Friday, February 8, 2008

A salute to Anne Lou Bell Johnson Green

I would like to give a very special salute and tribute to my Great-Grandmother,
Anne Lou Bell Johnson Green. She was an incredibly special lady to most that knew her.

She was fondly known to her grand and great-grandchildren as "Big Mama." Her heart though was the biggest part about her.

Anne Lou Johnson was born on July 24, 1900. She was the daughter of Elizabeth Green and Troy Johnson and sister to Johnnie Johnson. She was born and raised in and around Gilliam, Louisiana in Caddo parish. Her mother remarried a former slave by the name of Alfred Brown who became a loving stepfather but like a 2nd father to Annie Lou.

At at early age, Annie Lou changed her name to Annie Bell Johnson although many close to her continued to call her Annie Lou.

At age 17, she met and married Robert Edward Lee, the son of Richard Clyde Lee and Margery Brittentine Lee. To this union was born her only child, Johnnie Pearl Lee.
The pair resided in the Rocky Mount settlement of Plain Dealing, Louisiana in Bossier parish. The 1920 census shows the couple and their young daughter living along side his parents, Richard and Margery and his paternal grandparents, Anthony and Betty Smith. That was 3 generations living alongside each other.

Although, their marriage ended in divorce, the 2 remained friends.

Annie Bell found love again in Timothy Green who was the son of Edward and Laura Lewis Green. She was very much in love with her new husband and the 2 made their home in Plain Dealing, Louisiana. Anne Bell became mother in every sense of the word to Tim's daughter, Irene who has shared very fond memories of her mother.

Anne Bell was an excellent provider and homemaker. She sewed, knitted, gardened and was just a "Jill" of all trades.

Even more remarkable about her was the fact that she was so generous and loving. She reached out to and helped so many people, be it her children, grandchildren, cousins nieces and friends. She was the one to turn to in time of need, be it financial or emotional, she was a friend indeed. She provided a place to stay for many people until they were able to get on their feet, lent her time and ear to those who needed it, provided food and clothing to those less fortunate and provided love unconditionally.

Her home was also the place to be for Sunday Dinner. I have heard so many stories of the wonderful meals that she cooked up just because. Everything from down-home smoked hams, Smothered Pork chops with cabbage, Southern Fried Chicken, Fried Catfish, hot water cornbread, dressing, potato salad and her specialty was melt-in your mouth desserts.

She and her husband Tim had a smokehouse on their property which was always stocked with all kind of meats. In addition, she canned so her cupboards were always fully stocked in case company came.

She helped raise my mother, Lottie and well as some of her other grandchildren. My mother has the fondest memories of her "Big Mama." She taught her how to cook and be a homemaker but most of all she taught her how to love and how to reach out to others and those lessons stuck because my mother inherited many of her loving ways.

My late Cousin Lizzie Neal Bagley who was actually a younger 1st cousin to "Big mama" shared many memories about "Big mama's humanitarian ways. She just loved her and considered her like a 2nd mother too.

"Big Mama" was a christian woman too. She worshipped God with conviction and tried to live her life according to the "Good Book" and tried to teach her family to do likewise.

Tragically, her husband, Tim died in February, 1946 when a large tree he was cutting in the woods fell on him. It broke his neck but it broke her heart.

Now a widow woman, she turned to her faith and picked herself up and started over again. She and her grand-daughter, Lottie began working multiple jobs such as housekeeping, taking in ironing, picking cotton and other odd jobs and saved up enough money to buy another house on a large piece of land. There she made a new home with some of her other family.

In 1966, tragedy stuck and she lost her home and all its contents to a fire. Again, her faith was tested but again she got back up and commenced the building of another home on the property. She put up a temporary small home until a larger home like the one before could be constructed. However, God had other plans, he called her home to her final and Largest Indestructible home in Heaven on August 23, 1967.

Her parting was traumatic for many but the sadness diminished with the comfort of knowing the she was in the presence of the Lord. What we are left with is the memory of a incredibly loving human being. I too was the benefactor of that love. I have very special memories of my "Big Mama." I could see and feel her love whenever she looked at me, smiled at me or put her arms around me. Even today, whenever I am feeling down I remember that feeling and I don't feel down anymore.

"Big Mama", I will always love you and I can't wait to see you again in Heaven!

A poem for you:

Anne Bell, Anne Bell, I heard Heaven's bells, ringing
And harps, violins and angelic voices singing

They were playing a tune to welcome you in
To your home in the sky with the rest of your kin

Who had journeyed before you to that resting place
And beheld the Glory of God's Glorious face

I know you felt awe when He said to you
Well, done Anne your burden is through

You served me, well dear Anne and with all your heart
And you left my word on earth though you had to depart

So rest now, servant, it is here that you will reside
Forever and an eternity with God by your side

Love, Karen Burney 2/8/08

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