In the fall of 1971 my husband Royce and I and our two children, Karen, 4 and Darrell, almost a year old, were living in Mesquite. At least during the week we lived there, but most weekends found us heading back to Gilmer on Friday night. I’d pack the car that afternoon, and as soon as Royce got home from work, around 6 p.m., we would load up the kids and head out.
Our car was only two years old, so we never worried much about it breaking down. But one fateful night he decided to turn towards Hainesville from Mineola on FM 49, then hit Hwy. 154 at Rhonesboro. At that time there were not a lot of houses on the Hainesville highway. We had traveled about two-thirds of the way, and were on a very dark stretch of the highway when our car started overheating and we had to stop beside the road.
Of course that was long before the days of cell phones, and with no houses in sight we were wondering what we could do.
About that time a pickup came along, slowed behind us, then pulled up beside us and asked if we needed help. We were very grateful, and at our young age never gave a second thought that it might be dangerous to get in the truck with a stranger. He introduced himself and told us that he lived a few miles down the road, and would take us to his home where we could call for help.
I didn’t recognize his name, but after my husband called his dad for help, his wife invited us to wait in their home until he arrived. They had three children, the youngest a girl about the age of our Karen, and they were soon happily playing together. Royce’s dad did recognize the name, and knew exactly where he lived, so it wasn’t very long before he drove up, bringing my father with him. I guess they had a pretty good idea of what was wrong, because they brought a radiator hose with them. A short time later we were on our way again.
R.W. Bailey told us that he probably would not have stopped if he had not seen the kids through the window.
"I just couldn’t leave those babies out there in the cold," he said.
When our daughter entered first grade at Harmony in September 1973, one of her first friends was a young lady named Denise Bailey. I met her mother, Dorothy Bailey, and realized that these were the people who helped us that night.
Karen and Denise remained good friends through all 12 years of school, and visited in each other’s homes often.
I spotted a picture of R.W. Bailey in my first grade annual. He was a "big kid" when I started to school, but after I saw the picture I remembered seeing him. (Back then just about everybody in Harmony School knew each other, if not by name at least by face.)
Our families got to know each other better while our kids were in school.
Then one day R.W. and his oldest daughter, Dora (Bailey) Moss came in my office at "The Gilmer Mirror." He had written an article about his family history, and asked if I would help him edit it for the paper. As I started looking through the pages he had written, I began to see names I recognized.
He just grinned, as I discovered that we were cousins. My grandmother, Ida Victoria Henson Bivins, and his grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Henson Bailey were sisters. His grandmother was the oldest daughter born to O.A. Henson and Martha Cartwright Henson (born Nov. 1, 1849) while they lived in Carroll County, Ga. My grandmother, born Feb. 4, 1871 in Perryville, was their fifth daughter (one of 10 children) and was the only child born in Texas to grow to adulthood.
Both the Cartwright and Henson families lived in Carroll County. O.A. and Martha Henson moved here around 1866. Their old homeplace was located between the present-day communities of Grice and Perryville.
After visiting with R.W. Bailey and his daughter Dora, I began to get curious about other Henson cousins I might have. I borrowed a book titled "The Cousins" written by cousin Faye Castloo Pool in 1983, from my sister, Ruby Denton, who had helped Faye with research on the book.
It turns out that turns out that there are quite a few of them. Among them were Noble Henson, who married one of my favorite teachers, Lucille Leach Henson. He was the father of Gary Henson and Larry Henson of Gilmer, so there are some more cousins. Another cousin is Phyllis Bell Anderson, whose great-grandmother was Martha Jane "Mattie" Henson Hallonquist. Martha Jane and my grandmother, Ida Victoria, are also sisters. Phyllis is the same age as my sister Patsy Dowden, and they both started to school and graduated from Harmony. During those years we had no idea we were related.
Of course there are my Pool cousins, Rosa Pool Ford who lives at Grice, Leona Pool Newkirk and Juanita Tyra who live in the Dallas area, and the late Joanna Pool Moss, Johnnie Pool and Bernie Pool. We always knew we shared a great-grandmother since their mother, Cicely Bivins Pool, and my father, Marshall Bivins, were sister and brother. Actually we are double cousins, because my maternal grandfather, Otis Pool and their father, Clifton Pool, were brothers.
There are more, but space won’t allow for listing all of them.
A few years ago my daughter Karen and I made a trip to Temple, Carroll County, Ga. where O.A. and Martha Cartwright Henson had lived. We learned that while living in Temple O.A. had deeded land for a church and cemetery. We visited the cemetery and found a number of family graves markers there. The Asbury Methodist Church once stood nearby. The church was moved to the nearby small town of Temple at some time after they moved to Texas. It is now known as the Temple Methodist Church.
I wish I’d known about our family connection sooner, but am thankful for the time our families did get to spend together. R.W. Bailey’s children are David Bailey, Dora Bailey Moss and Denise Bailey Walker. R.W. had a brother, Wayne Bailey, whom I also remember from Harmony, and a sister.