Mildred was born in 1907 in Big Lake, Mississippi Co., Arkansas, which is near present day Leachville. In 1910, she is found with her parents and baby sister in Black Oak Township in Craighead County, AR. Mildred had a serious fall as a young child when she fainted and hit her head on a sewing machine cabinet. She developed epilepsy. She burned her hand severely during one seizure and used paraffin treatments to heal the burn.
In 1920, the family consisting of Mildred's parents and 5 children is located in Buffalo Township. She is recorded as being in school during 1920 at the age of 13, but according to family members, she quit school in grade 3 to stay home and help with the children who called her ‘Big Sis.’ Mildred's mother was involved in a circuit ministry and was gone a great deal. She also worked in a shirt factory in Kennett, Dunklin Co., MO, but did not do well because of the pressure to complete so many items quickly.
Martha, Mildred’s baby sister, said that Mildred, who was a slight woman, didn’t help in the hay fields. That was her sister Wilma’s job. Wilma also did the family sewing. The sisters were anxious to get away from their father who worked them hard. Mildred married her beau of 6 weeks, Lindell Scott Johnson in March, 1926 with her father’s permission.
During the flapper days of 1932 Mildred had long hair, and her brother-in-law Lemuell wrote that “if she bobs her hair...I will help Lindell paddle her when I come home.”
In 1940, Mildred and her husband are found in Dyersburg living with their five children. One more child was to follow.
In Mildred’s adult years, the childhood injury continued to bother her. The burned hand and arm atrophied and the doctors were considering amputation. Mildred was healed in a church service when a visiting minister stopped the sermon and said someone in the congregation needed healing. Family members recall that she could use her arm after that.
Mildred also had an attack of appendicitis and the family could not afford the surgery. They could only get aid if Lindell sold his pickup, which he could not do, because their only income was from the wood he found in the bottom lands and hauled to town to sell for firewood. Mildred was on strict bedrest with ice packs to her abdomen and lived off water for many days. She never drank water after that, only coke or iced coffee. Mildred’s sister Martha Pike recalled that Mildred considered the coke “medicine” and wouldn’t share it.
Martha also said that when the Pikes lived in Monette, Craighead Co., AR, and the Johnson family in Dyersburg, Dyer Co., TN, Mildred “always knew we were coming. She would tell Lindell - Dad and family will be here soon. Within 30 minutes we arrived. We did not tell her we were coming.” The only time Martha ever remembered surprising Mildred with a visit was when the Johnson family lived in the Ferguson school house in the country. Martha and Wilma hitched a ride to Dyersburg, were dropped off at the highway, and walked up the lane. Martha also reported that Mildred “liked to pinch you, and it hurt.” Family members reported that she “washed on Monday, ironed on Tuesday, cleaned on Wednesday, defrosted the fridge on Thursday, shopped on Friday (she had a standing cab appointment), cooked on Saturday and church on Sunday.”
Mildred’s granddaughter Connie Davis remembers her as a small, cheerful woman, always busy in the kitchen. A typical breakfast was biscuits and sausage with sausage gravy. She also baked cornbread, fried fish in cornmeal and drank a lot of coke. She wore high-heeled lace up shoes and cotton stockings and print dresses.
She passed away in 1985.
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