Anne Cole Mills – Happy Birthday!

On March 9, 1914 in Maury County, Tennessee Anne Elizabeth Cole was welcomed into the world by her proud parents Edward Dunnagan and Cordelia Tucker Cole.  There to greet her were her older brothers and sisters: Whitt Hight (born Aug 2, 1900), Berta Mae (born Oct 1, 1902), Nora Myrtle (born Aug 13, 1904), Ruby Irene (born Aug 17, 1906), John Arelous (born Apr 22, 1909), and Edward Lee (born Sept 13, 1911).

Anne was born the seventh child of twelve.  Following her birth were five (5) younger brothers and sisters:  Margaret Euginia (born Feb 19, 1916), Rose Itaska (born Apr 16, 1918), Mahlon Eldin (born May 16, 1920), William Lawrence (born Mar 14, 1922), and the baby of the family who is still living.

Anne was my grandmother.  We called her Mama Anne.

Mama Anne always talked about her childhood very fondly.  There were times that she talked about how the entire family farmed their small piece of land; each having their own chores or contributions to the efforts.  She told stories about her and her siblings playing music with their father.  Mama Anne played the spoons.  Her father was quite an accomplished fiddle player and well-known in the area for his talent, playing at many local barn dances.  Hight, Eddie and Eldin were also talented musicians and accompanied their dad as a band. 

She and her siblings remained close all of her life.  Today one might think, twelve children, how could they all remain close? Surely with that many siblings, there would be a “falling out”.  Well – if there ever was, I never heard of it and Mama Anne generally spoke her mind.  Her love for her family and their love for each other was real and truly amazing.  As a child, I enjoyed just being in a room (usually my grandmother’s dining room or kitchen) and just watching and listening to the sisters when they were together.  I admired them all. 

Mama Anne, like all of her sisters and brothers, had a very gentle nature.  She was loving and soft spoken.  She was a bit of a prankster, always funny and had a contagious laugh. 

If you talked to friends, neighbors, people from her church or other family members, I am sure that some — if not all — would have to tell you that Mama Anne was a great cook.   She canned jams, jellies, pickles, ketchup, pickled okra, tomatoes and more.  These were all favorites for anyone lucky enough to get a taste.  She baked cakes, breads and “angel” biscuits.  

I loved the way that Mama Anne would put a meal on the table.  She would have a small bowl of this and a small bowl of that.  Upon first glance, I would think – I am not sure there will be enough for everyone, but there were was and sometimes even leftovers.  She would place the small bowls on the dining room table and announce – “well, I not sure if it will be fit to eat, but ….”  

I believe that Mama Anne enjoyed cooking and she knew that she was a very good cook, but mostly, I believe that she cooked to bring delight and joy to others.  She loved helping others and showing love through baking a special cake or sharing a simple meal.  It was her gift and she most enjoyed the smiles on others’ faces or being able to contribute “a little something” at a time of need or crisis. 

Cooking was one of Mama Anne’s many talents that she shared with others.  She also wrote poetry.  From time to time would mail a poem to my mother or one of us “girls” (the way she referred to the granddaughters).  In future blogs, I will publish some of her poems.

I long to hear her laugh, see her smile and hear her talk about the “old times” and the things that she had seen in her life.  She was my inspiration.  She and my grandfather, Floyd Mills, are the reason that I love genealogy.  I long for the stories and my source of much family information that Mama Anne could perfectly recall up until about the last six months of her life.  I wish that she and I could take another drive over to find some of the old cemeteries for the Cole’s and Harris’ ancestors in Marshall County.  I miss her dearly.

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