A Family History Christmas Blessing

In December 1889 my Great Aunt Beulah Magnolia and husband Samuel were expecting their first child.  After almost two years of marriage, the much anticipated arrival of the baby was one of great joy for Beulah and Samuel as well as grandparents and extended families.  Likely, everyone thought a Christmas day birthday would be a blessing.  Perhaps everyone, but Aunt Beulah.

While waiting for the 'blessed' event, Beulah may have thoughtfully wished for a boy like the one in the Christmas card she included in her gifts for family and friends. 

Beulah was the oldest of ten children and no doubt an experienced homemaker.  Her Christmas gifts were very likely home baked and handmade.  The Christmas card her only purchase.

 I can imagine her 'Baby Hope Chest' filled with tiny baby clothes and blankets in neutral colors suitable for either a boy or girl, and perhaps a few skeins of blue yarn and a few yards of blue flannel.

And Blessed they were. 
 On Christmas Day, December 25, 1889,
Henry Grady James
was born in
Lithia Springs, Douglas County, Georgia.
Grady, as he was called, made his first appearance in the US Census in 1900...he was 10 years old.  He was listed along with his parents Samuel and Beulah, his younger brother Clifford who was born August 11, 1893, and to my surprise and great delight, my Grandfather Chapel Pittman, age 24, was listed as a farmer laborer.  This was significant information to the whereabouts of Chapel after the death of his mother in 1895 and his father and younger siblings leaving Georgia for Texas in 1898.
I'm glad Grady got to know and work with his Uncle Chappo.  Yes, at 10 years old Grady was listed as a farm laborer.  It's assumed that Grady went to school, too.  In the 1910 Census he was noted as able to read and write and had continued his occupation as a farm laborer on the family farm.  Again, his parents and brother were listed.  Samuel was 52, Beulah 41, Grady 20 and Clifford 16.  His Uncle Chappo, my grandfather, had moved on to Texas and was listed with his father, stepmother, and brother.  Chappo was 34....not yet my grandfather, but still Grady's Uncle.

  Grady spent his life in Douglas County, Georgia.  Never far from his birthplace and always a devoted son to his mother.  Grady celebrated 64 Christmas Day birthdays with his mother Beulah.  He, wife Eugenia, their two sons Herbert and Frank, lived on the James' family farm when in1940 his father Samuel died.

In a letter to her brother in 1943, Beulah wrote about her grandson Herbert being like his Dad Grady..."don't talk much, but a good boy". 

Grady's younger brother Clifford died in 1937 at age 43.  Beulah likened Grady's son Frank to Clifford in same letter saying, "He is like Clifford in ways;  got a word for everybody and makes friends where he goes.  Frank is witty and full of life." 

Beulah had been a widow for three years at the time she wrote the letter that included her picture.  It is now a treasured piece of history in our family.  Her telling of picking cotton, the hard time in making enough profit to keep renters on for another year, and in her words, "For next year seems as world is upside down.  I will never live to see it straightened out".  Beulah Magnolia Pittman James died 11 years later on July 30, 1954.

Grady had 16 more Christmas Day Birthdays. Less than 2 months after his 77th birthday his son Herbert  died in February 1967.    Grady and Eugenia remained on the James' family farm until their deaths only 3 days apart...Grady on February 9, and Eugenia on February 12, 1970.  Their youngest son Frank who had survived World War II in the Air Force, died at age 76 on February 12, 1995.

Henry Grady James, my once removed 1st cousin , nephew of my Grandfather Chappo, son of my Great Aunt with a lovely southern lady's name, Beulah Magnolia, has the only Christmas Day Birthday in our Family Tree. (as far as I can find).
Merry Christmas and Happy 128th Birthday in Heaven Cousin Grady!
Please tell Great Aunt Beulah the world is still upside down,
but on your Christmas Day Birthday it gets somewhat straightened out!


peppylady (Dora) said...

Holiday blessing...yes indeed. Not sure where the name Beulah comes from but I have an Aunt with that name.
Coffee is on

Sue McPeak said...

'The name Beulah is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Beulah is: Married, to marry, claimed as a wife. This Old Testament place name became common in English-speaking countries after the Reformation. Famous references - in the Bible Beulah is a name symbolic of the heavenly Zion.'

Hi Dora...it seems people are not naming baby girls Beulah these days...Magnolia either. Interesting to know Beulah is a Biblical name. I think I knew that once upon a time, but forgot. Thanks for reminding me to look it up. Thanks for visiting and commenting this year. Merry Christmas !

Joanne said...

awesome family history and Christmas story. Down through the ages, over the river, and through the woods.....you've got it covered

Sue McPeak said...

Yep, through the Georgia pines across the Mississippi and through the Mesquite to West Texas they came so I could tell their stories.

bookworm said...

Wonderful story, wonderful illustrations. I don't know that much about my family tree, especially my mother's side. Wishing you a most Merry of Christmases. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com


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