A frequent rest stop for the Davis family, in those many journeys crisscrossing the continent in search of work during that difficult decade of the 1930s, was my grandfather’s hometown in Erwin, Tennessee. That newspaper clipping posted yesterday mentioned one such visit to the home of Mrs. Cassie Davis.
Yes, that is a rabbit she is holding. No, I don't know why.
“Cassie” was a nickname that actually came from my great-grandmother’s middle name—a naming pattern habit the Davis family had carried down through generations. Her full name was Martha Cassandra, and she was a Booth—or Boothe, depending on who was drawing up the document in question.
All I know of her, besides what I can glean from governmental records, comes from stories my mother told me and details I’ve noticed in the few photographs I’ve seen—the one here in her older years, and one from a much younger adulthood.
Cassie married at a rather old age for those times—she was twenty eight at the time of her wedding in 1885—to William David Davis. They were parents of six children, including my grandfather as baby of the family—and as the only one of a set of twins to survive. Another sister also died in childhood. Each child’s birth, marriage—and, in the case of two, death—were duly entered in the family Bible.
Before my grandfather even turned fourteen, his father passed away. In addition to the unbearable loss that must have meant to the young boy emotionally, it also introduced the imposition of some hard financial burdens. As widows in those earlier times often did, Cassie found ways to make ends meet by taking in boarders. Some census records indicate the presence of such lodgers, and I had assumed it was an informal arrangement on a case by case basis.
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s been interesting to connect the dots on these family stories with indicators I’ve unearthed through genealogical pursuits. The other day, in the papers I’ve inherited from my aunt’s belongings, I found what appears to be Cassie’s version of a business card for her establishment: the Mrs. W. D. Davis Tourist Home. The card came complete with a photo of Cassie's residence, located at “Cor. Main and First St., Route 19W and 23” in Erwin, Tennessee.