Updated: May 12
Thoughts of my mother are flooding my mind as the Kearse Family Reunion weekend gets closer. I find myself reflecting on treasured memories from a time when mom, my siblings, and I were all so young and living on the Kearse farm during the late ‘60s and early ’70s. My siblings and I are sharing some of these memories in this blog. We hope they’ll make you smile and perhaps trigger reflection on cherished moments with your mom.
I am Marcia, the youngest of my siblings
Theotis Jr. (aka "Ricky"), Meta,
Nancy, and Jennifer.
Our mother was Ernestine Kearse Davis, the twelfth and youngest child of Benjamin J. and Meta Bell Kearse. She was married to Theotis Davis, Sr., and had eight children, (three of them preceded her in death). She was the most loving, family-oriented, positive, and uplifting spirit. She was, and continues to be, a guiding light in our lives. Her siblings called her Ernest or Tine; nieces and nephews called her “aunT”; grandchildren called her grandma; we called her mama. She smoked Pall Mall cigarettes, consumed black coffee throughout each day, and seemed (at least to us) to eat very little. Her favorite perfume was Chanel N°5. There are days when we’ve all said WE KNOW she’s nearby. Did we really detect the subtle scent of Chanel and the whisper of her voice in the wind reminding us to be a bridge-builder or peacemaker within our families?” It’s comforting to think so.
This is a high school graduation photo of our mother. Although she began her education in the Sumter County public schools, she attended and graduated from the Gillespie-Selden Institute, a boarding school in Crisp County, Cordele, Georgia. In addition to traditional courses, the Gillespie Institute offered classes in music, theatre, culture, etiquette, and nursing—the campus included a hospital, the only one available for African Americans in Crisp County before the mid-fifties. She furthered her education at Albany College in Albany Georgia.
Mama had a passion for singing, cooking, sewing, praising God, and all things family. Our most favorite moments with her were the evenings and weekends filled with listening to her sing, watching her sew something with the latest Simplicity or Butterick patterns, or attending family gatherings. There were times that the house was filled with so much laughter while we gathered around the kitchen table or the sewing machine.
We lived on the Kearse farm next door to our grandparents, and Uncle Bo (the eleventh child, Jehovah Kearse, Sr.) and Aunt Geraldine in DeSoto, Georgia for several years. It was family central. Route 1 Box 78 was ground zero for the most infamous family gatherings. The Kearse family understood the need for maintaining strong family connections and building bridges between each generation. Many weekends were filled with visits from aunts, uncles, and cousins. We often spent time picking peaches and blackberries for Grandmama’s cobblers, shelling beans/peas for Sunday dinners, or canning preserves with Aunt Geraldine to eat with freshly made biscuits. We played never-ending outdoor games like One-Two-Three Red Light, dodgeball, hopscotch, Ring Around the Rosie, or any sport (there were always enough cousins for a team). We fished and built forts/treehouses.
We are attending the 2022 Kearse Family Reunion because we love our family, and understand the need for bridge-building and ensuring our children know their history. We look forward to celebrating the Kearse legacy with you in July.
Theotis JR, Meta, Nancy, Jennifer, and Marcia