yesterday's tennessee

Yesterday's Tennessee


Louise Oakley

Though the children of James Polk Oakley and Mary Jane (Barron) Barnes were born in Henderson County in the Independence Community, they spent much of their lives in the Ward's Grove Claybrook Community of Madison County. The children born to the union of James Polk Oakley 1841 - October 23, 1913 and Mary Jane (Barron) Barnes March 22, 1848 - July 5, 1935 were:

  1. Cornelia H. Oakley, July 13, 1862 - October 7, 1868
  2. Henry Clay (Bud) Oakley, March 6, 1865 - July 5, 1941
  3. Ferbey Parilee Oakley, August 2 - August 29, 1880
  4. Caroline Oakley, November 2, 1869 - October 7, 1880
  5. Robert Randolph Oakley, March 25, 1872 - March 17, 1935
  6. Mary Ann Oakley, February 10, 1874 - April 18, 1948
  7. E. Hix Oakley, August 15, 1876 - August 29, 1877
  8. Nanie Curtie Oakley, August 17 1881 - January 8, 1889
  9. Nuit Rush Oakley, August 15, 1883 - June 6, 1932
  10. Jimmy Polk Oakley, November 25, 1887 - January 16, 1929

As can be observed from the list, only five of the ten children lived to be grown. In the 1800's and earlier many children died from the diseases that are now controlled through the advances of medical science.

Rush was the first of the five children to move back to Henderson County, Lexington. In January 1907 he married Carlie Mae Page (August 7, 1886 - May 1, 1962), daughter of J. W. Page and Mary Frances Harris. She was never happy living on a farm in "far away Madison County"; thus they, with their two oldest children moved to Lexington in 1912. The children born to this union were:

  1. Mary Louise Oakley March 26, 1909 -
  2. Catherine Faye Oakley May 1, 1911 -
  3. Nell Imogene Oakley Essary Poston November 10, 1913 - September 13, 1978
  4. Carlie Corine Oakley December 21, 1923 - December 29, 1930
  5. James Rush Oakley September 30, 1928 -

Rush Oakley spent his working years as a farmer, dealer in livestock and real estate, and as manager of large plantations in Lake County and Moro, Arkansas. He made a good living for his family until ill health and the depression overtook him at about the same time. With the loss of health, it became imperative that the oldest daughter assume a great part of the responsibility for providing the financial needs of the family. In 1932 Mrs. Oakley began the operation of a boarding house near the depot. She and the girls worked long hours to make enough to supplement the small teaching salaries of Faye and Louise. Mrs. Oakley kept this business until 1941.

Louise began teaching school on an Examination Certificate in July 1927, three months after she was eighteen years old. After teaching in the Junior High Schools of Sardis, Poplar Springs, and Russell's Cross Roads, and the elementary schools of Poplar Springs and Antioch, she became the first supervisor of Henderson County Schools. G. Tillman Stewart was Superintendent, and at that time Henderson County had the distinction of having the youngest administrative staff in the state. During the seven years Louise served as supervisor many improvements were made in the schools. Teacher organizations were perfected and became forces in the improvement of teaching, approved instructional materials were purchased, schools were approved by State Standards, curricular materials were produced, which in many instances became the patterns for other school systems throughout the state.

In 1941 Louise went to Memphis State University, then West Tennessee Teachers College, to teach. From that position she became supervisor of the elementary schools of the twenty-one West Tennessee Counties, and taught at Memphis State in the summers. This position was followed by a year's teaching in Lexington, supervisor of Union City Schools, Consultant in Education Birmingham Paper Company, Dean of Women and Instructor of Education Union University, Supervisor of Madison County Schools, Teacher Corrective Reading Shelby County Schools, and Assistant Professor of Education Jackson State Community College. She retired in 1974 after forty-seven years of service to the schools of Tennessee and the South.

Faye began teaching school at Sandy School in Henderson County in 1931. From that school she moved to Howard School, then to Antioch, and from thereto Sand Ridge. In 1954 the family, Mrs. Oakley, Louise, and Faye, moved to Jackson and Faye began teaching at Whitehall School, where she taught until 1972, when she retired earlier than compulsory retirement age because of arthritis.

Imogene's professional career was in the field of nursing. She worked in the office of Dr. Sam Parker, Jackson and in the Haywood County General Hospital, Brownsville. After a long marriage to Paul Essary, which was dissolved by divorce in1953; she married Dr. W. D. Poston of Brownsville on October 9, 1955. Dr. Poston died April 29, 196l.

Corinne was like a flower that bloomed and lived on this earth for only a short time. She was really the pet, not only of her immediate family, but of her Aunt May, Aunt Polk, and Grandmother Oakley, and of the whole neighborhood. Her beauty and sweet disposition made her a joy to others all of her short life. While in the Second Grade during Christmas Holidays, she took scarlet fever and died within five days on December 29, 1930.

Rush, the child off the old age of his parents, grew up to be the Joy and hope off his Mother and sisters. His father died when he was only three years old. After High School graduation he began working for the Coca Cola Bottling Company in Lexington. He soon moved from that company to become a salesman for Orgile Brothers of Memphis, and from that company to the United States Tobacco Company. In this company he first worked as a salesman in eight West Tennessee Counties. In 1966 he was promoted to the position of Division Manager for the State of Alabama, supervising the work of the salesmen of the State. In August 1966 the family moved to Birmingham where they have continued to live until 1976.

On October 4, 1947 Rush married Helen Maxine Neisler (May 30, 1931). To that union two children were born:

  1. Carla Ann Oakley February 7, 1957
  2. Linda Carol Oakley February 11, 1963

Robert Randolph Oakley and his wife Myrtle Grant moved from Jackson to Lexington about 1917. There Randolph continued his work as a dealer in livestock until his death in 1935.

In 1921 when the management of the farm became too much for Mrs. Oakley, Mary Ann, and Jimmie they moved to Lexington where they lived until their deaths.

The entire family was always active in politics, civic, and religious activities. Even though they were staunch Democrats they made a contribution in Henderson County which has always been predominately a Republican stronghold.

Henry Clay Oakley was the oldest son of the Oakley family. His parents began to call him "bud" when he was a small child. This nickname stayed with him by his family and friends, throughout his life; though he used his given name or the initials in his business dealings.

He married Docia Ione Barr on April 23, 1899. She was the daughter of James Franklin Barr and Mary Jane Gately. Her father, in early life had taught school in the First District of Henderson County, Tennessee, Moss's Rest. She later taught at the same school.

To the union of Henry Clay Oakley and Docia Barr the following children were born:

  1. Bennie May January 26, 1902 - April 1, 1931
  2. Thompsie Ray August 6, 1903 - April 11, 1948
  3. Jessie Lee August 9, 1905
  4. Edward Eloise June 114, 1908
  5. James Polk March 6, 1911 - February 17, 1958
  6. Ferbey Woodrow April 6, 1913
  7. Mary Franklin August 9, 1916

In 1904 they took into their home a seven year old orphan girl, Alice Anglin. They raised her and loved her as their own. It also became their lot to raise the son of their oldest daughter when she died in 1931. At the age of eight O'Ryan Oakley Hinsley became a part of the immediate family, and his grandmother became his official guardian.

Henry Clay (Bud) Oakley became interested in the timber business as a young man. This became his lifes work. He was owner and operator of saw-mills in Henderson, Madison, and Haywood Counties, and owned a lumber yard in Humboldt. He owned the first saw-mill in Henderson County that made dressed lumber for building fine homes.

As he would buy large tracts of timber in different locations, he would move his mills, take his crews of timber cutters, and other mill workers to the site where he would oversee the work until the timber was delivered to the railroad tracks to be shipped to other locations. These moves made it necessary for the family to live in different towns, so the children received t heir education in various schools.

By 1932 all the children were married except the two youngest daughters, the youngest son, and the grandson. They then moved from the homeplace near the Blue Goose in Henderson County to operate the Hotel Humboldt, property left to the grandson by his mother. Through hard work and close living, even in depression years, enough was made to live and make the payments due on the hotel. There "Bud" operated a lumber mill until 1938 when he retired. He died in Humboldt July 5, 1941, and Docia died there also on June 24, 1946.

Bennie Mae the oldest child was married at an early age to W. T. Hinsley of Brownsville, Tennessee. To this union three sons were born. The first one born June 22, 1920 died in infancy; the others were twins born June 24, 1921. One of the twins died and O'Ryan lived to manhood. This marriage ended in divorce. Her second marriage was to Paul Parker of Lexington, Tennessee. He was County Court Clerk of Henderson County for a number of years. Paul died on August 19, 1930.

Though Bennie Mae was beset with illness most of her life and though she died at a young age, she was able to accomplish many things in the workaday world. At various times she served as a teacher, a hotel operator, a nurse, and a saleslady. At the time of her last illness she was serving as Engrossing Clerk in the State Senate.

Thompsie Ray Oakley finished High School and Business School. He followed in the steps of his father and became a timber dealer. He worked for Ashby-Varnell Lumber Company of Jackson, and later served as Production Agent for the American Creosote Company, traveling the Southern States buying timber. He was married to Flaudie Douglas of Henderson County on August 25, 1927. Three children were born to this union--Thompsie Ray, Jr. who lost his life during the Korean War in 1956, Ashby Varnell, and Martha Estelle.

Jessie Lee Oakley married Dan Fisher of Decaturville. He spent forty-six years with the State Highway Department, retiring in 1972, as Assistant Maintenance Engineer of West Tennessee. Jessie taught forty-three years in the Elementary Schools of Henderson County, retiring in 1967.

Edward Eloise Oakley was married to W. Neuce Cogdell March 10, 1929. He was a farmer in Henderson County. To this union one son, William Edward was born. She taught school for twenty-nine years in the Henderson County Elementary Schools, retiring in 1969 due to disability from arthritis.

James Polk Oakley was married to Ouida Britt of Henderson County in 1933. To this union two daughters Jane Marilyn Oakley McCarver and Imogene Elizabeth Oakley Hunt were born. He too followed in his father's steps and spent most of his life working in the timber business. He bought railroad ties, was for a time assistant to his brother, Thompsie, as production agent for the American Creosote Company in the Southern States. He also helped his mother in the operation of the Humboldt Hotel, which hotel he later bought and operated before moving back to the Blue Goose Community, where he was living at the time of his death.

Ferbey Woodrow Oakley was married to Willard M. Brown of St. Louis, Missouri, on December 29, 1932. She taught school in Henderson County for a short while before she married. Her business career included saleslady and manager of a Ladies Dress Shop, dental assistant, while her husband was in service, owner and operator, with her husband, of one of the largest and finest stocks of antiques in the South. In 1975 they sold the antique stock, home, and store which was located near Gadsden and moved to Memphis to retire. This ended twenty-nine years in the antique business.

Mary Franklin Oakley spent her working years in various capacities of the business world. She assisted her mother in the operation of the Humboldt Hotel; she was manager of the curtain and drapery department of Famous Barr Department Store in St. Louis; she sold trailer homes and real estate in Florida and Mississippi. She now lives in Memphis and serves as business manager and companion for elderly women,

Alice Anglin, the foster daughter of the H. C. Oakleys married W. R. Rogers, who was in the plumbing and well business, in 1912. They had three children. W. R. Rogers died on October 5, 1959, and she died February 10, 1975.

O'Ryan Oakley Hinsley, (June 24, 1921-November 23, 1971), was married to Mattie Lou Mathis of Stuart, Mississippi on August 17, 1912. Their oldest child, a son, died in infancy and Sherry Ann is living and married to ______ Kaplan. O'Ryan spent most of his life as a Career Person in the Army. He was graduated from Georgia Military Academy, College Park, Georgia, with honors in business administration. His college work equipped him for administrative positions in the service; thus enabling him to move his family with him to the various fields in which he served in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. After twenty-two years in the Army he retired and began work in a Security Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Texas. He held this position of First Sergeant in the Department until his death on November 23, 1974.

Go to Mary Louise Oakley

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