Volume 33, Number 2, Winter 1994
After the war
Grandfather returned to farm life and, along with the remaining family, endured the privations and unsettled times following the war. In early 1867, he married Mary Jane Marley, daughter of Eli and Paralee ("Tennessee" Wisner) Marley. He or, possibly, his father Mark before 1867, built a large, 2 story, double pen log house which stood about 50 yards west of the present Bray house. They lived there with their own increasing family and, possibly with older family members until 1895 when the presenthouse was built.
I remember well the log house; Dad dismantled it in 1945 while I was away in the war. The east ground floor was half-floored with puncheons that, in later years, had butted floorboards nailed onto them. The east half of that part of the house was never floored at all but remained bare ground. Grandfather Taylor used that part of the house as a blacksmith shop after the family moved into the present house. I remember when his old blacksmith bellows lay unused in the front room of the log house.
Before my memory serves, the upper floor had been removed to make it more convenient for hay storage. The house was never sided, as so many of the old log homes were. The prominent chinking between the logs of the walls consisted of wood chips, small pebbles and clay. There was almost certainly a fireplace on the west end of the house when it was in use as a dwelling but there was no sign ofone in my earliest years. Since no remnant of it remained above ground, it may have been a catted chimney which, upon falling down, would have literally melted into the earth.
During my earliest memory, a wide, tall window was located high on the west wall at the logical chimney position. I suppose that window was cut after the chimney was removed. Because of its position, I suspect it served as an opening to receive loose hay. An interior hearth was probably obscured by flooring installed over the puncheons to make a hay-tight floor.
The Taylor Bray log house built about 1867. It stood until 1945. Eileen Hayes (Skibo) is sitting in the south door.
An archaeological excavation at the site could confirm or discount that hypothesis.
Grandmother Mary Janes father, Eli Marley, was a Confederate soldier who was killed in the Battle of Vicksburg. He had at least two sons, Grandmothers brothers, in the Confederate army. I dont know whether either or both survived the war.
Taylor and Mary Jane had ten children, all of whom were born while the family lived in the old log house. Three, unnamed, died at birth or in infancy, and two, Samuel and James, in early childhood. Those who lived to maturity in order of age, were Ammon, the oldest; Mettie, Della, Howard and Earnest, my dad.
Amman married Marvelia Nix, whose family lived in a small frame house a mile south of Linden, and he and Marvelia lived in a small log house about 120 yards south of the present Bray house. They had three daughters and one son.
Mettie married Len Garrison and they had two children, both sons. Their home was located beside Highway 14 about 3/4 mile southeast of the Bray house.
Della married Horace Greeley Herston and moved to Ozark. They had two sons and one daughter.
Howard married Eva Reed and moved to a house beside Highway 14 3/4 mile southwest of the Bray house. They had two children, both daughters.
Grandfather was infirm during the last year or so of his life. However, in August, 1924, he was sufficiently motivated to write a letter to his granddaughter Rama Herston. He indicated he was feeling better following a serious illness. In the letter he implied that he was a member of the Socialist Labor party, a fact that Dad confirmed to me from time to time. He also revealed that some of the relatives were not pleased with the new wife of Gene Garrison, his grandson. Gene became the father of Bobby Gene, my big, bruiser cousin. Gene died at a relatively early age. Bobby Gene was only about 40 when he died.
Grandfather received a sizable pension for his service with the Union army. A certificate dated May 22, 1913, authorized $15.50 per month to commence June 14, 1912 (retroactive); $19.00 to begin March 31, 1914, and $22.50 to begin March 31, 1919. A second certificate dated August 29, 1923, authorized $72.00 per month. After he died in 1924, Grandmother received half his pension, $36.00 per month, a substantial sum in those days. No wonder I rated a nickel or dime on Saturdays in the early 1930s. I was the "rich kid on the block" and Grandmother was the rich widow.
Grandmother died in 1932 in the house she had lived in for 37 years. Her death certificate states that she succumbed to "pneumonia following flue" (flu). I was 7 years old then, but I remember my grandmother well as a stern but kind and generous lady. She was buried beside Grandfather in the family graveyard.
The only one of the older generation of Brays I remember was great Uncle Isaac, Grandfathers younger brother. Until the early 1930s, he lived with his daughter Ida (she was known as Aunt Ida or Aunt Idy) and her husband, Ike McDaniel. They had three daughters; Edith, Grace and Nellie. Edith and Grace lived with the parents as did Sammy, a son of Idas sister Lola. The frame house they lived in during my childhood is still standing about 20 yards east of the site of the original log house of Mark. The few things I remember about Uncle Isaac included his foot long beard. One day, when I, Dad and Mother were returning home from Aunt Metties house about 1932, we passed Uncle Isaac lying in the grass beside the road. I wondered aloud if he was dead. "No," said Dad, "hes just asleep." He was, because he lived 2 more years, dying in 1934. At his burial, in Linden cemetery, in August there came a severe lightening storm one bolt of which struck a nearby wire fence and set afire the dry grass in the cemetery. Uncle Isaac was the end of the second generation of Brays in the Linden community.
The Bray family graveyard
Taylors father, Mark, who seems to have remained at the original homestead the rest of his life, was the first person known to be buried in the family graveyard about 150 yards west-northwest of the present house. His wife Margaret died in 1887 and is probably in the graveyard beside Mark. There are two sunken graves at the position of Marks stone. However, the stone names only Mark. Those with stones include Mark; Frank G. Bray, a cousin; grandparents Taylor and Mary Jane; sister Mildred; Aunt Mettie and Uncle Ammon. Dads five siblings who died in infancy and childhood are probably buried there also but there are no stones. In June, 1990, I was able to confirm nine graves without markers. One of them, beside Marks, is almost certainly his wife Margaret. One beside Aunt Mettie is probably Uncle Len. Two, side by side, are probably James and Samuel and four side by side probably include Dads three other siblings
who died at birth or in infancy. I cannot guess who the fourth one is.
Outside the west fence of the graveyard proper are two or more graves which may contain the remains of Marks slaves. There is no family tradition recording the number of slaves that might have died in earlier years before the remainder were freed in 1863 or 1865. Dad once told me that two of the graves in that plot belonged to children of one of the men employed in construction of the nearby Frisco railroad in 1882. There may be other graves in that portion of the graveyard that I was unable to confirm.
My grandmother, Mary Jane, was a practicing midwife who attended the births of many babies in our community. Her own two granddaughters, my sisters, were brought into this world with her assistance. The fact is attested by entries on both their birth certificates. At least, with those two, she didnt have to leave the house because she was already there.
According to my mother, who told my wife, Joan, the story of Grandmothers procedure and routine when word came that a birth was imminent, my dad would harness the team, hitch them to the buggy and drive himself and Grandmother to the womans house. There, she attended the birth either with or without the supervision of Dr. Wade or Dr. Farthing.
Grandmother always carried with her, among other things, a mixture of cocoa butter and carbolic acid, which she had formed into suppositories. She gave a goodly supply of them to the new mother while cautioning her not to trust the "old wives tale" that you cant get pregnant again while nursing a baby." As far as my mother, who used the system herself, knew, Grandmother was the first to introduce it to the community. In that regard, she was ahead of her time. And I bet you thought family planning was a recent phenomenon? The only way I can judge the efficacy of "Grandma Brays miracle mix" is to suppose she never learned the correct formula herself until after 1890. After all, she had ten children; the last one in 1890.
Grandmother smoked tobacco in a little clay pipe.
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