family / history / world war II

Twillia’s Birthday

Today is August 17th, and it is Twillia Garvin’s birthday. Twillia was a lovely southern woman, a hard working, resourceful wife, a loving mother, and a treasured grandmother. She was born a long time ago, but her influence has persevered through the years for those that loved and knew her. It was not long after the Civil War when her parents loaded up from Lumpkin County Georgia and headed west to Texas. Of course, I have often wondered why they chose this part of Texas to settle in, the flat, dry, almost treeless land of opportunity. The correct answer is that for all its simplicity, the part they picked was fairly good farming land for that time. Texas climate, in general, is a mixed bag that has always ranged from one extreme to the other. I have a very few treasured copies of letters that my grandmother wrote, and in one particularly bleak winter at some time in the 1920s, she describes a winter so cold that the cows were freezing to death in the pastures. So winter extremes along with this crazy summer heat is the place they choose as home.

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Twillia was born in Texas and grew up in a family of girls. She married Henry Dixon Dunlap, and switched her residence to an even more desolate farm further west and lived a quiet life there helping my grandfather salvage what he could from that stubborn earth. They had only two sons and they were a year apart in age. World War II was on the horizon when my father signed up to go to war and his younger brother tagged along to do the same. The problem was that my Uncle Dale was not old enough to enlist, prompting my grandmother to fire off a letter to a Texas official referring to the federal government who apparently would not release Uncle Dale, as “The biggest liars I’ve ever heard!”

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My grandmother was over sixty-years-old when I was born, so she was truly a grandma and not the chic, over-the-top stylish 40-something, 50-something Glammas that we have today. I was only ten-years-old when we said goodbye; she had been called upward to enjoy a better existence, one without farm duty, raising two rambunctious boys, having to worry about cows in the snow or challenging the government to a war of words. My time with her was cut short, but I treasure those few years we had together and this day has always been special for me. Hats off to angels everywhere, and to kind, spunky folks that go about their daily lives and help make the world a bit better for the rest of us.

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13 thoughts on “Twillia’s Birthday

  1. A lovely piece of family history L.T. Your grandmother sounds like a remarkable and extremely hard-working and loving woman. I found this really interesting. And so the family remain in Texas…

      • You certainly are. We hardly knew my father’s mother (the Greenwood I mentioned). All over a silly feud – over religion at that. Dad’s family were strict Catholics (Irish) and Mum’s were very Protestant (Welsh). In those days the two didn’t mix too well. 🙂

      • Oh I remember studying about the Catholics and Protestant issues. That’s too bad :(. I hope to get to the bottom of my Greenwood family history someday. I do have some stories of their life in the states…..

  2. Your grandmother would be happy to know that you remembered her birthday and shared a bit of her life with others. There are so many stories like this. My family farmed/ranched in Texas. You are an inspiration for me to put more of those stories down.

  3. A wonderful family history well written, You are fortunate to have the documentation and some surviving letters. Now the digital age is upon us emails and the junk that so often accompanies them will be unreadable or never kept in the first place. I think that Texas in mamy ways is a lot like inland Australia.

    • Thank you. Yes I agree that in many ways the digital age has not done us many favors. Maybe more people will scan their family history documents so that their great grandchildren can look back and glimpse the past. I think Texas is a lot like Australia, I’ve seen some photos and they are quite similar.

    • I know what you mean, although technology is a good, it does seem that we loose things along the way. Old photos, like handwritten letters are true treasures. I wonder about all the digital docs too, maybe they disappear…into thin air.

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