After Christy found the picture of Aunt Bessie as a young girl with her family, we started thinking about all the pictures our dad has given us of her at different points in her life. Some of them are already posted here on the blog on the “Meet the Characters” page but there are so many more, especially of her in her later years. And yes, I know, I really do need to get back to adding the other pictures to that page, but with working on the first book in our Brown Mountain Lights series, I just can’t seem to find the time.
So, because we’re sure our wonderful readers would love to see them, we decided to do a blog post with all the pictures we have. A sort of walk through Aunt Bessie’s life.
This is the earliest picture we have of Bessie which shows her as a chubby-cheeked baby sitting on Mama’s lap with Papa beside them. Even looking at the picture through a magnifying glass, I can’t make out what’s on Papa’s lap but it appears to be material of some kind. You can see his boots below it but the rest just isn’t clear. This picture appears on the new front cover for Whistling Woman, the first book of our Appalachian Journey series, propped up against the painting of Miss Cordy by our dad.
Next, of course, is the picture Christy shared with you in the last post which shows Bessie as a young girl, probably between 6 to 8 years old. Of course, I’m only guessing at her age and the fact that we know the family moved to Hot Springs in 1886 when she was 4 years old.
The next picture we have is of Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletcher on their wedding day or shortly thereafter. The note on the back says “Uncle Fletch and Aunt Bessie when they first married”. We know from the Madison County Marriage records that she and Fletch were married in Madison County on February 20, 1902 at age 21 and 22, respectively. This one appears on both the old and new front covers of Moonfixer, the second book of the series.
After that, we have the postcard she sent to Papa after he and the rest of the family moved from Hot Springs to Knoxville. There’s no date on what’s written on the back and the postmark is faded but it looks to be 1914 when she would have been 33 years old. This one appears (partially) on the front of Beloved Woman, the third book.
Then, there are several of her with some of her students and one with some women friends and relatives. Not sure of the date on any of them so we have no way of knowing how old she was but I’m guessing most of them were taken when she was in her 20s and 30s. Left to right on this one is Aunt Bessie (with her head cut off), Lee Davis, Clarse Davis, Cordie Davis and Aunt Minnie Elliot (sitting down). The pictures of her with her students are on the “Meet the Characters” page here on the blog.
The next one is my favorite of all the pictures we have, the one used on the front cover of the final book, Wise Woman. It’s a picture of Aunt Bessie and our dad standing in a field of wildflowers with the family dog, Fritz (you have to look really hard to see him!) off to the right. This one isn’t dated either but it had to be shortly after Daddy moved in with Aunt Bessie and Uncle Fletch in 1934 which would make Bessie around 43.
Then we have one of her and Uncle Fletch standing outside their house by the chimney. Not sure how old they are with this one either or when the pciture was taken but they’re bolth pretty old. I’m guessing it was taken shortly before Uncle Fletch’s death in 1958 which would make both of them in their 70s. You can see Aunt Bessie has a scarf around her neck which she took to wearing in her later years because she had a goiter.
This picture is of a much older Aunt Bessie with Daddy, Uncle Thee’s wife, Myrtle (who we called Mama Daniels), and Bessie’s second husband, Jimmy Davis. Not sure when this was taken either, but judging by Daddy, it was sometime in the early to mid-60s. I’m not sure but I think they’re sitting on the steps of our grandmother’s (Jack in the books) house on Stone Mountain. Notice Bessie’s scarf wrapped around her neck. I don’t remember a time when she didn’t wear one!
Last but not least, thanks to Kimberly Maxwell, our awesome cover designer, a close up of Aunt Bessie cropped from the same picture. Since she died in 1970, she had to be in her 80s in this one. She may not look too happy here but this is the Aunt Bessie of my memories and I know from Daddy’s many stories she had a long and happy life and she was, to me, the epitome of a Whistling Woman.
So there you have it, a picture journey through our Aunt Bessie’s life. I hope you enjoyed the trip!