Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why Ms. Hessie's -- The Journey of 313 Church

My previous post dealt with the topic of how we came about being the proud owners of Ms. Hessie's House, located at 313 Church Street in Madison, AL.  Some may be wondering who/why Ms. Hessie while others may be asking the question of where is Madison, AL.  I have to admit, when we lived in Huntsville in 1987/8, we never really even knew that the sleepy little berg of Madison lay only a little piece to the west of the apartment we lived in for the year.  I wish we had driven through Madison then, although we probably wouldn't have remembered much about it.  When we returned to Madison county in 2007, we were shocked at how expansive Madison City had become, especially considering we missed it entirely 20 years before!  Madison is a growing, vibrant community that we have really grown to love in the several months now that we have lived there.  You can learn more about Madison by visiting their city website here.  

Being a huge fan of history, I embarked on learning who Ms. Hessie was to add to my knowledge of the home. To me, understanding the personal side of the history of the home just adds so much character to the features of the home.  That is what distinguishes in my mind between a house and home.  Knowing the previous generations that have called this house a home helps us preserve the unique legacy of this house as a home.

The house at 313 Church Street was originally constructed for Nancy Hesseltine (Hessie) Gillespie Farley in 1911.  Miss Hessie (as she would be known) was the daughter of Campbell Milton Gillespie and Narcissa Lorinda Clark.  She was born on July 22, 1866 in Maryville, Tennessee.  The family moved first to Morgan County, Alabama in 1870 then relocated to Madison, Alabama in 1879.  Miss Hessie would graduate from honors from the Huntsville Female Seminary on May 30 1888 and became a teacher.  

Miss Hessie married Joseph Bruce Farley in 1892.  The couple had one daughter, Frances Lorinda Farley who was born in 1893.  Mr Farley unfortunately passed away from malaria in 1894 at the age of 28 and Miss Hessie would never remarry.  For a few years she went into partnership with her brother, William Gillespie to run Farley and Gillespie Drug Store in Madison.  After the store was sold, Miss Hessie accepted a teaching position in Tuscumbia.  She would return to Madison after the passing of her father in 1910 (her mother passed in 1907). Her sister, Miss Nora (Narcissa Elizabeth or "Sister") could not live alone, so Miss Hessie had the home at 313 Church Street constructed. 

Miss Hessie started teaching first grade in Madison, and Lorinda studied music at Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia until 1914. Lorinda would marry Herbert Lafayette Thorton on January 21, 1920, shortly after he returned home from serving in France during World War I.  Their first daughter, Frances Farley, was born February 12, 1921 at Miss Hessie's home in Madison.  Two other daughters were also born in Madison: Nancy Kate on March 16, 1923 and Lorinda Clark on October 24, 1924. In 1935 Herbert became a charter member of Alabama's new Highway Patrol.

Although a life-long Presbyterian, Miss Hessie taught Sunday School in the Baptist Church. She was active in school, church and many civic organizations.  She taught her forty-two consecutive years.   She had a deep love for teaching and dreaded the day she would have to retire. That would never happen as she would suffer a stroke during the Christmas holidays and died on January 1, 1939.  She is buried beside her husband Bruce in the Farley Family Cemetery.  As a side note, following Miss Hessie, Mrs. Howard Hughes was appointed to replace her as the first grade teacher.  She would hold that position for thirty-seven years.  Combined, Miss Hessie and Mrs. Hughes taught first grade at Madison Elementary for 65 years!

Nancy married J.B. Womack from Lynchburg, Tennessee.  Herbert died on August 7, 1961. He was buried in Madison the Madison Cemetery.  Nancy and J.B lived with Lorinda until she died on January 1, 1966. She is buried beside Herbert.  After J.B. passed, Nancy married Orval Cooper. Nancy would pass on December 13, 2004, and Orval would pass on July 31, 2016.  Nancy had two daughters, Pat Womack Edwards and Kathy Womack Williams Lee.  A rich heritage laid within the walls and boards of the home at 313 Church Street.  

It is our sincere hope that the home on Church Street will continue through the ages to be a home where family is loved and cherished.  May the walls of this home soak up more generations of love and may the feet that cross the threshold always find joy within the walls.  We so deeply appreciate the rich heritage of this home and strive to honor it.  May it always be Miss Hessie's, who laid a deep foundation in service and love to her family and community.

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Saturday, January 07, 2017

The Journey Begins

Not all journeys begin with a step...  Ours began with an invitation to listen to a Bell Choir and to attend a Tour of Homes.  This was in 2014 when Judith invited Susan and I to Madison United Methodist Church during the Christmas season to listen to the Bell Choir perform.  Travis Wilson, the pastor of the church gave a telling of the church's history, which dated back to the original congregation that built the main sanctuary in 1838.  The sanctuary was later moved via log rolling to its current location on Church Street in downtown Madison (what we would later learn is referred to as Madison Station).

Following the Bell Choir, church history and a tour of many of the homes in the historic district, we were able to meet with Pastor Wilson at the home of George and Judith and had a great conversation about churches, communities, and theology.  We decided to maybe attend the church on the following day which was a Sunday.

We continued to attend for several weeks, then one night Judith messaged Susan that a home was for sale on Church Street!  Soon, we were able to take a tour of the home with the listing agent, Bill Stewart with Century 21.  Bill gave us a great tour of the home and was able to share with us a little of the history.

It was during this time when we met Loree and Donnie Spencer at church.  Donnie grew up on Church Street and his father still lives in the family home built in the early 1900's.  We talked with them and after seeing the home on Church Street decided to talk with them more about the potential of selling our home and purchasing the home on Church Street.

I will fast forward through a long period of time where it seems we rode an emotional roller coaster of hope and frustration.  We listed our Bridge Arbor home in May of 2015, it would take until August of 2016 to get an offer that would eventually be negotiated to a contract and final sale.

The Church Street home had similarly sat on the market for a lengthy time.  At one point, it had even been removed from the market, but was placed back on the market again after a few months.  It was a comment.  In early August we had even walked into church one Sunday after discussing during the drive to church what we should do given the lack of movement.  We made a decision that we would just take our home off the market, do some renovations we had considered and be content.

By the time we left the church that day, we had planned another open house and resolved to give it one more push to sale.  This wasn't because of some change in our minds, but a well timed discussion with Ms. Pat, an heir to Nancy Thornton, the owner of the Church Street property.  I am not sure it was ordained by God, but I will say that the timing of Ms. Pat's comments could not have been more impeccable in encouraging us.  A quick discussion with Loree, it is an advantage when you see your realtor every Sunday and consider her a friend, and we planned an open house for a few weeks off and moved forward.

On they day of the open house, Susan and I attended Church and then spent the afternoon going through a home & garden show downtown.  We spoke with several contractors there about new countertops as that was one area that had drawn some comments and was a also something we had resolved that even if we did not sale the home, we would change.  We came home armed with some ball park numbers and leads for getting the work done.

That would prove to be unnecessary.  Talking with Loree, a couple had stopped in for the open house and were very interested.  We arrived home and discussed briefly with Loree the results of our effort and she talked about the couple.  She left and we went to pick up our pups that were being boarded during the open house.  Just when we returned home from picking up the hounds, we got a call that a realtor wanted to show the house.  Sure, no problem...what else were we to say.  So, at the appointed time, we loaded the hounds and I drove around while Susan did some shopping.

Showings typically didn't last too long.  This one would prove to be different.  We would all drive around then arrive back in the neighborhood and park down in a common area and wait for the agent and her clients to leave.  That would prove to be much longer than we anticipated.  Finally, they left. We were free to return to our home at last.  Little did we know that the couple was the same that had spoken with Loree and were writing an offer on our home while they were looking!  We got the great news that night.

Back and forth we would go to settle the details on the Bridge Arbor offer until finally having a final contract!  Then to putting together our offer on the Church Street house.  Finally, the offer was in Loree's hands and she would present to Bill.  Stressful?  Not really.  It seems it should have been, but this just didn't hit us that way, or at least not me.  Some more negotiation on details, and we had a final contract!!

There would next be a period that every home buyer just can't control their enthusiasm during -- the loan/underwriting process.  While this process is always somewhat painful, we discovered a true gem in Huntsville when we first moved back here in 2008.  Scott Pride with CB&S bank has become our go-to-guy for home mortgages.  We financed and refinanced our Bridge Arbor home with Scott and now the Church Street home.  Through all three transactions with Scott, he has never provided us with information that was not accurate and when he gives us a timeline, it has invariably been an accurate assessment.  There have been a number of times when I have emailed Scott about a topic and the replies are always quick.  One thing with CB&S, all of our mortgages have been sold which is something we were clearly told would happen.  Ultimately, it is a non-issue.  Most if not all mortgages today go through different hands.  I would prefer that we have a personal relationship with the guy taking us through the purchase rather than being concerned about who we will be mailing payments to later.

A few more adventures during the closing of both homes, but maybe more on that later.  We closed on our Bridge Arbor sale in late September and then just a week later we were able to close on Church Street -- what I will refer to in the future as Ms. Hessie's (more on that in the future too).

Let the adventure begin

Thanks to:

Loree Spencer

Scott Pride

Bill Stewart

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Monday, June 12, 2006

Day 4 World Cup 2006

Day 4

Australia 3 Japan 1

How do you go 80+ minutes then give up 3 goals? The Socceroos pulled a stunning come-from-behind to claim 3 points in their group. Japan got their goal in the 26th minute, but super-sub Tim Cahill entered the game in the 53rd minute, and netted goals at the 84th and 89th minute. Then in extra time Aloisi added the final insult. So momentarily, Australia sits atop Group F over heavy weight (yet to play) Brazil and Croatia.

US 0 vs Czech Republic 3, facing the number two team in the tournament the US fell. What was disappointing in this loss was the total lack of "git-r-done" displayed by the US. Arena made a nice move to start the second half by putting Johnson and O'Brien on the field. I have yet to see the entire game, but, from what I have seen so far, McBride was a non-factor. Beasley seemed overwhelmed with the size of the opposition and seldom seemed to have a form.

Koller proved to be a monster in the middle and physically manhandled Pope to get the first goal. The American's never adjusted to the physical style of play by the Czech's and seemed to be playing one to two men short the entire match.

Arena needs to go back to the board. The lineup he had just did not get it done, and seemed to be at odds to find a rhythm. If this was a dance, the US was doing the Polka, and the Czech's were in final form for "So you think you can Dance." The saturday game is now must win, and we cheer for the Czech's to win out.

Italy 2 Ghana 0

Ghana's attack was nice. They strung together several nice plays and seemed to take it right at Italy. They were creative and dangerous. Italy seemed to play predictable and took advantage of Ghana mistakes to claim their 3 points. A severe misplay in the back resulted in the final goal of the match. Ghana had the edge in possession 53%, but managed only 4 shots. Italy is dangerous, but didn't appear lethal.

USA OUTLOOK -- The US needs to find a form. Lineup for Saturday:

Keeper -- Keller
Defense -- Pope, Onyewu, Albright, Bocanegra
Mids -- Beasley, Donovan, O'Brien, Reyna
Forwards -- Johnson, Wolfe

I think Johnson shows he deserves more time. Wolfe is a playmaker. I think he and Johnson could have a good game up top. I did not like Beasley and Donovan today. I like it better when the two of them flow through the play and take positions dictated by the run of play, not a pre-set alignment. They both are creative and electric when they can challenge more than one position/player.

I have not been a Reyna fan, but, I think he could be a playmaker/distributor. Today was the first time I recall him taking a shot in an WC match that seemed to have a prayer going in. I agree with Marcelo today, Onyewu seemed to have a better day once Koller was gone. I think he will be needed against Italy.

Pope needs to be a leader, love the guy since he was at DC United under Arena -- but, he needs to get some teeth in his game and bite some butts. Maybe Berhalter would bring leadership to the back.

World Cup Day 3

Well, day 3 is in the books. Nothing spectacular in the three matches.

Netherlands best Serbia and Montenegro 1-0. SCG needs to organize their midfield to claim the remaining six points for this group. That does not look likely with Argentina still on their dance card. The oranje need a win against Ivory Coast, then a draw against the Albiceleste would assure them through to the second round.

Argentina over Ivory Coast 2 - 1. Argentina hit the cruise control a little too early in the second half and had to hang on to finish off the Ivory Coast 11. Drogba netted the Ivory Coast's goal and squandered a couple of chances that could have earned the Elephants a draw or maybe even a win. The Ivory Coast may pull a win against either Netherlands or SCG with their pressure.

Mexico 3 - Iran 1
The South of US guys were slow starting, but got it going behind Bravo, who netted 2 for the Greenies. Iran started well, but couldn't keep up with the Mexicans in the end.

Angola 0 - Portugal 1
Not alot of excitement in what I saw of this game. Pauletta's fourth minute netbender was the difference. Portugal may be playing for second behind the group's current leader Mexico (ahead on goal differential).

Sunday, June 11, 2006

WC 2006 Day 2

Well, the T&T game was the best of the day. Here is something else I noticed about games today:

Beckham can bend a mean ball -- yeah, we already knew it, but he still proves it over and over

The losing team thus far has scored in all matches except the Poland/Ecuador game where Poland failed to mark the board. Even Paraguay managed a goal in their loss to England -- albeit an own goal that saw them fall 1-0. Still, they scored, kinda.

Worst referee job thus far: Belgium native Frank DE BLEECKERE who took center field in the Argentina vs Ivory Coast game. Missed a PK call that could have really made this game exciting. Managed several other questionable calls. And managed to be able to waste more time than any of the players.

Trinidad & Tobago gets Draw with 10

WOW! Trinidad & Tobago forced a draw with the Swedes. Playing down a man for almost the entire second half, the T&T claimed a point in their first ever World Cup appearance by using a combination of spirited play and the player of the match Hislop (keeper in 1988 for Howard University in NCAA finals). Soccer naysayers may scoff at the excitement that a 0-0 score can incite. But, let them...this game was EXCITING!

For Hislop, making the appearance between the pipes was something he may have looked forward to, but, hardly expected. During warm-ups for the match, he was called to the pitch when starting keeper Kelvin Jack went down. Imagine sitting out there probably lazily kicking the ball around, revelling in just being there. Quickly he has to transition from bench to pitch. Miraculously, T&T goes into the half tied 0-0. Then, in the second minute of play of the second half, Avery John draws his second yellow for T&T and is sent off.

The stage is set, all the players are in position. What we see next can only be described as stunning. The 37 year old keeper (and former NASA-intern) comes up as big for his country as any man thus far. With the help of Brent Sancho and Carlos Edwards he pitched what may be the equivalent of a no-hitter. That is how exciting it was.

0-0, not boring, when this small caribbean nation stunned the world and gave announcement to their arrival on the largest sports stage in the world. With England getting an own goal win against Paraguay. This draw completely opens up the number 2 position in this pool. Emotionally, T&T got so much more than their 1-point win. They got respect, emotions, and everyone else's heart in making their bid to be the first caribbean nation to make the second round in ever!

At the end, the Soca Warriors were dancing while a stunned Sweden slumped to the ground in agony. This game is the heart and spirit of the world cup. Number 47 in the world, just took number 16 to the dance, and stood them up! Bring on the games, the Soca Warriors are dancing!

WC 2006 Day 1 addendum

19th minute of play, the BundesBoys are up 2-1. Klose tucked in a nice one a few minutes ago. The opening was reportedly electric. OOps..they are putting the magic spray on someones ankle -- I need a gallon of that stuff. This game might finish with 8+ goals at the pace.

Final result was Germany 4 - Costa Rica 2. German offense was efficient and Klose finished with two goals. Costa Rica speed abused the German offsides trap. The German defense is suspect. The readdition of Ballack might shore it up, but it has got to be better.

World Cup 2006 Day 1

Ok soccer fans, here we are -- Day 1 of the world's biggest event. This is the World Cup, the most passionate event in sports.

Today we get two matchups; Germany with their teutonic efficiency will meet Costa Rica in game 1, the opener.

Some may think this will be a closely contested game and should be interesting for the first 15 minutes or so. The BundesBoys will be short star Michael Ballack but will still have enough stars out to light the sky. Costa Rica (nickname the Ticos) on the other hand will be out to replay the glory of Senegal when they unceremoniously clipped host France in the opener in 2002. I am going to pick the BundesBoys in this one, 1-0 (1-0 is the most common opening game score, so I might be safe). However, Bundes-striker Klose may just have a thing to say about that score being higher.

Poland takes on Ecuador in the second match. These two met in a friendly just this past November with Poland claiming victory 3-0. I don't expect that margin will be the final, but, I think a 2-1 Polish win is likely.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Katrina Relief

Watching the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans is heart wrenching. The devastation, by American standards, horrific. We, as Americans, are accustomed to seeing this on our TV, in foreign countries. We think we are immune to this in our country. However, nature has a way to prove us wrong, in simply the worst of ways.

I watch the coverage and my heart goes out to all of those affected. The families that have lost everything -- including sometimes each other. However, watching the coverage on this saturday morning I think I will make some observations --

One story reported a Brit as saying it was hard to see a super power humbled -- I guess when you see the coverage on TV maybe you get that impression. The destruction and devastation is pretty big. President Bush in his address today said the area of devastation was the size of Great Britain. Wow! Thats not a small amount of territory.

It is interesting that the disaster preparedness people always use New Orleans as a worse case -- and still the worst case scenarios don't seem to have gone far enough. Make no mistake about it, I don't think we were properly prepared. And the response from Washington has not been overwhelmingly quick -- and not exactly performed with the greatest of effectiveness. But, lets take a second to ponder some things.

  • There was a mandatory evacuation order given -- Get out of New Orleans and the low lying areas. Now, living in Florida, I have not always evacuated when they advised it. But, after last year, you don't need to tell me the difference between recommended and mandatory evacuation. Mandatory evacuation says get the heck out. Don't think about it, don't worry about it -- just get out. The people that stayed, stayed against orders. They were told to leave and chose for some reason to ignore it. Some may not have had transportation -- I will acknowledge that and concede those people were somewhat trapped. They were told to go to the Superdome -- which suffered damage and lost power. Not the best of circumstances -- but, at no point can any shelter be fool proof. When they say leave -- leave.
  • Some chose to say -- then criticize relief efforts to get them out. Let me get this right -- first it is "No, I will not leave, you can't make me." Then "You didn't come get me fast enough." You can't have it both ways. Be thankful they came after you. I wonder if you will leave next time? Just wondering.
  • Grandstanding -- First up -- Rev. Jesse Jackson -- someone tell him to just get a clue. That man has squandered any credibility that he once had. At one point in the interview he said 200,000 people needed to be evacuated still in the city of New Orleans. His next sentence was " We don't know how many people need evacuation." Pick one Jesse -- 200,000 or we don't know -- it can't be both.
  • Next up -- some news organization used a guy named Colonel Jacobs (USA/Retired). That guy is clueless. My favorite quote -- "The national guard is not equipped to handle this kind of situation." Where was he during the Total Force briefings. Disaster efforts are one of the missions of the National Guard -- not the active forces. The National Guard exists to help in these efforts -- they are the states forces -- and not many reasons for the states to go to war...this mission is their bread and butter. If you want to send the active forces in to help -- that is fine -- but lets not criticize the states for activating Guard troops and sending them to do their mission. You need to schedule some Total Force Briefings or stay at the bank.
    • You do realize that most of the Combat Service Support is in the Guard and Reserves -- right? New Orleans is not going to need a tank battalion -- they are going to need CSS units like water purification. Go figure out how many active units there are with those specialties. I will give you a hint -- use one hand, using all of your fingers curled - touch your thumb with finger tips -- you see the number?
  • Unrest in the superdome -- MSNBC had a woman on that said there was lawlessness in the Superdome during the hurricane aftermath. Fights -- an 8-year old raped, and a guy plunged to his death in a successful suicide. Let me help out a little here ... people have got to take responsibility for themselves sometimes. Someone has got to step up and say no more -- the government cannot always protect you -- someone rapes an 8-year old -- you take him up to the second level -- and he gets to jump too. If we are going to allow the thugs to be in control -- we have lost. We must step up and serve as our own civil control. Things happen because people allow them to happen like this. Don't tolerate it... take responsibility and enforce control.
  • Other countries -- America will rise from this. Maybe I am wrong -- but I frankly don't care for the sympathy of the French or other countries that will not step up to their responsibilities in the World -- and criticize us. As was demonstrated after 9/11 == America is resilient. We may wonder around a little -- but the recovery will be amazing. We don't need your sympathy or condescending attitute. Go bake some cookies or something. For our allies -- thanks for you concern. Give us a little space and time. Step up to help in the areas you are already helping in -- we might need a little slack time -- but, we will live up to our commitments. Don't worry about us.

Friday, September 02, 2005

NCAA and Idiots Part Dieux

Ok ... I will relent somewhat on my rant against the NCAA. They have proven that when presented with overwhelming evidence of their stupidity, they notice it. There recent acceptance of the position of the Seminole tribes of the US (Florida and Oklahoma) that the tribes were in agreement with the Florida State University use of their tribal name as a nickname for their sports program's teams, and thereby associating the university with the tribe. Congrats NCAA, you are not as dumb as you act all the time.

However, let us not forget, this is the same organization that helps defend the dumbest student athletes on the planet. "Who, you ask?" -- The NCAA Division 1-AA football teams. "What, you mean the major schools like UF, FSU, UA, and your beloved Tigers of Auburn?" Yes, unfortunately.

You see, the NCAA is concerned that these athletes cannot miss any more school. Instituting a playoff system would mean that these poor kids would miss more school, and thereby endanger their ability to earn a degree -- maybe another day we can talk about basketball programs....where the goal isn't even a degree. "Why do you pick on Division 1-AA?" Because all of the other divisions are smart enough to be able to play in a playoff system. Those athletes can miss the classwork. It is only the Division 1-AA that can't.

Oh, and by the way....didn't the NCAA just rule that Division 1-AA teams could schedule an additional game? What is that....doesn't that promote the possibility that athletes will miss another day of beloved classes? We can't have a playoff system -- that would largely be conducted during the break between fall and winter semesters, but we can add another week to the schedule? Come on NCAA -- treat us like adults.... If its the money, just say so. I could handle that. But, your sham of excuses you keep offering probably don't even make sense to you. Now, be honest.....its the money of the bowl system right?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

NCAA and Idiots

Have you been following the news this week from the NCAA? NCAA teams will not be allowed to use nick names that are "insensitive" to Native Americans. Ooops, well not exactly, seems they only deem those nicknames to be offensive during post-season play. Now, if we were talking about the NHL, and maybe even the NBA, I could understand this. Who cares about those sports during the regular season anyway. Heck, in the NHL, almost everyone seems to make the playoffs, so why don't they just have a preseason, then head straight to the playoffs?

But, I digress....back to the NCAA. Ever wonder where some of those idiot judges go that continue to release pedophiles back to society and onto our kids? We found them..they are working for the NCAA in their off time. Who came up with this policy. If it is offensive to use the nicknames, then make it apply to the entire NCAA experience. Not just the playoffs.

You know...I used to wonder what happened to J. Elders -- however you spell it, don't care enough to google it to get it right. You remember her, she was Clinton's Surgeon General. I think you can summarize her policies with a simple statement:
--- It's ok for kids to have sex, as long as they don't smoke afterwards ---
Don't misquote me, she never said that, but her policies carried that weight.

Well here we are...back to the NCAA. Get a set guys (and gals -- although I wonder how many women think that Native American names are offensive). If the policy is good, then apply it across the board, all year. This "post-season" stipulation makes about as much sense as...well as Larry the Cable Guy would say, " wiping before you poop." We entrust the education of America's next generation to you, and this is the best you can do?