Uncle Fie and Aunt Liz: James Fidella and Elizabeth Whitaker Jenkins Part Three by Bruce Whitaker

Luther Jenkins and Rushida Jenkins Marlow, children of Uncle Fie and Aunt Liz

A company called Wanteska Inc. began buying up the Fairview side of the Flat Top in the mid 1920’s. They were trying to buy all the mountain land between Wright’s Cove and Nesbitt’s to develop it in a similar fashion as the Cliffs attempted recently. Many people sold their land to Wanteska’s agent P.O. Merrell. Aunt Liz and Uncle Fie Jenkins were among those who sold their land to Wanteska. Aunt Liz’s brother William McKinley Whitaker (1875-1939) also sold his land; Aunt Liz and Uncle Bill both moved to Leicester.
Aunt Liz and Uncle Fie bought a farm at Rabbit Ham, one of the few places rabbits were still numerous. Fairview and most rural areas had killed off most of their local rabbit population in order to protect their crops. The oldest Jenkins son Luther Jenkins was still single and lived with his parents at their new farm.
The Littrell family farm adjoined the Jenkins farm. Aunt Liz did not like them from the start. She refused to call them Littrell; instead she called them the “little people.” This was an insult to both their size and mental abilities. The Littrell children, like the neighboring Brown children, would hide and listen to Uncle Fie and Aunt Liz go at each other when they worked in the fields. Aunt Liz would hear them laughing and chase them home with her knife as she had done similar children in Fairview.
Aunt Liz then began to be suspicious that Uncle Fie was messing around with the Littrell girls. Whether Uncle Fie and the Littrell girls had something going on or not, Aunt Liz really went on the warpath. They fighting between Uncle Fie and Aunt Liz somehow got much worse. Wanteska Inc., like the Cliffs, went under. Unlike the Cliffs, Wanteska had not paid in full for the mountain land they bought and the land reverted back to the original owners. Aunt Liz got all her mountain land back.
Aunt Liz would get mad at Uncle Fie and have one of her sons take her back to Fairview for a few weeks at a time. One of her stops would be my grandfather Robert Whitaker’s house. Daddy was just a small boy when he first remembered Aunt Liz coming to grandfather’s. He said that Aunt Liz would be so furious and talk so rough that he would get afraid and hide under the bed. Daddy said he never heard anyone use such buggery language in his life. Grandpa, who went to church every time the door was open, would tell her to watch her language, but it did little good. She might clean it up for a couple of minutes but that was it. He could not do anything with his oldest sister. Aunt Liz’s most common threat was “I’ll cut your damned ole heart out and nail it to a fence post with a rusty nail;” everybody in Fairview knew that one by heart. When she really got mad and came back to Fairview for a few weeks, that threat would seem mild. She would threaten to cut your arm off and beat you to death with the bloody end or cut your head off and use it as a drinking gourd. What would really scare Daddy was when she would threaten to throw people in to the deepest darkest pit of Hell and have the old Devil stick red hot brimstone up their rectum. That would send Daddy under the bed up against the back wall. I believe old lady Bert Shuford, the first grade teacher at Swannanoa, also used that threat.
Grandfather would soon have all he could take of Aunt Liz. He would have one of the older children take her to another relative’s house and let them have a share of her fury. Father’s sister Elizabeth would walk with Aunt Liz to the present location of Echo Lake. On the south side of the lake is a gap in the mountain that leads to Marlowe Cove, where Liz’s daughter Rushia and her husband Carl Marlowe lived. Aunt Liz would visit around for a week or two, and then she would be ready to go back home to Rabbit Ham and do battle.
Luther Jenkins, Liz and Fie’s oldest son, took an interest in Della Littrell, who lived on the farm next door. Luther would climb the hill to the fence that separated the Jenkins and Littrell farms. This spot was out of Aunt Liz’s view. Luther would take a stick and beat it on the fence. The fence went down the hill and ran almost up against the Littrell’s house, so the banging would make a ringing noise. Della would hear it and go to meet Luther in the woods on top of the hill, the only place they could safely meet because of Luther’s mother.
One day the fence rang and Della went to meet Luther Jenkins. But it was Aunt Liz who jumped from behind a clump of laurels, knife raised, chased “ole Deller” back home and dared her to come out and face her. Still, Luther Jenkins and Della Littrell finally married.
Aunt Liz’s nephews would go to Rabbit Ham to rabbit hunt since there were so few left in Fairview. Father started going with them when he was older. Uncle Fie was glad for people to come and kill his rabbits. He was overrun with them. Father said he and his brothers were coming back to the car with a sack of rabbits when Aunt Liz yelled at them; “Dinner is ready! It ain’t worth a sh.. ! But you’ll eat it and like it!” Daddy said it was fried green grapes. He said she told the truth, it wasn’t worth a sh..!
James Fidella Jenkins died March 29, 1939. Aunt Liz had kept her word. She outlived Uncle Fie and was a flea in his shirttail as long as he lived. Elizabeth Whitaker Jenkins died May 6, 1939. Uncle Fie and Aunt Liz were buried in Cane Creek Cemetery in Fairview.
They had four children;
Luther F. Jenkins was born in Fairview November 11, 1894. He married Della Littrell. Luther died April 13, 1971. He and Della are buried in Grace Methodist Church Cemetery in the Newfound section of Leicester.
Rev. James Lonnie “Lon” or “Preacher” Jenkins was born in Fairview October 3,1895. He first married Maude Grant (1900-1925), daughter of Frank Grant and Martha Matilda Good Grant. His second wife was Novella Wright (1897-1980), daughter of J. Frank Wright and Martha Lavender Wright. Preacher died September 15, 1975. They are buried in Cane Creek Cemetery.
Rushia Jenkins was born in Fairview January 1, 1898. She married J. Carl Marlowe (1896-1988). Rushia died April 2, 1967. They are buried in Nesbitt’s Chapel Cemetery.
Maude Jenkins was born in Fairview June 5, 1900. She married Julius C. Cabe   (1879-1949). Maude died February 4, 1974. Both are buried in Cane Creek Cemetery.