By Norris Chambers 

     This tale, describing the celebration of my grandmother’s 80th birthday, was printed in a Brownwood newspaper many years ago. I am reprinting it as an example of how old timers celebrated birthdays! 

            About two hundred of the friends and relatives of Mrs. T. S. Williams, early pioneer of Brown County, met on the banks of Red River (small stream in Brown County) for a great family reunion where they served a luncheon fit for a king, listened to speeches by Dr. I. M. Howard of Cross Plains and Mr. W. R. Chambers of May. Baseball fans witnessed a serious and strenuous ball game between the married men and the single boys of the extended family. The single boys won by a tight squeeze.       

            For several weeks the Williams families in the north end of the county had been contemplating this celebration of her 80th birthday. They hoped to get every living descendant of Mrs. T. S. Williams together for the first and probably the last time. Of the seven children, 33 grandchildren and 32 great grandchildren only four grand children and two great grandchildren were absent.

            About nine o’clock in the morning the people began to gather, bringing basket after basket of the choicest food, until the banks of Red River were overflowing with men, women and children. Over two hundred of Mrs. Williams’ friends and descendants were present. The real thrill of the day came when someone shouted out that Mrs. Williams was going to show the people how she used to spin in the gay sixties. Everyone gathered around the old machine as she installed the wheel belt, carded an arm full of cotton and began to pedal.

            As she started to turn the wheel you could have heard a pin drop if it hadn’t been humming. And humming it was – not since the gay days when her family’s clothing depended on that old relic, a chapter in the history of antiquity, had it hummed so merrily. So for perhaps a half hour she pedaled the wheel and spun her cotton. The children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and astonished friends looked on in awe.

            Then came time for the grandest event of all, unless it was the enlightening and interesting talks by Dr. Howard and Mr. Chambers later in the day. It was time for the mid-day meal. Everyone gathered around the long tables that had been erected and awaited with dripping lips while Mr. J. M. Moore thanked the Lord for the occasion. Then everyone dived in, and the result can be imagined; but in case your imagination is weak we would guess that several of the congregation had pains about the middle of their bodies during the afternoon.

            But with the thrilling taste of ice-cream still tickling their palates, the folks gathered around while Dr. I. M. Howard, Cross Plains physician, presented an interesting history of the progress of living conditions in the past 50 years.

            Then Mr. W. R. Chambers spoke, relating some of the history of the Williams Family. He told how Mr. Williams left home when he was sixteen and rode to California through wild and unexplored country How he roamed from place to place as a soldier of fortune and visited every state in the union; how he boarded a ship in California and sailed to New York and about his adventures in every country this side of Europe.

            Then he told how Brown County looked when Mr. and Mrs. Williams first moved there.

Gradually he pictured the change as the time flew by and the seventy-two descendants of Mrs. Williams were born one by one. He told of the future of this country and what high ideals and glorious achievements the rising generation could look forward to, and how many things the Williams generation had to be proud of in the heritage that was handed down from Mr. Williams, who died on February 9, 1915.

            After this came the ball game. It lasted from about three o’clock till five. Those who saw it say it was one of the best of the season. There were, of course, such sports as swimming, croquet, horse shoe pitching, marbles etc.

            The children present were Mr. J. S. Williams and family, Mrs. S. R. Chambers and family, G. W. and H. C. Williams and their families, Mrs. M.C. Kellar and Mrs. J. J. Shults and D.A. Harrel and families.

            The grandchildren and great-grandchildren present were: Oscar Starnes and family, Clarence Cook, Willis Williams, Jesse Byrd,  Isaac Williams, Pat Fields, Sam Williams, Doyle Williams, T.S. Chambers and Deoma Triplitt and their families; Norris Chambers, Clifton Chambers, Clyde Chambers, Carl Chambers, Steve Williams, Claude Williams, Jay Williams, Lester Williams, Roxie Williams, Obidar Wiliams, H, R. Baxter, Leonard Baxter, Clarence Self¸ John Willlis, James Shults, Hollis Shults, Ellie Shults, June and Helen Harrel, Howard, Joe Todd, Betty Louise and Wendell Howard and their families.

            Of all of the seventy-two children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren only six were absent. Everyone said that it was a gala affair and that the whole family would probably never again be so nearly united in one family meal and grand, glorious day of splendid entertainment!

            The best news of all: none of the fun things injured or embarrassed Clifton or me!