Sunday, November 4, 2012

Sentimental Sunday – Remembering Clarence Conley

In the Georgetown (Texas) Public Library I found a book entitled Adamsville Through Their Eyes: History & Reflections compiled in 2008.  In it I found an article submitted by Wenona Conley, daughter-in-law of Clarence Conley, my mother’s uncle.

From it I learned some of our Conley family settled in Adamsville about 1919.  In the article, Wenona said that Will and Clarence moved from Evant [in Lampasas County] to Adamsville and built a cotton gin.  I remember my mother, Iva Conley Robbins, telling me about a cotton gin, but I don’t remember the location or who ran it.  Her father, Frank Conley, was the brother of Will and Clarence.  If I remember correctly, she told me she had a pet goat and it would follow her up the stairs of the gin into an area that would be like a loft in a barn.  Outside, below, were fairly high piles of cotton lint.  She would hide from the goat and when it would go to the edge looking for her, she would push it into the pile of fluff.  It’s a wonder the goat didn’t return the favor.

In the article Wenona stated, “Will and his wife Nora soon moved to Cherokee.”  Will’s wife was Violet Inman Conley, the sister of Nora Inman Conley who married John Franklin (Frank) Conley.  Brothers, Will and Frank Conley married sisters, Violet and Nora Inman.  Will and Violet, Frank and Nora, Iva, and Wilber did move to Cherokee, but were still listed in Adamsville on the 1920 Lampasas County, Texas Census.

Clarence and his wife, Willie (Carrigan) owned land between the Lampasas River and what is now U. S. Highway 281 about six miles north of Adamsville.  I did not know, “The Conley’s were the first in the community to have electricity generated by batteries before LCRA put in a line.”  I remember Uncle Clarence had what I called a horse ranch in Adamsville; I did not know he raised Welsh ponies and sheep.

One summer, when I was about eight years old, my Granny Conley, (great) Aunt Violet and Uncle Will visited my (great) Aunt Willie and Uncle Clarence.  He had horses from newborn to very old.  He loaded my cousins and me in his pickup and took us to a pasture to see the horses.  I grew up in Abilene and as a “city girl” was wearing my little white sandals with no socks – definitely not appropriate for walking in a pasture, but he told me not to worry because we’d be driving up close to the horses.  

We did walk around a little to get closer to the horses.  At some point I told him my ankle was stinging and I thought something had bitten me.  He knelt beside me and told me it looked like I’d gotten into some stinging nettle.  Of course I had no idea what that was, but he pointed it out and then broke off some milk weed and rubbed the white milk on my ankle to stop the stinging.  It was a plant that had a white, milky substance inside but I don’t really remember what it looked like. 
He told me there are lots of things in this world that can hurt us, but if we’ll just look, the Good Lord put lots of things here to help us.  He told me if I’d look around, everywhere I saw stinging nettle, I’d find some milk weed nearby.   Whether it’s factual or not isn’t very important to me now, but I believed him and of course, my ankle quit stinging.  What a special memory to have of him!  

Uncle Clarence’s son, Charles Allen Conley, was Wenona’s husband.  She states in the article that Charles spent the last 25 ½ years of his 40 year preaching career as pastor of the Adamsville Baptist Church.  I did not know that he served as an MP in the occupation of Japan in WWII.  I did know Uncle Clarence served in World War I.

I learned from the article that Uncle Clarence and Aunt Willie donated a portion of their land for the Hines Chapel Cemetery.  In a quick online search, I found the oldest known marker was dated 1885.  Perhaps I need to add another cemetery to the list of those I’m working on for historic cemetery status.