My great-grandmother was born in 1890 somewhere in Arkansas; I think Cominto, but I’m not really sure about that. She died in 1989 just six months short of being 100 years old. My mother’s generation, the grandchildren of my great-grandmother, knew her as “Big Mama”. Her great-grandchildren knew her as “Great Mother”. I knew her as Miss Annie, because she told me that’s what she was called and she was happy that I referred to her that way. I had the pleasure and honor of living with her for awhile to take care of her while my grandmother was in the hospital.
The two of them lived together and my grandmother had to have surgery, so my great-grandmother was left alone. Miss Annie was 20 or 21 years old when she married my great-grandfather. He was 40 or 41 at the time, so about twice her age. It was scandalous for such a young girl to marry a man that age. It was even more scandalous that he was divorced (scandalous, scandalous). I never heard her refer to him except as Mr. Porter; I think he was John Henry Porter, but I don’t know that because she always just referred to him as Mr. Porter. They got pregnant with my grandmother and she was born in 1910 or 1911.
My great-grandfather died before his daughter, my grandmother, reached one year old; he was still in his early forties. They say my great-grandfather died of “consumption", which at the time usually meant tuberculosis. My great-grandmother was now a widow with an infant baby. She’s sitting on the porch of their house holding my grandmother in the crook of her arm. Back in that day, there were salesmen who would go to houses and try to sell all sorts of goods. A salesman came to the house and started up the steps to the porch where my great-grandmother was sitting and holding my grandmother.
Miss Annie said, “Don’t come up here.” He said, “I just want to show you my goods and see if you want to buy something.” She said, “Don’t take another step.” He proceeded. She’s holding her infant daughter and has no husband because he has recently died. With baby in arm, she reaches over and picks up a shotgun. She tells this guy if he takes another step she’s going to “blow him out to the street”. Well, he took another step, but it was backwards until he got off the stairs to the porch. She was a feisty woman to her dying day. Talk to your family; be close to your family; they are your best friends.