Stephen F. Austin State University

Ella Matlock McKinney (March 2014)

Ella Matlock McKinney
By Ann Middleton

In 1958 Mrs. Ella Matlock McKinney wrote "Reflections on the Eve of My Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary." In her account, she told of meeting her husband-to-be at the Old Walker's Chapel Church in 1896. She and Nolan McKinney began dating and two years later they married when Ella was 18 and Nolan was 20.

The wedding took place at the home of her parents. Ella wore a light grey worsted trimmed with rhinestones which had been made at a cost of $10.00; her shoes cost fifty cents and she carried a bouquet of carnations. Nolan wore a blue serge suit, white shirt with celluloid collar and black patent shoes. A reception that she called an "infare dinner" was held after the wedding.

Nolan and Ella spent their three-day honeymoon at Cartersville which was about one mile from her home at Rocky Mount. When they came home to Rocky Mount they had seven dollars between them. They went to Shreveport and bought a little cook-stove, six cane-bottomed chairs and a mirror. With a bed and mattress given them by her father and 10 quilts that she had made, they began to furnish their first house. Nolan made some tables and they fixed up some shelves and a dressing table out of soap boxes that Ella draped with red calico and white organdy. With two milk cows, a sow with three pigs and 10 gallons of syrup they began their lives together.

While Ella learned to make biscuits and to parch green coffee beans, Nolan grew crops of corn, cotton, peanuts and sugar-cane and vegetables. After their second crop they had saved enough money to buy 80 acres of land and build a small house. In the third year of their marriage a son, Lociel Price, was born. Two and a half years later a daughter, Lois, was born. Two years after that a tornado destroyed their home and they re-built on the same location using virgin pine timber that was blown down by the tornado.

They cleared more land. In order to get the logs that had been cleared in piles to burn, they gave a log-rolling where men came to help roll the logs and women came to cook enough food for all to eat. Collard greens were cooked outside in the wash pot. Irish potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice pudding, dried peaches, fried chicken, roast, ham, backbones and ribs were also cooked for the entire crowd.

The passing years saw the birth of three more sons and two more daughters. Nolan became very ill and could not work for over a year. The entire McKinney household had measles, then pneumonia which claimed the life of their second son. The Great Depression hit and, in 1931, their home burned again. Once again they rebuilt.

As the family overcame adversity after adversity, Ella was finally able, in 1958, to say that times were prosperous and happy. Nolan and Ella had 19 grandchildren and 9 great grandchildren. On December 18, 1958 they celebrated their sixtieth wedding anniversary. Nolan died in November 1961 and Ella followed in August, 1965.

To read about other hard-working Bossier Parish families, visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center.