Mattie Lucy Williamson#039;s Ancestral Trust
Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 3, 2007
Grandpa Walton, of the famed Walton's Mountain T.V. series back in the seventies, once quoted:
“You can't own a mountain any more than you can own an ocean or a piece of the sky.
You hold it in trust, you live on it, you take life from it and once you're dead, you rest in it.”
Mattie Lucy (McLeod) Williamson holds such a place in trust.
It's the 100-acre tract of land, in rural Goshen that was homesteaded in the 1800's by her grandfather.
The original house was log, but the family built a large frame house years later that could easily have rivaled the Waltons' mountain home.
It was plain, simple and big.
Her daddy was born on the land, her mother and daddy married on it and lived on it, she and her children were born on it, and she lived on it until she entered the nursing home in 2006.
Williamson related that four families lived in the big old house at one time, with never a cross word between them.
She said trials and tribulations were no stranger to the hardworking, salt of the earth family.
She described her mother and daddy with a wholesomeness that most people only read about in books.
Her daddy never owned a tractor, but a man who lived on the place helped him in the fields.
Williamson said that despite hardships, the family prospered, and her daddy owned one of the first cars in Goshen.
She walked two miles to school everyday, where
“readin', ‘ritin' and ‘rithmetic” were
taught religiously, along with a switching when needed.
Tragedy was no stranger to the family.
William's brother, Marcus, died at sixteen, and her daddy, Hiram Webb McLeod, was stricken with cancer and died just months before she was to graduate high school.
“Mama didn't have to ask me to quit school and help her,” Williamson said.
“It was my duty.
Joe, my younger brother, needed to stay in school.”
Williamson described a serene, crime-free, country-town setting as she talked about Goshen and Luverne some 90 years ago.
She told of trips to the General Mercantile Store for school clothes, and how people always said she bore a striking resemblance to her father, who affectionately called her Lucindy.
Her mother, Mary Kate (Holliday) McLeod, was described as having the tenacity necessary for the family's survival on a rural farm during the Great Depression.
As she approaches her 96th year in August of 2007, Williamson can't remember when she first became fascinated with books.
But, in a self-defining statement, she said, “Books have always been a big part of my life!”
Williamson's escape of family sorrows and farm chores into western novels and other intriguing tales of faraway places parallels John Boy Walton's escape into his writing tablets during the Great Depression.
After Williamson met her future husband when she was seventeen, her mother once remarked that she couldn't sweep the front porch off without Rex Williamson being out there.
They married in 1930 during the depression, and lived on the homestead with her family.
The birth of their five children, Travis, Kate, Joyce, Terrell and Judy, never dimmed her love of reading.
She continued to read several books a week, and would often ride the bus to school with her children and spend the day reading in the school library.
She also fed half of Goshen every Sunday.
Her husband, Rex, was notorious for inviting guests to eat without warning her, and she never knew who, or how many, were coming.
She has passed on her grandmother's tradition of baking teacakes for family and friends, especially at Christmas, to her oldest grandson, Alan Speer.
When asked about her reading time, she piped up and said, “I stayed up and read at night.
Far back as I can remember, I took The Luverne Journal and Montgomery papers and the Grit.
I was in a book club once and read a lot of Louis L'Amour westerns.
I only watch Channel 12 news, but I'll watch wrestling on any channel!”
She was real quick to say she didn't have time to write, but she'd contemplated it once or twice.
Then she asked if this was going to be in The Luverne Journal, and I nodded.
Family members still occupy the old homestead, but most are grownup now and live faraway.
But, on a still, quiet night, you can almost hear voices echoing through the distance of time.
“Good night, Travis!
Good night, Katie!
Good night, Joyce.
Good night, Terrell and Judy!”
And if you listen – in the stillness – you can hear them in unison, “Good night, Mama!”
The old family homestead is still held in trust, lived on, with life taken from it, and many family secrets resting in it.
Williamson was born on the homestead in 1911; her husband, Rex, died on it in 1982.
She is the oldest living member of the Goshen Methodist Church and, possibly, the longest living subscriber to The Luverne Journal.
She is a resident of Luverne Health and Rehab.