Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sophia Eleanor Ezzell Dobson, 1898-1995

This will b a long post due to all of the material I have related to the birth, wedding and funeral of the woman who was known as "Little Mother" to her children and Aunt Sophie to us, Sophia Eleanor EZZELL DOBSON.  In a way this is part two of a previous blog which explains why we are sharing all of this information.  On a visit to Aunt Sophie at her fantastic estate known as Harpeth Farms between Franklin and Nashville in the early 1990's she gave us the task of telling the Moran story.  One which has been easier since we acquired so much documentation about the family and one which we hope others will find interesting.

Sophia Eleanor Ezzell and
her grandfather, John W. Moran
Sophia Eleanor EZZELL was born September 21, 1898, in Nashville Tennessee. She was the daughter of Fannie Lemira MORAN and James Benjamin (sometimes seen as Battle) EZZELL. She was most likely the apple of her parents eye and the darling of her grandfather, John Williamson MORAN, since she was his very first grandchild. She, in return, adored her grandfather and was enamored with his stories about the Civil War and times past.  A love of family and history was something she carried with her always.

Fannie and Jim received many letters of congratulations upon the birth of their daughter from family and friends.  It also becomes apparent that Fannie's sister Ida MORAN was staying with her during her confinement as there are many references regarding Ida.

The first letter is from Shepherd FOWLKES:

Shepherd Fowlkes pg 1
Dyersburg Tenn,
Oct. 2nd '98

Miss Sophia Eleanor Ezzell,
Dresden Tenn.

My dear little friend- I received your card a few days ago, and wish to send you back a welcome.  Are you pleased with your surrounds?  You must be.  Everyone is thinking of nothing but you-Father, mother, grandfather, aunts and uncles.  Do they try to kiss you all away?  Well you will have to endure that unpleasantness, for being so sweet.

You must try your best not to grow much until I can become better acquainted with you.  I have sized up your little fingers and enclose you a little remembrance.

Shepherd Fowlkes pg 2
Give my very best love to all your home people.  Tell Aunt Ida we are going to expect her down soon.

When you get to be a big girl, I shall expect an answer to this letter.

Give mamma a kiss and a hug and pretend it is,

Your old friend,
Shepherd Fowlkes.

The next letter of congratulations comes from George L. BURKE, from Kingston, Tenn.

George L. Burke letter

Kingston, Tenn.
Oct. 4th '98

Geo. L. Burke,
Attoryney at Law,
Office, Bank Building,
Kingston, Tenn.

Dear Mrs. Ezzell-

I want to congratulate you on the addition of a little daughter to your family.  I know you will find unbounded pleasure and comfort in her.  Mrs. Burke joins me in these expressions.  Give our love to your father's family and accept a (not sure of the word) portion for yourself.

Your friends
Geo L Burke

This letter is from Virginia GARDNER.  I know the Gardner's are related to the Moran's but I'm not sure of the exact relationship of Virginia to them.

Virginia M. Gardner pg 1
My dear Fannie

Accept my congratulations on the save arrival of Miss Sophia Eleanor Ezzell.  How soon may I come to see that young lady and your dear self?  Have been wishing to see you ever since my return from Chautauqua, but feared that a visit might be inopportune so denied myself the pleasure.  I trust that you may soon be in good health; and the the little girl may grow fast and grow to be like her mother.

Virginia M. Gardner pg 2
With kind regards for Mr. Ezzell, The family, and a kiss for Ida.

I am most lovingly your friend,

Virginia M. Gardner
Martin Sept 24 - '98

Nora Shannon Barr pg 1
The next note is from Leonora (Nora) SHANNON BARR.  We have pictures and other correspondence from the Barr's and we believe they are related to the Moran's but we haven't quite figured out the familial connection but it's on my to-do list!  I had previously blogged about the Barr's and posted pictures.

Nashville, Tenn.
Oct. 3, 1898

Dear Fannie-

Nora Shannon Bar pg 2
Your card announcing the birth of of little Sophia Eleanor was rec'd.  I had heard of her expected arrival and was very anxious about you.  Consequently was much relieved to receive the card.  I do hope that Mother & child are doing well.  I know you are .....for one of my long effusive will make it as brief as possible.  But I  wanted to send you a few lines and thank you for remembering me at such a time and forgive you for not answering my last letter.  I am expecting a visit from Ida as soon as you are able to spare her.  I may make my annual trip to West Tenn. some time this month.  I do not owe any of your family a visit but will call & pay my respects to the "little stranger"  We sent her a little present by express last week.  I hope you have received it.  Most kind regards to Mr. Ezzell and the Aunts & Uncles & Grandfather and much love to the mother

Nora Barr

Here is a card signed "Velda".  At least I think it says Velda.

With Love to Sophia,
From Valda

Mrs. Jennie Bondurant
Here's a quick not on a calling card from Mrs. Jennie BONDURANT.
With just Lots of love to Little Sophia.

The next note comes from Lillian GIBBS.

Lillian Gibbs note
Darling little baby girl

I appreciate your gift so very much something I need constantly.  May your life be filled with joy and sunshine and God grant that no shadow ever dim your beautiful baby face.

Your friend
Lillian Gibbs
Dec 26

Martha Helen Scott Moran letter
page 1
The last letter that I have come across in regard to Sophia's birth is from her first cousin Martha Helen MORAN who married Rufus Franklin Scott.  They made the move to Gainesville Texas in 1858 in a rockaway carriage.

Gainesville, Texas
Sept 23, 1898

Dear Fannie,

Your telegram received yesterday announcing the arrival of your expected guest.  Greetings, in return we send you our heartiest congratulation.  We feel that the little stranger has received a warm welcome from your loving hearts and that nursing and caring for her will be considered a privilege and not a sacrifice.  I feel sure she will be properly cared for all the time and with anxiety and love when suffering the diseases incident to childhood, thrush, croup, measles, etc.

Martha Helen Moran Scott letter
page 2
Dear Fannie, you must never lose sight of the immortal soul she possesses.  God has loaned her to you to bring up for Him, to love and honor her Creator her preserver her Redeemer.  She is not a doll given you to amuse and dress pretty and merely have a good time without regard to the future.  She lives forever and as you gaze upon her you must think of the possibilities of good or evil that lie within her, waiting to be developed by time.  A Mother's responsibility is great but I doubt not you will truly feel it's weight and by earnest prayer fit yourself for training your daughter up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  I hope you will have sufficient help from your husband but he will have to truly worship God and "remember to keep the Sabbath day holy."

Martha Helen Moran Scott letter
page 3
However I hope you are getting along nicely and you both live long to brighten your home and friends.  May God bless you all, now and forever.

Have Ida write soon.

With love to all,
I remain your devoted


The Ezzell's and the Dobson's were prominent families in Nashville.  Their children went to private schools for the well-to-do.  They grew up learning the social graces and attending society events.  The wedding of their children would be if not the social event of the season, certainly one of the top weddings on the social calendar and was reported as such in the newspapers.

Sophia and Matt were married November 12, 1919 in Nashville Tennessee at McKendree Methodist Church which was named for the first American born Methodist Bishop, William McKendree.

Many Entertainments for Miss Sophie Ezzell

For Miss Sophie EZZELL, whose marriage to Mr. Matt H. Dobson will be an early November event, many charming prenuptial entertainments are planned.  They will be inaugurated on Friday by Miss Mary Harding BUCKNER (The Moran's are related to Simon Bolivar Buckner.  I wonder if Mary Harding Buckner is also a descendant.), who will give a luncheon for Miss Ezzell at her home, and will have the members of the bridal party as the guests.  A second luncheon will take place on Saturday at the Nashville Golf and Country club, when Mrs. Allen H. DOBSON will be the Hostess.  Miss Kathryn CRAIG will give a dinner for Miss EZZELL and Mr. DOBSON and the bridal party at the Golf club on Saturday evening and Miss Mary Lynn DOBSON will entertain the bride-elect at luncheon on Monday at her home in Richland.

Another affair that is planned will be a card party on Tuesday afternoon at the Nashville Golf and Country club, which Mrs. E.A. POTTER, Jr. will give.  Miss Frances DAVIES will entertain with a card party Friday afternoon, and Miss Cornelia WITHERSPOON has announced a buffet supper for the bridal party after the wedding rehearsal on Tuesday evening.

The plans for the wedding on Wednesday, November 12, at McKendree church insure its being an exceptionally artistic event, with beautiful decorative effects. The attendants will include: Miss Cornealia WITHERSPOON, who is to be maid of honor; the maids, Miss Agnes ZARECOR, Miss Mary Harding BUCKNER, Miss Mary Lynn DOBSON, Miss Katheryn CRAIG, Miss Helen MORGAN and Miss Gladys FITE, of Jackson.  (A side note: Miss Mary Harding Buckner Ragland lived to be 104 years old)

Mr. Allen dobson will be his brother's best man.  The groomsmen are:  Messrs. Caldwell BENNETT, Miller MANIER, Abram Tillman JONES, James KILLIBREW, Joseph ROACH, Harold (Harrell) MORAN of Dresden.

The ushers will be:  Messrs. Thomas P. KENNEDY, Wm. C. KIRKLAND, George KILLIBREW, C. Jack BLAIR.

The wedding will be solemnized at McKendree church at 7:30 o'clock on Wednesday, November 12.

Wedding Invitation
 Mr. and Mrs. James Benjamin Ezzell
Request the Honour of Your Presence
At the Marriage of Their Daughter
Sophia Eleanor
Mr. Matthew Hughes Dobson, Jr.
On Wednesday Evening, the Twelfth of November
Nineteen Hundred and Nineteen
At Half After Seven O'clock
McKendree Church
Nashville, Tennessee

Brilliant Wedding at McKendree Church

Miss Sophie Ezzell, daughter of Mr.and Mrs. James B. Ezzell of Newsom Station, was married at 7:30 o'clock Wednesday evening at McKendree church to Mr. Matthew Hughes Dobson, son of Mr. and Mrs. M.A. Dobson.  The chancel rail was twined with smilax and the chancel itself was a mass of palms, ferns, white chrysanthemums and was studded with cathedral candles.  While the guests were assembling for the ceremony, a program of music was given by Miss Daisy SARTAIN and Mrs. Thomas H. MALONE, Jr. The numbers included; "For a Kiss," Tosti:  "I Love Thee," Hammond: "Because," D'Hardelot," and "Love Song," Cadman, was played during the ceremony.  Dr. W.B. TAYLOR and Dr. James I VANCE were the officiating clergymen.

The lovely young bride, who was given in marriage by her father, wore a gown of white duchesse satin.  Her veil was held in place by a coronet of orange blossoms.  She wore a platinum pin set in diamonds, the gift of the groom.  The bridal bouquest was a shower of lilies of the valley.  The attendants included Miss Vornelia WITHERSPOON as maid of honor, with the bridesmaids: Miss Mary Harding BUCKNER, Miss Gladys FITE, Miss Helen MORGAN, Miss Kathryn CRAIG, Miss Mary Lynn DOBSON and Miss Agnes ZAREOR, four of whom were gowned in green satin and georgette conbined with metal cloth, and two in orchid satin and georgette combined with metal cloth.

Miss WITHERSPOON wore white taffeta with corsage of silver roses.  They all carried French bouquets of pink roses, blue daisies and silver wheat, with streamers of orchid ribbon.

Mr Allen DOBSON was his brother's best man, and the groomsmen were Messrs. Abram Tillman JONES, Caldwell BENNETT, Miller MANIER, James KILLEBREW, Joe ROACH and Harrlson (Poor Harrell, everybody messes his name up) MORAN of Dresden.  The ushers were; Messrs. George KILLEBREW, Albert WOOD of Shelbyville, William KIRTLAND and Jack BLAIR.

Mrs. EZZELL, the bride's mother, was beautifully gowned in blue georgette embroidered in silver.  Mrs. DOBSON, the groom's mother, wore a handsome black reception gown.

After the ceremony Mr. and Mrs. EZZELL held a reception in honor of the couple at the Centennial Club, where a wedding supper was served.  The club was elaborately decorated with yellow chrysanthemums and Jackson vine.  In the foyer Miss Elizabeth BUCKNER presided over the wedding register.  The bride's cake was heart-shaped, artistically decorated with orchids and lilies of the valley.  Misses Susan and Eliza BAXTER supervised the cutting of the cake, which was in the tea room.  In the diningroom the decorations were all in white.  The table, where the bridal party were seated, had a large heartshaped plaque of white roses and lilies of the valley.  At each place were hand-painted cards carrying out the bridal idea.  mr. and Mrs. DOBSON left after the reception for their wedding tour.  When they return they will be at home with the groom's parents on Richland avenue.

Mr. DOBSON gave to his attendants Waldemar watches, and the bride's souvenirs for the maids were green gold bar pins.

Many relatives and out-of-town guests were present:  among the wer:  Mr. and Mrs. J.H. MORAN and C.H. MORAN (I guess they didn't realize C.H. Moran is the same as Harrell Moran who was a groomsman) of Dresden. Other Dresden guests were Mrs. Joseph E. JONES, Harry JONES and MRs. George S. BOYD.  J.L. SHANNON and Mary SHANNON of Lebanon, Clyde Ezzell of Greenfield, Tenn., Mr. and Mrs. Timberlake (Ida Moran and her husband Will Timberlake) of Jackson, Mr. and Mrs. C.H. Cobb (Marion Moran and her husband Charles H. Cobb) and Miss Carolyn Cobb (their daughter).

DOBSON-EZZELL Marriage is Brilliant Event

Ceremony at McKendree Church is Followed by Reception.

Miss Sophie Ezzell, a Nashville Belle, last night was married to Matthew Hughes DOBSON, Jr. at 7:30 o'clock at McKendree Church.  The event gathered a brilliant assemblage as it was of prime interest to the large circle of friends of the couple and the prominent families they represent.  The ceremony was followed by a reception at the Centennial Club, when only the bridal party and the two families were entertained.

In the wedding party were some of the most popular members of society, and they were grouped against a background of ferns and plants that developed an elaborate scheme of decorations.  A row of ferns outlined the rail of the pulpit space, and a mass of palms filled the chancel.  At intervals were placed cathedral candlesticks, and from the center of the bed of palms arose an enormous bouquet of white chrysanthemums.

Dr. TAYLOR, pastor of McKendree and Dr. James I VANCE were the officiating ministers, and previous to the reading of the marriage service, a msucial program was given by Mrs. Thomas H. MALONE, Jr., soprano and Miss Daisy SARTAIN, organist.

James B. EZZELL gave his daughter in marriage and accompanied her to the altar.  She is a beautiful girl and her handsome costume accentuated her loveliness.  It was of trousseau satin, with lace and pearl trimmings; a coronet of orange blossoms held the tulle veil to her hair dress and was finished with a court train.  A coronet of orange blossoms held the tulle veil in place.  A diamond pin which Mr. DOBSON had given her was worn, and a shower of lillies of the valley completed the toilette.

The bride was attended by a maid of honor, Miss Cornelia WITHERSPOON, and bridesmaids, Miss Kathryn CRAIG, Miss Mary Lynn DOBSON, Miss Agnes ZARECOR, Miss Mary Harding BUCKNER, Miss Helen MORGAN and Miss Gladys FITE, the latter two of Jackson Tenn.   James KILLEBREW, Caldwell BENNETT, Miller MANIER, Jo ROACH and Harrell (Yay they got it right) MORAN of Dresden, were the groomsmen.  The ushers were George KILLEBREW, William KIRKLAND, Jack BLAIR and James Albert WOODS of Shelbyville.

Four of the maids were in gowns of green satin and Georgette combined wth metal cloth, and two were in costumes of this material in the orchid pink shades.  They carried French bouquets of silver wheat, Columbia roses, and blue French daisies.

Miss WITHERSPOON wore a gown of soft white taffeta that was finished with a corsage of silver rose buds.  Her bouquet was similar to the maids.

Quantities of flowers were employed at the club in the decorations.  The use of the yellow chrysanthemums was confined to the foyer, where a register was presided over by Miss Elizabeth BUCKNER.  The pink flowers were in the drawing room and tea room, the latter being used as one of the dining rooms.  In the main dining room the bridal party were seated, and the white flowers with the evergreens were employed in there.  An enormous heart of the flowers and ferns filled the center of the table.  The bride's cake was very unusual, and supervising the cutting of this were Misses Susan and Eliza BAXTER.

Mrs. EZZELL appeared in a costume of blue Georgette, and carried a French bouquet.  Mrs. DOBSON appeared in a black reception toilette.

Mr. and Mrs. DOBSON left last night on a tour, and they will live at the groom's home on Richland Avenue when they return.  Mr. DOBSON gave to his attendants Waldemar watches and the bride's souvenirs for the maids were green gold bar pins.

The event brought a number of interested friends and relatives to the city.  Among these were Mr. and Mrs. J.H. MORAN and C.H. MORAN (Harrell) MORAN of Dresden.  Other Dresden guests were Mrs. Joseph E. JONES, Harry JONES, and Mrs. George S. GOYD, J.L. SHANNON and Mary SHANNON of Lebanon, Clyde EZZELL of Greenfield, Tenn., Mr.and Mrs. Timberlake of Jackson, Mr. and Mrs C.H. Cobb and Miss Carolyn Cobb.

Sophia and Matt DOBSON were married for 46 years.  During that time they had five children:  Matthew Hughes DOBSON III (b. 1920),  James Ezzell DOBSON (1924-1947) died in a traffic accident in Gettysburg PA, John Moran DOBSON was born in January 1927 and died just a month later, Lillian Ezzell DOBSON (b. 1932), and John Morehead DOBSON (1937-1960) died when the car he was driving hit a bridge near his parents home in Franklin, Tennessee.

Matt DOBSON passed away in 1965.  Sophia did not remarry and she remained in their Harpeth Farms home for the rest of her life.  She was most definitely a lady from the past, holding onto the traditions and formality of the Southern way of life she embodied the spirit of the Old South.

2200 West End Avenue,
Nashville, Tennessee 37203

Order of Worship
Service of Death and Resurrection for
Sophia Ezzell Dobson

Organ Voluntary


Word of Grace


Pastoral Prayer

Scripture Lessons
Psalm 23 (Responsively).....No. 754
Psalm 121..........................Andrew L. HENRY

Organ Solo: Amazing Grace.....Dale WOOD

Scripture Lessons......Andrew L. HENRY
Romans 8:14-19, 35, 37-39
John 14:1-6

Sermon.....William J. MILLER

Affirmation of Faith: The Apostles' Creed...No. 881


Solo: A Gaelic Blessing...John RUTTER


Postlude: For All the Saints...G. Winston CASSLER

I expect to pass through this world but once.  Any good, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any fellow creature let me do it now.  Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.

Some people complain that roses have thorns; I'm grateful that thorns have roses.  The Christian tranforms everything because love has transformed him.
E. Stanley JONES

Lift up my eyes from the earth and let me not forget the uses of the stars.  Forbid that I shall judge others, lest I condemn myself.  Let me not follow the clamor of the world, but walk calmly in my path.  Give me a few friends who love me for what I am and keep burning before my vagrant steps the kindly light of hope.

From Gems of Thought, a collection of inspiration thoughts for devotional use, shared by members of the Woman's Society of Christian Service, Sophia Ezzell DOBSON, leader.

Ms. Julie COX

Mr. Donald MARLER

Rev. William J. MILLER
Christ United Methodist Church

Rev. Andrew L. HENRY
West End United Methodist Church

I Saw God's Face
Sophia Ezzell Dobson
I saw God's face upon a flower today;
I saw Him moving on the hills, and oh,
He walked upon the water of the stream;
I know! I know!

I heard God's voice; I saw His shining face;
He spoke to me; He moved along the land;
I reached through all the beauty of the day and touched his hand.

(Mrs Matt H. Dobson, Jr.)

The Matthew Hughes Dobson Family

Matt H. Dobson Jr.
Sophia Eleanor Ezzell Dobson

James Ezzell Dobson

                                             John Morehead Dobson

Lillian Ezzell Dobson

                                                                  Matt H. Dobson III

No comments:

Post a Comment