25. Cordelia Cornelia4 Pearson (William Houston3, Richard2, Charles1) was born in Shelbyville, BEDFORD, TN March 11, 1870. Cordelia died September 11, 1930 in Miami, DADE, FL, at 60 years of age.(42) She died at Victoria Hospital. Her body was interred September 13, 1930 in Miami, DADE, FL, Woodlawn Park.(43) Interment No. 3692, Grave 3, Lot 143, Section 9
She married William Thomas Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, January 10, 1893. William was born October 11, 1868 in Gallatin, SUMNER, TN. William(44) was the son of John Henry Williford and Martha Elizabeth Brown. William died July 25, 1955 in Miami, DADE, FL, at 86 years of age.(45) According to his Death Certificate, William died at the age of 86 in Mercy Hospital in Miami, FL on July 25, 1955. His father was Henry Willerford and his mother was Elizabeth Bradley as reported by his daughter, Hesta Willerford. He had resided at his home at 2928 SW 24th Terrace.
His body was interred July 28, 1955 in Miami, DADE, FL, Woodlawn Park.(46) Interment No. 15560, Grave 4, Lot 143, Section 9
At 25 years of age William became the father of Clyde Miller Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, July 3, 1894. At 27 years of age William became the father of Pauline Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, February 7, 1896. At 29 years of age William became the father of Hester Morley Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, July 11, 1898. William was listed as the head of a family on the 1900 Census in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN.(47) DAVIDSON, TN, Ward 20, Roll #1565, p. 169B
NAME REL RACE SEX BIRTH PLACE F M
Willerford, William T. Head W M Oct 1868 TN VA TN " , Cordelia C. Wife W F Mar 1870 TN TN GA " , Clyde M. Son W M July 1894 TN TN TN " , Pauline Daughter W F Feb 1896 TN TN TN " , Hester Daughter W F Aug 1898 TN TN TN
* Ed. note: Birth place of William T.'s parent was recorded in reverse order.
At 35 years of age William became the father of Alley Winston Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, September 16, 1904. At 36 years of age William became the father of Daisy Ruth Louella Willerford in Caswell Donna, DAVIDSON, TN, April 20, 1905. At 38 years of age William became the father of William Thomas Willerford Jr. in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, May 22, 1907. William was listed as the head of a family on the 1910 Census in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN.(48)
1910 DAVIDSON, TN, Roll # 1496, p. 136B, Dwelling 443, Ward 24, 304 37th Ave.
NAME REL RACE SEX AGE BIRTH F M
Willerford, W T HEAD W M 41 TN TN TN " , Delia WIFE W F 40 TN TN TN " , Clyde SON W M 16 TN TN TN " , Pauline DAU W F 14 TN TN TN " , Hester DAU W F 11 TN TN TN " , Alley DAU W F 6 TN TN TN " , Ruth DAU W F 5 TN TN TN " , William SON W M 3 TN TN TN
William was listed as the head of a family on the 1920 Census in Allapatta, DADE, FL.(49) NAME REL RACE SEX AGE BIRTH F M Willerford, W T HEAD W M 50 TN TN TN Rents " , D.C. WIFE W F 49 TN TN GA " , Clyde M. SON W M 25 TN TN TN " , Hester M. DAU W F 21 TN TN TN " , Alley D. DAU W F 16 TN TN TN " , Ruth DAU W F 14 TN TN TN " , Thos, W. Jr. SON W M 12 TN TN TN
Occupation: Carpenter.(50) The following are excerpts from the US City Directories for Miami FL:
1917 Roll #2 p. 423 Willesford Wm T (Delia), carp h n s Johnson 3 e Allapattah Dr.
1920 Roll #3 p. 689 Willerford W T h nr Johnson & Fenster Dr. Bradock sub div.
His funeral was held in Miami, DADE, FL, July 26, 1955.(51) Orbituary of William T. Willerford:
Rites for Retired Builder Thursday
William T. Willerford Sr., 86, retired building contractor who worked as construction superintendent on such early Greater Miami buildings as Gesu Catholic Church, Scottich Rite Temple and Coral Gables city hall, died Monday. He came here 39 years ago from Nashville. Tenn., where he was a general contractor. He lived at 2928 SW 24th Ter. Mr. Willerford had been retired for the past 25 years. Surviving are two sons, C.M. of East Hampton, Conn. and W. T. Jr., of Miami; (Ed. note: the residences of his two sons were entered in reverse order) three daughters, Miss Hesta Willerford and Mrs. Frank Nichols, both of Miami, and Mrs. Ruth conover, East Hampton; a sister, nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Private services will be held Thursday in Philbrick's Coral Gables Chapel, with burial in Woodlawn Park.
William Thomas Willerford, affectionately known to the family as Pap, was the Author's Great Grandfather. As a young boy, I have many fond memories visiting Grand Pap in his upstairs room in the two story wood frame house he built in Coconut Grove. There he would spend the day playing solitare and spitting tobacco into his spitoon. Considered a bad habit by today's standard, it surely facinated all the youngsters that gathered around him. I even remember that sad day arriving at his homestead. The adults held me back when I tried to run upstairs to see him. It was then, I was told he had gone home the angles.
William raised his children in Nashville and Columbia, TN during the early 1900's. Sometime around 1915-1917, he moved part of his family to Miami, FL to take part in the land and building boom. There was plenty of work for carpenters in those days. He built the family home in Coconut Grove where it still stands to this day at 2928 SW 24th Terrace. Shortly after he began raising the homestead, he sent for the remainder of the family to join him, leaving only his son, Clyde, behind in Columbia with the U.S. Field Artillery preparing to do his duty in World War I.
In those early days, life in South Florida was still very rural. Alley Willerford, daughter of William, tells of passing by a bog on her way to school every morning in which an alligator's roar would often freighten her. Her father comforted her by suggesting that she throw a rock at the creature to keep him at bay.
In another story, his wife Cordelia writing their son Clyde on the Front Lines in France, tells how William killed a Florida panther that had attacked her chickens:
April 15, 18 (editor's note: 1918) Miami, FL
......Pap killed a big Wild Cat yesterday .... he caught one of my henns (editor's note: she misspelled hens) the night before & I trailed him to his den. .... set a steel trap & got him. He was 18 inches high & nearly 4 feet long. He was a bad looking customer. We took several pictures of Pap & his Cat.
Alley, his daughter, related another story about Willliam when he was a boy about 6 years old. His Uncle James Willerford (rumored to be a Morgan Raider during the Civil War) once took young William into the woods to point out a tree where a large flock of Passenger Pigeons, now extinct, had roosted during the previous night. It seems that all the limbs were broken down.
William and his wife were avid readers. He was often heard talking about the books and author's he had read. He was also a strong believer in the writings of Nostradamas.
As a young man, William, attended a School of Ministry in Swannee, TN. He intended to enter the Ministry. Unfortunately, he did not conform to their teachings, and was soon expelled by the professors.
Occupation: Housekeeper. At 24 years of age Cordelia became the mother of Clyde Miller Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, July 3, 1894. At 25 years of age Cordelia became the mother of Pauline Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, February 7, 1896. At 28 years of age Cordelia became the mother of Hester Morley Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, July 11, 1898. At 34 years of age Cordelia became the mother of Alley Winston Willerford in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, September 16, 1904. At 35 years of age Cordelia became the mother of Daisy Ruth Louella Willerford in Caswell Donna, DAVIDSON, TN, April 20, 1905. At 37 years of age Cordelia became the mother of William Thomas Willerford Jr. in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN, May 22, 1907.
Cordelia was the first born child of William Houston Pearson and Mary Louisa Moody. The family history claims that William was a Union calvary soldier who married Louisa in Dover, GA. Cordelia was born somewhere along their journey to TN. This does not seem to be the case, and yet it cannot be entirely disproved. What is known is that Louisa is reported on the August 12, 1870 Census in Shelbyville, TN. It is most likely she was born there on March 11 as indicated on her Death Certificate. Even further evidence shedding doubt on this family story, there is no record of her mother living in and around Dover, GA (which is now extinct) prior to the Civil War. However, if we assume that our Houston Pearson was living in Franklin-Grundy County, TN in 1850 as most records seem to indicate, there was a Moody family in that region only a short distance from the Pearsons. Louisa may have been a member of that family.
In any case, Cordelia, her 4 sisters, and brother were raised in Marshall County, TN near the town of Flat Creek. Sometime around 1880 her father died and her mother moved the family to Nashville to work at the Tennessee Manufacturing Company in order to support her family. By 1888 one of her sisters was also working at the factory along with one of the Willerford family girls who resided nearby. It was here that Cordelia met and married William Thomas Willerford (Pap). They raised their children in Nashville until sometime after 1910 when the whole family moved to Columbia, TN. A family of carpenters, they moved in pursuit of work. By 1916 the family decided to move again. This time to Miami, FL as indicated in their son Clyde's letter to his sister Hester:
Sun. Morn. Nov. 19, 1916
Dear Het --- Received Moma's letter yesterday, saying she would start last Friday for Miami. Sure was sorry to hear of it, although I am glad in one respect, they are away form Columbia. But I would have liked to have seen them before they left. When do you think you and Granny will leave? (editor's note: he is most likely referring about Mary Louisa Pearson since his other Grandmother, Elizabeth Willerford, was living with her son-in-law Hart in 1910 and was probably still there). Not until I can see you all, anyway. Suspect we will get away from here before Xmas, if not then, I will be home by Jan. 27. My enlistment expires on Jan. 25. ....
Yours Clyde Co. "H" 1st Tenn Inft. Eagle Pass, Tex.
So with their son away with the U.S. Army chasing after Poncho Villa, leaving their eldest daughter and Grandmother behind and soon to follow, this then is how our family came to settle in Miami during the days of the land boom.
Cordelia Cornelia Pearson and William Thomas Willerford had the following children:
+ 35 i. Clyde Miller5 Willerford was born July 3, 1894.
+ 36 ii. Pauline Willerford was born February 7, 1896.
37 iii. Hester Morley Willerford was born in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN July 11, 1898. Hester died February 22, 1986 in Venice, SARASOTA, FL, at 87 years of age. Occupation: Clothes Buyer.(52) The Following are excerpts from the US City Directories for Miami FL:
1918 Roll #3 p. 538 Willerford, Hester M, bkpr Robinson-Matlock Co. h Allapattah Dr. N W cor Ada.
1920 Roll #3 p. 689 Willerford, Hester M, slsldy Burdine's, h W T Willerford.
1922 Roll #4 p. 882 Willerford, Hester M, clk Burdine's Sons Co, r R F D 1
1923 Roll #4 p. 884 Willerford, Hester M, clk Burdine's Sons Co, r R D Box 117.
1924 Roll #5 p. 837 Willerford, Hester M, clk W M Burdine's Sons Co, 22 E Flagler St.
She was baptized in Venice, SARASOTA, FL, June 5, 1985.(53)
For some unknown reason, Hester, never cared much for religious services and chose not to attend the church. Just the same, she was a pious woman and believed in her God. It wasn't until a year before her approaching death that she decided one day to be baptised. Hester and her sister, Ruth, were often visited weekly by Ruth's minister. It was on one of those occassions that he asked Hester if she would like to be baptised. It was to everyone's amazement that she accepted, whereupon the minister immediately performed the ceremony before she could change her mind.
She was cremated in Venice, SARASOTA, FL, March 17, 1986. Her ashes were spread across to Gulf of Mexico.
Her funeral was held in Venice, SARASOTA, FL, March 17, 1986.(54) Orbituary of Hesta Willerford:
Hesta M. Willerford, 87, 715 Jacaranda Circle, Venice, died Saturday (Feb 22, 1986) at home. She was born in Nashville, Tenn., and moved to Florida 71 years ago. She was a buyer for Burdines Department Store in Miami for 38 years and was a member of Grace United Methodist Church. Survivors include two sisters, Ruth Conover and Alley Nichols, both of Venice; and several nieces and nephews. Services will be private. Donations may be made to the Humane Society of Sarasota. National Cremation Society is in charge.
Upon the death of her older sister, Pauline, Hester became the matriarch of the family. She cared for Pauline's four daughters, her younger brothers and sisters, her Grandmother, and along with her father helped support the family with her income from Burdines Department Stores.
She was the sportswear fashion buyer for Burdines. Always honest in business, she never accepted gifts or gratuities from vendors. In the 1940's, she made occasional trips to fashion shows in the south of France. It was there that she first took a chance and brought home the first 2 piece bikini bathing suits. Hester was instrumental in the introduction of this skimpy beach wear to this country.
Hester was also a great lover of animals. She once owned a piglet which roamed around the house in Miami. There is also the story of "Byng", a french bulldog, that became the favorite companion of her Father. Byng served as the mascot onboard a US WWII destroyer in the Pacific. He began losing his hearing due the firing of the big guns. The ship's commander ask his sister to find a good home for the dog on shore. Being a friend of Hester, she made arrangements for the animal to be sent to Miami. The day the dog arrived, so did its owner, the Commander to check out the family and give his approval.
In another story, while on one of her "buying trip" vacations in Europe, Hester and two companions crossed over into Nazi Germany in 1940 after reluctly being forced to say "Heil Hitler". On their return to France, she admired a pair of briar wood carved French bulldog bookends in a small gift shop. They reminded her so much of Byng. Unable to afford them she didn't purchase them. Shortly after her return to Miami, she received a package from her traveling companion. Inside was the pair of bookends. She cherished them and displayed them proudly in her homes in Miami and Venice, FL. Today these family heirlooms are in the possession of her sister, Ruth.
After nearly 40 years of honorable service, Hester retired from Burdines in 1959. For two years she lived alone at the old homestead in the Grove until she was joined by her sister, Ruth, in 1961. In 1970 she sold her father's home on 24th Terrace and moved to Venice, FL with Ruth to be joined a few years later by their other sister, Alley. It was here, that Hester succumbed to three years of heart problems following a stroke in 1983. She died in 1986 and surrounded by friends and family members, her ashes were spread across the Gult of Mexico.
38 iv. Alley Winston Willerford was born in Nashville, DAVIDSON, TN September 16, 1904. Alley died June 12, 1991 in Venice, SARASOTA, FL, at 86 years of age. She married twice. She married William Benjamin Fulton November 7, 1927. William was born January 12, 1890 MUSCOGEE, GA. William was the son of B. A. Fulton and Margaret. William died May 28, 1938 Upatoi, GA, at 48 years of age.
William was the first husband of Alley Willerford. He was a salesman who sold Hollywood films to the movie theaters. One of the most notable movies he sold was Al Joelson's The Jazz Singer, the first talkie.
She married Frank Nichols after 1938. Frank died circa 1970 in Miami, DADE, FL.
Occupation: Housekeeper.(55) The following are excerpts from the US City Directories for Miami FL:
1921 Roll #3 p. 759 Willeford, Allie clk S E Philpitt
1922 Roll #4 p. 882 Willerford, Alley clk S E Philpitt, h R FD 1
1924 Roll #5 p. 837 Willerford, Alley clk S E Philpitt & Son, 34 N Miami Ave.
Alley married twice during her life. Her first husband was William Fulton. He was a district salesman for a company based in New York that sold Hollywood films to the movie theaters. Together they travelled thoughout the South until his death at an early age. Several years later, Alley married Frank Nichols an officer in the US Army. It was with her new husband that she fell in love with the culturing of orchids.
When she and Frank retired from the Army, they returned to live in Miami. There they both began raising orchids as a past time. Alley became very active in the South Florida Garden Society and was elected President for several terms. She won many trophies from the local flower clubs.
Following the death of her husband Frank, she moved to Venice, Florida to live near her sisters Hester and Ruth. It was there that she died of heart failure at the age of 87.
+ 39 v. Daisy Ruth Louella Willerford was born April 20, 1905.
+ 40 vi. William Thomas Willerford Jr. was born May 22, 1907.
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