"For news of the heart, ask the face." Hausa proverb*
Sister Elsie Robelia Stafford Harris
(April 27, 1901 – July 24, 1996)
Since 1948, there has been a gathering in Cross County, Arkansas on the first Sunday in May to celebrate her birthday. It eventually became a celebration for all the ascendants* of her parents, Jordan V. & Rosetta Sanders Stafford.
Mama Elsie, as she is so affectionately called, is possibly one of the most extraordinary woman to ever walk the planet. Her home was welcome to all and you could always find the most delicious homemade dishes in her kitchen. Every dish from her tea cakes, to her special ravioli was so creamy and rich that you wanted to keep it all to yourself. We are amazed at the wonderful stories about her generosity and her steadfast faith and Christian journey. Every person that ever visited Mama Elsie did not leave the home hungry.
Mama Elsie was baptized at First Baptist Church in Cherry Valley, AR. Her church membership changed as she moved, with her last being an active one at “The New St. James Missionary Baptist Church of Wynne, Arkansas. Her services included Church Secretary, Mother Board, Usher Board, and Church Treasurer.”
After acquiring a marriage license on May 28, 1920, she was joined in holy matrimony with Bennie Harris on June 6, 1920. They listed Twist, Arkansas in Cross County as their residence and to this union ten children were born. They are Rosie (1921-1996); Benjamin Jordan (BJ) (1923); Elsie Mae (1924-2003); Elma ( ? - 1927); Georgia Anner (1928), Johnny Virgil (1930-1989); Robert Arzo (1932-1989); William Frank (1934-2010); Archie Lee (1935-1995), and Levi (1940-1990). Mama Elsie's final resting place: Paradise Gardens Cemetery in Edmondson, Arkansas.
Were you at Mama Elsie’s
home in Wynne,
that Sunday, May of 1996
when she was confined to her bed
and we were all standing
in the yard to the front
and on the side
of the house, outside
the gate and into G Street?
Did you feel her heart?
Did you feel her love?
It’s still here.
It is still here.
Everything is everything.
In all that you do, stay healthy and happy!
*Being an ascendant vs. being a descendant. Descend means to move, go, come, or fall down and the family tree always grows upward and outward. Ascend means to rise, climb go or come up; therefore, we are the ascendants of our ancestors.