Lillian Angeline Linville was my great-grandmother’s sister and the only one of her siblings who died as a child. If or that time, that was really good. It hardly ever happened. It would have been a perfect record, but for her death from appendicitis at the age of 13 in 1910.
What a set of circumstances for that to happen. A rural family with no stillborns, no early death from disease.
But life isn’t perfect.
Appendicitis was always fatal in the days before surgery. It was caused by a blockage of the appendix by infection or stool. Without surgery, it always ruptured and the person always died. Death was quick, but painful and brutal.
My great-grandmother’s sister was not forgotten. When my great-grandmother had her second daughter, she named her Lillian for the sister she lost.
My second great-grandfather David Hezekiah Linville was born 17 May 1858 and died 25 February 1934 at the age of 75. In between, he lived what was considered by friends and neighbors a good, long and decent life.
“Splendid Christian gentleman” is a phrase that occurs a lot in older obituaries, I’ve noticed. Even for people I know to be otherwise, it occurs. I suppose we wish to think well of the dead.
But I think it fits in his case.
Or maybe I’m just biased.
David was born just before the Civil War in Tippah County, Mississippi. His parents were Richard McDowell Linville and Elizabeth Reeves Manning. When the Civil War broke out, his father volunteered for the 23rd Mississippi Infantry and was duly elected its 1st Lieutenant.
On 18 December 1884, 26 year old David married 16 year old Mary Frances Shelton. Nine months later, their first son, William Richard, was born. Eleven were eventually born to this marriage, including my great-grandmother.
To try to make money and have a decent, easy life for his family, David taught at the Antioch community school for at least a year. But the call of the land was too strong. David was born to be a farmer.
He bought at least 85 acres north of Tippah Creek near the same school at which he taught. There he created an orchard that was the envy of his neighbors. He had a green thumb for trees, fruit, and crops. His neighbors sought out his advice so they could try to recreate his success.
His passion, besides farming, was squirrel hunting. When he had time, he would take his favorite dog, Ole Ring, and roam the woods looking for the fuzzy gray creatures he loved to eat.
He was a deacon at the Antioch Primitive Baptist Church near his home and when he died he was buried front and center in the graveyard. He loved to sing and his deep, throaty voice could be heard for miles around.
His children and grandchildren grew up with him and the fuzzy mustache that must have tickled when he kissed them.
In his later years, he had a series of strokes and was confined to his home. He died 25 February 1934 at the age of 75.