Sunday, May 10, 2015

Grandmothers - I didn't know them until now.

Today is Mother’s Day. I read that the lady who promoted this special day for mothers came to regret it. She hated that it turned into a commercial day for retailers and not what she had hoped it would be.

In this post, I want to explore the lives of mothers that I never knew – my grandmothers. My mother’s mother had a typical old fashioned name, Malula Jones. It was shortened to Lula and that is what she was called most of her life. If not for a tragedy that befell Lula’s sister cousin, Ida, Lula would not have been my grandmother.

My grandfather, William Henry Robison first married Lula’s cousin sister. While pregnant she fell and lost her life and the baby. 

Soon after, William married her sister cousin, Malula Jones, and she birthed ten children, three boys and five girls. One of those girls was my mother, Lois, who named me Glenda Lou, after her beloved mother. 

My aunt Mildred once said to my mother, “You shouldn't name your child after Mama. She can’t ever live up to that name.”

I was exceedingly proud when Mother told me shortly before she died that I had never disappointed her, and I had lived up to my grandmother’s name. I just wish her name had not been Lula because I hated that name. When, after researching the Robison family line, I found out she had actually been named Malula, I was greatly relieved. How awful if my name had been Glenda Malula.

See the photo below of William Henry and Malula (Lula) Jones Robison.

My father’s mother was an exceedingly hardy woman who also raised a big family, ten children. Her oldest son died when he was fifteen years old. She worked on the farm after her marriage for almost twenty years. Her name was Sarah Brock, but nicknamed Sallie. Born in Leon County, Tallahassee, Florida she married Tom Council in 1877 or 1878, and they farmed land given to Tom by his father, John Cecil Council in Wakulla County Florida.

My grandmother, Sallie, had already lived a difficult life before she met Tom. Her parents died when she was a small child.  Sallie was placed in the home of a wealthy Jewish couple who adored her and wanted to adopt her. When she was a baby, the couple carried her and protected her so well they would not let her feet touch the ground. Sallie would have grown up with loving parents who gave her all the luxuries of life. But she had a step brother, Alonzo White, who heard of the couple’s intention to adopt the little girl. As he was her next of kin, he took the child and gave her to his aunt who already had a large family and little wealth. Sallie’s life became drudgery after that.

Having worked hard growing up, Sallie was used to persevering in tough times. Her youngest child, my father, Coy Lee, was born in 1900 around the time the industrialists from up north began building factories in the south where labor was cheap.  Sallie and Tom moved their family to the little town of Pelham, Georgia when Coy was a small boy. Tom and his older sons packed two covered wagons pulled by horses and the family walked most of the way of the two-day trip from Crawfordville, Florida.

They built a house with a large wrap-around porch just outside the village where houses were provided for workers.Tom's family didn't want to live in Mr. Hand's village. The house they built is still standing I believe. 

Although his family happily settled in and all went to work for J.L. Hand who owned the mill there, Tom did not like that life. He left Sallie alone with the unmarried children who were still at home and he went back to the farm.

Sallie often opened her house to boarders who needed a place to sleep and eat. That helped her make ends meet. Twice a year, her husband came up from Florida with a wagon loaded with cured meat and vegetables she could can for the winter. By 1910, Tom was ill and unable to continue to farm alone. He came to live and be cared for by Sallie. 

In 1911, April 18, Tom died and left Sallie a widow at the age of 49. She probably still had five children who were not married and lived at home. The three girls, ages 13 – 19, worked every day and gave their wages to their mother. My father, who loved his mother so dearly, was the last to leave the nest. No matter where he worked, he always sent part of his pay check to his mother back in Pelham.

Read more about the Council family in Profiles and Pedigrees, Tom Council and his Descendants 1858 - 1911 by Glenda Council Beall

For the last ten years of her life, Sallie lived with some of her children in Florida where they had made homes for themselves. She lived seventeen years as a widow and raised her children with good moral values, pride in themselves and with excellent work ethics.
I’ve heard that she was a “hard-shell” Baptist, whatever that means. I believe she lived by the Ten Commandments and my father, who grew up without his father, echoed his mother’s lessons. He taught by example what he had learned at her knee. He always tried to be fair in his business dealings. He believed in honesty in his work and his personal life. 

Family Photo - Sallie is on back row between two of her sons, Coy and Charlie. Little ones are her grandchildren.

Sallie was also known for her sense of humor. She loved playing tricks on her kids, finding ways to scare them. Then she laughed heartily at their reactions. I wish I had known her. I believe I would have liked her. I hope she would have liked me.

The two grandmothers I know the most about, Lula Jones Robison and Sallie Brock Council, are perfect examples of strong, resilient women of the early twentieth century. I am not surprised that my mother inherited those qualities. My sisters and some of my older cousins also have those traits. Without ever laying eyes on my grandmothers, I learned the values they respected. 

My mother, Lois Robison Council, holds the crown for the most loving and giving parent I have ever known. Because I had the best example of what a mother should be, I feel sad for anyone who did not have that kind of relationship. If the world was left to good mothers to run, I feel sure we would all live in a better, more peaceful world.


DJan said...

I think I would have loved to know Sallie, too. I enjoyed your stories about your two grandmothers. I might do something similar one of these days. :-)

Abbie Taylor said...

It's too bad you didn't know your grandmothers. I knew both sets of grandparents on both sides of the family, but they're all gone now.

Abbie Taylor said...

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Glenda C. Beall said...

Thank you so much, Abbie. I appreciate your thinking of me. I will follow up on this proposal and answer the questions. I hope it will benefit all the bloggers who participate.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I went back to read some of my family history today and found I had made an error in this post. William Henry Robison married Malula Jones, the cousin of his first wife, not the sister of his first wife.

Glenda C. Beall said...

As I am now working on and seeing all the information others are posting about the Robison family, I want to say a bit more about my grandfather's first wife, Ida Jones. Her father was George Jones (not the country singer) I found her in the census records. My grandmother, Lula Jones Robison, was son of James J. (Jack) Jones. Both women lived near the Robison family as they grew up in Decatur County Georgia in the 1800s. Lula was only 16 when she married William Henry Robison. He was 38, I believe.
I am enjoying going down the path of family history again.