ELIZA MAUDE RUSSELL
(1923 - 1985)
Eliza was born March 19, 1923 in Jenifer, Alabama. She was the 5th of eleven children born to the late John Ben and Ethel Boyd Turner. Although she was born in Jenifer, she lived in a small community called Henderson Place in Richie Town, Alabama.
As a young child, she joined Shady Grove Baptist Church in Munford, Alabama. She was a devoted member who eventually served as Matron along with many other duties. She accepted all of her responsibilities gracefully up to the time of her death.
At an early age, she united in Holy Matrimony with Robert Lee Russell. From that union, fifteen children, thirty-seven grandchildren, and forty-two great grandchildren were born.
One of the most vivid memories of my mother is how she would talk for hours about her brothers and sisters. They were Curtis, Mexico, Dave, Dollie, Vera, Eloise, Mona Lisa, Georgia, Frances and Lydia. I list them all because I remember them being a major part of our lives with the exception of Lydia and Frances who were already deceased.
My mother would tell us how she and her siblings had to walk from Richie Town to Jenifer School daily. It did not matter whether it was blistering hot or extremely cold. They still had to walk approximately five miles one way.
She also told us about how they had to raise pigs, chickens, and pick cotton in the fields all over the county in order to have food on the table.
My mother's motto was "My children come first." She would do anything for us. She would take the saving bonds that Daddy had stored in a small safe to buy whatever we needed when the time arose. She did not hesitate going into that little black box. She would even go to the local store in Munford and charge food on my daddy's store account. You can see that her motto held true.
My parents had four gardens that had everything you can imagine from squash to turnip greens to sweet potatoes. We had to work those gardens everyday to make sure everything grew properly.
We had lots of pigs and chickens, a goat and a cow called Bessie. Whenever it was time to kill a pig, people would come from all over to see this happen. It seemed to be a big event to me. My mother would get the fire started for the big barrel of water. When the pig was killed, they would submerge it into the barrel of hot water to make it easier to clean off the hair. I can remember once when a pig was shot and submerged in the hot water. After a few seconds, the pig emerged out of the water and started chasing various people around. After a while, the pig died, but to see so many people scatter at once was hilarious.
As I've said, my mother made sure that we had plenty to eat. It did not matter whether or not you wanted to work in the garden. She felt the same way about washing clothes. She made us do it regardless of how we felt. It had to be done.
We had this old washing machine that was on the back porch. We washed so many clothes that we thought that our hands would fall off after a while. But we had to do it.
You knew that if she gave you that stern look and started biting her knuckles, you'd better run for cover. I remember thinking if I could only make it to my Daddy it would be okay; but then she would look at me and say, "He's got to go to work…"
She was a strong disciplinarian concerning our chores and following the rules she had made.