I remember the big day of school pictures when I was a kid. Regardless of how my hair looked the day of pictures or whatever goofy expression I might have had when the photographer snapped my picture, my image was forever preserved. That day mattered.
|My kindergarten picture|
As a kid I didn’t think about it, but as I got older I worried about “picture day.” My mom would always order enough pictures for grandparents, other family members and of course all of the little photos which I would carefully cut out and exchange with my friends.
As much as I worried about how I would appear to my friends, it never ever occurred to me that generations later people might look at my picture and try to gather impressions about who I was and what I must have been like. Just as my pictures never told how shy I was or how mischievous I could be at times, I know it is the same for my ancestor’s photos. I am thrilled when there are pictures, but I wish those pictures could speak.
|Gussie Fricks Brummitt|
As I have researched my Faucett and Fricks families, I was happy to realize that my grandma had photos of several of the family members in her little suitcase, including one of Gussie Brummitt (Fricks).
The picture of Gussie reminds me of a school picture but is in fact from the same studio as her brother Carl’s picture. I shared his story in a previous post. This picture also bears the stamp which reads “Pickard’s Penny Photographs, 820 Market Street, Chattanooga, Tenn, Closed Sundays.” In addition a penciled message which is barely visible reads, “Gussie Brummitt sends this to Sallie Ganus.”
Sally (Faucett) Ganus was Gussie’s aunt and my great grandmother.
I love knowing that although Sally had moved to Oklahoma, she had remained in touch with her sister and her family in Georgia.
Gussie Fricks was a daughter of Ramsey Fricks and Emma Faucett. She was born in Walker County, Georgia on the 19th of November 1883, just a month before Christmas. Her father farmed a little and also worked as a carpenter. As the middle child in a large family, she likely helped with cooking, cleaning and tending the younger children when she wasn’t in school.
Gussie married John Wesley Brummitt in about 1902, when she was 19 years old. Since the back of the picture gives her name as Gussie Brummitt, it must have been taken sometime after she married John.
Like her older brothers, she and John soon moved across the border into Tennessee. There they welcomed a son into the world on December 5th, 1905. Fred J. Brummitt would be their only child.
John Wesley Brummitt registered for the WWI Draft in September of 1918 when he was 45 years old. He was described as being of medium height, medium build, with blue eyes, and gray hair. From that registration card I learned that his left leg was amputated about an inch below the knee. Undoubtedly he faced many challenges as he tried to take care of his many responsibilities as a husband and father.
John provided for his family in a variety of different ways. On the 1910 census he indicated that he was a constable, on the WWI Registration form he was listed as an inspector of shells at Columbia Iron Works. In 1920 he was a watchman for a machine company.
Gussie and John did not get the opportunity to grow old together because John died from cirrhosis of the liver in 1922 at the age of 47. Gussie was 39 years old and left alone to care for their 17 year old son, Fred. Two years later Fred married Miranda M. Rowe and for a time Gussie lived with him while working as a packer at a candy manufacturer.
In 1937 Gussie rented a place across town from Fred and his family. But by 1940 Fred, his wife Miranda and their son John Wesley moved almost 3,500 miles across country to the Seattle area. As a mother and grandmother, I can imagine how alone Gussie must have felt without her husband, her only son or grandson nearby.
I wonder what Gussie did in her few remaining years. I do know that she died of a stroke in 1943, just a few years after Fred moved. She died in the home of her sister, Mary Victoria (Fricks) Warren. Although her son Fred was there to sign her death certificate as the informant, I wonder, was she able to tell him goodbye?
Her obituary reads as follows:
BRUMMITT- Mrs. Gussie, 59 died Wednesday morning at the home of her sister, Mrs. E. W. Warren, 5414 Dorsey Avenue. Other survivors are one son, Fred J. Brummitt, Seattle, Wash.; one brother, A.J. Fricks, Chattanooga; one grandson, John Wesley Brummitt, Seattle, Was. (sic) Funeral services will be held this afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the South St. Elmo Baptist Church, with Rev. Frank Ziegler conducting. Burial will be in Chattanooga Memorial Park. Pallbearers will be Wade Craft, Richard Evans, J. A. Orrell, Will Crane, Richard Kines and Hooper Cordell. The body is at Mrs. Warren’s home and will remain there until the hour of service. National Funeral Home in charge of arrangements. Chattanooga Times, September 23, 1943, p. 15
Way before school pictures entered the scene and way before selfies, thankfully many people had their picture taken. I am so glad that I know what Gussie looked like and that someone sent this picture to my great grandmother Sally Faucett Ganus. If only her picture could help tell her story.
Copyright © Michelle G. Taggart 2015, All rights reserved
10 thoughts on “Smile and Say Cheese”
Gussie was a pretty girl. She must have had really nice hair. It looks so smooth and shiny unlike most portraits I've seen where girls' hair was rather dry and wild looking in that style.
I must say you were able to relate quite a good story about the family anyway! I sure wonder how she got along when her son's family moved West! Such a good article and tribute to this family, Michelle. I have some Rowe family members too .. we should compare! And your Kindergarten picture is adorable!
How interesting! I never thought of it that way. There is something extremely, (how do describe this), magical (that will do! ) about thinking on the past. More specifically the individuals and how they must have acted. Their hopes, ambitions, imperfections, and even something like their laugh. I imagine you would be in heaven if they could speak to you now. Incidentally, that's exactly where you'll be when you get to have a full conversation with them!
I agree, she was, and you are right about her hair too. I think those Fricks girls were good with hair because I have a very similar picture of her sister with the same hair-do.
I agree Travis. Sometimes when I complete a story I almost ache to actually meet them and talk to them. I find myself gazing into their eyes to see what I can see there—-it helps when the picture is big enough and clear enough to actually see their eyes ha ha. But I always feel that I don't know enough regardless .
It is amazing how much can be found by piecing together the records. I generally work further back in time, but have been a little spoiled lately by working in a time when there are records such as the war registration cards with their description and address, obituaries and city directories. I will enjoy it while I can and then I will be back digging in the more difficult records seeing what I can wring out them.
Wonderful narrative about Gussie's life. I too can only imagine how difficult it must have been when Gussie's son and his family moved so far away. She must have missed them so much.
Jana I bet her heart was just broken. It would have been hard if it had been a several hundred miles, but over 3,000 miles was so far, especially in those days when people didn't just jump on a plane and fly all over. I wish I knew exactly what motivated her son to move so far.
Oh my gosh, I had forgotten those little pictures we traded in school. Cute kindergarten photo! I too hope Fred was able to be with his mother when she passed.
Thanks Ellie. None of those little pictures seem to have survived time but I remember cutting them out and swapping them with friends. I wish I still had some of my friend's photos.