One of the thrills of family history is connecting with the living. I love the new found relationships with cousins and I love the additional insight they can provide about their direct line ancestors. I am sharing the following story about Benjamin Powell Gurganus “Dock” and Trannie J. Cain exactly as it was shared with me by Betty Wedgeworth. It is a delightful story that left me feeling like I knew them both. Benjamin Powell Gurganus was my third cousin twice removed and descends from John Wesley Gurganus, brother to my 3rd Great Grandfather, James Gurganus (Ganus). Thank you, Betty, for sharing!
“Trannie was born in 1879 in rural Walker County, Alabama. Sometimes in larger families the parents assumed one of the daughters would remain unmarried to take care of them as they aged. Unfortunately for Trannie, she was the designated one. Unfortunately for her parents, she did not agree. She fell in love with Benjamin Powell Gurganus, known as “Dock,” when she was eighteen. When she told her parents of her plans, they refused to accept her decision. At bedtime, they took her clothes and shoes so she could not leave during the night. But they should have known Trannie better than that. She sent word by a friend for Dock to meet her at the county line on a certain August night. The county line was 4 miles from her house, but Trannie had made up her mind and was not to be deterred. She walked through the woods, barefoot in her night clothes, to the designated spot. Dock was waiting in a buggy with the justice of the peace. After he married them they took him home and then spent the night with a friend. When Dock took her home the next day to get her clothes and personal items, her parents reluctantly welcomed him into the family.
“Dock was tall, dark and handsome, with thick black hair and a dry wit. He spoke slowly and calmly as if he deliberated over each word before speaking. Trannie was just the opposite. She was quite plain and spoke quickly with a high-pitched shrill voice. Some may have wondered what attracted her to him but what they did not understand was her wonderful, sweet, trusting heart. She was honest to a fault. You always knew what she was thinking because she did not worry about what others thought or how her words would be perceived.
“Trannie was the definition of eccentric. She did things her way, which was usually far from the norm. One could never foresee how she would react to any circumstance. Dock came home one afternoon to find that she had painted everything in the house with ugly, Army-green paint. And everything included the bed frame, night stand, picture frames, kitchen cabinets, and all their wood chairs. As he looked around in horror, he asked, “Trannie…what…have…you…done?” Surprised at his reaction, she replied that a neighbor came by with a 5-gallon bucket of the paint and said his wife did not like it and wondered if she wanted it. “It was free, Dock. What else was I supposed to do but use it?”
“One summer day as Dock was leaving for work, he asked Trannie to cook a peach pie for dinner. (Remember that in the South, dinner is the noon meal; “lunch” was not in their vocabulary.) She stepped outside to go to the orchard when she noticed a bucket of apples sitting on the edge of the porch. She took the bucket inside, pealed and sliced the apples and put the pie in the oven. When Dock came home and had finished his noon meal, he leaned back and asked Trannie to cut him a big slice of pie. She cut two large slices of pie and placed one on her plate and the other on his and waited for his complement. He stared at the pie, looked up at her and said, “Trannie,…these…are…apples…Where…is…my…peach…pie?” She said that the apples needed cooking so she cooked them. He pushed the plate back, untouched, and as he stood up he said, “Trannie…I…want…my…peach…pie…for…supper.” She went down the road to my grandparents’ house, fuming mad, and told them what had happened. After she cooled off, she returned home. When Dock came home, supper was on the table. She placed a pie in front of him after he finished his meal. When he cut into it, he realized that she had placed peaches in the same pie pan as the apples and had recooked the pie.
“Dock died in 1934 at the age of 57. She did not remarry and lived alone surrounded by the dogs she loved until, at age 90, an illness placed her in a nursing home, where she died in 1969. They are buried in the new section of the Liberty Hill Baptist Church cemetery on Pleasantfield Road about 4 miles south of Oakman, Alabama.
“Dock and Trannie had no children. If it bothered her, she did not let it be known. She was kind to a fault and everyone who knew her was blessed by her positive outlook.”