Saturday, June 8, 2013

About Audrey's Birth Family

How about a little family history? Nina Barclay Beatie, Audrey's eldest daughter, shared some of it with me in an informative, entertaining email on March 26, 2006. Here, with minor edits for clarity and a few pictures sprinkled in for good measure, is what Nina wrote:

"Ernest Ray Smith was the son of Amy and [Samuel] Smith who came from Pennsylvania after the Johnstown Flood and settled in Stone County (Galena) Mo. There were several children, including Ernest Ray, Arb and Omar, adults.

Samuel S. Smith, Audrey's paternal grandfather.

Amy Lucinda (Hagadorn) Smith, Audrey's paternal grandmother.

In later years (left to right):
Arba, Anna (Omar's wife), Amy, Ernest, and Omar Smith

"Ernest was a carpenter and so was his father. They traveled around the country doing construction. They built the high school in Stotts City where Grandma [Minnie] West Brower lived with her family. The men all worked in the lead mines in that area. Minnie West (Mom's mother) met Ernest there, I think, while his parents lived in Galena on a farm they homesteaded. Their sons, Arb and Omar, were deaf mutes. They sent them to a school for the deaf in Iowa where Omar met and married a woman also a student there. They traveled on to California where he and Anna established a very lucrative real estate business. Arb came home to live until his parents both died, and Ernest stayed there on the 40-acre homestead and took care of him until his death. That occurred after [Ernest] and Minnie were parents of Audrey Lou Smith.

Ernest Ray Smith (Audrey's father)

Minnie Lee West Smith Brower (Audrey's mother)

"[Ernest] liked his home brew a bit too much for Minnie, and she divorced him for that reason when Mom was just a very small child. Minnie claimed that she married Ernest so that her parents would have one less mouth to feed. Great reason. Anyway, she turned around and married Harve Brower, a lead mine worker. Sad to say, he was also a boozer. But she stayed with him through the birth of 4 more daughters. Maybe drinking is different if you truly love someone.

(Rear) Audrey Barclay
(Front) Harve, Etta, and Minnie West Brower
Harve Brower was Etta's father, Audrey's stepfather.

"[Minnie} left [Harve] about 1931 or '2. It was a funny sight when she came driving up in an old Model-T car in front of our house. She had never driven before but she coaxed that car from the farm in Fair Grove to our house and announced she had found Harve in the back forty with the woman from the neighboring forty. Mom and Dad took her in and she never married again.

"She had no money, so despite the fact she had 4 other daughters, she lived with us for a number of years. I am sure she earned her keep helping with the 9 of us. However, when FDR came up with the Social Security plan and made it possible for people like her to get a small pittance from the government (I think it was Harold who took her down to apply, although it was against her will), she wasn't going to accept charity. Don't know what she thought she was getting from Mom and Dad. Anyway, when she started getting checks, it was a paltry sum, but by the time she died, she was getting $60 a month.

Audrey with her mother and four stepsisters.
Front row (L-R): Minnie, Neva, Irma
Back row (L-R): Velma, Etta, Audrey

"Aunt Etta had gone to the farm and gathered up some of [Minnie's] personal things and enough furniture that she rented two rooms in a home and set up housekeeping. Mom and Dad took out a small burial policy on her, so just in case something happened they could pay their share of her final expenses. She lived there for a number of years. Her other girls were able to keep her in clothing. Christmas and birthdays she always got quality clothes, coats, shoes and such from the girls. When she died, she had accumulated savings enough to pay for her burial from Social Security. Now that is money management.

"Don't think she ever went hungry during that time. She was one person I know who could go into a kitchen and come up with a delicious meal with very little. She could make the most delicious biscuits and gravy, coconut cakes, fried chicken, et cetera. She was a God fearing woman and attended church regularly. She had very little joy in her life but she was so bitter about Ernest that she deprived Mom of any interaction with her dad.

"After Mom and Dad were married, Mom learned that [Ernest] did not abandon her. He went on to California to work in the construction field and made good money. He used to send money for Mom, and [Grandma] would return it. He also sent things to Mom and Grandma would not let her have them. One year he sent a beautiful doll to her for Christmas, but Grandma would not let her play with it. She hung it up on a wall like it was a picture, and one of Mom's sisters wanted to play with it. Grandma refused, but Etta threw something at it and knocked it off the wall and broke it. Mom never forgot that incident, nor did she let Etta forget it.

"I was just a small child when Mom got a letter from [Ernest] asking if he could come to Springfield to see her. She was so thrilled, and from then on Grandma had no say in that relationship. By that time he had returned from California to Galena to take care of his brother. We would drive down there sometimes on Sunday, and he was always thrilled. Another thing he did was that he always sent a birthday card with a dollar bill enclosed to each of us kids. He was a kindly person, and he made his own home brew, which he bottled and tied the bottles together with rope and kept in the well to keep them cool. He was so well traveled that he kept us fascinated with some of his stories. When he died, he left that 40-acre homestead to Mom. She later sold it. But that was her only legacy."

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