125th Anniversary Of Local Legend’s Death
By Ann Chappell
Editor’s note: Who of us that live in Centralia and are in the least bit interested in history doesn’t know about the little girl with the violin in Elmwood Cemetery. It’s been reported that late at night you can hear the sweet melody of Annie’s violin. Personally, I’ve never been brave enough to verify this haunting rumor. But possibly the time is right, because Sept. 30, 2015 is the 125th anniversary of Annie’s death at age 11. Annie was born Sept. 7, 1879 and died Sept. 30, 1890. Below is an article by Ann Chappell, who just might have been named after Annie.
Eliza Jane Stump, my great grandmother, lost her parents in the “big flood” where the two rivers met when she was around three years old. As she had no family, she moved from one family to another. At the age of ten, while chopping wood, she cut off part of her foot. The lady she was staying with sewed it back on with black thread. I remember my mother telling me she would rub her grandmother’s foot, and that the black thread was still there when she died on Oct. 24, 1918.
Dr. Edward Marshall made a call where Eliza was living when she was 13 years old and found her with no shoes or socks, and it was winter and very cold. He took off his shoes and socks and put his socks on her feet. He then put her in his buggy and took her with him, and she would stay with the families that Dr. Marshall visited who needed help. Dr. Marshall moved to Centralia around 1858. Eliza met and married Joseph Taylor on April 8, 1856 in Randolph County and they followed Dr. Marshall to Centralia. When my grandmother was born she was cross-eyed, and Dr. Marshall operated on her, saying no little girl should go through life cross-eyed.
My grandmother’s name was Anna Elizabeth. When I was born she asked if she could name me, so I became Ann and she always called me “Little Orphan Annie.”
I was told my great grandmother Eliza put flowers on “Annie’s” grave, and as far back as I can remember my grandmother and my mother took flowers out of the yard and put them on the grave. After my grandmother died, my mother put flowers on the grave. When plastic flowers came out, my mother was really happy because they lasted all summer. Before she died, silk flowers came out and she loved them because they looked real. One of the last things my mother asked me was if I had put flowers on Annie’s grave for Memorial Day. My mother died in June 1987, and I have put flowers on Annie’s grave ever since.
In July of 1996, my husband Jerry started working on the “Little Chapel” in Elmwood Cemetery. As we passed Annie’s grave every day, I decided she needed help because the bow on her violin was broken off as was one of her fingers. Not knowing that I needed permission from the family, I hired Bill Thackrey to repair her. When he finished, she was back to her old beautiful self. The paper did an article and picture of Annie, and I heard from the family. They sent a donation for the “Little Chapel.” I have kept in touch with them.
Sept. 30, 2015 will be the 125th anniversary of Annie’s death.