Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lillie's Love

Walker County Alabama, Charlie Fletcher Gurganus, Fletcher, Fletch, Lillie Powell, Gurganus, ancestry, descendants, genealogy
Charlie Fletcher Gurganus
On March 22, 2016, I wrote about Lillie Powell Gurganus and her beautiful long hair. Much of what I learned about her was shared by a descendant, Betty Wedgeworth. You can find Lillie's story HERE.

Betty indicated that after Lillie's passing, her family discovered among her personal treasures handmade Valentines, cards and birthday messages from her sweetheart and husband, Charlie Fletcher Gurganus. I couldn't help but wonder what kind of man took the time to create such expressions of his love? Knowing that both Fletcher and Lillie had grown up in a small farming community in Alabama during a time when few in the area were educated much beyond 8th grade, I was intrigued by a man who would express his love for his wife through the written word.

As I've learned about Fletcher's life from descendants, I discovered a theme woven through his life and that was his loyalty and love for God, family and music.

Born the 25th of August 1893 to John Gurganus and Amanda Evans,  Fletcher or Fletch as he was often called, was the youngest in a large family and lovingly spoiled by both his parents and his older siblings.  He grew up in the Northwest part of Alabama, about 22 miles from Birmingham in the green hills of Walker County, Alabama. Rich with hills, hollows, dense trees, rivers and lakes, Walker County provided many opportunities for hunting and fishing and was in many ways, the perfect playground for little boys.

Late in the 19th century, coal and lumber provided additional opportunities for men living in Walker County to support their families, yet many continued to rely on traditional farming. Such was the case for the Gurganus family. Fletcher's father, John, farmed and his mother, Mandy, had her hands full raising Fletcher and his eight siblings.

It was there in Walker County that young Fletcher won the heart of Lillie Powell. They courted, fell in love and were married on the 13 December 1914.  Fletcher followed in his father's footsteps and farmed out of necessity, but he was only too glad to have his children take over when they were old enough. He and Lillie had five children; Ova, Iva, John, Glenn and Doston.







Like many of the Gurganuses, Charlie Fletcher was musically gifted and loved to share his gift with others. Several of his songs were published in church songbooks. A devoted Christian, he could be found leading the singing at church and spent many summers traveling around the South, teaching music at Church of Christ singing schools. He would spend a week at one church before moving onto the next.

Although he willingly shared his talent with many in the community, Fletcher seemed to be the happiest when he spent time with his family. He loved to gather his family and have them sing while he played the organ.


Family Picture taken about 1930
Children from eldest to youngest:
Ova, Iva, John, Glen and Doston

On March 10, 1975, the love of his life, Lillie, passed away leaving Fletcher alone.  He lived another seventeen years, but never remarried. During his final years, he divided his time between his daughters. In Memphis, Tennessee on the 15th of October, 1991, ninety-nine year old Fletcher passed away peacefully in his sleep.


Fletcher playing his organ. Organ is now in the possession of
his grandson. 
I was delighted to be introduced to Charlie Fletcher Gurganus, a man who not only took the time to tenderly pen love notes to his beloved Lillie, but a man devoted to God, family and music, who willingly shared his love and talents with others throughout his life.

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved

15 comments:

  1. I'm so glad that Fletcher's organ has found a home with is grandson. My dad played the organ for years and it was very tough to see it go after his death.

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    1. I'm glad there was someone who was able to take it too. I wonder if he plays as well?

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  2. What a strong jaw - that's what I noticed in each of his pictures. I wonder about the singing schools. I did some research when I saw that my great-grandmother's song books have shaped notes. I read a lot about shaped notes and singing schools -- the two seemed to be discussed together like they went together automatically although I'm not sure that's so. Do you know whether the grandson has any of Fletcher's song books and if they have shaped notes?

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    1. I don't know that Wendy, but it would be interesting to find out. I thought the shape notes went with Sacred Harp music and I didn't think it was accompanied by instruments.

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  3. What a sweet story, thank you for sharing it.

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  4. He sounds like an amazing man! You told the story beautifully.

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  5. Love the way your blog is organized. You seem to post quite regularly. I'm trying to get it together for my blog. There is a learning curve I accidentally erased some of my blog today so have been reconstructing my post for this week.

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    1. Thanks Grant! If you look back through my blog posts you will see that I eb and flow with blog posts. Sometimes I do better than others. I am learning to try and write ahead and not wait until the last minute to try and come up with something and that has helped a lot. There definitely is a learning curve as well as trying to find your own voice. Oh and I love your blog!

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  6. I look at those Gurganuses, and I see facial features awfully similar to my paternal grandmother (Margaret Belle Gurganus Davis Fondren) and her father, James Monroe Gurganus.

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    1. Don't you just love it? I love when I can see the family resemblances.

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  7. Some of his features remind me of my son. I would upload a pic if I could!

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    1. Oh Katie, I really wish I could see a picture of him!

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    2. Oh Katie, I really wish I could see a picture of him!

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