Nancy Ellen Freeman
Nancy Ellen Freeman
Born: 24 Jan 1879
A brief history of Nancy Ellen (Freeman) Reynolds
Nancy Ellen Freeman was born 24 Jan 1879 to Henry Franklin Freeman and his wife Harriett Williams in Missouri. Both of the elder Freeman's originated from Bedford County, Tennessee, so it is supposed that it was a brief sojourn into Missouri, because by the 1880 census, the Freeman family had returned to Bedford County, Tennessee. Nancy Ellen would go by "Ellie" all her life.
The Freeman's were a large family and included: Mary Elizabeth, Robert Wilson, Joseph Henry, Beulah, Martha Ann, Alice, Sara Jane, Nancy Ellen "Ellie", Birdie Lee, and Georgia Etta., spanning more than 20 years between their births.
February 28, 1901, Ellie married her sweetheart, Lonzo Reynolds and they continued to make their home in Shelbyville, where they owned and operated a grocery store.
Their only child Amzira Reynolds III was born on 21 Mar 1902. Amzira would marry Pearl Dimple Johnson in 1923 and give them three Grandchildren: Henry Johnson in 1924, Mary "Alda" in 1928, and Ellen "Anne" in 1931.
Their youngest grandchild, Anne (Reynolds) always told the story of times she would visit Grandpa and Grandma in their grocery store. One of her favorite memories was when Grandpa would be out for a few minutes attending to something, and Grandma would come in and take a bottle of beer out of the cooler. She would look at her Granddaughter Anne and say, "Now, don't you tell your Grandpa!" A few minutes later, Grandma would be back in the house preparing dinner, and Grandpa would come in and pull out a bottle of beer. He would wink at his Granddaughter Anne and say, "Now don't you tell your Grandma about this!"
Anne had many good times at the grocery store and enjoyed spending time with her Grandparents. Grandma would give Anne and her brother Henry and sister Mary Alda candy. Usually, if Anne asked for a piece of fruit, Grandma would say fruit was too expensive. When Grandpa was there, he would give Anne a piece of fruit. Anne was happy because she got the fruit she really wanted, plus a piece of candy. Even when times were hard for their family, Grandpa made sure everyone had enough food.
During WWII, many things were rationed, but Grandpa Lonzo worked hard to make everyone happy. (As Anne would have said,) "The negroes didn't use a lot of sugar, so they would trade their sugar coupons for other things with Grandpa. Then Grandpa would swap them with other customers for the things the negroes wanted, and then everyone was happy."
The soldier boys would gather at Lonzo's grocery, and Anne remembered that "Grandpa always served the soldier boys beer, even if they weren't old enough to buy it. Grandpa said if they could fight for their country and die, then he would let them drink at his store." As a pre-teen and early teenager during the war, Anne looked forward to the soldiers coming to her Grandparents' store because she would sit on their laps while they drank their beer and told stories.
Lonzo and Ellie Reynolds talked many times about painting their grocery store, but they could never come to an agreement on the color. In frustration, Anne said "They would just paint it the same color of gray!"
Ellie wrote a letter to Amzira and his wife in October 1948. Click to read Ellie's letter. It would have been one of the last contacts she would have with her loved ones.
Ellie passed away in 1948, leaving Lonzo distressed and at a loss. He sold the store and went to Long Beach, Los Angeles County, California to live with his son Amzira and family. He was not content, however, and always talked about returning to Shelbyville to buy his grocery store. Lonzo passed away on 3 May 1949 in Long Beach, County of Los Angeles, California. His body was returned to Tennessee, and he was laid to rest beside his Ellie in Willow Mount Cemetery in Shelbyville, Bedford County, Tennessee.
1- 1880 U.S. Federal Census -- District 20, Bedford, Tennessee (Page 9 of 23) Franc Freeman 45, Harret Freeman 35,
Mary E. Freeman 16, Robert Freeman 14, Jo H. Freeman 12, Beauler Freeman 9, Marthia Freeman 8, Allace Freeman 6,
Sarah Freeman 4, Nancy Freeman 1, Mat Story 20 [Researcher Note: Mr. Story was
black and likely a servant for the family]
2- 1900 U.S. Federal Census -- Civil District 20, Bedford, Tennessee (Page 1 of 18) Franklin H Frieman 59, Harriet Frieman 52,
Joseph H Frieman 32, Sarah G Frieman 23, Nancy E Frieman 21,Birdie L Frieman 19, Georgia E Frieman 15
3- 1910 U.S. Federal Census -- Civil District 25, Bedford, Tennessee. Listed (Page 5 of 27) Lonzo Reynolds, 32,
Ella Reynolds 31, Amye Reynolds 8
4- 1920 U.S. Federal Census -- Civil District 6, Bedford, Tennessee. Listed (Page 11 of 17) Alonzo Reynolds 42, Ellie Reynolds 41,
Amzira Reynolds 17
5- 1930 U.S. Federal Census -- Shelbyville, Bedford, Tennessee. Listed (Page 10 of 30) Alonzo Reynolds 52,
N Ellen Reynolds 52
6- Tennessee State Marriages 1780-2002