Eileen Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands was the home and seat of Clan MacCrea for a long time. Excellent photo by and with many thanks to cousin Katy B.!
Now we will review the history of our line of McCrays, starting with Grandma Lulu’s mother, Sallie McCray.
Our McCray Connection: Grandma Sallie (McCray)
Fortunately for us, lots of our distant cousins have already done a lot of work on the history of the McCrays. I am confident enough in the information to share the story chronologically, earliest to latest in generations.
But in this case I still want to first share a few thoughts about our closest connection to this family: Grandma Lulu’s mother, also known by her grandkids as “Grandma Sallie”.
The Original “Grandma Sallie”, a.k.a. Sarah Louise (McCray) Appler, or simply by her maiden name Sallie McCray (1848-1930).
Here in this photo, Grandma Sallie was looking all glamorous and made-up. She was actually born and bred on farms: first in McMinn, Tennessee, and then beginning in her teenaged years in Ozark, MO. So, she was obviously tough enough for that. But as a Southern lady, she also had the social obligation to operate with grace and poise.
Grandma Sallie McCray Appler with Grandpa Warren and Aunt Corky, c. 1916; those were probably Grandma Lulu’s chickens and this was the backyard in Jackson, TN.
It’s hard for anyone to say much about Sallie McCray, because she didn’t leave a large paper trail and we don’t know much more than what we can see in a few items in Lulu’s scrapbook.
In any event, there are a few notable things about her. For starters, we may be the beneficiaries of a cooking tradition passed on down from her. Sally W. told me she learned her southern cooking from Lulu, who likely learned it from Grandma Sallie (as well as the Applers). So, some of the things we ate as children: fried chicken; black eyed peas soaked in bacon grease; green beans soaked in bacon grease; hominy; extra-buttered cornbread; AND those corn fritters. Now, maybe these things you can find in other parts of America, but it’s a special feeling knowing our tradition of preparing these meals likely originated in Tennessee and the Missouri Ozarks.
Grandma Sallie’s maiden name was Sarah Louise McCray. She first married a saddler named Norman Leslie Ferrell. They had one son, the Uncle Henry Ferrell discussed in the Appler chapter. They lived in the rural Missouri Ozarks. But Norman died young. So, as with most widows back in the days, Sallie saw practicalities and sought to remarry. She decided to marry to our J. Ross Appler, the general store owner, and then of course became Mrs. Appler. In the 1880s, she and J. Ross moved into a townhouse in what was then an upper middle class neighborhood and that today is part of the greater “old Downtown” St. Louis. There, Sallie raised Grandma Lulu and Uncle Arlie, and stayed there until her eighties, when she moved in with Uncle Arlie and his family. Sallie must have loved the neighborhood, since she even gave Lulu the middle name of “Delmar”: the name of the street on which the townhouse was located.
Here is a panorama including Sallie chilling on the front porch of the Appler Townhouse, c. 1920. A big part of this image is the streetscape. This was likely taken by Grandma Lulu, who loved photography.
Some of us were told the tale of how Grandma Sallie lived in the same neighborhood, and at the same time, as the fictional family in the 1943 MGM musical “Meet Me In St. Louis”. Turns out the story was true. We were told this took place during the 1904 World’s Fair, which was held in St. Louis. I found verification in the 1990s using a combination of in-person public library research of old maps, plus Internet tools of the day –if I recall correctly, specifically Mapquest. If my memory has not already failed me, I discovered that at some point during the early 20th Century, the St. Louis City Council decided to rename several of the streets downtown – thus, the addresses today are not identifiable on Google Maps, but, and again if I remember correctly, then under the old St. Louis map (pre-WW II), Grandma Sallie lived in the same general neighborhood as the family in the movie.
Anyway, now on to Grandma Sallie’s McCray ancestors.