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Descendants of Mattie Arnold Owens


2. Mattie Lee ARNOLD

The Journal (newspaper, Obituary)
Williamston, Pelzer,West Pelzer,Piedmont, Powdersville
Week of February 19, 2003


Mother Mattie Lee Elrod Owens was born on October 15, 1883 in Greenville County, the daughter of the late Elizabeth Arnold Washington and step-father Jake Washington.

She met and married the late Kate Elrod, and to this union, four children were born, Mac Elrod, Capus Elrod, Imogene Elrod and Alvin Elrod.

She was baptized at Shady Grove Baptist Church in Pelzer and in the late-40s she relocated to Long Beach, New York.

She united with the Christian Light Missionary Baptist Church in 1952, under the pastorate of the late Reverend J. J. Evans, where she served on the Nurses Unit, Usher Board and Missionary Department for many years until her health failed.

She departed this life on Thursday, February 6, 2003 at Bayview Nursing Home in Island Park, New York.

She is preceded in death by her husbands, Kate Elrod and Buck Owens; and two sons, Alvin Elrod and Mac Elrod; also half-sister Hannah Washington, 2 step-sons, Walter Elrod and David Elrod.

She leaves to cherish her memory one son, Capus Elrod of Florida and one daughter, Imogene McKesson of Norfolk, Virginia; one niece by her half-sister Lillie Mae of Chicago, Illinois; 38 grandchildren; 108 great-grandchildren, and 128 great-great-grandchildren; nieces and nephews; cousins, friends and her church family.

Special thanks to Bayview Nursing Home, Director of Social Services Regina Drew and staff, Carolyn Sherred Smith, Walter Sherred, Jr., Long Beach City Council President Joel Crystal and family, Marilyn Goldstein and especially to those in our area who remembered her so well as a good Christian woman.

NEWSDAY (Newpaper Long Island NY, Obituary)
By Sid Cassese

February 14, 2003

A former field hand, maid, homemaker and mother of four, Mattie Owens lived much of her life in Long Beach and died last week in Island Park. She was a very old woman.

According to a letter sent to her from the U.S. Social Security Administration, Owens was born on Oct. 15, 1893 - making her 109 years old when she died Feb. 6.

Owens was one of the last offspring of a former slave in this nation.

Her mother, whose name family members couldn't recall, had been a slave in South Carolina, the family said. Owens was born there, in the cotton field of a Greenville farm, said her daughter, Emma Jean McKesson, 79, from her room at the Norfolk Health Care Center in Virginia.

Owens told her family of her hard work in the cotton fields, said her grandson James Elrod, 60, of Long Beach. "And she would tell us about boiling and washing clothes, cooking on a hearth and ironing with something pulled out of a fire."

Owens died of complications from cancer at the Bayview Nursing Home in Island Park, just over the bridge from the city she had grown to love.

"She worked for my mother, my grandmother and my aunt starting around 1950 until the mid-1960s," said Long Beach City Council President Joel Crystal, whose brothers include actor Billy Crystal and Hollywood producer Richard Crystal. "She was with us on all of the major holidays and was really considered a member of our extended family. It was a very warm relationship. She attended the bar mitzvah for each of us boys. I was surprised, though, to learn last week how old she was."

Family members were surprised, too. Until receiving the Social Security letter, they had thought she was a mere 117.

"We didn't even know the day or month of her birth," Elrod said. "We just arbitrarily had picked a day - June 19th - to celebrate it with her."

In 1994 Newsday columnist Marilyn Goldstein featured Owens, whom the county wanted to send to a nursing home because her home care was more expensive than institutional care would be. Owens' family won that fight and kept her out of a nursing home until two years later when her faculties began seriously dimming, Elrod said.

Owens had been an active woman for a very long time, said Elrod, adding that she drove a car until she was nearly 100, stopping only because of cataracts. She was also active past 100 in the nurse unit and missionary service at the church where she had been active since the early 1950s - the Christian Light Baptist Church in Long Beach, said her friend Della Robinson.

"And after church every Sunday, her favorite place to eat was Nathan's," Elrod said.

Besides her daughter, Owens is survived by one of her other four children, son Capers Elrod, 87, of Ona, Fla.; a half-sister, Lily Mae Arnold of Chicago; 20 grandchildren; 65 great-grandchildren; and four great-great-grandchildren.

A funeral was held Wednesday at her church. She was buried yesterday at Pinelawn Memorial Cemetery in Farmingdale.