EDITH NOVELLA BEARDEN
Edith Novella Bearden was born March 13, 1916 in Morganville, Georgia. (Fowler’s Hollow) Her parents were Ether and Mary Harris Bearden. Ether was born Aug. 3, 1891 on Sand Mountain. Mary was born Jan. 14, 1893 in Morganville. Mary went to school in Morganville and belonged to the Methodist church. Mary’s mother, Julie Harris was born Dec. 2, 1860, also in Morganville. Julie had 5 children and all died except Mary and Willie. Willie was born Aug. 11, 1888.
In 1906, Willie bought a piece of land and built a house. Edith’s mother, grandmother and Uncle Willie lived there together. The house had 4 rooms. This property joined Mrs. Johnny Morgan’s and they called it “Pine Top”.
Ether and Mary were married April 15, 1913 in Morganville. Edwin Wells was Ether’s best man. Ether and Mary had two daughters, Pearl and Edith. Pearl was born Jan. 26, 1914 in Morganville in one of the section houses.
About 1917, Ether moved his family to Chattanooga. He continued his farming in Morganville and boarded with Penney Morgan. Her house was a two story white frame house on the corner of Sarah’s Chapel Rd. This was during the Spanish Flu epidemic and Ether died of pneumonia on Feb. 13, 1920. Edith was 4 years old and loved her father dearly. He was 28 years old. Edith and Pearl’s grandmother, Julie Harris took care of them while Mary worked. Mary worked at the Southern Saddlery Co. in Chattanooga. Julie died from a stroke on Nov. 4, 1922, at age 62.
Mary married again in Nov. 1923. She married John R. Campbell. They had a baby girl on Sept. 8, 1925 named Geneva Ruth. Mary never recovered from the birth and she died on Feb. 9, 1926 at age 33. Little Ruth went to live with her aunt. Edith and Pearl never saw her again. The baby died 17 days after her mother died. Julie, Ether, Mary and Ruth are all buried at Sarah’s Chapel Cemetery.
The day Mary died was the beginning of many sorrows for Pearl and Edith. They were 12 & 10 and had no parents or grandparents. Their Uncle Willie and his second wife, Almeda Holland Harris took them until they could decide what to do with them. Almeda finally decided they should go to Bonnie Oaks Reformatory in Chattanooga. But the Reformatory was for wayward and rebellious girls, so Pearl and Edith could not be accepted. The next idea was to put them in the orphanage on Vine St. in Chattanooga, but they said they were too old.
In 1929, Willie decided to move Almeda, Pearl and Edith back to “Pine Top”. To get there, you had to go up Sarah’s Chapel Rd. to John McCauley’s house, go left and follow a path about 3 blocks, through the woods and up on the hill was “Pine Top”. The house was now 23 years old and very run down. The chimney on the house was made of field rocks just placed on top of each other. It was also a den for snakes. There was no well or spring for water, so Edith had to carry water about a mile from the nearest neighbor’s spring, which meant she had to go through the woods and climb fences.
In 1929, Pearl ran away. She went to live with a relative from their Daddy’s side of the family. Edith was very upset that Pearl didn’t tell her she was leaving and also for not taking her with her. Pearl was eventually sent to a Catholic home in Memphis. This was a blessing. She received a good education.
In the fall of 1929, Willie, Almeda and Edith moved back to Chattanooga. This meant Edith would be back in school. Truant officers never bothered you in Morganville, but in Chattanooga they would. She was able to do her homework and keep up with her many chores at home. Almeda didn’t have housework to do, but she did keep busy making “home brew” until their house was raided in the middle of the night.
In 1932, Edith was doing the laundry in a 3 legged, black cast iron pot that sat on rocks. She was trying to light a fire under it, but the wind kept blowing the matches out. Almeda came over and slapped Edith for wasting matches. And for the first time, Edith defended herself. It must have been quite a sight to behold, as Willie watched and laughed as his wife finally got what she deserved! Of course, Almeda told Edith she would have to leave.
Edith went to Chattanooga to live with her mother’s friend, Zora Penix. Zora’s sister ran a boarding house and it was there Edith, met her husband, Clinton Cody of Middle, Term. They were married Nov. 26, 1932. Edith was 16 years old. They had 4 children: Wilma, Eugene, Betty and Mary Julia. Mary was named for Edith’s mother.
Uncle Willie died in 1965. Almeda died in 1978. They were buried in High Point, Georgia.
Pearl married Emerett Lockhart. They had one son, Robert. Emerett died Feb. 1966. Pearl is still living in Chattanooga.
In Dec. 1948, Edith and family moved to Miami, Florida. Clinton passed away in Mar. 1968. Edith is 80 years old and lives in Winter Park, Florida. She is in good health and enjoys her large family of 14 grandchildren and 23 great grandchildren.