A Brief History Of Belle Stagner

By Nell Morisette
Camden, Tenn.

Hello Tribune readers, I hope all had a nice Thanksgiving and are ready for Christmas.

I want to thank Linda Stockdale for letting me share the story of one of her distant relatives. Part of this was written by Capt. Roy Hall.

Belle Stagner
Makes Her Point

Belle Donia Wheatley was the daughter of Judge and State Legislator James Knox Wheatley and Mahulda Jane Hall.

Belle first married James Butler. Her second marriage was to Isaac Newton Stagner, who had been married to Belle's sister. They lived in Big Sandy.

In 1884/85 Belle and Newt left Benton County and went to McKinney, Texas.

Newt and Belle had one daughter and four sons. The boys helped their father doing a full man's work every day on the farm. They were good people, hard working, and fun loving, which are attributes of nearly all people who came from Tennessee in the old day. Belle was a rather smallish women, but like all pioneer women, she had iron in her veins. The whole family was always pulling pranks on each other.

In those days everyone on the farm cooked on wood stoves, so it was customary to hail wood frohavehe woods in long poles and then cut it into stove length as needed This was usually done in the early morning, by the men, before going to the field.

Belle, like many women, had a problem getting dinner when the men went off and forgot to cut the wood. She would hav to pick up chips and gather up corn cobs from the farm yard to cook dinner.

One day she rung the bell, calling the men in from the field for their mid-day mean. Then she went back and sat down by the kitchen store. Newt and the boys William, Scott, Webb, and Porter stormed in on the back porch, washing their hands and faces with good nature kidding, looking forward to the good dinner Belle always had ready for them. It was ready but when they sad down at the table a silence spread over the room.

The whole dinner was on the table uncooked. The biscuits were in the dough stage, the dry beans were in their big bowl, a chunk of raw beef saw on the platter, a dewberry cobbler was in its regular dish with the ripe berries showing through the dough dumplings, and a pan of cornbread ready for baking was on the stove. Not a word was said.

Finally Newt picked up his cut, went to the store and poured out some coffee from the pot. It came out almost a clear liquid. He looked down at Belle, who was darning a sock. "What's the matter Belle?" he asked, his eyes crinkling.

"No corn cobs, no chips, no wood, no cooked dinner." She went on working on the socks. Newt and the boys, shouting and laughing, hustled out and god wood. This ended one problem in the Stagner household.

Belle Stagner had another problems which had to do with her men folks. In those days every good housekeeper prided herself that she could keep a spotlessly clean house and perfectly made-up beds. The feather beds and folster pillows were made up just so, so and not to be wallowed on.

Belle's men folks tired and full of dinner, and catching her out of the bedrooms, would flop down on the beds for a brief rest before going back out to the fields. She would berate and chase them off, and being good natured folk they'd go off laughing at her rantings. Finally she decided to end this for once and all. And die did!

One morning, when they were all in the field, she went down on the branch and cut a dozen or so of long keep switches that were full of thorns. She stripped the beds and spread the switches evenly ospreadhe beds. Placing a quilt on top of them, she spead the counterpanes over the quilt, and went on getting dinner.

When Newt and the boys had finished dinner she told them she had to go up to Frank Hunn's for a minute, but would be back about the time they went back to the fields. Belle had planned her strategy carefully. For several days before this she had not bothered the men about lolling on her beds, and in going away from the house this would give them the opportunity to loll as much as they wished.

Newt went out and stretched on the porch, but not the boys. They made for the beds. Newt said afterward that so many bad words, yaulings, and moans had never before echoed through the STagner household. The quilt prevented the thorns from penetrating so far to cause serious injuries, but deep enough to let the boys know, for all time, that the beds were for sleeping on at night, and not for wallowing on in Belle Stagner's house.

Issac Newton Stagner died in January of 1941. Belle Donia STagner died September 26, 1934, in Celina, Texas.

Thought for the week:

Perfect love casts away all fears and wipes away all tears.


If you have suggestions and/ or additions for these pages, please feel free to write County Host

Brian Nichols

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