The memory I shall write about is more about my Mother,
Dona Belle Howell who was borned and raised in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma but woke up one morning in Johnson County, KY and became totally hysterical!
A little about my Johnson County Roots first.
My Father, F. Paul Williams who was nicknamed 'Tudie" and his brother, Vollie
was nicknamed "Punk". Apparently there was a comic strip called "Punch and
Judy" which is where these weird nicknames came from. This family, the "Toy
Williams" and "Flora Howard" family were born and raised in both Magoffin and
Johnson Counties. Toy and Flora were borned in Magoffin County. Toy
descends from the "Edward and Elder Daniel Williams/Violet Crouch" line and
Flora Howard descends from the "Thomas Howard/Francis Jackson" line.
George Williams & Elizabeth Jenkins, parents of Toy Williams, moved over to
the Buffalo, Meally area of Johnson County from Magoffin County. Toy and most
of his other siblings followed and also raised their families in the area. Many are
still there and many are buried there in Buffalo and other cemeteries in Johnson County.
There were 14 children in the Toy Williams family and all but the last 2 were
borned and raised there in Johnson County. Due to a lack of work, Toy and
Flora Williams had to move their family to NJ. This was approximately 1943.
My Dad, Paul Williams was drafted into the army. While in the army, he was
stationed in Texas but went with a friend to a town about 50 or so miles away
from his base. The town they went to was in Oklahoma. Dad met Mom at a
skating rink and asked her to skate. Of course neither of them knew how to
skate but my Mother answered "yes" anyway. I guess that's what's called
"Fate". They dated every weekend until my Dad was shipped overseas. They
wrote each other the whole time Dad was in the army. Dad had his Mother,
Flora, go buy a heart shaped diamond engagement ring to send to my Mother.
After getting out of the Army, my Dad and Uncle "Punk" drove from NJ to OK to
get my Mother so they could finally get married! After a few days visiting
in Oklahoma, they left for New Jersey. Dad & Uncle "Punk" had previously
decided to stop in Kentucky to visit family on their return trip. They drove
all day and into the night. My Mother was sleeping when they arrived so
she was unaware they were in a "Holler". This was an unfamiliar word to my
Mother. She had never heard of, let alone seen, any such thing.
After she awoke the next morning she took her coffee out onto the front
porch for her first view of Kentucky. She looked all around and started
screaming hysterically! She suddenly rushed into the house to get my Dad.
She cried," We are in a hole! We're in a hole, oh my God, how are we going
to get out"? The fog and mist hadn't yet disappeared so I guess it did look
like a hole to this flat land girl from Oklahoma. Fortunately my Dad was
able to calm her and explain about "Hollers" and the "Head of Buffalo", etc.
and Kentucky in general. Through the years my mother learned to love Johnson
County, KY almost as much as my Dad did! My parents moved back to KY and my
oldest brother, Wayne Williams was borned there in Paintsville. Eventually
my Dad missed his parents and siblings so much that later my parents moved
back to NJ where I, along with my 7 other siblings were borned and raised.
After my divorce, I ended up in Thomasville, NC. I have been here 10 years
but still consider Salem County, NJ my home just as my Dad considers Johnson
County, KY his home. My Mother's home now is Heaven. She left us on June
21st, 1999, just 13 days after being diagnosed with a killer disease called
"Lou Gehrig's" disease.
Paul Williams (my Father) is 76 years old and has been away from Johnson
County area for a good 50 some years but it will always be home to him. All
through my childhood my Dad would tell us "we're moving back to Kentucky"!
His "Blood and Roots" are in Johnson County, Kentucky and always will be.
As they say, "Home is where the heart is"!
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