Vol. VIII, No. 2, 1995

The Cupps, My Mother's Family

My mother's parents were Ike and Ann Cupp. They lived about three miles from us. We visited them often. Grandmother was a midwife and helped deliver me. She was also a nurse or doctor. If anyone in the neighborhood got sick they would send for her. She would stay as long as she was needed.

The Cupps had fifteen children. One of them died at an early age but the others lived to be grown, marry, and have children. Grandpa and Grandma worked hard to feed and clothe their big family. As soon as the children were old enough they worked as domestics and hired hands for neighbors. The wages were small and they went into the family budget.

Grandpa Cupp wore many hats.

He was a farmer and worked hard at raising enough food to feed the family. At one time he was Justice of the Peace, a fairly good carpenter, and an excellent auctioneer.

In those days minor court cases were tried in the home of the Justice of the Peace. Once a trial was to be held at Grandpa's. A neighbor asked my mother, who was just a small child, if the trial had been held. She said no, they didn't have it as "The possum, coon, and turkey didn't come." She was trying to say the "prosecuting attorney" didn't come.

Grandma was a serious person, but Grandpa was humorous. There were nine girls in the family and six boys. When Grandpa would tell a stranger about his family, he would tell them he only had nine girls and all the rest were boys, making appear that he had more boys than he did girls. By the time I was born, mother's older brother and sisters were married and had families. We would gather at Grandpa's often and had such good times.

After supper Grandpa would sometimes sing to us. He sang without music, songs were like "Froggy Went A' Courting" and songs with nonsensical verses. He also sang old love song ballads. Most of them were

sad and made us cry. Some would scare us. The last two of the children, Elliot and Jewell, were near my age. Hosea and Elliot were close friends. Elliot and his wife, Dessi, went with Hosea and I when we got married.

We usually spent Christmas at Grandpa Cupps. One Christmas Eve we all went to a program at Meadows School. There was a big decorated Christmas tree and Jewell and I got presents. We knew that we had received ail the presents that we were supposed to have but that night we hung up our stockings anyway. Grandma and Mom got up early Christmas morning and dressed some chickens to have for Christmas dinner. They cut off the yellow feet, tied ribbons on them and put them in our stockings. The joke was on us!

Once when my mother was a young teenager, she worked in the home of a neighbor, Judge Larkin. My mother had long hair and she wore it rolled up on a cotton batting roll, called a rat. Judge Larkin played a trick on her. One night while she was asleep he took out the cotton and filled the rat with corn cobs. So that was what she found the next morning when she got ready to fix her hair. Mrs. Larkin said, "Just wait Mabel. We will get one back on him."

It was nearing April Fool's Day when the day came. Mr. Larkin was plowing in the upper end of a long field. Mom walked just close enough to call to Mr. Larkin that someone was at the house to see him. Mr. Larkin stopped the plow and tied the horses to a post. He was a proud man and liked to look his best. Mrs. Larkin and Mom watched him as he came toward the house, brushing off the dirt and twirling his mustache. When he opened the door, Mom and Mrs. Larkin yelled "April fool." He didn't say a word but just turned and walked slowly through the long field to his plow.

Grandpa and Grandma lived to get old age pensions. They moved to Webb City to a modern house owned by their oldest son. They had a few years of peace and comfort before they were called home.

The Isaac ("Ike") Cupp family, 1899. Grandpa and Grandma Cupp with eight of their eventual fifteen children: Mabel (Thelma' s mother) at age four, third from right. Note brother Sim, far right, homing harmonica. The two persons in the background were obviously not welcome in the picture.


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