Showing posts with label Powell Lillie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Powell Lillie. Show all posts

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

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Grandmother Who Let Her Hair Down

long hair, Lillie Powell Gurganus, Walker County, Alabama , Fletcher Gurganus, Charles F. Gurganus, Charlie Snow Powell, Rebecca Jane Holley, Genealogy. Family History, Census,
Lillie Powell at the age of 16
As Lillie carefully unpinned and released her hair, the tresses tumbled down past her shoulders. Picking up the hair brush, her grand-daughters would carefully begin the much loved past time of brushing their grandmother's long locks. Gently they would pull the brush through Lillie's hair which fell down past her shoulders and on past her waist. The silken strands of hair represented a lifetime of growth, a lifetime of second glances from strangers, a lifetime of questions about how long she had been growing it and a lifetime of admiration from others, who like me, are very hair challenged.

Lillie Powell Gurganus never cut her hair throughout her entire life. Brushing her hair was among her grand-daughters' favorite things to do with their grandmother. Sitting in a chair, her long thick hair reached down to the floor in her later years. As a young girl she often wore it down, evidence of  how long it really was, but in her later years it was carefully braided and then pinned around her head.

Lillie was born on the 17th of June 1895 to Charlie Snow Powell and Rebecca Jane Holley in Walker County, Alabama. She was their oldest daughter and the third child in a large family. Growing up in Walker County, the Powell family lived in relatively close proximity to the large Gurganus family, so it's not too surprising that Lillie and Charles Fletcher Gurganus had the opportunity to meet. Fletcher and Lillie began the process of courting at a young age and it soon led to their marriage on a winter's day, the 13th of December 1914.

There in Walker County, replete with rolling hills, rivers and forests and living near extended family members, Fletcher farmed and Lillie took care of the household chores and their five children.

Her grandchildren remember Lillie as soft spoken and for her sense of industry. A firm believer that an idle mind was the devil's workshop, she constantly busied about, doing something productive with her time. If by chance you found her sitting, she was not idle, but generally busy at the lost art of mending, darning or meticulously piecing together a quilt top. As her children grew and married, they returned to Lillie and Fletcher's home for cherished family dinners where Lillie constantly bustled about, tending to the needs of each of her precious visitors.

In Walker county on the tenth of March, 1975, at the age of 80, Lillie Powell passed from this life. Among the things she left behind were treasured remembrances such as handmade Valentines, cards and birthday messages from her husband, evidence of their love for each other. But in the hearts of her grandchildren, she left cherished memories of time spent together at family gatherings as well as those uniquely special moments when she unpinned her long braids for them, and they had the privilege of brushing her beautiful long hair. They truly prize the memories of Grandma Lillie letting down her hair.

A special thanks to Betty Wedgeworth for sharing a few memories and the picture of her grandmother Lillie Powell Gurganus. 

For those curious about our connection, Charlie Fletcher Gurganus was my third cousin, twice removed. 

Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2016, All rights reserved