On 15 Jan 1890 Clara Etta Foster was born to Emmanuel and Addaline Cocke Foster. She was born in a house south of the Jim White home on Pulaski Highway near Shoal Creek. Clara was the fourth of six children, and her brother was Bill Foster. Her sisters were Lucy, Esther, Lona, and Sadie. At her birthday in 1990 (100 years) she said she had a happy childhood, playing with her brothers and sisters. In those days there were no toys and the children used their imaginations to make their own fun. When Clara was 15 her sister, Lucy, died of typhoid fever at age twenty, being married fourteen months. Clara's father was very sick with it along with her brother. Clara's hair fell out.
On 10 Sep 1911 Clara married James William (Will) Leighton. Their first home was located on Pulaski Highway across from the Immanuel Baptist Church. After a short time they moved in with Will's parents, Charles and Mary Leighton, behind the Truitt place on Pulaski Highway. Later they bought a place up on the hill behind the Jewell Gibbs home on Pulaski Highway. Their home could be reached from either Pulaski Highway or Gimlet Road. Clara and Lona married brothers.
Will and Clara then moved in with her parents on Gimlet Road where the Hugh Wimbs farm was located. Foster Burdine Leighton was born there on 21 Aug 1912. The Leightons then moved into the house known as the Lang place on Gimlet Road, where Charles William Leighton was born on 12 Apr 1914.
Clara's father bought land for them to build a new house on Norton Road, east of the Lone Star Church. In 1990 this land was the Marvin Kiddy farm. A land clearing and log rolling was held to prepare the land for their new home. Neighboring men came to help Will and Mr. Foster, and the ladies cooked a big meal for them. That house was torn down in 1984 when the Kiddy's built their new home. Noel Francis Leighton was born there on 02 Sep 1915, and the twins, Margaret Dean and Mary Dale, were born there on 08 Oct 1917.
Will and Clara sold this farm to move to California with Will's parents, who had moved to the new land of opportunity. Will's father became very ill with cancer so Will and Clara cancelled plans to move. Meanwhile they lived in a house near the W.H. Boyd place. Will and Clara bought their last house in 1921 where Charles is living in 1998. This is the house where the grandchildren of Joe Roberson's generation have many fond memories.
The Leightons farmed and had their own cattle, hogs, and chickens to provide food for the family. The children were brought up with love, taught to be self-reliant, and were given good moral values. The Leightons were known as good people, willing to help their friends and neighbors. Will died 02 Nov 1960 and Clara continued to live with Charles at the homeplace until about 1970. At that time she moved in with her daughter Margaret and Flournoy May and lived with them for ten years. Clara then moved back in with son Charles for six years. She returned to Margaret's house in 1986 where she died in 1995, at 105 years of age.
Clara's first memory of going to church was attending the Christian Church on Pulaski Street. After Clara and Will were married, they attended a non-denominational church in the woods on the Jim Hickman place, presently in the Beechwood area. They then attended The Church of the Brethren on the corner of Norton Road and Lone Star Road (N35 14.707/W87 15.876). Clara began attending New Prospect Methodist Church around 1954, where she especially enjoyed Easter Sunrise Services.
At her birthday party in 1990 Clara said, "I feel like my long life is a blessing from God. I have lived a quite old-fashioned life. My family kept me busy at home so I never mixed with the world. I believed in obeying my parents the best I could. I never wanted to use foul language, drink, smoke or any of the sorts. Life has been good to me with all the heartaches along the way. I thank God for my family and my life along the way. Now my hope is still from above. My love and faith in Jesus Christ." Indeed her hope was above when she died and her son Charles was in the room with her. She raised both arms toward the ceiling and took her last breath. At almost 106 years of age, Clara Etta Foster, wife of James William Leighton and daughter of Addaline Frances Cocke Foster, is thought to have been the oldest Cocke-Catesby descendant. At her death, there were ten grandchildren, twenty great grandchildren, and eight great great grandchildren.
James William Leighton
1888–1960 (m. 1911)
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