Annie Letcher King Isaacs
(a work in progress)
I have developed a bit of a fascination with my great grandmother and great grandfather Isaacs. I never knew my great-grandparents, Annie and Leonard, just as I never knew my grandparents, Burford King Isaacs and Lyda Rester Isaacs. However, having the time to do some digging into my roots has given me the opportunity to understand a little more about where some of my traits come from. I will be posting more photos as time permits.
Annie Letcher King Isaacs
Annie Letcher King Isaacs was my mother's grandmother on her father's side of the family. My mother spent many summers in Rockdale with her grandmother and occasionally told me stories about her childhood and summers in Rockdale, TX. I have a large collection of letters from Annie to my mother that my mother saved. I also have found numerous photos and a few of her paintings. One of these days I might try reading the letters. There was a large amount of papers and other stuff collected by Annie that was found in an old building a few years ago but the woman who found the large stash did not have any contact information on our family and most has now disappeared.
Annie Letcher King was the eldest child of Dr. Kenneth A. King and Mary Elizabeth "Bettie" Letcher. She was born on Oct 12, 1861 at Davilla, Milam County, Texas, a community where a large group of pioneers settled early in Texas history. She was the oldest sibling and only daughter in their family, which included six sons who became successful business men and statesmen. When she passed away, she was the oldest and last surviving sibling. While growing up, she attended school in Davilla and Salado, which was then a leading college for culture. Her oldest younger brother, Frank Bozeman King, tells what life was like on the farm they were born and lived on:I, Frank Bozeman King, was born and reared on a farm in Milam County, Texas, about six miles west of Cameron, now the County Seat, then the frontier of Texas. My earliest recollections were Indian raids on the full moon, n****** slavery and tales of their creative imagination of those times, and the Ku Klux after the Civil War, and the impressions created by the black man on the mind
of the youngsters were vivid and lasting. My first recollection of work on the farm was driving two yoke of oxen, first to a plow and the second to a wagon, under the tuterage of an ex-slave. This was my vocation between the school terms up to fifteen years of age.
At the age of about eight, there came into our community a red-headed woman, and her husband, who was a Doctor, who had emigrated from Alabama. The wife soon took up school teaching, opening up in a log cabin on the hillside by a spring, about two miles to walk from where we slept and ate. The house in which we
lived was an imposing double log cabin with a gallery between dirt and stick chimneys at either end, and in the fireplace we cooked Indian style, pots hung over the fires, bread was rolled in corn shucks and roasted in hot ashes and embers; so were potatoes and other edibles.
At the time of Annie's birth in 1861, the population of Texas (free, slave, native Americans) was less than one million people. Life was hard and it took strong people to stand up to the rigors of living in Texas. There was a Civil War in progress that drew many men away from their homes in Texas, making life even harder. One hundred fifty years later, the population has grown to over twenty five million and Texas is a state of high tech industry and oil and gas production.
Annie was considered a young woman of very striking beauty who was widely known as a belle among social circles throughout this part of central Texas. Not much is known about how she met Leonard Isaacs, their courtship, and wedding. She married Leonard M. Isaacs on Dec. 7, 1880 and moved to Rockdale with her new husband and his son from his first marriage to Alice Tyler Broadnax, who had passed away in Galveston on Oct 1, 1878. Their union produced two sons, Burford King Isaacs and Conn R. Isaacs. Burford was the father of my mother.
Annie apparently became very popular in the social circles of Rockdale very quickly. She was a natural leader and worker in the community and in her life she supported and worked with many organizations. She had a long association with the First Baptist Church in Rockdale, along with her husband. She worked toward beautifying the city through garden clubs, was a charter member of Rockdale's oldest social organizations, the Scrap Book Club, Cemetery Association, Rockdale Art League, and the Rockdale Garden Club. She was a charter member and leader in the Rockdale Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star. She also organized chapters of the Order of the Eastern Star in Cameron, Gause, and Milano. She was a person of incredible vision among social leaders of the late 1800's and the early 1900's. She was known for her hospitality in her home and her work with the youth in Rockdale and giving counsel to those youth who had lost parents.
Annie was naturally very artistically talented and that showed in many things she did. As can be seen in the photos below, she was very expressive in the way she dressed, drove her buggies, and decorated her home. She was also a very talented artist with a brush and canvas, regardless of whether it was oil, water color, pastels, or charcoal. I was talking with my uncle, Burford I. King before he passed away in 2015, and he told me that Annie was an incredibly fast artist when painting. He said that when he was a boy, Annie tried to teach him to paint with oils but he was just too slow. They say talent that is genetic jumps generations. This seems very true for my uncle's side of the family. His daughter, Cheryl King, is also an incredibly gifted artist. His youngest son, Brooke King, is also gifted in much the same way. Shown below is the only surviving art work that I have been able to locate. Most of it is held by my family members. What is not generally known is that Annie came by this talent totally naturally, having never taken lessons or training of any type regarding oil painting. Annie passed from this life on July 2, 1946, at the age of 85 while visiting relatives in Houston. Her funeral was held in Rockdale and she was buried next to her husband in the I.O.O.F cemetery in Rockdale. I wish we had all of the art and writings of my great grandmother but time always requires a toll to be paid. Some of her letters to her oldest son, Burford, have survived. The letters from Annie to my mother that she kept survived into the early 21st century and then disappeared in the haze of Alzhiemers disease. Some of Annie's incredible art has survived because it was hung on my mother's walls. We are still occasionally finding a piece here and there or we hear of some one who may have a painting.
The Art of Annie Letcher King Isaacs
Leonard M. Isaacs
My great-grandfather, Leonard M. Isaacs, was born on November 26, 1854 on a farm in Lavaca County. His father settled in Cameron in 1848 after moving from Tennessee. He was the son of Dr. Abraham Conn Isaacs and Elizabeth Jane Hunnicut of Fayette County, TX. Leonard's first wife was Alice Brodnax, who passed away on Oct 1, 1878. She told Leonard that she had a severe headache and went to her bedroom where she put some chloroform on a handkerchief and spread it on her face to try to kill the pain. She accidently used too much chloroform and could not be revived. They had two children, Leonard B, and Mable Alice, who passed away in her 1st year on Oct. 15, 1878. Leonard then met Annie Letcher King in Dec. 07, 1880.
When but a lad, his father, Dr. Abraham C. Isaacs, moved to Milam county and established what came to be known as the Isaacs ranch, a few miles north of Rockdale. At one time this ranch embraced more than 6,000 acres, occupying most of that territory that now lies between the Rockdale-Minerva road and the San Gabriel river.
Upon the founding of the town of Rockdale in 1874 Dr. Isaacs moved to the new town of Rockdale and established his family home. Leonard from the age of 20 years until his death 58 years later son, was a valued and prominent citizen. In the earlier days of the town’s history he was identified with its business interests, first with one of the first grocery stores in Rockdale, Tracy & Isaacs, and later with the firm of Isaacs & Lockett, and with other enterprises. He was the president of the Gaither and Tanner Company, which became one of the leading mercantile houses of Milam County in the early 1900's.He was one of the original stockholders in the first waterworks and electric light company organized, the Electric Light and Water Company of Rockdale, and later acquired and conducted the industry for many years, disposing of this property to the city government and the Texas Power & Light Company less than twenty years ago. In 1882, he was elected Rockdale's city secretary and treasurer, a job he held for many years. He also was a farmer, owning over five hundred acres of excellent farm land for cultivation. After retiring from this business, he continued to be active in civic affairs, devoting his time to his farm properties and other personal business.
Leonard identified with a number of social and church organizations in his life. He was a charter member of the First Baptist Church where he served as a deacon for more than 25 years. He was also a charter member, secretary, and Worshipful Master of the local Masonic Lodge. He was held in high esteem by everyone in the community. His funeral was held in his home and he was buried in the I.O.O.F. cemetery.
Family passed down photos
I believe this photo of Annie Letcher King was made before she was married to Leonard Isaacs. That would make Annie about 18 or 19 years old when the photo was made. The dress may have been her wedding dress but she was a very fashionable dresser and seemed to prefer dresses of this type in her youth. The note on the back of the photo did not identify her as being married when this photo was made.
Annie is shown here with Elizabeth Winston King (Frank Bozeman King's wife). I believe this photo was probably taken in the circa 1890.
There is no date on the back of the photo. The young boy is probably Conn Rufus Isaacs. This photo was probably made the late 1880's. I believe Annie used her youngest son as the basic image for her painting Boy Going Fishing, which is presently owned by the City Library in Rockdale.
Annie in another beautiful dress and precise pose.
There is no date on this photo but I am guessing it was made shortly before or after Annie and Leonard were married, maybe even during his first marriage. That would place the photo between 1877 to 1882.
Leonard sometime between 1877 and 1882 probably made at the same time as the previous photo.
This photo of Leonard and Annie with a grand child was probably made in the early to mid 1920's, probably at their home. I'm not sure which grandchild the boy is.
Annie and Leonard's two sons: My grandfather, Burford King Isaacs Sr on the left, and my great uncle, Conn Isaacs on the right. There are no dates or ages given on the back of the photo.
Boy Going Fishing
This painting was discovered quite by accident. I visited Rockdale to visit the Isaacs Family graves in two different cemeteries. I made a stop at the town library. While we were discussing the location of the old Isaacs Cemetery, which was on what used to be Abraham Isaacs land, I mentioned that Annie was a very talented artist and produced many oil painting. The library directed left and when she returned she was carrying this painting. She said she had been told it was painted by Annie but had not really looked for a signature. We held it up with a slight tilt and in the bottom right hand corner were Annie's initials AKI and a date. On the bottom of the painting was a name: Boy Going Fishing. The library had kept the painting on display until the pieces of the frams started falling off and they took it down to see about having the frame repaired.
More family related photos
Annie in front of her house with unknown children after a snow storm.
This photo is of the interior of their home, probably in the early 1900's. The home can be seen in the background of the preceding photo.
Annie's bed. The note is written by my mother
The Leonard and Annie Isaacs home. This is the home my mother spent her childhood summers in growing up in the 1920's and 1930's. Their house at 318 San Gabriel has changed over the 85 years since this photo was made. The porch is gone, the attic is now an upstairs. The large house property is no longer just property. Houses have moved in on three sides and the streets are paved.
Frank with on of Annie's trotting horses. Annie took in Frank as a young teenager. He continued to live with the Isaacs for many years
Annie in a decorated buggy with one of her Trotters. This was probably in the late1890'sor early 1900's. No date is available on the photo.
I do not know when this photo was taken. I'm guessing it was probably in the 1890's or early 1900's. This photo has her buggy decorated with floral arrangements.
Annie and Leonard's yard
Annie in her bedroom, probably around the turn of the century. Please note the vase and wash basin on the dresser and what is probably the chamber pot on the floor.
Annie and Leonard in their bedroom, probably between 1910 and 1920. Please note the paintings on the fireplace. I believe both of these were probably done by Annie.
Annie's bay window. The bay window can be seen on the house photo above. Please note the large painting over the bay window. I believe this is another one of Annie's oil paintings that is probably no longer extant. The bay window has also been removed from the house, probably after Annie's death in 1946.
Probably taken in the Fall of 1945, Annie is helping my 1st cousin, Cheryl Virginia Isaacs (changed to King about 1953), apx 1.5 years old in this photo. The photo was made at my parents home at 1212 Dorothy Lane in Fort Worth.