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JIM: Miss Oma Winfrey's Reverie, 1916

The story is about families and places in Adair County. The place referred to, "Glenville," is also known, today, by more familiar names: Hardscratch, Glens Fork and Glensfork - and is rarely referred to by its more common name of a century ago. We love this piece it for its literary nature, which evokes a notion that hard as we try, today's writers - JIM and a few others who contribute to CM excepted - rarely reach the level of literary quality so many of the correspondents to the Adair County News reached in those days. This is another which makes one wonder Mark Twain didn't just capitalize on a literary heritage "in the air" shared with so many Adair Countians of his day who, in different circumstances, might have exceeded his success. - CM
Click on headline to read this brief, but fascinating story by JIM


The front page of the May 10, 1916 Adair County News published a reverie written by Miss Oma Winfrey, the daughter of Elfie Taylor Winfrey and a granddaughter of Z.T. "Long Tom" Taylor and Mattie Jones Taylor of Glenville.

Elfie (also spelled Elpha), Tom and Mattie's oldest child, and Elisha Franklin(E.F.) Winfrey were married in mid-October 1899 but when the census was taken in early June the following year, they were living apart, he in the Little Cake section with Benjamin and Margaret Cook (his brother-in-law and sister), she in the Glenville precinct (under her maiden name) with her father, step-mother, a younger sister, three younger half-sisters, and a younger half-brother, Ben Frank. Elfie and E.F.'s respective marital statuses were given as "wd" - widow(er). By this time, Elfie was carrying Oma, who made her advent in early October 1900.

To Miss Winfrey's reflective thoughts, the News added a one-line preface: "The house described by this writer is the old Cartwright home at Glenville:"

Wrote Miss Winfrey:
My Birthplace

"One summer while visiting my grandfather, my uncle took me to a small village to visit my birthplace. I found it to be a large, old-fashioned frame house, setting back as short distance from the road, and presenting a very forlorn, neglected appearance.

"Standing guard over the entrance were two giant locust trees, nodding and whispering together of the ghosts of the past. A stone walk led up to a small portico that was overrun with vines, while on the other side, under the front windows, were remnants of forgotten flower beds. The front yard, it could hardly be called a lawn, was grown over with crab grass and field daisies, and one side had even developed a blackberry patch.

"As I stood in the quiet summer afternoon listening to the gentle murmur of the trees, and gazing upon the scene before me, all the memories of the stories my mother had told me of the past, came crowding back upon me. Walking around to the other side, I found a gigantic sycamore tree, under which my mother had spent many a joyful hour. Continuing my walk, I stopped under the locust trees, and gazing out upon the hills beyond, tried to listen to what the old family sentinels had to tell me, and as I listened, my shoulders grew straighter, and my head higher, and I was glad - proud that I had been born - a Kentuckian." /s/ Oma Winfrey, Louisville, Ky."
Oma's beloved grandfather, Tom Taylor, died in the late summer of 1919. (His first wife, Oma's grandmother, passed in 1883.) Oma visited him, possibly for the last time, about two months before his death.

Elfie married Geo. Cundiff about 1907 and by 1910, they, daughter Georgia, and Oma lived in Louisville and were still there in 1920. Shortly afterward, Oma married Joseph Keen and the young couple moved to Illinois. He died there 1934, and in 1940, she and their three children lived in Sangamon County, Illinois. Oma never remarried, and she passed there in late 1979.

- JIM, submitted Thu 05 May, 2016

This story was posted on 2016-05-06 04:27:33
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