September 19, 2021

JOE CHARLES AND A TEXAS KITTEN

It’s that adorable little Joe Charles Ensminger again!  Back on March 17 I featured a slightly later photo of him, barefoot and pulling his unhappy looking older sister Grace Virginia around in a little wagon.  This postcard photo was made in a Texas studio when he was two and one half years old, according to a note on the back from his father Tim.  The card is addressed to his Aunt Evalee, his father’s older sister (and my maternal grandmother) back in McMinn County, Tennessee.  It must have brought a smile to her face!

According to the 1920 Federal Census, Tim Ensminger and his wife Birdie lived with their three children (Grace Virginia, 11; Joe Charles, 7; and Nell, 4) in Leonard, where Tim was a grocer. At  that time, Aunt Callie’s son Tom Guthrie (Tim’s nephew) was also living with them.  I think he worked at the grocery store with his uncle. 

Tim died of a brain tumor in 1931, and is buried in Leonard. Joe Charles served in World War II and then went to college and became a teacher.  He and his wife Lorene had a son Joe Tim.  I love how they kept those names short and simple! Joe Charles died on August 26, 1966 and is also buried in Leonard, Texas.

It must have required considerable courage for young farm boys from East Tennessee to make their way to Texas where they seemed to create a better life for their family.  Those Ensmingers and Guthries who ventured westward always loved their “folks back home” and there were many visits over the years—Texas relatives coming home to Tennessee, and Tennessee relatives visiting their Texas family. And in between visits, photos like this one of little Joe Charles and the kitten kept the family ties strong.

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