Longtime Mineola resident Jessie Weaver enjoyed a gathering of about 40 family members and friends to celebrate her 103rd birthday on Friday afternoon. Attendees enjoyed presentations from the city, cake, stories, and music from Ken Spanglin of Holly Lake. Mrs. Weaver was presented the key to the city of Quitman, where she has resided for the last 12 years at Wesley House. There was also a Mayoral Proclamation made declaring September 13, 2013 as Jessie Weaver Day in her honor.
Jessie Weaver was born on September 13, 1910 in Smith County, Texas to John Albert James and Arrie Taylor James. Siblings included eight full brothers and sisters, nine half brothers and sisters, and one step-sister. Seven of her siblings died as children. Albert James and Robert James were favored brothers who could do no wrong in her eyes. She once told a younger brother while their parents were away that if he would let her cut his hair, it would grow back curly. Her parents were furious when they returned and discovered his haircut, but Jessie recalls that until the day he died, he had gorgeous, wavy hair.
She lived on the family farm near Garden Valley until she married. Her walk to school was three miles one way. After eighth grade, Jessie left school to help on the farm. She did field labor along with her brothers, and helped to care for the cows, chickens, pigs, and horses daily. With the family’s hard work, they were able to survive the Depression. For entertainment, her family and neighbors would move all the furniture out of one room in their home and the band would set up in one corner to play for dancers. When a boy and girl danced together, Jessie says it was called “round dancing”. The East Texas Serenaders, who later received a contract from Decca played for some of those dances.
On January 9, 1932, at the age of 22, Jessie married Wallace Weaver. They tried farming for a few years, but soon opted to move to Rock Falls Lade, where Wallace was the caretaker. Their daughter Wanda was born in 1933. During World War II, they moved to Mineola. Mrs. Weaver’s employment included work for Ussery Cleaners, Service Drug, and Airborne. Retirement was never really made official, as she stayed quite busy traveling and working in her yard when “traditional” employment was laid aside. Jessie traveled to Canada, Hawaii, and several other states beside her frequent visits to Colorado to visit her family. Her daughter, two grandsons, and five grandchildren all live in Berthoud, Colorado.
A self-taught sewist, Mrs. Weaver made her daughter’s clothing as she grew up. Knit, crochet, and canning were also among her hobbies. She canned fruits and vegetables, and made jelly, preserves, ketchup, and tomato sauce. Jessie also enjoyed bowling, once winning a Most Improved Bowler award. Her residency at Wesley House has seen her engaging in games of all sorts, working puzzles, and reading. As the last survivor of her large family, she has much affection for her many nieces and nephews. Liz McGuire of Mineola and Doris Pierce of Lindale hold a special place in her heart, as she says they “are always there” for her.