Sweet Lady From Clay:  Foy Pate Wise



White County Historical Society


Foy Pate Wise was born in Clay, Arkansas, on November 9, 1898, grew up in that community and married John Frank Wise just in time to send him off to France during WWI.  This is a picture of her taken at Clay when she was about 16 years old.

She was the oldest of seven children and always tried to take care of the younger ones.  She had many stories to tell her children about things that happened while she was growing up.  Here are a few she told me:         

“I remember my first school teacher.   She was Mrs. Annie Henderson.  And my last teacher was her husband Arthur. 

  “We were not allowed to draw during ‘Books.’ One day we placed our hands on our slates and drew an outline around them.  The teacher scolded us, saying, ‘No drawing pictures!’

 “One day during recess, a bunch of us, small and grown, were playing near a branch just below the Clay school.  There was a muddy hole of water and two of the older girls told me to let them baptize me.  They took hold of my arms, one on each side, and intended to let me down close to the water.   Instead, they dropped me!  The girls told me to tell the teacher that I fell into the water.  After school, a girl told Mama why I was wet.

  “I remember my grandfather giving a log-rolling.  When a man wanted some ground cleared, he would ask his neighbors to come and work, rolling logs together so they could be burned.  The women would cook dinner.   It was a happy time for everyone.  I remember my grandmother and one of her friends coming on horseback.  They rode side-saddle.  My grandmother would not have gone if she could not ride side-saddle.

 “I remember seeing my first car.  It was owned by Harry Churchill, who lived at Pangburn and owned a farm below Clay.  When we heard the car coming, we would run to the road to see the car and then when we heard it coming back, we would run to see it again. 

“When I was a kid there were not any buggies.  After I got bigger, Bill Howell had a surrey.  I don’t think it had a fringe on top.  It was a two-seated buggy.  I remember going to Mt. Pisgah to church with them, when they would ask me.

“When John and I got married, we rode to Mr. Yingling’s house in John’s buggy.  He knew we were coming and came out of the house and married us while we were sitting in the buggy.  Mr. Yingling lived in the house that later was known as the Herma Marsh house in Drake Spur.  He was JP and Herma and Connie Yingling’s dad.”

 There were many more stories my mother Foy Pate Wise told me, but at the time I did not realize the importance of taking notes. 

 She was a very smart lady and on June 13, 1914, she was issued a Teacher’s Certificate, which entitled her to teach school.  There is no information showing that she ever actually taught school but she did teach me to read and spell the words in the back of the ‘Baby Ray’ book before I started school.  She was always available to help with homework.

  My mother made clothes for herself and all her girls.  We would see a dress we liked and describe it to her and she would make one like it without a pattern.  She would also sew for neighbor ladies for very little pay.

          She became crippled about 1935 but never let this stop her.  After she started to recover, she sat in a straight-backed chair and walked on the back two legs to move around the house.  She kept working until she could use crutches, then later put them away.  She was independent and didn’t want others to have to take care of her.

Foy Pate Wise was a beautiful lady, inside and out.  She had a hard life but I never heard her complain.  She had eight children, with two of the boys dying young.  She remained a sweet, giving person until her death June 16, 1992, at age 93.  She is buried beside my father in Howell Cemetery at Clay.