The Stonecipher Home
111 Roberts Street, Livingston, TN
The Stonecipher home was purchased in August of 2006 by granddaughter, Janie Louise Stephens Keisling, and her husband, Jerry L. Keisling. According to deed records, the home was built in 1906 and is believed to have been constructed by Mr. Burr Speck.
This story contains memories of growing up in the Stonecipher home located at 111 Roberts Street here in Livingston provided first by Janie Stonecipher Stephens, daughter of John Timothy Stonecipher and wife Ida Lou Verna Jones Stonecipher, and secondly, by Carole Roberts Winningham, granddaughter of John Timothy and Verna Stonecipher. Carole is the daughter of the late Marie Stonecipher Roberts and husband Haskel Roberts. Janieís memories are as follows:
"My father, John Timothy Stonecipher, born February 26, 1873, grew up on a farm about half way between Robbins, Tennessee and Rugby. My mother, Ida Lou Verna Jones Stonecipher, born June 29, 1878, was raised on a farm near Sunbright, but later, her family moved into the town of Sunbright. Both of my parents attended school in Rugby and both later taught there as well. They were married on February 22, 1899. My father worked as manager at a business called The Brickyard, and later moved to Isolene where he managed the commissary for a mining company. My father then moved the family to Cookeville where he bought a grocery store near the train depot. Around 1900, Maxwell Brothers Wholesale opened a business on South Church Street in Livingston in the building that later became known as the "mule barn", a stucco structure that still stands there today. He became a partner and manager of that business. Our first home in Livingston was on West Main Street, the second one on Broad Street (the Nora Dale house), and the third one on Daugherty Street (A.R. Ward house). The fourth home at 111 Roberts Street is where we finally settled."
"My father was a devoted Christian, and was a charter member of First Baptist Church (first known as Good Hope Church) of Livingston. He served as a deacon, Sunday School teacher, secretary-treasurer, as well as janitor. First Baptist Church of Livingston was organized on February 20, 1910."
"There were nine children in my family. I was the eighth child. The childrenís names were Homer, Mina, Curtis, Helen, John, Walter, Marie, myself, and Bill. (Mina and John died prior to our family moving to Livingston.) When I was growing up, children were taught manners and respect, and how to always be polite and courteous. We were taught to say yes sir, no sir, yes mam, and no mam. Men always tipped their hats or removed them when entering a home or a business. When speaking to each other or addressing men and women, it was correct to say "Mr. Jones" or "Miss Jones" or "Mrs. Jones," whatever the case might be. My dad would always refer to my mother as "Mrs. Stonecipher" and my mother always called my father "Mr. Stonecipher." This was true for other members such as brothers and sister of their respective families."
Roberts Street was a wonderful neighborhood to grow up in. In addition to our family, others I remember living in the neighborhood were the Grider Looper family, Perry Bowmer family, Benton Young family, Burr Speck family; Floyd Speck family; Horace Speck family; H.H. Patterson family; Dr. Doak Capps family; Jerry Smith family; Thomas Copeland family; J. T. Lansden family; and L.E. Garrett family. Children in the neighborhood spent many happy hours riding in little red wagons, skating on the sidewalks, riding bicycles, playing town ball. Other games we played were One and Over, Role-a-Hole (marbles), Hide and Seek, and Red Rover. In the alley known as Henson Street at one time stood a huge gum tree where the older children built a tree house. As the tree grew, the steps to the tree house became so high, smaller children could not climb up there. So we smaller children just played under the tree. Sometimes the girls would play paper dolls, but the wind would often blow them away. So we would make a family of sticks, the longest being the father, the next size the mother, and so on. We played house with broken dishes, plates and glasses. As we grew older, we would have cookouts over an open camp fire. A hole was dug and lined with rocks. A skillet was placed on the fire where we fried potatoes, scrambled eggs and bacon that our parents had given us to cook. We were always busy using our imagination."
"Afternoons and into night there was always skating and riding bicycles. Sidewalks were filled with children and their skates. Sara and Sammy Young, myself and my brother, Bill, Mary Blanche Lansden (later Mrs. Clarence Davis), and children from other parts of town would play together. On the corner where the Methodist Church is located lived Mrs. Burr (Hettie) Speck. Her yard was enclosed with a picket fence. As we skated near the fence, we would often grab on to the palings in order to stop. Being children, we didnít realize that we would eventually destroy the fence by doing this. But Mrs. Hettie knew we would end up tearing the fence up, and became very upset with us. One day she decided to put a stop to this, and drew a bucket of water from her well. She waited for us to come back and when we did, she threw a dishpan full of cold water all over us. We certainly deserved that and it worked too!"
"Skating on roller skates was a favorite past time. By way of the sidewalks, we could skate all the way to town. On the corner of Broad Street and the Celina Highway (Church Street) was Stephensí Grocery and the U.S. Post office (later became Morgansís Department Store and the pool hall). This was one building with an inside door connecting the grocery store and the post office. Mr. T.F. Stephens served as postmaster then. When Mother would send me to the grocery or to mail a letter, I would put on my skates, go in the grocery store, then through the post office, skating all the way, and then return home."
"Our family car was a Willis Knight. I would often play in the car, pretending to drive. Once when I was playing in it, it began to roll down Roberts Street, but one of the older boys, may have been my brother Walter, ran after me and got the car stopped just before it entered on to Main Street."
"Our family enjoyed playing pranks among each other. One Christmas, Marie bought her boyfriend, Hack Roberts (she later married him) a smoking stand. My sister, Helen, and my mother decided to have some fun. Marie very carefully wrapped the stand in a box with beautiful Christmas paper and a pretty bow. We had a little childís straight chair that was very worn that had also been used as a very primitive walker to help the babies in our family learn to walk. By laying the chair down on its back, a toddler could hold on to the legs and push the chair along. (The little heirloom chair sits in my home and continues to be used today by great-great children.). Without letting Marie know what they were up to, Helen and Mama opened Marieís very special gift for Hack, and exchanged the smoking stand for the chair. Very carefully it was placed underneath the tree to await the arrival of company. Marie didnít know that when she presented Hack with her gift that Helen was hiding at the top of the stairs in the hallway where she could listen while Mama hid behind the dining room door. When Hack opened the gift and took out the little chair, he said "Oh, how nice!". When Marie realized what had happened, she began to yell, "Iíll kill them ... I kill them!"
"My sister, Helen, taught music in our parlor. Beginner lesson were 15 minutes twice a week. Then after learning the basics, lessons were 30 minutes a week. Mothers brought the children or they came down the hill from Livingston Grammar school. Our house was a home for lots of families. Everything from having dinner with us, playing in the yard, spending the night, music lessons, or sitting on the porch just visiting. On Sunday afternoon, Curtis would bring ice cream from the drug store. We were served on the porch by Mama. There was nothing as special as ice cream in the good oleí summer time."
"We played marbles in the summer time on the bank next to the road of Roberts Street. We called it roll-a-hole ... all one word. We dug 3 small holes and the object of the game was to get all marbles in a hole and to keep the other players from getting theirs in a hole. In the winter months, we played this game on the parlor rug. Curtis, who was crippled, played too. The design on the rug was the center for all marbles. We also played table tennis on our dining room table. It was long and seated 10 people at meal time. Curtis could sit and play. He was very good to play games with. He also played rook and other card games with us."
"My father died in 1957 at age 84. My mother died in 1979 at the age of 101. During all the years of my parentsí marriage, no one ever heard a cross or unpleasant word between them. It was indeed a good life and a good time to grow up."
"In August of 2006, my daughter, Janie Louise Keisling and husband Jerry L. Keisling, bought our old home. The only other time is was not in our family was following the death of my mother, at which time it was sold to Douglas and Nell Keisling. Janie Louise and Jerry have plans to do some restoration to the house. Our family is very happy to have the Stonecipher residence back into the family once more."
Carole Roberts Winninghamís memories of her grandparents and their home at 111 Roberts Street:
"I was born in 1935 and so my earliest memories are from about 1939. My grandparents, Ida and John Stonecipher, lived at what was then 111 Roberts Street here in Livingston. I was their first grandchild. My grandmother was 57 years old when I was born, and my grandfather was 62. They spent a lot of time playing with me, and they were a very strong, positive influence on my future years. My Aunt Helen also lived there in my early childhood. She was also a wonderful influence for a young child."
"My grandparents raised and sold lots of chickens and eggs. There was a huge barn down behind the house. It would have been between the home place and where Lady Ann Hospital would later stand. I loved to go with Mama (what I called my grandmother) to gather eggs and feed the chickens. I guess this is my earliest memory of being at my grandparentsí home. I also remember having lemonade on the front porch on hot, summer days with neighbors and family present. I remember my Papa (what I called my grandfather) teaching me to tie my shoes as I sat in front of the big bedroom fireplace in the little family heirloom chair. I remember the big wooden bucket in the kitchen that we all drank the well water from with a dipper. I remember the good taste of my grandmotherís "tea cakes", her name for cookies. Another big memory was of wash day. Clothes were washed in a big steaming black iron kettle in the back yard. I was allowed to watch from the back porch. All the women in the family helped because it was an all day job. Aunt Ella Maynard was nearly always there to help with the wash and other work that needed to be done. Mamaís big yellow cat, "Ole Tom," loved to hang around and play with me during wash day. The women would sometimes have to swat him with a broom when he snooped too close to the boiling pot. This was fun for me to watch. I also remember Mama, Janie, Helen, and my mother, Marie, peeling bushels of apples to be laid out to dry on a low porch roof out back. They tasted real good later in pies and cakes. My grandmother and her daughters made a lot of quilts. I remember the quilt racks being up for years in different rooms of the house. Mama made doll clothes and doll quilts for me. Sometimes my aunts, Janie and Helen, would help. I still have some of the little quilts. Papa would make doll furniture for me, little chairs, tables, and doll beds. I didnít have a lot of "store bought" toys, and I loved my home-made things very much."
"I have many happy memories of my Aunt Helen. She was a public school teacher, but a piano teacher mostly. She taught piano for many years at my grandparentsí home on Roberts Street. The house was always filled with children in the afternoon who came for piano lessons. I well remember the sunny, summer day in 1940 when she showed me "Middle C" on the piano, and also exactly where the piano stood for over 50 years. Helen was always doing things with me and for me. She always had time just for me. I loved to go upstairs to her room. It smelled like perfume and powder, and she had beautiful clothes. She taught me how to wrap Christmas presents in that room. She taught me the love to books and school. She loved photography. There would be very few photos of me as a child if not for her. People couldnít afford to take lots of pictures then as they do now. Helen made lots of beautiful rag dolls from up in her room for me. I got to sit and watch her. I still have "Scarlet OíHara" and "Goldie Locks." She also taught me how to thread a needle and to sew with it. Later when I was in high school, she would help me make cookies and candy to mail to the boy I would later marry. He was in the Air Force in San Antonia, Texas training to go to Korea."
"Mama and Papa had nine children. Two of the children died very young. Three of the children were born in the Roberts Street house, my mother, Marie, Janie, and Bill. When I was very little, Curtis and Bill, Walter, and Helen, still lived at home. Curtis, Bill, and Walter helped run the family hatchery and rolling mill businesses on Church and Springs Streets. Uncle Homer, my mother, and Aunt Janie were all married and lived away from home."
"My grandparents loved the church and things pertaining to God and religion. They were founding members of First Baptist Church here in Livingston in 1910. Many preachers came over the years to visit in their home. I especially remember Bro. Henry C. Geiger and Bro. Noah Maynard. I remember preachers coming for lunch a lot and the big table loaded with food and tea in the pretty pink glasses. My grandmother loved to talk about history and her ancestor who fought in the American Revolution. Because of her, I was later able to joint the D.A.R."
"World War II was a major influence on me and all the people who lived at 111 Roberts Street. Walter and Bill went off to war right after Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941. Walter was in the army infantry in the South Pacific and Bill, who was barely old enough, became a bomber pilot over Germany."
"After I got older, my best friend, Flutie Bowmer, and I were always running in and out of Mama and Papaís house. Her grandparents lived next door where Clarkís Drug Store now stands. We loved to go upstairs at Mama and Papaís and prowl in the dark junk room at the back of the house. It was kinda spooky! After I got in high school, I used the junk room for a place to study because it was so quiet and isolated. Flutie and I also loved to go in Helenís room to try on jewelry and clothes, and sometimes, get a little drop or two of perfume. In the summer months, we would go out to Mamaís garden and eat lettuce and carrots, dirt and all! We also ate grapes from Mama and Ma Bowmerís vines in back of their houses."
"I was fortunate as a child that I lived just a up a short hill from Mama and Papa Stonecipher. I thought my grandmother was always so pretty. Her hair was white all of my life, and she seldom ever left the house. I can still see her sitting in "her place" on the front porch. She always had lots of company on that porch, and I can still hear her soft, sweet voice! Papa loved to get out and visit. The last time I saw him, he was walking to town at his usual very fast pace at the age of 84. My grandmother loved hymns. After I got older, I would play them on the piano for her. "A Child of the King" was her favorite. When Mama died, she was past 101 years old. I was 44. I had many good years with her.
I have many wonderful memories of that dear old house on Roberts Street. It has certainly seen a lot of living in itís nearly 100 years. Iím thankful for my simple, quiet, good childhood and all the people who blessed my life so much."
"My cousin, Janie Louise Keisling, and her husband, Jerry, recently bought the house from Doug and Nell Keisling. Iím so glad that they were able to get in back in the family after nearly 25 years. Now maybe the great-grand kids and great-great grandkids, and more, can help bring the old walls to life again!"
Bill Stonecipher sits in what is now known as the "Little Heirloom Chair" feeding chickens. The smoke house is shown in the background.
Three of the Stonecipher children are pictured in the front yard of their home. Janie, sitting on the ground, Marie on left side of tree, Helen, on the right.