So the Lord isn't the God of the dead, but of the living. This means that everyone is alive as far as God is concerned. Jesus, Luke 20:38 CEV

Sunday, March 24, 2024


 Today is the 112th birthday of my grandmother, Thelma Irene Brown.  

Thelma Irene Brown
25 March 1912 - 16 April 1991

"Nana" loved everybody. From her perspective, everyone in the world is all related as one great family. She never set out to prove or document it, but she loved to travel and enthusiastically celebrate auld and new acquaintances with gusto, talking kin with everyone she met. Her religion had little, if anything, to do with what people believed and everything to do with how they acted and treated each other. I never heard her argue about religious beliefs. Usually, if someone said something she disagreed with, she would just wrinkle her nose and make a cute face to express her disapproval, albeit sometimes silently staring a hole through them but more often cutting her eyes and offering a sweet smile. She was LGBTQ+ affirming when affirming wasn't cool, and she said same-gender couples who were in love should marry. Her deeply devoted and unconditional love held our wonderful cousins and extended family together closely in special ways throughout her life as no one else could. She never had time to not love anyone.

My grandmother grew up as a PK (preacher's kid) in Sumner County, Tennessee, on the Kentucky line near Westmoreland, and Hopkins County, Texas, near Cumby, under extreme economic hardships. She was afflicted with polio as a child. In their teenage years, she and her two sisters moved to Indianapolis to work in a nylon factory. She and my grandfather met, fell in love, and were married at Central Avenue Methodist Church (recently renovated as Indiana Landmarks Campus). As a young mother, she spent the first two years of my father's life confined to Sunnyside Terburuculosis Sanitarium. After that, no one could hold her back. 

Nana was a bundle of energy who slowed down for no person. A newspaper search yields a plethora of articles in the Noblesville Ledger about the activities of organizations, friends, family, and neighbors. She loved to host a variety of social events, which often included gathering around the piano for group singalongs. She was as likely to be found tuckpointing a chimney on the roof as at a formal gala sharing corsages she had made from her beautiful flower gardens. She and my grandfather sold Christmas trees every year in the sideyard. She wheeled and dealed at her garage sales, which she often held, with all kinds of antiques and household items she constantly collected and refurbished. She kept several bee hives in a small grove of cherry trees, ensuring daily honey and lots of cherry pies. All this only scratches the surface of her extremely adventurous life.

Irene taught Sunday School at Carmel United Methodist Church. She served as Worthy Matron in the Carmel Chapter No. 581 of the Order of the Eastern Star. She was very active in the West Delaware Home Demonstration Club and the Hamilton County Indiana Extension Homemakers.

Thelma Irene Brown and William Malcolm James Lawson were married on 1 November 1929. They had one son, my father, William Harris Lawson Sr, and one daughter, Dorothy Irene Lawson, who died at birth. They had one foster daughter, Betty Louise Mundy. Twenty-one years after my grandfather's passing, Irene married Allen John Lindley on 26 November 1988 at Carmel Wesleyan Church, with my father and I assisting the pastor as officiants. She died on 16 April 1991 and was buried beside my grandfather in the Masonic Garden at Oaklawn Memorial Gardens in Hamilton County, Indiana. 

Permanent Archive

Brown Surname Lineage

William Brown 1705-1807, father of  Leonard Seale Brown 1740-1833, father of  Robert Kimbrough Brown 1774-1849, father of  Jeremiah Harris Brown 1799-1880, father of  William Hiram Brown 1829-1905, father of  James Henry Brown 1855-1939, father of  Harris Brown Brown, father of  Thelma Irene Brown 1912-1991, mother of  William Harris Lawson Sr 1931-2000, father of the author.

Brown Migration

North Carolina > Tennessee > Texas > Indiana 

My 7th great-grandfather, William Brown, lived in Caswell County, North Carolina. There, his son Robert Kimbrough Brown was born. He then moved with his son Jeremiah Harris Brown to Sumner County, Tennessee, where the succeeding generations remained. My great-grandparents, Harris Brown Brown and Ina Belle Benton, also lived seasonally in Hopkins County, Texas, near Cumby. My grandmother, Thelma Irene Brown, and her two sisters moved in their teenage years to Indianapolis, Indiana, where my father and I were born. 


United States of America
  • Indiana
    • Hamilton County | Carmel 
    • Marion County | Indianapolis
  • North Carolina
    • Caswell County | Hillsboro
  • Tennessee
    • Sumner County | Gallatin | Westmoreland
  • Texas
    • Hopkins County | Cumby

Family Photo. "Thelma Irene Brown," ca. 1970. 


"A Historic Place to Meet, Play, Love," 2024. Indiana Landmarks Campus. Indiana Landmarks.  Accessed 17 March 2024. 

Ancestry ®. "Public Member Trees Database.” © 1997-2023 Ancestry®.   Ancestry.  User profile for William Harris Lawson, Jr., user Livingweb. 17 March 2024.

"Carmel United Methodist Church." Carmel United Methodist Church.  Accessed 18 March 2024. 

Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed March 17, 2024), memorial page for Thelma Irene Brown Lawson Lindley (25 Mar 1913–16 Apr 1991), Find a Grave Memorial ID 52959844, citing Oaklawn Memorial Gardens, Fishers, Hamilton County, Indiana, USA; Maintained by Roger Brown (contributor 48258483).

"Great Families, Great Place, Great Life," 2024. The Riviera Club.  Accessed 17 March 2024. 

"Hamilton County IN Extension Homemakers." Facebook.   Accessed 18 March 2024.

"IEHA." Indiana Extension Homemakers Association.  Accessed 18 March 2024.

Order of the Eastern Star. "General Grand Chapter." Order of the Eastern Star. 12 June 2023.

"Our History," 2023. Westminster Village North.  Accessed 17 March 2024.

"Sunnyside TB Sanitarium Indianapolis." Sunnyside Sanatorium was a tuberculosis hospital located in Oaklandon, Indiana, east of Indianapolis that opened in 1917. Generative AI Search Result, Google,  Accessed 8 Mar. 2024.

The Noblesville Ledger. Search "Irene Lawson, 1933-1991, Indiana, Noblesville." Newspapers by Ancestry.  Accessed 18 March 2024.

Wikipedia Contributors. "Home Demonstration Clubs," 3 July 2022. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia.  Accessed 18 March 2024.

W. H. Bass Photo Company. "Sunnyside Sanitarium," 1925. Pamela Tranfield Memorial Collection. Indiana Historical Society.  Accessed 17 March 2024. Photograph.


The original date of this post is 25 March 2024, the 112th birthday of Thelma Irene Brown.

Updated 28 March 2024.

Thursday, March 7, 2024


Today is the 139th birthday of my great-grandmother, Ina Belle Benton. 

Ina Belle Benton
8 March 1885 - 27 November 1972

"Grandma Brown" was among the sweetest, funniest, and most loving people I've ever known. She grew up picking cotton in northeast Texas and married a Tennessee General Baptist preacher/blacksmith/railroad fireman. This pastor's wife raised my father's mother and her two sisters in harsh conditions and less-than-bare-necessity homes in early 20th-century Sumner County, Tennessee, near Westmoreland, and Hopkins County, Texas, around Cumby. In her elder years, she lived in a cottage beside my grandparents for most of the twenty years I was in her life. The poverty of her youth resulted in painful life-long health conditions, yet I never remember her complaining about anything (in the sense that she seemed to navigate all her challenges with grace and dignity), and I have no recollection of a missing smile on her kind face. 

I remember sitting with her on Sunday evenings to watch Ed Sullivan shows on a black and white TV that had a pink case. Each time she would complain about how scantly dressed the dancers were, I would reach out and offer to change the channel for her. She would smack me gently with her cane, and then we would share a big laugh at the teasing that had become a hallmark of our relationship. One time, as our family gathered around my grandparents' dining room table (that now blesses our home) and took each other's hands to say grace, I asked her if her hands were clean. She immediately responded, "They were 'til you touched them." I recall multiple occasions whenever alcohol was discussed, and she would remark with a twinkle in her eyes that she never used whiskey except for medicinal purposes, which always brought chuckles from everyone except for the mild frowns from my mother and her strict teetotaler side of the family.

Ina Belle Benton and Harris Brown Brown were married on 25 November 1906 in Cumby, Hopkins County, Texas. Their three children were Ina Vastie Brown, Linda Mae Brown, and my grandmother, Thelma Irene Brown. Late in life, her second husband was Edward David Gray. Grandma Brown died on 27 November 1972 and was buried in Sherron Cemetery, Oak Grove, Sumner County, Tennessee.

Benton Surname Lineage

Humphry Benton 1520-1583, father of  Edward Benton 1539-1605, father of  Andrew Benton 1565-1623, father of  Edward Benton 1600-1680, father of Andrew Benton 1639-1714, father of  James Benton 1665-1733, father of  Joseph Benton Sr 1703-1752, father of  Joseph Benton Jr 1725-1807, father of  Nathan Benton 1764-1826, father of  Eugenius N Benton 1814-1864, father of  Charles Eugenius Benton 1853-1924, father of  Ina Belle Benton 1885-1972, mother of  Thelma Irene Brown 1912-1991, mother of William Harris Lawson Sr 1931-2020, father of the author.

Benton Migration

England > Connecticut > Maryland > Georgia > Texas > Tennessee > Indiana

My 12th great-grandfather, Humphry Benton, was born in Epping, Essex, England, and the next four generations were born there. My 9th great-grandfather, Edward, immigrated along with his son Andrew to the United States, settling in Connecticut, where the next few generations lived. My 5th great-grandfather, Joseph Benton Jr., was born in his mother's birth state of Maryland. as was his son Nathan who moved to Georgia. His son, Eugenius N. Benton, settled in Harris County, Georgia. His son Charles Eugenius moved to Texas, where his daughter/my great-grandmother Ina Belle was born. In Hopkins County, Texas, she married Harris Brown, who was from Sumner County, Tennessee, where they returned and my grandmother, Thelma Irene Brown, was born. My grandmother moved to Indianapolis where she met and married my grandfather, and her mother joined them late in life and lived in a cottage beside their house.


  • Essex County | Epping
United States of America
  • Connecticut
    • New Haven County | Guilford
  • Georgia
    • Harris County | Hamilton | Westerville
  • Indiana
    • Clinton County | Frankfort
    • Marion County | Indianapolis
  • Maryland
    • Columbia County
    • Frederick County
    • Montgomery County | Hyattsville
    • Prince George's County
  • Tennessee
    • Sumner County | Portland | Westmoreland
  • Texas
    • Grayson County | Denison
    • Hopkins County | Cumby
    • Morris County | Dangerfield

Family Photo. "Ina Belle Benton," ca. 1965. 


Ancestry ®. "Public Member Trees Database.” © 1997-2023 Ancestry®.   Ancestry  User profile for William Harris Lawson, Jr., user Livingweb. 03 March 2024.

Find a Grave, database and images ( accessed March 4, 2024), memorial page for Ina Belle Benton Brown (8 Mar 1885–12 Nov 1972), Find a Grave Memorial ID 139651956, citing Sherron Cemetery, Oak Grove, Sumner County, Tennessee, USA; Maintained by Keith Spears (contributor 48591231).


The original date of this post: 8 March 2024, the 139th birthday of Ina Belle Benton.
Last updated: 27 March 2024.