On Sept. 2, 1912, Bessie Mae Streets was born in Navasota, TX to Joe Andrew and Stella Mae Clark Streets. An only child, Bessie enjoyed her early childhood years throughout her stay in West Texas. She and her family were former residents of Idalou, Snyder and Lubbock, TX.
Bessie Mae Streets came to Lorenzo in 1926, a member of one of the first Black families to live there, and has since made it her home. Her father´s occupation was ministering and he farmed for A.J. Sanders of Lorenzo for 12 years. He also helped organize Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church, first Black church in Lorenzo, which is still operating dutifully today.
In 1930, Bessie was first married to Hugh Bouldin, Jr., who was born April 10, 1908 to Hugh Bouldin, Sr. and Nettie Lee Bouldin. Hugh´s occupation was that of painter and electrician. To this union were born three daughters, Charlene Bouldin Watson, born Nov. 14, 1931. She married Johnny Leonard Watson in Dec. 1948; Betty Jean Bouldin Jones Fennell, born May 23, 1933. She married Haywood Jones, Nov. 14, 1948 and Nathan Fennel, Jr. May 20, 1972; and Dorothy Mae Bouldin Gonzales born Dec. 18, 1934. She married John Edward Gonzales Aug. 26, 1950. From these marriages were born 13 grandchildren: Edward Earl Jones, Mary Joyce Jones, Johnny Ray Watson, Joe Edward Gonzales, Stella Ruth Gonzales, John Wayne Gonzales, Jerry Lee Gonzales, Mae Etta Gonzales, Patricia Ann Gonzales, Danny Louis Gonzales, Carla Ann Gonzales, Charles Malory Gonzales and Manuel Dean Gonzales.
Bessie Mae later married Joe Willie Byers, born Dec. 25, 1904 in Corsicana to Alfred and Carrie Byers. Joe Willie was a butcher for 23 years in Lorenzo where he and Bessie resided. To this union five sons were born: Willie Joe (he married Shirley Jean Seay); Gene Edwards(he married Ruby Anderson); Robert Lee Byers, Rayford James Byers, (he married Arnesia Ann Johnson); James Richard. Robert served in the U.S. Army as CWO and is now approaching the rank of Captain. From these marriages ten grandchildren were born: Louis Donnell Byers, Rick Lamar Byers, Tammari Yvette Byers, Lewis Derrel Byers, Vivian Dane Byers, Reginald Byers, Randall Byers, Frederick Byers, Terry Patrick Byers and Angela Byers.
"A History of Black Families - Crosby County, Texas 1921-2001" by Crosby County Historical Commission
Services for Bessie Mae Byers, 92, of Lorenzo will be Wednesday, December 17, 2003 at Lorenzo First Baptist Church with the Rev. Charles Hankson and Bishop Leonard Chatham officiating. Burial will be at West Side Cemetery in Lorenzo under direction of Adams Funeral Home of Lorenzo.
She was born September 2, 1911 in Navasota, Texas to the late Joe Andrew and Stella Mae Clark Streets. She was an only child and the joy of her parents. She enjoyed her early childhood days as her family left Navasota and traveled to parts of West Texas working. They lived in the communities of Snyder, Idalou and Lubbock before making their final residence in the community of Lorenzo, Texas in 1925. Her family was one of the first black families to settle in the Lorenzo community. Bessie Mae´s father Joe Streets, worked on the farm for A. J. Sanders of Lorenzo. But this was not the only job he had. He liked ministering to people more than farming. Joe was a deacon, and he along with three other deacons would have prayer meeting services on Wednesday nights under a big shade tree at the Section Line, which was the living quarters for the railroad crew. He proposed that they should organize a church and name it Mt. Pleasant.
Everyone was in agreement, so the first black church in the Lorenzo community was organized in 1925 and it is still being dutiful in the Lord´s work today. One of Bessies most memorable moments was of her mother teaching her about Jesus and taking her to church. She gave her life to Christ at an early age and has never regretted on moment of it. She would talk about always going to church services as a family and this is something that she had taught her children through the years. "A family that prays together stays together" which was something she truly believed. She would participate in whatever was going on at the church. One of the things that she could remember is some of the women at the church getting together and having a quilting bee. They would make quilts and give them to different ones in the community. Wherever a helping hand was needed she would be ready to assist.
Some of her school days were spent attending school in Lubbock and in Lorenzo. Her father would also assist the teacher with some of the classes. The schools were not as we know them today. Back then, the black children did not go the school in a big fancy building. The classes were carried out in the church during the week and on Friday afternoon the students would all clean the room for services on the weekend. They had one teacher and she taught all the classes from first through sixth grade. When she attended Ella Iles school in Lubbock it was different because there was more than one room and one teacher. She completed eighth grade.
In 1930 romance found its way into Bessie's life, she met and married Hugh Bouldin, Jr and to this union were born three daughters; Charlene, Betty and Dorothy. Bessie started out as an only child, but from theses three children the Lord blessed her with thirteen grandchildren. Hugh preceded her in death.
She then married Joe Willie Byers and to this union there were five sons, Willie Joe, Gene Edward, Robert Lee, Rayford James and Richard. From these sons, the Lord blessed Bessie with ten grandchildren. Yes, Bessie Mae Streets Bouldin Byers may have been an only child, but through God's blessings she gained a large happy family over the past years. As a spiritually motivated Christian woman she spent her golden years as a loving mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great great grandmother at her home in Lorenzo, where she continued to do what she could for Jesus. Whether it was an encouraging word or prayer she stayed on the battlefield for Jesus. She was an inspiration to many. She never used harsh words or acted in any way ungodly. She always had encouraging words for you and a smile on her face. She felt her greatest accomplishment in life was getting her children raised. She didn't have a big career outside the home, most of the work she did was cleaning house for different ones in the community. But her most rewarding task came in raising her children. Through the blessings of God, she felt honored that He had allowed her to see five generations in her family.
She was a member of the Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church and was honored with the title of being the "Mother of the Church". She was respected by everyone in the church and in the community of Lorenzo. She inspired many people other than her own family. She was a pilar of the community for all, someone that everyone could look up to and see how God had worked in her life. If you needed a friend, mentor prayer partner of just someone to listen or talk to, she was always willing to lend a helping hand.
Obituary courtesy of: Adams Funeral Home
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