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My great great grandparents, William Monroe Fletcher and Margaret Clementine Bowling and their children. My great grandfather was Elmer, the taller boy. I received this photo via email from a descendant of Melvina Inez. Interesting names for the children.

When it was time to name my babies I was never one to go for popular names. I wanted to give my children a sense of family heritage from the very first but as I looked through the family Bible for names I shied away from the names, Elmer and Melvina. I suppose those names were very popular at the time they were given.

I do remember my great grandfather, Elmer L. Fletcher. I recall him being very tall and always outside tending to his rose bushes. He had sky blue eyes. I also remember in a vague sort of way, my great grandfather building two bedrooms onto my parents’ house. Afterwards, he butchered one of our chickens and we had fried chicken for supper.


Elmer L. Fletcher and Mary Emmaline Mathis Fletcher at their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

My great grandfather died of a heart attack when I was five years old. I have an image of his funeral in my mind. It was in a church and there were roses everywhere. My first funeral. Back then most children weren’t so overprotected and were taken to funerals. I didn’t know what a babysitter was until my teens.

Since I’ve grown up I’ve learned more about my great grandfather. One day a few years ago my Dad mentioned the courageous feat my great grandfather accomplished to save the railroad bridge during a flood. “Grandpa” took the engine out on the bridge (during a great rain) and left it in the middle, then walked back to land. The heavy engine kept the bridge from being washed out. The bridge is still standing. I was stunned. “Why didn’t you tell me this about grandpaw?”, I asked Daddy.

“You just don’t listen.” was the response. But I am listening now and believe I was always listening. I remember asking all of my great grandmothers about what life was like when they were growing up.

At my great grandparents’ house there was a certificate hanging on the wall in honor of my great grandfather’s service as an engineer on a train that carried President Truman. My great grandfather told Daddy that he reckoned he had put a million miles on that engine.

I’ve always been fascinated by Margaret Clementine, my great great grandmother. Both her names were interesting to me and on my short list for a name when I had my daughters. It’s nice now to be able to see her image. She was the daughter of John R. Bowling, a 2nd LT in the Arkansas Infantry during the Civil War. Margaret Clementine’s father never returned from the war, he died in a Yankee prison camp. She was only three years old. Her mother, Martha Woods never remarried.

Margaret Clementine’s grandfather, David Milton Woods’ death was due to injuries received during the Civil War when bushwhackers beat him unconscious and the bottoms of his feet were burned, in an effort to make him reveal where his money was hidden. By the time this incident occurred he had spent all his money on support of the families of two of his sons and three daughters. His two eldest sons and three of his sons-in-law were with the Southern forces and their families were living with David and his wife.

How frightening that would have been for Margaret Clementine.

As I gazed upon the photo of William and Margaret Clementine and children I noted that Margaret seemed to be a kind and composed mother. She was thin and her hands seemed overworked but she rested them upon each other in Mona Lisa’s style. She, alone among the group isn’t looking directly at the photographer. Perhaps she was thinking about fixing supper. It’s now easier to picture Margaret Clementine as a little girl, perhaps with the blue eyes of her son, helping her family with chores and playing with her sisters and brothers. Both of her daughters were named for her sisters.

I end this genealogical musing with the thought that it is sometimes good to check one’s email.