Walking through the ornate headstones, some small and some large, the past comes alive and it is as though, for a brief moment, I can imagine what it must have been like to live through the Civil War, Reconstruction, the turn of the century, the discovery of electricity and the invention of indoor plumbing, the development of the first car, Women Suffrage, World Wars, and so many more events I have studied in the classroom and on my own for years. As the wind blows high up on the hill at Mount Olivet I image what life was like when Nashville was founded, before the brights lights of Lower Broad, the hustle and bustle of Green Hills, and the warehouse districts along the river. For a moment, the world is quiet and peaceful.
What brought me to this most recent dive into our family tree was a search for one small picture of house that once stood at 704 North 12th Street in East Nashville. I have been working on a needlepoint brick cover for my mom from this house in which she grew up. I thought I would find a family picture of the house and present them together to my mom. As mothers typically do, she found out about the surprise and so as most children do, I enlisted her help in my search for this picture. As we went through some of my maternal grandparents' things we came across albums that my grandmother (and namesake), Ruth Litton Gordon Allen, had put together many years ago. There were pictures of my grandfather as a toddler, my aunt's first birthday, the very first picture ever taken of my mom (which she always reminds me wasn't taken until she was 3 months old), Easter Sundays, Thanksgiving Dinners, weddings, graduations, etc. It was a gold mine for me!
This is a picture of my grandfather's family. He is the little boy on the front row, third from the right
Dad Allen, Edgar (Pa), Ruth (Gramma), Margery, Shirley, "Gran" Allen, Jean and Jimmy
Katherine Marie Allen
First birthday, June 14, 1949
Big Daddy and Ruth
Ruth and Eddie, Edgar and Katie, taken in the living room at 906 Burchwood
Ruth, Eddie, Katie and Edgar in the back yard at Nebraska
Ruth and Susan taken at 704
(My mom is 3 months old in this picture - this is the infamous "first picture" ever taken of my mom)
Family picture taken in the living room on Nebraska Avenue, December 1952
Mom Gordon's birthday
Mom, Ruth, Louise and Lee
Ruth Gordon Allen
Easter, April 1, 1956
Edgar and his "admirers"
Front steps at camp
Pat, Katie, Susan, Eddie and Riley
My grandfather, Pa, took a picture of every house he had ever lived in.....
They included 811 Chestnut (1924), 10th & Halcyon (1924-1926), Due West (1926), Manchester (1927-1929), 4208 Murphy Road (1929), 44th Avenue (1930)....
On to East Nashville, Gartland (1930), North 12th and Calvin (1931-1932), 1507 Forest Avenue (1932-1936), 1408 Eastland (1936-1938), 801 North 12th (1938-1946), 1200 Edgewood (1946-1949)....
....906 Burchwood (1949-1950), 3803 Nebraska (1950-1953), 1200 Eastland (1953-1955), 704 North 12th (1955-1959), 225 Cumberland Circle......
Ruth Allen, Ruth Griffith, Dr. John, Gran and Miss Dee
Susan and Becky Griffith, 1960
The Allens, the Griffiths, and the McCalls
Thanksgiving Dinner 1958
The Nativity Scene infront of the Parthenon
St.Ann's Episcopal Church
My grandfather, Edgar Allen, worked as the Sports Editor at the Nashville Banner for 38 years during the time in newspaper journalism when there was a graphic designer who would script all the byline names that would appear in the paper. Pa took a copy of that and had a friend paint his mailbox to match.
Pa recovering from the flu working from bed
The blanket presented to Pa for his 20 years of dedication to the Nashville Banner
Gypsy Rose Lee (1965-1979)
Dogs are just as much a part of the family as the children
Gypsy with one of her litters of puppies
Susan with one of Gypsy's puppies
This picure was taken at Gramma and Pa's surprise 25th wedding anniversary party
Sue Norvell Gordon was my great-great aunt and my mother's namesake
Then came the grandchildren.......
Their first grandchild, Jessica Marie Allen
Jana and Jess
William Edgar Allen
Aunt Katie with Billy
Then came William Allen Huggins
Four Generations (Ruth Allen, Allen being held by Mom Gordon and Susan)
"What did your mom put in that bottle"
Ruth meets Ruth
The whole gang
Of course finding these pictures only led me on a search for photos and memorabilia from my dad's side of the family. On a snowy day in February, I called my grandmother, Nannie, to see if I could come over and go through some of her old pictures. Together, we sat on the floor in her bedroom going through large Tupperware containers in which she had collected a plethora of pictures...some dating back to the days of slavery. It was fascinating.
Louise Winder, Granddaddy Campbell's mother
Two Family Portraits of Captain Phillips
"Born 1818 - Slave Emma Bereson bought by Capt Phillips (Granny's father) from farm of Martha Custis - Baby is Granny Huggins"
(Laura Phillips Huggins - my great-great-grandmother)
My paternal great-grandfather as a child in a silver frame
Knox Campbell, age 5
My great-grandmother, Frances Dustin, as a baby
Geneva ("Mama Neva") and George R. Knox
Grandmother Campbell's family
David Huggins is my great-grandfather. Two of his brothers returned from WWI with permanent respiratory damage caused by mustard gas. They both died from pneumonia shortly after their return to the States.
Helen Knox Campbell ("Grandmother Campbell")
Knox Campbell, age 5
Frances Dustin as a young girl
My great-grandmother, Marguerite Virginia Batten Huggins
Then they all grew up.....
Frances Dustin Campbell, Josephine Harwell and Thelma Waterfield
Josephine Harwell's husband, Sam Harwell, was the best man in the wedding of my great-grandparents
Nannie's stepfather, John W. Murphree
Frances Dustin Campbell
Fannie, Helen and Pat
George Knox Campbell with Frances, Pat and Helen
My grandmother, Nannie, and her sisters at Christmas
William Hooper Sr. in a sketch that appeared in the Nashville Banner about him breeding cocker spaniels
Granddaddy in Air Force, stationed in Colorado Springs, CO
This is a picture of my grandmother, Frances Campbell Huggins, with her friends in the snow. This picture was picked up by the Associated Press and was printed in newspapers around the country.
My Nannie and Granddaddy
March 5, 1949
A dear friend to the Allen/Huggins clan since long before I joined the party
400 Leake Avenue
This was the house in which my father was raised and 30 years later it was in this driveway that I learned to ride a two-wheel bike
In these pictures depicting over 100 years of my family history, you find the reason for the smile on this little girl's face:
The Family Bibles
Both sides of my family have kept years worth of records in the family Bibles
Grandmother Campbell's Bible
A list of marriages, births and deaths