ANCESTRY: The LeGendre’s of Arkansas (5)


View of Lake Dardanelle from Mt. Nebo. Image from Wikipedia

For new readers, these are my mother’s notes. They’re retyped with all the errors and her punctuation.  Her memoirs were the gift she left my sister and me in 1992.  She passed away June 1993 from sun stroke.

For parts 1, 2, 3 and 4, please look under “memorabilia” on this blogsite.


George Herbert and I learned to entertain ourselves.  We would walk up and down the lane, in front of the house, looking for a place to make us a playhouse, under the bushes, of one of the plum thickets.

We seldom saw anyone in the area other than members of our immediate family and Mother’s uncle and aunt – when we went up to their house.

  • Mother had two cousins in Little Rock, Edith Mae and Minnie Etta McDonald, that she kept in touch with over the years.
  • She also corresponded with a couple of aunts of her’s who lived in Western Kansas.
  • Years later, I got the impression that Mother and her Aunt Mamie never got along very well together.
  • Mother was happiest when there was a distance between her and her uncle Willie and Aunt Mamie.

That summer Mother did a lot of canning.  All I can remember is standing on a box, with my hands in a dishpan, washing jars, pots, and pans.

  • A very discouraging job for a four year old.
  • I would no sooner get through with one batch than another pile of dirty jars, pots, and pans was placed before me.


I remember Mother taking us to Sunday School once.  How we got there, or how we left, I haven’t the faintest idea.  Because of bashfulness, I didn’t make any effort to mix with the other children.  I was just there.

We had a large collie, that was a good watch dog, and barked every time anyone walked along the lane in front of the house.

One night, a noisy group of people were walking along the dirt road, about 100 feet in front of the house, and started teasing the dog.

  • Apparently someone in the crowd threw some meat, laced with ground glass, over the fence.
  • The next morning Mother and Dad found the dog lying in the yard.
  • It was heartbreaking to watch the poor dog suffer in pain. Every effort was made to help the dog — but all was in vain.  He died that afternoon.

A young boy, about 10 years old, came to help Mother dispose of the dog’s body.  A very nice and likable young fellow.  I don’t recall ever seeing him before or afterwards.

  • Mother tied one end of a rope around the dog’s neck. On the other end of the rope, she tied a long stick.
  • The boy and I, each took one end of the stick, and pulled the dog out into the woods, near a saw mill, where we left the body for the vultures.
  • On our way back to the house, the boy started throwing rocks. I challenged him to hit the moon — which was high above us in the sky.
  • He patiently threw one rock after another as high as he could but never succeeded in hitting the moon – which was disappointing.

14 October 1918:  My fifth birthday, Mother gave me a birthday party.  (I don’t know where she found all of the children, because I had never seen any of them before.)

  • Nevertheless, we all had a great time. She made all of the candy, cookies, cakes, and treats.
  • Apparently, it was a surprise party, because I can’t recall knowing anything about the party before hand.

I have no memory of actually seeing Dad or anyone else, doing anything in the way of farm work on the farm (plantation).

  • In fact, the only time we children ever saw anyone at all – other than our parents—was when Dad and Mother would pile us all in the car, pick up Uncle Willie and Aunt Mamie, and take us for a ride up through the Ozark mountains.

The car was an opened air Ford (?) touring car, the latest model at the time. Occasionally, on Sunday afternoons, Dad would drive the family and relatives out through the countryside.

  • I remember watching a lot of people being dipped under water, near the rocky shores of a river. (A church baptism.)

I could not understand why those people were letting someone push their heads down under the water?

  • Many of the streams were shallow, with no bridges, and cars had to forge through the water.
  • Another time we drove up a steep, narrow, bumpy, rocky road on our way to the top of “The Devil’s Backbone” — Mt Nebo?

The wind was strong and the rip frightening as we swung and bump, up and down, back and forth, in the open air car; chugging up the narrow, steep trail leading to the mountain top – high above the valley below.

One day Mother had a teenage girl to come and babysit, while she went off for awhile. The girl saw a pack of Dad’s cigarette lying on a small round oak table near the coaloil lamp.  She took out one and started to smoke.

  • I threatened to tell on her if she didn’t give me one. She promptly handed me a cigarette.

I took one look at it, gave it back, and have never had any desire to smoke since.

William Harold was Uncle Willie’s and Aunt Mamie’s favorite; and they often kept him up at their house – until Mother realized they were training Harold to be selfish:

  • When George Herbert and I were around, they would give William Harold a bag of candy, toy, or a treat of some kind, and insisted that he not share it with us.
  • Yet, if George Herbert and I had anything, they demanded that we share it with William Harold or take it from us and give it to him.
  • When Mother realized what was going on, she discontinued letting William Harold stay at their house.

In the process of trying to evaluate and reconstruct the events of yesterday—years, as they come to my mind; I have come to the conclusion that Dad was actually working at a light plant; and he had bought the car for his own transportation.  Then when Dad was transferred he sold the car to Uncle Willie.

  • The Sunday, before leaving Dardanelle, we all went for a drive.
  • Dad spent the afternoon giving Uncle Willie his driving lesson.
  • I was very uneasy as Uncle Willie zigzag the vehicle back and forth across the ruts of the road. (In those days, after and hour or so of instructions, you were on your own.)
  • Driver’s tests and licenses were unheard of and unthought

14 October 1919: My sixth birthday and we were on the move again.

We traveled by train, from Russellville to Marianna, Arkansas:  (Spent the night at a hotel in Forest City, Arkansas; and boarded a train, early the next morning for Marianna.)

I don’t remember having any idea as to why we were on the train or where we were going.  I do know that I spent the day looking out the train window with tears running from my eyes.

  • Harvey Couch had made arrangements for Dad to go to Marianna, and recondition a light plant, that the Arkansas Light and Power Company, was selling to the City of Marianna.

Mother tried to enroll me in the Marianna Grammar School, but I wasn’t accepted because I had not previously been enrolled in another school.  Therefore, I had to wait until September 1920, before I could enter the first grade.

(If we had moved to Little Rock, instead of Marianna, I would have been able to enter the first grade (1-B) in the following January; passing to the 1-A in September.  The nine-month school year is the greatest crime ever imposed on children.)