As told in the last post, Reginald Nanney was bitten by a snake. He was not the only one, and there were at least two other Nanneys that did not survive their encounters. Having seen some of the five-foot rattlesnakes hiding out in this area, I can imagine there might have been other victims who just died of heart attacks.
One of the victims was Reginald’s Uncle John E. Nanney, his father’s brother. And an earlier prey was James Nanney, who according to my detective work may have been the brother of Albert Randall Nanney frequently included in this blog. James D. Nanney was born in 1859 and died in May 1908. In an article by Virginia Rucker in a Rutherford county paper of 1987, Carrie Nanney tells that her father-in-law James Nanney of Nanneytown died of snakebite. His widow moved her five children to be close to her relatives in Forest City. One of those five was James Curtis, nine years old.
Carrie told that James Curtis went to work in Florence Mill for 25 cents a day, 12 hours a day, and he had to bring that 25 cents home to give to mama. Years later, Carrie was also a widow who moved to Forest City to work at this same mill. And she set her eye on James Curtis. “He must have really loved me to take me with five children.” (Sudie, Jesse, Ruth, Cecil and baby Joseph)
He must have really loved children. Carrie and Curt had ten children: Modene, Boyd, Max, Carolyn, twins Arnold Lee and Donald Dee, Leland Eugene, Faye, Dall and June. Carrie said she had run out of names, and named the last one June because he was born then. Sadly, he lived only two weeks. Gene died of a brain tumor at thirteen. During this era the mill took deductions “out of our paychecks so when we needed a doctor it didn’t cost anything.” (More functional than O’bama Care and without the red ink!)
Curt made a wooden box to use as a crib but Carrie added ruffles to make it prettier. “He helped with the housekeeping–he’d take care of the cleaning up in the kitchen. He was a good man.”
With all those kids, they had beds in every room until some of them got big enough to marry and move on. “Curt had a cow, and I churned and made butter nearly every day and sometimes we had enough milk left to sell. We had hogs that we killed for meat, had a good garden, picked blackberries and had fruit so I canned enough in the summer to do us through the winter.”
“We had a well and I had to draw water, and I washed clothes in an old-timey washpot. I made all my children’s clothes, even did sewing for other people. My children may not have had the fanciest clothes but they had plenty. One of my girls would go to the store and pick out a dress. We couldn’t afford to buy it so I would copy it identically.” When asked by the journalist about the most difficult period, Carrie thought it was sewing at two o’clock in the morning.
“Regardless of the size of the household, we always had enough to eat. I fed ’em a lot of potatoes and pinto beans, but we always had a cake, too. They never wanted for nothing.” The Nanney home was open to friends and church members. “I remember once we came out of church and Curt told me he had invited the preacher and music director over to eat some deer meat we had. I called Modene, my daughter, and told her to come help. I fried two chickens, and baked a fresh coconut cake, along with the deer, roasted like beef.”
This was a Mother’s Day story I thought was appropriate for today’s blog. Lifestyles have changed a lot but families still come together to honor their parents. Carrie just had to have more chairs than most of us. In 1987, she had thirteen children and twenty-nine grandchildren. She forgot the number of great grandchildren. She was 92 then.