[Ruby Thompson Woodruff was the great-aunt of Anna Belle Gray Wilson. When Anna came to live in her grandparents’ household as an infant due to the illness and eventual death of her mother, Alice Madora Thompson Gray, Ruby would have been about 10 years old.]
I am Ruby Thompson’s oldest grandaughter. She married James (Richard) Wayne Woodruff and they migrated to the Central Valley in California in the early 1930’s. Eventually, not being able to conceive, they adopted an eleven month-old baby girl, whom they named Patricia Lorraine. “Patty” was to be their only child, as they were in their mid-thirties when she was adopted, and they were deemed too old to be able to adopt any more children. Patty grew-up and married and had 3 daughters. Grandmother and Grandfather could not have possibly spoiled us more!
Wayne and Ruby eventually built a “Sears house” (ordered from the Sears Catalogue!) in Corcoran, California. Their home was small, but always emaculate and their yard was the envy of (and source of “starts” for) the entire town. At some point of which I was too little to remember, they donated a huge, blue spruce out of their yard to become the city Christmas tree.
Grandmother worked as a telephone operater for the phone company and Grandfather worked as a lineman for the power company. Ruby and Wayne were also very active in the Methodist Church for many years. I remember Grandmother having so many knacks: for sewing, knitting, crochetting, cooking, canning, baking, playing Bridge, Canasta, and playing DoubleSolitare and Chinese Checkers with me for hours on end. Her rose garden began the Corcoran Hospital’s rose garden when the hospital expanded. Her camillia bushes grew taller than their one-story roof top.
Both of Grandfather’s thumbs were green as well. He grew vegetables and fruits all over their back and side yards. This included the big, tall, beautiful, watermelon-red poppies. They were actually community favorites, decorating weddings, funerals and whatever else the Ladie’s Auxillary at the Methodist Church had in mind. Everyone was so sad when the County Shariff had to ask Grandfather to stop growing them.
Grandfather died in Corcoran and my mother sold their house and moved Grandmother to a very nice retirement home in Fresno, where she was then living. All of them are now buried in the Corcoran Cemetery. I hope that we will be able to keep in touch! cdq…
(CLICK ON PHOTOS TO SEE FULL-SCREEN)
I found this postcard among some papers and photos Anna had given me. I wondered if it was her parents’ house so I wrote and asked her. Anna’s response is the last letter I received from her before she died in June 2002. She was 95.
“…I wish Edna was here to tell you about these early days of my family – she was old enough when our mother died to remember her very vividly. [Edna, Anna’s oldest sibling, was 6 years old when their mother died] This house is where we were living when my mother became ill and was moved to our Aunt Bell’s house [L.D.’s older sister, Belle Gray Houston] and died there. I was taken to my maternal grandparents’ and as you know lived there until I was seven. My father, Tip and Edna lived at Aunt Bell’s until he remarried. We visited back and forth but hardly knew we were brother and sisters – at least it was very confusing to me. My father had the grocery store and supplied both households. Back then, my grandfather grew everything on the farm so about all they needed from the store was sugar and flour, both bought by the barrel. We had apples all winter from the orchard – they were stored in a big box filled with sand – they were delicious, peaches were dried and other fruits canned. I don’t know how my grandmother did all she did and make all the clothes for the family. She never too tired or busy to read to me. I don’t think my father, Edna and Tip ever went back to this house…”
- Written by Anna Belle Gray Wilson in her early 90s (ca. 2001).
- The aunt she refers to could be her mother’s younger sister, Myrtle Thompson Holleman, who had three sons.
- The grandmother she mentions must be her mother’s mother, Anna Gordon Thompson. As an infant and until she was 7 years old, Anna Belle lived with her maternal grandparents. Her father’s parents both died before she was born.
- For history on and to see the beautiful Hoyt’s Cologne labels, go to this website.
- Click on the photo below to see it full screen.
[Updates are in blue – 3/24/2011]
Anna Belle Gray Wilson — Anna was her maternal grandmother’s name; Belle was her father’s sister (Belle Houston). He must have been close to her; after his wife Alice died, Lott and his two older children, Tip and Edna) went to live with Belle and her family. Infant Anna Belle went to live with her mother’s parents.
Nancy Edna Gray Trussell – Nancy was her paternal grandmother’s name (Nancy Morehead Gray), who died a few years before she was born. Edna might have been one of her great aunts (Edna Jane Gray).
Thompson (Tip) Everett Gray — Thompson was his mother’s maiden name.
Lott Dulin Gray — Father of Anna, Edna and Tip, he was likely named for his father’s younger brother, Lott Dulin Gray. Dulin was their mother’s maiden name (Demaris Dulin Gray).
Lemuel Albert Wilson (Sr.)— Born July 29, 1890, L.A. was named for his father’s youngest brother Lemuel who had died at age 19 a few months before (April 17, 1890; buried near his father in the Kosciusko City Cemetery). Albert was his maternal grandfather’s name (Albert Pierce Mitchell, a Confederate veteran) and his also great-grandfather’s (Albert Washington Mitchell) name.
Frank Mitchell Wilson — Haven’t found a connection to Frank. Mitchell was his mother’s maiden name.
Roy Leon Wilson (Sr.)— Haven’t found a connection to Roy. Leon is perhaps short for Leona, his mother’s name.
Willie Arnold Wilson (Sr.) — Willie was what his father was sometimes listed as in census records. Haven’t yet found a connection to Arnold.
A few details:
- Died in Houston, Mississippi in July 1930
- His first name is Lott. His middle name appears in other sources with various spellings (Doolin, Dulin, etc.)
- Buried in Houston’s Prospect Methodist Church cemetery among several other members of his extended family
- Children: Thompson (Tip), Mrs. Earl Trussell (Edna), Mrs. Willie Wilson (Anna Belle).
- One grandchild: Neither Tip (wife: Sabella) nor Edna (husband: Earl) had children. Anna Belle had one boy (Billy), the grandchild mentioned here, and one girl (Barbara Ann). She was 7-8 months pregnant with Barbara Ann when her beloved father died.
1902: Willie Arnold Wilson born to William Ransom Wilson and Leona Mitchell Wilson in Minden, Louisiana. (December 13, 1902)
1907: Anna Belle Gray born to Lott Dulin Gray and Alice Madora Thompson in Chickasaw County, Mississippi.(February 20, 1907). Alice died in the fall of ‘slow fever’.
1910: U.S. Federal Census (Chickasaw County, MS) shows Anna Belle as a resident of her grandparents’ household (Civil War veteran John F. Thompson, pictured here). Her widowed father and siblings are shown as living with Archie and Belle (Gray) Houston, Lott’s older sister.
1920: U.S. Federal Census (Chickasaw County, MS) lists Anna Belle as a resident of her father’s household, along with older siblings Tip (Thompson Everett Gray) and Edna (Nancy Edna Gray). Edna married James Earl Trussell the next fall (October 15, 1921).
1926: Anna Belle Gray married Willie Arnold Wilson. (June 6, 1926) Like his father and his older brothers, Willie worked in the newspaper industry.
1929: Their first child (Billy) is born in late February.
1930: U.S. Federal Census (Greenville, MS) shows Willie, Anna Belle and their baby boy, Billy. Willie’s mother, Leona, died in March. Anna Belle’s father, Lott Dulin, had a heart attack and died in July. Anna Belle was in the late stages of pregnancy and unable to attend the funeral.
193o: Their second child (Barbara Ann) is born in September.
1948: Willie’s death in Clarksdale, MS. Buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Clarksdale, MS. (August 22, 1948)
2002: Anna Belle‘s death in Memphis, TN. Buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Clarksdale, MS. (June 12, 2002).
I’ve started a virtual cemetery on findagrave.com that will contain photos, transcriptions, locations, etc. of the Wilson-Gray family graves. So far, the graves of these family members are posted there:
William Ransom Wilson, his wife Leona A. Mitchell Wilson, his son Willie Arnold Wilson and Willie’s wife Anna Belle Gray Wilson.
James Bennett Wilson, William Ransom Wilson’s brother who was briefly married to his widow Leona.
Dixon Lewis Wilson, eldest brother of James and William, and his daughter Ada V. Wilson, his son Isom “Ike” J. Wilson and Ike’s wife Gradye Hughes Wilson.
Joel Fowler Wilson, father of William, James and Dixon.
John C. Gray, uncle of Anna Belle Gray Wilson.
More to come.