Tuesday, December 30, 2008

My Heritage in Words & Pictures

Was just rootin' around in my office @ home & re-discovered some pix my cousin Wanda gave us all a few family reunions ago. It strikes me that my regular reader ; ) may not have seen these. But even if you have, much of who I am is defined by these people...

This is a not-so-great picture of one of the greatest ladies I have ever known: Martha Ferguson Madaris, better known as "Mattie"...better known to me as "Grandma." Hers was not a particularly easy life, but you'd never heard that from her. What a lady!

I have no idea who the handsome, short, blonde guy is...*smile* Let's just say you've met him...Can you tell that Dad, Jim & I used the same barber?

This is a superb pic of Charlie & Mattie, my grandparents. This was taken not long before Charlie died. Change the 'do, & this is how I remember Mattie looking for the last 20 years or so of her life. Only smiling or laughing would've been the common facial thing...

Charlie, Mattie, & their young'uns, ca. 1955. The very dashingly handsome gent 2nd from the right is who my son is named after...he's my son's grandpa, my dad, James. Gotta love the hairstyles & dresses, huh? *smile* Uncle Don, Aunt Daisy, Aunt Margaret, & Aunt Frances are the only ones still with us here. Just had lunch w/ Margaret & Frances when I was in FL before Christmas. Frances' son Gary is a year younger than I, and was one of my best friends growing up. We roomed together @ Bama, as did our Moms! (I've always thought that is pretty cool) Gary helped me come to know the Lord and helped me meet Lisa...other than that, he hasn't been all that important in my life... *smile*

Charlie--Grandpa--was a sawmill guy. He's the swarthy gent in this pic.

This is Charlie & some of his siblings. Charlie died when I was 1, but the laugh you see here (front lower left) is in line with what I've heard about him. I never met John Henry, but I do remember Jessie & Lena coming to a number of family gatherings. There was another brother named Perry (whom I met a time or two) and another couple of siblings as well. But I've always loved this picture of Grandpa. That laugh (shared w/ his wife Mattie too) was passed on down to their 8 children. And--I hope--to me and to my children too.

An earlier pic of Charlie & Mattie and their kids. The movie-star-handsome guy in the middle of the back row is my Dad. I always wished I had inherited more of his looks...oh well...

Charlie & Mattie as newly-weds just after the first World War.

The young doughboy near the end of WWI. 2 of his sons and 3 sons-in-law fought in the next world war. In this one, Charlie was a cook in France on a combat unit, and was also an expert marksman.
I love this one too even though it's rather poignant. The young teenage girl on the right is Mattie. Also in this one are her Dad, her little sister Pearl (whom I remember quite well), and her little brother Tom, whom I also remember quite well. You'll note the absence of a Mom. Remember when I said Mattie's life wasn't easy? Her mother, Frances, suffered a mental breakdown shortly before this pic was taken, and spent the rest of her days in the state mental hospital near Tuscaloosa. Thus, around age 12, Mattie went from "girl" to "grownup" in a hurry. She became the primary raise-er of Tom & Pearl. I cannot imagine being the primary caregiver of 2 little kids at age 12...And yet, nobody ever heard her complain. About anything! (Though he died before I was born, I've heard that her Dad was a great guy w/ a great faith as well. One of my aunts remembers late in his life hearing him sing the great hymns of the faith loudly just as he was relaxing by himself.) She was a remarkable lady whom I still miss hard, especially around Christmas. Hers was a life--and faith--that mattered greatly to many. I hope I grow into displaying more of her traits...

It goes on back farther, though I don't have pix. About 70-80 years before this last pic was taken, an ancestor named Abner McGehee was led to Christ by a circuit-riding Methodist preacher named Hope Hull. Mr. Hull discipled Abner in the faith, and it mattered greatly. Abner taught his kids the glory & grandeur of the Gospel. When the Civil War cost Abner his house & his farm & his fortune? Willingly ascribed to God's providence, and accepted in the uncomplaining manner that I knew in his descendant Mattie and in her children.

If you ever find yourself driving north on the interstate through central Alabama just south of Montgomery, you'll be reminded of Mike Madaris' family Christianity. You'll notice an exit or two for a rural area called "Hope Hull." (Last time I was there, they were about to build a large car manufacturing there, though it's still fairly rural.) That community used to be known in the 1830s as "McGehee's Switch." After the huge impact the preacher had on Abner, the patriarch of McGehee's Switch, he renamed the community after the one who had proclaimed the Gospel to him. Personally, every time I see the "Hope Hull" exit off the interstate, it chokes me up. It reminds me of my oh-so-deep spiritual roots and godly heritage. And it challenges me to continue trying to pass the legacy on.
And now you've seen some Madaris family pix & heard just a smidge of our shared story. Been thinking much lately about the legacy I inherited as I think through my goals for the new year.
Let me dwell in your tent forever! Let me take refuge under the shelter of your wings! Selah. For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.
Psalm 61:4-5
(p.s. - I have a very rich heritage on the other side of the family too...Stay tuned...)


Angela said...

Thanks for posting these Mike. This was a treat--one I am looking forward to sharing with the kiddos later in the day.

Last Fall, the kids and I did a life-sized (well, kitchen wall sized) family tree. I had pictures of Memama (Margaret),Grandpa Luckie, & one of my Great Grands. I would love to have these to add to the tree when we do it again. Would you be able to email these softcopies to me? psalm1167@nc.rr.com

Thanks again for posting this.

Ben said...

A great reminder of our family's heritage of faith. I didn't know about the McGehee/Hope Hull connection.

Anonymous said...

Since I grew up in the Mobile area, and all of my extended family lives in Anniston and Gadsden, I have passed the Hope Hull exit many, many, many times. It is great that you have such a rich family history. I also have many family stories, but we are a much smaller family.

Mustard Seeds said...

The historian in me has THOROUGHLY enjoyed reading this post! The glimpse that you have provided into the history of the Great Madaris Clan has granted me perspective into the many qualities that I love so much about you guys! Looking at that picture of your grandaddy laughing reminded me of your laughter during our many "planning period" conversations.