Book chronicles Chelsea family’s adventuresPublished 3:43pm Monday, October 21, 2013
By SHELBA NIVENS / Community Columnist
Earlene Moore Isbell grew up hearing stories about her family from her grandmother, Francis (Fanny) Hadaway Moore.
“Aunt Beadie would go out and get sweet potatoes out of a bank, and Grandma would scoop out the insides with a spoon to feed to me while she told me stories,” Isbell recalled.
Isbell recently chronicled Moore’s stories – and those of other family members – in her recently published book, “Days Gone By.”
Isbell’s grandmother told stories about riding on the shoulders of slaves at her grandparents’ plantation near the Coosa River in Shelby County; seeing her father and brother go off to join the Confederate Army, where her brother died of the fever; changes after the Civil War and how hard it was for freed slaves to “make ends meet.”
Fanny Hadaway Moore was of Native American heritage. During her later years, she lived in K-Springs, where she died and was buried in 1951 at age 93.
Both Earlene and her mother, Lillian Tuttle Moore, taught school in Chelsea. Earlene’s book shares stories from their childhoods—hers in Chelsea, her mother’s in Kentucky— and their experiences at early Chelsea schools.
She shares from Lillian’s adventures as a horse-riding school marm and a “woman before her time.”
In “Days Gone By,” Earlene talks of life with her late husband, Hoyt Isbell, and their five sons. Those adventures included everything from hopping a freight train to flying – and crashing – an airplane, to raising families and operating their own businesses.
Both Earlene’s and Hoyt’s families have been prominent in local government, education and business since Chelsea’s earliest beginnings. Hoyt’s Grandfather Weldon was an early store proprietor. His mother, Gladys Weldon Isbell, was post mistress. Earlene’s brother, Lavon Moore, was a Shelby County Board of Education member. Earlene was a member of Chelsea’s first city council, and her niece is currently a council member.
The wide range of adventures in Earlene Isbell’s book are far too many – and too interesting – for me to try to share here, and she had only a few printed. But I think she’ll have to revisit the printer when she sees how many people are interested in owning a copy.