William Kelly, second child of Ed and Minnie Beaver, was born July 2, 1891, in the Millerville Community of Erath County, Texas, His sister, Elizabeth, was a year and eight months old at the time. Kelly was delivered by our great aunt, Ebaline Ramfield, a noted midwife of her time.
He learned the meaning of work at a very early age, being the oldest of five brothers who followed closely behind him in ages. Elizabeth married when she was fifteen, leaving our mother with no help in cooking, sewing, washing, and ironing for Papa and the five boys. One son had died in infancy. Our father was a small scale farmer with one team of horses, a planter, and a plow. The boys were his helpers as each grew old enough to work beside him in the fields.
When Kelly was nineteen years old, he married Sadie Norrod, on July 3, 1910, at her home in Millerville. Sadie was born March 30, 1894, in Navarro County, Texas, and had moved with her family to Erath County when she was nine years of age. After they married they rented some acreage nearby and settled down to farming, raising chickens, and milking the one cow Papa gave them.
They remained in Erath County several years after the rest of the family moved west to Kent County. Then, about the year 1919, they loaded their belongings into a freight car on the Fort Worth & Denver railroad and moved to Girard, Kent County, Texas. I was only ten or eleven years old, but I remember how happy we all were to see them. Kelly soon went to work on a farm for Mr. Hunnicutt, where he and Sadie lived in a tent the first summer. I will never forget what fun it was to spend the night with them in that tent.
On February 16, 1924, a baby girl was born to them. After fourteen years of a childless marriage, this baby seemed nothing short of a miracle from God. They named her Daisy Nard (short for Norrod). There had never been a baby so cute, smart, and pretty, so we thought. She learned to talk early, and when we would ask her name she would say, “Da Da Buah,” (Daisy Nard Beaver). To me she is Da Da to this day.
When the drought hit Kent County in the twenties, and farming became an impossible way of earning a living, Kelly and Sadie accepted a job with a work train—Bridge Gang, we called them. Sadie was the cook and Kelly worked with the men repairing bridges, tracks, rails, and cross ties on the railroad. One of the men in the group was Roy Nix, son of William and Ebaline Giesecke Nix. He was a first cousin to Marylin Mills and a fourth cousin of ours. His sister, Gustie, was married to Sadie’s brother, Earl Norrod. Roy was in our home a lot during the years 1924-26, and we loved him like we did our brothers. Daisy was just a year old, and how happy we were when, occasionally, the work train was stationed at Girard for a month or more. I can remember once when Lee Ella and I spent a week with the Bridge Gang. It was on a sidetrack at Hawley, Texas, near Abilene. We thought it was a big experience, eating and sleeping in a train coach.
Kelly was a jolly, goodnatured, humble person, who was a joy to be with. Sadie was the very epitome of the virtuous woman described in Proverbs, Chapter 31. Theirs was a perfect marriage, if such is possible. When I was two months old, I had my first Christmas, and Kelly was 17 years, he was the only one who gave me, the new baby, a gift, so mama told me. It was a China mug with the word, baby, painted in gold. Now, 76 years later, that little mug occupies a prominent place in my house, at rest on the shelf with some relics. Although it has little intrinsic value, with the handle missing, a nick here and there, it is priceless to me. How many of you still have the first gift ever given to you? My sisters call me a keeper of old things.
Kelly and Sadie were shocked and grieved, when in August of 1938 their little fourteen year old Daisy eloped and married her childhood sweetheart, Robert Lee Leverett. Being the devout Christians they were, Kelly and Sadie accepted the situation, and Robert soon became the loving son they had never known. Subsequently they were blessed with three grandchildren, Kelly, Hubbert, and Terry Doyle.
In the middle thirties, Kelly and Sadie moved to the Farmer Community, near Petersburg, Texas, where he became manager of a gin for the C.E. Dean Gin Company. His health began to fail in 1939, and he was diagnosed with stomach cancer. He underwent surgery, and after months of intense pain, passed away at his home, May 16, 1941. He was buried at Petersburg, Texas. Sadie moved to Amarillo for a few years, then moved to Manteno, Illinois where Daisy and family then lived. She was bedfast, following a bout with cancer, then a stroke, in the late sixties. She passed away at Daisy’s home the 9th of September 1974. and was laid to rest beside Kelly, at Petersburg. Kelly had been song leader at church, and the last one he led at the Petersburg Church of Christ was “Each Day I’ll Do a Golden Deed.” A climax to a life well lived.