Mandy and the Parks Family


    Perry Parks remembered the arrival of his parents in Mulberry:

     Mr. and Mrs. Parks came from East Tennessee 1877 to Bentson, Ark. Mrs. Parks was there visiting and they married. There he worked for 3 yr. for 50 cents a day then moved to Duckworth Flat [south of present-day Mulberry] about 1880. That’s where he moved from place to place in wheel barrow.  About 1882 he took 5 yr. lease on 40A [acres] covered with timber. Known as Lightfoot land, now Hall Farm. He built log cabin. Later he bought on this lease 70A, still Lightfoot Land. Where he lived remaining of his life.

C. W. Parks family (about 1910)

from left: unknown girl, Mamie, Mandy, Hattie, C. W., John, Perry

below: Page from the Parks Farm Ledger

    1919 December 15: Mandy Parks married Pierce Donaldson of Ravenna. “My daddy said, ‘I want you to live with me.’ So he was just a son. You couldn’t tell anything had changed. We bought the groceries and everything went on just like before. We ate our meals together. You couldn’t even tell I was married. If I wanted a new car, I’d tell my daddy and he’d say, ‘Let’s get it.’

    1920 April 15: C. W. Parks made his will leaving “all the property of every kind and character” to his wife Hattie.

    “During one year of the Depression,” Mandy will say, “my daddy figured his income. It averaged $29 per day for the whole year.” After the cyclone in 1919 he will build a new house, watching the lumber and sending back any that did
n’t measure up. He would stoop to pick up a “new nail,” Billy Parks Donaldson remembered. “You may need it,” C. W. Parks cautioned. Neighbors using his “pea sheller” gave a part of the produce, and when he paid on a bill at Price’s store, it might be with “one dozen eggs.” On November 21, 1927 he bought the store. Tenant farmers worked his land. One windy evening Uncle Fount Oliphant came in his wagon to buy hay. As money changed hands around the log structures of the farm yard, some bills blew into nearby grass. Next morning Uncle Fount sent his grandsons to search. “Wh
en Mr. C. W. Parks bought corn for 50 cents a bushel, he might sell it for 75.” And as the peaches in his orchard ripened, he carried a long stick with a tin can tacked on one end. The can had a sharp V-shaped notch cut out: when raised under a ripe peach (the notch aimed at the stem), with a quick thrust, “my daddy” could bring the fruit down in the can without a bruise.


    1936 November 12: (Bonham Daily FavoriteC. W. Parks died suddenly on Thursday afternoon at 5:45, at his the approximate age of 79 years.... A native of Tennessee, Mr. Parks had lived in the Mulberry community for 54 years and was one of its most substantial citizens. He was one of the most successful farmers there, well known and liked by all.... 

    November 30: C. W. Parks’ will was admitted to probate. His wife Hattie, “sole beneficiary,” then initiated a suit against her daughter Mandy and husband Pierce Donaldson claiming they were attempting to deprive her of title, rent and possession of the estate.

    1938 March 21: Hattie Parks vs. J. P. and Mandy Donaldson went forward in court.... Mandy and Pierce “agreed in writing”. Their application to annul the original will “should be in all things overruled...the original will... binding on all parties.”

    In settlement of all differences...Mandy is entitled to a judgment for an undivided one-half interest in approximately 236 acres of land.... Hattie M. Parks should have all the rents and resources derived...during her natural life.

     March 25: Hattie put her “mark” on a deed recording Mandy’s interest in the tracts enumerated.


        1943 December 24: Hattie
Parks died at her home in Mulberry. People knew, and the women went to prepare. When Mandy heard, she started moving her furniture back, including a piano. She was sweeping when Perry came. Zona said she’d be moving in too, but she didn’t.

    Looking down at Hattie’s still face, in her coffin, Jesse Hope said, no one else hearing, “Oh Grandmother, if you could see this fine pink dress you’re in, you wouldn’t believe it.”

    1944 February 5: A contest was filed: Mandy Donaldson vs. John Parks (and others, including Perry). Her mother did not for “several years prior nor subsequently have mental capacity to make a will.” Mandy “in all respects denied...gave notice of appeal.” Ira Wisely may finally have gone between sister and brothers. Perry and John each got farms of their own. For years Mandy and Zona came separately to church, but never spoke.

Pierce and Mandy

before cotton field

looking east from their

front yard

    After Mr. Perry and “Miss” Zona lived together for more than fifty years without children and she died, he went to Denison and called again on “Fa
iry Belle,” his first sweetheart, and made her his second wife. She’d worked as a seamstress, unmarried. I was able to buy Perry’s farm from Fairy Belle’s heirs in 1981. I also have the green frog Miss Zona bought me at Kress’ in Sherman when she took me to see Dr. Woodward. My mother went too; she didn’t have a car anymore. In the many years that followed, no one who heard Miss Zona’s “called on” prayers at church will forget their mournful intensity. When a preacher was dividing the people in 1964, she wrote:

    April 27 Wed eve Dear Gladys I just felt other day I had talk to some Body u and Clayton were the 2.... I have gone through lot heart ace in my time but Dear Lord has stood near bye We can’t live Christian Life by our selves Bible says Feed My Sheep to Pastor Not scold I got sense enough to no I can’t pull up fancy Prayer But I am so happy to report I can feel God nearness when I am really Prayed up Before I am ask for Prayer I don’t even no what I’ll say next.... I just open my mouth it rolls out Thats when u feel good in your soul I know I have had lots Prayers answered I am still looking to him.... Many a time I have had get up nite by side my bed Pray before I could sleep.... I don’t want to be in any bodys way. I Relize my time here is so short. I ask Lord every day let me be just little Blessing to Some Body. I love people get so hungry be With Folks. get my Bible tuff it out. Keep Praying and Looking up....    Zona    

    The large circle of a concrete curb in front of the Parks house was for roses. My mother liked to remember a morning when she was on her way to teach school at Mulberry. “Mandy came out to the road by her mailbox and handed me the most magnificent white rose.”    

    Mandy lived alone at the Parks home place for nearly thirty years after Pierce’s death in 1957.

    At a nursing home in Durant (1991) she said, “I’ve never been back home since I pulled the door to...

and I’ve never wanted to go back.”

Hear Mandy say it.