Friday, October 16, 2020

52 Ancestors - PROUD: A Mother's Pride

I grew up knowing that my parents were proud of me. I never heard them say, “We are SO proud of you, darling daughter” but I knew it. I felt it. Proof is in the things they saved from my childhood: a silly handprint on a paper plate; a 4th grade history assignment answering questions about Sir Walter Raleigh; a homemade valentine card. When my mother and I were both teaching English, she asked to use my poetry unit.

Mary Morrison Slade

That is why I was shocked to hear that my great-grandmother (my paternal grandfather’s mother) was not proud of her children. What a sad statement.

I can understand her disappointment in three of her sons Fred, Lester, and Richard – a.k.a. Buck. Fred and Lester had several run-ins with the law and even served time for running bootleg whiskey across the state line from North Carolina to Virginia during Prohibition. As head of the “bootleg syndicate,” as the newspaper called it, Fred was also found guilty of tax evasion and was duly punished.

A good 10 or more years younger than his brothers, Buck was probably not involved in bootlegging. If he was, his name was never mentioned in the newspaper. But he was no saint.

In 1935 Buck gave his mother another crime to worry about. Buck and his friend Lloyd Martin stole a car. For some unstated reason, they entered the backyard of Mrs. Gladys Wilkins which led to a confrontation with some men checking them out. Buck and Lloyd left but returned only to be met by the police who ordered them to leave.

What did Buck and Lloyd do? They fired 5 gunshots into the house, at least one of which went into a young boy’s bedroom. They also shot the windshield out of a patrol car during the high-speed chase through the city which ensued when the policeman called for back-up.

Then just like a scene in a cop show on television, Buck and Lloyd lost control of the stolen car and drove into a ditch. They fled but were quickly apprehended.

Buck and his pal were charged with grand larceny for stealing a car and felonious shooting into the Wilkins’ residence.

from Virginian-Pilot
20 Aug 1935

These reports in the newspaper are difficult for me to comprehend because when I knew the Slade brothers, they were big, lovable men. All were married, had good jobs, and were loved by their children, their sisters, their in-laws. Even today family members share stories about them and laugh about some of the funny things they did. There must have been some good in them that their mother missed. 

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


© 2020, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Crazy times! They were all nice men, and granddaddy was the sweetest. Hard to believe they were that wild! Slade genes vs. Calhoun genes.

  2. Maybe in their "youth" they were sowing wild seeds and they outgrew that behavior?


  3. They were just wild and crazy in their younger days!

  4. When I first saw the blog in Amy's e-mail, I wondered what happened. I read and now I'm like "Yeah, that'll do it." Great blog!!

  5. That's one thing I haven't found yet on the family tree -- bootleggers. Very colorful.