Thinking about the history of a community

Hanna McCain

As I was re-reading through Ms. Nannie Maude Reynolds and Mrs. Betty Suttle’s book The First Hundred Years: A History of Noxapater I was very flattered to find that my sisters and I were named “pillars of the community.”

I thought maybe this statement might apply to my two older sisters, but not to me.

I am simply a product of many generations that have gone before me. I am the daughter of Kathy and Randall Johnson of Noxapater. As one can read in the book, The First Hundred Years: A History of Noxapater, my paternal grandfather was Herbert Hughes Johnson who married Cynthia Pansy Holman. My Granny Johnson as I called her was only 17 years old when she married my Granddaddy Johnson on November 29, 1929.

Granny Johnson lost her mother with she was two years old. She was raised by her two aunts who took care of her. Granny Johnson always told me that she did not mind living with her aunts and that she always had everything she needed. When she married Granddaddy Johnson, she was given a dowry. With her dowry money she purchased the family farm that is still in existence today. The land and the farm were purchased by a 17 year old girl during the Great Depression. That is a pillar in the community.

I didn’t hear this story until I was attempting to buy my first house at the age of 23. We probably shared some of the same feelings about making such a big decision at such a young age. My Granny Johnson’s story gave me encouragement and told me she had made a way for her family and that I could too.

I purchased Dot and Robert Farish’s home in April of 2010. It was one of the biggest decisions of my life. At the time, I was 23. I had no children. I often asked myself what I intended to do with such a large home.

Mr. Robert Farish was very interested in genealogy. He spent many hours tracing back to when the first Farish’s came to Winston County. Mr. Robert wrote in the The First Hundred Years: A History of Noxapater “James Edward Farish moved into a log cabin that sat just by my present driveway. Here Jim (James Edward Farish) went to work to develop a homestead and started a house across the road in front of where our present home is. When he built the first three room house, he hitched up his buggy and went to Attala County and got Mary Frances Durant, sight unseen, for his wife. She liked the name Hannah and added it to her own name after she was grown. It is on her tombstone. It seems that the land and the girl went together.” Jim and his wife Hannah had 12 children together. James Edward Farish (Jim) was Robert Farish’s grandfather.

After reading this in 2010, I never wondered again if I made the right decision by buying the Farish place. The land and I, Hanna, just went together.

It’s astonishing to me how something that happened more that 100 years ago could help a 23 year old girl make one of the greatest decisions of her life. Someone once told me that I would be making the biggest mistake of my life by buying the Farish home. They were very wrong.

I have worked the grounds with my two hands. I have watched my baby take his first steps on the grounds of the home. I have picked delicious apples from the apple tree with my husband. Blood, sweat, and tears have been poured into the home and grounds to restore it to its original beauty. It took hard work and a whole lot of love. I knew I could do it because the generations before me had.

I would not be who I am today without my past. God used people 100 years ago and a wonderful book written by two sweet ladies to show me His will in my life.

As for being a pillar in my community it is a goal that I strive for on a daily basis.

Thank you Ms. Nannie Maude Reynolds and Mrs. Betty Suttle for compiling The First Hundred Years: A History of Noxapater.

Editor’s note: Hanna McCain is an advertising consultant with the Winston County Journal, Choctaw Plaindealer and Webster Progress Times. The book The First Hundred Years: A History of Noxapater may be purchased by contacting Nannie Maude Reynolds.