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Courtesy Barren’s Black Roots, Volume 3, Michelle Gorin Burris, Gorin Genealogical Publishing, (c) May 1993. Originally printed in the Tompkinsville News, 1956.


                “Aunt Elsie” was born October 9, 1859, near Clementsville, Tenn., the child of a slave who was owned by a family named Martin. She knew only hard work as a child but enjoyed work and did not think of it as a hardship. Her wants were few as a young person and she acquired patience, endurance, industry, and the ability to do many things.


                “She was married when she was very young to George Elders. The marriage was not a success because in her own words, “I married him first for spite." But her  “prince charming” came along before many years. As Mrs. Lige Franklin, our subject, spent her happiest years until the dreaded disease, lung consumption, took her husband and father away leaving her with two little girls. She then had to leave the little girls with her mother and work in the homes of white people as a housekeeper. This continued for some years until “Aunt Elsie” met her husband number three, Gregg Lankford. She liked to say that this was a marriage for convenience, but people who knew them could see that she as really devoted to this man who was certainly an unusual colored gentleman. Their only daughter, Martha Ellen Johnson, resides in Indianapolis, Ind. The other two daughters, Mrs. Lollie Pipkin and Mrs. Emma Pipkin, live at Gamaliel.


                “Before “Aunt Elsie” lost her eyesight, a few years ago, she had spent a half-century of service to the people of Gamaliel. If any person was ill within a large radius, she left her own home and rushed to the bedside to be of service. When she entered the sick room the psychological effect on the patient seemed to speed recovery. “Aunt Elsie” has probably cooked more meals for preachers than any other person living. Most of her 95 years have been spent cooking bountiful dinners for special guests, nursing the sick, or caring for the very young babies of the community.


                “Her advise to teenagers often seemed unwise at the time, but as the teenager approached middle age, he or she often was made to wonder if  “Aunt Elsie” possessed superhuman powers and insight and in reading and summing up human character. Whether this power was a special gift or whether it was acquired by her many experiences, those who know her best still cannot ascertain.


                “Her activities have been greatly curtailed by her blindness in her years since she passed the ninety mark, but she is still remarkably alert, mentally. She lives with her daughter, Mrs. Roscoe Pipkin, who is herself a retired school teacher. She is a faithful member of the Church of Christ.


                “Aunt Elsie” will live on and on in the lives of the Comers, Harlins, Crabtree's, Hayes and many others. “A life of service to ones fellow-man has no end.”





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