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Contributed by Charles Westberry.

Uncle Lem

Besides being the very first member of the Bickley Methodist Church to join on profession of faith and baptized April 17, 1889, Lemuel Westberry, known as Uncle Lem to most everyone, was well known for his clean fence row.

A farmer, he worked for the late W. M. Denton, Sr. and purchased nine acres of land from the Denton family. It was on this nine acres that he built a log house that was the "old homeplace" until the early 1960's when a new residence was built. The residence is now occupied by his son Treeman and his wife Ruth, both members of the Bickley Church.

As a member of the community, Uncle Lem helped split the shingles for the church top. He was also responsible for keeping the church yards in good shape, a job that has filtered down through the years and is now the responsibility of his son Treeman.

Uncle Lem was married four times. His first three wives, Kizzie Taylor, Nancy Rowell and Lou Bagley died. His last wife, Gussie Bryant is still living (1988) and is a resident of Twin Oaks Home in Alma. Miss Gussie is also a member of the church.

A true farmer, Lem Westberry rose every morning near five o'clock. His breakfast was often a sweet potato that he had roasted in the ashes of the fireplace. He grew corn, sweet potatoes and cane.

A man of his word with lots of friends, his children recall the days of picking up corn stalks, hoeing and other chores designated for them.
They also recall a wooden homemade whistle that was their signal to be home in a hurry and they never doubted that if their "Dad" promised them something, especially a whipping for something they did or something they failed to do, that he would make good on the promise.

Not only was Lem loved and respected by those people in the community, but Uncle Lem also had his own special protector. His name was Bobby, a little dog that actually belonged to Jewell. Bobby was probably responsible for saving Uncle Lem's life at least one time when he found him lying against a tree in the woods and fetched help for him.

Lem Westberry died on June 2, 1949, at the age of 93, and was buried at Liberty Church Cemetery in the Bickley Community. As long as Bickley Church stands, a part of his legacy will live on.

Source : Bickley Church 1888-1988, for their Centennial celebration, pages 139-140.

Copyright 2002 Charles Westberry 
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