Friday, October 7, 2011

Maybelline Roots, in Morganfield Kentucky.

Growing up loving Gunsmoke, my first glimmer of romantic thoughts, came in the form of Marshal Dillon an Miss Kitty.

In all the research I did for The Maybelline Story, I found our family had it's own romantic past, in the late 1800,  including a country Sheriff and his pretty lady.
Both being my great-grandparents. Sheriff Thomas Jefferson Williams and his wife, Susan Anna Alvey of Morganfield Kentucky were the real deal.

Susan Anna Alvey, in 1877 only 16 years of age was considered a great beauty for the times.

Sheriff TJ, as he was called, was also the local tax collector, and fearless when it came to doing the right thing.  He lost his right eye in a fight, and often teased his grandchildren by pulling it out and handing it them.  He'd laugh as the kids screamed and ran to their mothers, but never stopped getting a big kick out out the joke.

Susan Anna Alvey Williams had 6 children with Sheriff TJ, the most famous being Tom Lyle Williams, owner of the Maybelline Company.  She died of the great flu in 1919 leaving Sheriff TJ to help with the books in the early years of Lash -Brow-Ine, and Maybelline. 

On the farm as children, my grandfather Preston and his little sister Eva, 1909. 

The 500 acre family farm and homestead was over 100 years old, by the time the Williams kids were born.  By 1916, the farm was being sold, and the family moved to Chicago, to assist Tom Lyle with his little Maybelline Company.

TJ and Anna's third grandchild, and their son, Noel James and Frances Williams second child, Annette Williams, plays with the chickens before the farm was finally sold.
The country story wore many hats in the early day's, including being the local post office, photography studio, soda fountain, and supply store. How knows it may have even acted as a saloon at one time, before Prohibition was passed in 1920.

Noel James, wife Frances, with their two girls, Helen and Annette, in Morganfield, visiting the homestead.  The family was now prospering in Chicago, as the Maybelline Company continued to grow.

Little Helen, with the chickens in Morganfield.

                   Little Annette in the chicken coop.

Sheriff TJ with my father William Preston Williams, in 1924.  Bill was his fourth grandchild.

And finally the Big Three, Sheriff Thomas Jefferson with his son, Tom Lyle Williams, and his first grandchild, Tom Lyle Williams Jr. in Chicago, 1934.

It may not have been the Old West, exactly, but I have to say I'm pretty proud of my roots in Morganfield Kentucky, and having a real-life, gun-toting Sheriff, with a pretty little wife, as my great grandparents. 

Gunsmoke, still lives on in my heart, with wonderful memories of my earliest romantic fantasies and Miss Kitty is still the prettiest lady in the Old West.

Read more about Morganfield and the early days of Maybelline in my book The Maybelline Story.

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