How many families have siblings who race to see who will give their parents the first grandchild?
I don’t know if that was the case for Will and Cassie Davis’ daughters—their lone son, the baby of the family, was out of the running from the start—but from my vantage point, ’way on the far side of the finish line, I can see the oldest daughter did not win the First Grandchild prize.
The oldest Davis daughter, Lummie, as we’ve already seen, had her sights set on world travel and adventure. Perhaps because she was career-minded, even in such an era as the turn of the last century, she didn’t have her first—and only—child until she was forty years of age.
Though Chevis, whom we’ve just finished discussing, was seven years younger than Lummie, she had her first child a full fifteen years before Lummie’s daughter was born.
But that wasn’t the eldest Davis grandchild.
The daughter who presented Will and Cassie with their first grandchild was their second-born daughter, Mabel.
The youngest of the Davis girls to have married, Mabel made that commitment at the age of eighteen. Her beau was a civil engineer from the state of Virginia named LeRoy Okeson Hines. According to Tennessee State records—and, of course, the Davis family Bible—the two exchanged their vows on October 28, 1906.
A little over a year later, on November 17, 1907, Stella Mabel Hines heralded the start of a new generation for the Davis family of Erwin, Tennessee—nearly seven and a half years before the arrival of the next grandchild.
Much as I had first found out about my grand-aunt Chevis, I first knew these details about Mabel and her husband and daughter from the Davis family Bible. Once again, just as had happened when I asked about Chevis, my family was at a loss as to how to explain what happened to Mabel’s husband—and even her daughter.
The only difference in this case was that I did get to meet Aunt Mabel, myself. Although she morphed into that fuzzy stuff that childhood memories are made of, at least she had a place in the panorama of recollections I had of family members from long ago. I can remember her face, and remember those few visits she had made to our home, from my youngest years.
It feels very different to be able to write about a family member I have actually “known”—though what can a child of that age really know about life? After years of research, trying to find what became of her fractured family, I find I really knew very little about even this relative whom I had actually met.