At their 2020 summer gathering the five sisters pose for their photo in front of the church they grew up in, Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church in the Elba area, established in the 1800s.  Jo Pugh keeps the church records, songbooks, and minutes of business meetings at her home. Left to right, Jo, Sarah, Mary, Roseland, and Johnnie.

At their 2020 summer gathering the five sisters pose for their photo in front of the church they grew up in, Bethlehem Primitive Baptist Church in the Elba area, established in the 1800s.  Jo Pugh keeps the church records, songbooks, and minutes of business meetings at her home. Left to right, Jo, Sarah, Mary, Roseland, and Johnnie.

By Faye Gaston

Five daughters promised their mother they would keep in touch by "getting together." Their dad, Welcom Farris died in 1978 and their mother, Lena Farris, died in 2004. So beginning in 2006 the five daughters gather at the home of Jo and Tom Pugh to spend a week together every summer.

All five daughters became widows from 1995-2018, Jo married Tom after they met at grief recovery meetings at Frazier Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery. They have been married for 22 years and live in a log home about a mile off Highway 223. It is made of pine from the north Georgia mountains.

In 2002 they built a five-acre lake that holds bass and brim on their 130 acres. Then they built the house that is filled with their collections of pressed glass, birdhouses he built, antique furniture from their families, and groupings of framed family photographs.

The yard and porch have swings and chairs and an abundance of flowers. They are active members at Eastside Baptist Church and Tom assists at Gray Funeral Home.

This July 2020 the five daughters made photos again to be placed in albums they each keep of these times together. Their annual schedule includes watching hummingbirds at the hanging bird feeders, riding in sister Mary's van together, driven by Tom, to eat barbecue and visit family cemeteries at Bethlehem Church in Elba and Pine Level (close to Opp).

They will ride to Millbrook for a catfish supper and to Panama City to enjoy the beach. Then they enjoy meals cooked by Tom with favorites of coleslaw, cornbread, waffles, and omelets. Jo shares her jars of homemade fig and pear preserves and blueberry jelly.

The five sisters had two brothers, one died in a car accident and the other was stillborn. The family lived on a farm 15 miles south of Elba where they picked cotton, stacked peanuts, pulled corn, and gathered vegetables. They had chickens, pigs, a mean Brahma bull, and mules before they got a tractor.

All learned to drive the tractor. The mother milked a cow and they carried a gallon of milk to the school bus to swap the milk for their school lunches. Sisters Jo and Johnnie are the only sisters to live "in the woods" at the present time.

On this visit on July 23, 2020, from a Herald newspaper reporter, they all shared the number of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren they had from the oldest sister, Jo, to the youngest, Johnnie.

(1) Jo Pugh worked for a government health service in Montgomery for 25 1/2 years.

Tom worked for Alabama Power for 32 years and part-time for Trailways. He worked for Bonnie Plant Farm for 16 years. Jo had permission to ride with him to other states on his route.

(2) Sarah Williamson (husband Basil) lives in Chamblee, Georgia, and cooked at a Winn Dixie deli for over 20 years, with making donuts her favorite.

(3) Mary Heiss (husband Richard) lives in LaVista, Nebraska, and shared her photo of Richard wearing his fishing shirt at the Pugh pond. She is a cancer survivor. With her military family, they lived in Quam and Hawaii and several states.

(4) Roseland Knowles (husband Eddie) lives in Samson, Alabama, and worked in a sewing factory. and (5) Johnnie Sue Stewart (husband David) lives in Lexington, Texas.

Her husband was 6 feet, eleven inches tall and played basketball at Troy University. She was the only daughter to graduate college and taught school for 19 years.

The five sisters look forward to a big extended family reunion in October, families of the five daughters of Welcom and Lena Farris.

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