March 17, 2021

Neal and Effie Mae Ensminger
Athens, Tennessee


These two photographs of Ensminger siblings tell quite a story!  Neal and Effie Mae were children of John Ensminger, one of my grandmother Evalee’s brothers.  Neal was born in 1908, Effie Mae in 1910—and I grew up knowing them and visiting at their rambling home on East Madison Street.  This photo might have been made around 1914, when he was 6 and she was 4.  They’re very serious looking!  Neal always tilted his head slightly to the right just like in this picture.  I love the way Effie Mae has her little legs crossed—and she doesn’t quite know what to do with her hands! 

They always lived together in this family home.  When Neal married his beautiful wife Maggie, she moved in with his parents and siblings. After the parents died, Neal, Maggie and Effie Mae were always there together.  Neal and Maggie’s two sons—King and David—joined the family as did Buddy, a nephew they raised.  Effie Mae loved the three boys like they were her own.

When Neal died in 2001, Maggie followed in a few months.  Effie Mae was lost without them, and died after two very lonely years.  

I think of all those years Neal, Maggie and Effie Mae lived together—and know it must have been difficult sometimes.  Yet there was such a strong bond—a shared history, a deep understanding of each other.  They made room for each other.

Grace Virginia and Joe Charles Ensminger
Leonard, Texas

This second photo was mailed to my grandmother Evalee from Leonard, Texas in 1914. The children’s names are written on the back—Grace Virginia and Joe Charles Ensminger—with a brief message, “We’ll come to see you all some time.”  I believe their father was Evalee’s much younger brother Tim Ensminger. Records show that he was a grocer in Leonard, Texas.

These siblings are quite a contrast to the Neal-Effie Mae photo.  Little Joe Charles doesn’t look too thrilled at being a horse pulling his big sister around!  Barefoot, he’s riding on a stick horse—but those reins big sister Grace Virginia’s holding look pretty serious.  She doesn’t look like she’d put up with any nonsense.  I just hope that’s a stick in her hand—that she’ll use to take a turn being the horse pulling little Joe Charles around—and not a whip!

One family stayed home in Tennessee—another moved all the way to Texas.  Yet these photos helped them stay connected.  

Tim died in 1931, his wife Birdie in 1962—and both are buried in Leonard, Texas.  Joe Charles died in 1966, his wife Lorine in 1986—also buried in Leonard, Texas.  I wonder what happened to Grace Virginia.  

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