is an excellent summation of a lady and her life that I hold dear in my memory; and it is as àpropos during my childhood as it is now. Back in the day, there did not seem to be much coveting of someone else’s success or wealth; nor was there jealousy. It seemed that those who had been successful illuminated the way for others to follow to attain the American Dream. And if the American Dream is dead, it was not the people who slaughtered it.
The lady I write about is Lena Mae Myhan. She was an extraordinarily ordinary woman. That was part of what made her extraordinary in the crossed eyes of my childhood. You would have thought that I would have been spoiled as the only
girl, but uh uh. And I am thankful for that as I learned independence at an early age. Miss Lena Mae was one of the few who exclaimed to me as a little girl that I had beautiful blue eyes; notwithstanding that the right one was firmly placed in the corner of my eye socket next to my nose. And she remembered every birthday of every child in the near neighborhood for as long as I could remember; that was really special because for the most part our family really did not pay much attention to birthdays back then. I loved Miss Lena Mae; and came to think of her in my adult life as a bonus grandmother.
What about this ordinary woman made her so extraordinary in the eyes of a little Sheffield girl? Let me count the ways. For one thing, she taught me a lot of things that are virtues in today’s world – and all without even knowing it. A little background is in order here.
The Myhan family has known and have been neighbors of my Murray family for more than 150 years now. Most of them are gone now. Our families go way, way back.
Miss Lena Mae Myhan’s family history is one of great pride. Her earliest known ancestor, John Myhand and wife Mary MacMiel immigrated from Lietrim, Ireland. John Myhand and Mary McMiel Myhand were devisees in John MacMiel’s 1729 will and upon his death his son-in-law John Myhand received several hundred acres of property while daughter Mary MacMiel Myhand inherited his plantation.
Their son James Myhand also immigrated from Lietrim, Ireland; he lived in Rowan County, North Carolina and he and his wife Sarah Bryant Myhand are buried in Sampson County, North Carolina. Their known children were Jesse Myhand, Silas Myhand and James Myhand.
Their son, James Myhand was born in Morgan, Rowan County, North Carolina in 1755. He married Rosannah Owen in 1782 in North Carolina. James and Rosannah Owen Myhand migrated to Georgia and lived in Morgan County. There someone on his behalf was a fortunate drawer in the 1820 Georgia Land Lottery that rewarded his service in the Revolutionary War with the gift of land. In 1820 James Myhand’s fortunate draw was in Irwin County, Georgia which was claimed on 3 November 1823, likely by his widow Rosannah Owen Myhand since he had died in 1819. You will find the Myhand family well represented in the Daughters of the America Revolution files. Rosannah Myhand left a “Deed-of-Gift” when she died and it is recorded in Harris County, Georgia Deed Book “A” (1828-1832) page 623.
Here is the text of the gift; Georgia Date of “Deed-of-Gift Morgan County August 12, 1831 Between: Rosannah Myhand,of Morgan County, Georgia, Give unto: My two sons: Alvin and James Myhand, Jr. of Morgan County, Georgia Land Lot – 108, 5th District, Troup County, Georgia, containing: 202 1/2 acres, granted to myself widow of Revolutionary Soldier on April 23 1828. Her signature was an ‘x’ mark; witenss was Caswell J Allen, John J McNeel, J. P.
The Myhand family males provided military service to protect and defend this nation in most of the wars in which America was engaged. James and Rossannah Myhand had a number of children likely: John, William, Nancy, Sarah “Sallie”, Thomas, Alvin, Jesse, Abner L, and James Knight Myhand.
James and Rossannah Owen Myhand’s son James Myhan was born in North Carolina or Cass County, Georgia; he married Bersheba McCowan in North Carolina. He migrated to first to Warren County and then to Morgan County, Georgia. He and his wife are buried there. Their known children are Mary Myhand, Thomas Butler Myhand, and John Myhand. It is their son John Myhand that continues the lineage for our Miss Lena Mae Myhan.
John H Myhand was born circa 1815 in Cass County, Georgia which then was considered the [New] Country. He married Eliza A Horne. In 1850 they were living in Cass County, Georgia [Country]. By 1860 they were living in Franklin County, Alabama. Their children were: William, Mary, John H, Susannah, Missouri A, Edward J, Zachary (or Zachariah) Taylor, Sarah, and Benjamin Franklin Myhand. John reportedly died in 1880 and may be the John Myhand buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Cypress Inn, Wayne County, Tennessee.
John H and Eliza A Horne Myhand’s son, William T Myhan was Miss Lena Mae Myhand paternal grandfather. He was born in 7 March 1833 in Georgia and died 11 Dec 1905 in Sheffield, Colbert County, Alabama. He is buried at Morning Star Cemetery in Tuscumbia, Alabama. William T Myhand married Susan MATILDA McCorkle, daughter of Thomas Jefferson and Susan M McCorkle. They had the following children: Alice P Myhan Finney 1867 – 1933 Ella Minerva Myhan Clark Rumph 1867 – 1952, Laura P Myhan 1870 – 1953, Betty Elizabeth Myhan Kimbrough 1875 – 1968, Jo Ann or Joan Myhan Elledge 1879 – 1962, William M Myhan 1880 – 1959, Martin Myhan 1881 – , Thomas E Myhan 1877 – 1944 and Charles Everett Myhan 1884 – 1965. A large number of the Myhan and related families are buried at Morning Star Cemetery where three or four generations of my Murray and related families are buried.
William Myhand served in the Confederacy during the War Between the States. He served as a Private in Company K of the 5th Arkansas Regiment entering in April of 1861 and afterwards served in the 11th Alabama Regiment of Cavalry from 7 April 1861; entering this regiment at Prides [Landing]. He was captured and taken prisoner of war being held a prisoner in Nashville, Tennessee. He continued to serve until being honorably discharged in 1865 in Montgomery. His widow, Susan M Myhan, made an application for a pension on 26 Jun 1903. The application was granted and the pension was for the total of $2.50 per month.
Their son William M Myhan was Miss Lena Mae Myhan’s father. Her mother was Minnie Lee Ida, but her maiden name is yet to be discovered. Ida Myhand died in 1918 and is buried in Morning Star Cemetery. They had two girls: Lena Mae Myhan and IvaDell Myhan.
IvaDell Myhan was born 29 Nov 1908 in Colbert County, Alabama and died 1 November 1985 in Sheffield. She and her husband, Willie J Young are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Sheffield. They had two girls named Lola M and Betty A Young. Ivadell and her family lived in Chattanooga at one time, and on another census record it was inferred their residence was in LaGrange, Georgia. The Young family returned to their native Alabama and lived in Sheffield when she died.
Miss Lena Mae, that is what we all called her, was born 19 January 1906 in Colbert County. Her family had lived in the neighborhood of my paternal family for nigh over one hundred and fifty years at the time of her death; they had lived in the neighborhood of my maternal family for nearly fifty years. So, the history is steep and deep between our families.
Miss Lena Mae was not a pretty woman; at least to the time I remember her. But I had always pictured her as a young girl to be as pretty as she was in my mind’s eye as a child. Of course, she seemed a woman of ancient maturity by the time my memory set in; but even until her death I saw no change in her appearance from how I remember her. There is a photo of one of her ancestors that looks how I imagine her to have looked at the same age; beautiful and young and vibrant. She was not a silly, flighty girl, who lived on airs and pretentiousness. She was pragmatic, and she loved her father. She was taller than my mother and a little on the stout side. She wore little cotton house-dresses and always seemed to have an apron tied around her waist. She and Mr. Lon always grew the most luscious looking and green garden behind their home. She had a huge dip in her forehead where a metal plate resided; and her hearing was all but nonexistent. Her hair was mostly a light gray and she kept it in a ball at the nap of her neck; obviously she had black hair in her youth. There always seemed to be a little wisp of hair blowing in the breeze from her temples. She must have had back problems since her gait was a little on the awkward side; if I recall correctly she had a steel rod in her back. But in all my lifetime, I never heard her complain. Her life was dedicated to the care and welfare of her father; she was a worker. Lest you get the idea that she was just a girl from Appalachia without many virtues; the record will be clear now. She had a four-year college degree but evidently never used it; her father consumed all her time. She had lost her mother when she was just twelve; and for some reason when her father became crippled she assumed the role of caregiver 24/7. Her father, William M Myhan, had been a rural route Mail Carrier for the U S Government during his working days. He drove a horse drawn wagon to deliver the mail to my family and others in rural Colbert County for decades. After moving to Sheffield he worked at King Stove and Foundry and retired from that employment. He was a member of the Okolona Baptist Church that still exists on the corner of Sixth Street and Wilson Dam Road in Muscle Shoals, as has many of my relatives and ancestors.
It was said that he had an ingrown toenail which had became gangrenous and had to have one of his legs amputated. He was pretty much bedridden by the time I was a child. I remember his armless wheelchair which seemed to take up most of the room where his bed was located. And I remember his shockingly white hair. I always thought he looked pretty healthy, except for the missing leg. The family had a boarder, Alonzo “Lon” Marlar, who lived in with them for many years and helped her take care of her father; but also had a day job and worked at Martin Stove which was a foundry across the railroad tracks. The family had no phone, no car, no television and Miss Lena Mae never had children. Their seating under the shade trees outside were those wooden straightback chairs with the woven seat. They did have the most beautiful dog that I have ever seen. He was a collie and all fluffy and energetic; his name was Carlo and he would be in the street where we would travel and play a lot of the time. Many would consider them poor, very poor. But you are not poor because someone else is wealthy.
Miss Lena Mae was one of the influences that taught me pride, independence, and that you do not have to have a lot of money, riches, property, beautiful clothes, or worldly possessions to be rich – and neither does any person worth his/her salt covet or envy those who are more fortunate than they for that is a biblical sin. Actually, that is the backbone of my families on both sides. Growing up in the little city of Sheffield made myself and my siblings what we are today; we had so many good influences to model after.
I remember as a child, standing with my jaw dropped when Miss Lena Mae’s sister and her family would visit. The juxtaposition of the lifestyle of the sister and my beloved Miss Lena Mae was stark, even to a child. They came in a car, what seemed like a nice car. They had nice clothes, unlike the little cotton house-dresses that Miss Lena Mae wore. The sister had a husband and two beautiful children. I imagined they lived in a Norman Rockwell house and had a Norman Rockwell life. Whereas, Miss Lena Mae and her family had rented that lonely looking house at 1001 West 13th in southwest Sheffield for what could have been a lifetime, by my estimation more than forty years. I think the rent was less than $75 per month likely much less for them. but they had rented it long enough to have bought it a dozen times or more. Those houses were removed from TVA property when one of the Villages was done away with. They were originally shotgun houses with a dog trot through the middle. They look nicer now, but as a child they were unpainted and a bleak gray. They heated the house with coal. I remember getting Miss Lena Mae some pretty towels one Mother’s Day. When I took them to her and went to hang them up in her bathroom, I was unable to hang them because the bathroom was bare and did not even have a towel rack or a toilet paper holder.
My heart ached for my Miss Lena Mae because I thought she deserved just as good as her sister and I did not understand the difference in the two lives. It seemed to me that the sister lived a charmed life and did not visit that often, perhaps they lived out of town. And Miss Lena Mae was dedicated to the welfare and care of her invalid father all her adult life; it just was such a stark contrast in the mind of a child, but Miss Lena Mae never took a breath that showed resentment or jealousy or envy. It was as it was supposed to be. She was rich.
I had become aware of the Vocational Rehabilitation Center in Muscle Shoals. When I asked them about a hearing aid for someone like her; they suggested that she come in and were sure that they could help her. I was ecstatic at the thought of her getting help with her hearing and I eagerly told her about their service. It was then I learned a good life lesson about independence and pride. She told me that she would not be getting the hearing aids. She stated that was ‘charity’ and that charity was for those who were poor. There was a jolt to my system because I had (mistakenly) thought she was poor just because she did not have many worldly possessions. Well, she taught me and I have remembered that lesson for a lifetime now. That is how our past generations of family were; proud and independent. Those attributes are likely why those in the deep south are so mistrusting of the government. When I think back on that incident, I get chills; oh, how I loved that wonderful extraordinarily ordinary woman.
Mr Lon was born in Missouri and was living in the household of his sister Grace Thomas in Sheffield on the 1930 census record. He was age 31 and single. Grace and her husband William E Thomas were the parents of Paul Thomas. We called him Mr Paul and his wife Miss Audie. They lived next door to my maternal grandparents on West 8th Street in southwest Sheffield as long as I could remember and until their deaths.
After her father died in 1959; she was such an upright person that she told Mr. Lon that it wouldn’t be right or look right for them to continue to live in the same house without being married. So that is what they did. Her father died in January of 1959 and in February of 1959 they married. They lived in that shotgun house on West 13th in Sheffield until he died, and then she lived there until she was put in a nursing home and then died. She and Lon Marlar are buried at Colbert County Memorial Gardens.
What good memories I have of my Sheffield childhood; and Miss Lena Mae Myhan Marlar is one of them. She taught me that WE ARE ALL RICH.
William Thomas Barron was born in 1825 and died in 1917 in Mississippi.
The photo is posted here because he is a relation to the Barron family from Sheffield.
it is not your father’s Oldsmobile anymore, is it? Neither is it your father’s Edsel, Hudson, Comet or Plymouth.
Paul Eugene Saywell, Sr. of Sheffield, Colbert County, Alabama was Mayor of Sheffield in 1952. Paul and his wife are buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Sheffield, Alabama; he died in 1997.
He was a Major in the US Army during World War II. He owned Saywell Motors; at one time was a Desoto dealership, a long, long time ago. It later became a Lincoln, Mercury and Comet dealership. The 1958* Tri-Cities Car Dealership Association of the Muscle Shoals area included:
- Campbell Motors – Ford, Florence
- Foot[e] Auto Company – Oldsmobile/Cadillac, Florence
- Killen Motors – Dodge/Plymouth, Florence
- McIntyre Buick – Buick, Florence
- Tom Smith Chevrolet – Chevrolet, Florence
- Jenkins & Wayne Motors, Inc. – Lincoln/Mercury, Florence
- Wilcoxson Motors – Chevrolet/Plymouth, Florence
- Harrison-White Pontiac – Pontiac, Florence
- Jesse Hammond Motors – Edsel, Sheffield
- Hardy Motor Company – Ford, Sheffield
- Miley Buick – Buick, Sheffield
- Hester Chevrolet – Chevrolet, Sheffield
- Paul Saywell – Dodge/Plymouth, Sheffield
- Morris Service Station – Hudson, Tuscumbia
- D & D Motors – Ford, Tuscumbia
Paul’s great-grandparents remained in England and were Thomas John and Harriet Wildish Saywell. Thomas John Saywell was born about 1810 in St Leonard Shoreditch, Middlesex, England. His death occurred in Oct 1894 in Kent, United Kingdom
Paul’s grandparents were George Eugene and Mary Elizabeth Ann Double Saywell. George, Mary and first child Ada were born in Gillingham, England. George, Mary and all of their children migrated in 1888 to Alabama. Note that the date given in 1900 for their arrival in America was 1890; they were naturalized citizens in 1895. On the 1900 United States Federal Census the family resided in New Decature, Morgan, Alabama. George Eugene Saywell’s occupation was given as blacksmith. George’s siblings were Charlie E, Lillie, Bertram (Burt), Ada, Mary A, and Richard G Saywell.
By the time the 1920 United States Federal Census was enumerated the family resided in Sheffield, Colbert, Alabama. They were living at 707 Annapolis Avenue in downtown Sheffield. Paul’s grandfather is now 65 and his occupation is listed continues as blacksmith. By the enumeration of the 1930 United States Federal Census, Paul’s grandfather is 76, widowed and works as a Labor Foreman. George Eugene Saywell died in December of 1939 in Sheffield, Colbert County.
Some records indicate that most of the children of George and Mary Ann Saywell were born in England and became naturalized citizens. Frederick Thomas Saywell was born 1878 at Gillingham, Kent, England. Charles Edward Saywell was born 1880 at Gillingham, Kent, England. Lilian Saywell was born 1882 at Medway district, Kent, England. Bertram Saywell was born 1884 at Medway district, Kent, England. Ada Saywell was born 1886 at Medway district, Kent, England. But, Richard G Saywell and George Eugene Saywell were born 1890 and 1893 in Alabama, likely in Morgan County.
George Eugene Saywell, Jr was 22 and single, which puts his birth year as 1895, and lived at 707 Annapolis Avenue in Sheffield. He was medium height and weight, had brown hair and eyes, and claimed conscientious objection to killing on his World War I Draft Registration on 5 June 1917. He was an auto merchant at McRea Motors in Sheffield in 1917. His gravemarker reads that he was a Private in World War I.
Lilian Saywell married Marvin Garrison. Richard G Saywell married Lillian M Hall. Ada Saywell died in 1982. Bertram R Saywell died in 1978. Charles Edward Saywell died in 1948. They lived in Sheffield. They are buried in Oakwood Sheffield Cemetery.
Frederick Thomas Saywell and Gertrude M Saywell were the parents of Paul Saywell. Frederick Thomas Saywell was 40 in September of 1918, his wife, Gertrude M Saywell, is his nearest relative. They resided at 707 Annapolis Avenue in Sheffield. He had not been born a natural citizen, works as machinist at Wlec Company. He is medium height and build, has brown eyes and dark hair.
Frederick and Gertrude M Saywell’s children were Frederick Thomas Saywell, Cecelia Saywell, and Paul Eugene Saywell.
Fred was born in 1 March 1901 and died 29 Nov 1971 in Russellville. Birdie Buchheit was Fred’s wife. They are both buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Sheffield.
Cecelia Saywell was listed in the 1930 census in Sheffield in her father’s household; and a Cecelia Saywell was listed on the 1930 census in Birmingham as age 19, a renter in the household of Ackley or Achley and Leila Long, and working as a stenographer in a law firm.
Paul lived at 114 Hiwasee in Sheffield and ran Paul Saywell Motors. No further information is known of his World War II service. His grave is listed on the U S Veterans Gravesites; that gave us the info that he was a Major. More information on Paul Saywell’s military service, his service as mayor of Sheffield, and photos would really, really be nice.
* Do you remember the commercial that Dinah Shore used to sing on television?
“Drive your Chev ro let
Through the U S A
America is the greatest land of all!”
from southwest Sheffield? Patricia Haskins McWilliams has more talent in her little finger than I do in my whole body. She is a portrait artist. Her portrait of Judge Deloney hangs in the Colbert County Courthouse in Tuscumbia. Her portrait of President Robert Gulliot hangs at the University of North Alabama. Her portraits hang in many states and some foreign countries.
She resides in Brentwood, Tennessee just outside Nashville. She has set the bar for success very high, very high. Below is a screenshot found online.
Brother Tittle at Grant Hotel in 1949!
Now, had I known that I would have given Brother Tittle the same advice my mother gave me as a young girl. She said when downtown Sheffield that ‘nice’ girls do not walk on the side of the street where the pool room is located. At another time she stated that ‘nice’ girls do not walk on the side of the street where the Grant Hotel is located. Anyone else see what is wrong with this advice? Iirc, they were on opposite sides of the streets.
Brother Tittle was a huge asset to the community where he pastored at Southwest Nazarene Church. I know my grandmother thought a lot of him. I went to services with her as a young girl several times. The ladies wore hats and gloves. The following newspaper photograph is courtesy of Sheila Turberville, Virgil Tittle’s niece.
with the event he and Ian Sanford are putting together for downtown Sheffield. The event is called Back to the Sixties on Saturday Night. It will be held Saturday, May 28, 2011 on Montgomery Avenue 6:00pm – 10:00pm. Included in the performer lineup for the event are the Weejuns. Weejuns I asked? What are weejuns? Perhaps they are ‘Long Tall Texans’ with a penny in their shoe.
Photos of Norwegian farmers wearing loafers to perform work inspired the re-introduction of them here in the United States. That was back in the 1930s. In the 1950s they were again popular, very popular.
The shoes featured no buttons or shoestrings, had a low heel, and fit below the ankle. Loafers suddenly became quite popular, and were manufactured by both Spaulding and the Bass Company. Bass retained the Norwegian name for loafers, calling them Weejuns. One can still purchase Bass Weejuns today, though technically they only differ from other loafers in name.
The shoe had a mouth opening which soon was used to hold an ornamentation – perhaps a penny and thus penny loafers became a style. Penny loafers often held a dime instead of a penny. If a girl’s date got out of line she could call home on a pay phone. We called the dime or dollar mad money.
Never having been a material girl, it is just now that I realize that you were not cool unless your penny loafers were Weejuns. By that statement I’m not confessing that anyone was or was not cool in high school, I just did not care if the brand name of my penny loafers was Weejuns.
The good guy always wears the white hat. The bad guy always wears the black hat. Simple. Nothing to it. Life was so simple back in 1956. Life was good in Sheffield Alabama in 1956; Norman Rockwell-esque, really. In December there was the gIANt Santa on the Y and holiday lights that made visions of Christmas dance in the little ones heads. And the good guy always wore the white hat. Always. But not to worry, the guy in the white hat had paid a visit to the Vengrouskie household on Annapolis Avenue in Sheffield.
I find this Tri-Cities Daily article hilarious. Funny because I can envision Big Joe’s reaction. Funny because I envision Little Joe’s reaction. And even funnier because I can envision Pauline’s reaction. Pauline would be nervous and would run to the phone to tell Irene, her twin, all about it. I can just hear, “Ohhh, Joe is going to kill me!” She would hurry to try to think of something to do. Bet you there was a lot of hand wringing going on.
The article posted here was published in the local newspaper on 1 December 1956. Since someone in the class of ’57 still remembers it, don’t worry I won’t reveal who you are Mr. Vetters, it must have been h-i-l-a-r-i-o-u-s. Having known the Vengrouskie’s for many years I can just imagine how hilarious Little Joe and Big Joe may have thought it.
And, oh, the class of ’57 had its dreams! Do you think that any one of them ever dreamed that as a freshman, s/he would look out his/her window to find a real cowboy (I hope he wore a white hat) delivering a five hundred pound steer to his/her home in a downtown residential area? It had to have violated a whole slue of city ordinances, if not they were likely created after this incident by the bundles. I wonder who fed and cleaned up after the steer and who shoveled the-you-know-what.
That Pauline, you gotta love her, and I did. She was a delight to be around and she never met a stranger. I was blessed to have Pauline Vengrouskie and Irene Marks as guests at my home with my family at what would be Pauline’s last Christmas. Irene and I talked about that as I stayed with her to allow more immediate kin to attend Pauline’s funeral.
- What is the difference between a wooden pencil and a nice fountain pen? (rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com)
- Picture perfect… (rememberingtheshoals.wordpress.com)
spirit was high that year. And it was a very good year. We are Remembering the Class of 1957. That was a year of many changes. And on December 1st of 1956 Joe Vengrouskie had a surprise waiting on him when he returned home from school. Joe must have done a double take when he saw a steer in his front yard. Pauline Vengrouskie, his mother, won a “jingle” contest, and a steer was delivered from El Paso, Texas to their home on Annapolis Ave. It was a good thing that there was a fence around Joe’s house to contain the steer and to keep it safe from neighborhood dogs, According to the newspaper article the steer was afraid of dogs. No doubt, Joe Vengrouskie, sold it or maybe they ate it.
|Lt. Cecil Bolton
Born in Crawfordsville, Fl., grew up in Sheffield, Al. and
Military Hall Of Heroes
Madison County Courthouse 100 Northside Square, Huntsville, AL 35801
led by Mr. Irby attends the Dogwood Arts Festival in Knoxville, Tennesee.
Some of those identified in the photo are: Christopher Cantrell, Melissa Spires Hall, Mia McElroy, Sheneese Short, David Bo Matthews, Mark McCutchen, Kathy Driskell, Jeff Roland, Jennifer Mussard, Amy Thrasher, Gregg Hall, Brooke Perry, Traci Hamilton, William H Reynolds, Loren McCall, Mary Beth Harris Hall, James Barry Cochran, Rajest Boorgu, James Irby, Regina Stovall, Karl Long, Kellie Ingram, Shannon Ayers, Alicia Hall, Seth Lewey, Ellen Milam Aday, Bart Brocato, Pam Fosset, Gina Wells Van Devender, Lynne Mayfield Morris, Kerrie Ingle, Eric David, Stephanie Moore, Renée Frederick Cox, and Michael Coleman. It would be very helpful if someone would tag this photo with the names.