(A story told by Mildred Mayme Byrd Jenkins ca. 1990s)
This story was told to me by my older cousin, Mildred Mayme Byrd Jenkins, sometime in the mid-1990s. It concerns an incident told to her by her parents, Leila Cude Byrd and Sular Washington Byrd, regarding the death of Mildred’s grandma (my great-grandma) Mary Elizabeth Simmons Byrd.
When Mary Elizabeth Simmons Byrd (b. Jan. 15, 1862, Salem, Fulton County, Arkansas) died at Morris Ranch, Gillespie County, Texas on April 13, 1948, she was living with her son, Sular Byrd and his wife, Leila Cude Byrd. Mary Byrd’s husband, Andrew Jackson Byrd (b. Mar. 29, 1857 Pilot Knob, Iron County, Missouri d. Apr. 1, 1930, Morris Ranch, Gillespie County, Texas), had died several years earlier.
In all of the photographic images of Mary Byrd, there is not one that shows her smiling. Her typical expression is one of sadness or resignation. Family members say this is because of her very difficult childhood her father, Alfred L. Simmons was a Private in Co. I, 7th Arkansas Infantry, CSA during the War Between The States and died while she was only a few years old; her mother, Martha Caroline Bailey Simmons and young Mary literally chopped cotton to survive during the years immediately after the Civil War. In addition, two of her three stepfathers died and imposed even further hardships on her and her mother. Her first child with Andrew Jackson Byrd died of diphtheria while only a few months old.
Despite life’s trials, Mary Elizabeth Simmons Byrd lived to be 86 years before she died in her son’s house at Morris Ranch, Texas. After the funeral, Sular Byrd and his wife Leila returned home. They were dumbstruck by a vision of his mother, Mary Byrd, who was smiling and reaching out towards them before disappearing.
Sular and Leila interpreted the Apparition’s appearance as a sign that Mary Elizabeth Simmons Byrd was finally happy and at rest.
Kenneth Elburn Byrd (great-grandson of Mary Elizabeth Simmons
Byrd) Indianapolis, Indiana, December 9, 2000
For more information on this family email Kenneth at: Kenneth Byrd <email@example.com>
This was the message sent to me with the above history:
Hi Wanda -
Attached is a brief family story re my family in Morris Ranch,
Co. TX. Several of the people described in it are indeed buried there
at Morris Ranch.
Please feel free to post it on the Gillespie
Co. GenWeb page and/or
distribute it as you see fit. I also have images of both Andrew Jackson
Byrd and Mary Elizabeth Simmons Byrd to accompany its use if you are
interested; just let me know.
Keep up the good works!!!!
- Kenneth Byrd (Native Arizonan)