“As long as you have ‘little willie’ in your pocket, you can do it.”
This favorite saying of Edna Thatcher is a reference to willpower, something she credits for her life’s accomplishments, which now include turning 100 years old.
With a sweet smile and a hug for everyone who stops by to visit, Edna has enjoyed being surrounded by her family and friends who gathered to celebrate her birthday over the weekend.
“I don’t feel like I’m no 100,” she said Friday. “I’m young at heart.”
A native of Stone County, Edna was born and raised near the White River, up the hill north of Allison at a spot called “Gravel Hollow.” She was born five years before the courthouse was built and attended school on top of Government Mountain, long before any of the roads or highways in the county were paved.
Her birth certificate, from Sept. 11, 1917, simply says “Stone County.”
Edna was the youngest child of John and Cora (Pogue) Henderson. Her ancestors were early settlers of Stone County, and her grandfather, Elijah Chappell, was the man who chose the name “Mountain View” for the town. People submitted names, which were put into a hat, and his suggestion was the one drawn out.
Her father, John, was a postal carrier and also helped work on the Swinging Bridge. He died suddenly when Edna was only 9, leaving her mother to care for her and her three older brothers.
Fortunately her oldest brother was old enough to go into sawmill work and help support the family.
Edna has shared her memories of the flood on the river in 1925.
“Everybody came to their house,” her son, Joe, said. “She said the house was full, people laying in the floor, cause it came up so high.”
She also recalls transients from the railroad who would come up the hill to her family’s house.
Edna was working at a restaurant in Newport when she met Robert Thatcher, a young man from Texas who was stationed at the airbase there. They were married and had five children. Their oldest daughter, Bernice Livingston, lives in Georgia now. Son Joe Thatcher lives here in Mountain View. Daughter Deloris Jerome lives in Eurora, Kan., and daughter Peggy Tinkle lives in Hot Springs. A son, Johnny, died two years ago.
She also has eight grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren.
See the full story in the Sept. 13, 2017 issue.