Mamaw was the oldest of her eight siblings and she also had an older half-sister as well, making nine children that her mother had. They were the following: Marguerite Rachel Floyd, 1914-2011, married Curtis Ashby Rushing, 1910-1959; J B Loftis, 1918-2004, married Dorothy Helen Beard, 1926-2009; Myrtle Mae Loftis, 1920-1998, married James Robert Moreland, 1917-1986; Christine Virginia Loftis, 1921-2015, married Joseph Benedict Alvey, 1902-1964; Willow Belle Loftis, 1924-1986, married George E. Watson, 1919-1991; Dorothy Elizabeth Loftis, 1927-1929, died of whooping cough and pneumonia; Bobbie Laverne Loftis, 1930-1975, married Paul Gregory, 1929-1979; and Norma Jean Loftis, married first William Earl Fox and then Percy Rex Martin, 1932-1998.
The following picture is from left to right: Daisy, Bobbie, Norma Jean, Willow Belle and Christine with their Mom, Amy, setting in front of them, taken in about 1950. These five girls were always very close to each other. Their other two sisters Marguerite and Mae never lived close and had left home when they were teenagers and Dorothy had died when she was just two. Their brother J B had moved out to California right after World War II ended and lived there till the day he died. Next are pictures of Marguerite Floyd Rushing in 1950, the only boy, J B Loftis in about 1940 and Mae Loftis Moreland in about 1940. I have never seen a picture of little Dorothy, so there may never have been one.
Mamaw had a pretty tough life growing up, money was always tight and they all went to work pretty early in life, they were just dirt poor as the old saying goes. Their Daddy worked in a number of the spar mines around Western Kentucky, and I know he worked at the Klondyke Mines in Livingston County in 1930, also the Bonanza Mines in the 1920’s. Sometimes, unfortunately, he could be just plain lazy and Mamaw remembered at least twice of Night Riders coming and laying a bundle of switches on the front porch. Back in those days if someone was lazy and not providing for their families, there were men that would take care of these people, you got one warning when a bundle of switches were laid on your front porch. If you weren’t out and looking for a job the next day they came back and drug you out of the house and whipped you pretty good. Mamaw said her Daddy never got whupped, because he always got the message and would usually have a job again in a couple of days. Mamaw loved him dearly, but she said sometimes he made it hard to do so. The following is a picture of her Daddy, who was sometimes called Jack, Jess and Jesse and every now and again he went by his middle name of Guy as well. I only have the picture of him with his wife and daughter, Daisy and this one. If any others ever existed of him, I have never seen them. It could be they were just so poor they didn’t have the money to have any pictures taken. I have a number of pictures of the family after he passed away, but not too many before that time.
Mamaw’s Mom took in laundry to earn money and try to make ends meet and Mamaw told me that by the time she was eight, she was helping to do the laundry that her Mom took in, as well as helping to take care of the smaller children. Mamaw was only able to go to the eighth grade, her Daddy had wanted her to quit even sooner and go to work, but her Mom was able to convince him to let her go just a little while longer. Mamaw had always wanted to go to high school, but in those days you had to pay to go to school and usually stay with someone in town, which you also had to pay for, and there was never enough money for her to do that. After the eighth grade, Mamaw went to work full time, doing laundry, cleaning people’s houses and it seems like I remember her saying she worked at a store in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky as well. I wish I could remember the name of that store. I don’t think any of her sisters or her brother went any further then the eighth grade either. The following are some pictures of her Mom, Amy, who I remember really well as she died when I was ten years old.
Pretty soon my Mamaw, Daisy Elnora Loftis, ran into my Papaw, Ermon Edward Fraley, 1914-1994, and they started dating and the sparks flew between them. Mamaw told me a story about this old car in the following picture. She said, Papaw would help her get in the car, she would get her dress all settle nice around her and then Papaw would hop in the car on his side and start the car up. They would be going down the road and there was some kind of button on his side of the car that he would pull, which would send a blast of air right where Mamaw was setting and it would blow her dress up over her head. Papaw got a kick out of it, I can just hear him laughing now, and Mamaw said she would smack him and tell him she wouldn’t go out with him anymore unless he stopped doing that. So he would stop and then the next time they were together, pretty soon he would pull that button again and up would go her dress and smack, he was laughing again. Mamaw always laughed when she told me that story.
A little over a year after they started dating, they were married on March 19, 1938 in Marion, Crittenden County, Kentucky in the upstairs room of a house across the street from the courthouse, it was Mamaw’s 21st birthday. I know I have taken at least a couple of pictures of that house, but can I find one of them now when I want one, NO. The following picture shows the house in 2005 when I took this picture, that was the first house that my Mamaw and Papaw lived in and where their first child, Barbara was born, just outside of Marion going towards Fredonia.
Mamaw and Papaw settled into married life and soon their children started coming, Barbara Ann Fraley who married Curtis Leon Fritts 1934-2005; then my Mom, Erma Jean Fraley 1940-2011, who married Duell Franklin Beard 1935-2009; Guy Robert Fraley who married Eleanor Jane Summers; Amy Corene Fraley who married Thomas Edward Brooks 1943-1997, then Joseph Monroe Mitchell; Connie Rose Fraley 1947-1950; Iva Nell Fraley who married Roger Dale Griffin and Edward Jewell Fraley 1952-1954.
Pretty soon World War II started and my family was effected the same as most of the rest of the nation and the world. My Papaw was called up in 1943 in the United States Navy Reserve and was sent to the South Pacific and was on board a hospital ship as a corpsman. Mamaw said it was a very hard time for her and she worried about him all the time he was gone. She was raising chickens and selling them and their eggs to help make ends meet and somehow she had enough money to buy a house while Papaw was gone, along with what she got from Papaw’s service pay. I have a picture of that house she bought, that I took in 2011, when I took my Mom back home the last time, and I have the following pictures too, one of Papaw in uniform and one that my Mamaw sent to him during the war of her holding Amy who was born right before he left and then from left to right my Mom, Guy and Barbara.
The war finally ended and Papaw was able to come back home to his family, where the last three children were added to their family. The following pictures show Connie Rose, Iva with Mamaw and Papaw and Edward Jewell. The pictures of Connie and of Edward were taken not to long before they passed away, they both apparently had the same thing wrong with them. My Mom and her other siblings never said a lot about it, but I know my Mom really had a hard time when they passed away and I am sure the others did as well. I also know my grandparents suffered for a long time to, wondering if there was anything they could have done differently, but both deaths were pretty sudden and seem to be almost the same type of thing happening to the both of them. My Mamaw told me a few different times that a mucus like pus was coming out of their eyes and ears, they both had really bad coughs and high fevers, right before they died and the doctors didn’t really know what the problem might have been. We now know it might have possibly been encephalitis. They had taken Connie to the Children’s Hospital in Louisville, because the doctor in Marion didn’t know what was wrong and that is where she passed away. Mamaw told me that after Connie died the doctors wanted to do an autopsy, but that was such a new concept to them and most people at that time, that they didn’t want it done to Connie. Mamaw told me that after Edward Jewell died, she and Papaw both blamed themselves and wish they had let the doctors perform the autopsy on Connie and then maybe Edward wouldn’t have died. I don’t know how they did it losing a child, let alone losing two children within a four year time frame, I know it haunted them both till the day they died.
Mamaw and Papaw and their children moved out to Woodlake, Tulare County, California in 1953, because Mamaw’s brother, J B Loftis and his wife, Helen Beard had moved out there in 1946 after they got married and told them jobs were plentiful and they would love it there. The above picture of Edward Jewell was taken at Mooney’s Grove in Visalia that year. They found work right off, but only stayed for about a year, they were so homesick they had to get back to Kentucky and so they packed up and went back home. They moved to the Hardin’s Knob area of Crittenden County when they got back to Kentucky and that is where Edward got sick and died in 1954.
In 1959, my grandparents left Crittenden County for the last time and moved up to Hebbardsville in Henderson County, Kentucky about 70 miles north. My Mom and Dad had gotten married in 1957 and my Aunt Barb and Uncle Leon had gotten married in 1955 and they both stayed in Marion for a little bit longer. My Aunt Iva started third grade there at Hebbardsville Elementary and Aunt Amy and Uncle Guy as well as Aunt Iva all graduated from Henderson County High School just like I did, a few years later. They lived in at least three different houses that I can remember before my Papaw built the house that they would continue to own and live in until 2006. The following three pictures shows one of the houses in Henderson County they lived in when I was just little, that is me on the front porch and with my Aunt Iva out in the yard at one of the houses and the house Papaw built in the 1960’s. After they moved out to their house off of Hwy 416 in Hebbardsville, I would go out there on Friday’s and spend the weekend every chance I got. After I got to Middle School and High School I could catch the bus that took me to their house and would stay all weekend when possible and just ride the bus to school on Monday mornings sometimes as well. I loved to be out there with them.
Mamaw went to work at Henderson County Middle School as a cook in the lunch room in 1970 and worked there for the next ten years. When I was in Middle School I would always go in and talk to her and I even worked in the lunch room as a helper when I was in seventh grade. You got your lunch for free if you helped during your lunch hour. Usually your job was washing down the tables, sweeping the floors and taking out the trash. She really liked the ladies she worked there with and so did I, they were all really sweet. The one I remember the most was Mary Clouse, and that is mainly because they lived on the other hill across from my grandparents off of Hwy 416. We always called her Aunt Mary and we still do to this day. I was hoping to go and visit with her when I was home in August of this year, but I just didn’t have enough time. I did get to go see her and visit when I was home three years ago though. The following two pictures of Mamaw were taken in 1974 and 1975 when she was working at HCMS.
In 1988 Mamaw and Papaw celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary and their children threw a big party for them at Atkinson Park in Henderson, Kentucky. The following are just a couple pictures from that day. Mamaw had never had a wedding ring, they just didn’t have the money for one back in those early days. In the picture where they are setting Papaw had just given her a gold wedding band, she was thrilled to say the least. We had all been taking our rings off and trying each other’s on and having her try on our rings too while setting around the kitchen table a few days before. She never suspected what we were really up to and that was trying to see what size ring Papaw needed to get for her. To say she was surprised is an understatement.
Life moved on and times got better, the family grew, with 15 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren when my Papaw, Ermon Edward Fraley, died August 4, 1994 at their home in Hebbardsville, Kentucky they had been married for 56 years. It was a devastating blow to all of us, but one we had been preparing for since he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just a few weeks before. Once again my Mamaw knew heartache, but she was strong and nothing could get her down for long and for the next 12 years she went on without her sweetheart by her side, but her kids and grandkids were always there for her, always making sure she had everything she needed.
Mamaw’s eyesight was getting worse and so she couldn’t see real well those last few years, but she knew where everything was and so she continued to stay out at their home in Hebbardsville. There was always someone calling or stopping by to check on her pretty much every day. The Clouse family on the other hill, even cleaned out a lot of the trees and bushes in the gully between their homes so that they could see through to her house better. They told her anytime she needed something to just call and they would be right there and during the night if she flipped on the lights in the kitchen they knew she needed help and they would be over there in a heartbeat. Aunt Mary has two sons Don and Ricky who still live on the hill too and they kept her yard all mowed and kept things fixed around the house if one of us wasn’t going to be there before it needed it really bad. Ricky and I are the same age and we use to wonder all over the woods around Mamaw’s house and his house. We would swing from grapevines in the gully, are climb in the big old trees behind Mamaw’s house and set up there for hours. They were the best kind of neighbors to have for sure.
Mamaw loved to set outside and it was getting harder for her to walk down the steps, so we all pitched in some money and with the help of my cousin, Teresa’s, husband, George, he built a deck off her back door. George also put in a ramp so she didn’t have to maneuver down the stairs anymore. The following picture I took of her on her porch as she always called it, on Mother’s Day in 2005 when I had gone back to visit.
In 2006 Mamaw was starting to have some weak spells and had fallen a few times so Aunt Barb convinced her to come up to her house in Valparaiso, Indiana and spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with her. The other girls, Aunt Amy and Aunt Iva lived in Henderson and both were working at the time and my Mom, Jean lived in Utah and Uncle Guy lived in Florida, so they couldn’t run out to the house every single day to check on her. Mamaw agreed and so Aunt Barb came and got her around the first of November and took her home with her. About a week or so after Thanksgiving, Mamaw apparently had, had some small little strokes or something similar. My cousin Phyllis who is a nurse lived close to her Mom, Barbara, and so she was coming over and checking on Mamaw every day. Sometime on December 3rd or 4th I think it was, Mamaw couldn’t talk or move and so they took her to the Porter Hospital there in Valparaiso, where she passed away on December 5, 2006 with all of her children around her bedside.
The lane leading back to their house seemed so lonely and forlorn the week we were all there to say our last goodbyes. The house on the hill was bustling with activity, but it was not the same as when they were both there to greet all of us. The following are pictures my husband took the week we said our last goodbyes.
She was taken back to Kentucky and was buried beside her sweetheart and their two little children, Connie and Edward at the Deer Creek Baptist Church Cemetery in Sheridan, Crittenden County, Kentucky on December 11, 2006. When Mamaw passed she had 15 grandchildren, 26 great-grandchildren and 6 great-great-grandchildren, but only 4 were still living. The following is a picture of her five surviving children, from left to right, Jean, Barb, Guy, Amy and Iva, Mamaw’s grave that day and all 15 of her grandchildren at her funeral in 2006. There are now as of December 28, 2015 = 28 great-grandchildren and 33 great-great-grandchildren, if I haven’t missed any, but I think I have them all accounted for now. I am pretty sure the great-grand’s are done, but I am sure they will continue to be more great-great-grands in the future.
I was just at the cemetery in August this year, my cousin, Phyllis, took this picture of me by their grave.
The old Dolly Parton song said it best when my Mamaw passed away, “The ole' family tree is shedding its leaves, But we'll all meet in Heaven again, Oh, she's an angel Let her fly, let her fly, She's gone home to glory, To her home in the sky, When God sees her comin', Heaven's choir will smile and sing, "Oh she's an angel, let her fly, let her fly, Ooh, she's an angel, let her fly”.
Our special Angel is no longer with us, but we think about her almost every day and miss her constantly.