Edgar Moore Williams has done a bit of traveling during his lifetime. Now 95, the decorated World War II hero has most recently traveled back to his Franklin Parish roots.
Born Jan. 17, 1924, in what is known as the Boeuf Prairie area of Franklin Parish, as one of 13 children, Williams’ family roots can be traced back to the early founders of the parish. His great-grandfather, Jesse Stephens Moore, is credited with naming Fort Necessity.
Moore spent more that 50 years in Texas where he and his wife, the late Eudotsie Curry Williams of Crowville, lived and worked. He had met Eudotsie when he worked at McLemore’s in Winnsboro as a young man. The couple had been married 64 years when she passed away recently.
After he lost his beloved wife, and since they had no children, Williams was invited by his niece Lisa Bonner Hitt and husband Hurby Hitt to move to their home here.
The Franklin Sun met Williams recently at the Old Post Office Museum where he and his caregiver, Sheree Ferguson, had paid a visit in search of information on his family history. In particular, Williams was asking about a cookbook he and his wife once had which detailed the history of the Boeuf Prairie area, the Boeuf Prairie Methodist Church and founding families.
The cookbook, “Boeuf Prairie Family, Recipes and Remembrances” features a collection of family recipes representing five generations “from the good cooks ‘down in the prairie,’” as well as family histories. Boeuf Prairie United Methodist women collected the recipes and remembrances for the book which was edited by Mary Sue Wooldridge Colvin.
Williams noted, as does the cookbook, that the church, which was founded in 1833, was known as the White Swan Church, a name given to the church in the 1800s because “it was said to resemble a great white swan among the trees.”
Williams has always had an interest in history and still today enjoys researching the tales he recalls from his childhood. He likes to align the oral history, he said, with dates and other facts so that he can separate what actually happened from what was believed to have occurred.
“I like to be telling the truth,” he said.
The cookbook includes a photograph of Williams’ great-grandfather, Jesse Stephens Moore, who arrived in the parish in the early 1800s and built the first store in the area now known as Fort Necessity. According to history provided by family, there was not an actual fort there, but the name came from George Washington’s Fort Necessity in Pennsylvania where a battle of the American Revolution was fought.
Williams said his grandfather, Papa Eli Moore, was a justice of the peace who not only officiated marriages, but was called upon to give advice, served as the coroner pronouncing people dead, pulled teeth and served as a doctor.
His own personal early memories of growing up in Franklin Parish include a time when, at age six, he and his father forded Boeuf River. And he remembers “just little sketches” of the Flood of 1927, when his family packed their belongings in a trunk to evacuate.
“I remember worrying about the trunk,” Williams said.
They stayed in a camp in Harrisonburg and were given lemons to keep from getting rickets, he recalls.
He also remembers seeing an airplane for the first time.
“My daddy showed me the airplane,” he said.
Williams said he didn’t remember much about the depression, but said, “what I can remember is the adults talking about it.”
Williams started school in a one-room school and when he finished school went to work in Texas for a while before going into the U.S. Army during World War II. He served in a tank battalion in the European Theatre and Middle East and for his service and bravery was awarded three bronze stars among other commendations.
Williams met the young lady who would become his wife of 64 years after returning from war. Williams said his wife was “the best.”
In their spare time, the couple enjoyed traveling, riding horses and “caught a lot of fish.”
“Whatever we did, we did together,” he said.
“She chased me ‘til I caught her,” he said of their courtship.
He also said, “we neve had a serious argument.”
As a young boy and a young man, Williams attended the Boeuf Prairie Methodist Church, known to him as White Swan Church. His wife attended the Baptist Church at the time they married, but went to the Methodist Church with him afterwards. The sharing of their church experience was reminiscent of the historical Boeuf Prairie Methodist Church and its tradition of serving as a gathering place for people of all faiths.
He left this bit of advice for young people today -- “Be honest and treat people like you would like to be treated.”