1885 - 1952 (66 years)
||Vessie Eugene McLemore [1, 2] |
||1 Feb 1885
||Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas [1, 2, 3]
||21 Jan 1952
||San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas [2, 3, 4]
||Rosevine Cemetery, Sabine County, Texas
- Vessie McLemore grew up on his parent's farm in the first precinct of Sabine County. The adjoining farm was owned by his Uncle, Henry Strickland White, Jr. The 1900 census indicates that Vessie, who was 15, could read and write, and that he has attended three months of school that year, as had his brothers Rufus and Earnest. His daughter Evon has a class picture of Vessie from around this period. Evon said that Vessie didn't have much of a formal education, and probably stopped attending school altogether around this time. Vessie's wife, Nina, told her granddaughter Melinda that he even taught school for a time, however Evon doubts that this was so. The 1940 Federal Census indicates he had graduated from the Seventh Grade. His wife, Nina, had made it through only Six years of schooling.
When Vessie was 22, he married Nina Fuller,who was 16. On the 1910 Sabine County census they were shown living on a home farm in precinct six, near both Joe Fuller (Nina's father) and John and Jane Fullen (her mother's parents). Nina was shown as being the mother of two children, neither of them living. Nina's first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, and her next three babies died shortly after they were born. Her first child lived only 10 weeks. Evon said that Nina and Vessie's baby slept in their bed with them, as was the custom of the time. One morning when they woke up, the baby was dead. Tera Fuller, Nina's sister, reported that Nina always worried that she had somehow accidentally caused the babies death, maybe by rolling over it. Evon conjectured that the baby probably died of SIDS, which her mother had never heard of. The second baby lived only a day. In 1911, they had a third baby which also lived only one day. The three babies are buried side by side.
In 1913, Nina and Vessie's son Percy was born. Over the next six years, the McLemore's had three more children, daughter Evon and sons' Earl and Ray. Vessie owned a store in Steep Creek, a sawmill village eight miles south of San Augustine. He also raised cattle. He regularly published a small advertisement in the 1918 Sabine County newspaper, offering a reward for any stray cattle returned to him. His brand was VM on the hip. He later adopted the "Running M" as his brand. Evon remembers her father buying a Brahma Bull, in an effort to improve his herd. Most of the ranchers in Sabine County didn't fence in their cattle, they allowed them to freely roam about to forage for food. Evon remembers people being afraid of the "Brimmer." He wasn't a particularly mean bull, he was just so different from the east texas scrub cattle that everyone raised. Tom McLemore, Evon Tisdale and Melinda Strong had a conversation in November, 2002 with Vance Hargrove that came around to the subject of Vessie's missing cattle. Vance was a neighbor of the McLemore's when they lived in Bronson, and a good friend of Percy's. He said that Vessie asked he and Percy one day to go looking for several cattle that were missing. They found evidence that some of the laborers in the nearby saw mills had been poaching from Vessie's herd. They told Vessie they had found cattle bones in the yards of some of the workers, workers who looked to be half-starved. Vessie said they probably were half-starved, and told the boys not to report their findings to the sheriff.
A son of Enlow Birdwell relayed a similar story to Tom McLemore in September, 2007, at the funeral of Lynn McLemore. He recalled that Enlow had killed one of Vessie's cows and was taking it home to feed his family. He was caught in the act by Vessie. He confessed to what he had done, and said that he was only doing so because his family had done without for a long time, and were starving. Vessie told him to take the beef home and use it as he intended, but added, "let this be the last one of my cows that you steal." It was. When times became more prosperous, Enlow began raising a small herd of cattle of his own. He went to Vessie to borrow some money to get a start. Vessie gave him one of his checkbooks, and told him to simply use it as he needed, he trusted Enlow and knew together they could keep an accurate accounting of what he borrowed. Enlow often told his family that Vessie was the one who helped him get a start in life, and that he especially valued the trust he showed in him.
Vessie's older children attended their primary grades in Sabine County, but had to commute to San Augustine for High School. Evon says that during the winter, she and her brothers boarded with the family of Dr. Davis, who lived nearby the school. In the late 1920s, the family moved to San Augustine. Evon remembers that her mother suffered another devasting miscarriage, which nearly killed her. A few years later, Nina's youngest children were born, son Tommy in 1931 and son Lynn in 1933. They lived in a house Vessie renovated just off Main Street, and had a small home farm. Evon remembers her father first built a garage, and they slept and cooked in this until he had finished with the house. Their home was still standing in 1997. Even the roof is the same one Vessie laid. It is now the second house on the left, on present day Whitton street. It is a block away from the local elementary school. Tom remembers an indigent Civil War veteran, in his late eighties, who his father took into their home. Tom vividly recalls the stories he told about the war each night at dinner.
In the December 21, 1939 issue of the San Augustine Tribune, V.E. McLemore offered a $5.00 reward to anyone who found his dun muley cow branded "M" on the left loin. Around 1940, Vessie sold their house in the city, and bought some ranch land several miles outside of town.
Vessie's brothers and sisters used to say, admiringly, that "Vessie could stand on the corner and make money." He was an industrious man, with a strong enterpreneurial bent. His first job was working in the sawmills, with his brother, Rufus. But Vessie hated working for others, and saved up enough money to buy a general store in Steep Creek. This was around the time of World War I. It was a rough part of town, and he had both black and white laborers from the sawmills as customers.
The sheriff was a frequent visitor to the store. Evon remembers him always having a kind word and a piece of candy for her. He had a reputation for brutality however, and she recalls that he and a brother were eventually sent to jail after being convicted of murder. One day, the sheriff came to the store asking about a particular Negro laborer. Vessie said he hadn't seen him in days. The sheriff asked Vessie to call him the next time this man came in, telling Vessie he intended to kill him. Vessie went home and discussed the sheriff's threat with Nina, worrying about what he should do. In the middle of the night he got dressed, and tracked the man down in his home. He warned him of the sheriff's threat. The man pawned his pocket watch to Vessie, then and there, and used the money to flee town. He succesfully escaped the sheriff and was never heard of again. Vessie later gave the pocket watch to his son Earl. After Earl's death, his children gave this watch to their Uncle Tom, and Tom eventually passed this keepsake down to his eldest daughter, Melinda. It was a brass plated Studebaker watch from the South Bend Watch Company, and widely sold by mail order in the 1920's. These watches were sold on credit, and could be purchased with a down payment of $1. With the onset of the Depression, the company found itself with many delinquent accounts and was forced to close. (http://www.pocketwatchrepair.com/histories/southbend.html)
After the mill near Steep Creek closed, Vessie was also forced to close his store. His family feared that they'd soon be in the poorhouse. But Vessie continued to prosper. He worked as a rancher primarily, leasing and operating land in Pearsall, Garwood and in various sites throughout South and East Texas. He operated up to 20,000 acres at any given time. He also owned and operated a cotton gin and a meat processing plant. He involved his children in all these ventures. He was well known in the community for his willingness to extend credit or make loans to poor families, black or white. Tom McLemore recalls from looking at a lot of the notes he had drawn up that he charged from 6% to 10% compound interest. He was good fried to Will Wade, proprietor of the City Cafe, and W.J. (Wade) McClanahan, Deputy Sherriff of San Augustine.
Vessie felt a strong committment to provide for his family. Before he died, he built a home for each of his eldest four children, as well as giving them each 50 acres of land. He left his homestead and 400 acre ranch, jointly, to his two youngest sons.
When Vessie was in his forties, he was gored by a bull on the ranch. The wound was just under his left eye. He suffered from nearly incapacitating headaches for the rest of his life. In 1950, he had several massive strokes, and was unable to function normally after that. His wife nursed him at home until he died from a brain aneurysm in 1952.
Although Vessie didn't have much formal education, he was an extremely intelligent man. Tom and Evon remember that he read widely. Vessie's daughter, Evon, was the first of the family to graduate from college. She attended Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, where she received a degree in education. She remembers coming home one weekend from college, and her father asked her to check something he had prepared. He had calculated the compound interest that was due on a loan he had made. She told him she didn't know how to do this. "What am I sending you to college for" he grumbled, "if they can't even teach you to calculate compound interest."
His obituary was published in the local papers, as well as in the January 23, 1952 issue of the Houston Post.
Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically
Texas, Sabine County, Pr 6
Enumerated 11 May 1910
SD 2 ED 133 Sheet 32A
McLemore, Vessie Head M W 24 M1 2 Tx US US Farming Home Farm
McLemore, Nina Wf F W 18 M1 2 2/0 Tx Ga Tx
Texas, Sabine County, JP 6
Enumerated 2 Jan 1920
SD 326 ED 173 Sheet 1A
McLemore, Vessie E Head M W 34 M Tx Ga Tx Farmer
McLemore, Nina O Wf F W 28 M Tx Ark Tx
McLemore, Percy L Son M W 6 S Tx Tx Tx
McLemore, Evaughan V Dtr F W 5 S Tx Tx Tx
McLemore, Earl Son M W 3 3/12 S Tx Tx Tx
McLemore, Ira Son M W 1 4/12 S Tx Tx Tx
- (Medical):artherio sclerosis, hypertension
||Strong Family Tree
||17 Aug 2014 |
||John F. "Finn" McLemore, b. 28 Dec 1853, Decatur County, Georgia , d. 12 Feb 1924, Sabine County, Texas (Age 70 years) |
||Rutha Triphene White, b. 27 Dec 1859, Hemphill, Sabine County, Texas , d. 11 Jun 1939, Sabine County, Texas (Age 79 years) |
||11 Dec 1883
||Sabine County, Texas [5, 6, 7, 8]
||McLemore, Finn 1883 marriage to Ruth White|
When Finn married Ruth White in 1883, he had already been twice widowed, his previous wives both dying in childbirth. Finn and Ruth went on to have a large family.
||Group Sheet, Family chart
||Nina Ophelia Fuller, b. 15 Sep 1891, Rosevine, Sabine County, Texas , d. 8 Jul 1980, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas (Age 88 years) |
||7 Nov 1907
||Many, Sabine Parish, Louisiana 
- Nina's mother died six months after Nina's Fifteenth birthday. As the oldest girl, and second of eight children, all the day to day household tasks of caring for their large family immediately fell to her. To make matters worse, Nina's father had relatives who had moved to the fertile lower Rio Grande Valley to farm. They encouraged him to move down there as well. He had made several trips down to visit them, and to inspect land. Nina was desperately afraid of leaving her beloved east Texas.
About this same time, Nina met Vessie McLemore met at a church revival. They enjoyed each other's company, and began secretly corresponding with each other. Vessie soon proposed, and in November 1907, they snuck across the river to Many, Louisiana and eloped. Nina had turned sixteen years old not quite two months earlier. Nina told her granddaughter, Melinda, that she and Vessie had only seen each other twice in person before their marriage. A photo exists that appears to be their wedding picture. Vessie is wearing a dark suit with a white shirt and white bow tie, and Nina in a white dress, with a large flower in her hair.
Witnesses at their wedding were, H. E. White, presumably Henry Ernest White--Vessie's first cousin-- and A. McGown [likely either Albert or Andrew McGown, brothers who lived nearby the young couple in Geneva, Texas].
The license was filed for record on 14 July 1908 in Volume 3, Page 272 of the Marriage Records of Sabine Parish, Louisiana by W. E. McNuly, clerk, oper J. J. McNuly, Deputy.
Joe Fuller was not pleased with his daughters elopement. For at least several months after their wedding, the young couple avoided him. Rumors abounded that he might shoot Vessie on sight. Jan Tisdale, another granddaughter, remembers similar stories. Jan said that Nina's younger sisters were especially saddened by the hasty marriage. They lost both their mother and older sister in less than a year.
Written by Melinda McLemore Strong, granddaughter, circa 1995 and revised periodically
| ||1. Infant McLemore, b. 3 Dec 1908, Sabine County, Texas , d. 17 Feb 1909, Sabine County, Texas (Age 0 years)|
| ||2. Infant McLemore, b. 10 Mar 1910, Sabine County, Texas , d. 11 Mar 1910, Sabine County, Texas (Age 0 years)|
| ||3. Infant McLemore, b. 25 May 1911, Sabine County, Texas , d. 25 May 1911, Sabine County, Texas (Age 0 years)|
| ||4. Percy Lavell McLemore, b. 11 Jan 1913, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas , d. 30 Apr 1991, San Augustine County, Texas (Age 78 years)|
| ||5. Viola Evon McLemore, b. 6 Nov 1914, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas , d. 18 Oct 2008, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas (Age 93 years)|
| ||6. Vessie Earl McLemore, b. 12 Sep 1916, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas , d. 30 Apr 1997, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas (Age 80 years)|
| ||7. Ira Ray McLemore, b. 1 Dec 1918, Bronson, Sabine County, Texas , d. 14 Feb 1991, Nacogdoches, Nacogdoches County, Texas (Age 72 years)|
| ||8. Living|
| ||9. John Lynn McLemore, b. 26 Dec 1932, San Augustine, San Augustine County, Texas , d. 13 Sep 2007, Lufkin, Angelina County, Texas (Age 74 years)|
||Fuller, Nina Ophelia marriage to Vessie E. McLemore, Many, Louisiana, 1907|
Nina and Vessie eloped in Many, Louisiana, just across the state line from Sabine County, Texas, where they both grew up
||30 Jun 2013 |
||Group Sheet, Family chart
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene ca 1900, Sabine County School Photo|
Vessie McLemore grew up on his parent's farm in the first precinct of Sabine County. The 1900 census indicates that Vessie, who was 15, could read and write, and that he has attended three months of school that year, as had his brothers Rufus and Earnest. This photo was probably taken around that time period, as Vessie didn't have much formal education. Vessie is pictured standing, in the center of the middle row. He hair is parted in the middle and he appears to be wearing a white bow tie. The identity of the other students is unknown.
PLEASE HELP US IDENTIFY THE OTHER STUDENTS IN THIS PHOTO.
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene ca 1902 with friends|
Appears to have been taken around 1900 in Sabine County, Texas. Names were written in a very faint hand on the back of the photo. L to R: (1) Frank UNKNOWN, (2) Wesley McDaniel?, (3) Henry/Harry Anderson?, (4) Clyde Halbert??? (5) V.E. McLemore, and (6) Unable to read-Unknown
PLEASE HELP US FULLY IDENTIFY EVERYONE IN THIS PHOTO. Most the young men were probably born between 1880 and 1885, most likley in or around Sabine County.
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene ca 1905 with an unknown friend|
Vessie (l) poses with an unknown friend (r) around 1905, likely in Sabine County. Evon McLemore Tisdale thought he might be a Boyett? It appears they may have been in some sort of fraternal organization, based on the similar hats with patches they are wearing.
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene ca 1900's|
Husband of Nina Ophelia Fuller
B. 1885 D. 1952, Texas
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene and Nina wedding portrait|
Vessie McLemore and Nina Fuller eloped in Many, Louisiana in 1907, a few months after her sixteenth birthday. Her mother had died six months previously.
||_McLemore, Vessie Eugene|
Husband of Nina Fuller
B. 1885 Texas D. 1952 Texas
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene ca 1920's with wife|
Vessie McLemore and his wife, Nina Fuller
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene ca 1930's with Will Wade and Sheriff McClanahan, Sabine County|
Vessie poses in front of his store with friends Will Wade, proprietor of the City Cafe, and Deputy Sheriff W.J. McClanahan
||McLemore, Vessie Eugene ca 1950's with Nina|
Probably taken at their farm home in San Augustine in the 1950's
||McLemore, Vessie ca 1914 newspaper notice|
Ad run ca 1914 offering a reward for the return of missing cattle
||McLemore, Vessie & Nina McLemore family Home, San Augustine, Texas|
This is the home that Vessie and Nina McLemore bought in the late 1920's in the City of San Augustine, near the intersection of Main and Whitton. Tom and Lynn McLemore were both born in this home, and lived here until late in the 1930's, when their father purchased farm land outside of the city. This picture was taken around 2003. Tom McLemore notes that this roof on the house is the same one his father laid on the home in the 1930's.
||McLemore, Vessie E. ca 1938, appointed trustee to San Augustine (TX) Public School Board|
School News article, dated May 19, 1938, reporting that Mr. V. E. McLemore had taken the place of Mr. B. J. Butts as a member of the San Augustine Texas Schools Board of Trustees
- [S384] 1900 United States Federal Census [Ancestry.com database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2004, (Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1900. T623, 1854 rolls. This database is an index to individuals enumerated in the 1900 United States Federal Census, the Twelfth Census of the United States. Census takers recorded many details including each person's name, address, relationship to the head of household, color or race, sex, month and year of birth, age at last birthday, marital status, number of years married, the total number of children born of the mother, the number of those children living, birthplace, birthplace of father and mother, if the individual was foreign born, the year of immigration and the number of years in the United States, the citizenship status of foreign-born individuals over age twenty-one, occupation, and more. Additionally, the names of those listed on the population schedule are linked to actual images of the 1900 Federal Census.), Texas, Sabine County, Pr 1 Enumerated 5 Jun 1900 SD 8 ED 68 Sheet 2A Stamped 93 22-23 (Reliability: 3).
- [S675] Strong, Melinda (McLemore) and Tisdale, Evon (McLemore): McLemore Reunion, Broaddus, Texas October 1985: Family Group Sheets prepared by each family and Personal Interview.
- [S346] Sanders, J.B. "Index to Cemeteries of Sabine County, Texas 1836-1964", 1964, Nacogdoches, Texas.
- [S342] San Augustine Tribune, weekly, 807 E. Columbia, San Augustine, TX, (San Augustine Tribune, USPS No. 479-040, Published every Thursday at 807 E. Columbia St., San Augustine, Texas 75972 Stephen Hays & Arlan Hays, Publishers. Postmaster: Change of Address notice should be made at P.O. Box 539, San Augustine, Texas 75972. The Tribune is a continuation of the Texas Chronicle moved from Galveston to San Augustine in 1837 and published as the Redlander.).
- [S341] Sabine County, Texas, Marriage License.
- [S434] Toole, Blanche "Sabine County Marriages 1875-1900 1900-1910 Prior to 1875" c. 1983.
- [S416] Casagranda, Kathy "Sabine Parish The 1850 Census with added Family Information" (May, 1999: P.O. Box 2195, Palmer, Alaska 99645), p 95 (Reliability: 3).
- [S1305] Clark, John W. "Some Descendants of William Clark of Sabine County, Texas" (American Reference Publishing Co., Ste. 262-250, Ridgleas Bank Building, Fort Worth, Texas 76116, c. 1971), (This book was complied by John William Clark, 1023 Harris Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73107 in honor of William Clark...information was obtained from family records and interviews with relatives having first hand knowledge of the facts; census records of South Carolina, Mississippi, and Texas; cemetery records and tombstone inscriptions; library books in Oklahoma City, Dallas, Austin, Hemphill, Lufkin and Nacogdoches, and letters from many interested people all over the country willing to help and be helped. A copy of this book was found by Trudy Cox at the Abilene Christina Unversity Brown Library and xeroxed by her, and a copy sent to Melinda McLemore Strong in San Antonio, Texas.), p. 45 (Reliability: 3).
- [S382] State of Louisiana, Parish of Sabine, Marriage License.