The following story comes from the voice and point of view of my grandmother as a young mother in East Texas. Grandmother Glover told this story as I sat on the floor beside her rocking chair. The story tells about a traumatic day in the life of Baby Preston who became Uncle Preston to me.
Grandmother’s Voice from 1892: Burning Baby!
On April 24, 1885, I married Willis Jackson Glover. My new husband owned a small farm in East Texas where we shared a roughly hewn wooden cabin. Two years after our wedding, Clyde, my first child was born. Maggie Montezuma followed three years later. By the time Elisha Preston arrived, Clyde was 5 years old and Maggie was a toddling 2-year old.
I cooked all meals in the open fireplace, which also served as our only source of heat. On a particular evening, Baby Preston slept fitfully in a cradle in front of the fire. Clyde and Maggie, who wanted to stay near the warmth of the fire, played near the sleeping baby.
Content that the three children were safe and warm, I stepped away to set the table for our evening meal. Almost as soon as my back turned, I heard a scream from the baby. I turned to see a stricken Clyde and Maggie. In the flames of the burning fire, lay the baby’s small head. In near panic, I scooped the baby up, snuffed out the fire, and smeared lard over the crown of his tiny head. Hours later, the baby continued to cry as my husband, Jack and I took turns walking with him.
Within a day or two, the baby’s pain subsided. Eventually, the burn healed. Unfortunately, fire destroyed hair follicles and Preston never grew hair on the crown of his head. Naturally, children teased him when he went to school. In time, Preston learned to laugh with the children as he shared the story of Baby Preston Burning Alive.
Mary Cordelia Couch Glover (Dec. 1, 1861 – Feb. 29, 1952)
Clyde (Feb. 1887 – 1906)
Maggie Montezuma Glover (Dec. 1890 – 1967)
Elisha Preston Glover (May 28, 1892 – 1972