“What A Man, What a Man, What a Mighty Good Man” – Clarence Williams (1906-1992) – Introducing Our Father: Part One

 Daddy’s favorite’s saying was…

“It’s nice to be nice.”

Daddy (Clarence G. Williams 1906-1992) outside wearing suit and a “waving” necktie in the 1970’s, He would have been in his 70’s.

Daddy’s other pearls of wisdom:

Clarence Giles Williams 1906-1992 (est. taken in the 1920’s)

Clarence G, Williams at 37 years of age. Photo is dated ----1937

Clarence G, Williams at 37 years of age. Photo is dated in his handwriting

 

” I don’t know anybody I dislike, there are people who have ways I dislike, but I don’t dislike them.”

 

“Some people are more to be pitied than scorned.”

 

 “Don’t believe everything you read, look at several resources to see what they say. Just because it’s in a book, does not mean it’s right.”

Since my father, Clarence Williams was born in September, I felt compelled to dedicate the first detailed post about Daddy during the month of his birth. To Giles and Leliar Sheard Williams, he was born on New Orleans Street in Hattiesburg, Mississippi,  the sixteenth day of September in 1906.

Even  as a child, I realized that (in comparison to other fathers) there was something very different and special about Daddy.  His tread was light, but his influence was GREAT! I never feared him, but always respected and adored him.   HE HAD THE PATIENCE OF JOB and exhibited it in all situations, small and large. He was  quite witty and even-tempered, which belied his booming bass voice.  Daddy NEVER said, “I’m too busy.” or “I don’t have time, come back later”.  (My parents had been married 19 years when I was born!  19 YEARS!)  Perhaps it was because I was his 48th “birthday present”, his LAST child born, or maybe it was just “how he was wired”.  He was always available to talk or listen to us, as the situation dictated.

If he detected even an inkling of trouble or sadness, he would sit at the foot of his (and our mother’s)  bed and pat the empty space beside him saying, “Come on sit over here and  talk to Daddy about it'”.   For every crisis, question or quandary, Daddy was always “at the ready”  to provide an example, a parable or a joke relevant to the situation.

His deep voice, attention and calming presence were soothing agent even into my adulthood. Whatever the problem, Daddy could fix it.  His oft used saying was,” Well, Sissy, there are several ways to look at this thing.”  Once I heard that familiar statement, the “beast was slain”! My dilemma was disabled to increase its intensity and gather steam.  We would talk it out, discuss options and select the road to travel.   In the end, gargantuan problems would suddenly appear minuscule after talking things over with Daddy!   He was a great father to all of us and a perfect match for our fiery mother, Lucy Mae.  Daddy was simply the best!!!

Daddy, Robert, Randall and Saundra (me) going to Sunday School at St. Paul (abt. 1961)

Daddy, Robert, Randall and Saundra (me) going to Sunday School at St. Paul United Methodist Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi  (abt. 1961)

With stoic conviction, Mama would ALWAYS say, “My children LOVE their Daddy, they just TOLERATE me!”   She pretended to believe and resent this assessment, but we all knew it was just a show.  Our mother valued the rich relationship that we children had with Daddy.

 “People can look at you all day long and think you’re a fool, don’t open your mouth and prove it.”

Next Post:  Images from Daddy’s Scrapbook:  

Subject: Emmett Till 1955 Newspaper Articles 

“A Heart Fixer and a Mind Reggerlater” C. S.’s Condolence Letter to Cudn’ Hattie (1951)

“Everyday is Sunday and the Sabeth has no end”

I love this letter!  For an individual to have the wherewithal to sit and WRITE  A LETTER OF SYMPATHY speaks volumes about “who the writer is”. Additionally, the tone and content clearly show the writer’s deep feelings for the intended  recipient.

Great Uncle C.S.  Williams wrote this 1951 letter to “Mayble (aka Cudn’ Hattie) to express his condolences upon  the death  notification of her husband, Theodore (Ted) Wallace.  It is my all time favorite of the letters Uncle C.S. wrote to Hattie Maybell.  It  evokes deep feelings of sympathy which still remain poignant and  pertinent in 2014, sixty-three years later.  I can actually feel the empathy the letter exudes.

CSWmsLETTERS abt 10 ScanStation-19-18-30-PM0026 CSWmsLETTERS abt 10 ScanStation-19-18-30-PM0027
CSWmsLETTERS abt 10 ScanStation-19-18-30-PM0028

“My joy is all over in this life” – 1932 letter from Great Uncle C.S. Williams to Hattie Maybell Hayes

” I has worked So hard I am no count”

Featured images  in POST #20 will introduce you to my paternal Great Uncle Clarence S. (C.S.) Williams (1884-1953). I make no  claim to objectivity, therefore I  unabashedly assert that Uncle Clarence is one fine looking gentleman!  Yes he is! Uncle C.S. was born Mississippi  to Randall and Lucy Williams (my Great-Grandparents).  He was one of six children; Ada, Armilda, Sophronia, Harriet and Giles.  He is enumerated in five U.S.  censuses, 1900-1940.

C.S.  married the former Lula B. Hayes (1883-1966) and they were the parents of three children, Fred (who died in infancy), Minnie and Leander.

He appeared to have spent his life working hard, to no avail.  His heart-wrenching letters indicate that he not only lost his property but was also the  was the defendant in a court case of some type.  C.S.’s letters (and those in which he was mentioned) clearly illustrate that he was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief”.   Still, he “shines through” as a fair and conscientious man of solid character.  Cudn’ Minnie, his daughter often talked about what a wonderful father he was. She asserted that her daddy was so “sweet and nice” and continued to be mild mannered even when he became old and infirm.  Cudn’ Minnie said, “He was so kind and sweet even when he was in pain”.  She said, “People don’t GET old and hellish, they was young and hellish…they was hellish when they was young”.  That was one of her favorite sayings. Cudn’ Minnie never gave her mother glowing reviews and made it somewhat obvious that she wasn’t too fond of her mother, Aunt Lula.  (That’s another story as well.)

” would I testify that he (Charley)cut the timber of coars”

Clarence S. (C.S.) Williams( b. Abt. 1884-1886)

Great Uncle Clarence S. (C.S.) Williams  (April 17, 1884- August 23, 1953)

His 1932 letter to Cudn’ Hattie is insightful and reflective, and also rather troubling.  There are several letters in Cudn’ Hattie’s collection penned by Uncle Clarence.  In my opinion, he has a talent for writing.    (Consistent with other writers in the “Hattie Collection”, C.S. did not use punctuation.) His letters are very detailed and descriptive… and the penmanship, simply beautiful!  The script itself  says a lot about  this gentleman.  Take notice of the letter closing where he displays his fancy signature.

(I have no idea of the level of education Uncle C. S. achieved or if he had the opportunity to attend high school.  Prior to the founding of the historic Piney Woods School in 1909, I doubt if  Simpson County provided a high school for children of color.)

This letter (and others in the collection)   practically “oozes” pathos.  Some messages may be characterized as lamentations pertaining to  poor crops, meager funds (writing “there is no money here at all”), as well as episodes of timber stealing, land nabbing,  illness,  general discord, and finally … fights, fires and funerals,  all in the family.  I don’t think the letters were intended to evoke sympathy, but to  simply to bare his very soul to “Mayble” about how extremely difficult life was. Though his honesty is surprising,  some of his observations are simply heart wrenching!   Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Uncle C. S., his letters have allowed me to acquaint myself with him.  I thank him for his candor.
The featured letter of the day also speaks of the timber stealing perpetrated by Great Aunt Armilda’s husband, Charlie Jackson.  Uncle C.S. is notifying his niece and tying to re-mediate the situation to keep it out of “the law”. There are at least five letters to Cudn’ Hattie from penned by at least three authors that mention that “Jack” has cut timber off the land belonging to Cudn’ Hattie.  She was  living in Laurel, Mississippi, just about 50 miles away at the time of this letter.  The land stealing by her aunts and timber stealing by Cudn’ Hattie’s uncle (by marriage) are “powder kegs” within the family.  Cudn’ Hattie actually stopped speaking to them for many years due to their multiple and repeated transgressions relevant to her inheritance. I’m not making this up!

What do you think of this letter?

CSWms 1932 letter ScanStation-20-08-42-PM0000CSWms 1932 letter ScanStation-20-08-42-PM0001 R1 B24  (Route 1, Box 24)    Mendenhall, Miss 10-15-1932 Miss Mayble Hays

Dear Niece with much pleasure I lay aside all and write to you to let you know I received your kind and welcum letter found all verry well and injoying life Seam like this life I hope I will see a happy day som where but it wont be in this life I dont know I dont know but i do know I am going to live until I die I has worked So hard I am no count

CSWms 1932 letter ScanStation-20-08-42-PM0002 2) My health is no good much but I go on well you ask me about Charley and that timber would I testify that he cut the timber of coars (course) and undoubtly he would not try to deny cuting the timber and of so you can get all the witnesses you want here white and colored its not Right for hem to cut it and give you no satisfaction a bout it Some how I would halv did that Before I cut it I had Decided to not say any thing more to Hem but I am going to ask hem to write or come to see you in the next 3 or 4 days

CSWms 1932 letter ScanStation-20-08-42-PM0003 3) I will See hem today and tell hem what to do he dont know I got this last letter from you I will see what I can do with hem in  order to keep it out of law if I can that will Save Both of you all money and I will writ you again the middle of next week of he dont and if he write then you write and tell me what he Say Say So nothing new Wife and Children Sends love to you I Remain Your Uncle As Ever C. S. Williams R1. B 24 Mendenhall Miss

Next Post:  More mail from Uncle C.S.

“Think of Me When I am DEAD” – 1903 Bible Inscription by C. S. Williams

 

Paternal Great Grandmother’s Bible

(It’s slightly worn, tattered and obviously used…admittedly, I’m embarrassed to say it’s more than I can say about my Bible.)

Transcription:
Mrs. Lucy Williams Bible  
Bough March the 24. 1903
Your Trulo C. S. Williams
You can look at this and
think of me When I am Dead

…Why in the world would he make such a statement?  Take note of “C.S.'”s fancy signature.   I can’t help but wonder how and where he learned to write in such lovely cursive.

For the record, Great Uncle Clarence S. Williams was born in  Mississippi on  April 17, 1884 and died August 23, 1952. He is interred at Zion Hill Baptist Church Cemetery in Simpson County, Mississippi.  C.S.’s   mother,  Lucy Harrison Williams (b. 1861-1941) predeceased him.     He was only 19 when her bought her the Bible, therefore his inscription that implored her to think of him when he is dead shall remain a mystery.

(C.S.’s  birth and death dates were generously provided to me by Simpson County resident and genealogist, Belinda Malcolm who has done extensive research at Zion Hill.)

Bible from Son to Mother. Clarence S. Williams to Lucy Harrison Williams 1903

Bible from Son to Mother. Clarence S. Williams to Lucy Harrison Williams 1903

Title page of 1902Family  Bible

Title page of 1903 Family Bible

lucy.jpg

Paternal Great Grandmother Lucy Harrison Williams in 1921, age

 

My paternal Great Uncle C.S. purchased this Bible as a gift for his mother,  The March 24, 1903 inscription is  well preserved and legible.   The Bible was passed down to me about ten years ago by my cousin, Carnie A. Hayes, Jr.  His father, Carnie Hayes, Sr. and my father, Clarence G. Williams were first cousins, two brothers’ children.   Carnie Jr.’s mother,  Hallie Lenoir Hayes had the foresight to leave a detailed note. It was handwritten on a brown paper grocery bag (so quaint and precious) which remains in my possession. In the note, she instructed her son that upon her death, he was to acquire it or give the Bible to me (if the several others on the list were already deceased.)  Though the Bible initially went to Carnie Jr.,  he decided to present it to me,  the family historian.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Cousin Hallie (never referred to as “Cudn” since she was a teacher) and her son, Cousin Carnie Jr.  for entrusting this heirloom to me.  It shall be treasured always.

Next post:  A letter to Cudn’ Hattie from her Uncle C.S. Williams.

“Tell Mama and Pa Hidy For Me” – Postcard dated June 6, 1917

” Dir One”

Dated JUNE 14, 1917 – Postmarked JUNE 16, 1917

The featured postcard from “B Craft”  is addressed  Miss Hattie Eptin. Followers of this site are well acquainted with the aforementioned parties. However, I will risk being redundant to familiarize new readers.  This card provides an important shred of information, in that it appears to indicate that my great-grandfather, Randall Williams (b. 1851) was still alive in 1917.  He would have been about 66 years of age. To date, I am been unable to verify the date of his death.

postcard hjune 19170000

Transcription:

June 16, 1917

Miss Hattie Eptin RFD 1 Box 8 Menden Hall Miss Kirbyville, tx Miss

Hattie Eptin Dir One i will rite you a few lind to let you here from me i am very well to Day trust you are the same i resive your letter all ok more than prade (proud) to here from you so give my best regard to all tell mama and pa hidy (howdy) for me so by by B Craft 

 

Front of June 1917 Postcard. I wonder how "sunny" The days really were in MS and LA.

Front of June 1917 Postcard. I wonder how “sunny” The days really were in MS and LA.

I am sure that Cudn’ Hattie was still living with her grandparents,  Lucy and Randall Williams at the age of 19.  Mail addressed to her in Mendenhall as “Miss Hattie Eptin verifies this claim.

Beginning in the early 1920’s, her mail was being received in Laurel, MS and was addressed to Mrs. Hattie Hays.  She saved many letters sent to her in Laurel and selected items in that series will be shared in future posts.

Cudn’ Hattie also saved two ledgers from the 1930’s  that recorded the meeting minutes of the Rosebud Social Club. The members paid weekly dues and the total amount normally collected will amuse post readers to no end.

The Maybell Postcard Series will end for now as other family members are clamoring for attention on the soldfor35cents blog.

It’s high time to feature a few of the men in the family.  (Lucy Mae needs to reappear as well).  Don’t touch that dial!

 

 

“WILL BEE OUT TO SPEND… SUM OF THESE HOT DAYES WITH YOU”

“Hellow Hattie Dir”

Postmarked FEB 17, 1915  OAKDALE & KIRBYVILLE LA

The sender of this 99 year old postcard card is Burnham Craft,  the stepfather of  Hattie Maybell.  She was 16 years of age at the time of this correspondence.  Although most of the postcard wording  penned by Mr. Craft tends to begin and end identically, there is always some new information imparted, albeit clipped and brief.  This time, the message notifies “Cudn’ Hattie” of his impending visit “to spend a few hot dayes” Mendenhall  some time  during that summer of 1915.

Note:  Cudn’ Hattie used several  variations of her name(s), therefore I will attempt to honor them all.  These names and the possible reasoning for the variations were mentioned in a previous post. 

 Feb  1915 Postcard from Burnham Craft to Hattie Maybell

Feb 1915 Postcard from Burnham Craft to Hattie Maybell

 

Transcription:

Oakdale,and Kirbyville LA-  FEB 17, 1915 (postmark)

 Oakdale, La 2-14-15 (Written on Valentine’s Day) 

Hellow Hattie Dir How are you this leaves me felling Just so But i trust that these few lindes will finds you the same i will Bee out to spend a few hot dayes with you all from Yours truly your father

BCraft

As always, he conveys affection Hattie her in some manner.  For example, he refers to her as  “dir” (dear) in the postcard.  May I mention that the myth of the crude, backwards, “unaffectionate”  southern Black man (of this era) is definitely challenged (by Mr. Craft’s obvious affection for Hattie)?  I submit to you that Mr. Craft was not an oddity. I firmly believe that there were many Black  men like Mr. Craft. There isn’t necessarily surviving  tangible evidence to prove this claim. Still, I contend that southern black men of this era, did not hesitate to express their affection for their children and other loved ones. Included in this list are Cudn’ Hattie’s husband (Theodore L. Wallace) and two great uncles (Clarence S. Williams and Giles Williams) who wrote very affectionate letters to her.  These letters will eventually be published in future posts.

Personally,  I am impressed with Mr. Craft’s literacy and am interested in when and how he was able to attend school. I also admire his tenacity for correspondence.  He did not forsake, the daughter of Ada Williams Epting Craft (his deceased wife).  The record proves that after the death of  Hattie Maybell’s mother, he was determined to stay in contact with his young “daughter”. At some point he remarried and traveled quite a bit for work with the railroad company (evidenced by the various different postmark locales).  Mr. Craft not only resided in a different town, but also in a different state, Texas!

Information gleaned from other letter indicated that Mr. Craft was decidedly human, which will be subsequently shared.  His missteps and flaws are documented in the several letters to Cudn’  (written by him and other relatives) and explained to me in detail by Cudn’ Minnie (1912-2002).

How unfortunate because I was ready to rush out and have him fitted for wings AND a halo.  

As always, stay tuned…The next soon- to- be  published postcard is dated 1917.  It will refer my paternal great-grandfather and great grandmother.  Thanks for reading. 

 

 

 

“I ain’t no milyunaire yet, but I’m studyin’ hard!” – Postcard dated July 4, 1913

 HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!

Please enjoy this…

Postcard to Hattie Maybell Eptin 

The card is EXACTLY one hundred and one years old today!

 

Post card July 4, 1913 to Hattie Eptin from M r. Burnham Craft

Post card July 4, 1913 to Hattie Eptin from M r. Burnham Craft

Transcription:

Miss Hattie Eptin

Rout 1 Box 8

Mendenhall Miss

Hellow Hattie How are you to day this leaves me all ok But i am at work on  the 4th of July  i dont like that so much all what kind of fouth did you all have Bee shore and look for me in August for I has (?) sent for my pass so at this i will close from Your father Bob Craft Kirbyville tex

Front of Card - Boy carrying books (cartoon)

Front of Card – Boy carrying books (cartoon)

November 1912 Postcard – “I Will Send You a Pair of Shoes”

A 102 year old message – New Shoes in the Mail this Week

 Transcription:

Nov the 11/9-12

Hellow Hattie How are you to day this leaves me all ok But I has Ben a little sick But not so bad I will send you a pair of shoes on the 17 so at this no more By By from Yo Father

Addressed to:

Miss Hattie Eptin

Menden Hall Miss

Rout 1 Box 8

 

   November 11, 1912 Postcard to Hattie Eptin from her stepfather,  Mr,  Burnham Craft.  Postmarked Kirbyville, Texas

On November 11, 1912,  this  postcard was  mailed to Mendenhall, Mississippi to Hattie Eptin by her stepfather, Mr. Burnham Craft. The location of the postmark is Kirbyville, Texas.  Hattie Maybell, referred to as Cudn’ Hattie, received this card when at the age of  14.  One can only imagine how excited she was in anticipation of the new shoes coming all the way from TEXAS!

Well into her 90th year, she would not hesitate to buy something new whenever she had a “notion” to.  Her closets were a treasure trove  of vintage outfits and semi-modern ones as well.  After many decades of domestic service, specifically cooking,  Maybell retired  in Jellico, Tennessee during  the mid-1960’s and decided to purchase herself a retirement gift. While both of us were residing in Chicago, she told me the following story.

“Well-l-l-l-, I’d always wanted me a nice diamond ring, so when I retired, I decided I was going to get me one.  I was going to buy myself something special. So when I went down to the jewelry store, I couldn’t decide on the solitaire or the cluster, I  liked both of them.  So-o-o-o-o-o-o since I couldn’t decide which one I like the best, I bought both of them.”   

Both rings were exceptionally lovely and definitely expensive.  The cluster was given to me by Cudn’ Minnie (Minnie Williams Watkins) in 1993 after the death of Cudn’ Hattie. Cudn’ Minnie said she wanted to “keep the ring in the family”.  Just as Hattie Maybell did, I actually wear the ring everyday!   It will be passed down again “in the family”.

The postcard from Mr. Craft is short, but sweet.  He was only married to Cudn’ Hattie’s mother, Ada Williams Craft  for four years and five months. (She married him on July 24, 1904 died on and December 29, 1908.)  Cudn’ Hattie was ten in 1908 when her mother died.  The first postcard from her step-father was dated 1911, thus  Mr. Craft obviously moved to Texas after the death of his wife.  His seemingly unfailing devotion to his deceased wife’s daughter is admirable.  

Front of vintage postcard November 11, 1912

 Front of vintage postcard November 11, 1912

I wish I could thank  Cudn’ Hattie Maybell for being both a paper and junk collector.  Her “paper junk” is now my treasure!

“Say Doll Write To Me” – 1913 Postcard to Cudn’ Hattie  from an Admirer

“Say Doll Write To Me” – 1913 Postcard to Cudn’ Hattie from an Admirer

“Hello Hattie”

 ( postmarked  October 1, 1913)
  
Transcription:
Miss Hattie Epton
Mendenhall, Miss
Hello Hattie how are you to night i am well. look doll this card is to my old friend i would like to
see you very much. say doll write to me.  i will be home in too weeks yours old friend By H.B. Hays  431 Copp St  Biloxi Miss
 
 October 1913 Postcard to Hattie Maybell from Biloxi, mississippi
October 1913 Postcard to Hattie Maybell from Biloxi, Mississippi
 
1913 Biloxi front
 Cudn’ Hattie received this correspondence from an H. B. Hays at the age of 15.  My first reaction was  astonishment at her receiving such a “fresh” message at such a tender age.  After a moment of reflection, I then recollected  the fact that many young ladies in that era actually were already married by the age of 15.  Still the message was clear and required no decoding.  Mr. Hays was quite forward, “no beating around the bush” in his approach.    
In fact, I am convinced that she married H.B. between 1918  and 1921. Her name, as the addressee in the mail collection changed from Epton (or Eptin) to Hays sometime after the aforementioned time span .  Cudn’ Hattie carried that surname until 1940 after she married Theodore L. Wallace in Packard,  Kentucky.   In the 1980’s she  shared with me  that she got married at the age of 18 (in 1916) and divorced  two years later at the age of 20.  Maybell stated, “My first husband had a hard time making it home with his money on payday so he had to GO!  I quit him.  I was working and he should have been working too.  I was not staying with a man who would not bring home his money on payday.”
However, the mail collection does not validate the claim that she married as early as she asserted… She was still being addressed as Hattie Eptin/Epton in 1917 when she was 19.   There are no postmarks in the collection  for the period of 1918-1920.  The postmarked mail debuts again in 1921 where she is living in Laurel, Mississippi at the age of 23.  Remember that she sported several varieties of her first and middle names  and later her married names added additional variety.   
Although I have had possession of family mail including items over a century old.   This 101 year old postcard still awes me. Hattie Maybell treasured these postcards and letters and so do I.