Today would have been my parents’ golden wedding anniversary. John Dewey Horne and Gwen Smith married fifty years ago on 24 July 1970 at Boeuf River Baptist Church in Liddieville, Louisiana. Their pastor, Rev. Harold Davis, officiated.
I have only a few grainy photos of my parents’ wedding, so I used MyHeritage’s new photo enhancement app to improve the quality of the one above. Look at how young and happy they were!
My mom was eighteen years old and fresh out of high school. She sewed her own wedding dress (it’s still in a closet at my dad’s house). My dad was twenty-three, early in his career with the Louisiana Department of Highways and a member of the Louisiana Army National Guard. After a short honeymoon in Hot Springs, Arkansas, they started life together in the home my dad still lives in today.
I remember the story my mom would share about the morning of their wedding. As usual for the summer months, my Papaw Smith came down the breezeway of their dog-trot house and bellowed, “Ho, ho, ho — who wants to go?” It was his wake-up call for all the kids to hoe cotton. My mom said — for the first time in her life — she didn’t go out to the fields. She thought if there was ever a day not to hoe cotton, it has to be your wedding day.
I’d much rather be throwing my parents an amazing anniversary party instead of writing a blog post. My mom, Gwen Smith Horne, passed away on 15 February 2013. She and my dad were married 42 years. As this date approached, I thought of all the party details: displaying her wedding dress (I’m sure she would have protested), making a photo slideshow, and recreating their cake cutting photo in the exact same spot. It would have been a great day of gathering with friends and family (I don’t want to consider COVID-19 in these daydreams) and celebrating the milestone my parents achieved.
But even without the milestone, the party, or the recognition, my parents did well. They loved each other and lived out that commitment until death they did part. I am grateful for their example.
This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series. This week’s prompt is Earliest. To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index.
My mother’s paternal line are Smiths — the most common surname in the United States. Researching Smiths can be challenging, but I’ve traced my line to the mid-1700s. The earliest Smith ancestor I’ve proven is my 6x-great-grandfather Nathan Smith.
My maternal grandmother, Dorothy Jean Hendry Smith, passed away this morning at her home on Smith Hill in Liddieville, Louisiana. Her obituary follows:
Dorothy J. Smith 1935 – 2019
Funeral services for Dorothy J. Smith, 84, of Liddieville, will be held 2 pm Thursday, May 23, 2019, in Boeuf River Baptist Church, with Rev. Bruce Cardin and Rev. Kevin Goodman officiating. Interment will follow in Ogden Cemetery under the direction of Gill First National Funeral Home. Visitation will be 1pm until time of service at the church.
My great-grandparents Thomas Leonard Smith and Lillie Modena Ingram also had a large family, but it was a blended brood of his, hers, and theirs. They were kind of like a 1920s version of the Brady Bunch — with an unfortunate mix of the Bible’s book of Job, too.
This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series. This week’s prompt is BACHELOR UNCLE. To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index.
Our family histories are often focused on ancestors who married and had children — after all, that’s how we got here. But what about the bachelors and maidens in our family trees? They deserve to be remembered, too.
John Morgan Smith — known as “Uncle Johnny” — lived with my mother and her family in their dog trot-style farmhouse during her early childhood. He was my mother’s great-uncle. Without a family of his own, Uncle Johnny lived at Smith Hill for many years — first with his brother Leo Smith and Leo’s wife Dena, and then with my grandparents James Paul and Dorothy Smith when they took over the farm. Uncle Johnny’s room was the small one, second on the right, walking down the breezeway.