Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Family History: R J Timmons

 Back in the summer when Sis and I went up to the Elbert cemetery, we wandered around the family plots.  Though many of the names I know, and knew all the aunts and uncles who were Mama's family, I did not recall who R J Timmons, wife of J S Timmons was.  Since she died in 1925, that is not unusual I guess.
 R J was Rhoda Jane Smith, and she was the second wife of James Samuel Timmons.  James Samuel was Mama's grandfather.  His son with his first wife, Mary Susan Brogdon, was Mama's father--Pinkney Perry Timmons.  Daddy Pink died in 1934 so I never knew him, although I have heard many stories about him, and did know Mama's mother, Grandmother Timmons.  Rhoda Jane and James Samuel had two daughters, whose names I never recall hearing anyone talk about.  What amazes me is that Rhoda Jane was only 68 when she died, and yet she appears to be much older than that in the picture.

Mary Susan was from Young County, so James Samuel would have met her after he moved from Georgia to the Young County and Throckmorton County area.  Rhoda Jane was from Ballground, Cherokee County, Georgia, so at some point James Samuel returned to his family's home in Georgia to find his second wife.  No doubt, he needed a mother for his nine children.  Perhaps that, and having borne two more of her own, had something to do with Rhoda Jane dying at an early age and looking like she was 20 years older than she was.  The "baby" would have been 4 when James Samuel married Rhoda Jane, and the oldest two were 19 and 18.  Most likely, she only had to mother the ones who were 4, 7, 8, 10, and 13.  Daddy Pink would have been 15, and 4 years later, he married Clara McBrayer.  Mama was their first child.
 As a child wandering the Elbert cemetery when Mama would go to tend the graves, I was always fascinated by the ones with the shells embedded in the concrete.  There were quite a few of them, although most of them now resemble Rhoda Jane's in that the shells are broken.  If you think about it, those shells have been on this grave for 89 years, so in that regard, I suppose they have held up fairly well.
James Samuel died 11 years after Rhoda Jane, at the age of 88, when my mother was 9 years old, and two years after Daddy Pink's death.  Mother often talked about Daddy Pink, but I don't ever recall hearing her speak of her great grandfather James Samuel.  I had always heard the story of the father going to Georgia to find a mother for his children, and bringing her back to South Bend, Texas, but there was no connection in my head as to who that father was.  Now, I know they were speaking of James Samuel, and that it was his farm in South Bend.  My mother has the lock he kept on his corn crib to keep the local Native Americans from stealing his corn--you know, after we stole their land.


Gigi said...

I love family history! So interesting! I don't think I have ever seen graves with shells embedded. Is there a meaning behind it, or just something some people liked?

Yes, let's please protect our land from those whose land we stole in the first place. :)

Suzassippi said...

I actually meant to look it up and see, since there were many of them in the older cemeteries. I did just now, and according to Texas Graveyards: A Cultural Legacy by Terry G. Jordan, the custom apparently is African in origins. It is found first in South Carolina at a port of entry for slaves, and stretches across the southeast and to Texas. The white bleached shells symbolized the watery character of death. Jordan also found evidence that it was traced to some American Indian customs, and also Mediterranean customs, Greek and Roman customs, and spread to Europe, becoming part of Christian culture.

Lana Pugh said...

I'm a super weirdo and love old cemeteries. Love this look at your family history and I've never seen any plots marked with shells like that, beautiful!

Suzassippi said...

Thanks, Lana. Not much I enjoy more than tramping through a cemetery, full of questions.

Gigi said...

Interesting history of the shells. I like them! My Grandpop always took us traipsing through old cemeteries in NJ. Some dated back to colonial and Revolutionary War days. I can remember being so fascinated and saddened by the numbers of little baby graves, and wondering about people's lives. We were also easily scared by the creaking iron gates and rustling of leaves as we walked through. :)