A Story of the McQuary Family
by Reca McQuary Hardy
Written in 1986
Acquisition of the childhood memoirs of Reca Elizabeth McQuary Hardy (1903-1996) was something of a fluke. Id borrowed some family history documents from my cousin, Pamela Kay McQuary Oden. They included family correspondence written in the 1980s to her brother, Timothy Warren McQuary. Included in that correspondence was a letter to Tim written on July 24th, 1984 by Broyles Sumner McQuary, Recas brother. I made a copy of that letter and sent it to one of my genealogy contacts, Marjorie McQueary of Toledo, Ohio. Receipt of the letter jogged her memory and resulted in her sending me a copy of Recas My Early Childhood, a document that she recalled having only after reading Broyles letter to Tim.
Recas father was the oldest brother of James Otis McQuary (18901960). She was born and raised in Macon County, Missouri, but her childhood memories include an account of an abortive attempt by her parents at homesteading in New Mexico when she was about five years old . That adventure was something of a McQuary expedition for it involved not only Recas immediate family, but her McQueary grandparents and four of their other sons, including James Otis.
There is a postscript to the New Mexico aspect of Recas childhood memories. James Otis paid the property taxes on his homestead for many years before eventually selling it. However, he retained the propertys mineral rights, later selling them to his son, Warren Harding McQuary, Pams father. When Warren died in 1981, those mineral rights were divided into five equal shares: two shares to his widow, Irma Lorene McDonald McQuary, and one each to Pam, Tim and their younger brother , John McDonald McQuary. Each receives a modest monthly check as a result of extraction operations that have been in progress for the past several decades on James Otiss old New Mexico homestead.
Theres another noteworthy aspect to Recas account of her childhood. She mentions that after returning to Macon County from New Mexico, her parents rented a place that was known as the Richardson farm. James Otis McQuary married Vergie Elizabeth Varns on 11 Dec 1910 in Macon County - where all their children were born. Vergies mother was Sarah Frances Fannie Richardson. The Richardsons were a large and well established Macon County family. General Land Office Records of the Bureau of Land Management list 42 land patents issued to individuals with the Richardson surname between 1838 and 1882 for Macon County parcels totalling 3,214.7 acres. Odds are that the Richardson farm Recas parents rented was owned by one of Vergies ancestors or relatives.
Willard L. (Bill) McQuary
December 15th, 2001
MY EARLY CHILDHOOD
I have decided to write a few things about my early life since I have
never told you much about it, the early days of my family. So here is some
of it, Dorothy Jean, Ruth Evelyn, Mary Frances, Juanita Elizabeth and James
Hattie McQueary Miller
These are my mothers half brothers and sisters:
Edgar Lee Broyles
My mother was Lula Frances Broyles. Her parents were Hiram Polk Broyles
and Mary Frances Burnette Broyles. Hiram was on old Johnson name (his
mothers family name) and Polk was for President Polk. Her father first
married Martha McQueary, grandpa Christopher Kit McQueary's sister.
She died during their earlier married life. They had no children. Then he
married Mary Frances Burnette and their only child was my mother. I am told
that Mary Frances was very beautiful, a very talented woman. She made all
my mothers baby clothes by hand, and they were lovely. She died when
my mother was a year old because of a severe cold after hanging the laundry
outside on a very cold day. This developed into pneumonia. My mothers
grandparents, Felix and Emaline Johnson Broyles took her and raised her as
their own. They had 10 children of their own.
I suppose it is about time I brought myself into the picture. I will start by saying that the McQueary, Catron and Broyles families were a very close-knit group. In the year 1902 Hiram Sumner McQueary (the Hiram was for my grandpa Broyles who was first married to grandpa McOuarys sister) and Lula Frances Broyles had decided that they loved each other enough to spend the rest of their lives together, and their wedding date was set for June 18, 1902. Sumner was 21 and Lula 16. At that time Sumner was a fireman on the railroad. My mother was not too pleased with his job, I am told, and that is why they decided to move to Missouri.
On Jun 30, 1903 Sumner and Lula became the parents of a baby girl, me. Doctor Raines, from nearby Macon, came to the farm home for the delivery which was a very difficult one. My mother was only 17, but we both finally made it. I am sue she experienced many more difficult times in her life. She had chosen Ruth for my name. However, she had a dear friend, Lizzie Wheeler, who wanted to name me. She had several pregnancies but never could have a child. She named me Reka from Rebecca. Later someone changed it to Reca. I added the Elizabeth myself. This was for one of my mothers aunts, Sarah Elizabeth Broyles Burton.
Following my grandmother Broyles death my grandfather married Mary Jane Burnette. Their family then had nine children. The last two were twins. Grandfather was a carpenter, a school teacher and a farmer. He was also a music teacher.
My dads brothers, Tom and Wayne were young teenagers when I was born. They were very good to help my mother, and Ive been told they enjoyed taking care of me. We all lived on farms near Ten Mile, a little town in Macon County, Missouri.
On August 13, 1904 Doctor Raines was called back to our home again, and
he delivered a baby boy, Broyles Sumner. We became real pals. My mother had
outside chores and couldnt take us with her, so she had a large wooden
box which she padded (one of the first playpens, ha!). She put us in there
to play until she got back.
It seems that there are not too many things that I remember up to this time. When I was three Dad went to Macon, and when he came back home he had a new wedding band for Mother and a new small gold band for me. That made us both vert happy. By that time I was trying to be helpful. I loved washing dishes and Dad (we called him Papa until we were older) made me a stool so I could reach the dishpan. I sewed buttons on Dads shirts, and it pleased him. He came home from town one day with the most beautiful blue glass beads for me. Mother sewed a lot, in fact made everything we wore. Mother was also a very good cook, and I liked helping her with that. She taught me how to sew and cook and keep house.
On February 17, 1908 I got another baby sister. She was named Emma Lou
for her great-grandmother, Emaline Broyles and grandmother Louise
Lou Catron McQuary. I remember the new baby very well. She had
big blue eyes and no hair. Also, she was a cry baby. Mother had so much to
do, and she wanted Broyles and me to entertain her, but of course, we wanted
to do other things. But she grew out of that crying stage and became a very
sweet little sister.
When Emma Lou was about a year old my parents and some of my uncles,
John and wife Mae Belle Mabel and little daughter Vera (who died
very young), Otis, Tom and Wayne all decided to move to New Mexico to the
northeastern part near Nara Visa. There they staked claims. If you lived
on the land for a year it was yours. Papa, grandpa and the uncles all made
the necessary arrangements and built houses near each other. After the houses
were built they came back to Missouri for us. But before we got started back
a cyclone blew our houses away. The men all went out there and built a large
one-room house and Mother divided it into rooms with heavy curtains.
It was exciting getting ready to move. I was very disturbed, but still wanted to go. There were no trees there. I would cry when I went to bed at night thinking about no trees, no shade, no birds and no breezed. Mother was very good to always make things seem wonderful. So finally, I was ready for the long train ride out there to our new home. It was a new experience and wonderful. Part of the trip was at night. The grandparents and uncles were there ahead of us. They met us at Nara Visa with a team and wagon. I dont remember how they got our furniture there, but I remember that I loved the big house. We also had a barn, chicken house and an outdoor toilet, a cellar and a big garden. In back of the house and within walking distance was a high bluff with trees and rocks and a clear stream where we went for water until our well was drilled. It was called the breaks.
The drilling of the well was exciting. Men came with a big machine. This was my first knowledge of a diamond drill. You can just know that Broyles and I watched it all. After that the uncles helped Papa dig a cellar. That was even more fun for us two lively youngsters. We enjoyed playing in the big hole. One day at noon we left ahead of the men and rushed out to play there before the digging was resumed. But there was a big snake, and we started screaming. The men rushed out and killed the big rattler. The snakes were plentiful in our area. When the cellar was completed we began storing our fruits and vegetables in it.
Now it is 1910, January 29. I am six and a half years old. Broyles is five years and two months, Beula is three and a half, Emma almost two, and we get another baby sister, Hattie Lena, named for Papas sister Hattie and Mamas half-sister Lena. Our new baby was delivered by a midwife. Mother was 24 and had five children to care for (I had my first child when I was 24). Those early days were just wonderful for me. It must have been hard for mother. I am sure Dad worked hard too, but he was always outside, and we didnt realize what his work was like.
Emma Lou was walking and talking by the time we got Lena. She had become
a very loved little sister and always wanted to help us. One day she carried
Lena from one bed to another. We were shocked. How could she lift her little
sister, and what if she had dropped her? Lena used to wonder why all the
rest were delivered at birth by a doctor, and was she a Mexican because she
was born in New Mexico? Also we had a family portrait made before leaving
Missouri, but none after that so again, she was puzzled. I think all that
just made her special. She was always full of fun.
I would always spend the night with my grandmother when the men went
to Nara Visa. She had nightmares, and she would wake me yelling for me to
call Grandpa and the boys. Finally I said, Grandma, they couldnt
hear me if I did.
Broyles and I went to school at a small one-room building with benches for seats. We had no desks. Uncle Otis was the teacher, and we all loved him. We walked to school. Goes store was nearby. We also had Sunday School in the school building. All the families around went there. When it snowed everyone had large sleds. Each family took turns picking everyone up. The horses even seemed to enjoy the trips as much as the people. I had such a pretty Sunday School teacher and got some lovely colored pictures and the lesson on the back. We all enjoyed the singing. My grandpas favorite song was Ill Go Where You Want Me To Go, Dear Lord. Grandmothers was Pass Me Not, Oh Gentle Savior. Papas was In the Sweet Bye and Bye. Mamas was God Will Take Care of You. I liked all of them and still do.
Mama helped Broyles and me with our school work. I think Beula learned
as much as we did because she was always listening and always had a book.
One day she was reading A Goose is a Fool. The word was
Broyles and I would walk to Uncle John and Aunt Mabels house. She always had something good for us as a snack, One day her supply was low and the bread was hard. She made us a jelly sandwich and Broyles said, Aunt Mabel, this bread is so good and so hard. She had a good laugh at that. She has always been a dear aunt and is living in California at this time.
We had sandstorms occasionally, and one day one came while we were at school. Uncle Otis said we should start home. Uncle Tom came for us with the team and wagon. The storm was so bad that the horses became frightened and ran away before we could get in the wagon. Uncle Otis told us all to hold hands and keep walking. The sand was blinding, but we made it home safely.
Mexicans would drive past in covered wagons and stop for a drink or food. They were very hard to understand. Cowboys also rode by and some would stop.
There are so many things I remember about our stay there. Papa decided
to come back to Missouri, and the rest decided to leave also. Dad traded
his land to Mr. Simmons who lived in Missouri, for a heard of cattle.
Now we are back in Missouri and living on a rented place, the Richardson farm. Broyles and I started school. It was called the Moody School. We were in the second grade. We walked, and it seemed a long way. Somehow I got the idea it was a mile and four quarters. When the weather was bad Papa took us, all three on one horse. We always took our lunches in those days.
Papa took Broyles and me to Macon one day. What a day! I had never eaten in a restaurant before. The food was served family style, and since I was always a big eater I was really full. Then they served us apricot pie, and I sure made room for that. It was delicious. Then Papa got me new patent leather slippers. I felt like a Queen for a Day. I road home with my feet on the dashboard so I could see my new slippers. But I was so full and so sleepy that I feel asleep before we got home.
Later we moved again to a rented place called the Wisdom Place. We liked it so much. Broyles and I had experiences there. I remember more about that move. The grandparents, Uncle Tom and Aunt Ethel and Bessie, their adopted daughter, Uncle Orland, Aunt Carrie and their four children moved near us also. We had close neighbors that we enjoyed, and we had children to walk with to school. We were near a little store. Broyles and I could walk there. One day Mama sent us there, and we saw some lovely apples in a box. We just reached out and got one apiece. When we got home we were still eating them, and Mama questioned us about them as she had not given us any extra money. Well, we had another trip back to the store with money to pay and also to apologize. The store was [in] Axtel, and Mr. & Mrs. C. F. Smiley were the owners. Several families lived near the store and the railroad track ran through the middle of the little town. Some of the trains stopped there. The store was a general store and post office.
Mr. Smiley didnt go to church, but his wife was a very good church worker. She would come for Broyles, Beula and me on Sunday mornings for Sunday School. She was the organist, and we had a good choir.
By this time Mama was home with Emma Lou, Lena and Millard dean. The Dean was for Papas sister, Dean McQueary Gragg. Millard had arrived April 1, 1913. I am 10 years old now and can help Mama with lots of things. We almost always had live-in hired hands and that made much extra work. I remember one, Jim Snodgrass. He was so hard to get awake mornings. Papa would put the alarm in a big pan right nest to his bed and such a noise you never heard. Sometimes we would have breakfast ready and the other hired man and Papa would have the chores done and Snodgrass would still be asleep. Papa would go to his door and yell, Are you dead, Snodgrass?
Broyles and I would now and then ride the pigs and calves. We also had a very gentle horse named Old Matt that we rode. One day we decided we would wear our big straw hats and ride without a bridle. We were doing fine until we started hitting the horse with our hats to make him go faster. He did and so did we, but not for long. We fell to the ground, and it was hard. The horse went on home, and we had to walk.
This episode happened to us at an earlier time when I was about four, Broyles three. We were playing in the yard and Mama was inside cooking for threshers. It had rained, so we decided to go down to a little stream and play in the water. We took all of our clothes off and waded out. Soon we were covered with mud. About all you could see of us was our eyes. When we went back to the house Mama saw us and she had to laugh. She told us to get into a closet; she wanted Papa to see us that way too. Of course he laughed too, but somehow we got the idea that we should not do that any more.
I only remember one time that my Dad whipped me. I was late getting home
from a friends house. He met me with a little switch, and I got a few
licks on my legs. After that I always knew that Id better do my best.
Mamas Aunt Cordie Davis lived in Iowa, and she had two daughters, Juanita and Cordelia. They would drive to visit us. One summer Aunt Cordie and Cordelia came. Juanita had married, but she only lived a short time after her marriage. She had a cerebral hemorrhage.
Aunt Cordie was on her way to their old home in Kentucky and wanted Mama
and Broyles to go with them. Papa wasnt much in favor of it for it
was too hard for him to get along without Mama. Grandma said, Lula,
you get ready to go. We will take your place while you are gone. They
did too. We had harvest hands to cook for, but the aunts and Grandma helped.
We made it fine. Grandma said it was about time that Lula got a rest. They
all seemed to love her, and I dont believe it was hard to do. I thought
she was beautiful in every way and have always wished that I could be like
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