Robert Lewellyn and Julia Ann Russell (1864-1934), Mississippi

Billie Harris - Jan 23, 2009

Pridgen, Julia Ann Russell (b. 4 MAR 1864, d. 1 JUL 1934)
Note: Family legend states that Julia was living with the Francis Asbury Lane family engaged in sewing for the family, which was a custom at that time. This is how she and Robert Lewellyn became acquainted and fell in love.The couple had seven children before Robert died in 1900 or 1901. Julia then supported the family by doing professional dressmaking in her home. The task of keeping house for the family fell on the oldest child, Lela.

Julia never remarried. She lived in Lumberton, Lamar County, Mississippi until about 1926, when she and Ruth, the only child left at home, moved to Picayune, Pearl River County, Mississippi. They lived for a short time in the home of the Eddie (A. E.) and Lela McIntosh. Living conditions in the rented home were crowded as Eddie and Lela had three boys and a girl, all still at home. Myrtle (younger sister of Lela) and her husband, Edwin B. Conn, purchased a home for Julia and Ruth where they lived until Julia's death in 1934. Julia and Ruth Lane as well as the family of Eddie McIntosh were all members of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Picayune. Ruth married W. Arnold Sumrall on October 30, 1932, in the Methodist Episcopal Church at Lumberton, Mississippi.

Julia Ann Russell Pridgen Lane was a tall stately woman. She wore her long grey hair twisted into a bun on the top of her head. She enjoyed her house in Picayune with a swing on the front porch which was almost hidden by the rows of potted plants. There were family gatherings on holidays when the dining table displayed family favorites; fried chicken, biscuits, English peas, cubed potato salad, iced tea, spiced peaches and other home canned goodies. Around Thanksgiving, Gran (the name she was called by the grandchildren), would put freshly made fruitcakes in the window seat in the dining room, wrapping the cakes in clean cloths, and then packing apples around them. By Christmas, when the lid to the window seat was lifted, the tantalizing aroma of the mellowed fruitcakes invited everyone to the festive holiday table. The children ate in the kitchen while the grownups sat at the dining room table. Once, upon hearing a commotion in the dining room, the children ventured out of the kitchen to investigate. Lesley, the youngest son, who was a Methodist preacher, was also a great one for playing jokes on other people. When Gran wasn't looking, Lesly put a large artificial fly on one of Gran's biscuits, the platterful at her right. When she saw the fly, she continued in the table conversation, gently waving her hand to shoo the fly. The fly, of course, refused to move, so the alternative for Gran was to take the biscuit off the platter and drop it on the floor. When the others at the table couldn't contain their laughter any more, being aware all along of the trick, Gran finally gave a long look at Lesley and knew he was the culprit, but she forgave him.

Gran had a formal living room furnished with an Edison phonograph with a diamond needle, a hand crank and several quarter inch thick records. There was a long, highly polished library table with some National Geographic magazines and books on it, one book in particular was titled "As It Is In Heaven"; this was fascinating reading for a little girl who didn't quite understand all the hard words.

In the sitting room, adjacent to the formal living room, was a fireplace with a mantel full of pictures and mementos, comfortable rocking chairs, and an unusual wastebasket made of dishrag gourds. The gourds were grown in the back yard on a vine that stretched along a fence. Some of the gourds, after they had matured, could be cut and hollowed out to form a dipper. Other gourds, if they grew long and slender, could be split while they were still green, and turned with the inside out. When the seeds were removed, the spiny area, which once held the seeds, dried to a stiff, attractive surface. Gran sewed enough of the inside out gourds together to form a tubular container. A cardboard circle, covered with fabric, was stitched to one end of the cylinder, forming a wastebasket.

Gran's house had no indoor plumbing, although there was a little room at the back of the house for a future bathroom. In the meantime, the outhouse was used during the day, and a "slop jar", next to the bed served as a nighttime facility.

Gran had a fondness for Fig Newtons and Coca Cola, courtesy of Ruth, who worked in the drygoods department of a local department store. Ruth did not sew, but she was an excellent saleslady for the fabric yardgoods. Customers could rely on her advice as to the suitability of fabrics since Gran sewed many of Ruth's dresses, making her a walking advertisement.

There was always a faint, sweet, spicy odor in Gran's house which turned out to be what Gran called her "Lady"..........snuff.

Julia Ann Lane died July 1, 1934, after a long, painful illness of stomach cancer. The casket was placed in the formal living room for viewing of friends and family, a custom at that time. Her funeral, conducted by Rev. W. B. Allsworth, was held in the Methodist Church and her favorite song, "The Old Rugged Cross" was sung by the congregation. She is buried in Roseland Park Cemetery in Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi. Her tombstone reads: MOTHER Mrs. R. L. LANE 1864-1934

[NOTE: broken link]