For years, this Jollett family portrait hung above the piano in my parents’ living room. My great-aunt Violetta had several copies made from a little photo, and everyone who shared her pride in the Jolletts got one. The focus for all of us has always been Mary Frances, Violetta’s mother and my mother’s beloved grandmother, far left on the back row. With her are all her sisters and one of three brothers. As children, my sister and I heard stories of the Jolletts during every visit with our relatives in Harrisonburg and Shenandoah, Virginia. To children’s ears the Jollett family seemed like characters in a storybook, so mysterious and out of reach. Naturally we willingly adopted Jollett Pride as our own.
Then baby sister’s boyfriend came a’callin’ and snapped us into reality. He entered the living room, took one look at that gold-framed family treasure and said, “Who are all those ugly people?”
Until then, we probably never noticed the glum expressions and the general absence of beauty. As my sister noted, “They probably didn’t have Mary Kay.”
I used to think the Jollett girls and brother were old in this picture. Now I realize they were YOUNG. They were in their 30s-40s, maybe. If that’s a wedding ring on Vic’s hand, the photo was taken after 1902. The clothing appears to be 1910’s style. Mary Frances’ brother Ulysses died in 1931 at age 44, so that helps date this photo as well.
Now HERE they’re old. This photo was taken at a family reunion. It had to be 1936 or earlier based on death dates of people in the picture.
Standing: James Mitchell Knight, Sallie J. Clift, Leanna J. Knight, Walter Davis, Mary Frances J. Davis, Decatur Breeden, Victoria J. Breeden, Laura J. Sullivan, Will Sullivan
Seated: Jack Coleman, Emma J. Coleman
This is my family. The Jolletts aren’t my only line, but they are the primary focus of my research, which my mother started years ago when she decided she wanted to be in the DAR. She encouraged my sister and me to join the effort. In my early years, I wanted to find ONLY Jollett information. The good news was that there was so little, anything I found was likely to be “mine.” The bad news was there was so little, period. It became clear that the best way to learn about the Jolletts was to learn about the collateral lines too. And so by necessity I’ve become a researcher of Davis, Shiflett, Rucker, Eppard, Sampson, Marsh, and others.
As this blog evolves [that is to say, as I figure out what I’m doing], I hope to share my research as well as stories about the good, the bad, and the ugly members of the Jolletts, etc.