Leah Faye (WALKER) MEDLEY Biography
by Carolyn Sue Owens (1999)
Leah Faye WALKER was born May 16, 1912 in Gallatin, Cherokee Co, Texas to Jeff David WALKER, who was born on May 31, 1861 and Rhoda S. (OWINGS) WALKER, who was born on March 27, 1874 in Frio County, Texas. Jeff and Rhoda were married on April 15, 1890 in Cherokee County, TX. Leah Faye attended schools in Cherokee County, San Augustine, County and Newton County, Texas during her lifetime.
Leah Faye WALKER married Bryant Ethridge MEDLEY on March 4, 1930 in DeRidder, Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. Bryant was born on May 16, 1910 in Stringtown, Newton County, Texas to Frank Dallas MEDLEY, who was born on January 27, 1881 in Grimes County, Texas and Minnie Roberta (PHELPS) MEDLEY, who was born on April 23, 1892 in Stringtown, Newton County, Texas. Frank and Minnie were married on May 27, 1909 in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
Bryant and Leah Faye began their married lives living in the home of his parents in Burkeville, Newton County, Texas. Their first two children, twin boys, Clifton Bryant and Kenneth Ethridge MEDLEY, were born on March 22, 1931. They lived less than three months, both dying of pneumonia on June 1, 1931. They are buried in the Newton City Cemetery, next to their grandmother, Rhoda S. (OWINGS) WALKER in the WALKER family plot.
Bryant and Leah Faye purchased land about 1932 and began building a home with the help of her brothers. They moved into the house while it was still under construction. Bedsprings and mattresses were placed across floor joists to provide temporary beds. The dirt floors were swept daily. Barrels of water were hauled from Quicksand Creek or Moore Branch on a wooden slide, pulled by a mule. Saturday baths were taken at the creek, weather permitting or in a washtub during the winter. An outhouse was located behind the house with a generous supply of catalogs. A few years later tracts of land on each side of their home were also purchased, one of which was previously owned by Leah Faye's mother, Rhoda S. (OWINGS) WALKER.
A log smokehouse was built and used to cure and store meats and canned vegetables. Later it was also used as a wash house after a wringer washer was purchased. Neighbors would pay to use the wringer washer to wash their clothes. Bryant and Leah Faye continued to haul water for the washateria because the hand-dug well would not meet the demand. Slowly, other families purchased wringer washers, so business dwindled.
Many of their family members lived with Bryant and Leah Faye at one time or another. Some lived in camps or trailers on their property; others lived in their home. Apparently they believed in living together, working together and helping each other. Family came first.
In the 1930's many of the WALKERS would pick cotton in West Texas cotton fields, and return to Newton between jobs. Times were hard during the Great Depression, but farming provided their food. They considered themselves more fortunate than most. At least, they always had enough to eat. Their diet primarily consisted of pork, deer and vegetables that were in season or had been "put up." Syrup was served at every meal.
The traits that have remained most prevalent in this family through time are that we are never wrong and there is nothing that we can't do. One of our ancestors must have really taught this lesson well for it to be so instilled in so many of our lives.
Their daughter Margie Elmarine MEDLEY was born October 7, 1932 in Newton County, Texas. She married Loyd Edwin ADAMS on July 20, 1952 and William Murry Recknor on May 24, 1952.
Melvin Van MEDLEY, their son was born November 4, 1937 in Newton County, Texas and died of a heart attack on January 21, 1996 in Jasper County, Texas. He married Barbara Ann CHANDLER on February 13, 1959. Melvin is buried in the MEDLEY plot in the City Cemetery, Newton, Newton County, Texas underneath his wife, Barbara, who was born on October 6, 1936 in New York County, New York and died of cancer on August 1, 1998 in Orangefield, Orange County, Texas.
During the 1940's many of the family members lived in tents in Freeport, Texas while working on the construction of DOW chemical plant. Traveling to find work was a necessity and had become a way of life. They always returned to their home in Newton, Newton County, Texas.
Bryant and Leah Faye rented one of their bedrooms to the supervisor of the tomato packing/canning factory that was located in Newton County, Texas about 1941. Bryant worked for him at the packing shed in the city of Newton, and Leah Faye worked for him at the canning factory in the Liberty Community, Newton County, Texas. They not only raised tomatoes on their land, but also leased other land on which they raised tomatoes to sell to the factory.
Carolyn Sue MEDLEY, the compiler of this information and daughter of Bryant and Leah Faye was born on July 8, 1944 in Jasper County, Texas and lives on the homeplace in Newton, Texas as of 1999. She married LeRoy PIERCE on January 19, 1963 and Everett William Owens on July 4, 1976.
Toward the end of the 1940's Major, Joe and Ted WALKER opened the WALKER sawmill. A number of family members, including Bryant, went to work for the sawmill. He worked for the mill for a while and then went into the logging business, which gave him more time to pursue his hunting interests. The logging business was dependent upon the weather and times were hard. As was tradition in the MEDLEY family, Bryant was an avid fox and deer hunter. He knew the woods! He judged numerous fox hunting field trials and had many Walker hounds during his lifetime. He normally went to bed at sunset and got up at dawn. His ten-minute naps were renowned.
East Texas fox hunts were traditionally held at night. The women and children would make camp on a hilltop and prepare mulligan stew. The men on horseback would turn their dogs loose to track and chase the fox, later they would return to the camp and sit around the campfire listening to the dogs and discussing the chase. When the fox was treed, they would mount their horses and retrieve their dogs for the next chase.
Leah Faye sold Stanley Home Products and Avon during the late 1940's and early 1950's. In 1950 she attended nursing school and received her Licensed Vocational Nursing degree. She was a member of the Eastern Star. For many years she worked long hours to help make ends meet, sometimes working two shifts, or additional private duty nursing cases. During her nursing career, she worked at most of the area hospitals and nursing homes. She was a hard worker, constantly demonstrating her concern and love for patients, friends and family. Her persistence was unparalleled. There was no task that she would not undertake. She always said that you could do anything, if you set your mind to it, and she did!
The MEDLEY children attended school in Newton, Newton County, Texas. Margie Elmarine graduated high school in 1949, Melvin Van in 1956 and Carolyn Sue in 1962. They attended the Church of God in Burkeville and Newton, Newton County, Texas.
Though out their lifetime Bryant and Leah Faye continued to farm and raise livestock. In 1955 Bryant began working for the Texas State Highway Department and worked there until his retirement. In 1970 Leah Faye had replacement hip surgery and had to give up floor-duty nursing. She had to use a walking cane, but continued private duty nursing until being diagnosed with cancer.
Bryant Ethridge and Leah Faye had five children and eight grandchildren. Ma and Big Daddy to their grandchildren neither lived to see any of their great-grandchildren. Two of their children preceded them in death. They divorced in 1972, but neither remarried.
Leah Faye died of cancer on October 24, 1974 in the hospital in Houston, Harris County, Texas at the age of 62 and Bryant Ethridge died of a heart attack and cancer on July 25, 1976 in the hospital in Jasper County, Texas at the age of 66. They are both buried in the MEDLEY plot at the City Cemetery, Newton, Newton County, Texas.
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