Our story starts out in a small southern town in Georgia. Annie Ward who is 17 yrs. old was with her parents Mabel & Harry Ward at her Aunt & Uncle’s home in Johnson County, GA. They usually make this trip once a year to help with harvesting the cotton and as a celebration for getting all the cotton picked and to market. Pearl & Ben Ward host a barn dance for everyone in the neighboring farms & those that helped get their cotton finished. Many of the young ladies and men look forward to this event so that they may socialize with each other. Annie was not different from all the others. She was use to being home in Jesup with her parents and did not get invited to gatherings because she was so timid and shy. Her mama knew this was the time for her to let her daughter enjoy her time with the children of her age. Mama made sure she had a new dress that mama had made for her.
The next farm over from Ben Ward was the Weston farm. Mr. & Mrs. Weston had both passed away last year and left everything to their son, George. George had turned 21 in March and was a very hard worker and ran the farm by himself since his parents passing. He did not have time to date or sit and enjoy an evening out on a regular basis but he was going to end his day early on Saturday because he had wanted to go to the barn dance. George had grown up in a family that did not show their feeling very often and with everything that he has gone through the last few months he seemed like a mean, uncaring man. As he was working in the fields the day before he was close to the boundaries of the Ward farm and spotted a young girl with straw-colored hair that came to the middle of her back picking wildflowers for the barn dance. He stood there for a while just watching Annie and thinking about her. Who was she? Where does she live & why was she in Johnson County? Does she have a beau in her life? These are questions he planned to get answers to.
On Saturday everyone at the Ward’s farm had been busy decorating the barn , making food to serve all who came out & getting the straw spread around for seats and making a stage for the music. Annie’s job was to pick wildflowers to put into buckets that would be set around the bard & barn yard. She saw a nice area out in the field that had a big assortment of flowers in a bunch of colors. When everyone was finished they headed home to get a little rest & bathe so that they were fresh for the long evening ahead of them. Annie was too excited about what was happening to rest. She laid down for a few minutes and was back up and decided to get her bath & wash her hair. She had gathered extra flowers so she could add them to her French braid. They matched the material her mama used when making her this pretty frock.
The Barn Dance
All was ready to start greeting the guest for the Barn Dance. It had been a long hot summer and Uncle Ben was glad that they all worked so hard to get his cotton to market long before the other farms in his area. He had gotten a really nice price for his produce & his cotton. The wagons filled with area families started to come up the lane. There was a flurry of activity starting to take shape. The first guest to arrive was the Tompkins, Millers, & the Carter families. Roger Tompkins was a 17 yrs. old boy who had taken a shine to Annie and he wanted to make sure he was there early to get as many dances with Annie as he could. But Roger was not the only suitor that had taken an interest in Annie. Lamar Wendell & Bobby Hall also were thinking the same thoughts. Annie did not know what to think of all this attention but mama told her that she had to mingle and dance with others that had come and not save her dances for just 1 boy. Little did she realize that an older man was looking to spending some time with her and find out some answers to his questions. He was not one to play the games that were played when you court someone. He did not have the time for that.
George Weston rode his horse through the fields and crossed into the Ward’s farm for the dance. No sooner did he arrive that he caught Annie in his sights. He was not happy to see that she was being surrounded by a few of the young men from other local farms. Roger was guiding Annie to the dance floor again even though Annie had declined this dance. George started his trek toward the dance floor when some young girl stopped him mid stream. He took her on the dance floor and guided her next to were Roger was dancing with Anne and he tapped Roger on the shoulder and exchanged partners before Roger knew what was happening. Once he had her with him he introduced himself to her and guided her to the punch table to get her a drink and he started asking her the questions he had. Does she comes every year to her Aunt & Uncle’s?did she have a boyfriend? How far away is her families farm? Yes they came at least once a year to help her Aunt & Uncle bring in the harvest, No she did not have a beau & she lived about 5 hours south in Jesup, GA. She asked him if he had a girlfriend, was that his family’s farm that bordered her Uncle’s land and anything that came to her mind. Once she was with him all the other boys decided that they did not stand a chance next to George. They ended up dancing 5 more times and he had the last dance for the evening. He wanted to see her again so he asked her father & her Uncle if he could have permission to come calling on Annie the next afternoon. Ben just smiled and let him know that he would like to spend a little time alone with him before he made any decisions.
The dance was over and all the guest had left but George was outside talking to Uncle Ben & papa. She wondered what they were talking about and when she came out to say goodnight to the men they had stopped talking when she stepped out. Once she entered the house they started talking again. Papa was in agreement with George about him coming to spend time with Annie. When Annie woke up on Sunday her father told her that she would be entertaining MR. Weston that very afternoon. He told her to be polite and do not forget to offer him some lemonade and some of the cookies she made for the gathering last night.
George showed up at the farm around 11:30 and he was carrying 3 bundles of flowers which he gave to each of the ladies. They sat on the porch swing talking for over 2 hours. She still was not sure why he wanted to come visit with her. He was not like the other boys she had met. The other boys tried so hard to charm her but George was not going to play that game. He liked her and started to play out the next time he saw her would be in a yr. But before he left for home he had talked with Ben again to see if he could come to Jesup to court her and get to know each other. Papa was so surprised by this request. Papa asked him how often did he think he would make the trip and he replied that he wanted to get to know her for a bit then ask Ben for her hand.
Today is the day they are heading back to Jesup. Aunt Pearl made up some sandwiched & some lemonade to go with us for our trip. Mama & Aunt Pearl started to cry because they would not get to see each other again for a while. George did not come by to see her off because he had a lot to do if he planned on making a trip to Jesup next weekend. The trip home was longer that we had thought it would be because we had driven right in the middle of a severe thunder-storm and the wind was whipping the car and making it hard to keep it on the road. We finally made it home about 1 am and we all went up to bed and decided we would clean out the car in the morning.
It had been almost a week since we have been home and back into our routine. As Annie was sitting on the front porch snapping beans her father asked her to go and put on something nice to wear for dinner. What did papa have planned for dinner? Was he going to splurge and take mama and I out to eat or are we going to have guest for dinner? Annie did not question her papa and went right up and changed her dress & washed up .
When Annie came back down stairs she was surprised to see Mr. Weston standing in the living room. When he saw Annie he walked over to her and took her by the elbow and guided her to the porch swing. She asked what happened that he made this long trip and he told her that he asked her father if he could court her. They sat on the swing for 2 hours talking to each other. While they sat there talking Annie was realizing that George was set in his ways and if he thought about something he would just blurt it out. He was not the type of man to talk romantic to a girl. And if he sees something he wants he goes for it and nothing you might say will change his mind, unless he sees you may be right . He does not like to try new things and questions your reasoning on all things. Some of the discussions they had made Annie a little upset but by the time dinner was ready they both were laughing. But after dinner George had to start heading home. But before he left Ben & George had taken a walk to talk about his intentions. George told Ben his intentions where to ask for her hand in marriage and he did not want a long engagement and thought about the following month as the date to get married. Ben was so surprised at how set he had his mind but Ben told him he could not agree to that date but if they were still dating in 4 months than he would reconsider. That is all George needed to hear. He started making plans for his new wife to move right in after the wedding.
My Wedding Day
July 15, 1930 is the day of George and Anne’s wedding. Mama and Papa had invited all the family and neighbors to attend the wedding of their only child. They had the wedding ceremony in the family church right out side of town and then a big gathering at the farm. Everyone who came brought food and helped mama out. Mama and Papa had given the newly weds a large sum of money, $100, as wedding gift and had also given a bottle of wine, salt, and a loaf of bread. The wine so that there will always be spirit in their marriage, salt so that they have spice in their lives and bread so that there will always be food on their table.
George and Anne was so surprised by the gifts and the most treasured gift was the wedding and the wine, salt and bread. Anne looked so happy to be the wife of George but you can also see that there was a sadness in her eyes which mama saw through. She was able to get Anne along for a little while and had questioned Anne about what she saw. Anne told her that George was the best thing that has happened to her but she realized that she would be moving away from her parents that she loved so much. Her mama assured her that they would come to visit as often as they could. And that she was now George’s wife and had to build a live with him.
Some of the family members started to play their fiddles and the party was in full swing. Even the kids were having a good time. Anne had never danced as much as she had prior. But it had to come to an end. George and Anne had left the party to go to the hotel for their wedding night. It was such a lovely room and there was even a bottle of sparkling wine waiting for them. Anne & George toasted to each other and went to get ready for bed. It had been a long day and very tiring. George and Anne had to prepare to leave for their home together. It was hard for both Anne and mama. But they had to leave because they had a long ride and it was getting later which meant they would not get home until dark.
Our Little Family
Anne & George started having a family not very long after they moved into their new home. On April 7, 1933 they had a daughter that they named Pearl Anne who they dotted on when ever they had a free moment. She had the cutest little curls that formed at her forehead and would fall forward just as it hit the brim of her eyebrows. Her hair was so fine and silky and the color of a fawn with highlights as if the sun was shining through each little strand of hair.
Anne had become an exceptional seamstress which had surprised both George & herself. She made all of their clothes and pretty little dresses for Pearl Anne. She could make the plainest piece of cloth look like it was bought in the fanciest stores in New York. Anne had an idea to help her family with expenses. She would make little outfits for the children in their community and sell them to the families at a reasonable rate.
Pearl Anne was turning 1 1/2 yrs. old and Anne was expecting another little one and had been very tired lately. And George was so busy with the farm all the time and when he finally got time to quite for the day Anne would have dinner on the table and then he would clean up and go to bed so he did not notice that Anne was slowing down and looked feverish. This pregnancy was really giving her a hard time or so she thought. She did not have the energy to make the little outfits to sell or even keep the house swept & dishes done. While George was working on the farm during the days Anne would put Pearl Anne for a nap and would have to lay down herself.
George came in earlier on Tuesday afternoon because he remembered that it was their 3rd anniversary and he wanted to do something nice for his family & take them to the dinner for a meal. When he came into the kitchen he did not see Anne anywhere and you could look right into the living area also. He checked in on Pearl Anne to see if she was asleep and if her momma was sitting with her but she was sound asleep but Anne was nowhere in the house. George went out toward the barn to see if Anne was hanging wash or in the privy when he spotted her laying on the ground next to the well. He rushed out to her and lifted her head against his chest as her tried to wake her. She opened her eyes but he knew she was very ill. He picked her up and loaded her into the wagon and went in to get Pearl Anne so they could head into town to the local Doctor. It took them about 20 minutes to get to Dr. Showman’s office and he carried his wife into the office and went to get Pearl Anne. Dr. Showman was checking Anne and was running some test. He listened to the baby’s heartbeat which was also weak. He told George that Anne had done too much and needed to rest more often with this pregnancy. Anne was so upset that George would be working all day & have to cook until she had the baby but she could manage with Pearl Anne. She wrote a letter to her mama to see if she could come and help for about a month until her new arrival came. A week later her mama & papa came driving up to see them and George helped them with their bags. Mama went right in to see Anne and her little grand young-un. She saw Anne looking so drawn and tired looking and felt a slight pain in her chest but pushed it aside and got right to work making dinner for them all and straightening up the place.
Time went by so fast while Anne’s mama was here helping out. They were getting ready to for the towns Independence Day celebrations. Anne was looking forward to some time out with friends. Also mama needed a break from the house work. George loaded everyone up and they headed into town. They got to town & found a nice shaded area to set up their picnic. They were having a really nice time and mama fixed a fantastic picnic. George laid down after they ate and finally had time to relax. He fell fast to sleep. Anne enjoyed watching him sleep and realized how mush she loved him. Mama sat watching them both and knew this was the best thing that happened for her daughter.
There was a Barber Shop Quartet entertaining the group. Anne & George were snuggling close as they listened to the music when Anne started to have problems. She was having pain like she had never felt with Pearl Anne. Mama came over to her daughter & George to see if there was anything she could do to make her more comfortable. While mama tried to comfort Anne, George went to find Dr. Showman.
Dr. Showman had Anne in his exam room and was checking her progress. He called Mama and George in to let them know that Anne was having trouble with delivery of this baby and would need to go to the hospital immediately.
Baby is coming
Anne was having a lot of pain and her delivery was not going as easy as it did with Pearl. She was having contractions way into the early morning of July 5th 1935 when all of a sudden the head started to crown. Things move much faster at this point.
“You have a beautiful baby girl”! She is very tiny but she has a good set of lungs. George was so happy to hold his little angel. Anne and George decided to name this little angel Gladys Mae. She was such a cute little bundle. She had become so precious to George and he could not wait to get home every chance he got so he could watch over Gladys Mae as if he was afraid that she would grow overnight.
Gladys Mae was such a pleasant child. Everywhere they went there would be someone to take care of her while her parents did what they had come to town to do but monthly groceries at the little country store. As the family drove out-of-town there was always a few ladies watching this cute little family as they headed out-of-town and smiled to see this new young family living in their community.
Pearl & Gladys Mae were growing so fast and were busy getting under foot most of the time but Pearl tried to keep Gladys Mae happy and out of mom’s way most times. Gladys Mae was having her 2nd birthday when mom & dad found out they had a baby on the way. They were so happy but also a little afraid because of the trouble Anne had with Gladys Mae. The baby was due in March so they had a few months to get ready and that time would be a little easier with the work schedule but it was a hard time right now for her to slow down with them helping with share cropping. Even the girls helped with little things like picking beans. But Gladys Mae got the taste for raw beans and ate as many as she picked but it kept her out of trouble.
The winter was very cold that year and Anne was now at home most of the time taking care of the girls and making a good home for George. George & Anne were very happy as they sat at night after the girls went to bed they were thinking of names if it was another girl & if it was a son George wanted to name him after himself but a junior.
George is hoping to have his first son and that is all he can think about. He needs sons to help work the grounds. He is also worried about the state of affairs and Germany causing trouble. He is so preoccupied these days that Anne feels so alone and distant. She is getting tired of being so tired and when he comes home all he does is eat them sits with the girls for a bit the goes to bed when they do while Anne cleans up and sits alone.
A Son IS Born
Anne wakes up around 3 in the morning with sharp pain in her back but tries to get out of bed as to not wake George. She tries to walk off the pain because it is 2 week to early to have the baby and give it a better chance but the pains are coming every 10 minutes and it takes 20 minutes to get to DR. Showman so she bundled up the girls and got them out to the car before she gathered some things for her trip and then woke George up to let him know it was time to go. He rushed out to the car while she finished getting her bag and closing up the house. He drove a little to fast for her taste. It was 3:45 when they got to the Doctors office and her pain was coming every 5 minutes. The Doctor called his wife in the room to help get Anne changed for delivery. The girls slept through all this but woke when they heard the rushing of feet and asked their daddy what was happening and he told them they were gong to have a new baby. Gladys Mae was sad because she was daddies baby. All of a sudden they heard a cry out and then the sound of a baby. When the doctor came out to tell George that he had a son. He was so happy and went right to the baby and did not even think of Anne and if she was well.
She seemed sad to everyone else but he did not see anything. It was like he was loosing interest in Anne. It was now March 12 1938. In the morning he drove his growing family home. Once he got home he went out to work and did not come in until way after dark. Anne was just sitting there watching the baby. The girls sat watching her & knew something was wrong. George had decided that day to make arrangements to rent out his home and move his family to Jesup so that Anne’s parents could come help with the babies. He & Anne started packing up the house to leave. Anne wanted to see her parents so much that she cold not wait. George thought that would bring her around.
George & his family made the 5 hour drive to Jesup. Once they reached Jessup they went to look at places to rent and found a small house with 3 bedrooms. They took their things into the house and set it down for Anne to put away later. George drove to Anne’s parents and talked to them about what was going on then he went back to take his family & took them to see their grandparents. Mabel took one look at Anne and realize she had post baby blues. She went to talk to George about her concerns and he was so confused about this. He felt that being a new mom would make her the happiest but she barely held JR. except to feed him. Mabel told him that she needed to see a doctor for this or it could get worse. Mabel & George took her to the doctor and he had given her medicine which did help a bit. Things started to go better and with Maple & Ben so close they covered up a lot of things so George would not worry. Mabel made dinners most nights & took car if JR while the girls helped clean up things so by the time George got home all was done Mabel was at home. This went on for 4 months when they found out that Anne was expecting again. She started to get busy knowing that she was having another March baby. Jr. will be 1 yr. old by the time the baby comes. This time she will be going to a hospital to have this one.
It was just a normal day with George out to work early & Anne straightening up the house. Anne was prepared this time with her suit case. She knew this time she would get to spend some time at the hospital to rest. She had made a cake because today was JR.’s 1st birthday so her mom & dad where coming over & George was coming home early also. The cake looked great and the house looked good also. Dinner was just potato soup with bacon & grated carrots to give it color. They had a nice dinner and cake for JR. and sat talking as they use to . George & Ben had been talking about the state of things in Germany and what may happen in the next year or 2 while Anne and her momma fixed up the babies cradle. Mabel asked Anne how things were with her and George since that moved to Jesup and Anne knew he needed to get back to Johnson County soon so Mabel told her the news they had talked about. IF George decided to move back they would sell their house and get a place close by or if possible the would help out when whenever they needed her. Anne was happy about this because she felt that the move was going to happen soon after the birth of the baby.
Everyone went home while Anne put the rest of the soup in the ice box and got ready for bed. Anne rested really good but woke at 6 am with he water breaking and soaking the bed but there was a lot of blood. George called Mabel to stay with the girls so he could rush Anne to the hospital . It was March 13, 1939 and Anne was admitted to the hospital right away while George filled out the paperwork. The Doctor came in and saw the blood and realized the baby was trying to be born breach. Things were not looking good so the decided to for a C-section & they sent word to Marble of the complications and the doctor gave Anne a sedative to ease her pain. After 13 hours of pain it was time to take the baby. George got to watch the delivery through the glass doors. Once they pulled the baby out they turned toward the door so George saw it was another boy that he named Kendell Harold. When Anne came too they told her that she had a baby boy named Kenneth Harold. Anne was surprised because George never talked it over with her and she wanted to name him Ben after her dad. George had never came back to the hospital that evening. He stayed away for 2 days because he had to work to get the money for the bills. And how soon they can get home to get since the baby coming the way he did. George had let Mabel and Ben keep the babies while he worked from sun up to sunset the whole time that Anne was in the hospital.
It has been 5 days since Anne had Kendell and since she saw George but she did not want to start anything right now with them heading home to the other kids. She was so glad to be going home and get settled in until it is time to pack up. When she walked though the door with the baby she had to protect her stomach area from running kids. She felt so much love from those 3 little ones. She knew they missed her.
In my next blog I will continue this story. It will be titled “Going Home” Small Miracles part II