Cecile Idella Hitt McMahan
Cecile, the fifth of nine children of Thomas and Susan Sullivan Hitt was born June 25, 1888, in Lincoln, Alabama, Talledega County. Even though she was named Cecile she preferred to be called Cecil and in her later years, family members and close friends referred to her as Mis Acie.
On October 24, 1906, she married Asa Alexander McMahan of Rising Fawn, Georgia. To this union eight children were born, Thelma Iris, Donavon Alexander, Mary Clara, Joseph (Buddy), Ruth Ophelia, Henrietta White, Asa Leonard (Sonny) and Charles Edward.
She was a devoted mother and homemaker and was widely recognized as a leader in the church, school, community and agriculture.
Due to Asa’s involvement in mercantile, lumbering and other business activities nurturing eight children and managing farming activities were things Cecil accepted enthusiastically.
She was a lifelong member of Rising Fawn ME Church South (later United Methodist Church), a charter member of the Dade County Farm Bureau and in early years an active member of the Dade County PTA.
An example of her activities as a member of Rising Fawn Methodist Church was a designation of a plot of ground as “God’s Acre” with the proceeds to be used toward the erection of the sign for the church which is in use today.
In a position of leadership in the PTA, the construction of the first consolidated High School in Dade County at Trenton in 1925 was something she viewed with pride. On July 4 of that year this writer attended the dedication at the age of two weeks.
As a member of the Dade County Farm Bureau her views on soil conservation and up to date farm practices were widely known.
The opportunity to showcase her talents in needlework arose February 1932 when the Chattanooga Times sponsored a state flower quilting contest. One state flower appeared each Sunday from February 28 through July and two each Sunday August through October. As considerable time was required to embroider each flower she devoted many hours on this by lamplight and on rainy days. Judging for the three states (Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee) was held November 24,1932. Cecil’s entry received third place. Today this beautiful quilt is in the care of her granddaughter, Rosemary Kirk Moses.
Asa died in 1940 on Easter Sunday leaving Cecil and three sons (Buddy, Charles and Sonny) to continue the farming operation for approximately 15 years. In addition to the farming, shortly after World War II, a highlight each fall was the butchering of approximately one hundred head of hogs for neighbors and themselves. Cecil’s involvement did not end with the butchering. She, with some help from her sons, trimmed and cured the meat, rendered the lard, made sausage, hogshead cheese, “chitlins” and pickled pigs feet.
She, in her early eighties because of blindness, was forced to curtail the things which had been a way of life for her.
Cecile (Cecil/Mis Acie), a true pioneer, at the age of 92 lapsed into a coma and quietly slipped away on Christmas Day 1980.
This writer was privileged to know and call her “Mama” for 55 years.