-Annie Stevens Jones
1871 - 1954
Annie Stevens Jones was born Annie Olive Stevens on 19 July 1871 in Magnolia, Pike County, Mississippi. Annie's father, James Holmes Stevens, was a captain in the Confederate army during the Civil War, and was wounded at the Battle of Corinth, Mississippi. Her mother, Olive Washburn, was from an old New England family and could trace her roots back to Miles Standish of the Mayflower. Annie became fascinated by her family history and was later to join the Mayflower Society and author a family genealogy entitled Stevens-Washburn with Related Lines (1945).
In 1897 she married Rev. Claude Lanier Jones who served as pastor of the Central Christian Church in Shreveport, Louisiana from 1898 to 1923. The couple had a daughter, Olive, in 1913.
Central Christian Church, Shreveport, LA
Annie was active in the church, not only with the normal duties of a pastor's wife, but also organizing womens' and youth groups in addition to acting as Superintendent of the Primary and Beginners Departments of the Bible School, which was one of the largest Christian schools in Louisiana.
Annie Stevens Jones was a very talented poet, in addition to an accomplished genealogist. In 1946, at the age of 75, she published the little book below, The Hills of Peace, a book of poetry.
Annie died in 1954 in Arkansas, where she and her husband had retired, leaving her daughter, five grandchildren and many great-grandchildren behind to enjoy and appreciate her genealogical and literary works. Several examples of Annie's fine poems are given here, including one that does not appear in her poetry book, but in her genealogy book. It was written about her father, and is entitled "A Stevens".
*Many thanks to Richard Stevens, great-grand nephew of Annie, for the information he supplied for her page!
The Hills of Peace
by Annie Stevens Jones
Capt. James Holmes Stevens (1835-1902)
My father was a Stevens. It seems a special name,
Not because he gave it any special fame,
But just because he wore it and always kept it clean.
He was a stalwart giant, blue eyes, twinkling or keen,
According to his humor. He could entertain a crowd,
His Irish wit came sparkling, their laughter long and loud.
We kids would run to meet him with all the neighbors', and
There never were too many, three or four on either hand;
He would have some nonsense ready, get us laughing hard and bim!
He'd clap us all together in the path in front of him!
He was full of jokes and stories, or he'd roll us on the floor
In a rough and tumble frolic, but we always came for more.
We knew that we must "take it" if we would play with Dad,
He played as hard as we did, always gave it all he had.
But there was no sloppy nonsense in his make-up anywhere,
So, when the fun was over, it was over good and square.
He'd say, "Get busy now. Go, boys, get in the wood,"
And "Mother's getting supper, girls. Go help her now, be good."
And well we knew there'd be no chance to idle or to play
Until every single supper dish was washed and put away.
He was a true Confederate, and wore the Southern gray,
Though he was born in Pennsylvania, so very far away.
My mother made his uniform, she was a girl-wife then -
And he marched away so proudly, the Captain of his men.
Some one gave him a long black plume, and some one else a sash,
His men presented him a sword - he really cut a dash! -
Engraved, "To James Holmes Stevens, Captain of the Morehouse Stars,"
My mother said there were none so fine even with the Regulars.
Battle of Corinth/ Currier & Ives
I've often wondered privately how he ever did get through,
For he hated blood and killing worse than any man I knew
My brothers used to love to hunt, but Father never did,
He would sometimes laugh and tell us how, when he was just a kid,
He threw a stone and killed a bird. It gave him quite a start,
The bird could not sit on the limb, and it nearly broke his heart.
After that he would not kill; let others have the sport;
It was a childish notion, but he loved life of every sort.
He lost a little fortune after the Civil War
When so many he had trusted "took the Bankrupt Law".
But he stubbornly refused his own debts to trim,
He could not bear to fail toward those who had trusted him.
At first he was fanatical, so my mother said,
"I will not wear a 'storelbought suit' while I am in the red."
But after he discovered it would take so many years,
And it would cost his family so much of suffering and tears,
He became more normal. But he never ceased to try
To do the work of several men, put every penny by,
Until finally, with brother's help, all those debts were paid.
But year by year upon his heart were other burdens laid.
Hard work, honor, honesty, on these no compromise,
They were the things of life and death in his downright eyes.
In his youth my father was, I'm very much afraid,
What our classic novelists would call a "gay young blade".
He said he'd ride for miles and dance the whole night through,
And next day it would be his pride how much work he'd do.
It is not strange perhaps that one so jovial as he
Should sometimes stumble woefully.
Such a time was mine to see.
For once, when I was very small, I have a memory dim
Of a father coming home too gay to a mother all too grim.
To tobacco he was also then an ardent devotee,
But he quit them both - the smoke, the drink - and never more did we
See Father using either. It was a stern life-plan,
But cheerfully he lived it. Dear folks, that takes a man.
And his roots were fast in God. On Sunday he would say,
"Let's have no big meal, my dear; it is the Lord's own day."
Then he would take the broom and sweep the porch and hall;
He was very clumsy at it, but he would not stop till all
Was nice and clean. Then he'd sit down, quietly at ease,
With our big family Bible open on his knees.
We were Episcopalians, but sometimes, Papa said
He liked to worship still-like, do more with his head,
And not take so much exercise. So, when we were in the surrey,
He'd put the lines in Mother's hands, say, "Olive, do not worry,
I'll stay home with the Book today." Then Mama'd say a word
That puzzled me, it was "Campbellite," and some strange thing he'd heard
When he was out in Texas, a lonely traveller,
Where he had heard this doctrine that seemed so strange to her.
With all the loving memories I love so to recall
I think 'tis Father's tenderness I love the most of all.
Once, when I was very ill, lay sick in bed so long,
He took his turn to sit with me in the earliest dawn.
He would tip in, his shoes all wet from the dewy grass,
His left hand full of glories and in his right hand a glass.
He would sit down beside me, try to put the flowers in,
And they would keep tumbling out, and tumbling out again.
How patiently his big hands worked at the unaccustomed task!
I never can forget them so long as life shall last.
Those hands that toiled so prodigiously a man's hard work to do,
Struggling with flowers - clumsy - so tender too.
Ah, Father, I will meet you in the land beyond the sky,
Where our hands will never falter, nor our morning-glories die.
And may your spirit march along in those you've left behind,
Honest, gentle, merry - human, yes, - and kind.
A Stevens! I salute you! I give to you the mead
We render to a hero. You were a man indeed.
Such a lavish love Autumn is!
He spends his wealth unstinted;
He woos with gifts of fruit and grain,
I ride, his torches light my train;
For me his hills wear golden gowns,
For me he carpets new the downs;
For me he veils the flagrant skies,
With Indian Summer in his eyes;
Long avenues of tinted tents
He spreads for me, he woos each sense,
And even the air is new-minted.
A Recipe for Poetry
I had been making jelly;
It was a goodly sight--
My glasses ranged upon the sill
In the sun's clear light;
Like exquisite cathedral glass,
The colors were so fine--
Clear amber, tender amethyst,
Cherry red, and wine.
I look, and sigh. Oh, for a recipe
As simple and as sure as this, for poetry!
One cup, juice of the fruit of truth, refined,
To one -- take care! -- of sugar of free fancy;
Mix in the fresh-scrubbed saucepan of the mind,
Boil hard, stir well, and skim relentlessly.
Good taste must show exactly when
It jells; then pour -- and do not touch again.
To a Peach Tree in Winter
Your "cup" is empty, ministering tree,
While snow and rain are falling,
But draw some nectar up for me,
Next summer, I'll be calling.
To A Guernsey Lily
How could you resist
The ardent call of Spring?
Or Summer, with his warmer urge
Yet there, closely wrapped and secret,
There you lay;
By not the tiniest leafy sprout
Did you betray
Your hiding place. All Spring's joy
And Summer's bliss
You steadfastly refused; but now, so coy,
You lift your blushing face
to Autumn's kiss!
But I am glad you waited,
Truth to tell.
I love Spring's blossom riot,
But it is well
To have a little spring-time,
Safely kept apart,
To bloom in bleaker seasons
Of the heart.
So while, exultingly, you give your all
Of color and of form,
I quite forget the lateness
-- And the storm.
A bunch of wild azaleas from the mountain side;
A dear friend brings them to my room,
A Hallelujah Chorus from trumpets of perfume!
An apostrophe to loveliness!
A dream of beauty clothed in bloom!
Upon a day in summer,
Looking out at dawn,
I found a dance in progress
On my neighbor's lawn.
Tall cedars were the gentlemen,
Dark and debonaire,
Crepe myrtles in their bouffant skirts,
Were ladies prim and fair,
Stiff, portly, hedge-tree dowagers
Stood round in pompous pride,
A row of slender poplar youths
Waited on the side.
An orchestra was playing,
So soft I scarce could hear--
Each gallant bent to hum the tune
Into his lady's ear.
You should be proud, America, so proud!
From Kansas' plains you choose a robust son,—
A little while ago one of the crowd
Of laughing youngsters, full of pranks and fun—
You send him out— he leads the assembled hosts
Against the mad, entrenched, all-conquering foe,
Undaunted by their triumphs or their boasts
He matches every trick the War-Brains know!
Your very own, America, is Ike.
Bone of your bone, fit offspring of your mind;
No glutted war-lord, strutting Nazi-like,
But friendly, seeking peace for all mankind!
And there are hosts that follow! Shout aloud,
America! Be humble— and— be proud!