When I look at the number of funeral cards and related Funeral Card Friday posts, I’m ashamed of myself. I’ve kept none from funerals I’ve attended. In fact, I usually end up nervously folding and unfolding and twisting them throughout the service. They eventually go to the black hole that is my purse. Finally they meet their maker and go on to their lesser reward in the trashcan.
Thanks to other people, 3 cards have survived and been passed down. This one is my favorite. It’s the memorial card from the funeral of my maternal great-grandmother Mary Frances Jollett Davis. I have written about her previously HERE and HERE and HERE.
The image on the cover is an open garden gate, a symbol often used to suggest a crossing over, in this case a crossing over into heaven. The garden reminds us of the Garden of Eden, paradise, a state of perfection where nothing is lacking, and certainly that is what heaven promises. The colors are faded peach, a touch of gold, and grey (maybe black?), and the paper has aged into a pleasant softness. (I think the picture will enlarge if you click on it.)
As I was looking at the list of pallbearers on the back page, I mentally checked off the ones I “know” in that I remember them as old men, know how they are related to me, can name their wives, and have them dutifully logged into Family Treemaker.
Most of the pallbearers were nephews on the Jollett side.
· Lewis Farrar – married to Elta Sullivan, daughter of Mary Frances’s sister Laura
· Forrest Racy – married to Leota Sullivan, daughter of Mary Frances’s sister Laura
· Raymond Clift – son of Mary Frances’s sister Sallie
· Leonard Clift - son of Mary Frances’s sister Sallie
· Russell Coleman – son of Mary Frances’s sister Emma
· Gilbert Steppe – married to Vessie Jollett, daughter of Mary Frances’s brother Ulysses
This list says something about how close Mary Frances was with her sisters and brother. They weren’t just emotionally close; except for Ulysses, they lived very close to one another in Shenandoah, Virginia. Now I’m wondering why there were no pallbearers from the sons of Mary Frances’s sister Leanna. My guess is that the miles between Page and Greene counties kept the Davises and Knights from developing a closer bond. They probably saw each other only at the ever-popular Jollett reunions.
And then there are Howard Marshall and Lionel Morris. I remember Lionel and his wife coming to visit, and I can remember staying at their house in Washington DC a few days as a child. They lived on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue. I’d go the corner straining to see if I could see the White House and trying to imagine what it was like having the President for a neighbor. Of course, I had no idea that Pennsylvania Avenue was so long. Lionel was Granddaddy Davis’s cousin, that’s all I knew. A quick check in my Family Treemaker jogged my memory: that’s right, he was son of Walter Davis’s sister and Mary Frances’s sister-in-law Ida Mary Davis Morris.
But Howard E. Marshall? Who? I knew the Marshalls were from the Davis side, but I didn’t know where he fit in. As it turns out, Howard is in my FT program, too, but to me he’s just a name. He was son of Mary Frances’s sister-in-law Saloma Davis Marshall.
I never heard much about Walter Davis’s side of the family. I always assumed they just didn’t socialize together or have Davis reunions. Now it seems that Walter and Mary Frances were close with at least Saloma and Ida Mary. This memorial card has given me a different insight into the Davis family.
Maybe I’ll try to take better care of memorial cards in the future.