Genealogy Trails

Jackson County, Illinois

Mary Jane Beasley Breeden 

Beloved Mother, Donated by Regina Breeden Bailey

Mary Jane was born November 5, 1923, near DeSoto to George and Estella Jacquot Beasley. She was raised on a farm just west of DeSoto where Jerry Bowlby now lives. There were 4 girls in the family and they worked the fields just like they were men.

Mary Jane married Lewis Earl Breeden on February 4, 1943, in Murphysboro at the home of Roy (Bus) Will. Shortly after they married Lewis went to WWII and then, when he came home he drove a truck for Mayflower. So the marriage was a lonely and hard one for her. On the night of May 28, 1060, Lewis crawled into his truck and that was the end of the marriage. She divorced him on August 23, 1965, in Murphysboro.

These are my memories:

Mama took in washing and ironings to take care of us. She always had a big garden and canned all the food she could. She worked hard all the time. We moved from DeSoto to Carbondale and she then added baby-sitting to her jobs. After Esther started school Mama started working outside of the home. She worked as a cook at Mary Lou's Restaurant in Carbondale, SIU at the Little Grassy Camp Campus and also VTI, Giant City Lodge, Dixie Creme Donuts, and Parish School. When she cooked at Parish school she also worked for Ace Janitorial as a janitor at Parish School in the afternoons. It was nothing for her to have two jobs.

Growing up I didn't like gardening, canning or cleaning house. I didn't appreciate the things Mama was trying to teach me. I hated that she wouldn't let me do what everyone else was doing. I gave her a hard time.  Got mad at her. I would yell at her. But you know, she always loved me. Later we talked and Mama told me that at the time she didn't thoroughly understand what divorce does to the children and there was no way for us kids to understand what she was going through.

Mama loved flowers also. Everywhere we lived she always had a flower garden. She liked to watch hummingbirds and barn swallows built a nest every year over her porch light and she enjoyed watching the babies grow up and fly away.

When we moved back to Carbondale, Uncle Marion and Aunt Betty rebuilt a house that had burned for us to live in. Uncle Marion put hard floors in it. Mama would put Bruces hard wood cleaner (she thought that was the only cleaner to use) and then get an old wool blanket and we got to take turns sitting on the blanket while she pulled it around to buff her floor. That was more fun than the buffers of today.

Mama made time for us kids. She played basketball and softball with us. She taught us to play pinochle and we played every Saturday (or so it seemed). Sometimes we would go to Uncle Frank and Aunt Mae Jacquots for pinochle. Pinochle was a big thing in Mama's family. Sometimes they played all night and the next morning while Uncle Frank and Frankie milked the cows, Mama and Aunt Mae would fix breakfast. They would play some more then we would go home.

When we lived in DeSoto by the railroad trussel close to the Baptist church, on Saturday nights Mama would pop a big bowl of papcorn and we would sit around the radio and listen to Amos & Andy, Fibber McGee & Molly, Hop Along Cassidy, the Lone Ranger and Gunsmoke. Also on Saturdays Mama would gather us kids around her and she studied the Bible with us. Mama got sick when we lived here and Norman and I had to take care of her. I remember her telling us how to bake a cake and do the washing (Norman must have been about 9 and me about 6). Uncle Bill had brought over some milk crates and I would stand on them and hang out the clothes. I'm sure that others came over to help her but I just don't remember.

Mama believed in making us mind. And of course we didn't like this. At the time we thought she was terrible. She did instill good values in us and we all know how to work hard.

I never realized how lonely she must have been all those years until I grew up and married. We had her all of our lives and she was always there. We didn't feel the emptiness that she did. As us kids got older and started marrying off, I noticed that Mama seemed to get more down hearted. She felt we didn't need her any more. She really thought I didn't need her but she just didn't know how wrong she was.

In the early 1980's Mama found out that she had cancer. By the time the doctor found it, he gave her maybe 2 months. This was the worst thing that could happen to us kids. I was living in Arkansas at the time and come to visit her. She told me how glad she was to see us and she appreciated the visit. This was unusal for her. Mama decided to take a questionable herb cure. It worked and the doctors just couldn't believe it. We had her again and I thought we would have her for years.

Claude and I ended up in California, David and Sandy in Missouri, Norman and Delores in Elkville, Marilyn and Squeak and Esther and Terry in DeSoto.

Mama was still there as our ROCK if we needed something. Then about 1990 her health started to fail. Marilyn and Esther took her to one doctor, then another. They just couldn't seem to find the problem. Finally it was discovered that she had a tumor growing in her spinal cord. Surgery was tried but it couldn't be removed. She was given radiation to try and stop the growth but that caused other problems and the tumor kept growing. She eventually got bed fast and required constant care. Esther and Marilyn were there and did 90% of her care. I flew home as often as possible to help.

Here was our ROCK slipping away and there was nothing we could do but take care of her and love her. After years of pain and suffering she died on June 11, 1994. I wasn't able to come and be with her but Norman, David, Marilyn, Esther and my daughter Mignon (she stood in for me) were by her side.

When she died I lost the only parent I had. She stood by us through everything. I blame Lewis for her death. If he had helped her to raise us, she wouldn't have had to work like a dog to take care of us. Now I want you to understand this statement. Two doctors from the Irving School of Medicine told me that for Mama to have this kind of tumor she must have had a back injury. Mama hurt her back several times lifting 50 pound bags of flour and sugar at her jobs. And then while helping take care of her I started remembering things that had happened to her while married to Lewis and began to understand why she always seemed so hard. Actually she wasn't but she didn't let people know it very often.

Some of the good memories of helping take care of her. As a kid growing up Mama was not big on hugs but when we would get her up, she had to put her arms around us and we would tease her about all the hugs she was getting. She would just smile. When we would tell her we loved her, she always just said, "yeah". But one day I got a surprise, she actually said "I love you too." As long as I live I will remember this and her telling me "Regina, You watch that temper of yours."

This biography is about my father-in-law, whom I dearly loved.

Tom Bailey was born Thomas Ezekiel Bailey on October 13, 1909 in Oskaloosa, KS, to George Thomas John William Bailey and Mollie Viola Evelena (Boyer) Bailey. Tom was the third of five children. Tom's family moved to Pinckneyville, IL
between 1915 & 1919. While there they worked on several farms before moving to Murphysboro.

Tom worked in the timber with his father as a child. He didn't get an education and could not read or write except for his name. Tom taught himself math. I could never figure out how he did it but he always came up with the right answer. Tom told me that when they worked in the timber their house was half house and half tent, wood walls 6 ft. up with a tent over the top. They had a stove that served as a cook stove and to keep warm.

Tom later worked at the old charcoal plant west of Murphysboro. One of his childhood friends was Beanie Baker. Beanie told
me that he and Tom had many good times as teenagers.

Tom married Eulah Dee Cross on March 27, 1927 in DeSoto. They raised 5 children: Blanche, Betty, Wynema, Thomas
and Claude. Tom was a farmer. He loved working the land and watching his crops grow. When I met him he also had hogs to raise.

Tom was a strict father from what I hear and he was also a strict grandpa. I married his son Claude in 1965 much to the dislike of the family. Tom only frowned at me when others in the family were around. Actually he and I hit it off right away. I helped him build a storage shed on the farm for his grain and would help him work on the farm equipment. One day we needed to replace the rear-end in his dump truck. His son-in-law told him that he couldn't do it without special tools. The next morning he told me he would show me how to do it. He marked those gears and lined up his marks putting the new gears back in place
and was still driving the truck until the day he died. I was always amased at his ability to do things. Even tho he didn't have a formal education he was a very intelligent man.

Claude, myself and our daughters were always with Tom. He would put the girls in his wagon and we would take them to the
field with us when we went out to pick up roots where he was clearing land or to pick up corn for the hogs. The girls loved to help him feed the hogs.

Tom and Claude went into the trucking business hauling coal from a small mine just north of Elkville to the railroad or the Mississippi River at Cora. Then Tom worked at a mine over close to Christopher.

Toms whole live was devoted to having a farm to leave to his children. This he did.

Tom died on December 3, 1969. He had a heart attack while driving his truck in the mine. He was taken to Miners Hospital
in Christopher where he lived for only three days. He is buried in DeSoto City Cemetery.

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