Sunday, February 9, 2014

Mary Davis of "Pumpkinville"

I must admit that I know very little of my maternal great grandmother Mary E Davis Shepherd except from what I have been told. I was only about 4 years old when she died; so, unfortunately,  I have no personal memories of her. Mary was born on October 7, 1882 in Tompkinsville, Monroe County, Kentucky to parents Charles Perry Davis and Sarah Jane Percy. At one time we had been told that she was born in Pumpkinville, Kentucky. This always sounded somewhat suspicious to me. When I started digging into her genealogy, I found that she was from Tompkinsville, which to someone, may have sounded like Pumpkinville! Her obituary in the Quincy newspapers actually did say Pumpkinville!

Her family moved to Linneus, Linn  County, Missouri sometime between 1882 and 1886. I was told by Mary’s great nephew, Keith Jones, that they had moved from Kentucky to Missouri due to Charles getting a job with the railroad. They were in Gregory, Clark County, Missouri by 1888 where Mary’s brother Charles Lee was born. By 1899, the family was located in LaGrange, Lewis County, Missouri; this is where Mary’s sister, Lillie Belle, was born.

Mary’s siblings were Dan L. born December 11, 1880 in Tompkinsville; George William born January 11, 1886 in Linneus, Missouri; Charles Lee born February 22, 1888 in Gregory, Missouri; and Lillie Belle born February 15, 1899 in LaGrange, Missouri. Charles Lee only lived to age 2. 

Mary and Robert E Shepherd were married on August 27, 1902 in LaGrange, Missouri. They had a total of seven children. This came as a big surprise to my sister, Cindy, and me when we visited Marks Cemetery in LaGrange, Missouri. We were looking for the tombstones of Mary’s parents and her grandmother, Margaret Percy. We successfully found them, but we also found a tombstone nearby with four children’s names. They turned out to be children of Mary and Robert Shepherd who had all died very young. They were Norma Estelle (1909-1913), Mildred (1908), Robert Russell (1919), and Mary Elma (1920). I remember my grandma talking about Norma, but I had never heard of the other four. So, this was quite a find for us. 

In the picture below, from left to right, Mabel, Edna, Mary, Robert, and Charles

Mom had written down many remembrances of her Grandma Mary. Keith Jones also told me that he knew her as Aunt Molly which I had never heard before. She was a great cook; mom remembered her making noodles and they would be hanging all over the place to dry. She had a small pig when they lived on 22nd Street in Quincy; it would follow grandma around the yard like a pet. Grandma also had a pig collection that was handed down to my grandma and then mom. Unfortunately, it was lost in mom’s house fire in 1985. Grandma always had a big garden and she raised turkeys when they lived on Oak Street in Quincy. She had a grape arbor in the back yard and always made grape jelly. From the garden, she would sell some of the produce, but anything left over was canned. Mary and husband, Robert, had worked in a button factory in Muscatine, Iowa but I am not sure when that occurred. 

 In the picture below, from left to right, is Mary and children Mabel, Charles, and Edna
In LaGrange around 1920

My great grandparents were extremely kind and generous. They took in a foster child named Russell Mansperger during the time of the Great Depression. I am not certain when they took him in or why, but he was with them in the 1930 census at the age of 10. He continued to live with them until tragedy struck when Russell drowned in the municipal pool when he was 20.

One funny story I learned about great grandma was she always called her husband, Robert,  “Dad”. When asked why, she said she wasn’t sleeping with a grandpa! From the sounds of it, great grandma was quite the kidder! Mom said in her notes that great grandma “had a little bit of the devil dancing in those beautiful eyes”. One time when the grandkids were out playing, she called out to them and asked if they wanted some hot chocolate. Of course, they all said yes. When they came inside and finished the hot chocolate, grandma asked everyone if they liked it. “YES!” was the reply. Then she started laughing and told them she had made it with goat’s milk! I’m glad I wasn’t around!

After the tragedy of losing four children very young  and losing their foster child, she seems to have been a very strong person. It’s amazing to me that she was able to maintain such a wonderful sense of humor. I only wish I had been able to know her.