Joseph and Nannie Privet

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Nancy Eads and Joseph Privet

Grandma Privet had long arms--long enough to embrace the needy and the homeless, no matter what the age or the circumstance. Born the eldest daughter in a family of 14 children, Nancy Eads was no stranger to taking care of people when she married Joseph Privet the day after Christmas in December 1896.  "You may now kiss the bride," stated the preacher, and for the first time ever, Joseph kissed Nannie, who was now his wife.  The couple moved into a house next door to the two-story log cabin plantation house where Nannie and her siblings were born, and where Joseph, himself, spent the latter part of his childhood and teen years.  William King Eades, Nancy's father, was acquainted with the young Joseph and his father, Chester B.  After Joseph's mother, Rachel, passed away, King took pity on the motherless boy and told Chester that Joseph was just too nice a boy to be drug from place to place, as he was.  King told Chester that Joseph could come and stay with him and his family in exchange for help on the farm.   When Joseph moved to the plantation, Nancy was only 8-years-old.

Joseph watched Nannie grow, and he worked, and he fell in love.  When Nannie was 12 years old, Joseph asked her to marry him.  Nannie replied, "Ask me again when I'm 16, if you still feel the same way."  And sure enough, on her 16th birthday, Nannie found a note that had been placed on the old pump organ:  "Will you marry me?"

Grandma Privet didn't tell the rest of the story.  How she said yes is left to our speculation; but, we do know that she was adamant that she and Joseph never kissed until the day they married and he placed his mother's beautiful diamond wedding ring on her finger.

Now, the boy who lost his mother, Rachel, and his grandmother, Thursy, at a very young age, and so grew up in the home of kind-hearted Christian neighbors, now established a home of his own.

 Joseph's and Nancy's home was a home with open doors and room at the hearth for anyone in need. Chester B., Joseph's widowed father, moved in with the newlywed couple.  For several years it was just the 3 of them.  Nannie wanted to have a child, but it just didn't happen.  One day Nannie spoke of her disappointment to an older woman in the neighborhood who gave her this advice, "Get a bottle of Lydia B. Pinkham and take it.  There's a baby in every bottle."  Nannie Privett followed the sage advice, and before the bottle of tonic was gone, Nannie was, indeed, pregnant.  Nine months later the young Privets were the proud parents of a 10-lb strapping baby boy, Carson Clyde.

Whether the couple chose to limit the size of their family or whether Lydia B. Pinkham quit putting babies in the bottles, we don't know.  What we do know is that Carson and Marinda are the only biological children of Joseph and Nannie. 

 However, others were yet to come.  The first was Billy Cunningham.  Billy's mother, Lucy Lily Cunningham, Nannie's sister, died trying to give birth to a second child. 

By this time, the industrious Joseph had taken a  job with the railroad and had built his family a lovely two-story Victorian home and established a real "home place" with smoke house, spring house, orchard, garden and fields for crops.  Now, little Billy needed a mother, just as Joseph had needed a mother many years ago when he was a small child.

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 Joseph's capable wife extended her long arms and embraced her nephew.  Her big heart warmed him and her wisdom guided him.  Billy, "always artistic and smart as a whip," stayed with Aunt Nannie and Uncle "Hoppy" until he was grown and joined the military.

A tiny baby girl was also taken in by the family.  Lissie Tinley was only 9-days-old when her mother passed away.  Lissie's bereaved father tried to take cae of her, but the baby just wasn't doing well at all.  Desperate not to lose his daughter as well as his wife, he asked Nannie and Joseph Privet if they would take his daughter in and care for her. Again, Nannie embraced a child that was not her own, but loved her as her own.  "Before long she was a fat, smiling, cooing, little baby girl," Nannie recollected fondly to her grandchildren.  "It was a sad but happy day when Lissie's father came to take her back home with him after he married a new wife."  Lissie had a new substitute mother, but she never forgot her first substitute mother, Nannie.  The bond between them was great.  Lissie always visited Nannie and Joseph as long as they were living.

Besides Billy and Lissie, a third motherless child was taken into the home and heart of the Privet family.  Little Evelyn White, only 9-years-old, would never forget the trauma of watching her mother drown in a pond as she, desperate and sobbing, was unable to help her.  The traumatized little girl came alive once more in the care of Nannie and "Hoppy."  By this time, Carson and Marinda had married and established homes of their own.  Evelyn had her own room upstairs and was the constant companion of Nannie.

left to right: 
George Curtis,  Joseph Clyde,  Ida Louise,  Nellie
Elizabeth ,
James "Jimmy" Woodard and Frances Ruth
The children of Carson Privet and Fina Lowe were named for:
 Joseph Privet, Carson's father and Joseph Lowe, Fina's father; Louise Dishner, the wife of George Dishner who was an assistant to Carson when he was the Constable of Washington County; Elizabeth after Nancy Elizabeth Eads; James Woodard after the doctor who delivered Jimmy--because they didn't have any name picked out and the doctor said he didn't have any children and would love to have someone named after him, and Frances after Sarah Frances Mitchell,
Nancy's mother.


Then, five years later, the quiet little family would burgeon into a full and robust household.  Carson, who had married Fina Lowe and had six children, had suffered several economic blows.  Raising a family was not easy during the Great Depression.  He found that he and his wife, "Finney," needed some help.  It was natural that he would turn to the parents who had been a haven to so many during his entire life. 

Carson's childhood home had been characterized by evenness, predictability, and hard work. The steady Joseph was honored at his retirement from the railroad for never missing a day of work.  Nancy was able to brag to her great-grandchildren many years later that she had "never had a headache, an earache, or a toothache" in her life.  But Carson was in trouble.  He  took his wife and children and returned to the stable nest from whence he had come.  The Privet place was now home to the younger Privet family: three girls, Ruth, Nellie and Ida, and three boys, Jimmy, Clyde and Curtis.  Nannie took on the job of training the girls to be ladies and to make a home.  Nellie took to the ways and personality of her grandmother like a duck to water.  They both loved to talk and they both loved to be busy at homemaking, either cooking, canning, sewing, or doing the many other various chores necessary to caring for a large household.  There was plenty of work to go around.  Ruth, the oldest, learned to build a fire and warm the house before the rest of the household got up.  She even learned to have the coffee ready for the adults.  But once her chores were done,  Ruth loved to hide away and read.  Ida, on the other hand, was a tomboy.  Always looking for a good time and attention, Ida was fun to be around, but hard to corral into chores. But, whatever their activities, Grandma and Grandaddy Privet's place became the home that the younger Privets would always remember as their "growing up" place.  A home with an open door and a warm hearth, a tall woman with long arms and a man who remembered what it was to be without a mother.

Special thanks to Nellie Privette Blaylock Byrd, granddaughter of Nancy and Joseph Privett,  and Gladys Rutter Gheesling, youngest granddaughter of Nancy and Joseph Privett, for their contributions to the information presented above.  Nellie, the second daughter of Carson, lived with Nancy and Joseph from childhood until marriage.  Nellie speaks highly of her grandmother, telling of her hard work and dedication to family.  Gladys, on the other hand, was cared for by Nancy Privett in her own home from the age of 6-months.  According to Gladys, "I spent everyday with Grandma from the time I was six months old until I left home as an adult. (I also slept with her, so needless to say I knew her better than my own mother) What a profoundly beautiful person she was!! She is still greatly missed to this day! Gladys' parents, Marinda Privett Rutter and "Penn" Rutter lived approximately 2 miles from Nancy and Joseph.  Nancy usually walked the 2 miles to her daughter's home to care for the children while her daughter worked.  After Joseph died, Nancy lived with her daughter and her family full time. 





John William Canter appx1905
John William Canter- (Charles- Thomas- Truman)....Photo taken in Jessamine Co. KY