50th WEDDING ANNIVERSARY
OF I. M. AND BETTY WILLIAMS
Fine Old Couple of Jefferson
Davis County Recall Fifty
Years of Married Life
Prentiss, Miss., Feb. 27, 1922.
Just across the Jeff Davis county line on the east, along the watershed of the happy waters of Bowie [sic] and Okotoma, reside Mr. and Mrs. I. M. Williams, who celebrated their golden wedding on Sunday, Feb. 19th. In these days of decadent American homes, marriages of convenience and hedonistic tendencies, this writer knows of no stronger rebuke to these erratic notions of family life than such altars as those erected by these people 50 years ago. These sacred fires, as glowing as those guarded by the vestal virgins, hark back to the notions of Roosevelt regarding family life and the beautiful eulogy of Henry Woodfin Grady to the American home.
I. M. Williams, better known to his friends as “Mick” Williams, was born on old Whitesand creek in what is now Jeff. Davis county, in 1848. Whitesand has a wealth of unpublished legend clustering ‘round its history. It murmurs today its age-old song, in its rush to the sea, just as merrily as its music mingled with the orisons of the birds on the day on which “Mick” Williams opened his eyes to Aurora’s dawn. Five years later over near the banks of Bowie, redolent of Indian lore, was born the bride-to-be—Miss Bettie Pope, heir of a long line of patrician folks in whose veins flowed the same proud blood that gave its account of valor at King’s Mountain.
Near the close of the Civil war a recruiting colonel met up with young Williams who was then a student in his early years at Monticello. Inquiring as to what he was doing, young Williams replied that he was going to school. The officer commended him and told him to remain at his books, intimating quite plainly that there was a work a-plenty for the strip of a boy in a day when the South would need its school boys to fight its battles in the forum [sic] of counsel, in the business and agricultural world.
Young Williams, although a good student, found time to do some courting along therewith, for indeed it was in a day when “knighthood was in flower.” Strong, big of heart and clear of eye, not only a good judge of horses, but of beautiful ladies as well come, this “young Lochinvar of the West” found his heart’s mate in the person of Miss Bettie Pope, the beautiful Bowie maiden. And there was wooing and then a wedding and broad cloth and white swiss floated down the aisle together, uniting two of the finest families in south Mississippi. This young couple with the tenets of the old Presbyterian Covenanters in their blood, home-making and home-loving, erected the family altar and in the same house where fifty years ago they began their wedded lives, they ate their golden wedding dinner Sunday, February 19, 1922.
In those days “when you and I were young, Maggie,” there was an itinerant school-teacher by the name of Jno. A. McLeod who boarded with this young couple and taught the young Americans “how to shoot” in a nearby school-house. Young McLeod was a very devout man and although inclined toward the ministry, his business head got the upper hand of him and he is now one of the wealthy men of the city of Hattiesburg. Upon hearing of this golden wedding of his old friends of the days when he was an old field teacher, Hon. Jno. A. McLeod, now pretty much fringed with frost about the temples, determined to be present. And he was. Just as the bride and groom entered the gaily decorated dining hall, this one-time teacher, with a clear, resonant voice, full of beautiful pathos, invoked divine blessings upon this couple who for fifty years had walked side by side, in sunshine and in shadow over life’s stony road.
Mr. and Mrs. Williams have reared thirteen children, all of whom are living save one, Mrs. J. J. Holloway, who died in 1904. Eleven of these children were present Sunday, only one being absent. This was Pratte P. Williams, of El Reno, Oklahoma, who was unavoidably detained. There were present also 27 of the 31 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, son of Mrs. Irene Holloway McPhail.
God has wonderfully blessed the union of these people as he always does those who trust Him. They have not only reared a remarkable family, but have in the meantime laid by in store a competence for old age. Mr. Williams served as a member of the board of supervisors of Covington county for 16 years, being president of that body. He is not a rich man, but the charities that have gone out from his hand and from the hand of his good wife to their children, to their neighbors and to the unfortunate of the world far outweigh any ordinary estimation of riches. But they would scorn money to merely hold it. They prefer a “good name to great riches and loving favor to silver and gold.” They have educated all their children and have seen them go out to homes of their own. Dr. H. G. Williams is a prominent physician of Prentiss; I. J. [sic], Jr., is a successful farmer of Seminary; Mrs. Beulah Day of the wife of a wholesale merchant of Gulfport; Mrs. Amanda Buckley is the wife of Hon. B. B. Buckley, representative from this county in the legislature; Mrs. Pearl Carraway is the wife of a successful merchant of Bassfield; Roscoe C. Williams is cashier of the Bank of Blountsville at Prentiss; Bruce P. Williams is a foreman of a large lumber plant at Sumrall; Mrs. Katie Lee is the wife of a prominent merchant of Prentiss; Webb B. Williams is an entomologist in the government laboratory at Tallulah, La.; Frank H. is still with his parents; John Sharp is a successful merchant at Prentiss; and Pratte P. is a traveling man with headquarters at El Reno, Okla.
And there they all gathered at the ancestral home on Sunday last. The brother of the bride, Mr. Thos. Pope, of Collins, with his son, G. J. Pope, also Rev. W. A. Hall, an old friend of the family from Collins, came to see this bride and groom of fifty years plight anew their troth.
Mr. Editor, you have seen the giant oak of the forest. You have noted its growth. It bursts its prison cell and rears its infant head. It responds to beckoning life; rears its body; dips its fibrous tendrils deep into the clay and as the years go by erects a structure that is symmetrical and beautiful; strong, protective and enduring. Such is the life of a fine family, and such a family has this venerable couple reared, and well may they now reflect upon the beautiful sentiment given in Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar,” when he says:
“For tho from out our bourne of time and place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crossed the bar.”
—FROM JEFF. DAVIS
Daily Clarion-Ledger, Jackson, Mississippi, Wednesday, March 1, 1922, p. 3, cols. 2-3, online at https://www.newspapers.com/image/235040650/, with obvious typographical errors corrected.