in Lawrence County, Alabama even if the state has no record of her death. Conversely that means that she lived. Yes, she lived and died in Lawrence County, Alabama. She was born in 1884 in Lauderdale County, Alabama. Her family originally resided at a community named Rawhide, but she was born in the area known now as Center Star near Gabriel Butler’s Bluewater Creek cemetery and on Chief Doublehead‘s former Reserve property. She lived there until
shortly after the 1900 Federal Census was enumerated. Then she moved with her husband to his stamping ground in Lawrence County, Alabama. It was there she died in 1939. But, The state has no death certificate on file for Willie Viola Casey Peebles. Numerous attempts to obtain an official death certificate has resulted in a response of are you sure she did not die in another state. I would stomp my little feet and say, I am SURE she died in Lawrence County, Alabama. I can take you to her grave and show you her marker. I can show you her obituary from the Decatur Daily Newspaper dated 4 December 1939. OH, yes, she lived.
In 1888 records of Goodsprings Church in Center Star, she is listed as a member of the church. That is the same church that Gabriel Butler helped establish. It was a lovely little white wooden church and should have been of great historical value but since then it had been added on to and now is bricked, so how much of its historical value is left is not for me to say. I just know that every time I have driven or gone by that little church, I always think of her.
Her maiden name was Willie Viola Casey. She was undoubtedly named after her father Willis Robert Lucas Casey. A measure of how much she was loved by family might be indicated by the fact that at least two descendants were named in her honor. My mother and other grandchildren lovingly called her ‘Willmaw.” She married George Washington Peebles (Maj) and became the mother of eleven known children.
One of her grandsons recalled her fondly. He stated that she was a very religious woman. His favorite memory of her was her singing. He stated that she could sing every bit as well as Loretta Lynn. He recalled that on bringing the family cow up for milking that she would be singing the song “Amazing Grace.” He cherished that memory.
My mother’s memory of her always seemed wistful if her body language was any indication. Mother talked of her having breast cancer. As she recalled the next part, her face would show the pain she felt at the recall of those memories. She stated that her grandpa told Willmaw that if she had her breasts cut off she could no longer live in his house. Mother said that Willmaw did not have her breasts cut off; and that her grandpa got his way of her not living, at least living very long, in his house. She said Willmaw didn’t live long after that in his house, and I shuddered at the thought. Perhaps this is the reason that in my grown up years I am so adamant that only a woman can govern her own body as it has never been Government Issue.
Mother would go on to talk about going to Willmaw’s funeral. If I recall correctly, it was Luke who drove an old school bus and took all those who cared to ride to Willmaw’s funeral at Cottingham Cemetery. The cemetery is located just off the highway. Back in the 1960s when I would take Mother and others around to the cemeteries Cottingham Cemetery would pretty much tear your car up if you drove back to it. There was a little loop around the cemetery that circles the cemetery. After a business located and built their shop near it, they improved the road and a car could easily maneuver back there and all around the little cemetery.
Getting there was likely an adventure for the kids like my mother, but nothing would compare with the return trip. She stated that Luke drove the bus and that Luther would lean out the door of the old decrepid school bus and hold a coal oil lamp to try to illuminate the way to drive back home. It must have been a long, long trip back home under those circumstances. It left a little tear in her heart for the rest of her life.
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