Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Granny and Daddy Bo's Fight in 1975 Helped Me Find Some Old Photos Today

Click to Enlarge

Daddy Bo, Granny and me around 1970 likely at The Smokies

I recently found more really old family photos thanks to my 12-year-old self and my grandmother, Elizabeth Castellaw Williams.

I actually got my first taste of genealogy from Granny, as we called her, one summer when I was about 12. I was spending a week with my grandparents near Holly Grove in Haywood County, and a heated argument broke out between them. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I was hiding behind the well house in their back yard, surrounded by irises, so I had a perfect view of Granny standing on the landing at the back door, hands on her hips, breathing hard, and Daddy Bo down below looking like he was ready to explode but not quite sure how.

I remember she had a tissue in her hand and she was wiping sweat off her forehead. Some pretty ugly accusations were thrown around and Granny threatened to throw Daddy Bo out and take "Poppa's land" and there was no way she was going to let him send her to Bolivar. I remember him being at a loss for words, shaking his head and walking away.

I would eventually discover they were a passionate couple. Heated arguments one minute with him living in a trailer in the back and then holding hands the next. You could easily tell the status of their relationship by whether his recliner was in the den or if he had moved it into the kitchen so he could watch wrestling alone. One never knows what really goes on in a marriage but I know for certain, their's was never boring.

Anyway, Daddy Bo left and spent the rest of that day at the barn and I guess Granny needed an ally so she began talking about the past and her parents and siblings and things that happened years ago.

She pulled out some old albums and some envelopes stuffed with papers and photos and began telling me some fascinating stories that involved sex, death, land-stealing, arson and the place everyone in Haywood County feared, "Bolivar," which was, and actually still is, the location of Western State Mental Hospital.

I was terrified and excited all at the same time.

Click to Enlarge

Joe Williamson and daughters
Janie (Daddy Bo's mother), Jessie, Nannie, Jo and Mai

As she was telling the stories, I mentioned I needed to figure out a way to remember who was in the pictures so she got a pen and began writing on the first one. I stopped her after that first photo and got some paper and drew outlines of the people and she identified them. Since I was so into it, Granny said she would give me the photos when she died.

I gave the paper with the drawings to my mother and went on with my life. 

True to her word, when Granny died in 1998, among some of the things in the chest she kept in the guest bedroom was an envelope with "give to Scott Williams" written on it. Along with the old photos she had shown me she had also added a few others.

I recently ran across the drawings at my mother's house and it made me remember the envelope of photos Granny had left me. I located the photos in the same envelope in an old filing cabinet we keep in the attic.

Below are the drawings and the photos from the envelope:

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

Robert Edward "Bob" and Zula Zera Watridge Castellaw
and children around 1908

back row l to r: Bob, Isaac, and Daniel
front row l to r: Brant, Rob Zula and Irene

Ruby and Elizabeth were not yet born

This photo is still in remarkably good shape and has a lot of details. It shows how much Bob had aged by the time the photo above was taken. Daniel is looking like he wants to get away.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Robert Edward "Bob" Castellaw and sons Isaac,
Daniel and Robert Jefferson around 1899

Although my grandmother identified the people in these photos, I am not certain she was correct. After chatting (via Facebook) with my cousin Sandra, we believe the lady in the photo marked as number two is actually Nancy Marianna Johnson Castellaw who was Granny's paternal grandmother. 

We're still checking on the identity of the others.

Click to Enlarge

Likely Robert Edward Castellaw around the 1890s
Click to Enlarge

Likely Nancy Marianna Johnson
Click to Enlarge

Likely Zula Zera Watridge Castellaw around the 1890s

Also in the envelope were six photos of my dad as a boy.

Click to Enlarge

Bob Williams

My grandmother must have liked this photo of herself since it was the only one she included. She and my grandfather have a Bonnie and Clyde thing going.

Click to Enlarge

Lloyd "Bo" and Elizabeth Castellaw Williams
at a gas station around 1935

If you went to the Memphis Zoo in the '40s and '50s you probably had a photo made like this one of my father.

Click to Enlarge

Bob Williams at the Memphis Zoo in the late 1940s

I had to get my dad to help identify these people. A few of them we can't ID. Email me if you know who they are.

Click to Enlarge

children on front row: Jerry Taylor, unknown, Bob Williams,
Glynn Watridge, Unknown, Ann Sullivan

second row: Edna Watridge, Elizabeth Williams, Martha Edna, Hubert Jones

back row: Everette Watridge, Bo Williams, Sonny Boy Taylor

For more, visit my Blog Home Page or the Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

1 comment: