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Charles Lycurgus ("Papa") Hearn

Papa Hearn
C. L. Hearn



By Charles Aubrey Hearn

Charles Lycurgus Hearn, my father, was born October 11, 1881, near Brooksville, Alabama, on a farm that his mother entered before she was married (in Brooksville in 1872) to Samuel C. Hearn, who was born October 28, l852 and died May 30, 1918.

His mother was Mary Ann Hipp, born September 27, 1849, and died June 15, 1914. She was born in Buncombe County, North Carolina, near the French Broad River and Ashevllle. She told him many interesting stories about her early years in North Carolina. She remembered the droves of wild and vicious bears. There was one drove of nine. She told of one man, a Mr. Harbison, who had his ear and one eye torn out by a bear. His wife shot the bear and saved his life. She told him also about the abundance of chestnuts she gathered in the fall, about the rugged mountains and the crooked roads that wound about and over them. The crops on her farm were wheat and corn. Apples were plentiful. No cotton was grown. The family moved to North Georgia, near Dalton, and later to Brooksville, Blount County, Alabama.

Papa said that his mother was firm in her convictions, was good to her children, and taught them by example. "She was a true companion and loved us all and we loved her."

Papa's father went with his parents when a young man from Gwinette County, Georgia, near Buford and Lawrenceville, and settled on a farm at Royal, Alabama, near Blountsville. He had a kind, sweet disposition. He was a good citizen and obeyed the laws of God and man. He walked uprightly and had the esteem and respect of all who knew him.

Papa's father's father, Ferdinand Hearn, and grandmother, Daisy Maddox Hearn, were born near the South Carolina line near Eatonville, Georgia, of English parents. Both taught school in their twenties. Ferdinand taught fourteen years in one school near Buford, Georgia. He also taught music. Papa's grandparents were missionary Baptists and Democrats. His mother's parents were Methodists and Republicans.

Papa said: "My mother's mother was of Scotch descent and her father Irish. Both my grandfathers were Masons and officers in their churches. My own mother and father were strict and faithful members of the Baptist church and Democrats." Papa was the fifth child of eight children. A brother, Wiley, just older, and a sister, Mary, just younger, died in infancy. The other children, in order of birth, were Fannie Laura, Lawrence Lee, Thomas Oscar, Fletcher Ernest, and Josephine Effie.

Papa told me of his early years: "I attended the country schools near our home. They were both public and subscription schools, not graded. The teachers were not highly educated. The textbooks were different and the teachers had trouble keeping order and hearing lessons. The terms of school were short, often three months in the winter and two in the summer. The seats were crude. There were no desks and the light was poor. In cold weather there was one wood stove which was insufficient.

"Our family's income was modest. We owned our farm, raised vegetables, fruit, corn, cotton, etc. We had plenty to live on but not much above our living. My school advantages were limited for higher education. I managed to attend high school to enable me to teach at the age of seventeen and taught four terms in the county schools. I taught at Hanceville, Alabama, at Fairview Baptist Church, 2 1/2 miles west of Hancevllle in 1898. Also at Hopewell near Arab, Alabama, in 1899 and 1900. I received only a small salary but saved enough to enter the Seventh District Agricultural College, as it was then called, in Albertville. I started in September, 1901. Shortly thereafter I accepted a job keeping books for Dr. W. P. Hall, a general merchant in Albertville. Then in August, 1904, after a competitive examination, I was appointed a rural free delivery mail carrier on route 4 of Albertville, at a beginning salary of $720 per year. This enabled me to buy my first horse and buggy as there were no automobiles then. 1 drove hard each day to cover my route of twenty-four miles, then a standard route. By this time I had moved my mother and a younger brother, Fletcher, and sister, Josephine, to Albertville and aided them in attending the Agricultural College and looked after my mother who was left lonely at this time.

"On May 9, 1906, Della Jane Hubbard of Albertville and I were married at her father's home by Rev. J. R. Stodghill, pastor of the Albertville Baptist Church. After a short honeymoon trip to Chattanooga and other points we started to build our first dwelling on the lot across from Della's father on Baltimore Avenue. The Lord blessed our union with good health and eight children, six boys and two girls. Their names and places of birth are as follows.

Charles Aubrey, April 6, 1907, Albertville
Mildred Della, July 14, 1908, Albertville
Thomas Kermit, March 27, 1910, Albertville
Fred Wilson, July 14, 1912, Albertville
Glenn Hubbard, April 27, 19l4, Birmingham
Mary Nell, September 8, 1915, Birmingham
Joe Edward, February 28, 1920, Albertville
Jack Carey, December 6, 1923, Albertville

"We moved to Birmingham October 1, 1912. I had received an appointment as clerk in the Birmingham Post Office. I had hoped to attend medical school but about the time we got settled down (at 1110 N. l5th Street) the school was moved to Tuscaloosa. We were in Birmingham almost seven years. These were the difficult years of World War I. The mercantile business of my father-in-law in Albertville was growing so in 1919 I resigned my post office job to enter business with him. We moved back to Albertville March 1, 1919. I was made vice-president and buyer of the Albertville Trading Company. I bought my first car in 1925."

Papa served as city alderman for his ward for four years (1922-1925). He was a Mason, Odd Fellow, Knight of Pythias, Woodman, Redman, and Order of Columbia. He became a Christian in 1895, joining the Baptist church at Brooksvllle, and was baptized by Rev. M. K. Taylor. In Albertville he served the First Baptist Church in many ways--as deacon, clerk, Sunday School teacher, and song leader. He served as president and later vice-president of the Marshall County Singing Convention. For a year he served as president of the old age pension group, meeting twice monthly at the county court house in Albertville where he made many speeches in the interest of the retired people. Papa never failed to vote and always voted the Democratic ticket.

Besides the Bible the books that influenced his early life most were George A. Lofton's Character Sketches and Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. His favorite Scripture passages were 1 Corinthians 13, John 3:16, Romans l4:17, 1 John 4:7, and Matthew 10 and 28. His favorite hymns were "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," "Nearer My God to Thee," "Jesus Lover of My Soul," and many others.

Papa's greatest problem was to provide for a fast growing family--namely, food, health, clothing, and Christian training. It was no easy task thus to provide for eight children, but, he said, "by hard work and by being careful, we managed to succeed, I think, to a fair degree." Papa had several hobbies (fishing, hunting, checkers) but had little time fbr them. When he was young he played town ball. He liked sports of all kinds.

On October 30, 1945 Papa wrote me: "I have just had my sixty-fourth birthday. We are in reasonable good health. Kermit, Fred, and Joe Ed are returning from the war that has just closed, for which we are thankful. We now have thirteen grandchildren, all doing nicely. Six of the children are married. Joe Ed and Jack are still single."

Papa gave this advice to his grandchildren: "Be obedient, tell the truth, keep good company, do not cheat, play the game fairly, attend Sunday School and church regularly, help with your hands and money in all good causes. Children in the home should love one another, be nice to older people, abstain from using ugly words, love their parents, and help them. Care for the sick and distressed, live a Christian life, be a good citizen, stand with your head high in your community, abstain from liquor, and cultivate good habits."

At my request Mildred in June, 1976, wrote the following about the last years of Papa and Mama: "When Grandpa's store had to close in 1933 Papa first sold life insurance for the Equitable Life Assurance Society. Later he became a salesman for a milling company. He retired in 1950 at the age of sixty-eight. He was still energetic and active enough to take care of maintenance of his home as well as the house Mama had inherited from her parents. Unfortunately this house was lost by fire in 1950 when a paralyzing ice storm struck Marshall County. He had developed diabetes during the last decade of his life but otherwise he was in good health.

"In June, 1956, Papa and Mama's golden wedding was observed at an afternoon reception at the Albertville Golf and Country Club. All eight of their children, their wives and husbands, and most of their twenty-three grandchildren and one great grandchild were present. About four hundred friends and relatives called during the party hours. They were to live to have six more anniversaries.

"Papa died March 23, 1962, after a brief illness, at the age of eighty. The funeral was held in the First Baptist Church. He was buried at Memory Hill Cemetery, in Albertville.

"Mama lived alone except for brief periods when Jack was working in Albertville. After his death In December, 1964, she seemed to have lost the will to live but always enjoyed visits from the children. She died of a stroke on Tuesday, September 6, 1966, at the age of eighty-two, and was buried the next day beside Papa in Memory Hill Cemetery."

Note: Fred died in February, 1967, Mary Nell in 1970.