Friday, April 26, 2013

A to Z April Challenge: W is for Wrennie


This is Day 23 of the A to Z April Challenge.  My theme is women with unusual names although I must cheat now and then or I’ll have a name and no story.


is for Wrennie Louise Jollett, my second cousin twice removed.  She was born in 1900, the fourth of five children of Charles Belsin and Nannie June Fogg Jollett.  They lived in Shenandoah, Page County, Virginia at the time, but by 1910 they were in Portsmouth where Charles worked for the railroad. 

In fact, he might have gotten Wrennie a job with the railroad.  In 1920 she was a clerk and her father was foreman.

However, in 1930 Wrennie was a sales clerk at a department store.

Sometime between 1932 and 1938, Wrennie married David Gregory Holland of Virginia Beach.  He was a civil engineer, and in 1940 they were living in Luray, Virginia, since he was working for the national park service at that time.  They had a daughter, Dora Cornelia.

Many years ago when I had a website at the now-defunct Geocities, I received a letter from Wrennie’s godchild along with a photo. 

Wrennie Jollett Holland
Wrennie J. Holland
photo courtesy of Emily VanHazinga

Emily tells this story about her godmother, Wrennie Jollett Holland: 

"David was a civil engineer, and worked for the park service, though by the time I knew him, a diabetic condition had reduced him to the kitchen chair.  I remember him as a sweet and thoughtful man; he died when I was about 6.  Wrennie helped keep house for her in-laws.  It was an old-fashioned extended family, with the grandparents, their unmarried adult daughter Cornelia, and David and Wrennie and their daughter sharing the large home.  Mom says Wrennie and David had had a home of their own, nearby, on Lake Holly, but after it burned, they moved back in to 12th Street [Virginia Beach], and stayed.  I recall that each day Wrennie would dress nicely and walk up Atlantic Avenue at noontime to her sister-in-law's yarn and fabric shop, to allow her to escape an hour for lunch.  Wrennie was simply the best knitter and seamstress that ever lived, and a wonderful cook who delighted in surprising us youngsters with special baked goods.  Mom says she was a very large woman when she was a girl, but I knew her at 89 pounds. She was a devoted smoker of unfiltered Camels, and died of emphysema in the library at home, which had been rigged as a sick room, just a few weeks before my wedding in 1977. She's buried with the Hollands at Eastern Shore Cemetery in Virginia Beach, and was, I believe, a member of Galilee Episcopal Church."

Why don’t you Work your Way over to the A to Z April Challenge for more Wonderful Writings?

15 comments:

  1. How lovely to have a personal memory and photograph of the lovely Wrennie.

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    1. I wish more godchildren would wander my way!

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  2. Wrennie is an unusual name, I think. I never heard that name before. You have a great idea to do an A-Z challenge. I am trying to make some posts in my blog, bindu.ca using A-Z. You have done so far nicely. I am late to find your blog...Love it.

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  3. I agree with Sally. Wrennie sounds like she was a wonderful person.

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    1. There are so many distant relatives that would have been fun to know

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  4. Such a pretty name Wrennie and what a sweet photograph. She reminds me of my grandmother whose name rhymes with hers Jenny!

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    1. It is a cute photo especially with her cigarette, given she was such a devout smoker.

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  5. A collection of woman with remarkable lives and names to go with them.
    I Like this.
    Thank you!
    Happy A to Z!!!
    -g-

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  6. Gahk! Unfiltered Camels!
    I love that you have the letter with all the details from her Godchild. I also love that photo...the lines are beautiful!

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    1. I know -- my dad was a Camels man for many years. Whew!

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  7. I don't remember anyone ever talking about Wrennie and her family.

    Glad you have a picture!

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  8. Wendy, this must be a "oooh, bright, shiny" day for me. I was reading your post for today, and saw this article pictured on your LinkWithin suggestions. I had to come take a peek, only because of the name Wrennie. My daughter's nickname is Wren, so I was wondering what name Wrennie might have been short for. Do you know? My daughter's nickname comes from the little bird, but perhaps your second cousin twice removed has a different story for the history of her unusual name.

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    1. Wrennie was always listed as Wrennie in the census. She's Wrennie in the Social Security Death Index. She's Wrennie on her tombstone. I think Wrennie was IT, not a nickname at all. I don't know any descendants of this branch of the family to even ask. But I'll keep my eyes and ears open.

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