The George Washington McCombs Family

The following information on the  McCombs family is told by  Clarence E. Crocker of Glendale.

Though I know little to nothing about their roots, permit me to tell you about two of my grandparents who were remarkable people in my mind.

George Washington McCombs, (1852-1943) was my maternal grandfather. He was the son of William McCombs (1810-1892) and Arena McCombs (1815-1892) Margaret Ann Zimmerman McCombs (1855-1937) was my maternal grandmother. She was the daughter of David Rickenbacker Zimmerman who died in the Civil war and Georgia Ann Muscogee Zimmerman (1829-1903)

Though I'm sure we had visited them many times before, I was  about six when we made the first visit that I recall. They were already retired and near eighty. As you can see from the picture, Grandpa and Grandma as we called them, were a unique couple. He was about 6 feet 4 and she was about five feet tall.

They were the parents of nine children, five boys and four girls. The boys, LaFoy, George Bryson, William, Vernon and Bunyan, all married, moving away to follow the textile industry, one becoming a mill superintendent, one becoming a  mill overseer, one becoming the supervisor of an installation team for a textile machine manufacturer and two being textile mill section men. The four girls, Genie, married the master mechanic of D.E. Converse Company mills, Ollie, married a Preacher, Callie married the manager of Pierce Motor Co. auto body repair shop and Ella married Albert Crocker, my mother and father.

Grandpa had been a overseer in the D.E. Converse Company (Glendale) mills but had retired before I was born. In retirement, they had moved from their small farm on the Bethesda road into a small house which had a vacant store building attached, some 1,000 feet from the river shoals behind the mill. Mill property joined theirs on the left and back side .

Being an avid fisherman, he was constantly going to the pond or shoals with his cane pole to fish. One day when I was about 9, he agreed to let me go with him. Giving me a pole, he showed me where to sit down by a fish hole saying, "Now boy be quite and still or you’ll scare all the fish away". I was O.K. for a while, but after sitting there not even getting a bite for about 30 minutes while he was catching fish, I dared to get up and go over to where he was. Crossing over the pot hole on some small brushes, I slipped and fell into the water up to my shoulders. Hearing the commotion, Grandpa looked around, seeing what had happened, he said, "Boy, you’ve scared the fish away for a mile, we might as well go home". That was the first and last time he ever carried me fishing.

They had a cow which they kept for fresh milk and a few hens for fresh eggs. Grandpa was mostly a vegetarian. Except for fresh fish which they had once or twice a week, he ate very little meat. Sit him down before a table with corn bread, buttermilk, beans or peas, turnips, turnips green, potatoes, corn and okra and the likes, and he felt like he was at an exquisite buffet. He never had a false tooth in his mouth, course he didn’t have any of any kind when he died.

Grandpa had six customs which he religiously practiced:
He believed in signs and would check them out before planting a garden, pulling a tooth or the like. He would go to the porch about sunset to see what the signs in the sky might be regarding the weather. When the moon was out, he always counted the stars within the ring to determine if rain was in sight.

He retired early at night and arose early in the morning. He believed in the old saying;  “early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. He never became wealthy but he was a strong, healthy and wise old soul.

He took an NR, “Nature’s Remedy laxative tablet every night before retiring.

He never drank a carbonated beverage; When grandpa was about 55 years old, he determined that carbonated beverages were the cause of his headaches. He stopped drinking anything carbonated and claimed he hadn’t had a headache since stopping. He died at  91  years of age.

He read the newspapers first thing every morning but never owned a pair of glasses until about a year or so before he died. The news print had gotten so small, he purchased a pair of magnifying glasses from the drug store. He would close one eye and read one column, open the other eye and read the next column. When asked why he did that, he said, you only have one brain, so rest one eye while feeding the brain with the one column you are reading.

He smoked a self made corn cob pipe, smoking George Washington tobacco all the years I knew him. He would take a large ear of corn, shell it, cut it to the right length, bore out the center for the pot of the pipe. He would cut about a six inch limb from the fig tree, burn the core out with a hot coat hanger to make the pipe stem. His sons gave him pearl stem, Frank D. Medico filter pipes from time to time. He would take them, thank them and then give them away after they had left.

After Grandma died, he came to live with us for the last few years of his life. He was sitting in front of a double window reading the newspaper when I, a teenager by that time, shot a cherry bomb in the back yard. My Dad came to the door calling me to come in to see what I had done. Getting inside, Dad said, look at your grandpa. There he was sitting, holding a lap full of newspapers and glass. The bomb had thrown a rock through the double window.

About a year before he died, Grandpa got terribly sick. He had no appetite and was running a fever. He was almost in a coma and Mama called the doctor. Almost immediately, he told us that something had put Grandpa in shock. Finding out that he had stopped smoking a few weeks before, he decided that he was wasting too much money on tobacco. The doctor took some of his smoking tobacco, dipped it in hot water and squeezed a few drops in his mouth. Leaving the house, the doctor told Mama to squeeze about 10 or 12 drops in his mouth every two or three hours and he thought he would be O.K. The next day Grandpa was sitting up. In a few days he was back to himself. He lived for about a year after this episode

He had become addicted to nicotine but died happy smoking his corn cob pipe. He and Grandma are buried in the upper Glendale Cemetery.

I was proud to call them Grandpa and Grandma, for they were indeed grand!

(Since doing this article, I have found more information and photos involving the family. This can be read at More on the McComb Family.)

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