Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Faye Elizabeth (Nanny) Litaker (1901-1995), 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 16, "Live Long"

Me (left) - Nanny (center) - Heather, my cousin (right).
Photo taken in the living room of my grandparents' home
in Concord, Cabarrus, North Carolina, circa 1975.
(Photo given to me by my maternal grandmother.)
The Week 16 theme of +Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge is "Live Long."  Faye Elizabeth Litaker, my maternal great-grandmother whom I (and most everyone else) called "Nanny," lived a long life and is the perfect subject for this week's post.  I was blessed enough to grow up around and truly know my great-grandmother who lived until just after I turned 26.

Nanny was born on 28 August 1901 in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, the first-born child of George Franklin Litaker, Sr. (1868-1939) and Molsie Jane Talbert Litaker (1875-1933).

State of North Carolina Delayed Certificate of Birth for Faye Elizabeth Litaker, born 28 August 1901.

George had three older children - Nellie, Margaret Mae, and Carrie Lacie - from his first marriage to Carrie White Dove Litaker who died, tragically, on 09 April 1897 by her own hand.  George and Molsie had four more children - Ola May, Blanche Lucille, Mary Elva, George Franklin Jr. - in addition to Faye.  All of Nanny's full sisters lived to age 90 or older.  The Litaker children, except for Nellie who died before 28 April 1910, maintained close relationships with one another throughout adulthood.

The 21-22 January 1920 US Census for Township #11, Cabarrus County, North Carolina, lists Nanny as working as a saleswoman in a department store.  She worked on and off at J.C. Penney, likely the department store referenced in the 1920 census, for about 30 years.

On 11 November 1920, at the age of 19, Faye married Murl Sanders Litaker (1896-1955) who had returned home within the previous year after serving abroad during World War I.  (I wrote about Murl Sr. last week for my "How Do You Spell That?" post.)  Though I do not think they were aware of it at the time since many Litakers lived in Cabarrus and Rowan counties, Faye and Murl were second cousins.  That means that they shared the same paternal great-grandparents, George E. Lytaker/Litaker/Lyteker (1812-1862) and Elizabeth McCoy (circa 1815-unknown).

11 November 1920 North Carolina Marriage Certificate
for Murl S. Litaker and Faye Litaker.

Murl Sanders Litaker, Sr. and with Faye Elizabeth Litaker with their grandson,
Andrew Joseph Pampas III (1944-1985).
(Photo given to me by my maternal grandmother.)

Murl and Faye welcomed their first child, a son, in July 1925.  Just under two years later, a younger sister joined him in July 1927.  (My grand uncle and grandmother both are living, so I am omitting their names and exact dates of birth here for privacy.)

My maternal grand uncle and grandmother circa 1929.
(Photo given to me by my grandmother.) 
According to the 1940 Baldwin's City Directory for Concord, Cabarrus, North Carolina, my great-grandparents owned and operated a restaurant named Murl's Café.  Additionally, the 1940 U.S. Census for Township 12 in Concord lists Nanny working as a waitress at a/her café.

Nanny's husband passed away on 12 Oct 1955 at only 59 years old.  After his death, she moved in with my grandmother and her family, who also made their home in Concord, and lived there for the rest of her life.  Since she lived with my grandparents, my mom and her siblings, as well all of Nanny's great-grandchildren on my mom's side, spent a lot of time around her and got to really know her.

On 26 October 1995, Faye Elizabeth Litaker passed away at the age of 94 years and almost 2 months old.  She was laid to rest in Concord's historic Oakwood Cemetery (Section W, Plot 133) beside her husband who predeceased her by just over 40 years.

Murl S Litaker and Faye L. Litaker grave markers in Oakwood Cemetery,
471 Church Street, North, Concord, North Carolina, 28025.
Close-up of Nanny's grave marker.

Of course, I do not think of Nanny in death; rather, I remember her life.  When I think of her, many pleasant memories come to mind.  So, to end this post in her honor, I will share some of those fond, and sometimes funny, memories I have of her:

  • Nanny always had a smile, hug, and a kiss for me every time I saw her.  Family was very important to her.
  • She had a kind, loving spirit, and everyone seemed to adore her.
  • She wore White Shoulders dusting powder, and the smell of it reminds me of her to this day.
  • I never saw her wear anything except dresses or housecoats.  I don't think she ever wore a pair of pants.
  • She liked to wear long strands of beads (and her great-granddaughters loved to look through all of them).
  • Nanny always wore rouge (note that it was rouge, not just blush).
  • She was an excellent seamstress, as was her mom.
  • She made the sweetest sweet tea I have ever drunk to this day.
  • I loved her fried fruit pies that she made on her cast iron griddle.
  • Nanny was an excellent, Southern cook who was not afraid to cook with lard.
  • Whenever my family was about to leave my grandparents' house, she would sneak some money to me and tell me to get myself a little something.
  • I remember her swinging on the bench swing in my grandparents' backyard.
  • Nanny sent me cards for all kinds of occasions and also wrote many notes and letters to my family and me.
  • She quit smoking cold turkey after about 50 years of being a smoker.  I remembered being floored that anyone could quit like that!
  • I fondly remember spending time with her at my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.  (Can you imagine getting to be at your child's 50th wedding anniversary party?)
  • Whenever my grandmama, mom, aunt, and I went shopping, Nanny always wanted to go with us.  Then, as soon as we got to the store, she would be ready to go home.  She never shopped that I remember.  I only remember her waiting on us to be done.
  • I still can picture Nanny sitting in her chair, between the closet and big window, in her bedroom at my grandparents' house.  She spent a lot of time contentedly sitting there.
I feel very lucky to have these and other memories from the time I was able to spend with my great-grandmother.  She is missed.

Nanny having punch at my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

©Amy Wood Kelly, 2015 - I am happy to share my genealogical research and writing with others, as well as to help others with their research efforts.  However, please do not reprint this post in full or in part or use excerpts from this post without giving full credit to me, Amy Wood Kelly, as the researcher and author as well as providing the permalink to this post.  Thank you, in advance, for showing respect for my request and the work I put into creating this post.

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