|Birth: ||Jun. 10, 1869|
North Carolina, USA
|Death: ||Aug. 18, 1949|
I doubt Lessia is buried in this cemetery. Her name and birth date are inscribed on the side of her mother's tombstone, but I figured I'd leave this listing here for her until I determine where she actually is buried.
Lessia Lou Edwards was the daughter of Rusha Elizabeth King (1837-1894) and her second husband A. Jackson Edwards (1833-?, a Confederate soldier). She had two half brothers by her mother's first marriage to Dulin Stearns (1836-1863, another Confederate soldier): Emsley Valentine Stearns (c.1859-1920) and Dulin Benson Stearns (1863-1962, great grandfather of the present writer). Mr. Edwards took his wife and daughter out to Arkansas in the 1880s, though the sons of the first marriage remained in North Carolina. Lessie married four times, to George Smith, Joseph Jacks, Mr. Casey and Joseph H. Byers (1870-1931). She had one daughter, Rusha Rose "Rosebud" Smith, born 1888.
There are many stories told in our famiily of "Aunt Lessie," who must have been quite a remarkable person. One of her husbands, Mr. Jacks, sold patent medicines from a house boat up and down the Mississippi River. Lessie wrote home that she had learned to take tintype photographs and was the first lady photographer on the river. She also took lady tourists out for floating tea parties on the river, and when times were difficult, she dressed as a gypsy and told fortunes for 50 cents each!
She came to visit her relatives in North Carolina several times, and the stories of her visits have been passed down through the generations. She never cut her hair, and in her later years, when she combed it out, it reached the floor. She came to NC in 1929, as a delegate from the Arkansas UDC to the "Last Great Reunion" of the Confederate Soldiers held in Charlotte that year. Accompanying her was her granddaughter, Virginia Byers, then a student at the University of Arkansas. (Lessie's daughter Rose had married Albert L. Byers, her step-father's younger brother, and had several children.)
While she died quite a while before I was born, I've always felt that I knew Aunt Lessie from the wonderful stories I've heard of her. She grew up in a world devastated by war and poverty, but never lost her faith and her boundless optimism. I wish I could have known her.
Rusha Elizabeth King Stearns Edwards (1837 - 1894)
Rusha Rosebud Smith Byers Nelson (1888 - 1965)*
Emsley Valentine Starnes (1859 - 1920)*
Dulin Benson Stearns (1863 - 1962)*
Lessia Lou Edwards Byers (1869 - 1949)
Created by: John Field Pankow
Record added: Mar 03, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 18134168