6 Generations of Daughters

By Renee Pierce Smelley

 

This is a tribute to six generations of daughters that spans 101 years from Ohio to Oklahoma and then to Texas. My great-great grandmother is the 1st and my daughter is the 6th. My story is special and quite unusual since all of us were the first child born to our parents. I have only come across one other similar story like ours, but I am sure there are more.

Eudora Adelia "Dora" Wixson was born the first child of George William Wixson and Fannie Estella Heminger on August 13, 1885 in Wood County, Ohio. When Dora was about 6 years old the family moved to Isabella County, Michigan where her father had purchased a 40-acre farm. The family lived in Michigan about ten years and when Dora's mother became ill they moved back to Wood Co., Ohio, living in Dowling for a year. The family then moved to Bowling Green in Wood County where Dora met Frank Bowe while doing housework at a lawyer firm. Dora and Frank married June 12, 1907 in Bowling Green. Sadly, Dora's mother had passed away on November 20, 1906 and never met Dora's future husband.

Dora and Frank's first child, Thelma May Bowe, was born April 25, 1908 in Wood County, Ohio. About 1819 Frank had gone down to Texas to where a oil boom was going on, but didn't find any work so he headed up to find work in Oklahoma. In the spring of 1920 Dora and Frank went to Blackwell in Kay County, Oklahoma where there was plenty of work for Frank. They liked the town and in September 1920, when Thelma was 12 years old, the family moved to Blackwell. In the spring of 1922 when Thelma was in the 8th grade Mrs. Morton introduced her to Percy Lee Dittemore at Sunday school. In the fall when Thelma was a freshman they started dating and in June 1923 Percy gave her a ring. On July 23, 1923, Thelma who had just turned 15 ran off to Medford in Grant County, Oklahoma and married Percy. The marriage was kept a secret until August.

Thelma and Percy's first child, Dortha Lee "Dot" Dittemore, was born on July 27, 1924 in Blackwell. In 1931 there was a depression on and the dust bowl sent many Oklahoman's to California to find work. In February 1931 Percy went out to California with Ira Fox and Jess Lockhart. In May, seven months pregnant with her 5th child, Thelma and Mrs. Fox took the children out to Oakland in Almeda County, California to join their husbands. In February 1932 they moved back to Blackwell since Percy had found work in a new plant at Ada in Pontotoc County, Oklahoma. Thelma and the kids stayed in Blackwell with her parents until Percy could make enough money for them to move to Ada. Every summer the plant opened in Blackwell, so the family moved back and forth from Blackwell to Ada spending the winters in Ada and the summers in Blackwell. In 1940 the family finally settled in Ada where Dot had previously met Edwin Cope "E. C." Perkins in school. E. C. gave her a ring and on October 18, 1941, when Dortha was 17, they ran off to Maud in Siminole County, Oklahoma and were married. At the dinner table her parents knew something was up and her mother asked the question "What did you two do?" They announced the marriage much to the chagrin of her mother and her father said, "good enough" and the evening meal was served.

 

 

 

 Dortha and E. C.'s first child, Karen Louise Perkins, was born on September 29, 1946 in Ada after E. C. had returned home from World War II. By 1949 the family had moved down to Alice in Jim Wells County, Texas. E. C. had found work repairing refrigerators, which he repaired in people's homes. Driving had always made Dot nervous and when she ended up in a ditch one day on the side of the road, with both kids in the car, she gave up driving altogether. About 1958 Karen, at about the age of 12, had seen James Edwin "Tony" Pierce at a party. When she saw him she said that one-day she was going to marry him. About 1963 Tony went into the Army and in 1964 Dot and the children moved back to Ada, Oklahoma. E. C. was having a hard time finding work and by now was selling the electrolux vacuum cleaner door to door until he made enough money to join his family in Ada. In January 1965, returning home from service, Tony went to Ada, Oklahoma and asked Karen, while in her senior year of high school, to marry him. They married on January 12, 1965 in Ada at the First Christian Church.

 

 

 Front Row R-L: Thelma Bowe Dittemore, Karen Louise Perkins and Dot Dittemore Perkins. Back row is Dora Wixson Bowe. Photo taken circa 1947. Dot Perkins made the photo frame.

 

Karen and Tony returned to Alice where Karen graduated from Adams Highschool in May 1965. Tony found a warehouseman's job at Baker Oil Tool and they moved to Falfurrias in Brooks County, TX. Their first child, Teresa Renee Pierce, was born September 24, 1967 in Falfurrias. About 1971 Tony was transferred to Houston in Harris County, Texas. The family lived in Houston for seven years and Tony was again transferred in 1979 to Kilgore in Gregg Co., Texas. Finding a home to rent in Kilgore was not successful so the family lived in nearby Longview. In October 1981 the family moved into their first home that was not rented. During Spring Break in 1983 her boyfriend Gary Allen introduced Renee to Mack David Smelley, while on a trip to Six Flags with the youth group from Forrest Hill Baptist Church, needless to say Gary didn't know what was about to happen. Mack called the next week to ask if Renee could go with him on a date after he had called Gary to get her phone number, but her mother said that she couldn't date until she was 16. One Sunday afternoon on September 24, 1983, Mack took Renee and her friend, Lori Martin, to the mall after her birthday party. Renee was 16 years old now, a sophomore in highschool, and the next week she went on her first date with Mack. On September 24, 1985 Mack gave Renee an engagement ring and on June 21, 1986 just three weeks after graduation they married in Longview, County of Harrison at the Forrest Hill Baptist Church.

 

 

 Front row L-R: Dora Wixson Bowe and Renee Pierce. Back row L-R: Karen Perkins Pierce & Dot Dittemore Perkins. Back row: Thelma Bowe Dittemore. Photo taken circa 1967.

 

Renee and Mack had their first child, Christy Lynn Smelley, on December 21, 1986 in Longview, County of Gregg. My mother had got her wish, a baby granddaughter, and she was now a Nana. Since Christy was a Christmas baby she was introduced to great Nana, Dot Perkins, who had come down with great grandpa E. C. from Oklahoma for the holidays. Two months later we visited in Ada for Christy to meet her great-great grandmother and grandfather, Thelma and Percy. A small article was written about us in the Ada Evening News.

 

 

LIFESTYLE Ada Evening News Feb. 1987 Daughters Five generations of first-born daughters met Friday in the home of Dortha Perkins, 1139 Highschool, far right. Seated next to Mrs. Perkins are from left to right, her daughter, Karen Pierce, Longview, Texas; her mother, Thelma Dittemore, Ada; her granddaughter, Renee Smelley, Longview, Texas; and her great-granddaughter, two-month-old Christy Lynn Smelley, Longview, Texas.

 

Christy has been given a special gift. She is fortunate to have known and remembered one great-great grandmother Tennie Lea Huffman Smelley (1892 - 1998) and one great-great grandfather Percy Lee Dittemore (1901-1996). Unfortunately, her Nana Karen and great-great grandmother Thelma died before she would ever remember knowing them.

 

 

 L-R: Karen Perkins Pierce, Thelma Bowe Dittemore, Renee Pierce Smelley, Christy Lynn Smelley and Dot Dittemore Perkins. The photo was taken in the summer of 1987 in Ada, Oklahoma at the home of Thelma Dittemore.

 

My grandmother Dortha Lee "Dot" Dittemore Perkins died on November 10, 1999 in Ada, 10 years, after the death of her mother Thelma May Bowe Dittemore on October 20, 1989 in Ada. Thelma lived almost 19 years after the death of her mother Eudora Adelia "Dora" Wixson Bowe on November 18, 1970 in Blackwell.

I find myself working on this tribute 11 years after my mother's death on January 30, 1990 in Longview. I was 22 years old, married, and had a 2-year-old daughter and a 1-year-old son at that time. It is hard to believe that my mother has not been here with me that long. I could never have imagined that there would come a time that I couldn't talk to her or be able to ask her advice in my years as an adult with children of my own. Those thoughts should not have come until I was old with age and had grandchildren of my own. Several times, after her death, I found myself reaching for the phone to call her and then realizing that I couldn't do that anymore. It has been a long road since her death, but not totally to recovery. I don't think anyone totally recovers from the death of his or her mother. I can only guess that the death of ones child would be worse. If your mother is still alive tell her you love her today, for tomorrow may never come that you might speak those words to her again.

Although, the chain broken, the unique bond that 6 generations of daughters have shared together was very special and our story will be passed on to the next generation. I think towards the future and my grandchildren asking me about my special photos and being able to share with them our story. If it is in God's plan that the next generation also start with the birth of a daughter we shall begin again.

 

 

22Listen to your father, who gave you life, and don't despise your mother's experience when she is old. 23Get the truth and don't ever sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and discernment. 24The father of godly children has cause for joy. What a pleasure it is to have wise children. 25So give your parents joy! May she who gave you birth be happy. Proverbs 23:22-25

 

 

 Source Information

The Story of My Life by Eudora Adelia Wixson Bowe

What I Remember of My Childhood by Thelma May Bowe

Renee Smelley's personal knowledge and notes

Copyright 2001

6 Generations of Daughters, A Tribute by Renee Pierce Smelley may not be reproduced for profit without the written consent of the author. All copies made must include the copyright information.

 

This webpage is part of Renee's Family Genealogy

 

Read The Story of My Life by Eudora Adelia (Wixson) Bowe

Read What I Remember of My Childhood by Thelma May (Bowe) Dittemore

 

This web page was created on March 12, 2001

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