Saturday, August 25, 2012

Auntie Mame: Memphis Style

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Source: Peggy Anderson

top row, l to r: Nora Castellaw Hilburn, Jim and Jennie Castellaw Jacocks
bottom row: Nora's daughter, Edith Hilburn Beloate,
and her children Nora and James Howard Beloate

1940, Baton Rouge, LA

In June, I posted some family photos and new info I received from Peggy Anderson, a distant relative with whom I connected online. Peggy’s great grandmother, Nora Castellaw Hilburn, (top left in the photo) was the sister of my great grandfather, Bob Castellaw.  Peggy just emailed this great family photo taken in Baton Rouge, LA in 1940 at the home of Jim and Jennie Jacocks.

When my second great grandmother, Nancy Johnson Castellaw, donated land and helped build the first school in Holly Grove, Jennie Castellaw Jacocks, pictured in the photo above, was the school's first teacher.

Nora also sent me a photo and information about her mother's sister, Carrye, who was one of her favorite family members from her childhood. Despite a lifetime of physical challenges and illness, it sounds like Carrye became something of an “Auntie Mame” to many of her nieces and nephews.

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Carrye Louise Hilburn Jackson at age 18 in 1926

Carrye was born in Brownsville in Haywood Co., TN on 6 Oct 1908 and was the fifth child of Nora Castellaw and John T. Hilburn’s eight children. She was a “sickly” child and, from her symptoms, it's thought she likely had rheumatoid arthritis and/or lupus. She also suffered from kidney problems, which began during her teenage years and lasted throughout her life. Later, when she was a young adult, Carrye had a stroke and, at some point, required a hip transplant.

When she was just 19, Carrye married Thomas O. Jackson who was a 39-year-old widower with four children. At the time, her mother Nora commented that he was "marrying a load of medical bills."

Carrye’s new husband was sometimes called “T. O.” but was more commonly called "Jack." While the children in the family called him "Uncle Jack," they were never allowed to call Carrye "Aunt" as she insisted all the children refer to her as just "Carrye."

Jack was an executive with Louisville and Nashville Railroad and he and Carrye transferred from Memphis to Birmingham around 1930.

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Carrie and Jack's apartment in Birmingham

In the US census of 1940, the couple was living at 2815, 10th Avenue South in Birmingham, AL. Living with them was Juanita Jackson who was 18 and I assume was his youngest daughter from his first marriage.

Shortly after the census, they returned to Memphis and, around that time, Carrye had a stroke which, while not majorly debilitating, resulted in her having limited mobility and needing the use of a cane to walk.

Peggy remembers her Aunt and Uncle having more money than the rest of the family. They lived in very fancy, well-decorated apartments and Carrye always dressed in the latest fashions, even wearing mink coats.
“She was both flamboyant and dramatic. My sister Anne and I were allowed to go for 'sleepovers' at her apartment when we were little kids. She would take out martini glasses and fill them with Kool-Aid and tell us we were having cocktails. We now suspect Carrye's glass was filled with the real thing. She also allowed me to have 'puffs' of her cigarettes. Both Carrye and Uncle Jack were fun. Uncle Jack played the piano like a madman. He used to play the 'Yellow Rose of Texas' over and over for my sister and I.

She also had a penchant for changing her name. She called herself Jeri in Birmingham but reverted back to Carrye when she returned to Memphis. When my uncle Jimmy Beloate once took a notion that he wanted to be called 'James' and not Jimmy, Carrye is the only one who would call him James. I guess she could relate!”
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Carrye and Jack's apartment in Midtown, Memphis

In the ‘50s, Carrye and Jack lived at 1837 Tutwiler at the corner of McLean, right across the street from Snowden School and about 30 seconds from my house.

In June 1957, Carrye checked into the Methodist Hospital in Memphis to have an artificial hip repaired. While in the hospital, she contracted pneumonia and died on 28 June 1957 at the age of 48.

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Carrye Louise Hilburn Jackson's headstone at Forest Hill Cemetery, Memphis

Carrye was buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Memphis. Next to her headstone is one for Beulah C. Jackson who was born in 1892 and died in 1926. I am not certain but it seems likely this was Jack's first wife.

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Carrye Jackson's headstone in the foreground with
grave of J. T. Harahan in the upper left, background.

Carrye has an interesting spot to spend eternity. Directly across the street is the grave of J. T. Harahan and just a few yards away is the mausoleum where Elvis Presley was initially buried.

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J.T. Harahan was a Memphis businessman and former president of the Illinois Central Train Company who was killed in a train wreck in 1912. On July 15, 1916, the "Harahan Bridge" opened for railroad traffic and was named in his honor. It was the second bridge to span the Mississippi River at Memphis. Steve Cox has a great tour of the bridge today on his site.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, go to Haywood County Line Genealogy Page.

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