lillie Mae from Eastman, Georgia who cooked for us. 

Our brother, Charles, was at Emory School of Medicine. Sister Cythia attended G.S.C.W. in Milledgeville, then took a job at Grady Hospital as a Laboratory Technician. Brother married Frances Lucretia West. He joined the U. S. Army serving in the Medical Corp. This took them many places, foreign and all over teh USA. Frances and Charles have three children: Charles Parmalee Ward Jr, Nancy Lucretia and John Paul. 

Leta with her three granddaughters, Michelle, me and Mandie
Eventually all the boarders and Myra and Paul moved out. Jane spent a year with brother and Frances in Hawaii. She learned to hula and was in demand for awhile while being employed by Singer Machine Company. Naturally Bette and I wanted to hula, too. Brother and Frances sent us grass skirts!

Jane married Lewis Matthew Hall. He joined the U.S. Navy. Jane and Lewis had five children: Jane Ayers, Cynthia Ann, Mary Elizabeth, Ward Matthew and Sarah Catherine (Cathy) who died at 16 from cystic fibrosis. 

During World War II Mary Rogers came from Elberton to work at C & S Bank. Bette takes a job at C & S. I worked at Atlantic Comission Company - Lewis Hall helped me get the job. Oh, the fun we had going to the USO, dancing with the servicemen as well as visiting the servicemen at Lawson General Hospital.

- Excerpts from The Bullock Family of Buena Vista, Georgia and a Glimpse Into The Life of the Charles P. Ward Family by Leta Ward Gant Harris

(to be continued!)


James Lee said...

I'm you cousin, James Lee Weaver. I read you post with great interest and disappointment. I was hoping it would tell more about Hardeman and Mary Polly Bullock. I guess no one really knows about him. I stumbled on a document once that claimed he appeared in the Hawkins Bullock bible, as a child. I've never been able to find that bible or document that.
I descend from Cordy's sister, Mary J. Bullock and Joseph Cade Burke. They both died in Chambers County, AL, where I was born.
I have information on 8 of Hardeman's 10 known children. Do you have any information on any of them?
My email is: