Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Just a Good Southern Home

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.

Cassie Davis standing outside her home in Erwin TN holding a white rabbit
I never met Cassie, though I feel as if I had. Every visit to my aunt’s home included a stay in the guest bedroom which included an unusual photograph of the woman—the one I’m featuring here today.

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.

On the Asheville Highway, the location boasted “Gulf Gas and Oils—Lunches—Cold Drinks,” along with a “Day and Night Wrecker Service” and “Used Tires and Repair Shop.”

In that era before tag lines, the widowed Cassie Davis had created a tag line for her brand of lodging: “Just a Good Southern Home.”


  1. Just a good southern home and I bet it was a great place to stay. Well now, I used to have rabbits, they are wonderful creatures and I have some photos of me with them. Some people even raise them for meat...rabbits can have a litter every 32 days if you let them. Mine knew their names and even after I released them into the wild (after I raised two sets of babies because of their breeding habits) they would come running when I called them.
    Love a lady with a rabbit. I recently bought an old photo of a lady and a rabbit too:)

    1. I thought a photo of a lady with a rabbit was so unusual--even if it was my own great-grandmother!

      Didn't know you raised rabbits, Far Side. My husband's cousin used to breed unusual varieties of rabbits. I guess it is a world of its own. How unique that you'd raise them and release them into the wild. Sweet.

  2. I wonder if "rabbit lady" is a condition like "cat lady".... :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...