Saturday, November 13, 2010

Great Grand Parents

William Benjamin Northcutt
Born just after the War Between the States
Into red clay Reconstruction Alabama.
A farmer and a farmer's son.
At twenty-two he married
Red-headed, eighteen year old Lucy Camella Glenn
And they moved from Forest Home to Evergreen.

Just over a year and their first child was born
My mother's father, Victor Huborn,
Who told me, how when he was young
His mother took him and his brothers and sisters
(John and Lillie Belle, William and Lallah)
To visit her parents -- a day's drive away.

Coming back at twilight, drowsy children wrapped in quilts ,
A storm came up and the creek they had to ford
Was running high and wild.
"The mules didn't want to cross it,"
The old man told me, leaning forward, his eyes ablaze,
"But that girl, she slapped the lines across their rumps,
Told those mules to 'Git up!'
And we all got home that night."

Eighty some years ago and the memory was so fresh
That I could see my great-grandmother -- 'that girl,'
Determined to get her brood home safe
And out of the wet Alabama woods.


Lucy Camella died when my grandfather was twelve --
And widowed William, no time to grieve
with six young children and a crop in the fields,
Married a  handy cousin. 
Minnie Lula Northcutt Northcutt
Gave him two more children.
But my grandfather, still grieving
Left home.

 
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27 comments:

Joan said...

Oh such a sad story wonderfully told.

Martin H. said...

Superb photographs, Vicki, but what a life they had. It seems that having a 'handy cousin', following the loss of a partner, sometimes proved to be the only way forward during these hard times. I've found some evidence of this in my own family tree.

Miss_Yves said...

Very hard time, hard life, no time to feel pity ...
Wasn' it damageable to be "red-headed", in former times ?
I noticed th beautiful tint of red in the old photo.

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Vicki, what at interesting story. My family had handy cousins also. It must have been a sign of the times.
Sam

Brian Miller said...

intriguing tale of family history...imagine that you pull from these in your writing...

Vicki Lane said...

Eventually my grandfather became reconciled to the reason for his father's re-marriage and came to speak fondly of 'Cousin Minnie.'

Re red hair, Miss Yves, I think you're right. Didn't Jo of LITTLE WOMEN have trouble selling her red hair? And there's a saying in the South --"treated like a red-headed step child" which means treated like something unwanted.

I don't know for sure, but suspect that my great grandmother must have been recovering from a bad fever which necessitated the short haircut.

All these stories will find their places, Brian, never fear!

Julienne said...

I do feel a wee bit sorry for the 'handy cousin'!
What a wonderful story.

June said...

Hard times, hard places . . . practicality demanded a little hardening of the emotions.

Bouncin' Barb said...

This is such a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it.

Star said...

How very interesting Vicki. Isn't it wonderful to have the photos too.
I hadn't heard that quote about red hair. How sad. Personally, I like red hair very much. However I don't envy the people who have red hair and the skin to match in the strong sunlight you enjoy over there.
Might add here that I have never experienced heat or sun like it till I came to Tennessee. In England the sun is rarely overhead and when it is, it is never as searingly hot, EVER. There are day when I feel like I'm going to die over there and yet I see other people walking about seemingly ok with it. Larry calls me his hothouse orchid because I am so delicate about it. Also I drink about three times more water than he does, which is because he is used to the heat and I am not.
Blessings, Star
Blessings, Star

Pat transplanted to MN said...

ahh great portraits and a nice tale. I can feel the wind and wet as she got those mules to cross the creek. I have learned in our family histories too that the women died off and the men married again to get care for the brood and added more.

gayle said...

My grandparents and greats had a very hard life! Can you imagine us going through some of the stuff that they did? or the kids now a days? Love your photos!

Friko said...

You have made them come alive; you know your trade, Vicki.

Anonymous said...

There's a colonial cemetery in Atlanta in which two wives of one man share a common monumnet dedicated to Lucy and Laura, beloved wives of.... He's not buried with them. I know there's a story there, but so far I haven't been able to find it.

Lynne in GA

Vicki Lane said...

I hate it that I know so little and didn't ask more questions back when there were folks left to question.

Lyn said...

I'm swept away by the levels of emotion here..terrific history!

willow said...

Seems widowers had to marry handy cousins in the day, to take over the household. Sad your grandfather felt the need to leave home at such a tender age. I think you've inherited some of Lucy's spunk!

Darla said...

I enjoyed that poetic telling of their story...your story. Ancestors' lives seemed 'hard' in retrospect, but I think usually, when they were 'in it', it didn't necessarily seem hard, it just was what it was. So much of the time, we put our own current emotions into the past, and it was an entirely different time...without something to compare it to, there may not have been much thought about it being 'hard'. You know? Many cultures or lifestyles may seem that way to us...but it isn't to them, it just is what it is...unless and until someone points it out to them. Sorry to run on...just made me think and go...hmmm!

Tammy said...

Great story Vicki and love the way you told it. Our ancestors were tough, hardy folks and knew how to 'suck it up and go on'. When the wife died, her sister was also often the next wife to raise her children (and of course add more to the mix!). My Grandmother's mom did that after her sister died.
Have a great weekend!
Tammy

Victoria said...

Oh, I love the way you told that story, Vicki.

Marilyn said...

Wonderful piece of family history. One of my 2x great grandfathers remarried a handy relative when his first wife died. The photos are wonderful

jennyfreckles said...

In a few words you have sketched a fascinating story. Marriage was as much a survival mechanism as a love thing in those days. My own grandmother died young and my grandfather then married her sister, my great aunt, who herself was widowed.

Vicki Lane said...

Yep, folks back then were a lot better at 'git 'er done' without a lot of whining and breast beating. Not a lot of options.

Coloring Outside the Lines said...

I am awed by the strength of our ancestors. Their lives were so difficult compared to ours. So sad- and I feel for the kids...and the cousin. Happened once or twice in my family too.

marĂ­a cecilia said...

So here is where you come from my dear... now I understand!!!

Vicki Lane said...

Eventually I'll do a post on my grandfather -- the one who left home at 12. He went from sharecropping to bookeeping to bank examiner to bank president in the course of a long well-lived life.

Tipper said...

Wonderful memories-and pics. She was one tough girl : )