Sunday, January 12, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks (Week 2) – John Brooks Binns

I just realized that I haven’t written anything about my BINNS family. And I have a LOT of information. I need to get writing! What am I waiting for? – I know! A challenge! I have pledged to join the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” Challenge for 2014 which was started by Amy Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. Each week Amy will showcase all of that week’s ancestor posts and I hope to be included. I missed Week 1, but here is a post for week 2.


John Brooks Binns was my great-grandfather

John Brooks Binns, Arkansas 1955

Photo of John B. Binns, Arkansas, 1950s

John Brooks Binns was born March 20th, 1910 in Monticello (Drew County) Arkansas to John Milton Binns and Perthinia “Pert” Brooks. He was the 2nd to youngest child of 8 born to this couple. His siblings were John Lavert Binns, Milton “Roy” Binns, James Howard Binns, Rubye Estelle Binns, Van Carl Binns, Lurah Marcelle Binns, and Byron Zach Binns.  His father, John Milton Binns, was a farmer from Georgia who became a salesman in Monticello and eventually became a meat cutter / butcher.

John followed in his father’s footsteps by working in a department store in Longview, Texas and in Kroger’s as a meat cutter; but he also went to college and earned his teaching degree. He and his wife, Blanche Hill taught school in Alma, Arkansas.

When John and Blanche met, John was studying and playing football at Monticello A&M College. He was there from 1930 – 1932. He was a member of the “Little Big Three” Press Association. Blanche was attending Magnolia A&M College from 1930 – 1931 and then transferred to Monticello A&M for the 1931 – 1932 school year to be with John. On August 19th 1934 John and Blanche were married at the First Christian Church in Longview, Texas where John was working in advertising for a department store.

John and Blanche Binns had three blonde haired, blued eyed little girls, including my grandmother, born between 1936 and 1940 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. In 1943, they bought their house on 1401 N. 19th street where they lived until they died. He also bought the house behind him and the grocery store next door to his house. He rented the store out to a lady named Alice Shields who ran the store. He eventually tore the store down and had a house built there. This is the house that my mom, dad, and I lived in when I was first born. John worked at Kroger’s on Grand Avenue in Fort Smith, Arkansas as a meat cutter for ten years and then later he owned and operated the Cash and Carry in Fort Smith on N. 2nd street.

After the girls were old enough to go to high school, John and Blanche went back to school to get their teaching degrees. Blanche went to school the first two summers of 1952 and 1953 and John the next two in 1954 and 1955. They went to Russellville Tech in Northwest Arkansas. Their first teaching jobs were in Alma, Arkansas. Blanche taught the 2nd grade and John taught 7th grade Science. Then he switched to 5th grade after realizing he couldn’t handle the junior high kids.

In 1963, Blanche had a stroke and had to stop teaching. John took care of her and continued teaching until he retired in 1975. John must have taken really good care of her because she survived him by 3 years. John died December 10th, 1989 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. Blanche died December 27th, 1992 in a nursing home in Fort Smith.

I was lucky to have grown up with 6 of my 8 great-grandparents, including John and Blanche. Blanche never really liked us kids much, but John, or “great-granddad” to me, loved us to death. He was a big hugger and he would squeeze you so tight you couldn’t breathe. And he was always around. He got sick pretty fast, so I didn’t really have to see him bad off in a nursing home like I saw Blanche. He got a bunch of fluid in his lungs probably due to the emphysema and that is eventually what stopped his breathing. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him.

Here are some photos to remind me of our time together: 

Ginger Smith and John Brooks Binns 1977

Ginger Smith and great-grandfather, John Brooks Binns, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1977

Ginger Smith and John Brooks Binns 1982

Ginger Smith and great-grandfather, John Brooks Binns, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1982

Ginger Smith and John Brooks Binns 1984

Ginger Smith and great-grandfather, John Brooks Binns, Fort Smith, Arkansas, 1984

All photos are from the private collection of Barbara Binns, Fort Smith, Arkansas and were scanned by Ginger Smith, 14 November 2008. 

1 comment:

  1. Ginger,

    I want to let you know that your blog is listed in today's Fab Finds post at

    Have a great weekend!