Submitted by C.J. Johnson
There is a house on North Ann Street in Weir that I have wondered about for decades…guessing what was behind that fence…what was on the other side of that hill. The house stands above the road, and the winding drive to the house is secluded. I passed this house for almost forty years, every time I came to Weir to visit my grandmother. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know the family who calls this property “home.”
This house, one of the oldest homes in the town of Weir, was built by area craftsmen, with local lumber, milled by a neighbor. The style of the home reflects the look of western bungalows of the early 1900s, seen by the grandfather of the current family, while visiting relatives in Texas, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
With spacious porches and opposing windows for excellent cross-ventilation, the structure was meant to be full of family and friends. The front porch faces the western sunset, while the sleeping porch across the entire back of the house greets the morning sunrise in the east.
Not unlike so many homes approaching a century of life, this home has seen both good times and bad. The house was completed not long after the end of “The Great War – The War to End All Wars” – now known as World War I.
At the time of this home’s construction, Weir was a growing town. In its first census in 1900, Weir’s population totaled 91 persons, representing 18 families; in 1910 Weir had increased to 220 people; and in 1920, the census report listed 337 people in the town of Weir, in 81 homes, containing 86 families. The town was growing in leaps and bounds.
In 1920, this railroad town had a depot and post office, grist mill, gin, and saw mill, several grocery and dry goods stores, hardware store, drugstore and two doctors, barbershop, telephone exchange, hotel, café, fire station, garage, service station, blacksmith shop, livery stable, and creamery. Most of the buildings on Front Street were brick. In addition the town had several churches and a school house. The Choctaw County Agricultural High School was established in Weir in 1916 with 39 students living in the dormitory for the fall 1916 session.
The Gladney family who built the house had been living in their first home in Weir, located on Front Street. This house was a one-story wood frame home with center hall. In the photograph, notice the petunias lining a brick walkway, and daisies, elephant ears, and other plants running the length of the long front porch. Flower pots on the porch held other plants. Obviously, the woman of the house enjoyed flower gardens. She would have much more room for flowers at their second home in Weir.
The new home built by John Ross Gladney and his wife, Sarah Jane “Sallie” Frazier Gladney was in the style of a spacious bungalow and sported a twelve foot front porch facing the west. The living room and dining room, kitchen, and six bedrooms would comfortably hold the family of seven.
Two dark bedrooms upstairs were reached by way of a staircase. A circular staircase went from the bedrooms to attic space. The only closet in the home was under the stairs. Clothing was stored in wardrobes, also called chiffarobes in the South, in each of the bedrooms. While the outhouse handled toilet activities during daylight hours, chamber pots (also known as slop jars) were in the bedrooms under each bed.
The house was built on a conventional foundation, as was the standard of that time. Built on brick columns to support the structure, there was room underneath sections of the house where children played, dogs slept, and other creatures resided.
Even today, the house has no central heating or air conditioning. There is no insulation either. Large spaces in the walls allow air to freely circulate – both summer and winter. Trees on the west and south sides of the home shade it during hot weather and help stop the wind from hitting the structure in the winter.
Few houses in Weir built in the early 20th century were constructed of brick. This house was constructed of wood – local timber cut and milled at H. Winston Weir’s mill in Weir. There were three porches and a sleeping porch, plenty of room to entertain or relax. The driveway on the north side led to a portico, high enough for the taller automobiles and trucks to drive under the cover.
The property is now called “The Wilderness,” a nickname given to the 18 acre property by the youngest generation of the family. Originally the grounds included room for vegetable gardens, flower beds, orchards, barn, sheds, chicken house, pig pens, and other outbuildings, as well as room for the typical animals – milk cows, hogs, mules, horses, etc.
The current family living in the old home is fortunate to have tangible items in the home from the first, second and third generations who lived there. Several furniture pieces have been in the home for generations. Bed and table linens, quilts, and other cloth items are proudly displayed, as are children’s toys and items collected by earlier generations. Old photographs abound in the home as well. (To be continued.)