Saturday, January 6

Saturday's Old Photo

This is an old photo of my mother's father with his family. My grandpa, Ira Deckard, is on the far right, next to his mother, Mary Hepsibeth Deckard (she went by Hepsibeth, if you can believe it) and then his father, John Wesley Deckard. The rest of the group are my grandpa's sisters and brother: Virgie and George in the front, with Effie, Ethel and Rosie in the back. I'm guessing, by the age my grandpa looks, that this photo was taken sometime in the 1930s. The family is standing in front of my great-grandparent's home in rural Missouri. My grandpa, Ira Deckard, married my grandma, Rosa Jane Mackie (who was featured in a previous Saturday's old photo), and they moved to rural Idaho in hopes of improving their circumstances.

This family is from pioneer stock. They are descendants of Davey Crockett's sister, and the previous generations of this family moved from Tennessee to Indiana, to Missouri and then to Idaho, always looking for a better life. Reading the names in the geneology from that side of the family is a little like reading a history book. There are Benjamin Franklin Deckards, George Washington Deckards, Thomas Jefferson Deckards and Samuel Adams Deckards. I assume my grandpa was named, in the same tradition, after the historical John Wesley of the first Great Awakening.

The geneology also shows that those pioneer couples from whom I descended were often officially married after they already had several children, and then several couples would be married all at once on the same date. I'm thinking that there was probably no church and no minister where they settled, and they would officially marry whenever it was that a travelling minister came through.

While they may be of pioneer stock, don't mistake them for "Little House on the Prairie." This was a family that was full of extremely talented and hardworking people, but alongside those good qualities there were also some dark secrets, some emotional difficulties, a little mental illness, and many very short fuses. I suspect part of their pioneer spirit was a general discontentedness with life and the inability to fit into the society around them as it became more organized. And maybe the desire to keep some ugly secrets secret.

Click on the photo for a larger view.

Update: Information from Ken Melvin: The year is more likely 1946 or 47, and the one identified as Effie is probably Lena. John Wesley and Hepsibeth went by Bud and Hep.

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