Saturday, March 17, 2012

Those Were the Days!  
by Dr. Rhodes B. Holliman, Dublin, Virginia

Rhodes Holliman, who has had a distinguished college career in teaching and biological research, recorded in 2007 his boyhood memories of Fayette County, Alabama and some memories of his Holliman, Blakeney and Baker relatives. He captures nostalgically an earlier time in a rural America in the 1930s then largely still untouched by 20th Century domestic conveniences.– GNH, his second cousin

"As a boy, I lived for the opportunity to leave my home in Birmingham, Alabama to travel to Fayette County, Alabama in the Newtonville area, approximately thirty miles north of Tuscaloosa. I would stay with great aunts and uncles. I would hunt, fish and get back to the frontier environment away from the clamor of city life.

 My pleading to my father, Cecil Rhodes Holliman, who was an attorney in Birmingham, was perpetual, and seasoned, ‘Let’s go see Uncle Eura, Aunt Mae, Uncle Mute, Aunt Ila, Uncle Virgil and Aunt Pearl’, knowing full well that the roads might be impassable in wet weather and the old 1929 Ford A-Model sedan might break down." 

Above Dr. Rhodes Holliman, center top, poses with his family in the 1930s.  Rhode's father, Cecil Rhodes Holliman is left; center is his sister,  Cecile Eugenia Holliman Youngblood and his mother,  Ruby Burns Holliman, right. Like his father, Cecil, Rhodes has invested countless hours in researching his family history.  

"This was a time, the 1930s, when the crossroads at Newtonville seemed almost as primitive as when the Native Americans moved out and my ancestors migrated in from South Carolina in the 1830s.  There was no pavement south of Fayette, which was known as the rail road town. There was no electricity, only crank phones, no municipal water and no sewage treatment.  Instead of having six rooms and a bath, most of the homes were dog trots, ‘4 rooms and a path!’"
The above map of Fayette County, Alabama is from the Walt O. Holliman Resource Collection for Holliman and Associated Families.  Walt (1927 - 2003) marked in yellow numerous Holliman family cemeteries.  Newtonville is in the lower right corner near Shepherd's Church. The county seat of Fayette is further north. Walt Holliman's notes and use of a yellow marker are visible on the map. Many of the Bakers are buried at Shepherd Cemetery.- GNH

Glenda Norris, a niece of Dr. Rhodes Holliman, has helped identify the aunts and uncles mentioned above.  They are:

Eura Carter (1878 - Nov 4, 1956) 
Allie Mae Baker Carter, (b. 1888)
J. Mutius Baker (Aug 23, 1885 - Apr 28, 1965), husband of Ila Yerby Baker 
Ila Lula Yerby Baker (July 9, 1891 - Apr 22, 1975), wife of J. Mutius Baker 
Virgil Benton Gibson 
Pearl Baker Gibson

The parents of the above Baker children, all of whom were born in Newtonville, Alabama, are George W. (March 13, 1851 - November 21, 1928) and Belzy Ann Blakeney Baker (September 1859 - March 16, 1960). 

Additional Baker children are Anna Elizabeth, who married James Monroe Holliman (the grandparents of the writer, Rhodes Holliman, of this article);  Francis Hillman, who married Elsie Dunscomb; Ruth Guyton, who was married first to B. T. Lovette and then to F.N. HendersonPearl, who married Virgil Benton GibsonMontie Lea, who married Lynn Davis BoshellFrederick Coleman, who married first to Fleta Williams and second to a lady from Ohio whose first name was BernadettaGeorgia Bell, who married Earl Ray; Nora Louise, who died at the age of six years and two infants who died shortly after birth.  Several of the mates of George and Belzy Baker's children were also descendants of Newtonville, Alabama pioneers such as the Yerbys, Gibsons, Rays and Hollimans.

Next, more on the 1930s in rural West Alabama....

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