• Sandy Boone

Meet Martha Caroline Meeks

Updated: Jan 16, 2020

Carrie was her nickname.

In 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed. A final spike was put in place at Promontory Summit in the Utah Territory.

It was the same year that Martha Caroline “Carrie” Meeks and her twin sister, Mary Catherine Meeks, were born.

In the 1880 census, John Mcrary and his wife listed Carrie and Catherine, both 11 years old, as adopted daughters. No adoption papers were recorded. John worked in cotton fields in the Tuscaloosa area.

It is rumored that the Meeks were very poor and had a number of children.

Carrie married Henry Clay Styres in 1884. He was in his mid twenties and she was 15. Henry is rumored to have said, “I had to steal her.” A postage stamp was two cents.

There was a census in 1890. Most of the records were destroyed in 1921 during a fire in the Commerce Department Building. No digital records, I guess.

At the turn of the century, Henry and Carrie were still in Tuscaloosa and were raising their family of four boys and two girls, ages 14 down to 2.

The 1900 census revealed no further records for the Mcrarys. There were no further records for Mary Catherine Meeks, Carrie’s twin sister. Carrie;s first dauther was named Mary Catherine, after Carrie’s twin,

In 1903 the first Model A came on the market. It was the year Ressie joined the list of children born to Henry and Carrie. Two boys and another girl came after Ressie.

Many women died in child birth back then, but Carrie survived the birth of 11 children.

The Wright brothers demonstrated their airplane just a year before the 1910 census. In that census, Henry and Carrie were still living in Tuscaloosa.

On the census form the style for Ressie’s name is different from the other names. It is also larger than the other names. Is it possible the census enumerator let cute little Ressie write her own name? It looks just like the way she signed her name as an adult.

Henry and Carrie had been married for 26 years. Ressie was 7. Henry was a sharecropper. All the children still living at home helped with picking the cotton.

Around 1915, Henry and Carrie and their younger children moved to LaGrange, Georgia. There was plenty of work in the cotton mills there. Sharecropping had dwindled as cotton was devastated by the boll weevils. Many other Alabama farmers left farms to find work in the mills.

Ressie was one of the children who moved with Henry and Carrie to LaGrange. At the age of 18, Ressie married Clyde Boone. It was 1921. It was the year radio broadcasts began, and movie houses became common even in rural areas.

Clyde and Ressie moved to nearby Lanett, Alabama. They both found work in the cotton mill on the Chattahoochee River. They raised two children, Robert and Doris.

My earliest memory of Carrie and Ressie is of them sitting at the table in the old house across the street from the mill. They are taking turns holding me and tickling me. They are munching fried chicken. My Mother will be back soon to feed me.

Carrie was my Great Grandmother.

Ressie was my Grandmother

Doris was my Mother

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