It’s a pleasure to have my Mom living with us! I hear so many stories about our ancestors that really help to fill the gap that “Between The Dashes” addresses. If you are following my blog, you know my Mom celebrated her 80th birthday this year! My Mom and her sister are the oldest living relatives in our family. Today, let me share with you my 2nd great grandparents, Laura and Melzar Williams.
Laura Washington was born 17 May 1869 in Mobile, AL to Annie (age of 25) and George Washington (age 28 ). She was about 5’2″, light-skinned with long hair that she parted down the middle, braided in two braids, and pinned each braid in the back. She had three sisters (Etta, Mary, and Addie) and two brothers (Dave and Emanuel).
On 19 Jun 1884, she married Melzar Williams of Mobile. Laura was only 15 years old when she married and Melzar was 25 years old. Laura was a Laundress working out of her home, and Melzar worked at a Brickyard. A copy of the marriage certificate follows:
The certificate states that Laura was over 18 years old, but she wasn’t at the time. The bottom line is that there was a license to marry, so I assume her parents approved.
Melzar and Laura had six sons; Israel, John, Ervin, Clemmie (not sure on this name), Ernest and Luke. They lived in a big white house on Lomeroy Street in Mobile.
Laura or Grandma Laura as my Mom called her, was a great cook. She would buy collard greens from the vegetable truck that came around early in the morning. Mom remembers the greens being about $.20 a bunch. She cooked biscuits every morning with breakfast, and collard greens every evening with dinner. Her sons enjoyed their Mother’s cooking so much that even after they married, they continued to return home for dinner. 🙂
This created a problem for some of the daughter-in-laws. In particular, Luke and his wife, Helen. Luke never made it home on time for dinner. When Luke did come home, he was not hungry, so Helen ended up throwing the dinner away. Over time, Helen figured out that Luke was going to his Mother’s house for dinner every day! Helen discussed this with Luke, he refused to eat at home, so she decided she couldn’t take it any more and left him! Helen said she could never satisfy Luke. In fact, my Mom remembers all Grandma Laura’s sons preferred their Mother’s cooking. I hope Helen left Luke for more than missed dinners! If I was Helen, I would have joined my husband at my Mother-In-Law’s house for dinner!
My Mom never met Grandpa Melzar because he had passed by the time she was born. My Mom does remember spending the night with Grandma Laura. She had a big house, but Mom and her sister would sleep with Grandma Laura. In fact, around Christmas time, My Mom and her sister looked for their gifts at their house as well as Grandma Laura’s. They could not find their gifts any where. My Mom believes Grandma Laura kept the Christmas gifts at her house in a locked room.
According to the 1920 census, Melzar owned his own home (free of mortgage), and by the 1930 census, at the age of 71 years old, he was a manager at an employment agency. My Mother remembers stories of Melzar picking up folks looking for work, at 6:00 am from a designated location. He would take a truck load to the farm(s), drop them off, and return them to the designated spot at the end of the day. Melzar got a commission from those that worked.
Laura passed away on 21 Mar 1952 at the age of 82 years old, and her husband Melzar passed away on 27 Oct 1933 at the age of 74. My Mom was 19 years old when Grandma Laura died. See note below for more details.
When I hear stories like this, I wish there was some way I could talk to Grandma Laura and Grandpa Melzar. They sounded like wonderful people who understood hard work and committment. They were married 49 years, spending their lives together. In fact, the home was still in her husband’s name at the time of her death, 19 years later!
Note: Find-A-Grave shows a picture of Laura Williams tombstone with a birthdate of 17 May 1869; however, the 1870 US Census reflects a birthdate in 1867. On Find A Grave, there is a memorial associated with Melzar’s grave that says his birth was unknown, and he was 53 years old when he passed. There are many birth dates in the US Census for Melzar (from 1859 to 1864); however, my best guess is 1859, making him 74 years old when he died. My guess is based on the 1930 census where he was 71 years old and working for an employment agency.
Between The Dashes