Emma Mae Francis was born on February 22, 1896, in Weatherford, Texas; her father, Calvin Burgess (Byrd), was 20, and her mother, Cora Lee, was 18. She married Henry Eaf Henderson on September 28, 1913. They had three children during their marriage. She died on May 11, 1984, in Gunter, Texas, at the age of 88.
Byrd and Cora met and married in Wynnewood, Oklahoma. From there at a very young age they came to Texas and had several children, went back to to Oklahoma had several more children, then came back to Texas. Around 1910 they were in the Howe area, then they moved to Gunter. Henry's family was in the Collinsville area. Henry and Emma married September 1913 when she was 17. Oct 1914 - Blanch was born. Oct 1921 - Bonnie was born. June 1923 - Bennie was born. At first Henry and Emma moved back and forth between Gunter and Collinsville with each of their parents. They then settled in Gunter. Henry was a carpenter and farmer. Mother tells that they lived over by the Savage place while she was growing up. Byrd and Francis lived on what was called "Nigger Hill" or Strawn road today.
At some point Henry (Pa) and Emma (Ma) bought the home place of 100 acres where I grew up. The story is told after Daddy and Mother came home from the war, Ma and Pa moved to 402 West Middleton in Sherman and let my parents have the farm to live on and farm.
So this is where my memories start of Ma Henderson. These are just some random memories I have:
Every Saturday morning, Mother, Diana, and I would go to Sherman to visit Ma and Pa.
He would be sitting in a rocking chair beside a little chest. He would whittle off a bit of black brick chewing tobacco. She had a toothpick sticking out of her mouth that had been dipped in snuff. No way was tobacco thought of as a sin or evil.
|Pa, Ma, Diana, and me|
She was hardworking. I remember that she made her own Lye soap. We would go to the dry cleaners to get distilled water for some reason. She made her own clothes. She let us have coffee and milk with vanilla cream cookies. She had latte's before latte's were invented.
She loved her flower beds. I remember lots of irises and chicken-and-hen plants. She had a big back yard with a little shed. There were pecan trees in the back yard. She had a rotary lawn mower that she pushed around the yard.
|Emma May Henderson|
She kept peppermint stick candy for us. She had a clock that chimed that I inherited. She had another coo coo clock and a weather vane that told whether it was going to rain or not.
As children we went to her house on Christmas eve with all of Mother's family. At some point, the ugliest Santa Claus in the world would make an appearance. This is where our tradition of Santa coming on Christmas Eve was started.
Mother and her sisters were very neat and well-groomed, so I am assuming that this was also taught by Ma. I do remember that she kept a blue "rinse" on her hair to keep it from being so white.
She always told us that she was proud of us, Jesus loved us, and to be good to our parents who also loved us. She was very encouraging.
Later in life, she had to leave her house in Sherman and come to Hilltop Haven, the nursing home here in Gunter. I believe she was here about five years. It was arranged that Diana would pick her up on Sunday mornings and bring her to church. She was at First Baptist Church Gunter at a young age, moved her membership to Sherman, and then when she came back to Gunter she moved it back to FBC. Ma was one of the most Godly women ever. I believe it was 7 times a day, the perfect number, that she prayed. She was a dedicated Baptist to the very end with her spiritual and physical roots in Gunter.
On May 11, 1984, I witnessed for the first time someone to pass from this place to a better place. We all knew that Ma was going to Heaven and that she was ready to see Jesus. I know the angels were singing as they welcomed her in. She was a Proverbs 31 wife with nobel character. This was read at her funeral, and the first time that I realized that these verses were in the Bible. I remember thinking, "Wow! What a great description of her!"
Emma May Henderson, Ma, thanks for the legacy and the role model that you left for our family. You were a great lady. My regret is that I did not ask more questions.