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Mabel Nelson Calhoun
Mabel Nelson Calhoun

     Mabel Nelson was the youngest daughter of John Clifford Nelson and Nancy Bradley Nelson. On 28 Apr 1888, Mabel was delivered by her maternal grandmother Louisa Nelson, a certified midwife, at Gasque, Baldwin County, Alabama. Louisa was the daughter of Rev. Thomas Nelson and Katurah Hall.

     Mabel’s paternal grandparents were Rev. Elisha Nelson and Elizabeth (Eliza) Jane Fulford. Her maternal grandparents were David Wallace Nelson and Louisa Nelson.

     Mabel Nelson attended Business College in Mobile, Alabama where she met her future husband, Harry Stewart Calhoun. They were married 19 Aug 1908 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Mobile, Alabama by Rev. Gardner Tucker. Harry Stewart Calhoun was the son of Joseph Rodriguez Calhoun and Mamie Rosebud Bassett. Harry was born 09 Sep 1886 in Mobile, Alabama. He owned and operated Victory Cleaners in Mobile.

    The family residence was at 112 Kilmarnock Street in Mobile and then later their residence was at 10 Park Avenue in Mobile. The family attended Trinity Episcopal Church where Mabel was a member of the Ladies Altar Guild and Harry taught Sunday School and volunteered at Wilmer Hall Episcopal Orphanage.

     Mabel Nelson and Harry Stewart Calhoun were the parents of seven children:

  1. Infant Calhoun, b 1910 d 1910 (buried in Shell Banks Baptist Cemetery).

  2. Dorothy May Calhoun, b 27 Jul 1909, d 06 Oct 1910 (died on the ferry from Shell Banks to Mobile on the way to get medical assistance).

  3. Annie Lucille Calhoun, b 22 Nov 1911, d 30 Jul 1993, m 08 Feb 1938 Robert Reginald Gohier, 3 children, Robert Wilcox Gohier, Betty Lynn Gohier, Patsy Lucille Gohier.

  4. Harry Stewart Calhoun, Jr., b 06 Dec 1913, d 24 Aug 1983, m 21 Jul 1939 Nellie White Wheeler, 4 children, Dorothy Nell Calhoun, James Stewart Calhoun, Nancy Lucille Calhoun, Thomas Leon Calhoun.

  5. Mabel Joyce Calhoun, b 07 Oct 1917, d 07 Jun 2002, m 08 Aug 1937 Henry Richard Adams, 2 children, Faye Joyce Adams, Jacqueline Sue Adams.

  6. Ruth Marion Calhoun, b 27 May 1919, d 29 Nov 2000, m 27 Aug 1982 Roy Bush Cooper, Sr.

  7. Margaret Tanner Calhoun, b 05 Jun 1920, d 30 Aug 1920.

Annie Lucille Calhoun and brother
Harry Stewart Calhoun, Jr.

     Mabel was dubbed “Mimmie” by her first grandchild (me) and the name stuck as all of her nine grandchildren called her Mimmie.

     She was a wonderful cook in the tradition of her mother, Nancy Bradley Nelson, grandmothers, Louisa Nelson and Eliza Nelson and sister, Virginia Nelson Strong. I have never since tasted the equal of her gumbo, seafood of any kind, fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, fried pork chops, fresh vegetables, biscuit, corn bread or any traditional Southern dish you can name. Her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were unbeatable.

Mabel Joyce Calhoun and sister
Ruth Marion Calhoun

     Mimmie kept informed on current events and the politics of the day by reading the newspaper everyday. Many mornings she read the paper aloud to her grandchildren. Of course, she also had her cup of hot tea several times a day. I attribute my love of cooking and reading and my interest in the events of the day to her influence. She set a wonderful example for us to follow as she was truly a good person.

     She told wonderful stories about Shell Banks (Gasque) where she was raised. One of these stories was about a Nelson relative who married a lady that was not from the area. The lady was fascinated by the gulf waters near Fort Morgan. The natives had a healthy respect for the undercurrents along that stretch of beach. The only way the young husband would allow his wife to swim there was with a rope tied around her waist while he held the other end sitting on the beach. She told us about sea turtles on that same beach. She said the turtles were so big that children could ride on their backs. She also told about swinging from the vines on the trees as a child. On one of our Shell Banks visits to see her sister, Virginia Nelson Strong, she showed me the trees with the large vines.

     This is a story told to her by relatives about Indian Joe. When most of the men were away from home either fighting in the Confederate Army or running the blockade, the women would wake to find fresh game at their doors put there by an Indian living in the area named Indian Joe. When the Union Army invaded the area and stole all the crops and livestock he hid the dairy cows so they would have milk for the children and he continued to provide fresh game for the women and children. Indian Joe is buried in the Shell Banks Baptist Cemetery.

Mabel Nelson Calhoun and her cousin
Kate Nelson Ward
(Pictured in front of Shell Banks Baptist Church)

     I remember her talking about her love for her family. She was very close to her niece Annie Strong Redditt. As a child I spent time with Aunt Annie and Uncle Bob Redditt at their home in Citronelle, Alabama. My mother took me to visit Mimmie’s sister-in-law/cousin, Leola Ross Nelson Johnson (Aunt Ross) and her daughter Jessie. On that occasion we also visited Mimmie’s half sister Mary Nelson in Pascagoula, Ms. Her cousin Warren Nelson and his wife, Isabella Thornton Nelson (Uncle Warren and Aunt Bell) visited with our family from time to time as did Nellie Todd and Margie Ward Gatti, daughter of Kate Nelson Ward and Edward Ward. Her favorite hymns were The Sweet Bye and Bye, The Old Rugged Cross and Lilly of the Valley. At Mimmie’s request these were the first songs her granddaughter Betty Gohier Spring learned when she took piano lessons.

     True to her Baptist roots as the granddaughter of Rev. Elisha Nelson and the great-granddaughter of Rev. Thomas Nelson in her later years she returned to the Baptist Church attending Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile until her death 02 Oct 1963. She is buried at Pinecrest Cemetery in Mobile, Alabama.

Written 2010 by
Granddaughter of Mabel Nelson Calhoun