Thursday, November 19, 2015

I Have a Fairie in My Tree!

Alafair "Fairie" Elizabeth Stevens was born on 21 Sept 1893 in Martin's Mill, Texas, to Anson Allen and Alafair Elizabeth Gibbens. She was one of seven children. Her father was a farmer born in Alabama and her mother had been born in Mississippi.

Mr. Stevens moved his family to Jacksonville, Texas, in 1906 after spending time in Florida and Washington State. They built a home in town about 300 feet southwest of the historical marker designating the town center. It was a two-story frame home with porches on three sides.

Alafaire "Fairie" Elizabeth Stevens with her younger brother Henry Grady Stevens;
photograph courtesy of Cherie J. via Stevens family historian, Bill Gawne.

Four of their seven children attended the Alexander Collegiate Institute, including Fairie. She later graduated from the University of Texas and taught Latin and Spanish in Jacksonville High School.

According to another Jennings researcher, she married Leroy Carrington Jennings on 10 May 1923 in Tyler, Texas. Leroy was a grandson of Leroy P. Jennings.[1] After their marriage they made their home in Mineola, where Leroy's family had settled after moving to Texas from Virginia. When Leroy was discharged from the Navy he began dairy farming. They had one son in 1927.

Leroy died of pneumonia on 17 February 1931 at the age of 42. Faire continued to live on the farm in Mineola. No occupation was listed on the 1940 census for she or her son so they likely rented out the farm to be worked by someone else. Fairie returned to teaching sometime after her husband's death.

Her son served in the Navy during World War II and married in 1951. After he married he moved to Baytown, Texas, where he worked for Humble Oil and Refining. Eventually, Fairie joined her son's family in Baytown.

She died on 30 July 1981 at the Baytown Medical Center Hospital of broncho-pneumonia. She was 87 years old and had been a widow for 50 years. She and her husband, Leroy, were interred at Cedars Memorial Gardens in Mineola.

Mr. Gawne related Fairie was "the very essence of of the best of old Southern gentility, and also an unremitting feminist of that first wave of feminism that grew out of the progressive movement in the first decades of the 20th century."

One former student observed that the legacy of a teacher lives on in their students. Certainly, the wonderful legacy of Fairie (Stevens) Jennings lives on.

In yet another example of siblings marrying another set of siblings. Fairie's brother, Eldridge Gibbens Stevens married, Leroy's sister, Hilda Lillian Jennings.

[1] I have written about Leroy P. Jennings (1841-1919) before. He was a first cousin of my great grandfather, Charles Edward Jennings (1832-1917):

Three Brothers Married Three Sisters
Gone to Texas

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