Submitted by Charley B. Jones
Lee Ella Beaver was born August 29, 1905 in Erath County, near Hico, Texas, When she was seven years old she moved with her family to Girard, Texas. This move was an experience she never forgot, especially the traveling in a covered wagon and cooking on a campfire.
Lee Ella graduated from Girard High School in 1925, and she worked at several jobs until the fall of 1925, when she entered North Texas State Teachers College at Denton, Texas. After attending college for one year she received a teaching certificate and secured a job teaching at the Bloomfield school, near Pilot Point, Texas. After teaching at Bloomfield for 3 years, she taught at Union Grove, another community school, for 5 years. She also taught at Walling, near the same area.
While teaching at Bloomfield she met Donald Ray Jones, who was the older brother of two of her pupils. Hazel and Earl Jones. They were married April 7, 1928, in Sherman, Texas. Donald Ray was known by several names, and although that was his given name, he signed his name D. Ray, and was called that by many people. He was best known in the community as Brother, which name was bestowed on him by his older brother, Glenn, when they were small boys. D. Ray had a lot of fun with the name Brother, as some people would mistake him for a preacher. Most of the Beaver family called him Don, and one of his nephews on the Beaver side was named for him, Robert Don Smith. So, he answered to many names.
Lee Ella and D. Ray built themselves a two-room house on the Jones farm in the Bloomfield Community, and while she taught school he farmed, raising cotton, peanuts, corn, and always a large vegetable garden.
While Lee Ella was teaching at Walling school, in the Hideout Community, many times D. Ray had to take her to school by horseback, due to the creek flooding between their home and the school. The horse would wade water belly deep in order to get them across. On August 28, 1940, I, Charles Beaver Jones was born. I was named after Charles Joseph Beaver, Lee Ella’s older brother. In later years we would kid each other that our initials were C.B.J. and C.J.B. We were also referred to as Big Charley and Little Charley. Several years after I was born, we moved to the Caldwell Community near Lubbock, Texas. There D. Ray worked for Hub Beaver at his farm and the Dean cotton gin that Hub managed. D. Ray liked the work, but Lee Ella and I didn’t like the sandstorms, so in about a year we moved back to Bloomfield.
Back in Bloomfield, D. Ray continued to farm, and Lee Ella took care of the household chores. An opportunity came for her to do some more teaching. She asked me if I would like for her to be my teacher. I said, ”No, I want you to be my mother”. She did teach for one year in Pilot Point due to the illness of the first grade teacher.
Grandma and Grandpa Jones lived close by, and we had many good times at Jones family get-togethers. Most of the Beaver family lived a long way off, so anytime some of them could visit we looked forward to it as a special occasion. Lee Ella would cook and bake for days getting ready for company. There was never a shortage of food around the Jones household, for D. Ray raised cattle, hogs, chickens, and turkeys, and with a big garden, just about all the food was homegrown.
About 1955 D. Ray supplemented his farm income by driving a school bus for the Pilot Point School District, and Lee Ella went to work for Ginnings Hardware and Variety Store in Pilot Point.
In I960, after Grandma Jones died, the Jones farm sold, and D. Ray and Lee Ella moved into Pilot Point. Soon, he went to work at North Texas State University in Denton, as a custodian in the Student Union Building. He worked there until he retired in 1970, and she retired soon after.
D. Ray passed away April 25, 1976 with a sudden heart attack. He was living in Sundial Nursing Home in Pilot Point, along with Lee Ella, who had suffered a stroke in 1974. After his death she continued to live at Sundial until November of 1983, when we moved her to the Christian Care Center North in Dallas, in order for her to be near me and my family. She passed away August 2, 1985 after a long and difficult struggle with her physical problems. We miss them both very much.
Charley asked me to add a note to this chapter, since Buddy and I were with his mother and dad so much during the 8 years of our married lives before we had any children. But before I write it, I want to insert, on the next page, a little essay she wrote when they thought they were going to lose their little house in the country, where Charley was born and spent his happy childhood.
"Goodbye Little House"
Lee Ella Jones
Dear Sweet Little House; that is what my son used to call you back in his baby days, when we would leave for awhile and return. If houses are sweet, and if sweet is the right word to use when speaking of something dear to one’s heart, then you are truly a sweet little house.
I hope you will forgive us for leaving you, perhaps sell you to strangers. But it is not because we do not love you. We have loved every minute of the 29 years you have been our home. Edgar A. Guest said in one of his famous poems, “Home ain’t a place that gold can buy, or get up in a minute, ‘afore it’s home there’s got to be a heap of livin’ in it.” We have had that heap of livin’ within your four walls.
I was almost a bride when we built you and moved inside. You were oh so new, clean and cozy. It seems that I can still smell the fragrance of your new pine lumber. We built you well, little house, but neglected one very important thing, that of securing the ground on which you stand. It belongs to an estate and is being sold. Now, you know why we have to lose you. We should have thought of this at the time, but when two people are young and in love, the future doesn’t matter so much, it’s today that counts.
So many of our friends wonder why we would hate to leave, since you are so very small, and really not pretty at all. But they do not know you, how you always seemed to spread your wings like a mother hen with her chicks, making room for as many relatives and friends as we invited to visit us. You had a certain way of making folks feel welcome. At least, that is always what they told us.
Yes. Dear Sweet Little house, nestled among the oak trees, you have been a comfort to me in time of sorrow, a pillar of strength for my every weakness. In short, quoting Joyce Kilmer, “You have done everything a house should do; you have sheltered life; you have put your loving wooden arms around a man and his wife. Your walls have echoed a baby’s laugh and held up his stumbling feet. You will truly be the saddest sight when left alone that ever one’s eye could meet.”
I must not forget to thank you for the help you gave me in rearing my stalwart, and many tell me, handsome son. It was better for him that you were not so large and beautiful. He could use you in so many more ways and not feel that he had to be careful. I believe that is the main reason he named you Sweet Little House and loved you so. You were such an important part of his growing up. May the lessons he learned inside your walls remain with him always, to guide him and keep him from sin.
Dear Sweet Little House, we may move to a larger place, but I am sure we will always love you best. We had to live very close together since you were so small, but a family needs to be close, and you have helped us many times to stay that way. You taught us patience, love, kindness, and understanding. Often we have yearned for the finer things in life, but we tried to be happy with what we could afford. Someone said, “Happiness is not getting what one wants, but wanting what one gets.” Maybe that’s the answer to what caused us to stay with you twenty-nine years. We wanted you, we needed you, and that made it easy to love and keep you.
Goodbye, now, Sweet Little House. It is sad to let you go. If there were a heaven for houses, we know you’d be placed on a street of purest gold. My prayers are that my family and I, wherever we go, will live in such a way that our heavenly Father, when he calls us, sees fit to place us in a sweet little cottage like you, in that great beyond.
Lee Ella was three years older than I, and as we were growing up, she felt that it was her responsibility to take care of her three little sisters. She was mature for her age, and being the aggressive type, she always took the initiative on all of our plans and purposes. Her outgoing personality, and her many talents made her very popular at school and social functions. When she left home to go to college in 1925, I was left with a feeling that I was a total misfit to society; timid, afraid to trust myself to offer an opinion or suggestion in a group of my peers.
Then I finished high school and went to North Texas State for a year (1926-27), and Lee Ella was teaching school about 20 miles from the college, in Cook County. We spent many weekends together. The next year I was hired to teach at a one teacher school just five miles from where she was teaching. We double dated some, and were together on weekends. She helped me to overcome some of my timidity and to be myself. We used to laugh and wonder what our names would be when we married. She married a Jones in 1928 and I married a Smith in 1929.
During the next eight years, Buddy and I were teaching in Coleman and Kent Counties, and Lee was teaching in Cook County. We were all four together every summer, Lee, Buddy, and I in summer school at Denton, and Brother farming and raising fresh vegetables for us. We three could hardly wait for Friday to come, when late in the afternoon we would load into our little green Chevy convertible and head for Bloomfield to spend a couple of days with Brother. I can almost see him now, sitting on the porch with his feet up on the railing watching for us.
Those were memorable days. We were young, carefree, living on minuscule salaries, and trying to sweat out the Depression. But we were happy, and thankful that we each had a salaried job. The memories of those years are precious to us.
On the morning of August 2, 1985, I was awakened by the ringing of the telephone. Startled, I fumbled for the phone and answered it, and I heard Charley’s voice saying, “Lois, Mother passed away in her sleep this morning”. Three hours later, I was on a Southwest Airline plane, soaring above billowy clouds toward Dallas.
I am not a good flier. I am tense from the time I board a plane until it sets down on terra firma again, and so I have a need to chew gum, read, write, or play Sol while flying. As we were taking off I opened my purse to get my little New Testament out to read the book of Philippians. I discovered that, in my rush to get away, I had failed to put it in my purse. I did, however, find my little notebook and pencil. And so, I started reminiscing about Lee Ella’s life. She just lacked 27 days of being eighty years old. By the time we landed at Love Field, I had jotted down enough to put together what I called a eulogy. Great people, from the beginning of time, have been accorded a eulogy, and to me, she was one of the Greats.
I am enclosing a copy of it on the following page, merely to emphasize the truth that numerous lives had been touched by her very presence.
HER NAME WAS LEE ELLA
In the beginning, she was called OUR BABY by our parents. (She was the eighth of eleven children.) They named her LEE ELLA in honor of Aunt Lee Beaver McCollum, Papa's sister, and Aunt Ella Pearson Hovey, Mama's sister. (A great heritage.) During her growing-up years, she was called LEE by her siblings, five brothers and four sisters. (A loving family relationship.) From the age of two, and on, she was called AUNT LEE by a passel of nieces and nephews. (They adored her.) In 1925 she was a charming coed at North Texas State University, where she was given the dignified title of MISS BEAVER. (She grew in wisdom and stature.) As a young school teacher at Bloomfield, Union Grove and Walling, she was affectionately called MISS LEE ELLA by her pupils. (She loved children.) On April 7, 1928, she was called MY BRIDE by her ever-loving man, D. Ray Jones. (A title she wore with pride.) With that event, she acquired the title DAUGHTER-IN-LAW to Frank and Stellie Jones, and SISTER-IN-LAW to the three Jones kids. (His people became her people.) August 28, 1940, she was given the sacred title, MOTHER, when she brought into the world her one and only child, Charles Beaver Jones. (She felt that a little bit of heaven had come down to earth.) When Charles took Frankye Cheatham as his wife, on June 29, 1962, her title became MOTHER-IN-LAW. (Frankye has been a Godsend to the Jones family.) August 31, 1964 brought her one of her proudest titles, NANA, with the arrival of her first grandchild, Leslie Ann, followed by two more girls, Kristi Jan and Kelly Sue. (They brought her Joys untold.) Of all her many titles, FRIEND was one that she prized dearly. (Her motto was, "The only way to have a friend is to be one.") To me, her sweetest title was SISTER. She was three years old when I was born, and for me she was my mentor, my confidant, my authority, my adviser, and my friend. (I will miss her sorely.) Her last and final title came in the early morning hours of August 2, 1985, when she heard, "MY CHILD, come home. Loved ones are waiting." (She was ready.)
Goodnight, Dear, Until "Tomorrow," Lois
Read at her funeral by her niece, Peggy Stephens Holly.