Hiram A. McAdams

Jennie Robbins - Alice Rebecca Williamson

Aunt Era and Bedias

By Jo Beth McAdams Stutts and Thomas Hiram McAdams

“Aunt Era totally dedicated her life to Bedias - church, school and taking care of Jack. She was a very honorable person - everyone knew that. She was quiet spoken, gentle, and good natured.”

“Grandfather Hiram, Grandmother Alice and the children moved to Bedias in 1908. After Grandfather Hiram died in 1935, Aunt Era continued to live in Pop’s house in Bedias. In the summer of 1947, Pop’s old house was torn down and Aunt Era had another home built on the same site. Joe McAdams was one of the ones who helped tear the old house down.”

Era McAdams Langley“As a school teacher, Aunt Era was the kind of teacher who inspired you. She was the best history teacher I ever had. She made history so interesting that we looked forward to her class. She was excellent at her profession and her dedication was admirable. She taught school for 31 years. I never saw her lose her temper. She commanded respect even though she had a very soft voice. She had a BS degree from Sam Houston in Huntsville and taught in Shiro, Needville and Saratoga before her teaching career in Bedias.”

“She knitted sweaters for family members. She knitted for herself and Jack and one year she knitted vests for Joe, Horace, and Vernon. The school building was often cold in the winter and she would wear the sweaters that she knitted for herself.”

“When I started to school in Bedias in 1945, I thought it was a very special place. The first and second grades were in the same room with the same teacher, my cousin, Maydell Thompson. At that time, Aunt Era was the principal and Uncle Vernon was the superintendent. I thought this was a real family affair. But, they made me work hard.”

“The Bedias school was a two-story red-brick building with a basement. The first through the sixth grades were located in rooms in the basement, with grades 1 and 2 in one room with a single teacher, and similarly, grades 3 and 4 in another room, grades 5 and 6 in another room, and Home Economics in still another room. The restrooms were in the basement also. The first floor (above the basement) held the high school rooms (grades 7 - 12), the Agriculture Education class, and the superintendent’s office. The auditorium and stage and two class rooms were on the second floor. You could stand on the second floor and look out a window on the north side and see Madisonville.”

Pankey - a country school in the area west of Bedias where Vernon McAdams taught before he moved to the Bedias school. In 1949, the Pankey, Stone, Wilkinson, and Evergreen rural school districts were consolidated with the Bedias Independent School District, comprising a new district that encompassed an area of 83 square miles.

Bedias and the surrounding countryside was dependent on cattle and cotton farming for its existence during this period. Saturdays were busy days. This is when the rural families came to town to buy groceries and other necessities and take care of other business such as voting or payment of taxes. The banks would stay open all day on Saturday. The sidewalks would be filled with people for most of the day. Quite often, someone would ignite fireworks on the crowded sidewalk and watch the people scatter.

During and after World War II many of the families in this area moved away to work in coastal defense industry plants and petrochemical plants. The Bedias population never recovered after this exodus during and after WWII.

Most of the McAdams families lived on the east side of highway 90 (from Navasota to Madisonville) along what is now FM 1696 during the 1940’s. At that time, Vernon and Annie, Joe and Beth, Horace and Nevada, Alice and Cuyler, Era and Jack Langley, Maydell Thompson, and Ross and Mada G. Williamson were family members or close kin who lived in Bedias.

All of the family attended the Bedias Baptist church. The family members were buried either in the Bedias Baptist cemetery or in the McAdams cemetery at the reunion grounds.

“The “branch” (creek) behind Aunt Era’s house (which ran in a meandering fashion roughly parallel to FM 1696) was a place of interest then. Many a McAdams in their youth played along the banks of that branch. Activities included fishing for perch, crawfishing, watching out for water moccasins, smoking grapevine, and playing rubber guns with cousins and friends.”

For those of you who were privileged to live in or visit Bedias during this period, you will probably remember:

There are probably some family photos in existence within the family archives that provide snapshots of Bedias and some of the family / inhabitants. Another source of information is the book, “My Home Town - Bedias” by Wallace Davis.

Reliving bygone days in our town of Bedias is less difficult through folklore, thanks to the Bedias Sidewalk Brigade - the town “whittlers - who have kept through the years the endles tales of happenings of a faded past - some big, some small events - but always, to them, worth telling. They sat along the store-front sidewalks or on wooden benches. Faces changed through the years as time took its toll, but the group continued to dig deep into the past so that an old story might never die. They whittled and talked, left notches on every store-front bench / sidewalk and literally whittled benches right out from under themselves. They kept alive a history rich with memories, with facts and near-facts passed down through their children and their children’s children. A large percentage of these men who gathered to just sit and talk were elderly retired merchants, cattlemen, farmers, and tradespeople. Some of them may have been tired rather than retired, but Bedias would not be Bedias were it not for the whittling gab-sessions of these leisure-loving gentlemen who have created a fellowship as symbolic of our land as the American flag.