Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Love Lost and Found in 1913

The girl, Bessie Smith
Since Aunt Bessie was 18 when she married DeWitt Brown, the year would have been 1913. But that first marriage lasted only so far as Dallas, TX where Bessie got off the train bound for California and returned east to Marshall, TX. DeWitt journeyed on, the marriage later annulled.

Here follows the rest of the story, as I know it, that I called "The Ballad of Bessie Brown."

A poem that the second Mrs. Brown, Lillie, sent to Bessie is not dated. The envelope is lost and so too the picture she enclosed to show and tell my mother's Aunt Bessie about the life that Bessie could have had in sunny California.

It astonishes me, however, that Lillie spent the time, the creative trouble and the postage to tell Aunt Bessie, Who's Sorry Now? Only Lillie titled her poem "The Cord That Bound Three Hearts, The Will That Severed Two––To Miss Bessie Smith" [sic]. Or rather sick? Or syrupy sweet?

Page 1 of 6



Girl Meets Boy

Thou once wert young and fair,
As sweet as girl could be, 

Thine eyes were like the summer skies,
Or like the deep blue sea …

The man was young and brave, 
A noble man was he;
His face was sweet, his heart was true,
As honest as could be.

Page 2 of 6
Thou sat'st his heart aflame
With love's bright glowing blaze;
For hearts like his will melt so soon
Beneath his lover's gaze.

The cord of love soon spun
Her web around each heart;
And verry [sic] soon the tie was made, 
Until death doth us part …

On page 3, the story heats up. How Bessie's heart turned to stone, stone De Witt's love could not penetrate.

He pled with thee, my child, 
to turn and do the right; 
But thou wouldest not, and so soon 
Despised him in thy sight…

… But hardened in thy ways, 
Thy proud heart harder still;
E'ne tears of grief and words of love
Could never break thy will.

 Boy Loses Girl

 On page 4, God enters the picture:

And God in heaven knows
The day the deed was done, 
When in thy wrath the cord was cut
Which bound thee to this one. 

Alas poor man he wept, 
Thy love had proved untrue;
When this one hasty step ye took, 
Which many others do …

Looks like Lillie means to curse Bessie:

God grant you may escape
The awful pain he bore;
But Bessie, I'm afraid, my girl
It's coming to your door. 

Boy Gets Better Girl

 Page 5 recounts the truer love heartbroken Dewitt found in Lillie.

This love will ne'er be quenched
As God is on his throne;
'Tis burned so deep within two hearts, 
It never can be known. 

That's stickin' it to her, Lillie. Turn that knife and make her bleed. The letter is tattered, suggesting that Aunt Bessie read this tome many times.

Page 6, a summary: He's mine now.

… The love thou shouldst have known,  
The joy that should be thine, 
A darling husband's tender care
Has turned and now is mine …

… May God forgive you, Dear
The mistake of your life;
For He was merciful and kind, 
And gave DeWitt a wife.  ––Mrs. Lillie Brown


Although Bessie married again, three more times in fact, I wonder if she wondered what her life would have looked like had she gotten on that train to California in 1913.

This picture tells more than a thousand words for it looks as if Lillie continued to rub it in. Lillie sent Bessie several such pictures of the happy couple. 

I wonder if the Browns ever had kids. Aunt Bessie didn't.
Bringing in the sheaves

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