seems to have been very loved. There was a memorial published in a local paper that looked like an obituary, but read more like celebration of his life. Wouldn’t it be lovely if everyone could be this well thought of after death?
Harry was one of Maj and Willie Viola Casey Peebles’ children. He was the fifth child and the third son. His siblings were: Robert Duncan Peebles 1898 – 1973, William POLK Peebles 1900 – 1975, Georgie Marie Peebles 1902 – 1982, Lena Preston Peebles 1904 – 1978, Infant Peebles 1909 – 1909, Elmer Louis Peebles 1909 – 1982, Luther Coleman Peebles 1912 – 1997, Jennie Peebles 1914 – 2006, Katie Rebecca Peebles 1918 – 1984, Earline Peebles 1920 – 1997 and Willis Lucas LUKE Peebles 1922 – 1982.
often remind us of someone else. This photo was made circa 1956 at Mama and Gran’s house at 1308 W 8th Street in Sheffield, across the street from Southwest Elementary School. That was the home of my grandparents, Robert Duncan Peebles and Betty Drue Jane Tolbert Peebles. This was way before Gran had the house remodeled It had been a sort of shotgun house with a long hallway going from the front door to the backdoor at the back end of the hall. There were four more doors, two on each side that led to other rooms. They had the area of the hall beyond the hall boxed in and it was where Mama’s icebox and hoosier cabinet was housed, along with her bonnets, her galoshes, some aprons and gloves for outside work. That wallpaper was a deep red and if I recall correctly was flocked. To the right of the front door was the telephone bench. This was a type of desk that had a small top for the phone and a seat attached to it for sitting while on the phone. The photo depicts only the structure for a telephone bench but does not really resemble the one that Mama and Gran had. They had one, and he may have built it, that was some sort of red naugahyde material. I believe there were gold thumbnails at the seams. The seat and table portion were positioned as you see, but the chair part was the red material and there were no legs visible as the whole thing went to the floor. Their first phone was on a four household party line as was ours. Now, that was fun.
This photo is of me when I was about five or six years old. For some reason as a girl at Easter, I always got a new dress, shoes, and an Easter hat. I guess that is what a girl got on Easter in those days. There I am with my Easter basket, my pretty dress, my Easter hat and my right eye parked next to my nose. As best as I recall we would go to Mama and Gran’s and Mama would always make pictures of us sitting on that same red bench in their hall. My eyes were blue and my hair had copper highlights. Later and for years I almost always wore my hair in a ponytail. There is a little girl who favors me and that makes me happy. This photo reminds me of her. I wanted her to see this photo.
without even knowing their names because their features were so prominent making them, perhaps, unforgettable. It seems the likenesses tended to carry through more in the males of the Peebles’ lines. I would bet if you had Uncle Dan, Uncle Henry, Gran, and Maj in a lineup you would know they were kin. Likewise, Luther, Luke and Polk.
William Henry Peebles was a brother to George Washington “Maj” Peebles, DANiel Edward Peebles and James Walter “Jim” Peebles. He was born in Lawrence County, Alabama, died in Morgan County, Alabama presumably at Decatur Memorial Hospital, and was buried at Cottingham Cemetery in Lawrence County as were numerous relatives. This family started out in Alabama in Lawrence County around Hillsboro, Mountain Home, Wheeler Basin or Trinity and over the years many of them migrated to Sheffield, Brick, Leighton, and other points in the Shoals. On the 1900 Federal Census Record for Lauderdale County, they all lived in Center Star, Lauderdale County, Alabama. This was due to the fact that WillMaw Willie Viola Casey Peebles’ family had land in Center Star. The Peebles’ land covered the area where Champion Paper Mill is today and crossed the Tennessee River to Lauderdale County into Center Star. Around the Center Star area relatives included Manus, Posey, Casey, and Laughlin surnames.
No matter where destiny took them, they were still one big, and I do mean, big family. The photo on the graphic below is the only one of Uncle Henry as mother used to call him that I know exists. If there are others maybe the owners will share.
One of my heroes from the Shoals Area would be Miss Maud Lindsay. She was known internationally as a philanthropist, author, teacher and story-teller. Miss Lindsay was a devoted daughter of Robert Burns and Sarah Miller Winston Lindsay, and most importantly “Miss Maud” was a selfless educator that established the first Free-Kindergarten in Florence, Alabama. Maud was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama in 1874. Her father served the Confederacy and became the first non-Reconstruction Governor of Alabama. She and her family are buried in the Winston Cemetery in southwest Sheffield, not far from my great-grandfather’s (Robert Duncan Peebles) old house.
Much can be written of Miss Lindsay, my focus is on the Free-Kindergarten named in her honor. This little school stands on the hill near the former Brandon School. (I believe my aunt told me that it had been moved from its original position.) My great-aunts (Pauline Kerby and Irene Kerby) attended the kindergarten around 1915. Both are now deceased, but they passed fond memories of “Miss Maud” and her storytelling abilities to younger generations. Aunt Irene said the children would be mesmerized when Miss Maud told stories. Many of her stories were published in school readers during the early 1900s. Aunt Irene told about Miss Maud getting off of the train every morning at the Florence Depot in East Florence, meeting children in that area, then walking up the hill to the Kindergarten with “her” children. The things I most admire about Miss Maud were her willingness to make sacrifices and the way she influenced “her children”; she was a humble servant of her community. She passed up many lucrative offers to speak and teach around the world in order to stay in Alabama helping the little children of factory and mill workers in Sweetwater.
My family has a long line of teachers, including me! written by Kim Ricketts
now, that was a very hard time for everybody.
Before they were married they would walk around in Courtland. Once while they were walking a bear was there, right
there in a yard of a home that still exists today. It must have scared Drue because she recalled it decades later.
Living a sharecropper life is hard on the whole family. The second eldest daughter, Slena Mae Peebles, told of some of the sharecropping homes where the family lived. For most of them, they would put newspaper on the walls for what little protection against the elements it would provide. One place they lived she said the front porch was high and she and the other children would play under there. The cracks in the walls would let the cold wind right through. And the cracks in the floor would give a view of the chickens pecking under the house. She recalled they did not have toys or dolls to play with; but, rather, would break off twigs at the forks of a branch. The fork would make the legs for their headless, armless, faceless dolls. I might add that she played the game of Jacks with me when I was little, and I would venture to say that she was the Jacks champeen of the world, so she must have had lots of practice with Preston and Ellen growing up. Sometimes in the spring the girls would pick passion flowers, pick off just the right number of pistils or stamen. Presto, they would have a ballerina doll. Although, I doubt they ever saw a ballerina at that point anyway.
One son, R.D. Peebles, imagined himself a preacher. That is him in his little overalls. He would get up on that stump and place those little hands on his gallouses and preach. He would preach hell fire and damnation. At least as best a little guy was able. On that stump, he held very long sermons, it would seem. His sermons often consisted of the all important biblical admonitions of ‘dog’ and ‘hairpin.’ Now don’t laugh those were pretty impressive words for a little preacher. R.D.’s oldest daughter, Mary Jane Cochran, asked did I know that her Daddy had filled in as preacher at their church. I had not known that.
At Christmas they were truly excited to get an apple or an orange and maybe sometimes a piece of candy. They didn’t have much, but neither did others they knew, except for the Wheelers. Miss Annie Wheeler had a real porcelain doll. Drue had evidently seen or heard of it. Drue would show the girls a Sears and Roebuck catalog and ask them which dress did they like best. Preston, Slena Mae, and Ellen would pick out one they liked and Drue would hand sew them one like it. They would later put the pages to that Sears & Roebuck catalog to good use with a little crumpling. The girls’ dresses were made of flour sacks, as was their underwear. One day, Drue informed Slena Mae that she didn’t have any more flour sacks to make her any drawers and Slena Mae cried at that thought.
Drue’s first school was the Wheeler Basin Church building situated across the highway from the Joe Wheeler home. Slena Mae talked of going to school at Midway. Her teacher was Mrs Glenice _____ . She also taught me when I went to Colbert County High School. Children were often put to work in the fields of necessity. This limited the schooling that the children received. Preston could pick 300 pounds of cotton a day. Slena Mae and Ellen were not far behind. They also hoed cotton for pennies a day. The cotton picking would yield a whole 75 cents…or was the cotton the whole family picked that amounted to 75 cents per day?
Volumes could be written about the memories of their stories and their life. The photo accompanying this posting was made about 1934. The family had just lost a child of about eighteen months in age, J. W., to whooping-cough, iirc. Slena Mae told of the little one’s teeth marks that were still in the wooden eating table after he died. He made the teeth marks during teething as they would sit at the table.
In 1940 Reynolds Metals Aluminum Company opened at Listerhill, Alabama. They hired and trained a lot of local men. Robert Duncan Peebles was one of those men. They had moved to Sheffield. They lived in Sheffield the rest of their lives. After a train crushed into the car as Robert and co-workers headed to Reynolds to work and a long hospital stay, Robert D. Peebles retired from Reynolds Metals Company. He received a gold watch for his years of service. He was a mason, a bass fiddle and fiddle player, and he was talented in making things with his hands. Robert Peebles is the one that even when he died, all his grandchildren seemed to think they were his favorite.
A high school student interviewed Drue Peebles in the 1980’s for a school project that required an oral history of someone who lived during the Great Depression. When asked what did she remember most about the Great Depression, Drue replied simply. She said, “Being hungry.”