Ancestry: The LeGendre’s of Arkansas (3)



23 years ago, my mother wrote down what she remembered of her childhood. These included the stories her father told about his life in Boston and his college degrees.  In later years, she learned that he never finished high school, a brilliant mind learning engineering and languages in the “school of hard knocks.”  He invented the railroad track switching system during his time living in Havana, and a bread wrapping machine when he lived in Arkansas, an idea that (according to her father) was stolen by a patent attorney.

I must warn the reader that I’m copying my mother’s words just as she typed them (including punctuation).  There are few “frills.”  For example, she left several volumes of her diaries for my sister and I to read, most pages containing such enlightening text as, “Breakfast at 8am, grits and eggs.  Lunch…”  There was one passage that read,  “Bob and I went into the house and brightened the day.”  That was the way my mother described their intimate activity.

Here are the links or parts 1 and 2:

At this point in the story, my grandfather is working for the Arkansas Lumber Company as a Steam and Electrical Engineer.


1912 June 9:  The Arkansas Lumber Company burned down.

Dad resigned from the Arkansas Lumber Company to  accept the position, as “Traveling Engineer”, for the Arkansas Light and Power Company.

Dad and Mother moved to Little Rock, Arkansas:  Headquarters of the Arkansas Light and Power Company, where Dad worked directly under Harvey Couch — the owner of the Arkansas Light and Power Company — as the company’s Traveling Steam and Electrical Engineer.

  • Mr Couch considered Albert Le Gendre the best engineer in the State of Arkansas”.

14 October 1913:  I was born to Georgia Deever Le Gendre and Albert A Le Gendre, at 1911 W. 10th Street, Little Rock, Arkansas.  (The home of Mother’s uncle and aunt).  It was a long, complicated and difficult birth.  The instruments left me with head injury and a scar that has remained with me throughout the years.

Mother was still under sedation when, Aunt Mamie and Dad recorded my name on the birth certificate as Mamie Alberta Le Gendre.  Mother was disappointed because she preferred the name of Margaret.

  • I didn’t like the name Mamie; and in my teens had it legally removed from my birth certificate.  I was not aware of the name Margaret until many years later.

After the delivery, Morther was plagued with female problems.  The doctor advised an operation as the only solution.

  • (At that time, doctors were “gods” and patients never once thought of questioning their decisions.)

Some time later Mother underwent what was supposed to  have been a massive female operation.  Cost of the operation was $600.00 (an unusually expensive bill in those days.)

  • The doctors said she would never be able to have any more children.
  • Three boys and many years later, when doctors’, in Phoenix, removed a tumor from Mother’s abdomen, they discovered that none of the previously claimed operations had ever been performed.

Even her appendix was still in tack — which Mother was led to believe had been removed also.

In return, all Mother had actually received from the operation was a bill, scar, and a lifetime of misery.

At the age of eight months, I was taught to walk by a bulldog.  Mother’s uncle and aunt had moved to the country:  The farm and house was located on the Hilard Springs Road, near the intersection of the Arkansas Baseline Road and the Hilard Springs Road.

Baseline Road, running east and west, terminated upon its entrance onto the Arch Street Pike (US 167) — about five miles south of Little Rock, Arkansas.

A banistered L-shaped porch was on one corner of the house.  Blankets were laid on the floor where I was permitted to crawl.

Mother’s uncle had a bulldog that liked to occupy the pad with me.  He would let me crawl around and over him.

When I put my arms across his back, he would slowly rise until I was in standing position; then slowly move forward as I learned to walk.

30 April 1915:  Camden, Arkansas, George Herbert Le Gendre was born.  The George is from Georgia and Herbert ???  He was unexpected, small, and sickly throughout is childhood.  (Mother said she kept trying to tell everyone that she was pregnant, but no one would listen.)  The doctor insisted that she wasn’t.

  • Years later, when Dad became angry; he took his frustration out on Mother:  He concocted the story that Mother had an affair with someone else; and Herbert was not his child.
  • All of which is unbelievable:  Mother was recuperating from an operation when Herbert was born.
  • Herbert had Mother’s facial features, but otherwise he was Dad’s image in size, build, actions, and temperament.

My Opinion:  Dad had a guilt complex and was trying to cover his own tracks.

(Dad had a vicious habit when angry, of accusing people of anything and everything that happened to pop into his mind at the time.)


Next:  Designer fashions, weird photographers and the birth of child # 3 to a woman who wasn’t supposed to be able to have more children.