Emily Cranford Tubbs, a real pioneer woman
by Ruth Baker
Jan 15, 2012 | 1410 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ruth Baker
Ruth Baker
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Here I go again on my “Memory Trail.” If it is a sign of old age to look backward, then I will admit I have been old most of my life. I have studied our settlers and their ways like a starved child hunts food. I still think we have many lessons to learn from these hard working, industrious men and women.

I have been going through my wealth of collections of local history, mainly to answer questions from our readers who call and write. We just lost a good friend, Edith Hamilton Richardson, after a long illness. Edith was an inspiration to us all as she stayed active as long as possible. She was one of the most totally involved women in our county beginning long ago with her husband. I found a letter that she wrote about Emily Cranford Tubbs that fits into the category of “pioneer women.” The title of the letter was “Emily Cranford Tubbs – A Historic Mother.”

“In the early 1800’s the trek toward more productive land drew many forward-thinking people into Alabama. Among these were John and Elizabeth Wilkes Cranford who migrated to Morgan County from Chester, South Carolina, c. 1822. Nancy Emily Cranford was the eleventh of their fourteen children. The family moved to Walker County prior to 1838.

“Emily Cranford grew up in the hardy usages of pioneer homemaking. She was married early in life to Daniel Lee Tubbs who passed away, leaving her with a hill-country farm and six small children. Living conditions at this time were practically the same for all: spinning, weaving ones own apparel, smoking the family meat, and constantly fighting the arid clay of the farm.

“Mrs. Tubbs shouldered all these duties, raised her children in the highest principles of honest behavior, fed and clothed her family to the best of her ability. In addition, she opened the doors of her home to family and neighbors for festive occasions — birthdays, holidays, and “socials.” She created a merry atmosphere for those who came her way.

“Her hobbies were many, and the most fruitful were her 85 beehives. To her descendants, she became a symbol of hard work and happy family gatherings. They referred to her as “Grandma — keeper of the bees.”

“She lived to the age of ninety, passed away in 1919. She left behind a legacy of fine Walker County citizens – the Myers, Hamiltons, Karrahs, and many others. Photographs show Emily Tubbs as a tall, gray-clad lady, with smiling eyes that reflected her stalwart faith and the confidence that she had done her best to fulfill her destiny as a mother.”

(Note: Emily’s daughter, Mary Ann was the grandmother of the late Bruce Myers, historian and genealogist who did years of research to preserve our history.)

It has been fun hearing from so many of our “displaced” home folks from all parts of the country. The DAILY MOUNTAIN EAGLE has become a lifeline to these people who are hungry for a word from “home.” I have many new friendships formed through the writings of Jim Davidson, syndicated columnist whose regular columns appear in our paper. He wrote about my book, SOUTHERN HOMESPUN, in his articles, which appear in over 300 papers in 30 states. Orders have trickled in from state after state for several months. It is nice to get the comments from all these who remember their parents and grandparents using these same expressions and folk beliefs. If you have studied the movement of early settlers, you will understand why we are so connected from state to state.

A recent exchange from Jackson, Tennessee, brought up a word we don’t hear any more, although I remember it from childhood. The word is “kuarn.” The man said. “I don’t know how to spell it, but I know it stinks.”

I am not sure of the spelling either, but I spelled it like it sounds. As I grew up, it was used when a dead animal was around and not buried. Now wasn’t that a bad way to end an otherwise good story? Oh, well, all of life is not roses.