My husband James was a baby, the youngest of the five children of Chester and Theola Williams, when they moved from Dermott, AK to St. Louis, MO about 1945. At first they stayed with Theola’s sister who lived on Keokuk Street. James older brother Harold, born in January 1942, was kindergarten age, the family moved to a house they bought on Washington Blvd and Whittier Street.
Harold remembers that he started kindergarten about 1947 at Cole Elementary School, which was around the corner from the house. He did not finish the year out because their house was fire bombed. They had moved into a white neighborhood where they were not wanted. The oldest sister, Jocelyn Maxine remembered that their mother was very calm as she moved the children from the front of the house, where the bomb entered, to a back room.
Because of the bombing, the city of St. Louis gave the family an apartment in Carr Square Village, a public housing project. When the family included nine children, they had outgrown that apartment and moved to Pruitt–Igoe, a large housing project first occupied in 1954. Eventually there were 12 children and the family bought a house on Cabanne Street. They lived there until about 1970 when they moved to Inglewood Court, where they lived until that property was taken by the city to build a strip mall about 2005.
My husband has been trying to find validation for this oral history, mainly searching old newspapers. So far he has not had any luck, but I think that he may have been searching the wrong years, so we are hopeful that eventual the story will be validated.
My sister-in-law Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson died on May 23, 2015 after a long illness. Maxine (as I called her, some called her Joycelyn) was my husbands oldest sister. Maxine always sent me a birthday card and she always thanked me for putting up with her brother for so many years. St. Louis will not be St. Louis without her.
Life Reflections (Obituary)
Joycelyn Maxine Williams Anderson was born in Dermott, Arkansas on May 21, 1939 to Chester Arthur and Theola Marie (Davenport) Williams. She was the first of twelve children ( six girls and six boys.) She began her education at Chico County Training School. The family moved to St. Louis in 1945 and found their first church home at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. Joycelyn professed her love and belief in Jesus Christ at an early age and was baptized by Reverend Langford. Her walk with the Lord brought her to Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in 1947.
Jocelyn was educated in the St. Louis Public School System and graduated from Charles Sumner High School. She attended Grinnell College in Grinnell, Iowa and was united in holy matrimony with Hearn Humphrey Anderson. To this union was born one daughter, Nichole Patrice (Anderson) Borman.
Throughout her life, Joycelyn’s prevailing philosophy was “In spite of handicaps, all things are possible – you have to grow where you are planted.” She was employed by the Malcolm Bliss Mental Health Center and retired after thirty-four years from her position as a recreational therapist’s aide with the Missouri Department of Mental Helath. The expertise and caring she displayed was continued after her retirement as she became an avid community volunteer.
She volunteered for the Oasis program and regularly read to school age children; she was an area coordinator for the Senior Connections program and was a member of the Summer Class of ’57 alumni association, working tirelessly to ensure opportunities for current Sumner students. She contributed generously to Washington Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church serving as a Deaconess and President of the John E. and Regina S. Nance Scholarship Fund; a member of the Women’s Missionary Union and a Life Member of the Berean District Association. Lastly, Joycelyn articulated her business skills as a Mary Kay Beauty Consultant over a period of thirty-one years.
After an extended battle with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Joycelyn answered the voice of our Heavenly Father on Sunday, May 24, 2015 and peacefully passed away in her sleep. Preceding her in death were her parents, Chester and Theola Williams; her brothers, Chester Arthur Williams, Jr., Earl Raymond Williams, Andrew Milton Williams and her former husband, Hearn H. Anderson.
Joycelyn leaves to cherish her memory: one daughter – Nicole P. Borman (Kent); her sisters – E. Jean Williams, Catherine Boayue, Linda Nance (Herreld), Monnette Lartey and Deborah Benard (Perry); her brothers – Harold F. Williams, James Edward Williams (Kristin) and Michael A. Williams; and a host of very dear nephews, nieces, aunts, uncles, cousins, church family and friends.
Today would have been my mother-in-law, Theola Marie Davenport Williams, 94th Birthday. It’s hard to believe so much time has passed since she left us much too soon in 1981. In honor of the day I am sharing the Marie’s in the Davenport/Williams family. There may also have been some cousins with the middle name of Marie but I am unaware of them at this time. Click to enlarge the chart.
1. Amy Marie Jackson Davenport was born in Portland, Arkansas on March 17, 1891 to Allen Jackson and Lettie Gray Jackson. She married James Davenport of Mer Rouge, LA in 1909. They made their home in Portland, Ashley County, Arkansas. They were the parents of 7 children. Most of the children migrated north to St. Louis, MO and Chicago, IL. In 1967 Amy died in Chicago, IL. I wish I had a better photograph of her.
2. Theola Marie Davenport Williams was the daughter of Amy Marie Davenport. She was born March 7, 1920, in Portland, Arkansas, the fifth child of the late James and Amy Davenport. Arkansas was her home for many years, where she attended Dermott High School and Arkansas State University at Pine Bluff. The greater part of her adult life was spent in St. Louis, Missouri where she attended Meramec Community College and Washington University.
Theola married Chester Arthur Williams on June 20, 1938. Together they had 12 children – 6 sons and 6 daughters. She was an active member of the Church and Community, which involved the following; Sunday School Teacher, Primary Department, Women’s Missionary Union and was named to the Deaconess Board of Washington Tabernacle Baptist Church; she was a secretary at the Webster Groves High School; an active Top Member and a member of the In Roads Parents Association for the City of St. Louis. She was 61 years old when she died September 21, 1981. I remember her as a very calm, accepting and thoughtful mother-in-law.
3. Linda Marie, born in 1954, is the daughter of Theola and the granddaughter of Amy.
4. Ife Marie, born in 1973, is the daughter of Theola’s son James (and me!), granddaughter of Theola and the great granddaughter of Amy.
5. Louisa Ann Marie, born in 1990, is the daughter of Theola’s daughter Deborah, granddaughter of Theola and the great grandaughter of Amy.
6. Brianna Marie, born in 1995, is the daughter of Theola’s daughter Deborah, granddaughter of Theola and the great grandaughter of Amy.
7. Sydney Marie, born in 2003, is the daughter of Ife, granddaughter of James, great granddaughter of Theola and 2X great granddaughter of Amy.
My husband and his cousin recently attended an extended Williams/Butler family reunion in Arkansas. This reunion has been going on for 43 years, although not every year has seen a reunion, most have. While there they photographed some of the grave stones in the Harmony Missionary Baptist Church Community Cemetery in Sparkman, AK. The two headstones featured in today’s post are of my husband’s great grandparents. William and Mattie (Hawkins) Butler were the parents of 13 children that lived to adulthood. One of those was my father-in-law’s mother, Annie Willie Butler. Today I am sharing the grave stones. Soon I will be posting what I have learned in the records about the Butlers and their family.
This post continues the series using the Alphabet to go through streets that were significant in my life as part of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge.
This is the first street so far that has not been in Detroit. Inglewood Court is in Rockhill Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis. My in-laws moved there about 1969 from Cabanne St. in the city. The youngest 4 of the 12 children were still living at home. We first visited in 1971 when our oldest daughter was 9 months old. Linda was 16 and passed her driving test. Micheal was 12 and getting some jokes ready for April Fools day. Monette was 10 and Debbie was 8. Mr. Williams had not started any of the major renovation projects that were ongoing, such as raising the roof and adding a bedroom, adding stairs and then moving them from one place to another, adding an eat in kitchen across the back of the house. Amazing projects that rarely were completed as he would think of a better way to do it before he finished.
The black and white photos (except the one on the bottom row, 4th from the right of my brother-in-law Chester) were taken on my first visit in 1971. The other were taken over the years at family reunions. Babies were born. We lost my in-laws and three of their sons. The grandchildren – my generations children – grew up and started another generation. We who were in our twenties and thirties when the reunions started are now older then my husband’s parents were. My children are older than I was then.
In 1940 my husband’s parents, Chester and Theola Williams and baby Maxine were renting the house at 395 North Knox street in Bowie, Chicot County, Arkansas for $1 a month. I will tell you that it is very hard to find illustrations for places out in the country unless the family took them. Google maps does not even make an attempt to get in close enough to see the house, although we can see what the neighborhood looks like now, lots of trees and a little distance from Dermott, where they later lived.
Chester Williams was 23. He was a farmer and working as a farm hand. He had worked 24 weeks in 1939 and earned $240. Chester was asked the extra questions and both his parents were born in Arkansas and he grew up speaking English. Farming was his usual occupation.
Theola was 20 years old. She didn’t work outside of the home. Both of them had completed 4 years of high school and lived in the same place (not the same house) in 1935. Jocelyn Maxine was 11 months old. They were enumerated on April 25. Chester Jr. would be born in September of that year so he was already on the way.
They had one roomer, Eliza Robinzine. (Note to those helping index the 1940 census, I’m sure if I were indexing this the arbitrator would say it was something different but it looks like Robinzine to me.) Eliza was 66 years old and born in Mississippi. She was a widow and had completed 4 years of college. In 1935 she worked 32 weeks as a school teacher, earning $360.
Theola’s mother, Amy Davenport lived next door. She rented her house for $1 a month and had not worked in 1935. She was born in Arkansas, a widow, 49 years old and had completed 5 years of school. She lived alone and had lived in the same place in 1935.
Looking at the 8 other households enumerated on that page we find that people had from no schooling (2 elderly women) to 4 years of college. Six families owned their own homes with values of $7,000, $500, $480, $300, $200 and $75. People were working at a variety of jobs. There was an undertaker, two real estate salesman, a secretary, a butcher, a carpenter and a cook. One man did odd jobs at a laundry, one was doing timber work and three people were seeking work. Most people were born in Arkansas but several were born in Mississippi and Louisiana. Two children living with their grandparents were born in Illinois and one man was born in Texas. Everybody was identified as Neg(ro).
You can see the 1940 Census Image with the Williams family HERE.
To read more about Dock Allen and his escape from slavery, click Dock Allen’s Story.
This weeks theme is hair, specifically facial hair. I only have one photo of an ancestor with a beard. Dock Allen is sporting a pretty nice one. My husband and sons are doing their part to bring more bearded photos into my albums.
After I wrote my Thanksgiving 1991 post several days ago, I talked to several people about what they remembered. Some remembered nothing. Several others remembered the snow, Zaron with his head wrapped in a towel and the status discussion. Someone remembered it was Christmas but I was lucky enough to have the Ruff Draft article saying it was Thanksgiving. A reason to keep a journal or a family newsletter.
Yesterday I was reading the post “Had to Walk Home in the Snow” on the blog A Hundred Years Ago. The blog is set up so that it always begins with a diary entry by Helena Muffy in 1911 and is followed by information her granddaughter, Sheryl, has found that relates to the entry. This entry was about Helena Muffy walking home from church in the snow. Sheryl followed with a weather service report about conditions in that area on just that day! Sheyl was nice enough to explain to me how I could find the information for Thanksgiving, 1991 in Lake County, Michigan. I highly recommend this blog.
According to the chart from the National Climatic Data Center it started snowing on Nov. 24 and left us 4 inches. We got another inch on Nov. 25. By Thanksgiving there were still 3 inches on the ground. By the following Monday the snow had changed to rain and the snow was all gone.
And for my daughter, Jilo, I add these photographs of Pearl in her yellow shirt and Zeke with his head wrapped in a towel.