Annie's Grandparents

“Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry

from which you were digged” (Isaiah 51:1,RSV).

The prophet reminded a people in exile to remember the faithfulness and solidarity of their ancestral past. The past could not be relived, but it could become the foundation for a blessed future. Even so, we claim our heritage and build on it to provide a heritage of faithfulness for those who follow us.

I have thoroughly enjoyed studying the genealogy of my family. I pray I will be able to finish it as a legacy to remember me long after I have left this earth.

My dear friend Annie asked me to rewrite a penciled draft of memories to leave for future generations in her family. I agreed to do this if she would share her stories with you.

Her maternal grandparents were Ephraam Bradley (1858-1948, 90 years) and Bettie Clark Hacker (1864-1962). Grandmother Bradley died at the age of 98 years, 7 months, 20 days, and was the most inspirational person Annie ever knew. She was born April 24, 1864 during the Civil War (April 12, 1861-April 26, 1865) in Texas, Washington County, Kentucky in the center of the state. Abraham Lincoln was our President. The Civil War or War Between the States lasted four heart-breaking years when brother fought brother. That impassioned Georgian, Howell Cobb, told Congress: “A fire has been kindled which all the waters of the ocean cannot put out, and which only seas of blood can extinguish.” He was right. For only through one of the bloodiest of all civil wars was the slavery question in the United States laid to rest.

Bettie Clark Hacker was 13 years of age when her family moved to Texas in 1877. There were four families who came together on a train. The only other family name Annie could remember was “Carpenter.” I was excited. My husband’s maternal grandmother was Louella Carpenter. I have traced this family to March 26, 1751 when Dr. George Carpenter, Sr. migrated to the United States from Switzerland. They lived in Casey County, Kentucky. Marion County separates Casey and Washington counties! Dr. George Carpenter had 11 children. Some lived in Boyd County which is adjacent to the northeast part of Washington County. Carpenters also came to Texas from Lincoln County—all in central Kentucky. It’s just possible the Carpenter family that traveled from Kentucky to Texas on the train with the Hacker family were my relatives.

The Hacker family settled in Collin County near the towns of Plano and Allen, Texas. Louella Carpenter married Thomas George Geddes, Jr. who came to Coryell County, Texas from London, England in 1886 when he was 16. He and Louella were married in 1894. Coryell County is due south from Collin County, Texas.

Annie’s grandparents taught school in Collin County, Texas. At one time, they lived in Prosper, Texas and taught school there. They moved to Oklahoma probably around 1898. Nine children were born in Texas; three were born in Oklahoma.

Annie’s grandmother told stories about the Civil War which she heard from her kinfolks. One was about the horse-drawn salt wagons and the difficult times they had getting through enemy lines. Salt is essential to diet and health. Body cells must have salt in order to live and work. Blood, sweat and tears are salty. Salt makes up 0.9% of the blood and body cells. It had many medical uses during this time period. It was used to make normal saline solution, which was injected into the tissues of blood vessels to replace fluid lost by bleeding, and for other purposes such as purgatives and soaking of infections. A pinch of salt in a glass of water makes an excellent gargle or mouth wash. A tablespoonful in a glass of water serves as an emetic, and a strong solution was often used to kill thread-worms by injecting it into the bowel. As the salt supply diminished, soldiers’ wounds would not heal. The salt wagons saved lives.

Salt is mentioned throughout the Bible, mostly for seasoning. Here is a story in II Kings

2:19-22 from Tyndale’s Living Bible: “Now a delegation of the city officials of Jericho visited Elisha. ‘We have a problem,’ they told him. ‘This city is located in beautiful natural surroundings, as you can see; but the water is bad, and causes our women to have miscarriages.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘bring me a new bowl filled with salt.’ So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the city well and threw the salt in and declared, The Lord has healed these waters. They shall no longer cause death or miscarriage.’”

We don’t know why Annie’s grandparents moved to Oklahoma. Times were really hard, and perhaps they thought things would get better there. It wasn’t. Grandfather was gone from the home at great lengths. Every morning, Grandmother would sit on the side of her bed and say, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want today.”

One morning, she fed the children all the food she had in the cabinet.

At noon, she went into the kitchen and built a fire in the wood burning stove. There was nothing to cook. She walked out the door towards the road and said, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want today.”

I wonder if she thought she might find vegetables left over in someone’s garden. In the Bible, there are stories where the fields were not gleaned in the corners, so the poor could come and gather food. Leviticus 19:9,10: “And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field…neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger . I am the Lord your God.” Also, Deuteronomy 24:21 and Ruth 2.

As Grandmother walked down the road, she looked up and saw the mailman on horseback coming toward her. He stopped and gave her a letter from one of her older boys. Inside was $20. “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want today!” She returned home with plenty of food. She had FAITH to build the fire, ready for cooking the noonday meal.

Annie loved to hear this story over and over again. She marveled at her grandmother’s faith. Many times in Annie’s life when she was discouraged, she thought of “the woman who built the fire” and was strengthened to trust God to take care of her. Grandmother told her daughter (Annie’s mother), “My prayers will follow you after I am gone.”

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